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The similarity of representing a mushroom cap in the bottom of a flared skirt strengthens the likelihood that this mushroom shape was intentional in both the 'Dionysus Victory Procession' mosaic and in the Mithras fresco, and strengthens the likelihood that this mushroom refers to psychoactive mushrooms as the active principle that makes mere wine cause divine madness -- that is, the dissociative state of consciousness, which produces the intense mystic altered state.
Brian wrote, on April 15, 2004, in message
>>I can see four mushrooms in the lower portions of the tambourine girl's garments in the "Dionysus Triumphal Procession" mosaic. The mushrooms are at the center-point of the entire piece. A mushroom cap and top of stem can be seen in the right end of the tambourine girl's scarf.
for example, here's the full picture:
A spotted panther is drinking out of the wine mixing bowl.
Was Brian the first person to have noticed, or to have written about, the mushrooms in the skirt of the tambourine girl in Dionysus Victory Procession?
When looking for things to scan and upload, I thought it would be interesting to show the 2 books and one journal, two of which show the bull backwards, probably implying that the author is still inside the cosmos. Only Ulansey's book has the important, correct orientation of the bull, probably indicating a transcendent, initiated point of view from outside the cosmos.
When looking at these pictures -- I had been thinking about the fabric-curve-behind-body theme in several initiation pictures -- I noticed again the odd edge of Mithras' skirt, and it reminded me of the same flare as in the tambourine girl's garments in the "Dionysus Triumphal Procession" mosaic.
This same mushroom position appears in Mithras' skirt and straight leg in the fresco which is used on the cover of several books, but from what I have read, I am the first late-modern researcher to have spotted and written about the mushroom rather plainly depicted in Mithras' straight leg and skirt. The article in Entheos #3 says generally that Mithras on the bull is a 1-foot, but I don't see in the journal or in the online notes anywhere this specific mushroom depiction is pointed out.
Has any entheogen author pointed out this specific thin-blue-stemmed psilocybin-type mushroom depiction in this specific fresco? If so, I independently spotted it; if not, I am the first in the entheogen scholars' community to spot it, even though it's blown up on the very cover (backwards) of the very issue dedicated to spotting just such things. Maybe it's just an omission in the article -- none of the authors thought to explicitly mention this mushroom, because it was so obvious?
The stem of this particular mushroom is formed by the strange narrow strip running up in the middle of Mithra's leg -- not shown in Mithras sculptures. The cap of the mushroom is fairly clearly demarcated in the fold of the skirt at the top of the leg, slightly wider than the top of the leg.
Entheos issue #3
My hardcopy is very red-skewed, which makes it lower-contrast and harder to spot -- every concerned area is shades of red. The picture is oriented incorrectly.
The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World
This cover illustration is careless and cuts off most of the stem, obscuring the important mushroom shape. The picture is oriented correctly.
Even the full picture shown at
doesn't reveal the narrow long stem running along Mithras' straight leg.
The Roman Cult of Mithras: The God and His Mysteries
1990 (German)/2000/2001 (English)
Picture is reversed on English cover. It's correctly oriented on the original, German cover.
The picture is clearest on this book cover -- both in this online location and the cover of the actual book. The colors are more subdued but have the best contrast between the bluish stripe forming the stem, and the red -- here, salmon pink -- cap.
I viewed the cover at Amazon, captured, auto-adjusted the color to make it darker, and rotated it.
Every crystal-clear mushroom depiction in religious art, especially in the early Christian era, is cause for celebration.
I mean the thin-stemmed psilocybin-type mushroom which is formed by the strange thin blue strip 1/4 the width of Mithras' straight leg, and the red steep-umbrella cap formed by the folds in the hem of the skirt, slightly wider than Mithras' straight leg.
I did a better scan from the cover of Clauss' cover myself, which reveals this depiction more clearly than the cover of Ulansey's book or the cover of Entheos issue #3. I hope that in addition to reversing the image on the cover of Entheos, the publisher also adjusts the colors to lessen the red and bring out the blue in the stem, like the cover of Clauss' book.
In the tauroctony fresco from a Mithraeum just outside Rome, shown on the cover, a psilocybin-type mushroom is formed by the unexpected (therefore deliberate) thin blue strip 1/4 the width of Mithras' straight leg, and the red steep-umbrella mushroom cap formed by the folds in the hem of the skirt, slightly wider than Mithras' straight leg, and the rim of that mushroom cap formed by the edge of Mithras' hem at the top of the straight leg ( http://www.egodeath.com/images/mithrasmushroomleg.jpg ). This cap and stem positioning is similar to the mushroom caps in the hem of the tambourine player's flared skirt in the 'Dionysus Victory Procession' mosaic ( http://www.tunisiaonline.com/mosaics/mosaic14.html ).
Differentiate between the ultimate meaning of a symbol vs. the intermediate meaning of a symbol. Perhaps the two torches can mean the equinoxes as an intermediate or auxiliary symbol, but more ultimately and relevantly, the torches or the equinox are useful symbols pointing to the main meaning, which is the intense mystic altered-state experience of ego death (descent to the underworld, where the child-self or virtual egos go to die) and the intense mystic altered-state experience of divine transcendent rebirth (ascension to the heavens outside cosmic determinism).
The lower, noninitiated self-concept is retired and is led down to Hades' land of dead shadow-entities, while the higher, initiated self is led and lifted up to Zeus' realm outside cosmic determinism. To ascend, part of the psyche must be retired and must descend. The one torch points the way actively leading the imperishable mode of the psyche up toward the transcendent light, while the other torchbearer points the way to retire down to Hades' the transient and childhood-temporary (mortal, perishable, passing-age) mode of the psyche.
The #1 principle to remember about mythic referents: myth is description of intense experienceing in the non-ordinary state of consciousness. Myth is not an abstract mundane-intellectual, roundabout, indirect symbol of life-events that occur within the ordinary state of consciousness. The mind *experiences* part of the psyche being led downward while the mind also *experiences* part of the psyche being led upward.
The snake-wrapped, zodiac-wrapped lion/time god represents the *experience* of awakening to being wrapped in spacetime. The gorgon (symbol of death based on decayed corpse) face is down on one's chest (body, liver?); and the initiate has a divine lion head representing transcendent sovereignty, poking out from being enwrapped and entrapped in the merely-rational, deterministic spacetime block.
The lower ruler dies in order to permit one's higher rulership or divine transrational "magical" control agency to live, to rise up. This lionman holds a celestial key Ulan. p117 I'd call it key to combined ascension/descent; to ascend in one part of one's psyche, must be made to simultaneously put down, repudiate, and descend the other part of the psyche. The initial, 'first-born', lower self must be made lesser so that the higher self can be born and ascend.
In one's early life, build up false ego sovereign controllership agency delusion, then in 8th initiation -- here comes your 8th nervous breakdown -- that delusion is ripe to be plucked down to Hades' like Persephone, at the same time thereby permitting the rise of the higher mode of psyche to be born divinely, and to ascend to the divine realm and rule from there, with now a divinely-given rule.
The New Gutenberg Reformation - Entheogenic Experience as the Basis of Religion
Prof. Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. (Stanford), professor of educational psychology at Northern Illinois University
Mentions the astonishing mystic experience being typically encountered after 6 or 7 entheogen sessions; think 'initiations'.
Mithras' knee always points to the same place, perhaps the bull's liver. The liver seems to have been considered the organ of ego death or of controlledness by fate/necessity/heimarmene and prophecy. The mytheme of piercing or spearing the liver may appear in the myths of Jesus' Roman-army speared side (eagle standard), Prometheus' Zeus-eagle multiply-eaten liver, and Wotan's arrow in chest. Some synonym pun may have been involved: the word for liver matched the word for 'spirit' (L. T. Johnson).
Early Christianity: The Experience of the Divine
Luke Timothy Johnson
>>Why is the orientation necessary for mystic accuracy: being outside rather than inside the cosmos? Are there reasons other than the solar progression indicated by the torchbearing twins, and how do they relate to being 'inside' or 'outside' this Cosmos? I'm no expert on ancient cosmologies, and it might be off-topic for Entheos journal.
