Wordlorewise, Éastre may well find kindship with another Anglo-Saxon god, Éarendel (ON: Aurvandil from the PGmc: *auzi- “dawn” and *wandilaz “wandering”). In the Prose Edda’s Skáldskaparmál, it is said that thunder god Þórr (OE: Þunor) sought leechcraft from the witch (ON: vǫlva) Gróa, “Growing,” following his fig ht with the ettin Hrungnir. Whilst she sang her healing spells over his head-wound, Þórr shared with her news of her wayward husband, Aurvandil – that Þórr had found him in Jotunheimr, the land of the giants, and that he had borne him upon his back homeward over the icy waters yet. In the wading Aurvandil’s toe had become frostbitten and so Þórr broke it off and hurled it into the heavens where it shined as a star.
Though Aurvandil’s godlore is given almost in passing in the Prose Edda, it may well be that his worship was more widespread than might be otherwise thought. Indeed, in the Old English lay, Crist I (9th hundredtide), Aurvandil’s Anglo-Saxon name, Éarendel, is given to the new god, Christ himself.
O’ Dawn Wanderer, brightest angel,
over Middle Earth to men sent,
and sooth-fast leam of the sun,
brightness over stars, each tide(season) thou,
of thyself, ever lights (illuminates).[i]
Christ I is, itself, an Old English amending of the Latin O Oriens, a song sung by Christians at evensong on the fifth day of Advent, that being the winter sunstead. Here Éarendel is believed to betoken, the bright “morning star,” that heavenly body which is now known to us as Venus.
Elsewhere, however, Éarendel’s name was not given to Christ but, rather, to his forerunner, John the Baptist. As may be read in Seo Gebyrd S. Johannes Þæs Fulwihteres of the Blickling Homilies (10th hundredtide), “the new Éarendel (Venus) is Saint John, and now the leam that is the sooth sun, God himself (Christ), will come.” [ii] And so it would seem that Christ was, in some sense, worshipped as a sun god with Éarendel, a heathen god wended into a holy man, going before him to make way for his dawning.
As the Anglo-Saxon Éastre is the “dawning” and the Norse Gróa the “growing,” we may well be foreled to think them kindred, if not the same. Furthermore, we might foreled to think that Éarendel, the Day-Wanderer, is the godly groom who goes before his Dawn goddess bride. Yet such is only guess-spelling and is not proven by booklore. Yet upon the wordlore of their names alone, one might well think it wise to worship them together.
[i] Eala Earendel, engla beorhtast,
ofer middangeard monnum sended,
ond soðfæsta sunnan leoma,
torht ofer tunglas, þu tida gehwane
of sylfum þe symle inlihtes
Crist I 104-108 – Wended from Old English by Þórbeorht
[ii] se niwa eorendel Sanctus Iohannes; & nu nu se leoma þære soþan sunnan God selfa cuman wille. – Wended from Old English by Þórbeorht
Betoken – Represent, symbolize
Éastre – Easter, An Anglo-Saxon Goddess whose name was borrowed for the Christian Pascha
Ettin – A giant, an “eater,” or “devourer”
Forelead – Tempted
Hundredtide – Century
Guess-spell – Hypothesis, hypothetical
Kindred – Cognate
Leam – Sunbeam
Leechcraft – The craft of a leech (a doctor or healer)
Winter Sunstead – Winter Solstice
Wordlore – Etymology
Wordlorewise – Etymologically