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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Ostara

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Happy, um, Pasch

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.

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Easter is Risen: Philip A. Shaw's "Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World"

Eosturmonath [April] [is] called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honor feasts [festa] were celebrated in that month.

This lone sentence from chapter 15 of Bede of Jarrow's De Temporum Ratione ("On the Reckoning of Time"), along with the fact that, from very early times, a Christian festival came to be called by her name, is literally all that we know about the Anglo-Saxon goddess Easter. Literally all.

Under the circumstances, scholars have tended in two directions. The Maximalists have viewed Easter as a pan-Germanic goddess, herself a reflex of a pan-Indo-European Dawn goddess whose sister-selves include Vedic Ushas, Greek Eos, and Latin Aurora.

The Minimalists—many of them clearly driven by pique that so Christian a festival should bear so blatantly pagan a name—deny that such a goddess ever existed at all, and seek alternate (and non-pagan) derivations for the name of the church's great spring festival.

In Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World: Eostre, Hreda, and the Cult of Matrons, Philip A. Shaw, lecturer in English and Old English at Leicester University, in a work surprisingly readable for all its dense erudition, attempts to stake out a centrist ground midway between maximalist and minimalist positions. Of greatest interest to the contemporary pagan reader (to this contemporary pagan reader, at any rate) is his marshaling of new information to shed new light on the subject.

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Egg-Dyeing Secrets of the Elders of Paganistan

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.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Equinox People

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.) 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Michele
    Michele says #
    Thanks!
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    According to Diana Kennedy (the Julia Child of Mexican cookery), one needs to boil the achiote seeds for 5 minutes, then soak them
  • Michele
    Michele says #
    So glad you left blank pages in the back of the Prodea Cookbook so I can add the recipes for the achiote seeds and liquid chloroph
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    what a wonder post - thank you - we are indeed an Equinox People!
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Will do, Sarah. Watch this space!

Limoncello is a glass of liquid sunshine.  As the light grows and we approach Ostara, the Spring Equinox where the light overtakes the darkness, there is no better drink to celebrate the season.  Sweet, tart, strong, and delicious, a little glass of limoncello is like drinking in the growing sun.

Some pagans make mead, others brew beer, others steep all sorts of fruits in any strong drink they can find.  I make limoncello.  I first learned of limoncello while traveling in Italy.  We were staying in Sorrento, a seaside town with much the same climate as my native southern California.  The local drink was this delicious concoction of local lemons, sugar, water, and booze.  I had to try it.  After I did, I had to find the recipe.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Celebrating Ostara

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

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Dawn of the Year

We're getting our dawns back.

At the latitude at which I live—44.9798º N—we lose our dawns during the winter. The Sun goes down; it's dark. The Sun comes up; it's light. But the rich, varied colors of Dawn—the roses, the ambers, the saffrons, the teals—go down into the Dark of the Year and are gone.

But now they're returning. Into the colorless world of winter, color comes flooding back.

The Dawn of the Seasons, the Dawn of the Year, approaches. For 6000 years and more, spring has been the special season of Dawn, ever-young goddess, and the many and varied dawn goddesses of the Indo-European-speaking world are known wherever those languages are spoken. In English we call her Easter.

Some have postulated a myth in which, through the dark winter, Dawn is held captive in the Underworld. And now she's coming back to us again, free at last.

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