Babylonian Origin- Ostara- Goddess of Spring
The Ostara story comes from the Sumerian legend of Tammuz and his wife Inanna (Ishtar), from an epic myth called “The Descent of Inanna” found inscribed on cuneiform clay tablets dating back to 2100 BC. When Tammuz dies, Ishtar is grief–stricken and follows him to the underworld. In the underworld, she enters through seven gates, and her worldly attire is removed. “Naked and bowed low” she is judged, killed, and then hung on display. In her absence, the earth loses its fertility, crops cease to grow and animals stop reproducing. Unless something is done, all life on earth will end.
After Inanna has been missing for three days her assistant goes to other gods for help. Finally one of them Enki, creates two creatures who carry the plant of life and water of life down to the Underworld, sprinkling them on Inanna and Tammuz, resurrecting them, and giving them the power to return to the earth as the light of the sun for six months. After the six months are up, Tammuz returns to the underworld of the dead, remaining there for another six months, and Inanna pursues him, prompting the water god to rescue them both. Thus were the cycles of winter death and spring life.
The Sumerian goddess Inanna is known outside of Mesopotamia by her Babylonian name, “Ishtar”. In ancient Canaan Ishtar is known as Astarte, and her counterparts in the Greek and Roman pantheons are known as Aphrodite and Venus. In the 4th Century, when Christians identified the exact site in Jerusalem where the empty tomb of Jesus had been located, they selected the spot where a temple of Aphrodite (Astarte/Ishtar/Inanna) stood. The temple was torn down and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built, the holiest church in the Christian world.
The story of Inanna and Tammuz is just one of a number of accounts of dying and rising gods that represent the cycle of the seasons and the stars. For example, the resurrection of Egyptian Horus; the story of Mithras, who was worshipped at Springtime; and the tale of Dionysus, resurrected by his grandmother. Among these stories are prevailing themes of fertility, conception, renewal, descent into darkness, and the triumph of light over darkness or good over evil.
Celebrated at Spring Equinox on March 21, Ostara marks the day when light is equal to darkness, and will continue to grow.
According to Jacob Grimm’s version, the idea of resurrection was ingrained within the celebration of Ostara: “Ostara, Eástre seems therefore to have been the divinity of the radiant dawn, of upspringing light, a spectacle that brings joy and blessing, whose meaning could be easily adapted by the resurrection-day of the Christian’s God.”
The Germans personified this growing light of Spring by creating the Goddess of Spring Ostara which in ancient Germanic languages means- Goddess of Growing Light. They adopted her from the Babylonian Goddess Innana.
The Astrology of the Spring Equinox
Equinox means equal night because on this day we have equal day light and equal darkness. It is a time of balance and harmony. The conditions are perfectly equal, creating a fertile energetic frequency.
The Spring Equinox occurs on a different date each year but it must occur during the first Decan of Aries, or the first 3 degrees of Aries which is from March 20-22nd.
Aries- soul forging through into new life- recalibrating, refreshing, initiating, creating something new, energetic, fiery.
The Spring Equinox marks the official start of the Cosmic New Year. This is when we enter into a new energetic cycle until the next Spring Equinox. This new cycle is the optimal time to give birth to something new, hence Spring is associated with nature coming back to life. So technically, January and February are still under the influence of last year’s energies. Progress will start to be made after this time.
Venus and the Spring Equinox
As I discussed earlier, Inanna was the original goddess of Spring, who later became known as Aphrodite to the Greeks, and Venus by the Romans, and Ostara to the Germanic peoples.
Venus holds very special significance to the Spring Equinox for the following reasons:
1. Venus is a very hot planet- heat creates new life, and remember, Aries is a fire sign that marks the start of Spring.
2. Venus in Astrology represents love, values, beauty, life, fertility, luxury, flowers, food, the arts, nature, self-love and the feminine.
3. Every account of Ostara, going back to Innana describes her as a beautiful young goddess who is the patron goddess of the above mentioned things. Ostara in all mythologies is described as a young maiden who collects water from flowing brooks, is wearing a sheer white dress and is covered in flowers, and is holding a set of keys. Venus is a planet that rules water, the colour white, and flowers. Holding a set of keys implies that she is the key to life. Thus the Spring Equinox is a celebration of the feminine because she is a creatrix.
