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The Gnostics and Their Remains

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Demiurge
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #120 on: March 12, 2009, 01:17:13 pm »

"The Dog (Jackal) represents the sacred scribe: because that functionary ought to be always studying, and likewise should bark at, and make himself disagreeable to, everybody. In another sense he expresses a Prophet, from his habit of staring fixedly at the statues of the gods.

"The Hawk means 'God,' or 'Sun.'

"The Lion, from the resemblance of his round face to the solar orb, is placed beneath the throne of Horus, the Egyptian title of the Sun.

"The Rising of the Nile, called in Coptic Nov or Nev, is denoted by three large vases; and also by a lion, because it attains its full height when the Sun is in that sign of the Zodiac; for which same cause the spouts of the sacred lavers are made in the shape of lions' heads.

"By the Ibis is signified the heart, because the bird belongs to Hermes, who presides over the heart and all reason. The Ibis also, by its own shape, resembles the form of the heart; concerning which matter there is a very long legend current amongst the Egyptians."

But the most graphic account of the symbols and ceremonies employed in the worship of Isis, whilst yet in its full glory (the middle of the second century), is to be obtained from the description of her Procession which Apuleius (himself one of the initiated) has penned in the eleventh Book of his "Golden Ass." "Next flow on the crowds of people initiated into the divine mysteries; men and women of every rank, and all ages, shining in the pure whiteness of linen robes; the latter having their dripping hair enveloped in a transparent covering: the former with their heads shaven clean, and the crowns thereof

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« Reply #121 on: March 12, 2009, 01:17:25 pm »

shining white--these earthly stars of the nocturnal ceremony, raising as they went a shrill tinkling with sistra of bronze, silver, and even of gold. But the chief performers in the rites were those nobles, who, clad in a tight-fitting robe of linen descending from the waist down to the heels, carried in the procession the glorious symbols of the most potent deities.

"The first held out at arm's length a lamp, diffusing before him a brilliant light; not by any means resembling in form the lamps in common use for illuminating our evening meals, but a golden bowl supporting a more ample blaze in the midst of its broad expanse. The second, similarly robed, held up with both hands the Altar that derives its name from the beneficent Providence of the supreme goddess. The third marched along bearing aloft a palm branch with leaves formed of thin gold, and also the Caduceus of Hermes. The fourth displayed the symbol of Justice, the figure of the left hand with the palm open, which, on account of its natural inactivity, and its being endowed with neither skill nor cunning, has been deemed a more fitting emblem of Justice than the right hand. The same minister likewise carried a small golden vestibule made in a round form like an udder, out of which he poured libations of milk. The fifth carried a winnowing fan piled up with golden sprigs. The last of all bore a huge wine jar.

"Immediately after these came the Deities, condescending to walk upon human feet, the foremost among them rearing terrifically on high his dog's head and neck--that messenger between heaven and hell displaying alternately a face black as night, and golden as the day; in his left the caduceus, in his right waving aloft the green palm branch. His steps were closely followed by a cow, raised into an upright posture--the cow being the fruitful emblem of the Universal Parent, the goddess herself, which one of the happy train carried with majestic steps, supported on his shoulders. By another was borne the coffin containing the sacred things, and closely concealing the deep secrets of the holy religion. Another carried in his happy bosom the awful figure of the Supreme Deity, not represented in the image of a beast either tame or wild, nor of a bird, nor even in that of man, but ingeniously devised and

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« Reply #122 on: March 12, 2009, 01:17:36 pm »

inspiring awe by its very strangeness, that ineffable symbol of the deepest mystery, and ever to be shrouded in the profoundest silence. But next came, carried precisely in the same manner, a small vessel made of burnished gold, and most skilfully wrought out into a hemispherical bottom, embossed externally with strange Egyptian figures. Its mouth, but slightly raised, was extended into a spout, and projected considerably beyond the body of the bowl, whilst on the opposite side, widening as it receded into a capacious opening, it was affixed to the handle, upon which was seated an asp wreathed into a knot, and rearing up on high its streaked, swollen and scaly neck."

