Friday, March 22, 2013

Ostara, 2013 & A Wild Hare...

Spring has officially sprung with the Vernal Equinox, and Wiccans and Neo-pagans everywhere are celebrating its arrival with Ostara. The celebrations name is derived from the name of the Germanic goddess of Spring, Eostre. Ostara is often associated with the Celts, but there are no known Celtic Equinox celebrations in the history books. As with many pagan celebrations, Christians adapted Ostara into the celebration of Easter. I’m assuming it was done as another in a long line of moves by the church to try to Christianize the Pagans.
(Pagan/Wiccan Wheel of the Year)
For the early Pagans, the Equinox was a time to celebrate the new crop season, and the planting of those crops. The Spring Equinox is a perfect time to start new seedlings.

Ostara is acknowledged/celebrated by Pagans with the creation of Ostara eggs, trees, and altars.

(Some great egg designs I found online: Top Left ~ Leaf Eggs;
Top Right ~ Eggs decorated with beans and grains; Bottom Center ~ Handpainted Eggs)

(A couple of great examples of Pagan Ostara altars)

I think most people have heard the term “mad as a March Hare”. That phrase always makes me think of “Alice in Wonderland”. I conjure a mental image of the Madhatter’s Tea Party, and his friend the ‘mad’ March Hare (‘mad’ meaning ‘crazy’). The phrase actually has factual roots in the natural world.

('March Hare' from Tim Burton's, "Alice in Wonderland")
To Medieval society, the March Hare was viewed as a major fertility symbol. This particular species of bunny is nocturnal most of the year (only comes out at night), but that changes in March when mating season arrives. Then they spend the day looking for mating opportunities. It is a common occurrence during this time to see a couple of the bunnies boxing. Some assume that it’s two males duking it out over a female, but interestingly it is a female fighting off a male…either he doesn’t suit her fancy, or she has already done her mating time. The reaction from rebuffed males is one of frustration, the bunny bouncing around in an erratic fashion. It is this reaction that spawned the phrase “Mad as a March Hare”.

(Dueling Bunnies)
An interesting factoid about the females is that, like most rabbit species, they are “superfecund”. That means that they can conceive a second litter while still pregnant with the first. Guess that’s how the phrase “breeding like rabbits” came about…no wonder rabbits multiply so quickly.


For me personally, when I hear the word 'Spring', my mind conjures up a painting. Dutch artist Lawrence Alma Tadema is the creative mind behind my favorite painting at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California, aptly named "Spring" (c. 1894). It is truly a breathtaking piece, the joy of the revellers and the vibrant floral colors bringing the paintings sentiment to life. The celebration of life. The celebration of Spring.

To the Pagans celebrating the Equinox, Happy Ostara. To everyone else, Happy Vernal Equinox and/or Hoppy Easter.  

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