During the Age of Taurus (roughly from 3000 BCE to 800 BCE), the bull and the calf were venerated. As this Age transitioned to Aries, the Mithraic Mysteries arose where the cosmic Christ was sought as one overcame the bull within:
Note the symbol of the snake. Mithraism apparently grew out of Persia and became popular throughout much of the Roman empire just before the spread of Christianity.
Many of the Old Testament books have the expression ox and ass. For example, in Job 1:14 it says “and there came a messenger unto Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the asses feeding beside them,”
Andrew Graham-Dixon of the Independent writes in his Arts column from December 1992, “The first reference to the ox and ass at the Nativity comes several centuries after the fact, in a book that is not much read these days: the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, written [down] some time in the eighth century [most researchers date this to 600 AD]. The author of this apocryphal text is unlikely to have invented this detail on his own. It seems probable that the early church fathers had also placed the ox and the ass at the Nativity because of what seemed a suggestive reference to the two animals in the Book of Isaiah: ‘The ox knows its owner and the ass its master’s stall; but Israel, my own people, has no knowledge, no discernment.’” The Adelphia Sarcophagus relief (to the left) is from roughly 330 AD; note the ox and ass in its nativity scene.
Giotto also places the ox and ass in his nativity scene. In his Escape to Egypt and the triumphant entry of Christ Jesus to Jerusalem includes an ass for travel (frescoes by Giotto).
In Luke 13:15 we read “The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?”
A bit later in Luke, 14:5, it says “And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?”
OK, lots of other references are possible – you likely are aware there are many such references in the Bible and other related ancient texts. I have had a question about the symbolic or mystical purpose of these two beasts. In reading David Ovason’s book The Two Children, I found a treasure! “The ox was intended as a reference to the bull of Mithras, and perhaps even to the bull of the Egyptian god Apis – both important cults still offering initiation at the time of the birth of Jesus. … Just as the bull would have been familiar to the early Christians as being emblematic of the Mithraic cult, so the ass would have been familiar to them through the writing of the 2nd century AD African writer Lucius Apulcius.” Apulcius’ esoteric book The Golden Ass, is the story of a “human who had been metamorphosed into the body of an ass” but finds liberation through the “initiation rites of Isis”. David goes on to say that Gnostic deities were depicted with the head of an ass.
The gospel books are full of passages where the event could be happening in the physical or in the spiritual world or both (typically both). I find it plausible that both the bull (ox) and the ass each represent a stream of the ancient mysteries. Linking the bull to Mithras and Egyptian Apis mysteries makes sense. And I can be persuaded that the ass represents the Osiris-Isis mysteries of Egypt but I’ll need more persuasion. Anyone want to persuade me?
To close I’d like to add one more image. When Hephaestus returned to Mount Olympus, many years after his mother, Hera, threw him off because his foot was deformed and thus ugly, he rode on an ass. Christ did not copy this; rather he fulfilled the myths and the prophecies. What does this riding into Jerusalem or onto Olympus truly mean?
The Cosmic Caduceus was erected on Golgotha. There with Christ Jesus in the middle were two others representing the white and the black snake. The serpent represents intelligence, one of above and one of below. These two tempters are the Light Bearer, Lucifer, the white snake, and the Prince of Darkness, known to Zarathustra as Ahriman and in some Christian writings as Satan, the black snake. Later Christian writers lost this notion of dual tempters and combined them into one and called it Satan. Today we see this on the sign on ambulances – a single snake only – showing how medicine has become materialistic and lost the necessary balance for humanity. Hermes (Greek, Mercury-Roman) is the archangel of healing and carries the Caduceus meaning that Hermes knows how to balance these two and in the balance one becomes healthy. Golgotha was for not only the healing of Humanity but also for the healing of the Earth. Note that Lucifer was redeemed by Christ on Golgotha but Ahriman was not for Lucifer, who continues his work, is redeemable by each human but we still must face Ahriman who challenges our free spiritual development so that it will be strong for the future. The times we live in now are the times foretold by the story of Prometheus, and Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty). We have pricked our finger on technology (the spinning wheel) and our soul has fallen asleep. Will we awake?
