Ostara Symbols: Goddess of Spring
Ostara symbols are related to hope and spring around the world. Ostara or Astara is the Germanic goddess of spring. The gift she brings to the earth is renewal and new life. Her name (also sometimes spelled Eostre) is the root of the spring celebration now known as Easter.
The name Ostara or Astara means “star” or “to shine.” Ostara is also a goddess of the dawn, a bringer of light after the dark night. Others consider her to be synonymous with Freya, the Norse goddess. Freya’s consort is the Norse god of music.
Historically, the Babylonians, the Sumerians, and the Persians revered Ostara as the goddess of spring and fertility. They held feasts in honor of the miraculous rebirth of life on earth after the long winter. These feasts occurred at the Spring Equinox. More recently, this has become the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.
Ostara Symbols: Creation of the Hare
Ostara is associated with many Easter customs. This includes rabbits and Easter eggs. According to Germanic folklore, the rabbit or March hare was originally a bird that pulled the chariot of the Goddess of Spring.
The goddess Ostara discovered that the bird was too delicate for the constant toil. The bird also suffered from the change in climate each year. As a result, Ostara changed the bird into a quick little animal with four legs and thick, warm fur.
In addition, the long ears and short tail would help the hare to guide the chariot through the frozen wastelands of the north. In this way, the hare became the friend of Ostara and a key messenger of spring.
In Germany, celebrants made toy rabbits or hares from flannel stuffed with cotton. They gave the toy rabbits as gifts on Easter morning. Today, the use of bunnies in Easter celebrations symbolizes spring, youth, new birth, and vitality.
Ostara Symbols: Fertility
Rabbits are an easy pick as a symbol of fertility. Rabbits have more babies in their lifetime than any other mammal. Rabbits’ rapid reproductive rate gives the mammal a deep association with fertility. Rabbits can have up to three litters a year. The gestation period for rabbits is between 25-28 days. On average, a litter contains six baby rabbits.
There are over 300 breeds of domestic rabbits. Rabbits have been domesticated since at least the days of ancient Rome. Some are kept as pets, other for their fur or meat. Rabbits and hares are actually in different genus. Hares are born relatively mature, already covered with fur and mobile. Rabbits are born hairless and blind. Angora fur has been used for yarn and spinning. Rabbits are distinct from rodents though they have similar incisor teeth.
Ostara Symbols: Easter Egg
Since the rabbit was originally a bird pulling the chariot of Ostara, the goddess granted the transformed creature the magical ability to lay colored eggs once a year. Thus, decorative eggs became a symbol of spring and fertility. The colors commonly associated with Ostara are yellow, green, sky blue, pink and lavender. These are still the colors associated with Easter eggs and decorations.
Egg decorating has become a high art in some parts of the world including Russia, the Ukraine and other Slavic countries. In some places, eggs are still dyed naturally with onion skins or other plants and herbs. The use of wax allows for intricate patterns. Dyed eggs are given as gifts and as collector items.
Deeper Meaning of Ostara Symbols
The connection between fertility and Ostara symbols goes even deeper than reproduction. Fertility in other areas of life always brings new possibilities: work, career, travel, prosperity, and adventure. We can resurrect our life in many ways to stay inspired about our present and future possibilities.
Ostara symbols are a personification of hope. Spring itself is a reminder that positive change is always just around the corner. Ostara’s bright colors and the transformative power of spring plays a significant role in cultures around the world.
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Astara, bring your light
Bring all the joys of springtime
Bring birth and growth and beauty
Bring life and warmth and sunshine
Astara, bless your children
Bless all that lives around us
Bless all that breathes within us
Bless all to feel your presence
Music/Lyrics by Kathleen Karlsen
Copyright Vocal Medicine & Living Arts, LLC