By the time this post goes up, it should be Good Friday, and that seems like a good time to talk about Eostre, from whence the Easter holiday takes its name. A lot of Christians have a lot of questions about Easter, such as: “What do eggs and bunnies have to do with the Resurrection,” and “Why is it called Easter?” A lot of preachers like to come up with cutesy little stories about how the egg symbolizes the empty tomb, but Christians have a harder time tying in the bunny to the theme of the holiday. One source ties the rabbit’s frequent mating cycle to the “Great Commission” to make disciples of all nations (not a disturbing tenet of the religion at all).
The real answer is: nothing.
Eggs and hares are generally fertility symbols, and while an argument can be made to connect the concept of resurrection to fertile spring – after the death of winter, the world returns to life in the spring – the Easter egg and the Easter bunny are pagan in origin. I’m sure this is a topic I’ve written on before, but it is also a topic that is important to me. In the way that the Resurrection is the most important celebration in Christian faith, so is the Spring Equinox/Eostre/Ostara in my practice. Knowing that the stories I was told in Sunday school were all bull shit was the catalyst that influenced my decision to break from Christianity.
The answer to Christians’ question, “Why is it called Easter?” is that Easter is named after the pagan goddess Eostre – pronounced “Easter.” The interesting thing about Eostre – or Ostara, as she is sometimes called – is that we know very little about her. As a matter of fact, there is some debate over whether such a goddess was ever worshiped in the first place. Her first literary appearance was in Saint Bede’s Temporum Ratione. She doesn’t appear in Germanic or Norse mythology, so where does she come from, and where did Bede get his information? He claims that her worship and traditions died out before he came around, so we must speculate. Owing to the fact that, if she did indeed exist, her traditions were likely oral, this is somewhat difficult. Thanks to the work of Jacob Grimm and others, we have etymological evidence for her existence. There are a number of English place names that are assumed to be derived from Eostre. However, with nothing written about her, we know nothing about how she was worshiped. All we really have are, ironically, the eggs and bunnies Christians have appropriated, and the name of the holiday itself.
Since we don’t know who Eostre was as a goddess, she has come to represent all forgotten and almost-forgotten spring and fertility goddesses, and that is one of the reasons she is important to me. An important aspect of my Satanism is honoring traditions and customs Christians have tried to eradicate. Eostre is one tradition they couldn’t, so they incorporated her into their own traditions – which, in and of itself, is hilariously blasphemous. What’s even more blasphemous is remembering the forgotten goddess whose traditions they hijacked. That is why every spring I say, “Hail, Ostara of the Dawn!”