Via Cora Wen on Mar 30, 2010
Did you ever wonder why rabbits and eggs are symbols of Easter…? Before Passover and Easter, many ancient cultures celebrated the Rite of Spring…
Before Christianity, Easter, Eastre, Eostre was goddess of dawn, spring and fertility. No, it’s not a typo: Eastre is a Goddess and she loved rabbits. Did you ever wonder why we associate rabbits and eggs with Easter..? It goes back to a Beautiful, Bountiful Pagan Goddess… This time of year is Passover and Easter, and many ancient cultures have celebrated the Rites of Spring…
Our Mother and Father: 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 ancient cultures saw Father as Heaven, and Earth as Mother.
The union of this heavenly Father and earthly Mother brought forth abundant crops, as the rains from the sky met the 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. The Jewish Passover was known as “Pasch”, taken from the Hebrew “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 as Easter symbolizes new life and the potential of renewal. Spring abounds with reminders of change and 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: Ostara, Ostare, Ostern, Eostre, Eostra, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron, Ausos, Ishtar, Ashtur. 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 word, East is related to her and the female hormone, estrogen is named for her.
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
The middle east celebrates many Spring festivals, including the Iranian Nowruz, ascension of the 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 this creation story 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.
Imagine yourself reborn anew, filled with Spring energy, and use it to clear away something that no longer serves you.