“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction…”
While butterflies symbolize the transformation of life, they become as iconic of springtime in the west as rabbits which, due to their energetic breeding, represent fertility. Rabbits are designated as the token animal of Germanic goddess, Eostre [Eos in Greek]. Easter, for many is a season of blurred lines between the Christian celebration of the resurrection of a crucified patriarchal savior and the celebratory pagan ritual of bunnies delivering decorative and chocolatey eggs, all representing the bounty of new life springing forth throughout nature. The Easter Bunny falls into a winning cast of rabbit characters we’ve grown up fondly with: Peter Cottontail… Roger… Bre’er… Thumper [from Bambi]… the Velveteen Rabbit… Alice in Wonderland’s White Rabbit… Bugs Bunny… We might even add the Duracell and Energizer Bunnies to this impressive roster.
I’m one who’s loved Springtime all on its own, who hasn’t needed an extra excuse to indulge in unhealthy amounts of chocolate treats which [ahem!] I do year-round. The Easter Bunny was never a seasonal distraction for me. But looking through a #MeToo lens, it’s now not a big leap to see the dark side of EOStre‘s animal-spirit. From bedtime fairytales to movies to Easter, masses have been seduced & groomed through cute but de-natured props of patriarchal predation; a mostly male character lineup that’s won over hearts and minds. And somewhere there’s probably a Playboy Bunny tie-in…
Over the top? I ask, perturbed about how Easter has become such a distraction for me this year, and a dark one at that. As I scour the Internet for my own ‘easter eggs’/clues and disclaimers, a popular Mother Goose Rhyme plays like a riddle on a loop in my mind. Then the pictures below pop up as if to illustrate to me that various renowned architects have long been on this next-level trend of appropriating and translating EOStre‘s symbols. Is this their version of putting “Humpty together again”? My question seems to suddenly render Mother Goose mute…
Eostre‘s Greek counterpart – Eos “goddess of the dawn” – has been compared to Khemetic goddess Tefnut, in part because of the latter’s status as goddess of the morning dew. The dawn, like the vernal equinox announces a new day… awakening… new life/birth… springtime’s resurrection/rebirth of nature from the dark sleep of winter, etc. Figurines from the Neolithic period lay an ancient and abiding claim to the divine feminine as goddess of birth, regeneration and resurrection. Iconographies of a hybrid bird-serpent-goddess appear in ancient Khemet and Mesopotamia, which represent her co-creative powers as nurturer, transformer and deliverer of the resurrected seed from her divine masculine/god. [Left figure: Egyptian Predynastic Naganda “Bird Lady” IIa c. 3500-3400 BCE. Brooklyn Museum.] This ancient symbol has been adopted in recent times by a movement in the west whose focus on Goddess worship and femininity was precipitated by the imbalance created by homo-social male-dominated organized religions. The serpentine spiral represents kundalini energy – a life-force which both triggers the formation of the child in the female womb, and also holds the potential to uncoil from the spinal base to awaken consciousness or “3rd-eye” opening… as in Let There Be Light! [Genesis 1:3]
Hathor [Hwt-hr, meaning ‘Mansion of Heru’ ] was worshipped in Khemet as goddess of music, dance, beauty, fertility, childbirth, women, children and foreign lands. At the Temple of Dendera which was built for worship to the Goddess during the first Intermediate period of Khemet, Hathor‘s high priests were musicians and creative artists. The ancient personification of feminine love, joy, mother-hood, and nature – Hathor was the original Nile Goose that Laid the Golden Egg, which was the sun god. Women particularly aspired to embody this deeply loved goddess’s conjoined roles as wife, mother and lover which gained Hathor the titles: ‘Lady of the House of Jubilation,’ & ‘The One Who Fills the Sanctuary with Joy’. Known to assist the dead in their afterworld journeys, Hathor also used milk from her sacred sycamore tree to restore sight to Heru‘s lunar/left eye after his legendary bruising battle against Set – usurper of Khemet’s throne. “His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk and fitly set.” [SoS 5:12]
The relief on the left comes from Hathor‘s Temple of Dendera. Resembling a modern-day light bulb, the Dendera Light as it’s referred to is a depiction from the Hermopolis theology of creation. This theology presents the Ogdoad [8 primordial male-female twin deities] and the Cosmic Egg – from which all life is born. The lotus flower from the primordial sea of Nun gave birth to the sun god, Atum-Ra in a stage known as the first occasion (Dunand, 2004). This flower – pictured around the neck of the goose & at the base of the Dendera Light – is symbolic of Upper Khemet, from where the Nile River flows. The surrounding bulb in the Dendera light relief represents the field of the universe or Cosmic Egg/”Golden Egg” within which the process of creation… birth… enlightenment… springtime… resurrection occurs, and kundalini awakens – as depicted by the rising serpent within. Originally accessible only to high priest initiates, the accompanying texts at Dendera warn against abuse of such knowledge… seemingly in agreement with and reference to the West African mythology from Mali of the Dogon:
“In the beginning, Amma, alone, was in the shape of an egg: the four collar bones were fused, dividing the egg into air, earth, fire, and water, establishing also the four cardinal directions. Within this cosmic egg was the material and the structure of the universe, and the 266 signs that embraced the essence of all things. The first creation of the world by Amma was, however, a failure. The second creation began when Amma planted a seed within herself, a seed that resulted in the shape of man. But in the process of its gestation, there was a flaw, meaning that the universe would now have within it the possibilities for incompleteness. Now the egg became two placentas, each containing a set of twins, male and female. After sixty years, one of the males, Ogo, broke out of the placenta and attempted to create his own universe, in opposition to that being created by Amma. But he was unable to say the words that would bring such a universe into being. He then descended, as Amma transformed into the earth the fragment of placenta that went with Ogo into the void. Ogo interfered with the creative potential of the earth by having incestuous relations with it. His counterpart, Nommo, a participant in the revolt, was then killed by Amma, the parts of his body cast in all directions, bringing a sense of order to the world. When, five days later, Amma brought the pieces of Nommo‘s body together, restoring him to life, Nommo became ruler of the universe. He created four spirits, the ancestors of the Dogon people; Amma sent Nommo and the spirits to earth in an ark, and so the earth was restored. Along the way, Nommo uttered the words of Amma, and the sacred words that create were made available to humans. In the meantime, Ogo was transformed by Amma into Yurugu, the Pale Fox, who would always be alone, always be incomplete, eternally in revolt, ever wandering the earth seeking his female soul. “
In Genesis1:28: “God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth‘” (NRSV). As a well-intentioned environmental steward mansplains: “First the word “subdue”. In Hebrew this is kabash. You can’t get around it; it does mean… “enslave”, and even in the harshest instances “molest” or “rape”… Ummh, Yurugu/Set better stay in his lane!!! In my own well-intentioned effort to not throw the baby out with the bathwater, I’ll follow the lead of the Shulamite sistah who knows “love is strong as death” [Song of Songs 8:6]. She is the Southern Queen to whom the God of Revelation [3:11] says: “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” May our circle 4ever B unbroken... ❤ ❤ ❤ 121
Dunand, Françoise, and Christiane Zivie-Coche. 2004. Gods and Men in Egypt: 3000 BCE to 395 CE. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.