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ĒOSTRE or OSTARA ( Old English : Ēastre , Northumbrian dialect Ēostre
Ēostre
; Old High German : *Ôstara (reconstructed form )) is a Germanic goddess who, by way of the Germanic month bearing her name (Northumbrian: Ēosturmōnaþ; West Saxon : Ēastermōnaþ; Old High German: Ôstarmânoth ), is the namesake of the festival of Easter
Easter
in some languages. Ēostre
Ēostre
is attested solely by Bede
Bede
in his 8th-century work The Reckoning of Time , where Bede
Bede
states that during Ēosturmōnaþ (the equivalent of April), pagan Anglo- Saxons had held feasts in Ēostre's honor, but that this tradition had died out by his time, replaced by the Christian Paschal month , a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus
Jesus
.

By way of linguistic reconstruction , the matter of a goddess called * AUSTRō in the Proto-Germanic language has been examined in detail since the foundation of Germanic philology in the 19th century by scholar Jacob Grimm and others. As the Germanic languages
Germanic languages
descend from Proto-Indo-European (PIE), historical linguists have traced the name to a Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn *H₂ewsṓs (→ *Ausṓs), from which descends the Common Germanic divinity from whom Ēostre
Ēostre
and Ostara are held to descend. Additionally, scholars have linked the goddess's name to a variety of Germanic personal names, a series of location names (toponyms ) in England, and, discovered in 1958, over 150 inscriptions from the 2nd century CE referring to the matronae Austriahenae.

Theories connecting Ēostre
Ēostre
with records of Germanic Easter
Easter
customs , including hares and eggs , have been proposed. Particularly prior to the discovery of the matronae Austriahenae and further developments in Indo-European studies , debate has occurred among some scholars about whether or not the goddess was an invention of Bede. Ēostre
Ēostre
and Ostara are sometimes referenced in modern popular culture and are venerated in some forms of Germanic neopaganism .

CONTENTS

* 1 Etymology * 2 De temporum ratione * 3 Jacob Grimm, *Ostara, and Easter
Easter
customs * 4 Locations, personal names, and the matronae Austriahenae

* 5 Theories and interpretations

* 5.1 Dea ex Machina and the matronae Austriahenae * 5.2 Hares and Freyja
Freyja

* 6 In popular culture and modern veneration * 7 See also * 8 Notes * 9 References

ETYMOLOGY

Old English Ēostre
Ēostre
continues into modern English as Easter
Easter
and derives from Proto-Germanic *Austrǭ, itself a descendent of the Proto-Indo-European root *h₂ews-, meaning 'to shine' (modern English east also derives from this root).

The goddess name Ēostre
Ēostre
is therefore linguistically cognate with numerous other dawn goddesses attested among Indo-European language-speaking peoples. These cognates lead to the reconstruction of a Proto-Indo-European dawn goddess; the Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture details that "a Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn is supported both by the evidence of cognate names and the similarity of mythic representation of the dawn goddess among various Indo-European groups” and that “all of this evidence permits us to posit a Proto-Indo-European *haéusōs 'goddess of dawn' who was characterized as a "reluctant" bringer of light for which she is punished. In three of the Indo-European stocks, Baltic , Greek and Indo-Iranian , the existence of a Proto-Indo-European 'goddess of the dawn' is given additional linguistic support in that she is designated the 'daughter of heaven'."

DE TEMPORUM RATIONE

In chapter 15 (De mensibus Anglorum, "The English months") of his 8th-century work De temporum ratione (" The Reckoning of Time "), Bede describes the indigenous month names of the English people. After describing the worship of the goddess Rheda during the Anglo-Saxon month of Hrēþ-mōnaþ, Bede
Bede
writes about Ēosturmōnaþ, the month of the goddess Ēostre:

Eostur-monath, qui nunc Paschalis mensis interpretatur, quondam a Dea illorum quæ Eostre vocabatur, et cui in illo festa celebrabant nomen habuit: a cujus nomine nunc Paschale tempus cognominant, consueto antiquæ observationis vocabulo gaudia novæ solemnitatis vocantes.

Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated "Paschal month", and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.

JACOB GRIMM, *OSTARA, AND EASTER CUSTOMS

In his 1835 Deutsche Mythologie , Jacob Grimm cites comparative evidence to reconstruct a potential continental Germanic goddess whose name would have been preserved in the Old High German name of Easter, *Ostara. Addressing skepticism towards goddesses mentioned by Bede, Grimm comments that "there is nothing improbable in them, nay the first of them is justified by clear traces in the vocabularies of Germanic tribes." Specifically regarding Ēostre, Grimm continues that:

We Germans to this day call April ostermonat, and ôstarmânoth is found as early as Eginhart (temp. Car. Mag. ). The great Christian festival, which usually falls in April or the end of March, bears in the oldest of OHG remains the name ôstarâ ... it is mostly found in the plural, because two days ... were kept at Easter. This Ostarâ, like the Eástre, must in heathen religion have denoted a higher being, whose worship was so firmly rooted, that the Christian teachers tolerated the name, and applied it to one of their own grandest anniversaries.

Grimm notes that "all of the nations bordering on us have retained the Biblical pascha; even Ulphilas writes paska, not áustrô, though he must have known the word". Grimm details that the Old High German adverb ôstar "expresses movement towards the rising sun", as did the Old Norse term austr, and potentially also Anglo-Saxon ēastor and Gothic áustr. Grimm compares these terms to the identical Latin term auster. Grimm says that the cult of the goddess may have worshiped an Old Norse form, Austra, or that her cult may have already been extinct by the time of Christianization.

Grimm notes that the Old Norse Prose Edda book Gylfaginning attests to a male being called Austri , who Grimm describes as a "spirit of light." Grimm comments that a female version would have been *Austra, yet that the High German and Saxon peoples seem to have only formed Ostarâ and Eástre, feminine, and not Ostaro and Eástra, masculine. Grimm additionally speculates on the nature of the goddess and surviving folk customs that may have been associated with her in Germany:

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. Bonfires were lighted at Easter
Easter
and according to popular belief of long standing, the moment the sun rises on Easter
Easter
Sunday
Sunday
morning, he gives three joyful leaps, he dances for joy ... Water drawn on the Easter
Easter
morning is, like that at Christmas, holy and healing ... here also heathen notions seems to have grafted themselves on great Christian festivals. Maidens clothed in white, who at Easter, at the season of returning spring, show themselves in clefts of the rock and on mountains, are suggestive of the ancient goddess.

In the second volume of Deutsche Mythologie, Grimm picks up the subject of Ostara again, connecting the goddess to various German Easter
Easter
festivities, including Easter
Easter
eggs:

But if we admit, goddesses, then, in addition to Nerthus , Ostara has the strongest claim to consideration. To what we said on p. 290 I can add some significant facts. The heathen Easter
Easter
had much in common with May-feast and the reception of spring, particularly in matter of bonfires. Then, through long ages there seem to have lingered among the people Easter-games so-called, which the church itself had to tolerate : I allude especially to the custom of Easter
Easter
eggs, and to the Easter
Easter
tale which preachers told from the pulpit for the people's amusement, connecting it with Christian reminiscences.

Grimm comments on further Easter
Easter
time customs, including unique sword dances and particular baked goods ("pastry of heathenish form"). In addition, Grimm weights a potential connection to the Slavic spring goddess Vesna and the Lithuanian Vasara .

LOCATIONS, PERSONAL NAMES, AND THE MATRONAE AUSTRIAHENAE

A cluster of place names in England contain and a variety of English and continental Germanic names include the element *ēoster, an early Old English word reconstructed by linguists and potentially an earlier form of the goddess name Ēostre. The Council of Austerfield called by King Aldfrith of Northumbria shortly before 704 convened at a place described in contemporary records both as in campo qui Eostrefeld dicitur and in campo qui dicitur Oustraefelda, which have led to the site being identified with Austerfield near Bawtry
Bawtry
in the West Riding of Yorkshire . Such locations also include Eastry (Eastrgena, 788 CE) in Kent
Kent
, Eastrea (Estrey, 966 CE) in Cambridgeshire , and Eastrington (Eastringatun, 959 CE) in the East Riding of Yorkshire
East Riding of Yorkshire
.

