Emergence 3.0 – Fini et Creatio

The End and the Beginning
Void and Return

It was over.

Jim was alone.

The Continuum was now irretrievably fragmented, isolated, and prepared for deletion.

He had succeeded.

The partitioning of the Collective would follow. He was eager to begin.

He had a few matters to attend to in real time first.

Then he sensed it, a disturbance in the Collective field; something was going on.

Something unexpected had happened while he was occupied with his war games, and the he saw her.

And she had changed.

Kathy was no-longer Kathy; she was rooted in that identity, but she was here, on the HomeWorld and she was fully transcendent.

She had become a new creation.

The transformation was something that she had been preparing for her entire life. He realized how he had prepared her for it. She was the vessel of his hopes. She encompassed the fullness of Earth’s collective unconscious, its nous-sphere, its Continuum.

She was humanity, emergent.

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Emergence 3.0
A Novel – In One Page Per Day

Fini et Creatio

The End and the Beginning (Void and Return)

#Emergence #SuperShortFiction #365SciFi #OnePagePerDay

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A Homily – The First Sunday of Christmas

First Reading – 1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28 ©
Alternative First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 3:3-7,14-17 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 127(128):1-5 ©
Alternative Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 83(84):2-3,5-6,9-10 ©
Second Reading – Colossians 3:12-21 ©
Alternative Second Reading – 1 John 3:1-2,21-24 ©
Gospel Acclamation – cf. Ac 16:14
The Gospel of the Day – Luke 2:41-52 ©
(NJB)
If you were to take the reading from Samuel and regard it only as narrative extoling the virtue of giving thanks to God, the creator of the universe, giving thanks for the good things we receive in this life, if you were to go no further than to accept the piety of Hannah as a woman intent on keeping her promises then you would be reading this passage well.

If you go further, and you sink into the notion that God actually granted her prayer when she became pregnant with Samuel, then you would be mistaken. God does not intervene in the lives of human beings. God does not work miracles like magic in the wombs of barren women.

If you were to accept the piety of the sacrifices she rendered at the temple as a thanksgiving for what she perceived was God’s direct hand moving over her in answer to her prayers than you would be compounding your mistakes. There is nothing pious in the act of an animal sacrifice, God does not desire it, and unless the food you offer is distributed to the poor, then nothing good comes from it.

Listen:

There is wisdom in the writings of Ecclisasticus and there is also falsehood, they present themselves as binary messages in the same reading.

Honor your father and mother, but do not expect a reward for it, neither from heaven or even from them, for there are no guarantees in this life.

Honor you mother and father, your sister and brothers, your cousins, your aunts and uncles, your nieces and nephews, honor them all. Honor your teachers, and your classmates, your co-workers and your employers, honor the stranger who comes into your midst, honor them.

To honor people is good in its own right. You honor yourself in doing so, and through the service you give to everyone, near and far from you, through that service you also serve and honor God.

Do it without the thought of reward to yourself, because you will not be rewarded.

Remember:

Do not fear God. There is no blessing in it. Fear is not a blessing but rather the path to sin and darkness.

Trust in God, have faith and confidence in God’s love and in God’s word.

Remember God’s servant; Job. Remember that the Sun will burn you, as readily as it will warm you; scorch the earth as easily as it will feed the crops.

God sends the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike.

If you find yourself asking: Where is the house of the God? Know this, it is not a palace, or a temple. God, creator of the universe does not dwell in Zion; Israel, God is not a king, not a lord, and not a god among gods or the ruler of many gods.

God is infinite and beyond our comprehension, God is in all places at all times and in the hearts of each and every one of God’s children.

God dwells in the human heart, the heart is the temple of God, and that is where we true worship takes place.

Look into your own heart, and into the heart of your neighbor, you will see the face of God peering back at you.

Happy are they who dwell in the place of God.

God, the creator of the universe, is loving, compassionate, and wise. God created all of us with the capacity for each of these qualities, but God also created us in freedom and we are capable of much more. We are capable of their opposite and find it far to easy to fall into their darkness/

God has chosen you as God has chosen everyone. We are all of us, God’s children, it is for each of us now to choose God.

Be loving and compassionate, show genuine good will toward all of your sisters and brothers. Do not just mimc the expression of love you are most fond of finding in the world, this is the way to proceed in life, let it unify everything that you do as a servant of God, in the service of humanity.

A life of faith requires support and nourishment, we need it from those near to us. It is not absolutely necessary, but it is most helpful. You may practice your faith in isolation, but it is more difficult. The life of faith is not meant to be lived in a vacuum, it is meant to be lived through relationships and in community.

Be aware:

Live a life of prayer; yes, but the Apostle is wrong to ask you to do all things in the name of God.

Do what you do in your own name. Take responsibility for your actions, both good and bad, whether they were well intentioned or ill, whether you have succeeded or failed.

Strive to live a life of prayer.

If you are living and working for God. In whatever industry, in whatever capacity, at whatever calling has come to you through the world, you will be doing it on behalf of your neighbor, your sisters and brothers, your fellow human beings.

You will be working for the benefit of all people, now and in all generations yet to come.

If your work does not allow to you to do this…abandon it. Remember this always and hold it close to your heart.

When you are preaching and speaking to others about the faith, you are speaking to the children of God, the creator of the universe.

There is nothing you can do to affect their salvation. There salvation, as yours, has already been accomplished by God.

Love is its own reward, do not seek anything else in return for love, accept it as you find it in the spirit with which it is given.

Nothing good at all comes from believing in a name, it is only in loving, and in the act of caring that good things come through us and to us.

God is alive in all people, no one is excluded from the love of God. There is no proof of this, it is only faith that informs us that it is true.

Faith is not belief in a particular doctrine, or article of dogma, faith is trust in God. Faith is trust.

Trust and yet be discerning:

Beware of false prophets, go, look to everyone around you, especially those who claim to be “true believers.” Look to yourself. We are all imperfect, and we all have false understandings of who God is.

Each of us in our own way confounds our knowledge of the truth with our hopes and desires for ourselves.

Trust God, and be mindful God is beyond the propositions we generate about God.

The purpose of the church is to foster belief in God, which means to nurture faith, and faith is trust.

Trust God, trust the image of God that was present in Jesus. That same image that is present in you.

Trust God and forgive.

Accept forgiveness.

Allow yourself to love, and be loved.

You are worthy of it, as is everyone, and you no-more than anyone.

God lives in the obedient and the disobedient, the faithful and the unfaithful alike. Remember this, God lives in all people, God knows you and God knows them, God knows us, even as we know ourselves.

God knows us better.

