Monthly Archives: March 2016
I celebrated Eostre with my grove on the Saturday before the equinox. It was our first outdoor ritual since Lunaghsadh. There was a snow storm the preceding day and the temperature was still chilly. The sun was out, but the shade of the tree where we held ritual was a bit too nippy for comfort. Because of this, the head druid kept the opening grounding meditation short.
We honored Frey and Freya as patrons of the rite for their association with fertility. In addition, I brought an offering for Hretha, the obscure goddess for whom the Anglo Saxon month corresponding to our March, Hrethmonath, is named. I feel that I have been called upon by this goddess to help remove her from obscurity. Making a public offering to her during her own month seemed like a good first step to this end.
I also had the honor of being one of the two ealu-bora (ale-bearers) of the rite. In our grove, we refer to the ealu-bora as Valkyries. In ancient Anglo-Saxon symbol rites, the ealu-bora were women of high status. The term Valkyrie is often used in modern rites due to the similar role held by Valkyries in Valhalla and to indicate the level of honor associated with this task.
The runes drawn for the omen were Perthro and Ingwaz. The head druid first drew Perthro (a rune of mystery, luck, and fate) and told us that it was best read in combination with others, so he drew again and got Ingwaz, which is associated with Frey (one of the patrons of the rite), fertility, peace and harmony. In conjunction with Ingwaz, this was taken to be a very good Omen.
We usually enjoy a potluck feast after ritual, but no one was in the mood to sit outside in the cold, so we all went to Denny’s instead. I was glad to be out of the cold, but also very happy to finally be holding rituals outdoors again.
ADF and most Neopagans recognize Ostara (or Eostre) as falling on the spring equinox. The Anglo-Saxons, however, would have most likely celebrated the feast of Eostre on or just after the full moon following the equinox, which coincides closely with the Christian Easter holiday. Either way, Eostre is the festival of early spring and the deities of springtime, especially Eostre. Beltane too is a springtime festival, but the focus is slightly different. It seems to be the general consensus that Eostre is for celebrating the fertility of the land, while Beltane is for celebrating the fertility of the people. Although some areas of the northern hemisphere start their gardens as early as Imbolc, Eostre is widely recognized as the start of planting season. By Beltane, the hard work is done and people can turn their attention to more personal festivities.
Eostre is also a popular time of year for clearing out clutter and ridding one’s house of stagnant winter air and energies. Spring cleaning that may have begun at Imbolc really gets going around the spring equinox. For busy Neopagans, the simple act of opening a window or bringing in fresh flowers can be turned into a meaningful ritual to wake up and rejuvenate a home and it’s inhabitants.
Common symbols of the season include colored eggs, bunnies, and flowers. There are many legends surrounding the association of bunnies and eggs with Eostre, but some claim the association came about in Christian times. Nevertheless, rabbits were associated with fertility in pagan times even if not specifically associated with Eostre. Don’t let the specificities keep you from letting the Easter bunny visit!