I haven’t celebrated easter in a very long time. I’m not a christian, so I don’t feel any particular connection there. I was also reared as a catholic, so there may actually still be a little subconscious hostility left over as a result of recovering from that heritage.
This year, though, I decided that I was really going to celebrate the Spring Equinox. I won’t belabor the fact that the christian churches never met a pagan holiday that they didn’t steal or co-opt, and that easter is obviously a take-over of the celebration of Spring. We all know that. What I hadn’t really consciously flashed on, though, was that I was letting the christian holiday interfere with MY holiday in more ways than one.
It’s been a bitch of a year and a bitch of a winter, not just for me but for the entire world. There’s been a lot of death, a lot of depression, a lot of darkness and craziness and it’s gone on for a very long time. So when the first golden daffodil started popping open this year, I could feel in my very bones that I wanted to celebrate. I wanted to embrace that light with everything I had.
I decided to build a Spring Equinox altar. That, along with incense and candles, is one of the few positive things about growing up catholic. I’ll build an altar anywhere, anytime, at the drop of a freaking hat. And then I’ll stick candles on it and get some incense burning, by Goddess.
I spent hours cruising through our local stores, purchasing the, “ingredients,” for my little shrine to Spring. As usual, Dollar General was a treasure trove for low priced holiday decorations. I bought glittery eggs and plaster bunny rabbits for fertility symbols. Candles and chrysanthemums and sea shells. Virgin of Guadalupe’ votives to represent the Goddess. And more bunnies. I went home and dug out my crystals and my pentagrams and my chalice and athame’, and began assembling the altar.
About half way through the process I realized that I was having a hell of a good time. I actually found myself laughing out loud as I arranged the items on an old coffee table and rearranged them and rearranged them again. I put my statues of Tara and Quan Yin in the center of the table, strung white christmas lights around the shrine, lit incense, and laughed some more.
It was fun!
And it really hit me like a hammer: organized religions didn’t just steal our holidays, they stole our fun. They took every single pagan holiday, turned it something dark and solemn and serious, and systematically tried to wring every bit of joy and laughter out of it.
Easter is a prime example of that. The pagan celebrations of Spring had a HUGE amount of fun attached to them. Much like the Four of Wands, there was dancing, drinking, revelry and the people who were doing the celebrating didn’t just eat chocolate bunnies, they fucked like bunnies. A LOT.
And then along came organized religion. Suddenly the celebration of Spring was all about death. All about a very kind – and perhaps fictional – man being tortured, crucified and killed. And, yes, I know that christians like to say that easter is all about re-birth, all about christ rising from the tomb, but it’s really not. It’s about death.
It’s like they took my beautiful, golden daffodil and threw a bucket of blood on it.
There’s been that same strange dance between pagan joy and organized religion for centuries and I’d have to say that – all in all – we pagans are winning. Organized religion took over the mid-winter festival and declared that it was the birthday of Jesus, a very solemn occasion, doncha know? We countered with christmas trees and presents and twinkling lights. Organized religion took over our festival celebrating the end of the season of light and declared that it was, “All Souls Day.” We came right back and said, “Nope, it’s Halloween – break out the masks and candy!”
They said, “Easter,” and we replied, “Chocolate Bunnies!”
The point is that you can’t repress the joy of true spirituality. William James pointed that out in The Varieties of Religious Experience a long time ago. The hallmarks of someone who has had a true spiritual experience are joy, compassion and love.
To put it another way, if we’re not having some FUN with our religions, we’re not connecting with any sort of spirituality AT ALL. If we’re afraid to laugh in church, we’re in the wrong church.
So this year I’m starting again. Like my little Spring Equinox altar, I’m assembling the, “ingredients,” of my spirituality. They will include feathers and crystals and bells and, yes, some chocolate bunnies. And I may rearrange them and then rearrange them again, but I’ll be laughing while I do it.
Wishing you a joy-FULL Spring Equinox and BIG smiles.