I had in my mind thought that Ostara was very close in date to Easter. Well, I am wrong. Ostara, or the first day of spring, is 32 days before Easter this year. So while I was in my Witchcraft 101 class, the session on the Sabbats clued me in on when to expect to celebrate. For every pagan sabbat there are about 6 weeks between each one. And it got me to thinking… well… how long has it been since Imbolg? So with about 2 weeks to go, I am not getting around to adjusting my calendar to schedule in time to plan, prepare, and celebrate this wonderful holiday.
Many folks already know that Ostara was absorbed into the Catholic Church as Easter, or the day Jesus came back to life. As a child I never knew why chicken eggs, fluffy bunnies, a hunt for the eggs that were colored and hidden for no good reason, or lilies were related to this very nerve wracking event. But, as a child willing to overlook inconsistencies and just enjoy the day, I shrugged it off, had my fun and my chocolate bunny, and carried on.
Now I am a little more educated in the world, and I can see how Ostara became Easter, with all it’s political maneuvering and manipulation worked into it. I had done some research a few years ago as to why eggs were hidden, and I came across a plausible story, in which the eggs were the local English inhabitants way of celebrating the Goddess, Ostara. The bunny, who wanted to be a favorite animal of hers, had pleased her in some way, and the egg was also considered one of her favored objects, a representation of fertility. Anyway, the story goes on to tell of locals who would secretly dye the eggs in Her honor, and bury them as a sacrifice to her under favorite plants. One thing about this ritual jumps out at me. As a gardener, egg shells are considered really good for fertilizing the garden bed. So locals are making a correlation between plants who do well with an egg buried beneath them, and those who don’t, and reacting accordingly. So, to proceed with the story, local Catholic priests who were likely drawn from the local population, knew of this ritual, and paid local children to find the eggs, and for every egg found, the child would receive a small reward. Again, a very plausible explanation to the egg hunt. How the bunny survived as part of Easter at all is really a miracle, if you ask me.
Recently I came across an article by the University of Wisconsin regarding an ancient egg buried underneath a house, possibly part of a sacrifice for the Gods and for good luck and prosperity. I think that ancient people were fascinated by the mysteries of life, and an egg is a great representation of what happens when life is formed. Eggs, being easily observed, could have been used as an explanation as to the hows of life creation. And in a location where fowl was captured and used as readily available food source, it may have seemed to be a blessing everyday to people not used to scientific explanations. I think part of me would love to have been amazed by things unexplained. But I digress.
So I am going to begin my series on Ostara for the kids, and share what we do and learn about this amazing Sabbat.