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This time of year Christians focus on the narrative of Jesus Christ and his life, death, and resurrection. It is detailed in the New Testament from the viewpoints of multiple authors. For a Christian, the ‘Easter’ story of hu’s* death and resurrection is the foundation of the deification of Jesus. The reality is that the Bible is a collection of stories, most of which predate Judaism and Christianity.

[ADVISORY:  The following information may be disturbing to Christians and other faiths that believe in the divinity of the Bible/Tora. This information is based on historical data that is available to the public and is not intended to dissuade anyone from hu’s faith or beliefs.]

Origins of the Easter Story

Those who believe in the divinity of the Bible accept that the stories are original; however, there is a clear connection between the myths of the previous cultures. These myths developed over centuries with each culture making revisions while keeping the root of the myth.

The Easter myth is a good example of this process. The roots of the myth can be traced back through the Roman and Greek cultures; however, the beginnings of the story go back to at least the Phrygian culture. They lived in what is now the southern Balkans in Europe.

Mother of the Gods of Phrygia

The Mother Mary aspect of the Easter story would seem to be a version of the Phrygian myth of Cybele (a.k.a.; Kybele.) Cybele was known as the Mother of the Gods. Very little is known about the nature of the goddess Cybele, except that she is the only known goddess of that culture.

Androgynous God of the Greeks

The Greeks adapted Cybele into their mythology but changed the narrative. In the Greek version, Zeus impregnates the Mother God, Gaia who bore the diety, Agdistis. This diety had both male and female organs and the other gods feared this dual-gendered diety. The mythology is that a god tricked Agdistis while hu* slept and tied a rope to hu’s penis. When hu awoke the rope pulled the penis off as Agdistis stood up. It gets worse.

Now a woman, she became Cybele. [NOTE:  Some say that Cybele and Agdistis were separate beings.] Hu’s blood from the castration fell to the ground. On that spot, an almond tree grew and later an almond fell into the lap of Nana. That almond impregnated Nana and she bore Attis, a beautiful boy. Nana abandoned Attis who was found among some reeds, (possibly the root of the Moses myth,) and raised by foster parents.

When Attis became a man, Cybele was infatuated with hu. Attis was to wed the daughter of a King, but at the wedding, Cybele appeared to them and drove Attis and the King mad with love for her. They both castrated themselves, (I said it would get worse,) and Attis died. Cybele could not bear the loss of Attis and hu asked Zeus to keep hu’s body from decomposing.

Roman Easter Celebration

The Romans kept much of the Greek version of the myth. They transformed the Cybele and Attis story into a multi-day Spring celebration. The Roman calendar began each year in March. Spring was celebrated based on the Moon phases near the Vernal equinox. The first day of March was the marked by the New Moon. The ides of March fell on the Full Moon and the celebration consisted of the following observances. [NOTE:  The following has been copied, with editing, directly from a Wikipedia page.] 

Ides of March (Full Moon)

Canna intrat (“The Reed enters”), marking the birth of Attis and his exposure in the reeds along the Phrygian river Sangarius.

Ides of March + 7 days (First Half Moon)

Arbor intrat (“The Tree enters”), commemorating the death of Attis under a pine tree. The dendrophores (“tree bearers”) cut down a tree, suspended from it an image of Attis, and carried it to the temple with lamentations. A three-day period of mourning followed.

Ides of March + 8 days

The tree was laid to rest at the temple of the Magna Mater (the Great Mother.)

Ides of March + 9 days

Sanguem or Dies Sanguinis (“Day of Blood”), a frenzy of mourning when the devotees whipped themselves to sprinkle the altars and effigy of Attis with hu’s own blood; some performed the self-castration of the Galli. The “sacred night” followed, with Attis placed in his ritual tomb.

Ides of March + 10 days

(Vernal equinox on the Roman calendar): Hilaria (“Rejoicing”), when Attis was reborn.

Ides of March +11 days

Requietio (“Day of Rest”).

Ides of March + 12 days

Lavatio (“Washing”), Cybele’s sacred stone was taken in procession from the Palatine temple to the Porta Capena and down the Appian Way to the stream called Almo, a tributary of the Tiber. There the stone and sacred iron implements were bathed “in the Phrygian manner” by a red-robed priest. The quindecimviri attended. The return trip was made by torchlight, with much rejoicing. 

Ides of March + 13 days

Initium Caiani, sometimes interpreted as initiations into the mysteries of the Magna Mater (the Great Mother) and Attis at the Gaianum, near the Phrygianum sanctuary at the Vatican Hill.

Easter of the New Testament a Developing Story

The Christian story of Easter is a story that began centuries before the myths were written into the New Testament. The Virgin Mother, the Mother of God, the death and resurrection of Jesus are all part of the myth of Cybele and Attis. The reason that Easter is a floating holiday traces back to the original Roman calendar that was based on the phases of the Moon.

(*’Hu’s’ is a neutral pronoun replacement meaning his/hers. ‘Hu’ is a neutral pronoun replacement for him/her or he/she.)