Monday, 21 March 2011
According to Bede, the ancient Germanic pagans honoured a goddess called Eostre or Ostara who was associated with hares and the Moon and eggs; however there is no reference to this goddess in any other text.
Although Spring Equinox is about the balance between darkness and light, with the light in the ascendancy, an important point about Pagan symbolism is that darkness is not seen as negative, but as a time of rest and renewal and refreshment before the return of daylight. Some people use darkness as a metaphor for ignorance and evil. That symbolism has no place in Pagan ritual.
In Wicca, darkness does not symbolise evil. The darkness is necessary for rest, growth, and regeneration. Death is not evil, but a necessary adjunct to life. If there was no death and dissolution, there could be no change or growth. The cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth is part of the interaction of the polarities. Suffering is also part of the process of growth; just as a tree is shaped by the wind, we are shaped by our experiences. It is only by experiencing suffering that we acquire sufficient depth to know the fullness of joy. It is then that the full light of consciousness dawns in us, and we achieve mystical communion with the divine.
Spring Equinox can be celebrated by a tug-of-war between two teams representing the darkness and the light, or by Easter-egg hunts, or by painting eggs.