Witches Familiars: The Witchery of Birds

Flight has always belonged to Witches, therefore we share a kinship with the birds.

There are as many different types of Witches and there are of birds as well. Each have their own qualities, abilities and traditions.

Here I will list a three birds that have been special to me: the Swan, the Crow, and the Owl.

I hope you will be inspired by my list to suggest some of your own.

Part 1: The Swan

The White Swan has been my familiar for a very long time. I was first given Whiteswan as a spiritual name by a Salish Indian spiritual leader who said he saw it in me. Later on, I had a Vedic, or Indian, Astrological Reading that revealed the symbol of the white swan in my seventh house. I was told the white swan in a Vedic horoscope is a sign of enlightenment. It is also significant that my rising sign, Taurus, is also ruled by Venus, the Goddess associated with swans. I think the spiritual leader “saw’ some real stuff!

Swans have an ancient association with the Goddess’s of Love due to their great beauty, and their tendency to mate for life. Ungainly on land, they blossom on the water like translucent lotuses, and in the air, they soar higher than almost any other bird. Because of their power of flight, birds, in general, represent the Soul rising heavenward. But, especially in Irish tradition,  the swan has also been associated with the journey of the soul  going over the sea into the west, the direction of the setting sun, to the Country of the Dead.

The White Swan shines like the moon on the water. The swan has always been a symbol of romance, sacred to Venus and Aphrodite.  The Black Swan can be said to represent the Dark Side of the Moon, and of Love. Together, the white and black swans are a perfect reflection  of the Goddess in her dual aspect of Love and Death, as well as in her cycle of Death and Rebirth.

The swan is mute, but legend has it that, at death, the swan sings its passage into the Otherworld. I know when I have done really deep Shamanic work, it has been the swan’s plaintive cry that has led me over the threshold into the Kingdom of Shadows.

Aphrodite and the Swan

I love what Buffie Johnson says about This sculpture in  her fabulous book, Lady of the Beasts:

A Greek terra-cotta (sixth century B.C.E.) shows Aphrodite standing in somber splendor on a giant swan. She wears a high tower crown and  carries a small casket, a reference to her possession of the hidden knowledge of death and the sectret of new life…A large and powerful bird, the swan is one of the earliest in the evolutionary chain, with an extra vertebrae in its spine and a mechanism above its beak to adapt to either salt or fresh water. The swan’s whiteness alludes to Aphrodite’s purity and dignity. Throughout the Bronze Age the swan acts as her epiphany or alternate form. Later, she no longer takes the form of the bird; she rides on it.

The black swan is the familiar of the Gorgon. She is called Golden Winged Medusa when she appears with the double wings of the black swan. These double wings along with her body tattoos, rosettes, swastikas, lozenges, and plant motifs reveal her a an embodiment of the Old Goddess. Her fangs and lolling tongue were a symbol of her power to draw rain, making her a important deity for farmers. The swastikas on the black swans’ wings turn both right and left to indicate that life and death move one into the other with ease. It was Medusa’s power over this that caused those who looked at her to be turned to stone.

The Divinity of Pale Creatures

White animals have been seen in many primal cultures as being spirit animals. I think this partly because of their eerie, ghostly appearance as well their association with the north. Souls, especially Witch souls, come down through the lunar tides to the North Pole, before being grounded in the womb.  I think the linking images of white and snow and stars glistering the winter skies during the dark of the moon, contribute to this perception.

The swan is a liminal creature. There is a twilight quality to the swan. It lives by sea and lake, flies high and dives deep under the water. When I was in Ireland in 1996, I went to Innishmore. It was a beautiful day, so a friend and I bicycled to the very tip of the island where the ruins of a 4000 year old ring fort faced a 300 foot sheer drop to the ocean crashing below. Peaked rocks went out like standing stones into the surf and the sun was almost touching the waves, turning the sea to molten silver when we decided it was tme to turn back.

