The Goddess Gift Newsletter

New Growth

Vernal Equinox, March 2008


~ Growing Pains: The Return of Spring
~ The Goddess Ostara and the Pagan Traditions of Easter
~ The Celtic Goddess Brigid and the Meaning of Imbolc
~ Searching for the Silver Lining


Many moons ago (more than either of us care to remember) my seven year old daughter came to me and pointed her bell-bottoms to bring them to my attention. The hems were rapidly encroaching upon the territory usually reserved for capris!

 "We need to go shopping. I think I've had another "growth sprout!", she exclaimed.

Growth sprout, indeed! I know she meant "growth spurt", but "sprout" really does seem, well . . . perfect! I am reminded of this delightful malapropism each year when spring arrives.

Today, in my part of the world, the daffodils are bursting out and all green things are sprouting, filled with all that marvelous possibility of growth. New life is arriving.

If asked, all those bulbs and buds would no doubt tell you that all that budding and sprouting can indeed be a tad uncomfortable and disconcerting at times. After all, that's why we talk of "growing pains".

But grow we must. It's what we were put on this earth to do -- to learn who we are and to be who we are and to express all that uniqueness out into the world.

In the spring we marvel at the newness of life around us. Intuitively, and with emotion, we enjoy the richness of all the possibilities that growth can bring,

 


The Goddess Ostara: The Origin of Estrogen
and the Story of the Easter Bunny

The history of Easter is full of rich associations between the Christian faith and the seemingly unrelated practices of the early pagan religions. From the first account of resurrection found in the myths of the ancient goddess Ishtar to Easter egg hunts and the annual appearance of the Easter bunny, contemporary Easter traditions have their roots in ancient myths and pagan celebrations. 

Easter is named for a Saxon fertility goddess who was known by the names of Oestre or Eastre (The "female hormone" estrogen derives from her name.)

In Germany, she was called by the name of Ostara, which means "the shining light arising from the east". In addition to bringing the dawn each day, it was her divine responsibility to bring springtime to the earth each year.

One year the Goddess Ostara was a bit tardy and arrived late with her gift of spring. Feeling guilty about her role in allowing the lengthy winter, she went out of her way to  save the life of a poor bird whose wings had been frozen by the snow.

Filled with compassion for him because he could no longer fly, Ostara turned the poor bird into a snow hare. She named him Lepus and made him her pet or, as several versions have it, her lover.

She also favored him with the gift of being able to run at incredible speeds so he could evade all hunters.  To honor his earlier life as a bird, Ostara also granted him the power to lay eggs (in all the colors of the rainbow,no less).

But soon Ostara noticed a "funny feeling in her gut", a feeling that persuaded her that something was not quite right. Alas, her suspicions were soon confirmed. The randy little rabbit had gone behind her back and was fooling around with some bunnies.

Furious with his infidelity, the goddess Ostara, threw him into the heavens where he remains to this day as the constellation Lepus (The Hare).

When Ostara eventually calmed down about the betrayal,  she lightened his punishment and allowed him to return to earth each year, but only if he would give away his rainbow-colored eggs to the children attending the festivals held in her honor every spring.

And that is the story of how the Easter bunny came to be.

Read more about the colorful pagan history of Easter
(including the shocking reason that we "hide" the Easter eggs)
at:
Easter History and Traditions

 


The Celtic Goddess Brigid and the Message of Imbolc

The goddess Brigid, and the festival of Imbolc held in her honor each year when the lambs are a'birthing, remind us to nourish all the tender new urges that try to establish themselves and become part of our being. The myths of the goddess Brigid also remind us to be gentle and forgiving when we face up to our own weaknesses and failures.

As I've said before, I see little point in agonizing over mistakes and imperfections. It's ever so much better to view them as learning experiences.

Or as a wise one once said, "The true enemy of the good is the perfect."

I gave up all dreams of perfection years ago. Life has been easier ever since.

Instead I try to look for . . .


The Silver Lining
(re: the humor in previous mailing)

Someone wrote to say she didn't find John Cleese's message to the citizens of the USA at all funny.

Many others wrote to say, "Send dry pants, I laughed so hard that I . . ." (You get the picture!)

And several wrote to say "Loved it, but . . . (gasp) John Cleese of Monty Python fame didn't write it."

Mea culpa! They are right.  According to snopes.com, a leading authority on internet and urban myths, it was apparently just one of those things that "sprouted overnight" on the web, eventually getting  pruned and fertilized by a host of Cleese-like minds. Then someone had the brilliant idea to honor the comedian by attaching his name. According to snopes the "starter" was a short memo posted on an internal newsgroup at his employer's by Alan Baxter of Rochester, UK.

Sorry, John . . . you can't take credit for this one. But what a wonderful muse you turned out to be!

And I send waves of gratitude to those who wrote to alert me to the error, for it led to the discovery of the equally delightful "US citizens respond to John Cleese (or whoever you were)" letters that were no doubt actually written by Canadians ;-)

If you missed all the fun, or simply want some more of it, check out the lively correspondence between British and the US contingents by using this link:

The Great Mother Speaks


I'm working on a neat idea to answer some of your most frequent questions about discovering your goddess type via the Goddess Quiz and will be back soon to share it with you . . . and also some thoughts on the moon goddesses and the womanly art of intuition.    

Till then,  a reminder to . . . .

Notice the wondrous world around you,
feel its vibrations in your gut and
celebrate the possibilities in your life,
then sprout and grow!
 

Sharon  

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