End of one organic cycle: beginning of another.
This year’s vernal equinox falls on 20th March in the northern hemisphere. Amongst some cultures, this passage of time is celebrated according to tenets opposed to modernism and to modern perspectives. Isolationism couples itself with celebration of glories past. Subjective theorizing, loose philosophy, and a particular cultural moral compass on sexuality, combine to give us brain-drained commonsense, which clings to the cleverness of days long gone, unremarkable now but for the romanticised folkloric memories passed down the generations.
Pagans celebrate Ostara, performing rites and rituals in honour of fertility and regeneration, symbolised by the goddess Eostre (a Germanic word meaning east), who represents young women, fresh light, and the budding of trees and flowers.
Fertility and regeneration are celebrated by the gifting of brightly painted eggs, themselves embodiments of fertility and renewal, as are hares (which have symbolic connection to the moon).
Historians and liberal theologians believe death and resurrection was initially, in Caucasian consciousness, associated with Attis – a Phrygian (an area now in Turkey) and god of vegetation. In his self-mutilation, death, and resurrection Attis represents the fruits of the earth, which die in winter and rise again in spring. His cult began around 1250BC. The incidents attributed to him were grafted onto stories of Jesus’ life to make Christian theology more acceptable regionally. Elsewhere, other theologians indicate that Jesus’ life events as they appear in the gospels are lifted straight from the life of Krishna.
Easter celebrates Jesus’ resurrection. It occurs at the end of Lenten (‘lengthening of days’), which lasts 46 days from Ash Wednesday (falling on 10th February this year) until Easter Sunday (27th March this year). Tradition counts this as 40 days, and excludes for various reasons Saturdays and Sundays.
The Thursday before Easter is Holy Thursday and commemorates Jesus’ Last Supper. The Friday before Easter is Good Friday, and it commemorates the anniversary of Jesus’ crucifixion. The Saturday before Easter is Holy Saturday, a remembrance of Jesus’ entombment.
The Easter period represents two opposing worlds co-existing – darkness, sin and death on the one hand and resurrection, restoration of light, and spring on the other. The evening vigil between Good Friday and Easter day symbolizes the end of the first and the beginning of the second.
Currently, Easter Sunday* is one of the Christian calendar’s two holiest days. This is the result of public pressure forcing the western church to institutionalize the observance of Easter, despite early Christians not having observed it at all.
*(Sunday is named after the Scandinavian sun goddess Sunna. Sunna, interestingly, is a Sanskrit word used by Buddhaji as well as by Vedic and eastern philosophy. It refers to a state above stillness, quietness and nothingness.)
Around 325AD, Emperor Constantine ordered Easter to be celebrated on the first full moon of Spring, which occurs between 21st March and 25th April. It is noteworthy that the current biblical story of Jesus’ crucifixion took formal root in the western church as a result of Emperor Constantine’s collusion.
The eastern church, by contrast, echoes Jesus’ own observance of the earlier tradition of Passover. It ought to be noted that at no time did Jesus renounce his Jewish religion. Nor did he insist on a new religion. He simply reintroduced clarity, and de-cluttered confusion. This year, Passover begins on Friday 22nd April and ends on Saturday 30th April.
Numerous stories in Greek mythology involve cannibalism, but only between close family members. It was practiced to maintain purity and specialness and mirrored the Egyptian Pharaohic practice of incest, which aimed to retain the purity to the royal lineage bestowed by the gods.
Not too dissimilar to the Islamic practice of marrying within the family pool, cannibalism and Egyptian royal incest associated purity with, and emerged from, as well as being bounded, by kinship.
Privilege, prestige and oneness were the core precepts of cannibal practice originally, before it became widespread globally.
In Gough’s Cave, England, there is evidence of communal cannibalism practiced around 15000 years ago. In fact, evidence exists that cannibalism was actually still practiced around 2000 years ago in Great Britain, and across Europe during various periods, until recent times.
In World War II, there was reported cannibalism at the siege of Leningrad, among Soviet POWs dying in Nazi camps due to extreme starvation, and also among German troops when they were besieged in Stalingrad as well as when they were later transferred to prison camps in Siberia.
In India, the Aghoris (Indian ascetics), consume human flesh that’s been cooked on the funeral pyre, after the family of the deceased has left. They believe the flesh provides spiritual benefits, and they claim that it tastes like chicken.
In the USA, in 1931, New York reporter William Buehler Seabrook secured a chunk of human meat from the body of a healthy person killed in an accident, from a hospital intern, and he cooked and ate it. He reported, “It was like good, fully developed veal, not young, but not yet beef. It was so nearly good, fully developed veal, that I think no person with a palate of ordinary, normal sensitiveness could distinguish it from veal, and cannot be mistaken for goat, high game, or pork.”
