Another Easter has passed. Filled with bunnies, eggs (both chocolate and decorated hard-boiled) and baskets. As we well know that according to Christian tradition Easter is known as the day of Resurrection for Jesus Christ. However, Pagans can rejoice in the knowledge that the foundations of this Christian holiday have very Pagan roots.
1. The day Easter falls
As we know Easter falls on different Sunday’s each year, sometime from late March to late April. Why a different date? Wouldn’t the date remain static each year, the same as Christmas? According to a news report by ABC news the method of determining Easter Sunday began according to the first Council of Nicea in 325AD. The council determined that Easter Sunday was the first Sunday after the full moon following the Spring Equinox. This places the Sunday anywhere between March 25th and April 25th each year.
Pagans everywhere can associate the wheel of the year and the equinoxes with harvests and our spiritual growth, death, and re-birth. Additionally, the moon cycles resonate with us around our beliefs of the goddess. However, neither of these important Pagan principles are mentioned in the Bible.
2. The origin of the Easter bunny
That all to recognizable fabled animal who defies logic in producing eggs (either golden, decorated or chocolate). A popular theory in history is that the Easter bunny originated from Germany where it was known as the osterhase. The original mention of the Easter bunny comes from Georg Franck von Franckenau’s De ovis paschalibus in 1682. The Easter bunny was similar to Santa Claus in that he brought eggs to the children. The Easter bunny was seen as representing fertility and life as bunnies are known to have multiple liters of offspring.
3. The famous Easter egg
Originally having eggs was seen as a treat after Lent. The eggs needed to be hard-boiled to keep in the time before refrigeration, and the decorations were seen as a way of making them special for the holidays. Again the history points to this being a German tra
dition where the decorated hard-boiled eggs were a treat after Lent, and it appears that the Easter bunny would leave the eggs out in his pre-Easter delivery.
In fact the belief is that the origins of the famous chocolate Easter eggs comes originally from the German immigrants who brought the Easter bunny tradition to the US via Pennsylvania in the 1700s. The Cadburry company took the idea (originally the eggs were hard-boiled and decorated) and turned the Easter egg into today’s delicious treat.
4. The name Easter
In fact the name of the holiday, Easter, has been associated with Pagan links. Nowhere in the bible is the name of this holiday listed. However, history has shown some association with the greek god Eostre. Again a Germanic link Eostre was seen as a Saxon god of questionable origin, however it was suggestive of the Equinox and celebrations of new life. Most likely Eostre was celebrated as a time when winter was ending signalling the growth of crops and increasing activity of livestock meaning food would be available soon. Eostre also has links to the Pagan spring equinox hoiday of Ostara.
So while Easter in today’s times is associated strongly with the different Christian faiths, never forget that like all similar celebrations this holiday firmly has roots planted in Wiccan traditions. Again I must re-state that I have no issue or complaint with Christians celebrating this holiday as their own, it just gives me a grin knowing that our two differing faiths have more in common than they would like to believe.
For your reading here are the articles used for this post:
John Halsteed, writing in the Huffington Post, comments on the modern Pagan movement which started in the 1960’s both in the US and in the UK. Three organizations pioneered the modern pagan movement, with the Church of All Worlds the most significant- gaining government-recognized status in 1968.
Modern paganism, unlike previous revivals, served to take the best components of previously known pagan religions and incorporate them into practice. This forms the basis of neo-paganism. The issue, I think, in relation to the Christian world’s acceptance of paganism as a viable and true alternate faith is the lack of accepted practices. Modern pagans do not have a codified structure with which to hang their beliefs. Therefore, it would seem that it is every man/woman for themselves.
Further complicating the issue is that there are few statistics regarding the total number of pagans in the world currently. John’s article states that through approximation there are 1 million pagans in the U.S. However, this is difficult to verify as there is no formal census procedure which asks for religious affiliation. In Canada and Australia, where religious affiliation is part of the census, growth of non-traditional religions such as paganism is growing. However, again here the ability to accurately determine statistics are difficult.
I believe there are several reasons for this. The first, and most prominent, reason is the secrecy that most Pagan practitioners show. We have a modern world society that values individuals being able to (within reason) do what they wish. Homosexual marriage (previously outlawed and frowned upon) is being seen as a future possibility. Stem cell research is pushing head-long to providing new medical breakthroughs. But tell someone that you worship the moon and believe in reincarnation their judgmental walls erect quickly.