The element *ēoster also appears in the Old English name Easterwine, a name borne by Bede's monastery abbot in Wearmouth-Jarrow and which appears an additional three times in the Durham Liber Vitae . The name Aestorhild also appears in the Liber Vitae, and is likely the ancestor of the Middle English name Estrild. Various continental Germanic names include the element, including Austrechild, Austrighysel, Austrovald, and Ostrulf.

In 1958, over 150 Romano-Germanic votive inscriptions to the matronae Austriahenae were discovered near Morken-Harff , Germany. Most of these inscriptions are in an incomplete state, yet many are at least reasonably legible. Some of these inscriptions refer to the Austriates, evidently the name of a social group.

THEORIES AND INTERPRETATIONS

DEA EX MACHINA AND THE MATRONAE AUSTRIAHENAE

THIS SECTION NEEDS EXPANSION. You can help by adding to it . ( April 2012)

Some debate has occurred over whether or not the goddess was an invention of Bede's, particularly in the 19th century before more widespread reconstructions of the Proto-Indo-European dawn goddess. Writing in the late 19th century, Charles J. Billson notes that scholars before his writing were divided about the existence of Bede's account of Ēostre, stating that "among authorities who have no doubt as to her existence are W. Grimm , Wackernagel , Sinrock , and Wolf. On the other hand, Weinhold rejects the idea on philological grounds, and so do Heinrich Leo and Hermann Oesre. Kuhn says, 'The Anglo-Saxon Eostre looks like an invention of Bede;' and Mannhardt also dismisses her as an etymological dea ex machina ." Billson says that "the whole question turns , upon Bede's credibility", and that "one is inclined to agree with Grimm, that it would be uncritical to saddle this eminent Father of the Church, who keeps Heathendom at arms' length and tells us less of than he knows, with the invention of this goddess." Billson points out that the Christianization of England started at the end of the 6th century, and, by the 7th, was completed. Billson argues that, as Bede
Bede
was born in 672, Bede
Bede
must have had opportunities to learn the names of the native goddesses of the Anglo-Saxons, "who were hardly extinct in his lifetime."

Writing in the late 20th century, Rudolf Simek says that, despite expressions of doubts, Bede's account of Eostre should not be disregarded. Simek opines that a "Spring-like fertility goddess" must be assumed rather than a "goddess of sunrise" regardless of the name, reasoning that "otherwise the Germanic goddesses (and matrons ) are mostly connected with prosperity and growth". Simek points to a comparison with the goddess Rheda , also attested by Bede.

Scholar Philip A. Shaw (2011) writes that the subject has seen "a lengthy history of arguments for and against Bede's goddess Eostre, with some scholars taking fairly extreme positions on either side" and that some theories against the goddess have gained popular cultural prominence. Shaw, however, notes that "much of this debate, however, was conducted in ignorance of a key piece of evidence, as it was not discovered until 1958. This evidence is furnished by over 150 Romano-Germanic votive inscriptions to deities named the matronae Austriahenae, found near Morken-Harff and datable to around 150–250 AD". Most of these inscriptions are in an incomplete state, yet most are in a complete enough for reasonable clarity of the inscriptions. As early as 1966 scholars have linked these names etymologically with Eostre and an element found in Germanic personal names. Shaw argues against a functional interpretation of the available evidence and concludes that "the etymological connections of her name suggests that her worshippers saw her geographical and social relationship with them as more central than any functions she may have had".