When religions of old pointed to the God found in the sun, they were speaking about the Logos through whom all things became. Different names were given to this being. One religion that immediately preceded Christianity tried to prepare the way for the coming of this God, namely Mithraism. Once Christianity was established, it lost this connection to the cosmic Christ in favor of the earthly Christ. But the mosaic shown here, from St. Peter’s Basilica, shows the cosmic Christ as the charioteer of the Sun.
The approach of this God was experience in the ancient mysteries. Preparation meant overcoming one’s “Bull”. These ancient priests had an incredible knowledge of the stars and a sophisticated knowledge of the fixed and moving stars. They knew that if one followed all the majestic forces that flow from these sources and from the earth as well, one can grasp not the human but the bull. Only with the additional forces of the sun, could they grasp the meaning of the true human being. Meaning, of course, comes from the Logos.
To overcome one’s bull, involved inner strength to overcome the body’s influence on one’s soul (and lower self). Associated with this bull, we see in this sculpture three creatures. What do these represent? Remember that Christ was crucified with two others through whom individually both Lucifer and Ahriman spoke. Lucifer, in ancient art, has typically been depicted as the serpent while Ahriman is the hound. But who is represented by the scorpion? This completes the unholy trinity and its name is confusing as some traditions revere those spiritual beings with this name: Asuras. What is meant is those beings who are of the Archai level but have not met their own progress in past planetary conditions and thus act as a hindrance in our Earthly planetary condition. As weights are a hindrance to lifting objects, they strengthen us in our spiritual forces.
So Mithraism intended to make straight the way to the Cosmic Christ. Arius brought this cosmic Christ perspective. But by the 4th Century, Western Christianity had focused entirely on the earthly Christ and rejected the way of using the ancient mysteries to understand the Mystery of Golgotha.
In ancient times, one’s bloodline was critical to one’s fate. The profession of the father became the profession of the son(s). Of the twelve tribes of Israel, only from the Levites could a priest be selected. After Abraham came the line of kings and concept of royal blood. If we proceed far back we come to a time when, according to Rudolf Steiner, even the father’s memories were passed through the blood to the son. When the Bible says this person lived 700 years, it is referring to how long the memory lived on as a part of successive generations collection of memory. This was supported and protected by those spiritual beings who do “the good”.
But the bloodline begins to fail from the 7th century BCE onwards. This was especially noticed in the Mystery Centers where the bloodline could no longer support the development towards initiation into priesthood for neophytes. At the Turning Point in Time, Christ said to his disciples “this (wine) is my blood” and then on Golgotha, when a spear was thrust into his side, out ran blood and water and entered the earth. With this the bloodline ended.
Christianity was for all of humanity, regardless of bloodline. All could become, inwardly, a priest. Although kings would continue to claim succession rights to their bloodline, history shows that the bloodline was indeed unfit for the position. Similarly, when popes were to be selected, at one point, family lineage (and wealth and power) played a destructive role.
Rudolf Steiner points out that a reversal occurred on Golgotha concerning the good and evil beings support of bloodline (this statement is a gross simplification – apologies). Afterwards, the good beings move to support the universality of the human being. Steiner also associates the ability of people to form memory with the Archai (above arch-angels who are above angels).
One might ask “what happens to the memory once carried by the blood?” The ancient mysteries of Egypt could, in their heights, trace back to Lemurian times while those of Greece could trace back to Atlantean. As this memory capability faded, so did their associated mystery. Until the Renaissance, people had remarkable memories. Epic stories, told once, were remembered! The so-called Fairy Tales were handed down until the Grimm brothers realized that our memories were failing and these tales needed to be written down before they were lost. Today, social media is replacing our memory of our lives storing pictures and other memorabilia. Students no longer need to learn the times tables with that memorization replaced by calculators. Where is this going?