We took the route that went along the shore on opposite side from which we had come. Heaped on our right side were little stone enclosed pastures and on our left, the darkening sea. The sky was turquoise and the moon was just in front of us, huge and full and the color of amber. Beyond the moon was the flash of a lighthouse guiding us back to the town.

We turned a bend and I had to stop. There was a little lagoon with a spit like row of standing stones going out along it. A heron sat at the end of the spit barely visible in the twilight. Then I saw a flash of white brilliance as on the far side of the lagoon, at the edge where the land met the sea, a white swan stood up, went down to the water, and floated there with the moonlight shining in its feathers.

This was surely a vision of the divinity of Earth.

Swans as familiars of the Gods

Swans have been connected to Gods as well as Goddesses.

Zeus famously turned himself into a swan to ravish Leda who then gave birth to Helen of Troy — a true priestess  of the Goddess of Love and War, whose extraordinary beauty brought the ancient world to its knees.

For male witches and Aradia fans, I found this lovely sculpture of Apollo with the swan. Here the swan is the moon,  sister of the God of the Sun.

The snake-like neck of the swan makes it a perfect masculine fertility symbol. The bird can even be said to combine both male and female elements in its form. The swan’s refection of the Inner Marriage is probably why it is included as an emblem in Alchemy in which it represents the aetheric, or shapeshifting, body.

Also see my article on Heimdall which the Swan brought to me in a dream.

Heimdall, Rowan, Aquarius, Winter Dreams

Celtic Tradition

It never ceases to amaze me how a soul can draw to itself congruent images. I have long been into Celtic Tradition, dating back to my first exposure to folk music from Ireland and Scotland as a child.

The Goddess, Brighid  therefore was a special deity for me especially when my Faery Seership reached its peak in the mid 1990′s.

The presence of the Swan is very strong in Celtic Tradition, being  associated with deities like Brighid who  participate in the symbiosis of the healing waters and the sun. They are associated with music, poetry, love, purity and the soul. They are shape-shifters, can take human form, and have mastered the elements of water, earth and air.

Among Druids, the Swan represents the soul, and in accordance with its death aspect,  is associated with the Festival of Samhain. The swan aids us in traveling to the Otherworld. Swans are also sacred to Bards, and their skin and feathers were used to make the tugen, the ceremonial Bardic Cloak.

Irish tales

Swans appear throughout Irish folklore. An Otherworldly bird, they are often the disguise of Fairy Women. At certain times of year, a swan maiden can transform herself back into a human, such as at Summer Solstice, Beltane or Samhain, when the veils between the worlds are thin.

The White Swans of the Wilderness were children of the Tuatha de Danaan, who settled Ireland, and became the sidhe after the invasion of the Milesians.

Grail Swan by Arlene deWinter

Grail Swan by Arlene deWinter

The Swan and the Holy Grail

I cannot leave this topic without sharing what I know about  the Swan’s relationship with the Holy Grail.

The Grail Mystery was the driving force of my spiritual path long before I was even aware of it. The tie in of the Swan with the Grail has double significance for me.

As I said above, there is a Hermetic aspect to the swan, which makes it not only a great Witches Familiar, but also a perfect companion for the Ceremonial Magician who works with the Grail Mysteries..

Aphrodite was in very ancient times associated with the Morning Star, as was Lucifer.  Her chariot was drawn by swans. I feel the blood in the Grail is the blood of the Swan in its role as Sacrificed God. What that means in this context is the Grail is meant to give the one who attains its vision, life immortal, but this eternal life is not granted without sacrifice.  An example would be Percival’s sister, Dindrane, who dies giving her blood to the dying Goddess to bring her back to life and fitness to rule — for Dindrane’s blood is charged with  the inborn power of the Grail. Because of this, she is transmuted into the form of a spiritual guide, or Muse, that powers the Grail Ship and brings her brother and his fellow knights into the Holy City. In that sense, Dindrane is like the white swan, the boat, the famous Swan Boat, and her death, a song.

