Tag Archives: Mithraism

Mithraism and the Cosmic Christ

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? MithrasRemember 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.

Mithraism and Christianity

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. Mithras

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.

Ishtar and Easter

In a conversation today, the Goddess Ishtar was mentioned.  Her rites, it was suggested, may be a possible forerunner to the Easter bunny and egg festival. I looked up Ishtar and found this interesting passage in Wikipedia: (keep in mind Ishtar is an immortal, Gilgamesh is a hero but a mortal).

Ishtar in the Epic of Gilgamesh [from Wikipedia]

The Epic of Gilgamesh contains an episode involving Ishtar which portrays her as bad-tempered, petulant and spoiled by her father. She asks the hero Gilgamesh to marry her, but he refuses, citing the fate that has befallen all her many lovers:
“Listen to me while I tell the tale of your lovers. There was Tammuz, the lover of your youth, for him you decreed wailing, year after year. You loved the many-coloured Lilac-breasted Roller, but still you struck and broke his wing […] You have loved the lion tremendous in strength: seven pits you dug for him, and seven. You have loved the stallion magnificent in battle, and for him you decreed the whip and spur and a thong […] You have loved the shepherd of the flock; he made meal-cake for you day after day, he killed kids for your sake. You struck and turned him into a wolf; now his own herd-boys chase him away, his own hounds worry his flanks.”
Angered by Gilgamesh’s refusal, Ishtar goes up to heaven and complains to her father the high god Anu that Gilgamesh has insulted her. She demands that Anu give her the Bull of Heaven. Anu points out that it was her fault for provoking Gilgamesh, but she warns that if he refuses, she will do exactly what she told the gatekeeper of the underworld she would do if he didn’t let her in:
“If you refuse to give me the Bull of Heaven [then] I will break in the doors of hell and smash the bolts; there will be confusion [i.e., mixing] of people, those above with those from the lower depths. I shall bring up the dead to eat food like the living; and the hosts of the dead will outnumber the living.”
Anu gives Ishtar the Bull of Heaven, and Ishtar sends it to attack Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu. Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the Bull and offer its heart to the Assyro-Babylonian sun-god Shamash.
While Gilgamesh and Enkidu are resting, Ishtar stands upon the walls of the city (which is Uruk) and curses Gilgamesh. Enkidu tears off the Bull’s right thigh and throws it in Ishtar’s face, saying, “If I could lay my hands on you, it is this I should do to you, and lash your entrails to your side.” (Enkidu later dies for this impiety.) Then Ishtar called together “her people, the dancing and singing girls, the prostitutes of the temple, the courtesans,” and had them mourn for the Bull of Heaven.
Now, what is the Bull of Heaven? Recall that in the time of this myth, we were in the midst of the sun in Taurus at the vernal equinox. The Bull represents the basic sensory experiences of the physical body. Later, when we enter Aries, the Lamb, we also have the rise of Mithraism whose descendant is the bull fighting in Spain (and Latin America). Mithra must kill the Bull to rise to higher consciousness. Overcoming the bull is also in the Greek myth of the Minotaur which is a word from the combining of (King) Minos and Taurus. The wife of Minos wanted to copulate with the Bull of Heaven and in so doing gives birth to the Minotaur. Each year the Athenians must offer up virgin boys and girls to the Minotaur until Theseus slays the Minotaur and escapes from the labyrinth (we could go into what labyrinth means another time) with the help of Minos’ daughter Ariadne. Here we have a story of the human soul who, in the wife of Minos, wants to “marry” the physical body, to enjoy the sensuality provided by the body. Theseus represents the spiritual man and Ariadne the soul who desires the “mystical marriage” with her spiritual member Theseus. (Next comes the part of Icarus in the story and flying over the “sea” from the island to the land of the spirit. But such a path is narrow; one cannot soar too high (into Lucifer’s realm) or too low (into the earthly, Ahriman’s realm)). One may ask, what is the relationship of Mithraism to Christianity? Mithraism could be called a cosmic Christianity in the time of Aries.
For me, Easter is the beginning of the Fulfillment of the Promise, the New Adam, the Overcoming of Death that began at baptism when the Logos entered the body of the man Jesus making this entity Jesus-Christ (I-CH in German or IX in Greek). The God whose name is I AM entered not just as an avatar into the body of Jesus, but fully becomes Man on Golgotha with death. The blood had been transformed to the blood of this God-Man (or Man-God) and flowed into the Earth. The transformation is stated when His side is pierced and out flowed blood AND WATER. On the third day, the stone in him is removed (as is the stone to the tomb). His physical body has been transformed – the Third Temple arises, rebuilt in 3 days. His body is real but has no mineral composition so even Mary and the disciples cannot at first recognize Him. By doing this, He has made it possible for each of us to do so. He is the New Adam.
Avatar comes from ancient Sanskrit and means ‘ descent ‘ as in descent of a divine being to earth. Such a spiritual being descends into a human body not for it self but in order to intervene in evolution as a human being, Nothing of any significance is experienced here in the physical world. An avatar enters a physical body for the blessing and advancement of mankind.
May you all have a blessed Easter.

