Introduction to the Old Religion
I. GODDESS RELIGIONS IN THE OLD WORLD
A. Gravettian-Aurignacian Cultures (25000 BC-15000 BC)
1. The Upper-Paleolithic period, though most of its sites have been found in Europe, is the conjectural foundation of the religion of the Goddess as it emerged in the later Neolithic Age of the Near East.
a. There have been numerous studies of Paleolithic cultures, explorations of sites occupied by these people, and the apparent rites connected with the disposal of their dead.
b. In these Upper-Paleolithic societies, the concept of the creator of all human life may have been formulated by the clan's image of women, who were their most ancient primal ancestors.
(1) It is believed that the mother was regarded as the sole parent of children in this culture.
(2) Ancestor worship appears to have been the basis of sacred rituals and ancestry is believed to have been reckoned through the matriline.
(a) The beginnings of Roman religion were based on survivals of the Etruscan culture and ancestor worship was the earliest form of religion in Rome.
(b) Even today, the Jewish people determine who is and is not a Jew through the matriline.
2. The most tangible evidence supporting the theory that these cultures worshiped a Goddess is the numerous sculptures of women found throughout most of Europe and the Near East. Some of these sculptures date as far back as 25,000 BC.
a. These small female figurines, made of stone, bone, and clay, most of which are seemingly pregnant, have been found throughout the widespread Gravettian-Aurignacian sites in areas as far apart as Spain, France, Germany, Austria, and Russia.
(1) These sites and figurines appear to span a period of at least 10,000 years.
3. Johannes Maringer, in his book "The Gods of Prehistoric Man" says- "It appears highly probable then that the female figurines were idols of a Great Mother cult, practiced by the non-nomadic Aurignacian mammoth hunters who inhabited the immense Eurasian territories that extended from Southern France to Lake Baikal in Siberia."
a. It was from this Lake Baikal area in Siberia that tribes are believed to have migrated across a great land bridge to North America about this time period, and formed the nucleus of what was to become the race of American Indians.
(1) This tends to support the observation that European witchcraft and American Indian shamanism have similar roots.
B. The Roots of Western Civilization
1. Western Civilization began in Mesopotamia and the Nile Valley, where it traveled into Palestine and Greece.
a. From Greece civilization traveled to Rome, and as the Roman Empire grew it spread to Spain, France, Germany and England.
2. Mesopotamia ( 3500 BC - 539 BC )
a. Mesopotamia ("the land between the rivers") is the name used to describe the region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the southern area of which is mostly low-lying swampland and marshes.
(1) The fertile lands of Mesopotamia lie between the desert and the mountains. The northern part has regular rainfall while the southern part, stretching down to the Arabian Gulf, suffers dry scorching summers from May to October.
(a) In what is now the southern part of Iraq, Sumer existed as one of the world's first civilizations.
b. Between 2800 and 2400 BC the city-states of Sumer were at their strongest and wealthiest.
(1) The Goddess was worshiped under various names which were epithets, or characterizing phrases, such as 'Queen of Heaven' and 'Lady of the High Places'. The name of the city or town that She was the patroness for, was often attached to Her title making Her name even more specific.
(a) An example of this is the temple erected about 3000 BC in the city-state of Uruk which was dedicated to the Queen of Heaven of Erech.
(b) This city was made a major power and rival to its sister city Ur by Gilgamesh's son.
c. About 2350 BC an ambitious king, named Sargon, attacked Sumer, and made it part of his huge Empire. His capitol of Agade gave us the name by which Sargons empire is known- the Akkadian Empire.
(1) The Akkadian Empire was the first successful attempt to unite a huge area under the rule of one man. It eventually gained supremacy in about 1900 BC and gradually superseded the Summerians as the cultural and political leaders of the region.
(a) The Akkadian language of the Babylonians became the international language of the Near East, just as French would become the language of diplomacy thousands of years later.
(b) The new Babylonian culture incorporated the Sumerian religion, and the Sumerian language was adopted as the language of the liturgy much as Latin is used as the language of liturgy for Roman Catholics.
(c) The Sumerian Goddess, under the names Inanna, Eriskegan and Irnini, evolved into the great Babylonian Goddess Ishtar.
d. Approximately 1600 BC Babylon was sacked by an Indo-European people known as the Hittites who came from Anatolia, off to the northwest.
(1) During the confusion that ensued, the Kassites seized the throne of Babylon and ruled peacefully for 400 years.
(a) Ishtar's power waned as the Babylonians were influenced by the warlike Hittites and Her temples were taken over by a male-dominated priesthood, which called the Goddess Tiamat and wrote stories of how their god Marduk had killed Her in the struggle for control of the region.
e. In the centuries following 1103 BC the Assyrians rose to power and expanded into most of Mesopotamia from their homeland which lay between the cities of Asher and Nineveh on the Tigrus River.
(1) In the eighth century, the Assyrians conquered most of Syria, Palestine, Phoenicia and had invaded Egypt as far as Thebes (Luxor) before the Egyptians drove them back.
(a) Looking to legitimize their new empire, they 'married' their god Asher to Ishtar, whose followers had secretly kept Her worship alive.
(b) The joining of Ashur with Ishtar produced a son named Ninurta, and this is the first formally recorded triad of Goddess, Consort, and Divine Child in the Near East.
(2) From 631 to 539 BC much inter-city warfare occurred as the Assyrian empire fell apart.
(a) In 539 BC Nabonius, the last king of Babylonia, surrendered to Cyrus II of Persia who was busy building the greatest empire ever attempted.
a. Anatolia, which is also called Asia Minor, is a broad peninsula jutting westward from the Asian continent itself. To the north lies the Black Sea, to the south the easternmost part of the Mediterranean. At the entrance to the Black Sea are the Dardanelles and it is here that Asia comes closest to the continent of Europe. Not surprisingly, Anatolia has always been the main link between the Orient and the Occident.
b. In Neolithic Anatolia (present day Turkey) the Great Goddess was worshiped in the shrines of Catal Huyuk around 6500 BC.
c. Anatolia was invaded sometime before 2000 BC by the Indo-Europeans and a group of them settled in a part of Anatolia known as Hatti. The invaders and local people came to be known collectively as the Hittites.
(1) These are the same Hittites who sacked Babylonia in 1600 BC and suppressed the worship of Ishtar in favor of their god Marduk.
d. Most of the references to the Goddess in the literature and texts of Anatolia alluded to the older Hattian deities despite the fact that the only records allowed to survive were written after the conquest of Anatolia by the Indo-Europeans.
(1) One of the most important female deities to survive was the Sun Goddess Arinna. After the conquest she was assigned a husband who was symbolized as a storm god.
(a) At the time of the Hittite invasions of other lands, many of the people who were Goddess-worshipers may have fled to the west. The renowned temple of the Goddess in the city of Ephesus was the target of the apostle Paul's zealous missionary efforts (Acts 19:27). This temple remained active until 380 AD.
a. The Aegean Sea is an area of the Mediterranean, lying between the mainland of Greece and the western coast of Anatolia. The Aegean Sea is dotted with a great number of mountainous islands and the largest of these is Crete, which is just about 60 miles southeast of Greece.
(1) Crete was the society that is most repeatedly thought to have been matrilineal and possibly matriarchal from Neolithic times to the Dorian invasion.
(a) Reverence of the double headed ax as a symbol of the Mother Goddess and a reverence for the sexual vitality of bulls were two notable aspects of Crete's early culture.
(b) Bull leaping is thought to have been the origin of Spain's bullfighting, although in Crete the bull was never harmed.
(2) After viewing the artifacts and murals at Knossos, the Archaeological Museum at Iraklion and other museums in Crete, there is little doubt that the principal sacred being on Crete for several millennia was the Goddess and that women acted as Her clergy.
5. Egypt (3100 to 30 BC)
a. Egypt is a hot, desert land divided by the fertile valley of the Nile river. Hardly any rain falls there and the summers are scorching hot. Even today, most of Egypt is arid desert.
(1) The Cultivation, a strip of land on each side of the Nile river, is one of the most fertile stretches of land in the world.
(a) Although the Cultivation is only 12 1/2 miles wide, it runs for about 620 miles from Aswan in the south to the broad farmlands of the delta where the Nile empties into the Mediterranean.
b. In prehistoric Egypt, the Goddess held sway in Upper Egypt (the south) as Nekhebt and She was depicted in the form of a vulture.
(1) The people of Lower Egypt, including the northern delta region, worshiped the Goddess as Ua Zit (Great Serpent) and depictions of Her show Her as a cobra.
c. From about 3000 BC onward the Goddess was said to have existed when nothing else had been created.
(1) She was known as Nut, Net, or Nit which was probably derived from Nekhebt.
(a) According to Egyptian mythology, it was the Goddess who first put Ra, the sun god, in the sky.
(b) Other texts of Egypt tell of the Goddess as Hathor in this role as creatrix of existence, explaining that She took form as a serpent at the time.
d. In Egypt the concept of the Goddess always remained vital. Eventually the Goddess evolved into a more composite Goddess known as Isis.
(1) Isis (Au Set) incorporated the aspects of both Ua Zit and Hathor. Isis was also closely associated with the Goddess as Nut, who was mythologically recorded as Her Mother; in paintings Isis wears the wings of Nekhebt.
