THE BIRTHDAY OF MITHRAS WAS ON DECEMBER 25
BORN OUT OF THE WAR IN HEAVEN INTO RELIGION
Mithra remains only an elaboration. It was a ruthless and uncompromising dualism. There are two principles of light and darkness which existed from the beginning. This unresolved dualism was modified by the supposition that the principle of light (Ormuzd) would, or might, overcome that of darkness (Ahriman). Primitive men, like modern ones, no doubt recoiled from the concept of a universe in which nothing was ever settled. This dualistic conception physically manifested as an idol is such mystically shown as the one standing upon or astride a bull. The god wears the tunica, a cloak and the renowned Phrygian cap. Armed with a short sword, he is often depicted in the act of sacrifice.
According to the traditional legend, Mithra pursues the bull, driving him into a cave whence there is no escape. Under the orders of the sun (Ormuzd), and with great misgiving, he kills the bull with a sword or knife. Miraculously, from the dead body, spring all the plants and fruits of the earth, wheat from the spinal cord, the vine from the blood, and from the seed, all animals. By his death everyman and all material things are born again out of darkness into light.
This war in heaven between impersonal forces was to become an organized religion. The figure of Mithra, the divine huntsman, and the bull which he kills for the sake of the salvation of everyman was worshipped throughout Europe and in England. The cult appears to have had its centre in Rome. In the 4th century, Mithraists faced persecution from Christians and the religion was subsequently suppressed and eliminated in the empire by the end of the century. Zoroaster was the first to dedicate a natural cave in honor of Mithras. The Mithraic New Year and the birthday of Mithras was on December 25.
Although literary sources for the Mithraic mysteries are extremely sparse, an abundance of material evidence of the cult exists in the many Mithraic temples and artifacts that archaeologists have found scattered throughout the Roman Empire, from England in the north and west to Palestine in the south and east. The temples, called mithraea by scholars, were usually built underground in imitation of caves. These subterranean temples were filled with an extremely elaborate iconography: carved reliefs, statues, and paintings, depicting a variety of enigmatic figures and scenes.
WHERE ARE MITHRAEA?
It has been estimated that there would have been at least 680 mithraea in Rome. It is a Mithraic temple, erected in classical antiquity by the worshippers of Mithras. Most Mithraea can be dated between 100 B.C. and A.D. 300, mostly in the Roman Empire. Others may be recognized by their characteristic layout, even though converted as crypts beneath Christian churches.
In 67 BCE the pirates of Cilicia (a province on the southeastern coast of Asia Minor) were practicing “secret rites” of Mithras. It is a geo-cultural region in southern Turkey, extending inland from the northeastern coasts of the Mediterranean Sea. Cilicia has a population of over six million, concentrated mostly at the Cilicia plain. The region includes the provinces of Mersin, Adana, Osmaniye, and Hatay. Mersin is composed of Tarsus, the birthplace of Paul, not one of the Twelve Apostles. Thirteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament have traditionally been attributed to Paul. He is the first to persecute the early Christians. Paul was not a follower of Jesus, also known as Saul, was “a Pharisee of Pharisees”, who “intensely persecuted” the followers of Jesus.
The Jewish congregation of Syracuse was probably the first to be established in Sicily, and one of the first few in what is now Italy. Judaism was present here long before the arrival of Christianity on Sicilian shores. The greatest influx of Jews took place in the decades immediately after 135, in the wake of the Romans’ complete expulsion of the Jews from the holy city of Jerusalem after Bar Kokhba’s Revolt (which began in 132) during the rule of the emperor Hadrian. Though Syracuse had been a Roman city since 212 BC, its culture and principal language were Greek throughout the Roman period. With the arrival of the Jewish refugees, Aramaic was added to the linguistic mix. Most of the city’s Jews resided in their own quarter and for many centuries their lives were governed by their own lawkeepers-kelihah.
WHO ARE JEWS?
The very warlike Khazars were related to the Tartar and Mongol race. They stayed on Mount Seïr, the home of the Edomites. In a comparatively short period they established the largest and wealthiest kingdom in Eastern Europe. Their religious worship was a mixture of phallic worship and other forms of idolatrous worship practiced in Asia by pagan nations. This form of worship continued until the seventeenth century.
In the 7th century King Bulan, ruler at that time of the Khazars Kingdom, decided to abolish the practice of phallic worship and other forms of idolatrous worship and make one of the three monotheistic religions, about which he knew very little, the new state religion. After a historic session with representatives of the three monotheistic religions King Bulan decided against Christianity and Islam and selected as the future state religion the religious worship then known as Talmudism, and now known and practiced as Judaism. The converted Khazars were the first population of so-called or self-styled “Jews” in Eastern Europe. During the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries the rapidly expanding Russiannation gradually swallowed up the Khazars Kingdom.
