April and Saint George
Our Pagan Spiritual Origins
By Pat Regan
The month of April gains its name from the Roman word 'Aprilis' that comes from the word 'Aperire', meaning “To open." This is because April is the time when birds hatch their chicks, animals join in the timeless mating cycles, buds enlarge into young leaves and new life opens-up on all natural fronts.
The first day of the month is of course well known as April fool’s Day.
In France a credulous individual caught by a prankster's trick was called ‘Un poisson d' Avril’ (a fish of April.) It is interesting to note here that the ancients held this day (the Veneralia) sacred to Venus, great Goddess of Love.
During her feast adherents would completely wash the statue of the Goddess and hang beautiful flowers about it. Tricks were also played on the unwary in veneration of this deity.
Venus was originally a patron deity of seeds, flowers and spring. Her later association with love occurred around 217 BC when she was equated with the Greek Aphrodite. As water is necessary to make the seeds become flowers Venus held the fish as a holy symbol.
Contemporary Pagans smile to themselves when they see a Christian-owned vehicle displaying the old fish sign as is now the popular ‘Born-again’ fashion. The Christian taboo of not eating fish on a Friday was also adapted from much older Pagan traditions sacred to Venus. The Northern equivalent of Venus is Frejya/Freya, who gives her name to Friday. This was of course the day for abstaining from devouring the sacred food of Venus.
History testifies that the early Christian Church subverted then adopted virtually every Pagan tradition, custom and holy-day to make them its own.
The sacred traditions of the great Goddess are no exception to this sad rule!
SAINT GEORGE'S DAY: A MONOTHEISTIC CELEBRATION BASED ON MUCH EARLIER PAGAN TRADITION
On Saint George's Day we see another adoption of Pagan tradition, blatantly inserted with the intention of winning converts for the new monotheistic religion.
St George was popularly seen as a soldiers’ saint and this may be based on earlier worship of the Roman soldier god of the legions, Mithras. Long before the St George myth was hatched Mithras had killed his enemy the bull. The actual dragon slaying myth associated with George is roundly linked to the prior engagement between the god Apollo and his monstrous adversary Python of Delphi.
There is a slight gap in the calendar between them but St. George's Day (on the 23rd April) lands at the same period as the Parilia (21st April.) The Parilia (or Palilia) was sacred to Pales, the goddess of shepherds and herders. During the feast farmers would drive their flocks and herds between blazing fires and subject them to fumes of rosemary, laurel and sulphur in a rite of purification to ensure strong future offspring.
The participants would also leap over small fires of straw and dance around fires throughout the night, making merry all the while. Offerings to Pales consisted of milk and millet wafers were given in the hope of keeping dangerous wolves away from the flocks and the avert disease.
The ancient Pagan tradition of fire-festivals, involving blazing beacons is still deeply rooted in human consciousness. This fact is clear when we remember the previous nationwide hill-fires, prior to the countryside protest against MP Michael Foster's anti-hunt bill in the UK.
The new fire of spring light, which will give us summer's growth, is something primordial yet essential. Man, from the earliest times in our pre-history, has always sought to link up with the awesome, natural, psychic energies present here, for the benefit of all on a deeply spiritual level. The actual day which marks the Palilia is also the day when Romulus (the legendary, son of Mars,) first built his great city of Rome.
It is interesting to note here that Romulus observed Tuscany to discover what kind of ceremonies he should use for his new city. Thus Romulus gained vital ritual knowledge from the older peoples of that place, which they had in turn received from Janus, the great god of new beginnings. The first wine of the new season was always offered to Janus. Venus shared a feast on two separate days with Jupiter called the Vinalia. Her day occurred on the same date originally as the later St. George's Day; Jupiter's took place in August.
During these events wine was freely distributed to the local people from the temple of the deities in question. Prior to this rite a wine libation was given to the earth in honour of Venus. Contemporary Pagans/Witches still give sincere veneration to the universal male/female aspects of divinity (the God and Goddess) by remembering this ancient libation first to the old gods during their celebrations.
Venus was also offered expensive gifts of roses, myrtle and sweet scented incense at the Vinalia. This goddess was perceived as travelling in an ivory chariot drawn by swans. Swans are often associated with love-deities such as in Angus the Celtic god of love who once transformed into this proud creature. The gentle dove too is another sacred symbol of the great Goddess that has since been insidiously adopted the early Church and made into its own.
Today, we have two choices. We can bury our heads in the sand of mundane perception and hum-drum daily routine, or alternatively we can make a special place in our hearts for the old gods and thereby seek out higher planes of consciousness.
The beautiful April festivals of the Love Goddess give us a rare insight into the depth of spiritual understanding held by our antediluvian Pagan forefathers. Each celebration whether Norse, Saxon, Roman, Celtic or otherwise always parallels with the wholesome destructive and creative seasonal forces of nature that impinge upon our being.
We doggedly hang on to life due to the abject fear of death. Yet life cannot ‘be’ without death and of course vice versa. Before us in this century and just as today, many so-called holy men have made quite a good business out of the fear of death. They have peddled their seductive religious propaganda and many have fallen for its allure. Missionary churches have sprung up everywhere like mushrooms and rigid sectarian agendas that have basically been ‘anti-life’ in constitution have moulded empires everywhere.
Man-made religious credos, based on historically tried and tested mind-control gambits against the indoctrinated masses and skilled political acumen, have suppressed the genuine spiritual evolution of our species.
Overtly materialistic 21st Century life may understandably seem devoid of deeper meaning to many. Furthermore, the stark and basically repressive choice given by modern ecclesiastical movers (who want the monopoly on YOUR soul) today is one of ‘God or the Devil!’ In fact that is NO choice at all. Such arrogant self-righteousness shouts out: “follow this holy credo or be eternally damned!”
Nonetheless, the answers to greater awareness and self-understanding are just waiting to be accessed.
This extraordinary wisdom has not gone away or been lost. It is still there waiting patiently, like the emerging buds of April, to flourish anew.
Pat Regan © 2011
Founder of North West UFO Research and Author of:
UFO: The Search for Truth
UFO: The Search for Truth (2012, extended edition)
UK Paperback version:
US Paperback version:
Peter Swift and the Secret of Genounia
The New Pagan Handbook
The Torch and the Spear
Fly Fishing on Wild Becks
Author site 1:
Author site 2:
Pat on Goodreads.com