(a) Isis was also associated with another triad which included Her husband, Osiris, and their son Horus.
(b) Isis' cult was introduced into Rome and the last temple of Isis was closed in 394 AD by Theodosios.
6. Canaan (8000 - 63 BC)
a. The biblical land of Canaan, the 'land of milk and honey' was an area about 90 miles wide running north and south along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean.
(1) In modern times the region includes the states of Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and part of Syria. The area made up of Jordan and Israel used to be known as Palestine.
b. Images of the Goddess, some dating back as far as 7000 BC, offer silent testimony to the most ancient worship of the Queen of Heaven in the land that is most often remembered today as the homeland of Judaism and Christianity.
(1) In exploring the influence and importance of the worship of the Goddess in Canaan in biblical times, we find that as Ashtoreth, Asherah, Astarte, Attoret, Anath, or simply as Elat or Baalat, she was the principal deity of such great Canaanite cities as Tyre, Sidon, Ascalon, Beth Anath, Aphaca, Byblos, and Ashtoreth Karnaim.
c. In Egypt, the Hebrews had known the worship of the Goddess as Isis or Hathor. For four generations they had been living in a land where women held a very high status and the matrilineal descent system continued to function at most periods.
(1) Judging from the number of Hebrews who emerged from Egypt in the Exodus, as compared with the family of the twelve sons who supposedly entered it four generations earlier, it seems likely that a great number of those Hebrews known as Israelites may actually have been Egyptians, Canaanites, Semitic nomads and other Goddess-worshiping peoples who had joined together in Egypt.
d. Archaeological records and artifacts reveal that the religion of the Goddess still flourished in many of the cities of Canaan even after the Hebrews invaded it and claimed it as their own on the authority that their god had given it to them.
(1) And just to the east, all most at their doorstep was Babylon, where the temples of Ishtar were still going strong.
7. Persia (3000 - 331 BC)
a. Throughout its early history Iran was often invaded by nomadic peoples.
(1) Some came through the Elbruz mountains east of the Caspian Sea.
(a) Others, like the Medes and Persians, entered Iran through the Caucasus mountains in the Northwest.
b. By the 9th century BC the most powerful group in Iran was the Medes, who kept the Persians as their servants.
(1) In 612 BC the Medes, together with the Babylonians, captured Nineveh, Ashur, and Kalhu, which were in the heart of the Assyrian empire.
(a) The Assyrian empire collapsed and its vast territories were divided between the Medes and the Babylonians.
c. About 550 BC the king of the Persians led a revolt against the Medes and from that point on the Persians, led by their King Cyrus the Great, ruled over Iran.
(1) Cyrus captured Babylon and gained control of the whole former Babylonian empire.
(a) Virtually all of western Asia was now under Persian rule.
(2) The nest two kings extended Persian rule to Egypt in the south and to the borders of India in the east.
(a) Egypt revolted later and won its independence for a short time, but was forced back into the empire just in time to be part of the prize won by Alexander the Great of Macedonia when he conquered the Persian empire in 331 BC.
II. PEOMAGOGIC HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSAL GODDESS RELIGION
A. Definition of Poemagogic
1. Term coined by Anton Ehrenzweig
a. The special function of inducing and symbolizing the ego's creativity.
(1) It has a dreamlike 'slippery' quality.
(a) One aspect slips into another just like a dream.
B. Legend of the Universal Goddess
1. The craft is a religion which has an unbroken tradition that dates back to Paleolithic times (approximately 35,000 years).
a. As the last ice age retreated the tribe of nomadic hunters worshiped the Goddess of the Wild Things and Fertility and the God of the Hunt.
(1) Semi-permanent homes were set up in caves carved out by the glaciers.
(a) Shamans and Shamanka conducted rites within hard to reach portions of the caves, which were painted with scenes of the hunt, magical symbols and the tribes totem animals.
2. The transition from Hunter-Gatherers to agriculturists was reflected in the change of the 'Lady of the Wild Things and Fertility' to the 'Barley Mother' and the 'God of the Hunt' to the 'Lord of the Grain'.
a. The importance of the phases of the moon and the sun was reflected in the rituals that evolved around sowing, reaping, and letting out to pasture.
3. Villages grew into towns and cities and society changed from tribal to communal to urban.
a. Paintings on the plastered walls of shrines depicted the Goddess giving birth to the Divine Child - Her son, consort and seed.
(1) The Divine Child was expected to take a special interest in the city dwellers, just as His Mother and Father had taken an interest in the people who lived away from the cities.
b. Mathematics, astronomy, poetry, music, medicine, and the understanding of the workings of the human mind, developed side by side with the lore of the deeper mysteries.
4. Far to the east, nomadic tribes devoted themselves to the arts of war and conquest.
a. Wave after wave of invasion swept over Europe from the Bronze Age onward.
(1) Warrior gods drove the Goddess' people out from the fertile lowlands and the fine temples, into the hills and high mountains, where they became known as the Sidhe, the Picts or Pixies, and the Fair Folk or the Fairies.
b. The mythological cycle of Goddess and Consort, Mother and Child, which had held sway for 30,000 years was changed to conform to the values of the conquering patriarchies.
(1) In Canaan, Yahweh fought a bloody battle to ensure that his followers had "no other gods before me."
(a) The Goddess was given a masculine name and assigned the role of a false god.
(b) Along with the suppression of the Goddess, women lost most of the rights they had previously enjoyed.
(2) In Greece, the Goddess in Her many aspects, was "married" to the new gods resulting in the Olympic Pantheon.
(a) The Titans, who the Olympians displaced were more in touch with the primal aspects of the Goddess.
(3) The victorious Celts in Gaul and the British Isles, adopted many features of the Old Religion and incorporated them into the Druidic Mysteries.
(a) The Faerie, breeding cattle in the stony hills and living in turf-covered round huts preserved the Craft.
(b) They celebrated the eight feasts of the Wheel of the Year with wild processions on horseback, singing and chanting along the way and lighting ritual bonfires on the mountaintops.
(c) It was said that the invaders often joined in the revels and many rural families, along with some royalty, could claim to have Faerie blood.
(d) The College of the Druids and the Poetic Colleges of Ireland and Wales were said to have preserved many of the old mysteries.
5. In the late 1400's the Catholic Church attempted to obliterate its competitors, and the followers of the Old Religion were forced to "go underground."
a. They broke up into small groups called Covens and, isolated from each other, formed what would later be known as the Family Traditions.
(1) Inevitably, parts of the Craft were forgotten or lost and what survives today is fragmentary.
6. After nearly five centuries of persecution and terror, came the Age of Disbelief.
a. Memory of the True Craft had faded as non-members who could remember how they once had met openly died and those who came after never knew of them.
(1) All that was left were the hideous stereotypes which were ludicrous, laughable or just plain tragic.
7. With the repeal of the last Witchcraft Act in England in 1954, the Craft started to re-emerge as an alternative to a world that viewed the planet as a resource to be exploited.
2. Development of the Mystery Religions
1. The development of agriculture had a profound and far reaching effect upon the spiritual development of humanity.
a. No longer content to worship the Goddess of the Wild Things and the Lord of the Hunt, early mankind sought to interpret their deities in the physical surroundings of the places where they settled to grow their crops.
(1) Volcanic mountains, such as those surrounding ancient Persia, gave rise to Fire Gods whose priests evolved a cosmology which postulated a universe based upon a struggle between good and evil.
(a) A Fire Priest named Zoroaster would eventually lay the foundation for Zoroastrianism, which would lead to Mithraicism, which would greatly influence religious thinking of the early Christian church.
(b) Even today, the spiritual center of the Japanese people is the volcanic mountain Fujiyama.
(c) And the major deity of the Hawaiian people is the volcano Goddess Pele.
(2) Natural opening into the earth were seen as gateways into the domain of the deities and shrines were built around them.
(a) The most famous of these openings was the shrine at Delphi where, through a succession of goddesses and gods who served as patrons, the priestesses received visions of the future for a fee paid to the temple.
(b) There is some conjecture that the visions were brought about by inhaling the gases rising from the chasm, over which the priestesses were suspended on a tripod seat.
(3) In the British Isles, prominent hills or Tors, such as Glastonbury Tor in Somerset, and the Welsh mountains in Snowdonia, became the focus for local rites.
(a) In Ireland, each river was believed to have its own Goddess, was well as the Goddesses which hold sway on dry land.
b. The one common thread running through all of this was that while the people were becoming urbanized, they still felt a need to identify with the countryside around them and religious rites evolved around some natural power spot so that anyone wishing to partake of the religious experience of these rites had to make a pilgrimage to that religious shrine and be initiated into those rites by the local priestesses or priests.
c. As the cities grew up it became necessary to spread out into the countryside and the shrines were sometimes enclosed in temple building and sometimes opened 'branch offices' on the other side of the city, or in neighboring cities, for the people who could not or would not make the pilgrimages.
(1) This led to the establishment of temples, for public worship and offering, in all the cities of the ancient world.
(a) Usually, these temples were dedicated to the local Goddess or God, that the people of the city worshipped as their personal deity.
