Our Ancestors Rocked
For me Spring means snow will be gone soon, green grass will cover the hills on the ranch, and calves will be running around enjoying some better weather with their mommas. I desperately look forward to this turning of the wheel because I loathe winter and the cold months here in Nebraska. It often creates a depressive state for me and I feel like I’m clawing my way out of winter by the time Ostara comes around.
I try to think of how my ancestors felt at this point in the cycle of the season. I imagine no electricity to heat my home and always keeping wood on hand to ensure my family was warm. To think they had to make the fall harvest last until new life had sprung amazes me. They had such discipline and survival skills to keep their family safe and provided for during the cold winter months. The Vernal Equinox would be a beacon of hope, the ending to the harshest months, and the beginning of a new cycle. It would mean they would stay warmer without so much effort. It would mean greens would be available in the coming weeks and new life coming forth in their livestock herds. The relief of this day had to be immeasurable. I loathe winter but I have it easy compared to our ancestors. I send much gratitude to those who have went before me so that I could be here today bitching about how cold it is when I walk to my barn in my layers of waterproof insulated gear to feed my horses that are warm in said barn.
Ostara And Correspondences
Ostara is a time that joins the dark and light. It is the Vernal Equinox and that means a new season and a balancing of energies. She is the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring. Ostara’s origin may have come from Eostre, the Germanic Goddess of spring and fertility. In some Pagan traditions it is also when the Sun (God) starts his journey and his light takes over the dark time of winter. Traditionally, offerings of cakes and colored eggs are given to Ostara. Rabbits were her sacred animal and it was believed that she took the form of a white rabbit.
Here are some correspondences for Ostara/Vernal Equinox:
Colors: pastels in green, yellow, purple, and pink
Incense: jasmine, sage, rose, and strawberry
Decor: wildflowers, eggs, rabbits, and birds
Crystals: rose quartz, agate, amazonite, garnet, clear quartz, amethyst, and moonstone
Animals: butterflies, chicks, dragons, lambs, rabbits, pegasus, unicorns, and robins
Oils: ginger, lavender, lotus, and rose
Jesus vs Mithras
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the controversy surrounding Easter vs. Ostara and Jesus vs Mithras. The parallels in theology are very similar right down to the dates and times of years for birth and death. Because this is a religious issue, it’s become a pissing match between Christians and Pagans as to who is copying who. I think most pagans are under the basic understanding that most pagan holidays were crafted into Christian celebrations by the Catholic Church to ease the transition of converting the ‘heathens’. This story really isn’t much different. Mithras was a Zoroastrian god that followers in Iran and Iraq followed. While battling in Iran and Iraq, Roman soldiers were introduced to the Mithras following. They brought this theology and worship of Mithras back to Rome and from the 1st to the 4th Century CE, Romans commonly worshiped this God.
The Story of Mithras
The story of Mithras goes like this:
Mithras was born from a virgin during the Winter Solstice. He went on to assist his followers in ascending to the realm of the light after death. He was thought of as a just and pure of intent being. He later died and was resurrected in the Spring. Hmmm…super familiar right?
Mithras was thought to be the manifestation of the Roman sun god, Sol Invictus (Unconqured Sun). In 274 CE, the Roman Emporor gave Sol Invictus official status and his birth was celebrated on December 25 each year.
Evidence of the validity of the Mithras worship was found in a cuneiform tablet from the 15th Century between the Hittites and Mitanni. Mithra was invoked as the God of Oath.
Jesus And Some Dates
So I’m sure most of you know the story of Jesus; born of a virgin on December 25th. It is assumed that he was conceived on March 25 and that’s where they loosely guess the birth date. The range of dates of actual birth that I found range from 7 BCE to 6 CE. That is a huge range and there is currently zero factual evidence of a firm year of birth for Jesus. This may confuse some because it’s often assumed that he was born in year 0. Nope, that’s not factual either. Here is an excellent article explaining that and creating a timeline based on the Bible and actual historical facts https://bit.ly/2CoJFPg.
Does It Really Matter?
So which came first? Who wins? One part of me, the rebel non-conformist in me, says Christianity is a copy cat. Which in a lot of cases, is true. But because there’s not a lot of facts or archaeological evidence to prove if and when he existed then there’s room for debate until such evidence is found. Some will argue that the Bible is proof. Well does have a collection of stories about Jesus but not written by him with no evidence to tie firm dates to his birth or death. That is not in the Bible. If it is, I can’t find it. So if there’s a crusading Christian that would like to show me proof of dates in the Bible of birth and death that can be backed up by archaeological evidence please send me where to find this.
But when that butt-hurt Pagan side of me stops arguing, I think to myself, does it really matter? I’m never going to be converted by anyone crusading for the ‘real’ meaning of Easter or Christmas. I’d bet any Christian reading pissed off Pagans rant about their stolen holiday isn’t going to be converted either. So I’ll stay in my lane and you stay in yours. Don’t take away my right to believe whatever the hell I want to believe and I’ll leave you alone too.
I’m writing this blog post on Saint Patrick’s Day. That controversy is another blog post on it’s own, but I’m opting out of that this year. Maybe let’s all celebrate the fact that we can believe whatever floats our boat? Some people today will get shitfaced on green beer before noon. Some people celebrate the spread of their belief system through a land they feel needed saving. Some will mourn their ancestors’ deaths and suppression of belief system. Then some will celebrate the coming of Spring and their Sabbat coming next week. I’m going to get my sleepy butt off of this couch and shut off my laptop and enjoy nature. It’s finally not snowing at the moment, the sun is out, and I think it’s warm enough to ride my horses. So however you celebrate, do it with gratitude.
Thanks for reading my ranting today and be safe!