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COMMENTARY · 22nd April 2011
Merv Ritchie
Reposted for Good Friday, 2011
Easter is always on the same day; the first Sunday, following the first full moon, following the spring equinox. It is really a stunning display of respect for a physical reality, seldom shown. Faith is the foundation of most religions and this diversion from faith to an actual astronomical observation demonstrates that there is hope. And that is exactly what the resurrection celebration is all about. Hope.

The story is very simple but has endured 20 - one hundred year life spans. That’s all it is really. Think about someone you know, or a relative, that has lived a full 100 years. Just 20 of those lives, end to end, back in time brings you to the time when you could be walking with the disciples. The story, passed down through the years, speak of a man who taught about love, respect and compassion that was arrested by the government of the day. Through false charges and evidence he was nailed to a cross like a common thief, interned in a cave behind a large boulder and when some returned to look in on his body, found him gone. He appeared 3 days later to the disciples as a fully alive man.

It is difficult for some, this writer included, to think of a day when someone gets killed as a good day. However that is what the Christians refer to when they talk about the day Jesus died on the Cross. Good Friday, how bizarre. But through understanding the faith, a much more loving picture emerges. This day symbolizes the event where through this death all of mankind is freed of the ties to this physical world and the restrictions to the afterlife which our apparent “badness” kept us away from. The door was opened to the spiritual “heaven” which makes this a very good day. All our “sins” were forgiven.

Three days later this man named Jesus rose from the dead and invited all humanity to follow. Chocolate and bunny rabbits have nothing to do with Easter except to make your children go crazy on a sugar fix.

Much like Christmas, Easter is the most observed Christian event. The celebration of the life of Jesus and his teachings is the foundation of this faith. The Catholic Church has done little to advance the respect for Jesus as they use many pagan structures and symbolism in their teachings that have nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus; this on top of the abuse suffered by many at the hands of those professing to be Catholic. Jesus spoke about having no others before the kingdom of God. The Catholics provide you with the opportunity to use many intermediaries. Mother Mary can apparently speak on your behalf, as can the numerous Saints and even your personal priest. Jesus died on the cross to show you that you do not need these other crutches, you face God on your own and he is there to hold your hand when you make the decision. This writing is not about beating up on the Catholics this is about astronomy. It has however been the Catholic Hierarchy that has resisted astronomical realities.

There are cycles of our solar system and our planet that is seldom spoke of. These two events of the Christian faith, Christmas and Easter, revolve around two specific time shifts in our planets orbit around the sun. The word Equinox comes from the term equal. This means that the days and nights are of equal length. The Earth is on a tilt and as it revolves around the Sun there are two times when the days and night are of equal length. These are the days we use to describe the start of spring and autumn. Easter uses this spring day, March 21st as the start to the observance of the heavens. This year the full Moon appeared on Monday, April 18th, twenty-eight days after the spring equinox, which is why, this year, April 22nd is Good Friday and Easter Sunday is April 24th. Easter always falls on the first Sunday, following the first full moon, following the spring equinox. If the full Moon was on March 22, we would be celebrating Easter at the end on March.

The other major Christian event is Christmas, the day used to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The day is so close to the pagan celebration of the Solstice it is not difficult to surmise that the selection of this day was to encourage those unenlightened pagans to join in with the Christians in celebrating the birth of Christ.

The word Solstice is a term used to describe the Sun standing still, when the days are not getting longer or shorter. There is a winter and a summer Solstice. The summer one, June 21st is a time when the days are the very longest and after this they start to get shorter, the winter Solstice is when the days start to get longer again, which is why it was such a huge pagan celebration. But it also relates to the three days between ‘Good Friday’ and ‘Easter Sunday’. On December 21 the sun lies dormant at its lowest point in the sky, neither descending nor rising for three full days, then it begins to rise again. The Sun has risen! It was a major Sun God worship time. Here in the Northwest worshiping the Sun is a major pastime. Not in a religious sense, just cause we need the vitamin D.