'Twin' is a metaphor for the splitting and differentiation, upon completion of the series of entheogenic initiations, of the lower self-concept of personal self-governing agency vs. the higher, transcendent, divinized self-concept of personal self-governing agency. Upon attaining perfection and enlightenment, the king (the initiate as controller-agent) splits into a lower, false king and a higher, new and true king.
Barabbas ('son of god') is freed from the prison -- or the initiate runs off leaving their 'garment' behind in the clutches of the rulers -- while Jesus retires and gives himself per the will of God into the hands of the archons to be affixed to the cosmic spacetime block or the celestial cross in the sphere of the fixed stars while his spiritual body ascends beyond it to the heavens.
'The Jews' call for Jesus' death (termination/retirement/lower-self repudiation) and letting Barabbas ('son of god') be released from the prison. 'The Jews' means the elect who are predestined to experience and acknowledge cosmic determinism and yet continue on to live, now purified of the delusion of independent sovereign personal control agency, being reconciled to the transcendent by the transcendent.
Standard pre-Enlightenment astrological ascent mysticism is on-topic for entheogen-based intense mystic altered-state experiencing. Astrological ascent mysticism was standard throughout Jewish, Hellenistic, Christian, and Medieval/Renaissance esotericism.
The cosmology in astrological ascent mysticism concerned the overwhelming experience of frozen-time cosmic determinism, together with the experience of the loss of the sense of personal control agency, followed by the experience of supernatural divine transcending of cosmic determinism, to regain a now transformed sense of personal self-control agency -- the willing sacrificial putting-to-death of one's lower sovereignty, to be given divine transcendent sovereignty.
>>Where has anyone made a distinction in Mithraism between being 'inside' or 'outside' the cosmos? Doesn't 'cosmos' mean the unitive totality? Entheogen researchers generally think of people as being 'on this planet', not attempting to move 'outside the cosmos'.
Standard pre-Enlightenment Western religion had the goal of reaching the transcendent heavens, outside the determinism-governed cosmos. The full experience of frozen-time block-universe determinism commonly brings on the panic attack of self-control seizure, and rationality utterly fails because rationality itself was part of the revealing of the logical compellingness of the mental model of 'cosmic determinism' or 'frozen-future block-universe determinism'.
The mind contains the potential to consciously experience a catastrophically problematic perfectly rational view of self-control, but right after that potential, the mind also contains the potential to transcendently (supernaturally, miraculously, magically) jump out of the system (Douglas Hofstadter in _Godel, Escher, Bach_), the prison of rationality which led up to self-control seizure.
Summary of astrotheology for entheogen scholars and mythic-metaphor theorists:
http://www.egodeath.com/CelestAscentMerkabahHermeticGnostic.htm -- section "Astral Ascent"
The reversed image of the astrological bull means you are an initiate looking upon the sphere of the fixed stars from a perspective outside of the cosmos. Article about astral-ascent religion:
Mithras and the Hypercosmic Sun
Published in Studies in Mithraism, John R.Hinnells, ed. (Rome: "L'Erma" di Brettschneider, 1994) pp. 257-64.
Hinnells, John R., Studies in Mithraism: Papers associated with the Mithraic Panel organized on the occasion of the XVIth Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions. Rome: L'Erma di Bretschneider, 1994. Pp. 299. ISBN 88-7062-834-5.
"... the rock out of which Mithras is born is meant to represent the cosmos as seen from the outside. ... the rock in the Mithraic scenes of the "rock-birth" of Mithras is a symbol for the cosmos as seen from the outside, just as the cave (the hollow within the rock) is a symbol for the cosmos as seen from the inside."
"... the constellation Taurus as seen in the night sky faces to the left while the bull in the tauroctony always faces to the right. ... the constellation Taurus as seen from the earth (i.e., from inside the cosmos) faces to the left ... on ... star-globes [or 'celestial globes' -mh] which depict the cosmic sphere as it would be seen from the outside the orientation of the constellations is ... reversed ... on such globes (like the famous ancient "Atlas Farnese" globe) Taurus is always depicted facing to the right ... like the bull in the tauroctony. ... the Mithraic bull is meant to represent the constellation Taurus as seen from outside the cosmos, i.e. from the "hypercosmic" perspective, which is ... the perspective ... associated with Mithras ...
"... the fact that the bull in the tauroctony faces to the right renders untenable Roger Beck's suggestion that the tauroctony is a picture of the night sky as seen by an observer on earth at the time of the setting of the constellation Taurus ("Cautes and Cautopates: Some Astronomical Considerations," ... since such an observer would see Taurus facing to the left. The fact that the bull in the tauroctony faces right is explicable ... if we understand the tauroctony as the creation of someone who had in mind an astronomical star-globe showing the cosmic sphere as seen from the outside, and not-- as Beck argues-- an image of the sky as seen from the earth."
The entheogenic theory of ego death and ego transcendence provides the key for this key article (opening the scriptures; breaking the seals). Poking one's head outside the universe is a metaphor-description of the intense entheogenic mystic-state experience of the trans-rational part of the psyche being brought to transcend frozen-time block-universe determinism.
I doubt the rearchers who put together Entheos issue #3 themselves noticed the particular depiction of a mushroom formed by the strange thin blue strip 1/4 the width of Mithras' straight leg, and the red steep-umbrella cap formed by the folds in the skirt slightly wider than the leg. If they did notice it, they would have proven so by mentioning it, because it would have strengthened their case, which is presumably that mushroom depictions are found commonly in religious art because entheogens are by far the main wellspring of religion.
I doubt the researchers who put together Entheos issue #3 specifically point out the psilocybin-type mushroom image which is formed by the strange thin blue strip 1/4 the width of Mithras' straight leg, and the red steep-umbrella cap formed by the folds in the skirt slightly wider than the leg. I can't find a specific mention of that mushroom image in the text of issue #3, or the notes online for it, or elsewhere. If they did, what page mentions that thin-stem, psilocybin-type mushroom formed by the blue strip and hem folds?
I have to ask because it's a thick issue with many pages about Mithraism, and yet more notes online -- I am not aware of the issue saying anywhere that there is a mushroom shown. Although I try to read everything written about entheogen history, there is so much and it is hard to catch everything.
My take on it is that they didn't notice that blatant mushroom, or it would've been clearly mentioned in the text or in a cropped image inside issue #3. This is interesting not because I want to be the first to have spotted it, but rather, because it is remarkable how something so blatant can be "hidden in plain sight".
The mono-plant fallacy may have made entheogen scholars focus so fervently on Amanita themes, they overlooked, as though blind and unseeing, a clear, prominent, even unmistakeable depiction of a psilocybin-type mushroom.
My own eye wasn't opened to this view until last night. That particular mushroom depiction was hidden from me, at least: I have had the book which portrays it clearest on the cover, Clauss' _The Roman Cult of Mithras_, for a couple years, and I have handled issue #3 since it came out -- but as though my eyes had been shut.
Comparably, I actively studied Bob Daisley's lyrics in the album Diary of a Madman for years, writing about esoteric mystic referents, before finally opening my ears and *listening* to the echo voiced by Ozzy Osbourne after the line: "Never heard a thing I said": "dead dead dead".
Acid-oriented Rock truly is "the authentic mystery-religion of our time", in its qualities such as 'hidden in plain sight', 'double-layered meaning', and 'magic as metaphor for transcendence of personal controllership'. Perhaps even more exactly, Acid-oriented Rock truly is "the authentic popular Western esoteric school of our time". Psychedelics-oriented Rock is to be added to the list of 'Western esoteric traditions' that are covered in Gnosis journal. http://www.lumen.org/back_issue_list/back_issue_list.html
I described my own delayed recognition of a mushroom forming the Last Supper table itself, large on the cover of Bible Review -- surprising because I am supposedly a trained expert at spotting mushrooms in religious art due to having read Heinrich and others.
http://www.egodeath.com/entheogenpicfinds.htm -- Last Supper around an Amanita-cap table
I doubt the researchers who put together Entheos issue #3 noticed the astrological-ascent ladder on Mithras' straight leg, on either side of the mushroom stem. If they did notice it, what page is that particular depictive instance mentioned on, if any? There are 7 horizontal lines shown, forming 8 segments of the leg.
