Before Easter: The Spring Equinox, Megaliths, Fertility Cults, and Rebirth
Though the weather on the East Coast does not feel like it, as we are hit with one nor'easter after another Spring is actually upon us. Besides the annoying allegeries, for many of us Spring is a time for celebration. For most Christians with Spring comes the celebration of Easter, when many Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Prior to the Christian celebration of Easter Spring is a time when many of the Jewish faith celebrate what is known as Passover. In the Jewish faith Passover gets its name, and meaning from the Hebrew God who sent his Angel of Death to "pass over" all of the Hebrew doorpost marked with lambs blood. The Egyptians doorpost that were left unmarked by lambs blood were not given mercy, as the firstborn child in all the Egyptian homes was killed. The unspeakable plagues sent by God on the Egyptians forced them to release Moses, and his people from their enslavement in Egypt. For Jews around the world Passover is a ritual and celebration that reminds them of their liberation from bondage in Egypt.
James J. Tissot's "The Egyptians Are Destroyed" 1896-1902
What I wanted to do with this article is focus on whether people in the ancient world had "Spring Celebrations" prior to our modern understanding of the more famous Easter and Passover celebrations, and if so what were these celebrations called? Who celebrated them, and more importantly what from the ancient past do we still celebrate today that most of us are not aware of? Though today most people view Christianity and Judaism as ancient religions they really are not. Many don't conceive of a world that predates these fairly old faiths, but the reality is such an ancient world did exist. The ancient world was a very advanced world in touch with nature, and the universe. It was an ancient world that gave us mathematics, medicine, architecture, and planted the foundation seeds for world religions; however, most people shunned it, and never studied it because it was stigmatized as being "pagan." The word pagan today has become more or less a dirty word, but it is by studying these pagan civilizations that the mystery starts to unravel, and we gain a better understanding of the world around us.
Rabbits, hares, and eggs have nothing to do with Christianity
what then is the origin of these contradictory symbols?
Most of the candy found in an Easter basket is confusing, and has very little if anything to do with Christ. As a kid growing up I remember on Easter many of us going through the ritual of eating chocolate Easter bunnies, cracking open Easter eggs filled with jelly beans, and bypassing what many view as the disgusting (I actually liked it) Peeps yellow chick candy. In fact those symbols really don't make a whole lot of sense unless one is familiar with many of the older pagan civilizations that give these symbols their relevant meaning.
Is the origin of the Easter Bunny steeped in the mysteries of the German goddess Eostre often symbolically associated with the hare, or does it date back further to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. Rabbits and hares because of their huge litters are universal symbols of life and fertility.
Spring is the season where things turn green as light returns, so how did the rabbit become associated with equinoxes and Spring? What's the connection? Many historians who study esoterica say the rabbit, or hare was an ancient German fertility symbol associated with life because rabbits are known for their sexual prowess, and huge litters, as many as 14 babies (kits) in a litter. The rabbit is also known for giving birth in the Spring. If Spring Equinox also mean new life then a rabbit, or hare is the perfect symbol.
Some point out that the name Easter is derived from the name of the German goddess of fertility called Eostre. The Egyptians also had a rabbit goddess/god called Wenet/Wenut/Wenenu that was sometimes associated with the female goddess, but other times with the male god Osiris. Osiris was a fertility god known for resurrection and life, so to be associated with the hare makes sense. The egg is the most obvious fertility symbol because by definition it is the building block of life. Rabbits don't lay eggs, so as a fertility symbol it stands on its own. Some say that the egg as a fertility symbol dates as far back as the Babylonian fertility goddess Ishtar. It is important to note that Ishtar when pronounced sounded like "Easter." The Babylonian Ishtar much like the Egyptian sun-god Ra/Horus was born from an egg. I remember once listening to a lecture by historian Dr. Charles Finch of Morehouse College, and he mentioned how the yellow chick is a representation of the Egyptian sun-gods Horus and Ra who was born from a golden egg becoming the golden falcon sun-god associated with the winter solstice, and possibly the Spring Equinox as well. For the Egyptians the yoke of an egg was associated with the sun, and the sun was associated with the falcon who flew high and saw everything. The god Horus was both a sun god and falcon god.
Is the Egyptian God Horus the origin of the yellow chick? Yellow being the color associated with both an eggs yoke and the sun.
Many historians of esoterica also find the date of both Easter and the Jewish Passover as being very interesting. Both dates coincide with the much older pagan celebration of the Vernal Equinox, or Spring Equinox. Why are these holidays placed on, or around the date of the Spring Equinox one might ask? In fact Easter Sunday is never fixed it is always the first Sunday after the first full moon that arrives after the Spring Equinox. Before the rise of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam the Spring Equinox was celebrated by many civilizations all over the world because for the pagans the Spring Equinox was a celebration of life. The Spring Equinox meant an end to winter and darkness, and a return to light. The actually word equinox translates as equal. The Equinox is a day of equal light and darkness. Prior to the Spring Equinox the days are noticeably shorter as they are covered by darkness. On the Equinox many will notice that the days are noticeably getting longer, and this would have happened naturally regardless of day light savings time.
