Origins of Easter
Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 11:44 AM UT
What does the word Easter mean? It is certainly not a Christian word or name. What does this word Easter have to do with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
Easter, like all Christian holidays and festivals, has its origins in the Assyrian religion, and the word comes from the name of the ancient Assyrian Mother-Goddess, Ishtar, who was also called Semiramis and Inanna. Ishtar is the female equal of Ashur, and at times Ishtar and Ashur are the same and equal in strength and in length, yet their distinction remains to the extent that Ashur is the sun (Bahra) and Ishtar the moon. Therefore, Easter is nothing more than ISHTAR, one of the titles of Beltis, the queen of heaven, whose name, as pronounced by the people of Nineveh, with that now in common use. That name, as found by Henry Layard on the Assyrian monuments is Ishtar, the Moon Goddess of love, fertility, and war.
In Assyria, the Spring Festival of Akitu, (the Assyrian New Year) celebrated around the Spring Equinox, (usually March 20 or 21) lasted 12 days and ushered in the Festival Of Ishtar, (today’s Easter.) celebrated on the first Sunday, after the first moon, after the vernal equinox. As the Akitu celebrates the resurrection of nature during spring-time, the Festival of Ishtar was the religious celebration of the fertility and pregnancy of the Mother-Goddess, who bore them all, as well as the resurrection of her Son/Husband, Tammuz, the “incarnated son of God.” The pre-Christian Assyrians at this time of year would be celebrating the increasing of the Sun following the spring (vernal) equinox. This is the time in which the amount of darkness and daylight are the same in duration. Following that day the amount of daylight would steadily increase, a little each day. This increase of daylight in the spring brings about summer and makes crops thrive, thus the association with fertility (eggs, rabbits, etc.). Hence the association is always to Sunday, to celebrate the increasing of the God of the Sun on the Sun Day.
The Assyrian Queen Semiramis, also called Ishtar, was known as the “Queen of Heaven” and this queen of heaven is mentioned in the Bible, (Jeremiah 7:18): "Ishtar,” which is pronounced "Easter" was a day that commemorated the resurrection of one of their gods that they called "Tammuz", who was believed to be the only begotten son of the moon-goddess, Ishtar.” This clearly indicates that the Assyrian trinity of Semiramis, Nimrod, and Ninos, became the new trinity of Assyria, also known as Ishtar, Baal, (also called Bel, Belus, Pelus, Pel and Beltis, and Nimrod) and Tammuz. In other words, depending on the times in which we lived as ancient Assyrians, the Assyrian trinity was Semiramis, Nimrod, and Ninos, and later they refer to this trinity as Ishtar, Baal, and Tammuz. Tammuz is the Akkadian equivalent of the Sumerian Dummuzi, Inanna’s husband.
From the stories of the flood, which have been left to us by the ancient Assyrians, we find that in those ancient times, there was a man named Nimrod, who was the grandson of one of Noah’s, (Utnapishtim) sons named Ham. The story tells us that Ham had a son named Cush who married a woman named Semiramis, (Z’emir amit-meaning the branch bearer). Cush and Semiramis then had a son and named him "Nimrod." When Nimrod died, he was resurrected as the son of God, Ninos, (which means “the son” also known by the title of Tammuz, the “savior”).
The Bible tells of this man, Nimrod, in Genesis 10:8-10 as follows:
Nimrod became a God-man to the people and Semiramis, his wife became the powerful Queen of ancient Assyria. Both were deified and became God and Goddess, as in the Eastern tradition of deification of any king and queen, who represented God on earth. Nimrod was eventually killed by an enemy, and his body was cut in pieces and sent to various parts of his kingdom. Semiramis had all of the parts gathered and told the people that Nimrod had ascended to the sun and was now to be called "Baal," the sun God, (a deity fashioned after Ashur).