My actual experinece of the Grail and Swan comes from my inter-dimensional contact with the Faery race of teh Tuatha deDanaan who brough the Grail Procession and the deeper Grail Mysteries into my house in the mid 1990′s. Because of the power of these visitations, I know I have a Faery soul whic, in Celtic Tradition, is associated with the White Swan. It is not an easy power to have. It is intense and cycles from light to dark to light often. It is much like what I show in the painting above which is the rear side to my Grail Keepers Tarot:

The swan bleeds into the Grail charged with Lucifer’s lost emerald of Gnosis. The Swan’s magical blood sets it alight, as the Swan dies and is reborn in the Grail. The stars are in the pattern of the Sign Aquarius, my sun sign and the emblem of the Grail Bearers.

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

Witches Familiars: Magic of the Horse

The White Mare of Britain

In April of 1996, I spent a full month traveling around the British Isles on what I called my “King Arthur Tour”, or my “Holy Grail Tour”.

The previous November, the visitations from the Tuatha de Danaan, or the Faery Court of Ireland,  had begun, plunging me into a life of altered realities: Grail Bearers processing through the house, portals opening in the aethers, visions of the Tarot cards as life sized holograms allowing me to enter and and return at will, etc. The Kingdom of Faery had moved into my house and had taken up residence there.

My eight year spiritual healing practice brought in a decent enough money for me to be able to travel to Europe. I was compelled to go to the Britain and ground my life-long obsession with the Arthurian Legends into my physical reality, as well as honor the sharp promptings of the Faery. So that April, I got on a plane to Heathrow and  landed in time for the sunniest April England ever experienced — I ended up living there for 9 years, so I should know! Having been warned about the cold and drizzle, I was always overdressed, but chic, I hope.

Part of my trip was to Cornwall to see Arthur’s birthplace, Tintagel Castle. It is a ruin of great antiquity that sprawls over the side of a cliff, crosses a channel, and continues up another cliff to the top where it overlooks the sea. It is park-like now, with green grass carpeting the ground between the rock formations of crumbled walls. You can look through loop holes and arches down to the rocky coast, or climb to the top of the cliff to sit in the remains of a walled garden. The sea surrounds you on all sides, waves crash and wallow in and out of deep caves, and drag away from the shore in a constant churning motion. And far below the castle, and deep under the cliff, is Merlin’s Cave.

I went down to Merlin’s Cave and went inside. It is quite a sensation to be a large cavern under the earth when you know an entire cliff and a castle tower over it, and that perhaps Merlin did indeed hide in this place. The cave looks very much like the painting above. It is a still, quiet haven at the edge of a tumultuous sea.

I tend to look for souvenirs from nature and found a nice, palm sized stone that had been worn down by the waves and by time, so that it looked a little like a fragment of solidified wave. Taking it outside into the light to examine it, I was amazed at what I saw! Traced in white crystals embedded in the gray stone was the head of a horse!

It looks more like a horse in real life, but it is definitely a horse!

Another syncronicity happened at that time. When Arthur was born at Tintagel Castle, it was said that a dragon tailed comet blazed in the sky to herald his birth. During the two days I stayed there, the Hale Bop comet floated in the sky  just above the water like a glowing golden ball in the twilight. It was a magical time.

Giant Horses Run Over the Hills

The British Isles are one of the most mystical places on earth. When one gets out of the smoggy, ghost ridden confines of London into the green hills of Wiltshire and Somerset, the train takes you through a landscape of green rolling hills, ancient villages crowned with tenth century churches, and endless populations of sheep.

Every now and then, the train rounds a bend and one sees a wonder. Little streams meander between rocky banks at the base of a crag, and in the near distance, a smooth, green mound looms, too perfect to have been made by nature. Is it the burial mound of an ancient King, or a Faery Rath, or a medieval storage unit? Then you will see more green hills and suddenly the White Horse, carved in the white lime rock of the land, gleams out at you. The more you travel, the more of them you see. What does it mean? Why do the English carve huge horses into the land that look like they are running over the hills?  When were they carved there? And why are they so carefully maintained? There weren’t always tourists coming through to see them. This is a land of sheep herders and farmers.

