Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Eostre and Ostara


Ēostre and  Ostara

Fresh green grasses soft under our feet
Downy yellow chickadee's chirp and peep
Blooms spring forth from budding stems
As sleep is shaken from those hibernating in dens

White, pink, lavender, yellow and peach
The colors of rainbows within our reach!
A swath of your hand and wink from your eye
The hard, dead winter waves it's last good bye.

Awakening, and stretching the inhabitants of the glade
Revel joyfully in your work, your plans well laid.
Beautiful, gracious Eoster, Maiden of Spring
We call to you lady, growth and fertility do you bring!

Equal does time stand, as night gives it's way
Thus the Sun rides high waxing to Solstice Day!
Joyful ! Fulfilled, Spring plants and Vegetables sprout
We thank you Lady for the bounty which will be wrought.

Eoster, Gentle Maiden  of  Spring
Sunshine, warmth  and rain do you bring
Joy, love, life and sustenance to us
Lovely maiden, Spring Noblesse.
                                                              ~Nyt 01/12

 Ostara
March 21st or 22nd Vernal Equinox
Cross Quarter Sabbat


Ēostre or Ostara is a Teutonic Goddess of the Spring.  Her rites and festivals were celebrated in what corresponds to the month of April, (referred to as Northumbrian: Ēosturmōnaþ; West Saxon: Ēastermōnaþ; Old High German: Ôstarmânoth)  Our only written documentation of  Ēostre come from
author  Bede, who  refers  to her in his eight century work "De temporum ratione".   He states that her veneration and celebration had long since ceased as of his writing and had been replace by the Paschal Month (celebration of the resurrection of the Christ).  There are connections to her and ancient  Germanic Easter customs of colored eggs and Hares. 
Writing in 1972, John Andrew Boyle cites commentary contained within an etymology dictionary by A. Ernout and A. Meillet, where the authors write that "Little else [...] is known about [Ēostre], but it has been suggested that her lights, as goddess of the dawn, were carried by hares. And she certainly represented spring fecundity, and love and carnal pleasure that leads to fecundity."

So what is Ostara to paganism today? 

Ostara is of course the spring celebration of the Goddess Ēostre.  Today it is celebrated on the Vernal Equinox.  A time when the light and dark are perfectly balanced.  The dark however gives way to the light, as the year waxes onward. 

Ostara, like the Christian Holiday Easter, (Christianity derives the holiday name from the Teutonic Festivals of Ēostre), is the celebration of rebirth and the renewed life of the earth, brought forth by the spring! Like the spring goddess from which it derives it's name.  The symbolism of this rebirth and renewal permeates through nature.   The young chicks, lambs  and the first birth of the herd animals have come.  Those sleepy inhabitants  hibernating in their dens , yawn and stretch, rubbing the sleep from their eyes. It seems that the entire earth is waking, to an enchanting morning!   The first spring vegetables are poking their heads up from the soft  earth.  Growth is everywhere!

My fondest memories of this time, come from my childhood in North Carolina, the dogwood blooms  covered  the  trees  like snow,  the bright  azalea's in every hues of pink, white and orange painted a swaths of color across the landscape. 

As a celebration of rebirth and renewal, brightly colored  and  painted eggs, Hares, equilateral crosses, butterflies, chicks are familiar symbols at this time.   Brightly colored eggs of course symbolic of fertility and seeds as the holders of life and infinite potential.  Hares and  Bunnies, of course, unbridled sexuality.   If you ever owned a bunny you well understand the idiom, multiplying like rabbits! Butterflies, emerging from their cocoons, transformed, reborn beautifully bright in color.  Chicks  of course  fertility, and new birth,  the waxing times of our lives, bright, soft  and  new!

Important and key concepts to keep in mind for our celebrations!  Renewal, Rebirth, Growth, Fertility.  Ostara is an excellent time to renew your own vows , or rededicate your self to your path.   Many traditions in paganism and witchcraft use Ostara as a time for dedications and initiations. 




So what are some fun things you can do to celebrate Ostara?
    • Precisely on the Equinox, place and egg, wider  end down, on the ground.   The egg should balance perfectly.
    • Make equilateral crosses  to hang around the house.
    • Bless seeds for planting.  This is a great time to start your spring planting.
    • Color eggs,  paint pagan symbols on them, bless them. Decorate you altar with them, use them for egg hunts!
    • Ham, is traditional for feasting at this time, the last of the cured meats from the winter stock!
    • Bright spring flowers, tulips , daffodils, hydrangea, lilacs, are wonderful to fill your home with!
    • New clothes!  Yes this is where Easter finery comes from.  Treat yourself to something bright and hew to lift your spirits and shake off the winter.

