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    Default Chapter VII. Concealment of the Early Doctrines


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Chapter VII. Concealment of the Early Doctrines

    After the decline of Nature-worship, and when through the constantly increasing power gained by the ruder elements in human society a knowledge of the scientific principles underlying ancient religion had been partially lost or forgotten, it became necessary for philosophers to conceal the original conception of the Deity and to clothe their sacred writings in allegory. Hence it is observed that every ancient form of religion has a cabala containing its secret doctrines–doctrines the inner meaning of which was known only to the few. In order that these truths might be preserved, they were inscribed on the leaves of trees in characters or symbols understood only by the initiated. The allegories beneath which these higher truths were concealed were handed down as traditions to succeeding generations–traditions in which history, astrology, and mythology are strangely combined.

    After long periods, through war, conquest, and the various changes incidental to shifting environment, these traditions were in the main forgotten. Fragments of them, however, were from time to time gathered together, and, intermingled with later doctrines, were used by the priests as a means of increased self-aggrandizement and power.

    It is now thought that the Iliad (Rhapsodies) of Homer is only a number of “detached songs” which perhaps for centuries were delivered orally, and that they contain the secret doctrines of the priests. Porphyry says that “we ought not to doubt that Homer has secretly represented the images of divine things under the concealment of fable.” It has been said of Plato that he banished the poems of Homer from his imaginary republic for the reason that the people might not be able to distinguish what is from what is not allegorical. Hippolytus informs us that the Simonists declared that in Helen resided the principle of intelligence; “and thus, when all the powers were for claiming her for themselves, sedition and war arose, during which this chief power was manifested to nations.” These songs which were gathered together by Pisistratus and revised by Aristotle for the use of Alexander, have generally been regarded merely as a bit of history recounting a severe and protracted struggle between the Greeks and Trojans.

    Within the earliest historical accounts which we have of the Egyptians, we observe that their ceremonies and symbols have already become multitudinous, the true meaning of the latter being concealed. The masses of the people, who had grown too sensualized and ignorant to receive the higher divine “mysteries,” and too gross to be entrusted with their true significance, had become idolaters.

    Not only the Egyptian and Chaldean priests, but Moses and the Jewish doctors were well versed in religious symbolism. The fact is observed, also, that as late as medieval Christianity, the fathers in the Church, the Christian painters, sculptors, and architects, still employed signs and symbols to set forth their religious doctrines. Even at the present time, many of the emblems representing certain ideas connected with the creative principles, and which were part and parcel of the pagan worship, are still in use. The masses of the people, however, are without a knowledge of their origin or early significance.

    Everywhere, throughout the early historic nations, were worshipped symbols of the attributes or functions of the dual or triune God. Each symbol represented a distinctive female or male quality. Animals, trees, the sea, plants, the moon, and the heavens were, at a certain stage of religious development, symbolized as parts of the Deity and worshipped as possessing certain female or male characteristics or attributes.

    It is plain that, with the decline of female power, and the consequent stimulation of the animal instincts in man, the pure creative principles involved in Nature-worship gradually became unsuited to the sensualized capacities and tastes of the masses; but in addition to this were other reasons why the female principle in the Deity should be concealed. Women were already deposed from their former exalted position as heads of families and as leaders of consanguine communities. All their rightful prerogatives had been usurped. The highest development in Nature had become the slave of man’s appetites, and motherhood, which had hitherto been accepted as the most exalted function either in heaven or on the earth, trailed in the dust.

    Under these conditions it is not perhaps singular that the capacity to bring forth, and the qualities and attributes of women which are correlated with it, namely, sympathy–a desire for the welfare of others outside of self, or altruism,–should no longer have been worshipped as divine, or that in their place should have been substituted the leading characters developed in man. From the facts at hand it is plain that at a certain stage of human growth physical might and male reproductive energy, or virility, became the recognized God. With passion as the highest ideal of a Creator, the female element appeared only in a sensualized form and simply as an appendage to the god which was dependent upon her ministrations. Under the above conditions it is not in the least remarkable that by the priests it should have been deemed necessary to conceal from women the facts bound up in their nature. Woman’s importance as a creative agency and as a prime and most essential factor in the universe must be concealed. “Isis must be veiled.”

    Through the appropriation of the titles of the original dual God by reigning monarchs, is perceived at least one of the processes by which the great universal female Deity of the ancients has been transformed into a male god. We are assured that the “redundant nomenclature of the deities of Babylon renders an interpretation of them impossible. Each divinity has many distinct names, by which he is indifferently designated.” It is observed that each

    Deity has as many as forty or fifty titles, each of which represents a certain attribute.

    Since the invention of the cuneiform alphabet, by which pictures have been reduced to phonetic signs, the attempt has been made to arrange or classify these gods according to their proper order in the Pantheon, but thus far much obscurity and doubt seem to pervade their history.

    In Assyrian, Babylonian, and Egyptian mythologies are observed much confusion and no small degree of mystery surrounding the positions occupied by certain gods. “Children not unfrequently change positions with parents,” but more frequently, we are told, “women change places with men,” or, more properly speaking, the titles, attributes, and qualities ascribed to the Great Universal female God are now transferred to the reigning monarch. Thus not unfrequently a deity is observed which is composed of a male triad, the central figure of which is the king or military chieftain, and to which is usually appended a straggling fourth member, a female, who, shorn of her power, and with a doubtful and mysterious title, appears as wife or mistress to his greatness, while upon her is reflected, through him, a slight hint of that dignity and honor which was originally recognized as belonging exclusively to the recognized Deity.

    The Goddess Vishnu, from whose navel as she slept on the bottom of the sea sprang all creation, after her transformation into a male God, is supplemented by a wife–Lacksmir. Lacksmir means wisdom; but she has become only an appendage to her “lord,” upon whom is reflected all her former glory.

    So greedy did rulers become for the splendid titles belonging to the female divinities that we are told that “the name of the Great Goddess Astarte not unfrequently appears as that of a man.”

    Although man had usurped the titles of the female God and had denied her recognition as an active creative agency, still, as nothing could be created without her, she was permitted, as we have seen, to remain as wife or mistress to the reigning monarch, in whom had come to reside infinite wisdom and power. Her symbol was an ark, chest, boat, box, or cave. This woman, although dignified by the title “Mother of the Gods,” and even by that of “Queen of Heaven,” is utterly without power.

    Not only is it plain that the titles and attributes of female gods have been appropriated by males, but it is also true that the more ancient deities, which are now known to have been female, have by later investigators been represented as male.

    The interpretations which have hitherto been put upon the Babylonian and Assyrian deities by many of those who have attempted to unravel the mysteries of an earlier stage of religious worship, is doubtless due to the fact that since the so-called historic period began, the qualities which have been considered godlike have all been masculine; it has therefore never occurred to the minds of these writers that the ancients may have entertained quite different notions from their own regarding the attributes of a Deity; hence, whenever the sex of a god has appeared doubtful, especially if it be in the least degree powerful or important, it has at once been denominated as masculine, and this, too, notwithstanding the fact that such rendering has oftentimes involved inconsistencies, contradictions, and absurdities which it is impossible to reconcile either with established facts or with common sense.

    Unless the symbols representing religious belief and worship are viewed in the light of later developed facts in mythology, archaeology, and philology, there occur many seeming absurdities and numberless facts which it is found difficult to reconcile with each other; especially is this true in regard to some of the symbols used to express the distinctive female and male qualities. The serpent, for instance, although a male symbol, in certain ages of the world’s history appears as a beautiful woman.

    This is accounted for by the fact that a woman and a serpent once stood for the god-idea. Together they constituted an indivisible entity–the creating power in the universe. They therefore became interchangeable terms. The woman when appearing alone represented both, as did also the serpent.

    “In most ancient languages, probably all, the name for the serpent signifies Life, and the roots of these words generally also signify the male and female organs, and sometimes these conjoined. In low French the words for Phallus and life have the same sound, though, as is sometimes the case, the spelling and gender differ"; but this fact is thought to be of no material importance, as “Jove, Jehova, sun, and moon have all been male and female by turn.”

    No doubt many of the inconsistencies hitherto observed in the religion of the ancients will disappear so soon as we obtain a clearer knowledge of their chronology; and events which now seem contradictory will be satisfactorily explained when placed in their proper order with regard to date. Religion, like everything else, is constantly shifting its position to accommodate itself to the changed mental conditions of its adherents; hence, ideas which at any given time in the past were perfectly suited to a people, would, in the course of five hundred or one thousand years, have become changed or greatly modified.

    During a certain stage in human history “all great women and mythical ladies were serpents"; but when monumentally or pictorially represented, they appeared “with the head of a woman, while the body was that of a reptile.” This figure represented Wisdom and Passion, or the spiritual and material planes of human existence. The mythical woman whom Hercules met in Scythia, and who was doubtless the original eponymous leader of the Scythian people, had the head of a woman and the body of a serpent.73 Even the Mexicans declare that “he, the serpent, is the sun, Tonakatl-Koatl, who ever accompanies their first woman.” Their primitive mother, they said, was Kihua-Kohuatl, which signifies a serpent. In referring to this Mexican tradition, Forlong remarks: “So that the serpent here was represented as both Adam and Adama; and their Eden, as in Jewish story, was a garden of love and pleasure."74

    The traditions extant among all peoples seem to connect the introduction of the serpent into religious symbolism, with a time in the history of mankind when they first began to recognize the fact, that through the abuse of the reproductive functions, evil, or human wretchedness, had gained the ascendency over the higher forces. The Deity represented by a woman and a serpent involved the idea not alone of good, but of good and evil combined. Together they prefigured not only Wisdom and generative power, but evil as well. Mythologically they represented the cold of winter and the heat of the sun’s rays, both of which were necessary reproduction. From this conception sprang the Ormuzd and Ahryman of the Persians, the story of Adam, Eve, and the serpent in Genesis, and the legend of Kihua-Kohuatl and Tonakatl-Koatl in Mexico.

    “The serpent remained in the memory and affections of most early people as wisdom, life, goodness, and the source of knowledge and science, under various names such as Toth, Hermes, Themis, the Kneph or Sophia of Egyptians and Gnostics, and Set, Shet, or Shem of the Jews."75

    The Serpent Goddess, although embracing evil as well as good, was still the “Giver of Life” and the “Teacher of Mankind.” These were the titles which in later ages began to be coveted by monarchs, and then it was that the attributes belonging to this Deity began to appear in connection with royalty.

    There is no ancient divinity about which there seems to be connected so much mystery as the Assyrian Hea. When referring to the “great obscurity” which surrounds this God we are assured that there is at present “no means of determining the precise meaning of the cuneiform Hea, which is Babylonian rather than Assyrian,” but that it is doubtless connected with the Arabic Hya, which is said to mean “life,” or the female principle in creation. This Deity is the God of “glory” and of “giving," titles which during the earlier ages of human existence belonged to the Queen of Heaven, the Celestial Mother.

    The representation of the god Amun or Amun-ra, which superseded the triune Deity, Kneph, Sate, and Anouk at Thebes, and from which in Assyria doubtless proceeded the trinity, Amun, Bel-Nimrod, and Hea, is supposed to be identical with the Greek Zeus, which means the sun. This God is represented by a female figure seated on a throne. It is crowned with two long feathers, and in the right hand is observed the cross, the emblem of life. Manetho, the celebrated Egyptian historian, declares that the name of this God signifies “concealed.”

    There can be little doubt that the titles of the ancient Deity–the Destroyer or Regenerator, or, in other words, those of the God of life which embraced the idea of the moving force throughout Nature, were, in course of time, appropriated by the rulers of the people. It is stated that the name of a certain Egyptian God appears first in connection with royalty, that “his name was substituted for some earlier divinity whose hieroglyphics were chiselled out of the monuments to make place for his.”

    According to the testimony of Rawlinson, the God Hea is represented by the great serpent, which occupies a conspicuous position among the symbols of the gods on the black stones recording Babylonian benefactions. Now these flat black stones are themselves said to symbolize the female element in the Deity, in contradistinction to the obelisks, which prefigure the male, while the serpent, for reasons which have already been explained, appeared for ages in connection with the figure of a woman. In later inscriptions “king” is everywhere attached to the name of the God Hea, which fact shows that the titles ascribed to her were those particularly coveted by royalty. Hence we are not surprised to find that in an inscription of Sardanapalus, in the British Museum, there “occurs a remarkable phrase in which the king takes the titles of Hea.”

    Among the Assyrian inscriptions appear Bel-Nimrod, Hea, and Nin or Bar. In view of the facts which have come to light regarding Hea, it is altogether probable that the triad Bel-Nimrod, Hea, and Nin represent the trinity as figured by the father, mother, and child. That Nin was the son or the child of Bel-Nimrod “is constantly asserted in the inscriptions.” He appears also as the son of Hea, yet the fact that Hea should be represented as a woman, or as the mother of Nin, and the central figure in the trinity, seems not to have been observed by those who thus far have been engaged in deciphering these inscriptions. By representing Hea as male, Nin is made to appear as the offspring of two fathers while he is left absolutely motherless. To obviate this difficulty an ingenious attempt has been made to account for his existence by substituting his own wife as the author of his being. Although in the numerous accounts which I had read of Hea, in my search for information concerning her, she had always been designated as male, still I was satisfied from the descriptions given that originally this Deity was female. Therefore upon receiving a copy of Forlong’s Rivers of Life and Faiths of Man in All Lands, I was not surprised to find the following:

    “Hoa or Hea, the Hu of our Keltic ancestors, whose symbol was the shield and the serpent, was worshipped near rivers and lakes, and if possible on the sea-shore, where were offered to her such emblems as a golden vessel, boat, coffer, or fish, and she was then named Belat Ili (the mistress of the Gods)."76

    She was the Goddess of Water. Of this Forlong says: “Water, perhaps more than fire, has always been used as a purifier. . . . Christians have but imitated the ancients, in the use of Lustral water–now-a-days called Holy Water, and into which salt should be freely put.”

    According to Francis Vasques, the Cibola tribes of New Mexico pay no adoration to anything but water, believing it to be the chief support of all life. The Hindoo faith and the Greek Christian Church prescribe “adorations, sacrifices, and other water rites, and hence we find all orthodox clergy and devotees have much to do with rivers, seas, and wells, especially at certain annual solar periods.”

    The extent to which these ancient rites are still practiced as part and parcel of modern religious observances is not realized by those who have given no special attention to the subject. As spring advances, all ranks of Russians from the Czar to the humblest peasant proceed with their clergy to the Neva, where with solemn pomp the ice is broken and the water, which is held to be of virgin purity, is sprinkled upon the heads of Czar, nobles, and other dignitaries. The following is an account given of the worship of Hea not many years ago in the public press:

    “An Imperial and Arch-episcopal procession was formed, consisting of, first, the High Priest of the empire in all his most gorgeous robes, the two masters of ceremonies walking backwards (probably because not of a holy enough order), long double files of white- and gold-robed bearers of sacred flambeaux or candles, for Fire must enter into every ceremony, whether it is the male or female energy which is being worshipped. Following these Religieux came all the sacred relics and fetishes of the Church, as Maya’s holy cup for water, all holy books, crosses, banners, with sacred emblems in their order, and finally the Czar, humbly, and, like all his people, on foot, followed by courtly throngs. These all proceeded to a handsome pavilion or kiosk, erected close to the edge of the water, when the Metropolitan of the Church reverently made an incision in the ice, and took out a little water in a sacred golden cup bearing strange devices. The firing of guns accompanied these solemn acts in all their stages, and wherever the grave procession moved, it always did so with measured tread, chanting sacred verses to the old, old Deity of our race, and surrounded with all the pomp of war; whilst at intervals, peals of Christian bells and the booming of near and distant guns added to the solemnity of this water pageant. After the filling of the golden cup, which, of course, represents the earth and its fulness, and, at this season, the now expected increase, the High Priest placed a golden crucifix on the virgin water and blessed its return from wintry death, invoking the precious fluid to vernal life and productiveness, when lo! a holy child suddenly appears upon the scene, reminding us that this is everywhere the outcome of the ’wafers of life’ in all animal as well as vegetable production. Boodha in the garden of Loobim through which flowed a holy stream, and Christ by the brook at Bethlehem, nay, the first pair in the garden of the four rivers, are all the same idea–fertility and creation. The high Russian Pontiff now slowly and solemnly stooped, and taking up some of the holy water, proceeded to sprinkle the vernal child–Jesus, whispered these crowds, but the ancients said Horus. The sacred fluid was then sprinkled on the clergy, the Czar, and all dignitaries, and finally on the sacred emblems, banners, guns, etc. Men and women, aye, wise as well as foolish, of every rank, now crowded forward, and on bended knee besought their Patriarch to sprinkle and to bless them. Finally, the great Czar put the cup to his lips, humbly and reverently, and then filled it to overflowing with a wealth of golden pieces, for it is the still living representative in the nineteenth century A.C. of ’the golden boat’ of Hea of the nineteenth century B.C.’77

    The symbol of Neith or Muth, Athene or Minerva, the great universal female principle of the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, was the shield and serpent. In Celtic Druids I find that Nath, the Egyptian Neith, the “goddess of wisdom and science whose symbol was the shield and serpent, was worshipped among the ancient Irish.” The male God associated with her was Naith, and according to Higgins represented “the opposite of Neith.”

    In Rivers of Life is observed a reference to the Assyrian Goddess Hea by Lucian. In a note Forlong says that no doubt Hea is the same as Haiya or Haya. In other words she represents the universal hermaphrodite–the creative principle throughout Nature, which was originally worshipped as female. The actual signification of the word Haya is “life.” In ancient Arabia it was applied to a group of kinsmen.