Queen Semiramis also proclaimed that Baal would be present on earth in the form of a flame, whether candle or lamp, when used in worship. Semiramis claimed that she was immaculately conceived. She taught that the moon was a goddess that went through a 28-day cycle and ovulated when full. She further claimed that she came down from the moon in a giant moon egg that fell into the Euphrates River. This was to have happened at the time of the first full moon after the spring equinox. In other words, not only “God” was conceived during the Akitu, but the Mother-goddess, as well, and as we already stated in the article entitled Origins of Christmas, (Zinda January 8, 2007 issue) Akitu means “building Life on Earth”. Thus, it is the Assyrian religion who transfers divinity to earth, building a life for Mankind in an earthly paradise.
Semiramis became known as "Ishtar" which is pronounced "Easter," and her moon egg became known as "Ishtar's "egg." The egg became a symbol of fertility and life for the ancient Assyrians, and spread throughout the world. The ancient Druids bore an egg as the sacred emblem of their order. In Greece, the egg was celebrated as part of the nocturnal ceremony consisting the consecration of Bachus, the same as it was in Assyria for Ninos/Tammuz. The Hindu fables celebrate their mundane egg as of a golden color. The people of Japan make their sacred egg to have been brazen. In China, even today, dyed or painted eggs are symbols of sacred festivals, the Persians use dyed eggs as of one of the 7 symbols in the Nawrooz celebration.
Since the “divine” kings and queens of Assyria had to be conceived on the Akitu, the Vernal Equinox, or first day of spring, there was a waiting period, (the 12 days of Akitu) plus one week, for the conception to be fertilized. This period would confirm the fertility and pregnancy of the mother-goddess. Thus, on the first day of the Festival of Ishtar, (Easter) the Assyrians hung dyed eggs from the temple walls, signifying the fertility of Ishtar. Similarly, in ancient times, eggs were used in religious rites of the Egyptians and were hung in their temples for mystic fertility purposes, as in the Assyrian tradition. From Egypt, these sacred eggs can be distinctly traced to the banks of the Euphrates. The classic poets are full of the fable of the mystic egg of Assyria, and thus its tales are told by Hyginus, the Egyptian, the learned keeper of the Palatine library at Rome, in the time of Augustus, and writes, “An egg of wondrous size is said to have fallen from heaven into the Euphrates. The fishes rolled it to the bank of the river, where the doves having settled upon it, and hatched it, out came Venus,” (who earlier was called the Assyrian Goddess Semiramis/Ishtar). Hence, the egg became one of the symbols of the Assyrian Goddess Semiramis/Ishtar, and Semiramis became known as the “dove” and her son Ninos/Tammuz became known as the “son of the dove.” This title transferred to Jesus, as well, and Jesus became known as “broona d’Yona.”
The meaning of this mystic egg of Ishtar in one of its aspects had reference to the ark during the time of the flood, (which is what Semiramis’ name means “the branch bearer” and because she was the first queen after the flood) in which the whole human race were contained, as the chick is enclosed in the egg before it is hatched. Thus, the egg of the Euphrates is the ark of humanity, through which Mankind is delivered to earth, through the mother-Goddess. The Assyrian name for egg is Baitha, which is also the word for house. The egg floating on the waters that contained the world, was the house floating on the waters of the deluge, with the elements of the new world contained in its bosom. The coming of the egg from heaven evidently refers to the preparation of the ark by express appointment of God, and the same thing is implied in the Egyptian version of the mundane egg, which was said to have come out of the mouth of God. The egg, in Assyria was seen to be connected to the Assyrian Goddess Ishtar, who bore them ALL, so the greatest blessing to the human race, which the ark contained in its bosom was Ishtar, who was the great civilizer and benefactor of the world. Eggs, then, are an obvious symbol of birth and rebirth. In the eyes and mind of men, they seem to be a miraculous springing forth of life from a cold and dead object. Mithras (Persia), Tammuz (Assyria), Re (Egypt), Brahma (India) and P'an Ku (China) all were said to have been born from eggs.
Another emblem of Easter, which was associated with the Assyrian Goddess, queen of heaven, was the Rimmon, (pomegranate) as Ishtar is also depicted holding an egg and at times a pomegranate. She is thus, frequently depicted in ancient medals, and the house of Rimmon, in which the king of Damascus, the Master of Naaman, the Syrian, worshipped, was in all likelihood the temple of Ishtar.
