Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar, And Other Truths I Have To Tell You

28 Mar

If there is one thing that drives me absolutely bananas, it’s people spreading misinformation via social media under the guise of “educating”. I’ve seen this happen in several ways – through infographics that twist data in ways that support a conclusion that is ultimately false, or else through “meaningful” quotes falsely attributed to various celebrities, or by cobbling together a few actual facts with statements that are patently untrue to create something that seems plausible on the surface but is, in fact, full of crap.

Yesterday, the official Facebook page of (noted misogynist and eugenics enthusiast) Richard Dawkins’ Foundation for Reason and Science shared the following image to their 637,000 fans:

Neither Reasonable Nor Scientific

Neither Reasonable Nor Scientific

Naturally, their fans lapped this shit up; after all, this is the kind of thing they absolutely live for. Religious people! Being hypocritical! And crazy! And wrong! The 2,000+ comments were chock-full of smug remarks about how naïve and stupid Christians were, accompanied by pats on the back for all the atheists who smart enough to see through all the religious bullshit and understand how the evil church had slyly appropriated all kinds of pagan traditions.

And you know what? That’s fine, I guess. I’m all for questioning religion and examining the sociological, historical and anthropological reasons that help explain the hows and whys of our lives today. I’m actually super fascinated by that kind of stuff, even if I do think that there’s a way to discuss it without making yourself sound smarter and more enlightened than the people around you.

But you guys? The image above is rife with misinformation. RIFE, I say.

Let’s start from the top:

This is Ishtar …

Okay, great. So far things are fairly accurate. The relief pictured here, known as the Burney Relief (also called the Queen of the Night relief) is widely considered to be an Ancient Babylonian representation of Ishtar (although some scholars believe that the woman depicted might be Lilitu or Ereshkigal). This relief is currently housed in the British Museum in London, but originates from southern Iraq and is nearly 4,000 years old.

… pronounced Easter.

Actually, in modern English we pronounce it the way it looks. A case could be made for pronouncing it Eesh-tar, but I have yet to come across a credible source that gives the original pronunciation as Easter.

Easter is originally the celebration of Ishtar, the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility and sex.

Ishtar was the goddess of love, war and sex. These days, thanks to Herodotus, she is especially associated with sacred prostitution* (also known as temple prostitution), which, in the religions of the Ancient Near East, allegedly took on the form of every woman having to, at some point in her life, go to the temple of Ishtar and have sex with the first stranger who offered her money. Once a woman entered the temple of Ishtar for the purpose of sacred prostitution, she was not allowed to leave until she’d done the deed. I can’t imagine that sacred prostitution sex was ever very good sex, but hey, what do I know? Probably some people were pretty into it – I mean, if you can imagine it, someone’s made porn about it, right?

Anyway, the point I am trying to make here is that, yes, Ishtar was associated with fertility and sex. However, her symbols were the lion, the gate and the eight-pointed star; I can’t find any evidence of eggs or rabbits symbolically belonging to her. And Easter has nothing to do with her.

Most scholars believe that Easter gets its name from Eostre or Ostara**, a Germanic pagan goddess. English and German are two of the very few languages that use some variation of the word Easter (or, in German, Ostern) as a name for this holiday. Most other European languages use one form or another of the Latin name for Easter, Pascha, which is derived from the Hebrew Pesach, meaning Passover.

In the Christian Bible, Jesus returned to Jerusalem from his forty days in the desert just before Passover. In fact, in the Gospel according to John, Jesus was killed on the day before the first night of Passover, at the time when lambs were traditionally slaughtered for the Passover feast (because Jesus was the Lamb of God, etc. – SYMBOLISM, Y’ALL). There are a few differing accounts of when Jesus actually died, but most Christian texts, philosophers and scholars agree that it was around the time of Passover. Easter is still celebrated the week after Passover, which is why it’s a different day each year, because the Jewish calendar is lunar rather than solar.

Her symbols (like the egg and the bunny) were and still are fertility and sex symbols (or did you actually think eggs and bunnies had anything to do with the resurrection?).

