~ Heathen Stories and New Myths ~
In the dawn of the age of man, when the tribes of men were new formed, and taking their first halting steps upon Midgard, Ostara was often seen bringing the springtime to field, forest and fen. The tribes of men watched with amazement as Ostara would walk upon the earth, and it would rouse to wakefulness behind her. As she walked did the first shoots push aside the snowmelt rubble and greet sweet Sunna’s sunshine, as she smiled the first flowers would blossom, and the air turn sweet and fresh. At her side flew a white bird, graceful and joyous. Always the song of her companion bird would call the spring birds from the far south, to return again to the northlands, and with them bring the ocean breezes that fire the hearts of young men.
The tribes of men were thankful to Ostara, and wished to give thanks to her in a way that was pleasing to her, and for this, they watched the rabbits. All winter long, Ostara sleeps, for she cannot abide the touch of Ymir’s get, and flees the coming of the snow. When Sunna turns her face again to the world, and the snows and Frost Giants retreat back to their mountain fastness, the rabbits call Ostara to wake. In the spring, the rabbits dance. Upon the earth in wild abandon, the rabbits wassail hard, and in their joyous measure stir the sleeping Ostara, for her return brings the spring.
Year on year Ostara waked to the dancing of the rabbits, year on year her graceful companion bird would watch the dancing rabbits, and hunger to join their measure. In a year known only in song as the year of the rabbit, came the great change. In that year was grown a rabbit of heroic proportions, a champion of his breed who scoffed at foxes, and defied falcons in his strength. His eye was taken with the gentle bird of Ostara, for her grace and beauty called to him as no she rabbits could. Come the spring in the year of change, he danced for her. He danced with the wild abandon of his breed, he danced with the fire that Freya grants to lovers, and the rage Odin grants the doomed.
It was a dance of dances, from a champion fired by a love that could not be, and it cast a spell more powerful than any spaewitch’s rune. While Ostara laughed at the display, her companion watched transfixed; her bird eyes fixed like a hunting falcons, her head bobbing with the measure. No longer able to contain herself, she flew from Ostara’s shoulder and lit upon the ground. At first stately in feathered grace, then swiftly in wing fluffing abandon she danced with her feathered suitor. Round and round they danced, as wild as any Alfar circle, as lit by Freya’s fire.
No longer smiling, Ostara watched her companion dance with her furred lord. It was clear her bird had lost its heart to this rabbit prince. Striding forward to the circle, Ostara halted the dancers with a glance. The rabbits trembled before the gaze of the goddess, but the champion stood forth fearless in his love, the white bird at his side. Ostara smiled softly, and the bird bowed deeply and sang a song of love; love for a friend of long centuries, love of a woman for a man; love that would trade eternity for fulfillment. Ostara heard the song, and her heart was moved. She knelt and kissed her companion, and when she rose again, there was only a shining she-rabbit in a pile of soft feathers.
When Ostara walked away, the rabbit champion took his new won love into the warren, and her new home.
As the snow retreated, the rabbits began to dance again, to wake Ostara. In the wake of the Year of Change, Ostara woke sadly. She walked upon the world alone, and her coming brought no life; for her heart was heavy. The tribes of man were worried, for the spring brought no life, and the priests and wise woman said to watch the rabbits, for they held the secret of this dire spring. The fastest and best hunters coursed the land, not to kill, but to watch the rabbits for the secret of the dire spring.
When Ostara reached the lands of the champion, and her lost companion, she beheld all of the rabbits in a dancing circle, and in the center two rabbits stood before a mound of feathers. As Ostara neared, the dancing rabbits parted, bowing her in. As she gazed with sadness on the aging of her now mortal former companion, the two rabbits stood aside showing Ostara the secret they concealed. Inside the nest of feathers were a dozen eggs, one of which was busy trying to hatch a wiggling little bunny.
As the bunny burst forth with a triumphant cheep! Ostara’s heart melted like the departing snow, and she began to laugh, picking up this flop eared chick, she danced a merry measure with her rabbit folk. As she danced the spring burst forth, the field erupted with flowers, the trees grew bright with new growth, and the sky full of song from the returning birds.
The hunters carried word of this back to the several tribes of men, and it was whispered amongst the wise how not only the dance, but an offering of eggs won Ostara’s heart and brought forth the spring.
Henceforth Ostara was honoured by the tribes of man with offerings of eggs in spring time. Here ends our tale for today. The story of her new companion, Ostara’s Bunny, is one for another day, but a tale worthy of singing none the less.
© John T Mainer, March 08 2007
This work by John T Mainer is licensed