(aka Vernal Equinox; Eostre; Ostarun; Mean Earrach; Lady Day)
This page was created by Marc Carlson
It was last edited 9 June 2004
End of Winter, and the beginning of Summer, the "Season of the Sun's
Ascendance". Rebirth of the God of Spring. Rebirth of Life as symbolized
by Spring. This is the Spring Equinox.
Ostara is a holiday recognized by many neoPagan and Wiccan groups, though
not all. For example, the original Gardnerian rituals had no place for
an Equinox Ritual. I don't have a clue when the name began to be used by
modern Pagans. It is one of the four "Lesser Sabbats".
Ostara is pronounced "o-STAHR-uh." Eostre is pronounced "OHS-truh"
Eostar-monath is the name given to the spring month of the Anglo-Saxon
year, and is not Celtic. Eostre is generally believed to be the Saxon name
for a maiden Spring Goddess.
Male and Female energies are in balance.
Day and night are equal as Spring begins to enliven the environment with
new growth and more newborn animals. Many people feel "reborn" after
the long nights and coldness of winter.
In some ancient Middle eastern religions, this is the beginning of the
New Year and the celebration of the Living God-King to the Goddess-Priestess.
The Venerable Bede (673?-735 CE), in his book De Ratione Temporum,
appears to be the first person to assert that Pascha Sunday was named after
a Germanic dawn goddess of fertility, called variously as Eostre, Eastre,
Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Ostarun, Ostera, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra,
Eastur, Austron and Ausos. Her festival was celebrated at the Vernal
Equinox, during Eostur-monath. (I should note that where Bede got HIS
information is really clear).
Some modern believers have associated her with the Semitic goddesses Astarte
Some feel that the rabbit was her ancient escort, and that the "Easter
Bunny" and Easter Eggs are held over from her festivals.
According to modern pagan mythology it is Ostara, as herald of the sun,
who announces the triumphal return of life to the earth.
Some people also attribute the naming of Estrus, a particularly feminine
aspect of biology after her. Some reflect this by pointing out that
Eostara is a lunar holiday, honoring a lunar Goddess, at the Vernal Full
She is celebrated with singing, rejoicing, processionals, flowers, the
ringing of bells, lighting new fires at dawn for crop protection and healing,
coloring and rolling eggs for fertility, baking and eating Hot Crossed
buns (the "crosses" often symbolizing cattle's horns, or the crescent moon).
Witches in the Greek tradition celebrate the return from Hades of Demeter's
This is the time of the descent of the God or Goddess into the Underworld
(Jesus/Demeter/Isis/Ishtar) to rescue the God of Rebirth.
Some in the Celtic tradition see in the blossoms the passing of Olwen,
in whose footprints flowers bloom. The enigmatic egg, laid by the regenerating
snake or the heavenly bird, is a powerful symbol of the emergence of life
out of apparent death or absence of life. As well as the rescue of
the May Queen, the Flower-Princess from the King of the Otherworld.
To some this marks the birth of the Sun God, paving the way for the lushness
To some people this is a festival in honor of Oengus Og and the Goddess
Some use this time to note the Arrival of the Bright One at the court of
The Wounded King.
This is historically, not a "Celtic" holiday, but more generally is
appears to have been more of Germanic origin).