The pagan Easter

In Christianity, Easter is a celeberation of the resurrection of the Christ three days after having died on the cross. In a secular society, we associate it bunnies, decorated eggs, and baby chickens. I don’t particularly care for Easter as a holiday, and I don’t find it very interesting. However, I notice that Easter is just like Christmas; a psuedo-Christian secular commercialized holiday, whose pagan roots are largely obscured. I looked into the pagan origin of Christmas last year, and in the same spirit and in the same manner, and yes, through the same prism. I’ll look into the key traditions and ideas of Easter, and examine their roots and history.

Just like before, I’m not some Christian conservative out to stop people from celeberating something that I call pagan, but rather I seek to remind us of what connects us to the pagan world, and extolling the pagan roots rather than vilifying them, as I happen to be a fan of paganism, especially the pagan world of old.

Easter eggs, egg decoration, and the Easter bunny

I swear this particular Easter bunny looks drunk.

This always bugged me. What the hell do the Easter bunny and decorated eggs have to do with the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, especially when there’s nothing about it in the Bible?

First off the Easter eggs and egg decoration. Apparently, in Christian symbolism, the eggs symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus, however, in the pagan world before Christianity, eggs are a symbol of fertility, as well as rebirth, and they have been for a long time before the death of the Christ. And I should know about symbols of fertility and sexuality. I’m very familiar with the symbolism of eggs and serpents juxtaposed together.

Ophion, a primal serpent who, in Greek mythology, used to rule the world.

Believe it or not, egg decoration is a very ancient practice, decorated ostrich eggs would be buried in ancient Sumerian and Egyptian graves 5,000 years ago. However, the concept of painting eggs I’ve heard dates back to early Mesopotamian Christians who stained eggs red with the symbolic blood of Jesus (which would become a tradition in the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic church), though this probably builds on the concept of eggs as a symbol of rebirth.

Now for the Easter bunny. Much like Santa Claus, he is largely a secular advertising figure. However, hares and rabbits were associated with Germanic fertility goddesses such as Eostre and Freyja, in particular with festivals dedicated to Eostre.

Death and rebirth of a god

Jesus’ death is obviously a concept found in the Bible, but the death and rebirth of a divine being is older than that. Cybele, the Anatolian mother goddess of earth, fertility, and mountains, had a consort, Attis. He was a god of vegetation and agriculture who went insane and castrated and mutilated himself, after which he died, but was then reborn in the spring. Jesus was never castrated, and he never mutilated himself, but he was probably mutilated by the spears of the Roman soldiers who set out to kill him humiliatingly. Thinking about it, there’s something symbolic about death and rebirth myths set in spring. Spring is a time where plants grow back to life from dormancy and animals start procreating and giving birth, and Easter festivals seem to be very linked to symbols of fertility, and the old pagan pre-Crucifixion ceremonies were dedicated to the fertility of crops, animals, and people.

There’s another form of this myth, the decent of a goddess to the underworld.

Ishtar (or Astarte), one of my all-time favourite pagan goddesses, if not the favourite.

There’s a story in Mesopotamian and Sumerian mythology, in which Ishtar, otherwise known as Astarte, the goddess of love, sex, and war, descended into the underworld, attempting to take it over, eventually arrived naked, was imprisoned by Ereshkigal, the goddess and queen of the underworld and Ishtar’s sister, and supposedly killed. After her descent and death, all sexual activity supposedly stopped on Earth. She was revived by the god Ea, the god of water and creation, which displeased Ereshkigal, and she demanded that someone take her place. Finally it was decided that Tammuz take her place in the underworld six months in the year. There is a similar myth in Greco-Roman lore in which the fertility goddess Persephone was dragged to the underworld by Hades. After this, Demter was striken with grief and searched for her, and meanwhile living things stopped growing and began to die. As life on earth was drawing closer to extinction, Zeus sent Hermes to bring Persephone back. Hades agreed and gave her a pomegranate, and she was allowed to return to the surface world, bringing life and fertility with her. These are myths of the seasons, and the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

That’s about all I can think of with regards to Easter. From that, I can draw up that Easter is basically a spring festival celebrating fertility, and the cycle of life, death and rebirth. The messianic and commercial connontations are mere dressings that we have covered it with, same with Christmas. Easter’s prime concept, other than the death and rebirth of a divinity, is nowhere in the Bible. Even the specific date is for the sake of a festival, since not only is there no date for Easter in the Bible, but Jesus supposedly died and yet there is no recorded evidence of his existence, let alone his death. And the reason the pagan stuff is in what we call Easter is the same reason it happens in Christmas; the church co-opted these things to promote their faith to non-believers.

