An Ostara Story
Early Ostara blessings to you all! I’ve decided to do something a little different for this week, you probably have heard that Ostara or Eastara is a Saxon Goddess of Spring and dawn, Lady of the blossoms, shoots, arrival of new life etc. The hare is her sacred animal and bunnies, chicks, and brightly coloured eggs are part of her rites, the story of the hare basically follows the lines that she was late arriving one spring, comes across a frozen dying bird that she feels guilty about, and the creature’s wings fall off. In some versions she takes the bird as a pet and later transforms it to a magical white hare, in all versions the hare has the ability to lay rainbow coloured eggs. In some versions the hare becomes her lover, some not, eventually she dislikes his promiscuity and in anger throws him into the sky where he becomes part of the constellation Lepus.
I’ve taken the liberty of rewriting this tale into a child friendly, what I think is a more likely version of events. Ostara is a fertility goddess, all acts of love and pleasure are her rituals, so why was she really angry with the hare? I’d like to share my version of this bunny tale.
One spring the Goddess Ostara was late in returning to her lands, the snow still covered the ground. As she wandered the forest she found a little bird lying in the snow, his wings were frozen and she was sure he would die, and she felt sad because if she had been on time, he might have lived. Ostara gently picked up the bird and his wings fell off, and she made him her pet. The bird got well and became a dear friend to the Goddess, though when he was alone he would cry because he missed his wings so badly.
The Goddess had compassion for her friend the bird and asked what she could do. He said if only he could jump and run and play and frolic like he did when he had wings he would be so grateful and happy. The Goddess told him she could not give him new wings though she could change him into something else that could do all he wanted.
I would make you white to blend in with the snow, she said, and give you fur to keep you warm during the winter, I would give you strength to jump and frolic and to outrun the greatest hunter. There is part of you that will always remain a bird, you will always lay eggs, and because magic changes things your eggs will be all colours of the rainbow my dear friend. Is this what you wish?
Yes, the bird chirped, and she gathered him into her hands, and kissed his brow. In an instant the air shimmered with the brightness of dawn and he was transformed into a snow white rabbit, with a pink nose and white ears. The Goddess reached down to the ground and released him from her grip, he ran around in circles and jumped and dashed here and there, he was so happy and the Lady smiled at his joy and went on her way.
The hare made friends with the other rabbits, though he was the only one who could lay eggs. Yet it didn’t matter that he was different, he loved his life and often gave the Goddess gifts of colourful eggs when she returned in Spring. One year the hare noticed children watched as his friends played, they laughed and giggled as they watched the rabbits run and hop and the white hare decided the children would appreciate the gift of a rainbow egg, so early one morning he left some in a basket in early spring. The children were delighted and the hare decided to give colourful eggs to all the children he saw for the rest of his life.
Years passed and some of the other creatures became upset with the white hare, he had been telling them he was more blessed by the Goddess because he could lay eggs and they could not. Somehow he felt superior, he was a magical creature and they were just plain and that made him more important than the others and he began to treat the others poorly.
The Goddess Ostara was walking through the woods early one morning and saw the white hare; I have heard some unsettling news about you friend, that you think you are above the other creatures. It troubles me, because all my creatures are precious, no one is greater or lesser than another. I saved your life and took you as a pet, you were so sad that I transformed you into a magical snow hare, and you have spread joy by gifting your rainbow eggs to me and the children. Yet I see now that you are not part of the world where all things are equal, I cannot change you back to a bird for you will surely die, and I wish you to live on. The only place for you is in the sky among the stars, where you may watch over all the earth and return once a year to bring the children your eggs.
I will live in the stars Ostara, and every spring when you walk the earth I will return to bring the eggs to the children. Then let it be so my friend, you must rest in my arms as you did when you were transformed once before. The white hare leaped into her arms, and she embraced him warmly and kissed his pink nose, I will always love you and watch for you in the stars, and she tossed him into the sky and he came to sit just under Orion, the hunter of the stars, who never catches the hare. Even today you can see him watching in the sky in the constellation Lepus, the hare.