    The Rev. Mr. Davis is of the opinion that Noe or Noah was the same as Deon and that both were Hu or Hea the mighty, whose chariot was drawn by solar rays. This God was in fact the same as Zeus, Bacchus, and all the rest of the sun and water Deities. It has been observed that, according to the ancient cosmogonies, within water was contained the life principle, and as a woman presided over it, or was the only being or entity present, she must have been the self-existent Creator. From this woman sprang all creation. According to the account in Genesis, the Spirit of God moved on the face of the deep and creation began.

    By all nations water has been employed as a symbol of regeneration, and as it contained the beginning of things it was female. The Hindoos regard it as sacred, and in one of their most solemn prayers it is thus invoked: Waters, mothers of worlds, purify us!78

    Doubtless it was from these ancient speculations regarding the beginnings of things that Thales, the Milesian philosopher, received his doctrine that water is the original principle. The ancient Egyptians and the Jewish people to this day have the custom of pouring out all the water contained in any vessel in a house where a death has taken place, because of the idea that as the living being comes from water, so does it make its exit through water. Hence “to drink or to use in any way a fluid which contains the life of human beings would be a foul offense.”

    The fact is noted by Inman that in all Assyrian mythology the water God Hea is associated with life and with a serpent. Although Rawlinson declares that Hea is Babylonian rather than Assyrian, may she not, in view of the facts concerning her, be not only Babylonian, but Egyptian, Indian, Phrygian, Mexican, and all the rest?

    It would seem that in this Deity, who is figured in connection with a shield and serpent, as is Minerva, and who is worshipped near water– an emblem which is sacred to her,–and whose titles correspond exactly to those of Neith or Cybele, might be traced the remnants of a once universal worship–a worship in which the female energy constituted the Creator.

    Although it is declared that “great obscurity surrounds the God Hea,” no one, I think, whose mind is free from prejudice, and who understands the significance of the early god-idea, and the true meaning of the symbols used in later ages to express it, can study the myths connected with this Deity without at once recognizing her identity with the great female God of Nature who was once worshipped by every people on the globe, but whose worship had become sensualized to satisfy the corrupted taste of a more depraved age–an age in which passion constituted the highest idea of a God.

    Although the serpent Deity was originally portrayed with the head of a woman and the body of a serpent or fish, after the change of sex in the god-idea which has been noted in the foregoing pages had been completed, it is observed that this figure is represented by the head of a man and the body of a serpent. Hea, the great goddess to whom water, the original principle, is sacred, and who is suspiciously connected with Noah, the life-principle which appears at the close of a cycle, has changed her sex. This god is now the “Ruler of the Seas,” “Master of the Life-Boat” (the ark), and “Lord of the Earth.” The earth is his and the fulness thereof. He is the “Life Giver,” the “Lord of Hosts,” who subsequently becomes the maker of heaven and earth.

    Minerva, who had been the first emanation from the Deity and the daughter of the Great Mother of the Gods, now has a father but no mother. Jove, who in course of time came to be represented as a male Creator, brought her forth from his head. Later, woman is produced from the side of man. The male principle, symbolized by a serpent, has become “the one only and true God.” It is Passion –the “Healer of Nations"–the great “I Am.”

    No unprejudiced individual who carefully follows the results of later investigation, and who attempts to unravel the mysteries surrounding the ancient gods and the significance of the symbols of worship belonging to the earliest historic times, will fail to note the attempt which has been made in later ages to conceal the fact that the Deity worshipped in very ancient times was female. Neither will he fail to observe the modus operandi by which the attributes and prerogatives of this Deity have been shifted upon males–usually deified monarchs. After priestcraft and its counterpart, monarchial rule, had robbed the people of all their natural rights, kings assumed not alone the governing functions, but arrogated to themselves the symbols, titles, and attributes of the dual Deity. The reigning monarch became not only the temporal ruler and priest, but was actually God himself, the female principle being concealed under convenient symbols.
    73 Herodotus, book iv., 9.
    74 Rivers of Life, vol. i., p. 143.
    75 Forlong, Rivers of Life, etc., vol. i., p. 143.
    76 Vol. ii., p. 94.
    77 Forlong, Rivers of Life, vol. ii., p. 95.
    78 Quoted by Inman from Colbrook, vol. i., p. 85.

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    Default Chapter VIII. The Original God-Idea of the Israelites


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Chapter VIII. The Original God-Idea of the Israelites

    Not only were religious doctrines veiled beneath allegories and convenient symbols, but names also had a religious significance.

    We are given to understand that in Chaldea and Assyria every child was named by the oracle or priest, and that no one thought of changing the appellation which had come to him through this heavenly source.79

    Inman, in his Ancient Faiths, calls attention to the fact that in the Old Testament kings, priests, captains, and other great men have had names bestowed upon them, each of which has some religious signification; that this name was given the individual “at circumcision, or soon after birth.”

    In the ancient names of what are designated as the Shemitic races, children were called after the god alone, and sometimes in connection with an attribute. Especially were these names applied to royalty or to persons of distinction; for instance, names were given signifying, God the good, God the just or the merciful, God the strong, The Warrior God, etc.

    As the higher conception of a Creator was forgotten, and as human beings, or perhaps I should say their power to control circumstances coupled with the ability to reproduce or create, had become god, they assumed the titles or names of the Deity; hence, it is not perhaps singular that in later times kings and heroes were invested with all the attributes of the gods.

    We have seen that according to various writers Om or Amm was the holy one whose name in India it was sacrilege to pronounce. It was the eternal sun, or the Great Mother. As this word stands also for “tribe or people,” it seems to mean, too, that which binds, holds, or endures.

    As Om or Amm signifies the Great Mother, so An or On means the Great Father. Concerning the word Am-mon, Inman writes as follows:

    “The association of the words signifying mother and father indicates that it is to such conjunction we must refer creative power. With such an androgyne element the sun was associated by ancient mythologists. Jupiter was himself sometimes represented as being female; and the word hermaphrodite is in itself a union between Hermes and Aphrodite, the male and female creative powers. We may fairly conclude, from the existence of names like the above, that there was at one time in Western as there was in Eastern Asia a strong feud between the adorers of On and Am, the Lingacitas and the Yonijas, and that they were at length partially united under Ammon, as they were elsewhere under Nebo or the Nabhi of Vishnu."80

    Inman relates that once when a friend of his was conversing with a very high-caste Hindoo he casually uttered this word Amm or Om, whereupon the man was so awe struck that he could scarcely speak, and, in a voice almost of terror, asked where his friend had learned the word. Of this word Inman says:

    “To the Hindoos it was that incommunicable name of the Almighty, which no one ventured to pronounce except under the most religious solemnity. And here let me pause to remark that the Jews were equally reverent with the name belonging to the Most High; and that the third commandment was very literal in its signification.”

    The same writer remarks that in Thibet, too, where a worship very nearly identical in ceremony and doctrine with that of the Roman papists exists amongst the Lamas, the name of Om is still sacred.

    The Iav of the Jews was equally revered, but in the later ages of their career they seem to have lost sight of its true meaning.

    According to Inman’s testimony and that of other etymological students, the true signification of the cognomen Jacob is the female principle.

    It is believed by various writers that the story of Jacob and Esau as related in Genesis has an esoteric as well as an exoteric meaning–that Jacob has reference to the female creative energy throughout Nature, or, rather, to the great mass of people who in an early age of the human race believed in the superior importance of the female in the office of reproduction, and that Esau signifies the male. Attention is called to the fact that Esau is represented as a “hairy” man, rough-voiced and easily beguiled, while Jacob, on the other hand, is smooth-faced, soft-voiced, and the favorite of his mother.

    There is indeed much in this myth which seems to indicate that it is an allegory beneath which are veiled certain facts connected with the struggle between two early contending sects regarding the relative importance of the sexes in reproduction. Of this Inman says:

    “My own impression is that Esau, or Edom, and Jacob are mystic names for a man and a woman, and that round these, historians wove a web of fancy; that ultimately the cognomen Jacob was recognized, and that to allow the Jewish people to trace their descent from a male rather than a female, the appellation of Israel was substituted in later productions."81

    As most of the myths or allegories in Genesis are now traced to a source far more remote than the beginning of legitimate Jewish history, it is not unreasonable to suppose that this story, too, was copied by the Jews from the traditions of earlier races; nor, when we remember the true meaning of the cognomen Jacob, that the entire story should be regarded as an attempt to set forth certain facts connected with the great physiological or religious conflict between the sexes.

    The significance of the idols worshipped by Jacob and his family is not for a certainty known, but it is believed by certain writers that the Seraphim and Teraphim were the usual images which were used to represent the male and female energies. “Then Jacob said unto his household and to all that were with him: Put away the strange gods that are among you.” In referring to this passage, Inman, in a note, says:

    “The critic might fairly say, looking at Genesis xxxv., 2, ’Put away the strange gods that are among you,’ that there were images of God which were not strange, and that in these early times there were orthodoxy and heterodoxy in images as there are now. In ancient times the emblem of life-giving energy was an orthodox emblem; it is now a horror and its place is taken by an image of death. We infer from the context that Laban’s gods were orthodox.”

    So, also, must have been the stone pillar set up by Jacob at Bethel (place of the sun). From a study of similar stones, examples of which are to be found in nearly every country of the globe, it is known that they represent the male energy, and from all the facts connected with the story of Laban’s gods it is probable that they were emblems of this power. We may suppose then that the “strange gods,” the unorthodox gods, which Jacob ordered put away, were those representing the female energy.

    It seems strange that any person can study the history of the Israelitish Exodus by the light of later developments in biblical research without recognizing the fact that the “Lord” which brought the children of Israel out from the bondage of Egypt was the male power, which by a certain sect had been proclaimed the only actual creative agency, and therefore the “only one and true God.”

    Although, at the time at which Abraham is said to have lived, the knowledge of an abstract dual or triune God still remained, yet, during the five hundred years which elapsed until the time of Moses, the grossest idolatry had come to prevail. Notwithstanding the fact that Moses had learned much from the Egyptians, he seems not to have risen above a very gross conception of a deity. His god was by turns angry, jealous, revengeful, vacillating, and weak. He was in fact the embodiment of human passions and desires. We have seen that the third person in the ancient Trinity had, in Egypt, India, and Persia, come to be recognized in place of the three principles originally worshipped–that, as it really embodied the essence of the other two, little was heard of the Creator and Preserver. Doubtless this God was the one which Moses intended the Israelites to worship, but as they were unable to conceive of an abstract principle he invested it with a personality which, as we have seen, was burdened with the frailties and weaknesses common to themselves.

    As the Regenerator or Destroyer represented the processes of Nature,–the dying away of the sun’s rays at night only to reappear on the following day, and the withdrawal of its warmth in winter only to be renewed in the spring,–so this God portrayed also the beneficent Creator and Preserver of all things, at the same time that it was the Destroyer. It embodied the fundamental idea in all religions, namely, life and fertility. So also did the “Lord” of the Israelites represent reproductive energy, but as man being spirit had come to be a Creator of offspring, while woman being only matter furnished the body, this “Lord” was male. Connected with it was no hint of the female nature or principle, except the ark or chest in which it was carried about. To those who have acquainted themselves with the significance of ancient religious symbols, the fact is plain that the “Lord” of the Israelites, which in their journeyings toward Canaan they carried in an ark or chest, and which was symbolized by an upright stone, was none other than a “Life-giver” in the most practical sense. It was the emblem of virility, and from the facts at hand, at the present time, there is little doubt but that all the spirituality with which we find this “Lord” invested was an after-thought and comprehended no part of the belief of the Jews until after their contact with the Persians during the Babylonian captivity.

    Doubtless the story in which their journeyings toward Canaan are set forth contains an esoteric as well as an exoteric significance for ages known only to the priests, and that within it is embodied not alone something of the true history of this people, but an account also of their struggle against an older religion. At this time the Israelites had practically commenced the elimination of the female principle from their god-idea, and had begun the worship of the male element, the female being represented by an ark, chest, or box. This ark, as the receptacle of the god, was still a holy thing.

    Not only among the Israelites, but among other nations of the East, we find the devotees of the male god beginning to assume a position quite independent of the beliefs of their fathers. At this time great towers or pillars begin to be erected in honor of this deity, which is figured as the “God of Life,” or as the “Lord of Hosts.” Notwithstanding the fact that the story of the Exodus contains much historical truth, it is altogether probable that the priests have used it, as they did that of the flood, to conceal their religious doctrines.

    At the time of the Exodus, the Israelites were ignorant tribes without laws or letters, and while in Egypt were menials of the lowest order. Hence, the laws written on the two tables of stone, and which it is claimed were elaborated during their wanderings in the wilderness of Sinai for the guidance of these unlettered slaves, show the desire of the priests of later times to invest the “chosen people” with the insignia of enlightenment.

    Regarding the character of the god which they worshipped, we have ample proof in the Old Testament. It is plain that at the time of their bondage in Egypt the Jews had become the grossest phallic worshippers, adoring the emblems of generation, with no thought of their earlier significance as pure symbols of creative force in mortals.

    The fact will doubtless be remembered that, among the Jews, to be barren was the greatest curse, and that the principal reward promised to the faithful was fruitfulness of body. The essence of this deity was heat or passion, and his emblem was the serpent or an upright stone. It has been observed that when this “Lord" was invested with personality he was subject to all the frailties of his followers. His chief and most emphatic characteristic, however, was jealousy of other gods, and most of the imprecations thundered against the chosen people were directed against the worship of the gods of surrounding nations, those which the Israelites had originally worshipped.

    That portion of the Decalogue relating to a jealous god is seen to belong wholly to the Jews, or to the Israelites, who were descendants of Jacob. The older nations, among which was the ancient family of the Hebrews, knew nothing of a jealous god. Notwithstanding the fact that the God of the Jews appeared and talked face to face with Moses, that he exhibited portions of his body to him, and that he thundered his law to this people from Mt. Sinai, still they were constantly lapsing into the worship of Baal and Ashtaroth, which fact shows how deeply rooted was the belief in a dual or triune God. It is plain that this “Lord," the fierce anger of whom was kindled because of their digressions, was none other than the jealous male god which had but recently been elevated to the dignity of a supreme Creator.

    Although the angel of the Lord when he came down from Gilgal commanded his followers to “throw down the altars of the people of Bochim,” they nevertheless continued to do evil in the sight of the Lord, and

    “followed other gods", of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bound themselves unto them and provoked the Lord to anger.

    “And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel."
    82

    “And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines."

    “Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth and served the Lord only."83

    The extreme hatred of the schismatic faction for the opposite worship, and the punishments which were meted out to those who should dare to rebel against the chosen faith, are indicated by the language which throughout the Old Testament is put into the mouth of their Lord–a Deity which rejoices in the title of a jealous God.

    “If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known thou nor thy fathers:

    “Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;

    “Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:

    “But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

    “And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

    “And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you."
    84

    The constantly recurring faithlessness of the Jews, their restlessness and proneness to wander from their one-principled deity which had been set up by their priests for them to worship, was doubtless an unconscious effort on the part of the people to mitigate the outrage which had been committed against their Creator. It was but a reaching out for that lost or unrecognized element which comprehends the more essential force both in human beings and in the conception of a deity. In other words, it was an attempt at recognition, in the objects worshipped, of that missing female element which had always been worshipped, and without which a Creator becomes a misnomer–a meaningless, unexplained, and unexplainable monstrosity.

    When the Jews first make their appearance in history, they are sun worshippers, as are all the nations by which they are surrounded. They are worshippers of Seth the Destroyer and Regenerator; but when the philosophical truths underlying the ancient universal religion were forgotten, or when through ignorance the language setting forth these mysteries was taken literally, Seth became identified with the Destroyer, or the Evil Principle. In the meantime man had come to believe himself the sole creator of offspring. He is spirit, which is eternal; woman is matter, which is not only destructible but altogether evil. He is heat or passion–the principle through which life is produced. She represents the absence of heat. She is the simoom of the desert and the chilly blast which destroys.

    That it was no part of their plan to change their original form of worship for a spiritual conception of a Creator is apparent from their history. On the contrary, it is plain that they desired simply to eliminate from the hitherto dual conception of a deity the female principle, which, in their arrogance, and because of the change which had been wrought in the relations of the sexes, they no longer acknowledged as important in the office of reproduction.

    It is quite true they would worship only one god–the “Lord,"–but that lord was, as we have seen, a deity of physical strength and virile might, a “Lord of Hosts,” a god which was to be worshipped under the symbol of an upright stone–an object which by every nation of the globe down to a comparatively recent time has typified male pro-creative energy. That the masses of the people, even as late as the time of Jeremiah, had no higher conception of a God than that indicated by an upright stone, is shown by that prophet when he accuses the entire house of Israel, “their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets,” of “saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth.”

    That the people could not, or would not, be prevailed upon to renounce the Queen of Heaven, the Celestial Mother, is seen in Jer. vii., 17, 18:

    “Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods.”

    Also in Jeremiah xliv:

    “Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying, As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee.

    “But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.

    “But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.

    “And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her and pour out drink offerings unto her without our men?”


    That the above represents a quarrel in which the women of Judah openly rebelled against the worship of the “Lord,” at the same time declaring their allegiance to the female Deity, the Celestial Mother, Queen of Heaven, is only too evident, the curse pronounced upon them by Jeremiah, in the name of the lord, having little effect upon them to change their purpose.

    “Therefore, hear ye the word of the Lord, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith the Lord, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord God liveth.

    “Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them.”

    79 Inman, Ancient Faiths, vol. i., p. 3.
    80 Ancient Faiths Embodied in Ancient Names, vol. i., p. 237.
    81 Ancient Faiths, vol. i., p. 607.
    82 Judges ii., 12, 13.
    83 I Samuel vii., 3,4.
    84 Deuteronomy xiii.