That said, I’m gonna defend the pagan roots of Easter the same way I did for the pagan Christmas. The pagan part of our culture is inescapable, and that pagan part of our culture is the celebration of life, nature, and natural phenomenon and cycles, and, I swear, there’s something primal about it all that the pagans all celebrate as well. I wonder what it is. That in mind, I still don’t consider Easter that important, maybe it’s instinctive of me to not care about Easter, especially with Christmas and my birthday more important. However, that doesn’t mind I don’t respect the importance of fertility. Hell, Easter to me is nowhere near as important as the celebration of fertility, and I respect fertility, especially in association with sexuality.

One last thing: the name Easter is related to the goddess Eostre, and has Germanic or even Indo-European roots, but it is has no relation, let alone direct, with the goddess Ishtar. I keep hearing something about Easter is Ishtar and it’s actually not true.

Thank you for reading.

19, and strong of conviction

It’s funny. Today’s my birthday, and I don’t have a whole damn lot to say. But I want to do something for my birthday. Shame I can’t do anything big on this blog. So I’ll just do this.

I have a funny feeling that my strength of conviction finally awakened when I was 18 years old, because since then I feel that my beliefs and worldview haven’t really changed. By contrast, when I was 16, and to extent when I was 17, I was confused, always changing between ideals. And I never started truly questing until I learned about the Shin Megami Tensei series in 2010, wanted to start playing, and tried to figure out whose side I was on, so I wondered what my values were and what I believed.

You might think it’s stupid that video games have that kind of effect on your worldview, but I don’t, and that’s because I don’t devalue or denigrate video games as an artform, or their potenital as such. When I considered myself Chaos-aligned, my values were more aggressive and passionate, and I felt more objective, and I valued freedom a lot more, while when I considered myself Neutral-aligned, I felt more subjective and mellow, and more fluid. Nowadays, no such flip-flopping exists. I now consider myself definitely Chaos-aligned, and have even considered my worldview a version of the Chaos philosophy in real life. Why? Because I value freedom, free will, individuality, and personal power and strength, and I believe in freeing yourself and living free by your own power, and carving out your own path. In those beliefs I consider myself more objective about myself, and more solid and strong. Besides, my beliefs and values have deep personal roots.

And now that I’m spreading my word and making art about it, I don’t think I’ll be changing, and even if I am, it won’t be by much. The tides of progress can try to toss me around all they like, but if I’m strong and hang tough, I’ll survive and stay true.

Time

For some reason I find time somewhat frightening. Mainly because so often, a long time ago feels very recent. Even my childhood feels like it wasn’t too far back. Sometimes I’m tricked into thinking I’ve been around for only a few years. Maybe my mind fucks up sometimes. Sometimes I think of time as an omnipresent monster or creature eating moment that’s been. Time has been so strange to me, and yet I’m pretty certain it doesn’t exist, not truly at least.

It’s like how order doesn’t truly exist, time is just something we impose or layer upon the world int order to make use of our environment so that we may surive or thrive. It doesn’t actually exist. Are the numbers we ascribe really in objective existence? No. Do a.m. and p.m. exist outside our structuring? No. Also it’s really weird how time tends to be different not just in different parts of the world, but also different parts of the cosmos outside our world.

What we call time is a progression of events, same as order, and yet it feels so terrifyingly all-consuming.

The sacrifice of a pagan king

This is story about a king in Northern Europe in the pagan world that I feel like talking about. I think he was called King Dumald. I can’t find this story anywhere on the Internet, I heard it on the Channel 4 documentary Pagans, and it was interesting to me.

Here’s the story: When the crops were failing, the king sacrificed an animal to the gods. After another year of crop failure, he offered a human sacrifice. Then yet another year of crop failure, and the people decided to take matters into their own hands, so they sacrified their king.

