Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Myth Of Mithras

In Poul and Karen Anderson's Roma Mater (London, 1989), Gratillonius instructs a Mithraic postulant. The Andersons acknowledge that little is known about Mithraic doctrines but they "...present those which are reasonably well attested." (p. 480)

Gratillonius starts to speak of " '...the One from Which Everything comes...,' " then checks himself because Time, Aeon, Chronos, Saturnus, the Source, the Fountainhead, the Ultimate is "...for the higher ranks, those allowed into the sanctuary..." and, in any case, is not prayed to. (p. 305)

Christians and Buddhists pride themselves that they have no hidden or esoteric doctrines. This passage implies that Mithraists did. In some Indian traditions, meditative techniques are divulged only to initiates so that they will not become debased. John Blofeld, an expert on Tibetan Buddhism, wrote, in a very short chapter on secret Tibetan rituals, that anyone who claims to reveal such rituals should be disregarded because he is either lying or breaking a confidence. Zazen, which I practice, is open to all and much has been written about it but it is advisable to heed an informed instructor before starting to practice it. I would refer enquirers to the Group, not instruct them myself.

Having avoided mention of the Ultimate, Gratillonius identifies the highest God as Ahura-Mazda, variously named Ormazd, Jupiter, Zeus etc. The names do not matter so that, in this case, there is not any one true name. Gratillonius had said earlier that he did not worship Jupiter but, on that occasion, he referred to the chief Olympian, not to the highest Mithraic deity. I notice that, in Classical mythology, Saturn, a Titan, and Jupiter, an Olympian, belong to successive generations of gods while, in Mithraism, Saturn is a name for the Ultimate and Jupiter is a name for the highest god.

If we fight for Ahura-Mazda against Ahriman (Evil, Chaos), then our Commander is Mithras who was born from a rock, as was the Chinese Monkey King although I imagine that this is a coincidence. Shepherds saw, adored and made offerings although:

" 'This happened before there was life on earth.' " (p. 306)


Ahura-Mazda made the Bull slain by Mithras. From Its body came life and "...from Its blood the wine of the Mystery." (p. 306) There was a flood, an ark and a last supper. It all sounds very crude. How is it known if it happened so long ago?

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

As you said, Mithraism seems quite crude on closer examination. And I also wonder what orthodox Zoroastrians would have thought of the use made by Mithraists of the Zoroastrian elements. With indignation, I'll bet!

And as you said, the Catholic Church does not hide what she teaches and believes. Everthing can be found in official documents published for all to see. One example being the CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

As you know, most times I just nod agreement with what you say. But sometimes I want to comment.