A SAFE HAVEN FOR THE JEWS IN LIGHT OF THEIR EXPULSION FROM SPAIN
On 31st March 1492, the King and Queen of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella, issued their infamous Decree of Alhambra, by which all Jews living in Spanish territories, including Sicily, were obliged either to leave or to convert to Catholicism. At the time of the decree, it is estimated that some 30,000 Jews (around 10% of the total population) lived in Sicily, from Palermo to Syracuse and from Marsala to Messina. Their ancestors had first settled on the island as early as the 1st century CE, meaning that Sicily was home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in Europe. The edict especially targeted the 800,000 Jews who had never converted, and gave them four months to pack up and get out. There were also those who feigned conversion, practicing Catholicism outwardly while covertly practicing Judaism, the so-called “Marranos,” or swine. Most of Sicily’s exiled Jews had to start from scratch in their new homes in Calabria, Naples, Rome, Venice and Salonika (amongst others). It is estimated that around 9,000 Jews remained. They converted to Catholicism and became known as neofiti (neophytes), the Sicilian version of the Iberian conversos.
The voyage of 1492 of Christopher Columbus made him the first European in recorded history to successfully conquer a small part of the Americas and then establish a trade route for the transportation of enslaved people and goods. Two fleets set sail from Spain’s Port of Palos on August 3, 1492, floating together down the Rio Tinto. On one vessel was the final batch of expelled Jews, who, rather than repudiate their faith and become conversos (Christian converts) in the face of death if they remained in their home country, set out for an unknown fate in a new world. Leading the other ships, named the Pinta, Niña, and Santa María, was a little known explorer named Christopher Columbus. Columbus’s first announcement of his voyage’s discoveries went to the treasurer of Aragon, the former Jew, de Santangel. Columbus’ voyage was motivated by a desire to find a safe haven for the Jews in light of their expulsion from Spain. Today the capital of Ohio is Columbus. It was founded on February 14, 1812. The city was named in honor of Christopher Columbus. Otherwise, the truth really expected to be known is who really discovered the New World. Those suggested include the Vikings, Japanese, Chinese, Egyptians, Hebrews, Portuguese, and some Irish monks. But, the Vikings are perhaps the best-known candidates.
NAME OF SHIP-OWNERS-REAL ETHNICITY
- Abigail- Aaron Lopez, Moses Levy, Jacob Franks-Jews
- Crown- Moses Levy and Nathan Simpson-Jews
- Nassau- Moses Levy-Jews
- Four Sisters- Moses Levy-Jews
- Anne & Eliza- Justus Bosch and John Abrams-Jews
- Prudent Betty- Henry Cruger and Jacob Phoenix-Jews
- Hester- Mordecai and David Gomez-Jews
- Elizabeth- Mordecai and David Gomez-Jews
- Antigua- Nathan Marston and Abram Lyell-Jews
- Betsy- Wm. De Woolf-Jews
- Polly- James De Woolf-Jews
- White Horse- Jan de Sweevts-Jews
- Expedition-John and Jacob Roosevelt-Jews
- Charlotte-Moses and Sam Levy and Jacob Franks-Jews
- Caracoa-Moses and Sam Levy-Jews
At the beginning of the 14th century, the Aragonese King Frederick III obliged the Jewish population to identify themselves and their shops with a red mark, a practice that would be hauntingly echoed over 700 years later in Nazi Germany. Little by little, the liberties of Sicily’s Jewish communities were reduced. Synagogues were seized or forcibly moved out of town centers, ghettoisation was intensified, and the long-acquired rights of internal governance trampled on. Then, in 1478, the Spanish Inquisition was established, signaling the beginning of the end for Iberian and Sicilian Jews.
SEVERAL DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF CHRISTIANITY
In fact, until about the tenth century A.D. Europe had been a battleground of several different versions of Christianity as well as native pagan cults that had dominated the region for millennia. As what was originally a Jewish cult, early Christianity inherited a legacy of Jewish occultism. The Celts, for example, notorious fighters, worshipped a variety of gods and goddesses. What we know of their religion, and particularly of the Druid priesthood, is subject to the mists of memory, with little written record of them that was not due to what we can find in the Gallic Wars of Caesar or, later, the vicious propaganda of the Church. The Nordic peoples had an extensive array of deities from Odin to Thor to Freya. The Slavic peoples had a coherent mythology as well, one that was driven underground and eradicated by the Church and especially under the banner of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, the evangelists—some would say “colonizers”—of Eastern Europe.
