As we approach the vernal equinox, winter starts to lose her icy grasp and spring slowly slips in. Spring for me means mud season, which isn’t something I or my livestock particularly enjoy. One of my goats gave birth on the Ides of March to a lovely buckling. I had to come up with makeshift quarters for them and bring the kids inside at night due to the cold and predators. I’m now on kid watch for the last pregnant doe of the season, which means checking on her every couple of hours. Yay me. Hence the lateness of the blogs.
Here up north, we’re still in Skadi’s grasp, although the winter goddess is slowly relenting to the gentle hands of the spring goddesses and gods. These goddesses and gods are powerful in their own right, and while we may not know everything about them, I think we can make some good assumptions about them. Let’s look at them.
|Courtesy of Magickal Graphics
Eostre or Ostara
If you want to start up an argument between Heathens or between Heathens and Christians, mention Eostre, the Anglo Saxon goddess of spring and rebirth. (In German, it’s believed to be Ostara.) A goodly portion of recons think that Eostre was simply the name of April and St. Bede suggested it was the name of a goddess when it wasn’t. Christians will accuse you of trying to undermine Easter if you mention it. Nevertheless, if you wish to enjoy a feast day to Eostre, do it. I have a whole post dedicated to Eostre and why I think she was probably a real goddess.
In Urglaawe, practitioners believe in the goddess Oschdra (Ostara?) who gives the Oschter Haws (Easter Rabbit) the ability to spread color throughout the world in the spring. The Oschter Haws was brought into Pennsylvania by German settlers where the Easter rabbit laid colorful eggs.
That being said, if you’re an Eostre believer, celebrate with candy, colored eggs, bunny rabbits, and chicks. (The candy, incidentally, is a later addition of more modern times.) Have fun and enjoy yourself. Make an offering to Eostre for the spring.
Idunn, of the golden apples fame, is the goddess of spring, renewal, and immortality, is certainly a terrific goddess to honor in the springtime. She’s interesting not only because she’s a powerful goddess, who keeps the gods young, but she wasn’t born into the Aesir or Vanir (though you can make a case for her being Vanir, being a goddess of fertility.) She hails from alfar blood, making her one of the Elves.
She’s particularly important because without her, the gods would grow old and die. Her apples bring youth to those gods who do age.
When talking about spring, I feel that you simply must include Freyja. Freyja is a Vanir and a fertility goddess. Without Freyja we would have no beginnings when it comes to new life. She is literally the conception of life, and my own UPG suggests spring is indeed her time. As such a powerful goddess, she has many roles: goddess of war, love, beauty, seidr, and death.
If Freyja one of the quintessential goddesses of spring, Freyr is one of the gods of spring. One could make the argument (successfully, I might add), that he is a summer god. But Freyr also has the duty of gestation and growth. He is the male god of fertility, but he is often associated with germination. It just makes sense he is a fitting god for spring.
If you think about Easter celebrations, you’ll note that a traditional Easter meal is a ham. No surprise there. I’ve read that Christianity was happy enough to incorporate the pagan traditions of eating ham at Easter when ham was originally eaten in honor of Freyr. As Heathens, having a traditional ham dinner is certainly a great way to celebrate spring and Freyr.
On first blush, Thor seems out of place in the list of deities having to do with spring. But the thunderer is certainly considered a god who brings the rains which helps the fields to grow. Little wonder that he is married to Sif, who is a spring/summer goddess in her own right. Thor presides over the wind, rain, and even the crops. It makes sense that he is considered a major god and one who presides over spring and summer.
If Thor brings about rain to the crops, it is Sif, his wife, who receives the rain. She’s definitely a fertility goddess and an earth goddess. The story about how Loki cuts her golden hair and must find a substitute for her is a suggestion that her hair is the wheat crops. (Incidentally, cutting a woman’s hair was a sign that she was unfaithful — something to think about when reading that Loki found his way into her bedroom and cut her hair while she was sleeping.) But, I digress here. Sif is certainly an earth goddess and spring and summer is her time.
Honoring the Gods and Goddesses of Spring
Springtime is a transition time. As modern day Heathens, we acknowledge that the equinox is the first day of spring. However, in ancient times, our ancestors looked at spring differently. Spring was believed to maybe start with Grundsaudaag or Groundhog’s Day in Urglaawe tradition
. The groundhog replaced the badger or bear in German tradition. While, we’re well past Groundhog’s Day, we can hold a feast in honor of spring and our spring gods and goddesses.
Sigrblot usually comes in April and is celebrated with offerings to Freyr and Freyja. Most pagans consider May 1st as a celebration time of spring which includes Walpugisnach. While it may be a more modern interpretation of the Heathen calendar, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy it. Unless you’re a member of the recon rabble, there’s no reason why you can’t adopt Heathen and pagan traditions your own holidays as you see fit.
I mentioned coloring eggs and rabbits as part of the Eostre celebrations. Even if there wasn’t an Eostre, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take our older Heathen traditions that survived and changed, and make them in honor of the spring goddesses and gods you do wish to venerate. I think they will be pleased.
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