The pomegranate is a fruit that is full of seeds, and for that reason, it was seen by the Assyrians, as a vessel in which the germs of the new creation were preserved, when the flood had ravaged the earth. Rimmon, the “fruit of knowledge” and Ishtar the Goddess, were nearly synonymous, both of which were called IDA, (pronounced eeda). Now IDA, in ancient Assyrian language, had two meanings: 1) Festival, and 2) knowledge. To this day, the Assyrians call festivals Ida, which is also the word for knowledge, (Idaia). This is why Ishtar, to the Assyrians was the Mother of Knowledge, of “good and evil.” Consequently, the pomegranate was the original fruit of knowledge, not the apple. Ishtar, was not only worshipped as an incarnation of the Spirit of God, but was also the mother of Mankind.
It is to Ishtar, the mother of knowledge and Mankind, that the ancient people looked, and from whom they gained knowledge and blessings connected with that knowledge. Otherwise, Mankind might seek knowledge in vain, from HIM, who is the father of light, Ashur, from whom comes down every good and perfect gift. Thus, Ishtar is not only the “mother” who bore them all, and the mother who civilized the world, but the mother who mediates between Ashur and mankind, (their children).
As Semiramis claimed to have not only been conceived by Immaculate Conception, she claimed that even her son, the son of God, Ninos was also conceived by immaculate conception. When Semiramis was deified, she began to be called Ishtar, and her son Ninos became known as Tammuz, (called Dummuzi by the Sumerians). The story of Ishtar is the same story as of Semiramis. Ishtar, like Semiramis conceives on the spring equinox, and she proclaimed that it was the rays of the sun-god Baal, that caused her to conceive. The son that she brought forth was named Tammuz. Now Ninos became Tammuz.
Tammuz was noted to be especially fond of rabbits, and they became sacred in the ancient religion, because rabbits represent fertility, as well, and Tammuz was believed to be the “son of the Sun-God, Baal.” Tammuz/Ninos, like his supposed father, (Nimrod) became a mighty hunter. The day came when Tammuz was killed by a wild pig, on the summer solstice, in the month of Tammuz. Queen Semiramis/Ishtar told the people that Tammuz was now ascended to his father, Baal, and that the two of them would be with the worshippers in the sacred candle or lamp flame as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Semiramis/Ishtar, who was now worshipped as the "Mother of God and Queen of Heaven," continued to build her mystery religion through the ancient fables. The queen told the worshippers that when Tammuz was killed by the wild pig, some of his blood fell on the stump of an evergreen tree, and the stump grew into a full new tree overnight. This made the evergreen tree sacred by the blood of Tammuz, which is why an evergreen was carried inside every Assyrian household on December 25th. On the winter solstice when the “Son of God” was born, and it is the same tradition we practice today, during the Christmas season, (please refer to the Origins of Christmas article in Zinda’s January 8, 2007 issue).
She also proclaimed a forty day period of time of sorrow each year prior to the anniversary of the death of Tammuz. During this time, no meat was to be eaten. Worshippers were to meditate upon the sacred mysteries of Baal and Tammuz, and to make the sign of the "T"(sign of the cross) in front of their hearts as they worshipped. They also ate sacred cakes with the marking of a "T" or cross on the top. Every year, on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, a celebration was made to honor the mother that bore the son of God, (Ishtar/Semiramis) and to commemorate the death/resurrection of her son, Ninos/Tammuz. It was Ishtar's Sunday and was celebrated with rabbits and eggs, the way we do Easter Sunday today. Ishtar also proclaimed that because Tammuz was killed by a pig, that a pig must be served on that Sunday. Many families bake hams at Easter time, even today.