 An example would be Athens, which was named for its patroness Pallas Athena, who is the Greek Goddess of Wisdom and Beauty.
(b) Not surprisingly, these deities were sometimes tribal deities, which were urbanized as the city grew in size.
 And the rites that grew up around the temple were seasonal rites performed to insure the common well-being of the city as a whole.
[a] Religious rites for personal spiritual development was a foreign concept to all but a very few members of the priest/esshood who were responsible for seeing after the well being of their followers.
2. Once the concept of ownership of land for growing food gained a foothold, the need to defend the land from 'outsiders' became a primary concern.
a. This led to the development of standing armies and navies whose purpose, while initially defensive, soon became offensive.
(1) Time and again, the justification for attacking their neighbors was wrapped in religious robes and it became a matter of one city's Goddess/God supplanting the other in the conquered city.
(a) Usually this did not create too much of an upheaval for the common citizen because the attacker was usually a nearby neighbor and through long years of trade with each other, they were familiar with one anothers rites and beliefs.
(b) Most people saw it as a problem only for the priesthoods, who lost control of the temple monies to the conquering priesthood.
 Sometimes it was seen as an improvement for the city could only benefit from having a more powerful God/dess ruling over it and as long as the priesthood kept up the seasonal rituals to insure prosperity the common citizen was not too worried about who was ruling the city.
3. The founding of the Mystery Religions can be tentatively dated back to 331 BCE, when Alexander of Macedonia completed his conquest of the world around the Mediterranean and the Near East.
a. To give some perspective on how this brought about such a drastic change in the world order we need to look at astronomy and see if we can discern a pattern that repeats itself.
(1) Ancient humanity used astronomy and astrology to guide their lives.
(a) The zodiac was seen as a measurement system which allowed humankind to divide the solar year up into 12 equal parts, although some believe that the original zodiac had only 10 signs.
(b) The sign of Virgo-Scorpio was broken into two parts by inserting Libra (the Balance) in between them. This created eleven signs plus Libra, establishing the 'balance' at the point of equilibrium between the ascending northern and descending southern signs.
(c) Each year the sun passes entirely around the zodiac and return to the point from which it started, the vernal equinox, and each year it falls just a little short of making the complete circle of the heavens in the allotted space of time.
 As a result, it crosses the equator just a little behind the spot in the zodiacal sign where it crosses the previous year.
[a] Each sign of the zodiac consists of 30 degrees, and as the sun loses about one degree every 72 years, it regresses through one entire constellation or sign in approximately 2,160 years, and through the entire zodiac in about 25,920 years.
(2) Among the ancients, the sun was always symbolized by the figure and nature of the constellation through which it passed at the vernal equinox.
(a) For nearly the past 2,000 years the sun has crossed the equator at the vernal equinox in the constellation of Pisces (the two fishes).
 Christianity developed about the beginning of the Piscean Age and the fish was an early symbol for them.
[a] Christianity was only one of two new religions that were based, in part, on the teachings of Judaism.
 About 630 years after the founding of Christianity, Mohammed founded the religion of Islam, and his followers are known as Muslims or Moslems.
(b) For the 2,160 years prior to then, it had crossed through the constellation of Aries (the ram).
 Just as the Age of Aries began, a new religion developed which would prove to be one of the most enduring Monotheistic religions on Earth.
[a] Judaism was founded by Abraham of Chaldea, who made an agreement with Jehovah that he and his offspring would spread the doctrine that there was only one God.
[b] In return Jehovah promised Abraham the land of Canaan (Israel) for his descendants. The only problem is that the Jews and the Arabs both trace their beginnings back to sons of Abraham, and now both claim Israel as offspring of Abraham.
 About 600 years later Hinduism developed in India.
[a] From 600-300 years before the Age of Aries gave way to the Age of Pisces, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism and Mithraicism developed.
(c) Prior to the Age of Aries, the vernal equinox was is the sign of Taurus (the bull).
 In ancient Egypt, it was during this period that the Bull, Apis, was sacred to the Sun God.
[a] And the Winged Bull was the spiritual symbol of the Assyrians back when they had city-states dedicated to Goddesses.
[b] How interesting - that just as humanity was discovering agriculture during the Age of Taurus, the bull was domesticated so that it could pull a plow.
(d) We are about to enter a new age. The Age of Aquarius which promises to turn the world upside down.
b. Getting back to gaining a perspective on how Alexander the Great changed the world order, we need to understand that there is a pattern where the world order changes about every 2,000 years - militarily, economically and religiously.
(1) At any given time through history one or two of these conditions may change, but it is rare that all three change around the same time. When they do people live in what the Chinese philosophers called 'interesting times'.
c. The 400 years preceding the Age of Pisces can be compared with the same period of our time, which is bringing in the Age of Aquarius.
(1) About 331 BCE an upstart military leader named Alexander of Macedonia led an army into the very depth of what was then known as the Persian Empire after defeating the troops of Persia who were trying to maintain control of Greek cities in Asia Minor.
(a) Once he had effectively wrested control of the empire from the Persians, he proceeded to take the best of what the empire and his native land had to offer and he created a new world order by which he and his generals divided up the known world and planned to rule.
(b) After Alexander's death the generals ruled as best they could, but they slowly lost control of the great empire until a new military power, Rome, came along and took over.
 It is important to keep in mind that the Roman empire did not spring up over night. Under the inspiration and protection of the Macedonian Empire from foreign intervention the Romans were able to defeat the Etruscans who had ruled most of Italy until that time.
[a] It was the peace brought about by the Grecian empire that allowed the Roman republic to last for 200 years and embrace many of the loftier ideals of Greek culture.
(2) In the mid 1700's, a colonel in a rag tag band of irregulars attached to regular troops of the British Empire, started to make a name for himself among the colonists of a British possession.
(a) The British, who were the ruling elite just under 300 years ago, thought of the colonial colonel as an uneducated barbarian and did not take him seriously when the colonials declared their independence and named as their supreme military leader the barbarian from Virginia.
(b) History has recorded how George Washington had his day in the sun when, after defeating the mercenary troops of Britain at Valley Forge, General Cornwallis surrendered to him at Yorktown.
 Again the world was turned up side down, and the empire of old was supplanted by a new order, only on a smaller scale.
[a] While it is true that the British Empire did not collapse with the loss of the American Revolutionary War, it marked the beginning of the breaking up of the Empire.
[b] And despite recurring clashes, like the War of 1812, the new country was allowed to grow and develop as a Republic for 200 years until now it is very common to refer to America as the new Rome.
(3) Like Alexander before him, Washington and his supporters took the best of what they liked in Britain and combined it with the best thoughts and ideas of the Colonies.
(a) Washington refused to be made the king of America, and they hammered out a new form of government, new laws of commerce, and assurances that the old religious order would not hold sway in the new country.
 Not long after the American Revolution, the French Revolution, based on American ideals, rocked Europe with its deliberate shaking off of aristocratic rule.
[a] Even the Russian Revolution was originally a revolt of the people against their aristocracy. It was only after the revolution left a vacuum of leadership that the Communists stepped in and assumed power.
d. If you look around at our capitol, you will see that the architecture is reminiscent of Grecian and Roman Temples, and the principles that our country was founded upon, principles like freedom and democracy, are Grecian Ideals.
(1) This is not a coincidence. The Founding Fathers were scholars of Greece and Rome, for knowledge of the history of these two countries was considered an integral part of a classical education.
(a) It will be interesting to see if America, like Rome, falls into the trap of being forced into becoming an Imperial power in order to support the welfare state at home.
 One of my favorite sayings is "A people who refuse to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it."
B. The Social Significance of the Mystery Religions
1. In order to understand the needs and desires which found satisfaction in mystery religions, it is necessary to take a broad view of the general social situation in the Greco-Roman world.
a. And to define, if possible, the outstanding religious interests of the Mediterranean people in the 1st century of the Piscean Age.
(1) Greco-Roman society with all of its complexity was, even so, a closely knit social fabric unified in large and significant ways.
(a) Politically, the Mediterranean world of the Augustan Age was a unit for the 1st time in history, welded together by 300 years of military conquests preceding the beginning of our era.
[ 1] To hold this Mediterranean world together in an imperial unity, Rome had thrown over it a great network of military highways reaching to the farthest provinces and centering on Rome herself.
(b) Cultural and commercial processes operated even more effectively than military conquests and political organization to unify the peoples of the Mediterranean area.
 Society under the early Empire continued to be as highly Hellenized as it had been during the 300 years previous.
[a] Greek continued to be the language of culture and commerce, with Latin as the lingua Franca of diplomacy.
 The sea, cleared of pirates, was a great channel of commerce that led to all the Roman world, and the military highways provided the necessary land routes.
[a] Because of the easy means of communication, there was a free mingling of races and classes in the centers of population.
(c) Free competition on a world scale gave the individuals their opportunities.
 Before the days of Alexander, the interests of the individual were quite submerged in comparison with those of the tribe or state.
[a] The larger social group was the end-all of existence and personal concerns were properly subordinated thereto.
[b] But in the changed conditions of the imperial period, all was different.
 Individual interests came to the fore and those of the state receded to the background.
[a] The Roman Empire meant far less to the citizen than the Greek polis had meant.
