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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Things You Didn't Know About the Goddess Eostra

As we get closer to Easter, you will find you're increasingly likely to hear about the goddess Eostra/Eostre/Ostara/Aloe Vera.

You know, Eostra.  The Celtic/Anglo-Saxon Goddess of the Spring Equinox. The one who Bede referred to - and was the only person who ever did - whom we name Easter, Oestrogen and East Ham after. That Ostara.

According to Beaker legend, Ostara lived "beyond the Eastern seas." Specifically in the Belgian town named after her, Ostend. In the myth, she was an exiled queen of Austria, which of coursr was named after her. She had a great struggle with her brother, Vienna, the god of lederhosen whose followers used to yodel.As her brother regretted their battle, he called her to the see the beautiful city that his worshippers. She responded, "This means nothing to me, O Vienna."

Although she wintered in Belgium, Eostra arose in the spring, and travelled in her boat (a giant egg) to Britain. She arrived from the East on the day of Equinox, and threw her older brother, Yule, who had reigned for six months, into the ground because he dropped snow on her feet, and didn't apologise. In Beaker worship, this is remembered to this day at the confession, when the leader says the words of calling to account: Yule, be sorry."

Eostra then travelled the length of the British Isles, in her bunny-drawn chariot, distributing Creme Eggs to all the Little Children of Stonehenge. After such a long journey, her rabbit-steeds were overheated and irate. So they were known as Hot Cross Buns.

The end of Eostra's journey was another place that is still named after her - Easterhouses in Scotland. Here she would spend the spring, eating deep-fried Creme Eggs. When the shops started to fill up with tinsel and after-shave - a thing that happened earlier every year - she would rise up, and, knowing that Yule was returning to the lands of the living, flee back over the North Sea, to winter in Ostend. With, of course, just the occasional day trip to Bruges.

So there is the story of Eostra, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. You wouldn't think it possible to wrench so much from one sentence that just says "Easter is named for the goddess Eostra." But then I've read about Old Testament Form Criticism. It's amazing what you can read into something if you put your mind to it.

4 comments :

  1. Never heard of her and I lived in Belgium for four years in the seventies, where they celebrate and have days off for every conceivable Saint or God(ess) possible. Liberally watered with beer and Geneva Gin.

    No, I believe that she is made up by someone who wanted to invent chocolate eggs for sale in huge numbers to gullible punters every year - and they seemed to have succeeded. Just like Lemmings we rush to the shops to get our piles of unhealthy sugar in the form of chocolate and forget our 'fair trade' roots.

    I'm a coop man myself and think they've got it right. The do real easter eggs from known, sustainable resources, fair trade with a light touch. One egg is enough for a whole family - using the share and share alike principle. Meaning I get the largest bit and the rest fight over what's left over.

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  2. Another thing you didn't know about Eostre was that she was not in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which wasn't written by Bede either, but in the De Temporum Ratione which was written by Bede. Tut!

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    1. I've got the Readers' Digest "Bede Condensed...."

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  3. They shall come from the Eost, they shall come from the West and sit down in the kingdom of God

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