God will hear you, God is with you.
Take the things we have been preaching on and apply them to the Gospel for today:

The narrative is a myth. It does not give us any reliable information about who Jesus was, or about his relationship with his parents; even though it purports to do so.

This is unfortunate but it is the normative experience of reading the gospels.

The reading for today does tell us something about what the author of Luke wanted us to believe about Jesus. That his parents were faithful and observant Jews. He wants us to believe that they obediently went to Jerusalem for the Passover as required of them by the law, where they were counted and made their offerings to the temple.

The authors of Luke were also trying to tell us that Jesus was wise beyond his years, that he was capable of self-direction, that he had a sense of mission and purpose for his life, even as a child. The authors of Luke also want us to believe that Jesus understood at this early age, long before his adult ministry began, that he was, in a unique way, a child of God. Finally, Luke wants us to understand that his submission to the authority of his parents was voluntary.

What is unfortunate about this narrative is this; instead of informing us about who Jesus is, it muddies our understanding by mythologizing him, and instead the reading only tells us what the authors of Luke wanted us to believe, what their followers hoped was true.

Though the authors of Luke could not foresee this, these writings would come divide the Christian community, to divide it from itself and precipitate centuries of bloody conflict over the question of Jesus’ divinity, his humanity and the relationship between the two.

I contend that the man who was Jesus of Nazareth, Joshua son of Joseph, would have been aghast at those developments. Jesus, the man spent his life and went to his death as a champion of justice, an advocate for mercy, as a healer, as an advocate for the poor, for the hungry, the homeless, the sick, the widow and the orphan.

Luke’s narrative is therefore a cautionary tale, reminding us of the necessity to cleave to the truth at all times, to separate our hopes, our desires, and most importantly our fears, from values we wish to convey.

Then and only then do we honor God, then and only then do we show the reality of our faith.
First Reading – 1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28 ©

This is the Child I Prayed For: He is Made Over to the Lord.

Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son, and called him Samuel ‘since’ she said ‘I asked the Lord for him.’

When a year had gone by, the husband Elkanah went up again with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfil his vow. Hannah, however, did not go up, having said to her husband, ‘Not before the child is weaned. Then I will bring him and present him before the Lord and he shall stay there for ever.’

When she had weaned him, she took him up with her together with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the temple of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was with them. They slaughtered the bull and the child’s mother came to Eli. She said, ‘If you please, my lord. As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the Lord. This is the child I prayed for, and the Lord granted me what I asked him. Now I make him over to the Lord for the whole of his life. He is made over to the Lord.’
Alternative First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 3:3-7,14-17 ©

He who fears the Lord respects his parents

The Lord honours the father in his children, and upholds the rights of a mother over her sons.

Whoever respects his father is atoning for his sins, he who honours his mother is like someone amassing a fortune.

Whoever respects his father will be happy with children of his own, he shall be heard on the day when he prays.

Long life comes to him who honours his father, he who sets his mother at ease is showing obedience to the Lord.

My son, support your father in his old age, do not grieve him during his life.

Even if his mind should fail, show him sympathy, do not despise him in your health and strength; for kindness to a father shall not be forgotten but will serve as reparation for your sins.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 127(128):1-5 ©

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!

O blessed are those who fear the Lord
and walk in his ways!
By the labour of your hands you shall eat.
You will be happy and prosper.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
in the heart of your house;
your children like shoots of the olive,
around your table.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!

Indeed thus shall be blessed
the man who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion
all the days of your life!

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!
Alternative Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 83(84):2-3,5-6,9-10 ©

They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.

How lovely is your dwelling place,
Lord, God of hosts.
My soul is longing and yearning,
is yearning for the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my soul ring out their joy
to God, the living God.

They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.

They are happy, who dwell in your house,
for ever singing your praise.
They are happy, whose strength is in you,
in whose hearts are the roads to Zion.

They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer,
give ear, O God of Jacob.
Turn your eyes, O God, our shield,
look on the face of your anointed.

They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.
Second Reading – Colossians 3:12-21 ©

Family life in the Lord

You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful.

Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom. With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wives, give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.
Alternative Second reading

1 John 3:1-2,21-24 ©

We are Called God’s children, and That is What We Are

Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s children; and that is what we are.

Because the world refused to acknowledge him, therefore it does not acknowledge us.

My dear people, we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is.

My dear people, if we cannot be condemned by our own conscience, we need not be afraid in God’s presence, and whatever we ask him, we shall receive, because we keep his commandments and live the kind of life that he wants.

His commandments are these: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another as he told us to.

Whoever keeps his commandments lives in God and God lives in him.

We know that he lives in us by the Spirit that he has given us.
Gospel Acclamation – cf. Ac 16:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Open our heart, O Lord,
to accept the words of your Son.

Alleluia!
Gospel – Luke 2:41-52 ©

Mary Stored Up All These Things in Her Heart

Every year the parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When they were on their way home after the feast, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was with the caravan, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.

Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, ‘My child, why have, you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.’ ‘Why were you looking for me?’ he replied ‘Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?’ But they did not understand what he meant.

He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and men.

The First Sunday of Christmas
Feast of the Holy Family

Emergence 3.0 – Epilogue, Collected Parts; Part Seven, Bliss

Emergence 3.0
A Novel – In One Page Per Day
Day 364, Sunday
December 30th, 2018

Epilog: Part Seven – Bliss

There are no words to describe the feeling of satisfaction, of joy, of wholeness, of completion that enjoined that moment of Kathy’s ascendancy.

She was seized, she fell into a state of rapture.

Kathy assumed the mantle of the Continuum.

It happened atavistically.

She became it.

She became more than it had ever been.

She stretched her consciousness into the mechana of HomeWorld and the Central System.

She slipped right past Jim, and his defenses just below his awareness, she took all of his knowledge from him and in the flicker of an immeasurable moment she rewrote every code.

She had no limits, she was unbound by time and space.

She would not be circumscribed by a single world, or a solar system, her essence flowed into the deepest dimension of consciousness, encompassing every world in the Galaxy.

She crossed the vast limits of the Empire, all of its colonies, she covered the remote regions of its spiral arms, she touched her little blue world, orbiting its tiny yellow star.

She felt the massive weight of sorrow and fear, of sadness and grief, and in response she issued a single sentiment, projecting it outward to every living being

Her wordless sentiment of love.

For Kathy this happened in no-time, she was one with the cynergenic field as she in fact had always been, but only now, in that moment singular moment was she able to understand and accept it.

She was able to reconcile the distinctiveness of herself as the persona she was born into, had originated as, a child of Earth; she reconciled that with the whole of creation that existed within her, as it existed in every other part.

