Although the most important holiday for the Christian religion, celebrating its central figure’s alleged return from the grave, Easter derives its name from a pagan goddess named Éostre. The concept of a new beginning and life’s triumph over death are represented in the symbols of eggs and the notoriously fertile rabbit.
Whether one is a believer, or an unbeliever like myself, there is something to be celebrated at Easter time.
Some of my atheist friends act a little embarrassed by religious holidays and try to distance themselves, for instance renaming Christmas as Newtonmas (since December 25th was Isaac Newton’s birthday.) To me this has always seemed kind of silly. Christmas and Easter, while specifically Christian holidays, are also about the celebration of things which are not limited to one form of belief, but are, in fact, universal. Christmas is a celebration of love, community and generosity. And Easter is a celebration of life’s persistence and of fertility.
In recent times we’ve seen some terrible natural disasters as well as man-made conflicts troubling various parts of the world. The wonderful thing about life in general and humans in particular is that such things do not defeat us. In the wake of each disaster, the survivors reestablish their communities, homes are rebuilt, babies are born and life goes on. For me, this is what Easter celebrates. Death doesn’t win.
But also it celebrates fertility. This is not just biological fertility. If I wished fertility on you, many of you would probably scream, “No, that’s the last thing I need!” But fertility is not just about producing babies. It is about the fecundity of the soil in which we plant a seed, be that seed an idea, a monetary investment or a literal seed that we plant in our garden. To toast fertility is to wish that those seeds bare fruit. Unless they are vegetable seeds, in which case it would just be weird for them to bare fruit.
One need not believe in Heaven or Hell to believe that life is not limited to our physical bodies, finite as they are in time and space. Our deeds and our ideas sow seeds which can have a life of their own, bearing fruit in places we will never visit and also long after we cease to exist as individuals.
The internet is the perfect example of this. The inventors of Facebook, Twitter or Google could die tomorrow, but that which they created would continue to have a life of its own, providing a conduit for social interactions the outcome of which noone can possibly predict.
Recently I’ve been taking part in the Twitterotica challenges created by Ruby Kiddell and Aisling Weaver. Here is another example of seeds which bare fruit. A seed word is sown over Twitter and lands in the fertile minds of sundry degenerates who set to work to create some prime filth. Nobody could predict the fruity tales of debauchery they produce. These in turn are disseminated over the net where they themselves perhaps inspire much stiffness and wetness of generative organs. And what happens after that is anybody’s guess. But the point is that a simple idea in one person’s mind ended up effecting the lives of many in ways that they will never fully know.
So what can make us more fertile in this broader sense? Well, just as the fertility of a woman is unlikely to bare fruit if she doesn’t open her legs, so an open mind is most conducive to the success of productive endeavours of all kinds. And nothing stands in the way of such success like a closed mind. The most wonderful of creations are those which could never have been predicted. And the belief that we can predict the future closes us off to the seeds of such creations. Few of us would claim to be psychic, but we think we can predict the future when we say such things as : “I’ll never get that job promotion!” ; “No member of the opposite sex could find me attractive!” ; or “All my problems will be solved when I win the lottery!” It is welcoming the unknowability of the future with open arms and following ideas to see what they lead to, rather than presupposing that they are worthless, which allows us to make the most of life’s creative principle.
But let us also not forget that Easter is a time for perving at scantily clad girls in bunny ears and eating lots of chocolate!
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