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She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

April 1st, 2015

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Ostara/Eostre

Ostara is the Goddess of Spring and of the Dawn. Her name, which in German, means “movement toward the rising sun”, is also used by some for the Spring Equinox.

Legend has it that Ostara found an injured bird. In order to save its’ life, she transformed it into a rabbit. The transformation was successful in that the rabbit survived, but it was not quite complete, as this rabbit could lay eggs as if it were still a bird. In gratitude, the rabbit would decorate its’ eggs and leave them for the Goddess.

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In Anglo-Saxon, her name is Eostre or Eastre. Her name has lived on in the holiday of Easter, another Spring holiday, which is also about resurrection and rebirth, if not of the Earth, but of hope and renewal. In this way, the Goddess Ostara is celebrated from the Spring Equinox until Easter.

This Goddess is about the returning light and warmth; and the Earths abundance as it is reawakened and reborn. Eggs, rabbits, flowers – all symbols of fertility – all first signs of spring – are sacred to Her.

Ostara’s symbols also became the symbols of Easter, which came much later.

Rituals to Ostara would include seeds, what you wish to grow and sow; planting a garden; coloring eggs and leaving them outside for the animals who are coming out of hibernation; taking a mindful walk, noticing the Earth as she begins to come out of her slumber, breathing in the freshness of the air, listening to the songs of the birds and the buzz of insects, feeling the sunshine.

May you all be blessed by Ostara this Spring!

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A Harm Free Spring

Spring has always been the time of year represented by themes of fertility, renewal, and hope. For Pagans it is the time of year when the Goddess is symbolically pregnant with God. We celebrate the Sabbats of Ostara and Beltane. These Sabbats are centered around the natural season and have the same themes of fertility, renewal, and hope. Ostara and Beltane altars are decorated with flowers, eggs, rabbits, baby chickens and other symbols of spring and fertility. The Christian and secular based versions of Easter share these same symbols of spring. After all, Ostara is the original spring holiday before it was Christianized and became known as Easter. The Easter egg hunt is one of the many long standing traditions still practiced in most American households, even Pagan ones. This spring season in particular though I have started to take a new look at these old traditions of ours. Why do we “hunt” the eggs? Why do we decorate our altars with eggs and rabbits? Why my sudden curiosity in these old traditions? One word veganism. I recently made the transition from being vegetarian to being vegan and I have been surprised by how much this decision has changed by view of Ostara practices. I decided to be vegan because I could no longer support the brutally violent and cruelty filled dairy and meat industries. One of the reasons I have decided to make this change is because of my Wiccan beliefs. When I was a Christian I was taught that animals have no souls, and that God gave us humans dominion over them (to do to them whatever we please). Once I became Wiccan though my world view slowly started to change. I now believe in the Divinity of all living creatures and that we are all connected. Humans are a part of nature, just like all animals are. If animals are Divine how can I justify the torture and inhumane killing of them? In addition to my acceptance of the Divinity in all things, I also adopted the Wiccan rede as a spiritual guide for my life. Most Wiccans try their best to live their lives by the words of, “And ye harm none, do what ye will.” Clearly no harm is happening within the unregulated meat and dairy industries of the world. I am not saying that all Wiccans or Pagans should be vegan. That is not the purpose of this article. Everyone’s life is their own and they are free to make the choices they feel are right for themselves and their spirituality. I truly believe this! I do however, think that Wiccans could be better about considering the Wiccan rede and principles of a “nature-based” religion. Should we celebrate the coming of spring? Absolutely! Should we focus on themes of fertility, renewal, and hope? Of course! How do we celebrate these themes though? How do we teach our children about the beauty and symbology of rabbits, eggs, and baby chicks? Maybe it is time we asked ourselves some tough questions. Questions like, are we really teaching our children to honor nature and the Divine by exploiting dairy animals and the natural environment? Should we celebrate the natural season of spring by cutting flowers, stealing eggs from an unwilling mother hen, and then eating that same mother hen? Maybe, maybe not. This Spring season let us push ourselves to be better people and better witches. Let us live out the Wiccan rede! Let us ask ourselves in what ways can we make this spring season harm free and a true celebration of the renewal of nature?

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