Newsletter: Ostara 2023
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Ostara & the Hare
Many who celebrate Ostara (or even Easter), likely wonder how each has come to be associated with Hares, eggs, and hares that lay eggs. In one of our first newsletters, two years ago, I mentioned there was a bit of a story here and that it was “a subject for another time,” and I think perhaps that time has come.
Jacob Grimm, the famed linguist, folklorist, etc. wrote of the Goddess Ostara (or Eástre) in his work Teutonic Mythology volume 1, seemingly likening this deity to that mentioned by Bede (Eostre). Of Bede’s mention of Eostre, Grimm shares criticism of the little information Bede provides of the goddess, suggesting his (Bede’s) position in the church and general dismissal of heathen custom may have caused Bede to be hesitant to share a full account of what he knew of the deity (289). Grimm notes that Ostara, “seems [...] to have been the divinity of the radiant dawn, of upsprining light, a spectacle that brings joy and blessings, whose meaning could be easily adapted to the resurrection-day of the christian’s God” (291). Outside of Bede’s work, there has been little else written (or thus known) about Ostara.
The first mention of a hare being associated with the goddess Ostara comes some 40+ years after Grimm’s writings in the work, Deutsche Mythology by Adolf Holtzmann. Holtzmann notes that the Easter hare may be an old association to the goddess Ostara. That said, his assertion seems to stem from a possible connection to the celtic goddess Abnoba, who is often depicted with such a creature. Both Holtzmann and Grimm recognize that the same gods and goddesses can undergo changes (especially in name) from one culture to another, so Holtzmann’s work seems to imply the possibility that Ostara and Abnoba are one and the same, only changed by name and geographical location.
But what of the egg laying of this hare? Hotzmann, surmises that there is a possibility that the mythology may have undergone changes over time and that the original animal was not in fact a hare, but perhaps a bird in its first form. Later folklorists and writers eventually formed a new version of Ostara’s mythology, crafting a story of finding a bird and later turning it into a hare, thus providing the mythological structure for the evolution of the story and traditions we are more familiar with today.
As for the games of hiding and finding easter eggs (presumably those left behind from Ostara’s bird turned hare), these traditions, as noted by Grimm and Holtzmann alike, are most probably a hold-over from pagan traditions of celebrating the spring equinox that the church tolerated in an effort to appease the masses.
Grimm, Jacob. Teutonic Mythology, vol. 1
Holtzmann, Adolf. Deutsche Mythology.
Ostara Activity Sheets
Hares are everywhere this time of the year! Take some time to color your own hare and add your little hare to your wall, desk, or taped inside a notebook (whatever tickles your fancy). Have a blast coloring either by yourself, with a friend, or with the little ones in your life. We have also included a fun word search to add to the fun! You can download the sheets in .pdf format below.
Morning Sunrise Ritual
The spring equinox is a time to celebrate the coming and rejuvenation of life. The sun’s time has been growing with each day since Imbolc and we are starting to realign and be invigorated with all of the potential new life that is stirring just below our feet as it takes in the growing excess of sun from above.
In an attempt to soak in and honor the life-bringing light of the sun, try out this morning ritual on or around the spring equinox (Ostara).
First, check the time of sunrise in your area. You can do this on the Time & Date website by typing your location into their search bar.
Set an alarm to wake up just before the blue hour (20-30 minutes before the time of sunrise) and sit in front of a window (one facing east is ideal but not a necessity) OR if you are in a slightly warmer climate, find a comfortable place outside and face east.
Once you have found a comfortable place, close your eyes and begin to take some deep breaths. Don’t worry about counting or holding your breath for any particular amount of time, just do what is comfortable for you. As you breathe, focus your energies on relaxing your body. Start from your toes, feet, ankles, etc. and move your way up, releasing tension throughout your body and readying yourself to focus your body and energy in taking in the power of the sun. Ideally you will be fully relaxed by the time the sun begins its ascent from the horizon.
Once sunrise begins, continue your breathing and remain relaxed. Notice as the light begins to shift the color behind your eyelids, feel the slight shift in temperature as the powerful heat of the sun begins to penetrate the earth, and allow the power of the sun to fill you. After 10-15 minutes of taking in the light, open your eyes and give thanks to the sun for offering its energy to both you and the earth.
Shadow Work: The Shadow and the Hare
Ostara is a time of renewal, growth, and fertility and hares are known for their fast reproductive cycles and their ability to adapt to changing environments.
Now consider the shadow aspects of hares that may resonate with you.
Hares are known for their quickness and agility, but they can also be flighty and easily startled. Do you ever find yourself avoiding difficult situations or running away from your problems instead of facing them head on?
Hares are also known for their fertility and sexual energy, but they can be prone to promiscuity and infidelity. Do you ever struggle with issues around sexuality or relationships, such as feeling like you cannot commit or that you are not worthy of love?
Take some time to journal or meditate on these shadow aspects and how they may be affecting your life. Are there any patterns or themes that emerge? How can you work with these shadow aspects to bring more balance and wholeness to your life?
Southern Hemisphere Shoutout: Mabon
Blessed Mabon to our friends in the Southern Hemisphere. May the autumnal equinox and the harvest that comes with it be bountiful. Feel free to check out the Mabon newsletter we released for Mabon 2022 in the Northern Hemisphere for more information about the holiday and some activities.
Midwest Coven Cast, Season 4, is COMING!
The coven is already hard at work producing season 4 of Midwest Coven Cast! This season we are focusing on ways to improve our craft. We are taking this theme to task on a variety of levels. Most episodes, we will literally be making items related to our craft (and quite literally “crafting” as a result), but also expanding our craft as media producers by adding video to the mix. While in the past, our podcast was something to listen to, this season you will also have the opportunity to see our faces and the “crafts” we are working on! To that end, if you are not already subscribed to our YouTube channel, (@midwestcovencast) we recommend you do that you head over there as soon as possible to subscribe and turn on notifications to ensure you have the best season 4 experience possible!
Keep an eye out for the official Season 4 premiere on May 3, 2023!
17 March Weekend Reads Season 3, Episode 25
20 March Ostara (spring Equinox) - Northern Hemisphere
Mabon (Autumnal Equinox) - Southern Hemisphere
21 March NEW Moon (12:23PM CST)
5 April FULL Pink Moon (11:34PM CST)
19 April NEW Moon (11:12PM CST)
1 May Beltane - Northern Hemisphere
Samhain - Southern Hemisphere