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    Default Chapter IX. The Phoenician and Hebrew God Set or Seth


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Chapter IX. The Phoenician and Hebrew God Set or Seth

    The name of one of the oldest deities of which we have any record is Set (Phoenician) or Seth (Hebrew). Traces of this God are found in all oriental countries; and in the most primitive religions, whose traditions are still extant, he (or she) appears as the supreme God. After the subjection of Egypt by the stranger kings and the consequent introduction into the country of Sabianism, the dual creative force residing in the sun is represented by Seth. We are told that Seth signifies “appointed or put in the place of the murdered Abel.”

    That there is some deep mystery connected with this subject none who has studied it carefully can help observing.

    According to the story of creation as set forth in the Jehovistic account, on Saturday night, after God had finished his work, and immediately after he had commanded Adam to “be fruitful,” he presents him with a staff, which we observe is handed down to Enoch and all the patriarchs. Here the mystery deepens, for it is declared that this staff was presented so Seth, and that it was a branch of the Tree of Life.

    That beneath this allegory is veiled a contest, or perhaps a compromise, between the worshippers of two distinct sects, seems altogether probable. That the handing down of this branch of the Tree of Life, first to Adam, or man, by Aleim, and its subsequent transference to Seth, the God of Nature, the Destroyer or Regenerator, seems to indicate a victory for the adherents of a purer religion. The translator of Kallimachus says: “It is well known to the learned reader that the descendants of Cain are distinguished in Scripture by the name of the sons of man or Adam; those of Seth by the name of the sons of God.” Gen. vi., 2.85 It is stated in Julius Africanus that all the righteous men and patriarchs down to the Saviour himself have sprung from Seth and have been denominated as the sons of God in contradistinction to the sons of man.

    Doubtless at the time indicated by the transference of the creative agency from Aleim to Adam, the worship of an abstract principle, or of a Trinity composed of the powers of Nature, was losing its hold on the minds of the people, and the creative power, or the reproductive energy in human beings, was rapidly taking the place of the older Deity. These higher principles forgotten, Adam, or man, had become the Creator.

    It is not improbable that the terms Adam, Cain, Abel, and Seth have an esoteric meaning which for ages was known only to the priests. From various facts which in later times are being brought forward regarding the ancient myths of Genesis, it is believed that these names originally stood for races of men, and that subsequently certain religious doctrines came to be attached to them. The offering of fruit by Cain, the elder brother, who was a tiller of the ground, and that of flesh by Abel, who was a keeper of sheep, indicates a quarrel which ended in the death of the latter. After the death of Abel, or after one of these principles or sects was subdued, the older religion was revived, and Seth, as the Aleim, or as the creative power within the sun, was “appointed” or again worshipped.

    It would seem that Seth was appointed to represent the third person in the ancient Trinity–the Destroyer or Regenerator which had previously come to embody all the powers of the Creator and Preserver. The fact has been observed that the very ancient philosophers believed matter to be eternal, hence, seeming death, or destruction, was necessary to renewed life or regeneration. In other words, creation was but continuous change in the form of matter.

    Of the doctrines of the Sethians extant at the beginning of Christianity, Hippolytus says that their system “is made up of tenets from natural philosophers. These tenets embrace a belief in the Eternal Logos–Darkness, Mist, and Tempest.” These elements subsequently became identified with the Evil Principle, or the Devil. The cold of winter, the darkness of night, and water, were finally set forth as the Trinity. Regarding cold, darkness, and water, or darkness, mist, and tempest, Hippolytus observes:

    “These the Sethian says are the three principles of our system; or when he states that three were born in paradise– Adam, Eve, the serpent; or when he speaks of three persons, namely, Cain, Abel, Seth, and again of three others, Shem, Ham, Japheth; or when he mentions three patriarchs–Abraham, Isaac, Jacob; or when he speaks of three days before the sun, etc.”

    The same writer says that their entire system is derived from the ancients; that, antecedent to the Eleusinian mysteries, were enacted by them the ceremonies connected with the worship of the Great Mother.86

    We have observed that through some process not thoroughly understood at the present time, the adherents of the older faith had succeeded in reinstating their Deity. The powers of Nature had come to be represented by Typhon Seth. It was the God of Death and of Life, of Destruction and Regeneration. The simoom of the desert and the cold of winter were Seth, as were also the genial powers of Spring. We are informed by various writers that Typhon Seth was feminine. She was the early God of the Jews. In other words, the Jews were formerly worshippers of a female Deity. Jehovah, Iav, was originally female.

    Although the secret meaning of all the allegories contained in the Old Testament is not fully understood, still the belief that Cain, Abel, and Seth represented the self-triplicated Deity at a time when the idea of man as a creator had been accepted, or when his power to reproduce was becoming the highest idea of a creative force, is consistent with what is known of the Cabala of the Jews, or of the esoteric meaning of the Jewish scriptures formerly known only to the priests. In other words, the ancient doctrines, the true meaning of which was no longer understood by them, were patched together as a basis for the later developments in Jewish religious experience.

    We have seen that six hundred years after Adam appears Noah, another self-triplicated Saviour or preserver of man, with his ark or seed vessel, beneath which is veiled the female element. Afterward Abraham becomes the Great Father or Saviour, and later Moses. That, in the time of the latter, the more ancient worship of a creative force in Nature represented by the Aleim, had, by the masses of the people, been wholly lost, is evident from the Old Testament writings. The worship of the Father, the male power, in opposition to that of the Mother, or the female power, constituted the religion of Moses. In the religion of the Jews, Jehovah came to be regarded as wholly male and as spirit, while Edam (translated “downward tending”), the female principle, was matter, or woman, which finally became identified with the Devil.

    The philosophical doctrine that spirit is evolved through matter, or that matter must be raised to a certain dynamical power before spirit can manifest itself through it, was no longer understood; only the husks of this doctrine –the myths and symbols of Nature-worship–remained; these were taken literally, and thus man’s religion was made to conform to his lowered estate.

    When man had so far gained the ascendancy over woman as to assert that he is the sole Creator of their joint offspring, he was no longer of the earth earthy, but at once became the child of heaven. He was, however, bound to earth through his association with matter, or with woman, from whom he was unable to free himself. The “sons of God” were united “to the daughters of man.” Jahvah, the “God of hosts,” who was revengeful, weak, jealous, and cruel, was worshipped in the place of Aleim the great dual force throughout Nature. The ethereal, spiritual male essence resided somewhere in the heavens and created from afar, while the earth (female) furnished only the body or material substance.

    In the history of the god Seth is to be found a clue to the way in which the sublime and philosophical doctrines of the ancients, after their true meaning was forgotten, were finally changed so as to conform to the enforced humiliation and degradation of women.

    Seth or Typhon was for ages worshipped throughout Egypt, and as she comprehended the powers of Nature, or the creative energy residing in the sun and earth, little is heard of any other god. Strange it is, however, that Seth is worshipped more in her capacity as Destroyer than as Regenerator. So soon as we understand the origin and character of the Devil, and so soon as we divest ourselves of the false ideas which under a state of ignorance and gross sensuality came to prevail relative to the “powers of darkness,” we shall perceive that his (or her) Satanic majesty was once a very respectable personage and a powerful Divinity–a Divinity which was worshipped by a people whose superior intelligence can scarcely be questioned. Regarding this subject Higgins remarks:

    “Persons who have not given much consideration to these subjects will be apt to wonder that any people should be found to offer adoration to the evil principle; but they do not consider that, in all these recondite systems, the evil principle, or the Destroyer, or Lord of Death, was at the same time the Regenerator. He could not destroy but to reproduce, and it was probably not till this principle began to be forgotten, that the evil being, per se, arose; for in some nations this effect seems to have taken place. Thus Baal-Zebub is, in Iberno Celtic, Baal Lord, and Zab Death, Lord of Death; but he is also called Aleim, the same as the God of the Israelites; and this is right, because he was one of the Trimurti or Trinity.

    “If I be correct respecting the word Aleim being feminine, we here see the Lord of Death of the feminine gender; but the Goddess Ashtaroth or Astarte, the Eoster of the Germans, was also called Aleim. Here again Aleim is feminine, which shows that I am right in making Aleim the plural feminine. Thus we have distinctly found Aleim the Creator (Gen. i., 1), Aleim the Preserver, and Aleim the Destroyer, and this not by inference, but literally expressed."
    87

    At one period of their history the Hebrews worshipped Ashtaroth and Baal, they together representing the great Aleim, the indivisible God, but after the Israelites had chosen the worship of the male principle as an independent deity, or as the only important agency in the creative processes, as Baal might not be represented aside from his counterpart Ashtaroth, he was no longer adored but came to stand for something “approaching the Devil.” Forlong has observed the fact that, although in Hebrew Baal is masculine, in the Greek translations he is feminine both in the Old and New Testaments.88

    Jehovah was originally female, so, also, was Netpe the Holy Spirit of the Egyptian Tree of Life. We are given to understand that Netpe was the same as Rhea, the partner of Sev or Saturn, and that her hieroglyphic name was “Abyss of Heaven.” Osiris was the son of this goddess who was really a Mai or Mary, the Celestial Mother, he being the only God of the Egyptians who was born upon this earth and lived among men. Of this Forlong remarks: “His birthplace was Mount Sinai; called by the Egyptians Nysa, hence his Greek name Dionysos.”

    As the Palm was the first offering of Mother Earth to her children, so Osiris was the first offspring of the Egyptian Celestial Virgin to mankind. He was the new sun which through the winter months had been “buried,” but which in process of time arose to gladden all the earth. He was also the new Sun of Righteousness which was to renew the world, or redeem mankind from sin.

    The female principle for the time being cast out of the Deity, Osiris, the male element, now outwardly assumes the position of supreme God. It was, however, reserved for a later and more sensuous age to permanently adopt an absurdity so opposed to all established ideas relative to a creative force in Nature and in man. Seth, the Destroyer, had been deposed, but, so deeply rooted in the human mind had become the idea of a female Creator, that Isis, the Queen of Heaven, a somewhat lower conception of Muth, or of universal womanhood, soon assumed the place of Seth beside Osiris. Later in the history of Egypt, when the gods have become greatly multiplied, and the original significance of the deity obscured, Horus, the child and the third member in the later Egyptian triad, not unfrequently appears in her place as one of the eight great gods.

    The fact is observed that the history of Osiris is not alone the “history of the circle of the year, or of the sun dying away and resuscitating itself again, but that it is also the history of the cycle of 600.” It has been said that of the component elements of his hieroglyphical name, Isis is the first, and that the name Osiris really signifies the “Eye of Isis.”

    According to Plutarch, Isis and Muth are identical, but from the evidence at hand it is plain that Muth comprehends divine womanhood, or the female principle as it was regarded at an earlier stage of human growth. Muth is not only the parent of the sun, or the force which produces the sun, but she is also Wisdom, the first emanation from the Deity, at the same time that she comprehends all the possibilities of Nature. Isis seems to represent the Deity at a time when the higher truths known to a more ancient people were beginning to lose their hold upon the race.

    Renouf informs us that the word Maat, or Muth, means Law, “not in that forensic sense of command issued either by a human sovereign authority, or by a divine legislator, like the laws of the Hebrews, but in the sense of that unerring order which governs the universe, whether in its physical or its moral aspect."89 The same writer observes further that Maat “is called mistress of Heaven, ruler of earth, and president of the nether world,” and in a further description of the conception embodied in this Deity, refers to the fact that while she is the mother of the sun she is also the first emanation from God.

    Although Typhon Seth was long worshipped as the sole Deity in Egypt, in later ages the god-idea came to be represented by Seth and Osiris. Toward the close of Typhon Seth’s reign, Horus, the child, the young sun, was represented “as rising from his hiding-place, attracting beneficent vapors to return them back as dews, which the Egyptians called the tears of Isis.”

    Seth and Osiris represent a division of the Deity. Osiris, as the sun, represents heat; as man, or as god, he stands for desire. Seth or Typhon stands for the cold of winter, the simoom of the desert, or the “wind that blasts.” Seth, Osiris, and Horus constitute a Trinity of which Muth is the Great Mother. Finally, with the gradual ascendancy of male influence and power, it is observed that Seth appears as the brother of Osiris.

    It is the opinion of Bunsen that the fundamental idea of Osiris and Set was “not merely the glorification of the sun, but was also the worship of the primitive creative power."90 But, as in Egypt the creative agency was regarded as both female and male, the former being in the ascendancy, this fact of itself would seem to determine the sex and position of Seth.

    In the ideas concerning Seth and Osiris may be observed something of the manner in which the fructifying agencies of the sun and the reproductive power in human beings were blended and together worshipped as the Deity; while through the history of these gods are to be traced some of the processes by which the idea of the Creator was changed from female to male.

    In all countries, at a certain stage in the history of religion, the transference of female deified power to mortal man may be observed. In the attempt to change Seth or Typhon into a male God may be noted perhaps the first effort in Egypt to dethrone, or lessen the female power in the god-idea.

    The fact seems plain that the Great Typhon Seth, or Set, who conferred on the sovereigns of the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties of Egypt “the symbols of life and power,” was none other than the primitive Regenerator or Destroyer, who was for ages worshipped as the God of Nature the Aleim, or the life-giving energy throughout the universe.

    We have observed that when the profound principles underlying the most ancient doctrines had been lost or forgotten, and when through the decay of philosophy, and through the stimulation of the sensual in human nature, mankind had lost the power to reason abstractly, Destruction, which was symbolized by darkness or the absence of the sun’s rays, finally became the evil principle, or the Devil. Darkness and cold, which had formerly been worshipped as the powers which brought forth the sun, or as mother of the sun, in process of time became the agency which is ever warring with good and which is constantly destroying that which the latter brings forth.

    We are informed by Forlong that “some derive our term Devil from Niphl or Nevil, the wind that blasts or obstructs the growth of corn; and it used sometimes to be written th’ evil, which is D’evil or Devil.”

    It was “this Dualistic heresy which separated the Zend or Persian branch of the Aryans from their Vedic brethren, and compelled them to emigrate to the westward."91

    The ancient philosophical truth that matter is eternal, and that the destruction of vegetable life through the agency of cold was one of the necessary processes of re-generation, or the renewal of life, had evidently been lost sight of at the time when Seth was dethroned in Egypt. Wilkinson informs us that “both Seth and Osiris were adored until a change took place respecting Seth, brought about apparently by foreign influence.” Sethi or Sethos, a ruler whose reign represents the Augustan age of Egyptian splendor, received his name from this Deity. It is said that during the twentieth dynasty Seth is suddenly portrayed as the principle of evil “with which is associated sin.” Consequently all the effigies of this great Goddess were destroyed and all her names and inscriptions “which could be reached” were effaced.

    Bunsen tells us that Schelling, who has made a study of Egyptian mythology, although totally ignorant of the later historical facts which by means of hieroglyphical monuments have been obtained, had arrived at the conclusion that Seth had occupied an important position in the Deity down to the fourteenth century B.C. “Schelling had on mere speculative grounds been brought to lay down as a postulate that Typhon, at some early period, had been considered by the Egyptians as a beneficent and powerful God.”

    Wilkinson says that the character given to Seth, who was called Baal-Seth and the God of the Gentiles, “is explained by his being the cause of evil.” We are assured that formerly “Sin the great serpent, or Apophis the giant, was distinct from Seth who was a deity and a part of the divine system. But after the recondite principles underlying sun-worship were lost or forgotten; when cold and darkness, or the sinking away of the sun’s rays, which are necessary to the reappearance of light and warmth, came to be regarded as the destructive element, or the evil principle, woman became identified with this principle. She was the producer of evil, and came to be represented in connection with a serpent as the cause of all earthly or material things. She is Destruction, but not Regeneration. She is in fact matter. The cold of winter and the darkness of night, which are necessary to the return of the sun’s warmth and which were formerly set forth as a beneficent mother who brings forth the sun, became only the evil principle–that which obscures the light. In fact Darkness or absence of the sun’s heat has become the Devil. It is the “cause of evil in the world.”

    With woman blinded by superstition, with every instinct of the female nature outraged, and with her position as the central figure in the Deity and in the family usurped, her temples were soon profaned, her images defiled, and the titles representing her former greatness transferred to males.

    There is no doubt but this doctrine was the legitimate outcome of the decay of female influence. Through the further stimulation of the lower nature of man its absurdity gradually increased, until under the system calling itself Christian it finally reached its height. This subject will be referred to later in these pages.

    When we remember that the original representation of the Deity among the nations of the earth consisted of a female figure embracing a child, and when we observe that subsequently in the development of the god-idea woman appears associated with a serpent as the cause of evil in the world, the history of the God Seth, who, as we have seen, represented the processes of Nature, namely Destruction and Regeneration, seems quite significant as indicating some of the actual processes involved in this change.

    There can be little doubt that the facts relating to this Deity indicate the source whence has sprung the great theological dogma underlying Christianity, that woman is the cause of evil in the world.
    85 Forlong, Rivers of Life, vol. i., p. 527.
    86 Hippolytus, Refutation of all Heresies, book v., ch. 15.
    87 Anacalypsis, ch. ii., p. 66.
    88 Forlong, Rivers of Life, p. 223.
    89 The Religion of Ancient Egypt, p. 126.
    90 History of Egypt, vol. iv., p. 319.
    91 See Rawlinson, Notes on the Early History of Babylon.

