Easter - Christian or Pagan?
2010 04 02
Contrary to popular belief, Easter does not represent the "historical" crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In reality, the gospel tale reflects the annual "crossification" of the sun through the vernal equinox (Spring), at which time the sun is "resurrected," as the day begins to become longer than the night.
Rather than being a "Christian" holiday, Easter celebrations date back into remotest antiquity and are found around the world, as the blossoming of spring did not escape the notice of the ancients, who revered this life-renewing time of the year, when winter had passed and the sun was "born again." The "Pagan" Easter is also the Passover, and Jesus Christ represents not only the sun but also the Passover Lamb ritually sacrificed every year by a number of cultures, including the Egyptians, possibly as early as 4,000 years ago and continuing to this day in some places.
Easter is "Pessach" in Hebrew, "Pascha" in Greek, "Pachons" in Latin and "Pa-Khonsu" in Egyptian, "Khonsu" being an epithet for the sun god Horus. In Anglo-Saxon, Easter or Eostre is goddess of the dawn, corresponding to Ishtar, Astarte, Astoreth and Isis. The word "Easter" shares the same root with "east" and "eastern," the direction of the rising sun.
The principal Mexican solar festival was held at the vernal equinox, i.e., Easter, when sacrifices were made to sustain the sun. In India, the vernal equinox festival is called "Holi" and is especially sacred to the god Krishna. The Syrian sun and fertility god Attis was annually hung on a tree, dying and rising on March 24th and 25th, an "Easter celebration" that occurred at Rome as well. The March dates were later applied to the Passion and Resurrection of Christ: "Thus," says Sir Frazer, "the tradition which placed the death of Christ on the twenty-fifth of March was ancient and deeply rooted. It is all the more remarkable because astronomical considerations prove that it can have had no historical foundation…." This "coincidence" between the deaths and resurrections of Christ and the older Attis was not lost on early Christians, whom it distressed and caused to use the "devil got there first" excuse for the motif´s presence in pre-Christian paganism.
The rites of the "crucified Adonis," another dying and rising savior god, were also celebrated in Syria at Easter time. As Frazer states:
"When we reflect how often the Church has skillfully contrived to plant the seeds of the new faith on the old stock of paganism, we may surmise that the Easter celebration of the dead and risen Christ was grafted upon a similar celebration of the dead and risen Adonis, which, as we have seen reason to believe, was celebrated in Syria at the same season."
The salvific death and resurrection at Easter of the god, the initiation as remover of sin, and the notion of becoming "born again," are all ages-old Pagan motifs or mysteries rehashed in the later Christianity. The all-important death-and-resurrection motif is exemplified in the "Parisian magical papyrus," a Pagan text ostensibly unaffected by Christianity:
"Lord, being born again I perish in that I am being exalted, and having been exalted I die; from a life-giving birth being born into death I was thus freed and go the way which Thou has founded, as Thou hast ordained and hast made the mystery."
In the gospel tale, there are two dates for the crucifixion: the 14th and the 15th of the month of Nisan, and within Christianity the date for Easter was debated for centuries. There continue to be two dates for Easter: the Western Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, thus demonstrating that this holiday is not the historical date of the actual crucifixion of a particular man. The dates are, in fact, astronomical, astrological and astrotheological.
In explaining this roving date, one "distinguished churchman," as Catholic Church historian Eusebius called him, Anatolius, revealed the meaning of Easter and of Christ, as well as the fact that astrology was a known and respected science used in Christianity. Said Anatolius:
"On this day [March 22] the sun is found not only to have reached the first sign of the Zodiac, but to be already passing through the fourth day within it. This sign is generally known as the first of the twelve, the equinoctial sign, the beginning of months, head of the cycle, and start of the planetary course.... Aristobolus adds that it is necessary at the Passover Festival that not only the sun but the moon as well should be passing through an equinoctial sign. There are two of these signs, one in spring, one in autumn, diametrically opposed to each other...."
In establishing the "Paschal festival," Church father Anatolius thus based his calculations on the positions of the sun and moon during the vernal equinox.
The need to time the Easter celebration - or resurrection - to coincide with the vernal equinox demonstrates that "Christ" is not an historical personage but the sun. This fact of Easter being the resurrection of the Sun has been well known for centuries, just as "the Savior´s" birth at the winter solstice has been recognized as another solar motif. Another obvious clue as to Christ´s nature is the fact that the "Lord´s Day" is Sunday.
Concerning Easter, in his "Letter I. for 329" Bishop of Alexandria Athanasius (c. 293-373) remarks, "Again, ´the Sun of Righteousness,´ causing His divine beams to rise upon us, proclaims beforehand the time of the feast, in which, obeying Him, we ought to celebrate it…" Christ is thus the Sun of Righteousness, with "divine beams."
The Easter calculations were recomputed in the seventh century by the Christian author(s) of the Paschal Chronicle or Alexandria Chronicle, which seeks to establish a Christian chronology from "creation" to the year 628. The Paschal Chronicle determines the proper date for Easter as March 21st and the date of Christ´s resurrection as March 25th (or, midnight, March 24, three days after the beginning of the equinox). In his various calculations, the Chronicle author discusses solar and lunar cycles, including the 19-year lunar cycle, by which he reckons the crucifixion and resurrection, concluding: "This is consistent with the prior determinations of reputable men in the calculation of the heavenly bodies." To wit, Christ´s death and resurrection are based on astrotheology.
The Chronicle author further confirms that Christianity is a continuation of the ancient "Pagan" astrotheological religion when he states that the "Annunciation of our Lady," i.e., the conception of Christ by the Virgin Mary, likewise occurred on March 25th, the vernal equinox, exactly nine months prior to the December 25th birthdate, the annual rebirth of the sun.
For more on the Pagan Roots of Easter, see: here
Acharya S is a scholar classically educated in archaeology, history, mythology and languages. Acharya specializes in religion and mythology, critiquing and comparing them, and providing unique insights into their origins. Although born into a Christian (Congregationalist Protestant) family, Acharya does not subscribe to any particular religion, nor is she a hardcore "atheist."
Acharya is the author of the controversial books "The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold"; "Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled"; "Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ"; and "Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection." Among other less flattering things, Acharya S has been called "the ranking religious philosopher of our era" and "the voice of reason amidst global chaos." Her web site contains a wealth of information about: religion spirituality mythology archaeology history astrotheology archaeoastronomy ...
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