I love to explore the Divine Feminine and write about Goddesses. For a list of those, click on the link: Goddesses. In order to become more balanced within ourselves and, through that, to bring greater balance and harmony to the world around us, we must find greater balance between the masculine and feminine energies within ourselves that each one of us possesses, regardless of physical gender or any other ways of self-identification.
The Roots of Easter
In 1835, Jacob Grimm wrote in his work Deutsche Mythologie (Teutonic Mythology) that the Old High German adverb ostar "expresses movement towards the rising sun", as did the Old Norse term austr, and potentially also Anglo-Saxon ēastor and Gothic áustr. This associates the goddess with dawn and the rising sun, a symbol of renewed life, rebirth and hope. The month of April is to this day called Eastermonth, which it has been in Germanic and possibly also Old English regions since the mists of time.
The traditions of Easter eggs and bonfires connected to the welcoming of spring last to this day, and so does the Easter tale, although the Christianised version of it. Grimm writes further:
“Ostara, Eástre seems therefore to have been the divinity of the radiant dawn, of upspringing light, a spectacle that brings joy and blessing, whose meaning could be easily adapted by the resurrection-day of the Christian's God. Bonfires were lighted at Easter and according to popular belief of long standing, the moment the sun rises on Easter Sunday morning, he gives three joyful leaps, he dances for joy ... Water drawn on the Easter morning is, like that at Christmas, holy and healing ... here also heathen notions seems to have grafted themselves on great Christian festivals. Maidens clothed in white, who at Easter, at the season of returning spring, show themselves in clefts of the rock and on mountains, are suggestive of the ancient goddess.”
The Mystery & the Hare
Eostre is also related to Eos, the Greek Goddess of Dawn, and both can be traced back to Proto-Indo-European roots as mentioned above. Although old sources are scant and her origins are shrouded in the mystery of time, she nonetheless seems to have been a powerful Goddess in terms of Pagan veneration, as such an important Christian celebration has been ascribed to her festival and some of the Pagan traditions, like Hare and eggs, have been allowed to be kept throughout the ages.
Eostre’s true mystery, however, lies in the return of spring each year; the budding flowers, the sunrise, the awakening of nature into full bloom. The rabbits and hares appear again after a dark winter, the earth awakens from a deep sleep and chickens lay their eggs again. In natural surroundings, chickens cease to lay eggs in winter when there is little light and begin again in March/April. In this day and age of keeping livestock in unnatural conditions, most people don’t know this. But think about how important this was to people as a source of protein in the old days.
At the time of Eostre’s festival, dew or water from a brook or spring was collected and believed to contain healing properties. People also believed that when washing with it, it would restore youth.
The Volatile Maiden
Eostre, or Ostara, was usually depicted as a maiden clad in a white dress and adorned with flowers and fresh greens. She was old enough to bear children but was not yet a mother. She often dances and is joyous, but can just as easily turn solemn, like the sunny spring weather suddenly turning rainy and grey. Like spring, she is capricious, innocent and knowing in turn.
Eostre is full of potential. She represents the blossoming of inspiration and creativity that brings new life, the beginning of new ideas or projects and the opportunity of growth and rebirth after a period of stagnation, a period of winter in our own psyche. She is the awakening of passion, the feminine aspect of the divine creative force within each of us and the purity that comes when we let go of all that weighs us down and holds us back.
Innocence does not mean that you have never done anything wrong. We are human and make mistake, but when we retain or regain the purity of our heart and don’t allow past mistakes, traumas and other negative experiences to bind us in chains and dictate our present perception, feelings and actions, we are reborn to innocence and can invent ourselves anew as an ever more authentic expression of who we really are, of what our essence is.
A good example of this is Keturah, the female main protagonist in my romantic novel Balcony Above the Sea. She finds herself at a point in her life where she feels stifled and stagnant and decides to break away and start all over again.
However, running away doesn't mean letting go; and when she finds herself in a similar situation in a new location with new people, she understands that she has to change within and actively seek to face her own inner demons. When she does, the results are quite astounding.