Welcoming oSTARa and the sun
A little over a month since posting my last blog about “wilderness” and I find myself on a plane to Alaska — a place that is the posterchild for the wildness I described. Yet, in all honesty I’m not exactly sure why I’m going there. I have been before and liked it, but not really an ideal “spring break” location. Maybe it is the possibility of northern lights or reuniting with friends, I have yet to find out. I am certain however, it is no coincidence I leave on Spring Equinox.
Spring promises the return of light and the energy of birth. All winter I’ve been gestating on my thesis so I can graduate. For the first time in over a year it feels ready to be born. This spring I also graduate and have my 31st birthday the day after. My trip to Alaska also represents my first solo adventure since being in graduate school. Inevitably change is on the horizon…and also more wildness.
Spring holds an excitement associated with brightness and as a great article on Elephant Journal points out also a renewed sense of action — as demonstrated by the feistyness of many species as they compete for mates. Spring begins with Aries as the archetype of power and ambition…often what also drives sexual desire. It’s hard to deny the natural hunger that builds up with this season.
Every spring I still somehow find myself suprised when I am staring at some guy’s biceps at the gym or checking out a butt or two on the bus. It seems that while spring looks like flowers blooming and love in the air — what is really behind it is a wildness and chaos associated with change and our own animalistic tendencies with action (as sex or lifeforce). As Katarina Silva said, “Action is synonymous with life. Springtime explodes with action unlike any other season.”
Ostara (also spelled Eostre) is the Germanic goddess of spring, fertility (a natural effect of sexual activity), and the dawn. Our words for “East” and “Easter” both come from her name. Originally in Pagan traditions Easter was celebrated with a feast to celebrate the goddess bringing spring onto the Earth. Also of interesting note, and a tidbit from my thesis, is that our word “orient” also comes from the directionality of the sun. It derives from Latin “oriri” meaning “to rise.” Our first way of ”0rienting” ourselves was in relationship to the East and the sun.
We see this all over the world with Stonehenge and even Mayan temples all aligned perfectly with the cycles of the sun (and in Mayan’s case also Venus). I also find it fascinating that both the English and Sanskrit (tara) words for “star” are contained in the name “Ostara.” My thesis argues that the original prefix in Sanskrit for star was in fact “star-” and then in later versions became “tara.” For whatever reason after thousands of years of invasions and changes, English still uses the Sanskrit. Linguists argue “star” comes from the German word “stern” and Old English “steorre.” However, phonology and other comparisons show for whatever reason we adopted those words in different ways into our language. (Quite possibly the word “stern” itself.) I believe there is a resurrence of studying Baltic, Lithuanian and other Eastern European languages for more clues into English. My favorite example is the word “stari” and “staro” both mean “old” in Croatian. And Lithiuanin actually uses the word “star” for star.
The sun, as our star, welcomes us not only into days, but to entire cycles of the seasons and ways of thinking. Etymology is so interesting because it brings us into a way of thinking that was previously taken for granted. A word can become an image and not just an abstract representation that has become language and speaking. Since learning the etymology, now when I hear “orient” I imagine the sun rising over the horizon and on Spring Equinox people celebrating the return of Ostara to the Earth with spring. The life and action of spring is spurred forward by the lifeforce and fertility of the sun itself. We feel active naturally when the sun is out and more sun = more activity. This year, I look forward to welcoming the sun, Ostara, and my own inner wilderness from Alaska.