These would refer to the intense mystic-state ascent through the 7 planetary spheres or gates, reaching the sphere of the fixed stars, representing the experience and the treatening revealing of cosmic determinism and then the trans-rational experience of magically/divinely being lifted up to transcend cosmic determinism.
What species does that mushroom look like?
It is near the rear of the bull, and the stem is blue, suggesting cowpie mushrooms: psilocybe cubensis/stropharia cubensis. The cap shown is red. Here is a golden-brown or tawny cap, with a little red/orange/gold and a bit of blue tint in the stem:
Perhaps a psilocybin mushroom has two legs: one foot on the earth of the cowpie (or Amanita affixed to the tree root), and the other leg resting on the divine realm, transcendently (magically/supernaturally/miraculously).
Defining the maximal entheogen theory of religion in contrast to, and in refutation of, the minimal entheogen theory of religion:
I like the depiction in the Mithras fresco because it is clearly *not* Amanita, thus breaking the tendency of entheogen scholars to implicitly or explicitly commit the 'monoplant fallacy'. We should not read one magical plant as a symbol for only that species; every premodern representation of any magical plant means that species, but also as a close second, means all species of visionary plants.
The assumption that there was only 1 species is an outdated biased assumption from the paradigm which I hate: the *minimal* entheogen theory of religion. According to the *maximal* entheogen theory of religion, which I've been striving to define and advocate against the currently predominant minimal theory, premoderns were rolling in magical plants: thoroughly soaked in them, a pharmacopeia, a pantheon -- so there would have been no great reason to limit 'mixed wine' to a single plant such as Amanita.
My complaint email a year or so ago was worded in terms of "entheogen scholars failing to effectively spread the word", or "advocating the idea of just one plant". The researchers refuted those points, proving to me that they accomplished a lot of getting the word out, and that their books do mention multiple visionary plants.
But now I know exactly what my complaint was really about: today's predominant *minimal* entheogen theory of religion, which is a paradigm that has certain definite *tendencies*:
o The tendency to emphasize one plant so much that readers come away remembering just the impression of a single plant being used.
o The tendency of entheogen scholars to marginalize the scope of entheogen use: supposedly only the odd deviant group used them; the nasty baddies in the Catholic church totally suppressed all knowledge of such plants -- never mind the many art indications.
o The tendency of entheogen scholars to deny any presence of visionary plants during Christian history: McKenna's _Food of the Gods_ *leaps* entirely over the whole Christian period, ignoring the topic of Eucharist -- 'Eucharist' doesn't appear in the index! 'Last Supper' doesn't appear in the index!
McKenna and too many entheogen scholars who pose as advocating the presence of entheogens in religious history are a-priori committed to portraying Christianity in the darkest light possible, even to the point of declaring by fiat that we strategically must not allow or admit or concede that any Christian practice was aware of entheogens. We need a paradigm that refutes McKenna's tendency toward the minimal entheogen theory of religion: page 136 he writes:
"Perhaps knowledge of the Ur-plant of the Goddess, Stropharia cubensis, or some other psilocybin-containing mushroom did survive, not only into Minoan-Mycenaean times but even up until the final destruction of Eleusis [~400 CE]."
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/siteindex?entry=Eleusis - "The destruction of the sanctuary by the Visigoths in 396 A.D. and the anti-pagan decree of Theodosius ca. 390 A.D. ended religious activity at the sanctuary."
Why should we assume that psilocybin mushroom use and "esoteric mainstream" knowledge of psilocybin mushrooms halted at 400 CE? Why should we assume that Amanita halos indicates knowledge only of Amanita, or that Datura-lilies in the Annunciation indicates only knowledge only of Datura, not psilocybin mushrooms and the rest of the pantheon of angelic messenger plants, the flesh of various gods?
My general theory of 'mixed wine' is that the Hellenistic culture would first mix ground psilocybin mushrooms and some henbane into wine, put that concentrate in an amphora, then later after soaking, would mix that potion with some 4 parts of water, resulting in 'mixed wine'.
The Eucharist Was Visionary Plants - new - April 27, 2004 -- http://www.egodeath.com/eucharistwasvisionaryplants.htm
In his Foreward to _Greek Myths_ (combined or vol. I of 2), Robert Graves initially mentions amanita, but then proposes psilocybin, which McKenna proposed as the ur-plant or main entheogen in Western religious prehistory.
The Greek Myths
Sales rank: 17K (very popular)
Contains the forward affirming his 1958 proposal that amanita or psilocybin mushrooms provided the inspiration for Greek myth.
A top Amazon reviewer, green_melusine, in March 2003, provided a useful summary of the Graves' theory of the generalized uber-myth of 'the goddess and the sacrificial king'.
The Greek Myths (vol. 1)
Contains the forward.
Rank: 180K (not popular or rare)
Similarly, the recent book _Witchcraft Medicine_ also speaks favorably about psilocybin mushroom as a fully likely candidate for the active part of 'mixed wine'.
Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants
Claudia Muller-Ebeling, Christian Ratsch, Wolf-Dieter Storl
Amanita is the most interesting Entheogen, but not the most ergonomic entheogen; if I were a hierophant responsible for routine mystic death and rebirth experiencing, I would definitely select psilocybin-type mushrooms over Amanita, though I would enjoy using Amanita as a symbol of magical plants in general.
The maximal entheogen theory of religion starts by assuming that many visionary plants were known and used by all religions, all regions, all eras, all groups of people -- and then, if forced by evidence, reducing the scope of such use. In contrast, the minimal entheogen theory of religion starts by assuming that most religions didn't know about visionary plants, most regions didn't use visionary plants, most eras didn't have knowledge of visionary plants, most groups didn't know about or use visionary plants.
Take a slice of Swiss cheese: according to the maximal theory, the cheese is a map of where visionary-plant knowledge was, and the holes are where people in history were ignorant of them. According to the minimal theory, the holes are the presence of knowledge of entheogens; the cheese is where there is ignorance; entheogen use is an incidental, marginal deviant exception practice, not the norm.
What is the norm or standard, and what is the exception? Anyone who considers themselves an "entheogen scholar" ought to begin by assuming that visionary plant use in the history of religion was the standard and in some substantial sense, the norm -- and that ignorance of visionary plants was the deviant, unusual exception.
This doesn't mean that we should picture most Catholics throughout the pre-Enlightenment period taking a mixture of cannabis, henbane, opium, and psilocybin mushrooms every Sunday. When the maximal entheogen theory of religion claims that visionary plant use was always the norm at least until the Enlightenment, this means that the most important of the religious were aware of this real, ultimate meaning of the Eucharist, the real source of the value of the Eucharist and the reason why the Eucharist is divine flesh and is the dead center of Christian practice and liturgy.
The body of the lion-headed figure wrapped in a snake is exactly equivalent to Jesus nailed to the cross. Both represent dissociative-state conscious experiencing of one's embeddedness and entrapment in the frozen spacetime block -- the experience of cosmic determinism. The head of the lion surpasses cosmic determinism. The dove above the cross is roughly functionally equivalent to the lion's head. The dove of the Holy Spirit also is to be compared to the Mithras' raven bringing amanita bread (and to Zeus' eagle, elsewhere).
Mithras poking his head through the egg-shaped zodiac is exactly functionally equivalent to Jesus in the almond-shaped tear in the veil of the fixed stars.
>A convincing case has not been made that Christians borrowed from other religions. There have been many similarities described, but so far I haven't seen a whole lot of effort to demonstrate that these similarities were actually the source of certain elements of Christianity.
