From Aphrodite’s Vulva to the Resurrection
What possible connection could there be between the sacred gardens of Aphrodite and the resurrection of Jesus?
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In Latvian lore, not much is remembered of Austra—the goddess whose sister-selves include the other Dawn goddesses of the Indo-European diaspora: Ushas, Eos, Aurora, Ostara, Easter, among others—except for her name and her symbol.
Each of the Old Gods of the Baltic pantheon is associated with a particular sigil that has been faithfully transmitted through folk-art—in particular weaving and embroidery—down to our own day. Saule (Sun) has a sun-wheel, Mēness (Moon) a crescent, Pērkons (Thunder) the thunder-cross (fylfot), and the like (Dzērvītis112ff.).
Since Austra, by her very nature, does not readily lend herself to depiction—how does one draw a picture of light, of color?—her symbol is Austras koks, “Austra's tree.” This makes eminent sense, since trees capture both the first and last light of the day, even when the Sun is not yet (or is no longer) above the horizon. In Latvian lore Austra's tree is said to have copper roots, silver leaves, and golden branches (Dzērvītis 115).
Read figuratively, this describes the colors of the great Tree of the East as it shines with the new light of dawn. Read literally, the image may sound to the modern ear both artificial and unnatural. But to the ancestors, for whom the natural was commonplace and artifice precious, the image would have expressed the transformation of the everyday into the extraordinary.
Blessings and good tidings, fellow Witches and Pagans!
After the long winter (or short winter, if you’re from the U.S. West Coast) spring has finally come, bringing with it the renewal of the earth and the flowering of life. Today is Ostara, better known as the root word of “Easter,” and the Spring Equinox, representing the point in time at which the balance between night and day switches decisively in favor of the latter. Of course, if you’re in the southern hemisphere it’s the opposite, Mabon, as winter approaches after a long summer. Either way, it’s an important point in the year!
As per usual we’ve gathered both all of our articles on spring as well as several stories we thought you might find interesting. We hope you enjoy!
Hey you. Yeah, you: Christian.
Hey, check this out. Did you know that Easter is really the name of a pagan goddess? Seriously. Easter is a pagan goddess: goddess of dawn. And spring, of course. Really.
Says so right here in Bede. Yeah, that's the one, the “Venerable Bede.” Always a venerable, never a saint, ha ha. Well, actually, I think he is a saint now, isn't he? Didn't they canonize him a while back? A saint wouldn't lie about that kind of thing now, would he?
Hey, check this out: Pasch. Rhymes with “flask.” Nice, hunh? Beautiful. (Makes sign of aversion behind back.) Gotta love that funky spelling.
Fine old Christian word, Pasch. Actually the original name for the holiday, back before the pagans got their mitts on it. Goes all the way back to Aramaic. Really. The language of Jesus, right. Used the word himself, no doubt about it. Whatsoever. Jesus. Yeah.
There are lots of edible, natural dyestocks that can be used to color eggs. Listed below are those with which we've had the most luck over the years.
The results will vary from batch to batch and from year to year, depending on amount of dyestock used, length of cooking time, and various other imponderables, possibly including (who knows?) the phase of the Moon. The colors you get may not be predictable, but they'll certainly be beautiful.
Most natural dyes are heat-applied; realistically, this means that you add the dyestocks while you hard-boil the eggs. Dyeing eggs is, of course, a controlled chemical reaction in which loose radicals in the dyestocks bond with the calcium molecules of the eggshells, and heat facilitates this bonding. As always in the pagan world, it all comes down to relationship.
Tomorrow's one of my favorite days of the year: Egg-Dye Sunday.
We've been doing it every year since 1979 (what they call the Paganolithic). On the Sunday before the Equinox, a whole slew of us get together, stoke up the dye-pots, and (using only the finest natural dyestocks) dye up tens (if not scores) of dozens of eggs.
(With the advent of Paganicon, our local weekend-before-the-equinox Pantheacon North, the egg-dye, like clocks at Daylight Savings, has jumped forward. Old-Stylist that I am, I can't say that I'm best pleased with this turn of events, but the Old Ways haven't survived all these years without staying flexible.)
American Asatru has a major holiday that does not exist in Icelandic Asatru, which is Ostara. Ostara is the heathen and pagan Easter. Because Easter is a major cultural holiday in the USA, with many holiday traditions in which people of all faiths participate, it has also become a major holiday among many American pagans and heathens. Like many of the seemingly secular traditions surrounding Christian holidays, Easter has pagan roots.
Ostara is the Germanic spelling of Eostre, the English goddess name that developed into the word Easter. A goddess of spring and dawn, Ostara's sphere of influence is the fertility of animals, as exemplified by the fertility symbols the bunny and the egg. The holiday of Ostara can be celebrated on the Spring Equinox, or for a few weeks after. The American secular holiday tradition of hiding dyed chicken eggs and then having the children hunt for them replicates the way real farmers hunt for the eggs of free range chickens.
The Easter Egg symbol is used in different ways by different individual heathens and pagans and by different heathen and pagan groups. Some families do the traditional American Easter Egg Hunt for their children. Like other Americans and some Europeans, they might dye or decorate the eggs at home, a project in which children can participate. Others buy candies in the shape of eggs, chicks, and bunnies as substitutes for the real thing.
Some kindreds fill blown eggs with confetti and break them on each other's heads to bless each other. There was a group in California that had an annual Ostara campout at which eggs and nickels were placed in a replica Viking longship, and the boat was set on fire and launched into the Pacific Ocean as a sacrifice to the sea goddess, Ran.
Find out more about American holidays in my book American Celebration: http://www.amazon.com/American-Celebration-Erin-Lale/dp/1304916138/ref=la_B004GLACQQ_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425318146&sr=1-3