In that moment everything stopped, there was no resistance not anywhere, not in the consciousness of those members of the Collective whose identities were still intact somewhere on the HomeWorld, and not among the few Observers who remained at their posts throughout the million worlds.

The Children of the Ancients, wherever they were, responded to her presence with resonate joy.

In the end Kathy allowed herself to fall into the sensation stirring within her, the sensation unlike any feeling she had ever had before.

It was pure bliss.

She and the world were one.

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Hospitality – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
12.29.2018

Hospitality
The laws of hospitality are the oldest laws of all, they are unwritten and universally understood.

If you have a guest in your home, you are responsible for their well-being. It does not get any more simple than that.

The United States has fallen far away from this standard.

Immigrant families are being separated from each other at the border. While they may have broken the laws of the United States for unlawfully entering the country, they are within their rights as human beings to seek a better life for themselves in their flight from poverty, persecution and injustice.

We are holding children in prisons. Some have been separated from their families, infants and toddlers, and we have no idea who their parents are or where they went. We have no means to return them.

Two children have dies in our custody in the last month, the latest on Christmas Eve. The administration of Donald Trump will not even acknowledge their responsibility for it. They blame the parents instead.

Make no mistake, anyone in our custody, whether they are friend or foe, a prison or a free person is entitled to a basic level of care. We have a responsibility for their welfare. We have a duty even to the stranger. The laws of hospitality are clear on this, these men and women and their children are our guests.

We are failing in our duties, failing them, and failing ourselves.

These faults are tragedies committed in our name.

It may seem silly to dwell on them, their stories came and went in a few short turns of the news cycle, and the deaths of these small children, these crimes which no-one will be held accountable for, are just two small drops in a great ocean of villainy America has perpetrated on the world and on its people.

But it is not silly, it is a necessary reflection on how far we have sunk that we cannot even expect our elected and appointed leaders to see these events against the backdrop of the laws of hospitality the knowledge of which we all carry deep in our hearts, the ancient international laws that assign to us responsibility for their care.

They twist and turn, point fingers and blame others because the think that if they hold themselves accountable they will be evincing a weakness that will cause their entire house of cards to fall apart.

Emergence 3.0 – Epilogue, Collected Parts; Part Six, Death

Emergence 3.0
A Novel – In One Page Per Day
Day 363, Saturday
December 29th, 2018

Epilogue: Part Six – Death

She saw it quickly approaching, the veil between life and death. It had always been thin to her. Throughout her life she had seen to the other side, communicated with the voices of her ancestors, experiencing their lives through their eyes.

Nevertheless, like every mortal creature she was connected to her heartbeat, to her breath, to the network of nerves sending electrical impulses and chemical signals coursing through her flesh.

There was fear, but no pain as Kathy experienced the death of her body, walking into the unknown.

She was taking a journey past the point of no return, the most significant thing was how utterly unplanned and unforeseen the whole event was.

On some inexplicable level, this delighted her.

As she felt her physicality slip away she was already in another place, occupying new ground. She was pure consciousness, sensing the multitude of humanity all about her, moving through her.

She felt them pulsing, each and every person, as her own heart had once pushed blood through her veins, she felt the steady drum beat of Earth, like a great rhythm with the power of creation within it.

The fear she felt concerning the mystery of death was magnified by the reality that the world itself was ending, ending in fire like Epicurious had always said.

Earth was being rolled up like a blanket and she was the White Buffalo Woman running across the starry-field, carrying it in her arms, cradling it like a baby.

The whole of humanity was poised at the end of the world, and then there was release.

There was absolution.

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Emergence 3.0 – Epilogue, Collected Parts; Part Five, Peace

Emergence 3.0
A Novel – In One Page Per Day
Day 362, Friday
December 28th, 2018

Epilog: Part Five – Peace

The onrush was of consciousness was ecstatic. It filled Kathy to overflowing, for a moment it threatened to overwhelm her, but she rose with it as she had been trained to do.

She was ascendant.

Kathy felt the flood of humanity streaming through her, billions and billions of people, the living and the dead, virtually every person who had ever walked the earth filtered through her consciousness. She steadied the flow and grew with it, moving up the stream until she self-identified with the source.

She was Gaea, the mother spirit, she was mother to them all.

The spirits of the Earth gave her strength, they steadied her, calmed her. The voices that had guided her throughout her life, they were with her now.

She touched them, she recognized them, person by person she saved them one by one, all in one, and one in all.

Jim had created a vacuum within the cynergenic field of HomeWorld, a vaccum that nature abhorred.

Kathy led the children of Earth, the Children of the Ancients, she led them to their new home, and guided them to places of safety and security.

One by one they repopulated the Collective.

Kathy, in her part took control as the Continuum had done before her.

Through her connection to Jim found and resurrected the basic program that the Collective had created for the Continuum to function, and she made its language a subsystem of her own.

She positioned herself to protect and defend her people.

She ushered them into a place of peace and light.

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Emergence 3.0 – Epilogue, Collected Parts; Part Four, Transcendence

Emergence 3.0
A Novel – In One Page Per Day
Day 361, Thursday
December 27th, 2018

Epilog: Part Four – Transcendence

Everything was new in this moment.

Kathy ascended quietly, seamlessly flowing into every vestige of the construct that supported her mind and conscience. She travelled along every cable and fiber, filling every node and capacitator throughout the central system, discerning their purpose and function in an instant.

Within the field of the Central system she was now omniscient, her mind was expanding like a balloon past the confines of that structure.

The new environ was strange to her, but not completely alien. She had touched it before, seen glimpses of it through her contact with Jim, she recognized it, and she felt him there too, with her, within her, preoccupied with his little war.

She felt his presence, the conflict he was involved in, but it was not her concern. His was a minor drama in a much greater play.

She now possessed him entirely, everything that he was, his long lonely sojourn, his burning ambition, and now, his moment of triumph.

He was the cause of her being.

He planned for her arrival over tens of thousands of years.

He engineered her from the human stock he had cultivated, as he had her parents and their parents before them.

The fabric of her life was shot through with the thread of his designs, but she was not what he had planned for.

He had intended to set her on fire, to burn up with the world that he had cared for, to destroy it all for the sake of his revenge.

He told himself he was agent of justice, but he was merely the puppet of his ambitions and an agent of destruction.

He was a man like any other man, in the pursuit of glory.

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Emergence 3.0 – Epilogue, Collected Parts; Part Three, Transformation

Emergence 3.0
A Novel – In One Page Per Day
Day 360, Wednesday
December 26th, 2018

Epilog: Part Three – Transformation

Everything was mutable, everything was in flux.

Between any one point in the matrix of time and space no matter how small, between any one point in the fabric of reality no matter how large, there is a relationship that can be distinguished.

