Easter Symbols

Ostara Symbols Easter Eggs

Easter Symbols & the Goddess of Spring

Celebrating Eostre (Ostara, Astara)

Easter symbols are related to hope and spring around the world. Eostre (Ostara or Astara) is the Germanic goddess of spring. The gift she brings to the earth is renewal and new life. Her name is the root of the spring celebration now known as Easter.

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Meaning of the Name “Eostre”

The name Eostre or Astara means “star” or “to shine.” Eostre 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 of fertility and love. Freya’s consort is the god Odur, brother of Odin.

Goddess of Fertility
Historically, the Babylonians, the Sumerians, and the Persians revered Eostre 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 and Rabbits

Creation of the Rabbit

Eostre 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.

Symbolic Bird of Eostre
As time went on, the goddess Eostre discovered that the bird was too delicate for the constant toil. The chariot-pulling bird also suffered from the change in climate each year. As a result, Eostre changed the bird into a quick little animal with four legs and thick, warm fur.

Advantages of the Spring Rabbit
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 rabbit became the friend of Eostre, the source of movement for the chariot, and a key messenger of spring.

Invention of Stuffed Bunny Toys
In Germany, celebrants began to make 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 continues to symbolize spring, youth, new birth, and vitality.

Eostre Symbol: Fertility

Rabbits are an easy pick as a symbol of fertility. Accordingly, rabbits have more babies in their lifetime than any other mammal. Rabbits’ rapid reproductive rate gives the mammal a deep association with fertility. Amazingly, rabbits can have up to three litters a year. The brief gestation period for rabbits is generally between 25-28 days. On average, a litter contains six baby rabbits.

Ancient Roots of Domesticated 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 actually come from a different class or genus of animals.

Rabbits Versus Hares
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.

Eostre Symbol: Easter Egg

Since a bird provided the original chariot-pulling power for the Goddess Eostre, she granted the bird 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 Eostre are yellow, green, sky blue, pink and lavender. These are still the colors associated with Easter eggs and decorations.

Decorating Symbolic Easter Eggs
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. However, the modern use of wax allows for intricate patterns. Dyed eggs are given as gifts and as collector items.

Goddess Ostara Symbols

Deeper Meaning of Easter Symbols

The connection between fertility and Eostre goddess 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.

Easter Symbols and the Hope of Spring
Easter symbols are a personification of hope. Spring itself is a reminder that positive change is always just around the corner. Easter’s bright colors and the transformative power of spring plays a significant role in cultures around the world.

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Ostara (Eostre) Invocation

Ostara, bring your light 
Bring all the joys of springtime
Bring birth and growth and beauty
Bring life and warmth and sunshine

Ostara, 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

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Author Kathleen Karlsen

Kathleen Karlsen is a musician, artist, writer and speaker. She is the author of two books (Flower Symbols and Vocal Medicine) and over 200 articles. Kathleen, her husband Andrew, and their five children live in Bozeman, Montana. More about Kathleen Karlsen.

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