ASH: A time to re-evaluate Eostre and Mothers' Night

This is more of a discussion for Old English Heathens, who are aware and know Bede's recording of the Old Anglish/English calendar in the 8th century. But 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. (PS- This article is not an attempt to tell ASH what to do. Old Saxon Heathens often get many Old English questions, and well, our answers usually are different from what ASH is giving people. Therefore, this article is intended to bring this to the forefront, as Old Saxon Heathenry is similar to, yet distinct from, Old English Heathenry. Old Saxon Heathenry is also similar to Danish Heathenry, the northern neighbors of the Saxons. The Saxons in Saxony were far more like the Scandinavians than their Old English counterparts.)

Winterfylleth and Eostre are moons (or months, a lunar cycle.) But according to ASH, Winterfylleth and Eostre are also holidays. Winterfylleth would be the start of Winter, i.e. the Scandinavian equivalent would be Winter Nights. ASH 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." When discussing Eostre, Bede states rites were done to Eostre during the entire moon. (Apparently, the Old English did not have an equivalent to Scandianvian Sigrblot.). Nonetheless, many ASH rightly feel that since Bede states Winter began on a full moon, so did summer, that the full moon of Eostre Moon is the start of summer. While this is the case, there is no Old English equivalent of Sigrblot. The Old English have a different calendar, a very different calendar, than all the Scandinavians. Many ASH feel the year is divided into four EQUAL quarters and two seasons. They correctly believe this because our one source, Bede, states this clearly. So, if many believe all this, do they not realize this is contradictory to solstices? Can seasons start on full moons, and have points not mid-points, called "mid-points?" According to many (not all ASH), Winter starts on a full moon in October, and a few years on their online calendars they have had this in early November. But then, a month and a half later, is MID-WINTER in their minds on the solstice. And then 4.5 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. 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 ASH that claim this know (correctly) that Bede was lying, or at least not accurate. He seems to be implying some divine foreknowledge that his English Ancestors knew Xmas and Easter when they were Heathens. Many of the ASH (not all teach this) know that the Julian Calendar was replaced by the Gregarian in Oct 1582, and we jumped 11 days, Oct 4th 1582 was followed by October 15th 1582. Then we moved the solstices from Dec 25th and June 24th on the Julian Calendar to about Dec 21 and June 21 on the Gregorian Calendar. That is 15 days of moving. This was all done to fix the inaccuracies of the Julian Calendar, which was clearly off from the sun. (The Julian and Gregorian calendars are 100% solar calendars, ignoring the moon completely.) And by the way, I think ALL OF US would agree, it is more likely the actual Historical Anglo-Saxon Heathens were probably better at knowing when the solstice was than the church. This makes Bede's statement, claiming Mothers' Night was done at the same night the Christians did Xmas, a flat out lie, or a push to show English Heathens as following Xmas. Because if the Anglo-Saxon Heathens were celebrating Mothers' Night on the actual solstice, it was not on the night the Christians were doing Xmas. And of course, Mothers' Night and Yule are two different things, just like Eostre and Sigrblot are two completely different things.

Lets be equally blunt. If Eostre the Goddess is only mentioned by Bede, Bede has no reason to make up Eostre. Bede has no reason to make up Mothers Night as well! And Bede is the ONLY historical reference to both Eostre and Mothers' Night. (Please note, Mothers' Night occurs in the first Old English Giuli moon, where Scandinavian Yule occurs in the second Yule moon, showing these are two distinct holidays of two different peoples.) And only Bede's English calendar and Einhards 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 giving us moon names. None of the Scandianvian/Saxon sources mention Eostre. 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! ASH 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." Since the English were the first to call Christian Passover "Easter" they have a unique opportunity to tell the world this. This being said, I have yet to see ASH discussing this.

While I do not beleive Bede made Eostre and Mothers' Night up, to just assume these transfer fully to Norse/Scandinavian Heathenry is incorrect, since the 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 means "Passover." This is what the "Lord's Supper" is, a Passover Seder.

Nonetheless, if the Angles were as Germanic as we believe they were (and not as Celtic or Romanized as some claim they were), 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 it starts on a full moon, the half way point CANNOT be when the Christians do Christ Mass (Xmas). Are some scholars right, Mothers' Night is a Roman Matronae cult ideal brought into England with the Austriahenae stones, which did give us Mothers' Night and Eostre? Can we safely say this? I think we can safely say that the Romans had a large influence on those in Britannia, and this lasted quite a long time. Romans were pagans when they conquered Britannia, but they also brought Christianity when Romans became Christians, the Romano-British were completely Christian.

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."

We have more evidence of this Full Moon holy day concept, from Norse sources. The oldest evidence we have for a possible Scandinavian yuletide feast, was described by the 6th century Byzantine chronicler Procopius, who mentioned that the inhabitants of Scandinavia (Thule) celebrated Mid-Winter, after the winter solstice (Andreas Nordberg Jul, disting och förkyrklig tideräkning 2006: 156). We also 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…” Please join us on the Facebook Group: Aldsidu: Saxon Heathenry.

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