As you may have already heard, Art Bell, long-time paranormal radio show host, has died at at the age of 72, at his home in Pahrump, Nevada on Friday.
Art made a big impact on me as a kid. He and his many diverse guests spurred my imagination like nothing else. He opened my mind to the possibility that there are alternative explanations out there and taught me that the world is far from the mundane façade we encounter every day. Although I traveled a more traditional academic path, it was his show that kept me from becoming another guardian of the "Ivory Tower." I, like many listeners, saw his show as an escape; a place to virtually commune with other open-minded seekers during a time before the internet was firmly entrenched in our culture.
While many of his shows challenged us to ask if we were alone in this universe, I think Art's greatest achievement was creating a community, reassuring his audience that they were not alone in their everyday lives.
Now, with our open minds, we have the power to reach out to the next generation of curious seekers in ways some of us could have never imagined. I am honored to have come full circle in my life; from being a listener, to a Coast to Coast guest, and “alternative” researcher. It was a bittersweet day to learn that Art passed on the day my own show, Digging Deeper, was set to launch.
I don’t believe Art would want us to dwell in the negative. Instead, I picture him under a starry night sky rocking out to Blue Oyster Cult song, “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” (one of the songs he often played in his bumper music). Imagine the look The Reaper must have had when Art asked him; “Wanna take a ride?”
Thank you, Art Bell.
From Heather, East of the Rockies.
So, I wanted to share a little Easter history with everyone, but I wanted to do something a little different than just focus on the pagan origins of the holiday itself. We often focus on the origin of the name of the holiday, etc. I thought instead, it would be interesting to look at the common tradition of the Easter Basket. There have been many cultural adaptations and interpretations of this custom, but all somewhat related.
What are the origins of giving baskets of fake grass, eggs and candy? Why a basket?
It was an ancient pagan custom that in the spring, people would offer baskets of seedlings to the fertility goddess Eostre (or Oestre) hoping to increase the chances of a good harvest. Also, the goddess Eostre was often depicted carrying eggs in a basket, signifying fertility and new life.
The basket was used to symbolize a bird’s nest so people would decorate it to resemble one even more by adding a bed of grass to the bottom. Then, eggs would be added to the nested basket to look more realistic.
These ideas, among others, were adopted by the early Catholic Church. For instance, it was also traditional for people to fast before the Spring Equinox. By doing this, they hoped to redirect their energy into the seedlings so that the harvest would be more successful. This was an idea that inspired Lent. After a long fast during Lent, Easter offered a welcome feast to celebrate its passing. This desire to celebrate by feasting on previously abstained goodies led to the basket tradition.
The Christian adaptation of the Easter Basket revolved around the custom of Blessing the Family Baskets. This is when every family would bring a basket of food that they had commonly abstained from during Lent, to Mass on Easter Sunday. It would then be blessed for an Easter feast. In the basket would be items such as red wine, salted meats like ham, dairy, eggs, and eventually candy. This tradition is still observed in more Orthodox households. It is sometimes called the Pascha or Paschal Basket.
The more commercialized Easter baskets of today have ditched the religiously symbolic foods in favor of just eggs and/or candy, as the world has become more secularized (and sugar loving!). Still, many families will spend today feasting and observing the joy and new life of the spring season, provided to the world by the glory and miracle of the risen son/sun.