Actually, according to Jacob Grimm’s Deutsche Mythologie, which he wrote after journeying across Germany and recording its oral mythological traditions, the idea of resurrection was part and parcel of celebrating the goddess Ostara:

OstaraEástre seems therefore to have been the divinity of the radiant dawn, of upspringing light, a spectacle that brings joy and blessing, whose meaning could be easily adapted by the resurrection-day of the christian’s God. Bonfires were lighted at Easter and according to popular belief of long standing, the moment the sun rises on Easter Sunday morning, he gives three joyful leaps, he dances for joy … Water drawn on the Easter morning is, like that at Christmas, holy and healing … here also heathen notions seems to have grafted themselves on great christian festivals. Maidens clothed in white, who at Easter, at the season of returning spring, show themselves in clefts of the rock and on mountains, are suggestive of the ancient goddess.”

Spring is a sort of resurrection after all, with the land coming back to life after lying dead and bare during the winter months. To say that ancient peoples thought otherwise is foolish, naïve and downright uninformed. Many, many pagan celebrations centre around the return of light and the rebirth of the land; these ideas are not new themes in the slightest.

And yes, rabbits and eggs are fertility symbols, and they are, in fact, associated with Eostre.

Ostara by Johannes Gehrts

Ostara by Johannes Gehrts

After Constantine decided to Christianize the Empire, Easter was changed to represent Jesus.

Hey! Guess what language Constantine, the Roman Emperor, spoke? Not English, that’s for sure! In fact, when he was alive, English didn’t even exist yet. He would have spoken Latin, so would likely have referred to Easter as Pascha.

But at its roots Easter (which is pronounced Ishtar) was all about celebrating fertility and sex.

Look. Here’s the thing. Our Western Easter traditions incorporate a lot of elements from a bunch of different religious backgrounds. You can’t really say that it’s just about resurrection, or just about spring, or just about fertility and sex. You can’t pick one thread out of a tapestry and say, “Hey, now this particular strand is what this tapestry’s really about.” It doesn’t work that way; very few things in life do.

The fact is that the Ancient Romans were smart when it came to conquering. In their pagan days, they would absorb gods and goddesses from every religion they encountered into their own pantheon; when the Roman Empire became Christian, the Roman Catholic Church continued to do the same thing, in a manner of speaking.

And do you know why that worked so well? Because adaptability is a really, really good trait to have in terms of survival of the fittest (something I wish the present-day Catholic Church would remember). Scratch the surface of just about any Christian holiday, and you’ll find pagan elements, if not a downright pagan theme, underneath.

Know what else? Most Christians know this. Or, at least, most of the Christians that I’m friends with (which is, admittedly, a fairly small sampling). They know that Jesus wasn’t really born on December 25th, and they know that there were never any actual snakes in Ireland, and they know that rabbits and eggs are fertility symbols. But they don’t care, because they realize that religions evolve and change and that that’s actually a good thing, not a bad thing. The fact that many Christian saints are just re-imagined pagan gods and goddesses doesn’t alter their faith one iota; because faith isn’t about reason or sense, it’s about belief.

Look, go ahead and debate religion. Go ahead and tell Christians why what they believe is wrong. That’s totally fine and, in fact, I encourage it. A little debate and critical thinking are good for everyone. But do it intelligently. Get to know the Bible, so you actually know what you’re disagreeing with when you form an argument. Brush up on your theology so that you can explain why it’s so wrong. And have some compassion, for Christ’s sake – be polite and respectful when you enter into a debate, even when the person you’re debating with loses their cool. You want to prove that you’re better, more enlightened than Christians? Great, do it by remaining rational and level-headed in the face of someone who’s willing to stoop to personal attacks. To behave otherwise is to be just as bad as the people you’re debating.

Anyway, I hope you guys have a fantastic long weekend, no matter how you spend it. If your holiday involves chocolate, then I hope you enjoy that. If not, just enjoy the extra day or two off work and the (hopefully) warm weather. No matter what you believe in, I think that we can all agree that the end of winter and the rebirth of spring is worth celebrating.

And also? Richard Dawkins? You need to fact-check yourself before you fact-wreck yourself. Spreading this kind of misinformation to your foundation’s 637,000 fans is just plain irresponsible, especially coming from someone like you. Get with the program, buddy.

ETA: The post now seems to be removed from The Richard Dawkins’ Foundation for Science and Reason’s FB page. Thanks Richard! 

