Sunday, April 20, 2014

Eostre ~ Goddess of Change

How Eostre Became the Goddess of Spring
©2014 by Mary-Lynne Monroe

Many, many moons ago ~ more full moons past than have ever been counted ~ the gods and goddesses quarreled over who should be honored at the turning of the seasons. Clearly, there were fewer turnings than deities.

As another turning approached, tempers flared ~ the arguments brightening the sun, melting the snow, warming the earth. Grass grew taller and greener. Flowers poked their colorful heads out through their leaves. Rivers burbled faster. Yet the arguing gods and goddesses barely noticed, so entirely wrapped in their arguments were they.

Zeus electrified the air with his lightning bolt. Thor's hammer thundered a retort. Kali spewed roiling lava over the land. Yemaya's surf pounded a tattoo in response. Every god and every goddess vied for acknowledgement, position and power. Their dueling responses signaled the coming season: Spring, when everything is grander and more colorfully explosive than any other season.

Weaving through the gathered crowd of immortals was Eostre, a goddess new to the Divine City, inexperienced with the ways of the gods and goddesses as they quarreled. Hair shimmering like spun silver, she listened attentively and quietly to the noise and chatter around her. In the midst of the other dazzling divine, her appearance though beautiful was unremarkable. Absorbing the view of the marketplace with its stalls of fruit, bread and other wares overflowing their baskets and tables, she found the abundance nearly overwhelming.
In the midst of the hubbub, she moved unnoticed. She herself, however, saw everything. Small creatures darted in and out among the feet and legs on the path. Her deep violet eyes missed not a one. Anyone watching as she passed the final table and crossed the threshold out of the City and into the surrounding woodland would have seen Eostre begin to shrink. Soon she was the size of a rabbit doe ~ then she was the shape of the doe, as she made her way deeper into the woods.

Once Eostre was deep within the woods, she stopped to rest in some underbrush beneath a tree at the edge of a small clearing. Recognizing the holy difference of Eostre even in the form of a doe, other rabbits hopped over to be near her. Birds flew to branches over her. Flowers and leaves turned in her direction as if seeking out the sun. Deer, badgers, squirrels and other denizens of the forest slowly filled the clearing near her.

Unknown to Eostre, the Moon goddess Artemis had followed her. Thinking she was alone with her woodland friends, Eostre shifted her form back to human. No animal ran. No bird flew away. No leaf turned away. All remained quietly in the clearing, focusing on the Goddess of Change. Artemis, watching this shift and aware of the honor bestowed on Eostre, stepped forward herself into the clearing. Instantly, every creature startled and fled.

Eostre herself startled at the sight of the Goddess of the Hunt. She too wanted to flee, but knew there was nowhere to go where Artemis could not follow.

"Why have you followed me?" she asked.

"Your youth and beauty attracted me. You appear as my Maidens do: strong, self-aware, mindful. If I hadn't watched you shape-shift, I would have lost you."

"That was my purpose: to be lost."


"All the anger and fighting wear me down. This is the season of joy, creativity, love, birth and growth. How can all that negativity call forth an honoree for a season of beauty and positivity?"

Artemis paused, leaning on her long huntress bow, and smiled.

"Will you return to the City with me?" she asked. "I believe we have found our Spring honoree."

"I will spend tonight in this wood, Artemis," Eostre responded. "You have frightened the creatures of the wood with your huntress ways. I will see them calm before I return."

"As you wish," Artemis responded. "As tonight is the Full Moon, it is my place to be in the night sky. I will be in the City again in the morning. Will you meet me at the gate by which you left?"

"Yes," she promised. "I will be there shortly after dawn."

As Artemis in her form of the Full Moon moved through the night sky, she looked down on the glade to see all the creatures again gathered around Eostre. The nocturnal creatures were awake; the diurnal creatures were asleep. All were at peace.

The next morning, Eostre entered the gate to the Divine City with Artemis at her side. As they moved through the streets of the City, arguments and conversations stopped. All heads turned toward the two goddesses.

When they arrived at the central square, Artemis took Eostre by the hand and led her to the fountain. The two goddesses stood side by side as all the gods and goddesses gathered. In the quiet, birds twittered in the nearby trees, frogs croaked in the fountain, dogs and cats walked through the legs of those gathered and laid down around the fountain. The movement and sound of these creatures did not escape the notice of the gathering deities.

Artemis raised her voice and said, "My sisters and brothers, yesterday as the Huntress I followed this radiant goddess into the woods, expecting to find her alone. But I did not find her so. She was in a clearing surrounded by every woodland creature ~ walkers, creepers, crawlers, fliers, jumpers, all of them. Even the flowers and plants were aware of her presence. Their devotion was keen."

She turned toward Eostre. "She spoke of the joy and beauty of this Spring season. From my place in the sky as the Full Moon, I saw her. Throughout the night, the fauna and flora of the forest continued to honor her. I believe she is our Goddess of Spring."

As one, the gods and goddesses raised their voices in approval. The dogs howled, the cats purred, the frogs sang, the insects buzzed. Every living thing agreed.

That is how Eostre became the Goddess of the Spring turning ~ and on the Full Moon!

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