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Ostara 2009

Friday, I headed over to Tee's and she taught me how to do Pysanky, which is a traditional Ukranian art of dying and decorating eggs. With Ostara celebrations the next day it seemed the perfect way of chit-chatting, while making some decorations to be used in our Ostara ritual the next day. Since things ended up running later than I thought, and knowing that Tee is an early bird, I wrapped things up once I realized it was getting later, and arranged to arrive early the next day to finish things up before everyone started to arrive in the afternoon for the egg hunt for the kids, and then the faining.

I stopped off en route the next day and picked up a bouquet of marble pink tulips, and another of yellow dafodils, and appropriate an empty vase to arrange them as an offering to the Gods and Goddesses on the altar, as well as the few eggs that had survived me touching them. (Most broke on me during the finishing touches).

I brought as my dish, some low-fat wraps that seemed to go over well. Since I'm not a big fan of black olives (as I find thme overpowering) I cut back on them in the recipe. In retrospect I think the normal amount would have been better and been a nice compliment. Still, the wraps went over well, and the fact they were low-fat ended up being fortuitous for one of the other attendee's who'd fought stomach cancer and lost most of her stomach.

Once we were readying for the faining, as Tee finalized things for the ritual, I took everyone through a discussion on the Goddess, and the traditions. I received a compliment from Bill, who said he wished he'd been recording it as it was very informational, both in what we know about Ostara, and in correlations to other spring celebrations found in other parts of neighboring pagan Europe. So I take that as a compliment. I had helped a heathen out conversing with him about Ostara who was set to be interviewed for a local cable channel (although in the end they switched him out for somebody else) so I'd already done alot of research and reading up. So I had lots of details still quite clear in my mind.

The faining itself was absolutely lovely, and the offerings we gave were extremely well received.

On Ostara - The Goddess, The Traditions

As to Easter traditions, like as happens when cultures clash, new religions and peoples pick up some of the old customs. What we do know is there were a variety of Spring Goddess celebrations similarly related under the Proto-Indo-European root derivative (Aurora, Eos, Ushas, and eventually our Eostre, Ostara & Austro...)

The name Ostara for the ritual, ultimately comes from the Anglo-Saxon Goddess, but there were many pagan celebrations, and those individual customs slowly through millenia became part of the general customs today. Like Eggs ( as a symbol of spring and fertility), rabbits (because they're fertiley prolific... i.e the root cause of the colloquial expression multiply like rabbits), etc. And the expression, mad as a march hare referred to the overwhelming sexual urges of hare's in March that would be all over the place at times of the day they normally wouldn't be.

We also know of Ostara in passing, from Heimskringla (107-110) and the story of King Olaf killing Olvir of Egg, for his continued celebration of pagan practices. Olvir was killed as he was preparing for the forthcoming Ostara ritual.

The following is quoted from Simek's Dictionary of Northern Mythology

“Ostara: (OHG) was perhaps a heathen goddess of the Spring (proto-Germanic *Austrō) which could be derived from the OHG name of the Easter festival Ôstrarûn and the reference to an Anglo-Saxon Goddess -> Ēostra in Bede (Grimm).

It is uncertain whether the goddess derived her name from the Easter month or vice versa. In any case, the Christian Easter festival has received a heathen name via the name of the month.

Lit.-> Ēostra

R: the name of Ostara was used from 1905 as the name of a German nationalist publishing house and book series (‘Bucherei der Blonden und Mannesrechtler’) with its headquarters in Mödling near Vienna.

Ēostra (or perhaps * Ēastre; Anglo-Saxon). A goddess mentioned by -> Bede, from whom Ēostur-monath (=April) takes its name according to Bede (De temporibus ratione 15). Grimm concluded from this reference and also from the name of the OHG Easter festival Ôstrarûn (plural of *Ostara) a West Germanic goddess of sunrise and of spring-time, Proto-Germanic *Austrō, OHG *Ôstara (cf. Latin Aurora). Despite repeatedly expressed doubt one should not disregard Bede’s information totally. However, a spring-like fertility goddess will have to be assumed instead of a goddess of sunrise, despite the name, seeing that otherwise the Germanic goddesses (and matrons) are mostly connected with prosperity and growth. CF. Hreda.

J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie, Berlin 41875-78.
E. A. Philippson, Germanisches Heidenturn bei den Angelsachsen, Leipzig 1929.
H. Wesche, ‘Beitrage zu einer Geschichte des deutschen Heidentums’ (PBB 61) 1973.
J. D. Vries, Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte, Berlin 31970.
H. b. d. Wieden, ‘Die Runenbildtafel von Süntel’ (Schaumburg-Lippische Mitteilungen 22) 1933.
A. V. Strom, H. Biezais, Germanische und baltische Religion, Stuttgart 1975.”

FYI: OHG = Old High German, CF = notation for latin derived word confer, meaning "compare" or "consult", and is hence used to refer to other material or ideas which may provide auxiliary information or arguments.

While Simek above dismisses some of the connotations with the dawn/sunrise, if we explore etymology and other theorems there’s actually a lot of support for that association, in my opinion.


Austro – “aus” to shine. Old English term Eastre derives from the word for ‘east’ which is where the sun rises. Bede’s further description connecting Austro to a goddess such as the Greek dawn Aurora. And (while a bit more of a stretch) the Northern Lights are named the Aurora Borealis, and their peak season in the Northern Hemisphere (i.e. where our religion stems from) is from September/October through March/April… so it finishes in the spring (also ties to the sense of time as Eostre = month). It wouldn’t surprise me if the scandinavian/germanic term for the phenomenon within our tradition is similarly related. (But that’s a theory and a thought I haven’t had a chance to look up yet :P)

O.E. Eastre (Northumbrian Eostre), from P.Gmc. *Austron, a goddess of fertility and sunrise whose feast was celebrated at the spring equinox, from *austra-, from PIE *aus- "to shine" (especially of the dawn). Bede says Anglo-Saxon Christians adopted her name and many of the celebratory practices for their Mass of Christ's resurrection. Ultimately related to east. Almost all neighboring languages use a variant of L. Pasche to name this holiday.

Eastre also derives from the Old English ēast meaning the direction, and thus suggests an association with the dawn.

Corresponding traditions with the Roman Goddess Aurora, the Greek Goddess Eos.

Eostre is believed to derive from the Proto-germanic root aew-s, “illuminate, especially of daybreak” and is closely related to (a)wes-ter- “dawn servant” or the dawn star Venus and *austron meaning (dawn, east). And the Proto-Indo-European term Hauson has derivatives to the Greek Eos, Roman Aurora and Indian Ushas.


· Barnhart, Robert K. The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology (1995)
· http://www.etymonline.com
· http://www.bartleby.com/61/roots/IE29.html