The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
Calendar of Revelry and Sacred Days
See also Ostara.
In Ireland as well as the United Kingdom and her former colonies, the witches’ party night is Halloween. In Germanic and Slavic lands, witches fly on Walpurgis Night. In Sweden, the witches fly on Easter Eve. Easter? Yes—pagan traditions permeate Easter and not only in Sweden.
Although Easter is frequently considered the most sacred day of the Christian calendar (in some areas it supersedes Christmas) many of its beloved folk customs have nothing to do with Christianity—most obviously egg-delivering bunnies.
Easter corresponds approximately with the vernal equinox, the beginning of spring, and as such is a celebration of new life, including flowers, eggs, and babies. The vernal equinox corresponds with the beginning of the astrological sign of Aries, the very first sign of the zodiac and hence the beginning of a new annual cycle.
Easter’s name honors the Germanic deity whose name is variously spelled Astara, Easter, Eostre, and Ostara and is believed to mean “Radiant Dawn.” Ostara is the spirit of spring and the returning season of fertility. Her annual return was traditionally celebrated with flowers, bellringing, and singing. New fires were lit at dawn.
Ostara manifests as a beautiful young woman, with flowers in her hair. Her male consort takes the form of a rabbit. Sometimes he is the size of a full-grown human male; at other times he’s a little bunny that Ostara cradles in her arms. Ostara and her frisky rabbit bring the eggs that signify Earth’s resurgence of fertility.
Easter celebrates the magical energy and power that encourages and stimulates new beginnings. It is a festival of fertility and efforts to enhance fertility. These aspects of the holiday may be ignored or passed over, however they are not hidden or obscure. Until not that long ago, it was traditional in French, German, and Italian villages for special phallic-shaped cakes to be carried in procession to the local church at Easter.
Easter’s pagan components include the following.