Even candy-coated, chocolate dipped bunnies and marshmallow chicks have ORIGINS that are not as sweet as they would like you to believe. In this podcast, discover the lore and history behind Easter and Child Sacrifice. It’s dark like chocolate, but bittersweet.
Imagine you are with a group of children seeking a special trinket to gain the affection of your leader. In this society, the one who discovers the black egg is the one who gets the prize. You search through the reeds, among the bushes and low-lying branches of your community scanning for the coveted smooth obsidian that will be your reward. There, up ahead. You see a glimmer, a faint sheen as the sun glints just right off the curved edge. At first, you walk at a brisk pace not wanting to draw attention to your find as you are much further away than the others studying the field with their backs to the valuable. Your excitement swells and suddenly you are running, sprinting without regard to the world around you as you press closer. A competitor notices, follows your gaze with laser-sharp precision to the shimmer in the high grasses. No. That’s not fair. You discovered it first. The race is on, and you rush through everything in your path with blatant disregard for anyone or anything in your way. Until you touch it. Your fingers, brush the smooth cold shell and time stills briefly. Your breath shudders as it slows to normal and the others glare at you wishing they could kill you. But they can’t. You are the winner. You captured the golden ticket that will bring your family honor. As you approach with heavy steps, the leader turns, faces you, eyes lit by the treasure in your hands. And as you hand it over, you are drawn close, embraced, before being lain down on a stone altar, where the entire town gathers to watch you receive your reward: DEATH.
You are the sacrifice that allows the town another year of peace.
Does this narrative seem far-fetched? It shouldn’t. This is the ORIGINS of Easter egg hunts, that simple and fun experience when adults hide plastic eggs around the yard filled with jelly beans and chocolates and coins for kids to find. One golden egg holds the grand prize: a $20 bill or tickets to a ball game. And each child fights to find it before the others. In this case, the reward is pleasurable and everyone leaves happy. In the original version, the reward was your life sacrificed to Moloch, the Canaanite god associated with child sacrifice.
What or who is Moloch? The possible ORIGINS are through the Phoenicians, you know, those guys on Epcot’s Spaceship Earth ride who created a common alphabet so trade would become simpler. The word “mlk” refers to a type of sacrifice for a vow. Not quite child sacrifice so maybe not this root. In the Hebrew, “Melekh” means “King.” I think we’re getting warmer. What’s common between the ancient cultures in regards to Moloch worship are sexual rituals which included child sacrifice by passing children through fire. Sacrifice of the firstborn brought about prosperity for the family, for everyone but the firstborn, that is.
The original Easter holiday was a Pagan religion to honor the fertility goddess Ishtar show as a bare-breasted woman celebrated with a sex orgy. Pretty long ways away from the Cadbury Bunny. To celebrate the conception of her son, Tammuz, women would lay naked in the temples for anyone who entered to have their way with them collecting the money they left behind. Infants were sacrificed, their blood drank by these partygoers. The eggs of Ishtar were dipped in the babies’ blood, hence the ORIGINS of the infamous Easter egg coloring tradition. In Sumerian, her name is Inanna, the granddaughter of Enlil who was Anu’s son. Anu was the highest ranking of the Annunaki, or deities, who were perhaps of the fallen angels from heaven or ancient aliens of a similar thread.
It’s interesting to me because as I researched for this podcast, I didn’t know that Enlil was associated with the Annunaki nor that Ishtar was Inanna. Why would I know this to begin with? Because the Annunaki play a major role in my next book, Exposure, which mixes Babylonian lore with magical realism in modern day Florida. Enlil is part of book two on pure coincidence after researching Babylonian culture and lore. If you could’ve seen my face when I discovered that information online you would laugh at how freaked I am right now. I love when I think I’m writing fiction but it’s actually based in fact. It’s why I do this podcast, to share the ORIGINS of things that tend to find their way into one of my stories or novels.
