Friday, March 25, 2005

Eostre--the original Easter--or, make like an Egyptian...

Back when the Goddess was prominent among various cultures, one Anglo Saxon Goddess, Eostre, was designated the Goddess of Spring, new life, and fertility. Her companion was usually a hare-- now morphed into the Easter Bunny.
Why a hare? According to those in the know, a hare was the natural consort to a Goddess of spring and all that she represents. Hares are known for quickly and prolifically shooting off lots of little bunny sperm. Lots of New Life. The hare was the companion to the Lunar Goddess way before he became known as the Easter bunny. And, he was her companion in several ancient cultures, not just the Anglo Saxon one. Lambs are born, calves are calved, yes, spring is the time of year when life bursts forth in all of it's glory. Who better to symbolize that time than a fertile woman, a prolific hare, and eggs?
This lovely Goddess of spring was called Eostre. Other word associations pop into mind here--estrus, the period of sexual receptivity in female mammals, estrogen, the female hormone... The annual feast of Eostre, after the introduction of christianity, was claimed by the catholic church and turned into the feast of Easter. Why? In order to bring the peasants around. It was much easier to bring a village over to your beliefs if you used the diplomatic strategy of combining your celebrations with theirs. Bringing the peasants around to your religious beliefs was a great way of getting a hold on them, their children, and of course, their money and loyalty. Power, it is always about the power and the money.

Numerous variations of Eostre's name abound. They include Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Estre, Eostre, Eoster, Eostra, Eastre, Eostur, Eastra, and Eastur.
What I find quite interesting about this feast and this Goddess, is it's association with the vegetation god.
Seems that at this time of year, the Goddess would slay the vegetation god and then bring him back to life. Mmmmm. Another Pagan story about the vegetation god is that he was kept buried in a tomb until it was time to bring him back out and and to life again. At this time of year. Because it is spring, and we need the vegetation god to make all things green again. Mmmmmmm.

Another Mmmm is the association of Easter eggs with --Easter. Another quite old and quite Pagan concept are those Easter eggs. According to a few sources, they are of course, associated with fertility and birth, and new life, but a few thousand years ago, and pre-christ, the Persians used to paint their eggs red, as red was considered to be the color of life. Red, of course, being associated with blood. Eostre is also said to have been derived from the ancient goddesses Astarte and Ishtar, and those goddesses to have been derived from the Egyptian goddess Isis.
More interesting info on the origins of Mel Gibson's favorite holiday can be found
here, here, here, and here. Do you think he makes like an Egyptian this time of year? He should. Or, he should at least take some of that moola he made on the Passion and give it to some Egyptian charities.

In case you are wondering, NO, I am not a Christian, nor do I follow the belief system of any male dominated religion. I do believe that our male dominated religions are all trying to be the one true ALPHA male religion. The violence, prejudice, death and destruction those religions have showered on our world for a few thousand years, in true alpha male pissing style, and in the name of god, is not my idea of spirit. Nor of holy, of sacred, or of the divine.


Blogger PaxRomano said...

Thanks Medbh, you, of course, are one of the few people I know that has the goods on the reality of Easter (like every other damn so called Holy Day)...funny thing is, when one explores the death of Jesus, it's actually a political thing; someone is put to death by the powers that be because he dared to shake up the status quo! I often wonder what the Christ would say if he saw how his life and death been bastardized and used as rationale for all kinds of insanity.

5:39 AM  
Blogger Francesca said...

There are a lot of connections between Easter and Passover as well. Really, there is nothing new under the sun...

In the Greco-Roman world, hares were often given as gifts between lovers. In Corinth, they even made perfume bottles in the shape of (dead) hares.

In Etruscan funerary art, eggs figure prominently in scenes of banqueting. Since the scenes may be depictions of dinner parties that took place in the afterlife, the eggs may be a symbol of eternity and rebirth.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Medbh said...

Wow, interesting take on the death of christ. You are right again, Pax, it was political, and the religious and the political were entwined then, as now. Where's my knife?
That is yet more interesting info, Francesca! but, if I had lived back in the hare gift giving days, my love had better have had a gold hare in his hand, and not a real one..
I have some very neat egg info about present day mayan catholicism I hope to post soon. I observed it while trasping around Guatemala a few weeks ago. Their version of god looked like Clint Eastwood....

1:53 PM  

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