I don’t practice spell-craft. I don’t use voodoo dolls, nor do I attempt to mess with the laws of nature. My belief, and I feel the common belief amongst modern pagans, is to co-exist and work with the existing natural energies found on this planet. I don’t believe that a conscious human-like spirit rules all. Instead I feel that we are all connected by our common energies, and therefore what I do affects every other living organism on our planet.
Here is the link to the article by John Halsteed.
Now for those that have followed this blog for the short period of time it has been in existence, firstly I would like to thank you, I have stated I try to bring at least semi-intelligent discussion into the debate between Pagan beliefs and other ‘mainstream’ (primarily Christian) religions.
One of the often recurrent themes of these mainstream religions is the belief that Pagans are ill-informed and simply lacking in firm beliefs. We are represented as those fringe-dwellers amongst the religious community. However, sometimes even the mighty Christian faith- the most popular religious faith in the world- has its share of those who can be considered one verse short of a psalm (sorry for the bad pun- just could not help myself).
A ‘television prophet’ named Cindy Jacobs has posted a video amongst her “10 minute prayer school” series stating that Native Americans, Mexicans, and all others with Pagan descendants must repent retrospectively for their forefathers. As reported in the Huffington Post Jacobs has stated that a spirit named Leviathan “…is very territorial, very active and has ‘supernatural’ powers”. Wait, a Christian prophet stating that a spirit has supernatural powers? Isn’t that something that is against their doctrine?
I will not go on with the comments made, as they are simply ludicrous. However, in reading the comments from the story Bert Dodson stated ” ah do Americans of European descent need to ask forgiveness for their ancestors pagan past? either in ignorance or due to malice she has forgotten that no one in the world was Christian before the 1st century C.E. and everyone who profess Christianity descends from a pagan of some sort or other faith system?”
My point with this posting is that when a faith which is fundamentally different from Christianity attempts to enter the public arena either by a public gathering or through media representation those leaders of the Christian faith are quick to condemn. However, when someone like Cindy Jacobs looks to use the religion of Christianity to proclaim very hurtful and otherwise delusional comments to others she is not reprimanded by these leaders, and instead is given a publicity on a respected site. Where is the condemnation, where is the exclusion of Jacobs from those within the church?
There is one thought that comes to mind: silence is as much an indication of acceptance and agreement as the most well constructed remark.
Until next time,
Link to the Huffington Post news story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/05/cindy-jacobs-native-americans-repent_n_3390601.html
Let me start this post with a few figures:
– There are more than 7.12 billion people. http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/
– Approximately 190 countries exist
– Religions affilliated with Christianity are the most popular wofldwide http://www.religioustolerance.org/worldrel.htm
I start with these facts to illistrate several points to be made in this post and the next. Christianity is by far the most prevelant religiln in the world, but in no way is it the only religion. Why, then, does it seem that there is constant friction between Christians and Pagans. Maybe it is just me, and others can correct me if I am wrong, but it seems as though we do not hear the same rhetoric from Muslims and Jews as we do from Christians?
After all, what is a religion? To me a religion must have the following:
1. Answer the ‘big three’ questions: where did we come from, why are we here, and where do we go when we die.
2. Have some acceptance and belief in a ‘higher’ power.
3. Subscribe to at least a basic set of values- I have deliberately left out moral in this term as it seems the people’s view of moral varies wiedely.
Taking these three items into account both Pagan and Christian religions fit the bill. However, there are some fundamental issues which I feel causes the friction.
The initial rift between Christianity and Pagan beliefs started, based on historical accounts, when the Roman empire moved away from the polytheistic Pagan beliefs and accepted Christianity. The patiriarchal and all-encompassing nature of Christianity purposefully excludes other religions. In some ways I also feel that Christianity feels under threat with the current nature of our society, especially in light of current issues within the Catholic church and falling participation numbers, and could believe that ‘alternative’ religions such as those of the Pagan ways could start to become more prevelant.
In part 2 I will talk about some issues with the Pagan faiths which could be inhibitting us from greater recognition and acceptance.
Until next time,
- Are We Losing Our Religion and Does it Matter? (syndicatednewsservices.com)