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Soul’s Code Spiritual IQ Quiz: How Pagan is Easter?

Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies, the resurrection of Christ: How much do you know about the sacred origins of Easter?

Easter is the very centerpiece of the entire Christian enterprise, and the crucifixion of Christ is the distinctive fork we too in the road away from its parent faith, Judaism. Each spring, Easter climaxes during Holy Week with hundreds of thousands of church-goers coalescing in solemn operatic ceremonies to hold the Three Great Days: Good Friday (the crucifixion), The Great Vigil of Easter (Saturday night), and on the 3rd day, Easter Sunday celebrates the miraculous ressurection of our savior, christ the redeemer.

But most Americans take in Easter not as a solemn pilgrimmage but as a chance to bust out with vacations to Vegas, Florida Spring Break and Girls Gone Wild t-shirt contests.

But we have a secret: Easter, in fact arose from pagan spring celebrations.

We’ll test you on the ancient origins of why pagans created colored easter eggs, the easter bunny and chocolate rabbits.

Test your knowledge of the spiritual side of Easter here in our Soul’s Code Quizz by clicking on the radio buttons below in the multiple choice questions:

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Finding hope and direction in chaos

Finding hope and direction in chaos

Once we spot divine presence it might look something like a sheepdog, bumping, guiding and protecting us as we stumble through life.

BY DAVID RICKEY — Back in 1963, Bob Dylan wrote “The Times They Are A Changin’,” and they were. The 60s were a time of chaos for those holding onto the old ways, and a time of hope for those seeking the new. Buddhists say that change is the nature of things, but change as we now see it (much like in the 60s) can be pretty disquieting.

As I write this, the so-called Middle East is in unprecedented turmoil with rebellion spreading like a contagion with no clear sense of where it will take us. Beyond that, the world’s economic structure is precarious at best. Every clarion of hope is countered by new reports of dire predictions. Even the weather has become cause for global concern with rampant flooding and extensive long-term drought.

One of my favorite hymns is “If Thou But Trust In God To Guide Thee,” but what does that mean in the context of 21st-Century confusion? If change is the nature of things, can we find God by embracing change? I believe we can if we alter our understanding of God and of ourselves.

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Serenity in a blizzard

Serenity in a blizzard

How I survived a near-death road trip with my hillbilly Zen Master

BY AUGUST TURAK – I was 21 years old. And for the first and only time in my life, I was sure I was about to die. I was in the passenger seat of my 1963 day-glo green Ford Econoline van with a bubble-shaped skylight on the roof and a madman behind the wheel – a West Virginia hillbilly who happened to be my Zen Master. We had been on our way out West when he’d gotten news that his son was in trouble back in Wheeling, and now he was barreling home with me in tow to do what he could.

The trip had started out two days before on an almost comical note. On a cold dark morning at 5:30, his usual starting time, I was coming up his front steps to pick him up. My van was parked across the street and according to his careful instructions, was full of enough tools, extra tires, and spare parts to rebuild it on the fly if necessary. And because of the Arab oil embargo that year, it was stocked with fifteen gallons of spare gasoline in three five-gallon cans.

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Jesus or the Easter Egg: ‘Witch’ Came First?

Jesus or the Easter Egg: ‘Witch’ Came First?

Ever wonder how bunny eggs, death and resurrection fit together?  A pagan history of  the goddess, and how the church stole Easter

President Obama and Easter bunny

BY DANNY KENNY — Ever since I was an angelic little boy, there are many reasons why I’ve always loved Easter. But I would no longer be angelic in good Irish Catholic fashion if I didn’t admit that gorging myself with sumptuous chocolate eggs after a cruel, six-week enforced abstinence (during Lent) from my first love wasn’t a huge part of that.

Even as a child I had trouble equating chocolate eggs and Easter bunnies, but when you’re in a self-induced chocolate coma, such heady thoughts soon pass.

On a deeper level — even though I grew away from my childhood addiction and religion — I still retained a different kind of deeper love for the annual celebration of renewal, faith and hope.

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Peak experience: Why I look up to feel grounded

Peak experience: Why I look up to feel grounded

In the words of Nelly Furtado, I’m like a bird. It took an aboriginal healer to tell me why it’s perfectly okay to fly.

BY MICHELLE MORRA-CARLISLE – Being corralled like cattle in a crowded subway underground, I always wonder where everyone is going. And my own destination was a mystery to them, one gray slushy day, as I held onto a steel pole and got jostled about. What would they think if they saw what was in my purse – a small bundle of tobacco wrapped in red polka dotted cotton and tied with string?

