Archive for vernal equinox

Spring Equinox and Religious Myths

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Christianity, culture, faith, history, prehistory, random, religion, thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2010 by chouck017894

In astronomy (the scientific study of the universe beyond the Earth) the point in Aries (about March 21-22 in the Northern Hemisphere) at which the ecliptic intersects the celestial equator, and the length of day and night are approximately equal all around Earth, is known as the Vernal Equinox or Spring Equinox.  This is one of four times of year that terrestrial position relative to the universe have been commemorated since most remote prehistory times.

The remote but documented Time Frame c. 3000-2000 BCE:  The  ancient Sumerians, Babylonians, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Persians, etc. customarily celebrated their New Year at the time of the Vernal Equinox, and the custom remains in Iran to this day.  The Chaldeans also recognized the period  following the Spring Equinox, which lapsed over into Taurus, as the harbinger of spring.  Their festivity echoed the earlier Sumerians’ reference to Taurus as the “Bull of Light,” the charging force that maintained the cycle of the seasons.  Out of this understanding the Bull constellation came to symbolize the renewal of the world after winter’s “death,” and its appearance was honored with annual resurrection rites.  In ancient Egypt on the occurence of the full moon at the Vernal Equinox (the point in Aries) the nation celebrated in joy the domination of the Ram.  The Egyptian holiday Sham El Nessim, can be traced back to at least 2700 BCE, and it is still one of Egypt’s holidays.

Time Frame c. 1500-1200 BCE:  A pre-Mosaic festival marking the advent of Spring was celebrated among the nomadic Hebrew people.  This early observance recognized the Ram (Aries) as symbolic of the spring period, as in Egypt, and this symbolism is echoed in the Genesis myth where Abraham is told to sacrifice his “only begotten son” to God, but at the last moment a ram is miraculously provided by God as a substitute.  The son Isaac thus equals the lamb “slain from the foundation of the world.”  What this and other similar prehistory literary subterfuges refer to is the creation process in which the first elements are given up to allow prototype formation to begin—the developmental process when elementary particles are activated so they may pass-over into matter development.

Time  Frame c.25 BCE:  Mystery cults that were  popular in Greece began to influence the Roman culture in this period, and by 200 Before our Common Era the cult of Cybele, a Phrygian/Greek nature goddess, was ensconced on what was later to became known as Vatican Hill.  The cult also honored Cybele’s consort Attis (nearly identical to older cultures’ gods such as Tammuz,  Osiris, Dionysus, or Orpheus).  Her festival began on “Black Friday,” so-called because of bloodletting that took place  during the self-emasculation ceremony of aspiring priests, known as Corybantes.  Attis, Cybele’s consort, was presented as having been born of a virgin (Nana), and was meant to be a sacrificial victim and savior of mankind.  The celebration in his honor was on March 25—or exactly nine months before his annual rebirth (December 25).  Curiously, in Roman Catholicism the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is held on March 25, and celebrated the alleged time when the angel Gabriel told Mary that she had been made pregnant (Luke 1:26-38).

Time Frame c. 100+ CE:   Ancient Saxons, a Germanic people who first appeared in history in the writings of Ptolemy in the second century CE, held a feast day for the goddess Ostara (the Saxon version of the German lunar goddess Eostre) on the full moon following the Spring Equinox.  It is from this Pagan goddess that Christianity absorbed its name Easter, which is celebrated in near-identical season calculation to the Saxon festival.

At the Vernal Equinox, due to the Earth’s movements, the Sun seemingly remains suspended in one position for three days where the ecliptic and equator cross.  This is the “cross” upon which the Sun is figuratively crucified every year.  This  apparent lack of motion accounts for the three days following the alleged crucifixion of Jesus after which he is said to have risen from the dead to appear to Mary Magdalene and some disciples.  From this part of the account we could conclude that Jesus performed his “Second Coming” at that time.

These brief (and far from complete) times-gone-by anecdotes are meant to show how disguised Pagan awe for nature and the wonder workings of the universe have subtly colored the rites and ceremonies of every organized western religion of today.  The honesty at the heart of Pagan respect for the interrelated elements at work  throughout the universe has been tramped down to pulp in the stampede of building hierarchical-style “faith” systems.  That loss has not been exactly for the betterment of anyones personal spiritual understanding or guidance.

