Have a blessed Ostara
On the skin of a white rabbit, the Norse goddess Ostara is surrounded by brightly decorated eggs each marked with a rune or wish waiting for a blessing, while spring breaks through the clouds.
A seaxe, a traditional sacrificial knife, and bottle of honey mead rest in front as the Heathen Freehold Society, friends and family gather to celebrate Easter, on March 20.
It marks the Spring Equinox, a time when day and night are the same length.
"At Ostara, we ask for the blessings of fertility, we gather to celebrate the renewal of life and at the same time, we remember those who have passed in the dark of the year," explains John Mainer, president or freyr of the Heathen Freehold, a confederation dedicated to the contemporary revival of the culture and religion of ancient Germanic, Teutonic and Nordic tribes.
It's a day celebrated much like the Christian Easter. There's an easter egg hunt, a blessing, a feast.
"We heathens like to joke that we do the same thing as everybody else does, we just happen to remember why," Mainer adds.
Easter is the only Christian holiday that still has a pagan title and beautifully blends both traditions.
For pagans, it is a time to honour the goddess of fertility and springtime, Eastre or Ostara, whose companion animal is the rabbit or the Easter bunny.
Eggs are offered because they hold the promise of life.
Mainer asked for the blessing of fertility when he put his egg at the altar, a wish for someone in his family who is trying to get pregnant.
The egg hunt symbolizes an exchange of gifts.
"As we offer eggs to Ostara, she in turn offers eggs to the children. Much the same way as, you give to the earth and the earth gives back to you."
• To learn the story of the Godess Ostara, click here.
John Mainer of the Heathen Freehold Society places an egg at the altar marked with a rune for fertility. It is a wish placed for a family member who is trying to get pregnant.
Krystalynne Wolsey catches a raw egg during an egg toss game while celebrating Ostara, or Easter, with the Heathen Freehold Society of B.C. at Maple Ridge Park Sunday March 20, the vernal equinox.