Reevaluating Julian the Apostate

A complex person and emperor of Rome, Julian’s biographers have described him as “a man of unusually complex character: he was ‘the military commander, the theosophist, the social reformer, and the man of letters’. He was the last non-Christian ruler of the Roman Empire, and it was his desire to bring the Empire back to its ancient Roman values in order to save it from dissolution. He purged the top-heavy state bureaucracy and attempted to revive traditional Roman religious practices at the cost of Christianity. His rejection of Christianity in favor of Neo-platonic paganism caused him to be called Julian the Apostate (Ἀποστάτης Apostates, ‘a person who has abandoned their religion, principles’)

“Julian’s personal religion was both pagan and philosophical; he viewed the traditional myths as allegories, in which the ancient gods were aspects of a philosophical divinity. The chief surviving sources are his works To King Helios and To the Mother of the Gods.

“He learned theurgy from Maximus of Ephesus, a student of Iamblichus; his system bears some resemblance to the Neoplatonism of Plotinus; Polymnia Athanassiadi has brought new attention to his relations with Mithraism, although whether he was initiated into it remains debatable; and certain aspects of his thought (such as his reorganization of paganism under High Priests, and his fundamental monotheism) may show Christian influence. Some of these potential sources have not come down to us, and all of them influenced each other, which adds to the difficulties.” For more on Julian visit here on Wikipedia.

Continuing from the historical account from Wikipedia, Julian “restored pagan temples which had been confiscated since Constantine’s time, or simply appropriated by wealthy citizens; he repealed the stipends that Constantine had awarded to Christian bishops, and removed their other privileges, including a right to be consulted on appointments and to act as private courts. He also reversed some favors that had previously been given to Christians.

“On 4 February 362, Julian promulgated an edict to guarantee freedom of religion. This edict proclaimed that all the religions were equal before the law, and that the Roman Empire had to return to its original religious eclecticism, according to which the Roman state did not impose any religion on its provinces.

“In his Tolerance Edict of 362, Julian decreed the reopening of pagan temples, the restitution of confiscated temple properties, and the return from exile of dissident Christian bishops. During Julian’s brief reign from 361-363 CE, his popularity among the people and the army indicated that he might have brought paganism back to the fore of Roman public and private life [keep this point in mind].

“In 363, not long before Julian left Antioch to launch his campaign against Persia, he ordered the Temple in Jerusalem to be rebuilt.  A personal friend of his, Ammianus Marcellinus, wrote this about the effort:

‘Julian thought to rebuild at an extravagant expense the proud Temple once at Jerusalem, and committed this task to Alypius of Antioch. Alypius set vigorously to work, and was seconded by the governor of the province; when fearful balls of fire, breaking out near the foundations, continued their attacks, till the workmen, after repeated scorchings, could approach no more: and he gave up the attempt.’

The failure to rebuild the Temple has been ascribed to the Galilee earthquake of 363, and to the Jews’ ambivalence about the project. Sabotage is a possibility, as is an accidental fire. Julian’s support of Jews caused Jews to call him ‘Julian the Hellene.’

On 26 June 363, at the indecisive Battle of Samarra, received a wound from a spear that reportedly pierced the lower lobe of his liver, the peritoneum and intestines. Although the wound was not immediately deadly, Julian would die a few days later. In 364, Libanius stated that Julian was assassinated by a Christian who was one of his own soldiers.”

Sassanian relief of the investiture of Ardashir II showing (right to left) Shapur II, Mithra, and Ahura Mazda above a defeated Julian, lying prostrate.

Rudolf Steiner states that “Julian was brought face to face with the deeper implications of the problem of evil and the relation of Christ Jesus to this problem. He hoped to find an answer through initiation into the Persian Mysteries [Mithraic and Zarathustrian] and to return to Europe with the solution. But unfortunately he fell by an assassin’s hand during the Persian campaign. It can be proved historically that this was the work of an adherent of Constantine.  … In the following years the Augustinian principle triumphed – ideas that in any way echoed Manichaeism were forbidden, i.e. the inclusion of material ideas i spiritual thinking. The West therefore was driving to an abstract mode of thinking and in the course of time this mode of thinking permeated the whole of Western Europe. … Julian therefore was engaged in a titanic struggle. He finally attempted, by reviving Manichaeism, to bring about continuity in the evolution of the pagan Mysteries. … That he was doomed to fail was a necessity of the time. And we shall not understand the reason for his failure if we belittle his great achievements, if we fail to see him as a titanic figure, fighting for a realistic understanding of the relations between man and the universe. And it is of paramount importance today to recall these great moments in the historical evolution of the West. For we are living in an age from which we shall not emerge with a healthy outlook unless we make a fresh assessment of the aims of Julian the Apostate. It was not possible in his time – herein lies his great tragedy – to reconcile the old principle of initiation with the real essence of Christianity. Today this has become possible and we must not fail to translate the possibility into reality if the world and mankind are not to suffer evolutionary decline. People must realize the need for regeneration in all spheres of life and above all the crying need to restore communication with the spiritual world.

Coptic icon showing Saint Mercurius killing Julian. 

Julian understood the greatness of the ancient mysteries and had hoped to restore them for the guidance of mankind. He could not fully grasp Christianity as already in his time much was deceived and lost.

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