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The Pagan Roots of Easter: Exploring the History of Éostre, the Spring Goddess

Easter is such a beautiful time within the Christian institutions with roots in ancient myths and traditions. A rather unknown aspect of Easter, are the tales about a Scandinavian female shaman, called Éostre (sometimes also called Ostara), who can transform herself into a rabbit.

I would like to share some of her mythology here today and how it relates to the origins of Easter as we know it here in the Western world. This is not to remove the special celebrations within Christianity, but rather to show the organic evolution of culture, storytelling and traditions.

Picture: is originally a black and white drawing called "Ostara" (1884) made by the German Johannes Gehrts. Copyrights unknown.
"Ostara" (1884) made by Johannes Gehrts. © unknown

The Circle of Life

The Spring Celebrations that are placed around the time we now know as Easter, have their very roots in ancient Europe, celebrating the different times of the seasons. However, in pre-Christian times throughout Europe, the Wheel depicting the changing of our four seasons, was deeply connected to a spiritual experience of being a part of The Circle of Life.

This deeper and spiritual sense of Oneness with the movement of life, was also expressed through various mythological stories, as well as Goddesses/Gods, who were related to the mythologies and each of the four seasons.

The Rabbi

Looking into European history one will discover that Spring was celebrated the strongest in those cultures who lived in the darker and colder parts of the continent. So when looking towards the cold north, one will find the spring goddess who took the shape of a rabbit, hence the Easter bunny. Her name was Éostre. A name that is very close to Easter.

Èostre took the shape of a rabbit. In many mythologies, as well as in indigenous cultures worldwide, we hear stories about shamans who takes the shape of - or are guided by - an animal as in a Power Animal (a special gift or positive force of wisdom that supports you.) So when you hear stories about people who can transform themselves into an animal, you know it is a reference to someone who - in one way or the other - was a shaman.

The return of the Sun

What is exceptionally beautiful about Éostre's mythology, is that she travels on the rays of the Sun. Éostre brings the sun with her after the darkness of winter.

This symbolism has strong similarities to the legend of Saint Lucia. Both Saint Lucia and Eostre brings such beautiful light to those around them. And no symbol represents the Power of Spirit stronger than the sun; in many cultures, the sun is called The Giver Of Life.

The Egg

The egg, on the other hand, comes from other cultures. In fact, it seems as if the symbol of the egg was a widely used methaphor in many cultures, also outside of Europe, and often depicted together with the serpent. The egg is yet another symbol of Life; a New Life.

However, the egg was just as much the symbol of the sacred Wholeness of the universe and the eternity of Life! Therefore, the egg's symbolism of New Life is pointing towards an ancient understanding, that the human life on Earth with is eternal Circle of Life, was deeply connected to a sense of Oneness with the Universe.

So, what I'm saying is...

Easter is about celebrating our deep spiritual connection with the universe and the mighty Circle of Life; the constant Circle of Life and Death. It is about experiencing the eternal light of divinity inside ourselves, opening up to it, allowing it to enlighten us. So let's celebrate this wonderful Spring time in whatever way that inspires us the most.

Happy Easter beautiful people.

xo Louise

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