Dualism Inspired Mystery Cults
(from wikipedia commons at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NAMA_Myst%C3%A8res_d%27Eleusis.jpg
(July 9, 2022) The mystery cults found in Greece and Rome arose in a response to dualism. An inherently corrupt material world implies an eternal and perfect divine world which can be reached with the right magic. The mystery cults came in two forms:
Seeking Resurrection after Death by Acquiring the Power of Vegetation Renewal in the Spring in Various Ways
Eleusinian Mysteries - Descent and return of Persephone (Kore) into Hades. Persephone is the daughter of Demeter and while she is in Hades the goddess of vegetation, Demeter, does not cause plants to grow.
Mysteries of Isis - Death and resurrection of the Egyptian god Osiris by the power of the goddess Isis
Dionysian Mysteries– This cult has no origin point in Greece so scholars think it may have originated in Crete. Its rituals seem to be focused on creating life lubricated by alcohol.
Orphism– This cult started with the bardic hero Orpheus who songs represented the magic of music used in rituals. This made him an authority on rituals and in time a super powerful magic crafter able to overcome the material world. His most famous legend has him going into underworld to rescue his wife and returning with his wife in a copy of the earlier springtime mythologies.
Seeking the Preservation of Life by Defeating Chaos
Samothracian Mysteries - Protecting sailors. Samothrace is an island in the northern Aegean Sea.
Mithraic Mysteries - Protecting soldiers.
The pit in the photograph contained a round amphora containing two tusks of a boar. Behind it towards the alter was a round white alabaster circle surrounded by square black stone.
Photo from http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/mithras/display.php?page=cimrm434
Photo from: http://www.mithraeum.eu/monumenta/tauroctonia_circo_massimo
(July 9, 2022) No ancient texts describing Mithraism have ever been found. What is known is guess work based upon interpreting the extensive remains of its caves known as Mithraeum. Caves were the home of animal and human spirits since Mesolithic times and so represented the motion class of powers.
In 68 BCE Plutarch (45-120 CE) mentions that Mithraism was being practiced as a religion in his own day in Rome. Mithra or Mitra was the Indo-European god of the visible sun and analogous to the Alphabetic Akkadian Hu. Consequently, he represented the power of order. This is in contrast to the sun's hidden or chaotic form represented by the bull. Chaotic rain storms brought rain.
The Mithraeum near the Circus Maximus in Rome had a detailed white marble relief showing the bull of chaos getting killed. In this image (bottom left), Mithra in a wind swept cloak is slaying the bull. Mithra is wearing a Phrygian cap having a star at its peak. Four more stars are visible to the right of the god's head.
A lion cub and the serpent are licking the blood from the wound of the bull. A scorpion grasps the testicles. On each side of the bull is a torch-bearer: Cautes (left) with a torch pointed up and Cautopates (right) with his torch pointed down. The two Corinthian columns beside them are pointed in the same directions are their torches. These likely represent the seasons with Cautes representing summer and Cautopates representing winter. Mithra is looking towards the sun side which is the side of life and growth.
Behind the main scene on the left is an idealized temple of Mithra on which a raven is perched. The raven grasps with its break a part of Mithras' cloak. A lizard is visible creeping out of its hole. Before the entrance to the temple is a mini Mithra carrying a mini bull; before the bull's forelegs a serpent which represents the power of life and death.
The upper left corner has an image of the sun with a crown of seven rays, and of Luna (moon) with a crescent behind the shoulders. She is looking downwards.
On the upper border above Mithras' head runs a inscription which says: "Deo Soli Invicto Mithrae Ti(tus) Cl(audio) Hermes ob votum dei typum d(onum) d(edit)" which means "Invincible sun deity Mithra. Titus Claudio Hermes voted for the type of gift given."
Pietrangeli, Mitreo Pal., 1ff (reprint from BCR 1940 (1941)
Dionysiac Frieze, Villa of Mysteries, Pompeii
Oct 15, 2012 • Dionysian Cult Cycle (?), Villa of Mysteries, before 79 C.E., fresco, Pompeii, Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker. Created by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker.
Orpheus was an enchanting musician whose music allowed the resurrection of his wife. That promised eternal life to his followers.