"Vision of A New Culture"
The Great Learning


Near Eastern Mythology


1. In ancient times the Great Mother was considered the Source of life and death. She was the vegetation Mother. Every season plants died in order to be "reborn" in the next. Life was cyclic. In matriarchy this was the central cult, the alpha and the omega. With the rise of patriarchy the first thing being done was to replace the Mother by male vegetation gods. Baal was one, Dionysos was one.

2. In the Egyptian Isis mysteries Osiris was the only god who resurrected after his death, hence his immense popularity. The cult consisted of two parts: fasting and mourning with searching for the dead Osiris, after which the joy of the initiates about the finding of his renewed and reborn body. The new thing was the resurrection, the unification with the Divine in this life. In secret initiations the neophyte was experiencing "death and rebirth" by descending into the underworld while returning from it. Generally the gods of the Mysteries, including Christianity, are all epiphanies of Isis and Osiris (M.Eliade).

3. The cult of Kybele and the Attis mysteries represented the secret of the vegetation. Blood and genitals were sacrificed in order to secure the fertility of the Earth Mother. At the same time new meanings were given to the cult. Redemption - life, death and rebirth in Eternity - became the main goal. For this purpose ecstatic rituals - music, dance, tattooing, hallucinogenic plants - were organized.  "Bread and wine" had sacramental purposes. 

4. In Hellenistic times - the time of the decline of the Roman Empire - the vegetation cycle had been transformed into Mystery religions in which people were seeking immortality. These mostly oriental cults were extremely popular. Secret male initiation rites celebrated Dionysos - both divine and human - as the one who conquered death. He was the symbol of rebirth and renewal, the hope for the return of the golden age.

5. The greatest rival of rising Christianity was the Mithras cult, the devotion of the Persian god of light. In order to compete successfully Christianity took over almost all characteristics of Mystery religion in general and the Mithras cult in particular. Apart from replacing the Mother by the Father, both Mithras and Christ are mediators between the believers and the invisible god, both religions teach immortality, resurrection, the last judgement, heaven and underworld, baptism, confession, the celebration of the Sunday and the godbirth on December 25th. Christ as "God and man", the Eucharist and the "holy mother with child" were taken from the pharao and Isis cult respectively.

6. With Christianity something essential changed. As the experience of spiritual death, rebirth and immortality had been open to all people, this was suddenly claimed by one person only. "Christ died for all of us" means that the essence of life - our own inner dying and renewal, rebirth - was taken away from us. What at first sounds very compassionate appears to have an unexpected shadow part. He died for us, giving us a licence to turn ourselves to our daily business. Moreover, from the beginning the monopoly of "resurrexion" was claimed by the Church. The believers were reduced from active participants into passive spectators of the Mystery. All salvation was supposed to come exclusively from Christ. An entire culture was thus deprived of its possibility of returning to the Source, death and rebirth, of its regenerative power, its inner balance. It was condemned to a superficial, meaningless life, the consequences of which are painfully visible in our current everyday life: an alienated ego. The inability to die is the cause of unlimited growth and expansion of Western culture. Christianity, capitalism, war and exploitation are therefore intimately connected. However...

The Jesus Myth is the highlight in spirituality

7. Why? As the biblical story of Jesus - his being "God", his dying "for all of mankind" and resurrexion - has proven to be false, the actual importance lies in the universal Myth beyond it. The core of the Jesus Myth is that you have to die in order to become reborn. This is of greatest actuality. Isn't it true that the earth is dying, because we are refusing to die ourselves? Just as "Jesus (Horus, Baal, Dionysos etc.) died for us" we have to die for the earth: for starving people, our children, animals, plants, rivers and rocks. Only when a "higher" creature sacrifices him/herself to a "lower" a new era will begin. We have to die materially - dropping the identification with ego and greed - in order to be reborn spiritually. Seen this way the Jesus Myth - created by Paul, by projecting various elements of the Mystery Religions into Christ - could indeed be a great example for post-modern people. It confronts us with our main sin: ignorance, selfcenteredness, greed, addiction and accumulation. It is a major sin against the Great Mother's Eternal Law - Death and Rebirth -  in which accumulation is disturbing the universal balance. By taking refuge to The Great Mother we will be initiated in Her regenerating power. It is the beginning of a New Era in which everybody has to become a Jesus. For, if we refuse to die we will be (soon) forced to.

Don't ask Jesus to die for you, but ask how
you may "die" for others

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Last revising: 08/09/12