|10 Apr 2004 @ 03:52, by Alana Tobin|
I find it interesting how many of the modern religious and spiritual holidays and rituals were taken from the early Pagan traditions.
I have found the resurrection or ascension energy of Easter holiday to always be a profoundly powerful time, and so I celebrate it because my being resonates with the celebration of new life and the opportunities to transform anything that limits that life from expressing more fully and more joyously!
I also love hot cross buns at this time of the year and the whole symbology of eggs symbolizing new life and creativity, and bunny rabbits and of course chocolate and jelly beans and the wonderful ritual of the hunt. Yesterday Max and I and Max's mum Margaret, were out taking a walk in the bush at the Cascade Park in the Waitekere Ranges, and upon the tail end, hehe.. of our walk, we encountered a black bunny rabbit, tame as...we knew it was an escapee. We felt that the spirit of Easter had come to greet us through this little bunny along the path. For just a moment, the little girl inside me felt that we had encountered magic in the form of a real Easter Bunny, and the excitement of it felt really special to my heart. The photo here is of that black bunny with the lopsided right ear.
I have again posted an update from Chuck Spezzano as I love his take on cycles and the wisdom he shares. Then if you read on you will see a good piece about the meaning of Easter. Enjoy!
Happy Easter to All! Blessings, Alana
April is a month of resurrection. By Chuck Spezzano
At Easter there is always much greater grace pouring to the earth, bringing new life. Passover similarly depicts deliverance. Imagine—the Red Sea is the front of you and the Egyptian army is coming up your ass. You’re between a rock and a hard place. Passover reminds us that our deliverance can be miraculous. The very concept of resurrection, seriously considered has the power to “broke da mind”, a slang term used in Hawaii. “Broke da mouth” means delicious. So April can be “broke da mind” month in a way that provides hope where there wasn’t any, brings a new dawn to a dark night and once again puts spirit in the center of our lives. If you are experiencing your darkest hour there is a way through. Let us put our minds to that. Let us be faithful to spirit, whose path is only one of sweetness and release. What comes from spirit is transcendent. We have come from spirit and we are spirit. In this earth imprisonment, we find ourselves in a dark dream, but we can remember ourselves and realize that love, joy and creation are the very elements of our being.
There is gentle awakening going on this month. Let us wake up from our nightmares that define our reality as fearful. Some of the authority we have given over to the ego will be taken back this month. Illusions of sacrifice, shame and guilt will be dissolved. The canker of fear and its incumbent aggression or hiding will no longer have power over us. We will be willing to know ourselves and our destiny. We will more truly align ourselves with spirit and ally ourselves with all human beings. The door we close on anyone is the door we close on ourselves and our children. Where we free ourselves through courage, healing or grace, there comes a freedom that we want to share with everyone. We will begin to realize as if we had never forgotten it, that relatedness brings love, enjoyment, ease, abundance and evolution.
There will be a subtle shift of emphasis from work to relationship. Where there has been laziness as a cover for fear, there will be new inspiration and therefore, new strength. Where there has been overwork to avoid intimacy or the fruits of one’s labor, there will be a new level of the open door. Those who have pushed themselves out of fear of not getting the job done will simply relax and rely more on spirit and grace.
Our mystic friend, Werner describes April in even more powerful terms. I want to include this just to help you see that the darkness that is present to different extents in people’s lives can be dissipated. Werner puts it thus: “All will change in the midst of April. The Divine light will come more and more, because the attacks of the dark energies are over. … So I look very hopeful in the future, which is a future of the presence of God.”
April can show itself to be a powerful month for family and ohana, (Hawaiian for extended family and friends). There can be great enjoyment and renewal—a deepening of the friendship and bonding that is present, bringing more success and love. This is also the one area where there can be blindness. The ego may make a play to ensnare us in order to have us miss the renaissance of April. Because so much of the family pattern is subconscious, it can be one of the great conspiracies of the ego—a trap set up so well that it looks as if there is no way out. So, be aware that family issues could also be up, where the ego is fighting to be right, or there is exhaustion from family roles. Issues that your extended family shows you are just old family issues. You might as well clear them now, once and for all. Simply remember the suggestion of A Course in Miracles: Everything that is not love is call for love…and people will show to you what you have been showing to them; “if they show not the Christ to you, you showed not the Christ to them.”
Let April light your way. Let the whole world be your ohana. As the darkness and separation of the ego melts away, there will be light and love. Let delight and good fortune mark your days, my friends
Chuck Spezzano Psychology of Vision Website|Psychology of Vision Website}
The Easter Story
This is from "Heathen Holidays" by Denise Snodgrass CHAPTER III
EASTER: THE GODDESS OF SPRING
The name of this festival, itself, shows its heathen origin. "Easter" is derived from Eastre, or Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of spring and dawn. There also is some historical connection existing between the words "Easter" and "East," where the sun rises. The festival of Eostre was celebrated on the day of the Vernal Equinox (spring). Traditions associated with the festival of the Teutonic fertility Goddess survive in the Easter rabbit and colored eggs.
