Updated: Feb 14
Since Bede is our only source for Eostre the goddess and an English specific night (Mothers Night, only mentioned by Bede as well), we should ask some questions. Dr. Philip A. Shaw and Dr. Alex G. Garman have written the definitive books on Eostre and the Roman Matronae cult. Both Eostre and Mothers' Night have been linguistically and archaeologically tied to the Roman Matronae cult. There are around 150 Matronae stones found in Frisia, the Roman Rhineland, and England. Eostre and Mothers' Night, are both Matronae cult holidays, not a part of Germanic/Scandinavian Heathenry. The major difference between Bede's calendar and all other Germanic calendars that have survived, is that the English calendar has a Roman Matronae Cult night on the solstice, called Mothers' Night. (The English also celebrated Yule on the full moon of the second moon of Yule as all other Germanic Heathen tribes did. More on that below.)
Winterfylleth and Eostre are moons on the Anglo-Saxon/Romano British calendar. Many modern Heathens claim Winterfylleth and Eostre are also holidays. Winterfylleth would be the start of Winter, i.e. the Scandinavian equivalent would be Winter Nights. Many believe Winterfylleth (the holiday) is on a full moon because Bede says it is on a full moon, and even the word "Winterfylleth" means "Winter full moon." But many also believe that Eostre, on a full moon, six full moons after Winterfylleth, would be the start of the Old English summer. I agree. But where we disagree is that many argue that Mothers' Night is Yule, which is quite a leap, especially since zero sources make this claim. Bede doesn't make this claim. People assume this. The archaeological evidence of the Matronae stones clearly links Mothers' Night to the Roman solar Matronae Cult Calendar, just as Eostre is related to the Matronae Cult Calendar. (More on this below). The name "Mothers' Night" is a clear giveaway that it is part of the Matronae cult. The the two books pictured at the bottom of this article. The Eostre stone pictured on both books has the Roman word "Matronis" on it. This is our archaeological evidence for Eostre. The Germanic tribes celebrated their "Disablot" on Winter Nights. (The Anglo-Saxon equivalent would be Winterfylleth.) The continental Saxons and the Scandianvians believe that Winter starts on Winter Nights, and this is when there is a haustblot/disablot to start the year. Ynglinga Saga ch.8 from circa 1225 CE: “Odin established the same law in his land that had been in force in Asaland… On winter day (first day of winter) there should be blot for a good year, and in the middle of winter for a good crop; and the third blot should be on summer day, a Victory-blot.” Bede states clearly when giving the Old Anglish calendar, that the Anglish year starts with Mothers' Night on the same night the christians do xmas. Therefore, the Old English calendar clearly has non-Germanic elements that are in fact contrary to continental Germanic/Scandinavian sources! Therefore, as I said about, Bede makes us ask some questions. Old English Heathens aregue the English year is divided into four EQUAL quarters and two seasons. They correctly believe this because Bede states this clearly. But why do so many not find this is contradictory to solstices? Can seasons start on full moons, and have points that are not mid-points, called "mid-points?" This doesn't make any sense. According to many, Winter starts on a full moon in October. But then, two months later is MID-WINTER in their minds on the solstice. And then 4 months later is the start of summer, on a full moon in April. This doesn't make any sense! Late December is hot half way between the end of October and the end of April. If a season starts on a full moon, its middle point would also be on a full moon. And like the other Germanic/Scandinavian tribes who celebrated Yule, the Anglish had two moons of Yule, which means that the full moon on the second Yule moon would be the first night of Yule. And if Winter begins on a full moon, the mid-point and end points of winter would also be on a full moon. And we do know for sure that Yule did not start on the solstice. The Runic calendar rods and primestaffs prove this, leading the Scandinavian and German archaeologists to rightfully conclude Yule was on a full moon in January, as these runic calendar rods and prime staffs show. (More on this below). Bede states in De Temporum Ratione, Ch 15 (725 AD): "Thus, the moon by which they began their winter season was called “Winterfylleth”, a name compounded of the terms for winter and full moon, because from the full moon of that moon winter was thought to begin." It is very clear that the Anglish Winter Full Moon (corresponding to Norse Winter Nights) began on a full moon. This was the method of dating for all Germanic tribes. Also, many know (correctly) that Bede was lying, and this is easily proven. Bede states that Mothers' Night was celebrated on Dec 25th, the solstice on the Julian calendar, the same night Christians celebrate xmas. The Julian Calendar was replaced by the Gregorian calendar in October 1582, and October 4th 1582 skipped to October 15th 1582, to catch up 11 days that the Julian calendar was off. This means that the solstice was not on the same night that the Christians were doing Xmas. Hence, Bede lied, plain and simple. What is the point of Bede's lie? Bede wants his christian readers to think Bede's Anglish Pagan Ancestors had some divine foreknowledge of Xmas and Easter, which is why Bede spends so much time discussing Xmas and Easter when giving a Heathen calendar. And of course, Mothers' Night and Yule are two different things, just like Eostre and Sigrblot are two completely different things. The words are different as well. Bede mentioned two Yule Moons, but he did not mention Yule as a holiday. I certainly believe Bede was aware of an Old English Mid-winter Nights (Yule), but he simply did not mention it. Please note, we have saga references (and a Poetic Edda reference) to three nights of Yule. Mothers' Night has a singular word for "night." Even the German word for Christmas today means "sacred grove nights" (weihnachten.)
