------------------------------------
- a collection of essays on Neodruidic Studies
- a journal of Post-Reconstructionist Neopaganism





Saturday, March 14, 2015

OSTARA – OSTSHMARRA!

HAPPY EASTER !



Ostara (1884) by Johannes Gehrts
The word "EASTER" is just as
pagan a word as YULE.

Why, it's arguably even "more" pagan than the word Yule.

So, why should we rob the power of that fact
by continuing to use the (non-historical*) word
"Ostara" instead?

It's time to stop.

It's time to start saying "Easter"
the same way we say "Yule".

Per the one authoritative ancient source we have, the Venerable Bede's 
de Temporum Ratione, written around 730 C.E., in a chapter titled "The English Months"(1.) we are told that "Eostre" ( Eastre in Anglo-Saxon), the name of a goddess, was given in the pagan Dark Ages to what we count as March and April. It bears consideration that Bede reckons the equinox itself as falling on the "12th calends of April" (= March 21st) which is consistent with modern astronomical standards (March 20th if not 21st). This parallels Bede, elsewhere in the same work providing also our earliest detailed ancient source on the word "Yule" (guili) as being their name for the turning of the year at the December Solstice. The details do seem to specify the December Solstice itself as being referred-to as "Yule" as well as being the name of month bridging the end December into January.

Now, yes, there have been challenges to the reliability of Bede's ethnographic and linguistic assertions but the matter is far from settled to the complete exclusion of Bede's material (Hutton, 1996; Shaw 2011).

Only Christians speaking English or German use the word "Easter" for the celebration of Christ's resurrection. ALL the other languages use some variant of "Pascha". For all we know, the Dark-Ages missionaries from the British-Isles who Christianized the continent brought the custom of using the old pagan name with them from England.

SO NEOPAGANS SHOULD BE FREE TO CONSIDER
THE TIME OF THE MARCH EQUINOX AS THEIR "EASTER"

and not have to worry about it being any more suspect on a scholarly basis than the dozens of assumptions made by reconstructionists on far less substantive grounds.

(( Yesss, let's not have me take to task, say, the scholarly rigor we and they apply in our cocksure elevation of every single character in the Irish and Welsh corpus to divinity, eh? Ok, enough of that for now; just back off on my man Bede. ))


Again, please, just reflect on how well this has been working for us with "Yule" and how continuing the "ostara" word-usage just robs us of the validity and power of the ultimately familiar word Easter.



Wishing you and yours 
a Blessed Eastertide,


- Earrach

--------------------------------------
(1.) The Venerable Bede on the origin of Easter:


“Eosturmonath has a name now translated as ‘Paschal Month’, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs called Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. They now designate the Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.”

Wallace, Faith. Bede: The Reckoning of Time. Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press, 1999. pp 53, 54

----------------------------------------------
* "OSTARA",  the non-historical spelling - is the form found everywhere these days in Wiccan literature but actually found nowhere in the ancient record. The word Ostara was first suggested in the 1835 by Jacob Grimm of the Brothers Grimm as his speculation of how it -may- have been spelled in ancient Germany. Bede's citation (De Temporum Ratione, 730 C.E.) of the name Ostre or Eastre seem to be the oldest historical mention to be found, yet neither he nor any other historical source give the "ostara" spelling.
-----------------------------------
Professor RONALD HUTTON on Bede's references to Easte:
"There remains, however, the problem of why the Germanic-speaking areas of Europe, in sharp contrast to the others, did not derive their name for this celebration from the Passover, but from a term which is rendered into modern German as Ostern and modern English as Easter. On the face of it, the issue ought to have been solved by Bede in the early eighth century, as part of his work on the calendar mentioned earlier. He declared that the name had derived from that of a goddess, Eostre, after whom the month in which Easter fell had been dubbed the ‘Eostur’-month. This passage has been so often quoted without any inspection or criticism that it is necessary to stress that it is subject to all the reservations lodged by Tille against Bede’s assertions concerning the ‘Mother Night’, cited in the section dealing with Christmas. It falls into that category of interpretations which Bede admitted to be his own, rather than generally agreed or proven fact. A number of German scholars cast doubt upon its utility during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, although not with sufficient evidence to disprove it in turn. Two facts do seem to emerge from the discussion. One is that versions of the name given by Bede were used widely among speakers of Germanic languages during or shortly after his time; thus the Christian festival was known as Ostarstuopha in the Main valley during the eighth and ninth centuries. The other is that the Anglo-Saxon eastre, signifying both the festival and the season of spring, is associated with a set of words in various Indo-European languages, signifying dawn and also goddesses who personifed that event, such as the Greek Eos, the Roman Aurora, and the Indian Ushas. It is therefore quite possible to argue that Bede’s Eostre was a Germanic dawn-deity who was venerated, appropriately, at this season of opening and new beginnings. It is equally valid, however, to suggest that the Anglo-Saxon ‘Estor-monath’ simply meant ‘the month of opening’ or ‘the month of beginnings’, and that Bede mistakenly connected it with a goddess who either never existed at all, or was never associated with a particular season but merely, like Eos and Aurora, with the dawn itself. 


With the removal of this shadowy deity from the canon of historical certainty, there evaporates any reliable evidence for a pre-Christian festival in the British Isles during the time which became March and April. It may be that there was none, the ancient inhabitants being wholly taken up with ploughing, sowing, and caring for young livestock. Alternatively, some of the later Easter rites and customs may echo practices which attended old feasts of which we have now lost sight. Of one thing alone it is possible to be confident; that, although the timing of the feast of the Resurrection was dictated by historical accident, it could not have fallen at a more appropriate point of the European calendar, when so much in nature conduced to a mood of celebration and renewal."

Hutton, Ronald (1996). Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain (pp. 180-181). Oxford University Press.

RELEVANT LINKS:

WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR EASTRE?

http://thebookofsassafras.blogspot.com/2012/03/what-are-you-doing-for-eastre.html  
FUZZY LOGIC solves the endless dispute over “when” a season begins or ends !
http://thebookofsassafras.blogspot.com/2013/05/fuzzy-logic-and-wheel-of-year.html

BREAK A STICK in half at the sacred moment and nab some big Mojo? see:
http://thebookofsassafras.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-power-of-impending-moment.html

The DRUIDS’ ALMANAC – lots more related fun stuff here:
http://thebookofsassafras.blogspot.com/p/my-annual-druids-almanac.html

EASTER "FAKELORE"  debunking internet Ishtar-Easter B.S., thanks Ian !
http://intothemound.blogspot.com/2014/04/easter-fakelore.html 
T'WAS JUST A WEE BUNN! (remembering the 2004 Easter Bunny Massacre)
http://thebookofsassafras.blogspot.com/p/twas-just-wee.html 


Solstice/Equinox Terminator Square  (c) 1994, 2004 Earrach 



3 comments:

  1. I'm uncertain as to the pronunciation of Ostshmarra,.
    I think I know the meaning, but it is just UPG.
    Is it very vague Vernal vitriol?
    It doesn't spring up on Google!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Earrach you need to get this scholarly book. "Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World: Eostre, Hreda, and the Cult of Matrons" by Philip A. Shaw. He shows by place names the locations in Germany where Ostara was worshiped and the areas of Britain where Eostre was worshiped so both Easter and Ostara would be correct depending on your cultural standpoint, Anglo-Saxon vs Germanic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup - got it /had it for nearly 2 years and I had already hotlinked it ("Shaw") in the article above, right after the first dense paragraph. Such good stuff for sorting this all out - and I love the fact that he doesn't really dismiss Bede like some scholars have.

      Delete