THE ISHTAR, EASTER, OSTARA, CONNECTION
While Saturnalia (Saturn) is a veneration of vegetation in ‘remembrance’ that once the winter ends life will grow again, Easter (Ishtar) is the celebration of that rebirth. The celebration of Easter relating to resurrection is so far removed from the Winter Solstice (December 20-23) one might wonder why if the sun dies for three days and is resurrected or reborn, and this is the origin of Jesus’ birthday, then why is his resurrection not observed until roughly four months later.
A NEW DAY
Easter is a celebration of the rebirth of the Earth and since Jesus is the solar deity he brings that life back. The Holiday (Holy-Day) typically falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon around the Vernal (Spring) Equinox, which on the Wheel of the Year is one of four minor Sabbats and themidpointbetween Yule (Winter Solstice – December 20-23) and Litha (Summer Solstice – June 20-23). Since Easter is celebrated on the first full moon, this again shows the relationship between our modern holidays and ancient holy-days associated with the stars.
Typically the first full moon falls in early April or late March. Some Churches, however, still celebrate Easter on different dates due to their current use of the Julian Calendar as opposed to the Gregorian Calendar. The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates the ‘resurrection’ after Passover because the crucifixion and resurrection supposedly took place after the Biblical Passover.
Still, some Christians first celebrated Easter on the Jewish holiday of Passover and it wasn’t until the year 325 A.D. when emperor Constantine I convened the council of Nicaea in modern day Turkey that it was decided for Easter to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon in spring.
The Spring Equinox also symbolizes the dominion of light over the darkness as the days become slightly longer than the nights. This concept is once again representative of the dual aspects of dark and light or black and white; it is the notion of evil or good. It relates to pumpkins or Yule logs and their burning to ward off ‘evil’ (darkness), along with the casting of ‘Christmas lights’.
The Achaemenians of the Persian Empire would celebrate our modern Easter with a celebration of the Spring Equinox known as the festival of Nowruz, which means a ‘new day’. The ‘new day’ festival is obviously rooted in the same mythology of birth, life, and death, and represents the notion of rebirth. This celebration is similar to many other concepts we have discussed regarding religious teachings, as it has its roots in Zoroastrianism.
Prior to Nowruz, the Iranians celebrate a festival known as Chahar-Shanbeh Suri. This festival is not directly celebrated in one day, but instead over a 13-day period leading up to the festival of Nowruz. The number 13 is very symbolic in several ways relating to regeneration and rebirth. In observing the Zodiac Wheel, we see 12 houses. Each house represents one phase of the cycle and when the cycle repeats, the first new house begins and ends the previous cycle resulting in the first house being referred to as both the 1st and 13th.
The festival we celebrate as Easter is derived from celebrations of the Spring Equinox, a major Sabbat on the Wheel of the Year. The beginning of the spring starts in early February, a Sabbat known as Imbolc, which aligns with the later Lupercalia, which we will discuss as associated with Valentine’s Day. Imbolc further relates to Mabon, the Autumnal Equinox, a time to give thanks to the goddess or Earth for the production of its fruits.
This Spring Equinox is referred to on the ‘wheel’ as Ostara (March 20-23). The name Easter though is derived from several other sources including the Germanic goddess of the spring, Eostre, and the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. All of the names including Ostara, Eostre, and Ishtar, represent strong ties to the name we now give to our springtime celebrations – Easter.
EGGS, RABBITS & BLOOMING FLOWERS
The goddess Ishtar is a goddess of springtime and fertility and is seen as the Mother or Queen of heaven in the same manner as Isis in Egypt. She is a moon goddess and this also directly correlates with Easter due to the modern celebration being on the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. In the region of the Babylonian Empire was another Sumerian trinity known as Queen Semiramis (Ishtar), Nimrod (the Great Hunter), and Tammuz, whose birthday is the same as Nimrods on December 25th.
The Babylonians celebrated the day of Easter (Ishtar) as the return of the goddess of spring. She was the reincarnation of nature. Legend says that each year a huge egg would fall from heaven and land in the area around the Euphrates River. Ishtar would then burst from the egg – symbolizing birth – and whomever celebrating the occasion could find her egg ‘she’ would bestow a special blessing upon that person. This of course is the origin of our modern Easter egg hunts; you are hunting for the goddess and this then relates to her husband and son, Nimrod, the Great Hunter.
As discussed previously the Mithraic cult celebrated the birth of their god on December 25th. This day was also the birth of Attis, the son of Cybele, who was also resurrected each year on the Vernal (Spring) Equinox of the Julian-Calendar (March 22-25).
During this same time, the goddess Ostara would become pregnant and later give birth during Yule (December 20-23). Ostara was a Germanic goddess and her equal was Eostre whose feast day was held during the first full moon after the Spring Equinox, which is directly related to the celebration of Easter determined by the Council of Nicaea in 325A.D.
The Mayans even celebrated the spring festival using their ceremonial pyramid known as El Castillo in the center of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. As the sunlight struck the pyramid the shadows supposedly created the image of a serpent spiraling down the structure. This symbol was used as a representation of rebirth and the ‘Return of the Sun Serpent’. Again the correlation can be made between the serpent, sun, and the goddess.
The idea of a sunrise church service was also meant to symbolically hasten the yearly arrival of Ishtar’s egg to induce a special blessing. The blessing was the ‘life-giving’ nourishment of the goddess in bringing back life to a barren, cold, winter-stricken Earth.
The Spring Equinox, otherwise known as Ostara, is a festival of rebirth, regeneration, resurrection and fertility. The phrase ‘Mad as a March Hare’ represents the beginning of the rabbits mating season, as rabbits are known for their sexual adventures. Not only is a rabbit a popular Easter icon, but also specifically white rabbits are used. The reason for this is again the color white representing purity and innocence as in the purity of a ‘new day’ or the innocence of a child.
