|Wheat - the sacred symbol of Attis' resurection|
There was aparently violent conflict on Vatican Hill in Rome in the early days of Christianity as the worshippers of Jesus and Pagans quarrelled over whose resurected god was true or greatest. Even then, neither were unique as virtually every civilisation has an equivalent resurrected deity: Tammuz, Adonis, Baal, Osiris, and Dionysus are a few...
The rites of the 'crucified Adonis' demonstrate another dying and resurecting god, celebrated in Syria at 'Easter' and 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..."... ( source ). Not so much a pragmatic acceptance of ancient pagan practises by the Christian church then but a wholesale repurposing of existing festivals to new ends.
My point in mentioning the Attis and similar festivals is to provide counterpoint to the Christian Easter and show that the various festivals of this time in fact all stem from an ancient celebration of Spring.
|"The Gardens of Adonis" by John Reinhard Weguelin (1888)|
Be that as it may, according to the Venerable Bede - an English Monk of the 6thC Common Era - an author and scholar known as 'The Father of English History', the Anglo-Saxons called the entire month of April 'Eosturmonath' after their Earth Goddess, Eostre. He also recorded that the ancient Pagan festival had by the beginning of the Eighth Century, been entirely replaced by the Christian custom, which is clearly a propaganda fabulation because the festival of Eostre - also known as Ostara, after the Norse Goddess of fertility, flourishes to this day.
Stories have grown around the goddess' Eostre and her symbols, the cosmic egg and the mad march hare, here's one about the ''Easter Bunny''..
The story goes that after a particularly cold winter, Eostre was late to usher in the Spring. Unfortunately, this meant that a bird succumbed to the cold and died. Feeling responsible, Eostre revived the bird and changed it into a hare, whom she called Lepus. Since Lepus had once been a bird, every year as the Spring returned, he laid eggs. He gave one to Eostre to thank her for saving his life and Eostre, thinking that everyone would appreciate a similar gift, encouraged Lepus to go round the world distributing eggs. Hence, or so this tale would tell, the custom of the 'Easter Bunny' bringing us eggs...
Of course we know better, Eostre as Goddess of fertility and Spring was represented by her two symbols, the cosmic egg - most basic symbol of rebirth and the mad march hare which also represents fertility and the rebirth of Spring. Whilst the hare was latterly abducted and repurposed into the 'Easter Bunny', the tradition of sharing eggs sprung from Pagan offerings of colored eggs made in honour of Eostre at the Vernal Equinox, which they placed in fields and also at gravesides as a charm of rebirth. (Egyptians and Greeks were also known to place eggs at gravesites).
|Eostre by Thorskegga|
Welcome Eostre ~
Sumer is Icumen In ~
One of the oldest known songs in celebration of Spring, a round or canon called 'Sumer is Icumen In’ celebrates the arrival of the cuckoo. It was written for unaccompanied voices in the Wessex dialect in the 13th century. Although the only part that doesn’t need translating is the phrase “sing cuckoo”, one listen is enough to dispel any doubt that life could be full of exquisite joy, even in the 'Dark Ages'.
Svmer is icumen in Spring has arrived,
Lhude sing cuccu Loudly sing, cuckoo!
Groweþ sed The seed is growing
and bloweþ med And the meadow is blooming,
and springþ þe wde nu And the wood is coming into leaf now,
Sing cuccu Sing, cuckoo!
Awe bleteþ after lomb The ewe is bleating after lamb,
lhouþ after calue cu The cow is lowing after her calf;
Bulluc sterteþ The bullock is prancing,
bucke uerteþ The billy-goat farting,
murie sing cuccu Sing merrily - cuckoo!
Cuccu cuccu Cuckoo, cuckoo,
Wel singes þu cuccu You sing well, cuckoo,
ne swik þu nauer nu Never stop now,
Sing cuccu nu • Sing cuccu. Sing cuckoo, now; sing, cuckoo,
Sing cuccu • Sing cuccu nu Sing cuckoo, sing, cuckoo, now!
Merry Eosturmonath to You ~