Goddesses, the Virgin Mary, and the Black Madonna

A Black Madonna statue

Ever heard of the Black Madonna? It’s a depiction of the Virgin Mary with dark or brown skin rather than white. Though these suspicious black statues come directly from Christianity, Catholic Christianity to be precise, to my understanding, it’s roots are pagan, and the symbolism is there.

Before Christianity took over, people worshiped many gods, and there were a lot to choose from. Among the variety of deities were goddesses of earth, fertility, and agriculture, such as Isis of Egypt, Artemis of Ephesus, Diana of Rome, Ceres and Demeter of Greece, and Cybele of Phrygia. When Christianity took over, the temples to these goddesses were taken over and replaced with Christian establishments, and the goddess statues airbrushed to resemble the Virgin.

A key characteristic of Black Madonnas is obviously their dark or brown skin. The skin seems to be the color of the fertile earth, very suited for agriculture or the soil. It is also said that the images of the Black Madonnas originate with images of the goddess Isis holding baby Horus, which in turn echo an African archetypal mother figure.

Isis and baby Horus

Some say, and I may agree, that the Black Madonna in some way represents female power and sexuality, as opposed to the white Virgin Mary, who represents the more docile qualities of purity and obedience (especially obedience to “God”). And as we all know, female sexuality was not tolerated in the Christian world. But then, that makes me think, how are there Black Madonnas in Catholic churches?

The Horned God (and why he’s surprisingly relevant to me)

It has been a long time since I posted about paganism. So I figure I’d remedy this by talking about a deity or archetype who is surprisingly relevent to me. The Horned God.

A statue of a horned deity from Cyprus.

I consider the Horned God as more an archetype than an actual entity. While the Horned God usually refers to a specific god in Neopaganism and Wicca, the image of a horned god recurs throughout history. Since ancient times, horns were a symbol of power, strength and virility/fertility, and to an extent they still are today. Gods with horns are thus associated with fertility and seen as strong, virile gods. In Neopaganism, the Horned God is a symbol of not just male power and virility, but nature, wilderness, the hunt, and the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

The concept of a horned god is very old, one might say it goes as far back as human history, down to the first depiction of a god of the hunt or fertility. It is embodied by many gods in the pre-Christian world. In Greece, there was the god Pan, who was depicted with horns, and was associated with lust and the wilderness. In Egypt, there was the gods Khnum and Banebdjedet, who were ram-headed gods, and some depictions of Set shown him as having horns and a large erect phallus. This makes sense considering Set was seen as a strong and virile god. In Canaan, the god Hadad, also known as Ba’al Hadad (commonly mistaken as just Ba’al), had horns and was associated with fertility, storms, and the rain, thus a giver of life for the crops. In the Indus Valley, there was a lord of the animals called Pashupati (in Hinduism, this is an epithet for the god Shiva, and in Vedic times was an epithet for Rudra), who some speculate was an early form of Rudra, lord of the hunt, who would then become Shiva, who was a wild god. The Celts may have recognized a god called Cernunnos who was associated with nature and fertility.

The seal of Pashupati, discovered in Mohenjodaro in the early 20th century.

The concept of a horned deity would be expressed in Christianity as well, but as tool to scare people away from the sexual freedom he stood for, and to trick people into following the dogma of the Christian church, who believed that sex was bad unless it was for procreation. Yes, I am actually saying that Satan is just another expression of the Horned God,  only stripped of his divinity, and this expression was aimed at vilifying paganism and its values. I am even lead to think Christianity is against power and strength, considering one of the chief attributes of the devil is his horns, and remember, before we saw horns as the appendage of evil, we saw them as the appendage of power. Funny enough, one of the names of Satan is Beelzebub (Lord of the Flies), who was derived from Ba’al Zebul, and we tend to think of Ba’al as a horned sky god. The diabolical horned god image would spill into occultism and the Tarot, where the image of the devil card, and the Egyptian god Banebdjedet, would later influence the design of a demonic horned entity called Baphomet, who would later become associated with Satanism. In the 20th century, the Horned God would be expressed again in gentler Neopaganism and Wicca, and once again considered divine rather than evil.

The image of the devil on the Devil Card. This was back in the 19th century when occultism was apparently a craze.

