This coming Saturday, June 20th, is the first day of summer. Officially it will be at 4:44 PM, Central Standard Time, in the good old U.S. of A., where I live. Anyplace other than that, it’s at 21:44 UTC. You can work it out for yourself, for your region.
Traditionally, in the Christian world, it marks the birthday of John the baptist, although it is usually celebrated a few days later, depending on when the solstice actually occurs. It’s six months later than the birth of his cousin Jesus, whose birthday is celebrated a few days after the winter solstice.
When Jesus went to John to be baptized, John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30), which is to say that, after Jesus is born, days get longer, after John is born, days get shorter. Jesus, as all should know, has many of the attributes of pagan sun gods.
Christianity is notorious for having adapted much of pagan mythology, holidays, customs, well, really, nearly all of paganism, into Christianity. Twelve Greek gods, twelve apostles, all the same holidays, churches built on top of the foundations of pagan temples, the which were torn down by Christian monks: the list is near endless.
So, from whence was John the baptist derived, from which pagan god? The answer is in the etymology of his name. John comes from the Latin Johannes, which comes from the Greek Ioannes, which in Hebrew is Yohanon, all of which comes from Oannes. Oannes was the Mesopotamian god of water and wisdom, whose worship included baptism. Oannes was depicted as half man and half fish and was also known as Dagon.
Footnote, stuck in the middle here: Yes, yes, yes, good old H. P. Lovecraft made Dagon into one of his nasty gods. Dagon, Lord of the Deep Ones, the Deep Ones being gilled, batrachian humanoids (Footnote stuck in the middle of a footnote: batrachian means frog or toad like) Where was I? Oh yeah, the Deep Ones live in the ocean depths.
The odd hat called a miter, worn by Christian cardinals, is a stylized fish head, and was worn by the priests of Dagon.
So, Jesus, the sun god, is baptized by Oannes, the water god. The great mythologist, Joseph Campbell wrote,”Several scholars have suggested, therefore, that there was never either John or Jesus, but only a water-god and a sun-god.”
So let’s honor both this Saturday, both sun and water. Get out your sprinklers, your super soakers, your slip n’ slides! Fill up some water balloons and baptize your neighbors!