[b] Rome was too large and too far away to be very dependent on each citizens support or to contribute to their happiness.
(d) In the ruthlessness of conquest and the stress of competition, local customs were ignored, traditions were swept aside, and the unsupported individuals were thrown back upon their own resources.
 Happiness and well-being, if won at all, must be won by the individual, and for the individual alone.
2. Religion, like the other phases of Greco-Roman life, felt the effect of these changed social conditions.
a. For the masses, the former religious sanctions and guaranties no longer functioned.
(1) In the old, pre-imerial days, the individual was well satisfied with group guaranties that were offered by local and nationalistic religions.
(a) Granted, the relationship to the state deity was only an indirect one - through the group to which they belonged.
(b) Also granted, the goods sought were chiefly social benefits, which were shared with their fellow citizens.
 But so long as the God/desses protected the state and the state protected the citizen, they were well content.
(2) Successive conquests by foreign powers, however, rudely destroyed this complacency, and the victory of Macedonian and Roman arms wrecked the prestige of merely local and national deities.
(a) As racial barriers were broken down and the individuals felt free to travel and trade, they became conscious of needs and desires they had never known before.
3. As a practical matter, the time honored customs of an individuals parent and grandparent could not be maintained in foreign lands. New sanctions and assurances of a more personal sort were needed.
a. In line with the general social movements of the times, there was a distinct breakdown of traditional religion, and national cults, popular in the Hellenic period, fell into disuse.
(1) But the masses of people did not become irreligious by any means, they instead turned to religions of another type and sought satisfactions of a different variety.
(a) Their quest was no longer for a god/dess powerful enough to save the state but rather for one who was benevolent enough to save the individual.
 Oracles were consulted, not so often in the interest of the community but more frequently for the guidance of individuals in their personal affairs.
[a] More than ever before the home became a temple and the daily life of the family was filled with the trappings of piety.
[b] The shrines of the healing gods/esses were overcrowded, and magicians, who were considered the chief mediators of divine power, carried on a thriving business.
4. In particular, people turned for the satisfaction of personal desires to the group of mystery religions, which were very ancient cults that had hitherto been comparatively insignificant.
a. Most of them came to the Greco-Roman world from the Orient, with the authority of a venerable past, with an air of deep mystery, and with rites that were most impressive.
b. But the chief reason for their popularity at this time was the satisfactory way in which they ministered to the needs of the individual.
(1) Completely denationalized and liberated from racial prejudices, they could be practiced anywhere within or without the empire.
(a) They no longer depended upon a natural focus such as a cave or spring or mountain, so it was possible to worship anywhere they found themselves.
 This allowed popular cults like that of Isis to spread throughout the Roman empire with little or no resistance
(b) Being genuinely democratic brotherhoods in which rich and poor, slave and master, Greek and barbarian met on a parity, they welcomed men of all races to their membership.
C. What the Mystery Religions had to offer Humanity
1. A new birth for the individual
a. When the neophyte was initiated into the cult he became a new man.
(1) In earlier centuries, when the emphasis in religion was tribal or national, this had no special advantage.
(a) Then the individual felt certain of his salvation because of his birth into a particular tribe or race. This still holds true for tribal religions like Judaism, where it is not enough to be a good Jew. All Jews must be good because they are the chosen people and their God will not make good on His promises until the whole tribe meets his requirements.
(2) Men in the Roman world had confidence in neither racial connections nor in the potentiality of human nature.
(a) The first century Roman wanted a salvation that included the immortality of the soul as well as the present welfare of the body.
(b) An essential change of being was felt to be necessary, and the mystery religions guaranteed this by means of the initiatory rites.
b. The mystery initiation met the basic religious need for individual as opposed to racial guarantees.
(1) Mystical experience was a common denominator of all the Greco-Oriental cults of the mystery type.
(a) The imperial age was a time when religion was turning inward and becoming more emotional, while philosophy, converted to religion, was following the same trend.
 There was a cultivated antagonism between spirit and matter and a conscious endeavor to detach one from the other by means of ascetic practices.
[a] It was a period of world-weariness and other worldliness.
 There was a demand for fresh emotional experiences, and the culminating effort was to overleap the bounds of nature and to attain union with the divine in the region of the occult.
[a] These experiences found expression in the popular religions of redemption, in the mysteries of Eleusis and Attis and Isis and the rest.
2. Fulfilling the yearning for the mystical type of religious experience.
a. Two considerations that have a direct bearing on why the yearning for mystical religious experience arose at this time are:
(1) The thought world of the average person had suddenly enlarged to proportions that were frightening. The horizon of a Syrian trader in Nero's time was vastly more inclusive than that of a few hundred years before. And this new horizon included a far greater number of facts to be classified and accounted for, and a constantly enlarging group of problems and difficulties to be settled. This expanded thought-world of the middle of the 1st century was in a very chaotic state. The social structure of an earlier age had been completely wrecked. Greek democracy and Oriental despotism alike had been crushed by imperial power. National and racial distinctions, once considered very important, had been all but forgotten. Whole classes in society had been wiped out. Old things had passed away and what was imposed by Rome, was not so much its orderliness as its newness. The citizen of the Greek Polis had lived in a friendly town that was his own; but the Roman citizen found himself bewildered in the crowded streets of a strange city that was everyman's world.
(2) The man of the early empire felt that the ultimate control of his disordered universe was not at all in his own hands, but that it rested with supernatural powers on the outside. According to the 1st century point of view, the more important relationships of life were with the controlling powers in the supernatural realm. Whether these powers were friendly or unfriendly or both or neither according to circumstances, there was a great variety of opinion; but generally speaking there was no doubt of their power.
(a) One way the common man had of establishing safe relations with the occult powers was the way of mysticism. He either projected himself emotionally into the supernatural realm and so came into contact with deity, or else by magic and sacrament drew the God down into the human sphere and in this fashion realized the desired alliance. Not until this 'unio mystica' was accomplished did many men feel completely secure in the face of the uncertainties of life. The mystery religions offered this form of salvation through union with the lord of the cult. This alliance with the lord of the cult robbed the unknown spiritual world of its terrors and gave the initiate the assurance of special privilege in relation to the potent beings who controlled the destinies of men. In the background of each of the mysteries hovered the vague form of the supreme power itself. The Anatolian Magna Mater Deum. Or the Ahura Mazda of the Persians. In the foreground, ready for action, stood the mediator who chiefly mad the divine power manifest in life and nature. The youthful Attis, or the invincible Mithra. The mystery Gods and Goddesses were also potent as netherworld divinities. Persephone reigned as queen of the dead and Osiris presided as judge of the souls of the departed. By means of initiation into their cults, the devotee was enabled to share vividly in the experiences of these divinities and even to attain realistic union with them.
(b) United with the Gods themselves, the initiate was in touch with currents of supernatural power which not only operated to transform his very being but rendered him immune from evil both in this life and in the next.
3. Providing emotional stimulation through the mystical experience of contact with a sympathetic savior.
a. The mysticism of the cults was not of the intellectualized type but rather of a more realistic, objective, ecstatic and highly emotional variety.
(1) This emotional character of cult mysticism answered directly to an inordinate appetite for emotional stimulation among the masses.
(a) This abnormal craving, directly or indirectly, was due to the terribly depressing experiences through which society had passed during the wars that filled the years immediately preceding the Piscean Age.
 For 400 years the wars had been unceasing. The Mediterranean world had known war at its worst, and this long series of conquests, civil wars, proscriptions, and insurrections had produced an untold amount of agony.
 All these military operations had entailed terrible suffering for all classes. There was, of course, the killing and maiming of the combatants themselves. Bread- winners had been drafted into service, leaving their families to fend for themselves. Crops over large areas had been destroyed to prevent the enemy from living off the land when the armies retreated. Leaving the local farmers as well as the invading army to starve. Conquered lands had been plunged into debt and bankruptcy, while thousands of men, women, and children, formerly free, had been sold as slaves.
 The indirect consequences of these military operations were quite as disastrous for the happiness of large numbers of people as were the direct results. One of the most deplorable effects was the practical destruction of the middle classes, which had been the backbone of the society. This left a bad social cleavage between the wealthy aristocratic class on the one hand, and the masses, including the slaves, on the other. Conditions were such that the upper classes had the opportunity of becoming more wealthy and prosperous, while the proletariat correspondingly became more destitute and wretched. Enormous sums of gold and silver, the accumulated wealth of the east, was disgorged on the empire. This created a demand for more luxuries, raised the standard of living for the rich, and multiplied the miseries of the poor. Throughout the period, the number of slaves was constantly being augmented. This lowered the wages and drove free laborers to the idleness of cities where they were altogether too willing to be enrolled on what we would call welfare. The first lesson new Emperors learned, if they were to keep their crowns, was to feed and entertain this huge number of idle workers so that they would not decide to overthrow the government. This is where the phrase "give them bread and circuses" came from.
