by Ruel Thompson

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“Easter - its origins”           Click here for Easter traditions


(NOTE:    MUCH OF THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN TAKEN FROM THE BOOK THE TWO BABYLONS BY A.Hislop)

What does 'Easter' mean, and from where did this festival originate?


"Easter" was not originally a Christian name.
It actually had its origins long ago, in Chaldea, the present Iraq, originally the place of Abraham's birth. Easter is nothing but the celebration of Astarte, (one of the titles of Beltis, the queen of heaven) whose name, as pronounced by the people of Nineveh, was evidently identical with Easter. Later, the worship and celebration of Astarte spread across from Chaldea to Europe as Christian scholars and historians relate.
The Venerable Bede was one such scholar.
The Venerable Bede, (672-735CE.) a Christian scholar, first asserted in his book De Ratione Temporum that Easter was named after Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). She was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. A festival called Eastre was held during the spring equinox by these people to honour her. Similarly, the "Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility was known variously as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos."

Here we see a picture of Astarte holding a pomegranate. The Chaldean name for the pomegranate was Rimmon. With the Rimmon or 'pomegranate' in her hand, Astarte is frequently represented on ancient medals, and in the house of Rimmon. Incidentally, the place where the King of Damascus, the Master of Naaman, the Syrian, worshipped, was in all likelihood a temple of Astarte, where this goddess with the Rimmon was publicly adored.
2Ki 5:18 "In this thing may Yahweh pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, My Yahweh pardon thy servant in this thing."
The pomegranate is a fruit that is full of seeds. Astarte, or Cybele, was also called Idaia Mater (Dymock's Classical Dict.) and the sacred mount in Phrygia, most famed for the celebration of her mysteries, was named Mount Ida - that is, in Chaldee the sacred language of these mysteries, the Mount of Knowledge. 'Idaia Mater,' then, signifies 'the Mother of Knowledge' - in other words, our mother Eve, who first coveted the 'knowledge of good and evil,' and actually purchased it at so dire a price to herself and to all her children. Astarte as can be abundantly shown, was also worshipped as the mother of mankind.
Therefore, when the mother of the gods, and the mother of knowledge, was represented with the fruit of the pomegranate in her extended hand, inviting those who ascended the sacred mount to initiation in her mysteries, there can be no doubt what that fruit was intended to signify. Evidently, it must accord with her assumed character; it must be the fruit of the 'Tree of Knowledge' - the fruit of that very 'Tree, whose mortal taste brought death into the world and all our woe'. This knowledge far from being detrimental to the Goddess, she as the great benefactress, it was thought, gained for them knowledge, and blessings connected with that knowledge, which otherwise they might in vain have sought from Him, the Father of lights, from whom comes down every good and perfect gift.
Similar Goddesses were known by other names in ancient cultures around the Mediterranean, and were celebrated in the springtime. Some were: Aphrodite from Cyprus, Astarte, from Phoenicia, Demeter from Mycenae, Hathor from Egypt, Ishtar from Assyria, Kali from India, Ostara a Norse Goddess of fertility.
So, we can see that long before the Christian Era, Spring Festivals were observed by pagan peoples, and even the name 'Easter' was given to such festivals, as the name 'eastre' meant Spring.

The Druids in the British Isles and the worship of Bel or Baal


The name 'Easter' as found by Layard on the Assyrian monuments, is Ishtar. The worship of Bel and Astarte (Ishtar) was introduced into Britain very early along with the Druids, 'the priests of the groves'.
Some have imagined that the Druidical worship was first introduced by the Phoenicians, who, centuries before the Christian era, traded to the tin-mines of Cornwall, England. But the unequivocal traces of that worship are found in regions of the British islands where the Phoenicians never penetrated, and it has everywhere left indelible marks of the strong hold which it must have had on the early British mind. Bel, or the 1st. of May, is still called Beltane in the Almanac (Edinburgh Almanac, 1860) and we have customs lingering on this day among us, which prove how exactly the worship of Bel or Moloch (for both titles belonged to the same god) had been observed even in the northern parts of the British Isles by the Druids. Even today there are many people groups (just type in 'Beltane' in your Browser!) who still in our day observe Beltane on 1st. May in various ways. Mostly these observances include fire and dancing etc. Since 1988, a Beltane Fire Festival has been held every year during the night of 30 April on Calton Hill in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Called the Edinburgh Beltane Fire Festival, and in the picture on the left, the 'Red Beastie Drummers' are depicted from this occasion in 2012) Now, although involvement with fire and dancing etc. does still go on, as a form of worship by Neopagans and other cults, this particular festival, being inspired by traditional Beltane, is a modern arts and cultural event which incorporates myth and drama from a variety of world cultures and diverse literary sources.