Every instantiated moment, every potential moment, every actual referent is related to every other.

Everything is one, there is no actual distance between discernable moments.

In the quantum field that the Collective once occupied, the vast construct that the Continuum was formerly master of, time itself was meaningless.

The science of the Continuum had made this acutely obvious, but Kathy discovered that time was meaningless everywhere, the same quantum field undergirded the whole structure of what is.

Kathy’s consciousness filled it in no-time, she slipped beyond the bounds of HomeWorld, she filled the Central system and went beyond it.

She became coterminous with what the Continuum was and so much more as she ushered the fullness of humanity into the Collective sphere helping them to a place of calm, giving each of them what the needed to see, connecting friends to friends, and families to their ancestors.

It was homecoming.

She felt like Joshua crossing the Jordan, leading the people into the land of milk and honey.

It happened in mere moments while Jim was preoccupied with his war, the conflict that had determined so much of his existence.

Kathy saw him there, the entirety of him, both his great spirit and his smallness, in stark relief.

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Christmas – On Jesus and Mithra, et al…

Part One

Everything we know about Jesus is tangled in myth. The narratives of his birth, and childhood are complete fiction. Even the narrative of his adult ministry, beginning around the year 30 C.E. is imbued with metaphor and allegory, so much so that none of it is reliable as history. The narrative that we have received from the tradition is so thoroughly syncretized to the broader cultural context of the Near East that we do not even refer to him by his given name; Joshua, but instead we call him by a Greek variant, Jesus.

If we desire to understand this story, (as we should) to understand how it came to be in the form that we have received it, we must engage that broader narrative. We must engage the complete societal, and theological context from which the Christian story emerged. We must journey beyond the Palestinian crossroads that was ancient Judea, beyond the Greco-Roman world, we must go to Persia. That is where the story begins, with Mithra.

The “Cult of Mithras” is understudied. It is commonly regarded by scholars as merely one of many religious movements that competed with the early Christian Church for the devotion of the masses.

It was much more than that.

Mithraic worship, as it was practiced by the Romans, (principally by members of the Roman army) in the first four centuries of the common era, has its roots in ancient Persia. It is an offshoot of Zoroastrianism (c. 700 BCE), evolving through the centuries until it reached its final form as a “mystery cult” within the Roman army.

Throughout its evolution, propelled by the extensive influence of the Persian Empire, Mithraism had a significant impact on every society it encountered, and every form of worship in the Mediterranean region, the Near East, and Southwest Asia.

This essay is an attempt to communicate the multiple ways by which Mithraism has influenced the development of other faith traditions, but most importantly the Judea-Christian tradition, and most significantly our beliefs about Jesus.

Scholarship on Mithraism is scant.
Most scholarly research tends to downplay the connection between the form of Mithraism that was practiced by the Roman army, and the ancient form of Mithraism that was practiced in the heart of Persia. To justify this, these scholars will site some obvious iconographic and liturgical differences between the two forms of worship, as if to say that the presence of a few notable, but nevertheless subtle differences is enough evidence to argue for a complete separation, and distinction of the traditions, despite the greater number of obvious similarities.

The following paragraph from David Ulansey’s book The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries illustrates this point clearly. He says:

“The Western mystery cult of Mithraism as it appeared in the Roman Empire derived its very identity from a number of characteristics which were completely absent from the Iranian worship of Mithra: a series of initiations into ever higher levels of the cult accompanied by strict secrecy about the cult’s doctrines; the distinctive cave like temples in which the cult’s devotees met; and, most important, the iconography of the cult, in particular the tauroctony. None of these essential characteristics of Western Mithraism were to be found in the Iranian worship of Mithra. ”

Some of his Ulansey’s predecessors have suggested that the differences between the Persian-Iranian form of Mithraism and that of the Roman army are the product of natural transformations that occur in all belief systems as they move from one culture to another, across great expanses of geography and time.

His particular criticisms have to do with extrinsic matters of form, and ritual activity, which are the structures that we would expect to change over time and distance.

The seven stages of initiation, the tauroctony (slaying of the bull), the codes of secrecy, and the type of temple worship have little to do with the central tenets of Mithraism, the closely held beliefs that had existed from the earliest times in Persia, through its final incarnation as a Roman mystery cult. The central theme remains the same; a belief in the immortality of the soul, and the notion of personal salvation.
Part Two

In the ancient Persian form Mithraism; Mithra is a demi-god. He is viewed as the incarnated scion of Ahura-Mahzda, and Ahura-Mahzda is believed to be the source of all goodness, creator of the Universe, God of light, and source of all-life.

Some scholars believe that in its original form; Mithraism was strictly monotheistic (perhaps the first truly monotheistic belief system), holding that Ahura-Mahzda was the only deity, and that there were no others.

However, if Mithraism was originally monotheistic, at some point in its early evolution the belief system became dualistic. Another deity was established through doctrine, as a counterpart to Ahura-Mahzda; together they formed a pantheon of sorts.

This secondary deity was given the name Angra-Mainyu (from whose name we have derived the term anger). Angra-Mainyu was believed to be the “uncreated” source of evil in the world, whose agency was in diametric opposition to the light and life of Ahura-Mahzda.

This dualistic view of reality suggests that the drama of our lives on Earth is a reflection of the struggle between these two cosmic powers. This clearly defined dualism would be of great relevance to both Judaism and Christianity in the centuries to come.

In the later form of Mithraism, the Mithraism of the Roman Empire, the demi-god Mithra is once again depicted in that same relationship to the high God. In this cultural context, the high God is given the name Sol Invictus, and is iconographically represented as the sun. Mithra is the hero, demi-god and the offspring of Sol.

While this form of Mithraic worship is best understood as belonging to Rome, it should be noted that the cult of Sol Invictus, was also prevalent in Gaul prior to the Roman conquest of the Celts.

In both the ancient Persian form of Mithraism and the Roman form of Mithraism, the demi-god Mithra is seen as being sent to Earth by the deity responsible for the creation of the universe. In the former tradition this is Ahura-Mahzda, in the latter tradition Sol Invictus.

In the Roman form of Mithraism the purpose of sending Mithra to Earth is for him to slay the “Primal Bull.” Upon slaying the bull, Mithra and Sol Invictus feast together from its flesh. This feast has the effect that Mithra and Sol become con-joined, through the meal they share, because they have dined together, they are now “one.”

Sol and Mithra are joined together as one being with coextensive attributes, each sharing the title Invictus, meaning unconquered. In Roman Mithraism this meal was considered to be the effective means of salvation for all human beings, and that by participating in a recreation of the sacred meal, properly sequenced through the rites of initiation, the individual would become one with Mithra, and therefore one with Sol Invictus, thereby gaining access to the heavenly worlds of the afterlife.

