Archive for April, 2014

April 18, 2014

EASTER AND THE ANCIENT MYSTERY RELIGIONS

by eirenehogan

Great Eleusis ReliefMost ancient societies had a spring festival, to celebrate the ending of the cold winter and the beginning of the warmth again. With this warmth came the budding of new life, of plants, flowers, and often of the young of animals. In societies where food was dependent on an almost subsistence existence, ie, where your food depended on your own farm products, then spring was a very important time. Spring meant the growth of new food, both plant and animal. Without spring, all the food stores of winter would be very soon used up, and no more food would come. Without spring would be death.

In a pre scientific age, the most obvious explanation for the seasons were the whims of the gods. Something magic and other-world like would have to explain the seasons, what else would? The sun’s heat ranges from the heat of summer, then fades into the cold of winter. There would always be the fear that maybe one day the sun might not get hot again after winter, that it might continue to fade away and no warmth would return (“Winter is coming”).

Spring was seen as the rebirth of life, the rebirth of plants, and animals, and of the sun, and the very essence of life itself. In primitive societies, the rebirth was seen to be of the gods, or of a particular god or goddess who brought the rebirth of plants and animals with him/her. In ancient Egypt this god was Osiris and his associated Goddess, Isis. In ancient Greece the god Adonis was connected with it, as also was the Goddess Kore/Persephone, and the god Dionysus. In the ancient Near East there was the god Tammuz, who is mentioned in the Bible. These gods, by their discovery of rebirth, offered the secret of eternal life after death to humans. This could be gained by initiation ceremonies, which were often held in Spring, and involved a symbolic retelling of their myth of death and rebirth. The most famous one involved Persephone in the Eleusinian Mysteries of Athens.

When Christianity became the dominant religion in the Roman Empire the festival of the rebirth of Jesus Christ (Easter) took on many of the aspects of these mystery religions.

April 18, 2014

EASTER – SPRING FESTIVAL

by eirenehogan

There is nothing like that feeling when, for the very first time after winter, you walk outside and feel the slight warmth in the air, and smell the scent of fresh blossoms. Ahh, spring! You can virtually feel life oozing in the air. What a wonderful time for a festival.

Easter is the modern (post pagan) Spring Festival, but in Australia it is celebrated in Autumn, which makes it more like Halloween, which is the Anglo-Celtic autumn festival.

Australia have no religious festival in spring, but I feel the football grand finals in late September, and the Melbourne Cup in early November are our modern equivalent of a spring festival, when we celebrate the coming of warmth, and look forward to relaxing as the end of the year approaches and we can enjoy Xmas (our summer festival) and relax by the beach during a long lazy summer’s day.

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