Neo-Paganism


Beltane and Beltane-based festivals are held by some Neopagans. As there are many kinds of Neopaganism, their Beltane celebrations can be very different despite the shared name. Some try to emulate the historic festival as much as possible. Other Neopagans base their celebrations on many sources, the Gaelic festival being only one of them. Neopagans usually celebrate Beltane on 30 April – 1 May in the Northern Hemisphere and 31 October – 1 November in the Southern Hemisphere, beginning and ending at sunset. Some Neopagans celebrate it at the astronomical midpoint between the spring equinox and summer solstice (or the full moon nearest this point).
In the Northern Hemisphere, this midpoint is when the ecliptic longitude of the Sun reaches 45 degrees. In 2014, this was on 5 May.
"Lady Baird, of Fern Tower, of Perthshire" says a writer in 'notes and queries' thoroughly versed in British antiquities (Lord John Scott) told me that "every year, at Beltane (1st. May)" a number of men and women assemble at an ancient Druidical circle of stones on her property near Crieff. They light a fire in the centre, each person puts a bit of oat-cake in a shepherd's bonnet. They all sit down, and draw, with blindfolds on, a piece from the bonnet. One piece has been previously blackened, and whoever gets that piece has to jump through the fire in the centre of the circle and pay a forfeit.
This is, in fact, a part of the ancient worship of Baal, and the person on whom the lot fell was previously burnt as a sacrifice.
Now, the passing through the fire, a custom of Beltane, still practised today in at least the northern areas of Britain, represents that same custom, and the payment of the forfeit redeems the victim. Fire is still the most important element of most Beltane celebrations and there are many traditions associated with it. It is seen to have purifying qualities which cleanse and revitalise. People leap over the Beltane fire to bring good fortune, fertility (of mind, body and spirit) and happiness through the coming year.
Although Beltane is the most overtly sexual festival, Pagans rarely use sex in their rituals although rituals often imply sex and fertility. The tradition of dancing round the maypole contains sexual imagary and is still very popular with modern Pagans. The largest Beltane celebrations in the UK are held in Edinburgh. Fires are lit at night and festivities carry on until dawn. All around the UK fires are lit and private celebrations are held amongst covens and groves (groups of Pagans) to mark the start of the summer.
If Baal was thus worshipped in Britain, (and many of the Pagan rites still observed today although it has to be said that perhaps the 'worshippers' should rather be named 'celebrators' and they probably have no idea of its idolatrous beginnings?) it will not be difficult to believe that his consort Astarte was also adored by our ancestors, and that from Astarte, (whose name in Nineveh was Ishtar) the religious solemnities of April, as now practised, are called by the name of Easter - that month, among our Pagan ancestors, having been called Easter-monath.

Easter or Passover?


The festival, of which we read in Church history, under the name of Easter, in the third or fourth centuries, was quite a different festival from that now observed in the English Church, and at that time was not known by any such name as Easter. (the name Easter is peculiar to the British Isles) It was called Pasch, or the Passover, (Socrates, talking of Easter observation in different countries of his time i.e. the fifth century says: "thus much already laid down ...to prove that the celebration of the feast of Easter began everywhere more of custom than by any commandment either of Christ or any Apostle")
Everyone knows that the name 'Easter' used in our translation of Acts twelve, verse four, refers not to any Christian festival, but to the Passover. (This is one of the few places in the English King James' version where the translators show an undue bias.) It was observed very early by many professing Christians, in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Messiah. That festival agreed originally with the time of the Passover, when Yahshua was crucified, a period which, in the days of Tertullian, at the end of the second century, was believed to have been the twenty third of March.
That festival (Passover, Pasch) was not idolatrous, and it was not preceded by Lent. 'It ought to be known' said Cassianus, the monk of Marseilles, writing in the fifth century, and contrasting the primitive Church with the Church in his day, 'that the observance of the forty days had no existence, so long as the perfection of that primitive Church remained inviolate'. In other words, when Pasch or Passover was kept in Britain, there was no period of Lent preceding it.
To conciliate the Pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursuing its usual policy (through compromising with the pagan masses in order to swell the church and 'make converts' ) took measures to get the Christian and Pagan festivals amalgamated, and by a complicated but skilful adjustment of the calendar, it was found no difficult matter, in general, to get Paganism and Christianity - now far sunk in idolatry through similar earlier compromises (see article on Christmas) - in this as in so many other things, to shake hands.

