Cultural and Historical Significance
Throughout history, lunar eclipses have held special significance across cultures. Pagan adherents observed changes to the moon with magical rituals. During a lunar eclipse, for example, witches were instructed to plan spells that coordinated with the passing of the shadow to honor the Goddess. The Chinese, as explained in a document from 2134 B.C., believed eclipses were caused by an invisible dragon devouring the moon. And a lunar eclipse on August 27, 314 B.C., actually altered the outcome of the Peloponnesian War. Just before the Athenians prepared to advance their armies from Syracuse, the eclipse startled troops to the point of paralysis. Deeming the sight a celestial omen of doom, the soldiers and sailors remained in Syracuse. The delay allowed their enemies to attack and defeat them.
Even in Christian mythology, several references to lunar eclipses exist, each portending bad omens.
However, the anxiety evoked in early civilizations by a lunar eclipse was often trumped by the panic that accompanied the first day of winter. Worrying that the sun was abandoning them, a prophecy of certain death, bygone pagan cultures would offer up gifts and perform various rites to appease the star into returning.
Evangelicals Find Their Inner Pagan
While modern day winter festivals find their origins in celebrations of pagan dread, it came as some surprise this morning that Reverend Fred Phelps neatly united archaic pagan practices with contemporary Christian indignation to perfect an apocalyptic vision of fear, just days before Christmas.
In a sermon posted on the Westboro Baptist Church’s blog, Phelps wrote:
It’s no coincidence that many Christian holidays incorporate pagan beliefs. God made Himself known to those heathens -- found ways of expressing His displeasure with them -- but they weren’t ready to receive the Word. When Christians were taught the truth by Jesus Christ, they immediately understood what those signs meant. So we replaced their childish and absurd beliefs with rituals that truly honored the Lord. Like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and dragging homosexuals behind pickup trucks on trailer hitches. Which brings me to the revelation we will witness tomorrow.
A seal is opening, my friends, and the moon will become as blood. The portents have been here all along, but we have blinded ourselves to them. Look at the attacks of September 11. As my colleagues Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell so astutely pointed out, these were punishments from God for all the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the lesbians and the gays that we allow to live among us. Hurricanes and tsunamis around the world have washed the sin from the shores of blasphemous nations. But now, just days after the unholy United States Congress repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” God has focused his wrath on our country.
We cannot allow the indoctrination of gays into our national defense, friends. Extraordinary Rendition will become Fabulous Rendition. The Marines will change their motto to Semper Fag. Camouflage will take the form of roses and pansies. Can you imagine? We may just as well fly al Qaeda over here and let them run riot, burning our homes to the ground and beating our children dead with the Koran. You won’t be having Christmas ham, America, because there will be no more pork.
Tomorrow, when a vengeful God makes the sun and the moon go away, you must honor Him. Pledge sacrificial gifts to the maker. Beg the heavens to restore our light. Do this by making your wife quit her career to do her job: raising your children in the word of God, cooking your bacon according to His recipe, and filling your stockings with righteous hate against the infidel instead of iPhones made by the unclean hands of Asian children, and used primarily by gays. Protest a soldier’s funeral. Kick a queer for Christ. And make a generous donation to our church if you value your immortal soul. Poster boards and paint aren’t cheap. And with the Muslim-controlled price of gas these days, it’s getting harder for us run down renegade fruits, who have apparently relocated from San Francisco to the Capitol.