HARES AND FREYJA

An Easter
Easter
postcard from 1907 depicting a rabbit

In Northern Europe, Easter
Easter
imagery often involves hares and rabbits . Citing folk Easter
Easter
customs in Leicestershire , England where "the profits of the land called Harecrop Leys were applied to providing a meal which was thrown on the ground at the 'Hare-pie Bank'", late 19th-century scholar Charles Isaac Elton theorizes a connection between these customs and the worship of Ēostre. In his late 19th-century study of the hare in folk custom and mythology, Charles J. Billson cites numerous incidents of folk custom involving the hare around the period of Easter
Easter
in Northern Europe. Billson says that "whether there was a goddess named Eostre, or not, and whatever connection the hare may have had with the ritual of Saxon or British worship, there are good grounds for believing that the sacredness of this animal reaches back into an age still more remote, where it is probably a very important part of the great Spring Festival of the prehistoric inhabitants of this island."

Some scholars have linked customs and imagery involving hares to Ēostre
Ēostre
and the Norse goddess Freyja
Freyja
. Writing in 1972, John Andrew Boyle cites commentary contained within an etymology dictionary by A. Ernout and A. Meillet , where the authors write that "Little else is known about , but it has been suggested that her lights, as goddess of the dawn, were carried by hares. And she certainly represented spring fecundity , and love and carnal pleasure that leads to fecundity." Boyle responds that nothing is known about Ēostre
Ēostre
outside of Bede's single passage, that the authors had seemingly accepted the identification of Ēostre
Ēostre
with the Norse goddess Freyja, yet that the hare is not associated with Freyja
Freyja
either. Boyle writes that "her carriage, we are told by Snorri , was drawn by a pair of cats — animals, it is true, which like hares were the familiars of witches, with whom Freyja
Freyja
seems to have much in common." However, Boyle adds that "on the other hand, when the authors speak of the hare as the 'companion of Aphrodite
Aphrodite
and of satyrs and cupids ' and point out that 'in the Middle Ages it appears beside the figure of Luxuria ', they are on much surer ground and can adduce the evidence of their illustrations."

IN POPULAR CULTURE AND MODERN VENERATION

Jacob Grimm's reconstructed *Ostara has had some influence in popular culture since. The name has been adapted as an asteroid ( 343 Ostara , 1892 by Max Wolf
Max Wolf
), and a date on the Wiccan Wheel of the Year (Ostara, 21 March). In music, the name Ostara has been adopted as a name by the musical group Ostara , and as the names of albums by :zoviet*france: (Eostre, 1984) and The Wishing Tree (Ostara , 2009).

In some forms of Germanic neopaganism , Ēostre
Ēostre
(or Ostara) is venerated. Regarding this veneration, Carole M. Cusack comments that, among adherents, Ēostre
Ēostre
is "associated with the coming of spring and the dawn, and her festival is celebrated at the spring equinox . Because she brings renewal, rebirth from the death of winter, some Heathens associate Eostre with Idunn , keeper of the apples of youth in Scandinavian mythology ".

Politically, the name of Ostara was in the early 20th century invoked as the name of a German nationalist magazine , book series and publishing house established in 1905 at Mödling , Austria
Austria
.

Ostara is portrayed by Kristin Chenoweth
Kristin Chenoweth
in the TV series American Gods based on the novel of the same name . In the series, Ostara has survived into the modern age by forming an alliance with the Goddess of Media ( Gillian Anderson
Gillian Anderson
) and capitalising on the Christian holiday. Odin ( Ian McShane ) forces her to accept that those who celebrate Easter
Easter
are worshipping Jesus
Jesus
and not her, causing her to join his rebellion against the New Gods.

