Easter is the story of astrology and the stars, into which the story of Jesus was fitted, not the other way around. The Star of Jacob, also known as Spica (Alpha Virginis), is the luminary of the constellation Virgo. In the Syrian, Arabian and Persian systems of astronomy it was known as Messaeil (Messiah El—Son of God). Easter arose from a connection between ancient religions.
The ‘Son’ of God was formerly the sun of God. The concept of Messiah, borrowed from paganism was inspired by the solar system. The doings and undoings of the Suns of God were representations of the Earth’s annual trek around the sun as seen by earthbound eyes.
Equinox is the astrological cusp of 20 March and celebrated in the northern hemisphere as the official beginning of spring. Ancient rock markers were used to re-align the calendar to match the day the sun rose due east and set due west, which signified the sun starting in the new quadrant. Keeping seasons in line with the calendar was essential for agricultural planning. Unless continual re-aligning takes place, due to the wobble of the poles a day falls behind every 72 years and a season every 6000 years.
Stone circles were set up to keep track of this, monitoring the sun for grand seasons and the moon for weather patterns and eclipses. Across Auckland there are still ancient equinox calendar-alignment markers, in a west-east line from the Waitakeres to Stockade Hill in Howick, if you know where to look. It proves a once large population had spread across the isthmus that kept calendars. One equinox marker on this line is still on the summit of Mt Albert.
The tradition in ancient Israel was that the first day of spring would not start until the barley was ripe, so it was considered more logical for the idea of spring to arrive a little later. The Jewish Passover celebrates God freeing the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt, led by Moses, as described in the Book of Exodus. The festival lasts 8 days, 7 if you live in Israel. Passover starts on the day of the full moon, two weeks after New moon.
In 325AD, Passover was still a festival in popular continuance because early Christians were Jewish. As Christianity gathered momentum, Pope Constantine hosted a conference of cardinals and bishops, the Council of Nicaea, to discuss how they could blame the Jews for the death of Jesus. Unknown to early Christians for 300 years, the crucifixion account was anti-Semitic propaganda.
To further distance early Christians from Jewish traditions, the Romans moved Passover back to being more associated with equinox than the Jewish moon. At the same time they revived rabbits, eggs and candy, all Roman pagan symbols formerly used to celebrate the Equinox.
Easter became the adopted name after O/Eastre the Roman goddess of spring. It was also decided to focus on the Sunday of Easter, as annoyance to the Jews, because their most spiritual day is Saturday. The irony remains that this Christianised festival, for all its efforts to break from Judaist tradition is still reliant on the old Jewish calendar.
The Greeks recognized seven planets: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. These gave us our names of days of the week. Monday is governed by the moon, (moon-day); Tuesday by Mars (Martes in Spanish); Wednesday by Mercury (Miércoles and Wodens Day); Thursday by Jupiter (Jueves, Jovian for Jupiter); Friday by Venus, (Viernes), and Saturday is governed by Saturn. Whenever we say a day of the week we pay quiet homage to astrology.
The moon is female in aspect and when it is full it is in direct opposition to the sun. The Early Church generated a gender dispute in association with the Cross. As the fertility goddess, O/Eastre was celebrated at the vernal equinox, which marks the beginning of spring. The vernal equinox also ushers-in the sign of Aries. The crucifixion of Jesus was said to be when the sun was in the house of Aries. The cross derives from the Norse word ‘kros’ and represents the sun. The solstices and equinoxes describe a quadrant cross. In northern Europe, the cross represents the sun god Odin and is called Odin’s Cross. The Celtic Christians borrowed the Taranis Cross.
This cross pattern of the sun was recognized all over the world and in every old culture. The cross can also be linked to the Egyptian ankh. The ankh is the symbol of life and consists of three parts: the circle, which represents the feminine aspect and eternity; the cross, which represents the male aspect and time; and the union, which represents life. But the new patriarchal Christian Church adopted the cross minus its feminine aspect.
In Christianity salvation comes through death, not life. But other religions, still matriarchal, glorify salvation through life, which was considered a feminine function because the male aspect alone cannot produce life. The Christian gender conflict is now ages-old but still rears its head in debates on abortion, contraception and the subject of female bishops. It does not change the fact that the date and name of Easter are based on astrological events with mostly ‘feminine’ attributes.
When you celebrate Easter with pagan eggs, a pagan Easter bunny and pagan candy, you are also celebrating the freedom of the Jews from slavery and the astrological Equinox, with its reference to Constellations. Celebrating any festival is a chance to teach children how to honour and what to renew respect for. It would be nice to think that Easter is an opportunity to recognise the mixing of religions and rejoicing in cultural interconnection as well as gender equality.
Tied to the moon and weather cycles, Easter in NZ is repeatedly partly unsettled. Easter Sunday of 2013 was wet, and widespread patchy rain is again expected just before and during this Easter.
Ken Ring of www.predictweather.com is the author of the Weather Almanac for 2014.