These images and symbols require a few remarks in elucidation: suggested by the notices of ancient writers, or by the representations of these very objects upon extant monuments of the same religion. The "udder-shaped" vessel exactly describes the one so frequently placed upon the Gnostic gems, and which Matter so strangely interprets as the "Vase of Sins" of the deceased--an unlikely subject to be selected for a talisman intended to secure the benevolence of heaven. Much more to the purpose is Köhler's conjecture that it is one of the earthen pots used to be tied round the circumference of the irrigating wheel, still employed for raising the water of the Nile to fertilise the adjacent fields; "fecundating Isis with the seed of Osiris" in ancient phrase, and certainly the string fastened about its top favours such an explanation; in fact, we have an example of similar veneration for a vessel in the case of the Canopus, the pot that held the same water when purified for drinking. The "winnow-fan" is also often represented, placed over this hemispherical vase; the same instrument played an important part in the marriage ceremony of the Greeks. When piled with fruit of all kinds, it was placed on the head of the bride; the same significant article, a broad, shallow basket, was the cradle of the infant Bacchus--the "mystica vannus Iacchi." The golden "Bowl," serving for lamp, often figures amongst the various emblems adorning our talismans. The "Sistrum" got its peculiar outline from the Indian Yoni (emblem of the female sex), and it was on account of its similar shape the almond, luz, was also held sacred in Egypt, which seems the

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Demiurge
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« Reply #123 on: March 12, 2009, 01:18:01 pm »

true origin of the "vesica piscis," serving as the inclosure for divine figures. The British Museum possesses a Hindoo altar in hardstone, neatly polished, having its flat top formed into the shape of the lingam-yoni; at each corner of the square a little idol is squatted. This Indian figure, signifying the Active and Passive Powers of Nature in conjunction for the work of Creation, is sculptured like a round shallow basin, with long projecting lips tapering to a twist, with an obtuse cone rising out of its middle. Now this is the exact shape of a large brown lamp from Herculaneum (Caylus, vii. pl. 33), only that from its centre, instead of a cone, springs a bent fore-finger, digitus obscœnus (with the same meaning as the lingam) serving for handle to carry it by, whilst from the sides project the three arms of the Egyptian Tau. This vessel must have belonged to the Isis-worship in that town, no doubt as popular there as it is known to have been at the neighbouring Pompeii. As for the office of "Anubis-bearer," it is related that when Commodus discharged that duty in the procession, he gratified the insane cruelty of his nature by cracking the shaven skulls of all within reach with the weighty head of the idol; and it seems to follow as a matter of course that the Anubis of Apuleius, in order to display alternately an ebon and a golden visage, must have possessed a pair of heads, human and canine, just as he is figured, holding the caduceus and palm upon certain Basilidan gems. Lastly, the mysterious image, too awful to be described, but whose nature is darkly hinted at as neither of bird, beast, nor man. These very expressions would tempt me to believe a compound of all three; in a word, the veritable figure of the Abraxas god. And be it remembered that this image was the "Supreme God," and he, we know, was the IAO of Egypt. This idol must have been of small dimensions, for it was carried in the bosom of the devotee's robe, and my suspicion is strongly confirmed by the existence in the late Mertens-Schaffhausen Collection of a bronze statuette, five inches in height, found in the south of France, and thus described in the Catalogue. "No 2002. Statuette of Iao standing, armed with cuirass, shield and whip; his head in the form of a ****'s, his legs terminating in serpents."



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Footnotes
107:* Of which a fine example, an intaglio, is figured in the Museum Odescalchum.

108:* But the Demotic writing must have lingered much longer in use, for Capitolinus, cap. 34, mentions the "Egyptian" as one of the current alphabets of the third century. "The soldiers raised a tomb to Gordian at Circeium Castrum, on the confines of Persia; placing upon this edifice (moles) an epitaph in Greek, Latin, Persian, Jewish, and Egyptian letters, so that it might be read by everybody. "Divo Gordiano, victori Persarum, victori Gothorum, victori Sarmatarum, depulsori Romanarum seditionum, victori Germanorum, sed non victori Philipporum."



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Demiurge
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« Reply #124 on: March 12, 2009, 01:18:18 pm »

p. 113

PART II.
THE WORSHIP OF MITHRAS AND SERAPIS.
p. 114


"O voi ch’ avete gl’ intelletti sani,
Mirate la dottrina che s’asconde
Sotto il velame degli versi strani."