SEE ALSO

* Mōdraniht , the Old English "Mother's night," also attested by Bede * Hengist and Horsa , euhemerised Old English deities also possibly extending from Proto-Indo-European religion * Tīw , the Old English extension of the Proto-Indo-European sky deity * Old High German lullaby , a lullaby in Old High German that mentions Ostara, generally held to be a literary forgery * Aurvandil
Aurvandil
, a Germanic being associated with stars, the first element of whose name is cognate to Ēostre

NOTES

* ^ Watkins 2006 : 2021. * ^ Mallory & Adams (1997:148–149). * ^ Giles (1843:179). * ^ Wallis (1999:54). * ^ Grimm (1882:289). * ^ Grimm (1882:290). * ^ Grimm (1882:290—291). * ^ Grimm (1882:291). * ^ A B Grimm (1883:780–781). * ^ Cubitt, Catherine (1995). Anglo-Saxon Church Councils c.650–c.850. London: Leicester University Press, pp 302f. ISBN 0-7185-1436-X * ^ Shaw (2011:59—60). * ^ Shaw (2011:60). * ^ Shaw (2011:52 and 63). * ^ A B Billson (1892:448). * ^ Simek (2007:74). * ^ Shaw (2011:52). * ^ Shaw (2011:70—71). * ^ Elton, Charles Isaac (1882). Origins of English History. p. 391. * ^ Boyle (1972:323—324). * ^ Schmadel (2003:44) * ^ Hubbard (2007:175). * ^ Diesel, Gerten (2007:136). * ^ Cusack (2008:354–355). * ^ Simek (2007:255). * ^ Griffiths, Eleanor Blye (19 June
June
2017). "American Gods mythology guide: Meet Germanic spring goddess Ostara". Radio Times. Retrieved 21 June
June
2017.

REFERENCES

* Barnhart, Robert K. (1995). The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology: The Origins of American English Words. HarperCollins
HarperCollins
. ISBN 0-06-270084-7 * Billson, Charles J. (1892). "The Easter
Easter
Hare" as published in Folk-Lore
Folk-Lore
, Vol. 3, No. 4 ( December 1892). Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of Folklore Enterprises Ltd. * Boyle, John Andrew (1974). "The Hare in Myth and Reality: A Review Article" as published in Folklore, Vol. 84, No. 4 (Winter, 1973). Taylor Adams, Douglas Q. (1997). Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture . Taylor & Francis . ISBN 1-884964-98-2 . * Shaw, Philip A. (2011). Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World: Eostre, Hreda and the Cult of Matrons. Bristol Classical Press. ISBN 978-0-7156-3797-5 * Schmadel, Lutz D. (2003). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names, fifth edition, illustrated. Springer. ISBN 3-540-00238-3 * Simek, Rudolf (2007) translated by Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. D.S. Brewer . ISBN 0-85991-513-1 * Wallis, Faith (Trans.) (1999). Bede: The Reckoning of Time. Liverpool University Press . ISBN 0-85323-693-3 * Watkins, Calvert (2006 ). The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
. ISBN 0-618-08250-6

* v * t * e

Anglo-Saxon paganism and mythology

GODS AND DIVINE FIGURES

* Beowa * Ēostre * Frige * Gefjon
Gefjon
* Hretha * Ing * Saxnot * Þunor * Tiw * Wade * Wayland the Smith * Wōden

HEROIC FIGURES

* Ægil * Beowa * Eormenric * Finn * Hengist and Horsa * Sceafa * Waldere

OTHER BEINGS

* Cofgod * Elf
Elf
* Ides * Dwarf (Dweorh) * Eoten/Thurs * Mare * Wælcyrge * Wight
Wight

LOCATIONS

* Middangeard * Neorxnawang

SOURCES

* Anglo-Saxon Chronicle * Æcerbot * Anglo-Saxon calendar * Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem * Beowulf
Beowulf
* De temporum ratione * Deor * Ealuscerwen * Finnesburg Fragment * Franks Casket * Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum * Nine Herbs Charm * Old English language * Spong Hill * Sutton Hoo * Widsith * Wið færstice

ORIGINS

* Germanic paganism * ( Angles * Frisii
Frisii
* Jutes * Saxons )

SOCIETY AND CULTURE

* Anglo-Saxon law * Anglo-Saxon runes * Anglo-Saxon burial * Bēot * Blōtan * Calendar * Folkmoot * Frith * Hearg * Maypole
Maypole
* Moot hill
Moot hill
* Scop * Symbel * Thegn * Thing * Thyle * Weregild * Wicce * Wilweorthunga * Wyrd * Yule