*It should be noted that the only actual historical evidence that we have of sacred prostitution comes from Herodotus (I’ve included an excerpt from Herodotus’ Histories below) and no one is really sure how accurate it is. Herodotus is known for making shit up, like giant ants for example. But it makes for an amazing story and people still make the association between Ishtar and sacred prostitution, so I decided to mention it here.

The foulest Babylonian custom is that which compels every woman of the land to sit in the temple of Aphrodite and have intercourse with some stranger once in her life. Many women who are rich and proud and disdain to mingle with the rest, drive to the temple in covered carriages drawn by teams, and stand there with a great retinue of attendants. But most sit down in the sacred plot of Aphrodite, with crowns of cord on their heads; there is a great multitude of women coming and going; passages marked by line run every way through the crowd, by which the men pass and make their choice. Once a woman has taken her place there, she does not go away to her home before some stranger has cast money into her lap, and had intercourse with her outside the temple; but while he casts the money, he must say, “I invite you in the name of Mylitta” (that is the Assyrian name for Aphrodite). It does not matter what sum the money is; the woman will never refuse, for that would be a sin, the money being by this act made sacred. So she follows the first man who casts it and rejects no one. After their intercourse, having discharged her sacred duty to the goddess, she goes away to her home; and thereafter there is no bribe however great that will get her. So then the women that are fair and tall are soon free to depart, but the uncomely have long to wait because they cannot fulfil the law; for some of them remain for three years, or four. There is a custom like this in some parts of Cyprus.

That crack about ugly women was totally unnecessary, Herodotus. I am just saying.

**The first written reference we have for Eostre dates back to the 7th century AD and can be found in Venerable Bede’s Temporum Ratione, in a passage explaining that April was often referred to as Eostremonth:

“Eosturmonath” has a name which is now translated “Paschal month”, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honor feasts were celebrated in that month.

Jacob Grimm said that he found further evidence of Eostre and her associations with Easter, eggs and rabbits when researching his Deutsches Mythologie, although he was unable to discover any written records about her.

488 Responses to “Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar, And Other Truths I Have To Tell You”

  1. carol September 21, 2013 at 7:11 am #

    Excellent and tolerant post and then the Baptiste and all the others who preach at you come along, groan…….be tolerant, be tolerant, be tolerant…..groan…

  2. Jason September 26, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

    It’s awesome to see someone who does some real research. I truly enjoyed the article, it was very informative.

  3. Ernest September 28, 2013 at 12:55 am #

    I totally agree with your findings. Easter has a strong western European influence vs ancient Sumarian. The fact that Easter and Ishtar sound similar is strictly confidential. Even though Ishtar is the goddess of fertility, and Easter’s pagan origins are based on fertility rites, doesn’t necessarily mean that Eastern stemmed from Ishtar ceremonies that had disappeared a couple of thousand years before Easter was introduced. When Xians introduced Easter, all of Europe was already celebrating one sort of Spring/Fertility festival or another. All the Xian church did was absorb it and redirect it’s meaning.

  4. Ernest September 28, 2013 at 1:02 am #

    I totally agree with your findings. Easter has a strong western European influence vs ancient Sumarian. The fact that Easter and Ishtar sound similar is strictly coincidental. Even though Ishtar is the goddess of fertility, and Easter’s pagan origins are based on fertility rites, doesn’t necessarily mean that Eastern stemmed from Ishtar ceremonies that had disappeared a couple of thousand years before Easter was introduced. When Xians introduced Easter, all of Europe was already celebrating one sort of Spring/Fertility festival or another. All the Xian church did was absorb it and redirect it’s meaning.

  5. Nick October 11, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    Thank God, you made this! I need this like right now!

  6. ZAROVE December 4, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    ACTUALLY, the association with Eostre and Easter isnt as strong as peopel seem to think either. For example, Epstre was not known to have been associated with Eggs and Rabbits in Antiquity. In fact, we don’t know anythign about her at all, even to the extent of her beign a Fertility goddess. The only mention fo her from the Ancient World is Bede, who says a Month was named after her, which happened to be the Month Pascha fell in thus why the Peopels of Britain call the Holidy Easter.

    Bede never called Eostre a Fertility goddess and makes no reference to Eggs or Rbits.