If we go back to the Winter Solstice, a seed of frequency was created at that time that was encoded with our blueprint for the coming year. At Imbolc- February 3rd, that seed becomes conceived and the gestation period begins at the Spring Equinox and that seed/frequency will be released at the Winter Solstice 9 months later. This is why the Spring Equinox is a celebration of the divine feminine. Remember, the Spring Equinox has equal light and darkness making the conditions fertile so life can be created. Think back to December. What did you experience back then? What themes were you dealing with? The omens, signs, and symbols at that time were giving you clues as to what the upcoming year has in store for you. Also pay attention to any signs and symbols at the Spring Equinox.
Where does the Bunny symbol come from?
There are a few different beliefs as to where the Bunny Rabbit symbol originated:
1. It is believed the rabbits are creatures of the underworld because they live underground. In the Myth of Inana, when she returns to Earth, she is carrying a rabbit with her.
2. In Germanic paganism, Ostara rescued a bird that had broken its wing. She decided to transform the bird into a rabbit so it no longer needed wings.
3. Hares don’t live underground which is why they would be one of the first animals you see when the weather starts warming up. This was later changed to Rabbits, as they were believed to be more appealing than a wild rabbit (hare).
4. Modern paganism believes that the Spring Equinoc is a fertility ritual and since rabbits spend most of their time procreating, they are a symbol of fertility.
Where does the Dyed Easter Egg come from?
1. Babylonian myth- Inanna fell from heaven to the Euphrates in an egg and hatched.
2. The egg is representative of Jesus’s tomb, hence why the Christians adopted it. Remember that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which is the supposed site of Jesus’ tomb was built upon a former Temple of Venus.
3. Eggs are typically white which is the colour of Venus, and the yolk is round and yellow like the Sun. Remember, the Spring Equinox occurs when the Sun enters Aries, and the Sun is strongest in the sign of Aries.
4. March/April are the peak time of year for Chicken to lay eggs, which were a vital source of protein for the ancients.
5. In almost every culture in the world there is a story about Earth being born from a Cosmic Egg.
Where does the Hot Cross Bun come from?
In the 12th Century a monk baked the buns with a symbol of a cross on them to mark the upcoming Easter holiday. However, there is more to it than that.
Cross Glyph- representing the intersection of matter and earth.
Now if we look at the symbol for Venus, it is a cross with a circle on top of it. The circle in Astrology represents the Sun. So we have the Sun, representing consciousness above the cross, which is Earth. So the Venus symbol represents ascension, consciousness, rebirth, and enlightenment. The Church being a patriarchal institution, removed all obvious divine feminine symbolism, thus the cross became the symbol for Christ, and not the Venus symbol. Venus at its core represents self-love. The Church knew this which is why they wanted to disguise the Venusian symbolism. Christianity became a religion for suffering and martyrdom and not self-love.
Venus also rules carbohydrates and sweet foods, so eating a hot cross bun at Easter is a way of honouring Venus.
The Christians incorporated many Pagan traditions and called it their own. Easter is their most sacred holiday as it celebrates the death and resurrection of Christ. Remember, when Inanna went into the underworld, she was hung up on a cross to die just like Jesus. Once again the cross represents matter/earth and Jesus represents the Sun/light. If you look at a picture of Jesus’ crucifixion, he looks like the Venus symbol. His crown of thorns and halo represents the Sun. The Sun is on top of the Cross= Venus glyph
Easter always falls on the first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox. This is because the Moon represents completion and rebirth and the divine feminine. The Moon rules over pregnancy and fertility in Astrology, and the Full Moon even looks like a pregnant woman’s belly. The Church knew this, which is why Jesus supposedly rose to heaven on this day. He was being reborn.
It’s on this first Full Moon after the Equinox that animals start procreating and frogs start spawning.
On a side note, when the three wiseman saw the Eastern star in the sky, signalling the birth of a King/Sun (Jesus), it was the East-Star, which is why the Christian’s named it Easter.
Goddess Spirituality allows us to get in touch with different parts of ourselves that we can use for self empowerment. Ostara is a goddess of life, love, beauty, sensuality, creativity, and so much more that we discussed today. The Spring Equinox is a time of creating life, and of awakening to our feminine nature. On this day, indulge yourself- that might mean taking a long hot bath, or eating something you really enjoy, or pampering yourself by getting your hair or nails done. The Spring Equinox is when the conditions are perfect for creation. When you feel good, you feel invincible, and this is what Ostara can help you with. Love yourself and the world is yours.