Many years ago, in the early days of video streaming websites such as Youtube, there came along a certain video espousing some unusual (and misguided) views about the origins of religion, especially the origins of a particular Levantine religion that arose in the first centuries of the Common Era.
For all its many, many faults, this video still contained bits of important and fascinating information that had not previously reached a mainstream audience. The video soon went viral and was endorsed by many online skeptics as a fair representation of their own views on the origins of religion. As such it became a popular target of criticism for members of the aforementioned Levantine religion, and still is such a target to this day. Some of those criticisms were good, some were bad, and some were just downright ugly. Many of these bad and ugly criticisms remain unaddressed. And given that this year’s spring equinox is soon upon us, one such unaddressed ugly criticism seems appropriate for consideration at this time:
This film being referenced, for all its shortcomings, did actually give a sufficient reason for this particular claim which this apologist even quoted. That reason was because although the sunlight reaches its lowest point at the winter solstice and then begins to “return” (i.e. [re]birth/resurrect) after that and grow “stronger” again, it was not until the spring equinox that the sunlight finally over takes the darkness. I.e. although the daytime begins to increase only after the winter solstice, the nighttime was still longer until the spring equinox, the date when the day & night are of equal length, and after which the daytime finally surpasses the length of nighttime.
Incorrect, this was not an ad hoc by the film, this was something ancient and actually correlates with the myth of a particular sun god, the very sun god who is the main focus of this Mythicism article here today- Horus.
The linked article already sufficiently establishes Horus’ ancient (and primary) role as a sun god, as does my Ebook embedded below, The Perennial Gospel (see pp.582-90). That article likewise establishes the winter solstice as the time period for the birth, death, and 3rd day rebirth/resurrection of the sun & its deities, including Horus.
So where does this “they put off the celebration until spring” bit come into play? Enter Plutarch, Greek historian of the 1st century CE:
“Isis, when she perceived that she was pregnant, put upon herself an amulet on the sixth day of the month Phaophi; and about the time of the winter solstice she gave birth to Harpocrates, imperfect and PREMATURE.”- Moralia 377C
So although the sun god Horus was born at this time, he was born prematurely, meaning that this was not the time he was naturally supposed to have been born, i.e. his “due date”. So how premature was he? Just when exactly was it that Horus’ birthday should have occurred on? Well, luckily Plutarch preserved that information for us too, and in that very same passage:
“About the time of the WINTER SOLSTICE SHE GAVE BIRTH to Harpocrates, imperfect and PREMATURE, amid the early flowers and shoots. For this reason they bring to him as an offering the first-fruits of growing lentils, and the days of his birth THEY CELEBRATE AFTER THE SPRING EQUINOX.”- Moralia 377C
Well what do you know, at least two millennia before this film ever existed there indeed was a tradition in which the sun god was born prematurely on the winter solstice yet that birth was not celebrated until the spring equinox which appears to be his “due date” when he should have been born. (And yeah, that’s an actual thing moms do.)
Hence it makes sense that Plutarch likewise mentioned that there were “records entitled the Birthdays of Horus” (Moralia 372C-D), as in plural. Hardly “ad hoc” or “contradictory assertions.” While the film certainly has its share of mistakes, this was not one of them. The mistake here was on the part of these apologists asserting such things.
Perhaps also of interest here is that this same motif of being born premature and having one birthday in the winter and a second birthday in the spring is indicated in the mythos of Dionysus as well, which I covered in The Perennial Gospel on pp.713-17. Although, the dates are less specific and Dionysus was not explicitly identified as a solar character (to my knowledge) until around the 3rd century, nevertheless it does seem to follow in this same pattern seen in the legends of Horus, whose father was time & time again explicitly identified with Dionysus (Perennial Gospel pp.16, 185, 687-89).
Now while on the subject of the above Plutarchian passage, some apologists, including the one featured above, have taken umbrage with using it in reference to the birthdays of Horus. The contention usually amounts to- “see, Plutarch said (in our English translation) that Horus was born ‘ABOUT the time of the winter solstice’, he didn’t say ‘ON the winter solstice’!!1!” But alas, Plutarch was not writing in a vacuum. His passage quoted above is actually perfectly corroborative with older primary sources and the scholarly quotations which explicitly state that Horus was in fact born on the winter solstice. You can’t get much closer to “around the winter solstice” than actually being on the winter solstice itself. This is even seen in our everyday life, which I dare say that even our apologist here has observed from time to time. E.g. if someone were to ask when actor Ralph Fiennes was born and another person responds “I think it was about the time of the winter solstice of 1962, ya know, somewhere thereabouts,” and then we whip out our phones and Google it for verification, we all know damn well that our responses would be along the lines of “hey, you were right!,” rather than “noooo, you said ‘ABOUT the winter solstice’, not ON the winter solstice!!1!” How much closer to “about the time of December 22nd” can you get than the actual time of December 22nd itself? How much closer to “around the winter solstice” can you get than the winter solstice itself? This is just fruitless hair-splitting over semantic minutiae on the part of such apologists.
But that aside, the point here is that both the winter solstice and the spring equinox were incorporated into the nativity mythos of Horus. And further establishing the spring equinox as a major holiday in the mythos of Horus is that it was celebrated as the day his own father Osiris entered the moon and that this is what begins the spring season and with it the generative powers of spring that bring about the rebirth of vegetation every year. Thus the second birthday of Horus, or one could say his re-birthday, is connected with the annual birth/rebirth of nature.
Moreover, at the time of the new moon in the month of Phamenoth they celebrate a festival to which they give the name of “Osiris’s coming to the Moon,” and this marks the beginning of the spring.- Moralia 368C
It is perhaps also worth noting the emphasis placed on Osiris entering the moon on the spring equinox, given that it is by following the moon’s cycle after the equinox which determines the date of the other major holiday used to celebrate the arrival of spring- Easter. So as we celebrate the beginning of spring this vernal equinox, “remember the reason for the season” as they say, and give praise to our Lord Osiris, who hath sent his son Horus to be born into this world so that the world through him might be saved! 🙌 🙏🙌 🙏