"Salve vera Deűm facies, vultusque paterne,
Octo et sexcentis numeris cui litera trina
Conformat sacrum nomen, cognomen et
Omen. (Mart. Capella. Hymn. ad Sol.)
 

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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
Demiurge
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #125 on: March 12, 2009, 01:18:54 pm »

ΦΡΗ = ϒΗC =  = =
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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
Demiurge
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« Reply #126 on: March 12, 2009, 01:19:09 pm »

p. 115

THE WORSHIP OF MITHRAS.
I. ORIGIN OF MITHRAICISM.
THE innumerable monuments of every kind bequeathed to us by the widely-spread worship of the deity styled Mithras, serve, at the same time, copiously to illustrate the important contributions of Zoroastrian doctrine towards the composition of Gnosticism. The Mithraic religion, according to Plutarch, first made its appearance in Italy upon Pompey's reduction of the Cilician Pirates, of whom it was the national worship; * a and who, when broken up into colonists and slaves all over Italy, propagated it amongst their conquerors. In the new soil the novel religion flourished so rapidly as, in the space of two centuries, to supersede (coupled with the earlier introduced Serapis worship) the primitive Hellenic and Etruscan deities. In fact, long before this final triumph over the sceptical, Pliny appears disposed to accept Mithraicism, in its essential principle, as the only religion capable of satisfying a rational inquirer; as may be deduced from this noble passage (ii. 4): "Eorum medius Sol fervidus, amplissima magnitudine, nec temporum modo terrarumque sed siderum etiam ipsorum cœlique Rector. Hanc esse mundi totius animam ac planius mentem, nunc principale Naturæ regimen ac Numen credere decet, opera ejus æstimantes. Hic lumen rebus ministrat, aufertque tenebras, hic reliqua


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sidera occultat, illustrat; hic vices temporum annumque semper renascentem ex usu Naturæ temperat, hic cœli tristitiam discutit, atque etiam humani nubila animi serenat: hic suum lumen cæteris quoque sideribus fœnerat; præclarus, eximius, omnia intuens, omnia etiam exaudiens; at principi literarum Homero placuisse in uno eo video. Quapropter effigiem Dei formamque quærere imbecillitatis humanæ rear. Quisquis est Deus, si modo est alius, et quacunque in parte, totus est senses, totus visus, totus auditus, totus animæ, totus animi, totus sui." Thus, during the second and third centuries of the Roman Empire, Mithras and Serapis had come almost to engross the popular worship, even to the remotest limits of the known world. For Mithraicism was originally the religion taught by Zoroaster, although somewhat changed and materialized so as better to assimilate itself to the previously established Nature Worship of the West. Under this grosser form it took its name from Mithras, who in the Zendavesta is not the Supreme Being (Ormuzd), but the Chief of the subordinate Powers, the Seven Amshaspands. Mithra is the Zend name for the sun, the proper mansion of this Spirit, but not the Spirit himself. Hence the great oath of Artaxerxes Mnemon was, "By the light of Mithras," a counterpart of the tremendous adjuration of our William the Conqueror, "By the Splendour of God!" But the materialistic Greeks at once identified the Persian Spirit with their own substantial Phœbus and Hyperion. Thus Ovid has,


"Placat equo Persis radiis Hyperiona cinctum." (Fasti I. 335.)

In this view of his nature Mithras was identified with other types of the Sun-god, such as the "Phanaces" of Asia Minor, and the "Dionysos" of Greece; and thereby soon usurped the place of the latter in the long established Mysteries, the ancient Dionysia. The importance into which the Mithraica had grown by the middle of the second century may be estimated from a fact mentioned by Lampridius, that the emperor himself (Commodus) condescended to be initiated into them. Nay more, with their penances, and tests of the courage of the neophyte, they may be said to have been maintained by unbroken tradition through the secret societies of the Middle Ages, then by the Rosicrucians,

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« Reply #127 on: March 12, 2009, 01:20:23 pm »

down to that faint reflex of the latter, the Freemasonry of our own times. But this curious point must be reserved for the last Section of this Treatise investigating the nature of the last named societies. My present object is to point out the gradations by which the Mithraic principle passed into the Egyptian and semi-Christian forms of Gnosticism.

