Yesterday we talked about the origin of Easter from the Christian perspective and I promised that I would be talking about the pagan origin of Easter as well.
And that is exactly what we shall be doing with this post. I pray you learn something new.
The whole idea is to furnish my christian readers here in Nigeria and elsewhere, information that their pastors might see no reason to divulge.
As always the idea is to learn something new. After all knowledge is power.
Even though as Christians celebrating the Easter season, there has always been this nagging question at the back of our minds, of how rabbits, eggs and hot cross buns become associated with Christ’s Resurrection.
Many agree that Easter has a pagan root but which pagan story to firmly associate it to, is another bone of contention for most.
The idea that Christianity is made up of many pagan practices is a fact and it is because Christianity did indeed adopt the pagan rituals of conquered peoples in an effort to help convert them.
Easter as a seasonal festival is grounded on themes of fertility, conception, renewal, descent into darkness, and the triumph of light over darkness or good over evil.
According to the New Unger’s Bible Dictionary: “The word Easter is of Saxon origin, Eastra, the goddess of spring, in whose honour sacrifices were offered about Passover time each year. By the eighth century Anglo–Saxons had adopted the name to designate the celebration of Christ’s resurrection.”
Easter takes its name from a pagan goddess from Anglo-Saxon England who was described in a book by the eighth-century English monk Bede.
According to the monk.
“Eosturmononath has a name which is now translated as ‘Paschal month,’ and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honor feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate the Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance” (De Temporum Ratione).
Easter was originally a celebration of Eostre, goddess of Spring, otherwise known as Ostara, Austra, and Eastre. One of the most revered aspects of Ostara for both ancient and modern observers is a spirit of renewal.
Ostara marks the day when light is equal to darkness, and will continue to grow. As the bringer of light after a long dark winter, the goddess was often depicted with the hare, an animal that represents the arrival of spring as well as the fertility of the season.
According to Jacob Grimm’s Deutsche Mythologie : “Ostara, Eástre seems therefore to have been the divinity of the radiant dawn, of upspringing light, a spectacle that brings joy and blessing, whose meaning could be easily adapted by the resurrection-day of the christian’s God. Bonfires were lighted at Easter and according to popular belief of long standing, the moment the sun rises on Easter Sunday morning, he gives three joyful leaps, he dances for joy … Water drawn on the Easter morning is, like that at Christmas, holy and healing … here also heathen notions seems to have grafted themselves on great christian festivals. Maidens clothed in white, who at Easter, at the season of returning spring, show themselves in clefts of the rock and on mountains, are suggestive of the ancient goddess.”
And what you have read above is the real pagan story or rather accepted pagan origin of Easter.
Now that we are done with that part, let us focus on another Resurrection story which is associated with Easter and it is all about the Goddess Ishtar.
For most people Ishtar is the true pagan origin of Easter. So let us talk about that also.
But before we go too deep, I would love to point out that this is not true. If you are looking for the goddess tied to the pagan origin of Easter then Ostara is the name.
Ishtar’s relevance to Easter is simply hinged on the fact that she has her own story of death and Resurrection. Which I intend to write about as well.
Ishtar was the goddess of love and war and sex, as well as protection, fate, childbirth, marriage, and storms.
Her cult practiced sacred prostitution, where women waited at a temple and had sex with a stranger in exchange for a divine blessing (and money to feed hungry children or pay a debt).
Ishtar’s symbols were the the lion, the morning star, and eight or sixteen pointed stars and not the usual Easter symbols of eggs and rabbits.
This is where we draw the curtain on this post and I hope you are now more enlightened about the pagan origin of Easter and can actually sound intelligent when discussing the topic with friends and family?
And also don’t allow these thieving Nigerian pastors lead you astray. Enjoy the coming Easter but never allow them to tell you how to go about getting the most fun.
Pagan or not, you are a child of the earth. So be part of it.