It is observing these astronomical cycles, those cycles that are dependent on the earth revolving around the Sun, not the other way around as was encouraged by the Catholic Church, that give hope in more ways than just the afterlife.

There is another cycle in our “Heavens” that has yet to be recognized officially by the major religious bodies. It is called precession. As the earth orbits the Sun it is wobbling. The spinning of the Earth is not smooth. It is actually wobbling like a spinning top that was dropped sideways. The circle of the arc of the wobble is a very significant part of astronomy. Just exactly where the axis of the Earth is pointing on the day of the spring equinox has determined which “astrological age” we are in. Astrology was the first science of civilized man and was the forerunner to modern day astronomy. The star patterns in the sky (which have names that are reflected in astrology); the huge ancient stone observatories that were designed to be used during these very specific time periods; the equinoxes and the solstices, all speak of an astronomical understanding that our churches are just beginning to allow parishioners the right to discuss openly.

The arc that the Earths axis makes, as it revolves around the sun, returns to the same place on the spring equinox, March 21st, once every 25,920 years. The star patterns that the arc circles as it completes this cycle are exactly the same as those described in astrology and astronomy, Virgo, Leo, Capricornus, Scopius etc. and each one of these cyclical time periods is a approximately a twelfth of the full 25,920 year cycle, 2160 years, hence the twelve astrological signs. The period we have been in recently is Pisces and we are about to enter the Age of Aquarius. (It is interesting how Jesus has been worshiped since the beginning of the age of Pisces and how the symbolism of fish; the astrological symbol for Pisces, features prominently in the Jesus teachings).

For those that follow astrology a cry will ring out that Pisces follows Aquarius. This has nothing to do with Horoscopes and your daily reading. That is a bit of an unenlightened understanding of reality. We are talking pure science here, not mysticism. Further the cycles of all life do not go “Clockwise”. The Earth revolves around the sun counter-clockwise and the Earth spins on its axis counter-clockwise. Take a moment and reflect on the Sun rising in the East. The Earth would have to be spinning counter clockwise for this to happen. The same is true for the astrological ages that have been recorded for thousands of years. Toss your horoscope in the trash.

Easter Sunday is a time to shout out, “He has risen”, and it is also a time to share in the love, respect and compassion that Jesus wanted us all to understand. For those that do not partake in the religious aspect of the Christian faith it is also a time to have some hope. Hope for those who do partake in religious activities whom might take some time to reflect on the reality of the universe, as it relates to our solar system and planet earth.

Full Moons, Equinoxes, and Solstices . . . only time will tell. Happy Easter!

Originally posted March 22, 2008 - edited April 1, 2010 and again April 18/22, 2011
Sounds to me like...
Comment by Maggie Johnson on 25th April 2011
Sounds to me like Paganism is an "organized religion" all it's own.

Oops. Did I say that out loud?
Another interesting Correlation
Comment by Michael Lavoie on 24th April 2011
For those interested in astronomy and it's connection with religion, there is an engaging documentary titled "The Star of Bethlehem" inwhich a lawyer shares his journey to find connections between the birth of Jesus Christ and the star that supposedly shone over his birth place. If anyone is interested, here's a link to his website.

http://www.bethlehemstar.net/

A trailer to his video can be found here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=venqYheEqic

Best regards and Happy Easter!
church of the flying spagetti monster
Comment by eddiebraun on 23rd April 2011
Pasta farians share a knowledge that the one true god is the flying spagetti monster. "Pastover is a religious holiday analogous to the Jewish holiday of Passover, as well as the Christian holiday of Easter.During this time, Pastafarians across the globe are encouraged to eat copious amounts of pasta, usually spaghetti, which is cooked 'in His image' by family members dressed as Pirates. Pastover celebrates a time when the FSM first began touching people with His Noodly Appendage...All true believers partake of the pasta and perform the ritual Passing of the Eye Patch, in which each member at the table takes a turn wearing an eye patch and talking about why he or she is happy to have been touched.

http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=2201513276&topic=1678
He is risen!
Comment by RP on 22nd April 2011
Virtually everyone is willing to acknowledge that Jesus was crucified and that this caused his death. Yet few people are welling to give this same acknowledgment to him physically rising from the dead.