The mystic name Abraxas (asserted to have been the coinage of the Alexandrian Basilides) is said to mean either in actual Coptic "Holy Name" (as Bellermann will have it); or, as seems equally probable, is merely the Hebrew Ha-Brachah "Blessing," Grecised, in the same sense. That the symbolic figure embodying the idea of the Abraxas god has a reference to the sun in all its components is yet more evident, as shall be shown hereafter; similarly, the Brahmins apply their Ineffable Name Aum to the "fierce and all-pervading Sun"; and Macrobius devotes much curious learning to prove that all the great gods of antiquity, whatever their names and figures, were no more than various attempts at personifying the One Deity, whose residence is the sun. It must here be remembered that Basilides was by no means a Christian heretic, as the later Fathers found it expedient to represent him, but rather as his contemporary Clemens, relates, a philosopher devoted to the study of divine things; and thus possibly imbued with such Buddhistic notions as the intercourse between Alexandria and the cities of Guzerat (then ruled over by the Jaina kings) may have naturalized both in Egypt and in Palestine. This metropolis, as the grand emporium for foreign doctrines as well as foreign wares, supplies the reason for the frequent union of Mithras with Abraxas in the same stone, proceeding from the Alexandrian talisman-factory. A curious exemplification is a green jasper (Marlborough), bearing on one side the normal Zoroastrian device, Mithras slaughtering the Bull; on the other, the well-known Gnostic Pantheus. A truly Indian syncretism, which converts all deities from separate beings into mere deified attributes of one and the same God, and (for the initiated few, that is) reduces that seemingly unlimited polytheism into the acknowledgment of the existence of the Supreme Creator.

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« Reply #128 on: March 12, 2009, 01:20:34 pm »

That model of a perfect prince, Severus Alexander, must have imbibed a strong tinge of the Gnosis (as indeed might have been expected from his birthplace and style of education), for although upon every seventh day he went up to worship in the Capitol, and also regularly visited the temples of the other Roman gods, he nevertheless "was intending to build a temple unto Christ, and to rank Him in the number of the gods." Which thing Hadrian also is said to have thought of, and actually to have ordered temples without images to be built in all the chief cities of the Empire: which same temples, because they contain no gods, are now called temples raised to Hadrian himself, although in reality he is reported to have prepared them for the purpose above-named. But he was prevented from carrying out his design by those who consulted the oracles (sacra), and discovered that, if it should be carried out, everybody would turn Christian, and thereby the other temples would be all deserted" (Lampridius i. 43). Indeed, there is every reason to believe that, as in the East, the worship of Serapis was at first combined with Christianity, and gradually merged into it with an entire change of name, though not of substance, carrying along with it many of its proper ideas and rites, so in the West the Mithras-worship produced a similar effect upon the character of the religion that took its place. Seel, in his admirable treatise upon Mithraicism ('Mithra,' p. 287) is of opinion that "as long as the Roman dominion lasted in Germany, we find traces there of the Mosaic law: and in the same way as there were single Jewish families, so were there single Christians existing amongst the heathen. The latter, however, for the most part, ostensibly paid worship to the Roman gods in order to escape persecution, holding secretly in their hearts the religion of Christ. It is by no means improbable that, under the permitted symbols of Mithras, they worshipped the Son of God, and the mysteries of Christianity. In this point of view, the Mithraic monuments, so frequent in Germany, are evidences to the faith of the early Christian Romans." This same supremacy of the Mithras-worship in his own times makes the grand scheme of Heliogabalus prove less insane than it strikes the modern reader at the first impression. He was intending

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[paragraph continues] (according to report) to permit no other worship at Rome than that of his own god and namesake, the Emesene aerolite, apt emblem of the Sun; "bringing together in his temple the Fire of Vesta, the Palladium, the Ancilia, and all the other most venerated relics; and moreover the religion of the Jews and Samaritans, and the devotion * of the Christians." (Lampridius 3). To such a heterogeneous union that numerous section of the Roman public who shared Macrobius’ sentiments on the nature of all ancient gods, could have found no possible objection so far as the principle was concerned.

