The Meaning of Eostre

Within modern Paganism these days an alternative name for the Spring Equinox is that of Eostre.  When I initially underwent my studies in contemporary Wytchcraft back in the 1990s, the only alternative name that I was aware of for the Spring Equinox was the use of the adjective “vernal”.  This has since led to research into who or what Eostre is.  One of such pages that shed some light about Eostre was , who provided the following information.

The name Eostre is thought to be derived from a goddess of German legend, according to Jakob Grimm in his Deutsche Mythologie. A similar goddess named Eostre was described by the Venerable Bede, an English Benedictine monk of the 7th century. Bede indicated that this name was used in English when the Paschal holiday was introduced. Since then this name (not the holiday) has been converted to Easter, or in German Ostern. Some scholars question both Bede’s and Grimm’s conclusions due to a lack of supporting evidence for this goddess. Others argue that a lack of further documentation is not surprising given that Bede is credited with writing the first substantial history of England (in which he described Eostre as a goddess whose worship had already passed) and Grimm was specifically attempting to capture oral traditions before they might be lost.

Continue reading “The Meaning of Eostre”

Contemplating the Time of Balance (Spring Equinox)

Next Sunday, 23 September, the tilt of the earth will be such that it will be inclined neither away from nor towards the sun, allowing for the centre of the sun to be aligned with the earth’s equator.  This is the time of the equinox, a word derived from the Latin aequus (“equal”) and nox (“night”).  Therefore, at this time of the year, day and night have approximately equal length.

For those residing north of the equator, this will mark the time of the Autumn Equinox and the increasing darkness as the earth tilts away from the sun. For those us of residing south of the equator however, it will be the time of the Spring or Vernal Equinox.

Continue reading “Contemplating the Time of Balance (Spring Equinox)”

Imbolc – Awakening the Spirit

Nothing is so beautiful as spring –
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look like low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes lightning to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
George Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)
The earth is in the slow process of returning back to life after the long winter’s sleep with the first tendrils cautiously making their appearance.  There is the likelihood of frosts, but despite this, early flowers are pushing their way to the surface – snowdrops, dwarf hyacinths, jonquils, early irises and even daffodils are appearing, making the statement that spring is on its way.  A fragile warming of the air can be felt as winter, usually the season of rest and withdrawal, comes to an end.  This is the time of uncertainty.  A sudden frost can kill the new plants and flowers, if they appear too early.  They also run the risk of developing rot with the last of the winter rains.
The nights are still very cold, but the daytime temperatures are slowly beginning to increase into the 20°Cs.  As the constellations of Scorpius and Sagittarius slowly leave the Southern skies, they are replaced by Orion and its nebulae, as well as the bright Sirius.  The Southern Cross is lying on its side between three and four o’clock in the southwest and heading down to the southern horizon, with the Pointers (Alpha and Beta Centauri) above it.

Continue reading “Imbolc – Awakening the Spirit”

Ode to Autumn by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’erbrimmed their clammy cells.

Continue reading “Ode to Autumn by John Keats”

Why the Autumn Equinox is not “Mabon”

It is that time of the year again that despite the ever lingering daylight savings, a definite change can be felt as the earth’s wobbling rotation pulls away from the sun here in the Southern Hemisphere.  The mornings are distinctively darker and the sun lingers longer below the horizon, and there is an ever slight chill in the air.  Yes, the time of the Autumn Equinox draws near (21st of March to be exact for this year).

As such, it appears time again to point out an erroneous association that first appeared in the 1970s and which, despite numerous attempts to rectify over the years, still perpetuates itself within modern Paganism – that being the usage of the term “Mabon” as an alleged alternative name for the Autumn Equinox.

The following is an excerpt from my own book, Dancing the Sacred Wheel: A Journey through the Southern Sabbats (TDM Publishing, 2014), where once again (in what is coming to be almost an annual posting) I address is ongoing error in usage.

Continue reading “Why the Autumn Equinox is not “Mabon””

A Time of Balance – the Autumn Equinox

This Wednesday, 21 March, marks a time of equilibrium when the hours of day and light will be equal.  In the Northern Hemisphere, it will be the Spring Equinox, where the energy is manifesting before action, however here in the Southern Hemisphere, it will be the time of the Autumn Equinox, the time of repose after action as we edge towards the darker months of the year.

We can take satisfaction in the work undertaken during the warmer months and reap the benefits.  Daylight saving is also about to end, and with it the realisation that Summer is well and truly over.  It is now time to make preparations for the colder Winter months, if we have not done so already.

Continue reading “A Time of Balance – the Autumn Equinox”

Lughnasagh – The Festival of the First Harvest

As the seasonal Wheel of the Year turns, for those of us residing south of the equator, the festival of Lughnasadh is almost upon us.  Taken from a Celtic word thought to mean “the commemoration of Lugh”, the Irish God associated with the sun and agriculture, the festival of Lughnasadh marked the funeral games that Lugh held in honour of his foster mother, Tailte, who died while clearing the Forest of Breg and making it a plain for cultivation.  The modern day Telltown (Tailtean) in County Meath, Eire, is believed to have been named after Tailte.

Being the first of three harvest festivals, Lughnasadh is considered to be the festival of first fruits, where a blessing of the crop would take place as now was the time that apples were beginning to ripen on the trees, the summer vegetables being picked from the gardens, and the corn waiting to be harvested.  The first harvests of grain, wheat and barley are also harvested around this time of the year (save for here in South Australia where such grain harvests often take place ain December, round mid summer). Continue reading “Lughnasagh – The Festival of the First Harvest”