Spring is the season of new life and revival, when, from ancient times, the pagan peoples of Europe and Asia held their spring festivals, re-enacting ancient regeneration myths and performing magical and religious ceremonies to make the crops grow and prosper.
From "The American Book of Days," by George William Douglas we read: "As the festival of Eostre was a celebration of the renewal of life in the spring it was easy to make it a celebration of the resurrection from the dead of Jesus. There is no doubt that the Church (of Rome) in its early days adopted the old pagan customs and gave a "Christian" meaning to them.
From "Easter: its Story and Meaning," by Alan W. Watts is found: "The story of Easter is not simply a Christian story. Not only is the very name "Easter" the name of an ancient and non-Christian deity; the season itself has also, from time immemorial, been the occasion of rites and observances having to do with the mystery of death and resurrection among peoples differing widely in race and religion."
From "Easter and its customs," by Christina Hole is found: "Vernal Mysteries (spring heathen rites) like those of Tammuz, and Osiris and Adonis flourished in the Mediterranean world and farther north and east there were others. Some of their rites and symbols were carried forward into Easter customs. Many of them have survived into our own day, unchanged yet subtly altered in their new surroundings to bear a "Christian" significance."
TAMMUZ AND THE VERNAL MYSTERIES
The rites connected with the death and resurrection of the gods Tammuz, Osiris, and Adonis are the Forerunners of the "Christian" Easter; they are the first East services.
Let us look in the Word of God in Ezekiel 8:13-16
(13) He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. (14) Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord's house which was toward the north; and behold, there sat women WEEPING FOR TAMMUZ (15) Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these (16) And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord's house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the alter, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the EAST; and they WORSHIPPED THE SUN toward the EAST.
Here the people of God, Israel, had back-slid into idolatry. Tammuz was a Babylonian god. Like Christ Mass and New Year's, Easter, too, began in Babylon.
Let us look into the Mythologies of the death and resurrection gods, such as Tammuz from "Easter: its Story and Meaning."
"Wife and beloved of Tammuz was the goddess Inanna, or Ishtar, in whose person is represented she whom we now call Mother Nature of Mother Earth -- she who, when refreshed with the spring rains, with the water from heaven, brings forth the fruits of life. We are told that when Tammuz died, Inanna was so stricken with grief that she followed him to the underworld, to the realm of Eresh-Kigal, Queen of the Dead, a "land from which there is no returning, a house of darkness, where dust lies on door and bolt." In her absence the earth was deprived of its fertility; crops would not grow; animals would not mate; life was in danger of coming to an end.
"O my child!" at his vanishing aways she lifts up a lament; "My Damu!" at his vanishing away she lifts up a lament; "My enchanter and priest!" at his vanishing away she lifts up a lament, At the shining cedar, rooted in a spacious place, In Eanna, above and below, she lifts up a lament.
This ancient text is called "The Lament of the Flutes for Tammuz." He had gone away to the underworld, and this was why there was winter. "The Lament of the Flutes for Tammuz" describes the grief which moved Ea, god of water and wisdom, to send a heavenly messenger to the underworld to rescue the goddess whose absence was removing life from the earth. Assenting reluctantly to his supreme will, Eresh-Kigal allowed the messenger to sprinkle Inanna and Tammuz with water of life--a potion which gave them power to return into the light of the sun for six months of the year. But for the other six months, Tammuz must again return to the land of death, whither Inanna would again pursue him, and once more with her lamentations move Ea to give the water of life so that year after year the miracle of resurrection and spring would recur."
In the course of centuries, the story and the yearly rites connected with the death and resurrection of Tammuz moved westward to Phoenicia and Syria on the extreme east of the Mediterranean. Here the name of Tammuz was changed to Adon or Adonai, and the name of Inanna to Astarte. In Greece the two names are Adonis and Aphrodite.
The myth underwent some changes in passing from Sumeria to Syria.
A Greek myth tells of Demeter, like Inanna, the goddess of the earth, and her daughter, Kore (Persephone). The girl was abducted by Pluto, the ruler of the underworld, and her absence brought about a famine on earth through the failure of the crops. Pluto was therefore moved to restored Kore to her mother, but because she had eaten a pomegranate in the underworld she was bound to return to Pluto for as many months of each year as there were seeds of the pomegranate caught in her mouth. In joy at her annual return, the earth (Demeter) brings forth her fruits and flowers.
Adonis (Greek god) was the child of Myrrha, the myrtle tree. (It seems that almost all the gods of death and resurrection are associated with a tree.) When the infant Adonis was born, Aphrodite was so charmed with his beauty that she adopted him and concealed him in a chest, which she gave for safekeeping to Persephone--the counterpart of Eresh-Kigal, the Babylonian Queen of the Dead. In the underworld Persephone opened the chest, and was herself so enchanted with the babe that she decided to keep him. This led to a dispute between Aphrodite and Persephone, between love and death, in which Zeus (taking the place of the Babylonian Ea) had to intervene. Zeus decreed that for four months of the year Adonis should belong to Aphrodite, for four to Persephone, and for the remaining four he should do as he wished--Adonis chose to spend them with Aphrodite.