A new memory is needed for new mysteries. This new memory, it seems to me, will be akin to what’s going on “in the cloud”, namely a seeing of memory, a seeing of the Akashic Record.
A study of history can, however, bring to light something else in this connection, that is of very great significance. Into the external exoteric culture of Greece flowed much of this threefold teaching of
Zarathustra, teaching of the spiritual Sun
Osiris, the elemental Sun and
Anaxagoras, of Zeus, the Sun-flooded ether environment of the Earth.
The world would never have had such a sublime Greek art, nor such a wonderful Greek philosophy, nor a Plato or an Aristotle, were it not that into the art and philosophy of Greece flowed streams from this ancient wisdom.
A time came, however, when the initiation truths that were handed down from past epochs were no longer sufficiently protected from profanation. Many teachings that had their source in initiation wisdom passed into the hands of distinguished Romans, more especially the Roman emperors. Among them all, perhaps of Augustus alone can it be said that he still knew how to value the initiation wisdom that was imparted to him. In the Roman world there was, generally speaking, no understanding for the esoteric factor in Greek art and Greek wisdom, no recognition that these contained elements which could be traced back to the very most ancient wisdom teaching. Consequently, the hopelessly prosaic, the semi-barbarous civilization of Rome took over what we may call the surface brightness, the sheen, of Greek culture, but was quite incapable of handing on, in its true form, to later generations what lived at the heart of this culture. And so when Roman influences began to permeate the Christianity that had, ever since the Mystery of Golgotha, been making its way into the world, there was no possibility for Christianity to receive, along with all that came from Rome, the true essence of the ancient culture.
Because Rome did not know how to value and guard initiation, the genuine initiation truths of earlier times have been prevented from finding their way over to the West. We must realize that we, as human beings possessing the ordinary consciousness of modern times, have been debarred from the sacred truths of olden times because Rome was unable to understand these truths. As we know, it was a man who hailed from Rome that drove out of Europe the last remaining Greek philosophers and obliged them to seek refuge in the East.
Now, there was in a later time a man who came as near to the teachings of initiation as it was possible to come in the time in which he lived, and who was acquainted with the teaching o£ these three aspects of the Sun — the aspect of the Sun according to Zarathustra, the aspect of the Sun that is associated with Osiris, and the aspect of the Sun as seen and understood by Pythagoras and Anaxagoras. This man was Julian the Apostate. He was not able himself to behold the Sun in all three aspects, but he knew of the teaching; he knew it as a tradition that had come down in the Mystery Schools. And so impressed was Julian the Apostate by this teaching of the three aspects of the Sun that to him that which Christianity brought seemed small in comparison. For he still knew of the inexpressible glory and splendor into which Zarathustra had gazed; he had learned to know also of the activities of fire and of light, of the cosmic chemical forces, and of the cosmic life-forces, as man had been able to behold them in the ancient Mysteries. Of all this he, Julian, could in his time still learn, albeit only by tradition.
This whole teaching seemed to him so sublime, so mighty, that he found himself unable to accept Christianity. The thoughts and purposes of his mind were, in fact, turned in quite another direction. He seized with the desire to impart to mankind the ancient Mysteries into which he had himself been initiated up to a certain degree. And this, my dear friends, was what led at last to the unsheathing of the dagger that brought his life to a violent end. The hand that lifted the dagger belonged to one of those who counted it a sin to communicate the lofty teachings of initiation to the general run of mankind. Julian’s murderer wanted that people should hear of the Sun spoken of in an external manner only.
Julian the Apostate declared that the Sun has three aspects:
its influence on the Earthly ether
its heavenly light that is behind the Earthly ether, the warmth, the chemical, and the life forces
the aspect of pure spiritual Being.