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    Default Chapter X. Ancient Speculations Concerning Creation


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Chapter X. Ancient Speculations Concerning Creation

    “Daughters of Jove, All hail! but O inspire
    The lovely song! the sacred race proclaim
    Of ever-living gods; who sprang from Earth,
    From the starred Heaven, and from the gloomy Night,
    And whom the salt Deep nourished into life.
    Declare how first the gods and Earth became;
    The rivers and th’ immeasurable sea
    High-raging in its foam; the glittering stars,
    The wide impending Heaven; and who from these
    Of deities arose, dispensing good;
    Say how their treasures, how their honors each
    Allotted shar’d: how first they held abode
    On many-caved Olympus:–this declare,
    Ye Muses! dwellers of the heavenly mount
    From the beginning; say, who first arose?
    First Chaos was: next ample-bosomed Earth,
    Of deathless gods, who still the Olympian heights
    Snow-topt inhabit. . . .
    Her first-born Earth produced
    Of like immensity, the starry Heaven:
    That he might sheltering compass her around
    On every side, and be forevermore
    To the blest gods a mansion unremoved."
    92

    So long as human beings worshipped the abstract principle of creation, the manifestations of which proceed from the earth and sun, they doubtless reasoned little on the nature of its hitherto inseparable parts. They had not at that early period begun to look outside of Nature for their god-idea, but when through the peculiar course of development which had been entered upon, the simple conception of a creative agency originally entertained became obscured, mankind began to speculate on the nature and attributes of the two principles by which everything is produced, and to dispute over their relative importance in the office of reproduction. Much light has been thrown upon these speculations by the Kosmogonies which have come down to us from the Phoenicians, Babylonians, and other peoples of past ages. In the Phoenician Kosmogony, according to the Mokh doctrine as recorded by Philo, out of the kosmic egg Toleeleth (female) “sprang all the impregnation of creation and the beginning of the universe.” In this exposition of the beginnings of things, it is distinctly stated that the spirit which in after ages came to be regarded as something outside or above Nature, “had no consciousness of its own creation.” Commenting on the above, Bunsen is constrained to admit that it is usually understood as being “decidedly pantheistic.” He suggests, however, that the writer may HAVE INTENDED TO SAY (the italics are mine) that “the spirit who was heretofore the Creator was the unconscious spirit.”

    Berosus, the scholar of Babylon, who, until a comparatively recent time has furnished all the information extant concerning Babylonian antiquities, in his account of the creation of man and of the universe, says that in the beginning all was water and darkness; that in the water were the beginnings of life; but as yet there was no order. Men were there with the wings of birds and even with the feet of beasts. There were also quadrupeds and men with fishes’ tails, all of which had been produced by a twofold principle. Over this incongruous mass a woman presided. This woman is called Omoroka by the Babylonians and by the Chaldeans Thalatth. The latter name, signifies, “bearing” or “egg producing.”

    In the Babylonian Kosmogony, according to Endemus, the pupil of Aristotle, the beginning of the universe was called Tauthe, which being interpreted means “Mother of the Gods.” Associated with her sometimes appears the male principle–Apason. In the history of Berosus, there is given an account of Oaunes–a mythical teacher of Babylon, who appeared with the head of a human being and the body of a fish or serpent. This personage brought to the Babylonians all the knowledge which they possessed. Oaunes wrote “concerning the generation of mankind, of their different ways of life, and of their civil polity.” He it was who gave the above account of creation. He says that finally Omoroka, or Thalatth, the woman who existed before the creation, was divided, one half of her forming the heavens, “the other half the earth.” “All this,” Berosus declares, “was an allegorical description of Nature."93

    In the following legend will be observed the groundwork for the story of the flood. Xisuthrus was a king of Chaldea. To him the deity, Kronos, appeared in a vision and warned him that upon the fifteenth day of the month Daesius there would be a flood, by which mankind would be destroyed. He therefore enjoined him to write a history of the beginning, progress, and conclusion of all things down to the present time, and to bury it in Sippara, the City of the Sun. He was commanded also to build a vessel, and take with him into it his friends and relations, and to convey on board everything necessary to sustain life, together with all the different animals, both birds and quadrupeds, and trust himself fearlessly to the deep. Having asked the deity whither he was to sail, he was answered: “To the gods"; upon which he offered up a prayer for the good of mankind. He then obeyed the divine admonition, and built a vessel five stadia in length and two in breadth. Into this he put everything which he had prepared, and last of all conveyed into it his wife, his children, and his friends.

    “After the flood had been upon the earth, and was in time abated, Xisuthrus sent out birds from the vessel, which not finding any food, nor any place whereupon they might rest their feet, returned to him again. After an interval of some days, he sent them forth a second time; and they now returned with their feet tinged with mud. He made a trial a third time with these birds; but they returned to him no more: from which he judged that the surface of the earth had appeared above the waters. He therefore made an opening in the vessel, end upon looking out found that it was stranded upon the side of some mountain, upon which he immediately quitted it with his wife, his daughter, and the pilot. Xisuthrus then paid his adoration to the earth: and, having constructed an altar, offered sacrifices to the gods, and, with those who had come out of the vessel with him, disappeared. Him they saw no more, but they could distinguish his voice in the air, and could hear him admonish them to pay due regard to the gods. He informed them that it was on account of his piety that he had been taken away to live with the gods, and that his wife and daughter had obtained the same honor.”

    It is more than likely that this story, which as we have seen has extended to the remotest corners of the earth, has an esoteric meaning, and that it embodies the doctrines of the ancients relative to re- incarnation and the renewal of worlds. Doubtless it portrays not only the end of a cycle, but that by it is prefigured the fortunes of a human soul, which in its ascent, is from time to time forced into a human body.

    All the early Kosmogonies are intermingled with the history of a great flood, from the ravages of which an ark which contained a man was saved. The Gothic story of creation indicates that the Scythians belonged to the same race as the Chaldeans. At the beginning of time when nothing had been formed, and before the earth, the sea, or the heavens appeared, Muspelsheim existed. A breath of heat passing over the vapors, melted them into water, and from this water was formed a cow named Aedumla, who was the progenitor of Odin, Vile, and Ve, the Trinity of the Gothic nation.

    There is also another tradition, probably a later, which asserts that from the drops of water produced by the primeval breath of heat, a man, Ymer, was brought forth. The son of Ymer was preserved in a storm-tossed bark, his father being dragged into the middle of the abyss, where, from his body the earth was produced. The sea was made of his blood, the mountains of his bones, and the rocks of his teeth. As three of his descendants were walking on the shore one day, they found two pieces of wood which had been washed up by the waves. Of these they made a man and a woman. The man they named Aske and the woman Emla. From this pair has descended the human race.

    The marked resemblance between the characters of the Gothic Ymer and the Chaldean Omoroka, from each of whose bodies the universe is created, has been observed by various writers. After referring to Mallet’s conclusions upon this subject, Faber remarks:

    “They are indeed evidently the same person, not only in point of character, but, if I mistake not, in appellation: for Ymer or Umer is Omer-Oca expressed in a more simple form. The difference of sex does by no means invalidate this opinion, which rests upon the perfect identity of their characters: for the Great Mother, like the Great Father, was an hermaphrodite; or, rather, that person from whom all things were supposed to be produced, was the Great Father and the Great Mother united together in one compound being. Ymer and Omoroca are each the same as that hermaphrodite Jupiter of the Orphic theology.”

    We have observed, however, that in all the older traditions this hermaphrodite conception is accounted as female, it is the Great Mother within whom is contained the male; in later ages, however, it is represented as male, the female being concealed beneath convenient symbols.

    The Trinity of the Goths was male; yet as Odin could not create independently of the female energy he is provided with a wife, Frigga, to whom “all fair things belonged, and who had priestesses among the early German tribes.” Frigga when worshipped alone was both female and male. According to one German tradition, Tiw (Zeus), which in its earliest conception was female, was the parent of the first man. This man begat three sons who became the fathers of the three Deutsch tribes. Ish (or Ash) was the parent of the Franks and Allemans; Ing was the progenitor of the Swedes, Angles, and Saxons; and Er, or Erman, was the eponymous leader of the tribes called by the Romans Hermiones.

    The Kosmogony of the Chinese is similar in all respects to that of other countries. The first man, Puoncu, was born from an egg.

    The Chinese say that this egg-born Puoncu, who is identical with Brahm, Noah, and Adam, is not the great Creator or God, but only the first man. Their great God or Tien is a Unity which comprehends three, and their human triad–a triplicated being who is the parent of the human race–is a lower expression of the same power, and to him has finally been ascribed the office of Creator.

    The Kosmogony of the Japanese begins with the opening of the sacred egg from which all things were produced. This egg is identical with the ark, and from it the diluvian patriarch was born. He was “Baal-Peor or the lord of opening; and, from an idea that the Ark was an universal mother, he was considered as the masculine principle of generation, and was adored by his apostate descendants with all the abominations of phallic worship.”

    In the Theogony of Hesiod, Uranus is represented as being the parent of three sons, and the same legend repeated in the story of Cronus portrays him also as a triplicated deity. According to the Peruvian Kosmogony all things sprang from Viracocha who is said to be identical with the Greek Aphrodite. Besides this superior God they venerated a triad which was closely connected with the sun. These gods were called Chuquilla, Catuilla, and Intyllapa. They say that as their ancestors journeyed from a remote country to the Northwest they bore the image of their god in a coifer or box made of reeds. To the four priests who had charge of this box or ark he communicated his oracles and directions. He not only gave them laws but taught them the ceremonies and sacrifices which they were to observe. “And even as the pillar of cloud and fire conducted the Israelites in their passage through the wilderness, so this Spanish devil gave them notice when to advance forward, and when to stay."94

    According to Marsden, the New Zealanders believe that three gods created the first man, and that the first woman was made from one of his ribs.

    Among the Otaheitans and various tribes of Indians, the belief prevails that all created things have proceeded from a triplicated deity who was saved from the ravages of a flood in an ark or ship.

    The fact is observed that the Theogonies and Kosmogonies of all peoples have reference to a flood or to the renewal of life after the destruction of the world, and that the Great Father who is preserved, and who comes forth from an ark or ship with the seeds of a former world, represents the beginning of a new era. Adam with his three sons, Cain, Abel, and Seth, Noah with his triad, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, Menu and his triple offspring, and so on, all mean exactly the same thing, namely, the renewal of life at the close of a cycle, or manwantara.

    From the traditions extant in nearly every quarter of the globe, it would seem that, prior to the so- called flood in the time of Noah, man, as a Creator, had not to any extent been worshipped, but, on the contrary, that the great universal dual principle which pervades Nature and which is back of matter and force, for instance Tien among the Chinese, Iav among the Hebrews, and Aum among the Hindoos, had been the Deity adored; but with the decline of virtue and knowledge, this God was gradually abandoned for a lesser one, a deity better suited to the comprehension of “fallen” man.

    In the Elohistic narrative of creation which appears in the first chapter of Genesis, a dual or triune God, female and male, says, Let us make man in our own image, and accordingly a male and a female are created. In the Jehovistic account, however, in the second chapter of the same book, a document of much later date, man is made first and afterward woman. In fact, in the latter narrative she appears as an afterthought and is created simply for his use; she is taken from his side and is wholly dependent upon him for existence. This fact is recognized by Bishop Colenso in the following words:

    “Thus in the second account of creation, the man is APPARENTLY created first, and the woman is CERTAINLY created the last, of all living creatures; whereas, in the older story the man and woman are created last of all, as the crowning work of Elohim, and are created together–’and Elohim created man in His own image, in the image of Elohim created He him; male and female created He them.’ This ancient Elohistic narrative, then, the Jehovist had before him; and he enlarged and enlivened it by introducing a number of passages recording additional incidents in the lives of the patriarchs before and after the flood, and especially by inserting the second account of the creation, ii., 4-25.”

    Colenso observes that verse four of chapter second belongs to the Elohist, and that it was removed from its original position at the beginning of Gen. i., in order to form the commencement of the Jehovistic account of the creation.95

    Quoting from Bishop Browne in the New Bible Commentary, the same writer remarks that in the Elohistic account of the creation “we have that which was probably the ancient primeval record of the formation of the world."96

    The oldest or Elohistic portion of Genesis is, at the present time, seen to conceal great wisdom and a knowledge of Nature far surpassing that of later times.

    According to Higgins, the first verse of the first chapter of Genesis, if properly translated, would not declare that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, but that Wisdom “formed” the earth and the planets. In none of the ancient Kosmogonies can there be a word found regarding the creation of matter. From the facts which have come down to us respecting the speculations of the ancients, it is plain that the original conception was, that within the primeval beginnings described in their Kosmogonies, in chaos or unorganized matter, was contained primeval force; no attempt, however, was made by them to account for the creation of either motion or matter.

    As soon as human beings began to speculate on the attributes of their Deity; when the two principles composing it began to separate, and the idea was gaining ground that the male was the only important factor in reproduction, the sun became male, the earth and sea female. Still, even then the doctrine seems not to have been questioned, that the creative agency had proceeded from matter, or that it was developed in and through it. The belief that something can be made from nothing was reserved for a later age.

    In the oldest Semitic Kosmogonies, we are assured that the self-conscious God who is manifested in the order of the universe, proceeded out of the great abyss, and out of unorganized, dark, primeval matter. During the earlier historic period, however, by both Jew and Gentile, the belief was entertained that spirit is material. It is the essence of fire–a substance akin to the galvanic or electric fluid. This masculine element, the manifestation of which is desire, or heat, and which was finally set up as an eternal, self-existent, creative force, or God, was originally regarded as a manifestation of matter, and as having no independent existence. In an earlier age, this so-called creative agency is associated with a force far superior to itself, namely, Light or Wisdom. Minerva, who is the first emanation from the Deity, “formed” all things. She it is who discriminates all things and gives laws to the universe. “She represented to the Greeks that spiritual element which lifts knowledge into wisdom, and talent into genius."97 But with the importance which began to be assumed by man when he began to regard himself as a creator, and when through ignorance and sensuality the principles of a more enlightened race were forgotten, desire, or heat, was separated from matter and came to be regarded as an independent entity, which itself had created matter out of nothing. Thus is noticed the extent to which the god-idea has been developed in accordance with the relative positions of the sexes.

    According to the Grecian mythology, much of which was a comparatively late development, mortal woman was the handiwork of Vulcan the Firegod, who, being commissioned by Jove to execute “a snare for gods and man,” moulded the beauteous form of woman. This is a worthy example of the contempt and scorn shown by the Greeks for women during the later period of their career as a nation. That such contempt was a later development is shown in the fact that woman was originally the gift of Pallas Athene, or Wisdom. When she first appeared on the scene she was crowned by the gods, in fact she was the first object honored with a crown. Concerning the conceptions regarding women as held at an earlier age, and those which came to prevail after she had become “the cause of evil in the world,” we have the following from Tertullian:

    “If there was a Pandora, whom Hesiod mentions as the first woman, hers was the first head the Graces crowned, for she received gifts from all the gods, whence she got her name Pandora. But Moses, a prophet, not a poet-shepherd, shows us the first woman Eve having her loins more naturally girt about with leaves than her temples with flowers. Pandora then is a myth."
    98

    Woman, who was originally the gift of Wisdom, or Minerva, and who when created was garlanded with flowers as the crown of creation, became, in course of time, an accursed and wicked thing who must henceforth cover herself with leaves to hide her shame. Tertullian, who, with the rest of the early fathers in the Christian church, had imbibed the latter doctrine concerning her, could not believe the tradition set forth by Hesiod; therefore Pandora was a myth, while the corrupted fable, that of Eve as the tempter, was accepted as a natural representation of womanhood.

    When woman was created, “all the gods conferred a gifted grace.”

    “Round her fair brow the lovely-tressed Hours
    A garland twined of Spring’s purpureal flowers:
    The whole attire Minerva’s graceful art
    Disposed, adjusted, form’d to every part."
    99

    Later, however, Pandora herself becomes the pourer forth of ills on the head of defenceless man.
    92 Hesiod, The Theogony.
    93 Prof. Smith, Chaldean Account of Genesis, pp. 34, 35.
    94 Faber, Pagan Idolatry, book i., ch. v.
    95 Lectures on the Pentateuch, p. 32.
    96 Ibid. p. 16.
    97 L. T. Ives, Art Words.
    98 Tertullian, vol. i., p. 341.
    99 Hesiod, Works and Days.

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    Default Chapter XI. Fire and Phallic Worship


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Chapter XI. Fire and Phallic Worship

    “Know, first a spirit with an active flame
    Fills, feeds, and animates the mighty frame;
    Runs through the watery worlds and fields of air,
    The ponderous Earth and depths of Heav’n and there
    Burns in the Sun and Moon, and every brilliant Star
    Thus mingling in the mass, the general soul
    Lives in its parts and agitates the whole.”

    Although earth, air, water, and the sun were long venerated as objects of worship, as containing the life principle, in process of time it is observed that fire attracted the highest regard of human beings, and on their altars the sacred flame, said to have been kindled from heaven, was kept burning uninterruptedly from year to year, and from age to age, by bends of priests “whose special duty it was to see that the sacred flame was never extinguished.” The office of the vestal virgins in Rome was to preserve the holy fire. The Egyptians, and in fact all the earlier civilized nations, knew that force proceeds from the sun, hence the frequent appearance of this orb among their symbols of life. Indeed there is not a country on the globe in which, at some time, divine honors have not been paid to fire and to light.

    The Hindoos, “believing fire to be the essence of all active power in Nature, kept perpetual lamps burning in the innermost recesses of their pagodas and temples, and in the sacred edifices of the Greeks and Barbarians fires were preserved for the same reason.”

    The festival of lamps, which was once universal throughout Egypt, still prevails in China. On the evening of the fifteenth day of the first month in the year, every person is compelled to place before his door a lantern or light, such lights differing in size and expense according to the degree of wealth or poverty of those to whom they belong. Light was the symbol of Muth (Perceptive Wisdom). Among the Persians, the Egyptians, the Mexicans, the Jews, the Etruscans, the Greeks, and the Romans, fire was venerated as the essence of the Deity; and, at the present time, in Thibet, in China, in Japan, and in portions of Africa, it still forms an important part of worship. The Hebrew writings show conclusively that not only the Jews but all the surrounding nations were fire-worshippers, and that their sacrifices were not infrequently to the God of Fire. Of this Forlong says:

    “When Rome was rearing temples to the fame and worship of Fire, we find the prophets of Israel occasionally denouncing the wickedness of its worship by their own and the nations around them; nevertheless, even to Christ’s time Molok always had his offerings of children."100

    It is believed that Abraham introduced fire-worship among the Jews from Ur in Mesopotamia, a land in which lights are still venerated, and fire altars are worshipped as containing the Deity.

