Sunday, December 25, 2011

Blessed Saturnalia! I mean Merry Christmas! Glad Tidings! Yeah that....

In the USA we celebrate Christmas, with a lot of mixed in commercialism, decorate our homes, light up trees and the outsides of our houses and exchange gifts with loved ones and friends.

Tell Santa what you need...
Remember Solstice (that thing that happened Dec. 22 this year)? When the days begin to get longer and we celebrate the return of the light? Well in ancient Rome, Saturn - a god of fertility and planting - was celebrated over a multi-day event beginning at Solstice - the Romans were celebrating the return of the sun. People would decorate their homes, light candles, prepare festive meals and exchange gift... sounding at all familiar? 

What 99.99% of people who observe the holiday don't know is that Christmas is a holiday started by the new Roman Catholic Church in the fourth century A.D. Baby Jeebus was probably, at least with as much accuracy as can be given to such records, born on or around early September. Or November. Or Perhaps late March...remember, if it happened at all folks, it was well over 2000 years ago. 

I want a scarf for Christmas...
(Now a personal aside - the Romans at the time were positively ANAL about record keeping so the fact that there is absolutely no record at all of baby jeebus is a mystery in itself, however if you are going to swallow the Jesus myth whole-cloth, it doesn't really matter that this part is wonky either.)

Santa and a helper Elf!
The Church at the time (and still today actually), didn't know when Jesus was born, but they wanted to establish a Mass to celebrate the Christ's birth so this particular Mass was cherry-picked to coincide with both Solstice (celebrated throughout non Roman parts of Europe at that time) and Saturnalia, a holiday the Roman populace had been celebrating for centuries.

I hope that is mistletoe hay cause that's where I am kissing him...
By co-opting an existing and wildly popular holy day (holiday - got it?) they could more easily get buy in from the general populace to celebrate their own reason for the holiday. The early Catholic church did this with many holidays, with saints (named after local deities), with churches to the Mother Mary (usually place on the same site as a previous wild grotto or natural altar to a mother goddess.) - it is a well established historical fact. Look it up. :P

Now, the other day, I promised you a look into Isis, Osiris and Horus. I think. I forget, but I am not gonna reopen the blog to look, I am too lazy.

So... understanding that this is actually an abreviated retelling of the myth and therefore will be lacking on some fun details...

Osiris, the Godking of Egypt, and Isis, his Goddess/Queen/Mother/Sister, was beloved by all his people. He was kind and just and taught them to plow the earth, how to honor the gods and he gave them laws to live by. (In most of the early myths it was really Isis who did all the good stuff, but it got changed in later dynasties to give credit to the male deities which is interesting and very common).

Isis' other son/brother Set was jealous of Osiris' adoration and plotted against him.

If Ossy was as sexy as this Egyptian cutey, I would be jealous too!
Set tricked Osiris into climbing into a gilded coffin that he had had made as a gift. When Osiris got inside to see how well he fit, Set nailed it shut and threw it into the Nile where it was swept out to sea.

Isis was overcome with grief and cut off a length of her hair, dressed herself in mourning clothes and went on her way to look for the coffin with her husband´s body. (Another myth for why we have Winter)
She kept followed rumors of the coffin until she left Egypt and came into the land of Byblos. Here the rumours spoke about a wonderful tree that suddenly had started to grow on the shore. Isis understood then that the coffin had floaten ashore and gotten stuck in a bush. Nurtured by the divine presence of Osiris´ body, the bush had sprouted and grown into a large tree.

Regardless of the myth you read, she eventually acquired tree, removed the coffin  and took Osiris home to Egypt and hid him in the reeds near the river until it was time to revive him.

Except...Set sensed that his brother was near again and before Isis could return to Osiris and bring him back to life, he searched out the coffin and broke into it and tore Osiris´ body into fourteen pieces which he spread out all over the land.

He looks like he is strong enough but I bet he would rather touch a man in 14 places, what do you think?
For a long time Isis and her sister Nephtys searched the lands together, gathering body parts and binding Osiris back together. (This process became embalming and mummification which she later taught to humans). The only part of Osiris she could not locate was his penis. So she made one. She breathed life into Osiris one last time in order to conceive a child and then sent him to rule the underworld.

Interestingly, Isis and Horus became the model for the Mary/Christ poses and paintings...borrow much? I am always amazed at just how much the Catholic church stole from other pre-existing religions in order to get people to be familiar with it and accept it more easily.
Osiris became in time the King of the Land of the Dead, while his son of Isis Horus became the ever living Godking of Egypt.

I bet you are asking why or what the parallels are and why I took the time the tell this story... 

The celebration of the rebirth of life for Osiris and conception (not birth) of Horus happened to occur in a mutli-day festival starting at winter which time they were celebrating the return of the light - (who is Jesus? oh yeah, the Light and Son of God? Whom the Church wants us to celebrate at Solstice).

Okay, I probably could have brought that all together a little better but I am stuffed with holiday ham and cookies and that is my excuse for lazy story telling :)

This is a fun drawing of Set about to seduce Horus, little does he know that Isis already instructed Horus on how to flip this fuck.
On a related but different myth - Set and Horus had an affair and Isis helped Horus control the intercourse and eventually embarrass Set in front of the other gods, flipping Set's plan to humiliate Horus on its end. Homosexuality was a common practice back then - the Gods and Goddesses got up to all sorts of fun things.

I like learning this stuff, but more importantly, I like and love being with family and friends and I will accept any excuse to do so!!!
This pic is simply gratuitous. Not even really gonna try to excuse it, I just like blonds and it is sorta xmasy :)
Merry Christmas everyone, hope your day was blessed, and try not to think about all the conflicting reasons and borrowed religions behind the holiday unless you want to learn more, then read up on it.

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