Advertisements

God So Loved the World

Posted in Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, faith, history, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2010 by chouck017894

To the author of the book of John, written c. 105-106 CE, from which the title of this blog-post was borrowed, the “world” spoken of consisted of the Roman Empire.  There was limited awareness of Asiatic peoples, but no awareness whatsoever of other peoples on the other side of the planet.  This fact should be a pertinent point to consider when assessing any messages allegedly relayed to the world through Roman-citizen mediums of that era. 

Excuse this glare of logic cast upon the recesses of faith; it is mentioned here due to the fanaticism of a Baptist group in the state of Texas who “want to bring Christ’s message of hope into every home in Texas” i.e. proselytize.  And they want to do this good deed before Easter (April 4, 2010).  The name Easter, we should remember, is borrowed from a Pagan goddess that was honored each year at the time of the vernal equinox.  The do-gooders, in their commitment to seek believers, are striving to flood every household with CDs, in both English and Spanish, of how “God so loved the world” that he would sacrifice his “only begotten son” for one little material planet that he had created out of nothing.

To quote from Time Frames and Taboo Data, pages 196-197:  The book of “Saint” John, inserted between Luke and The Acts of the Apostles (both written c. 84-90 CE), was written considerably later than the two mentioned books—almost certainly it was composed c 105-106 CE.  This “fourth” gospel has been questioned on critical grounds, and an earlier date for authorship—85-90—is generally insisted upon to make it seem as contemporary to Luke and Acts.  The John book allegedly covers the last seven years of Jesus’ life, but there is a committed dogmatic feel to it that is more in keeping with the recently established church guidelines that came into being in the early 100s.  The Jesus movement had, by the early 100s, moved away completely in an attempt to convert Jews; thus in John the character of Jesus has developed into the ethereal “Christ.”  The author was obviously intent upon eliminating the irrelevant and ambiguous incidents given in earlier gospels to focus upon and emphasize the tenets of the newly established Christology.  It is as though the gospel of John had been fashioned in the hope that it might replace the “gospels” of Mark, Matthew and Luke.  That intent seems evident in the opening line of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word (implying Christ) was with God…”  By doing this the author virtually disqualifies the other gospels, which, as in Mark began with the baptism of Jesus and in Luke which began with the birth of John the Baptist, to set Jesus as Christ at the beginning of Creation.

According to John, Jesus called his disciples in a town called Bethany; a town that John says was along the Jordan River.  Mark and Matthew, however, say that Jesus chose fishermen from the lakeshore town of Capernaum where Jesus found them fishing.  John also relates that John the Baptist told two of his followers to follow Jesus because Jesus was the Messiah.  These two were Andrew and Simon, and for some unexplained reason Jesus is made to rename Simon Kephas, which is said to be from Greek and translate as “Peter.”  There is something contrived here: something that is meant to juggle into place a claim that Simon, alias Peter, ventured to Rome to establish his church there.  Another curiosity is that a disciple that is never mentioned in Mark, Matthew or Luke is said to have joined, along with Philip, those who were with Jesus, and this newly introduced disciple is given the name Nathanael.  There are numerous other points in John’s account that are contrary to those found in the other three “gospels,” but the point here is that the author then expended some effort to harmonize events leading up to Jesus’ last conflicts.  For example, to get Jesus into position to enter Jerusalem where he is to stir up the hostility of Jewish priests, John asserts that Jesus spent the night in an unnamed town on the Mount of Olives.  The next day in the temple, Jesus more-or-less absolves a woman caught in adultery, and later immodestly speaks of himself as “the Light of the World” that had come down to Earth to save humankind.  The Jews were then depicted as descendents of Satan (even though Jesus was himself a Jew) who wanted to stone Jesus.  There are considerably more variants from the three synoptic writings, but these brief examples are more consistent with the later date of authorship and the intent for it to supplant the first three gospels. 

It was also noted on page 198 of TFTD that the message of salvation and transfiguration did not fully solidify as Christianity’s offer until c. 105-106 with all the refinements being incorporated in to gospel of Saint John.

So the fervor of the Texas proselytizers seems to have no concern about all the inconsistencies and contradictions in the convictions that they advocate.  A message of hope gets a little fuzzy when accompanied with so much ambiguity.  For those of us who dig for answers, it will take a little more than just rephrasing it all in English and Spanish.