Cakes bearing a cross-like symbol, representing the pair of bull-horns on the moon-goddess, Semiramis/Ishtar, were offered by ancient Assyrians on the Friday (Good Friday) before the festival of Ishtar, and were called kha-bon. They have been mentioned in classic literature as early as the days of Cecrops, the founder of Athens, which was 1500 years before the Christian era, “One species of sacred bread,” says Bryant, “which used to be offered to the Gods, was of great antiquity, and called Boun.” Diogenes Laertius, speaking of this offering describes the chief ingredients from which they were composed, saying, “They offered one of the sacred cakes called Boun, which was made of fine flour and honey.”
The cakes which the Greeks offered to Astarte and other divinities were called boun, from which the word “bun” is derived. The so-called Prophet Jeremiah takes notice of this kind of offering when he says, “The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven.” The hot cross buns are no longer offered in Britain, but are eaten on the festival of Astarte. Jeremiah 44:19 confirms these Assyrian traditions, when he writes, “and when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her.”
Since Semramis/Ishtar declared the worship of Baal and Tammuz was to be done by light, (candle or lamps) the Assyrians celebrated their Easter Festival with lamps and candles, paying tribute to the resurrected son of God, (the SUN) on Easter Sunday. This tradition carried into Catholicism, which is why the Madonna and child are set up in a niche, and they must have a lamp to burn before them, and if mass is to be celebrated, though in broad daylight, there must be wax-candles lighted on the altar. If a grand procession is to be formed, it cannot be thorough and complete without lighted tapers to grace them. The use of these lamps and tapers comes from the same source as all the rest of the Papal rites, Assyria.
That which caused the "Heart," when it became an emblem of the incarnate Son [Bel/Tammuz] to be represented as a heart on fire, required also that burning lamps and lighted candles should form a part of the worship of that Son/Sun. This tradition carried into Zoroasterian religion, as well as Egyptian. Every Egyptian on the same night was required to light a lamp in front of his house in the open air. This was an act of homage to the Sun that had veiled its glory by enshrouding itself in a human form. When the Yezidis of Assyria, to this day, once a year celebrate their festival of "burning lamps,” that, too, is to the honor of Sheikh Shems, or the Sun. Now, what on these high occasions was done on a grand scale was also done on a smaller scale, in the individual acts of worship to their God, (Ashur), by the lighting of lamps and tapers before the favorite divinity. In Babylon, this practice had been exceedingly prevalent, as we learn from the Apocryphal writer of the Book of Baruch (Chapter 6, verse 18). "They (the Babylonians)," he says, "light up lamps to their gods, and that in greater numbers, too, than they do for themselves.”
In the Catholic Bible, if we look in the 6th Chapter of Baruch, we will find confirmation that the Pre-Christian Assyrian practice was to light lamps or candles before their deified kings and queens. I would venture to say that if you enter virtually any Catholic Church, you will find statues of Mary, Jesus or various saints that have candles lit before them, as in the Assyrian tradition. This practice has no Christian or Jewish origin, it is strictly Assyrian, and honors Ashur, the sun and light of the world.
What do we make of the Catholic "blessing of the new fire" on the evening before Easter Sunday, from which so many candles are lit? Is it not obvious that its origin is in the Assyrian god of fire, and sun, whose emblem is a flaming heart, and whose titles are Baal or Tammuz? The "blessing of the new fire" is an adopted Pre-Christian practice that honors the new strength of the Sun as evidenced by the increasing daylight and lessening night after the Spring Equinox and this has been plainly admitted by Catholics.
In ancient times, fires were lit on top of mountains, (the way the Yezidis of Assyria still do to this day) and had to be kindled from new fire, drawn from wood by friction. The fire was then used to bake cakes in sacrifice to Semiramis, the “Queen of Heaven.” This practice , along with burning incense, was used in conjunction with baking the cakes and is mentioned specifically in the Bible, (1 Kings 11:8, 2 Kings 17: 7-16, 2 Kings 18: 4, 2 Kings 23:4-15, Isaiah17:8, Isaiah 27:9, Ezekiel 8:7-12, Jeremiah 7:16-19, Jeremiah 44:19, 25.