The Vale of the White Horse

The oldest chalk hill figure of a horse in Britain is the Uffington White Horse (see the top of the post). It is said to be between 3,000  and 10,000 years old. It is a a gigantic figure, 374′ in length, and was made of ditches dug into the hillside and filled in with white chalk. The stylized horse leaps across a steep hill above a lush, green, bowl- shaped valley called The Manger. According to local legend, on moonlit nights the horse leaves its place on the hillside to graze there.  (There has also been and annual cheese rolling festival there until recently).

Another steep hill ascends to what remains of Uffington Castle. It is one of the most gorgeous places in England. A friend and I did a ritual on top of a flat mound, called Dragons Hill,  in honor of the spirit of the Horse and the great Celtic Goddesses, Rhiannon and Epona who we suspect were revered there.

The other horses carved in the hills of England are more recent. One was created in Georgian times and others are Victorian. Though modern they are still in the spirit of the Uffington Horse, and are carefully maintained by English Heritage.  They were probably inspired by the Uffington Horse. I suspect crop circles may have a link to the Horses and other Hill Figures such as the Long Man, but who knows really…

The Horse and the Goddess of Sovereignty

It is said that horses existed in Britain before people. The small sturdy Dartmoor and Shetland ponies ran wild over the land. It isn’t strange then, for Sovereignty of the Isles of Britain to be symbolized by the Horse.

According to the apochrypha of Margaret Murray, the first human inhabitants of Britain were the Faeries. They tamed the wild ponies and stabled them in caves. The Celts invaded and, with their weapons of iron and their greater stature, overcame the Faeries, but the horse remained a sacred creature to them. To this day, the Irish are horse worshippers, as are the Gyspies who hold Horse Fairs in Britain during the summer.

Rhiannon, whom the Romans called Epona, was the Goddess of the Horse. The Mabinogian describes her as a Faery woman wearing a golden cloak and riding a white horse. The hero who follows her will never catch up, for she will stay just far enough ahead to elude and lure him into Faery.  In her story in the Mabinogian, Rhiannaon is put through a terrible trial that involves the sovereignty of Britain, in which she is forced to hand her power over to the men.

Spiritual Keys to the Land

If we consider how intimate humans and horses have been until very recent history, we may understand how the Horse Goddess can have been the Queen of the Land. Horses have been transportation, weapons of war, workers, slaves, food, muses, sacrifices, symbols of beauty, freedom and bondage. They have done our dirty work for centuries. Even now, they are hauled out at Christmas time to cart us around the city breathing the fumes from their mechanical replacements so their owners can make a little money and we can conjure up a little “Christmas spirit”.

As the indigenous creatures of the British Isles, horses were the first tribe. They therefore held the keys to the land. The Goddess, Rhiannon, whose name means Horse, was that key, was that interface with the land that grants rulership in a time when the earth was known to be alive and conscious. When nature and human interacted in deep relationship.

Therefore in old Ireland, the King had to marry the Goddess of Sovereignty, or Queen of the Land, in order to be endowed with the fertile power that was needed to rule. The ritual of Kingship is very strange and very old. In the occasion of his enthronement (a “renewal” of the world), the King would ritually mate with a mare, which was subsequently sacrificed. From its remains a broth was made, which was served communally to all.  This  sharing was how the population merged with the land, and mediated its fertility and power.

The White Horse and the Hill of Tara

I support the preservation of the Hill of Tara in Ireland as it is being threatened by development. The spiritual work being done there to claim it as a place of sacred significance is totally inspiring and awesome.

I am reprinting part of one of these rituals because the visualizations express so eloquently the power and magic of the Horse. It was led by Ireland’s Druid School and their website is at: www.druidschool.com.

