13 Apr 2017

Tomorrow is Good Friday; the start of the Easter weekend and the last few days of my school holiday, before returning back to work for the first exam term of the academic year. I felt like I wanted to say something meaningful, despite the fact that I consider myself to be spiritual and not religious (I am supposedly Catholic.)

I know all about the Sacrifice and Resurrection and as a child growing up, that Easter is a time for Midnight Mass and eating lots of chocolate eggs. I also vaguely remember parents and grandparents being somewhat grumpy during Easter, because of having to give up something during Lent. (Maybe I should have considered giving up Sex?)

We all do know that Good Friday was the day of the Crucifixion and that Sunday was the day He was born again. That Easter was originally a pagan festival maybe not and appropriated by the Christian Church as its own, while in Western cultures, schools close, businesses close, supermarkets overflow with colourful foil-wrapped chocolate eggs and bunnies. But, how many of us actually know what it is all about?

I did some delving................

Google says Easter is: The most important and oldest festival of the Christian Church, celebrating the Resurrection" and there were plenty of Christian sites that went into greater detail about the Crucifixion the sacrifice made for the sake of humanity, etc. Basically, I did a crash course in Christian Easter 101. But, where do chocolate eggs and bunnies come into it?

Further research afforded me a picture of a voluptuous looking female figure carved out of stone with the following words: Easter in ancient times was the celebration of Ishtar - the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of Fertility and Sex. Her symbols (like the egg and the bunny) were, and still are, fertility and sex symbols. After Constantine decided to Christianize the Empire, Easter was changed to represent Christianity.

However, at its roots, Easter (which is how you actually phonetically pronounce Ishtar) is all about celebrating fertility and Sex! I searched further as to the origins of Easter, to find a source to back this up, and elaborate, on the Ishtar connection.

Easter is a pagan festival and early Christianity made a pragmatic acceptance of such ancient pagan practices. Apparently, resurrection stories of good triumphing over darkness were widespread in the ancient world, including the Egyptian god Horus, who like Our Guy, was also born on 25th December, and who was also resurrected after his death (a long time before 0 AD!) The eye of Horus (now a popular tattoo design) came to symbolize birth and rebirth.

The goddess Ishtar was also apparently hung naked on a stake and subsequently resurrected and ascended from the underworld. But, Ishtar is now never used as such in the original Scriptures, nor is it ever associated biblically, like Easter is with the death and resurrection.

Ishtar was the widow of Nimrod - Noah's naughty great-grandson - and, she was the mother of Tammus (apparently, born illegitimately after the death of Nimrod,) who she insisted was the result of Immaculate Conception and was actually Nimrod resurrected........sound familiar?

Most historians, including Biblical scholars, agree that Easter was originally a pagan festival and the word Easter is of Saxon origin - Eastra - the goddess of Spring, in whose honour sacrifices were offered about Passover time each year. By the eighth century, Anglo-Saxons had adopted the name to designate the celebration of The Resurrection. However, even among those who maintain that Easter has pagan roots, there is some disagreement over which pagan tradition the festival emerged from.

It is the goddess Ostera (also known as Eastra,) whose myths predate that of Ishtar, who is likely where the traditions such as eggs and rabbits come more from - the celebrations of Eastra (Spring Equinox.) It also seems likely that the Christian stories were molded to fit in with the pre-existing pagan celebrations of Ishtar's death and resurrection, in order to convert the people to the new faith and then, there are even those, who believe in a Yogi.

Yes I know, it is all very convoluted and possibly even boring for some, and there are many crossovers. But, who knows what the real story is?

Three things I do know for sure:

1. Chocolate is delicious for most. (I very seldom eat it.)

2. Bunnies are cute and furry.

3. Eggs are a symbol of birth and new beginnings.

So, this Easter I will not be searching for and eating Easter eggs with my kids - they are both overseas. Hopefully, I will be cuddling a big bunny if He should cross my path and beginning again - the birth of a new Love.

Happy Easter!