By now, the readers should have made the connection that the religions of the world are based on the ancient Assyrian religion, which has infiltrated the contemporary "Christian" churches, and further study indicates that the entire Roman Catholic System is based on the Assyrian belief system, most of all
The truth is that Easter has nothing whatsoever to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We also know that Easter can be as much as three weeks away from the Passover, because the Pre-Christian holiday is always set as the first Sunday after the first full moon, after the spring equinox. Some have wondered why the word "Easter" is in the King James Bible. It is because Acts, chapter 12, tells us that it was the so-called “evil” King Herod, who was planning to celebrate Easter, and not the Christians. Passover and Easter sometimes coincide, but in some years, they are a great distance apart. But the truth is that the forty days of Lent, eggs, rabbits, hot cross buns and the Easter ham have everything to do with the ancient Assyrian religion and nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity!
These customs of Easter honor the resurrected Tammuz, the son of Baal, who is Ashur reincarnated, and is still worshipped by the entire world as the "Rising Sun" and his house is the "House of the Rising Sun." How many churches have "sunrise services" on Ishtar's day and face the rising sun in the East? How many will use colored eggs and rabbit stories, as they did in ancient Assyria?
In the Assyrian tradition, the 'savior' Ninos/Tammuz and later Mithras by the Persians, was worshipped in spring with ancient rites, because he was conceived during the spring equinox. According to legend, Tammuz lived for forty years, and lent of 40 days was to honor each year of his life. Tammuz was killed by a wild boar, on the summer solstice, during the killing heat, signifying the death of nature. Semiramis/Ishtar, buried him in a cave, with a heavy rock so that no one was able to lift the rock. Three days later, she went to her son’s grave, but the heavy rock had lifted, and no one could find the savior. From this tradition we get the Easter Egg Hunt, where we are trying to gather eggs which are the symbol of fertility and birth and rebirth of Ninos/Tammuz. Each year, during the Ishtar Festival, six weeks of fasting “lent” was observed by the ancient Assyrians to honor the weeping of the mother of the savior, the son of Semiramis/Ishtar, who was Tammuz. He is dramatically resurrected on Easter Sunday. This mourning of Tammuz is specifically noted by Ezekiel in the Bible, (Ezekiel 8:13-15).
Many religious practices originated in Assyria with Semiramis and Nimrod. Many names were used for this deified god and goddess as people scattered from Babel, (Bab-El, the gate of God). Names for the "Mother Goddess" included: "ISHTAR" (where we get "EASTER"), Eostre, Cybele, Astarte, Ostera, Eastre, Wife of Baal, Ashtaroth, and Queen of Heaven. She was frequently worshipped as the goddess of fertility, a "Mother Nature," goddess of spring, sexuality and birth. She was also worshipped as a mediator between god and man.
There are several sources of evidence of Ishtar (Easter) and Tammuz worship in the Bible. Let us examine some of the quotes from the Tanakh (referred to as the "Old Testament" by most Christians) where the people of Judah and Jerusalem still worshipped Ishtar as the Queen of Heaven even during Jeremiah’s time, (much to his disgust): Yirmeyah (Jeremiah) 44:16-19, “As for the word you have just spoken to us in the name of ADONAI, we will not listen to you.17 Instead, we will certainly continue to fulfill every word our mouths have spoken: we will offer incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our ancestors, our kings and our leaders, in the cities of Y’hudah and the streets of Yerushalayim. For then we had plenty of food; everything was fine, we didn’t experience anything unpleasant. 18 But since we stopped offering to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything, and we have been destroyed by sword and famine.”19 (Then the wives added), “Are we the ones who offer incense to the queen of heaven? Do we pour out drink offerings to her? And did we make cakes marked with her image for her and pour out drink offerings to her without our husbands’ consent?”
The Bible is full of such tales about the worship of Semiramis/Ishtar, but she is mostly referred to as Queen of Heaven. In fact, the Bible tells us that even the people of Jerusalem, in Jeremiah’s time and Ezekiel’s time worshipped Tammuz, as stated above, where both of these so-called prophets write about Jewish women “weeping for Tammuz on the steps of the Jerusalem temple” (Ezekiel 16:14). In the same chapter, Ezekiel states, “women wept for Ishtar’s son, Tammuz.”