Hill of Tara: Tara’s Celtic Goddess Dreaming

A suggested midnight visualization located in the high valley of Tara

“Tall leafy trees behind a Lady in White sitting on a White Mare; she leans forward offering a branch of thirteen leaves to three Celtic Women who open their hands to receive and reflect the old ways again. Eight Celtic Men form a semi circle around the three Celtic Women facing the Horse Goddess who emits a gentle white Light. Peace and Calm. Then, the neighing of a wild horse and the thunder of many hooves and the White Mare lifts her head to the gallop responding to the call to run free in the sacred valley… The ‘Three Ladies and the Eight Men’ of Tara step back enraptured in the graceful movement of the herd. This Fairy Host gallops along the entire Valley of the White Mare and down to the River of the Cow Goddess and back again, no fences or gates – just lush rolling grasslands edged by forest and overlooked by Rath Lugh and Rath Miles. Their free raw energy bursts through the mask of illusions every night at midnight. Light and freshness evolves in their space.”

Tara’s Celtic Goddess Heritage Park

“Join the visualisation / meditation / journeying at 23:59 Irish time, every night and heartlink to the Dreaming. The White Mare’s name is Edain Echraidhe and she lives in Ireland’s Celtic Goddess Heritage Park in the sacred valley of Tara. We suggest Rath Lugh as a focus for sending to. The co-ordinates of Rath Lugh are 693,829 / 761,317 and this magnificent monument is covered in trees, many of which are huge oaks and beech.
This desire dreaming of a Celtic Goddess Heritage Park around Tara’s sacred valley is to give substance to the White Mare as an expression of the Celtic Horse Goddess who then exposes those who seek to destroy the High Valley of the Royal City of Tara. But the night Mare is also kind and gentle and she will offer a lift to those who seek a return to the Light again, if asked properly.
Sunrise on Friday 22nd June”

Also, you can join the Hill of Tara at www.hilloftara.org and help save the Faery Halls!

Please let me know what you think and if I got all my details straight. this is a deep topic and I have lived with this knowledge for many years. Things expand as scholarship grows and I would love to know what you know and can add to the conversation.

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

Witchery of the Hare

Witchery of the Hare

Listening to the Moon, by Jackie Morris
Listening to the Moon, by Jackie Morris

I shall go into a hare,
With sorrow and sych and meickle care;
And I shall go in the Devil’s name,
Ay while I come home again.

So sang the young witch, Isobel Gowdie, when, under the light of the full moon, she transformed herself into a hare. In this shape, she journeyed to take part in a lavish banquet with the Queen of Elfhame, in her Hall under the low hills.

For a poor woman in 1660’s Scotland, an invitation to a royal feast was worth the price of her soul.  All she had to do was leave her broomstick in bed beside her sleeping husband so she wouldn’t be missed, leave by the chimney, and shape-shift into a creature whose speed and endurance ensured her timely arrival at the Faery Ball. When she had had enough of wearing fine clothes, dancing, and feasting, she returned in her woman’s shape before dawn singing:

Hare, hare, God send thee care.
I am in a hare’s likeness now,
But I shall be in a woman’s likeness even now.

Entrnace to Faery
Entrance to Faery

It is March. The Winterspells draw to a close. The Hare leaps into Spring to dance in the rains and frolic under the budding trees The Goddess, Oestar, arrives to herald the season of re-birth with her company of Hares. Even she, the great Goddess, became a Hare under the full moon to enjoy the wantonness of Spring.

You have heard the phrase “Mad as a March Hare.” Unlike the more docile rabbit, born naked and blind and burrowing under the earth for protection, the hare has the audacity to arrive fully furred with its pooka eyes staring wide, to sleep under the open air.  The heady call to mate in Spring inspires in the hare a frenzy of leaping and jumping, and boxing against other hares all mad with the lust of Oestar. An old legend says he is so full of fertility that he changes gender, from male to female, and back again, giving birth by mating with him/herself. Perhaps this belief is true, or came about because, even in the mating season, the hare is quiet, solitary, alone.