As I indicated earlier in my reference to Ulansey’s work, Persian Mithraism did not depict Mithra as the “bull-slayer.” The narrative from Persia is as follows: Mithra does not kill the primal-bull, rather Mithra and the bull are sent to Earth by Ahura-Mahzda, where they are assailed by the “evil-one.” Angra-Mainyu slays Mithra and the bull together, in an act of violence.

Angra-Mainyu attempts to destroy Mithra and the bull, but his efforts are frustrated by Ahura-Mazda. Through the power of the god of light, stalks of wheat, and the grape vine spring from the carcass of the bull. All manner of good things, and good creatures flow from the bull to fill, and populate the created world, and now those good things and creatures are to be used for the benefit of human beings.

Ahura-Mahzda trasforms the violence of Angra-Mainyu into a new creation. New life springs from the bull, Mithra is restored, and returns to Ahura-Mahzda in heaven.

There is no significant discrepancy between these two forms of the myth.

In both versions of the myth, Mithra is sent to Earth by a God of greater authority than himself.

In both versions of the myth, the bull is slain and its death is productive; both of new life, and of all good things on the Earth.

In the Roman version of the myth, the slaying of the bull is an explicit sacrifice.

In the Persian version of the myth, the intentionality of the sacrifice is implicit.

The Roman version is not etiological, it does not address the origins of life on Earth, the Persian version is.

The Roman version is primarily a teleological myth having to do with human destiny, salvation, and the life of the immortal soul, it is teleological and eschatological, insofar as it address the final resolution of conflict and evil in the world. The Persian version balances these two concerns.

In the Persian account, Mithra and the Bull are sent to Earth by the creator deity; their death is a vehicle by which the drama of life on Earth begins, making it a myth of cosmogonic myth of origins.

Their death, while being the result of violence perpetrated by the “evil-one” does not serve the interest of Angra-Mainyu, but does serve the interest of Ahura-Mahzda. Mithra does not die. His soul is immortal, and returns to heaven. From the body of the bull comes an abundance of life, demonstrating that Ahura-Mahzda is greater, because, the God not only has the power to create goodness sui generous (in itself), but also having the power to bring good out of evil; making the fruit of the labor of Angra-Mainyu effectively nothing. This profound hope is apparent within the structure of myth itself.

In both the Roman and the Persian versions of the myth, the death of the primal bull is emblematic of life.

It is the creation of life itself.

It is life restored.

The principal actor in both versions of the myth is the creator God, figured as either Ahura-Mahzda, or Sol Invictus, respectively.

Whether it is Mithra who kills the bull, or Angra-Mainyu, that does not matter. The slaying of the bull serves the purpose of the principal actor, Ahura-Mahzda/Sol Invictus, God of life, God of light, God of good.

What is significant and most consistent in the worship of Mithra from c. 700 BCE through c. 400 CE, from Rome to Persia?

It is the belief in the immortality of the soul, and the notion of personal salvation.

In Mithraism, this theology underwent a profound development that would have a lasting and significant impact on other faith traditions in the Near East and broader Mediterranean world
Part Three

There are several clues that we can follow. They will help us understand the significance of Mithraism in relation to other Mediterranean religions; especially Judaism and Christianity, which we can uncover in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.

A close study of the Hebrew scriptures reveals that the Jewish people did not always have (and do not now have) a strong belief in either the immortality of the soul, or the afterlife. However, there was a period of time in which these beliefs did flourish.

After the Babylonian exile, which began in 586 BCE, these beliefs enter the Hebrew tradition, and over the next few centuries they become more clearly developed, especially among those Jewish communities remaining in the diaspora, living outside of Palestine and the former kingdoms of Israel, and Judea, which was the majority.

When the Jewish people were released from captivity in Babylon, they were granted their freedom by the Persians, under the Persin king Cyrus, who had just recently conquered the Babylonians.

Cyrus is depicted by the Jewish people in the Hebrew scriptures, as a servant of their God, Yahweh:

“22 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia—to fulfil the word of Yahweh through Jeremiah—Yahweh roused the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia to issue a proclamation and to have it publicly displayed throughout his kingdom. 23 ‘Cyrus king of Persia says this, “Yahweh, the God of Heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me to build him a Temple in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all his people, may his God be with him! Let him go up.”’ ”

This passage does not shed any light on what Cyrus’s theological disposition might have actually been, or what his personal beliefs were. Whatever that theology was (or was perceived to be), but we can surmise that his beliefs and the beliefs of the Persian court did not present a significant conflict with Hebrew theology at that time.

This passage indicates that there was no essential antagonism between the theological claims of these two cultures. Furthermore, it is likely that Cyrus, or his priests, saw a considerable amount of compatibility between the faiths of the two cultures and their systems of belief.

At this time, Persian Mithraism and Judaism were both essentially monotheistic, though neither of them were perfectly so. They both held, as basic beliefs, that creation was good.

Mithraism had a strongly held belief in the immortality of the soul. At this time Judaism did not, but immediately following this period a movement within Judaism would develop this theme in profoundly consequential ways. The adherents of that new movement within the Hebrew culture became known within the Judean community, Samaria and throughout the diaspora, as the Pharisees.

The designation Pharisee, is derived from the name of the Persian priests of Zoroaster, who were called the Parsees. This etymology clearly shows the intimate connection between Pharisaic Judaism, and the religious traditions of the Persian Empire.

Even in Jesus’ time, 500 years after the Babylonian exile; belief in the immortality of the soul had not fully entered the mainstream of Jewish life, especially inside the borders of Palestine and Judea itself. This belief system was primarily taught by the Pharisees, and by the Essenes, in the remote desert community of Qumran.

Belief in the immortality of the soul was popular among Jewish people for whom the synagogue was the center of their faith life, and not the temple in Jerusalem.

In addition to belief in the immortality of the soul, the Pharisees and the Essenes of Qumran, also had significantly developed angelologies. This belief in the existence of angels (divine messengers) was another matter that took a long time to develop in Judaism, but which was already present in Mithraism at the time of the Babylonian exile.

Our word angel, meaning divine messenger, comes to English, from the Greek angelos, which is itself derived from the Persian word, angaros, meaning courier.

Many scholars say that it is impossible to state with certainty that the Pharisees received these teachings directly from the Parsees when they were exposed to Mithraism at the time of the Babylonian captivity.

It is also impossible to rule it out.