Here is the problem with this; The twelve disciples all proclaimed that Jesus had risen and that they had spent time with him, eating, talking after he rose. All of the disciples, except for John, died a martyrs death. They all died proclaiming that Jesus had risen.

Now if the resurrection did not occur the disciples knew it, as there is no way of demonstrating that they could not have known it. Therefore, if the resurrection did not occur you have a group of men willing to die for a lie knowing fully that it was a lie. Now many people are willing to die for a lie as long as they believe that it is the truth, no one is willing to die for a lie while they know that it is a lie.

What Jesus taught and what the vast majority of churches teach nowadays are universes apart. They are so far apart I do not think the Jesus would even recognize his own teachings.
Good article
Comment by D. Wiebe on 22nd April 2011
You point out some interesting science and most importantly the good news that comes from the Christain tradition of recognizing the importance of Easter. For Christians, we know that on Sunday, Jesus will be risen and therefore Good Friday was indeed a good day. We apparently now live in the post modern era, one that in the west is increasingly demonizing Christianity and the evidence for the historical Jesus. Incidentally, there is more proof for his existence than for Julius Caesar, and no one cast doubts on him. Our New Testament as it appears originated from 1st century eye witness accounts, written by Jesus' disciples - that was one of the main requisites of the canon. The number of those first scribed texts was in the order of 25,000, more by quantum leaps than any other ancient writings extant today. Ongoing studies by both secular and Christian scholars continues to enforce these texts and their historical accuracy. So the Easter message is always relevant, the commercialization seems to be more for distraction than anything.
Catholic Bashing.
Comment by Glen Palahicky on 4th April 2010
Merv, if your article is not about " beating up on the Catholics" then some editing is needed. I really don't think you intended any insults, yet, I must comment. You state your " respect" that Easter and Christmas are dated near the first days of Spring and Winter. Did it not dawn on you that it was the wisdom of the Catholic Church that fixed these dates in order to christianize "pagan" feasts. They recognized what was good in them and added " the more of Christ". Furthermore, any reading of Christian history will show that the honoring of Mary and the naming of saints goes back to the first few centuries. The Christian faith you seem to be proclaiming ( though no mention of the divinity of Christ ) and the Holy Scriptures themselves are part and parcel of the only Christian Church of the first 1000 years; the Catholic Church. She is not perfect by any means, and is in need of constant renewal and conversion, but she is the First Bride of Christ. Careful about sawing the branch your faith is sitting on.
Blessings
Comment by Carrie La Porte on 2nd April 2010
While it is true that Spring is a time that all of us greet with joy as winter cedes to new growth, the "reality of our universe" is in no way synonymous with the tenets of any mainstream religions, including Christianity, which has suppressed many of the early writings, mistranslated and rewritten others, and co-opted pagan symbols and events.

The symbolism of Easter is a powerful one, but is actually rooted in far older beliefs, and the conversion of these myths into "reality' not only diminishes the universal appeal of such myths, but also makes them static as opposed to dynamic. From the scientific findings of Charles Darwin, through the discovery that the Shroud of Turin was cleverly forged, and ending with the recent archaelogical discovery of what appears to be (based on DNA findings and other impressive data) Jesus' family tomb, complete with Jesus' remains,
the literal interpretation of the Bible does not withstand close scrutiny, particularly when any linguist can tell you that the same Hebrew word is used for Virgin and young girl.