    The real essence of fire which was identical with the life-principle was holy. The “Lord” of the Israelites was in the fire which descended on Mt. Sinai, Exodus xix., 18. “The bush burned with fire and the bush was not consumed,” Exodus iii., 2. Whether the signification of “bush” is the same as “grove,” I know not, but Josephus assures us that the bush was holy before the flame appeared in it. Because of its sacred character, it became the receptacle for the burning “Lord” of the Jews. The ark, the religious emblem which Moses bore aloft, was simply a fire altar on which the fire must continually burn. The fact will doubtless be observed that although the ark and the bush (female emblems) were invested with a certain degree of sanctity, they were nevertheless only receptacles for the substance within them.

    At the same time that the Jews kept sacred or holy fires continually burning on their altars, they carried about a serpent on a pole representing it to be the “healer of nations.” They also kept a phallic emblem in a box, chest, or ark which they worshipped as the “God of Hosts,” the “Life Giver,” etc. It has been observed that although the Jews frequently lost their ark, they were never without their serpent-pole. At a certain stage in the religious development of mankind all the temples in Africa and Western Asia were dedicated to Vulcan the fire god or the “Lord of Fire,” to whom all furnaces were sacred. The principal festivals in honor of this Deity took place in the spring, at the Easter season, and on the 23d of August, when it is said that the licentiousness practiced in the temples compared with those of the “Harvest Homes” of Europe when the sun was in Libra and the harvest had been garnered in. Vulcan was the “God of fornication” or of passion.

    These excesses, which remained unchecked down to the fourth century before Christ, are said to have somewhat abated after the rise of the Stoic philosophy.

    Various philosophers of early historic times as well as many of the early fathers in the Christian church believed that God was a corporeal substance which in some way is manifested through fire.

    In Egypt, during the early ages of Christianity, “a great dispute took place among the monks on the question, whether God is corporeal.” Tertullian declared that “God is fire"; Origen, that “he is a subtle fire"; and various others that “he is body.”

    There is little doubt that in early historic ages the Persians, who had undertaken to purify their religion, were the strongest and purest sect of this cult; they were in fact the genuine worshippers of the pure creative principles which they believed resided in fire.

    We have observed that force or spirit was originally regarded as a part of Nature, or in other words that it was a manifestation of, or an outflowing from matter, but so soon as it began to be considered as something apart from Nature, there at once arose a desire for some corporeal object to represent this unseen and occult principle.

    During many of the ages of fire-worship, holy fire, although a material substance, seems to have been too subtle to clearly represent the god-idea, hence everywhere the worship of the serpent is found to be interwoven with it. In fact, so closely are serpent, fire, pillar, and other phallic faiths intermingled that it is impossible to separate them.

    The Persians are by some writers said to have been the earliest fire-worshippers: by others the truth of this statement is denied, while many claim, and indeed the Maji themselves declared, that they never worshipped fire at all in any other manner than as an emblem of the divine principle which they believed resided within it. It is probable, however, from the evidence at hand, that they, like all the other nations of the globe, prior to the reformation led by Zarathustra and his daughter, had lost or nearly forgotten the profound ideas connected with the worship of Nature.

    Passion, symbolized by fire, is declared by various writers to have been the first idol, but later research has proved the falsity of this assumption. It is true that at an early age of human experience the creative processes were worshipped, but such worship involved scientific and, I might say, spiritualized conceptions of the operations of Nature which in time were altogether lost sight of. Gross phallicism is clearly the result of degeneration, and of a lapse into sensuality and superstition.

    I think no one can study the facts connected with fire and light as the Deity in the various countries in which this worship prevailed, without perceiving the change it gradually underwent during later ages, and the grossness of the ideas which became connected with it as compared with an earlier age when mankind “had no temples, but worshipped in the open air, on the tops of mountains.”

    In another portion of this work we have observed that in the rites connected with the worship of Cybele (Light or Wisdom), although phallic symbols were in use, the ceremonies were absolutely pure, and that throughout all the earlier ages her worship remained free from the abominations which characterized the worship of later times.

    At what time in the history of the human race the organs of generation first began to appear as emblems of the Deity is not known. Within the earliest cave temples, those hewn from the solid rock, sculptured representations of these objects are still to be observed. Although until a comparatively recent period their true significance has been unknown, there is little doubt at the present time that they were originally used as symbols of fertility, or as emblems typifying the processes of Nature, and that at some remote period of the world’s history they were worshipped as the Creator, or, at least, as representations of the creative agencies in the universe.

    Concerning the origin and character of the people who executed them there is scarcely a trace in written history. Through the unravelling of extinct tongues, however, the monumental records of the ancient nations of the globe have been deciphered, and the system of religious symbolism in use among them is now understood.

    A small volume by various writers, printed in London some years ago, entitled A Comparative View of the Ancient Monuments of India, says:

    “Those who have penetrated into the abstruseness of Indian mythology, find that in these temples was practiced a worship similar to that practiced by all the several nations of the world, in their earliest as well as their most enlightened periods. It was paid to the Phallus by the Asiatics, to Priapus by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, to Baal-Peor by the Canaanites and idolatrous Jews. The figure is seen on the fascia which runs round the circus of Nismes, and over the portal of the Cathedral of Toulouse, and several churches of Bordeaux.”

    Of the Lingham and Yoni and their universal acceptance as religious emblems, Barlow remarks that it was a “worship which would appear to have made the tour of the globe and to have left traces of its existence where we might least expect to find it.” In referring to the “sculptured indecencies” connected with religious rites, which, being wrought in imperishable stone, have been preserved in India and other parts of the East, Forlong says that when occurring in the temples or other sacred places they are at the present time evidently very puzzling to the pious Indians, and in their attempts to explain them they say they are placed there “in fulfilment of vows,” or that they have been wrought there “as punishments for sins of a sexual nature, committed by those who executed or paid for them.” It is, however, the opinion of Forlong that they are simply connected with an older and purer worship–a worship which involved the union of the sex principles as the foundation of their god-idea.

    Regarding the cause for the “indecent” sculptures of the Orissa temples, the same writer quotes the following from Baboo Ragendralala Mitra, in his work on the Antiquities of Orissa.

    “A vitiated taste aided by general prevalence of immorality might at first sight appear to be the most likely one; but I can not believe that libidiousness, however depraved, would ever think of selecting fanes dedicated to the worship of God, as the most appropriate for its manifestations; for it is worthy of remark that they occur almost exclusively on temples and their attached porches, and never on enclosing walls, gateways, and other non-religious structures. Our ideas of propriety, according to Voltaire, lead us to suppose that a ceremony (like the worship of Priapus) which appears to us infamous, could only be invented by licentiousness; but it is impossible to believe that depravity of manners would ever have led among any people to the establishment of religious ceremonies. It is probable, on the contrary, that this custom was first introduced in times of simplicity–that the first thought was to honor the Deity in the symbol of life which it has given us; such a ceremony may have excited licentiousness among youths, and have appeared ridiculous to men of education in more refined, more corrupt, and more enlightened times, but it never had its origin in such feelings. . . . It is out of the question therefore to suppose that a general prevalence of vice would of itself, without the authority of priests and scriptures, suffice to lead to the defilement of holy temples."101

    Originally the Ionians, as their name indicates, were Yoni worshippers, i. e., they belonged to the sect which was driven out of India because of their stubborn refusal to worship the male energy as the Creator. During the later ages of their history, at a time when their religion had degenerated into a licensed system of vice and corruption, and after their temples had become brothels in which, in the name of religion, were practiced the most debasing ceremonies, the Greeks became ashamed of their ancient worship, and, like the Jews, ashamed also of their name.

    It is believed that the Greeks received from Egypt, or the East, their first theological conceptions of God and religion. These ideas

    “were veiled in symbols, significant of a primitive monotheism; these, at a later period, being translated into symbolical or allegorical language, were by the poets transformed into epic or narrative myths, in which the original subject symbolized was almost effaced, whilst the allegorical expressions were received generally in a literal sense. Hence, to the many, the meaning of the ancient doctrine was lost, and was communicated only to the few, under the strictest secrecy in the mysteries of Eleusis and Samothrace. Thus there was a popular theology to suit the people, and a rational theology reserved for the educated, the symbolical language in both being the same, but the meaning of it being taken differently. In course of time, as knowledge makes its way among the people, and religious enlightenment with it, much of what had been received literally will relapse into its original figurative or symbolical meaning. Reason will resume her supremacy, and stereotyped dogmas will fall like pagan idols before advancing truth."102

    Although, during the later ages of the human career, the higher truths taught by an earlier race were lost, still a slight hint of the beauty and purity of the more ancient worship may be traced through most of the ages of the history of religion. Even among the profligate Greeks, the mysteries of Eleusis, celebrated in the temple of Ceres, were always respected. Care should be taken, however, not to confound these remnants of pure Nature- worship with that of the courtesan Venus, whose adoration, during the degenerate days of Greece, represented only the lowest and most corrupt conception of the female energy.

    Down to a late date in the annals of Athens there was celebrated a religious festival called Thesmophoria. The name of this festival is derived from one of the cognomens of Ceres–the goddess “who first gave laws and made life orderly.” Ceres was the divinity adored by the Amazons, and is essentially the same as the Egyptian Isis. She represents universal female Nature. The Thesmophorian rites, which are believed by most writers to have been introduced into Greece directly from Thrace, were performed by “virgins distinguished for probity in life, who carried about in procession sacred books upon their heads.”

    Inman, in his Ancient Faiths, quotes an oracle of Apollo, from Spencer, to the effect that “Rhea the Mother of the Blessed, and the Queen of the Gods, loved assemblages of women.” As this festival is in honor of Female Nature, the various female attributes are adored as deities, Demeter being the first named by the worshippers. After a long season of fasting, and “after solemn reflection on the mysteries of life, women splendidly attired in white garments assemble and scatter flowers in honor of the Great Mother.”

    The food partaken of by the devotees at these festivals was cakes, very similar in shape to those which were offered to the Queen of Heaven by the women of Judah in the days of Jeremiah, an offering which it will be remembered so displeased that prophet that a curse was pronounced upon the entire people.

    As the strictest secrecy prevailed among the initiated respecting these rites, the exact nature of the symbols employed at the Thesmophorian festivals is not known; it is believed, however, that it was the female emblem of generation, and that this festival was held in honor of that event which from the earliest times had been prophesied by those who believed in the superior importance of the female, namely, that unaided by the male power, a woman would bring forth, and that this manifestation of female sufficiency would forever settle the question of the ascendancy of the female principle. Through a return of the ancient ideas of purity and peace, mankind would be redeemed from the wretchedness and misery which had been the result of the decline of female power. The dual idea entertained in the Thesmophorian worship is observed in the fact that although Ceres, the Great Mother, was the principal Deity honored, Proserpine, the child, was also comprehended, and with its Mother worshipped as part of the Creator. Thus we observe that down to a late date in the history of Grecian mythology the idea of a Holy Mother with her child had not altogether disappeared as a representation of the god-idea.

    To prove the worthiness of the ideas connected with the Eleusinian mysteries it is stated that “there is not an instance on record that the honor of initiation was ever obtained by a very bad man.”

    In Rome these mysteries took another name and were called “the rites of Bona Dea,” which was but another name for Ceres. As evidence of their purity we have the following:

    “All the distinguished Roman authors speak of these rites and in terms of profound respect. Horace denounces the wretch who should attempt to reveal the secrets of these rites; Virgil mentions these mysteries with great respect; and Cicero alludes to them with a greater reverence than either of the poets we have named. Both the Greeks and the Romans punished any insult offered to these mysteries with the most persevering vindictiveness. Alcibiades was charged with insulting these religious rites, and although the proof of his offense was quite doubtful, yet he suffered for it for years in exile and misery, and it must be allowed that he was the most popular man of his age."103

    In Greece, the celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries was in the hands of the Emolpidae, one of the oldest and most respected families of antiquity. At Carthage, there were celebrated the Phiditia, religious solemnities similar to those already described in Greece. During the two or three days upon which these festivals were celebrated, public feasts were prepared at which the youth were instructed by their elders in the state concerning the principles which were to govern their conduct in after life; truth, inward purity, and virtue being set forth as essentials to true manhood. In later times, after these festivals had found their way to Rome, they gradually succumbed to the immorality which prevailed, and at last, when their former exalted significance had been forgotten, they were finally sunk into “the licentiousness of enjoyment, and the innocence of mirth was superseded by the uproar of riot and vice! Such were the Saturnalia.”

    From the facts connected with the mysteries of Eleusis and the Thesmophorian rites, it is evident that in its earlier stages Nature-worship was absolutely free from the impurities which came to be associated with it in later times. As the organs of generation had not originally been wholly disgraced and outraged, it is not unlikely that when the so-called “sculptured indecencies” appeared on the walls of the temples they were regarded as no more an offense against propriety and decency than was the reappearance of the cross, the emblem of life, in later times, among orthodox Christians.

    Neither is it probable, in an age in which nothing that is natural was considered indecent, and before the reproductive energies had become degraded, that these symbols were any more suggestive of impurity than are the Easter offerings upon our church altars at the present time. Whatever may now be the significance of these offerings to those who present them, sure it is that they once, together with other devices connected with Nature-worship, were simply emblems of fertility–symbols of a risen and fructifying sun which by its gladdening rays re-creates and makes all things new again.

    If we carefully study the religion of past ages we will discover something more than a hint of an age when the generative functions were regarded as a sacred expression of creative power, and when the reproductive organs had not through over-stimulation and abuse been tabooed as objects altogether impure and unholy, and as things too disgraceful to be mentioned above a whisper. Indeed there is much evidence going to show that in an earlier age of the world’s history the degradation of mankind, through the abuse of the creative functions, had not been accomplished, and the ills of life resulting from such abuse were unknown.

    We may reasonably believe that those instincts in the female which are correlated with maternal affection and which were acquired by her as a protection to the germ, or, in other words, those characters which Nature has developed in the female to insure the safety and well-being of offspring, and which in a purer and more natural stage of human existence acted as cheeks upon the energies of the male, were not easily or quickly subdued; but when through subjection to the animal nature of man these instincts or characters had been denied their natural expression, and woman had become simply the instrument of man’s pleasure, the comparatively pure worship of the organs of generation as symbols of creative power began to give place to the deification of these members simply as emblems of desire, or as instruments for the stimulation of passion.

    We are assured that on the banks of the Ganges, the very cradle of religion, are still to be found various remnants of the most ancient form of Nature-worship–that there are still to be observed “certain high places sacred to more primitive ideas than those represented by Vedic gods.”

    Here devout worshippers believe that the androgynous God of fertility, or Nature, still manifests itself to the faithful. Close beside these more ancient shrines are others representing a somewhat later development of religious faith–shrines, by means of which are indicated some of the processes involved in the earlier growth of the god-idea. Not far removed from these are to be found, also, numerous temples or places of worship belonging to a still later faith–a faith in which are revealed the “awakening and stimulation of every sensuous feeling, and which has drowned in infamy every noble impulse developed in human nature.”

    Of the depravity of the Jews and the immorality practiced in their religious rites, Forlong says:

    “No one can study their history, liberated from the blindness which our Christian up-bringing and associations cast over us, without seeing that the Jews were probably the grossest worshippers among all those Ophi–Phallo–Solar devotees who then covered every land and sea, from the sources of the Nile and Euphrates to all over the Mediterranean coasts and isles. These impure faiths seem to have been very strictly maintained by Jews up to Hezekiah’s days, and by none more so than by dissolute Solomon and his cruel, lascivious bandit-father, the brazen-faced adulterer and murderer, who broke his freely volunteered oath, and sacrificed six innocent sons of his king to his Javah.”

    Of Solomon he says that he devoted his energies and some little wealth “to rearing phallic and Solophallic shrines over all the high places around him, and especially in front of Jerusalem, and on and around the Mount of Olives.” On each side of the entrance to his celebrated temple, under the great phallic spire which formed the portico, were two handsome columns over fifty feet high, by the side of which were the sun God Belus and his chariots.

    In a description of this temple it is represented as being one hundred and twenty feet long and forty feet broad, while the porch, a phallic emblem, “was a huge tower, forty feet long, twenty feet broad, and two hundred and forty feet high.” We are assured by Forlong that Solomon’s temple was like hundreds observed in the East, except that its walls were a little higher than those usually seen, and the phallic spire out of proportion to the size of the structure. “The Jewish porch is but the obelisk which the Egyptian placed beside his temple; the Boodhist pillars which stood all around their Dagobas; the pillars of Hercules, which stood near the Phoenician temple; and the spire which stands beside the Christian Church."104

    The rites and ceremonies observed in the worship of Baal-Peor are not of a character to be described in these pages: it is perhaps sufficient to state that by them the fact is clearly established that profligacy, regulated and controlled by the priestly order as part and parcel of religion, was not confined to the Gentiles; but, on the contrary, that the religious observances of the Jews prior to the Babylonian captivity were even more gross than were those of the Assyrians or the Hindoos.

    These impure faiths arose at a time when man as the sole creator of offspring became god, when the natural instincts of woman were subdued, and when passion as the highest expression of the divine force came to be worshipped as the most important attribute of humanity.

    The extent to which these faiths have influenced later religious belief and observances is scarcely realized by those who have not given special attention to this subject.