In his book The Gulag Archipelago, Alexandra Solzhenitsyn describes cannibalism in 20th century USSR, where children, dead by famine, were eaten by their parents.
When the Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed in the Andes on 13th October 1972, the survivors resorted to eating the deceased during their 72 days in the mountains.
In England, on 23rd July 1988, Rick Gibson ate human flesh in public, in Walthamstow, London. The country does not have a specific law against cannibalism. He did so again on 15th April 1989, in Lewisham High Street, London. When Gibson attempted to eat human meat in Vancouver on 14th July 1989 the Canadian police confiscated his meal. However charges were dropped, and he went on to eat another piece of human flesh on the steps of the Vancouver court house on 22nd September 1989.
Cannibalism, Spring Festivals and Sikh New Year
Paganism has an unbelievable amount of words, rites and rituals that overlap with Vedic Brahmanism, as indeed do many of the Voodoo rites and rituals practiced globally. Brahmanism, briefly, denotes living in harmony with nature and venerating the organic template. It believes the egg has a special symbolic meaning, hence an old Pagan ritual of ‘sacrificing’ an egg by placing it under the foundations of new buildings for protection, well-being, and progression.
Nowadays, during Pagan and Christian spring festivals eggs are coloured brightly, the brightness communicating renewal, freshness, fertility, and the propagation of spices (which also represent fertility).
The Latin proverb “Omne vivum ex ovo”, meaning “All life comes from an egg” coincides perfectly with pure knowledge, the Vadantic scriptures, and the most modern de-mystified writing that exists today referred to and addressed as Sikhism’s living Guru. These all acknowledge that the whole universe was created from an egg. Creation, in Sikhism, is in fact repeatedly called an egg.
The egg thus continues to circulate today as a meaningful emblem of life and as an allegory for rebirth.
Sacrifice, nowadays, takes the form of a nominal food offering, a monetary donation to a religious or dharmic organisation, or to a charity, or else seva (selfless service for the benefit of another).
The sacrificial practice continues to be led by the elder male of a family group. The sanctity of the occasion is duly observed with reverent introspection, and a silent expression of gratitude that one is capable of offering the gift or service in the first place. It is interesting how without any external prompt humbleness automatically surfaces during the sacrifice.
We now live in a cycle of negative Shiva, as opposed to a cycle of positive Shiva. This represents transmutation, negative technology, self-interest presiding over charity, and the search for self-realisation. Thus, the charity of this cycle is the sacrifice of money, and/or giving away articles and items of wealth.
Charity was also practiced during the negative cycle of Brahma. That period witnessed the beginning of the hallowed activity of sacred sacrifice of a living Being. Initially, the living Being was ordinary grain. Then it was fruit and eggs. Later, the sacrifice was elevated to one’s personal possessions, a sacrifice of personal wealth; hence the beginning of animal sacrifice. It began with small domesticated farm animals including the hare, until people’s grandiose egos pushed them to sacrifice ever larger animals. Then the (now) unacceptable happened. For numerous emotional and/or seasonal reasons, the sacrifice became human, moving from infants to adult females and adult males. However, the most potent sacrifice was deemed to be the sacrifice of young females.
Sacrifice, right from the beginning, involved conscious acknowledgement that the gift became sanctified through the act of sacrifice, that it was blessed and imbued with grace. Once sanctified, the offering was shared among attendees, so that they might be blessed by consuming the sanctified object – first grains, then eggs, then animals, and eventually humans. But human flesh consumption was limited in the Brahma period to the royals and the high priests.
This practice changed, as the governing thought-energy changed. Four of the five thought-energy states are:
These each have three expressions of which two are applicable to ordinarywallas (being the positive and negative cycles). It has to be remembered that all four states are interwoven and interlinked. They exist in both their positive and negative templates as an everyday occurrence, and they flip between various expressions moment to moment.
Ordinarywallas are familiar with the trinity state concept of Hinduism, namely, Brahma – the coagulator, Vishnu – the stabilizer, and Shiva – the transmutator. Enveloping and preceding them is state one, the Maiea symmetry.
State one: Sacrifice of the inner self. Doubt is sacrificed, and clarity sought in the process.
State two: Grain and seasonal food become the sacrificial norm. Ego gains importance.
State three: Animal offering, followed by human offering, becomes the status quo.
State four: A proxy sacrifice is established in place of personal sacrifice, such that material objects become the sacrificial lamb.
Whichever way we look at it, the practice of making an offering during the period of regeneration, i.e. Spring, is driven by the norms of one’s customs.
