Most Christians do not realize that their holidays are actually re-manufactured Pagan celebrations. Christianity is only a thing of the past 2000 years, that is when Christ entered the historical picture. So what went on before that? The church would have us believe that a bunch of heathens ran around doing horrible things to each other and believing in nothing sacred. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Buddhism, Taoism and other eastern religions already existed in one form or another, same with Hinduism. The Native Americans already roamed the earth, and had a very strong belief system that recognized a Higher Power. Cave men even had paintings showing that they believed (and feared) a Higher Power. Then there were the Pagans. "Pagan" was a name bestowed by the church on people who did not belong to the church. Some people take the word to mean people who have no belief system, no "god". That is what the church wanted them to think, but nothing could be further from the truth. There were Pagans, like the Celts who were very powerful and had a structured society and belief system that rivals what we have today. Their priests, the Druids were wise not only in energy, higher powers, but in healing and intuition.
Pagans had very structured and sensible belief systems. The Romans and the Greeks had a god or goddess for everything, and almost every day was a celebration of some sort or another for a god or goddess. No one wanted to insult the gods, bad things would happen! Christianity just managed to make people believe that their way was the only way. If you were not a Christian, you were a "bad person", and unfortunately many still believe that today. All of the belief systems, Christian or not, have the same basis, that we need to be Good people, be good to each other, and live a good life with our fellow man. The stories that back that belief are many and varied, they were meant to speak to a specific culture and time in order to get the message across.So the same "story" is told, but with different names, places and twists to it.
That brings us to yesterday...Easter. Easter is one of the major Christian holidays. It is the day when Jesus Christ is said to have risen from the dead, proving , in a way, to many that he must have really been the son of God. Christians believing this as a major, factual, part of their belief system will have a difficult time accepting the fact that Easter existed before Jesus Christ. It was called Oestre by the Pagans, and changed to Easter by the church to bring them in.
All of the major Pagan celebrations were adapted and adopted by the Christian church, they figured this was the best way to get the Pagans to come into the group. The Pagans loved ritual, celebration and rites. The church had none, so they adopted the Pangans'. They said basically "Yes, we too believe that, but it was just a little bit differnet, it went like this...", and proceeded to use the Pagan beliefs to bring them into the fold. They then changed the celebrations a bit , but used much of the original elements and words , like Oestre/Easter.
Oestre existed hundreds of years before Easter. It actually took 300 years of Christianity's existence for "Easter" to be celebrated by the Christian church!
Spring was a very important time in the lives of our ancestors. It was renewal, rebirth, new beginnings, fertile lands and animals. All things that were necessary for life. it was also more light, warmer weather, and hope. The gods had again bestowed life upon them. They celebrated and thanked the gods, whom they believed could take away this wondrous time if they wished. These celebrations and beliefs went on for thousands of years before the Christian church existed.
Persophene returned from the underworld in spring, well before Jesus existed. Her mother was Demeter, goddess of crops and grain. This is a whole goddess rebirth story that was believed, existed and was celebrated before Christ was born. Oestre (sometimes spelled Eostar), was a celebration of the goddess Ishtar's rebirth , and a story of larkspurs with rabbit faces in them (starting to see a connection?).Since ancient times, rabbits have been a symbol of fertility. This is all about spring, rebirth, the land, the animals, and being able to live on another year. The biggest difference in all this is that the church made it a male based religion instead of female. Females are a symbol of fertility, not males, but the church needed a new spin. Modern times didn't come up with rabbits and take the religion out of Easter, the ancient church tried to take the rabbits out of it thousands of years ago, but the rabbits had, yes, you can say it, a rebirth. They have become again, a symbol of Easter. Circles, remember, life is always circles....
We have the Germans to thank for taking this Pagan holiday to the new world. With rabbits, eggs (another fertility symbol), and creating a holiday that has become more secular.
There is even more to this story, every culture has spring rebirth celebrations, beliefs and rituals, not just the Christians. The fact is though, that Easter existed before Jesus Christ ever set foot on this earth.
For many years the church tried to stifle the Pagan stories. They don't want the belief system dented in any way, people may actually leave the church or even feel they were duped. The historical research and availability of ancient information on rituals, celebrations and beliefs is now astounding.The church used to be powerful enough to keep it under wraps, but no longer is able to do so. Many have not left, they still go for their own personal reasons, they always will, but it is important to know what the true roots of "religious" holidays are. There is always a connection back to ancient Rome, Greece, the Far East, India, or as they are better known, The Pagans! Christianity is the new kid on the block. They didn't invent this stuff, they just reinvented it.
Never hate another religion, or call ANYONE a "pagan". There are "Pagans" (with a capital P), who are a whole belief system, but they are not people with no basis, no good, and no belief, they are just the opposite, they are your Grandmothers and Grandfathers of Christianity. Never put down ANY religion (they really are all the same anyway) , because even those who do not belief in Christ as the son of God (and that is every religion BUT Christianity by the way), preach being good to one another, being peaceful, and living a good life. Just because a person doesn't believe Jesus was the actual son of God, does NOT make them a bad person, ever. Putting them down and persecuting them for it , is!
It is simple to live a good life, you don't need to put a name on your beliefs. Just, "do unto others", and do the right things for the right reasons, and the higher power would be more than happy with your about that!
Happy Easter, Happy Oestre!
(C)2011 Triple Moon Goddess Gina, May not be used, copied or reproduced without prior written permission.