Aries and Easter - or why do we follow these customs now?
Many ceremonies and festivals have grown up around the energies of Aries.
Jewish Passover, Christian Easter, Ostara in Scandanavia, Balinese Nyepi, to mention just a few.
If we look at the essence behind these festivals and rituals, we find a similar theme of purification, renewal, a fresh start. They often entail cleansing, removal of the old and the use of fire to purify. There is great emphasis on a fresh start, a new beginning, a new life.
In Judaism, the Passover is celebrated as the ‘passing over’ into a new life – out of slavery in Egypt to the promised fresh start. The escaping Hebrews left behind their old life as slaves by acting quickly, ( the speed of Aries, fire and courage to act ) and
followed ‘a pillar of fire by night’ to their freedom.
The Passover is set by the first Full moon in Aries, symbolising the new life, the fresh start, the new beginning.
In Christianity, ‘Easter Sunday’ is set by the first Sunday after the Full Moon in Aries.
Easter incorporates all of the elements of Aries – change, a new start, destroying (sacrificing) of the old in order to bring in the new, purification, (Jesus dying for ‘the sins of the world’).
The resurrection from the tomb of matter, the concept of being ‘born again’ echoes the Aries energy of a ‘new life‘, a fresh start into a new, expanded awareness of being.
Even the crucifixion is continuing the Aries theme of destroying the old in order that the new may become possible, heralding the end of the belief that the physical was all that there is.
Resurrection means ‘to rise again’ – ie. There is no death – just release from the prison of the physical body – the breakthrough into greater, expanded awareness.
The reason we celebrate with Easter eggs and the Easter bunny is also connected with the concept of new life, a fresh start and the opportunity for a new beginning.
It is borrowed from the Scandinavian goddess of Spring, Ostara . We get our word ‘OESTRA’ from this, meaning new life. Think oestrus, ovum, eggs – a newly fertilised egg, a huge surge of growth energy like a seed sprouting…
It is easy to see why we celebrate with eggs and rabbits, which breed lots of new life very fast!
In Bali, Nyepi is a time of letting go of the old year, with all of its difficulties and negative experiences, which are personified as ‘bad spirits’.
The Balinese build frightening effigies of these ‘bad spirits’ and then proceed to create an enormous noise and burn them to ashes to eliminate them. The following day is spent in prayer and silence so that the ‘bad spirits’ will not find them again, and to reorient their focus, ready to welcome in a positive new year.
Here again we find the use of fire to purify, and the concept of a fresh, new start. These are all expressions of the one timeless truth.
We could cite many such instances of the connections between the ancient customs based on the cyclic patterns of the zodiac and modern religious observances.
The fact that such patterns have stood the test of time is a good indicator that they are more than just a whim.
It is interesting to be aware of these cyclic influences and their effect on us. Often we are unaware of the energies consciously, but nevertheless find ourselves responding to them. Perhaps we could use the energies similarly, as a letting go of the old and preparing for a fresh start in the new cycle.
Visit Seasonal Practices pages related to other times of the year in our Archives