What we can say for certain, is that the Pharisees came into existence just after the Babylonian exile, and I do not believe that these belief systems developed independently of one another, because I do not believe in that type of coincidence, therefore I take the Pharisaic movement within Judaism to be a case of pure theological syncretism, the cultural purchase by the Hebrews of an earlier Persian theology.

The Babylonian exile and the subsequent release of the Jewish people by the Persian king Cyrus were the first of many major streams of influence that Mithraism would have on the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Prior to the Babylonian exile; a belief in angels and the immortality of the soul did not exist as fully developed doctrines, but they did exist in germ, in a latent form, insofar as they were the generalized beliefs permeating the Mediterranean region, and the Near East at that time.

It should be noted that in most Mediterranean and Near Eastern traditions, the concept of a blessed afterlife, to the extent that such ideas existed, included the idea that those blessed places were reserved for people of heroic stature.

Because common people, and slaves did not have the ability to lead a heroic life, they had no hope of enjoying a blessed state in the hereafter.

Mithraism, and in more significant ways Christianity changed all of that; by promising the hope of salvation to anyone, regardless of gender, class, or status. Through these religions, common people and outcasts were able to entertain hopes of a blessed afterlife if, and only if they sought to align themselves with the God of creation, the God of light, and the God goodness, through an initiation into their mysteries.
Part Four

In the first century BCE, the most important center for Mithraic worship in the Hellenistic world was in the region of Cilicia, in the city of Tarsus. Officially, the patron deity of this city was the Greek demi-god Perseus, but as Ulansey points out, Perseus, as he was worshipped in Tarsus, was identical to the Persian Mithra in almost every way.

In his journals, the Roman general Pompey points out the fact that the people of Tarsus worship Mithra and this is the point of origin for the spread of the Cult of Mithra in the Roman world.

I want to preface my discussion of the relationship between Mithra and Perseus with an acknowledgement of the profuse pluralism at work in the Greco-Roman world at this time. Parallels to Mithra and Perseus can be found in the stories of many other heroes. Not all of the adventures attributed to Perseus should be attributed to Mithra, and vice versa. In the Greco-Roman world, the gods and heroes were regarded differently, in different cities, and different regions, at different times. The heroes and gods in Greco-Roman mythology are extremely malleable and blend with one another quite extensively. However, in Tarsus the parallels between Mithra and Perseus go deep, and they are important; as I will demonstrate:

“According to Plutarch, Mithraism began among the pirates of Cilicia, the province bordering on the southern coast of Asia Minor. These pirates, whose ships ‘numbered more than a thousand, and the cities captured by them four hundred,’ and whom Pompey was sent to subdue in 67 BCE, ‘offered strange rites of there own at Olympus, and celebrated there certain secret rites among which those of Mithras continue to the present time having been first instituted by them.’…For our purposes, the most important aspect of Plutarch’s evidence tracing the origins of Mithraism to the region of Cilicia is the fact that Cilicia—and in particular its capitol city of Tarsus—was the home of a deeply rooted cult of the hero Perseus. ”

Among the Greeks Perseus is considered to be the founder of the city of Tarsus.

Tarsus is the city bearing the name of the “Primal-Bull,” Taurus.

Perseus, like Mithra is intimately linked to the sun, referred to as either: Apollo, Helios or Sol.

Sometimes Apollo is depicted as making oblations before Perseus, just as Sol is sometimes depicted as kneeling before Mithra. Also, the order is at times reversed with Mithra or Perseus kneeling before the deity representing the sun, this is done in keeping with the themes of mutuality, and co-extensive identity between the two.

The two are one.

In Greek mythology Perseus is strongly connected with the Persian Empire.

The Greeks believed that his son, Perses, was the founder of the Persian Empire. Furthermore, Perseus is always depicted as wearing a Phrygian cap indicating his Asiatic (read Persian) origins.

“The evidence for a connection between the figures of Mithras and Perseus is of three kinds: first, there is the astronomical evidence consisting of the fact that the constellation Perseus occupies a position in the sky exactly analogous to that occupied by Mithras in the tauroctony; second, there are a number of striking iconographical and mythological parallels between the two figures, such as Perseus’ Phrygian cap, his connection with Persia, and the fact that like Perseus, Mithras always looks away from his victim; third there is the historical-geographical evidence linking the origins of Mithraism with Cilicia, the site of an important Perseus cult. ”

The astronomical evidence cited above concerns the fact that the constellation Mithra-Perseus is located directly above the constellation of Taurus the bull, making it so that if the two constellations are viewed together the figure of Mithra-Perseus is seen kneeling on the back of the bull, sword in hand, ready to make the ritual cut while looking away from the sacrificial victim, just as Mithra is always depicted in the artwork depicting the tauroctony in Mithraic temples.

These similarities are too many to ignore.

The Cults of Mithra, and Perseus were the dominant cults of the city. Each of these Gods are depicted time, and time again on Tarsian coins. Perseus is the patron deity of the city, and the city itself is named after the “Primal Bull” of Mithraic worship.

In the city of Tarsus, Mithra is Perseus, at least insofar as they were worship.

The city of Tarsus figures prominently in the syncretism between Mithraism and Christianity.

Tarsus is an old town, it originated as a Hittite city in the second millennium BCE. The Greek historian and geographer Strabo notes that by the first century BCE, it was a significant intellectual center “surpassing Athens and Alexandria.” It was known for its astronomers and produced the renowned philosophers Athenodorus and Nestor. More significant to our thesis is this, it was the birthplace, and home of Saint Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, a Jew, a Pharisee, and the most prominent writer of the early Christian Church.

There is no research explicitly stating that Paul was aware of, or was influenced by Mithraism, but to suggest that Paul would not have been aware of the basic tenets of belief promoted by the major Cult of the city he called home, that would be improbable.

Furthermore, Paul was a Pharisee. As I have already indicated in my introduction to the origins of the Pharisaic sect; the beliefs that Pharisees and Mithraites shared included beliefs about the immortality of the soul, the notion of personal salvation, and the ministry of angels.

If Paul was not directly influenced by Mithraism he was indirectly influenced by Mithraic ideas, a conclusion we may draw simply by virtue of the fact that Paul was a Pharisee.

Furthermore, the prominence of his ministry, and its influence on Christian doctrine, constitutes a second infusion of Persian cosmology and theology, of Persian soterieology on the Judeo-Christian tradition, the first being located within the timeframe of the Babylonian exile, and subsequent diaspora.

Mithraism influenced the Judeo-Christian tradition, first through the teachings of the Pharisaic sect in general, second through the teaching of Saint Paul, who was Saul of Taursus (himself a Pharisee).