Yet the hare and rabbit are close cousins and share their lunacy and magic.  The hare lives in the upper world, visible to all. As such, he may be considered a creature of the light. Living under the earth in burrows and warrens, rabbits live in contact with the spirits of the Underworld, and may  be called upon to carry messages from the living to the dead, and from humankind to the Faerie.

Hare in the Moon
Hare in the Moon

The image of the hare is imprinted on the moon, the esoteric sphere from which souls descend to find embodiment on earth. The moon, Mistress of the Tides, also rules the feminine hormonal cycles of menstruation and heat. The moon is the Queen of Heaven in Her Witchery. She is the source of creative, generative power from which all life springs. Her rhythmic emanations govern the potency of herbs, the life cycles of animals and plants, and the oceanic flux of visions, dreams, and prophecy.

Spring is a season between seasons, a transitional time when one thing becomes another, the magic of the dark revolves into the light, the sleeping Earth stirs and begins to awaken, that which was hidden in the dark of the Underworld greets the light of day.

I shall never forget one early Spring morning when I lived at Oak Lodge beside Hampstead Heath in London. As the dim, liquid light of sunrise was barely glimmering through the trees, thousands of birds began to sing. I lay half awake and half asleep in the half light as cascades of song swelled and died and swelled again, filling the sky, and falling to earth, until it grew light, and the singing stopped. Then it was so quiet it was as if the birds, who had orchestrated their chorus for the first breath of Spring, had flown away forever.  I never heard anything like it before or since. The next night I was walking along the road beside the Heath and chose to take a path through the woods that led through a grassy clearing. There was a ring of flattened grass encircling a Rowan tree. I had no idea how it came to be there, but it reminded me of an old belief that in Spring, a group of hares was wont to dance in a ring around a young tree under the moon, while standing on their hind legs.

As the first stirring of Spring begins, the life that Winter held at rest below the ground, rises to the surface of the earth. The season of rebirth is a breath of fresh air.  The wind blows wild and gusty, carrying seeds over great distances.  Birdsong is carried on the breeze. The animals give birth and all grown things wake to new life. The clear horizon belongs to Spring, where the rays of rising sun stream over the hills, illuminating the grass and stones, and the first wild flowers lean towards their reflections in shining pools of rainwater.

With the Spring come the witchery of the Hare that stirs the Witchblood to carousal..

The Mysteries of the Goddess and the Hare:

The first of all Goddesses was Diana, that fertile darkness out of which life emerged.
Diana’s law reflects the cycles of the moon and hunt. Why is fertility combined with the hunt? What is the meaning of the cycle of birth and death?

Fertility brings game which is the purpose of the hunt. An abundance of life means and that there is plenty to eat. But, in the darkness of the soul, the hunter and hunted change position, for one cannot take life without being haunted by death. Everything on Earth is intertwined…the Goddess orders it this way in all of nature. Her sign is the appearing, disappearing, and reappearing moon.

The earth is a place of transformation, governed by the lunar wheel that cycles from light into dark, and into light again, reflecting the constant cycle of nature: what is born falls into death and what is dead springs back to life.

Both Diana of the Wild Beasts, the moon and the hunt, and Aphrodite of love and beauty include the hare or rabbit among their attendants.  Freya, the Love Goddess of the North, travels with a hare.  These make sense as the hare as legendary object of the hunt, leading the hounds on a relentless merry chase, while his  heightened sexuality and fertility align him to Aphrodite and Freya. A procession of hares carry torches behind the sky Goddess Holda at the head of the Wild Hunt at Beltane.  This suggests that the hare colludes in his role as prey, or even sacrificial victim, whose death supports the rest of life and whose prolific breeding ensures his quick return.

Yet, though the hare is hunted in Celtic countries it is taboo to eat her, for she may be someone’s grandmother, or a Faery, or a wisewoman-witch.