So, why is the horned god important to me? Well, I’ve gained an interest in horns lately, preferrebly devil or pagan god horns that resembled those of a goat or bull, possibly coming from playing the Chaos in Shin Megami Tensei games. But as for proper meaning, let’s go back to what I said about horns earlier. They were an archetypal symbol of power, strength, and virility. This is very compatible with my philosophy of sexual liberty and the ideal that freedom comes from liberating oneself by one’s own power. Thus horns also fit in my artistic imagery, to symbolize power and strength (I usually paint or draw the horns red to add power symbolism). He is also seems like a god that is so typically pagan, or quite pagan in quality, in the sense that it is quite an animalistic god and a god symbolic of sexual liberty, not repression. Added to that, there’s a kind of masculine importance, being aware of my masculinity, and what I want out of it, or rather what I want to do with it. The horned god archetype, and its Christian expression as Satan, are thus important to me and what I stand for.

Thanks for reading, it’s nice for me to talk about anything pagan again.

Opening up about myself is making me feel better

As a kid, I swear I was more closed about what I liked, possibly conscious of the idea that my family would ruin it for me. Maybe I was a little open before, but I don’t know the extent.

These days, I’ve been opening up to people about my interests and what I want to do, and I feel a lot happier, and far more upbeat and confident about my direction, especially in my art work. I feel more positive than, to my knowledge, I have previously.

That’s about it really, I didn’t intend to say much here.

To forge your own path

Imagine that life and the world around you is a desert, and your task is to traverse it on your own, carrying with you your own identity and worldview, carrying with you a flag bearing of all your individuality on it.

After dealing with many religions and philosophies and reacting to them, I remind myself that, no matter what, I should follow my own path, stick to my guns, and retain the strength to do it.

I’ve looked into Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism, Satanism, and other religious beliefs, and for each I have some respect (I love Hindu and Buddhist art, I respect and even somewhat agree with Satanist ideas, and I think there’s something about the pagan world I like), but in the end, I’ll never fully consider myself to be either one, and it seems to me that labelling myself as either particular system would be pointless because it would ignore the rest of my worldview. In my case at least, it’s better to simply have my own path.

Besides, all worldviews start this way. Every philosophy, ideology, religion, and worldview known to man was started by someone following their own values and beliefs. Buddhism was started by one man’s (Siddhartha Gautama) determination to find his own answers, and he came to his own conclusion. Satanism was started by a man  (Anton LeVay) forming his own beliefs and views. Christianity started off as a Jewish offshoot built around the vision of a man (Jesus) who was killed before he could do it himself. Judaism was started by a man (Abraham) who rejected the religion around him, too bad he to go and try to force it on others. Pretty much all religions follow the trend of one person forming their own conclusions. Same with all philosophies and ideologies. So it makes sense to form your own conclusion

Whatever starts your worldview, whatever you take from the world around and use to form it, what matters is that you form something unique to you and rooted in who you are as you see it.

Good luck to all who wish to undertake in the same neverending journey as I.

The God of the Bible does not grant free will

That’s a pretty weird nebula right there. You know, I just noticed a tear dropping from his eye. Why is he crying?

I think I already mentioned that freedom has no value in religion, but I’m here to elaborate on the Christian (or should that be Abrahamic) position of free will with regards to the God of the Bible. The Bible tends to contradict itself many times, and I think free will is an example of a topic that suffers this.

One example is in the Book of Exodus, where Moses beseeches the Pharaoh many times to let his people go and the Pharaoh says no. You would think that Pharaoh said no of his own free will, but you’d be wrong. The God of Moses hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not listen Pharaoh’s commands.

“But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses” – Exodus 9:12

There is no good reason why a God who would grant free will and let humans behave on their own accord would alter the state of the Pharaoh’s heart so as to deliberately make him remain stubborn on his position on slavery, as if he is trying to justify the carrying out the ten plagues.

One could also say the Garden of Eden is an example too. Think: the God of the Bible creates humans in complete ignorance, as stupid yet naturally curious creatures, and supposedly allowing their free will but commanding them not to use it, especially considering the apple is of the tree of knowledge, so it’s like he’s actively preventing humans from being anything other than stupid creatures who obey this will and punishing the whole species, all generations, for not only rebelling against what amounts to oppression, but also for inadvertedly going along with something God himself set up. I mean think, he created humans to be weak, stupid, and supremely ignorant, yet curious, and their curiosity would inevitably lead them to go against God’s will and eat the fruit, as though he either takes pleasure in punishing people (unjustly) or he has some kind of plan involved, or both.

