Tag Archives: Spring Equinox

X Marks the Spot

Last year, for the Squatcher’s Lounge podcast that was on Ash Wednesday, I explained why Easter is a movable holiday, and how to figure out when it will occur. I quote myself:

The reason is obvious: it is always on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring.”

I also pointed out that, since the beginning of spring and the beginning of fall are called the equinoxes, the length of day and night being equal on those days, and that the path of the solar ecliptic and the celestial equator make an x where they cross on the day of an equinox.

I also explained that most of the pagan religions at the time had a spring fertility festival that was held around the spring equinox, and that the nearly all had a god, who was the son of a virgin goddess, whose father was the highest god in the local pantheon.

Pagan, or paganus in Latin, meant a rustic person, a person of little understanding, a hillbilly.

These various sons of god, a few of which I listed in my quasi for last Christmas, entitled “A Yuletide Rant”, all died for the sake of their followers, and subsequently resurrected. Three days later was the popular timing. A whole lot of them were crucified, but the time of the slaying of the god was always on, or near, the spring equinox.

So what is the point of crucifixion on that big cross in the sky? Why nail your god up there? The association of the son of the greatest god with the sun is a pretty obvious metaphor, but why would these ancient peoples, who were pretty damned advanced, considering building pyramids, aqueducts, roads, measuring the distance from the earth to the moon, the diameter and circumference of the earth, etc., etc., why would they nail a god to the sky?

Here’s the quasi part. Behind all those pantheons, beyond the highest god, there was limitless source of being, unformed, what Socrates called the Good, the Beautiful, the one without number. Not one without number in the sense of countless, but, since it is beyond any limit, cannot be described by numbers.

Now, when that source of all things, called the godhead by some Christian metaphysicians, and the Brahman by Hindus, decided, as the Hindu Vedas report, “One am I, let me be many”, it had to limit itself, make itself into a point, so to speak, so that there could be one, and then many. You could say that it nailed itself to a cross, so that its blood might become the life of the universe.

But that’s what the pagans said, and what do they know?

First shared on the Squatcher’s Lounge Podcast:

For the reading impaired, an audio version of this quasi theory may be found here:

Ah, Easter!

Easter surely scoots about, calendar-wise.

The reason is obvious: it is always on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring. Not expecting that were you? The key to it is in the name Easter itself.

The name came into English from an old Germanic goddess named Eostre, the goddess of the dawn. Her holiday was celebrated at the spring equinox, when the path of the sun, or the ecliptic, crosses the celestial equator, and the length of day and night are equal. She was also the goddess of fertility, therefore eggs, bunnies, and lambs were associated with her. She is cognate with the other Mediterranean fertility and love goddesses like Astarte, Ishtar, and Aphrodite, who were all considered aspects of the one mother goddess. There’s some scholarly arguments about all this, but I’m the quasi-scientist around here and this is my quasi-theory.

Now, how do we get from the equinox to the correct Sunday for Easter and what does it have to do with the moon and what all?

Many forms of the mother goddess had sons and the father was usually a sun god and the son was equated with the father. Many of these sons of gods died, and resurrected, for the sake of their followers, and they did it on, or near, the spring equinox. The path of the solar ecliptic and the celestial equator make an x where they cross, both in the spring and fall. These various sons of god, many of whom were crucified, died, in the spring, at the point when the sun is at the center of that big x mark in the sky, the big cross in the sky. Having your son of a sun god resurrect on a Sunday is highly appropriate. Most of these goddess mothers of a son of god were moon goddesses, so you had to get the moon involved, and the full moon has been associated with regrowth and fertility in many cultures.

On the other hand, officially, Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring because the bishops at the Council of Nicea voted to make it so in 325 AD. On the third hand, that council was ruled over by the Emperor Constantine, who had a hard time distinguishing Jesus from Solus Invictus, the form of the Persian god Mithras that he previously worshiped. Go figure.

Originally presented on The Squatchers Lounge Podcast: