Did you know that Easter is always celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon that follows the Spring Equinox? There is more to Easter from an earth magic standpoint than marshmallow peeps!
The origins of Easter can be traced back to a few different pre-Christian cultures. The Saxons of Northern Europe worshipped the Goddess Oestre (also known as Ostara, Eostre, Eastre) with a special festival honoring her at the time of the spring equinox. She represented the renewal of life, the return of the sun and fertility. Egyptians, ancient Greeks and the Anglo-Saxons made offerings of colored eggs to the Goddess by placing them at gravesides to symbolize rebirth. Oestre was often depicted as a rabbit, as the bringer of spring, light and of course fertility – as we know rabbits are known for being highly fertile..
One story from Germanic mythology tells of the Goddess Oestre coming across a wounded bird in the forest. It was unable to fly and afraid predators would catch it. To help the bird, she transformed it into a hare to give it strong legs to hop away from its predators. In gratitude, the hare that was still half bird, laid eggs as a gift for Oestre.
Another legend surrounding the Summerian Goddess Innana (also known as Ishtar – notice how similar that name is to “Easter”) tells the story of how she enters the underworld to bring back her dead husband. In her absence life on earth slows down, animals stop reproducing, crops don’t grow and the land is no longer fertile. The Gods take pity and sprinkle the plant of life and water of life on Ishtar and her husband resurrecting them and allowing them return to earth for six months every year – as the light of the sun. With their annual resurfacing, fertility returned to the land in the form of summer, and waned again when they returned to the underworld in winter. Summerians and Mesopotamians celebrated the return of Ishtar every spring!
Today we have all kinds of rituals and festivals honoring the Goddess of Spring! One of our favorite rituals comes from our Bavarian (South Germany) ancestors – a tradition that has been passed down through many generations.
Every year on Easter, our family prepares a large brunch. To bring about health, wealth, and happiness in the new cycle of life, our ancestors always made sure that 7 criteria were present in the bountiful foods of brunch, each one symbolizing something:
- Eggs, of course, symbolizing renewal – we use lemon juice and a toothpick to make delicate designs on colored eggs
- Something salty for balance – salt on the table for eggs and salted meats
- Fish for creativity and transforming the old into new – usually we eat smoked salmon or fish in aspic
- Meat for material abundance – ham or roast served cold
- Fruit and greens for health – berries in season, dandelion salad, garden cress or watercress
- Dairy for fertility in all endeavors – quark (a fresh German cheese) with fresh herbs or milk
- Chocolate to invite prosperity, happiness and sweetness of life – we bake a sweet, rabbit-shaped bread with chocolate chips as eyes
And if you can still move after eating all of that – the upcoming season of light, renewal and fertility is sure to be filled with abundance and joy!
Yasmeen & Bunny