We "unenlightened pagans" usually tend to be well-educated and do have a sense of the Divine within us all but we don't try to foist fiction masquerading as fact onto others. Zen Roshi (Master) D. T. Suzuki, when asked what is the difference between Buddhism and Chrisitanity, replied "We know that our myths are myths".

We pagans' espressions of faith usually includes sharing with others, recycling, and protecting our environment. For me, my sense of a Higher Power is at its acme as I contemplate the wonders of Mother Nature and the blessings which she offers to us, especially with the Spring' greening of my garden.


References:
http://www.jesusfamilytomb.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almah
http://darwin-online.org.uk/


astrological symbolism
Comment by Thomas La Porte on 2nd April 2010

You have a few things backwards.

First of all, the astrological symbolism (and other pagan traditions) was the basis for Christian symbolism. That is precisely why the Jesus figure was described as the "sacrificial lamb" (ram) and the "fisher of men". The beginning of the Christian era was at the cusp of the ages of Aries and Pisces, with the vernal (spring) point moving backwards through the zodiac, as the original astrologers observed. Nothing "unenlightened" there.

It is also no accident that the four gospels and the four evangelists traditionally associated with them are represented by a lion, an eagle, a bull and a man or angel: the four "fixed" signs of Leo, Scorpio, Taurus and Aquarius. The "fixed" constellations were chosen to represent the infusion of spirit with matter.

Lastly, for the time being, I would like to mention that the greatest centre of astronomical and astrological learning in the Western world of the first century was Tarsus, where the pagan mysteries preserved the knowledge of the relation of the earth's axis to the vernal point. It is an historical fact that Saul (Paul) of Tarsus was an initiate of these mysteries and incorporated much of their language and symbolism in his writings.


Spirituality is more all-encompassing
Comment by Carrie La Porte on 1st April 2010
I would like to preface my remarks by saying that people the world over share a sense of awe, a sense that there is a higher power. it is this divine spark, regardless of the name, which has inspired mankind to some of our greatest works of art, while the perversion of it has led to some of our world's vilest acts (witch burnings, the Holocaust and more).

My grandfather was a minister as is my cousin and another cousin is a missionary yet I have come to follow a very different spiritual path. Yep, I am one of those "unenlightened pagans" who sees everyone as having the potential for divine within them, and who beleives that when one converts mythology into dogma then one is choosing a condition of wilful ignorance.

Two university degrees and postgraduate studies have led me to believe that if one's beleifs cannot bear intelligent scrutiny then they are not worth holding. Neither science not archaelogical discoveries support the allegations of most modern Christians who, (beginning in around the fourth century, under pressure to convert the historical Jesus to a deity) have deviated from the early believers who understood the dynamism of myths and parables.

You make reference to the atrocities committed by Catholics in the name of God. There were abuses perpetrated in residential schools by persons of many Christian denominations, who were united in beleiving that the "savages' beliefs needed to be eradicated. I am not sure what blessings that patriarchial God has ever brought to the First Nations who were intensely spiritual people before the advent of their oppressors. Do you seriously beleive that their ancestors are burning in Hell because they did not know the white man's God? I think not.

In all fairness, I must point out that it is not merely Catholics who have subverted religious teachings to their own ends. Religion is big business, and is an enormous tool for social control. As Karl Marx once said, "Religion is the opiate of the masses".

All of the dominant religions feature prophets, have themes of death and resurrection, feature miracles, and bear far more similiarites than differences, most notably the lesser role of women. There are enormous problems with literalism as a careful reading of the Bible will reveal. The book of Leviticus approves of polygamy, the sale of daughters into slavery, says planting more than one crop in your fields is a sin, suggests that homosexuals deserve death, and forebids the eating of shellfish or pork. And if the only people on Earth were the ones that God created, then where did the wives for Adam and Eve's sons come from, and those of the future generations? You have a choice between incest , admitting errors in documentation, or recognizing that, in common with many other religions, the poewer is not in what actually happened but in the metaphor.