That, amazingly, is the “fee” they charge at Dodem Kanonhsa, an Elders’ Cultural facility created by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto. It’s in a highrise office building, on a busy street with no trees in sight. To step out of an elevator, down a hall and into a peaceful “lodge” is surreal to say the least. I was sure I felt some kind of magic, even though I knew the magic was government funded.

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On Ash Wednesday: Is your life filled by Ego, or Grace?

On Ash Wednesday: Is your life filled by Ego, or Grace?

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down. Ashes on your forehead can begin a reorientation of your heart.

BY DAVID RICKEY — In the Judeo-Christian tradition, ashes are a symbol of penitence and mortality. In the Old Testament, Job sits in ashes both because he has lost his children and all his livestock and because he is suffering severly from boils, apparently with God’s approval.

The demonstration of penitence was also intended to persuade God not to punish a people or an individual. In the story of Jonah, the people of Ninevah put on sackcloth and sit in ashes to demonstrate penitence in the hope that God will have a change of  mind and not destroy the city.

This Ash Wednesday millions of Christians will participate in a ritual that involves having ashes put on their foreheads to symbolize their attitude of penitence and their intention to repent.

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lindsay-lohan-as-linda-lovelace-deep-throat-porn-star

The DNA of addiction

“The greater the disparity between our healthy needs and our childhood environment, the greater our focus on survival rather than maturation.”

BY MARY COOK — “But I’ve always been like this.”

“I’ll be hurt if I become vulnerable.”

“I’ll have no power if I don’t intimidate.”

“Without my character defects there’ll be nothing left of me.”

Those kind of thoughts usually come out in therapy. But many of us run on auto-pilot, and such archetypal ‘beliefs’ loop in auto-pilot in our unconscious mind — the operating system of our psyche.

And out of fear we hold ourselves hostage to defense mechanisms that keep us dysfunctional.

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Find yourself, lose yourself

Find yourself, lose yourself

Black Swan shows the best and worst extremes of art and letting go

BY MICHELLE MORRA-CARLISLE – As the closing credits for Black Swan started rolling, the woman I was sitting next to turned to me and said, “Weird, eh?”

Yes, the darling ballerina who first graced the screen had gone off the artistic deep end. There comes a point in Black Swan where everyone in the theatre realizes it’s more than just a movie about an angst-ridden dancer. We fidget, uncomfortably bracing ourselves for what’s next.

Natalie Portman’s character, Nina Sayers, is a disciplined dancer whose entire focus is on keeping it together. That means being sweet enough to keep her unstable and manipulative mother (Barbara Hershey) from unraveling, quiet enough not to elicit the wrath of her catty fellow dancers, and having full control over her every ballet move. That self-discipline makes her the ideal White Swan for Swan Lake – her big break – but her choreographer Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) doubts her ability to embody the sensual darkness of the Black Swan. In a grueling rehearsal, the sexy and cruel Thomas says, “Perfection is not just about control. It’s also about letting go.”

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10 things that make a workout spiritual

10 things that make a workout spiritual

A real hockey mom shares her search for exercise that tunes her body and soul.

BY MICHELLE MORRA-CARLISLE I am not tough. If a gang of men with sticks repeatedly pelted me with a rock-hard projectile you might find me on the ground in the fetal position, pleading with them to stop.

What I actually mean by that is that, unlike Sarah Palin, I am a real hockey mom. I live in Canada. And when I first saw my husband play goal and assume the iconic, fearless “bring it on” stance, I was in awe. As well-rounded as I consider myself to be, in that moment I saw that in my non-athletic development I had missed out on something important.

The fittest of the fit are sublimely aware that for the mind to be in optimal shape, so must the body, and vice versa.

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A priest and psychotherapist shares an Aha! Moment that took a lifetime

A priest and psychotherapist shares an Aha! Moment that took a lifetime

In this economy, not many feel like captains of industry. But we are still obsessed with controlling, listing and working overtime to achieve our goals. The difference between trust and control.

BY DAVID RICKEY — A song by Alanis Morissette called Thank U, which may be a surprising cite given that I am a 60-something priest living in San Francisco and have an iTunes library loaded with chamber music, channels a stunning spiritual meme:

The moment I let go of it, is the moment that I got more than I could handle.

Every time that I let go of wanting a particular outcome, the results far exceed what I imagined.

From the choice of a small college to major in music, switching majors and spending a year in Japan, to the cross-country motorcycle trip I took in 1995, to the move to San Francisco after getting run over by a car in the Blue Hills west of Sydney, Australia (after a much shorter motorcycle adventure there), none of my adventures worked out as they were “supposed to.” Yet all had amazingly wonderful outcomes.

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