For this he was put out of the way arranged by one of his own soldiers (tradition says John Martyr the Warrior). And indeed it must be admitted that the moment had not yet come when mankind in general was ripe to receive such weighty and solemn truths. That time has now come.
[The following relies on insights from a lecture by Rudolf Steiner in London, 24 August 1922]
Let’s go back to the Ancient Persian civilization when the teacher of mankind during the height of this civilization was Zarathustra (aka Zoroaster). It was a common custom for the pupils of a great and lofty teacher to continue for a long time to bear his name. Thus, the Zarathustra we read of in history is in reality the last of a succession of pupils of the great Zarathustra. This great teacher of mankind was initiated in a most wonderful and remarkable manner into the secrets of existence, and he could stand before the men of his time and teach them as an eminent and sublime initiate.
When we look at the Sun, we see it through our scientific education. Through his initiation, Zarathustra knew that in that place in the heavens where we see a mere Sun, he knew there lives a great and all-embracing Spirit. In fact, Zarathustra did not see the physical Sun at all; rather he beheld a great and omnipresent cosmic Spirit that influenced him in a spiritual way. Zarathustra knew that with the sunshine came also spiritual rays, rays of divine-spiritual grace and bounty, which enkindle in the soul and spirit of man that ‘higher man’ to which the ordinary man in us must continually aspire.
Zarathustra, Zoroaster means the Radiant Star as this is what his pupils called him. They perceived that he received from the radiant Godhead the rays of wisdom. When Zarathustra looked upon the spiritual cosmic Sun, he was looking into the source of all the forces through which all things became. Forces that make the stones on the Earth to be hard and solid, forces that make the plants to come forth from their seeds and grow, forces that make the animals to spread abroad over the face of the Earth in their different kinds, and forces that make man to flourish and thrive upon the Earth. The first and oldest of the Zarathustras, the original Radiant Star, had knowledge of everything that took place on the Earth because he was able to experience the Spiritual Being of the Sun whom he called Ahura Mazda.
As mankind evolved, so did these Ancient Mysteries. When we get to the Chaldean and Egyptian era, initiates were no longer able to penetrate so deeply into the Mysteries of the worlds. Mankind still looked up to the Sun, but he no longer saw it as radiant, as sending forth rays; rather, he saw it now as shining, as illuminating the Earth with its light. Sun-radiance was replaced with sunshine. Ra signified for Egyptians the Sun that moved round the Earth, giving light and Osiris was his representative on Earth. Some of the secrets from Persia had been lost. For example, the initiate was no longer able to see with full inner clarity the radiant cosmic God, as had the Persian initiates of an older time. He could only see how the primal astral forces descend from the Sun. Zarathustra saw in the Sun a Being, he was still able to see in the Sun a Being. The initiates of Egypt saw in the Sun the forces that come to the Earth.. What they saw were deeds, forces of light, forces of movement but not a spiritual Being. And the Egyptian initiates spoke of One who represents, on Earth, the forces of the Sun that man carries within him, namely Osiris.
When we come to the age of Greece, we find that by the eighth, seventh, fifth century before the Mystery of Golgotha, man had lost all power of looking into the Mysteries of the Sun. He could see only the effect of the Sun’s influence in the environment or the Earth. Man beheld the working of the Sun in the ether that fills all the space around the Earth. And this ether, that spreads out around the Earth and permeates also man himself, this the Greek initiates such as Anaxagoras called Zeus.
We see three descending stages in the cultural evolution of mankind. First there was the stage when the initiates beheld in the sun a divine-spiritual being; followed by a second stage when the initiates beheld the sun’s forces; and finally a third stage, when the initiates beheld only the influence of the sun being in the earth’s ether.
This post will reveal some, perhaps unfavorable, personal traits of me. When I was a child I remembered far more dreams than I do as an adult. Occasionally I’ll remember the last dream of the night or one where I woke up during the dream and was able to make a written or visual or mental note about it so that in the morning I was able to recall the dream. Now I recall a dream from last night.
