Today is a holiday trifecta: Passover, Easter, and the First Day of the Opening of the Book of the Law. Passover is always the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox, and Jesus was celebrating Passover on a Friday when all the heavy stuff went down, so the two holidays coincide; Easter is always during the eight days of Passover.
The Opening of the Book of the Law, a holy days event celebrated by the minority faith of Thelema, is held on April 8, 9 and 10 to venerate the transmission of the Book of the Law to Aleister Crowley in 1904. Liber AL, as it is known by those who practice Thelema, reveals in three short chapters many esoteric and mystical ideas that form the foundation of Thelema.
Passover and Easter have traditional meals. The Passover feast, based on the meal served in Exodus, should have lamb and bitter herbs; and for the days of Passover, all leavened food should be removed from the home and not eaten. Some people have special plates and flatware used only for Passover. Coca-Cola even makes a special Passover version of their soda which has no corn syrup. Certain sects of Christianity also reject leavened food during Passover. Lamb can be served traditionally for both Passover and Easter, referencing the lamb’s blood on the lintel the Jews used to mark their home so the angel would pass over and not kill their first born. For Christians, the “lamb of God,” aka Jesus.
In parts of Europe, ham became popular during medieval times at least for several reasons: Pigs were often easier and cheaper to raise; the pig slaughtered in the fall would have cured by spring; and the avoidance of pork at Easter–or at any time– was a way to suss out who in the community were Jews faking their conversion to Christianity (called conversos or Marranos) in order to avoid death, the Inquisition or expulsion.
Liber AL calls for
A feast for the three days of the writing of the Book of the Law.
and urges Thelemites always to:
Be goodly therefore: dress ye all in fine apparel; eat rich foods and drink sweet wines and wines that foam!
That gives plenty of dietary leeway. Today we’re celebrating the Manifestation of Nuit, the first chapter of the Book of the Law with a Middle Eastern feast (Crowley received the Book of the Law in Egypt): Chicken shwarma, rice, tabouli, humus, roast leg of lamb, deviled eggs with lardons, baklava, and a cake baked in the shape of lamb, with cream cheese frosting and shredded coconut (and not from a mix, either; our co-hostess bakes from scratch as does her husband who is making the baklava!). She writes:
Don’t be taken in by the Lamb Cake. Like the one of the 20th aethyr, it seduces the cook with its illusory simplicity! The head fell off. I tried holding it in place with a wooden skewer. No luck! It would not stand upright. So beneath that whipped cream cheese frosting is a white genoise cake soaked in triple sec (there is also orange zest in the cake), with lashings of raspberry jam.
We have several sparkling wines and sparkling water, plus a natural rose syrup which will be used to flavor mixed drinks. Since Crowley’s first wife, who was with him during the writing of the Book of the Law, was named Rose, this is very appropriate.
As we celebrate whatever it is we celebrate today, be it the bunny that poops chocolate eggs, the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, the rising of Christ, the Opening of the Book of Law or simply whatever sports match is on tv, it’s important to remember that even the majority faiths were once minority beliefs, and that all, including atheists, should be accorded the same right to hold and practice their beliefs freely with those of like minds, without the imposition of a restrictive majority belief system.
And one’s faith should not be a reason to deny civil rights to anyone. Love is the Law.