Ostara Blessings, dear friends!

Ostara Comments 
“The name Ostara goes back to Jacob Grimm, who, in his Deutsche Mythologie, speculated about an ancient German goddess Ostara, after whom the Easter festival (German: Ostern) could have been named. Grimm’s main source is De temporum ratione by the Venerable Bede. Bede had put forward the thesis that the Anglo-Saxon name for the month of April, Eostur-monath, was named after a goddess Eostre. Ostara is one of the four lesser Wiccan holidays or sabbats of the Wheel of the Year. Ostara is celebrated on the spring equinox, in the Northern hemisphere around March 21 and in the Southern hemisphere around September 23, depending upon the specific timing of the equinox. Among the Wiccan sabbats, it is preceded by Imbolc and followed by Beltane. In the book Eight Sabbats for Witches by Janet and Stewart Farrar, the festival Ostara is characterized by the rejoining of the Mother Goddess and her lover-consort-son, who spent the winter months in death. Other variations include the young God regaining strength in his youth after being born at Yule, and the Goddess returning to her Maiden aspect. Ostara is the virgin Goddess of spring. This holiday concerns the deity’s trip to the underworld, and their struggle to return from the Land of the Dead to Earth. When they accomplish this return, they have a life renewed. It was considered bad luck to wear anything new before Ostara, so the people would work through the winter in secret to make elegant clothes for the Sabbat celebration. The entire community would gather for games, feasting, and religious rituals while showing off their clothing. The modern belief that eggs are delivered by a rabbit known as the Easter Bunny comes from the legend of the Goddess Eostre. So much did a lowly rabbit want to please the Goddess that he laid the sacred eggs in her honor, gaily decorated them, and humbly presented them to her. So pleased was she that she wished all humankind to share in her joy. In honor of her wishes, the rabbit went through the entire world and distributed these little decorated gifts of life”

References:

Ostara in Wikipedia  

 ~Magickal Graphics~

St Oswald’s Day

 

Oswald of Northumbria

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Oswald (c 604 – 5 August 642) was King of Northumbria from 634 until his death, and is now venerated as a Christian saint.

Oswald was the son of Æthelfrith of Bernicia and came to rule after spending a period in exile; after defeating the British ruler Cadwallon ap Cadfan, Oswald brought the two Northumbrian kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira once again under a single ruler, and promoted the spread of Christianity in Northumbria. He was given a strongly positive assessment by the historian Bede, writing a little less than a century after Oswald’s death, who regarded Oswald as a saintly king; it is also Bede who is the main source for present-day historical knowledge of Oswald. After eight years of rule, in which he was the most powerful ruler in Britain, Oswald was killed in the Battle of Maserfield.

After death

Oswald soon came to be regarded as a saint. Bede says that the spot where he died came to be associated with miracles, and people took dirt from the site, which led to a hole being dug as deep as a man’s height. Reginald of Durham recounts another miracle, saying that his right arm was taken by a bird (perhaps a raven) to an ash tree, which gave the tree ageless vigor; when the bird dropped the arm onto the ground, a spring emerged from the ground. Both the tree and the spring were, according to Reginald, subsequently associated with healing miracles. Aspects of the legend have been considered to have pagan overtones or influences—this may represent a fusion of his status as a traditional Germanic warrior-king with Christianity. The name of the site, Oswestry, or “Oswald’s Tree”, is generally thought to be derived from Oswald’s death there and the legends surrounding it. His feast day is August 5. The cult surrounding him even gained prominence in parts of continental Europe.

Bede mentions that Oswald’s brother Oswiu, who succeeded Oswald in Bernicia, retrieved Oswald’s remains in the year after his death.In writing of one miracle associated with Oswald, Bede gives some indication of how Oswald was regarded in conquered lands: years later, when his niece Osthryth moved his bones to Bardney Abbey in Lindsey, its inmates initially refused to accept them, “though they knew him to be a holy man”, because “he was originally of another province, and had reigned over them as a foreign king”, and thus “they retained their ancient aversion to him, even after death”. It was only after Oswald’s bones were the focus of an awe-inspiring miracle—in which, during the night, a pillar of light appeared over the wagon in which the bones were being carried and shone up into the sky—that they were accepted into the monastery: “in the morning, the brethren who had refused it the day before, began themselves earnestly to pray that those holy relics, so beloved by God, might be deposited among them.”

In the early 10th century, Bardney was in Viking territory, and in 909, following a combined West Saxon and Mercian raid, St Oswald’s relics were translated to a new minster in Gloucester, which was re-named St Oswald’s Priory in his honour.