The devious workings of amalgamation


The instrument in accomplishing amalgamation was the abbot Dionysius the Little (about A.D. 525) to whom also we owe it, as modern chronologies reveal, that the date of the Christian era, or of the birth of Christ Himself, was moved four years from the true time. Whether this was done through ignorance or design may be a matter of question, but there seems to be no doubt of the fact, that the birth of Yahshua was made full four years later than the truth. (this is the statement commonly made in all the standard English Chronologies)
This change of the calendar in regard to Easter was attended with momentous consequences. It brought into the Church the grossest corruption and the rankest superstition in connection with the abstinences of Lent. (Let any one only read the atrocities that were commemorated during the 'sacred fast' or Pagan Lent, as described by Arnobius and Clemens Alexandrinus, and surely he must blush for the Christianity of those who, with the full knowledge of all these abominations 'went down to Egypt for help' to stir up the languid devotion of the then apathetic Church)
That Christians should every think of introducing the Pagan abstinence of Lent was a sign of their losing their way so to speak. It showed how low they had sunk, and it was also a cause of evil and it inevitably led to deeper degradation. Originally, even in Rome, Lent, with the preceding revelries of the Carnival, was entirely unknown, and even when fasting before the Christian Pasch was held to be necessary, it was by slow steps that in this respect, it came to conform with the ritual of Paganism.
What may have been the period of fasting in the Roman Church before the sitting of the Nicene Council does not very clearly appear, but for a considerable period after that Council, we have distinct evidence that it did not exceed three weeks. (Gieseler) The words of Socrates, writing on this very subject, about AD 450 are these: 'Those who inhabit the princely city of Rome fast together before Easter three weeks, excepting the Saturday and the Lord's day.'

But at last, when the worship of Astarte was rising into the ascendant, steps were taken to get the whole Chaldean Lent of six weeks, or the forty days, made imperative on all within the Roman empire of the West. The way was prepared for this by a Council held at Aurelia in the time of Hormisdas, Bishop of Rome, about the year 519, which decreed that Lent should be solemnly kept before Easter. (Dr. M. Hanmer's Chronographia, subjoined to his translation of Eusebius, p. 592 London 1636) It was with the view, no doubt, of carrying out this decree that the calendar was, a few days after, readjusted by Dionysius. This decree could not be carried out all at once. About the end of the sixth century, the first decisive attempt was made to enforce the observance of the new calendar.
It was in Britain that the first attempt was made in this way, (Giegeler) and here the attempt met with vigorous resistance. The difference, in point of time, between the Christian Pasch, as observed in Britain by the native Christians, and the Pagan Easter enforced by Rome, at the time of its enforcement, was a whole month, and it was only by violence and bloodshed, at last, that the Festival of the Anglo-Saxon or Chaldean goddess came to supersede that which had been held in honour of Messiah.
Such is the history of Easter. The popular observances that still attend the period of its celebration amply confirm the testimony of history as to its Babylonian character. Do we really wish to be a part of all this? Should it therefore, not be avoided? Yahweh has always desired that His people should leave behind the trappings of pagan worship, and we only have to look at the judgements, through Moses, which came on His people as they worshipped Baal with all its excesses and revellry, and His response to them when they longed after the 'flesh-pots' of Egypt. Throughout the Scriptures we read how Yahweh desires His people to be pure from idolatry, and the consequences caused by flirtation with Babylonian practises.

The Truth


Yahshua made it plain in John 4:23-24. "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." Are we teaching the truth about the death and resurrection of our Saviour?
Mark 7:7 states, "Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Actually, the 'doctrines' or teachings around the Easter story are worse than the commandments of men, they are copied and have their sources in the early evil practises of pagans. In Peter 1:13-16 we read, "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." The word holy means set apart, different from the rest.
If we keep traditions which are not of Yahweh, how can we be holy? From what then are we different if we do as they do? Not everyone has the conviction nor the courage to be set apart from the rest of the world. The sad truth is that mainstream Christianity has, in some areas, sadly lost her way, adopting many Pagan practises and adapting them to the Christian message. This apostate tradition is continued by priests, pastors and preachers, ordained not by Yahweh in the power of the Holy Spirit, but by men in the spirit of the world.
Why is it so difficult to stop telling these lies, when we have clear instructions in Scripture (1. Corinthians 5:7) for Gentiles to keep the Feast of Passover,
1Co 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
1Co 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (there is no mention of any pagan Feast of Easter)
Also, Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles states that
1Co 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of Yahweh.
The Biblical Feasts (see Feasts page) are wonderful and liberating times of fellowship with Yahweh and our believing friends. They are filled with references to Yahshua and Salvation and so very much more. Surely we desire the Feasts He has ordained for us to keep, and not something which came from Pagan sources. Let us turn our backs on the lies and deceit which has infiltrated our lives, and seek Him together to show us the truth in the Feasts He has instituted for our instruction, revelation and blessing.

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