The following on “Easter,” is an excerpt from “The Two Babylon,” written by Rev. Alexander Hislop.
What does the term “Easter” mean? It is not a Christian name; it bears its Chalden origin on its very forehead. Easter is nothing else than “Astarte,” one of the titles of “Beltis,” the queen of heaven, whose name, as pronounced by the people of Nineveh, was evidently identical with that now in common use in the British islands. That name, as found by Layard on the Assyrian monuments, “Ishtar.” (Rev. Alexander Hislop; The Two Babylons, 1959, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ, pp. 103-113. Quote from: Layard’s Nineveh and Babylon. London 1853, p. 629)
The worship of Bel and Astarte was very early introduced into Britain, along with the Druids, “the priests of the groves.” (Rev. Alexander Hislop; The Two Babylons, 1959, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ, pp. 103-113. Quote from: Layard’s Nineveh and Babylon. London 1853, p. 629)
Some have imagined that the Druidical worship was first introduced by the Phoenicians who, centuries before the Christian era, traded with the tin-mines of Cornwall. But the unequivocal traces of that worship are found in regions of the British islands where the Phoenicians never penetrated, and it has everywhere left indelible marks of the strong hold which it must have had on the early British mind. From “Bel,” the first of May is called “Beltane” in “Edinburgh’s Almanac” of 1860)
The festival of which we read in Church history under the name of Easter, in the third or fourth centuries, was quite a different festival from that now observed in the Romish Church, and “at that time” was not known by any such name as Easter. It was called “Pasch, or the Passover,” and though not of Apostolic institution was very early observed by many professing Christians in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Christ.
That festival agreed originally with the time of the Jewish Passover when Christ was crucified, a period which, in the days of Tertullian at the end of the second century, was believed to have been the 23rd of March. That festival was not idolatrous, and it was preceded by no Lent. “It ought to be known,” said Cassianus, the monk of Marseilles writing in the fifty century and contrasting the primitive Church with the Church in his day, “that the observance of the forty days had no existence, so long as the perfection of that primitive Church remained inviolate.” (Rev. Alexander Hislop; The Two Babylons, 1959, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ, pp. 103-113. Quote from: Layard’s Nineveh and Babylon. London 1853, p. 93)
Whence, then, came this observance? The forty days’ abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshipers of the Babylonian goddess. Such Lent of forty days, in the spring of the year, is still observed by the Yezidis or Pagan Devil-worshipers of Kordestan who have inherited it from their early masters the Babylonians. Such a Lent of forty days was held in the spring by the Pagan Mexicans, for thus we read in Humboldt’s “Mexican Researches” where he gives account of Mexican observances; “Three days after the vernal equinox...began a solemn fast for ‘forty days’ in honor of the sun.” (Rev. Alexander Hislop; The Two Babylons, 1959, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ, pp. 103-113. Quote from: Humboldt’s Mexican Researches. London 1814, v.i., p. 404)
Such a Lent of forty days was observed in Egypt, as may be seen on consulting Wilkinson’s “Egyptians.” This Egyptian Lent of forty days, we are informed by Landseer in his Sabean Researches, was held expressly in commemoration of “Adonis or Osiris,” the great mediatorial god. At the same time, the rape of Proserpine seems to have been commemorated in a similar manner, for Julius Firmicus informs us that for ‘forty nights the waiting for Proserpine’ continued.
And from Arnobius we learn that the fast which the Pagans observed, called “Castus or the sacred fast, was believed by the Christians in his time to have been primarily in imitation of the long fast of Ceres, when for many days she determinedly refused to eat on account of her “excess of sorrow;” that is, on account of the loss of her daughter Proserpine when carried away by Pluto, the god of hell.
