Picture by Wendy Andrew, used with permission. www.paintingdreams.co.uk
During the long winter months, Ostara, the maiden goddess of spring sleeps deep in the Earth. She awaits the song of spring. Sometimes, she likes to sleep-in. Sometimes, she covers her head with her warm blankets and snuggles deeper in her cozy bed. Like many of us, she’s slow to wake up.
Long ago, when the Earth was young, Ostara accidentally did sleep-in. She had heard the children singing her praises and slowly woke up, and stretched. When she finally sat up in bed, fully awake, she realized that she had slept for three months too long!
Here in this area of California, we basically only have two seasons, rainy and dry but, this story takes place in Germany, where it snows throughout the winter. Three extra months of winter can create terrible catastrophes.
She climbed out of her tunnel deep in the Earth and made it to the surface. When she got there, she saw that the land was still covered in ice and snow. The people and animals were weak with hunger. They had used up all their stored food and were anxious to eat fresh fruits and veggies.
Ostara knew what she had to do. She began to dance. Oh, the beauty of that dance! Such gracefulness, such rhythm, such joy! Where ever her feet touched the ground, flowers popped up. When her fingers touched an old rose bush, it sprung to life and bloomed with the sweetest smelling flowers. She twirled and twisted in the air, and suddenly, butterflies seemed to appear from nowhere and danced with her. She twirled and twisted again, and the birds and fairies joined in. Soon, the other animals and the children were dancing, too. Everywhere she moved or touched, life emerged. Spring was here! Everyone and everything was full of joy!
Suddenly, one of the children called out. They had found something. It was a bird, almost dead. Its wings were frozen, and it could barely move. The children begged the Spring Goddess to help.
Ostara took the bird into her arms and wrapped her cloak around the little creature. She breathed warmth over the animal and held it close. The children, fairies, and animals joined her, breathing warmth and light into the little creature. When at last she unwrapped her cloak, the children, faeries, and animals saw instead of a bird, a beautiful snow hare, a white bunny. Everyone was amazed and joyous to see the now vibrantly alive animal.
The new rabbit cautiously stretched his legs and saw how powerful they were. The brilliantly white fur was so soft and felt so warm. He took a few steps and then started running. It felt so nice to run, he ran circles around and around the kids and then shot off. He ran more swiftly than he ever dreamed of running. So fast, faster than a bolt of lightning. He looked like a white blur! And he could do binkies! A binky is when a rabbit does a little hop, kick, twist in the air with its back legs. So much fun! He did it again, and again, and again but, then stopped.
The children, fairies, animals, and Ostara all stopped, too. They felt the change in emotions that took over the bunny. It felt like a dark cloud had moved in and blocked the sun. Sadness filled the air. They saw tears began to fill up his big brown eyes and roll down his beautiful, soft, white fur. Ostara walked up to him, crouched down, and listened with compassion to the rabbit.
“What’s the matter little one? You were so happy just a moment ago, and now you’re crying.” She said.
“Oh Goddess, thank you so much for bringing me back to life and for turning me into this wondrous creature. I am extremely grateful! Running and doing binkies are fun but, I miss flying. I miss being up high in the air, away from the predators that wish to eat me. I’m afraid!” replied the bunny.
The other animals and fairies understood and so too did the children. He missed being a bird. “Change him back, Change him back!” They all cried. But, Ostara shook her head. “If I were to change him back, he’d be back to being the hurt little bird you found. I wouldn’t be able to save him; he’d die. Mr. Bunny, so full of life and love. I have an idea that you might like. I could make the moon your home. You’d be far from the predators, safe. And, you could have all the fresh greens and carrots you could ever wish for!”
The bunny replied, “Oh, I should like that! But, I’d miss the children and my other friends. They have been so wonderful to me, finding and bringing me to you. Please, I need to show them how grateful I am.”
“You’ve given me much to think about, little rabbit,” said Ostara. “How about, if once a year when I wake to dance the Spring dance, you can join me. As a special gift, even though you’re a boy, you’ll be able to lay the most beautifully colored eggs that anyone has ever had to good fortune to see. You may hide these as a thank you game for the children, faeries, and animals to find.”
The rabbit was ecstatic, as was everyone else. They all rejoiced with plenty of laughing and singing, which made finishing the ushering of the Spring that much more fun.
Now the goddess Ostara has a companion to help her bring in the Spring every year, which brings her endless joy. She still likes to sleep in but, the bunny makes certain that she no longer sleeps in for too long.
Occasionally, especially on nights when it full, look up at the moon and say thank you to the snow bunny who lives only to bring us joy.