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The Vernal Equinox (cont)Soft Flame

This discrepancy is usually explained by equating Eostre to other goddesses who have hares and eggs as symbols. However, there are a lot of folk customs attached to the Vernal Equinox from all across lands that were Saxon or Germanic, that involve hares, eggs, dawn and bonfires. From all of this evidence it is fairly certain that there were pre-Christian dawn goddesses in Northern Europe. When Christianity was becoming established it would have taken these rituals and observances and incorporated them into Easter. I would also be comfortable projecting further back and assuming that there was a pre-historic Spring festival around the Vernal that celebrates a dawn Goddess. But, over thousands of years, God-forms can be fluid, their names can change and they can be amalgamated together. Linguistically, for instance, there could be a correspondence between Eostre and the Persian goddess Ishtar or Astarte. 

The traditional folk symbols for Easter therefore are reclaimed as the pagan ones for the Vernal Equinox. Moon gazing hares particularly are good symbols and can often be found in garden centres as statues or garden ornaments. Likewise any pictures or other representations can be used to decorate an altar. Easter eggs, either real hard boiled or the chocolate variety, are very good as well. If you are creative or have children, decorating eggs with dyes, or painting them or even making your own chocolate eggs are all fun activities. In our family this creates some confusion because we celebrate the Vernal, and then realise the rest of the world is still waiting weeks for Easter! There is a folk custom that after the Vernal you can throw your egg shells in a fast moving river to get good luck and fertility in the coming year. 

Vernal Equinox is when the sun is moving fastest, but it is also a time of balance. Day and night are equal, yet there is much change. It is a single point of stillness among the movement, like a tipping point. There are, broadly speaking, three Spring festivals and this is the middle one. The energy that lay dormant under the earth at Winter and awoke at Imbolc now gets ready to burst forth through at the Vernal. So this is a festival with a big upswing of energy, about reconciling opposites, like day and night, sun and moon, and using their opposing energy to move things forward.  [More...]

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