As the stories of Bacchus, or Adonis and Proserpine, though originally distinct, were made to join on and fit in to one another so that Bacchus was called Liber, and his wife Aridane, Libera (which was one of the names of Proserpine), it is highly probable that the forty days’ fast of Lent was made in later times to have reference to both. Among the Pagans, this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz which was celebrated by alternate weeping and rejoicing, and was (in many countries was considerably later than the Christian festival) being observed in Palesti9ne and Assyria in June, therefore called the “month of Tammuz;” in Egypt, about the middle of May, and in Britain, some time in April.
To conciliate the Pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursing its usual policy, took measures to get the Christian and Pagan festivals amalgamated, and by a complicated but skillful adjustment of the calendar it was found no difficult matter, in general, to get Paganism and Christianity; now far sunk in idolatry in this as in so many other things, to shake hands. The instrument in accomplishing this amalgamation was the abbot Dionysus the Little, about 525 A.D., to whom we owe also, as modern chronologers have demonstrated, the date of the Christian era, or of the birth of Christ Himself, moved FOUR YEARS from the true time. Whether this was done through ignorance or design may be a matter of question; but there seems to be no doubt of the fact, that the birth of the Lord Jesus was made full four years later than the truth. (Rev. Alexander Hislop; The Two Babylons, 1959, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ, pp. 103-113. Quote from: Giesler’s Ecclesiastical History. Edinburgh 1846, vol. I., p. 54 (Giesler adduces as authorities for the statement in the text, G.A. Hamberger, De Epochoe Christiance ortu et auctore (in Martini Thesaur. Dissertat., T, iii., p.i., p. 241. Jani, J.G., Historia Aeroe Dionysiance, viteb., 1715, 4 and Ideler’s Chronologia, ii, p. 366ff)
This change of the calendar in regard to Easter was attended with momentous consequences. It brought into the Church the grossest corruption and the rankest superstition in connection with the abstinence of Lent. Let anyone only read the atrocities that were commemorated during the “sacred fast” or Pagan Lent, as described by Arnobius and Clemens Alexandrinus in his “Protrepticos,” and surely he must blush for the Christianity of those who, with the full knowledge of all these abominations, “went down to Egypt for help” to stir up the languid devotion of the degenerate Church, and who could find no more excellent way to “revive” it than by borrowing, from so polluted a source, the absurdities and abominations while the early Christian writers had held up to scorn.
That Christians should ever think of introducing the Pagan abstinence of Lent was a sign of evil. It showed how low they had sunk, and it was also a cause of evil. It inevitably led to deeper degradation. Originally, even in Rome, Lent, with the preceding revelries of the carnival, was entirely unknown. Even when fasting before the Christian Pasch was held to be necessary, it was by slow steps that, in this respect, it came to conform with the ritual of Paganism. What may have been the period of fasting in the Roman Church before the sitting of the “Nicene Council” does not very clearly appear, but for a considerable period after that Council, we have distinct evidence that it did not exceed three weeks
The words of Socrates, writing on this very subject about 450 A.D., are these: “Those who inhabit the princely city of Rome fast together before Easter three weeks, excepting Saturday and Lord’s-day.” ((Rev. Alexander Hislop; The Two Babylons, 1959, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ, pp. 103-113. Quote from: Giesler’s Ecclesiastical History) Giesler, speaking of the Easter Church in the second century, in regard to Paschal observances, says: “In it (the Paschal festival in commemoration of the death of Christ) they (the Eastern Christians) eat unleavened bread, probably like the Jews, eight days throughout...There is no trace of a yearly festival of a ‘resurrection’ among them, for this was kept every Sunday.” (Catholic Church, sect. 53, p. 178, Note 35). In regard to the Western Church, at a somewhat later period, the age of Constantine, fifteen days seem to have been observed in religious exercises in connection with the Christian Paschal feast, as appears from the following extracts from Bingham, kindly furnished (are) the week before and the week after Easter Sunday, one week of the Cross, the other of the resurrection. The ancients speak of the Passion and Resurrection Pasch as a fifteen days’ solemnity. Fifteen days was enforced by ‘law’ by the Empire, and commanded to the universal church... Scalinger mentions a law of Constantine, ordering two weeks for Easter and a vacation of all legal processes.” (Bingham, ix. P. 95)
But at last, when the worship of Astarte was rising into the ascendant, steps were taken to get the whole Chaldean Lent of six weeks, or forty days, made imperative on all within the Roman empire of the West. The way was prepared for this by a Council held at Aurelia in the time of Hormisdas, Bishop of Rome, about the year 519 A.D., which decreed that Lent should be solemnly kept before Easter. It was the view, no doubt, of carrying out this decree that the calendar was, a few days after, readjusted by Dionysus.
