Holidays

Happy Sol Invictus!!

sol-invictusDuring the later Roman Empire, the Emperor Aurelian introduced the official cult of Sol Invictus which honored the sun-god as the primary divinity of the entire empire. Although the solar deity had been worshiped throughout time and in many ancient cultures, it was the cult of Mithraism that was the final solar cult before the spread of Christianity wiped out virtually all pagan religions.

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Before the time of Constantine the ancient world was a virtual cornucopia of different religions and cults that existed all over the Roman Empire and eastward into China and India. As a result of these competing doctrines “when Christianity was only one of several dozen foreign Eastern cults struggling for recognition in Rome, the religious dualism and dogmatic moral teaching of Mithraism set it apart from other sects, creating a stability previously unknown in Roman paganism” (Mithras in the Roman Empire). The striking parallels to Christianity in Mithraism have long been pointed out, for Mithras was said to have been: born of a virgin birth, had twelve followers or disciples, was killed and resurrected, performed miracles, and was known as mankind’s savior who was called the light of the world and his virgin birth occurred on December 25. Indeed, the resemblances are so striking in that all of the Christian mysteries were known nearly five hundred years before the birth of Christ that later church fathers claimed that Satan had created all of this prior to Christ’s birth so as to confuse the laity.

Deus Sol Invictus meant the Undefeated Sun God. The Festival of the Sol Invictus was first celebrated on December 25 under the reign of Emperor Elagabalus (218-222) but popularized under Aurelian (270-274). December 25 was also celebrated as […]

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By |2017-04-02T09:43:17-04:00December 23rd, 2006|Holidays|Comments Off on Happy Sol Invictus!!

Happy Lunasa!!

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Also spelled Lughnasad and later called Lammas, this holiday is traditionally celebrated on August 1st but as a cross-quarter day (halfway between the solstice and equinox) is more properly when the Sun is at 15 degrees Leo which is the midpoint between the Summer Solstice and the Autumnal Equinox, although it is also sometimes celebrated on the full moon nearest the midpoint.

For modern pagans, the cross-quarter days are the most magical times of the year, when the veil between the worlds (the spiritual and physical planes) becomes thinner and more easily traveled.

Lughnasadh is an ancient Celtic festival honoring the god Lugh for his triumph over the spirits of the other world who tried to keep the harvest for themselves. It was a celebration of the abundance of the Earth, and also a time of sports and games to celebrate good health and physical vitality, all aspects of Leo. Some sources say that Lughnasadh was a time for the crowning of kings, another correspondence of Leo. In some traditions this is a time when the corn god is sacrificed in order to guarantee the harvest, and the eating of bread is a major part of rituals and celebrations of the festival.

The Lughnasadh festival was later reborn in Medieval Christianity as Lammas (loaf-mass), in which a loaf of bread made from the newly harvested wheat was brought to church. St. Catherine’s Day was often celebrated at Lammas with the Catherine Wheel which was set aflame and rolled down a hill, reminiscent of the pagan fire festivals of the cross quarter days.

This year the accurate cross-quarter date falls on August 6, with the closest Full Moon […]

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By |2018-11-14T11:40:04-04:00August 4th, 2006|Holidays|Comments Off on Happy Lunasa!!

Happy Eostre!

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Many people will celebrate Easter Sunday tomorrow as the day that Christ rose from his grave and achieved godhood. In ancient mythology, the archetype of the dying and rising god actually began thousands of years before Jesus with the stories of Osiris and Tammuz, Adonis and Attis — all legends of gods that suffered an untimely end but were reborn into physical existence in order to spread their religion. Festivals celebrating the death of the god in winter when the crops were dying and the resurrection in spring were common.

Long before the birth of Jesus, Dionysus was resurrected and ascended to heaven after being torn apart by the Titans, an event celebrated in mystery cults in early Rome. Belief in Dionysus was thought to give one eternal life, and followers were initiated by bathing.

Several hundred years before Jesus, stories about the Anatolian god Attis claimed that he was born to a Virgin and was considered both the Father and the divine son. The Festival of Joy was celebrated every year in Rome: the first day commemorated his death, and on the third day the worshippers celebrated his rising from the dead.

Mithras was a Persian god who had faded into prehistory until being imported into Rome around 70 BC according to Plutarch. Mithras was born on December 25 of a virgin mother. He was born into a mortal body in order to redeem humanity and was known as Savior.

According to the 8th century Christian monk and historian Bede, first asserted in his book De Ratione Temporum that Easter was named after Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). Eostre was a Teutonic goddess of fertility, who was often portrayed in Anglo-Saxon myth with a white hare standing in attendance. The hare, or rabbit, […]

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By |2019-04-14T07:30:35-04:00April 15th, 2006|Holidays|Comments Off on Happy Eostre!
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