One thing interesting to note in traditional observances of Ostara.   The God  is a young man, just coming towards sexual awakening.   He is getting ready for the marriage to come at Beltane with the Goddess.
He is the Green Man, the Oak King/ Sun King.  His own seed quickening and readying to fertilize.   In many traditions, you have no doubt read, of the fight between the Oak King and the Horned One/ Holly King.  Many traditions place these battles, on the Solstices.  When the Kings are respectively at the apex of their powers.  However, my first High Priestess taught it a different way.  We celebrated the battles of the Kings at Ostara and Mabon instead. Light and  Dark are equal. The Kings well matched for their fights.  The outcome of the battle deciding the turn of  wheel of the year.  This was always one of the most enjoyable aspects of festivals, so now I pass it on to you.

Correspondences for Ostara:

  • Alternative Names/ Celebrations: Spring Equinox, Vernal Equinox, Ostara, Esther, Eostre, Ostarun, startag', Eastre, Eoastrae, Oestre, Lady Day, Alban Eiler (Druidic),  Summer Finding (Asatru), Naw Ruz (Persian New Year), Alban Elfed, Festival of Trees, No Ruz, Rites of Spring
  • Symbols  & Decorations Eggs, rabbits, hares, chicks, sprouting plants, coccons, butterflies, bees, lambs, pussy willows, four leaf clovers, baskets, budding twigs, birds, spring flowers, colorful ribbons
  • Dieties:  (archetypes) Maiden, young God, Green Man, Oak King, (specifc) Astrarte, Asasa Ya (Ashanti), Aurora, Brigit, Cybele,  Ēostre, Eos, Flora, Freya, Persephone (as Kore) ,Ares, Mars, Attis, Adonis, Osiris, Narcissus, Hyacinth and Dionysus, Nayame, Saraswati (Hindu)
  • Ritual Work:  rebirth, renewal, new beginings, growth, fertility, new life, balance, planting, cultivating, love, health, healing, agriculture, prosperity, purification, dedication, initiation, mysteries
  • Colors:   red, greens (soft), blue (robins egg) pastels
  • Animals:  dragons, hares, rabbits, chicks, lambs, butterflies, snakes, robins
  • Stones: Carnelian, coral, agate, brown jasper (orange stones), amethyst, aquamarine, bloodstone, red jasper
  • Plants: crocus, daffodil, dandelion, forsythia, echinacea, golden seal, hibiscus,  honeysuckle,  hyacinth, iris, irish  moss  jasmine, lilly, narcissus, oak, peony, primrose,  snowdrop, thistle, tulip, violet., woodruff, all spring flowers
  • Incense/Oils: ginger, jasmine, lavender, lotus,  magnolia, rose, sage, strawberry,  violet,
  • Foods: seasonal foods,jelly eggs (jelly beans), edible  flowers, fish, chocolates, lamb, eggs, seeds, honey cakes, leafy green vegetables, spiced or flower cupcakes, fruits, hot cross buns, ham, sprouts, honey cakes, unleavened bread, fresh fruit, milk, dairy,  nuts, asparagus

I wish you a most enjoyable Ostara and May the Blessings of Spring be yours!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Wiccan Rede: Let Love and Trust be our guides again

(This is a continuing discussion line by line of the full Wiccan Rede.  See the first post in February for the full rede and beginning of the discussion.)


Honor the Old Ones in deed and name, let Love and Trust be our guides again.


Honor the Old Ones in deed and name

While this seems like a very easy concept to understand or define, however I thought it might be interesting to look at the word Honor.  Since we as a culture toss it about quite a bit.  Back to Merriam - Webster

Honor:

: good name or public esteem : reputation b : a showing of usually merited respect : recognition <pay honor to our founder>
2: privilege <had the honor of joining the captain for dinner>
3: one whose worth brings respect or fame : credit <an honor to the profession>
4: chastity, purity <fought fiercely for her honor and her life — Barton Black>
5 a : a keen sense of ethical conduct : integrity <a man of honor> b : one's word given as a guarantee of performance <on my honor, I will be there>
I love little words, that mean so much !!  So in looking at honor, specifically relating to Diety, the Old Ones. We can understand much of what the rede is trying to say.
1.  Understand that you as a follower of the Old Ones, are a reflection of them.  Always guard your reputation, and your name that it may reflect well upon them!  In other words.  Project a positive image.  Stand by your word.  Follow through with your promises.  Be a good and decent person, that others may hold you in esteem.  For as much as they esteem you, they will also honor those whom you follow.
2. Understand that it is your privilege to be a follower of the Old Ones.  You are not here just because it's a fun thing to do, and you want to freak out your friends and family.  If that is your purpose, you are in the wrong religion.  As you  pay respect, and honor the Old Ones, so will they do likewise to you.  Drawing you close to them, revealing their work to you, as well as those things about yourself you are constantly seeking.
3. Bring credit, respect and fame to the Old Ones through both your word and your actions.  Let them both
reflect solidly on one another. 
4.  That through your actions and words you reflect yourself to be pure of thought and intent.  
5. That you value , yourself, your word, your bonds and hold it and yourself with integrity.  In doing so, so will others hold you, and those you follow.
Honor them in deed and name.  Both by your words and your actions!  Do not simply mumble to the Gods, I honor and venerate you.  Actually do it!  Treat them with respect.  Treat yourself and other with respect as you are all children of the gods!  Do not simply go through the motions.  We all know the christian metaphor of Sunday Morning Saints. ( On Sunday morning everyone sits in the pews, clean, well dressed and pure in thought and deed.  They sing and praise their Gods, then they go home and proceed to do exactly opposite of their religious teachings.)  If you are a follower of the Old Ones, then by all means follow them.  Pay heed to this advice, have a strong moral and ethical code and follow it!  Don't be "that" person who says the right words, yet there is no intent, passion or emotion behind anything you do. Trust me, the Gods, know your heart.  An open heart to them is soon filled.  Walk your walk, with love , honor and yes some pride! 