Bede is the ONLY historical reference to both Eostre (the holiday) and Mothers' Night. (Please note, Mothers' Night occurs in the first Old English Giuli moon, where Scandinavian/Germanic Yule occurs in the second Yule moon, showing these are two distinct holidays.) And only Bede's English calendar and Einhard's Frankish calendar, have Ostar moons, and all Scandinavians did not have an Eostre moon, nor did the Saxons in Saxony. And we have sagas in Iceland/Scandinavia giving us the moon names, and the 10th century Icelandic calendar giving us moon names, and the Saxons in Saxony have the Essen Necrology (9th century) giving us moon names in Old Saxony. None of the Scandianvian/Saxon sources mention Eostre, nor Mothers' Night. The Old Saxon Heliand, and all Old Saxon / Low German literature does not mention Eostre, even as a name for Christian Easter, until the year 1473! Old English Heathens know Bede always calls Christian Easter 'Pascha' (when he is not discussing the Old English Calendar). But somehow, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, mentions Christian Passover/Easter as "Easter." Therefore, in England, sometime between Bede and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the English started to call Christian Passover "Easter."
Norse/Icelandic Sources do not mention Eostre, nor is there a moon of Eostre, nor is there a mention of Mothers' Night, and Yule is certainly not called Mothers' Night in any source. "Ostara" the Goddess is not mentioned in the Eddas either. Please see the etymological map below. Almost the entire planet doesn't call "Easter" "Easter", but "paska." Paska is rooted to the Hebrew word "Pesach" and Greek word "Pascha" which both mean "Passover." This is what the "Lord's Supper" is, a Passover Seder.
Nonetheless, if the Angles were as Germanic as many believe they were (and not as Celtic or Romanized as some scholars argue), then would they not have followed Germanic ideals? Bede does say the year was divided into two seasons and four equal quarters, i.e. Mid-Winter is the mid-point of Winter, and if Winter starts on a full moon, the half way point CANNOT be when the Christians do Christ Mass (Xmas)/ nor the solstice. Is Mothers' Night a Roman Matronae cult night brought into England with the Austriahenae stones, which give the English Mothers' Night and Eostre? YES!!! I think we can safely say that the Romans had a large influence on those in Britannia. Romans were pagans when they conquered Britannia, but they also brought Christianity when Romans became Christians. The Romans ruled Britannia for four centuries, and the Romans certainly left their mark on Britannia.
Let me quote Bede again from De Temporum Ratione: "The peoples who welcomed the year in this method also assigned three moons to each season of the year. When however, an embolism occurred, that is, a year of thirteen lunar moons, they added the intercalated moon to the summer, so that in the case three moons in succession were called “Litha.” Such a year was known as “Thrilitha”, having four moons of summer and three of each of the other seasons. The division of the year though was into two seasons: Winter and Summer. Summer comprising six (or seven) moons when the days were longer than the nights, and winters six moons when the nights were longer than the days. Thus, the moon by which they began their winter season was called “Winterfylleth”, a name compounded of the terms for winter and full moon, because from the full moon of that moon winter was thought to begin." Bede makes it very clear here, the Germanic year had two seasons, comprising six moons, but the year was divided into four quarters, three (full) moons each. If Winter Full Moon begins Winter, then Yule would be three full moons after Winter Full Moon, and Summer Full Moon (Sigurblot) would be three full moons after Yule Full Moon, and Midsummer (in which Bede mentions zero rituals, like Ynglinga Saga mentions no Mid-Summer Norse ritual) was just a quarter year marker, three full moons after Summer Full Moon when Sigurblot was. The word "mid-winter" in a Heathen context therefore would mean "the full moon half way between the full moon starting winter, and the full moon starting summer." “Midsummer festivities had no connection with the Odin Cult." [Dr. Andreas E Zautner, “The Lunisolar Calendar of the Germanic Peoples”, P.90]
We have more evidence of this Full Moon holy day concept, from Norse sources. We have Theitmar of Merseberg’s testimony:
The Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg Chapter 17 (circa 1000 AD): "As I have heard odd stories concerning their ancient mid-winter sacrifices, I will not allow this custom to be ignored. The middle of that kingdom is called Lederun (Lejre), in the region of Sjælland, all the people gathered every nine years in January, that is after we have celebrated the birth of the Lord [Christmas], and there they offered to their gods sacrifices…” What amazes me too ss that the Runic Primestaffs all state that the solstice and Yule were two different dates. We even have a Saga, the Saga of Hakon the Good, that moved Yule to be on the sosltice, the same time the Christians were celebrating Xmas, as part of forced christianization. A specific Old English crowd told me once that I did not know my Scandinavian and pan-Germanic sources well. When I read the blogs from this specific group, I oddly find no Scandinavian sources on their site.Too many have tunnel vision here, and read Bede without comparing him to the Scandinavian and pan-Germanic sources. Dr. Andreas Nordberg, the world’s foremost scholar on Norse Holidays, makes clear in his book on the dating of Yule that “The pre-Christian Yule feast occurs at the first full moon after the first new moon following the winter solstice, while the disting took place at the third full moon according to the same method of calculation.” [Jul, disting och förkyrklig tideräkning Kalendrar och kalendariska riter i det förkristna Norden Uppsala 2006, P.4] Dr. Andreas E. Zautner: “If we browse the internet for holidays of the Germanic people, we mainly find pages presenting an octopartite year circle, the so-called ‘eight-spoked wheel of the year’ based on the solstices, the equinoxes, and four moon feasts in between. This year circle has absolutely no historical basis. Although it is very popular in neopagan circles, especially within Wicca and eclectic Asatru, there is no verified evidence for such a year circle as basis for the seasonal festivities. The same is true for the Celtic feasts within the year circle, because the Gauls too, used a lunisolar calendar as we know for the examples of Coligny and Villards d’Heria (Olmstedt, 1992). If one has internalized such ideas, one should get rid of them immediately!” [Dr. Andreas E Zautner, “The Lunisolar Calendar of the Germanic Peoples”, P.83]
Please join us on the Facebook Group: Aldsidu: Saxon Heathenry.