 With such an unequal distribution of the goods of life, it was inevitable that both extremes in Roman society should feel the need of special emotional uplift and stimulation. The aristocrat felt the need of it because he had pleasures too many. There was a disgust with life, bred of self-indulgence and brought to birth by satiety. It was the weariness that comes when amusements cloy and the means of diversion seem exhausted. And the poor freeman because he had pleasures too few. There was a genuine sensitiveness to suffering in this age born of a sympathetic understanding of its pain and an earnest attempt to provide alleviation. It was a period when all classes were sensitive to emotional needs, but chiefly the inarticulate masses who were most miserable and knew not how to express their misery.
b. Generally speaking, the officials of the state religion remained unresponsive to this need and the marble Gods of Greece and Rome had no word for men in agony.
(1) Judaism, which had itself gone through a prolonged martyrdom, should have learned from suffering to minister to personal need, but it had not, for its hope was still a national one, not personal.
c. The religions of redemption that came from the east furnished exactly the emotional satisfaction that the age demanded.
(1) They told men of savior-gods that were very human, who had come to earth and toiled and suffered with men, experiencing to an intensified degree the sufferings to which flesh is heir.
(a) These savior-gods had known the agony of parting from loved ones, of persecution, of mutilation, of death itself. In this hard way they had won salvation for their devotees and now they stood ready to help all men who had need.
(2) The rites of these mystery religions were impressively arranged to represent the sufferings and triumphs of the savior-gods.
(a) In this way it was possible for the initiate to feel as his God had felt, and sometimes more realistically, to repeat the archetypal experiences of his lord. His initiation was a time of great uplift, that elevated him above commonplace worries and gave him an exalted sense of security. In after days the memory of that great event remained with him to bouy him up amid the hardships of his daily lot, or in such special crises as might come to him.
4. By means of initiatory rites of great impressiveness, the mystery cults were able to satisfy the desire for realistic guarantees in religion.
a. The majority of people were not satisfied with a merely emotional assurance that the desired mystical union had taken place.
(1) Something more tangible and objective was required to supplement the evidence furnished by subjective experience.
(a) Both the Greek and Romans conceived of their Gods as being very real and humanistic.
(b) They gave them admirable representation in painting and sculpture and sought to secure their favor by rites that were correspondingly realistic.
 At the beginning of the imperial period, when the uncertainties of life made man feel more dependent than ever on supernatural assistance, the operations whereby they strove to assure themselves of the desired aid became, if anything, more realistic than ever. In such an age and amid people who thought in these vivid terms, the rites of religion, in order to satisfy, had to give actual and dramatic representation of the processes they were intended to typify and induce. This was what the ceremonies of the mystery cults did, and this was another reason for the great attractive power of the cults.
b. Most of the rites of the mystery religions had come down in traditional forms from an immemorial antiquity.
(1) Originally performed among primitive people in order to assure the revival of vegetable life in springtime, they were enacted in these later imperial days for the higher purpose of assuring the rebirth of the human spirit.
(a) Yet, among the masses at least, the efficacy of these ceremonials was as little questioned as it had been in their original primitive settings.
(2) The baptismal rite, in particular, whether by water or blood, was regarded as marking the crucial moment in a genuinely regenerative process.
(a) Once reborn the initiates were treated as such, their birthday was celebrated and they were nourished in a manner appropriate for infants.
(b) Childish though those rites may seem, yet they were fraught with spiritual significance for the initiate.
(3) The semblance of mystic marriage and the partaking of consecrated foods were other realistic sacraments in which the neophyte found assurance that he was really and vitally united with his lord and endowed with the divine spirit.
(a) What usually gives the modern student pause is the very sincere conviction of pagan initiates that their spiritual transformation was not only symbolic, but was also really accomplished by these dramatic ceremonies.
5. The personal transformation which was the initial feature of cult mysticism had its ethical as well as its religious aspect, thus producing a blend of ethics and religion.
a. The early imperial period was a time of great moral disorder and confusion, paralleling the stress and strain in other areas of life.
b. The continuous social upheavals of the Hellenistic and republican times, the free mingling of populations in commerce and conquest, and the enormous increase of slaves furthered the process of cutting thousands of human beings loose from moral restraints.
c. However, the general trend in society as a whole was not only a period of moral anarchy but of ethical awakening as well.
(1) Interest was alive on moral questions.
(a) Almost every characteristic vice in Roman society was being met with the most vigorous protests and sometimes by active measures to correct them.
(2) There was at this time a particular demand for a greater correctness in ethical teaching.
(a) Teachers of the time studied the writings of philosophers and moralists to find texts and maxims to use with their pupils.
(b) Catalogues were made of virtues and vices and the former were summarized as certain cardinal qualities especially to be desired.
(c) There was a call for living examples, which could be referred to as demonstrations of the practicality of these ideals.
(3) The conditions of life were such that most men did not have confidence in their own unaided ability to achieve character.
(a) They looked to the supernatural realm for the powers that controlled personal conduct as well as the more ultimate destinies of humanity.
 What the men of the 1st century wanted was not so much ideals, but the power to realize those ideals; not a code of morals, but supernatural sanctions for morality. In the last analysis, it was divine will, and not human welfare, that was the generally accepted criterion whereby the validity of any ethical system was tested. Accordingly, the religion which could furnish supernatural guarantees along with its ethical ideals had a preferred claim to 1st century loyalty.
(b) The stern morality of Judaism was very attractive. The element that fascinated was not the inherent excellence of Jewish rules for living, but the fact that there were venerable sanctions bearing the impress of divine authority.
 The Law of the Jews was quoted as the ipse dixit of Yahweh himself and the scriptures were referred to as authentic documents proving the genuineness of the representation. Such confirmation was impressive to men who were seeking for divine authority to make moral conduct obligatory.
(c) The religion of the Egyptian Hermes was one that offered supernatural guarantees for its ethical ideals.
 In the process of Hermetic rebirth, the powers of the God drove out hordes of vices and left the regenerated individual divinely empowered for right living.
(d) That was Mithraism's point of strength also, and accounted not a little for the vogue it continued to enjoy for some time after the beginning of the Christian Era.
 The "commandments" of Mithraism were believed to be divinely accredited. The Magi claimed that Mithra himself revealed them to their order.
 One of the chief reasons why the high Mithraic ideals of purity, truth, and righteousness had real attraction, was because Mithra himself was the unconquerable champion of these ideals and the ready helper of men who were willing to join with him in the eternal fight of right against wrong and good against evil. Mithraism was the outstanding example of a mystery religion which gave supernatural sanctions to the demands of plain morality.
d. The mysticism of the mysteries came in effectively at just this point to give both realistic content and divine authorization to the ethic of brotherhood.
(1) The ideals of the group found personification and embodiment in the divine Lord or Lady who was the object of the cult worship.
(a) Osiris was the model righteous man who functioned in the divine state as the judge of the departed. Hence the Isian initiate, reborn as the new Osiris, was supposed to exhibit the Osirian type of righteousness.
(2) So, too, in the other mystery systems, the initiate realistically united with his Lord, and actually transformed by the virtue of the union, had his ideal incorporated within himself as a part of his very being.
(a) In the end, mystical experience became the theoretical basis and practical incitement to good conduct.
(b) In this close articulation of mysticism and morality, the cults made an important and distinctive contribution to the ethical life of the age.
6. The mysteries were unusually well equipped to meet the need for assurances regarding the future.
a. The ultimate pledge that the mystery religions made pertained not to the present but to the future.
(1) It was the assurance of a happy immortality.
(a) Whatever attitude a man might adopt on the continued existence after death, he could not well avoid the issue.
b. The mystery cults from Greece and the Orient specialized in future guarantees.
(1) Originally intended to assure the miracle of reviving vegetation in the springtime, they were perfectly adapted to guarantee the miracle of the spirit's immortality after physical death.
(a) These were the cults which in the form of Dionysian and Orphian brotherhoods had first brought the promise of a happy future life to Greece in the religious revival of the 6th century BCE.
(b) In Hellenistic times the Greek cults merged with similar religions from the east which offered equivalent guarantees, and in this syncretized form came into their own.
(2) In the early imperial period of Rome, they were more popular than ever, for they gave positive and definite answers to the questioning of the common man about the future.
(a) Their answer had the authority of revelation and it included the guarantee of divine aid in the realization of that blessed after-life which they vividly depicted to their devotees.
1. When consideration is given to the fundamental character of the interests represented by the mystery religions, one can well understand their popularity in the Greco-Roman world.
a. In an era of individualism, when men were no longer looking to religion for guarantee of a racial or national order, the mystery cults offered the boon of personal transformation through participating in rites of initiation.
b. At a time when men were seeking a larger life through contact with supernatural powers, the mysteries guaranteed absolute union with the divine beings who controlled the universe.
c. In an age when men were craving emotional uplift, mystery initiation gave them such encouragement as they could scarcely find elsewhere.
d. At a period where realism characterized thought in all departments of life, the religions of redemption offered men realistic rites to guarantee the actuality of spiritual processes.
e. The supernatural sanctions were sought to validate ethical ideals, the mystery cults provided a unique combination of mysticism and morality that was effective.
f. When, as never before, people were questioning about the future fate of the individual soul, the mysteries, through initiation, gave guarantee of a happy immortality.
2. At every one of these points the mystery religions of redemption were effectively meeting the needs of large numbers of people in Greco-Roman society.
