Friday, December 22, 2006

Time to return to the Ancient Origins of Christmas?

If you check into the history of Christmas, you will find that the Winter Solstice is where it has its origins. Here in the Britain our religion is deeply rooted in Pagan origins and like most of the truly ancient religions the focus was on the seasons and natural phenomena - most important of all being the Sun - without which there is no life. The Sun deities were the most important in all ancient religions in China and Egypt - and the alignment of Stonehenge is towared the rising sun non both the Summer and Winter Solstices. In Ireland Newgrange a beautiful huge circular stone structure estimated to be 5,000 years old - that is older than Stonehenge and possibly older than the Pyramids, is perfectly aligned to receive the light of the Rising Solstice Sun (and possibly the light of the morning star - Venus)

The connections with Christianity are really just part of the assimilation process that Christian leaders have been used for centuries. In order to convert cultures to their beliefs. they aligned key Christian events with the important dates in the more ancient religions. It is also believed that the halo associated with Jesus is actually the sun behind his head, first appearing in images after Constantine forced the merger of Christianity with Sol Invictus (The Undefeated Sun) in 325 AD. It is not by accident that the Christian day of worship is SUNday.

The winter solstice feast on 25th December was the last feat of the year, celebrating the return on the sun from the darkness of the Solstice but also the coming winter was often a period of famine and starvation - like many animals humans would fatten up during the harvest time in the autumn. In British churches the full moon after the September Autumn Equinox is called the Harvest Moon - and the beginning of the feasts - eg Thanksgiving in the USA and Canada - The Autumn (Fall) is a time of plenty before the time of famine in the coming winter and a time to fatten up.

The other Pagan connection is with the Spring equinox in March - the time of fertility - this is the beginning of the agricultural calender when seeds are sown and the fertility festivals were a time of human impregnation - Any child conceived at this time would be born at the time of the Winter Solstice - thus our of death (the end of the harvest and the darkest time of the year came birth) The Newgrange cavern is fashioned in the form of a womb and the light of the winter solstice sun falls on a wall of crystal illuminating the cavern with it a pink glow.

So as you celebrate Christmas this year, perhaps its a time to remember that this is not a Christian festival but a much older religion founded on the The Sun, the Winter Solstice and our connection with the Mother Earth - and that perhaps by returning to that more ancient root we can begin to connect with our need to respect the Mother Earth if we wish Her to continue to support human life as we know it.

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