In the dream I was the person responsible for a group of people. We were in a fancy large hotel. My immediate responsibility was to get these twelve people from the hotel to their transport to some morning event. Soon the twelve had all arrived so I began to lead them to where I thought the taxi stand for the hotel existed. I knew where it was because I had, in the dream, stayed in this hotel at a prior conference (the memory of this was present to me in the dream but it was not part of a prior dream or reality that I am aware of). Out of the hotel we wander and I soon realize that there are no taxis in front so I lead the group down the circular drive to the highway where I try to flag down a set of taxis. But there are none. Then one comes but the driver appears busy and does not even look my way. Suddenly I have an aide and she suggests I call the taxi service with whom I made arrangements. Brilliant! My dream-memory said that I had made arrangements. I pulled out my iPhone and in its ‘recent calls’ list I found the number. The driver answered the call and wanted to know where we were! I asked him where he was and he said he had a 12-person van in the taxi stand behind the hotel. I realized at that moment that in leading the group to the front I was using old data. I apologized to the driver and said “we’d be right there.” Prior to this, the group had paid no attention to me. They were chatting profusely among themselves and treating me as a mere lower class tour guide. Now they began to complain about my incompetence as I led them back into the hotel’s front entrance. I would need to find a stairway to go down one level and walk the entire depth of the hotel’s ground floor to reach the rear entrance. That’s when I noticed a clear overhead sign that stated the taxi stand was now in the rear. Some in my group also noticed and increased their condemnation of my capabilities. At this point, I woke up. It was 5 am and sunrise was just beginning.
This dream helped me to realize that when traveling and within crowds, I become inwardly tense. In this state I become less observant and less tolerant. I sometimes go into auto-pilot and rely on doing things the way they’ve always been done. But with the spiritual world, things change, evolve. The way to the taxi stand to be transported with my 12 beings was no longer where it was in my previous ‘incarnation.’ The way there is now first inwardly, first into myself to find how I am a microcosm of the macrocosm. These twelve are me as a microcosm. When I try to take care of them out of old knowledge, they ignore me. But as I get my directions aligned, I’ll receive their ‘guidance,’ as difficult as it might be to hear. For to reach the taxi stand and the transport, I will need to sacrifice this old lower self, these old habits, and this materialistic thinking. Scourging is part of the western spiritual journey.
In ancient times, dreams were more easily remembered and remembered with reverence for dreams were a gift from the spiritual world. They contained wisdom and foresight. But as humanity evolved to become self-aware, intellectual beings, the importance of dreams faded. Human destiny was for us to develop individualism, true freedom. “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” [John 8:32]
Now I’m trying to read the signs of our times and find that taxi stand behind the hotel [my body] with a van for twelve.
In other posts we’ve looked at the guidance and wisdom carried in every religion by its local Mystery Center. The ancient mystery teachers had knowledge of the stars that, without telescopes, seems incredible to us today. The Caldeans and Persian astronomer/astrologers were well aware of the course of the sun through the zodiac and the movement of the planets. Yes, in their view of spirit as reality and physical as illusion, they placed the earth, from human perspective, in the center of the spiritual universe. They also knew that each human being begins each incarnation journey from out of the planetary spheres. Rudolf Steiner called this knowledge Etheric Astronomy. i think it relates powerfully with a healthy Eugenics.
As evolution progressed, and the sun moved from Taurus to Aries, new wisdom flowed into the Mysteries. Now the teachers learned one does not arrive at a full conception of the gradual approach of an entity out of extra-planetary spheres into the planetary and hence onto the earth sphere. No, their spirituals pictures revealed that this process leads not to a human being but rather to the human as a bull. No human beings would exist on earth if there were nothing besides this extra-planetary being that descends through the planetary sphere into evolution.