    It has been stated that in the time of Solon, law-giver of Athens, there were twenty temples in the various cities of Greece dedicated to Venus the courtesan, within which were practiced, in the name of religion, the most infamous rites and the most shameless self-abandonment; and that throughout Europe, down to a late period in the history of the race, religious festivals were celebrated at certain seasons of the year, at which the ceremonies performed in honor of the god of fornication were of the grossest nature, and at which the Bacchanalian orgies were only equalled by those practiced in the religious temples of Babylon.

    It is impossible longer to conceal the fact that passion, symbolized by a serpent, an upright stone, and by the male and female organs of generation, the male appearing as the “giver of life,” the female as a necessary appendage to it, constituted the god-idea of mankind for at least four thousand years; and, instead of being confined to the earlier ages of that period, we shall presently see that phallic worship had not disappeared, under Christianity, as late and even later than the sixteenth century.

    Such has been the result of the ascendancy gained by the grosser elements in human nature: the highest idea of the Infinite passion symbolized by the organs of generation, while the principal rites connected with its worship are scenes of debauchery and self-abasement.

    At the present time it is by no means difficult to trace the growth of the god-idea. First, as we have seen, a system of pure Nature-worship appeared under the symbol of a Mother and child. In process of time this particular form of worship was supplanted by a religion under which the male principle is seen to be in the ascendancy over the female. Later a more complicated system of Nature-worship is observed in which the underlying principles are concealed, or are understood only by the initiated. Lastly, these philosophical and recondite principles are forgotten and the symbols themselves receive the adoration which once belonged to the Creator. The change which the ideas concerning womanhood underwent from the time when the natural feminine characters and qualities were worshipped as God, to the days of Solon the Grecian law-giver, when women had become merely tools or slaves for the use and pleasure of men, is forcibly shown by a comparison of the character ascribed to the female deities at the two epochs mentioned. Athene who in an earlier age had represented Wisdom had in the age of Solon degenerated into a patroness of heroes; but even as a Goddess of war her patronage was as nought compared with that of the courtesan Venus, at whose shrine “every man in Greece worshipped.”

    The extent to which women, in the name of religion, have been degraded, and the part which in the past they have been compelled to assume in the worship of passion may not at the present time be disguised, as facts concerning this subject are well authenticated. In a former work,105 attention has been directed to the religious rites of Babylon, the city in which it will be remembered the Tower of Belus was situated. Here women of all conditions and ranks were obliged, once in their life, to prostitute themselves in the temple for hire to any stranger who might demand such service, which revenue was appropriated by the priests to be applied to sacred uses. This act it will be remembered was a religious obligation imposed by religious teachers and enforced by priestly rule. It was a sacrifice to the god of passion. A similar custom prevailed in Cyprus.

    Most of the temples of the later Hindoos had bands of consecrated women called the “Women of the Idol.” These victims of the priests were selected in their infancy by Brahmins for the beauty of their persons, and were trained to every elegant accomplishment that could render them attractive and which would insure success in the profession which they exercised at once for the pleasure and profit of the priesthood. They were never allowed to desert the temple; and the offspring of their promiscuous embraces were, if males, consecrated to the service of the Deity in the ceremonies of this worship, and, if females, educated in the profession of their mothers.106

    That prostitution was a religious observance, which was practiced in Eastern temples, cannot in the face of accessible facts be doubted. Regarding this subject, Inman says:

    “To us it is inconceivable, that the indulgence of passion could be associated with religion, but so it was. The words expressive of ’sanctuary,’ ’consecrated,’ and ’sodomites’ are in the Hebrew essentially the same. It is amongst the Hindoos of to-day as it was in the Greece and Italy of classic times; and we find that ’holy woman’ is a title given to those who devote their bodies to be used for hire, which goes to the service of the temple.”

    The extent to which ages of corruption have vitiated the purer instincts of human nature, and the degree to which centuries of sensuality and superstition have degraded the nature of man, may be noticed at the present time in the admissions which are frequently made by male writers regarding the change which during the history of the race has taken place in the god-idea. None of the attributes of women, not even that holy instinct–maternal love, can by many of them be contemplated apart from the ideas of grossness which have attended the sex-functions during the ages since women first became enslaved. As an illustration of this we have the following from an eminent philologist of recent times, a writer whose able efforts in unravelling religious myths bear testimony to his mental strength and literary ability.

    “The Chaldees believed in a celestial virgin who had purity of body, loveliness of person, and tenderness of affection, and she was one to whom the erring sinner could appeal with more chance of success than to a stern father. She was portrayed as a mother with a child in her arms, and every attribute ascribed to her showing that she was supposed to be as fond as any earthly female ever was."107

    After thus describing the early Chaldean Deity, who, although a pure and spotless virgin, was nevertheless worshipped as a mother, or as the embodiment of the altruistic principles developed in mankind, this writer goes on to say: “The worship of the woman by man naturally led to developments which our COMPARATIVELY SENSITIVE NATURES [the italics are mine] shun as being opposed to all religious feeling,” which sentiment clearly reveals the inability of this writer to estimate womanhood, or even motherhood, apart from the sensualized ideas which during the ages in which passion has been the recognized god have gathered about it.

    The purity of life and the high stage of civilization reached by an ancient people, and the fact that these conditions were reached under pure Nature-worship, or when the natural attributes of the female were regarded as the highest expression of the divine in the human, prove that it was neither the appreciation nor the deification of womanhood which “led to developments which sensitive natures shun as being opposed to all religious feeling,” but, on the contrary, that it was the lack of such appreciation which stimulated the lower nature of man and encouraged every form of sensuality and superstition. In other words, it was the subjection of the natural female instincts and the deification of brute passion during the later ages of human history which have degraded religion and corrupted human nature.

    Although at the present time it is quite impossible for scholars to veil the fact that the god-idea was originally worshipped as female, still, most modern writers who deal with this subject seem unable to understand the state of human society which must have existed when the instincts, qualities, and characters peculiar to the female constitution were worshipped as divine. So corrupt has human nature become through over-stimulation and indulgence of the lower propensities, that it seems impossible for those who have thus far dealt with this subject to perceive in the earlier conceptions of a Deity any higher idea than that conveyed to their minds at the present time by the sexual attributes and physical functions of females–namely, their capacity to bring forth, coupled with the power to gratify the animal instincts of males, functions which women share with the lower orders of life.

    The fact that by an ancient race woman was regarded as the head or crown of creation, that she was the first emanation from the Deity, or, more properly speaking, that she represented Perceptive Wisdom, seems at the present time not to be comprehended, or at least not acknowledged. The more recently developed idea, that she was designed as an appendage to man, and created specially for his use and pleasure,–a conception which is the direct result of the supremacy of the lower instincts over the higher faculties,–has for ages been taught as a religious doctrine which to doubt involves the rankest heresy.

    The androgynous Venus of the earlier ages, a deity which although female was figured with a beard to denote that within her were embraced the masculine powers, embodied a conception of universal womanhood and the Deity widely different from that entertained in the later ages of Greece, at a time when Venus the courtesan represented all the powers and capacities of woman considered worthy of deification.

    To such an extent, in later ages, have all our ideas of the Infinite become masculinized that in extant history little except occasional hints is to be found of the fact that during numberless ages of human existence the Supreme Creator was worshipped as female.

    One has only to study the Greek character to anticipate the manner in which any subject pertaining to women would be treated by that arrogant and conceited race; and, as until recently most of our information concerning the past has come through Greek sources, the distorted and one-sided view taken of human events, and the contempt with which the feminine half of society has been regarded, are in no wise surprising. We must bear in mind the fact, however, that the Greeks were but the degenerate descendants of the highly civilized peoples whom they were pleased to term “barbarians,” and that they knew less of the origin and character of the gods which they worshipped, and which they had borrowed from other countries, than is known of them at the present time.

    About 600 years B.C., we may believe that mankind had sunk to the lowest depth of human degradation, since which time humanity has been slowly retracting its course; not, however, with any degree of continuity or regularity, nor without lapses, during which for hundreds of years the current seemed to roll backward. Indeed when we review the history of the intervening ages, and note the extent to which passion, prejudice, and superstition have been in the ascendancy over reason and judgment, we may truly say: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth have been set on edge.”
    100 Rivers of Life and Faiths of Man in an Lands, vol. i., p. 325.
    101 Rivers of Life, vol. i., p. 275.
    102 Barlow, Essays on Symbolism, p. 121.
    103 Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal.
    104 Forlong, Rivers of Life, vol. i., p. 219.
    105 See Evolution of Woman, p. 228.
    106 Maurice, Indian Antiquities, vol. i.
    107 Inman, Ancient Faiths, vol. i., p. 59.

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    Default Chapter XII. An Attempt to Purify the Sensualized Faiths


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Chapter XII. An Attempt to Purify the Sensualized Faiths

    It has been said of the Persians that in their zeal to purify the sensualized faiths which everywhere prevailed they manifested a decided “repugnance to the worship of images, beasts, or symbols, while they sought to establish the worship of the only true creative force, or God–Holy Fire.”

    From the facts to be gleaned concerning this people during the seventh and eighth centuries B.C., it is quite probable that they still had a faint knowledge of a former age of intellectual and moral greatness, and that it was their object, at that time, to return to the purer principles which characterized it. That their efforts were subsequently copied by surrounding nations is shown in the facts connected with their history.

    Soon leading Syrians and Jews began to learn from their Eastern neighbor that the worship of images could scarcely be acceptable to a god which they were beginning to invest with a certain degree of spirituality. There is little doubt, at the present time, that the attempt to spiritualize the religion of the Jews was due to the influence of the Persians. However, the length of time required to effect any appreciable improvement in an established form of worship is shown by the fact that, two hundred years later, little change for the better was observed in the temples, in which licentiousness had become a recognized religious rite. Even at the present time, it is reported that in many places of worship in the East there still reside “holy women –god’s women,” who, like those in Babylon, described by various writers, are devoted to the “god of fire.”

    In a comparison made between the religion of Persia and the doctrines said to have been taught by Moses, Inman remarks:

    “The religion of Persia as reformed by Zoroaster so closely resembles the Mosaic, that it would be almost impossible to decide which has the precedence of the other, unless we knew how ancient was the teaching of Zoroaster, and how very recent was that said to be from Moses. Be this as it may, we find the ancient Persians resemble the Jews in sacrificing upon high places, in paying divine honor to fire, in keeping up a sacred flame, in certain ceremonial cleansings, in possessing an hereditary priesthood who alone were allowed to offer sacrifices, and in making their summum bonum the possession of a numerous offspring."108

    It is quite plain that by both these nations the wisdom of an earlier race was nearly forgotten. Seven hundred years B.C. the Persians had doubtless already adopted the worship of “One God" who was the Regenerator or Destroyer, a Deity which, as we have seen, originally comprehended the powers of Nature–namely the sun’s heat and the cold of winter. That at this time, however, they had lost the higher truths involved in the conception of this Deity, is evident. They had become worshippers of fire, or of that subtle igneous fluid residing in fire which they believed to be creative force. Although the Persiaus like all the other nations of the globe had lost or forgotten the higher truths enunciated by an older race, there is no evidence going to show that they ever became gross phallic worshippers like the Jews; that they were not such is shown in the fact that down to the time of Alexander the women of Persia still held a high and honorable position, and that the female attributes had not become wholly subject to male power.

    Had we no other evidence of the comparatively exalted character of the religion of the Persians than the history of the lives of such men as Darius, Cyrus, Artaxerxes, and others, we should conclude, notwithstanding the similarity in the ceremonials of these two religions, that some influence had been at work to preserve them from the cruelty and licentiousness which prevailed among the Jews. It is related of Cyrus that he used to wish that he might live long enough to repay all the kindness which he had received. It is also stated that on account of the justice and equity shown in his character, a great number of persons were desirous of committing to his care and wisdom “the disposal of their property, their cities, and their own persons.”

    In striking contrast to the mild and humane character of Cyrus stands that of the licentious and revengeful David, a “man after God’s own heart.”

    “As for the heads of those that compass me about, let the mischief of their own lips cover them.”

    “Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again."109

    “Happy shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones."110

    No one I think can read the Avestas without being impressed by the prominence there given to the subjects of temperance and virtue. In their efforts to purify religion, and in the attempts to return to their more ancient faith, the disciples of Zoroaster, as early as eight hundred years before Christ, had adopted a highly spiritualized conception of the Deity. They had taught in various portions of Asia Minor the doctrine of one God, a dual entity by means of which all things were created. They taught also the doctrine of a resurrection and that of the immortality of the soul. It was at this time that they originated, or at least propounded, the doctrine of hell and the devil, a belief exactly suited to the then weakened mental condition of mankind, and from which humanity has not yet gained sufficient intellectual and moral strength to free itself. This Persian devil, which had become identified with winter or with the absence of the sun’s rays, was now Aryhman, or the “powers of darkness,” and was doubtless the source whence sprang the personal devil elaborated at a later age by Laotse in China.

    As the Jews had no writings prior to the time of Ezra or Jeremiah, it is now believed that many of the doctrines incorporated in their sacred books were borrowed from Persian, Indian, and Egyptian sources. Resurrection from the dead, or the resurrection of the body, was for hundreds of years prior to the birth of Christ an established article of Egyptian and Persian faith, while spiritual regeneration, symbolized by the outward typification of “being born again,” was the beginning of a new life and an admission to the heavenly state.

    In the Khordah Avesta we have the following concerning the doctrine of the resurrection and that of future rewards and punishments.

    “I am wholly without doubt in the existence of the good Mazdaycinian faith, in the coming of the resurrection and the later body, in the stepping over the bridge Chinvat, in an invariable recompense of good deeds and their reward, and of bad deeds and their punishment.”

    The Zoroastrians, who led the way in the great intellectual and religious awakening which took place during the intervening years from 700 B.C. to 400 B.C., sought to purify all things by fire and water, the two principles which had come to be regarded as the original elements, from which, or by which, all things are produced.

    Prior to this time, in Persia, and long afterwards by various other nations, baptism, a rite performed at puberty, was connected only with the sexual obligations of the person receiving it, but in the age which we are considering it became especially a cleansing or regenerating process, and was the means by which the pious devotee became initiated into the mysteries of holy living, or by which she or he was “born again.”

    As in their religious procedure every act was performed in connection with symbols, so in the matter of baptism they were not satisfied with the inner consciousness of regeneration, but must go through with certain processes which typified the new life upon which they had entered. According to Wilford, the outward symbolization of the “new birth” in the East is manifested in the following manner:

    “For the purpose of regeneration it is directed to make an image of pure gold of the female power of nature, either in the shape of a woman or of a cow. In this statue, the person to be regenerated is inclosed, and dragged out through the natural channel. As a statue of pure gold and of proper dimensions would be too expensive, it is sufficient to make an image of the sacred Yoni, through which the person to be regenerated is to pass.”

    Thus at the time Nicodemus is said to have queried concerning the mysteries of the new birth, it is observed that the outward forms of regeneration had long been in use among the pagans. In passing themselves through these apertures, the applicant for regeneration was supposed to represent the condition of one “issuing from the womb to a new scope of life.”

    According to the testimony of various writers upon this subject, there are still extant, not alone in oriental countries, but in Ireland and Scotland as well, numerous excavations or apertures in the rocks which by an early race were used for the same purpose. Through the misconception, bigotry, and ignorance of the Roman Catholic missionaries in Ireland, these openings were designated as the “Devil’s Yonies.” Although these emblems typified the original conception of one of their most sacred beliefs, namely, the “new birth,” still they were “heathen abominations” with which the devotees of the new (?) faith must not become defiled.

    The people who executed these imperishable designs, and who have left in the British Isles innumerable evidences of their religious beliefs, are supposed by some writers to belong to a colony which, having been expelled from Persia on account of their peculiar religious beliefs, settled in the “White Island," the “Island of the Blessed.” This subject will, however, be referred to later in this work.

    When we closely examine the facts connected with the evolution of religion, there can be little doubt that the Persians laid the foundation for that great moral and intellectual awakening which a century or two later is represented by Confucious, Gotama Buddha, and Pythagoras. From the Persians, doubtless Jew and Gentile alike received the little leaven of spirituality which in later ages crept into their gross conception of a Deity.

    By the Persians, the Hindoos, and other nations of the East, it was believed that the end of each cycle of six hundred years, at which time a new sun or savior was to come, would mark a new era of religious development. At the close of each of these cycles it was devoutly expected that the “golden age” of the past would be restored, and that mankind would again be freed from the ills which had overtaken them. As many of these cycles had passed, numerous deliverers, saviors, or solar incarnations had appeared in India, Gotama Buddha having been the ninth. In the East, about six or seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, not only one savior or prophet but three or four of them appeared.

    Concerning the leader of the reform in Persia there seem to be many conflicting accounts. The learned Faber concludes that there were two Zarathustras or Zoroasters, the former being identical with Menu, the law giver and triplicated deity of India, and who by various writers is recognized as the Noah of the Hebrews. According to Pliny, the former lived thousands of years before Christ. Several writers concur in placing him five thousand years before the siege of Troy. According to Sir Wm. Jones, the latter Zoroaster lived in the time of Darius Hystaspes. It is now claimed that in the Dabistan, one of the sacred books of Persia, thirteen Zoroasters appear. The name of the last great leader, together with a few of his doctrines, and various scattered fragments in the Gathas, are all that remain on record of a man whose personality stands connected with the earliest attempt to reform a degraded and sensualized religion.