Does that sound familiar?

But let’s go into this in general. The Bible tries to tell us that God grants free will and brings freedom to humans.

“…where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17

How can God give freedom when (1) he creates us and programs us to be horrible and stupid creatures, yet also curious enough to eat the tree of knowledge to identify God and learn good on their own, (2) he watches over us and sees all of what we do, hence knows what we do, (3) apparently knows not just everything he have done but also everything we will do, (4) gives us instincts and desires and supposedly free will while expressly forbids us from using it and gets pissed whenever we don’t act a certain way or worship any god other than him, and (5) from the beginnings sets all humans beings on a course to hell as their default afterlife, with the only remedy to their condition being the belief in the blood sacrifice of his son, Jesus, and receiving him as Lord and Saviour, and to top it all off he has us choose between accepting Jesus and spending eternity after death praising God’s name or spend an eternity getting fucked up the ass by trident prongs in hellfire. All of that seems like he has some kind of indescribable plan involving the suffering of millions of human beings.

Considering that, do you honestly believe free will exist in the Biblical universe, or that God grants free will? Considering this, do Christians really believe in free will?

Catholicism and me

With another old geezer being given the seat of papal authority, just another voice to tell people what to do, I figure I’d talk about something I really don’t like, again.

To be honest, when it comes to Christianity, most of the time I don’t even see Catholic or Protestant. It’s all the same insidious crap to me. But the Catholic church as an individual religious entity deserves a mention.

My family is part Italian (my dad’s side comes from Southern Italy), and my dad wanted me Catholic. Apparently my twin brother and I used to go to a Catholic Church when we were only babies and my other older brother and sister were only toddlers. There was this other family and their kids were out of control, and the priest didn’t bother them, but when my siblings were doing the same thing, the priest had the balls to tell my mom to keep them under control. That’s when she called him out for his hypocrisy. You might ask: what hypocrisy? You know the family the priest didn’t bother? They gave money to him, or rather more money. My mom told me the story just this morning. It’s the reason we never go to a Catholic church anymore (except for one time in Italy and that was sightseeing as far as I was concerned).

She went on to tell me two things about the Catholic church. (1) The church is always asking for more money, even though they’re already pretty damn rich (it doesn’t help that most if not all religious organizations are considered tax-exempt), and (2) they’ll absolve any bad you do and then say “It’s alright, Jesus forgives you”. You can kill someone one day, get absolved, do it again, and Jesus will forgive, whereas that person should be punished.

Then there’s the Crusades, the pedophile priests, Papa Ratzi, the Church stopping Africa from having condoms, Catholic schools, and nuns scaring children to near death. I’ve heard all that more than a few times, and I obviously don’t like it, but all that pales in comparison to the two primary reasons for my hatred of the Catholic church, though to be fair it’s the same reasons I hate Christianity as a whole. First is their long campaign of oppression and subjugation of everyone who disagreed with them, including their oppression of pagans and witches. This culminates in the witch hunts and Inquisitions all over Europe and even one in India. Secondly, perhaps most They nurture a weakness in millions of people that leads them to seek out false hope in the form of a voice telling them what to do. The church seems to have some influence, because there are still millions who travel to Rome to hear the Pope’s words, they seem eager to be told what to do. Hell, if you need proof we as a society still sides with the church, the next Pope being chosen has been given too much attention by news media. If we really didn’t care about religion, this would’ve only gotten mild attention at best.

And have the crimes of the church been punished? No! No justice. Their actions have gone pretty much unpunished. No due punishment. If any pope has apologized, then it makes up for nothing, it is as worthless as David Cameron apologizing for Bloody Sunday 38 years after it happened, all while he was never personally involved in it, and while no justice has been delivered to the culprits. And in spite of that, and the bullshit dogma, my Dad was not only Catholic, but tried to raise me and my brother Catholic? He must not be very smart.

And that’s why I hate Catholicism, but really, as I said, it’s all the same Christianity, all the same crap.