Let Love and Trust be our guides again.

Remember our discussion on  Perfect Love and  PerfectTrust earlier?

Erich From had addressed love saying the active character of true love involved four basic elements; care responsibility, respect and knowledge.

Put this in perspective with what we have been reading from this entire stanza.

Bide the Ancient Laws ye must, in Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.
Live ye well and let to live; fairly take and fairly give.
Soft of eye and light of touch, Speak little: listen much.
Heed ye flower, bush and tree. By the Lady, Blessed Be.
Honor the Old Ones in deed and name, let Love and Trust be our guides again.

Wondering if I am the only who sees all of From's elements here?  From all of our discussions thus far, all of the From's elements are literally written in huge letters all over them! 

Trust, as we defined earlier from Merriam- Webster is assured reliance on the character, ability, strength and truth of someone or something. One in which confidence is placed, as well as responsible charge or office, and care or custody.

Again, is that not exactly what we have been talking about , this entire time ? So what the rede is saying, by following this advice, living our lives in accord with nature, the gods, and paying respect to all things from the followers of the earth to our fellow humans.  We will be living in perfect love and perfect trust.  Truthfully, how beautiful is that!! 



Resources:

Merriam- Webster Online Dictionary :http://www.merriam-webster.com
From, Erich, The Art of Loving , circa 1956

(Next Blog: Cast the Circle thrice about!)

Wiccan Rede: By the Lady Blessed Be

(This is a continuing discussion line by line of the full Wiccan Rede.  See the first post in February for the full rede and beginning of the discussion.)


Heed ye flower, bush and tree. By the Lady, Blessed Be

Heed ye flower, bush and tree


The word heed is an interesting choice here.  According to Merriam- Webster it means literally to pay careful attention to.  Why is it so important to pay careful attention to plants?   You can actually approach this two ways.  First, understand that plants and trees are the subjects of which element?  Ahem.... Earth!  Excellent.  As subjects of said element, they are metaphors for her as well.  

Earth, Gaia, is a LIVING planet with which we live in a symbiotic relationship.  We are the cells to her planetary body.  As  sentient beings, (likening us to brain cells), it is our responsibility to provide stewardship to our lady.  We realize, or should realize what consequence our  actions have our the earth.    In recent years we have heard spoken, in the news the concept of our ecological  footprints upon the earth.   The ecological footprint specifically measures humanities demand on nature. 

The ecological footprint estimates the amount of land and ocean required to sustain your consumption patterns and absorb your waste on an annual basis.  As stewards of the earth, it is our responsibility to lessen the impact we have on nature.  To pay careful attention to what the consequences of our actions are, and to work towards correcting the damage done by others.  This can be as simple as using renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels, composting your waste, utilizing woven reusable fabric bags at stores instead of plastic and paper.

So in essence, paying attention to our own impact on nature and the earth, is paying her heed.  Treading lightly, through out our life, treating nature as the Goddess she is.  That spark of the divine, which is in all things, from each of us, to every trees, plant, seed, stone and speck of sand.   This also brings us to a second way of looking at the rede.

 As we said all things carry within them a spark of the divine.  Each an energy and yes sentience of it's own.  If you don't believe me spend some time with a rock !  The energies are very apparent, after meditating with one, you will also realize there is a  sentience.  While not as rapidly processing as our own, understand it is something which has existed for millions of years, with processes much slower than our own.  The point being that each plant, flower and tree has something to teach.  From understanding the correspondences when working within the craft, to opening yourself to their individual lessons through meditation.  There is much we can learn from our the other cells of our Mother Earth.  So do pay them heed.

By the Lady Blessed Be

Quite simply,  by honoring our Mother Earth, paying careful attention to how we tread upon her.  By working to lessen the impact we leave as a species, restoring the oceans and protecting species endangered as consequence to our modern life.  We will reap the blessing of our Lady.  From clean water, to bountiful plant life, refreshing out atmosphere, and sharing our home with all the species which make her truly special, we will realize how blessed we are by her.  Through understanding our relationship with our fellow plants, stone and brethern of fur and scale we will truly move in tune with nature, as part of her, instead of  the parasitic existence that many of us employ today.

Let us work together to preserve and honor our Lady, and in doing so reaping her bountiful blessings.

(next blog: Let Love and Trust be our guides again.)