This decree could not be carried out all at once. About the end of the sixth century, the first decisive attempt was made to enforce the observance of the new calendar. It was in Britain that the first attempt was made in this way; it met with vigorous resistance. The difference, in point of time, betwixt the Christian “Pasch” as observed in Britain by the native Christians, and the Pagan “Easter” enforced by Rome, at the time of its enforcement, was a whole month. (Rev. Alexander Hislop; The Two Babylons, 1959, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ, pp. 103-113. Quote from: Socrates, “Historia Ecclesiasticus,” lib. V. cap. 22, p. 234) It was only by violence and bloodshed, at last, that the Festival of the Anglo-Saxon or Chaldean goddess came to supersede that which had been held in honor of Christ.
The origin of the Pasch eggs is very clear. The ancient Druids bore an egg as the sacred emblem of their order. In the “Dionysia, or mysteries of Bacchus” as celebrated in Athens, one part of the nocturnal ceremony consisted in the consecration of an egg. The Hindoo fables celebrate their “mundane” egg as of a golden color.
The people of Japan make their sacred egg to have been brazen. In China today, “dyed or painted” eggs are used on sacred festivals even as in this country. In ancient times eggs were used in the religious rites of the Egyptians and the Greeks, and were hung up for mystic purposes in their temples. From Egypt, these sacred eggs can be distinctly traced to the banks of the Euphrates. The classic poets are full of the fable of the mystic egg of the Babylonians; and thus its tale is told by Hyginus, the Egyptian, the learned keeper of the Palestine library at Rome in the time of Augustus, who was skilled in all wisdom of his native country.
“An egg of wondrous size is said to have fallen from heaven into the river Euphrates. The fishes rolled it to the bank, where the doves having settled upon it, and hatched it, out came “Venus,” who afterwards was called the Syrian Goddess” (Rev. Alexander Hislop; The Two Babylons, 1959, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ, pp. 103-113. Quote from: Cummianus, quoted by Archbishop Ussher, Sylloge, p. 34) Those who have been brought up in observance of Christmas and Easter, and who yet abhor from their hearts all Papal and Pagan idolatry alike, may perhaps feel as if there were something ‘untoward’ in the revelations given above in regard to the origin of these festivals. But a moment’s reflection will suffice entirely to banish such a feeling. They will see, that if the account I have given be true, it is of no use to ignore it. A few of the facts stated in these pages are already known to Infidel and Socinian writers of no mean mark, but in this country and on the Continent, and these are using them in such a way as to undermine the faith of the young uninformed in regard to the very vitals of the Christian faith. Surely, then, it must be of the last consequence, that the truth should be set forth in its own native light, even though it may somewhat run counter to preconceived opinions, especially when that truth, unjustly considered, tends so much at once to strengthen the rising youth against the seductions of Popery, and to confirm them in the faith once delivered to the Saints. If a heathen could say, ‘Socrates I love, and Plato I love, but I love truth more,’ surely a truly Christian mind will not display less magnanimity. Is there not much, even in the aspect of the times, that ought to preempt the earnest inquiry, if the occasion has not arisen, when efforts, and strenuous efforts, should be made to purge out of the National Establishment in the south those observances, and everything else that has flowed in upon it from Babylon’s golden cup. There are men of noble minds in the Church of Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley, who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, who have felt His power. Let Him, in their closets, and on their knees, as the question, at their God and at their own consciences, if they ought not to bestir themselves in right earnest, and labor with all their might till such a consummation be effected. Then, indeed, would the Churches be the grand bulwark of the Reformation; then would her sons speak with her enemies in the gate, then would she appear in the face of all Christendom, ‘clear as the sun, fair as the moon, and terrible as an army with banners.’ If, however, nothing effectual shall be done to stay the plague that is spreading in her, the result must be disastrous, not only to herself, but to the whole empire) that is, Astarte. Hence the egg became one of the symbols of Astarte or “Easter.” Accordingly, in Cyprus, one of the chosen seats of the worship of Venus, or Astarte, the egg of wondrous size was represented on a grand scale.