These teachers knew that the time had come when human beings must struggle against this bull-like nature with something still higher. Thus the Mysteries of Mithra came into being and spread from Persia (and perhaps from even farther east) into the Roman Empire from where it spread into eastern Europe and as far west as Spain.
This new mystery stream intended to lead humanity to overcome the aged-view of humanity’s pre-birth origin given by the ancient wisdom. What was offered outside of the Mystery Centers was the image of the bull with Mithras on top of it. Mithras was meant to be the human being who struggles to overcome the bull. Mithras was the sun force in the human being who rebelled against the merely planetary and terrestrial aspects that can only lead to the bull-human. There must be of far loftier origin than the being that was pictured according to the ancient teaching of wisdom.
Two outcomes resulted. One, the beginnings of revolt against the revered mysteries, and two, the inner preparation for the coming of Christ who was seen as this Sun being.
Remnants of Mithraism persist in the bull-fighting in Spain and Mexico.
In the statue, note the direction of Mithra’s gaze (and compare to this blog post). Note the ‘cosmic’ animals; note where each is on the bull: the crab, the snake, and the dog. I invite you to comment on what these represent.
Last blog, we looked at the meaning of the inscription INRI that Pontius Pilate wrote on a plaque and had placed on the cross above the head of Jesus. Who was this governor of Judea?
To answer this, we should review an apocryphal book entitled the Acts of Pilate. Here is a letter from Pilate to Emperor Tiberias. This is found in the Greek Acts of Peter and Paul and as an appendix to the Gospel of Nicodemus in Latin. The translation is from M. R. James:
There befell of late a matter which I myself brought to light (or, made trial of): for the Jews through envy have punished themselves and their posterity with fearful judgements of their own fault; for whereas their fathers had promises (al. had announced unto them) that their God would send them out of heaven his holy one who should of rightly be called their king, and did promise that he would send him upon earth by a virgin; he then (or this God of the Hebrews, then) came when I was governor of Judea, and they beheld him enlightening the blind, cleansing lepers, healing the palsied, driving devils out of men, raising the dead, rebuking the winds, walking upon the waves of the sea dry-shod, and doing many other wonders, and all the people of the Jews calling him the Son of God: the chief priests therefore, moved with envy against him, took him and delivered him unto me and brought against him one false accusation after another, saying that he was a sorcerer and did things contrary to law.
But I, believing that these things were so, having scourged him, delivered him unto their will: and they crucified him, and when he was buried they set guards upon him. But while my soldiers watched him he rose again on the third day: yet so much was the malice of the Jews kindled that they gave money to the soldiers, saying: Say ye that his disciples stole away his body. But they, though they took the money, were not able to keep silence concerning that which had come to pass, for they also have testified that they saw him arisen and that they received money from the Jews. And these things have I reported (unto thy mightiness) for this cause, lest some other should lie unto thee (Lat. lest any lie otherwise) and though shouldest deem right to believe the false tales of the Jews.
It is possible, even likely, that many (perhaps all?) of the early texts were altered (or forged) in order to persuade people. In earlier ages, the role of scribe required the utmost integrity and ethically sound character. By the 2nd century AD, alteration of sacred texts was all too frequent.
F. F. Bruce, in his bookThe New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? writes “About AD 150 Justin Martyr, addressing his Defence of Christianity to the Emperor Antoninius Pius, referred him to Pilate’s report, which Justin supposed must be preserved in the imperial archives. ‘But the words, “They pierced my hands and my feet,” ‘ he says, ‘are a description of the nails that were fixed in His hands and His feet on the cross; and after He was crucified, those who crucified Him cast lots for His garments, and divided them among themselves; and that these things were so, you may learn from the “Acts” which were recorded under Pontius Pilate.” Later he says: ‘That He performed these miracles you may easily be satisfied from the “Acts” of Pontius Pilate.”