That such a relationship to Christianity was actually alleged by the partisans of Mithraicism (when in its decline) is proved by the remarkable declaration of Augustine himself (John I. Dis. 7). "I remember that the priests of the fellow in the cap (illius pileati) used at one time to say, 'Our Capped One is himself a Christian.'" In this asserted affinity probably lay the motive that induced Constantine to adopt for the commonest type of his coinage (the sole currency of the Western provinces), and retain long after his conversion, the figure of Sol himself, with the legend "To the Invincible Sun, my companion (or guardian)." A type capable of a double interpretation, meaning equally the ancient Phœbus and the new Sun of Righteousness, and thereby unobjectionable to Gentile and Christian alike of the equally divided population amongst whom it circulated. Nay more, this Emperor when avowedly Christian, selected for the grandest ornament of his new Capital, a colossal Apollo, mounted upon a lofty column, which retained its place until cast down by an earthquake in the reign of Alexius Comnenus.

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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
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« Reply #129 on: March 12, 2009, 01:20:54 pm »

Through a similar interchange, the old festival held on the 25th day of December in honour of the "Birth-day of the Invincible One," and celebrated by the Great Games of the Circus (as marked in the Kalendar "viii KAL.IAN. N. INVICTI. C. M. xxiv" †) was afterwards transferred to the commemoration of the Birth of Christ, of which the real day was, as the Fathers



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confess, totally unknown: Chrysostom, for example, declares (Hom. xxxi.) that the Birthday of Christ had then lately been fixed at Rome upon that day, in order that whilst the heathen were busied with their own profane ceremonies, the Christians might perform their holy rites without molestation.

And Mithras was the more readily admitted as the type of Christ, Creator and Maintainer of the Universe, inasmuch as the Zendavesta declares him to be the First Emanation of Ormuzd, the Good Principle, and the Manifestation of Himself unto the world. Now it was from this very creed that the Jews, during their long captivity in the Persian Empire (of which when restored to Palestine they formed but a province), derived all the angelology of their religion, even to its minutest details, such as we find it flourishing in the times of the Second Kingdom. Not until then are they discovered to possess the belief in a future state; of rewards and punishments, the latter carried on in a fiery lake; the existence of a complete hierarchy of good and evil angels, taken almost verbatim from the lists given by the Zendavesta; the soul's immortality, and the Last Judgment--all of them essential parts of the Zoroastrian scheme, and recognised by Josephus as the fundamental doctrines of the Judaism of his own times.

To all these ideas Moses in the Law makes not the slightest allusion; his promises and threatenings are all of the earth, earthy; he preaches a religion of Secularists, and such a religion was, down to the latest days of Jerusalem, still maintained by the Sadducees. Now these Sadducees were the most ancient and respectable families of the nation, who boasted of keeping the law of Moses pure, and uncontaminated from the admixture of foreign notions imbibed by the commonalty during their long sojourn amongst the Gentiles. Nay more, there is some reason to accept Matter's etymology of the name of their opponents, the Pharisees, as actually signifying "Persians," being a term of contempt for the holders of the new-fangled doctrines picked. up from their conquerors. And this etymology is a much more rational one, and more consistent with the actual elements of the word, than the common one making it to mean "Separatists"--an epithet by no means applicable to a party constituting

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« Reply #130 on: March 12, 2009, 01:21:07 pm »

the immense majority of the race. It is only necessary now to allude to the ingenious theory of Bishop Warburton, set forth in his 'Divine Legation of Moses,' who converts the absence of all spiritualism from his teaching into the strongest argument for its being directly inspired from Heaven.

But from whatever source derived, how closely does the Zoroastrian idea of the nature and office of Mithras coincide with the definition of those of Christ as given by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, that profound Jewish theologian, who styles Him the "Brightness (or reflection) of his glory, the express image * of his person, upholding all things by the word of his power;" and again, "being made so much better than the angels as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent Name than they," and here it may be observed that the Reflection of the Invisible Supreme in his First Emanation is a distinguishing feature in most of the Gnostic systems. Mithras used to be invoked together with the Sun, and thus, being confounded with that luminary, became the object of a separate worship, which ultimately superseded that of Ormuzd himself: and this was the only one propagated by the Pontic colonists and their converts amongst the nations of the West. Secondary deities often usurp the places of those of the first rank; so Vishnu and Siva have entirely eclipsed Brahma. Serapis had played the same part with the Pharaonic gods of Egypt, and yet more striking analogies from modern creeds are too obvious to require quotation. Through this relationship of ideas Mithraic symbolism found its way into early Christian art in many of its particulars. The bas-relief over the portal of the Baptistery at Parma (a work of the 12th century), has all the aspect of a Mithraic monument, and certainly its design would be very difficult to understand from a Scriptural point of view.



