Humans have celebrated solstices and equinoxes since pre-historic times. The vernal equinox which ushers in Spring is when people in many parts of the world celebrated coming out of the cold and darkness of winter. In such places this was reflected in their ancient religious practices and personified in the gods and goddesses.
Eostre or Ostara, also known Easter is the Germanic Goddess of the dawn, springtime, fertility of the earth, prosperity, growth, the harvest, renewal and rebirth.
“Ostara does all the work of bringing spring, yet Jesus gets all the prayers.” ~Mr. Wednesday, American Gods
As the Christian religion spread across the globe the church was masterful in its folding of ancient ideologies and their accompanying practices into its own. Most insidiously, it has nearly completely removed all femininity from the concept of divinity except as a tool for the uplifting of males or vessels to give birth to male leaders.
Many people complain that they don’t understand why many of the common holiday practices of today exists but they never really make any effort to find out. They simply have a negative idea that they must be tied to something pagan, and in their minds that means evil.
It’s rather sad that so many go through life with such a limited world view of the understanding of the history of religion given its importance to the development of us as a species and impacts on the world today. I for one enjoy learning as much as I can because of the insights it gives into who we are and how we came to be.
Smart TV is something I greatly enjoy, specifically because it can often make you come face to face with uncomfortable topics you might not other wise. American Gods did such an excellent job with this scene. I particularly loved the multiple variations of Jesus to represent the myriad of Christian denominations.
In this episode, Ostara like many others has tied her power to the fate of a man (Jesus) her worship is intrinsically linked to his worship. Because of this, she is not operating in her full divinity and she knows it. It’s like an ache but she is afraid to let go of what has sustained her for so long.
I Forgot. I’m A Goddess!
But wait, just when you thought Ostara had given up the fight, she remembers I’m divine. That’s right. Just as she can create life, bring warmth and light. She can take all those things away. She doesn’t need to be tethered to anyone. SHE IS THE SPRING!
The entire episode, like all of season one really, was poignant and beautiful. If you have never seen this show, I highly recommend it. I wish everyone a Happy Easter and as you celebrate this year, I hope you find the divinity without you and remember to look inward. Everyday is another opportunity for renewal.
Ostara and the Hare
There are several variations of this story but as I learned it, there was a frozen bird that Ostara saved. The bird laid especially beautiful eggs that she was extremely proud of, so proud to the point that it irked Ostara. As punishment for this vanity Ostara turned the bird into a hare. However this made the bird extremely sad and Ostara took pity on the hare, allowing her to lay eggs once a year. And that’s how we got out Easter Bunny!
Of course, eggs themselves are a symbol of new life as old as time. 🙂
Other Ancient Fertility Goddesses
I’ve loved learning about traditional religious expressions that celebrated femininity and find it fascinating that a consistent theme in the world is that many revolve around creation, and renewal.