    Easter Eggs came from Germany in the 13th Century, and are not a Pagan Tradition. The Easter Bunny is a SPecifically Protestant creation, developed so as to not expose Children to Lent whilst expalinign the eggs. (Because the Coloured Eggs actually tie into Lent, in that they were the eggs laid in Holy Week and where died to honour he Feast of Passcha, in which the prohibition on Meat and airy waas lifted at the Feast on that day.

    None of these “Pagan” customs actually tace to Paganism.

    As for this Christian Holiday beign originally Pagan, thats wrong too. It developeout of Judiasm, and specificlalythe Passover.

  7. lillielle February 27, 2014 at 6:45 am #

    Reblogged this on The Shattered Memory of a Broken Girl and commented:
    reblogging because this is a great response to why that image is bullshit [and i keep seeing it being circulated around -_- ]

  8. robert teach April 10, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

    I wouldn’t compare teaching religion with learning other skills or subjects. Cooking, auto repair, math, sciences, and all of the world’s knowledge serves a purpose. (To ensure the survival of the knowledge holder and pass the information to its offspring) If someday you are able to fix your car or procure a meal by praying, then religion will have a tangible use other than dividing people.

    • Zarove April 13, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

      You know, reducing Religion to nothing more than prayer and sayign its useless ignores the fact that Religion is mroe rhan just praying about things, or even beleiving that a god exists. Religion is actally nothign mroe han an active Philosophy. Religion explains the world we live in, how we live in it, what mroakls to hold, and other foundstional aspects of our natures and existence, and covers a ranfe of topics from Ethics to Self Relfecrion.

      Whats worse, I’d argue that everyone has a Religion, even thoe who say they have no Religion, or even those ho denounce all Religion as Evil. Religion is the same thign ss “Worldview”, a popular new term.

      Thus you’re teachign Religion when you teach how o cook or hwo to fix a car, or how to live.

      That, I’d say, is useful. It is, in fact, indespinsable.

      • Iain Sherwood April 16, 2014 at 7:09 am #

        Religion is mainly a marvelously sinister means of controlling the behavior of a people….

  9. David Marshall April 12, 2014 at 4:53 am #

    If you ask Jesus now, whata easter is all about….he deffenately replied…Easter what???

    • Zarove April 13, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

      I think he’d get it, given that Easter is actually just the English term for Pasover…

  10. D.S. April 12, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    Hi, I believe in our Creator and the Messiah. I love him with all my heart and I do my best to honor him in all I do. I look for the truth and I hate when people lie about My Creator as well as u do but I feel that a lot of the things now in days Christians do have been highly influenced by the wrong people. That we have been tricked.
    You are right about Ishtar’s symbols not being a rabbit nor egg, but Ishtar ,which translates to Easter , has very much to do with both rabbits and eggs. She also has very much to do with the evergreen tree that is used during the Christmas holiday.
    Out Saviour’s goodness and love and truth and word has been twisted and ployed with so successfully by the Roman Catholic Church that It is hard to know what is really deception and truth.
    I would very much love if you took the time to look at the website I have listed below. Hopefully it can help you.
    Let the Saviour bless you.

    • Zarove April 13, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

      CAN I ask you a question? I hear all the Tiem that Ishtar translates to Easter or that it is pronoucned Easter. Well, what’s the soruce for this information? I don’t mean last Trumpet Minitties, I want to know aht actual evidence there is for these claims?

      The facts aren’t goign to back you. Ishtar was a goddess in the Near East, not in Britain. Her worship never expanded past the Medeternian. Why woudl the Ancoeitmn inhabitants of England call a Holiday after a goddess they had never heard of?

      it’s not like the Holioday is called “Easter” by all Christaisneverywhere. Most call it pascha, or soem varient of Pascha, and only in English is it Easter. In German is it Ostern. Everywhere else its Pascha.

      Why woudl British or German peopels name the Holiday after Ishtar?

      And what real evidence do you have of the Evergreen connection to Christmas?

      Also, didn’t it take too logn for the Christmas Tree to appear to assume it came from Paganism? Its not liek Christmas Trees were used in the Middle Ages. They first began as a Protestant custom in Germany in the 1500′s.