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Footnotes
115:* This deity, under other titles, had ever been the great god of Pontus. As patron of Sinope he appears under the form of Helios-Dionysos, upon the medallion of Pharnaces II. In his proper name he was the patron of Trebizond, being worshipped on the Mount Mithras overhanging that most ancient of Grecian colonies. For destroying his statue, the fanatic Eugenius, justly punished by Diocletian, was adopted, in the succeeding times of superstition, for the tutelary saint of the Byzantine Empire of Trebizond.

119:* This curious distinction between "religio" and "devotio," is meant to mark the difference between a national and established creed and one held by individuals, without any public sanction.

119:† Signifying that twenty-four consecutive races of chariots were exhibited on that occasion in the Circus. Maximus.

121:* Ἀπαύγασμα--χαρακτήρ, the latter word literally "impression of a seal," is the exact counterpart of the Hebrew title, "Tikkan," the Primal Emanation.



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« Reply #131 on: March 12, 2009, 01:21:23 pm »

p. 122

II. THE MITHRAIC SACRAMENTS.
The principal rites of the worship of Mithras bore a very curious resemblance to those subsequently established in the Catholic church; they likewise furnished a model for the initiatory ceremonies observed by the secret societies of the Middle Ages, and by their professed descendants in modern times. The Neophytes were admitted by the rite of Baptism; the initiated at their assemblies solemnly celebrated a species of Eucharist: whilst the courage and endurance of the candidate for admission into the sect were tested by twelve consecutive trials, called "The Tortures," undergone within a cave constructed for the purpose; all which "tortures" had to be completely passed through before participation in the Mysteries was granted to the aspirant.

The two distinguishing Rites, or "Sacraments" (to use the technical term) are thus alluded to by Justin Martyr (Apol. II) in the earliest description which has been left us of their character. "The Apostles in the Commentaries written by themselves, which we call Gospels, have delivered down to us that Jesus thus commanded them: He having taken bread, after that He had given thanks, * said: Do this in commemoration of me; this is my body. Also having taken a cup and returned thanks, He said: This is my blood, and delivered it unto them alone. Which things indeed the evil spirits have taught to be done, out of memory, in the Mysteries and Initiations of Mithras. For in these likewise a cup of water, and bread, are set out, with the addition of certain words, in the sacrifice or act of worship of the person about to be initiated: a thing which Ye either know by personal experience or may learn by inquiry." Again, Tertullian, writing in the following century, has in the same connection: "The Devil, whose business it is to pervert the truth, mimicks the exact circumstances of the Divine Sacraments, in the Mysteries of idols. He himself baptises some that is to say, his believers and followers; he promises forgiveness


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« Reply #132 on: March 12, 2009, 01:21:37 pm »

of sins from the Sacred Fount, and thereby initiates them into the religion of Mithras: thus he marks on the forehead his own soldiers: there he celebrates the oblation of bread: he brings in the symbol of the Resurrection, and wins the crown with the sword." By the "symbol of the Resurrection" Tertullian clearly means that "simulation of death" mentioned by Lampridius (of which more hereafter), and which is typified on so many talismans by the corpse bestridden by the Solar Lion. The final ceremony he has himself explained in another passage: "Blush, my Roman fellow-soldiers, even though ye be not to be judged by Christ, but by any 'Soldier of Mithras,' who when he is undergoing initiation in the Cave, in the very Camp of the Powers of Darkness, when the crown (garland, rather) is offered to him (a sword being placed between, as though in semblance of martyrdom), and about to be set upon his head, is instructed to put forth his hand, and push the crown away, transferring it perchance, to his shoulder, saying at the same time: My crown is Mithras. And from that time forth he never wears a crown (garland), and this he has for the badge of his initiation, for he is immediately known to be a 'soldier of Mithras,' if he rejects a garland when offered to him, saying that his crown is his god. Let us therefore acknowledge the craftiness of the Devil; who copies certain things of these that be Divine, in order that he may confound and judge us by the faithfulness of his own followers." As to the ceremony here mentioned, unimportant as it may seem to the modern reader, it may be remarked that as the wearing a garland was indispensable among the ancients on all festive occasions, the refusal of one upon such occasions would be a most conspicuous mark of singularity, and of unflinching profession of faith. But every dispassionate observer will perceive that these over-zealous Fathers proceed to beg the question when they assume that the Mithraic rites were devised as counterfeits of the Christian Sacraments: inasmuch as the former were in existence long before the first promulgation of Christianity; unless indeed to imitate by anticipation be considered as merely another proof of the mischievous sagacity of its diabolical opponent. On the other hand, there is good reason to suspect that the simple