    That this prophet was without honor in his own country is shown by the following lamentation:

    “To what country shall I go? Where shall I take refuge? What country gives shelter to the master, Zarathustra, and his companion? None of the servants pay reverence to me, nor do the wicked rulers of the country. How shall I worship thee further, living Wise One? What help did Zarathustra receive when he proclaimed the truths? What did he obtain through the good mind? . . . Why has the truthful one so few adherents, while all the mighty, who are unbelievers, follow the liar in great numbers?"111

    Although the prophet Zarathustra and his companion were first rejected, the fact seems plain that the monotheistic doctrines which they set forth were subsequently accepted as the groundwork of the religion of Persia.

    In the opening verses of the 5th Gatha appears the following:

    “It is reported that Zarathustra Spitama possessed the best good, for Ahura Mazda granted him all that may be obtained by means of a sincere worship, forever, all that promotes the good life, and he gives the same to all who keep the words and perform the actions enjoined by the good religion. . . .

    “Pourutschista, the Hetchataspadin, the most holy one, the most distinguished of the daughters of Zarathustra, formed this doctrine, as a reflection of the good mind, the true and wise one.”


    The fact will doubtless be observed that Pourutschista was not merely a disciple of Zarathustra, but that she FORMED the doctrine which was accepted as a “reflection of the good mind.”

    In the 5th Gatha it is stated that among those who “know the right paths, the law which Ahura gave to the Profitable,” is Pourutschista the “Holy worthy of adoration among the daughters of Zarathustra. . . . wise female worker of Wisdom."112

    Ormuzd, or Ahura Mazda, which was the essence of heat or light, was the principle adored by the followers of the reformed religion in Persia. Throughout the Avesta the most desirable possession, and that which is most praised, is purity of life.
    “We praise the pure man.
    “The best purity praise we.
    “The best wish praise we of the best purity. The best place
    of purity praise we, the shining, endued with all
    brightness."
    113

    “This Earth, together with the women, we praise
    Which bears us, which are the women, Ahura Mazda
    Whose wishes arise from purity, these we praise–
    Fullness, readiness, questioning, wisdom."
    114

    Praise is offered to the “everlasting female companion, the instructing.”

    The following is a part of the marriage ceremony of the Persians as it is found in the Khorda-Avesta:

    “Do you both accept the contract for life with honorable mind? In the name and friendship of Ormuzd be ever shining, be very enlarged. Be increasing. Be victorious. Learn purity. Be worthy of good praise. May the mind think good thoughts, the words speak good, the works do good. May all wicked thoughts hasten away, all wicked words be diminished, all wicked works be burnt up. . . . Win for thyself property by right-dealing. Speak truth with the rulers and be obedient. Be modest with friends, clever, and well wishing. Be not cruel, be not covetous. . . . Combat adversaries with right. Before an assembly speak only pure words. In no wise displease thy mother. Keep thine own body pure in justice.”

    Confucius, the great Chinese teacher and philosopher, who lived probably in the sixth century B.C., may be said to have been a humanitarian or moralist instead of a mystic. Although he believed in a great first principle, or cause, which he termed Heaven, we are given to understand that in his philosophizing little mention was made of it.

    The system known as Confucianism was not originated by Confucius.

    In referring to this subject Legge remarks:

    “He said of himself (Analects, vii., I), that he was a transmitter and not a maker, one who believed in and loved the ancients; and hence it is said in the thirtieth chapter of the doctrine of the Mean, ascribed to his grandson, that he handed down the doctrines of Yao and Shun, as if they had been his ancestors, and elegantly displayed the regulations of Wan and Wu, taking them as his models."115

    The ancient books which Confucius interpreted or rewrote laid no claim to being sacred in the sense of being inspired; but, on the contrary, were works of wisdom put forth by historians, poets, and others “as they were moved in their own minds.” The most ancient of these doctrines was the Shu, a work which since the period of the Han dynasty, 202 years B.C., has been called the Shu King.

    A number of documents contained in this work date back to the twenty-fourth century B.C., and as they are regarded as historical are considered to be of greater importance than are any others of their ancient writings.

    Second in antiquity and importance is the Shih or the Book of Poetry. This work contains the religious views of its writers, also an account of the manners, customs, and events of the times to which they belong. For 5000 years, in China, Tien or Ti has expressed the moving or creating force in the universe. In later ages it is observed that this name has been attached to royalty. Hwang Ti is the present title of the Emperor of China.

    From some of the texts found in the Shu King, it would seem that the Chinese had in the remote past caught sight of the scientific fact that virtue is its own reward. “Heaven graciously distinguishes the virtuous. . . . Heaven punishes the guilty."116

    The principal object of Confucius seems to have been to inculcate those doctrines of his ancestors which, taking root, would in time bring about a return to those principles of former virtue, a faint knowledge of which seems still to have survived in China. The following precepts are found among his teachings:

    “Knowledge, magnanimity, and energy are the virtues universally binding. Gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness constitute perfect virtue. Sincerity is the very way to Heaven. My doctrine is that of an all-pervading unity. The superior man is catholic and not partisan. The mean is partisan and not catholic. The superior man is affable but not adulatory, the mean is adulatory but not affable.”

    When asked for a word which should serve as a rule of practice for all our life he replied: “Is not Reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” On one occasion the question was asked him: “What do you say concerning the principle that injury shall be recompensed with kindness?” To which he replied: “Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness."117

    It is recorded by his disciples that there are four things from which the master was entirely free. “He had no foregone conclusions, no arbitrary predeterminations, no obstinacy, and no egoism.” Contrary to the rule of most reformers or leaders of opinion, he always regarded himself as a learner as well as teacher. It is related of Confucius that he at one time desired a governmental position, thinking that through its occupancy he might the better disseminate the ancient doctrines of rectitude and virtue. Offers of individual advantage could not swerve him from his well-grounded principles of honor. On one occasion one of the rulers of the country proposed to confer upon him a city and its revenues, but Confucius replied: “A superior man will only receive reward for services which he has rendered. I have given advice to the duke-king, but he has not obeyed it, and now he would endow me with this place! very far is he from understanding me."118

    The fact seems evident that Confucius had not sufficient strength of character to attempt a change in the social conditions of his time. He had not that grandeur of soul which enabled him to strike the key-note of reform. Monarchical institutions and social distinctions he did not rebuke. The brotherhood of man and the levelling processes in human society were probably never thought of by him; certainly they were never attempted.

    By certain writers Confucius has been accused of insincerity in a few minor matters; still, the wisdom contained in his religious doctrines, the philosophical value of his teachings relative to the regulation of human conduct, and, above all, his purity of purpose, justly entitles his name to be enrolled among the great reformers of the world.

    The lasting influence which this man exerted upon the minds of his countrymen, and the appreciation in which his name and works are still held, are shown by the fact that his descendants constitute the only order of hereditary nobility in China.

    “He lived five hundred years before Christ; and yet to this day, through all the changes and chances of time and of dynasties, the descendants of Confucius remain the only hereditary noblemen and national pensioners in the empire. Even the imperial blood becomes diluted, degraded, and absorbed into the body politic after the seventh generation; but the descendants of Confucius remain separate, through all the mutations of time and of government."119

    Laotse, the founder of the smallest of the three sects in China, namely, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, was an old man when Confucius was in his prime. The word Taou signifies reason, but the doctrines believed by the Taoists prove their system to be the most irrational of all the religions of the East. In an article on The Taouist Religion, Warren Benton says:

    “The tendency in rationalism is toward the utter destruction of a belief in the existence of unseen spirits of evil. Enlightened reason dethrones devils; but Laotse created devils innumerable, and the chief concern of the Taouist sect has always been to manipulate these emissaries of evil. Modern rationalists deny the existence of devils, and relegate them to the category of myths and to personified ideas. Not so the rationalist of the Orient. He finds his greatest pleasure in contemplating the very atmosphere he breathes as filled with spirits constantly seeking his injury; and to outwit his satanic majesty is the chief end of life."120

    At a time when a personal devil was gradually assuming shape, it would have been singular, indeed, if there had not arisen one who, by his peculiar temperament and natural disposition, was exactly suited to the task of elaborating this doctrine in all its grim seriousness. That such an one did arise in the person of Laotse is evident from what is known regarding his history and teachings.

    The growth of religious faith had long tended in this direction. Typhon, “the wind that blasts,” “Darkness,” and the “cold of winter,” constituted the foundation of a belief in a personal Devil; and, when the time was ripe for the appearance of his satanic majesty, it required only a hypochondriac– a disordered mental organization–to formulate and project this gloomy and unwholesome doctrine.

    There is little known of the life and character of Laotse except that he labored assiduously through a long life-time for the establishment of certain principles or tenets which he believed to be essential to the well-being of humanity. In the twentieth chapter of his work are found to be some hints of his personality and of the gloomy cast of his character. He complains that while other men are joyous and gay, he alone is despondent. He is “calm like a child that does not yet smile.” He is “like a stupid fellow, so confused does he feel. Ordinary men are enlightened; he is obscure and troubled in mind. Like the sea, he is forgotten and driven about like one who has no certain resting place. All other men are of use; he alone is clownish like a peasant. He alone is unlike other men, but he honors the nursing mother.”

    Of all the various teachers which arose during the fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries B.C., none of them were able to rise to the position of moral grandeur occupied by Gotama Buddha. The efforts put forth by this great teacher seem to have been humane rather than religious. In his time, especially in India, society had become encysted beneath a crust of seemingly impenetrable conservatism, while religion, or priestcraft, riveted the chains by which the masses of the people were enslaved.

    The mission of Buddha was to burst asunder the bonds of the oppressed and to abolish all distinctions of caste. This was to be accomplished through the awakening of the divine life in each individual. The leading processes by which the lines of caste were weakened were in direct opposition to the established order of society. It was a blow at the old Brahminical social and religious code which had grown up under the reign of priest-craft.

    Notwithstanding the sex prejudice which had come to prevail in India, it was directly stated by Buddha that any man or woman who became his disciple, who renounced the world and by abstinence from the lower indulgences of sense proclaimed her or his adherence to the higher principles of life, “at once lost either the privilege of a high caste or the degradation of a low one.” Earthly distinctions were of no consequence. Rank depended not on the outward circumstance of birth, but on the ability of the individual to resist evil, or, upon his capacity to receive the higher truths enunciated by the new sun or savior–Buddha.

    In one of the canonical books he is represented as saying:

    “Since the doctrine which I teach is completely pure, it makes no distinction between noble and common, between rich and poor. It is, for example, like water, which washes both noblemen and common people, both rich and poor, both good and bad, and purifies all without distinction. It may, to take another illustration, be compared to fire, which consumes mountains, rocks, and all great and small objects between heaven and earth. Again, my doctrine is like heaven, inasmuch as there is room within it without exception, for whomsoever it may be; for men and women, for boys and girls, for rich and poor."121

    There is little doubt that the religion of Buddha was an attempt to return to the almost forgotten principles of a past age of spiritual and moral greatness. According to this ancient wisdom, man is an immortal soul struggling for perfection. The growth of the real man is a natural unfolding of the divine principle within, such process of evolution being accomplished through the power of the will. As every individual must work out his own salvation, this will-force must ever be directed toward the complete mastery of the body, or the lower self. In other words, the development of the higher life depends upon the power of the individual to overcome or conquer evil. The effect of every thought, word, and deed is woven into the soul, and no one can evade the consequences of his own acts. All sin is the result of selfishness, so that only when one renounces self and begins to live for others does the soul-life begin. No one who has arrived at a state of soul-consciousness will lead a selfish or impure life. On the contrary, every impulse of the devout Buddhist goes out toward humanity and God, of whom he is a conscious part.

    Gotama Buddha was not a “savior” in the sense of bloody sacrifice for the sins of the people. On the contrary, he was an example to mankind–a man who through moral purification and a life of self- abnegation had prepared himself for this holy office. Mythologically, or astrologically, he was the new sun born at the close of the cycle. He was the great Light which revealed the way to eternal repose– Nirvana. The mythical Buddha was the prototype of the mythical Christ. His mother was Mai or Mary, Queen of Heaven, or the Vernal Spring. He was a new incarnation of the Sun–the Savior of the world. In process of time his many miracles were offered as proof of his divine character. Although he taught the existence of a great and universal Power, he made no attempt to explain the unknowable. The Infinite is to be contemplated only through its manifestations. Nirvana is not annihilation, as has been erroneously taught by Christian missionaries. As explained by Buddhists themselves, it comprehends a state of absolute rest from human strife and wretchedness. It is the absorption or relapsing into the great First Principle, whence all life is derived–a state so pure that the human is lost in the divine.

    “Lamp of the law!
    I take my refuge in thy name and Thee!
    I take my refuge in thy Law of Good!
    I take my refuge in thy Order! Om!
    The dew is on the Lotus!–rise, Great Sun!
    And lift my leaf and mix me with the wave.
    Om Mani Padme Hum, the Sunrise comes!
    The Dewdrop slips into the shining Sea!"
    122

    From the Buddhist colleges at Nolanda went forth teachers who, inspired with enthusiasm in the cause of human justice and individual liberty, endeavored to abolish the abominations which had grown up under Brahminical rule. The masses of the people, however, were too deeply sunken in infamy, wretchedness, and ignorance to accept, or even understand, the pure doctrines of the great teacher, and, as might have been anticipated, priest- craft soon assumed its wonted arrogance, and eventually the whole paraphernalia of antiquated dogmas were tacked upon the new system.

    Through the various efforts put forth for the elevation of mankind during the six or seven hundred years which preceded the advent of Christianity, sufficient strength had been given to the moral impetus of humanity to create in many portions of the world a strong desire for a return to purer principles, and to make the appearance of a spiritual teacher like Christ possible. The effects, however, of ages of moral and intellectual degradation, in which the lowest faculties have been stimulated to the highest degree, are not wiped out in a few centuries of struggle by the few among the people who desire reform. As true reform means growth, those who have reached a higher stage of development can only point the way to others–they are powerless to effect changes for which the masses are unprepared.

    Although through a partial revival of the ideas entertained by an ancient people the attempt was made by Zoroaster, Confucius, Gotama Buddha, Pythagoras, the Stoics, and other schools of philosophy, to elevate the masses of the people, and, although the unadulterated teachings of the man called Christ were doubtless an outgrowth of this movement, yet the human mind had not, even as late as the appearance of this last-named reformer, sufficiently recovered from its thraldom to enable the masses to grasp those higher truths which had been entertained by an earlier civilized people.

    While there are doubtless many points of similarity between the religious system elaborated by Gotama Buddha and that enunciated by Christ, there is little likeness between the teachings of the former and those set forth by the Romish Church, or by Paul. Seven hundred years B.C., the Persians had grasped the idea that virtue is its own reward, and that every soul is responsible for its own growth. The fundamental doctrine of the Christian Church to-day is that of a vicarious atonement–a belief which takes away man’s responsibility for his own misdeeds.
    108 Ancient Faiths, vol. ii., p. 64.
    109 Psalms cxl.
    110 Ibid., cxxxvii.
    111 Quoted by Viscount Amberley from Haug’s Translations.
    112 Spiegel’s Translation.
    113 Vespered xxvi. Spiegel’s Translation.
    114 Yacna xxxviii.
    115 Legge, Preface to vol. iii. of Shu King.
    116 Max Muller, Sacred Books of the East, book iv.
    117 Lun Yu, xiv., 26.
    118 Quoted by Amberley, Analysis of Religious Belief, vol. i., p. 197.
    119 Thomas Magee, in the Forum, vol. x., p. 204.
    120 Pop. Science, Jan. 1890.
    121 Viscount Amberley, Analysis of Religious Belief, vol. i., p. 216.
    122 Arnold, Light of Asia.

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    Default Chapter XIII. Christianity a Continuation of Paganism - Part I


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Chapter XIII. Christianity a Continuation of Paganism

    By comparing the sacred writings of the Persians with the history of the events connected with the conception and birth of the mythical Christ as recorded in the New Testament, the fact is observed that the latter appears to be closely connected with the central figure of Persian mythology. It has been found that the visit of the Magi, who, following a star, were guided to the spot where the young child lay, was the fulfilment of a Persian prophecy, which is to be found in the life of Zarathustra as recorded in the Zendavesta, while the subsequent history of the same personage is seen to be almost identical with that of the Hindoo Sun-god Chrishna.

    According to the sacred books of the Persians, three sons of the great Zarathustra were to appear at three successive periods of time. These sons were to be incarnations of the sun, and the result of immaculate conceptions.

    “The first is named Oschederbami. He will appear in the last millennium of the world. He will stop the sun for ten days and ten nights, and the second part of the human race will embrace the law, of which he will bring the 22d portion.

    “The second posthumous son of Zoroaster is Oschedermah. He will appear four hundred years after Oschederbami. He will stop the sun twenty days and twenty nights, and he will bring the 23d part of the law, and the third part of the world will be converted.

    “The third is named Sosiosch. He will be born at the end of the ages. He will bring the 24th part of the law; he will stay the sun thirty days and thirty nights, and the whole earth will embrace the law of Zoroaster. After him will be the resurrection."
    123 This last named son was to be born of a pure and spotless virgin, whereupon a star would appear blazing even at noonday with undiminished lustre.

    “You, my sons,” exclaimed the seer, “will perceive its rising before any other nation. As soon, therefore, as you shall behold the star, follow it, withersoever it shall lead you; and adore that mysterious child, offering your gifts to him, with profound humility. He is the Almighty Word, which created the heavens."124

    Waite notices the conclusion of Faber that this prediction was long before the birth of Christ, and states that one of the reasons for such a conclusion was, that in the old Irish history a similar prophecy appears–a prophecy which was delivered by a “Druid of Bokhara.” The identity of this Irish prophecy with the one in the East ascribed to Zarathustra or Zoroaster, is so singular that Faber thinks it can be accounted for only on the hypothesis “of an ancient emigration from Persia to Ireland by the northwest passage, which carried the legend with it.”