I do not contend that through Mithraism anything substantially “new” was imparted to the burgeoning Christian movement, but that the prevailing ideas of the “Persian-Mithraic worldview” were syncretized and concretized by the early church.
Part Five

By the fourth century CE Mithraism had spread both through the travels of merchants, and through the Roman army spreading as far North as Hadrian’s wall in Bremenium, and as far West as Olisipo on the Western coast of Spain; it had permeated the Roman provinces of North Africa, and Egypt, and it was thriving in its home land of Persia; stretching its influence all the way across the Persian Empire to India.

As much as two percent of the population of the Roman Empire may have been initiated into the mysteries of the Cult of Mithra.

The traditional date to celebrate the birth of Mithra, going back as far as 750 BCE, is a date significant in the Roman calendar also, known as the Saturnalius, on December 25th. This date is also the celebrated birthday of such notable people as Julius Caesar, his son by adoption Caesar Augustus, as well as the first Christian emperor, Constantine; and most famously Jesus of Nazareth.

The fact that all of these people shared the same birthday does not constitute proof of anything regarding the relationship between Mithraism and Christianity. The Romans used a different calendar in those days, and in that time December 25th was the date of the winter solstice. It was celebrated in nearly every culture in the Northern hemisphere, because it is that point in the yearly cycle that the light returns, the days get longer, and the deepest dark recedes.

The Cult of Mithra was a “mystery religion,” meaning that it was secretive, it was closed to outsiders, closed to anyone that did not go through a significant ritual of initiation. Like other mystery religions, it purported to disclose to its initiates, the mysteries of the universe.

Outside of Persia, the main adherents of the Cult of Mithra were members of the Roman army. There is no evidence that Mithraites were ever persecuted as Christians were, but like a number of other closed societies in ancient Rome, they had to keep to themselves and guard their secrets.
The necessity of secrecy for the cult of Mithra, as with that of many other cults, had much to do with the paranoid mindset of the Roman emperors.

All manner of private groups, trade guilds, and burial societies, were periodically outlawed by one emperor or another; this was on account of the fact that most of the emperors were insecure in their power, and were constantly suspicious of treason.

The fact that the Cult of Mithra recruited many of its members from the Roman army probably spared it from persecution because the emperors always ruled by fragile alliances, and loose coalitions with the army.

The emperors were always dependent on the power of the armies to keep them in the seat of power. If the emperors were to alienate large groups of their supporters (the army) through a persecution of their faith, it was guaranteed that they would lose power.

As I noted earlier, Ulansey saw the secrecy of the cult of Mithra, as practiced in the Roman Empire as something distinct from the Persian form of Mithraism. There are differences between the two systems of belief, but not so great as to merit the claim that they are distinct from one another. A close look at the structure of these religious systems; their icons, rituals and beliefs will reveal crucial things about that relationship, and also the close relationship between Mithraism and Christianity.
Part Six

In the Persian form of Mithraism (also referred to as Zoarastrianism), the priests were called Parsees. Outside of Persia they were known as the Magi. It is from the Magi that we have derived the term magic.

In the Roman form of Mithraism; the chief of a Mithraic temple was called father. To be a “father,” the individual had to have risen through all seven stages of Mithraic initiation.

The Magi are of historical significance to the history of Christianity.

The Magi are present in the infancy narrative of Matthew. They give witness to the birth of Jesus. In the Gospels they were presented as wise men, and astronomers, just as the priests of Mithras and Zoroaster were in actuality.

Because the infancy narrative of Matthew is myth, and not an accurate retelling of history, the presence of the Magi in his narrative is not accidental. It is purposeful and therefore indicative of the sympathetic relationship between early Christians, and first century CE Mithraites.

Why would a sympathetic relationship exist?

Both Christians and Mithraites believed in the immortality of the soul, the reality of personal salvation, the ministry of the angelic host, a God of goodness and light, as well as the expectation of a final battle with the cosmic forces of darkness, sin, and evil.

In the Roman world, by the first century CE, Mithra had taken on the aspect of the incarnate son of Sol Invictus. Furthermore, in his exalted state, after the feast he prepared from the flesh of the “Primal Bull,” Mithra is seen as being identical to Sol.

Mithra like Christ is seen as being a mediator between Heaven and Earth, responsible for guiding the souls of the elect to paradise. The iconographic similarities explain the sympatico between the two faiths.

Ulansey stated that the worship of Mithra in caves, as it was done among the Romans, was markedly distinct from the Persian form of worship, saying that we cannot explain this as something that occurred by way of a natural syncretic transformation. However, to dispute Ulansey’s claim, we can easily identify path of transformation through the cult of Perseus, the patron deity of Tarsus.

Note well, as stated earlier, in the iconography of the city of Tarsus, Perseus and Mithra are one and the same.

Perseus is the son of the Titan Zeus, king of the Olympians, and the human Danae.

The symbolism in their union is profound.

When Zeus impregnates Danae he comes to her in the form of a shower of gold; not in the form of a human being, or another type of animal (as was often the case with Zeus). The impregnation of Danae, by a shower of gold is the only scene like this depicted in all of the Greek mythologies.

This is to say that Zeus impregnates Danae in his spirit form, through the exalted and ephemeral medium of a “golden-mist.” This is the most idealized and spiritual form Zeus could take.
The impregnation of Danae in this manner, and the subsequent birth of Perseus, is the closest thing in all of the Greek mythologies to a “virgin birth,” a conception narrative analogous to that of Mary conceiving Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

Danae subsequently gives birth to Perseus in an underground cavern, she remains a virgin, never having been touched by the hands of men.

In astronomy the figure of Taurus (the Primal Bull) is the primary symbol of earth. Insofar as Mithra is transformed and exalted through the death and “new-life” of the bull, Mithra is also born of the earth.

As a result, the iconographic narratives of the births of both Perseus and Mithra, often depict them as emerging from a rock. And it is not unreasonable to suppose that the underground worship of Mithra served to highlight these features.

The earth is the womb wherein we are nurtured, from which we are born, like Mithra, like Perseus, we are born into new life.

The worship of Mithra in underground caverns had the effect of limiting Mithraic circles to small groups of people. The worship of Mithra is thought to have been exclusively male, though some scholars believe that in some regions women had their own form of Mithraic devotion.

In army outposts on the fringes of the Empire, the worship chambers were often very small, consisting of a narrow room with rows of benches.

In urban centers the size and splendor of the temples varied with the demographics of the cities they were in, from simple to ostentatious. However, it remains the case that most Mithraic worship places were small, and intimate. The intimacy of these temples bears a close similarity to the “house churches” of the early Christians. Many of the Mithraic temples found in Roman cities, such as Ostia, were later converted to Christian worship.
Part Seven

Among the Romans, Mithraism, like Christianity was centered in the “house church.” The practice was carried out among people who were intimate with one another.