Did you ever wonder why Good Friday is recognized as the day Jesus died and Sunday as the day he arose but yet had trouble explaining how he could thus be buried for three days and three nights? (Matthew 12:40, Matthew 27:63, Mark 9:31, Mark 10:34.) The answer is simple: He didn't actually die on "Good Friday." The Assyrians offered cakes to Ishtar on the equivalent of the day we know as Good Friday. When the established church wanted to appease the ancient and Pre-Christian people in order to "convert" them to Christianity, they moved the dates accordingly. Jesus was said to have actually died on the day of Preparation of Passover Week, which that year occurred on Wednesday (John 19:14, 31-34). Thursday was the Sabbath of the Passover. Friday, Christ was still in the tomb. Saturday was the "regular" Sabbath. Jesus is claimed to have risen after the Saturday Sabbath was concluded, which was the first day of the week, the day we know as Sunday, (Mark 16:9, John 20:1). Moving the calendar is a trick practiced by most Christian churches.
Pascha is most commonly translated as Passover, and of the 29 times this word appears in the New Testament, only on this one occasion is it translated as Easter. Today, Easter is by far the most commonly used term for the day of the resurrection, but would the disciples have recognized the term and used it in connection with the resurrection of Christ?
The Feast of the Nativity of St. John is set down in the Papal calendar for the 24 th of June, or Mid-Summer Day. The very same period was equally memorable in the Assyrian calendar as that was the most celebrated festival of Tammuz. It was at Midsummer or the summer solstice that the month called in Assyria by the name of Tammuz began, and on the first day, June 24th was particularly designated as the grand festival of Tammuz. Centuries later, when the Papacy sent its emissaries over to Europe, towards the end of the sixth century, to gather the “pagans” into its fold, this festival was found in high favor in many countries. What was to be done with it? They couldn’t have waged war against the non-Christians, as this would have been contrary to the famous advice of Pope Gregory I, who declared that the Christians should meet the “pagans’ half way, and to bring them into the Roman Church.” The Gregorian policy was carefully observed and so midsummer’s day, that had been hallowed by Pre-Christians to the worship of Tammuz, was incorporated as a sacred festival in the Roman calendar. However, the question still remained as to what to call this festival after it was admitted into the Roman Church. To call it by its old name of Bel or Tammuz would have been too bold. To call Easter by the name of Christ was also not possible, in as much as there was nothing of the sort in the history of Jesus. The Papacy decided to call it in the name of Christ’s forerunner, John the Baptist. John the Baptist was claimed to have been born six months before Jesus. When therefore, the festival of the winter solstice had already been consecrated as the birth of the “savior” it followed, as a matter of course, that if his forerunner was to have a festival at all, his festival must be at this very season, for between the 24th of June and the 25th of December, that is, between the summer and the winter solstice, there are just six months. For the purpose of the papacy, nothing could be more opportune than this, to the extent that one of the many sacred names by which Tammuz was called, when he was resurrected, after being slain, was Oannes. The name of John the Baptist, in the old language was Joannes. To make the festival on the 24 th of June, suit Christians as well as “pagans” alike, all was needed was just to call it Joannes, and the Christians would think they are honoring John the Baptist, while the “pagans” were still worshipping their old savior, Oannes or Tammuz
After Tammuz was killed, he takes refuge in the sea. When Tammuz reappears as part of the Assyrian trinity, he reappears as Oannes, the fish-God. Jesus was identified with the fish the same as the Greek God Bacchus, as was the ancient European God Dagon, and all those “Gods” who came after Tammuz.
The worship of Bel, (Baal) Tammuz, and Ishtar, (Beltis) was very early introduced into Britain, along with the Druids, “the Priests of the Groves.” Some have imagined that the Druidical worship was first introduced by the Phoenicians, ( Penighayeh or Peghayeh = Amphibious name given to the Assyrian Navy Force) centuries before the Christian era, traded to the tin mines of Cornwall. However, the unequivocal traces of that worship are found in regions of the British islands where the Phoenicians never penetrated, and which has left an indelible mark, which must have imprinted on the early British mind.
