“Mama, how does the Easter Bunny lay eggs and then bring them to all of our houses,” I asked circa late 1960’s early 1970’s. I don’t know Sweetie … he just does,” was the tentative and unsatisfying reply.
Somewhere along the way between Walgreens, Walmart, and Super Target, we forgot. We had an event called Massive Cultural Amnesia or MCA for short. Hey, sounds catchy. Maybe I can get a spot on the Today Show. Maybe not … ok back to the story.
Once upon a time, long, long ago in a distant land called Europe, there were witches. Witches were not all ugly and green and covered with warts, smashed against a tree, as we see them today at All Hallow’s Eve or Halloween as some like to call it. Those early witches blended in with townsfolk. There were pretty ones—still maidens; fat ones in their motherhood stage; bossy, strange, smart, ugly and yes, even gifted witches called Crones, my dear. “Gifted at what Mama?” “All sorts of things,” she said in her understated way. “Shape-shifting for one thing,” said Mama in my candlelit room.
Now these days, just like those “stupid” smashed-up witches we see who ride their brooms straight into a tree at Hallow’s Eve, we also see witch with one animal. Witch with cat; cat with witch; black most likely.
“Why is that Mama?” “Easier to sell my dear; easier to sell,” was the simple reply.
But, once upon a time, long, long ago, just like there were all different kinds of witches, the witch also had different animals by her side. “Did she have all kinds of animals, Mama?” Yes, dear … all kinds.
She did have a favorite though and it was sometimes a rabbit and sometimes a hare. Hares and rabbits were closest to witches and they had the same types of magical powers. Hares could fly; they could be tiny or huge; they could shape-shift from human to different animals—they could do all sorts of magical things, like lay beautiful pastel colored and complex patterned eggs.
With time that MCA helped the men and women, boys and girls forget many, many things. One was that Easter used to be spelled Eostre and it honored the fair goddess from far, far away. Ostara was the goddess of the Teutonic people from up north. Teutonic people loved the advent of spring, something called Vernal Equinox.
This Ostara would show up mysteriously, arising from the blustery winds of March to usher in spring. She had bunnies—her power animals—at her feet because they symbolize fertility, life cycles and renewal. Bunnies help keep life going.
As large as her, at her side was her royal consort. He was a gigantic Hare. He could do many magical things as is typical of his kind, including laying the most beautiful eggs in the world and bringing sweets to good children in all the villages for Ostara’s day. He came to be known as the Easter Bunny. But with MCA clouding up the minds of the people the fair spring goddess Ostara was forgotten. Through it all, they remember her special day and the magical hare. They clung on to a memory of a day now called Easter.