To begin with, nature make a sacrifice of crops, and humans harvest and consume that sacrifice (death) once the crop or fruit is ripe. Thus, the concept of consuming death is itself nature-driven. We as humans eat death. Many, like myself, who are life-long lacto-vegetarian, pompously register our distain for eating death in the form of flesh. Yet we consume the dead. The dead in our instance are dead vegetables.
Pomposity in us compels us to declare we are superior to flesh-eaters. But are we, outside of our own high-falutin’ sense of authority, really superior at all to, and more internally advanced than, those we think of as emotionally-retarded, spiritually bereft, dead-flesh eating savages? No, we are exactly the same.
What is a vegetarian (Indian)? Let’s clear up the gobbledegook western terminology:
Selective Vegetarian (SV) white meat eater, will consume eggs and fish
Vegetarian (V) will not consume eggs or fish – however, is not a vegan
Restricted Vegetarian (RV) will not consume root or commercial vegetables
Vegan will not consume dairy, eats commercial vegetables
Inaccurately, in the west, those who do eat eggs, fish and commercial vegetables, but not dairy, call themselves vegan. To date, however, I have yet to meet one who fulfills the criteria of the ultra strict vegetarian diet of Jainism.
Side Note: Dairy, natural yogurt and ghee are quintessential staples of the diet of Jain ascetics The above sentence is part of an old argument people would try to hammer me on regarding fats and cholesterol, when I maintained that fats and cholesterol are a quintessential components needed for a flexible healthy body, while manufactured foods are the evil that we need to reject totally. Thus, honey is fine as well as all nuts, but white sugar and processed food will prove to be the foundations of virulent disease, as opposed to dysfunctional bio-sphere disease. God, I was even hammered mercilessly when I maintained that healthy four-times-a-week sex was vital to retain youthfulness.
Well yes, it is nice to be proven right, however if one is treading the inner awakening path, tutored by a descending Being, then sexual activity goes out of the window totally lest it be under strict conditions, in tandem with strict adherence to diet, coupled with several other observations that are mandatory…and the chances of meeting, and then being taken under the wing of a descending Being are between remote to never.
Leaving aside the pompous grandstanding of the vegetarians or those who follow the Jain diet, I put forward the concept that animals who eat a living Being, be that a leaf still attached to it stalk and branch, or an animal consumed alive, are better dieticians and far more honest Beings than the hypocrite vegetarian looking down on the meat-eating human.
And to the meat-eaters I ask: Simply because the animal you eat is not configured as a human does this make you any less a cannibal?
The majority of animals consumed share more than 50% DNA with humans. So how is it that eating an animal, which shares any percentage of DNA with a human, is not cannibalism?
Serious points to ponder.
An interesting side note: Fertilizer, earth and water, and the transformation of the three energy systems via a seedling into an edible vegetable is Shiva configuration in action. This is a very good example of transmutation. In simple terms, death of one entity giving life to a more progressive life form.
The concept of a sacrifice, in honour of nature’s regeneration in the northern hemisphere, is built into the human psyche. The Sikhs, annually, make the same sacrifice.
This year, Sikhs will celebrate their New Year on 13th March 2016. This date is lunar-based and changes annually.
Globally, the sacrifice the Sikhs will make on this date is several hours of repetitive prayer that invokes dissolution of
- mental problems
- emotional ill-will
…and that seeks to replace it with peaceful resolution amongst all living beings, be they human or non-human.
But at the same time, Sikhs love a party, and the arrival of Spring will be no exception.
This year, from 25th – 27th March, the spiritual activity of defensive war games, hand-to-hand armed combat and other such disciplines will be practiced and celebrated in Panjab, and by Sikhs globally. The food offered and consumed will be lacto-vegetarian, and not a single desire for commercial partying will be exercised.
Please, join me as I invite you to share a miniscule moment of your time by either visiting a place of worship to say a prayer, or expressing a thought for global peace amongst all humans.
Alternatively, light a jôt or candle*, but like me do it on the quiet, and buy someone less fortunate than yourself a meal.
*(Candle and Jôt: Represents light. The wick is humanity’s ego, the beeswax or ghee is sinless purity. The flame is the divine nature. Five types of incense are used, representing five positive classifications of awakening. The five negative classifications are Kama-Lust, Krodh-anger-rage-wrath, Lobha-greed, Moha-attachment-delusion, Ahankar-ego-arrogance-nescience; or as I prefer, the five positives are non-violence, truth, non-stealing, controlled-chastity, non-attachment.)
My prayers are with you all, and I request that you accept my wish for your health and emotional well-being…and smile. No matter what, just smile.