From Bel, the first of May is still called Beltane in the British Almanac, and the English have customs still lingering to this day, among which prove how exactly the worship of Bel or Moloch, (both are titles for the same God) had been observed even in the northern parts of the English Islands. Every year on Beltane, the first of May, a number of British men and women gather at an ancient Druidical circle of stones, near Crieff. They light a fire in the center, and each person puts a bit of oatcake in a bonnet. They all sit down and draw, blind-folded, a cake out of the bonnet. One piece has been previously blackened and whoever gets that piece has to jump through the new fire and pay a forfeit. This is in fact, part of the ancient worship of Baal. Baal and his consort Astarte were not only worshipped in Britain, but adored, and the April festivities of Easter are derived from the Assyrian ancient religion.
European households at Easter, fill their homes with lilies, which is the symbol of Ashera, (another name for Ishtar). Ishtar was frequently represented as a nude woman striding a lion, holding lilies (symbol of fertility) with one hand and with the other hand holding a snake, (symbol of fecundity). Henry Layard found another sculpture of a nude Ishtar, minus the lion. She holds in one hand a bunch of lilies, and the other hand a group of snakes.
The ancient Assyrians believed that wearing new garments on the Festival of Ishtar is a symbol for renewing their life, and this tradition brings good luck throughout the year, which is why we dress ourselves and our children in new clothing on Easter.
Spring has been, and is, the season for much merry-making and fun, with an emphasis on sexual fertility. New Orleans’ famous “Mardi Gras,” or Rio de Janeiro’s “Carnival”, or the Bahamian “Junkanoo” are examples of Spring Festivals. These festivals in the Christian world end at Lent, when forty days of penitential fasting ensue before Easter itself.
This fertility aspect of the season may be sublimated by the "Easter Dance" or "Spring Prom" found in many educational institutions of the English-speaking world. But many Christian Churches, in the early days of Christianity, could not agree on the date of Easter. This was the primary disagreement between the Celtic (Culdee) Church and Rome for many years, with the Celtic Church keeping the holiday on the fourteenth day after the paschal moon (according to the rule of the Council of Arles in 314 CE, and in spite of St. Augustine and the "Synod of the Oak") and the Roman observing it between the fifteenth and twenty-first. This was pretty much settled at the famous Council of Whitby in 664 CE, with Aldhelm, the Bishop of Sherborne, persuading the Celtic Christians in Cornwall to conform to the Roman usage in the early part of the eighth century CE.
The seven day week was developed in Assyria ca. 2300 BCE, and consisted of days to honor the five visible planets and the sun and moon. Their week consisted of: Shamash (Sun's day), Sin (Moon's day), Nebo (Mercury), Istar (Venus,) Nergal (Mars), Marduk (Jupiter) and Ninurta (Saturn.) The names we use today in the English language are borrowed from the Norse deities associated with the same planets: Sun's Day, (Sunday) Moon's Day, (Monday) Tiu's Day, (Tuesday) Wodin's Day, (Wednesday) Thor's Day, (Thursday) Freya's Day, (Friday) and Saturn's Day, (Saturday).
Achara S refers to Tammuz as the savior god worshipped in Jerusalem, as the “savior/fertility sun god who annually died and was resurrected” and uses words to hint that he is represented by the Apostle Thomas. She remarks, “it is said via the indication that Thomas preached to the Parthians and Persians, that this somehow conveys that these groups were followers of Tammuz. Walker’s Women’s Encyclopedia states that Tammuz was Adonis, and the following characters combine Jesus and Tammuz:
Tammuz’ identity as a shepherd, and his death and “raising” as Robert Price puts it in Deconstructing Jesus, (86). The god Tammuz was known as a Sumerian god of Fertility, (Dummzi) and of new life, (ImT, 28) earlier than 3000 B.C. He was indeed known by two of the names above: He was called a shepherd, (it is not surprising for any leading figure whether political or religious, to be called a “Shepherd”. Tammuz was also called a “healer” and regarded as a savior, but Langdon notes, (Lang TI, 34) those who referred to Tammuz by these names “do not have the spiritual doctrines which these words have in Christianity”.
