Like clockwork every year near Easter and Christmas I can count on some kind-hearted Pagan sharing some sort of meme conflating the Christian Jesus with the Egyptian god Horus. Nearly all of these memes share information that makes Jesus look like a carbon copy of Horus. I’ve written about this before:
Horus is another god often compared to Jesus, but again the story isn’t quite the same. Horus is the result of the union between Osiris and Isis, as in coupling, having sex, Isis was no virgin. Osiris might have been wearing a golden phallus during coitus but there was most certainly sex going on. Horus wasn’t crucified either. There are several depictions of Horus in antiquity with his arms spread in a crucifixion-like pose, but there’s no cross, and no evidence anyone was every trying to depict a crucifixion.
A lot of the supposed parallels between Jesus and Horus come from the pen of amateur Egyptologist Gerald Massey (1828-1907). I’m sure Massey did the very best he could do back in the Nineteenth Century but his work is not held in very high regard by scholars now or even during his own era. There’s no conspiracy here either, Massey’s work just simply doesn’t hold water. Massey claims that Horus raised an individual named Asar from the dead and that Asar translates as Lazarus. Asar is actually another name for Horus’s dad Osiris, who was brought back to life by Horus’s mom Isis. Modern writers who link Horus to Jesus still use Massey’s discredited work to do so, because that’s pretty much all there is linking the two.
What surprises me about the Horus/Jesus stuff is just how strongly some Pagans hold onto it. Comments suggesting that a shared meme are wrong are often met with anger and hostility. Part of me wonders why I care so much about misinformation, and maybe my reaction should be to shrug it off and let people have their fantasies. But you know that I can’t do that, because I thing sharing misinformation is bad for Paganism, and insulting to the deities the memes depict.
THIS NONSENSE IS DISRESPECTFUL TO HORUS
If someone truly wants to honor Horus, wouldn’t they best be served by actually learning something true about him? Horus is a god, not a meme, and as such he has a substantial amount of lore and imagery associated with him. Horus isn’t a god like Cernunnos lacking in myths, Horus has plenty of myths! There are also thousands of depictions of him throughout Egypt and the Ancient World.
Posting nonsense about Horus insults his mythology and insults him as a god. Would you like it if someone started posting a bunch of silly memes about you full of inaccurate information? Besides, Horus doesn’t need this kind of publicity. Ask someone to name some Egyptian deities and they will most likely throw Horus in there somewhere. He’s a pretty big deal. And if we truly care about our gods, we’ll get their stories right! They don’t need us to repost nonsense about them on social media.THIS STUFF MAKES US LOOK SILLY . . . .
Sharing misinformation makes us look silly at best, and either willfully ignorant and/or stupid at worst. I think most Pagans try really hard to get matters of history and mythology correct, and the Horus stuff is about as far from correct as one can get! If we want to be taken seriously in the world of spiritual ideas we can’t repeat things that are easily proven false. Again, no serious scholars take the Horus/Jesus stuff seriously. It lives in the realm of tin-foil hats, not history and myth.
Besides, how can we criticize other faith groups in matters of history if we can’t tell our own stories truthfully? If you want to criticize the Bible from a historical perspective, there is a lot there to criticize. Moses was most likely not a real person, there was no virgin birth, garden of Eden, or great flood, and Yahweh most likely had a wife too. You want to go after that stuff, go right ahead. But we can’t do that if we are repeating silly stories that have no basis in reality.
If we are going to hold Christianity to a high standard when it comes to matters of history, we must hold ourselves to an even higher standard.
. . . . AND IT MAKES US LOOK LIKE ASSHOLES
The overall point of memes like Horus/Jesus is not to exalt Horus, but to tear down Jesus. I’m sure posting information critical of Jesus makes some people feel good, but belittling the deities of another belief system makes us look like assholes. It really does. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t criticize Christianity here, go after the shit-heads who practice it, but mocking their deity isn’t going to bring anyone over to “our side” and most likely will just result in more negative feelings between them and us.
And don’t ever forget, a lot of this stuff comes from atheists* who are using these memes not only to mock Jesus, but to mock Horus too! “Look at Jesus, he’s just like that pagan god, and we all know pagan gods are silly!” How is that good for us? It’s not, and it’s most certainly disrespectful to Horus. (I take this pretty personally because Horus is a personal favorite.)
Sharing inaccurate information about pagan deities is bad for paganism, unfair to the gods, and makes us look like silly and spiteful. Before sharing something, take some time to determine if it’s actually true!
*This certainly does not mean “all atheists,” but there is most certainly a part of the atheist culture who enjoys making fun of spiritual beliefs, especially deities.