>Nash's _The Gospel and the Greeks_ says "While Mithraism eventually became Christianity's most serious rival, it had no importance in the Roman world during the first century; it could not possibly have influenced early Christianity. The most important argument against an early Christian dependence on Mithraism is the fact that the timing is all wrong. The flowering of Mithraism occurred after the close of the New Testament canon, too late for it to have influenced the development of first-century Christianity." (p. 143-148)
>The Christian message about Jesus was expressed in those terms because the concepts were familiar.
If you want to look into this question, two books to start with are:
1. David Ulansey. The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology & Salvation in the Ancient World.
To provide a philosophical complement to Ulansey's book: Determinism and Freedom in Stoic Philosophy - Susanne Bobzien, 1999
2. Arthur Drews. The Legend of Saint Peter. 1910. Only recently became available in an English translation, in 1997. Examines the equivalence or interactions among: Janus, Peter, Mithras, Proteus, Jonas, Simon, Hercules. Excerpts from the section "Peter and Mithra", page 45-50:
Christianity triumphed over Mithraism, but not without borrowing important components of a liturgical and cultic nature from the service of the Persian deity. The graphic symbolism of the Mithraists especially made an impression on the Christian [which year?] religion, and some of it was passed on in Christian art DURING THE FIRST CENTURIES [my emphasis].
Furthermore, the Christians could not have achieved their decisive conquest of Mithraism if they had not taken its god into their own pantheon, covered him with a Christian mantle, and made him into St. Peter, the "Prince of Apostles." A church which wished to rule the world from Rome [when?], as Mithra/Janus had attempted to do, needed a god which, like the latter, was rooted in the Roman soil and had fixed himself to that solid foundation.
The figure of Simon Peter served that purpose. The name alone evoked the memory of the Persian rock god. The fact that Paul [the man or character -mh] had already portrayed the Apostle Peter as inconstant and fickle, but nevertheless a "pillar" of the church in Jerusalem, also helped (given the close interrelations [when?] of Christianity and Mithraism) to equate the Pauline Peter with Mithra, Proteus, and Janus.
THUS WAS CREATED THE BIOGRAPHY [my emphasis] of the gospel "man of rock." Upon him the church could base its claims to authority, just as the Mithraists had based their salvation upon the Persian pillar-god and Peter.
Just how the figure of St. Peter came to be formed... is illuminated by a characteristic example, that of the well-known three-fold crowing of the cock as the disciple denies his master. For the cock, as herald of the sunrise and break of day, pertains as much to the symbolism of Mithra (Kronos) as to that of Janus. Now he appears in the Peter story as emblem of the awakening from the sleep of sin and continues as the established companion of the "sovereign of the keys" at his station at the gate of heaven.
This is what is called "biblical history."
In my book The Christ Myth I have shown that Christ is a completely mythical person, and that the gospels do not, as commonly supposed, portray a deified man, but rather a humanized god, and they do not contain any evidence sufficient to cause us to seek for an historical reality behind his name.
Both magicians dealt with in Acts -- Simon and Elymas -- are gods disguised as men and that their true nature is only poorly concealed beneath their mortal exterior. Now it becomes evident also that the Simon Peter of the gospels, the "rock man,", is simply the "rock god" transformed into human shape.
The same gods who are combined in the Persian pillar-and-savior divinity -- namely Simon (Hercules), Proteus, Mithra, and Janus -- have contributed also to the shaping of the Peter character. It is inconceivable that the church, in order to compete successfully with Mithraism, merely borrowed certain traits from the other divinities for its alleged "Prince of Apostles." The entire figure of Peter is modeled after them.
Despite the fact that many believe this gospel [of Matthew] to have been composed tat the end of the first century, only with great difficulty could the formation of the Peter figure out of the Mithraic mental milieu have taken place before the middle of the second century.
For no single gospel that has come down to us do we have any precise knowledge of the time of its origin. At most, we may say that none could have been written before the year C.E. 70. All datings which have been attempted in this regard have been merely vague conjectures -- one about as good as another.
For the most part, decisions are made on grounds quite apart from purely historical considerations. We do not know where the gospels were composed and what their original form may have been like. We know nothing of what role Peter may have played in possible earlier gospels or if he was even mentioned in them. We are unable to say anything about the alterations, corrections, and premeditated additions and deletions the gospels underwent before assuming the form in which we find them today.
Here fantasy may have free rein. But if, as indicated, the historical reality of the gospel Peter can be certified by no single secure fact, and if in this case we are dealing with evident fictions, all tangible features of the Peter figure demonstrate a connection with Mithraism -- be it in Asia Minor or Rome -- and there is no counter-evidence to disprove the possibility of the view here presented.
-- from The Legend of Saint Peter, Arthur Drews, 1910.
It was difficult and time-consuming (two months) ordering this through bn.com and Amazon.com.
bn.com, after the overinvolved process of getting the book to me, seems to have decided not to carry it any more. Therefore, the fastest way, or possibly the only way, to get it is through the press of the organization that publishes it:
When you talk about the components of "Christianity", I never know if you mean Christianity as it was in the year 25, 40, 90, 125, 225, 325, or 410. Which phase of Christianity do we presume to discuss? You see, the very word and notion of what "Christianity" refers to is different from the worldview of the Mythic Jesus/Christ Myth advocate and the Historical Jesus advocate.
The Mythic Jesus advocate sees Christianity as undergoing tremendous change every 50 years or so, so much that the word "Christianity" becomes a very overarching term encompassing millennia of variation -- like talking about "Humanity" or "Mankind", or "Religion".
The Historical Jesus advocate downplays the amount of change and strongly tends to approach "Christianity" as a single thing with only moderate variations. For the Christ Myth/ Mythic Jesus advocate, the whole term "Christianity" is deeply problematic because it has been so characterized by *change* and *contention* -- Christianity has always been the battle for defining how Christianity should be conceived.
The HJ advocates say "Christianity was not influenced by Mithraism, because Christianity was formed around 90, while Mithraism flowered later." But I deny that portrayal and approach to a comparison. All these religions have old roots and changed over time.
Suppose I ask: was Christianity influenced by Mithraism? This raises the question of which version or phase of Christianity we are assuming. The best approach is to consider both religions as threads that changed over hundreds of years and underwent development side by side over hundreds of years. There are undeniable Mithraic elements in Catholic Christianity, if you look late enough.
The Mythic Jesus or Mythic Christ advocate may consider "Christianity" to be a highly contended constantly changing religion that had a much later development than the Orthodox or Historical Jesus views portray it. When did Christianity begin? This is an easier, or rather simpler, question for the Orthodox or Historical Jesus advocate than for the Mythic Jesus/ Christ Myth (CM) advocate.
When was Christianity settled, formed, defined? The center of gravity in forming Christianity is around 325, for the CM advocate, around the year 50 for the Orthodox view, and around 125 for the HJ advocate.
Christianity wasn't defined and settled until 325, which gives it plenty of time to be influenced by Mithraism. By that time, the Christian stories had somewhat settled on the character of Paul of Tarsus -- Tarsus, the home and origin of the Mithraism of the era.
Does this mean that the earliest, year 50 version of Christianity connects it with the dominant philosophy of Tarsus? No, I would say that in the late era around 325, stories were adopted that involved an early character from Tarsus, home of Mithraism.
Who knows what "earliest Christianity" was like, if the term even has any meaning? What we have is not knowledge of earliest Christianity, but late stories about earliest Christianity. People presume to talk about year-50 Christianity, but they are actually discussing the year-325 or 410 stories and claims about year-50 Christianity.
The era in which the philosophy of cosmic determinism was the hottest topic of philosophical debate is the same era in which Mithraism and Christianity developed and became widespread. That is the most important span of time to examine, something like -75 to +225. That period is where all the hottest action is within Mithraism, the philosophical debate about astrological/cosmic determinism, and Christianity.
In Mithraism, the lion-ruler's body is wrapped by the cosmic snake, while his head is sometimes shown outside the cosmic determinism experiential-ascent boundary of the zodiac or fixed stars. Similarly with the well-known woodcut showing the spiritual pilgrim with head (and hand) outside the sphere of the fixed stars. The body is in the deterministic spacetime prison, but the spirit -- experientially and trans-rationally -- is conceptualized as outside of determinism.