Another historian, Johannes Quasten, in his book, Patrology, cites church father Tertullian who “refers twice to a report made by Pilate to Tiberius. According to him, Pontius Pilate informed the Emperor of the unjust sentence of death which he had pronounced against an innocent and divine person; the Emperor was so moved by his report of the miracles of Christ and his resurrection, that he proposed the reception of Christ among the gods of Rome. But the Senate refused (Apologeticum 5). In another place Tertullian says that the ‘whole story of Christ was reported to Caesar—at that time it was Tiberius—by Pilate, himself in his secret heart already a Christian’ (Apol. 21, 24).”
If we now turn to the Gospel of Judas,we find that the heresy hunters of the 2nd century, such as Irenaeus, were particularly upset by Gnostics and they felt this gospel could not be authentic because of the Gnostic tones in it. I quote from the above link for Roberts-Donaldson translation of this section from Irenaeus:
Others again declare that Cain derived his being from the Power above, and acknowledge that Esau, Korah, the Sodomites, and all such persons, are related to themselves. On this account, they add, they have been assailed by the Creator, yet no one of them has suffered injury. For Sophia was in the habit of carrying off that which belonged to her from them to herself. They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas.
We find that in this story Judas was only following Christ’s instructions to “betray him.” Why? Christ knew his time was at hand. The time for the Greatest Cosmic Deed had come. The crucifixion had to take place. This God had to experience Death to become fully Human. This Son of Man had to become the Second Adam, to open a new path of Resurrection. The Cosmic significance of this event, with the cross placed on the skull of Adam, can be overwhelming. The Earth now begins her journey to become a new Sun. Once the Earth and Sun were one and then they were separated. At this Turning Point in Time, the Earth was changed by the blood of this Human-God, Jesus-Christ, flowing into the soil on Golgotha. Like homeopathy, this small amount of spiritualized blood began to transform. Judas fulfilled his terrible mission. So too did Pilate. To ensure that they fulfilled their respective missions, they were somewhat aware. No human being at this time could rise to the heights of consciousness to fully grasp this event. But Hellenism, the Essenes and the Gnostics had preserved enough, just enough, for some to grasp this Mystery of Golgotha.
Lastly, we look at G.W. Barkley’s book on Origen where we find Origen explains how we cannot fault Pilate who can be taken as “a prepared man.” Origen goes on to say, “Certainly he was the judge of the nation itself who sent him by his sentence ‘into the wilderness.’ But hear how he was washed and made clean. When he had said to the people, ‘Do you want me to release to you Jesus, who is called the Christ,’ and all the people had shouted out, saying, ‘If you release this one, you are not a friend of Caesar,’ then it says ‘Pilate demanded water and washed his hands before the people, saying, I am clean from his blood; you should see to it.’ Thus, therefore, by washing his hands he will appear to be made clean.” G.W. Barkley, Origen, Homilies on Leviticus: 1-16 (Fathers of the Church, 63; Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 2010), pg 204-205. Even Pilate’s wife, through a dream [the old way of spiritual inspiration], knew this man was innocent and that Pilate should remain ‘clean’ in the outcome. Many high ranking officials in this time had sought and received initiation into one or another Mystery. His washing of his hands after handling the freeing of either Jesus Christ or Jesus Barabbas could be seen as the action of a cultic priest after handling a sacrifice.
The Gospel of Nicodemus has an appendix entitle The Acts of Peter and Paul in which the words of Pilate’s letter to Emperor Claudius is contained as follows
Pontius Pilate unto Claudius, greeting.
There befell of late a matter which I myself brought to light (or, made trial of): for the Jews through envy have punished themselves and their posterity with fearful judgements of their own fault; for whereas their fathers had promises (al. had announced unto them) that their God would send them out of heaven his holy one who should of right be called their king, and did promise that he would send him upon earth by a virgin; he then (or this God of the Hebrews, then) came when I was governor of Judea, and they beheld him enlightening the blind, cleansing lepers, healing the palsied, driving devils out of men, raising the dead, rebuking the winds, walking upon the waves of the sea dry-shod, and doing many other wonders, and all the people of the Jews calling him the Son of God: the chief priests therefore, moved with envy against him, took him and delivered him unto me and brought against him one false accusation after another, saying that he was a sorcerer and did things contrary to law.