      • Amy lally April 17, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

        Easter is when Jesus comes out of his cave and sees his shadow..

  11. ont April 13, 2014 at 1:04 am #

    This post that someone sent me today tells me nothing; no real concrete information, no sources, nothing i.e. “no it does not come from Ishtar, ‘believe me’”. Oh and I know many Christians that are tolerant of the fact that Christianity has adopted paganism, “don’t worry about it, you should too”. Feel sorry for those Christians, be tolerant, cause we have bought all the lies spewed forth from the lying media and we know better. The oligarchy has done an excellent job in dumbing down this humanity.

    A post for the lazy (those that will never really do the research), internet pseudo scholarship and people who continue to look for a scapegoat.

    • Zarove April 13, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

      EXCEPOT, the claism that Christainity has adopted Paganism are not True. Why dont you look up Easterin the Encyclopedia Britannica?

  12. Aimée April 13, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    It’s funny when people attempt to fervently debunk something because it “drives them bananas” when people spread misinformation, and then end up doing it themselves… ;) http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2011/apr/23/easter-pagan-roots

  13. ololiuhqui April 13, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    It’s funny when people get so annoyed at the spreading of misinformation and end up doing it themselves: http://bellejar.ca/2013/03/28/easter-is-not-named-after-ishtar-and-other-truths-i-have-to-tell-you/

    tbh i don’t know what to believe now but I’ll welcome interesting ideas and rites associated with rebirth if they fit into my own paradigm :) surely that’s the purpose of religion anyway

  14. thom April 14, 2014 at 5:13 am #

    The word Easter appears once in the King James version of the Bible.Herod has put Peter in prison, “intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people” (Acts 12:4). Yet in the original Greek text the word is not Easter, but Pesach, that is Passover. So why was the name changed? Please read on, and remember Exodus 34:14; For you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous G-d.

    “Asherah” the Greek form of this word from the Septuagint is “Astarte”, who is the Babylonian goddess of the sea, sea being symbolic of people, and consort of the god El. She was the mother of several gods, including Ba’al, the Babylonian god of the sun. These deities were soon adopted by the Canaanites when they named these female deities the Asherah or Asherim. These deities were made of wood carved from a type of evergreen tree, or often they were set up in Canaanite homes as full trees cut down from a forest. The Asherim normally were highly acknowledged during two specific occasions. First and foremost, they were the fertility gods of the spring equinox, when the days and nights were approximately the same in length, signifying the beginning of living things growing for the summer season. A very common practice in the Canaanite religion was performed on the first Sunday of the equinox. The families would face east to await the rising of the sun, which was the chief symbol of the sun god, Ba’al. Later on during the day, the children of the Canaanite parents would often go and hunt for eggs, which were symbolic of sex, fertility and new life. It was believed that these eggs came from rabbits, which in the pagan world were symbolic of lust, sexual prowess and reproduction. The Canaanites, however, were not the only ones who worshiped rabbits as deities. The Egyptians and the Persians (Babylon) also held rabbits in high esteem because they believed that rabbits first came from the divine Phoenix birds, who once ruled the ancient skies until they were attacked by other gods in a power struggle. When they were struck down, they reincarnated into rabbits, but kept the ability to produce eggs like the ancient birds to show their origins.

    Other stories concerning the egg rose later in the Middle Ages by the Anglo-Saxons, where they believed the origin of the Universe had the earth being hatched out of an enormous egg. Decorating eggs came about to honor their pagan gods and were often presented as gifts to other families to bring them fertility and sexual success during the coming year. And secondly, they were highly worshiped and celebrated during the winter solstice. As according to Jer. 10:1-5; Is. 40:19-20; 41:7 and 44:9-20, the pagans would go out into the forest and do one of two things. Either they chopped down a tree and carved a female deity out of it, or they would simply bring the tree into the house and decorate it with gold and silver ornaments symbolizing the sun and the moon while nailing a stand on the bottom so it would not totter or tip over.

