These days, Easter is more about chocolate eggs than ancient spring goddesses, but the mystical roots of this pagan festival live on through our rituals! Here are our top 5 fascinating mystical facts about Easter (or Ostara)…
Easter is probably a pagan equinox festival
The festival of Easter comes at roughly the same time as the spring or "vernal" equinox (for the northern hemisphere). This is the time of year when the dark nights of winter are on their way out and the days and nights are of exactly equal length.
This time has been celebrated across the world in so many cultures, each with their own way of telling!
Christianity describes it as the time when Jesus was raised from the dead, and that symbolism connects to the idea of the sun (or "son") rising again out of darkness (winter).
It's also the astrological New Year. We start Aries season around this same time, Aries being the first sign of the zodiac. We enter a season filled with symbolism of new beginnings, excitement and growth.
Easter gets its name from an ancient goddess
Ēostre was the ancient Germanic goddess of spring. An ancient text written in the 8th century tells of the spring goddess Ēostre and the feasts held in her name. These feasts were at the same time every year, April, around the time of the spring equinox.
This goddess is thought to be the same as an even earlier goddess, Haéusōs, who can be traced back as early as 4,500BC! She was the goddess of the dawn, a solar goddess, who reveals herself at the break of day to chase away the shadows and evil of the night.
Easter is held at the same time as Holi Festival
The Hindu festival, Holi, is a festival of colour, held around the same time as our Easter, every year. It's well known in the west for the tradition of throwing coloured powder paints and is a time of great joy and play.
Holi has an interesting mythology about the overcoming of evil (light over dark), similar to our ancient goddess is point 2!
It seems then, that all across the world, we are celebrating light over dark, just as the natural world is showing us with the equinox.
Hares used to lay eggs, befriend goddesses, and carry tiny lights
Yes that's right! There are some ancient folklore tales in Germany that describe the goddess Ēostre, or sometimes the Norse goddess Freyja, transforming a bird into a hare that lays eggs!
It was also said that as the goddess of dawn, Ēostre's first lights were actually tiny torches carried by hares – a charming picture to imagine!
In ancient Egypt, hares were associated with this time of year as they are often born around Easter time. The hieroglyphics which spell their name was connected with the word for "open" as baby hares are born with their eyes open, symbolizing the time of new life and clarity at the vernal equinox/new year.
In addition, hares have been associated with witches, with many folklore tales telling that hares were often witch's familiars. They have also been connected with the Greek goddess Aphrodite, for their fertility symbolism.
Needless to say, these woodland creatures are friends of the divine feminine and very much connected to Easter!
Water poured at dawn on Easter day is holy
An 1835 book of Germanic folklore tells of women dressed all in white to represent the goddess of dawn and fertility, coming out very early in the morning of Easter to draw water from the well while the sun was rising.
It was said that this "dawn water" had magical healing properties and would bless anyone who drunk it.
Perhaps you'll give it a try this year?
Did you enjoy these mystical facts about Easter/Ostara?
Leave us a comment below!
Ellie Rose xoxo