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Mar 25, 2012


What better way to celebrate the Pagan in you than with the Christian ceremony of Easter. A nice summary of the various religions and their associated sun worship, resurrection cults and symbols is given by On closer inspection, though, some connections between our current Easter traditions and a heathen one tossed around in the article, do not hold up.

Since I write fantasy that has its roots in a long-extinct culture, the continental Celts, these topics continually fascinate me. The association of Christian holidays with Pagan ones does seem to bother some people. But as one of my characters, an agnostic Druid, is fond of remarking, "there's no reason not to be inclusive."
So what about this mother goddess Eostre—or is she really Ostara—whose holiday was hijacked? According to Æ. Hunt-Anschütz from the Association of Polytheist Traditions (, there is only one mention of her in any of the church writings during the centuries where the great Easter Controversy (see, e.g., raged about how to actually calculate the holiday cycle. 

Since the Celts were notoriously insistent on not writing anything down, damn them, we have no information about what Eostre represented or how she was worshipped. Did fluffy bunnies frolic at her feet? Or did she hand out gaily painted eggs to her followers? And what about chocolate? Did the Eostre-faithful cover themselves in the stuff to celebrate? I love this quote from  Æ. Hunt-Anschütz, "I very much doubt the heathen Anglo-Saxons honoured Eostre with eggcups. I very much doubt they had eggcups." We will never know, but re Hunt-Anschütz, the traditions of rabbits and colored eggs originated in times when the Europeans were already Christian. 

And what about the connection with Easter and Patrick, the most revered of Irish saints? We commemorate his death in a most secular way on March 17 by wearing green and rolling in four-leafed clovers. Much of St. Patrick's history is also clothed in mystery—whether he was the first Irish bishop and when he died—but he was definitely a player in the Easter Controversy, computing his own Easter cycle. He was also a fictional character in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, battling a zombie Celtic hero and discoursing with supernatural Druids, literature that St. Patrick apparently also helped bring into existence (John T. Koch, in Celtic Culture, A Historical Encyclopedia).

So get out those egg cups, bite into a chocolate bunny, and light a candle for Eostre. There's no reason not to be inclusive, is there?