    Out of this practice came many other variations of these pagan festivals until the Roman Catholic Church adopted the Asherah worship and named it EASTER around 155 A.D. According to the CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, Easter was named after a pagan goddess of the Anglo-Saxons named Eostre, the goddess of the dawn. A great controversy arose between the Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church in 325 A.D. on whether to celebrate Easter on Sundays or on whatever day the Jewish Passover fell upon. Unfortunately, the Greeks lost a lot of followers and the Catholics contended that keeping Easter on Sundays would stimulate the practices of both the Christian world and the pagan worshipers. Note that the word CATHOLIC means “universal” or “one world” in thought, concept and practice. Hence, since the original practice of Asherah worship we now have in our time the celebration of Easter, a counterfeit holiday to the true Christian festival of the Passover which was instituted in the Bible and completed in the New Testament when Christ died on the cross as our Passover Lamb.

    “…For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”

    • Zarove April 16, 2014 at 4:11 am #

      You do know that the abive “Information” you have provided us via cut and past lacks nay substantiatign evidence, right?

      The name “Easter” is unique in English. While it may be Related to the German ostern, most Languages call the Holiday we call Easter “Pascha”, or some variation on Pascha.

      The Holidya is called Easter in English for an unknown Reason. The Pagan Link traces to Bede, but all Bede said was that the aschal Season was reffered to as Easter due to it fallign in the Month of Easter. He says this month was named after a goddess called Eostre.

      We have no evidnece that Epstre was a fertility goddess or that anyoen celebrated her aroudn the Tiem Christains do Pascha.

      By the way, the Catholic Encycliopedia is a ltte 19th or ealy 20th century volume, written when the “History of Religions’ school fo thoguth was taken as Valid. Its been discredited for 150 Years now.

  15. Kyle April 15, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

    In the book The Two Babylons, by Alexander Hislop, we read: “What means the term Easter itself? It is not a Christian name. It bears its Chaldean origin on its very forehead. Easter is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the queen of heaven, whose name, . . . as found by Layard on the Assyrian monuments, is Ishtar. . . . Such is the history of Easter. The popular observances that still attend the period of its celebration amply confirm the testimony of history as to its Babylonian character. The hot cross buns of Good Friday, and the dyed eggs of Pasch or Easter Sunday, figured in the Chaldean rites just as they do now.”—(New York, 1943), pp. 103, 107, 108; compare Jeremiah 7:18.

    • Zarove April 16, 2014 at 4:11 am #

      Hislop made a lot of what he said uop, so do you have any evidence other than him?

  16. Jay April 16, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    What you fail to recognize is that Ostara/Eoster is Ishtar is Astarte is Inanna is Aphrodite is Cybele is Frigga is Hathor. All of the old gods are the same. Their names altered as humans spread around the globe and new languages were formed. But they are all the same.

    • Charles Wright April 17, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

      That cannot be proven. It’s a nice idea but, ultimately, nothing more.

  17. isobelblackthorn April 16, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    Reblogged this on isobelblackthorn and commented:
    A pertinent and timely piece.

  18. Amy lally April 17, 2014 at 2:59 am #

    It’s so cute when you go bananas on little things like this, acknowledge a few of the many things Christians misrepresent/coopt, foam at the mouth about Dawkins, etc….Yet don’t apply anywhere near the same standards with Christianity. “It’s faith y’all “, seems to cover everything for you.

  19. nellgriffiths-haynes April 17, 2014 at 8:30 am #

    Reblogged this on The Animist's Craft and commented:
    It takes a lot for me to reblog something, but this is just perfect. Having watched this meme float about on the internet for a year or two now, I have been frustrated and irritated by it in equal measure. I have a rather soft spot for the goddess Eostre so seeing Easter quite incorrectly attributed to Ishtar is annoying. I don’t suppose Ishtar’s followers are overly impressed either. Imagine my surprise on hearing that the meme had been posted to Dawkins own Facebook page perpetuating the misinformation to thousands, presumably by his own fair hand, without having stopped to think critically about it. Oh the irony. To me this illustrates precisely what is wrong with Dawkensian Atheism, a polemic against all religion which, when closely examined is actually just informed by Abrahamic Monotheism and usually misinformed at that. As a pagan, I usually find myself baffled and amused by his thinking. Either way, this is a great article about something very seasonal, so I though I would share.

  20. Julie Carlson April 17, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    This is a very respectfully presented informational article that was clearly written with care. Just as an observer, it has always intrigued me that humans in general will debate passionately about this sort of topic, often citing one resource of information or another and defending its validity.

