Ostara is a holiday about rebirth, new growth, courtship, and fertility. In the Wheel of the Year allegory, the God and the Goddess are romancing and getting to know each other as romantic partners. They’re in the first date stage of their relationship. The land is becoming green again, and snow is turning to rain. There are a number of myths that correspond with Ostara that are perfect to incorporate into ritual or to share with your children.
Eostre, the sabat’s namesake, is a Germanic goddess of Spring, rebirth, and fertility. One myth that strongly ties to the season is Eostre and the Egg. A hare came across a perfect egg one day and wanted to give it to his Goddess. But he was worried that the meager offering wouldn’t be enough. So he gathered plants and herbs and dyed the egg the colors of the sunrise. The hare gave it to Eostre, who was enchanted by the gift. She charged the hare with sharing this art with the world.
Also, the myth of Persephone and Demeter is appropriate for both Ostara and Mabon. While the Homeric Hymn to Demeter is the primary source for this story, there are a lot of great retellings. Starhawk’s version, which can be found in Circle Round, is a particular favorite of mine.
As the God is a young man, myths that deal with trickster gods are appropriate for this sabat. Hermes, Loki, and Coyote are all possible candidates to honor during ritual. A favorite story for this holiday is Hermes’s First Day, during which he discovered the lyre and stole Apollo’s cows. Check out a classical mythology book for the full tale.
© Ariadne Woods
When it comes to Yule, there aren’t as many seasonal myths as there are for other holidays. The most frequent one that comes up in my research is the Holly and Oak Kings. I’ve never been able to pin down this myth’s exact origin, but it is generally believed to be Celtic. Basic story: There are two brothers who rule at different times of the year. At Midwinter and Midsummer they duke it out and from Midwinter to Midsummer the Oak King rules and the Holly King reigns after the Midsummer battle. It is a representation for the change in seasons and the switch in duality. I also want to note that my favorite translation has the Kings as two different aspects of the Stag King. Yule is also strongly associated with the solar deities, so myths about Belenus and Ra definitely apply. The main themes of the season are change and duality. Enjoy reflecting on these aspects as the sun shifts from wax to wane.
© Ariadne Woods
For many reasons, Mabon is one of my favorite holidays. It is a time to give thanks for everything we have received in the year. It marks the beginning of my favorite season. But it also incorporates my two favorite myths, the descents of Persephone and Inanna.
Persephone is not only my patron Goddess, but I have always felt connected to her story. Kore was just a girl with a love of life until she was taken by Hades to the Underworld. No warning, no period of transition, BAM! She is suddenly Queen of the Underworld. She reacts in a relatable way, by resisting the change and wallowing in her fate. It isn’t until she is returned to her mother Demeter that Persephone realizes that she is no longer the same person. She has changed and has a new outlook on life and death. It’s a tale I take comfort in during big, unexpected changes in my life.
The difference between Persephone and Inanna’s tales is the element of choice. Inanna choose to go to the Underworld to see her lover (or sister in some translations). And yet she didn’t realize the toll it would take on herself and the world. As she goes down the seven layers, Inanna gives up everything and remains unsuccessful. It is a tale for those making hard choices.
There are, of course, other myths to explore: Osiris’s murder and restoration (and Isis’s search for him), the births of Dionysus, and the cauldron of Cerridwen. I encourage you to check these out and to think about them as you approach Mabon.
© Ariadne Woods