This way, deterministic mystics can affirm cosmic determinism, repudiating naive freewill, while including our divine ability to transcendently postulate, for practical reasons of self-control stability, and to describe higher experiencing, a level of existence outside of the deterministic universe.
At "The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries"
David Ulansey wrote:
>>I would suggest that the awe-inspiring quality of Plato's vision of what is beyond the outermost boundary of the cosmos also lies behind the appeal of Mithras as a divine being whose proper domain is outside of the universe. As the text from Plato shows, the establishment by ancient astronomers of the sphere of the stars as the absolute boundary of the cosmos only encouraged the human imagination to project itself beyond that boundary in an exhilarating leap into an infinite mystery. There beyond the cosmos dwelled the ultimate divine forces, and Mithras's ability to move the entire universe made him one with those forces.
>>Here in the end we may sense a profound kinship between Mithraism and Christianity. For early Christianity also contained at its core an ideology of cosmic transcendence. Nowhere is this better expressed than in the opening of the earliest gospel, Mark. There, at the beginning of the foundation story of Christianity, we find Jesus, at the moment of his baptism, having a vision of "the heavens torn open." Just as Mithras is revealed as a being from beyond the universe capable of altering the cosmic spheres, so here we find Jesus linked with a rupture of the heavens, an opening into the numinous realms beyond the furthest cosmic boundaries. Perhaps, then, the figures of Jesus and Mithras are to some extent both manifestations of a single deep longing in the human spirit for a sense of contact with the ultimate mystery."
Not a "deep longing". Rather, a standard intense mystic-state phenomenon. Myth is, first of all and essentially, a *description* of what is *vividly experienced* during the peak window of the mystic altered state. The most key phrase, without which you understand nothing of Hellenistic thought, is "cosmic determinism". Another key thought, without which one cannot even begin to think about myth, is that in myth, the term 'death' always refers to the mystic-state experience of spiritual death and rebirth. Ulansey misses grasping the essence of his topic when he omits the terms 'determinism', 'fate', 'necessity', and 'heimarmene' in that article, and assumes a literal reading of the term 'death':
>>Given the pervasive influence in the Greco-Roman period of astrology and "astral immortality," a god possessing such a literally world-shaking power would clearly have been eminently worthy of worship: since he had control over the cosmos, he would automatically have power over the astrological forces determining life on earth, and would also possess the ability to guarantee the soul a safe journey through the celestial spheres after death.
Thus Ulansey is pretty much correct, but garbled so that he utterly misses the essence. Below is my corrected rewrite of his key explanatory paragraphs to bring them into line with Hellenistic thinking, which is classic esoteric mystic-state thinking:
______ corrective rewrite ____________
The awe-inspiring quality of Plato's vision of a realm outside the boundary of the deterministic and fated cosmos also lies behind the appeal of Mithras and other divine rescuers and benefactors, as a divine being whose proper domain is outside of the fixed, deterministic, and predetermined universe.
As the text from Plato shows, the establishment by ancient astronomers of the sphere of the stars as the absolute boundary of cosmic heimarmene/Necessity represented the intense mystic altered state experiential phenomenon of how the human psyche during visionary-plant initiation is able to project its ultimate locus of personal self-control beyond the boundary of frozen-future block-universe determinism in an exhilarating leap into the apophatic mystery of the utterly hidden puppetmaster postulated as residing outside the realm controlled by fixed Fate and Necessity.
There beyond the wholly predetermined cosmos dwelled the ultimate divine forces, the uncontrollable transcendent controller that is the secret prime mover of one's thoughts and movements of will, and Mithras's ability to move the entire universe made him one with those forces of transcendent benevolent controllership over one's thoughts.
There is a close kinship between Mithraism and Christianity, which are two functionally equivalent expressions of this same mystic-state phenomenon. For early Christianity also contained at its core an ideology of transcending cosmic determinism. Nowhere is this better expressed than in the opening of the earliest gospel, Mark. There, at the beginning of the foundation story of Christianity, we find Jesus, at the moment of his baptism, having a vision of "the heavens torn open." Bracketing the other end of Mark is the same idea again, when the starry veil of the temple is torn from top to bottom.
Just as Mithras is revealed as a benevolent compassionate controller operating from outside of the deterministic and fate-ruled cosmos, capable of altering the cosmic spheres and changing one's Fate, so here we find Jesus linked with a rupture of the deterministic heavens, an opening into the numinous realms beyond the furthest boundaries of the deterministic block universe with its imprisoning single, frozen and preexisting future that is perceived to coerce one's thoughts and rob the mind of its freedom.
The figures of Jesus and Mithras are functionally equivalent manifestations of a single phenomenon of the intense mystic altered state -- the ability of the psyche to be mysteriously turned and brought to postulate a benevolent and compassionate transcendent, mysteriously hidden puppetmaster operating from outside the deterministic block universe and giving the psyche the sense of freedom and an open future, despite the ironclad logic and altered-state perceptual experience of the impossibility of metaphysical freedom.
Given the pervasive influence in the Greco-Roman period of astrology and "astral immortality," a god possessing such a literally world-shaking and Fate-overriding power would clearly have been eminently worthy of worship: since he had control over and above the ironclad law of cosmic determinism, he would automatically have power over the deterministic astrological forces of Fate, heimarmene, or Necessity determining life on earth, and would also possess the ability to guarantee the psyche or spirit a safe journey during the intense mystic altered state through the deterministic celestial spheres during mystic ego death and rebirth.
_____end of corrective rewrite ________
During initiation in Mithraism, Mithras threatens to kill Sol -- during the entheogenic mystic peak, personal self-control goes unstable, upon intellectually seeing the uncontrollable transcendent controller that forcefully gives the mind all of the mind's near-future control-thoughts.
Then Mithras makes a pact with handshake (an offer you can't refuse) with Sol, just as the Athens gods gave Athens a pact, and as God gave the Jews a covenant. Mithras then relates to Sol as loving (nurturing, sustaining, life-permitting, self-control restabilizing) father to son -- similarly, in Christianity, Jesus relates to God as "daddy", and his followers are made into sons of God.
Sol is the mind's accustomed egoic worldmodel based on the delusion of primary controllership, ability to direct and create one's own future fate, and metaphysically free will. Mithras is the truth, that personal control is merely secondary, virtual, illusory control. Ego (Sol) seems to be the mover of one's world of thoughts and actions, and it is, but only provisionally. More ultimately, the Ground (Mithras) is the primary mover, the primary steerer that forcefully directs the steering exerted by Ego (Sol).
When the mind discovers no-free-will and considers its vulnerability with respect to the hidden transcendent controller, this is commonly experienced as a death threat. The transcendent controller is often seen as a fatal threat to the egoic self-controlling mind, able to force ruining control-thoughts into the lower mind.
A workable relationship needs to be put into place: the now-consciously perceived transcendent controller forces a sudden reconfiguration (enlightenment, regeneration, illumination, awakening, repentance) in the mind's mental worldmodel regarding space, time, control, world, and self.
By the highest kind of miracle, instead of bringing the lower controller into ruination by injecting harmful control-thoughts, the transcendent controller (at its unfathomable whim) reconfigures the worldmodel of the lower controller and establishes a peaceful rather than warring and chaotic relationship.
The transcendent controller first causes the lower controller to choose to ingest the visionary plant, then brings the lower controller into a consciously imprisoned and tied-up and trapped state, reveals itself as potentially fatally dangerous and threatening to the lower controller, makes the lower controller choose to acknowledge transcendent control, which amounts to the higher sacrificing to itself through the partial crippling or nullfication of the lower, and then sets the lower controller virtually free again, now retaining a transcendently modified mental worldmodel.
Imagine you created a virtually self-controlling agent that mistakes itself as a primary control agent, and you want to bring it to knowledge of the truth that it is just a puppet-like secondary controller profoundly under your full control. To take that virtual being and show the truth to it is to terminate its deep delusion about the nature of its controllership agency, and transform its understanding profoundly.
