I noticed an interesting thing in the week leading up to our recent Easter celebration. Social media had a slightly different flavor this year. Among the standard inducements to "remember the reason for the season," there was a lot of bagging on bunnies and eggs. One Facebook post read something like, "I don't know what bunnies have to do with Jesus, but I know what the REAL holiday is." Another comment said, "No chocolate or eggs for me -- I wouldn't lower myself to those things."
Huh. These weren't fundamentalist Evangelical Christians posting on Facebook. These were New Thought people that I actually know. And it got me thinking: Why are we so open and accepting of some religions and ideologies and not others? I mean, we would never dream of saying something like, "You can keep your Passover matzo," or "Meditation means nothing if you're not meditating on Jesus." We New Thought folks would just never denigrate the beliefs, practices or cultural elements of another faith. It's built into our basic tenants, right? Not exactly. That protection may be in place for religions with mainstream respect, but it can fall away when it comes to Indigenous and Earth Based religions and practices.
There seems to be an attitude around mainstream Christian holidays that suggests that any other cultural overlay is somehow hijacking and diluting the "real" holiday. Let us not forget, however, that many of these cultural overlays (bunnies, eggs and baby animals at Easter; gifts, wreaths and decorated trees at Christmas; costumes, jack'o'lanterns and going door-to-door on Halloween) significantly predate Christianity. Rather than bunnies hijacking Easter, it's the other way around. The celebration of Jesus' miraculous renewal was placed on top of an already existing Pagan celebration of spring and fertility. The sun (son?) has returned, and all is well. It makes perfect sense for the growing Christian movement to align their wonderful holiday with the Pagan traditions already happening -- celebrations of the Goddess as represented by the rabbit on the moon, the decoration of bird shells to thank the Her for new life, symbols of newborn animals like chicks and lambs. The themes of rebirth, renewal and hope are so in alignment with one another, I can see how they co-existed and intermingled. And I have no problem with Christians, metaphysical or otherwise, clarifying which traditions are specifically about Jesus. But I do take issue with the superior tone.
It's essential that we not lose sight of the more than one million people worldwide that currently practice Neo-Pagan faiths and hold these practices and traditions to be sacred. In New Thought, we teach that every path is sacred and leads to The One, as there is nowhere else to go. Even when we can't see it or when the path looks unfamiliar, God is all there is so everything leads to It. Let's remember that it's true with every faith, every belief, every path. Let's release the judging and excluding language, and celebrate it all. Let us all be renewed, together.
Blessed Ostara! Happy Easter!