Thursday, March 20, 2008

I'm Dreaming of a White Easter.

Except it's no dream. It's snowing .

The equinox just passed so it's officially Spring but so far, not so much as a daffodil has poked out of the permafrost here. Crocuses are out and I bet they're sorry now. The whiteness is accumulating.

Well, at least I'm not one of the New Age 'witches' so I won't have to dance naked in the moonlight. You know, the original witches never did that. Never. Especially those in Scotland. It was one of the things made up by witch prosecutors in the 17th/18th centuries along with flying on brooms, sailing in sieves, wearing pointy hats and having noses that looked like septic parsnips.

Thirteen to a coven? Made up. Witches worked alone. Worshipping Satan? Made up. Witches weren't Christian, never had been, so had no Satan to worship. The Horned God, The Green Man, all pagan fertility symbols and nothing to do with the Christian devil. Satan didn't even grow horns until he was required to usurp the Pagan god Pan. The tenets practised by many modern 'witches' were derived from the testimonies of those trials and from confessions obtained under torture. Tortures that I guarantee would have made you confess you came from Pluto and that you were single-handedly responsible for tight leggings and codpieces. It was all made up. People were convicted and killed on such testimony!

I doubt any real witch was ever prosecuted. It was all political machination, a means to get rid of those who just didn't fit in with the herd mentality. Rather like the approach many groups take today. Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose. Sorry. I don't know how to put in the accents.

The witches were convicted of such things as changing shape and casting spells that killed people. Now, if they could really do that, would they even have been caught? Who would dare catch them or prosecute them? Why didn't they just turn into a sparrow and fly through the prison bars? The witch trials were all about spite and vicious reprisals, about killing for the fun of killing and about removing those who believed in a different god. Again, nothing's changed really.

Still, they left us one worthwhile legacy. The eggs and the rabbits (fertility symbols) are now made of chocolate so tuck in and try to work out where eggs and rabbits fit in with nailing someone to a cross and watching them die.

Sorry to all the Christians out there but at this time of year, the choice is to join in with fertility rites and eat too much chocolate, or listen to a tale of torture and death.

It's not a difficult choice. No wonder the early missionaries never managed to completely eliminate the eggs and rabbits. Even the name, Easter, comes from the Pagan, not the Christian.

Happy Easter, and if you can't finish those eggs, just remember chocolate is toxic to most pets. No sharing!


Southern Writer said...

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

The more things change, the more they remain the same (Admittedly, I had to look it up).

I think that this early Easter is probably closer to when Easter should actually be celebrated (more or less) than the dates on which it normally falls. It almost coincided with the spring solstice, and first degree of Aries. Funny how people are finally acknowledging how our holidays really came into being, and how the Big Spookies (witchcraft, Satan, superstitions) lose their power when brought into the light of day.

tom sheepandgoats said...

I didn't know that about chocolate. Which pets? Are there any that can eat it?

I've recently spent a few days at the home of relatives who have bottomless jars of chocolates, mostly peanut M&Ms. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to resist the urge to grab a handful every time you walk by?

I did know most of what you said about Easter. However, some of what you wrote about witches I did not know. Thank you. I don't know if our people ever celebrated Easter. We haven't celebrated Christmas in almost 100 years, when its non-Christian roots became known. Maybe Easter disappeared around that time too; I don't know. What we do celebrate is an annual observance of Christ's death, which is the one event he actually said should be observed.

tom sheepandgoats said...

Oh, I forgot to mention. On my Winged Migration post that you commented on, I finally heard from the email's author. In his final comment he sends a message to you regarding your wrens. He loves birds.

Romulus Crowe said...

Ah, SW, you caught me out. It's a long time since I had to speak any French and I doubt I could get past 'ouefs et pommes frites' these days. Still, I'd eat. I know enough to avoid 'steak cheval'.

It was unusually close to the equinox this year. Much earlier than usual, perhaps that's why it's a white easter. It's still snowing but it's that annoying snow. Just enough to be a nuisance but not enough to build any snowmen. It is seriously cold though. My wind-vane has been pointed due north all week.

I suspect witchcraft was overrated, sensationalised in order to justify terrible tortures and persecutions. Most victims were herbalists, or would have been called that today. Interesting to note that science now recognises the antibacterial properties of many of the plant extracts these witches used. An apple a day really does keep the doctor away although I'm told berries are more effective at controlling gut infections. Cranberries are good, but you have to eat whole ones, not just juice. But I'm getting into areas I know little about.

Oh, and mouldy-bread poultices long predated the discovery of penicillin but it was the same thing.

Most modern 'witches' follow Gardner's ideas, which were based on the stuff documented from the witch trials, most of which was invented in order to justify hanging some pensioners. There are a few who follow the real 'old ways' but most are playing at spells and curses.

Superstitions are interesting, if a little odd. Some believe it's bad luck if a black cat crosses your path, some believe it's good luck. Walking under ladders is obviously a bad idea but it has less to do with the supernatural and more to do with that combination of gravity and paint pots.

Satan is a Christian creation, and I don't think he's as bad as he's made out to be. In Job, for example, Satan just comments. He doesn't do all those terrible things to Job. When he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, well, I get the impression he was sent to test the guy rather than trying to deflect his purpose. I don't think there's a horned red guy presiding over a fiery place. I don't think there's any 'evil organisation' at all.

But I'm waffling. I'll shut up now.

Romulus Crowe said...

Hi Tom

On chocolate, well, plants produce complex chemicals for a few reasons, but mostly to avoid being eaten. That's why you have to soak those red beans for chilli. The toxin in the raw beans will do awful things to your digestion. I've heard it described as (excuse language) 'shitting though every orifice'.

Caffeine and nicotine are insecticides. Chocolate is toxic too. Human metabolism can deal with it. You'd have to eat so much to get a toxic effect, you're guaranteed to throw it up before you get poisoned. No need to worry.

Not so for animals. New Scientist ran an article on this recently. You can kill a large dog with a half-pound bar of chocolate. Birds can be even more sensitive. Chocolate is good in mousetraps; even if they get away they're still doomed. It's different for different species but I wouldn't chance it. I doubt any of my lizards would eat it anyway. They prefer their dinner moving.

It's not possible to resist the combination of peanuts and chocolate. You'll damage yourself if you try.

I did get an invite from the local JW's to attend their observance of Christ's birth. I didn't go because I'm not a believer. I am always impressed by the fact that the regular JW who visits is never fazed by my non-attendance in response to his invites. He's self-employed too - he's an artist - and an altogether pleasant person. One day I'll let him in the house but he might not like what he finds. I have a collection of old and strange items that might not be easy for a Christian to be around.

I did read the response on your Winged Migration post. I'll try to photograph the wren, the robin, and the others but they're scarce at the moment. They'll come back when the weather warms, I hope.

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