One Teutonic Germanic myth says that the goddess Eostre was traveling through a forest and found a bird dying in the snow from hunger and cold. She turned the bird into a hare because they have warm fur and can find food easier than a bird during winter. Because of this, the bunny survived the winter and when spring came, because the bunny was once a bird, it began laying eggs. The rabbit then decorated every egg and left it to Eostre as a sign of gratitude. This refers to the tradition of egg coloring and the idea that ‘the rabbit left the eggs the night before’.
Certain pagan rites also connected the spring celebration to nature and the goddess with freshly cut flowers, hot buns decorated with crosses, and star-shaped cakes. The star-shaped cakes obviously represent the five-pointed star of the goddess, associating her with Venus and Lucifer, the bearer of light, bringing light back to a barren world.
As Zoroastrianism and the myth of the goddesses Ishtar, Eostre, and Ostara, all play vital roles in the creation of Easter, so does another Persian god named Mithras. Mithra(s) like Jesus and Attis was also resurrected in the spring. Legend says that Mithra(s), who was very popular with Roman soldiers, was commanded to sacrifice the white bull, which is the zodiac house of Taurus the bull. The white of the bull of course signifies purity. When Mithra(s) goes to slay the bull to end the Age, he punctures it with a knife and as this happens the bull turned into a moon and Mithra(s) cloak became the night sky.
Where the bull’s blood fell there were flowers that bloomed on Earth. By bringing in the new age or new day (nowruz), as each day is a shorter cycle, Mithra(s) helps Mother Earth to bring life back to the Earth after the dark days of winter. This is the start of longer days and shorter nights, which symbolically is seen as the Sun/Son god’s victory over Saturn/Satan to free Mother Earth from the bondage of darkness.
Mark Booth writes in his incredible book, The Sacred History, that,“The Darkness was the spirit of Saturn.”He says, “The young Sun god fought Saturn and vanquished him. Saturn is one of the names of Satan, the spirit of opposition, and creation myths all over the world would preserve a memory of these events in the stories of Saturn oppressing Mother Earth and the Sun god than vanquishing the monster. Saturn was banished to the outer limits, where he lay coiled around the cosmos like a great serpent with his tail in his mouth. He was evil, but a necessary evil.”
SACRED RINGS OF WEDDING
There is so much truth to the latter statement and the image of the serpent ‘coiled around the cosmos’ with ‘his tail in his mouth’, which is a symbol known as the ouroboros, a depiction of a snake or dragon devouring its own tail. This is a symbol of eternity and revolution of cycles. It also relates to Saturn eating his children in that what comes into existence will later be destroyed through a host of repeating energetic cycles.
The symbolism of Saturn is ever present in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, with the symbolic two towers. In fact, in his book Republic, Plato writes of a ring when the collet was turned inward would render the wearer invisible. The circle also has dualistic interpretations, as it is a symbol of the light pushing back against the darkness. As a relevant symbol of eternity or the cycles of life it appropriately represents the concepts of the celebrations known as Easter/Eostre/Ishtar/Ostara.
Its essence is preserved in the tradition of ‘wedding rings’. Manly Palmer hall describes in his writing that, “The wedding ring originally was intended to imply that in the nature of the one who wore it the state of equilibrium and completion had been attained. This plain band of gold therefore bore witness of the union of the Higher Self (God) with the lower self (Nature) and the ceremony consummating this indissoluble blending of Divinity and humanity in the one nature of the initiated mystic constituted the hermetic marriage of the Mysteries.”
During these celebrations ancient and modern Pagan priests wore white robes, and women wore new white dresses and bonnets on their heads. These clothes again represent the distinct sign of purity associated with the white robes of the ancient Essenes, Knights Templar, Vestal Virgins, etc.
One interpretation of the myth from ancient Babylon goes along these lines. In Babylon, the god Nimrod, the great grandson of Noah’s son, Ham, had a son named Cush who married the soon to be Queen Semiramis. Together they had a son who was also named Nimrod, but was really still himself.
After Cush died, Nimrod married his own mother and became King, making his wife and mother a powerful Queen. When Nimrod was killed his body was cut into pieces and sent to various parts of the region in the same exact manner that Osiris’ body was cut into pieces and scattered about the Earth. Nimrod’s wife and mother looked for all of the pieces, but could not locate the reproductive organ, exactly as Isis was unable to locate in Osiris’ penis in Egypt.
Semiramis then claimed the Nimrod had ascended into heaven to be the sun and that he was to now be called Baal, the sun god, and his symbol was the be the flame, candle, lamp, or torch. As queen she claimed her origins to be from the stars where she ascended in a giant egg that fell into the Euphrates River during the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox.
Her name was then changed to Ishtar and the egg became ‘Ishtar’s Egg’. Just as Isis had become pregnant from the golden phallus she constructed for her lifeless husband Osiris, so, too, did Ishtar become pregnant with a golden ray of sun from the new sun god Baal. Her child was named Tammuz and he had affection for rabbits. He also became a great hunter like his father Nimrod.
When Tammuz was killed by a pig, the letter (T) was then used as a way to identify with his honor. Thus we have the correlation between eggs, rabbits, the cross (T), Ishtar (Easter), and early mass in that of the new morning on the Spring Equinox. As Tammuz died, myth states that his blood dropped on a tree stump, which further made the evergreen tree important in these celebrations of nature
Tammuz also became an important figure in another ancient holy-day festival that we now practice as the holiday of Valentine’s Day or Lupercalia.