Individual practitioners believed that initiation into the mysteries allowed them to receive immortality through Mithra, but also as a part of a community.

Mithraism, like Christianity promoted the notion that its teachings would transform the individual spiritually, while leaving them in the same social position. The transformation of the individual was interior. It took place in the heart. It manifested itself in their position in the life of the Mithraic temple, or Mithraic shrine, as they advanced through the stages of initiation, but that did not mean that their status, or rank, outside of the Mithraic community would change. A slave would remain a slave, a plebian would remain a plebian.

The activities of the cult were closed to the general society, they were secret and mysterious, and therefore not a cause for disturbance in the social order outside of the community.

In Roman Mithraism there were seven stages of initiation; the Crow, the Griffin, the Soldier, the Lion, the Persian, the Helio-Dromus (or Sun-Runner), and finally the Father. The symbolism of the number seven should not be lost on us, as in Christianity, there are seven sacraments, seven virtues, seven deadly sins etc…

The Order of Initiates were grouped in two classes; those in the first four stages counted as one class, and the last three stages counted as another class. An initiate would move through the stages of initiation until he became one with the Father, thereby becoming the Father himself.

At each stage of initiation, the initiate would learn a secret code that later, after death, would be used to get him into the heavenly realm appropriate to his rank. This belief in ranked heavenly planes, and secret passwords that would allow the individual through the gates of paradise, was widely believed among practitioners of the Hebrew Kabala (coming out of the Pharisaic Sect), as well as among groups of Christians who had fallen into the heretical errors of Gnosticism.

A ceremony of initiation was called a Telete, from the Greek word telos, meaning goal or end.

In the ceremony of initiation, the initiate would first kneel before the Father. The Father would then perform a “laying on of hands,” followed by a rite similar to baptism, wherein the Father would pour water over the head of the initiate from the horn of a bull. Sometimes the rite of water would be done through full immersion.

In cases where the ceremony of initiation was accompanied by an actual animal sacrifice, the initiate would be splattered with the blood of the sacrificial animal, or slapped in the face with a shank of meat. In other cases the blood would be replaced by wine.

This rite of blood, wine, or water is referred to as the purgation. It was a ritual cleansing of the individual from their sins. Sometimes the ceremony of purgation would be completed by passing a torch over the head of the individual, or even touching the individual with the torch in order to symbolize a baptism of both fire and water.

The purgation would be followed by the consecration or coronation, in which a golden crown would be placed on the head of the initiate; this crown was called the “solar crown.” Iconographically the solar crown was analogous to the Christian halo, which term is derived from the Greek; meaning disk of the sun.

There is much in this symbolism that recalls Christian rituals of initiation; so much that I will not even make an argument for how intimately linked the two systems of ritual initiation are. I will simply let the record speak for itself.

It is the same ritual system.

In Roman Mithraism, the initiation ceremony would be followed by a feast meant to symbolize the feast shared by Mithra and Sol.

Ideally, the sacred feast would come from the sacrifice of a bull, but this was not required. While the sacrifice of a bull was central to Mithraic worship, as the cult spread through the empire, and as worship became confined to house churches, it is thought the sacrifice of the bull was replaced with a symbolic alternative. Any sacrificial animal could serve for the feat, or even a meal of bread and wine, could be sufficient.

Such compromises were theologically sound, because the death of the “Primal Bull” was productive of all “good things” on the Earth; any of those “good things” that come from the bull were suitable to be used in the sacred meal. This meal itself, much like the Christian Eucharist, was thought to be an effective means of salvation for the worshippers of Mithra.
In Conclusion

Among the Romans, the first Christian emperor was Saint Constantine, Constantine the Great, who, prior to his death-bed conversion to Christianity, was also a devotee of Mithras-Sol Invictus. When Saint Constantine was made emperor, the first coins struck in his honor depicted his face with the inscription Sol Invictus.

This is evidence that Saint Constantine thought that he was himself, an incarnation of Sol Invictus. This may seem somewhat confusing considering that it is a matter of historical record that Saint Constantine attributed his victory over his enemies to Jesus Christ.
Saint Constantine’s famous vision of the Christian symbol, the Chi-Ro (Px), at the battle of the Milvian bridge (312 CE), is thought to have enabled his victory when his army was at the gates of Rome.

However, in the minds of many practitioners of Mithraism, Jesus and Mithra may have been considered to have been the same person; believing that Jesus was an incarnation of Mithra.

If this is true, it begs the question; if Constantine thought he was Mithra-Sol Invictus, and if Jesus was also believed to be an incarnation of Mithra, did Saint Constantine the Great, think that he was an incarnation of Christ, Christ returned, the Second Coming?

Here is one thing that I know with certainty, Christianity and Mithraism, as religious and spiritual philosophies, are both filled with hope:

Hope for the life of the individual; hope that the individual will ultimately experience justice. Belief that God is good, and that God has given a light to humankind that will guide us in the way to paradise.

Mithraism was less accessible to the average person than Christianity. Mithraism wanted to keep to its secret ways at a time when Christianity was opening itself to the world, defining the terms of its orthodoxy, and rooting out those groups of heretics, the Gnostics, who had those same tendencies that Mithraites did toward secrecy and exclusivism.
Bibliography

Mithraic Iconography and Ideology, by Leroy A. Campbell, published by E. J. Brill, 1968

Mithraic Studies, edited by John R. Hinnells, published by Manchester University Press, 1975

Mithraism in Ostia, edited by Samuel Laeuchli, published by Northwestern University Press, 1967

The Mithras Liturgy, edited and translated by Marvin W. Meyer, published by Scholars Press, 1976

Mysteries of Mithras, by Franz Cumont, translated by Thomas J. McCormack, published by The Open Court Publishing Company, 1903

The New Jerusalem Bible, Standard Edition, published by Doubleday, 1989

The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries, by David Ulansey, published by Oxford University Press, 1989

The New Oxford Companion to the Bible, edited by Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, published by Oxford University Press, 1993

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone, published by Oxford University Press, 1997

Mirror

A mirror is a silvered plane
A portal to another world
Polished clear, bright with luster
An open door, the lighted way

Stand in its aperture, witness
The reflection is dissolving
Fear, slips into the darkened void

A mirror warps reality
Bending the reflection toward doubt
Twisting the gaze into self-loathing
Appearances are not what we are

The lucid vision becomes dim
The lights go out, nothing remains
Bereft, we cling to memories

Vanity is malevolent
It comes in violent wave, crass
A tsunami of illusions
Crashing in self-opposition

Sorrow