So apparently the Pagan holiday of Easter, which is, after all, named after the goddess Eostra, has been desecrated by President Obama because he let a gay Christian speak at the Fifth Annual Easter Prayer Breakfast on Monday. I don’t know. I am having trouble wrapping my head around that, and I will tell you why.
Now I know Christianity long ago laid claim to Easter just as it has laid claim to the Pope’s Pagan high priest hat and title (Pontifex Maximus), the “Jesus” fish (a Pagan fertility symbol suggesting the vagina), Christmas (the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, or Birthday of the Invincible Sun), and so much else.
(I also know that they did this by the expedient of having exterminated through centuries of genocide and forced conversion, Europe’s Pagan population. Disingenuously, they now claim that Europe’s common heritage is Christian. It is not. It is Pagan. And Germanic Christianity in particular has been influenced by Paganism (Russell, 1994)).
It is a fact that Easter, like Christmas, has Pagan antecedents, or that Pagans have never relinquished possession of it. Or that the world has entirely forgotten that spring is for begetting. You know, as Cole Porter said, birds “do it,” bees “do it” (you get the drift). Yes, spring is the season to celebrate life renewed after the year’s dark winter, and you guessed it: fertility. And yes, Easter is in its origins, suitably enough, all about the vagina.
Let me explain: For the record, Easter is named, as I said, for a Heathen goddess, known to history (thanks to the Venerable Bede) as Eostra, who is equated with Ostara, a West Germanic goddess of the spring-time (Simek, 1993). Here is Bede’s testimony, lest the habitual liars on the Religious Right question the facts (and yes, I know they will anyway):
Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated “Paschal month”, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.
The Pagan Easter festival itself was known as Ostarun (pl. of Ostara). As Rudolf Simek points out (see the genocide referenced above), it is impossible at this late date to know whether “the goddess derived her name from the Easter month or vice versa” (Simek, 1993). Because the Pagan month was Eosturmonath, as Bede relates, the Christian festival of Easter was named for the Pagan month, thus our modern “Easter.” In other words, April.
In this case it doesn’t matter if the chicken came before the egg, because they both came before Christianity.
Yet Jeff Allen, the senior editor of BarbWire, conjures up a medieval crime called blasphemy and pins it on President Obama for asking a gay bishop, Gene Robinson, to offer a closing prayer. Thus, says Allen, Easter was desecrated.
So, background and context in place, here is what happened, according to Allen:
President Barack Obama hosted about 150 Christian leaders at the Fifth Annual Easter Prayer Breakfast on Monday. At the conclusion of the event, the president chose to desecrate the Easter observance by spontaneously inviting the Episcopal Church’s first self-avowed, practicing homosexual bishop to offer the closing prayer. In his and the culture’s celebration of everything “gay,” apparently nothing is sacred.
I beg to differ. And not only because the Religious Right doesn’t give a fig for Jesus. Easter, like Christmas, was desecrated when Christianity laid its paws on both Pagan holy days. In the first place, you can’t desecrate desecration, and in the second, frankly, this sounds all too much like Fox News’ “War on Christmas” myth: essentially crying theft over a holiday that Christianity stole in the first place just sounds ridiculous.
No, clearly nothing is sacred to Allen’s new barbarians. Nothing is sacred to the Religious Right as they have proven again and again in their half-century culture war against the United States Constitution and the world’s first modern liberal democracy. Since they can’t haul is back to Salem and beyond, the best they can do is cry persecution and attack everyone who has a free-thinking bone in their body.
Yet Allen complains,
At one time, even Bishop Robinson thought marriage should be defined only as the union of one man and one woman. But he later embraced apostasy and began an open homosexual relationship with Mark Andrew. The two made it legal in a civil “union” ceremony in 2008, followed by a “religious” service, both held in St Paul’s Church, Concord, New Hampshire. Earlier, Robinson reportedly said, “I always wanted to be a June bride.” Oh, please!
Apostasy, really? Allen has already hauled out blasphemy, which is no longer a crime, thank the Founding Fathers, who recognized the threat of religious tyranny, but now he pulls out another non-crime, apostasy as well?
“Evidently,” laments Allen, “there’s solidarity between fellow “evolvers” on this issue.”
The Religious Right will never find its Zen where evolution is concerned. They have a predictable knee-jerk reaction to any reference to evolution, which is rather interesting given how much Christianity has evolved over 2,000 years. Now granted, it can reasonably be argued that they are not themselves Christian and that they have no more right to whine over Christianity than they do Paganism, but if they want Christianity to be a “historical” religion they must at least pay some attention to history.
They don’t want to do that, of course, which leads to people like David Barton and the Heritage Foundation, who make a living re-writing history to be more amenable to the Religious Right’s culture war pogrom…oh, I’m sorry, I meant to say “program.” Mea culpa.
James C. Russell. The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity: A Sociohistorical Approach to Religious Transformation. Oxford, 1994.
Rudolf Simek. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Cambridge, England: D.S. Brewer, 1993
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.