How Sex, Politics, Money and Religion are Killing Planet Earth

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Death, Rebirth, Ancient Rituals and the Vernal Equinox

“But when night had fallen, the sorrow of the worshippers was turned to joy. For suddenly a light shone in the darkness: the tomb was opened: the god had risen from the dead; and the priest touched the lips of the weeping mourners with balm, he softly whispered in the ears the glad tidings of salvation (1).”

Today marks the first day of spring. For many, including myself, this is a most welcome occasion that will usher in a flurry of joyful gardening until the weeds just get to be too much and we resign ourselves to letting Nature have her way. For now, we rejoice after a protracted, if not schizophrenic winter season.

Today also marks the vernal equinox, which is one of two times of the year when the earth, on its trajectory around the sun, tilts neither towards the northern hemisphere or the southern hemisphere but orients with its equator pointing directly at the sun. This phenomenon causes a day and night of almost equal length with some variations because in reality the earth is not perfectly spherical, but contrary to popular belief, the equinox refers to the solar orientation of the earth rather than the equality of day and night.

As we emerge from the hassles of snow and ice, delayed flights, snow days and super-sized heating bills in the modern world, one can only imagine what a blessing the arrival of spring was to our ancient ancestors. As contemporary gardens and pantries lie bare of all but a few freezer-burned remnants from last year’s harvest, we can almost sympathize with the real hardships and depravations most likely suffered by our ancestors. Perhaps not surprisingly, the observance of seasonal celebrations surrounding the spring equinox are believed to be the oldest rituals in the world. The season of rebirth after the long, cold death of winter was and continues to be cause for celebration.

In the modern era, Christian Easter, Jewish Passover, Wiccan Ostara and the Zoroastrian celebration of Nowruz, to name a few, commemorate this time of year when the earth awakens from her long slumber to once again bring forth life. These modern celebrations are in part or in whole replications and evolutions of ancient pagan rituals, with the exception of the celebration of Nowruz, which itself dates back to the third millennia B.C.E.

Most rituals are variations on this theme. Cybele was the Great Mother of all things. She gave birth to her earthly incarnation the virgin Nana who conceived a son, Attis, through an immaculate conception by eating or implanting in her bosom either a pomegranate or an almond depending on the telling of the tale. The conception (and annual re-conception) of Attis takes place on the vernal equinox. His birth takes place nine months later on December 25th.

Attis, the god of vegetation was also known as “The Good Shepherd” and was lustily admired by his mother/grandmother. Alas, he was smitten with love for a nymph, which made Cybele furious with jealousy. As a woman scorned, Cybele inflicted insanity upon her beloved, thus causing him to wander aimlessly until he ended his own life by castrating himself at the foot of a pine tree.

Attis was laid to rest on Black Friday, but three days later he arose from the dead bringing the joy of resurrection to the earth and her people. Death is only a recycling of sorts, as Attis proves each spring as he is reborn to drench the world in fertility. As the blood of Attis brings forth his own resurrection, he became known as “the father and the son.”

Those of you who are sentient might notice a couple of similarities between the savior Attis and a later one named Jesus. Do not be afraid. According to official Christian sources dating back to the very early Church (2), the mythology of Attis is what is known as “diabolical mimicry.” In other words, the devil, in full knowledge that the true savior Jesus was going to come to earth in 1,000 years, created the myth of Attis around 1,000 B.C.E. in order to confuse people.

Whatever you believe, the Easter season (named after the Anglo Saxon goddess of the dawn, Eostre) is a time when we are reassured both physically and spiritually that no matter how dark things get, a new dawn and rebirth are as predictable as the earth continuing on its endless cycle around the sun. Happy Eostre.

1- In The Golden Bough, Sir James G. Frazer describes the death and resurrection of Attis, a Phrygian god of vegetation.
The Golden Bough
2- For further information on diabolical mimicry see


  1. Thank you for this. Although I call myself a follower of Yeshua, I'm especially fond of this story from the Lakota.

    This is a central myth of the Plains tribes, especially the Lakota, or Sioux. It tells how the Lakota first received their sacred pipe and the ceremony in which to use it. It has often been related, for example by Black Elk, Lame Deer and Looks for Buffalo.

    White Buffalo Woman

    In the days before the Lakota had horses on which to hunt the buffalo, food was often scarce. One summer when the Lakota nation had camped together, there was very little to eat. Two young men of the Itazipcho band – the ‘Without-Bows’ – decided they would rise early and look for game. They left the camp while the dogs were still yawning, and set out across the plain, accompanied only by the song of the yellow meadowlark.

    After a while the day began to grow warm. Crickets chirruped in the waving grass, prairie dogs darted into their holes as the braves approached, but still there was no real game. So the young men made towards a little hill from which they would see further across the vast expanse of level prairie. Reaching it, they shielded their eyes and scanned the distance, but what they saw coming out of the growing heat haze was something bright, that seemed to go on two legs, not four. In a while they could see that it was a very beautiful woman in shining white buckskin.

    As the woman came closer, they could see that her buckskin was wonderfully decorated with sacred designs in rainbow-coloured porcupine quills. She carried a bundle on her back, and a fan of fragrant sage leaves in her hand. Her jet-black hair was loose, except for a single strand tied with buffalo fur. Her eyes were full of light and power, and the young men were transfixed.

    Now one of the men was filled with a burning desire. ‘What a woman!’ he said sideways to his friend. ‘And all alone on the prairie. I’m going to make the most of this!’

    ‘You fool,’ said the other. ‘This woman is holy.’

    But the foolish one had made up his mind, and when the woman beckoned him towards her, he needed no second invitation. As he reached out for her, they were both enveloped in a great cloud. When it lifted, the woman stood there, while at her feet was nothing but a pile of bones with terrible snakes writhing among them.

    ‘Behold,’ said the woman to the good brave. ‘I am coming to your people with a message from Tatanka Oyate, the buffalo nation. Return to Chief Standing Hollow Horn and tell him what you have seen. Tell him to prepare a tipi large enough for all his people, and to get ready for my coming.’

    The young man ran back across the prairie and was gasping for breath as he reached his camp. With a small crowd of people already following him, he found Standing Hollow Horn and told him what had happened, and that the woman was coming. The chief ordered several tipis to be combined into one big enough for his band. The people waited excitedly for the woman to arrive.

    After four days the scouts posted to watch for the holy woman saw something coming towards them in a beautiful manner from across the prairie. Then suddenly the woman was in the great lodge, walking round it in a sunwise direction. She stopped before Standing Hollow Horn in the west of the lodge, and held her bundle before him in both hands.

    ‘Look on this,’ she said, ‘and always love and respect it. No one who is impure should ever touch this bundle, for it contains the sacred pipe.’

    [There's more. I hope you find it.]

  2. tsysageya, wow, what a beautiful legend. I found the remaining portion online. I think Yeshua would approve of the message from the white buffalo woman.