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Éostre, Ôstara

Today is the full moon after the spring equinox; which I am told by those who can keep time-reckonings straight, is Éostre/Ôstara’s holy tide. The month of April equates, according to Bede, to Eostur-monað, during which the goddess was venerated, and his remarks in reference to Xian Easter indicate that the full moon should be the peak of the celebration. However, on the Continent they spoke of Ôstarûn, which is a plural (and for those who speak German, is why the modern German Ostern ends in n). That and Bede’s harping on the month auggest a multi-day celebration – similar in that respect to Yule, perhaps, or simply a month focused on its midpoint, the full moon.


And there, sadly, the trail goes cold. Possibly because there is nothing in Old Norse lore about Éostre/Ôstara, she’s a bit neglected by many modern heathens. A lot simply celebrate the equinox itself, along with the wiccans. It’s been suggested she’s Iðunn, which is a bit odd – the apple trees are only now blooming in the mild climate where I am, but of course the chickens and other birds have been busy laying.


And of course we’re all (except those unfortunates still waiting for the snow to get out of the way; and the antipodeans) rejoicing in the springtime. Things are growing again. There are fresh greens at the farmers’ market. Gardening is more than reading seed catalogs and trying to protect things against frost and wind. Everything is leaping out of the ground, in most places, and the trees are setting about clothing their bareness. The animals are glad of the warmth and the longer days, and so are we.


Éostre/Ôstara’s name is cognate with those of various Indo-European dawn goddesses, and although the beginning of the heathen year is back at the start of Yule, this is the start of the growing year; recall that our forefathers started the day at sunset, which is why Hávamál advises us not to praise the day till evening – when it is over and the new one beginning. We’ve made our way through the dark days, the evening and the night of the beginning year, and now here is the sunshine of morning.


So I hailed and thanked Éostre this morning, and will continue to do so as this (lunar) month continues. It is churlish to forget her just because the Norsemen apparently hid her away under some other name – or Snorri forgot to mention her. (We have lost so much. Maybe he did not approve of the traditional rites of the tide, such as running barefoot in the fields, juggling eggs? Maybe he wasn’t aware she could be related to Greco-Roman?) At least the Anglo-Saxons and Germans preserved her name, and they preserved so little, we should value it all the more. Besides, the springtime is a lovely time, even for those who love the winter. It’s a time of promise and possibility.


Hail Éostre, hail Ôstara.

Posted in Forn Seðr.

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