Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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OH-star-ah or oh-STAR-ah?

The many-hued Lady of Spring goes by many names. The ancient Continental German-speaking peoples knew Her as Ostara.

(The name itself has not been preserved per se in any surviving documents—although we do find it in the plural, Ôstarûn—but the original singular form can be confidently reconstructed on the basis of Her Old English name, Éastre or Éostre [depending on which dialect of Old English you grew up speaking]).

Among contemporary pagans, Her name is usually pronounced with the stress on the second syllable: oh-STAR-ah.

Well, I hate to break it to you, but the ancestors would have laughed to hear you say it that way.

Like the other Germanic languages, Old High German was (for the most part) a stress-initial language: i.e. the first syllable in a word gets the major emphasis. Historically speaking, the correct pronunciation is OH-star-ah (rhymes—kind of—with MOST o' ya).

Well, in language, use determines correctness, they say. So, you can go either say it the way the ancestors did, or you can tag along like a sheep after everyone else. You decide. Really, what's so wrong with "Sam Hane"?

As for me, I don't know how She is named in your valley.

Around here, we mostly just say: Easter.

 

Photo: Robin Grimm

 

Every year for the last 40 years, pagans have got together in the Twin Cities to dye hundreds of eggs in the traditional way, using only natural dyestocks. (It's one of the oldest continuously-observed customs in the local community.) Those shown here are from the 2017 Egg-Dye. We'll be distributing eggs from this year's batch after Paganicon 2020's Rite of Welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tagged in: dawn goddesses Ostara
Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.

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