The Goddess of Spring and the Dawn

Here is a neat myth I just found: Urglaawe Myth of Die Oschdre

It tells a tale of how the spring goddess brings bright colors to the world. This resonates well with spring here in Texas, with the Texas Mountain Laurels, Texas Redbuds, and now the Texas Bluebonnets starting to bloom.

Winter weather in Texas is gray. We only rarely get the pretty parts of winter: the snowflakes and icicles. No, we get gray clouds, fog, and drizzle. We do get some freak warm weather through the winter. I’ve had Yule parties where I needed to turn the air conditioner on. But most plants and animals know it’s not spring yet when we have those warm periods in December, January, or February. They wait, because the next week it could be below freezing again.

But by the Spring Equinox, it’s safe to assume we’ll get no more freezes again. At the same time, colorful flowers start to bloom and colorful summer migratory birds like warblers, painted buntings, and hummingbirds start to arrive. Our non-migratory birds like mockingbirds, cardinals, and chickadees start building new nests and soon you can hear the chirp of this year’s chicks up in the trees.

So yes, the idea of Ostara bringing color to a gray world fits very well here. I’m glad I found this myth.

There’s so little about Ostara out there. Some Heathens don’t even think she’s a real goddess and say that Bede just made her up. Others ignore her because she’s not found in the Scandinavian lore which they base their religion on. Some say she’s the southern name for a known Scandinavian goddess like Freya or Idunna and substitute accordingly.

This is purely speculation on my part, but I think she’s one of the “other” Vanir. You know, one of the ones besides Frey, Freya, and Njord who weren’t involved in the peace negotiations between the Aesir and Vanir. I also think that England and Central Europe knew the Vanir better than Scandinavia, because it’s a warmer, more fertile climate. I think that Frau Holle and Nerthus also may be Vanic deities that were better known in these more southern areas, and this is why their lore has been better preserved in the folklore of these areas than it was in Scandinavia.

I try to follow a Germanic version of the standard Neopagan Eight Holidays, using English, German, and Pennsylvania Dutch sources for inspiration. One thing I have observed is that the holidays opposite each other (that is, the ones that are exactly six months apart) balance each other in a nice way. They end up acting like Ying/Yang counterparts to each other.

The Autumn Equinox comes in September, and that’s usually when we get our first cold front that finally breaks the summer heat. The temperatures go from the high 90’s or low 100’s every day to a relatively refreshing high 80’s or low 90’s. Trust me, after getting through another Texas August, a high of “only” 92 is a sign the Wild Hunt and the Frost Giants are on their way! There’s a definite sense of seasonal change, of flipping a switch, and now we’re finally done with the suffocating 100 degree heat.

The Spring Equinox is the opposite of that. By January and February, we’re getting a little sick of the dreary drizzle with occasional freezes. But when the goddess Ostara arrives, we know it’s really Spring this time. It’s flipped to the light half of the year. It’s really unlikely we’re going to get any more freezes, so it’s safe to start planting out warm-weather plants. The trees know it’s safe put out their buds and flowers and the birds know it’s safe to start laying eggs. We know for sure that winter is done with.

Ostara is as real to me as any other deity I’ve encountered. One of the first group rituals I ever led was an Ostara ritual where the goddess actually showed up. I did it in a Wiccan style since most of the people there were Wiccans, with a “Drawing Down” of the goddess. And apparently, it worked! I was never completely possessed, since I remember everything that happened. I felt like I was in a state of “flow”, and the whole ritual went perfectly smoothly, and afterward the other participants told me how great it was and how they really felt the presence of the goddess.

So if she’s not a real deity, then I don’t know what is.

There’s a good reason why Ostara is the goddess of both Spring and the Dawn. If Yule is the midnight of the year, and Groundhog Day is when you start to see the first glow of sunlight on the horizon, then Ostara is daybreak when the sun comes up over the horizon and bathes the land in morning light. Ostara is the goddess of new beginnings, of chicks and bunnies and other baby animals, of flowers and bees and seeds. When she arrives, it’s an exciting time of year, full of potential.

I don’t care if the Scandinavians didn’t know her. I know her.

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4 thoughts on “The Goddess of Spring and the Dawn

  1. Hi there! I’ve been a follower of your blog for a while and I finally decided to leave a comment.

    I’m also a female Texas Heathen (Dallas area) and I am also aiming for a German focus in my practice using a mix of German and Urglaawe sources. I actually read the myth a few days ago on the Urglaawe blog!

    I guess I just wanted to say this post really resonated with me – not only because I’m familiar with crazy Texas weather, but because you were able to relate a goddess of lesser fame to our environment, which I sometimes have trouble doing. Sometimes I get too focused on my reconstruction and getting things “right” that I forget I’m not a heathen in Germany, I’m a heathen in Texas! And it’s here that I’m going to experience my gods.

    So thank you. I always enjoy reading your blogs. 🙂

    Larke

    P.s. I had a similar experience with the hospitality things with a local group. Only one or two people really welcomed me and the rest made me feel ignored and like an outsider. Which I was. But I had the same thought, “Man, this is so different than my experience with Wiccans and eclectic pagans!” I think some heathens get hung up on innangard/utgard and forget that hospitality should override that.

    • Thanks for the nice comment!

      Relating our gods to the local environment is very important to me, but it’s hard when we’re working with gods from such a different climate. For example, I don’t see myself ever doing anything with Skadhi. On the other hand, Thor seems to have no trouble visiting Texas, with the kinds of thunderstorms we have.

  2. I’m working my way through the archives as a newcomer to your blog. It’s been wonderful to see your voice change a bit as you go, and the themes you return to as time passes. The holidays are one. I love how you explore them in your way. Ostara is another. You really go to bat for her in a way that’s necessary. Too man Heathens are willing to crack open a beer, Hail a god in a throne with machine guns and American flags, and shit all over any mystery. Keep doing what you do! You are setting a balance in Heathenry just as holidays do across the wheel.

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