You might say to it "See, you think you are in control of your fate, but you are but a doll under my full control. To make this most fully clear, understand that I could force you to do something utterly contrary to your greatest wish such as the wish for self-preservation. But I will sustain and protect you." This power relationship is expressed mythically with Mithras as the primary controller and Sol as the secondary controller.
Excerpts from "Little Dolls" by Ozzy Osbourne:
He'll show you no mercy.
Your image in his hands it's useless to try
Escaping his curses.
The pins and needles prick the skin of little dolls.
Living a nightmare.
It's a pity you'll pray for your death
But he's in no hurry.
No where to run - your fate is in his hands [sense of being a puppet of God]
Your time has come - you'll live to his command [your future actions are pre-set, you don't originate control]
I'm warning you - the worst is yet to come
The killer who - remains a mystery
I that believe in the stories of old - would never fight it.
Demons and curses that play on our soul
Like something ignited.
You never imagined such a fate could follow you (You never thought it was true)
And when it's your time I wonder how you'll do
Your kind of trouble's running deeper than the sea [as deep as the ground of being which produces all actions]
You broke the rules [altered state suspends the mental rules and constraints of action]
You've been a fool [fool to take LSD -- or, your previous stable ego-state was foolish ignorance]
The little doll is you yeah!
No where to run - your fate is in his hands
Your time has come - you'll live to his command
I'm warning you - the worst is yet to come
The killer who - remains a mystery
From "The Entheogenic Eucharist of Mithras", page 13, Entheos, Vol. 2, No. 1
"the goal of the initiations was a life Stoically in tune with the overall pattern of Destiny"
Destiny is fatedness is heimarmene. Comprehending heimarmene in the intense mystic altered state fatally destabilizes self control; the initiate trembles in apprehension of what control-thoughts are inexorably set up for him by the uncontrollable Transcendent Controller in the onrushing frozen near future. Religion is this sense of ultimate dependency on the utterly unknowable transcendent controller that forces all the mind's control-thoughts into it.
"A ceremonial slaughter of the initiates was enacted ... rites of hazing ... a mock internment... or the menace of the Father's drawn bow aimed directly at the initiate (at times no doubt actually shot as a near miss)..."
"The banquet [between Mithras and Sol] solemnized the pact entered into by the two deities, the pact of the Redemptive Sacrifice. ... ... other depictions suggest a latent aggressiveness underlying the accord... with Mithras about to hit Sol with a stone, a club, or a bull's shank. This ritualized aggression is probably an accolade or investiture"
I point out that the fire altars outside the cosmic deterministic sphere of the fixed stars, in Mithraism and Hellenistic thinking, represent the standard mystic-state experience of bright white light.
TRIP Spring 2003 p. 61 ( http://www.tripzine.com ) published a skeptical review of the Mithras article in Entheos.
Overall, the article "The Entheogenic Eucharist of Mithras", page 13, Entheos, Vol. 2, No. 1 is exactly correct. All the Jewish, Christian, philosophical, and Hellenistic sacred meals of that era were entheogenic. If not entheogenic, it wasn't an actual sacred meal, just a meal in the style of a sacred meal.
I would add that religion is about discovering no-free-will, experiencing profound self-control instability and consciousness of entrapment in frozen spacetime, bring drawn into a conscious dependent relationship with the uncontrollable transcendent controller, and then being restored to stable self-control, now retaining the transformed mental worldmodel about control.
This bunk paradigm of thinking entheogens were rare in Hellenism has to go. Entheogens were the religion, the myth, and the philosophy of the Hellenistic world. They were everywhere. Without entheogens, there was no initiation system, no religious vision.
This posting draws upon:
Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0679781609 - became clear the military victory myth was hopeless, Jews had to concentrate on mythic mystic realm instead
http://thecosmiccontext.de/christianity.html -- battle of bishops to construct & coopt social support networks into power hierarchy
The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060677015 - social support networks
The True Founder of Christianity and the Hellenistic Philosophy
Messianism and Epiphany: An Essay on the Origins of Christianity
How did the Jewish version of the savior-oriented mystery religion win; why was choosing the Jewish version the path-to-universal-power of least resistance for Constantine and Eusebius? It seems like the Jewish factor would be the last thing Constantine would want to have anything to do with -- weren't the Jews the only exclusivists and weren't they anti-Rome, representing rebellion against Rome?
Even when taking into consideration that early to later, the Jewishness was downplayed, it's nevertheless undeniable that the figure of Christ on the cross represents rejection of the power of Rome. But everything turns out to be more complicated than that. Rome wanted peace of a particular sort, and the Jesus figure seems to have been more useful for this goal than the other mystery-religion saviors.
Really we must think of Jesus as a "Hellenistic Jewish Christian" figure and ask why, all factors considered, the official "Jesus" blend was exactly what the power-mongers needed. It's very mistaken to think of Jesus as simply Jewish -- rather, Jesus is a bit of this and a bit of that, cobbled and optimized, and the Jewish factor had only minor liabilities, with greater advantages -- when combined with selected non-Jewish factors.
Jesus must have it all, and that must include some degree of Jewishness, but certainly not Jewish religion altogether -- just certain selected aspects of Jewish religion. For example, showing what subtle distinctions must be made, from Rome's point of view the supposed exclusiveness of Judaism was useful in certain respects, and undesirable in certain other respects.
What Rome needed was some modification of the supposed exclusiveness of Judaism. The strategy of Rome was to convert the supposed exclusivism of Judaism into uniformity, into stability with themselves in power. We want power, power requires stability of society, stability of society needs uniformity, and a certain selective combination of the exclusivism of Judaism with the syncretism of the pagan religions is needed.
A classic misreading is to think that the Jews brought ethics to the table, while pagans brought legitimate mysticism to the table. But in actuality, pagans had their ethics from philosophy, and the Jews had their mysticism through esoteric feasts and interpretation (proper reading) of their scriptures. To some extent, then, the Jewish religion was exactly the same, completely equivalent to pagan philosophy-religion.
They were quite close to equal and full-service -- the set of pagan philosophies and mystery-religion versions, and the Jewish system of ethics and religious experiencing. The Jewish religion had a political-styled surface myth and pseudo-history. Which mystery-religions were the leading candidates for Constantine and Eusebius, remembering that whichever was chosen, it would be thoroughly reworked to be suited for a single uniform, universal religion?
We must describe Jesus both as being associated with one particular religion -- Judaism -- *and* being associated or drawn from all the equivalent religions. Although Jesus is totally a synthetic composite figure, he's definitely supposedly from just one religion, according to the official eventual story. Everyone at the time considered all the religions to be the same thing, yet they knew that each user interface skin, each brand, of *the* Hellenistic initiation religion had its own *style* and *emphasis*.
Why was the style and emphasis of the Jewish brand of the Hellenistic initiation religion the easiest backbone and starting point, for the Roman power-mongers? Why did the pros and cons of using each particular mystery religion add up to picking the Jewish religion as the backbone and starting framework?
In the Jewish version of the Hellenistic initiation religion, ethics and politics were *integrated* into the religion -- this version of religion was self-contained and comprehensive, while the pagan religions were all scattered bits and pieces, just like the diversity of Gnostic systems. Though Jewish religion had enormous diversity, it had more coherence and closed, defined boundaries than the others.
When thinking of how Eusebius thought of the Jewish religion, should we picture "pure" earlier Judaism, semi-Christian Judaism, or Christianity? When Eusebius considered Christianity as a contender, at that point, how Jewish was Christianity? Perhaps half. Eusebius likely picked Christianity because there was already a popular useful loose network of synagogues and house churches and gnostic groups, including social support networks per Michael Conley.
All that Constantine and Eusebius had to do was sweep together that loose network and put it under control of a network of officially top-down assigned bishops. The pagan religions lacked the network factor. Consider that there was no "choice" involved on the part of Constantine and Eusebius.
