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21 Mar 2010

Ostara 2010 News

Ostara 2010

Issue #6 is Here!

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Ostara (1884) by Johannes Gehrts

.: Egg-Wights and the Vernal Equinox :.

“The Vernal Equinox signals the beginning of Spring, while Ostara marks the victory of Sunna over the wolves which pursued her down into winter’s dark, and Thorr’s victory over the Frost-Giants.”

~ Kveldulf Hagan Gundarsson and Gunnora Hallakarva from “Ostara” in Mountain Thunder, Spring 1992.

It’s time to remember Ostara again, to get the crops in the ground. With all this wet weather we’ve been hard pressed to plant much. We do have some collard greens growing, though they are recovering from a sneak attack by the chickens. The asparagus should start coming up soon. We’ve also stuck in a few broccoli and cabbage plants, along with onions. The potatoes we planted in our new raised bed after the Charming of the Plow are a couple of inches tall.

For anyone new to Heathenry, Easter is like Christmas, a holy observance composed of thinly veiled adaptations of much older pagan rituals. So just like with Christmas and Yule, pick an Easter tradition and do a little research, it shouldn’t take long to find something interesting related to Ostara and the season’s Heathen roots.

A good place to start looking is the name Easter which comes directly from its pagan origins. Etymology Online notes Easter originated from the Proto Germanic Austron, a goddess of fertility and sunrise who was celebrated at spring equinox. Austron stems from *austra, “east toward the sunrise.” and from the older Proto-Indo-European *aus – “dawn.”

As with many Heathen Goddesses, Ostara’s lore is lacking, with little more than her name remaining. She was the Saxon dawn-goddess Eostre, the Old English Eastre, and the Northumbrian Eostre from Anglo-Saxon, as well as Ostara from Old High German.

When adapting the observances of this season to your own needs be sure to include eggs for their symbolic association with fertility. At this time of year some laying hens start feeling maternal and begin “setting” on ever growing clutches of eggs which eventually produce a new crop of laying hens.

In honor of the fertility we hope to cultivate at this time of year we’ve adapted the egg tree. The apple and pear trees are perfect for it. We color eggs for the trees and to decorate the table. Markings can also be put on the eggs, much like the wonderful artwork found on Ukranian pysanke eggs. We liked to illustrated them with flowers as children, but runes seem more appropriate to me these days.

We also like to make “deviled” eggs. Though if you have chickens you know that fresh eggs are not suitable for smooth egg peeling, they are so full of moisture the shell can’t be separated no matter what tricks might have been up your grandmother’s sleeve. If you plan ahead and let the eggs age a week or so first they will peel much better.

We like to collect an egg laid on the Vernal Equinox for luck and to ward the family and garden from lightning, bad weather, and hail. Tossing it into the next Seasonal fire. One year one of the children attending a blot cracked open the egg on the hearth, and I guess it was lucky because instead of stinking it was all dried out.

Eggs are a wonderfully nutritious food that provides easily digestible protein. Even in today’s economy they are a bargain food purchase. If you don’t have chickens look for someone who does, or purchase free range organic for best flavor and nutrition. A 17th century Rhineland proverb says, “At Easter eat hard boiled eggs, then you’ll be healthy the whole year.”1

Easter eggs for sale at a market in Vienna. Taken on April 12, 2006.2

Serving eggs at the Ostara feast is probably as old a tradition as Ostara herself. Eggs are versatile enough to work into every course. Breads made with eggs were popular, especially hot cross buns, known to Heathens as Gebo [or sun wheel – ed.] buns. This gives the chance to blow-out a few eggs without wasting them so you can have whole shells to us in crafts elsewhere.

One of our favorite shell crafts are egg fairies, or egg-wights. Blow out a few eggs, clean them with warm water, and let them dry. Collect 3 pipe cleaners, a bead with a hole large enough to hold the pipe cleaner, and an artificial flower or two. The flowers should come apart to separate the petal layers, leaving a hole in their centers.