The other problem, and a BIG one, is that the Bible, like so many other holy books, was written by men, who frequently contradict each other, and whose accounts have been translated and mis-translated time and again, beginning with the transformation of Mary from a young woman into a virgin, because the same Hebrew word, "almah" can mean both (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almah).

Jesus himself, is a resurrection, a new and improved version of a prophet by the same name who lived about a century before and who also performed miracles. (http://www.network54.com/Forum/87127/)
(http://www.theoriginalteachingsofjesus.com/default.asp)

In replacing the pagan women-based religions, it was a very shrewd move to deify Mary in this way, thus elevating the staure of her prophet son in the process. The real power of the myth, which has been lost, is that we can rise above atrocities like rape, become whole and innocent again, and convert negative conequences into blessings.
(http://primebuzz.kcstar.com/q=node/11247)

The whole notion of Christ rising again is a wonderful metaphor, but is most assuredly not factual. The early Christians had visions, much like those of Shamans, but that does not mean that the spirits were physical entities. Archaelogists have challenged this as well.
(http://www.jesusfamilytomb.com/) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Tomb_of_Jesus)

My metaphorical Goddess, embodied in Mother Earth, invites me to celebrate the death of the past (winter) and to embrace the birth of new beginnings (spring) and to celebrate by being loving to others, every day, not just on Sundays, not just at Easter, and not restricted to those who share my own belief system. My church includes all of humanity and I demonstrate my faith by activities such as volunteering, recycling, social activism, and art.

One final point. You are using Tropical astrological references.. Under Sidereal astrology, your data is erroneous.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidereal_astrology)

Clockwise
Comment by John Haigh on 12th April 2008
I come from Australia. I believe that the Earth goes around the Sun in a clockwise motion; similarly the Earth rotates in a clockwise motion.

Clockwise or anti-clockwise depend on your point of view.
Good article and a controversial one...
Comment by John S.C. Hetherington on 26th March 2008
A good article, and a controversial one worth commenting on. Very interesting about the "wobbling...counterclockwise" orbit of the earth etc.
Funny that I don't remember ever being taught that in science class.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth's_rotation

Counter clockwise makes me think of counter culture which one has to be to truly be these to worship and follow Christ in spirit, truth and love. "If you love me you will keep my commandments." John 14:15, his commandments as found in The Bible.

It's true that present "Christian" celebrations have little to do with Christ in light of biblical commands and history. They were melded with pagan earth and Sun worship festivals in the Fourth Century by Constantine in order to unify his Roman Empire. True Christianity was growing inspite of intense persecution and was encroaching on the official religion of the day which was sun worship.

When that happened, true spiritual Christianity went underground and continued to be persecuted;
millions of them were killed through the crusades and the inquisitions over 1200 years. And where true Christianity it is still found to shine it continues to be persecuted to this day...

Why our news media fails to report on the above is telling. Here's some alternative media dedicated to reporting on and giving voice to the persecuted church around the world today:

http://www.persecution.ca/

http://www.persecution.tv/

I just did a quick online search and came up with two links for those that want to begin or deepen a little truth seeking study of their own in regards to "Churchianity" and pagan holidays. Let's start with Constantine's own 'Easter Letter' with Jewish Roots commentary:

http://jewishrootscx.netfirms.com/constantine_easter_letter.htm

And here's an interesting site that talks about Easter, Christmas and more:

http://toolong.com/easter.htm

With love to you on your spiritual journey....

Happy Easter
Comment by Sylvia Stephens on 23rd March 2008
I need to read your article when I have more time and it looks interesting. The first that I do is read my online horoscope that I subscribe for.

In our tradition, since time immemorial, every Easter Sunday, the Church delegates a group to people and people who wish to partake in a parade around the village early in the morning, singing, "He rose", He Rose, He Rose from the Dead."

Enjoy your Easter chocolates and your long weekend.