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Saturday, 15 April 2017

What the goddess Eostre means to Easter

Spring reminds us of new beginnings and plans for the year ahead. With it comes the imagery of chicks and bunnies, eggs and flowers, which heralds the start of Easter. These images, which embody ideas of rebirth, are not just attached to the Christian festivities of Easter; they are formed from ancient beliefs and mythology, including the celebration of the pagan goddess Eostre.

The name Eostre derives from Northumberland Old English and was first identified in Bede’s work, De temporum ratione, written in the 8th century AD. The mythology goes back much further to pre-Christian times and, aside from the similarities in name, the themes of Easter can also be traced to these pagan beliefs.

Eostre was regarded as a goddess of fertility and has been associated with the Northern European Saxons, though there are variations of her name as she was adopted by different pagan civilisations. Today, Wiccans and Neo-pagans recognise Eostre in the form of Ostara, from Old German, and they celebrate Ostara, the start of the zodiacal year, as one of their eight annual Sabbats. Ostara occurs at the spring equinox, which falls around the same time as Christian Easter festivities, and celebrates the planting of seeds and the return of fertility to the land after the darkness of winter...read more>>>...