SPRING HAS SPRUNG
March 15, 2016

Far removed from a religious celebration the Spring equinox is an event that happens every year signaling spring in our hemisphere and autumn in the southern hemisphere. It’s a time when daylight equals nightfall. It’s an event  in the sky that’s been observed by humans since humankind became observers of the sky. We were farmers, we were sailors, we hunted, we gathered, we lived with nature.

Think of a time when there were no city lights. Imagine how the night sky must have sparkled with stars, and the  sun–sailing overhead in the daylight hours–was worshipped and warm and played a very  important role in  our lives.  Still does. Of great importance to all, at the time of the equinox, it promised a return of nature’s fertility. The earths’ journey around the sun–although it wasn’t expressed that way then– was there for all to see. In March, all over the northern hemisphere, the sun begins to rise earlier and set later. This event can be measured, predicted, it always occurs, and  everywhere in our hemisphere  it is a time of great rejoicing.

This years in Hawaii, it happens on Saturday, March 19 at 6:30PM.

For Christians it’s called Easter. And in the Jewish faith it’s called Passover.

Pagans celebrate it as Ostara named after the Anglo-Saxon goddess, Eostre and it’s a celebration of spring. A time for planting and sowing a new crop.

A scientific explanation would go like this, “On the equinoxes the Sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal. The March equinox marks
the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from south to north.” Fascinating charts, videos, observations all over  the internet are well worth a watch.

I can remember when communities celebrated with an Easter Parade. An Easter bonnet, “…with all the frills upon it…”  were the rage. One  dressed up in Easter finery to attend church or go out to lunch or dinner to show-off.

Today, take a trip to the Mall and fill your sights  and senses with candy, eggs,  Easter bunnies and baskets. Ever wonder what that was all about?  Eggs are a very powerful symbol of fertility, and spring is a season when animals mate and flowers bloom. It’s a time of renewal.  Want to talk about rabbits? Many rabbits are nocturnal but in spring mating season  they show up in the daytime. Did you know a doe can conceive a second liter while still pregnant with the first?  And sometimes, when there are too many bucks and not enough does,  the bucks go nuts and bounce around like ping-pong balls. March Hares go Mad.

I was always a  confused, as a little kid, as to how rabbits ended up laying eggs. Does anyone know the answer to that?

Also, of course, it’s a wonderful excuse to spend money.

Whatever you do, enjoy.  Enjoy. Smell the flowers. Smile a lot.

 

 

 

 

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PAGAN EASTER
April 1, 2015

Drats! The Christians took all the fun out of Easter.

It’s an ancient pagan festival. The Spring Equinox. A  seasonal event. It celebrated the day all the fun things about this yearly event occur. Easter bunnies are a leftover. Eostre was a pagan goddess whose symbol was a rabbit or hare. Easter eggs are also an ancient custom celebrated by many cultures. Hot cross buns are ancient, too. That’s a cute story: early Christian leaders tried to put a stop to this tradition but-in the end-cake-baking women wouldn’t cave so they gave up and blessed the goodie. Don’t you just love defiant women?

Israelites baked sweet buns for an idol-leave it to the Hebrews-beats matzo balls, which I love, but which are not particularly festive.

Even better, dancing, drinking, feasting, noise-making and love-making had been the usual ways in which humans celebrated occasions of communal happiness. Ever since prehistoric times human kind has spent energy on the turning of the seasons. Spent the strongest of these human emotions on spring-a time when the earth is freed from winter and the days grow long-with joyous, sometimes lascivious human behavior-which overcome the powers of darkness. I’ll drink to that.

By the way, in those times it was a goddess, Inanna, or Ishtar, who was hanged naked on a stake and then resurrected. Well, at least we got out of that mess.

Another cute story: a cult called Cybele flourished on today’s Vatican Hill. Cybele had a lover, Attis, who was born of a virgin, died and was reborn annually. This festival began as a day of blood on Black Friday-which reared its ugly head for three days- after which everybody rejoiced the resurrection. This caused some pretty violent conflicts-Christian versus pagan-as to which story was the true story.  Ring any bells? They’re still at it. Whose god is the head honcho? Whose fairy tale is the real one?

An aside: as a devout non believer, I always wondered how it happened that awful Friday became Good Friday. Sounds like a perfectly terrible way to spend a Friday to me.

Eventually Christians accommodated the pagan Spring festival.  The goddess prevailed. Love goddesses. Miss’em.

Also, did you know, there’s no celebration of Easter in the New Testament? The patriarchs, once again, gave in. Today most Christians celebrate a “sunrise service” at Easter. A historical pagan celebration but governed by the phases of the moon. Strange how myths begin, evolve and change. Darwinian? I don’t know.

Actually, the spring Equinox is essentially related to fertility and a balance of night and day. Hey, some people celebrate with bonfires and jumpin’ over dying embers which is believed to assure fertility of people and crops.

I think the world was  much more fun  when god was a woman. Or at least shared the stage. There were girl gods and boy gods, a family, very egalitarian. They were always up to shenanigans. It was a time of celestial giddiness.

Better, I think, then a time when a grumpy old father figure reigns. What do you think?

 

 

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