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commemorative, or distinctive, ceremonies, instituted by the first founder of Christianity, were gradually invested with those mystic and supernatural virtues which later ages insisted upon as articles of faith, by the teaching of unscrupulous missionaries, anxious to outbid the attractions of long-established rites of an apparently cognate character. By this assimilation they offered to their converts through the performance of, as it were, certain magical practices, all those spiritual blessings of which the rites themselves were, at their institution, the symbols only, not the instruments. A very instructive illustration of such union of Mithraicism and Christianity, in the celebration of the Eucharist, is afforded by the Pistis-Sophia's description of the great one celebrated by the Saviour himself upon the shore of the Sea of Galilee, which will be found given at length in its proper place. And lastly, it deserves to be mentioned that "eating the flesh and drinking the blood" of a human sacrifice was far from being a mere figure of speech in certain of these mystic celebrations. Pliny gives high praise to Claudius for having suppressed the worship of the Druids (whom he considers as identical in their religion with the Magi), in whose rites "it was esteemed the highest act of religion to slaughter a man, and the most salutary of proceedings to eat the flesh of the same." And in this notion, which necessarily became attached by suspicion to the proceedings of all secret societies, lay most probably the root of the belief so widely diffused amongst the Roman vulgar, that the real Eucharist of the first Christians at their nocturnal meetings was the sacrifice, and the feasting upon, a new-born child, concealed within a vessel of flour, into which the catechumen was directed by his sponsors to plunge a knife.

In the particulars preserved to us of the Mithraic Sacrament, certain very curious analogies to those of the Christian rite cannot fail to arrest our attention. The "Bread therein used was a round cake," emblem of the solar disk, and called Mizd. In this name Seel discovers the origin of Missa, as designating the Bloodless Sacrifice of the Mass, assuming that this Mizd was the prototype of the Host (hostia), which is of precisely the same forum and dimensions.

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« Reply #133 on: March 12, 2009, 01:21:50 pm »

It is not out of place to notice here the various etymologies which have been proposed for the word Missa. The most popular one, which moreover has the sanction of Ducange, derives it from the words "Ite, missa est," with which the priest dismissed the non-communicant part of the congregation, before proceeding to the actual consecration of the Eucharist. The translation of the phrase by the vulgar into "Depart, it is the Missa," would certainly be obvious enough. But, according to the rule in all such cases, the object sacrificed gives its name to the ceremony, rather than a phrase from the ceremonial itself, and this object had from time immemorial gone by the name of hostia, or "victim." The early Christians were quite as partial as the Gnostics to the naturalizing of the Hebrew terms belonging to the Mosaic ordinances, and applying the same to their own practices. Thus the old Covenant went amongst them by the name of Phase, for example:--


"In hoc festo novi Regis,
 Novum Pascha novæ legis
    Vetus Phase terminat."

The Rabbins have possibly preserved a tradition that explains the true origin of the wafer. Alphonsus de Spira, in his "Fortalitium Fidei" (II. 2), asserts that its circular form is a symbol of the sun, and that it is in reality offered in sacrifice, at the celebration of the Mass, to the genius of that luminary! For the Kabbalists hold that Moses and the prophets were inspired by the genius of Saturn, a good and pure spirit, whereas Jesus was by that of Mercury, a malevolent one; and the Christian religion was the work of Mercury, Jupiter and the Sun, all combining together for that purpose. There is yet another curious analogy to be noticed, when it is remembered that the Mass symbolises the death of its first institutor. A round cake (the chupatty of such evil notoriety at the commencement of the Sepoy Mutiny) is, amongst the Hindoos, the established offering to the Manes of their ancestors. The Christian "breaking of bread," besides symbolising the great sacrifice once offered, seems, from the account of the Manifestation at Emmaus, to have been done in some peculiar

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way which should serve for a masonic token, or means of mutual recognition amongst the brethren.