D. Prominent features of a Mystery Religion
1. A Mystery Religion was a religion of symbolism
a. Through the use of myth and allegory, iconic representations, blazing lights and dense darkness, liturgies and sacramental acts, as well as suggestion, the intuitions of the heart of the initiate were quickened until s/he was provoked into a mystical experience.
(1) This experience led to a feeling of regeneration, which was the object of every initiation.
2. A Mystery Religion was a religion of Redemption.
a. It professed to remove the estrangement between man and God, to procure forgiveness of sins, and to furnish mediation.
(1) Means of purification and the formulae of access to the God, and acclamations of confidence and victory were part of the apparatus of every Mystery.
3. The Mystery Religions were systems of Gnosis.
a. The Mysteries brought men into contact with that God "who wishes to be known and is known to his own."
(1) They offered an esoteric equipment by which the initiate might ward off the attacks of demons, thwart the menace of Fate, and after death reach the abodes of the blessed mysteries.
(a) There was something, whether doctrine, symbol, or divine drama, which could not be imparted except by initiation to those duly qualified to receive it, a supernatural revelation which gave the recipient a new outlook on life, the world and the deity, and security that was denied to the uninitiated.
(b) The 'mystery' consisted of an objective presentation of the history of the cult Deity, in his or her struggles, sorrows, and triumphs, repeated subjectively by the initiate in sacramental acts, together with prayers and liturgic formulae.
4. A Mystery Religion was a Sacramental Drama.
a. The Sacramental Drama appealing primarily to the emotions, aimed at producing psychic and mystic effects. Thus the neophyte experienced the exaltation of a new life.
5. The mysteries were eschatological religions, having to do with the interests and issues of life and death.
a. For the multitudes, it was the mysteries which illuminated the hereafter.
6. A mystery religion was a personal religion, to which membership was open, not by accident of birth into any particular class, but by a religious rebirth.
7. A mystery religion, as a personal religion, presents another side, which is the necessary compliment of an individualistic religion; that is, it takes on the character of a cosmic religion.
a. The ancients lived in a world in which the primitive association of man's life with the earth and plant and animal life was axiomatic, in which the Universe itself was a rational living being, in which man by his good deeds might be elevated on the path of the divine.
II. A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE MAJOR MYSTERY RELIGIONS
A. Fundamental Force Behind Development
1. Once, there was no purely 'native' or 'hermetic' tradition; only a universal response by the Firstborn to the Earth-lore and the Star-magic of their shamanic priests.
a. Later, as the single religious impulse of the Foretime split into separate cults, these two approaches, which we may think of as earthly (or chthonic) and stellar, grew further apart, until the beginnings of the Hermetic traditions were seeded in Egypt and the Hellenic world, while in Europe the Native traditions remained more or less grounded in the magic of the earth.
(1) This is not to say that Greece and Egypt did not have their own native traditions, or that development of religion and magic in the Celtic West was so primitive and slow that it required cross- fertilization with other sources to pull it into subtle realms of experience.
B. The Major Mystery Religions.
1. It has often been said the Egyptian mysteries are the true foundation upon which the Western Hermetic systems are built.
a. This is due in part to the early identification of the Egyptian God Thoth, scribe and guardian of mysteries, with Hermes Trimegistos, the supposed founder of Western occult practice.
(1) Egypt had many mysteries, none more important that those of Isis.
(a) Her name is said to mean 'throne', 'wisdom', or 'savior', though she possessed many other titles which testify to the universality of her cult.
(2) The deepest mysteries of Isis, and her consort- brother Osiris, the God of the Sun, revolve around his death at the hands of his brother Set, who cut Osiris' body into 14 parts and scattered them through the world.
(a) Isis undertook a terrible journey, suffering great hardship, seeking out the broken body of her lord and reassembling the parts.
 She found and reassembled all but one part, the phallus, which was thrown into the Nile and consumed by a fish.
b. Despite this, such was the creative power of Isis that she was able to conceive by means of an artificial phallus, and bore the child Horus who avenged his father by killing Set.
(1) This is an archetypical mystery-telling, introducing themes found later in the teachings of the Hellenistic schools and in the work of modern esoteric orders.
(a) It prefigures the death and rising of many gods and show forth the power of the Creative Principle.
(b) It also establishes Isis as Queen of Heaven, more powerful in the eyes of many than even the great god Ra himself, whose representative upon earth was the Pharaoh.
3. In Mithraism, which descended from the Persian Mysteries, Mithra stands as a mediator between light and dark, a position adopted by his followers.
a. In humanity, the battle for the soul is fought out in the territory of the flesh. Mithra, entering there, keeps all in balance.
(1) Mithraism was the Freemasonry of the Roman world.
(a) Like the other cults of Oriental origin, it moved with the vast commerce in human beings that was such a notable feature of the ancient world.
(b) The cult of Mithra is one that traveled well, from Syria to Scotland.
(c) The Mithraic community was all men: women gravitated to the parallel cult of Cybele or the exclusively female one of Bona Dea.
(d) The congregations were small; no surviving Mithraeum could house more than a hundred, but of course bigger lodges may have formed, and dissolved, at army camps, because Mithraism was extremely popular among the Roman Legions.
(e) There were no social barriers, so that slaves and privates could become high initiates. The ceremonies were solemnly enacted and the initiations were quite awe-inspiring.
b. Mithra was born on the 25th of December, called the "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun."
(1) This date was not taken over by the Christians for the birth of their Savior until the 4th century BCE.
c. Some said that Mithra sprang from the union of sun god and his own mother.
(1) Some claimed his mother to be a mortal virgin.
(a) Others said Mithra had no mother, but was miraculously born of a female Rock, the petra genetrix, fertilized by the Heavenly Father's phallic lightning.
2. In the many histories of the ancient world, only one figure is described as being of greater importance than Hermes. This is the Persian mage Zoroaster, who may actually have lived around 1000 BCE., or even earlier, but who clearly did not predate the foundation of the Egyptian mysteries from which he drew heavily for his own system.
a. It is from the Persian mysteries that we derive the dualistic specter which has haunted esoteric philosophy and teaching ever since.
(1) In the Zoroastrian pantheon these opposing forces are Ormuzd and Ahriman, who derive ultimately from Ahura Mazda, the divine principle.
(a) Known as the Holy Immortals, or Amesha Spentas, they correspond to the levels of creation, clearly foreshadowing the teaching of later mystery schools such as those of Orpheus and Mithra.
(b) Against the Spentas are arrayed the Devas, the companions of the Evil One, who are seen as ruling over the earth.
 The position of Persian dualism is confused by a Zoroastrian heresy called Zurvanism, which is often mistaken for mainstream Zoroastrianism.
[a] In Zoroastrianism proper, Ahura Mazda is supremely god: his Spentas are not on the same footing.
[b] In Zurvanism, however, Ahura Mazda is made into a lesser creator or demiurge, hence the cosmic struggle of good against evil which takes place in the world of matter.
(2) In Zoroastrian teaching, a savior or saoshyant was to be born, who would combat evil and bring the struggle to an end once and for all, thus betokening the Frasokereti, the making perfect at the end of time.
(a) In this we see an echo of the Egyptian mysteries, and a prefiguring of the gnostic position, as well as the appearance of a third figure which becomes a requirement of all dualistic thinking sooner or later. This third figure who will balance out the struggle is a Messiah.
(b) Mithra's birth was witnessed by shepherd and Magi, who brought gifts to his sacred birth-cave of the Rock.
d. Mithra performed the usual assortment of miracles - raising the dead, healing the sick, making the blind to see and the lame to walk, casting out devils.
(1) As a 'Peter', son of petra, he carried the keys of the kingdom of heaven.
e. His triumph and ascension to heaven were celebrated at the spring equinox, when the sun rises toward its apogee.
(1) Before returning to heaven, Mithra celebrated a Last Supper with his 12 disciples, who represented the signs of the zodiac.
(a) In memory of this, his worshipers partook of a sacramental bread marked with a cross.
 This was one of the seven Mithraic sacraments. It was called mizd, in latin-missa, in english- mass.
(2) Mithra's image was buried in a rock tomb, the same sacred cave that represented his Mothers' womb.
(a) His image was later withdrawn from the cave and was said to live again.
f. What began in water would end in fire, according to Mithraic beliefs.
(1) The great battle between the forces of light and darkness in the Last Days would destroy the earth with its upheavals and burnings.
(a) Virtuous ones who followed the teachings of the Mithraic priesthood would join the spirits of light and be saved.
(b) Sinful ones who followed other teachings would be cast into hell with Ahriman and the fallen angels.
g. Mithra's cave-temple on the Vatican Hill was seized by the Christians in 376 CE.
(1) Christian Bishops of Rome pre-empted the Mithraic high priest's title of Pater Patrum, which became Papa, or Pope.
4. While the Mithraic mysteries succeeded those of Zoroaster, they followed those of Dionysus, through which the core of Hellenic mystery teaching found its way into the Western Mystery Tradition.
a. Two streams of consciousness are discernable within the Classical mysteries, which might be called Dionysian and Apollonian.
(1) The Apollonian mysteries related to reason, to the heavens and to order; this is in contradistinction to the chaotic mysteries of Dionysus.