Later, European Christianity would be influenced by the Crusades and, most notably, by the Order of the Knights Templar: an Order of militant monks who had taken the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and had many contacts with Islamic clerics and members of other Middle Eastern sects. These contacts (and their legendary ability at banking and money-lending) led to their eventually being suppressed by both Church and State in the fourteenth century when they were accused of worshipping a devilish idol with the name “Baphomet” and of trampling on the cross during their initiation ceremonies. As the Templars were considered to be enemies of the Church—even though they had taken oaths to defend it, and did so gallantly in the Holy Land—so too were the Freemasons considered hostile to the Church.
For instance, many early Christian writings reflect the same early Christian distaste and even loathing of the material world. Most of these writings were discarded from the orthodox version of the New Testament. The idea that flesh was inherently evil was particularly popular in mainstream Christianity – it was formalized in the concept of Original Sin and was enormously popular up until the twentieth century. Today this traditional teaching is played down, and it comes as a shock to many Christians to hear the words like that of the Burial service from the Book of Common Prayer, contrasting an evil material body against a good spiritual one: “…. our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body that it may be like to his glorious body.“
AGAIN SICILY’S TANGLED WEB OF HISTORY
Over 500 years since the forced expulsion of Sicily’s Jewish population, there have been some signs of a renascent community: in 2008 in Syracuse, a synagogue was opened; in 2011 in Palermo, an official Bar Mitzvah was performed for the first time in Sicily since 1492; and in 2017, the Archbishop of Palermo accepted a petition from the city’s small Jewish community and granted them use of an abandoned oratory, the Chiesa del Sabato, as a place of worship. Fittingly, the new synagogue is located on the site where an old synagogue once stood. Its address, Piazza Meschita, invites reflection, as meschita, meaning mosque, derives from the Spanish word mezquito, an etymological curiosity that intimates a great deal about Sicily’s tortuous, tangled web of history.
TROUBLESOME WORD STUDY
- Heaven’s gate– a place regarded in various religions as the abode of God (or the gods) and the angels, and of the good after death, often traditionally depicted as being above the sky
- Paradise lost– heaven as the ultimate abode of the just
- Idyllic life– an extremely happy, peaceful, or picturesque episode or scene, typically an idealized or unsustainable one
- Utopian vision– an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect
- The Elysian Fields– the place at the ends of the earth to which certain favored heroes were conveyed by the gods after death
- Nirvana Buddhism– a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self; and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth representing the final goal of Buddhism
- The Promised Land– the land of Canaan that was promised to Abraham and his descendants
- Purgatory place– a place or state of suffering inhabited by the souls of sinners who are expiating their sins before going to heaven
- Enlightenment period– the action or state of attaining or having attained spiritual knowledge or insight, in particular (in Buddhism) that awareness which frees a person from the cycle of rebirth
- Face of Ecstasy– an overwhelming feeling of great happiness or joyful excitement
- Euphoria of success– a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness
- Elation in recovery– great happiness
- Exhilaration of victory– a feeling of excitement
- Laughter of exultation– a feeling of triumphant elation or jubilation
- Youthful exuberance– the quality of being full of energy, excitement, and cheerfulness
- Happy children’s ebullience– the quality of being cheerful and full of energy
- Youth of effervescence– vivacity and enthusiasm
- The lady’s vivacity– the quality of being attractively lively and animated
- Eyes of merriment– gaiety and fun
- Laughter of gaiety– the state or quality of being lighthearted or cheerful
- Scene of hilarity– extreme amusement, especially when expressed by laughter
- Night of jollity– lively and cheerful activity or celebration
- Note of levity– humor or frivolity, especially the treatment of a serious matter with humor or in a manner lacking due respect
- Evening of conviviality– the quality of being friendly and lively
- Friend of geniality– the quality of having a friendly and cheerful manner
- Amiability in banquet– the quality of having a friendly and pleasant manner
- Air of affability– the quality of having a friendly and good-natured manner
- Degree of courtesy– the showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behavior toward others
- Value of decency– behavior that conforms to accepted standards of morality or respectability
- People in sociality– the quality of being sociable
- Meeting in civility– formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech
- Life in urbanity– suavity, courteousness, and refinement of manner
- Woman with elegance– the quality of being graceful and stylish in appearance or manner; style