Thursday, June 4, 2009

We Have Seen His Star In The East

The magi who came to see the newborn Jesus in Bethlehem announced that when they were in the east, they saw His star. In a way, they were a little redundant. Let's break this down. There is an IE root meaning to shine - aus. Now ask yourself what shines brightest in our world? The sun - a star. aus is at the heart of star. But how were the wise men redundant? In what direction does the sun rise? The east. aus is also at the heart of east. (Over the course of these posts we'll discover many words that derive from "the place where the shining thing rises".)

Would it surprise you to learn that Austria derives it's name from the fact that it lay to the east of most of Europe? (Wait 'til I tell you how England got its name!) It is very clear that our old friend aus didn't have to put on any verbal make-up at all to take the starring (oh, pardon the pun) role in Austria.

Aurora also is a glowing thing and derives from aus.

To wrap up this short post, let's go back to the baby Jesus. The story unfolds that Jesus lived until he was about 33 years old and then was crucified in Jerusalem and was then resurrected three days later. In the Christian world, the annual celebration of His return to the living is known as Easter. Easter is a hopelessly pagan term. It derives ultimately from aus, but more recently from Austron, a goddess of fertility whose feast was celebrated at the Spring equinox (roughly at the same time as the annual celebration of Christ's resurrection). It was the habit of early Christianity (specifically Catholicism) to take pagan celebrations and infuse them with Christian content, meaning, and symbolism. In this case, Resurrection Sunday got re-labelled Easter.

Christmas and Easter are both tied to the same IE Root: aus.