(a) The priests of Apollo were more interested in wresting the political power away from the earlier Goddess worshiping peoples who held sway as the Oracle at Delphi, and so their mysteries were not so widely spread because they were tied to a specific location and shrine.
(2) The Mysteries of Dionysus were those of the sacrificial king: they pertain to the underworld side of things, the chthonic and ecstatic cult of maenads and bacchantes.
(a) Of all the mystery Gods, it is Dionysus whose character has become most firmly fixed in the collective imagination. His worship spells orgies and drunkenness; he personifies the irrational and uncontrollable urges of mankind and beasts; he drives to frenzy the maenads and the poets.
 The myth of Dionysus' origins tells that he was first born from the union of Zeus with Persephone.
[a] Zeus designated this 'Zagreus' as his heir, but the jealous Titans lured him away while he was yet a child, killed, dismembered him and devoured all the pieces except for the heart, which Athena rescued and preserved.
[b] Zeus, in anger, reduced the Titans to ashes, from which the new race of humanity was fashioned. Thus each person contains a fragment of Dionysus within their 'Titanic' earthly body.
[c] From the heart of the god was brewed a love- potion, which was given to Semele, a mortal, who then forced her lover -Zeus again- into revealing himself to her in his primal form. This unveiling was so overwhelming as to annihilate her, but the child she was carrying was saved by Zeus enclosing it in his loins until the time came for its birth as the second Dionysus.
 The young god grew up in Thrace, suckled by goats and raised by satyrs and sileni. When he reached maturity, he descended through the Alcyonian Lake to rescue the shade of his mother Semele from Hades and then raised her to Olympus.
[a] Afterward, accompanied by a motley train of semi- human beings, maenads and panthers, he set off on wanderings throughout the world, from Libya to Arabia to India and thus back to his homeland.
 Everywhere he went he brought humanity knowledge of agriculture, arts and crafts, and most especially the cultivation of the vine and wine-making.
[a] On the Isle of Naxos he discovered the Cretan Princess Ariadne, abandoned there by Theseus, and joined with her as her husband. Together they ascended to the heavens, whence he offers a similar blissful reward to his devotees, temporarily in this life and permanently after death.
5. There had been an initiatic institution in Greece at Eleusis at least since the 8th century BCE, with both Greater and Lesser Mysteries.
a. The function of all lesser mysteries, and equally of the lower grades of initiation was to impart information on the nature of higher worlds.
(1) The Eleusinian symbolism of corn, pomegranates and poppies refers to the unseen forces which affect humanity via the vegetable kingdom, building the body and informing the mind.
(a) The intuitive grasp of this relationship, in all its wonder and complexity, was summarized in the famous climax of the Mystery, so disappointing to non-initiates, the displaying of an ear of wheat.
(2) Certain information was also given at Eleusis by word of mouth, including the 'password to the Paradise of Demeter' to be used after death.
(a) In the Lesser Mysteries of other gods, it is suggested that the fact of heliocentricity was revealed.
 Jewish esotericism includes the teaching of reincarnation.
[a] So Lesser Mysteries give the initiates theoretical knowledge which changes their whole view of humanity and the cosmos, and stands them in better stead when they have to leave this world for the unknown.
b. The Mysteries of Demeter were celebrated every five years at Eleusis.
(1) The candidate of the Lesser Mysteries underwent a symbolic journey in which the quest of Demeter for her lost daughter Persephone in Hades was reenacted with the would-be candidate in the role of Demeter.
(a) The journey within was that of the darkened soul: the candidate passed through a door into total darkness: if they survived the experiences met within they passed through a second door into brilliant light - symbolizing rebirth into the heavenly sphere. Here they actually meet the gods, experiencing Demeter's journey as their own recovery of lost enlightenment.
c. The function of the Greater Mysteries of Eleusis was to bring about direct contact with the beings who inhabit the higher worlds.
(1) The higher grades of initiation were conducted individually rather than collectively as in the Lesser Mysteries.
(a) The Initiation of Isis were given to those selected by the Goddess through having had significant dreams, whether they were laity, priests or priestesses.
(b) In the inner truth of the Eleusinian mysteries, the birth of the soul into matter is seen as death; only through participation in the mysteries can the initiate rise to a timeless reality where he is utterly free and alive.
 The soul sleeps in the body for most of the time, awakening only when it has been transformed by ritual and the use of an initiatory drink.
[a] To die without this experience is to sleep forever or to wander houseless in the caverns of Hades.
(2) The primary objective in these initiations was to take the candidate through the gates of death.
(a) As in shamanic, Masonic, and other later initiations, the candidate was placed in a trance, the consciousness taken out of the body, and in this state to experience higher states of being and meet some of the denizens of the invisible worlds.
 Through direct experience the candidates would learn that they could live freely without their physical bodies, and that the gods they worshiped were perfectly real.
[a] Then they would return to earth fully convinced of their own immortality and prepared to meet death fearlessly, knowing it is the gate to freedom and the soul's true home.
6. As a descendant of Dionysus, Orpheus is the intellectual image of a demi-god, raised to deity by his sufferings in the underworld: a perfect symbol for all who follow the paths of the mysteries.
a. The movement from the cult of Dionysus and Apollo to Orphism, marks a change from a more primitive religious response towards an ethically-based philosophy and mysticism which included belief in the transmigration of souls, reincarnation and the final assumption into godhead.
(1) Orpheus has the lyre and the gift of music from Apollo, yet ends like Dionysus, torn apart by Thracian bacchantes.
(a) The shamanic practices of the Native Tradition overlapping the priestly function of the mystery school.
 The suffering of Orpheus, who loses Euridice (through fear, the first pitfall of all mystery knowledge) and is then dismembered by the Maenads, is a paradigm of the suffering and rebirth of the sleeping soul.
b. The Orphic mysteries are complex in the extreme.
(1) The most important aspect of the Orphic Mysteries was that humanity and the gods are related.
(a) At a most subtle and sensitive level a blurring of the edges occurs, an overlapping of human consciousness and divine awareness.
 "Everything that lives is Holy" becomes a reality in the interaction of the divine and the mundane.
(2) The hierarchy of spiritual creation is supremely complex, but the gods are like a ladder, a system of related possibilities, the potentiality of which is seeded within the whole of creation.
(a) We are all related, not just in a familial sense but also to everything else: earth and water, sky and stone; not only because all of creation is made up of different combinations of molecules, but because we are all a part of the divine hierarchy.
 This is the true meaning of the mystery teaching concerning the divine spark; the god like potential of humanity is far better expressed by this means.
[a] The divine fragment is that part of us which is always seeking reunion, a reassembly of separated parts into the whole from which they were created; a return to the paradisial state.
c. The Orphic school was, above all, syncretic.
(1) Orpheus is credited with the dissemination of the mysteries, with passing on rather than inventing much that became the basis of subsequent Greco-Roman theosophy.
(a) Pythagoras followed many of the Orphic teachings and made Orpheus the central deity of his own esoteric system, establishing a canon of Orphic Hyms.
(2) Between the Orphic mysteries and their partial revival in the Renaissance, there is a long gap not only in time but in understanding.
III. WESTERN TRADITIONS OF CEREMONIAL MAGIC
A. Hermetic Magic
1. This is the main tradition of the West and has been championed by many secret societies such as the Freemasons, Golden Dawn Society, and the Builders of Adytum.
a. Franz Bardon has written three volumes of instructions for aspiring Hermetic Magicians.
2. What we know of Hermetic Magic dates from the first century AD.
a. Hermetic Magic is a mixture of traditions. It combines Egyptian knowledge with ideas of the Greeks and Jews who lived in Egypt, principally in Alexandria, at the time of Jesus.
b. These three groups all claimed that the knowledge they held in common was divinely inspired. There are two different accounts of how the knowledge had been received.
(1) The first account derives from the apocryphal Book of Enoch.
(a) In a passage that amplifies Genesis 6:1-5, Enoch tells how 200 angel descended from heaven to Mount Hermon and took wives from the "daughters of man."
(b) The angels taught their knowledge to these women and to the children they bore. For this presumption, the angels were thrown out of heaven.
(c) Hermetic scholars recognize in this account a parallel to the myth of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
(d) In the Gnostic interpretation of Adam and Eve's fall, Jehovah is not The Deity, but a powerful though lesser spirit, who built the material world and rules over it.
(e) Because of his jealousy and pride Jehovah forbade knowledge to Adam and Eve hoping they would worship him as the Highest God.
(f) The serpent, in this interpretation, is not Satan, but the spirit Ouroboros, sent by Wisdom (Sophia) to liberate the minds of men and women.
(g) Magical knowledge is thus seen to be a higher and more pious wisdom than obedience to Jehovah and the serpent Ouroboros, far from being humankind's enemy, is seen as one of its greatest saviors.
(2) In a second account, magical knowledge came from Hermes Trismegistus (Thrice Great Hermes) who has given his name to the magical sciences.
(a) Hermes was a god of Greek settlers in Egypt, and was also identified with the Egyptian God Thoth.
(b) Through the agency of an ancient Egyptian king, this god gave humankind 42 books of knowledge, of which 14 short fragments, in Greek, survive.
(c) The most important of these is the Emerald Tablet.
(d) What we derive from Hermes above all is the Doctrine of Correspondence: "That which is above is like that which is below."