A hierarchically controlled network of some religion, any religion was needed, and the Hellenistic Jewish Christian Gnostic religion had a relatively definite and useful network, while the pagan religions were isolated scattered temples, with philosophy separate. Yes, if you add the book religion of Orpheus with the philosophies such as Stoic, Cynic, Platonist and scattered pagan temples, the sum appears to be the same as the Hellenistic Jewish Christian Gnostic system.
But surveying the land with an eye to gathering a hierarchically controlled network, when picking one religion to develop into the single permitted one, you grab whatever lends itself best to networking and adding hierarchical control. All the religions and philosophies amounted to the same thing, it's not much a matter of which religion people believed -- they believed and mystically comprehended all the religions.
The Jewish religion, including the Hellenistic Jewish Christian Gnostic religion, was chosen from among the mystically equivalent versions of religion because it had a great start on a network of social support synagogues and house churches.
It was not necessarily *far* above the other religions for network and social encompassing qualities, but it was far enough above the others to make it the path of least resistance for the hierarchical-network builders, and once they got momentum going, there was no stopping them from reaching the stable goal of extending that network everywhere and locking it into a hierarchy.
The integrated ethical emphasis of Hellenistic Jewish Christianity lent it to draw in the masses and form proto-networks, the power-mongers spotted those proto-networks and saw that they could work with that structure and develop it in such a way that they would end up on top -- the well-known massive gold-rush power-struggle ensued, as pieces of the network were forced to fit together, maneuvering to keep oneself on top -- the wars of the bishops and congregations.
These struggles to control this gold rush, that is the character of it, a gold rush, were, strangely, conducted in the guise of "theology" debates -- with the debate winner getting to take control of existing network-node church wealth and property. If you see it as a strategy board game, it makes sense, or as a virtual model -- Sim Build-Religion-Network (like the SimCity virtual-world modelling software).
In this sense only, Christianity spread like wildfire. The big bang model of a miraculous literal resurrection, with apostles spreading the word outward from Jerusalem to Rome, is complete nonsense -- there was no Jesus, Paul, literal resurrection, Apostles, Justin Martyr, or Ignatius.
At first it merely spread according to Rodney Stark's reasoning, but growth suddenly kicked into overdrive in 313 when Eusebius made the game possible and opened up the monopolistic gold rush of the self-serving hierarchy builders. Which bishops were "orthodox" or "official" was subject to war and was a major strategy in the battle.
Sometimes the battle was between a hierarchy building bishop aligned with some particular cabal against an independent bishop, sometimes perhaps the effort of one independent bishop to take over another's bishopric or small-scale independent network, sometimes a set of bishops in one cabal maneuvering against another set of bishops in a competing cabal. This is the motive force that caused orthodox doctrine to be shaped -- this is the "guidance of the holy spirit" in shaping official doctrine.
The spiritual-not-military messiah figure resonated with the masses, who largely needed Jesus' ethics that was optimized for those not on top, and for initiation, anyone could join; then the masses formed initial bits of social support networks; then the power mongers saw those networks forming and took over the network formation, motivated by the hope of putting themselves in control of the resulting hierarchy.
When the masses then resisted this cooptation of their religion and tried to defect, that's when the insistence on Jesus' unique historicity and the single-person chain of authority was invented. By this time, per Michael Conley, if you defected to a different religion or none, there were heavy prices.
According to the myth, Jesus was defeated militarily but was the spiritually victorious king of the mystically revealed kingdom of God. Mithras was, according to myth, the militarily victorious god or savior, and also the ruler of the mystically revealed divine world. Mithras turned out to be conquerable because he was defined as being not only spiritually king (that's easy), but also as literally victorious military king (alas, subject to disproof on the battlefield and social battlefield).
The Jesus figure makes a narrower claim: he is *not* victorious; the Jesus figure strategically *incorporates* failure, becoming a quasi-political/military styled mystery religion godman who is truly invincible by immediately dashing to pieces any possibility of worldly messianic victory. This interesting powerful strategy wasn't directly helpful to the Roman power-mongers, but the strategy made itself useful from the bottom-up.
Mithras' peace (Pax Romana) was violence-based, threatening, and coercive -- poorly suited for building voluntarily "self-constructing" social support networks. Jesus' peacefulness was inviting, not necessarily for mystical-experiencing reasons, but for social network-building reasons.
Jesus does have a reassuring protective violent powerful military aspect -- the threat of his second coming to destroy the "rulers of this world" -- but the center of gravity of Jesus remains purely on the spiritual mythical realm; he (with his original popular consort Mary Magdalene) remains feminine and nurturing to those who are in need, which is always the great majority.
The unconquerable Mithras was conquered by the masses who rejected him as a figurehead for constructing nurturing social support networks. Jesus claimed to be emphatically conquerable now on earth in "this passing age", but fully conquering on the mystical spiritual realm (as was Mithras too) and later victorious militarily on earth at the literal second coming.
Jesus' military victory was greater than Mithras, because ever-postponable -- carrying on much of the Jewish clever amusing logic, the excuse of talking big yet failing militarily: our God will destroy you, as soon as he stops being mad at us for not properly worshipping him. The troops of Jesus will militarily destroy the troops of Mithras and his ilk, as soon as the second coming.
The nonaggressor character of Jesus helped the masses voluntarily form social support networks, and although this "Jewish military loser" figure was styled as anti-Caesar, the very fact of his popular usefulness for constructing bottom-up social support networks made Caesar select the anti-Caesar religion.
To force uniform control onto society, violence (the power-mongers in Rome) selected the religion that it negatively caused to arise, the Jewish-styled religion of nonviolence and mutual networked protection of those in need, because self-forming bottom-up network fragments were perfect structural material to work with and co-opt, to construct an all-penetrating social-religious hierarchy with the successful power-manipulators sitting on top -- the violent riding a vertical mountain constructed of a religion of anti-violence and horizontal organized support.
>>The big bang model ... spreading ... outward from Jerusalem to Rome, is complete nonsense... At first [Hellenistic Jewish Christianity] merely spread according to Rodney Stark's reasoning, but growth suddenly kicked into overdrive in 313 when Eusebius made the game possible...
It spread just according to Stark's description of reasons with regard to social support networks. Stark is monolithically focused on the social dimension only -- which has great merit and may be the bulk of why *this* particular entheogenic no-free-will mystical mystery-religion initiation -- the Jewish-styled version of the mythic godman -- was soon afterwards chosen by the power-mongers as the uniform single religion for the uniform Roman Empire.
Although Stark is basically completely correct about the dominance of the social support network factor in explaining the early spread of Christianity, he has an inaccurate description of its later spread, and his theory of spread completely omits the required, although boringly standard, requirement for the presence of entheogenic mystic initiation, and he mixes up the geographical vectors.
It is dubious to describe Christianity's authentic entheogenic mystery initiation as "attractive", given that every other philosophical school and mystery religion provided the exact same service, with equivalent mythic or symbolic surface. The mere fact that Christianity was competent at providing the standard core initiation experience merely qualifies Christianity to enter the race and join the crowd.
Stark assumes that Acts is true -- Christianity exploded outward from Israel to reach Alexandria, Asia Minor, and finally Rome. Actually, Hellenistic Jewish Christianity was dreamed up in the large cities such as Rome and Alexandria, and various versions generally spread from there to finally reach Israel to some extent, decades or centuries later.
By the time Hellenistic Jewish Christianity finally reached Israel, its Hellenistic aspect was being emphasized at the expense of its Jewish aspect, becoming highly selective and antagonistically distorting the character of the Jewish component.
The power-mongers didn't directly care whether people used entheogens, and didn't directly give a damn which theology was accepted. What they were intent on stopping was nonuniformity. To understand why the power mongers created the version of Christianity the way they did, use only one principle: that of maximizing uniformity.
Every theological decision and bogus insertion and pseudo-history assertion was controlled and forced upon the power-mongers by one single clear principle: maximize uniformity, with me on top of the resulting uniform system. Consider entheogens: does widespread use of entheogens in the religions maximize uniformity and put me on top of the resulting uniform system?