The sacramental Cup, or chalice, is often represented as set upon the Mithraic altar, or rather, table; and a curious piece of jugglery connected with its employment (though not amongst the Mithraicists), is described by Epiphanies (Hæres. xxxiv.). The followers of Marcus, in their celebrating the Eucharist, employed three vases made of the clearest glass. These were filled with wine which, during the progress of the ceremony, changed into a blood-red, purple, and blue colour, respectively. "Thereupon the officiating minister, or more properly speaking, magician, hands one of these vessels to some lady of the congregation, and requests her to bless it. Which done, he pours this into another vase of much greater capacity, with the prayer, "May the grace of God, which is above all, inconceivable, inexplicable, fill thine inner man, and increase the knowledge of Himself within thee, sowing the grain of mustard-seed in good ground!" Whereupon the liquid in the larger vase swells and swells until it runs over the brim.

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« Reply #134 on: March 12, 2009, 01:22:05 pm »

The worship of Mithras long kept its ground under the Christian emperors in the capital itself, and doubtless survived its overthrow there for many generations longer in the remote and then semi-independent provinces. At the very close of the fourth century, Jerome, writing to Læta, says, "A few years ago, did not your kinsman Gracchus, a name the very echo of patrician nobility, when holding the office of Prefect of the City, break down and burn the Cave of Mithras, with all the monstrous images which pervade the initiatory rites, as Corax, Niphus, the Soldier, the Lion, the Persian, Helios, and Father Bromius?"

In the imagery here alluded to, it is easy to recognise figures that perpetually occur upon the still extant representations of the Mithras worship. In Corax, the Raven; in Niphus, Cneph the serpent; the armed man; the Lion bestriding the human victim; the youth in Persian garb; the Sun, expressed either by Phœbus in his car, or by the star with eight rays; and Bromius "the Roarer," appropriate title of the Grecian Dionysos; who also appears as the Asiatic Phanaces, a youth holding a

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torch in each hand, one elevated and one depressed to signify his rising and setting. Chiflet's gem (Fig. 62) may on good grounds be taken for a picture of the Mithraic ritual, and upon it all the forementioned figures and symbols are easily to be discovered. Two erect serpents form a kind of frame to the whole tableau; at the top of which are seen the heads of Sol and Luna confronted; between them stands an eagle with outspread wings; at the back of each, a raven. In the field are two naked, crowned men on horseback, trampling upon as many dead bodies; between them a kneeling figure in supplicatory attitude, over whose head are two stars. Behind each horseman stand two soldiers. In the exergue is set out a table supporting a loaf, a fawn (sacred to Bacchus), a chalice, and something indistinct, but probably meant for the crown Tertullian speaks of. The reverse presents a more simple design: two crested serpents (dracones), twined about wands, and looking into a cup; two stars over a table resting upon a larger vase; and on each side a bow, the ends of which finish in serpents’ heads.

In this composition we probably see portrayed certain amongst the tests of the neophyte's courage, which, according to Suidas, were termed the "Twelve Degrees" or "Tortures." These corresponded in nature, although of vastly more severe reality, with those trials of courage to which our Masonic Lodges subject the "apprentice" who seeks admission amongst them. During the Mithraic probation, which lasted forty days, * the candidate was tested by the Four Elements, he lay naked a certain number of nights upon the snow, and afterwards was scourged for the space of two days. These Twelve Tortures are sculptured upon the border of the famous Mithraic tablets preserved in the Innsbruck Museum, and a brief account of their several stages will serve to elucidate much of what remains to be discussed. I. Man standing and about to plunge a dagger into the throat of a kneeling figure, who holds up his hands in supplication. (This scene appears analogous to the one in the modern ceremonial, when the candidate, ordered to remove the bandage from his eyes, beholds many swords pointed in the


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