Earth is referred to as Mother since ancient times: “Mother Earth” and “Mother Nature.” Watching the cycles of Nature one sees that rain falling brings life to Earth, so many ancient cultures saw Father as Heaven, and Earth as Mother.
The union of this heavenly Father and earthly Mother brought forth abundant crops, as rains from the sky met welcoming earth. Festivals like “The Marriage Feast of Canaan” were Spring fertility rites in ancient times which celebrated this intercourse.
Christian Easter falls around the same time as Pagan Easter and after the Judaic Passover, which is fixed by a lunar cycle. Passover was known as “Pasch”, taken from the Hebrew word “Pesach”, meaning “to pass over”. It commemorates emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. The rituals of Passover remind us to honor freedom, and Easter symbolises the potential of renewal and new life. Spring abounds with promise everywhere!
Eastre, the Goddess
Before Christianity, “Easter” (Eastre, Eostre) was a Teutonic goddess of dawn, spring and fertility. She is also called Ostara, goddess of dawn, with sunrise celebrations centered on growth and renewal. Prayers to her assured abundant crops, and eggs were eaten and exchanged as talismans.
Other Names of Spring Goddess:
Symbolising the beginning of Spring, with brightening and longer days after vernal equinox, Eastre is full of growth and passion of new life. She was the Great Mother Goddess of Northern Europe.
She is a goddess of dawn and spring, and her name derives from dawn, the light arising from East. The words East and the female hormone, estrogen are related to her name.
The Rite of Spring
Eastre’s male consort was the Sun god, and rites of spring were celebrated in her honor on the first day of spring. Pagan celebration were on the first full moon following vernal equinox. The full moon represents a “pregnant” phase of Eastre, passing into fertility to give birth to the Sun’s offspring.
“Eastre” is derived from the direction East, and the Spring Goddess is associated with dawn. Eastre is related to the Indo-European Hausos, Goddess of dawn, and the Roman and Greek Godesses, Aurora and Eos. In German Austron means dawn, derived from Aus, “to shine”. The ancient word for Spring was Eastre, and Goddesses in many cultures are celebrated as the bearer of springtime.
- Aphrodite ~ Cyprus
- Ashtoreth ~ Israel
- Astarte ~ Greece
- Demeter ~ Mycenae
- Hathor ~ Egypt
- Ishtar ~ Assyria
- Kali ~ India
- Ostara ~ Norse Goddess of fertility
Countries in the middle east celebrate Spring festivals, including Nowruz, the ascension of mythological king of Persia. Commemorated by Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, India, Turkey, Zanzibar, Albania, Kurds, and central Asia, it is a Zorostrian holiday, and celebrated by Baha’i’ and Nizari Ismalili Muslims.
Sham El Nessim has been celebrated since 2700 B.C. and ancient Egyptians celebrated the beginning of creation with a feast at the Great Pyramid. The feast of Shemu, means ‘renewal of life’ later changed to ‘shamm’ (smelling or breathing) and ‘nessim’ (breeze). Sham El Nessim is celebrated as a national holiday, and is celebrated by Christians and Muslims as “Easter Monday”.
Rabbits & Eggs
Eastre represents renewal and fertility, and eggs and rabbits were sacred to her.
Rabbits are potent symbol of fertility, as a female can conceive a second litter while still pregnant with the first! The markings of the full moon were believed by some Eastern cultures to be an image of a rabbit pounding a mortar.
Some Asian folklore has rabbits living on the moon. Chinese Goddess Chang’e lives on the moon, because an overdose of immortality caused her to float up, and the Jade Rabbit continually pounds the elixir of life for her. In Japanese and Korean folklore, rabbits pound mochi and tteok. a mashed sticky rice.
The Earth in Spring is full of fertility and awakening, so the egg is an obvious symbol, and it has been a symbol of rebirth since ancient times.
Egyptians and Greeks buried eggs in tombs of the dead as a sign of resurrection, and the egg is a symbol of nature rebirth and regeneration. Eggs were decorated and given as gifts, and dyed eggs were part of early rituals in ancient Near Eastern civilizations.
These could have been the first Easter eggs!
Easter egg decorating is an art in Germany and Russia, and old Spring rituals in Germany and Sweden consist of throwing an egg into the air “to ensure grain will grow as high”
With all this growth and abundance around us, it might be a good time to create intentions for this year. Imagine yourself reborn anew, filled with Spring energy, and use it to clear away something that no longer serves you.
Things to Energise You!
- Decorate with Spring flowers; crocuses, daffodils, violets, lilac, lilies, roses, iris
- Add something green in your house; plant, candles, soap representing growth and expansion
- Take a walk outside, look at the trees and feel the air
- Plant flowers or vegetables. Clear a spot in your garden or get a planter
- Breathe deeply, find your energy and visualize goals
- Eggs are new life. Color or paint symbols on eggs
- Light a pair of dark and light candles to represent light and dark in balancein and out
- Create an altar with flowers, eggs and candles to meditate on new beginnings
- Work on projects and ideas begun around Winter Solstice
Here are some of my favourite Spring Flower symbols. Add some to your home!
- Dogwood: 4 petals symbolize 4 directions
- Iris: Purity, wisdom, faith, birth blessing, life and resurrection
- Honeysuckle: Rebirth, renewal, spiritual sight, versatile mind
- Jasmine: Lunar, psychic, spiritual love
- Lily: Strong associations with fertility, purity, rebirth
- Rose: True love, joy, yellow roses for Eastre
The earth is ready, planting season has begun.
Sow your seeds and nurture yourself as you bloom!
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This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing the lovely pictures and history of Eastre.
Dear Friends, Happy Easter!
Thank you for this. Truly beautiful.