Oswald’s head was interred in Durham Cathedral together with the remains of Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (a saint with whom Oswald became posthumously associated, although the two were not associated in life; Cuthbert became bishop of Lindisfarne more than forty years after Oswald’s death) and other valuables in a quickly made coffin, where it is generally believed to remain, although there are at least four other claimed heads of Oswald in continental Europe. One of his arms is said to have ended up in Peterborough Abbey later in the Middle Ages. The story is that a small group of monks from Peterborough made their way to Bamburgh where Oswald’s uncorrupted arm was kept and stole it under the cover of darkness. They returned with it to Peterborough and in due time a chapel was created for the arm – Oswald’s Chapel. This – minus the arm – can be seen to this day in the south transept of the cathedral. When creating this chapel the monks of Peterborough had thought of how they had acquired it and built into the chapel a narrow tower – just big enough for a monk to climb to the top by an internal stair and stand guard over Oswald’s Arm 24 hours a day, every day of the year. The monk had to stand because the tower is not large enough for him to sit – sitting could lull him to sleep – and they knew what could happen when no-one was watching.

St Oswald’s Catholic Church lies to the north of Peterborough City Centre.

Some English place names record his reign, for example Oswaldtwistle in Lancashire, meaning the twistle of Oswald.

The Church of Saint Oswald stands on the location of the wooden cross left by Oswald at Heavenfield, the night before the battle. This was rebuilt in 1717. The site is visible from the B6318 Military Road.

Anglo-Saxon Yuletide

Anglo-Saxon Yuletide by K. A. Laity

­­The Anglo-Saxons settled Britain in the early fifth century, giving their name to the land now known as England. Very little remains of the native culture of the Anglo-Saxons. We learn from the Venerable Bede, a seventh century Christian historian, that the months we now call December and January were considered “Giuli” or Yule by the Anglo-Saxons. According to the historian, his Anglo-Saxon ancestors celebrated the beginning of the year on December 25th, referred to as “Modranect”— that is, Mothers’ Night. This celebration most likely acknowledged the rebirth of Mother Earth in order to ensure fertility in the coming spring season. An Anglo-Saxon charm for crop fertility, recorded in the eleventh-century and known as “Aecerbot,” refers to the Earth as “Erce, [the] Earthen Mother” and contains the following praise poem for her:

Hale be you, earth,
mortals’ mother!
May you ever be growing
in god’s grasp,
filled with food,
useful for folk.

It could be that the poem refers to Nerthus, the earth goddess the Roman historian Tacitus identified as venerated by the continental Germanic tribes, but we will probably never be sure.
Many scholars have suggested that the mother goddess Friga (Frigg in Old Norse) played a central role in the Yuletide observances, although no records remain of specific celebrations for Mothers’ Night. Chief of the goddesses and the consort of Woden, Friga ruled over childbirth and marriage and inspired the naming of several English towns like Frobury and Fretherne, as well as the English word for the day of the week, Friday.

It is very likely too that the Yule celebrations also included honors for Freyja, who governed love and fertility. Both she and her twin brother Freyr were associated with the boar, the primary animal represented in Yuletide customs and indeed in Anglo-Saxon culture in general. Scholars first discovered the importance of the fierce wild boar through warrior poetry like the epic Beowulf. Beowulf’s men wore boars on their helmets both to protect their own heads—and to intimidate their opponents. But it is not only in literature that we find the boar motif. Twentieth-century archeological discoveries like that of Sutton Hoo (a dig containing a royal burial and many different artifacts) have revealed the truly widespread significance of this totemic animal, even into the Christian era. The boar continued to ornament brooches, bowls and jewelry as well as more military objects for centuries.

The boar’ significance as the center of the Yuletide celebration outlived not only the conversion to Christianity, but even the disappearance of the creature itself from England. By the late Middle Ages, the offering of the boar’s head had lost its religious significance, but it continued to be the centerpiece of the Christmas feast, and indeed the Yule procession. Along with songs honoring the traditional holly and ivy—often said to fight with each other for prominence in the hall—the songs to accompany the boar’s head still convey the joy its arrival would bring and the twelve days of merriment this first course promised, as this fifteenth-century song attests:

The boar’s head I bring,
Singing praises to the lord. [chorus] 

The boar’s head in hand I bring,
With garlands gay and birds singing!
I ask you all to help me sing,
Who are at this banquet.

The boar’s head, I understand,
Is the chief service in all this land,
Wherever it may be found,
It is served with mustard.

The boar’s head, I dare well say,
Soon after the twelfth day [of Christmas]
He takes his leave and goes away—
He has left the country.

 

The second course, according to another contemporary song, was cranes, herons, bitterns, plovers, woodcocks and snipe. Then came the larks in a hot broth, almond soup—to say nothing of the sweet wine, good ale and brown bread—and then venison, capons, dove entrails, currant jelly…and the list continues. At Yuletide in Medieval England, no one in the hall was going to go hungry.