Yule Goddess by Angela Barrett
Yule Goddess by Angela Barrett

The Hare and I

I myself have roamed the low hills alone at night in the shape of a hare, wearing a long dark gown and a headdress of hare’s ears. Crouching under the full moon, with the smell of goldenrod and witchgrass in my nose, has been an eerie experience, plunging the consciousness into the soul of the animal while falling under the spell of the moon.  If you want to access the Witchblood, I suggest this guising as a means of merging with the Earthlight and accessing the Hall of Elfhame.

So special has the hare become to me that she found her way into my Gothic Faery Tale, The Golden Stair, as a companion to my villianess, the evil Countess Orzsebet.
Here, one of the Countess’s girls has created a tapestry that reveals the true soul of Orzsebet, and the dark forces working through her:

“Treszka unrolled the linen and revealed a length of remarkable needlework. The subject was strange, disturbing, for it showed forth something that I knew, deep inside, should never be revealed.
On a background of tiny, precise flowers called millefluers, a golden-haired Goddess stood under a raining golden willow tree clad in a green-gold gown. A troupe of white hares danced around her in an eerie ring. Hidden in the top of the tree, a dark face brooded; perhaps it was a witch’s face, or a spirit, from whose eyes dripped tears of blood. The blood drops fell, spattering the willow fronds, and staining the Goddess’s pale cloak with crimson points like bloody ermine’s tails. The stitching was exquisite, impeccable, and the colors perfectly natural, and yet decorative in their effect. I shivered.
“Treszka, where did you get the idea to make a picture like this? It is extraordinary! I can hardly believe my mother would let you take it away.”
“She doesn’t like it, so she says, but it does show what I can do. She wants you to learn to embroider flowers, my Lady.”
I had to wonder what my mother was playing at, for she knew my eyesight was impaired and that flowers were detailed and called for small, delicate stitches. I was also surprised she allowed Treszka’s handiwork out of her sight, for the perverse, witchy image was surely inspired by her if it was not a direct portrait of her.
“Treszka, have you always made pictures like this?” I asked.
“Not really, though I do like to embroider animals and flowers. I just put the Countess’s likeness in the midst, I suppose.” She held the tapestry up and looked it over. “Do you like the rose-colored background? I would have preferred dark blue, for it is meant to be a night scene.”
“Thank God it isn’t,” I murmured. “And who might the hares be?”
“The girls, perhaps. But not really,” she laughed nervously. “It is the same with this figure in the top of the tree. I don’t know where it came from, but it was impossible not to weave it into the tree. Oh, my Lady! I am not used to great aristocratic houses, but only fields and cottages. Places with secrets are frightening sometimes.”
“ Yes, they are.”

The Origin of the Easter Bunny

Celebrated on the first full moon after Spring Equinox, Easter, is named after the Anglo-Saxon fertility Goddess, Ostara. In her role as rising sun on the first days of Spring, she wears a white hare’s head with its long ears, like horns, signifying spiritual power.  A white hare stands at attention beside her. I imagine this scene on a rose colored ground of millifleurs, like the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries.

As a fertility Goddess, she is also a Mother. One day, to amuse her children, Ostara turned her pet bird into a hare. In this new form, it laid bunch of brightly colored eggs which she gave to the children as gifts. This is the origin of the Easter egg.

I shall end this essay with an evocative quote from Teri Windling on the magic of the hare:

“Now, as I walk through Devon lanes in the long twilight of a summer’s evening, rabbits dart out of the hedgerows, stare at me with unblinking eyes, and disappear again over the crest of the shadowed hills. I’m reminded of a 19th century children’s poem by Walter de la Mare:

In the black furror of a field
I saw an old witch-hare this night;
And she cocked a lissome ear,
And she eyed the moon so bright,
And she nibbled of the green;
And I whispered “Whsst! witch-hare,”
Away like a ghostie o’er the field
She fled, and left the moonlight there.”

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.