Ostara

History About Resurrection

Given by Diana Heizer

For Christians around the world, the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox is Easter Sunday, the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. But for thousands of years before Christianity the vernal equinox signaled the beginning of the season of rebirth, the resurrection of nature and of many an ancient Pagan God. 

Egypt

One of the first stories ever recorded of death and resurrection is the Egyptian myth of Isis and Osiris. The Goddess Isis and God Osiris ruled an ancient land in peace and bliss, until Osiris’ brother, in a fit of jealousy killed him and cut his body into 14 pieces and scattered them throughout the world. Isis was heartbroken and traveled the world gathering the pieces which she took to Anubis, Lord of the Underworld where he brought Osiris back to life. 

Sumer

A similar tale is told in ancient Sumer located between the Tigris and Euprates rivers. There Tammuz, the God of Grain was loved by Ishtar, Goddess of Fertility and Sex. When Tammuz was killed, Ishtar demanded to be let into the Underworld and was trapped there by her sister, Queen of the Underworld until the God Ea saw the lack of fertility to plants animal and people in her absence. She was sprinkled with Waters of Life and returned to the living world. Ishtar’s symbols are the egg and rabbit which we still identify with fertility and sex. 

Ishtar was known as Astarte to the Phoenicians and by the Greeks she was equated to Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Beauty. 

Greece

There are a few stories from the Greeks about resurrection, the most famous of which is the story of Persephone and Demeter. Persephone was the daughter of the Demeter, the Goddess of Grain and Vegetation. When Hades looked upon Persephone he fell in love instantly and carried her off in his chariot to rule the underworld as his Queen. When Demeter realized her daughter was missing her grief was so great she would not eat or drink the nectar of the Gods and left Olympus, roaming the world looking for her lost daughter. Since she left the realm of the Gods, vegetation ceased to grow and the land became barren and cold. Zeus was concerned about human life so he sent a messenger to Hades telling him he must release Persephone. She returned and mother and daughter were reunited and the earth blossomed once again. However, Hades tricked her into eating magic pomegranate seeds before she left which kept her in the Underworld for half of the year. That is one of the many ways the Greeks explained the natural world and the changing of the seasons. 

Many Others

There are other stories of Aphrodite and Adonis. Cybele and Attis, Dionysus and Semele and Roman mythology had it’s counterparts. To the north the God Balder waits for his resurrection in the form of Ragnarok. 

Sometimes the resurrection was of undying love of a partner, but sometimes it was the love of a son for his mother or a mother for her daughter that brought about the resurrection back to life. 

Goddess of Spring

The vernal equinox is also known by another name, Ostara which is named for Eostre, a Pagan Goddess. Eostre or Ostre is the Anglo-Saxon or Germanic (depending on the source) Goddess of Spring to whom gifts of cakes and eggs were made for her. Rabbits were sacred to her, especially white rabbits, and she was believed to take the form of a rabbit. She is probably also the same as the Greek Goddess Eos, Goddess of the Dawn or Sunrise, since the sun rises in the East, and most directly in the east at the vernal equinox. 

And so, at the vernal equinox, Christians are joined in celebrating by Pagans though out the world. Having rediscovered the mythologies of our own ancestors, modern Pagans also celebrate the universal principle of resurrection at the Equinox. It is a rebirth. 

New Beginnings

Given by April Swain

Welcome. For those of you who do not know me, my name is April Swain. I have been around UUCE for a little over a decade. I’ve been skipping services since the start of shelter in place, in an effort to model to my children we can live without screens for at least one day a week. However, the opportunity to speak about Ostara crossed my path, so here we go: 

UUCE taught me Ostara has Pagan roots, and that the name is for the Germanic goddess of spring. Later conversions would see Christians celebrating this time of year as Easter. Regardless of who you offer your prayers or intentions to, we can find common ground in seeing this time of year as one for new birth / beginnings. Some people decorate their homes with the symbols of rabbits and eggs. One historian suggests the egg remains associated with this time of year because the hens begin to lay eggs when the days get longer than the nights. This period is the vernal equinox.   

I equate new beginnings with goal setting. I’ve spent all my professional career guiding clients through the process. We look at problems and identify them as acute or chronic. Even with overwhelming acute problems, I’ve seen people break them down into manageable chunks. One thing I chart about often is “duration goals.” I’d like to remind all of you that some changes aren’t going to be forever. We also talk about how they measure success.

Goal Setting

Everybody sit up a little bit straighter, because here is where I start talking about breast… milk.  

That’s where the duration goal came from. I have to document how long a mom wants the newborn to drink her milk. Many first timers say “as long as I produce.” Moms having their second or third child might say “only when I’m in the hospital with the newborn because I won’t have time with the others around at home.” 

Some clients worry SO much about if they will make enough breastmilk for their infants. They start pumping, examining how many ounces came out. Then they start comparing to other new mothers. They forget each infant’s appetite is different. 

I suggest to them consider alternate measurements: weight gain and diapers made. As long as the babe is gaining weight and making their dirty diapers, I don’t really focus on how much is going into that little stomach. If a mom ends up offering a combination of breastmilk and formula, she *still* has a partial victory, goal met. How do you grade your goals?       

As I’ve collected frozen, busted open eggs this winter from my own hens, I’ve wondered if that is how egg decorating got started. Open the frozen egg along the crack, drop it in the pan, place the shell halves back together and paint other designs that make the crack look intentional.

What If

As you decorate your Ostara eggs and contemplate new beginnings, understand they might surprise you. I’d like to close with a story about my avocado tree. I forgot I put it in a pot alongside a spider plant. MONTHS after it went into the soil, and I got busy activities of daily living, the little sprout appeared. Google had no answers for what in the world was going on with my spider plant. I kept watering it anyway, and eventually the water pushed the soil aside and there was the avocado pit with a green arm sticking out. Then I remembered the “what if” that had me plant it in the first place.   

I’m learning to enjoy the who knows what is going to happen but man, isn’t that little sprout cute? I made myself a mystery pot this winter with a trio of an avocado pit, an apple core and a white pine cone all planted together. Next time we are together, ask me how that new beginning is going. Happy Ostara. Blessed Be. 

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