Pagan Paths

Out of the deeps rises the mysterious lotus. Stop in for refreshment, heka, and reflections from the sacred waters of ancient Egypt.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Spring Customs Take Us Back to the Ancients

b2ap3_thumbnail_101_0669.JPGRecently, Osireion celebrated the vernal equinox (spring) with our own version of the Egyptian secular holiday, Sham el Nessim.  We held a ritual to honor Isis, piling her altar with the simple feast which would follow: lettuce, smoked salmon, capers, onions, boiled eggs and cream cheese (yes, we like lox and bagels!).  Each of us decorated a red-dyed egg with glyphs and used it during ritual, then ate it afterwards.  We peeled little spring scallions, “sniffed the breeze” (sham el nessim translated) and nibbled them, and sang to welcome spring – “we see your life in the greening of the land, we feel your love and begin to understand.” 

At the same time that many of us were holding various kinds of Pagan ceremonies to mark the equinox, present-day Egyptians were picnicking and doing some of the same things.  I hear that Muslim authorities don’t like it, but for most Egyptians it’s a national holiday, involving the eggs, salted fish and onions.  Certainly, after such a long winter here in the States, going outside with family and friends to sniff the breeze and have some picnic-innocent fun has been quite welcome. 

The history of Sham el Nessim illustrates still another set of pre-monotheism practices which became permanently embedded in the ongoing culture.  Plutarch tells us that the ancient Egyptians offered onions, salted fish and lettuce (also considered an aphrodisiac) to their gods at the vernal equinox.  Once Christianity came along, the Copts absorbed its customs into Easter. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Osiris-bed_20150412-172947_1.jpgBy the time Islam conquered Egypt in the 7th century, Sham el Nessim was regularly observed on Easter Monday, Easter being the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox.  Here’s a nice article from today’s International Business Times with the headline “Ancient Egyptian Spring Festival Is Still Celebrated By Christians And Muslims In Egypt.”  It says that people not only picnic in their gardens and along the Nile, but also visit zoos. 

I recall my visit to a museum last year (Carlos Museum at Emory University) where I saw an Osiris bed (pictured left, with a silver mask) among the artifacts, an Osiris-shaped low dish filled with earth, complete with ancient sprouted grain.  At this, my favorite time of the year, it is easy to see how the ancients recognized the earth as alive,  the green shoots as sacred, the season as part of the divine order.  Even if it is still chilly where you live, take time today to step outside and sniff the breeze.

Last modified on
Holli Emore is Executive Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, the premiere educational resource for Pagan and other nature-based religions (, founder of Osireion (, editor/writer for Wild Garden: Pagans in the Growing Interfaith Landscape at, and serves on the board of directors for Interfaith Partners of S.C. (  She is co-founder of the original Pagan Round Table,, and author of "Pool of Lotus," available in print, or for Kindle or Nook, at


Additional information