    From 10000 feet up, With any historical account, even recent history, the best we can do is look to human created and preserved information some of which was created more than 100 years after alleged actual events.

    Even many current events documented by the news, experts or other sources comes from humans who offer it in good faith, yet since they are human it can’t help being skewed by perspective, opinion and other paradigms.

    In the end truth and reality are what we choose to perceive them as being. Someday I hope we are able to really come together with all of our varying understandings, open minds and in sincerity draw on all sources of equally valid pieces of knowledge to better understand the world around us and its people. We are all only human after all, even the creators of information classified as divine.

    A humble student of life

  21. Laurens Feijten April 17, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    Indeed. A lot of people who try to attack traditional ideas do so in a completely inappropriate and often irrational way. There is a large group of people who even try to point out flaws in modern science and scholarship by addressing some uncertainties and using them as ‘proof’ that science has it all wrong and that in fact everything we are unsure about was done by magic, alien technology or unknown civilizations.

    About sacred prostitution: a few years ago I wrote my master’s essay on it and found that, besides Herodotos, a few other ancient (mostly Greek or Greek-influenced) writers mention something similar in Corinth, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt and Italy, but after a good research I found that these accounts weren’t about either something sacred or prostitution. The sort of rite of passage that Herodotos describes wasn’t effectively prostitution, and in other accounts it is prostitution but there’s nothing ritual about it – in fact, temples could own brothels to make money, but the prostitutes in them were often slaves who weren’t allowed inside the sacred area of the temple for some days if they had had sex.
    After I finished this research I came upon an American professor, Stephanie Lynn Budin, who had gone further into this and even challenges the existence of the rites of passage completely. If you’re into it, read: S. L. Budin (2008), The Myth of Sacred Prostitution in Antiquity, Cambridge University Press.

    • Emma April 17, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

      Awesome info! Thanks for sharing!!

  22. jeffstroud April 17, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to this. I enjoy your humor as well as all the detail to express and explain yourself and the facts!!
    Well done!

  23. Mandy April 17, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    I will pray for you that truth enter your life!One word for ya,Semiramis!Look her up,she was the queen of Babylon!Please know what you speak of before you call it truth!

  24. VIPElle April 17, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    Ostara, “the divinity of the radiant dawn” (Grimm), is doubtlessly a reincarnation of Ishtar, who the Babylonians called “the morning star” and “the perfect light.”

  25. Madzia (@magicmadzik) April 17, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

    The FB page posted it AGAIN this year, so once again I find myself linking to your article. Thanks for writing it, it’s very much needed.


  1. Is It Easter? | Small Town World - March 29, 2013

    [...] Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar, And Other Truths I Have To Tell You (bellejarblog.wordpress.com) [...]

  2. | FACT CHECK: Easter’s dark side: ISHTAR! | | truthaholics - March 30, 2013

    [...] Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar, And Other Truths I Have To Tell You (bellejarblog.wordpress.com) [...]

  3. » This is Ishtar: Pronounced “Easter” Carpe Scriptura - March 30, 2013

    [...] you’re interested in learning a bit more about the Ishtar graphic or the origins of Easter, The Belle Jar blog has a pretty good post covering the [...]

  4. Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar, And Other Truths I Have To Tell You | The Asatru Community Blog - March 30, 2013

    [...] Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar, And Other Truths I Have To Tell You. [...]

  5. Merry Eggmass! | The Blog of Baphomet - March 30, 2013

    [...] http://bellejarblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/easter-is-not-named-after-ishtar-and-other-truths-i-hav… [...]

  6. Mean As Jesus | Chamblee54 - March 30, 2013

    [...] let people look at pictures. There is one more quote, and it sort of fits in with this. It is from Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar, And Other Truths I Have To Tell You. If you read the post, you can get the full story. “Look, go ahead and debate religion. Go [...]

  7. Between Good Friday and Easter: A Muslim Meditation on Christ and Resurrection | What Would Muhammad Do? - March 31, 2013

    [...] Good Friday that I care about has little to do with candy and the Easter Bunny.   I am thoroughly uninterested in “fundamentalist atheists” trying to connect Easter to fertility cults.   No, I care about what Good Friday and Easter have [...]