The blown egg will serve as the body of the egg-wight. Insert a pipe cleaner, the color of your choice, through the holes in the ends of the eggs. Add one of the pipe cleaners to this one to create legs. Then add arms to the top part of the egg and pipe cleaner securing the egg shell body between the arms and legs. Add a bead to this pipe cleaner and make a small circle with the pipe cleaner on the top of the bead to secure it.

To create the clothing and personality of your egg wight use artificial flowers. Choose colors you like and take the flowers apart. Insert the petals onto the pipe cleaners, placing them above and below the egg, until you have a pleasing design. For hair you can use yarn, strips of cloth, moss, or more flower parts. Secure this to the top of the bead with the remaining bit of pipe cleaner. Add a string to this to hang your egg-wight in your Ostara tree.

May the eggs of Ostara bring fertility to your endeavors.

~ Hedgewife Teresa Luedke

Sources / Further Reading:

Frazer, Sir James George. The Golden Bough. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1900.


1 Kveldulf Gundarson, Members of the Troth, & Other True Folk, Our Troth Volume Two: Living the Troth. The Troth, 2007, 377.

2 Easter eggs for sale at a market in Vienna. Taken on April 12, 2006.
Source: {{Cc-by-2.0}}

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Old English Rune Poem

Ur [Auroch] is single-minded and over-horned,
A very dangerous animal – fights with its horns –
A notorious moor-treader; that is an intrepid being!

Old Icelandic Rune Poem

Ur [Drizzle] is the cloud’s tears
And the harvest’s ruin
And the herder’s hate

Old Norse Rune Poem

Ur [Slag] is from bad iron;
Oft lopes the reindeer over frozen snow

~ Rune poem translations by Sweyn Plowright

“Spring grabs me by the tail and spins me round.”
– Telling the Bees

The curious thing about growth, new life, the very essence of Ostara, is that it runs in paths you cannot anticipate. In the shadows of winter we cannot predict just where wyrd might lead. Growth does not obey the rules of expectation, custom, habit, or precedent. It obeys its own essential order and law. It is primal.

Growth is wild, untamed, in a sense radically inhuman. It reshapes our lives sometimes in ways that reduce us to hanging on for dear life. Enter the “notorious moor-treader!”

The Auroch is a symbol of such profound potency, a force of nature to be celebrated with abandon. It is ruled by the conscience of the natural order, which breaks down all barriers, excuses, controls, and platitudes. We human beings sometimes ensnare ourselves in all sorts of constraining stories, but the Auroch is immune to such ploys and happily plows on through.

If the Auroch is a personification of growth then it seems clear that the more we presume to have certain understanding of the way things are – well, the more violent growth can seem. Sometimes, stuck in one rut or another, we even perceive growth, the inexorable agent of nature’s will, as a threat or an enemy. The more inflexible our attitude, the more powerful the eventual downpour that will come. Growth is wedded to destruction – the harvest’s ruin may be a disaster at first, yet who can say what events it will in turn lay seed for?

To honour the power of the Ur rune – particularly at Ostara, the gateway into the seasons of growth – we might take our lead from the Old Norse Rune Poem, which declares that “slag is from bad iron.” What on earth could such a declaration mean?

In this context I see this statement as being a point about purifying and perfecting ourselves. The more willing we are to abandon the inessential – to embrace life as a crucible – the more easily we are able to work with growth and the less cost it can represent to us. Ultimately we might hone ourselves into strong swords or stout plowshares, riding the organic law of growth, riding the ur-patterns that wind their way throughout the worlds.

Yet we need to have a deep sense of place, or localisation, too. The Auroch – as the Old English Rune Poem suggests – is lord of its domain, but it knows what the bounds of its dwelling are. It does not attempt to overstep its bounds, even though its realm is expansive. It does not manifest the desire for growth in exponential expansion – the error of late modern industrial capitalism – but turns its growth-urge inward to become densely packed with power instead. It develops depth and spirit.