During the equinox the sun balances on the equator as there is an equal amount of light and darkness. The day after the equinox the sun actually defeats darkness, as the days start to get longer and longer. This is a natural phenomenon. The ancients were more in tune with nature than we are, not thrown off by man made "daylight savings time" and artificial electric light.
What is even more important is the day after the Equinox light actually begins to conqueror darkness, as the days slowly begin to get lighter, and lighter, and lighter, until they reach their crescendo in the summer with the arrival of the Summer Solstice. Esoteric historians have pointed out the strange coincidence in that the Jewish "Passover" was celebrated around the same time the ancients would celebrate the Spring Equinox, however the pagan reverence for the Spring Equinox actually pre-dates the Jewish celebration. The ancients would celebrate the sun "passing over" the equator ushering in Spring, and thus life. The ancients were excellent astronomers who were very much in tune with nature, and the movements of the sun, stars, and planets. They realized that by having a firm understanding of nature they could better manage their lives be that planting crops, or navigating the oceans. Easter baskets are often filled with green grass. Is this green grass the arrival of the green flora and newborn fauna that comes about after the Vernal, or Spring Equinox?
The Vernal Equinox was celebrated by ancient pagan civilizations because it meant the arrival of Spring time and life. Did the Roman Catholic church purposely place the dates of Easter to coincide with the much older sacred pagan dates, if so why?
Many have stated that the Roman Catholic church most definitely incorporated older pagan traditions like the Vernal Equinox into Christianity, as a way to convert pagans, and help spread the new faith of Christianity. Others have pointed out that the Jewish faith similar to the Christian faith also blended elements from the pagan world especially borrowing heavily from the religion of the ancient Egyptians. As was mentioned in previous post the Jewish concept of monotheism was proven to already have existed under the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaton, and the tradition of not eating pork was an earlier Egyptian tradition associated with the Egyptian God Set. Circumcision a ritual long associated with a covenant with Abraham seems to have already existed first in Egypt, and the proof of which is carved on temple walls. The placing of Passover on an older already established pagan date of the Spring Equinox is only further proof of all religions eventually blending into each other.
Monotheism, obstaining from pork, circumcision, and celebrating the Vernal Equinox all seem to have been recorded first in Egypt before the rise of Judaism. This base relief is from Saqqara and is more than 4000 years old.
The last thing I wanted to touch on is how these ancient civilizations encoded their celebration of the Spring Equinox in their architecture in what many scientist today are now calling the lost art of archaeoastronomy. One can not talk about Spring Equinox without mentioning the megalithic structure of Stonehenge located in England. Stonehenge is not the only stone circle in England aligned to the sun, but it is the most famous. Stonehenge was built around 5000 years ago around 2500 B.C. No one knows who built Stonehenge, but it was later utilized by the priest class known as the Druids, and like many other ancient structures it was also aligned to the sun; however, Stonehenge was aligned to the sun during the solstices not the equinox. The largest stone circle in England was Avebury and some scholars believe it was in alignment with the equinox. To this day followers of the old Druid religion take pilgrimages to both the Avebury and Stonehenge circles to welcome both the equinoxes and solstices. The Spring Equinox, and Summer Solstice have very similar meanings both are associated with life.
The Avebury stone circle in England is the largest megalithic stone circle in England, and it is aligned to the sun during the Spring Equinox.
There are many megalithic stone circles in England like Avebury and Stonehenge. They marked the solstices and equinoxes thousands of years before dates were set for Easter, Passover, and Christmas.
President Obama visited Stonehenge in 2014 inquires about the path of the solstices and equinoxes.
One of the oldest temples in the world can be found on the Mediterranean island of Malta. It is known as the Mnajdra Temple. It was built as early as 3,600 BC, and it was aligned to the Spring Equinox. What is even more interesting is many believe the temples of Malta are in the shape of a woman. The symbolism would be the sunlight from the Spring Equinox enters the female temple and brings life. Women much like the equinox, and Springtime were revered as life-giving symbols of fertility.
The Mnajdra Temple at Malta illuminated during the Spring Equinox.
Scholars believe that Malta's Mnajdra Temple was in the shape of a woman. Both the Spring Equinox, and women were viewed as symbols of fertility. The light from the sun (a masculine symbol of fertility) would symbolically impregnate the temple. Temples, and churches were always viewed as feminine. This is why so many Gothic cathedrals are dedicated to Notre Dame (Our Lady)
The Egyptian civilization was consistently praised in the ancient text by the Greeks, for being the fountain of old world knowledge. Alexander the Great chose to be buried in Egypt not Macedonia, or Greece which is very telling. The greatest Library of the ancient world the Library of Alexandria was located in Egypt. It should then not come as a surprise that the Egyptians would align their structures to celestial bodies like no one else. The Temple of Karnak is aligned to the Winter Solstice, as are many other Egyptian structures. The Great Pyramid sits at the center of the Earth aligned to the four cardinal points of North, South, East, and West. During the Spring Equinox when the sun shines directly over the equator, if one marks the Great Pyramid at its location of 30 degrees North, and uses the equator as a midpoint to 30 degrees South a pyramid shape is made pointing directly toward the equinoctial sun above. The image is too much to be a coincidence, and is eerily similar to the image of the unfinished pyramid on the back of the dollar bill with what appears to be a sun ablaze behind the eye.