  8. No, kids, Easter is not named after Ishtar… - March 31, 2013

    [...] Belle Jar has more history of both pagan and christian and mythology and more: [...]

  9. Cue the Semi-Educated, Liberal Attacks on Easter as Pagan - March 31, 2013

    [...] that you’ve read this far, I’ll let the Belle Jar blog- who totally debunks the  “pagan” Easter thing making its way on Facebook- lecture [...]

  10. Weekly Linkroll | M. Fenn - March 31, 2013

    [...] Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar, And Other Truths I Have To Tell You If you’re going to make a big deal about how a Christian holiday is really pagan, you might want to get your facts straight, Mr. Dawkins. The Belle Jar sets him straight. [...]

  11. Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar ~ Belle Jar | Stop Making Sense - March 31, 2013

    [...] SOURCE: THE BELLE JAR [...]

  12. A New Easter Tradition | Wild Webmink - March 31, 2013

    [...] When the children were small, Easter eggs were a repeat of the excitement of Christmas. But now they are adults, I’ve decided we need a new Easter tradition that’s safer than all that sugar and more authentic than eggs. [...]

  13. Follow Up and Response to Easter/Ishtar/Eostre Silliness | The Northern Grove - March 31, 2013

    [...] The point was to address the meme going around the internet that states incorrectly that the word Easter derives from Ishtar.  So perhaps it’s my own error in not being more clear. (Incidentally, I am far from the only person taking issue with this meme, by all means read Megan McArdle’s article and the Belle Jar Blog). [...]

  14. Spring Fever | Stone of Destiny - April 1, 2013

    [...] The “Correcting Misinformation” post, which seeks to fix all the mistakes made by people doing shoddy research and posting [...]

  15. Potpourri - April 2, 2013

    [...] Oops meant to relay this on Sunday: Apparently Easter is not named after Ishtar, though my atheist Facebook friends would beg to [...]

  16. Potpourri « How to Articles - April 2, 2013

    [...] Oops meant to relay this on Sunday: Apparently Easter is not named after Ishtar, though my atheist Facebook friends would beg to [...]

  17. Radio Freethinker Episode 205 – Nuking Korea Edition « Radio Freethinker - April 3, 2013

    [...] http://bellejarblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/easter-is-not-named-after-ishtar-and-other-truths-i-hav… [...]

  18. Spring is in the air! | moderndayzendaddy - April 3, 2013

    [...] vital for the successful propagation of all species, have morphed into today’s easter bunny. Here’s a great blog post on the [...]

  19. Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar, And Other Truths I Have To Tell You | Fanny Fae - April 4, 2013

    [...] Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar, And Other Truths I Have To Tell You. [...]

  20. Good FUN | FORESTALL - April 5, 2013

    [...] .Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar, And Other Truths I Have To Tell You [...]

  21. Is Easter pagan? | Catholicism and Adventism - April 12, 2013

    [...] Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar, And Other Truths I Have To Tell You [...]

  22. Mary Magdalene – High Priestess and Sacred Prostitute | Anunnaki Files - April 14, 2013

    [...] Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar, And Other Truths I Have To Tell You (bellejarblog.wordpress.com) [...]

  23. Myths and Explanations | Blacklight Metaphysics - August 3, 2013

    […] by “educating” ignorant Christians on the “facts” of their religions But other people have taken this travesty of history apart pretty well, and that’s not my goal […]

  24. 2013 In Review: Part 1 | The Belle Jar - December 29, 2013

    […] I also wrote another post that went viral, this time about a meme that I kept seeing pop up claiming that the holiday Easter is named after the ancient Babylonian goddess Ishtar. SPOILER ALERT, EASTER IS NOT NAMED AFTER ISHTAR YOU GUYS. […]

  25. Hail, Saint Isidore of Seville! | The Digital Ambler - April 4, 2014

    […] this time every year now claiming that the holiday Easter comes from the ancient goddess Ishtar (which is completely wrong).  Likewise, for all his studies and scholarship, St. Isidore was limited in only what he could […]

  26. Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar, And Other Truths I Have To Tell You « isobelblackthorn - April 16, 2014

    […] Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar, And Other Truths I Have To Tell You. […]

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