The Pagan roots of Easter

Back in 1976, I was doing a weekly radio show with another woman that we called “Between Us.” One hour long, we would begin our discussion while sitting in the desert that surrounded my home town, Twin Falls, Idaho, to which I had returned a few years earlier and to which Karen had migrated from New Orleans. Then we would drive in to the radio station, sit down in the studio, strap on our headphones, pull up our microphones, and continue our intimate female conversation. Over the year it was produced, “Between Us” magnetized a small, but enthusiastic, largely female audience.

What stopped “Between Us” was our one-hour special, on Easter Sunday, of the history (or maybe we should say herstory) of Easter. We decided to research this Christian holiday because of the etymology of the word “Easter,” which comes from “estrus,” which means, “sexual excitement, an animal in heat.”

Well, you can imagine how well our special show went down in that small town where social life revolved around the Christian churches and 50% of the population was Mormon.

Here’s an interesting take on Easter that Karen and I would have loved to include in our Easter Special show way back then.

Thanks to

Easter: Christian or Pagan?

by Acharaya S.

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 Around the World

'The goddess Ēostre/*Ostara flies through the heavens surrounded by Roman-inspired putti, beams of light, and animals. Germanic peoples look up at the goddess from the realm below.' 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 Phrygian 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 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 Phrygian 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.”

Easter’s Roving Date is Astrotheological

CrossificationIn 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.

Christ as the Solar Hero

Jesus as the Sun God throughout HistoryThe need to time the Easter celebration – orresurrection – 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.

“Christ is the Sun of Righteousness, with ‘divine beams.'”

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 Paschal Chronicle

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 onastrotheology.

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 thesun.

For more information, including citations, see Suns of God.
See also Easter: The Resurrection of Spring.

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0 Responses to The Pagan roots of Easter

  1. Rich Buckley says:

    When I sat in my Methodist church this morning for Sunrise Service in our little town where we engineer and digitally prove-out enriched Plutonium critical mass viability in our high speed super computers, having devoted much of my free time for the past decade reading everything I could find on multiple belief systems and the sciences, I was no longer embarrassed for exploring my personal awakening experiences that set me on a mission to help bring the my little light into my boyhood church.

    When our Minister ask us to give time now for quiet reflection, I envisioned that a Christ of the Old Institutional Church was in Oppositional Conflict with the Awakening Christ Experience, The Inner Christ Experiential Church we all carry within us though it goes by many other names. This latter church is the church that lives with me.

    There is little or no dogma in the my inner church. The book the Old church calls the Bible has dozens of interpretations, missed translations from ancient texts often inverting true meanings, dogma bent selfishly into crippling lies, perpetuated by an unholy corporate need to maintain corporate-self at the expense of everything else, even at the expense of world peace…. A trait found throughout this world as the Old mainstream in all religions.

    This Easter Sunday however, something else seems to be rising. These two conflicting entities no longer raise my resentments against the Old. I watch in loving amazement instead as the Old is giving way faster and faster to the New. It is literally being replaced. Magic is returning.

    The New is simply refinding, exploring, and celebrating in a step-by-step rediscovery process of all that it has forgotten down through the millennia. The Old holds much comfort for many and I have learned to observe it lovingly as it mutates itself as the Old congregation seems completely unaware of it’s own mutation. They are in the system and can not see themselves change. I have been outside the system and watch in utter amazement as they mutate.

    We have been living the Pagan life and calling it Christianity. We are now rediscovering our true power.

    • Joan Bird says:

      In the end, the meaning of Easter is determined in each person’s heart, rather than by what has gone before, or what any institution tries to impose. And these myriad versions are not mutually exclusive. Of course my very cells thrill to the call of new life, fired by more hours of sunlight and returning warmth! I even think it’s possible the Sun may even be an intelligence, that sends us information as well as photons. And it’s OK with me if someone thinks Jesus is actually the Sun. contemplating Eostre, ancient Goddess of the dawn.

      But for me, it is good to remember Him as that illuminated Soul who incarnated to bring more love and forgiveness to a world that needed it desperately, still needs it. And someone who was willing to suffer and die to express that love, and that ultimately there is no death. Who we are is more than our bodies. The message bears repeating, in whatever personage or form people can hear, until the critical mass gets it. So I join in the Alleluias and the affirmation that good does triumph over evil, and

      • Joan Bird says:

        Hi Ann. Woops. Wasn’t quite done. Evidently hit the wrong key.

        To summarize.
        We are multi-level, multi-dimensional beings and can celebrate this holiday on many levels simultaneously. And for me, one of those ways is to dress up in festive colors, attend my beloved Methodist church, sing the hymns of awe and wonder, and celebrate these Divine gifts of unfathomable love and spiritual transcendence in our lives. Alleluia!!
        And then go out and celebrate Life! May we all find the prefect rituals and practices to feed our souls and awaken our hearts!

  2. Reblogged this on Exopermaculture and commented:

    Happy Oestre, everyone!

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