Spring is often associated with surface change, obvious things like snow melting or flowers blooming. Yet Uruz suggests that perhaps it is the deep things – the Auroch’s internal power, the hidden possibilities of the iron hidden away in the ore – that we would profit from attending to the most.

Our conscious understanding of the workings of wyrd is incredibly limited. Let’s accept Ur’s invitation to embrace growth, to use it to deepen and not just to expand superficially. This is a call for spiritual work over material work; for curiosity rather than judgement; for flexibility rather than rigidity. The more we align ourselves with the ur-thread that runs throughout all the worlds, the more easily we’ll lope over frozen snow and many other forbidding challenges.

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Georgia Through Its Folktales
By Michael Berman

With translations by Ketevan Kalandadze
& illustrations by Miranda Gray

Full of third sons, talking birds, enchanted places, beautiful women and impossible journeys, these charmingly illustrated stories have a magic-realist, almost absurd quality, and they are told and translated in such a way that will keep you reading from cover to cover. In his introduction and extensive accompanying gloss, Michael Berman skilfully locates them in their historical, religious, storytelling and shamanic contexts with a scholarship that is both thorough and accessible, making it complementary to the reader’s enjoyment. A nice collection.

- David Ronder BA, MA – lecturer and translator

“Everything shifts in the Caucasus, blown by some of the strongest winds on earth. Even the ground moves, splintered by fault lines. In early Georgian myths, it is said that when the mountains were young, they had legs – could walk from the edges of the oceans to the deserts, flirting with the low hills, shrouding them with soft clouds of love”
(Griffin, 2001, p.2).

But what about those aspects of life which remain relatively constant – the traditional practices of the people, the practices that are reflected in their folktales and their folklore? It is these constants that this study concentrates on. Find out about the land with which the earliest folklore of Europe is connected – the land where Noah’s Ark is said to have settled, the land of the Argonauts and of Prometheus.

Author Michael Berman BA, MPhil, PhD (Alternative Medicines) works as a teacher, teacher trainer, and writer. Publications include A Multiple Intelligences Road to an ELT Classroom and The Power of Metaphor for Crown House, and Tell Us A Story for Brian Friendly Publications. Books published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing include The Nature of Shamanism and the Shamanic Story (2007), Soul Loss and the Shamanic Story (2008) and Divination and the Shamanic Story (2008). Michael has been involved in teaching and teacher training for over thirty years, has given presentations at Conferences in more than twenty countries, and hopes to have the opportunity to visit many more yet.

Although Michael originally trained as a Core Shamanic Counsellor with the Scandinavian Centre for Shamanic Studies under Jonathan Horwitz, these days his focus is more on the academic side of shamanism, with a particular interest in the folktales with shamanic themes told by and collected from the peoples of the Caucasus. For more information please visit

The translator of the tales is Ketevan Kalandadze, who has an MA in Western European Languages and Literature from Tbilisi State University in Georgia and is an administrator at City University in London. She is also the Managing Director of Caucasus Arts Ltd, a company set up to promote both visual and performing artists from Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the other independent states in the region. Ketevan hopes that the company will serve as a bridge between the Caucasus and the UK, helping to develop an appreciation of the rich, though relatively untapped, cultural heritage of the land where she was born. For further information please visit

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By the Hum of Ullr’s Bow: Winter Songs Compilation CD
is still available!

Bands on the compilation CD include:

• A Minority of One • Allerseelen • Andrew King • At the Head of the Woods • Beastianity
• Hamramr • Irij • Ironwood • Ruhr Hunter • Sangre Cavallum • Sieben • Steve von Till
• Svarrogh • Waldteufel • Wardruna

(You can read more about the artists here).

: Issue Three Almost Gone! :

Issues One, Two, Four, & Five are sold out!
Only limited numbers of Hex Issue Three remain…

Order at:

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Until May Day/Beltaine/Walpurgisnacht,
may you and your household
be blessed and kept.

~ HEX Magazine

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