It is officially spring time! Honestly, in Colorado it seems to be when we get some of our worst weather. But, everything turns to beautiful and green after a few weeks that you can forgive Mother Nature for wreaking havoc. [ she has plenty to be mad at us for anyway ]
Here in the US, Easter is the most prominent spring holiday. Well, it’s the one we see plastered everywhere in attempts to get us to buy more candy.
Easter was always a ‘mini-Christmas’ for my family growing up. There was always a big breakfast, an indoor egg hunt [quite brave of my parents, haha], and baskets filled with goodies. There may have been a year where we didn’t find all the eggs and it became a fun game of chance. The eventual smell was a pretty strong sign that we lost.
But the concept of eggs and bunnies has never made sense to me up until recently. No one could really explain why we focused so much on them.
We’ve touched on the Wheel of the Year before. Now that I’ve been diving even further into it in my own practice, I can finally answer my own questions!
The name Easter stems from the Germanic Anglo Saxxon goddess, Eostre (Ostara). She is the goddess of spring and dawn. She is mentioned briefly in history, so briefly in fact that some think she was created by the gentleman that first mentioned her, Saint Bede. You can learn more about him here.
Due to her brief mention, some historians believe that she is the northern version of the Greek goddess Astarte. Because cultures influenced one another so heavily, they believe that Astarte is connected to the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar [or Inanna].
Inanna was associated with the storehouse and meat, grain and other goods. Mostly “harvest” items that would sustain a community. She was also considered a fertility goddess.
Inanna was incredibly influential in ancient Sumerian culture and clearly heavily impacted those that succeeded it. You can learn more about her history here.
Now, at this point you’re probably asking – what about the eggs and rabbits?
Though Ishtar/Inanna is not directly associated with eggs, it is her connection to fertility and the storehouse that helps to bridge that gap. There are numerous historical associations of eggs with a new life that have caused it to become one of the most prominent symbols.
The great cosmic egg, death, and rebirth of deities, phoenixes being reborn –
The Scientific American does a wonderful job of highlighting some of these practices and beliefs.
Honestly, the question of “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” perfectly exemplifies the cyclical nature tied to them.
Rabbits, or more specifically hares, also have ties to resurrection and new life.
Hares have always represented an interesting duality. They have been seen as clever and foolish, feminine and androgynous, sexuality and virginity.
They are incredibly athletic, capable of running at speeds up to 40 km/hour and leaping nearly 7 meters are once. Hares are also known to stand upright on their hind legs, which in the darkness can be extremely off-putting. Their screams when caught or hurt resemble that of a child. They are extremely erratic and quite sensitive.
At one point, it was believed they were immortal, hermaphrodites and had a second set of teats within their womb! The immortality stems from the belief that they died at dawn and were reborn at dusk.
We know now that they are biologically capable of conceiving while pregnant and are nocturnal, so it makes sense that they would only been seen under the stars.
Hares span so many cultures and their prominence as a symbol of fertility and the coming of spring make sense now. Terri Windling does a wonderful job diving into a variety of folklore about them.
I did a quick little round-up of some traditions that have caught my eye:
~ Fill your home with greenery and flowers. I highly suggest checking out your local nurseries. I have two or three that are my absolute go tos here in Denver.
~ Dye some eggs! There are so many stunning ways to do so. Pine Cones & Acorns did a great round up for inspiration.
~ Bake some delicious Hot Cross Buns
~ Take a ritual bath with some DIY bath bombs
How do you plan to celebrate spring this year?
We’re hosting our first Psychic Fair, so we’re focusing on bringing together the community. Though, I can never resist a sweet treat so those hot cross buns may need to happen at some point.