(e) In other words, each man and woman is a small model of the cosmos. Each mind is a model of the Divine mind.
(f) The four material elements - water, earth, wind and fire - are models of the four universal principles.
(g) The Ptolemaic scheme of the solar system is a model of the system of the astral spheres.
(h) The Doctrine of Correspondence is essential to magic, and to all occult studies.
c. From Hermetic Tradition we derive not only Ceremonial Magic, but also Alchemy.
(1) Magicians have usually practiced both sciences; and both are said to have been taught by the angels of the Book of Enoch and by Hermes Trismegistus.
(a) The difference between them is that, in alchemy, the magician tries to bring about a special physical manifestation of ether. This is the Philosophers Stone, the prima materia. With it the Alchemist can transmute base metals into gold, which is the highest material form.
(b) The Ceremonial Magician on the other hand, manipulates the ether to call upon spirits and to learn from them.
(c) Obviously, these are two similar, though very different branches of one science.
B. Faustian Magic
1. Faustian magic is the evocation of demons, and it began to develop well before the 16th century when Faust lived.
a. We do not know how much Faustian magic the 16th century wizard, Dr. Johann Faust, actually practiced.
(1) There are several copies extant of a book attributed to him.
(a) Doctoris Iohannis Fausti magiae maturalis et innaturalis, printed in Passau in 1505.
b. The most significant of the magical practices advocated by these books is the use of a book of spirits or Liber Spiritum.
(1) The Liber Spiritum must be written on virgin paper.
(a) On the left hand pages are pictures of demons and on the right hand pages are oaths that those demons have taken to serve the sorcerer.
(b) Each oath is signed by the demons mark.
(c) The book must be consecrated by a priest, who says three holy masses over it.
2. The process the good doctor had to go through to evoke the demons and force them to swear oaths to him was very involved.
a. Here is a short biography of Faust.
(1) Johann Faust (ca. 1480 - ca. 1540 ) probably born in Swabia and was described by a contemporary as "a most filthy beast, the midden of numberless devils." He was as notorious for his homosexuality as he was for his reputed pact with Mephistopheles. When he died there was "a great noise and shaking of the house that night......In the morning he was found dead, with his neck rung behind him; the Divell whom he served having carried his soule into Hell." Although he sold his soul for material gain, he seems to have died in poverty.
C. Enochian Magic
1. What we know of Enochian Magic comes from a book called "A True and Faithful Relation of What Passed For Many Years Between Doctor John Dee and Some Spirits", edited by Meric Casaubon and published in 1659.
a. The book is a memoir of the Welsh scholar John Dee (1527- 1608), concerning the experiments he conducted with the aid of the psychic Edward Kelley (c. 1553-1595).
(1) John Dee was a mathematician and astrologer at the court of Elizabeth I of England, while Edward Kelley was a psychic; he was also probably a sorcerer and necromancer.
b. Dee learned the Kelley had a gift for contacting spirits by means of crystal gazing, and from 1582 to 1587 he used Kelley in arduous attempts to learn the wisdom of the angels.
(1) Kelley, for his part, was never sure he was communicating with angels and he constantly tried to with- draw from the experiments, but Dee convinced him to continue.
c. Eventually, the spirits (chiefly a guide named Enoch) communicated through Kelley a spiritual language.
(1) This Enochian language had an alphabet of 21 letters. The spirits supplied 19 invocations in this language and they translated these for Dee. They also dictated magical diagrams, primarily squares, some of them containing as many as 2,401 letters and instructions for their use.
2. Despite the wealth of knowledge it encompassed, Enochian magic fell into obscurity for many years.
a. It was revived by the Order of the Golden Dawn and is currently on the market titled "The Book of Enoch", and claims to present the complete Enochian system in a simplified and easy to use format.
D. Abramelin Magic
1. This branch of magic is based on an 18th century french manuscript titled "The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage".
a. Abramelin set forth the semi-Gnostic doctrine that the world was created and is maintained by demons who work under orders from angels.
(1) A magician given the help of a Guardian Angel, could learn to control the demons for his own purposes.
(a) An adept depends heavily on word magic in the process and especially on palindromic magic squares.
IV. THE GREAT BOOKS OF MAGIC
A. All great fairy tales mention the Magic Book of Spells, kept by the great magicians of times long ago.
1. These are records of incantations and gestures that have been tried out hundreds of times before and proved to be most effective.
2. Medieval magicians collected any and all books on magic they could get their hands on.
a. There was an explosion of magical books in the Middle Ages.
(1) Most were imperfect copies of each other as they were translated from language to language and back again.
(a) These books were called Grimoires, perhaps an adulteration of the french word for Grammar, which was applied to books used to teach the basics of different subjects to the children.
b. Actually there were only about five books of magic which had any claim whatsoever of being authentic and most of the others were incomplete, and usually incorrect, copies of these basic five.
B. History of the Grimoires
1. The Testament of Solomon is the first great book of magic known to us.
a. It was published in Greek between 100-400 AD.
(1) Probably copied down by hand in the 2nd century.
(a) Speaking of the book as being published is of course strictly a convention since all books were hand copied until the invention of the printing press.
b. This book purports to be Solomon's autobiographical memoir of the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, which he accomplished with the slave labor of devils.
(1) With the help of a ring given to him by the angel Raphael, Solomon bound the vampire devil Ornais and forced him to work on the Temple.
(a) Solomon learned the names of the other devils from Ornias and bound them as well.
(2) By the 12th or 13th century, a list of 51 useful demons had crept into copies of the Testament of Solomon.
(a) These were demons who could be persuaded to bring material benefits to the sorcerer.
2. The Key of Solomon is perhaps the most famous of all the magical texts.
a. There are many versions in various languages.
(1) The bulk of these are in French and Latin, some dating from the 18th century.
(a) The Grimoire itself is believed to be much older. In the 1st century AD Josephus referred to a book of incantations for summoning evil spirits supposedly written by Solomon.
(b) A Greek version in the British Museum may date back to the 12th or 13th century.
b. The Key was prohibited as a dangerous work by the Inquisition in 1559, although like most books of magic, the local clergy were allowed to keep (and to use) copies as long as they did not step out of line and/or defy the authority of Rome.
c. The Key was concerned almost wholly with the practice of magic for personal gain.
(1) It contained no hierarchy of demons, but it did offer a system of magic based on the drawing of pentacles, which are five pointed stars inscribed with charms.
(a) These were grouped according to astrological signs.
(b) The pentacles for Saturn, for instance, were useful for causing earthquakes, inciting demons to fall upon victims, and in general bringing about ruin, destruction and death.
3. The Lemegeton, or Lesser Key of Solomon, appeared not long after the Key of Solomon.
a. It was divided into four parts.
(a) Wier, Agrippa's pupil was said to have drawn on the Goetia for his Grimoire called Psuedomonarchia Daemonium.
(2) Theurgia Goetia
(3) The Pauline Art
(4) The Almadel
(a) The Almadel was mentioned in writings dating back to the 1500's.
b. The Lemegeton included a complete hierarchy of 72 demons, whom the sorcerer could evoke for his benefit.
c. The origin and meaning of the Lemegeton is unknown.
4. The Constitution of Honorius first appeared in 1629.
a. It was attributed to Pope Honorius III (1216-1227) and its main contribution was to put a strongly Roman Catholic construction on magical evocation.
(1) Manuscript copies (corrupt ones) of the Constitution of Honorius made their way to Germany well before 1629. These had been translated from Latin to French leading some to believe that it had made its way into France before coming to Germany, where it was translated from French into German.
b. Elements of the Constitution mingled with certain other available texts and from these arose the strange mixture of practices that can properly be called Faustian magic.
5. The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage is another puzzling text with no definite source.
a. As far as we know, it began as an 18th century French manuscript, dated 1458, and it claimed to have been translated from Hebrew.
(1) MacGregor Mathers, who founded the Order of the Golden Dawn, came across the text in the British Museum and translated it into English. Since then it has had a strong influence on the practice of magic.
C. Other Grimoires
1. As previously noted, there was an explosion of Grimoires in the Middle Ages and they continued to proliferate with the advent of the Renaissance.
a. Most of these Grimoires were rip offs of the Key of Solomon or later additions by lesser known magicians to works attributed to well known magicians.
(1) Grimorum Verum, written in French and supposedly published in Memphis by Alibeck the Egyptian in 1517, although it probably dates from the 18th centuryand seems to be based on the Key of Solomon.
(2) Grand Grimoire, was written in French and dating from the 18th century.
(3) The Red Dragon, a version of the Grand Grimoire
(4) True Black Magic or The Secret of Secrets, a French version of the Key of Solomon published in 1750.
(5) The Arbatel of Magic, published in Latin at Basle, Switzerland in 1575.
(6) The Black Pullet, supposedly published in Egypt in 1740, it probably dates from the late 18th century.
(7) The Fourth Book, added to Agrippa's Occult Philosophy after his death, and rejected by his pupil Wier as a forgery.
(8) The Magical Elements of Heptameron
(a) Attributed to Peter of Abano, who died in 1316. It was probably written in the 16th century as a supplement to the Fourth Book.
~author (unfortunately) unknown