When he had grown to young manhood, Adonis roused the envy of Artemis, the forest goddess of the hunt, or according to another account, or Ares, the god of war. Thus, while he was out hunting, Artemis slew Adonis with an arrow--the arrows of Artemis being the cause to which sudden death was generally ascribed--or in the version, he was gored by Ares in the form of a wild boar. He died, and where the earth had received his blood, Aphrodite sprinkled the ground with nectar, so that the blood turned into anemones and other flowers of the field. But the grief of Aphrodite was so piteous that the gods of the underworld allowed Adonis to return to her every spring for six months of the year.
In Asia Minor the Phrygians believed that their omnipotent deity went to sleep at the time of the winter solstice and they performed ceremonies with music and dancing at the spring equinox to awaken him.
Of the same essential pattern is the great Egyptian myth of Osiris. The common elements in all these stories are so apparent that one may think of them as a single drama performed again and again by different actors.
It would be tedious to describe in detail all that has been handed down to us about the various rites of Tammuz, Adonis, Kire, and many others. Their rites had many basic elements in common. Their universal theme--the drama of death and resurrection--makes them the forerunners of the "Christian" Easter, and thus the first easter services. Many of the customs and ceremonies of the "Christian" Easter resemble these former rites, for instance, the present day "Sun Rise Services." Easter descended from pagan sun worship. Catholic Doctrine simply paralleled the pagan death and resurrection myths of the gods with the story of Christ's crucifixion and Ascension. Christ now rises from the dead with the ascending sun at the time of the Vernal Equinox when plant life and all forms of vegetation appear again on the Earth, and is celebrated with the same customs as that of the Heathen rites namely, rabbits, chickens, and colored eggs!
The Easter egg takes us back to some of the oldest known civilizations on earth where the symbol of an egg played an important part in mythical accounts of the creation of the world. According to this tale heaven and earth were formed from the two halves of a mysterious World-Egg. The Easter egg is associated with this World-Egg, the original germ from which all life proceeds, and whose shell is the firmament. So there is a heathen connection between the egg and the ideas or feelings of birth, new life, and creation.
Easter eggs do have a very long ancestry. In their modern chocolate or cardboard form they date only from the later years of the last century, but giving real eggs, colored or gilded at Easter and also at the pre-Christian spring celebrations are infinitely older.
Long before the Christian era, eggs were regarded as symbols of continuing life and resurrection. The ancient Persians and Greeks exchanged them at their spring festivals when all things in nature revived after the winter. To the early pagans converted to "Christianity" under Emperor Constantine's rule, eggs seemed the obvious symbols of the Lord's resurrection and were therefore considered "holy" and appropriate gifts at Easter time. Pope Paul V appointed a prayer in which the eggs were "blessed." The eggs could then be eaten in thankfulness to God on account of the resurrection of the Lord. The custom of coloring eggs at Easter continued from paganism with only a change of dedication. These eggs are often red. Scarlet eggs were given in the spring by pagan peoples centuries before the birth of Christ. It is probably the favorite color because, like the egg itself, it is an emblem of life.
THE EASTER RABBIT
The hare is the true Easter beast, not the rabbit. He was sacred to the Spring-Goddess, Eostre. Hares were sacrificed to her. The hare was an emblem of fertility, renewal, and return of spring to the heathen. The egg, in modern American folklore, is the production of the rabbit or the hare. The story is that this hare was once a bird whom Eostre changed into a four-footed creature.
Eating hot-cross buns is one of the Good Friday customs that has taken root in America. They are pagan in origin, for the Anglo-Saxon savages consumed cakes as part of the jollity that attended the welcoming of spring. Early missionaries from Rome despaired of breaking them of the habit, and got around the difficulty by blessing the cakes, drawing a cross upon them. but the cross was a pagan symbol long before the crucifixion. Bread and cakes were sometimes marked with it in pre-Christian times. Two small loaves each with a cross on them were discovered under the ruins of Herculaneum, a city overwhelmed by volcanic ash in A.D. 79. It is probable that the crosses here had a pagan meaning like those which appeared on cakes associated with the worship of Diana.
There are other pagan customs associated with Easter, but we have discussed the most common ones.
Information for writing this chapter was obtained from: "Easter: its Story and meaning," by Alan W. Watts; "The American Book of Days," by George William Dougolas; "Easter and its customs,": by Christina Hole; "The Book of Religious Holidays and Celebrations," by Marguerite Ickis; "Funk & Wagnall's New Encyclopedia."
Chapter III from HEATHEN HOLIDAYS by Sister Denise Snodgrass.