In Pagan times, eggs were used to cast spells and offer protection. Eggs even hatched their way into burial grounds and in or near cremation urns. They are symbols of birth and rebirth, though the scent of death associated with eggs is as strong as, well, bad eggs. In Sumerian lore, each year a monstrous egg would fall from the heavens and land near the Euphrates River as a sign of fertility to usher in spring. Ishtar would hatch from this egg bestowing a special blessing or gift on whomever was lucky enough to find the egg much in the same way kids seeking special treats enter the Easter egg hunt.
According to my research, to this day there is a correlation between child kidnapping and Easter. That’s about the weirdest and scariest piece of information I came across. That same site shared that in Kabbalistic tradition (Kabbalah, a sect of Judaism) it is common practice to kill a child and then mix their blood into the unleavened bread. Do I believe either of these points? Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t make it true, right? These ideas are included to show our cultural and historic connection to holidays and child sacrifice. Why is that? What is it about the innocent blood of children that causes us to think it will redeem us in some way or another? Maybe it’s a basic instinct we possess, the knowledge that innocence must die to sustain life. It happens every time we eat; each hamburger and omelet and even the vegetables in the omelet for those vegetarians out there was once a living thing that was killed to sustain our existence. This is actually the basis for the theme of my novel Dreadlands: Wolf Moon.
Let me take this concept of innocent blood and religious shadowing a step further.
I have a guilty pleasure show. It’s called Snapped and I’m totally addicted to watching these stories of mostly women who murder their husbands or boyfriends. No, I’m not in an unhappy marriage so you don’t have to worry about my husband. In fact, he teased me about that same worry until he actually watched an episode. Now he’s hooked too. In one account, there was this woman who had grown up in the slums of Egypt as a child. I will never forget her or what she did. As an adult living in the United States, she met men, older usually, used them for money in exchange for sex (sound familiar?), and if they wouldn’t pay up she threatened to kill them. Her last beau wasn’t so lucky. The threat became reality. Only she didn’t just kill him.
It was near Thanksgiving and the couple was home alone to celebrate. A neighbor recalls hearing the garbage disposal on overdrive, assuming they were removing leftover turkey scraps the most effective way possible. Days later, police were summoned. They found the husband dead in the home, but in a gruesome way: a bit of him was in a container here, a bit of him was in a container there. Much of the man was forced down the disposal, the horrific sound the poor neighbor heard, but two parts of the man were left, the two that haunt me most. First, the wife placed her husband’s decapitated head in the freezer. Could you imagine opening the door to get some ice and staring into your partner’s frozen eyes? Then, she took his ribs, seasoned them, and baked them to see what they tasted like. This seemingly normal woman murdered, dismembered, and cannibalized her husband. Why? She swore an Egyptian god had possessed her and told her to kill, tear apart, and eat this man.
Why share this horrific story? To exemplify that humans to this day are capable of murdering and eating a child, even of their own. To illustrate how humanity is capable of atrocities far beyond our wildest imaginations. This is why I write. To try and understand the human condition and even leave behind my own footprint of being human. Sometimes, the only way to make sense of the world is to try and see it through the eyes of those you comprehend the least. And in that study you almost always discover common threads between you and it, which make you quiver, deciding the best way to swallow the truth is to coat it in bright colored shells and dip it in chocolate because we all know the chocolate coating makes it go down easier.
I’m Jaimie Engle, and you’ve just discovered ORIGINS.
ORIGINS is a bi-weekly podcast that shares the story behind legends and lore, where myth and science meet; written and produced by me, award-winning author Jaimie Engle of The Write Engle. If you like stories with a supernatural slant, I happen to write them. Please follow on all social media @theWRITEengle. I follow back. As always, subscribing, liking, and sharing this podcast is your greatest compliment. Thank you. I’ve also opened a Patreon account. If you like what you hear, consider donating a buck a month so I can keep creating for you. And finally, if you’d like to stick around you can hear a short story from my book The Toilet Papers titled “Black Friday” a satire where a family waits in line to give rather than receive.
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Music by Ben Sound http://www.bensound.com