But I, believing that these things were so, having scourged him, delivered him unto their will: and they crucified him, and when he was buried they set guards upon him. But while my soldiers watched him he rose again on the third day: yet so much was the malice of the Jews kindled that they gave money to the soldiers, saying: Say ye that his disciples stole away his body. But they, though they took the money, were not able to keep silence concerning that which had come to pass, for they also have testified that they saw him arisen and that they received money from the Jews. And these things have I reported (unto thy mightiness) for this cause, lest some other should lie unto thee (Lat. lest any lie otherwise) and though shouldest deem right to believe the false tales of the Jews
Pilate likely had been initiated into a lesser Mystery and, perhaps, to an even higher degree. His inscription INRI shows remarkable insights into who Christ Jesus was but like other initiates of this time, he could not fathom the depth of what was about to take place, the Turning Point in Time, the Fulfillment of the Mysteries, The Great Mystery of All – the Mystery of Golgotha.
Something that most historians miss is the role that the Ancient Mysteries had in the ease of the spread of Christianity. After the event of Whitsun, some of the disciples and those with them began missions to spread Christianity. Where did they go? They went to the Mystery Centers throughout the world. There the initiates could understand them and could approach a grasp of the Mystery of Golgotha. The apostles said to the initiates of the Mystery Centers, “What your mystery foresaw, what it prepared you for, has taken place. Your mystery is fulfilled.
In Persia they may have said, “The Sun God, Ahura Mazdao, who has long been expected, has come.” In other places, similar wording may have been spoken. The initiates could see the souls of the apostles and see what Whitsun had done to them. They could understand that what their mystery had awaited, had arrived and been fulfilled.
Further, they understood that the new Mysteries could now begin. They brought forth their pupils and they listened to and learned from the apostles. They easily became Christians.
Each such mystery center then practiced Christianity according to their customs that were renewed by the new customs learned from the apostles. But each such mystery center had its traditions and customs and knowledge. They interpreted the scriptures perhaps differently than another mystery center. So different “flavors” of Christianity came to be.
In the 3rd century, the battle between the converted mystery-stream Christians and the proto-orthodox forces intensified to the point that both sides altered the scriptures to agree with their position. Many of today’s books of the Christian Bible were altered making some passages suspect. Modern day scholars claim that they can detect such alterations or insertions by how the style of writing changes. For example, passages where Paul excludes women seem to have been added by proto-orthodox zealots.
The internal battles must have driven Constantine crazy. So he called for the leaders to get together and unify Christianity. Out of this the Nicene Creed was adopted but several Christian groups could not accept this creed. At one point in history, there likely were more Christians who did not ascribe to the Nicene Creed than did. These were located mostly from the middle east eastward to China. Many were part of the Nestorian church.
So, the fading Mystery Centers knew their time was coming to an end. Many centers had already closed by the time Christianity began to spread. These centers, with their wisdom and expectations, easily grasped what the apostles brought and easily became strong advocates for Christianity and thereby easily converted the peoples of their land.
The opposition came from Roman culture where the image of a God, of a Savior, would need to be a super warrior type who would conquer – someone like but greater than Caesar. For them, no grasping of the Mystery of Golgotha was possible. But for those already in possession of ancient wisdom from the mystery centers, this humiliating death on a cross, this passage of a God through human death to become fully human and its later resurrection meant that a new way to the spirit for mankind was opened, death and karma was overcome, the old mysteries were fulfilled, the new ones had begun. No longer would they need to pursue their dying path that traversed backwards the path of descent from the spirit. Now a path of ascent was available. A new Christian initiation began.