When I think of Ostara, I think of eggs, and of the multi-colored egg salad that is made the day after Ostara. And when I think of Divine images associated with eggs, I always think of Mary Magdalen.
Most Pagans who convert from a Christian background go through a “What do I think about Jesus?” phase. I certainly did, and devoured Margaret Starbird’s books. I was able to frame my feelings regarding the Christian faith, not necessarily Christian culture, through books such as The Woman With The Alabaster Jar and The Goddess In The Gospels. Her books are worth reading because, although Starbird is still a devout albeit heretical Catholic, she really understands the “paganism” of the Jesus story, and she has some fascinating ideas regarding the tarot.
So what is the deal with Mary Magdalen and eggs? Well, legend has it she brought a basket of hardboiled eggs to share with the mourners at Jesus tomb, and upon finding it empty the eggs turned red. Another legend says she told the emperor of Rome that Jesus had risen, and he pointed to an egg and said Jesus had no more risen than that egg was red. And the egg turned red. Pretty much your basic religio-magical mythos.
There seems to be an idea floating around that “Easter eggs” are actually “Ishtar eggs,” and simply a continuation of an ancient Sumerian practice to celebrate spring. I don’t know the veracity of that, but it seems to be a popular idea among Evangelical and odd Jewish conspiracy theorists who hate Lady Gaga. (I’m not linking. Google with wariness.)
Thankfully I don’t have a mistrust of rabbits laying eggs (mmm Cadbury!) or springtime sex goddesses dressed in red. I dig the egg thing, and this whole time of year. While the daffodils and jonquils have already bloomed, there are still plenty of flowers waiting to spring forth.
Both Mary Magdalen and Ishtar feel right and ripe for this time of year. Both embody sex and regal bearing. Both speak to blood mysteries: death, resurrection, birth, violence, menstruation, transformation, surgery, sacrifice, and the slaughter of food animals. Whether a Goddess dances with just a red and gold cord about her waist, or draped in yards of red linen, she represents vitality.
The popularity of Mary Magdalen over the centuries is a reminder that female forms of Divinity can never be repressed. As the band D-Squared sings “You can dare to dam the river but you cannot stem the tide.” That which is feminine will spring forth unbidden, whether you like it or not. Maybe it will unnerve you. Maybe it will be in your sons singing Goddess chants from the prow of their make-believe pirate ship. Maybe it will be in electric energy that pulses insistently when a Goddess is invoked into a magical circle. Maybe it will be in the fierce femininity of the voice of a woman who was born with a Y chromosome. Maybe it will be in the soft curve of a river or mountain, reminding you that the very soil you walk on has feminine qualities.
I plan to dye eggs this year, red as blood. Maybe with designs picked out in wax. I want to do it for the Magdalen, who has carried the fascination with fully-sexual female Divinity through the dark centuries. I want to do it for Ishtar, for Babalon, for The Scarlet Woman, who represents the fierce sexuality of women. I want to do it for the girls who are shedding blood without a wound for the first time. For the women who grapple with their menstrual cycle, either as a magical occurrence or a medical difficulty. I want to do it for the women who have passed from shedding blood to having their doctor order more bloodwork as their bodies age. I want to do it for the women who shed blood, who cut their bodies open, who care for the incisions and scars, and endure the pain of physically becoming the woman they have always been within. I want to do it for the women who bleed in childbirth, and the women who mourn that they will never bleed in such a way. I want to do it for the women who have passed beyond, whose blood has drained from their bodies to feed the earth.
I’m not a man. I can’t speak for men. They would have better insight into their relationship to blood.
And this post has wandered away from me. But yeah, I think of Mary Magdalen when I think of eggs and springtime. Maybe she’s an avatar of Ishtar or some other Goddess of the Middle East. Maybe she is the daughter of Babalon, or Babalon herself. Regardless, while I would never do a ritual to honor Jesus or Mary, I will dye an egg for the Magdalen. It just feels appropriate.