The occult meaning of this mystic egg of Astarte in one of its aspects (for it had a two fold significance), had reference to the ark during the time of the flood in which the whole human race was shut up, as the chick is enclosed in the egg before it is hatched. If any be inclined to ask how could it ever enter the minds of men to employ such an extraordinary symbol for such a purpose, the answer is, the sacred egg of Paganism, as already indicated, is well known as the “mundane egg;” that is, the egg in which the “world” was shut up.
Now the “world” has two distinct meanings; it means either the material earth, or the “inhabitants” of the earth. The latter meaning of the term is seen in Genesis 11:1; “The whole earth was of one language and of one speech,” where the meaning is that the whole people of the world were so. If then the “world” is seen shut up in an egg, and floating on the waters, it may not be difficult to believe, however the idea of the “egg” may have come, that the egg thus floating on the wide universal sea might be Noah’s family that contained the whole world in its bosom.
Then the application of the word “egg” to the ark comes thus: The Hebrew name for an egg is “Baits,” or in the feminine (for there are both genders), “Baitza.” This, in Chaldee and Phoenician, becomes Baith or Baitha, which in these languages is also the usual way in which the name of “house” is pronounced. The “egg” floating on the waters that contained the “world” was the “house” floating on the waters of the deluge, with the elements of the new world in its bosom. 10 (Rev. Alexander Hislop; The Two Babylons, 1959, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ, pp. 103-113. The common word “Beth,” “house,” in the Bible without the points, is “Baith,” as may be seen in the name of Bethel, as given in Genesis 35:1, of the “Greek Septuagint,” where it is “Baith-el.”)
The coming of the egg from heaven evidently refers to the preparation of the ark by express appointment of God. The same thing seems clearly implied in the Egyptian story of the “mundane egg” which was said to have come out of the “mouth” of the great god. The doves resting on the egg need no explanation. This, then, was the meaning of the mystic egg in one aspect.
As, however, everything that was good or beneficial to mankind was represented in the Chaldean “mysteries,” and was in some way connected with the Babylonian goddess, so the greatest blessing to the human race which the ark contained in its bosom was held to be Astarte, who was the great civilizer and benefactor of the world. Though the deified queen, whom Astarte represented, had no actual existence till some centuries after the flood, yet through the doctrine of metempsychosis which was firmly established in Babylon, it was easy for her worshipers to be made to believe that, in a previous incarnation, she had lived in the Antediluvian world and passed in safety through the waters of the flood. Now the Romish Church adopted this “mystic egg of Astarte” and consecrated it as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection.
A form of prayer was even appointed to be used in connection with it, Pope Paul V teaching his superstitious votaries thus to pray at Easter: “Bless, O Lord, we beseech thee, this thy creature of ‘eggs,’ that it may become a wholesome sustenance unto thy servants, eating it in remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ...”
9 (Rev. Alexander Hislop; The Two Babylons, 1959, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ, pp. 103-113. Quote from: Hyginus, “Fabuloe.” Leipsic 1856, pp. 148-149)
10 (Rev. Alexander Hislop; The Two Babylons, 1959, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ, pp. 103-113. The common word “Beth,” “house,” in the Bible without the points, is “Baith,” as may be seen in the name of Bethel, as given in Genesis 35:1, of the “Greek Septuagint,” where it is “Baith-el.”)