Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Eggs of Easter, Unscrambled


There was a meme going around facebook today, about Easter being derived from and pronounced the same as 'Ishtar', then someone wrote an informative piece correcting and de-bunking the meme. Obviously it is not a direct, etymological link, due to language. But words that have similar roots often come around to sound the same and mean the same. All roads lead to Rome - and that is precisely what happened.

Easter seems to be a mix of a few old/pagan cultural rituals - the Goddess morphed a number of times, during her thousands of years of traveling from Mesopotamia to the catholic church. To get everyone believing under one roof, you have to manipulate similarities between your Gods and those of the people you want to convert. This is harder, the farther you go from home. The cult of Aphrodite (Venus) spread, along with the Romans and indigenous Goddesses like Isis and Astarte took on her Hellenistic appearance.


                                                              A Roman-Syrian Aphrodite, seemingly unsure of which attribute
                                                                                to wear - Fortuna ? Minerva ? Isis ? Cybele ?                                                                    

The rabbit (March hare) comes from the rabbit in the Moon, a fertility animal which is probably more an Eostre (European  Pagan) contribution, not sure how prominent it was in Mesopotamian symbolism, although it's common in the Far East, the Rabbit in the Moon. Spring lambs are a symbol of Aries and of Hermes the Shepherd, easily morphed into the Lamb of God.

Hermes the Good Shepherd, Lord of the sacrifice

And the list of Solar Gods who die and are reborn is also long. Under Ptolemy, in Egypt, for example, the combo of Osiris and Apis (Osirapis) was combined with several Greek Gods to make Serapis, who could easily be mistaken for Jesus, in both looks and savior attributes. So it's never simply a matter of this = that.

A rock crystal and gold pendant from 6th-7th c Egypt,
depicting a Serapis-like Christ on the cross

Friday was Venus' day. Venus is the Roman name of the Goddess, that we still use. She took many forms, back then, not just the lover, for her name simply means 'desire'. She's a conglomeration of Isis, Ishtar, Aphrodite, Astarte, etc, all associated with 'Venus' in the sky. That said, Isis was associated with Sirius, in ancient Egypt...but she was merged with Aphrodite-Venus, during Ptolemaic times.  
Mesopotamian Ishtar-Inanna and her underworld self/sister, Ereshkigal
were also based on the sparkling planet. (Lilith, Eve's shadowy twin in Hebrew, biblical texts, was likely an assimilation or parallel of this older, Mesopotamian Queen of the Night and the demonesses called 'lilim'). To them, she was a dual Goddess, appearing as both Morning and Evening star. They understood she was the same heavenly body with two personalities - evening being passive, morning being aggressive. Her morning star symbol is what we see on war planes, the US flag, etc. More commonly used in the Middle and Far East, her evening star is depicted with 8 points, 8 being the number of Heaven.

Preview of Venus on the half-shell ? Fishy Ishtar Jar,  Louvre

The Romans ate fish on Fridays, to honour Venus (Vendredi, Venus-Aphrodite's day or Norse Freyja's day) as it was supposed to be an aphrod-esiac. This is still a Roman catholic tradition, albeit  sanitized. So the Goddess (Venus) 'ate' her son/consort/'little fish' - a metaphor for sex - but also not really, since she does both take and give life, and there may have been sacrifice involved, once upon a time. The three days of her ovulation/full Moon are from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, this is the time from Christ's crucifixion to resurrection. (To complicate things further, in the zodiac, Virgo is also the Goddess, and across from her is Pisces, the little fishes, her son, which call to mind the Virgin Mary and Jesus, or Isis and Horus).
In any case, the first, full Moon of Spring is conception time for her and 9 months later is Winter Solstice aka Christmas, when the Sun or Son is reborn.

                                                                  Naples Catholic Grafitti
            
Naturally the church had to figure out how to make the switcheroo, so the priests of the Virgin Mary (Isis) all donned fish aka penis hats and exchanged communion wafers and wine for sex and cannibalism (or did they ??). The fish hats actually go back to Babylonia and Persia, also, to when the priests of Enki wore the skins of huge fish.

Assyrian Priests

So, no, the word 'Easter' may not translate directly from 'Ishtar', but star means star, however it may appear. Eostre or Ostara, Astarte, Esther, Easter, Ishtar...in all her names, the basic meaning is still there. 
Always good to go back to nature to figure out what inspired the myths and practices in the first place

                           
                           
                                           Happy Easter !

Addendum....
Was just checking with Barbara Walker's encyclopedia, and it is very complicated how many symbols and rituals and assimilations of the Goddess found their way into this holiday called Easter. 
None of the theories are totally wrong, just maybe over-simplified.
 The players change, but the script is the same.

The ritual is centered around the sacrificing of the consort/son to the Goddess, to ensure rebirth, fertility of the land. There are a great many versions of the dying and resurrected God, every culture has one, whether they are related or not. Most of the Goddesses in question can be traced back to the planet 'star' we call Venus, as mentioned.

The first Full Moon of  Spring represents her ovulation and therefor conception time. And while we don't think of Lilith as being directly involved, the Lily is representative of her.

It seems the Goddess is experienced in her three-fold form here, revealed in all her splendor; maiden (whore/Venus), mother (conception/pregnant/Earth) and crone (devourer/Moon). That is just my interpretation, but then you there are three Marys weeping at the tomb of Christ, right ?

William Blake - The Three Maries at the Sepulchre








                   
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