The image and the location of the Great Pyramid and its relation to the sun during the Spring Equinox. The triangular shape when juxtaposing 30 degrees North and South, and its relation to the sun is very similar to the image found on the Great Seal of the Dollar Bill.
The Great Pyramid is not the only Egyptian structure aligned to the Spring Equinox, but the mysterious Sphinx is as well. Not much is known about the Sphinx for certain, and interesting debates rage as to whether it was once Anubis or Leo. What is for certain is that the Sphinx sets its gaze on the sun during the Spring Equinox, as it comes over the horizon. In fact the Sphinx was given the title "Hormakhet" when translated it essentially means Horus or the sun on the Horizon. No one really knows the age of the Sphinx, but there are some theories that say it is older than the Great Pyramids themselves. Astronomical software that can calculate the positions of the stars from the past concluded that as far back as 10,500 BC the Sphinx would have not only been in alignment with the sun during the Spring Equinox, but the constellation Leo as well. This would indeed make sense if the Sphinx is the body of a Lion and the head of a man.
The Sphinx in alignment with the sun on the Spring Equinox
England and Egypt were not the only ancient civilizations to celebrate the Vernal/Spring Equinox, but further to the south of Egypt in the Nubian Desert at a place called Nabta Playa might be one of the oldest megalithic structures in the world, and its also aligned to the Spring Equinox. Nabta Playa's megalith actually date back to about 8000 years ago. The site was researched by Fred Wendorf an anthropology professor from Southern Methodist University in Texas. and later studied by independent historian Robert Bauval and former NASA physicist Thomas Brophy. It seems as though even prior to Egypt the Africans pastoralist at Nabta Playa were also aligning there structures to the solstices and equinoxes. Some even suspect that these African nomads at Nabta Playa may have eventually settled along the Nile River becoming the very first Egyptians.
The megastructure at Nabta Playa in the Nubian Desert is also aligned to the Vernal Equinox, and predates both Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid by thousands of years.
The last example of the celebration of the Vernal Equinox can be found in Mexico at a place called Chichen Itza. The temple pyramids at Chichen Itza where constructed by the Maya and Toltec civilizations. Though the structures at Chichen Itza date back to 1000 years the God Kukulkan was worshipped in the Yucatan as early as 900 B.C. at La Venta, Mexico among the Olmec civilization. Also Chichen Itza itself was built overtop an even older pyramid, so this would obviously push the date back even further. These temples were dedicated to a death and resurrection god called Kukulkan also known by the name Quetzalcoatl.
Kukulkan was always represented as a plumed serpent, or simply put a serpent with feathers. Kukulkan (Quetzalcoatl) was a combination of a snake and a bird the image that still adorns the Mexican flag today. On the day of the Spring Equinox the temple at Chichen Itza is aligned to the sun. In what has to be one of the most amazing examples of masonry, engineering, and archaeoastronomy, as the sun hits the pyramid a shadow of the snake/serpent God Kukulkan winds down the side of the pyramid. Much like the megalithic structures at Stonehenge England pilgrims flock from all over to witness this amazing event of human ingenuity, and the ability of humanity to be one with the universe.
Mayan pyramid at Chichen Itza Mexico dedicated to the plumed serpent God Kukulkan.
During the Spring Equinox the pyramid at Chichen Itza is in alignment with the sun, and at that very moment the shadow of a serpent winds down the side of the structure.
Video of the shadow of the plumed serpent God Kukulkan winding down the side of the pyramid at Chichen Itza during the Spring Equinox.
Besides the shadow of the Kukulkan snake winding down the side of the pyramid on the Spring Equinox, equally amazing is the bird chirp the Temple makes If one stands at the foot of the pyramid and claps. If this is proven to be the case the ingenuity of the ancients is mind boggling, as they encoded Kukulkan's bird and serpent attributes into the pyramid.
I want to conclude by saying this post is not written in the spirit of taking anything away from the great religions of Judaism and Christianity, but it was written to improve our understanding of cultures who came before, and highlight the commonalities all religions share especially their relationship to the Spring Equinox. By focusing on what we have in common, and less on our differences I truly believe it lessens prejudices we may have of people who were once viewed as primitive. We also may slowly begin to realize that all people contributed to civilization, and we have more in common then we realize. Finally I will add that the Spring Equinox is powerful because it taps into something we all can relate to regardless of race, nationality, sex, or creed, and that is the concept of rebirth. A time for shedding of old skin, a time for rejuvenation, or as they say "out with the old and in with the new."
Mark and Angela Pritchard. The Path of The Spiritual Sun: Celebrating The Solstices and Equinoxes. Mystical Life Publications. 2017
Rev. Alexander Hislop. The Two Babylons. 1857
Charles S. Finch III, M.D. Echoes of the Old Darkland: Themes From The African Eden. Khenti, Inc. 1998