During Midsummer I wrote about the challenge that can be presented by celebrating the Summer Solstice during the Christmas holidays. I thought it might be suitable to reflect on the Easter break and how to reconcile it as a pagan observing the Southern Hemisphere seasonal sabbats.
For most secular Australians, Easter presents no challenge at all. It’s a glorious extended long weekend with slightly cooler weather and lots of chocolate. The madness of retail outlets stocking hot cross buns and Easter bunnies in February is duly noted (“it happens earlier every year!” …well, they wouldn’t stock it if you didn’t buy it). Usually friends and family groups pitch a tent and ‘sink a lot of piss’ and the true meaning of Easter is perhaps ranted about by stalwarts writing their letters to the editor of the local rag.
The timing of Easter is decidedly pagan-flavoured, and for this very reason Easter celebrations are rejected by some Christian churches. Easter is observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox- this comes from the lunar-solar Jewish calendar. The timing perplexes many and has fallen particularly late this year, to clash with Anzac Day celebrations on the 25th of April. It is also well-known that many of the Easter customs, including the name on the festival- have pagan origins. The eggs, the bunnies, even the hot cross buns- most well educated people can tell you that these are all commercial appropriations of symbols that have origins in pagan spring festivals. Click here for an amusing yet very thorough and well-researched explanation of some of those origins!
Much is made of the Pagan Chocolate Goddess (may the fudge be with you) and if you are Discordian or just a casual worshipper, now is the time to gorge yourself on Her Delights. I’d like to remind pagans to gorge responsibly, however. More people are now aware of the horrors of the chocolate industry, particularly in West Africa where children are enslaved and forced into labour to harvest the ingredients of our indulgences. Fair trade chocolate is becoming more popular and more widely available. And let’s face it- the cheap chocolate is usually nasty tasting anyway. All the milk in chocolate (and it’s accompanying ethical and health issues) can be happily avoided aswell- dark chocolate is the way to go for the lactose disinclined, and delicious chocolate can be made that’s raw, free trade and almost healthy- just the way the Aztecs and the Mayans liked it! The Mayan Goddess Ixcacao was an ancient goddess of fertility named for the precious and highly revered cacao bean.
Chocolate is the perfect soul food, and as the Wheel turns, what better way to honour the Goddess within than with a spicy hot chocolate?
Our group celebrated Mabon back in March- and we are now close to celebrating Samhain, which for us will fall on next weekend. It is a time to take stock & to turn inward and reflect on the year past. It is also a time to honour the dead- the timing of Anzac Day is suitable as it allows us to take a moment and reflect, and give thanks to those who made sacrifices in wars past- whatever you may think of war, I believe our military servicemen should be honoured still.
If you are lucky to have some time off, use this time to reflect. If you haven’t gathered your harvest yet, use this time to appreciate what you have, and what choices you are priveliged enough to make in your life. Rejoice in the things that give you pleasure!