Ostara

Apr. 8th, 2007 10:26 am
lizwilliams: (Default)
Since it's Easter Sunday...I did quite a lot of research for our talk on Ostara last week. Modern pagan catma holds that the festival is named after an ancient pagan goddess, Eostre or similar. Someone who appears to have held a similar name was worshipped in the Main Valley during the Dark Ages, but this whole 'Eostre' thing appears to have been more or less made up by the Venerable Bede and revived by Jacob Grimm. Eostre herself was most probably a dawn goddess (the word seems to be related to Aurora) and quite possibly nothing to do with the spring at all.

Sue Thomason has just told me that Bede was, in fact, a more careful historian than I've previously given him credit for, and was careful to note that he he was reporting hearsay and did not have any further evidence for his comments on Eostre.

It's also debatable whether the ancient Celts regarded the egg as a symbol of renewal and rebirth, although there appear to have been egg rolling ceremonies at Beltane, which of course is 6 weeks after the Spring Equinox itself. One authority suggests that the prevalence of eggs during Easter stems from the excess quantity of eggs accumulated over Lent (not being a Christian, I can't comment accurately on Lenten dietary customs, but perhaps someone else can?)

The bunny thing probably does come from hares, as it was apparently forbidden to hunt hares except for this time of year - a relic of this is found in a Hare Chase in Leicestershire, where the hare is still symbolically hunted.

And hot cross buns were, until relatively recently, credited with magical powers. A woman in Norfolk, known for her magical prowess, used to throw one into the Ouse every year, to prevent flooding.

Chocolate is inter-denominational, however!
lizwilliams: (Default)
Recently, in the context of a kerfuffle over Xmas trees/menorahs at Seatac airport, someone elsewhere on LJ asked me about Yule/Solstice, and what we do for it. Getting united opinions out of pagans is like the legendary herding of cats, but this is what our household does:Read more... )

Imbolc

Feb. 4th, 2006 06:53 pm
lizwilliams: (Default)
T and I went up to the local druidic ceremony today: this is one of the public ones, at Stanton Drew (http://www.stonepages.com/england/stantondrew.html). It's the second largest English stone circle, after Avebury (Stonehenge is huge, but not wide, if that makes sense). It was a good, brisk ritual, not quite as brisk as Anderida's legendary 6 minute Imbolc ritual some years ago, which took place in heavy rain and was conducted rather like speed-Shakespeare. And even on a raw February day, it's a lovely site; the stones are kept on farmland and we were surrounded by lambs. We drove there and back through Cheddar Gorge, which is spectacular, though the base of it is pretty tacky - it's very odd, seeing a whole tourist industry dedicated to cheese.
lizwilliams: (Default)
We're both still ill, but at the physically revolting stage rather than actually feeling too bad.

Friday: went to a party at the Chalice Well. Rather than music, they had a magician wandering about doing party tricks. I had to issue the health warning: my father is a member of the Magic Circle (the international stage magician's association).

'Might I know him?' the magician asked, so I said he was 83 now and didn't go to functions any more.
'I have to say,' the magician said, 'Being 83 in no way distinguishes him from the rest of the Magic Circle.'

Saturday: my Druidic Order were in town. Spent the day at the Town Hall doing Order-related stuff, and then in the evening we went to the annual Solstice bash. This started out with a lady harpist and ended rather like the second half of the Hogwarts disco in the latest Harry Potter film. Performers are vetted for quality, so they were all pretty good, though I concede that comic punk songs entitled 'I Failed My Bardic Training Homework' have a limited appeal if you're not actually a druid.

But you haven't lived until you've heard the story of King Arthur sung as a reggae number in a Jamaican accent.

The head of the Order made a short speech in which he admitted knocking over a candle last year and setting his plate on fire. He pointed out that we could either go down the health and safety route and ban candles, or just not be such klutzes and remember that there's a water jug on each table (instead of, er, carrying the blazing plate the full length of the hall into the kitchen). The latter was selected as a more viable option.

Good to see so many people for whom I have so much time. Part of the reason I've stuck with this particular order for so many years (over a decade now) is that the people involved in it are so interesting, entertaining and sane. Good on you lot, OBOD.
lizwilliams: (Default)
We hied ourselves off to the temple last night for the Samhain ritual: a very good ritual, incorporating the attempt of some 60 people, many of them Dutch, to produce a spontaneous Blues number. Results were...mixed.

It was a good ritual, very much focused on the honouring of the dead, as it should be. After that, half the congregation decamped to the George and Pilgrim for the ale part of cakes and ale (what?) and then T and I went home, lit a fire, and got rid of all the things we've been meaning to burn. I've put in a word for some other folk as well: you know who you are.

It is a dank, grey November day. I keep wondering why it's suddenly got dark so early. Er, that would be because the clocks went back - for some reason, this year I seem to have huge difficulty getting my head around this.

I also have Glastonbury Throat, like everyone else in town. Probably because we've all been breathing ceremonially on one another.

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