Tammuz healed medically, but as Langdon reminds us, “every deity, male or female, possessed this power, “so Tammuz is no different, or unexpected for a God, true or false.” Tammuz saved but not from “sin”. He saved from starvation and physical death, when he came back to life every spring, and resurrected the crops.
This leads to the death and return to life of Tammuz, and there is indeed one, and it is called a “resurrection.” Smith, in the Origins of Biblical Monotheism (112) notes that the means of Tammuz’ return to life is unknown, but the description points to “his participation in a ritual in which the dead were invoked and then temporarily manifested.” The Tammuz cult was centered in his marriage to Ishtar/Inanna, and it was her lamenting of his early death that women imitated, (as in Ezekiel’s descriptions).
Scholars of religion and of Tammuz recognize that the biblical and the mythological stories, are all but one story: The description is always of God’s Conception, (the sacred marriage rite of the Akitu on the vernal Equinox) and God’s birth on the Winter Solstice which is nine months later on December 25, and his death on the Summer Solstice, in the dead of heat of Tammuz, and later resurrection as the son of god on Ishtar’s Day, the “Sun Day” of the vernal Equinox. Some cities in Assyria celebrated the Autumnal Equinox to complete the HOLY cycle of planting, reaping, feasting, rejoicing in the miracle of “BUILDING LIFE ON EARTH” which is what the Akitu is all about!
Tammuz’ death occurs at the end of spring, (on the Summer Solstice) and corresponds with the natural cycle of vegetation. In Deconstructing Jesus, Robert Price takes aim at Jonathan Z. Smith, the noted scholar of religion, for declaring Tammuz a non-parallel to Jesus, and it is at this point that he accuses Smith of “taking up the cause of Christian Apologists” in order to discredit James Frazer. His argument implies the assertion that Tammuz is “good enough” to cite as parallel, because in his opinion, “it is “ and people like Smith are too blind to admit it.
Some religious scholars have also written that the mourning women of Judah and Jerusalem didn’t eat of grain because “it is the body of Tammuz.” We have also seen religion scholars make Tammuz symbolization with Tau, T, as a parallel to the cross, especially because the ancient Assyrians crossed their hearts to queen Shamiram/Ishtar and offered to her hot cross buns, marked with the sign of the cross, reserved for the mother of the “savior” “Queen of heaven,” Semiramis/Ishtar/Inanna).
The reference in Jerome about Tammuz and Jesus’ birth cave is equally remarkable. It is to be found in the Epistle of Paulinus 58:3 of Jerome’s letters, where Jerome says, “from the time of the Hadrian to the reign of Constantine, a period of about one hundred and eighty years the spot which had witnessed the resurrection was occupied by a figure of Jupiter, (Tammuz) while on the rock where the cross had stood, a marble statue of Venus, (Shamiram/Ishtar) was set-up by the heathen and become an object of worship. The original persecutors, indeed, supposed that by polluting our holy places, they would deprive us of our faith in the passion and resurrection. Even my own Bethlehem, as it is now, that most venerable spot in the whole world of which the psalmist sings. The truth had sprung out of the earth was overshadowed by a grove of Tammuz that this Adonis, and in the very cave, where the infant Christ had uttered his earliest cry lamentation was made for the paramour of Venus, (Shamiram/Ishtar).”
Tammuz is resurrected every year at this time, and it should remind everyone, not just the Assyrians, how lucky we are to be renewed every year, and to be part of these great cycle, (Gighla) contributing to the building of life on earth.
Happy Ishtar Sunday to all Assyrians around the world.
Note: All the books listed in Bibliography are according to their original publication date, to provide Assyrians with a glimpse of who is the custodian of our history, culture, and religion.