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Ostara, Saxon Goddess of
Springtime and the DawnEaster gets its name from the
goddess Ostara, also known as Eastre.
Ostara is a fertility goddess. Her annual arrival in
spring is heralded by the flowering of trees and plants and the
arrival of babies, both animal and human.
Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny both featured largely in the spring
festivals of the goddess Ostara. The rabbit (famous for its skill at
rapid reproduction) was her sacred animal and brightly colored eggs,
chicks, and bunnies were all used at festival time to honor this
goddess of fertility and abundance.
And here's the rest of the story . . .
The Goddess Ostara and the
Already feeling just a little bit guilty for arriving late one spring,
the Goddess Ostara was appalled when the first thing she encountered
was a little bird who lay dying on the forest floor, his wings frozen
by the snow.
Filled with compassion, Ostara took him
as a pet or, as some versions of the tale have it, her lover. Feeling
sorry that the poor wingless bird could no longer take flight, she
turned him into a snow hare and gave him the ability to run rapidly so
he could evade all hunters.
Honoring his earlier life as a bird,
she also gave him the ability to lay eggs in all the colors of the
Whatever could the goddess Ostara
been thinking when she turned him into a randy rabbit? Eventually
the decision backfired when the goddess became enraged with his
In a fit of anger, she threw him into
the skies where he unfortunately landed under the feet of the
feet of the constellation Orion (the Hunter). He remains there
to this day, and is known to us the constellation Lepus (The Hare).
Softening her attitude a bit, Ostara
allowed the hare to return to earth once each year to give away his
colored eggs to the children attending the Ostara festivals that were
held each spring.
The tradition of the Easter Bunny had
More Bunny Beliefs ........
The Hare was sacred in many ancient traditions and was associated
with the moon goddesses and the various deities of the hunt. In
ancient times eating the Hare was prohibited except at Beltane (Celts)
and the festival of Ostara (Anglo-Saxons), when a ritual hare-hunt
would take place.
In many cultures rabbits and eggs were considered to be valuable
remedies for fertility problems. Pliny the Elder prescribed rabbit
meat as a cure for female sterility, and in some cultures the genitals
of a hare were carried to avert barrenness. (True origin of the
rabbits foot?? hmmmh.....)
Medieval Christians believed the hare brought misfortune, saying
witches changed into rabbits in order to suck the cows dry. It was
claimed that a witch could only be killed by a silver crucifix or a
bullet when she appeared as a hare.
Given their wild leaping and boxing displays during mating season, not
to mention their ability to push out dozens of bunnies each
spring, it is understandable that they came to represent lust and
Medieval Christians thought the rabbit was an evil omen, believing
that witches transformed themselves into hares so they could sneak
into the fields to suck the cows dry of their milk. It was claimed
that such a witch appearing as a hare could only be killed by a silver
crucifix or a bullet.
Much later, depictions of a white Hare sitting at the feet of the
Virgin Mary, was signified Christianity's triumph over lust or the
flesh. The speed displayed by a rabbit symbolized the need to flee
from sin and temptation and a reminder of the rapid passage of life.
And there is also the touching tale about a young rabbit who patiently
waited in the Garden of Gethsemane for three days and nights for his
friend Jesus to return, worried about what had become of him. At dawn
on Easter morning, Jesus returned to the garden and was welcomed by
the loyal little friend.
That night when the disciples arrived at the garden to pray,
unaware of the resurrection, they discovered a clump of beautiful
larkspurs, each blossom reflecting the face of the rabbit in its
center as a remembrance of the little creature's hope and his faith.
Easter traditions serve to remind us of the cycle of rebirth and
the need for renewal in our lives. In the history of Easter, Christian
and pagan traditions are delicately interwoven with grace and beauty.