What are you bringing to life this season?
Spring Equinox marks the transition from Winter to Spring, from dark sky and dark soil to more hours of light and growing green, from naked trees to leaves and blossoms, from inward reflection to outward expression.
Ostara, which is one of the names (some say ancient, some say more modern) of this holiday, is a festival of resurrection and rebirth after a period of death (Winter).
The season of Spring brings the erotic essence of life to the surface. The natural world bursts with color and texture, with desire and inspiration, with nectar and honey, and with an aliveness that stares at you from every direction.
Hares and Rabbits have been associated with the Spring Equinox since ancient pre-christian, pagan cultures began to celebrate this holiday in Europe.
The goddess of Spring, Eostre – an ancient Germanic goddess who was a radiant solar deity of emerging, growing light – had a rabbit friend, who followed her glow around because she was beautiful, sweet, and she smelled like flowers.
Some legends tell the rabbit loved her so much that he laid eggs and decorated them, and gave them as a gift to the grateful goddess. She was touched, amused, and delighted. She placed the eggs in a basket and walked around the world, sharing the joy and beauty with others.
Other legends speak of Eostre’s rabbit laying eggs and giving them to children who needed to be nourished.
Those legends are the origin of the Easter bunny and the eggs that lay themselves into the popular tradition. Christianity, as always, appropriated a holiday already celebrated by the people, and planted their own agenda and narrative in that soil. The myth of the resurrection of Christ is obviously a telling of the rebirth of life on the earth in Springtime.
In Scotland, hares were witches’ familiars, along with cats.
Rabbits are symbols of fertility and eroticism. We say; “mating like bunnies,” and Playboy magazine has been referring to their models as “bunnies.” Rabbits like to do it. And when they do it they have many many many babies. A female rabbit is pregnant for only a month, and she gives birth to 5-12 bunnies in a litter. AND she can get pregnant within hours after giving birth.
A rabbit is a symbol of renewal and rebirth.
Japanese culture celebrates the New Year with rice cakes (Mochi), symbolizing the Rabbit on the moon, who is said to be constantly making them.
Chinese folklore says the rabbit is the companion of the moon goddess, always pounding with its mortar and pestle, making the elixir of life.
Moon and rabbits have been linked in many cultures all over the world. The moon is also a symbol of fertility, birth, death, and rebirth. It is eaten by darkness and is reborn shortly after. The rabbit hides in the shadows because it is always in danger. It falls prey to bigger animals. Luckily, the rabbit runs very fast, and the female has reproductive superpowers. Moon and rabbit are survivors, creators, and renewers of life.
Dawn and dusk are the times of day when the rabbit emerges from cover, to snack on fresh greens. These are liminal times, moments of transition, the spaces inbetween. Rabbits run in the fields where the mortal and the immortal converge, where shadow and light intertwine. They live in the symbolic spaces of our own ambiguous reality – we are momentarily individual bursts of energy within an eternal cosmic transformation; rising into individuation, and into the infinite we eventually dissolve.
Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio portrays rabbits as creatures of the underworld, of the afterlife, of the eternal.
Rabbits do dig holes and live underground. We go down a rabbit hole when we follow something into its depth. Or when we follow Alice to Wonderland, where Mr Rabbit is running fast because he’s late.
I feel like that rabbit every day; rushing the kids to school in the morning, trying to get as much work done as possible before I rush to pick them up, stuck in traffic, stressing about being late. Then, we rush back home, and I rush around the house, making food and trying to organize the mess made by doing everything fast. Rush to bedtime. Rushing as I clean up. Rush to bed because I stay up too late trying to get more work done.
And how fast time goes by, how swiftly does life swirl through us. Again the rabbit nods to the recurring theme of birth, life, and death. The clock is time. And time is death. And the bunny is stressed. And so are many of us.
With the regenerative power of this season we are ushering in, can we find ways to recreate our relationship with time?
From the Queen Of Hearts and her rose garden, to the rose garden of Aphrodite, the rabbit runs with long ears and fluffy fur, and snuggles into the arms of the goddess of love and fertility, mother of Eros, the embodiment of sensuality, beauty, and pleasure.
In some North Eastern Native American tribes, the rabbit plays the role of the trickster. In the southwest, the rabbit/hare is a symbol of fertility. In some tribes from the midwest, the rabbit/hare is a symbol of fear, the opportunity to learn from fear, and the invitation to be courageous.
Trickster is an archetype that initiates new cycles. A trickster disrupts the status quo, shakes things up, and throws us into a transformative process. The Spring Equinox is the first day in the astrological sign of Aries. Aries is the sign that begins a new cycle on the zodiac wheel. It is the astrological New Year’s.
This season, beginning with this solar celebration of equal day and night that tips us into less darkness and more light, brings forth massive initiative power.
When we begin a new process, and set forth on a new adventure, we do have to face fears and concerns. When we decide to radically transform ourselves and aspects of our lives, we will, naturally, feel terrified. If we are to create something new, or to revolutionize our existence, or to consciously initiate a new cycle, we have to face aspects of ourselves and of our lives that feel threatening to our own status quo.
Fear can be debilitating. Fear is also a life savior. Fear can be a teacher. Fear can lead us directly into manifesting what we are afraid of. Fear can be dangerous. Fear also is the only gateway to courage.
As we fall down the rabbit hole of our own transformation, as we Spring into new landscapes of being and becoming, we move with the rabbit from darkness to light and into the dark again. The light of the sun will keep growing until the Summer Solstice, but we, like the mythic hare, are also lunar creatures. We will phase in and out of confidence, we will blossom and bloom, and have moments of doubt about our capacity to also bear fruit.
Rabbit can run by our side, reminding us that we possess incredible power of regeneration, that we are life force itself, and that the rising and the falling, birth and death, the darkness and the light, must all be integrated into the story of rebirth.
The hare also wants us to remember that even in Spring, when the energy is high, wild, and swift, we should also learn to move slowly at times, and tune into the wisdom of the tortoise.
Join us for the Spring Equinox Somatic Ceremony to learn more about myths and symbols of Ostara from different angles and traditions, to bring into your body the teachings of the season (through asana, pranayama, mantra, mudra, and meditation), and to pour into your life these wise and meaningful rhythms and lessons of the Earth, the sun, and the moon.
For details about the Spring Equinox Somatic Ceremony go here. Tell your friends. And let’s celebrate this gorgeous season together!
The Book Of Symbols by Taschen
Animal Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams & David Carson
The Women’s Encyclopedia Of Myths And Secrets by Barbara G Walker