The sad, secular substitutes for Easter

Perhaps no period of the year — not even when Christmas is reduced to XMAS — tells us better how impoverished are the sad, searching celebrations presented as stand-ins for Passover and Holy Week.

Like a journeyman basketball player who lacks the magic of Michael Jordan in his prime, these events, sent in as subs, lack the Mystery generated spontaneously by these feasts whose date is set by the first full moon after the spring equinox. They are born, so to speak, from the inexhaustible symbols whose energy affects the tides of the oceans as well as those that rise and fall within us.

The dating of these feasts flows from the ancient practice of attempting to coordinate the lunar and solar calendars, symbolizing the two modes of eternal life. At the vernal equinox, when dark and light are in balance, the sun and the moon stand across the sky from each other. The moon, as Joseph Campbell once explained to me, “represents engagement in Time, like throwing off death, as the moon its shadow, to be born again. The disengaged sun represents the Eternal, the moon’s source of light and the source of light for all of us who live in Time.”

Setting the date of Easter according to this interplay of sun and moon “suggests that life, like the light that is reborn in the moon and the eternal in the sun, finally is one.” We actually experience this mystery in the plangent longings we feel inside ourselves when the light and warmth of spring return, why folk medicine offers prescriptions for “spring fever” and we speak of being “moonstruck.”  Continue reading


Additional reading

News category: Analysis and Comment.

Tags: , , ,