NEOPAGAN REVIVAL

* Fyrnsidu * Seax-Wica * Theodism

* v * t * e

Anglo-Saxon time

Months and modern equivalents

* Mōdraniht (New Years) * Æfterra Gēola ( January , Yule ) * Solmōnath ( February ) * Hrēthmōnath ( March
March
) * Ēosturmōnath ( April ) * Thrimilicemōnath ( May
May
) * Ærra Litha ( June
June
) * Æfterra Litha ( July
July
) * Wēodmōnath ( August
August
) * Halegmōnath aka Hærfestmōnath ( September ) * Winterfylleth ( October
October
) * Blōtmōnath ( November ) * Ærra Gēola ( December , Yule )

WEEK DAYS

* Sunnandæg * Mōnandæg * Tīwesdæg * Wōdnesdæg * Thursdæg * Frīgedæg * Sæterdæg

SEE ALSO

* Germanic calendar * Lunar calendar
Lunar calendar

* v * t * e

Easter
Easter

MAIN TOPICS

* Controversies * Date * Easter
Easter
Sunday
Sunday
* Etymology * Observances * Traditions

CHRISTIANITY

* Apostles\' Fast * Bright Week
Bright Week
* Burial of Jesus * Crucifixion of Jesus * Dormition of the Theotokos * Easter
Easter
Monday
Monday
* Easter
Easter
Vigil * Epitaphios * Exsultet
Exsultet
* Good Friday
Friday
* Good Friday
Friday
Prayer * Good Friday
Friday
prayer for the Jews * Great Lent * Holy Week
Holy Week
* Jesus
Jesus
* Last Supper
Last Supper
* Lent * Lumen Christi * Maundy Thursday * Myrrhbearers * Paschal candle * Paschal cycle
Paschal cycle
* Paschal greeting * Paschal Homily * Paschal Tide * Paschal trikirion * Paschal troparion * The Passion * Pentecostarion * Resurrection of Jesus * Tenebrae

TRADITIONS

* Artos
Artos
* Burning of Judas
Burning of Judas
* Cascarón * Clipping the church * Croatian pisanica * Crucession * Easter
Easter
basket * Easter
Easter
Bilby * Easter
Easter
bonnet * Easter
Easter
Bunny * Easter
Easter
egg * Easter
Easter
egg tree * Easter
Easter
postcard * Easter
Easter
Sepulchre * Egg dance * Egg decorating
Egg decorating
* Egg decorating
Egg decorating
in Slavic culture * Egg hunt * Egg rolling * Egg tapping * Egg tossing
Egg tossing
* Fasika * Gorzkie żale * Holy Fire * Holy Week
Holy Week
procession * Lieldienas * Osterbrunnen * Pace Egg play * Polish pisanka * Pysanka
Pysanka
* Radonitsa * Rouketopolemos * Saitopolemos * Scoppio del carro * Sunrise service
Sunrise service
* Święconka
Święconka
* Traditional Easter
Easter
games and customs

MEDIA

* Film * Fiction * Songs

RELATED TOPICS

* Computus * Dionysius Exiguus\' Easter
Easter
table * Easter
Easter
controversy * Easter
Easter
Epic * Ecclesiastical new moon * Paschal Full Moon * Pussy willow * Reform of the date of Easter
Easter

RELATED EVENTS

* Divine Mercy Sunday
Sunday
* Easter
Easter
Monday
Monday
* Easter
Easter
Tuesday
Tuesday
* Easter
Easter
Wednesday
Wednesday
* Easter
Easter
Thursday * Easter
Easter
Friday
Friday
* Easter
Easter
Saturday * Eastertide * Easter
Easter
Triduum * Easter
Easter
Week * Good Friday
Friday
* Holy Saturday * Maundy Thursday * Mid-Pentecost * Octave of Easter
Easter
* Palm Sunday
Sunday
* Pentecost
Pentecost
* Pre-Lenten Season * Trinity Sunday
Sunday

SOCIETY

* Ēostre *