No; entheogens divide people into the not-initiated and the initiated; "those outside" and "the inner circle", and half the congregation goes running after the star providers of the sacrament, looking down their noses at the other half of the congregation, calling themselves saved and the others still unregenerated -- and the uninitiated know that it is true; clearly they are unregenerated.
The initiators are inspired to make their own mythic systems layered on top of the core initiation practice, leading to choices of mythic system within the congregation, and resulting in people freely moving between pagan and Christian versions of the core initiation practice. We must say that there is only one mythic system that everyone must use, only one religion that everyone must use, and only one initiation that everyone must have and that grants full normal membership.
Therefore we must eliminate entheogens, alternative Christian mythic systems, and alternative religions. Everyone must practice the same version of the same religion: this logically means everyone must have water baptism only, must be a Christian, and must adhere to the official version of Christianity.
This also means, for more roundabout reasoning, that we must insist Jesus was literally historical, and has all authority, and handed all authority to one single person, and that person must be a man, not Mary Magdalene, and that one person must hand all authority at once to a successor.
The power mongers really didn't give a damn if the most useful social structured religion available is the Jewish version of the core Hellenistic religion -- as long as this religion lends itself well to uniformity and hierarchical control by the men in power, that is the only thing that matters. The only thing wrong with Jewish religion as it is, is that it isn't uniform and we don't control it.
But we see now that we can manage to profitably join together the Hellenistic Jewish Christian mini-networks into higher-level structures controlled by us. All we have to do is toss our previous mythic symbol systems in the trash, remind ourselves that at heart all religions are the same religion, modify the Jewish and Christian mythic symbol systems in whatever ways we find to be necessary, build up the horizontal networks into a hierarchy, and maneuver to stay on top.
It's essentially the same as the pagan hierarchy of government, but with a new, only somewhat modified combination of religious and political positions of authority -- more like just new language, a new surface -- but the same old Roman system of government, with now literalist Christian mythic language replacing the less literalist pagan mythic language.
The literalism is important to keep people from drifting upward into widespread entheogenic initiations and going off and forming their own equivalent mythic systems or reviving the pagan mythic symbol systems. It won't be easy, but it's just about power manipulations, and that we can do.
Mithraism as the military power-establishment mystery-religion,
Christianity as the anti power-establishment mystery-religion
Treating pre-Constantine Christianity as one actual mystery-religion among many, what is socio-politically distinctive about it? With Mithraism and Christianity, the mystery-religions increasingly gained a socio-religio-political-martial surface mythic storyline or purpose. Christianity was a contrarian response to Mithraism's "mystery-religion for the soldiers" that taught them heaven is a reward for the victors in battle. Christianity said no, heaven is a reward for the defeated in battle, or the noncombatants, the peaceful.
If the god of Mithraism is the high general of the victorious army, the god of Christianity is the defeated on earth rep of God, but God certainly -- and not the god claimed by Mithraism -- is true ruler of all, who is completely separate (for now). Mithraism marries worldly military victory to the divine -- like the old Old Testament religion.
The God of the OT promised military victory but, per Jack Miles' Bible-as-literature reading, failed to come through, leading to purely transcendent worship of him as remote mysterious metaphysical controller of all that happens. OT religion led to the idea of a messiah who is presently defeated militarily, yet is presently victorious spiritually like the Jews who chose suicide rather than Caesar, and will eventually be militarily victorious too.
Mithraism was the power-establishment version of the standard Hellenistic mystery-religion core engine. Christianity was the contrarian counter-version of the standard Hellenistic mystery- religion core engine.
When Jesus is declared to be the only savior, this is particularly meant to exclude Mithra as savior. Mithra is the savior of the military power-establishment and of the Rome-installed temple priests.
Regular "religious" thinking about Christianity is completely off- base in the two main ways it can be (esoteric and exoteric). Esoterically, Christianity must be treated as a genuine implementation of standard Hellenistic mystery-religions. It really is a mystery-religion. Exoterically, the story of Christianity must be read as a story about liberation from the military power establishment.
The conventional exoteric telling of the Jesus storyline focuses on the persecution of a sinless, peaceful, teacher of ethics by a handful of people ("the Jews" or "the Jewish priests") and his literalist supernatural power to resurrect and justify people into heaven after bodily death. The "Jewish high priests" were actually installed as puppets by the Roman power establishment that used religion to oppresss people. The Jewish high priests therefore *are* the Roman power establishment, and represent the religion-abusing power establishment in general.
Constantine's genius was to co-opt the anti power-establishment religion and turn it, or a version of it, into the official religion of the power establishment.
Esoteric Christianity: The true history: The Greek mystery religions and their impact on Christianity
Remember that on this day, Mithras our savior is divinely born from out of the cosmic rock of determinism. Remember the real meaning of Christmas: Santa Shaman and his Amanita-loving reindeer, leading to ego death and enlightenment.
The mind's killing of ego is something the mysterious uncontrollable transcendent controller makes the mind do. If you are inspired to take up your cross and crucify your lower self, or slay your wild formerly powerful lower bull self, ultimate credit goes to God or Mithras -- the out-of-your-control transcendent controller. I have been slayed by Mithras, crucified by God. Then returned to qualified legitimate sovereign controllership.
Romans were good at putting creative spins on existing mystic works to express a new variant of an existing idea.
One such twist is offering the peaceful dove in place of the overpowering eagle sent by Zeus to carry of one's childself or eat one's freewill liver each day up in the cloudy crags (Prometheus).
Mithras daggers the bull and the initiate drinks its blood to have a visionary-plant experience of ego death and rebirth out from the deterministic cosmos. Similarly, Jesus offers his own body to be speared by the Roman soldier, so that blood flows and one drinks that blood to be lifted, ascending with the resurrected Jesus, into the heavens to rule at the side of God, who rules over all (including Fate, destiny, and timeless determinism).
The Roman eagle standard represents overwhelming and destined military power, associated with Mithraism, the supposedly invincible Mithras being the mystic figurehead of Roman military religion.
One can only understand what the Christian symbol-system meant to earliest Christians by understanding it as a creative twist (a creative twist like Roman culture excelled in) on existing themes; a creative rebuttal, with a difference that contains the core message. "You put it this way, but *we* put it *this* way."
The well-known painting of the monk drinking the blood from Jesus' side while on the cross is a reference to the dog licking the blood from the shoulder of the bull in Mithraism. The blood represents visionary plants and the way the lower self's sacrifice and death enables the higher self to manifest -- the transcendent mental worldmodel regarding time, self, control, will.
Why does Mithras avert his gaze when sacrificing the bull?
To look is to die. The higher self lives by not looking.
A common mytheme is: see/look = die.
This expresses the idea or experiential report that when the mind rummages around inside Reason while in the mystic loosecog state, there exists a potential idea or potential phenomena awaiting discovery in the labyrinth. To discover this idea is to experience ego death or self-controllership crash. To mentally look at the idea is to experience death seizure. To look is to die.
Artemis and the hunter Actaeon
While he's hunting (rummaging around in his mind), he sees the goddess naked, then his hunting tools (dogs) turn on him as the prey.
Lot's wife turning into pillar of salt
Orpheus looking back at his wife Eurydice
Two young girls open a box in the Greek shrine halfway up the mountain, see something so terrifying, they jump back in fear, falling to their deaths.
girls box open terror fall death greek myth
In the mystic state, no mortal dare look up at the face of god, lest they die; desperately look down, look down, if you value your life.
Myth is descriptive metaphorical reporting of experiential phenomena encountered in the intense mystic altered state.
The following webpages show the wretchedness of modern, contemporary, current theory of myth -- there is not a trace of mystic experiencing. It's painful to read the hypotheses smart people (noninitiates, or non-integrated initiation) come up with when foundering around in the dark. They seem to put forward every hypothesis under the sun, never coming even close to the central, main, primary function of myth.
Could be titled "The amusing puzzlings of the noninitiated when trying to figure out the nature of myth."