    By those who have investigated the origin of the early gospels, it is stated that the story of the Magi and the star appeared in the Gospel of the Infancy early in the second century, and was subsequently incorporated into the preparatory chapters of Luke and Matthew. According to Waite, there was a sect of Christians called Prodiceans whose leader, Prodicus, about A.D. 120, boasted that they had the sacred books of Zoroaster. From an extant fragment of the Chronography of Africanus is the following:

    “Christ first of all became known from Persia. For nothing escapes the learned jurists of that country, who investigated all things with the utmost care. The facts, therefore, which are inscribed upon the golden plates, and laid up in the royal temples, I shall record; for it is from the temples there, and the priests connected with them, that the name of Christ has been heard of. Now, there is a temple there to Juno, surpassing the royal palace, which temple Cyrus, that prince instructed in all piety, built, and in which he dedicated, in honor of the gods, golden and silver statues, and adorned them with precious stones. . . . Now about that time [as the records on the plates testify], the king having entered the temple, with the view of getting an interpretation of certain dreams, was addressed by the priest Prupupius thus: ’I congratulate thee, master: Juno has conceived.’ ’And the king, smiling, said to him: ’Has she who is dead conceived?’ And he said: ’Yes, she who was dead has come to life again, and begets life.’ And the king said: ’What is this? explain it to me.’ And he replied: ’In truth, master, the time for these things is at hand. For during the whole night the images, both of gods and goddesses, continued beating the ground, saying to each other, Come, let us congratulate Juno. And they say to me, Prophet, come forward, congratulate Juno, for she has been embraced. And I said, How can she be embraced who no longer exists? To which they reply, She has come to life again, and is no longer called Juno, but Urama. For the mighty Sol has embraced her.’ “125

    There is a tradition which asserts that during the early part of the second century, St. Thomas went as a missionary to Parthia; that after he had visited the various countries of the Parthian Empire, tarrying for a time at Balkh, the capital of Bactria, and the ancient residence of the Magi, he went to India. Soon after the visit of Thomas to Persia and India, there appeared in Palestine and the adjacent countries a gospel of Thomas, in which were set forth various stories closely resembling the legends found in the Hindoo sacred writings. After comparing various passages of the Bhagavat Purana with those of the Infancy, and after furnishing conclusive evidence that the latter must have been copied from the former, Waite says:

    “The conclusion must be, that while for some of the salient points of the Gospels of the Infancy, the authors were indebted to Zoroaster, and the legends of Persia, the outline of the story was largely filled up from the history of Crishna, as sent back to Palestine, by the Apostle Thomas, from the land of the Brahmins.”

    Concerning the story of Herod and his order to slay all the male infants, there has been discovered in a cavern at Elephanta, in India, a sculptured representation of a huge and ferocious figure, bearing a drawn sword and surrounded by slaughtered children, while mothers appear weeping for their slain. This figure is said to be of great antiquity.

    Mary, the Mother of Jesus, like Mai, the Mother of Gatama Buddha, was regarded by certain sects in the earlier ages of Christianity as an Immortal Virgin whose birth had been announced by an angel.126 She was in fact the ancient Virgin of the Sphere–the Mother of the Gods–the Queen of Heaven.

    As soon as Christ was born he conversed with Mary, as did also Crishna with his mother, informing her of his divine mission.

    Crishna was cradled among shepherds, so was Christ. Cansa, fearing the loss of his kingdom, sought to destroy the life of the divine infant in the same manner as did Herod in the case of Christ. Both children are carried away by night, after which an order is issued by the ruler of the country that all the young children throughout the kingdom be slaughtered.

    When Joseph and Mary arrived in Egypt, they visited the temple of Serapis, where “all the magistrates and priests of the idols were assembled.” Upon the image being interrogated concerning the “consternation and dread which had fallen upon all our country," it answered them as follows: “The unknown god has come hither, who is truly God; nor is there anyone besides him, who is worthy of divine worship; for he is truly the son of God.” And at the same instant this idol fell down, and at his fall all the inhabitants of Egypt, besides others, ran together.127 A similar story is related of Crishna. This Indian god, the same as Christ, cured a leper. A woman, after having poured a box of precious ointment on the head of Crishna, was healed; so also a woman anointed the head of Jesus. Crishna when but a lad displayed remarkable mental powers and the most profound wisdom before the tutor who was sent to instruct him. Christ astonished the school-master Zaccheus with his great learning.128

    Crishna had a terrible encounter with the serpent Calinaga; the infant Christ had also a dreadful adventure with a serpent. Now this Calinaga which Crishna encountered was a serpent goddess who was worshipped by the sect in India which was opposed to the adoration of the male principle. The early Christians, however, being ignorant of the allegorical meaning of the legend, transferred it to Christ literally.

    The mother of Crishna looked in his mouth and beheld all the nations of the earth. The same story is reported of Christ and his mother. Finally Christ, like Crishna, was crucified, and like him was buried. He descended into hell and on the third day arose and ascended into heaven.129

    In the poetical myths of the ancients the sun is yearly overpowered by cold or by the destructive agencies in Nature. Astronomically, or astrologically, it wanders in darkness and desolation during the winter months; in fact dies, and descends into hell in order that he may rise at the Easter season to gladden and make all things new again. Mythologically, this new sun becomes incarnate; enters again his mother’s womb, and is born into the world in the form of a man whose mission is to renew human life. Hence we have an explanation of the Eastern Buddhas and Crishnas, all of which were born of virgins at the winter solstice.

    The new sun which at the close of each cycle was believed by the more ancient people of the globe to “issue forth from the womb of Nature to renew the world,” now that the truths underlying Nature-worship were lost, became a redeemer or mediator between earth and heaven, or between spirit and matter. It is stated that at the time of the appearance of Christ not alone the Jews, but the Persians, the Romans, the ancient Irish, and in fact all the nations of the globe, were anxiously awaiting the event of another incarnation of the solar Deity; and that maidens of all classes and conditions were in a state of eager expectation, the more pious, or at least the more ambitious among them, being in almost constant attendance at the temples and sacred shrines, whither they went to pay homage to the male emblem of generation, thereby hoping to be honored as a Mai or Mary.

    On the wall of the temple at Luxor are a series of sculptures,

    “in which the miraculous annunciation, conception, birth, and adoration of Amunoph III., the son of the Virgin Queen Mautmes, is represented in a manner similar to what is described in St. Luke’s Gospel (ch. 1 and 2) of Jesus Christ, the son of the Virgin Mary, and which is found also in the Gospel of St. Matthew (ch. 1) as an addition not met with in the earliest manuscripts,"130 which fact has caused Sharpe, from whom the above is quoted, to suggest that both accounts may have been of Egyptian origin.

    The titles “lamb,” “anointed,” etc., which were applied to Christ, all appear attached to former in- carnations of the sun, the first named standing for the sun in Aries. The effigies of a crucified savior found in Ireland and Scotland in connection with the figure of a lamb, a bull, or an elephant, the latter of which is not a native of those countries, shows that they do not represent Christ, but a crucified sun-god worshipped by the inhabitants of the British Islands ages before the birth of the great Judean philosopher and teacher.

    It is plain that Crishna of India and the Persian Mithra furnished the copy for the Jesus of the Romish Church, all of whom mean one and the same thing–the second person in the Solar Trinity. By the Jews, who attempted to ignore the female principle, this God is called the “Lord of Hosts” and “God of Sabaoth,” which astronomically means God of the stars and constellations, and astrologically the creator or producer of the multitudes. Of this God, ieue, I H S, the author of Anacalypsis says that he was the son of the celestial virgin, which she carries in her arms; the Horus, Lux, of the Egyptians, the Lux of St. John.

    “It is from this infant that Jesus took his origin; or at least it is from the ceremonies and worship of this infant that this religion came to be corrupted into what we have of it. This infant is the seed of the woman who, according to Genesis, was to bruise the head of the serpent, which, in return, was to bruise his foot or heel, or the foot or heel of her seed as the figure of the Hindoo Crishna proves. From the traditionary stories of this god Iao, which was figured annually to be born at the winter solstice, and to be put to death and raised to life on the third day at the vernal equinox, the Roman searchers after the evangelion or gospel made out their Jesus. The total destruction of everything at Jerusalem and in Judea–buildings, records, everything–prevented them from coming to any absolute certainty respecting this person who, they were told by tradition, had come to preach the gospel of peace, to be their savior, in fulfilment of the prophecy which their sect of Israelites found in their writings, and who had been put to death by the Jews. From all these circumstances he came to have applied to him the monogram of I H S. . . . and to him at last all the legendary stories related of the god Iao were attributed."131

    According to Faber, Jesus was not originally called Jesus Christ, but Jescua Hammassiah–Jescua meaning Joshua, and Jesus, Savior. Ham is the Om of India, and Messiah, the anointed. Commenting on this Higgins remarks: “It will then be, The Savior Om the Anointed, precisely as Isaiah had literally foretold; or reading in the Hebrew made, The Anointed Om the Savior. This was the name of Jesus of Bethlehem.”

    We have observed the fact that at the time of the birth of Christ the entire world was expecting a Savior–a new incarnation of the sun. The end of a cycle had come and the entire earth was to undergo a process of renovation.

    In a poem by Virgil, who was a Druid, the birth of a wonderful child is celebrated, and the prophecy of a heathen Sibyl is seen to be identical with that of Isaiah.

    “The last period sung by the Sibylline prophetess is now arrived; and the grand series of ages. That Series which recurs again and again in the course of our mundane revolution begins afresh. Now the Virgin Astrea returns from heaven; and the primeval reign of Saturn recommences; now a new race descends from the celestial realms of holiness. Do thou, Lucina, smile propitious on the birth of a boy who will bring to a close the present age of iron and introduce throughout the whole world, a new age of gold. Then shall the herds no longer dread the fury of the lion, nor shall the poison of the serpent any longer be formidable. Every venomous animal and every deleterious plant shell perish together. The fields shall be yellow with corn, the grape shall hang its ruddy clusters from the bramble, and honey shall distil spontaneously from the rugged oak. The universal globe shall enjoy the blessings of peace, secure under the mild sway of its new and divine sovereign.”

    There is no lack of evidence to prove that for several centuries great numbers of Christians regarded Christ as a solar incarnation similar to those which from time to time were born in the valleys of the Nile and the Ganges. By the fathers in the church Jesus Christ was named the New Sun, and in the early days of Christianity the Egyptians struck a coin representing O. B. or the holy Basilisk, with rays of light darting from his head, on the reverse side of which was figured “Jesus Christ as the New Solar Deity.”

    The similarity if not the actual identity of the religion of Christ and that of the pagans in the second century is shown by various writers. The Emperor Hadrian writing to his friend Servianus says:

    “Those who worship Serapis are also Christians; even those who style themselves the Bishops of Christ are devoted to Serapis. . . . There is but one God for them all; him do the Christians, him do the Jews, him do all the Gentiles also worship.”

    It has been said that the head of Serapis supplied the first idea of the portrait of Christ. Before the figure of Serapis, in his temple, used to stand Isis, the Celestial Virgin, with the inscription “Immaculate is our Lady Isis.” In her hand she bore a sheaf of grain.

    As Serapis, or Pan, finally became Christ, so Isis, or the Queen of Heaven, became his mother, and to the latter were transferred all the titles, ceremonies, festivals, and seasons which from the earliest time had belonged to the great Goddess of Nature. Subsequently, probably about the close of the second century, Christianity began slowly to emerge from the worship of Mithras and Serapis, “changing the names but not the substance.”

    Upon the coinage of Constantine appears Soli Invicto Comita–"To the invincible sun my companion or guardian,” and when the Greek and Roman Christians finally separated themselves from the great body of pagan worshippers they apologized for celebrating the birthday of their Savior on the 25th of December, saying that “they could better perform their rites when the heathen were busy with theirs.” We are assured that the early Christians no less than the Maji acknowledged Mithras as the first emanation from Ormuzd, or the God of Light. He was the Savior which in an earlier age had represented returning life–that which follows the cold of winter. It was doubtless while they worshipped the Persian Mithras that many of the so-called Christians gathered their first ideas concerning the immortality of the soul and of future rewards and punishments.

    The analogy existing between the festivals, seasons, mythoses, etc., of the various incarnations of the sun which were worshipped by the early historic nations and those belonging to Christianity is too striking to be the result of chance.

    Buddha originally represented the sun in Taurus. Crishna was the sun in Aries. The laborings and sufferings of Hercules, a god who was an incarnation of the latter, portrays the history of the passage of the sun through the signs of the Zodiac.

    All the principal events of Christ’s life correspond to certain solar phases; or, in other words, all ecclesiastical calendars are arranged with reference to the festivals which commemorate the important events of his life from his conception and birth to his ascension and reception in heaven. Each and every one of the solar deities has been born at midnight, on the 25th of December, at the time when the sun has reached its lowest position and begins to ascend. Macrobius, a learned Roman writer, observes that the early historic nations “believed that the sun comes forth as a babe from its cradle at the winter solstice.” Neith is made to say, “The sun is the fruit of my womb.”

    The 15th of August, assumption day, the time when Mary, the mother of Jesus, ascends to heaven is the day when the Zodiacal constellation Virgo, “the Greek Astrea, leaves the European horizon,” and the “8th of September, when Virgo emerges from the sun’s rays, is held sacred as the Nativity of the Queen of Heaven.”

    Of the mid-winter festival, Bede says: “The Pagans of these isles began their year on the eighth of the Kalends of January, which is now our Christmas Day. The night before that (24th Dec. eve) was called by them the Medre-Nak, or Night of Mothers, because of the ceremonies which were performed on that night."132

    Among Christians as among Pagans the Christmas season was in honor of “returning light,” the vernal equinox of “growing light" and St. John’s day of “perfected light.”

    In England, among pagan Saxons, the midwinter festival lasted twelve days, during which time light, fire, the sun, huge stones and other similar manifestations of the Deity were adored. Christian and pagan alike worshipped these objects. They called Christmas “the birthday of the god who is light.” The Savior, or the New Sun, was the true light which lighteth every man who cometh into the world. According to the testimony of various writers, the festival held by Christians on Christmas eve used to resemble the Feast of Lights, celebrated in Egypt in honor of Neith. The tokens distributed among friends were cakes made of paste in the form of babies. These cakes were called yuledows. Dow means to “grow bigger,” or, “to increase.”

    The Kalends of January at Rome were sacred to Janus and Juno to whom sacrifices were offered. The Etruscans also worshipped Janus who was the god (or goddess) of the year. Although this Deity does not appear among the twelve gods it is said to be the parent of them all. It was represented as having two faces. Upon one were the letters representing 365, and upon the other were the keys of life and death. According to Bryant this Deity was called Junonius, from the goddess Juno, whose name resolves itself into Juneh, a dove. In the Hebrew this name is identical with Yoni or Yuni–the female principle. On the coins of this god (which was subsequently regarded as male) is usually figured a boat, although a dove with an olive branch is sometimes observed.133

    Juno is thought to be the same as Jana, which came from Jah of the Hebrews. Diana was Diva Jana or “Dea Jana who is the same as Astarte or Ashtaroth of the Sidonians.”

    Regarding the transference of the mid-winter festival of the pagans to the Christian calendar, Forlong says:

    “The early Christians undoubtedly selected this Roman Saturnalia as an important period in the life of Christ, at first calling it the time of his conception, and later of his birth, this last best suiting the views and feelings of their Solo- Christian flocks. The Jews called the day of the Winter Solstice The Fast of Tebet. The previous time was one of darkness, and on the 28th began their Feast of Lights."134

    In France the ancient name for Christmas is Noel, a term which until recently has baffled all antiquarian research. It is now thought that it is formed from Nuadh and Vile which together mean All Heal.

    Although every possible effort has been put forward to give to this date (the 25th of December) the appearance of authenticity as the birth of Christ, still, so far as I am able to find, no one accredited with any degree of trustworthiness has ever been rash enough to attempt its ratification as a matter of history.

    Tylor calls attention to the fact that in the religious symbolism of the material and spiritual sun Augustine and Gregory of Nyssa discourse on the “growing light and dwindling darkness that follow the nativity,” and cites the instance of Leo the Great who, in a sermon, rebukes the “pestiferous persuasion, that this solemn day is to be honored not for the birth of Christ, but for the rising of the New Sun.”

    On the authority of this same prelate it is found that in the fifth century, the faithful, before entering the Basilica of St. Peter, were wont to turn and salute the shining orb of day.

    The Roman winter solstice which was connected with the worship of Mithra, and which was named the “Birthday of the Unconquered Om," was adopted by the western churches some time during the fourth century. From the west it passed to the eastern churches, where it finally became “the solemn anniversary of the birth of Christ.”

    In Ireland the ceremonies attending the mid-winter festival were formerly regarded as exceedingly important. A short time before the approach of the winter solstice, voices were heard throughout the island proclaiming: “The New Year is at hand! Gather the Mistletoe!” The mistletoe wreaths which formed the principal decorations of Venus’ temple were at first proscribed by the Christian preachers, but, in process of time they not only found their way into the sanctuary, but were given a place over the altars, their final signification being “good will to men."135
    123 Quoted by Waite, History of the Christian Religion, p. 168.
    124 Ibid., 169.
    125 Hyppolytus, vol. ii., p. 196.
    126 See Gospels of Mary and the Protovangelion.
    127 Gospel of the Infancy, ch. iv.
    128 Gospel of the Infancy, ch. xx.
    129 It will doubtless be urged that I am quoting from the Apocryphal Gospels–that the genuine books of the New Testament are silent concerning many of these Eastern legends. We must bear in mind, however, that during the earlier ages of Christianity, these finally rejected gospels were, equally with the canonical books, considered as the word of God. The Infancy is thought to be one of the earliest gospels. Justin Martyr was acquainted with it, A.D. 150 to 160. It is referred to by Irenaeus, A.D. 190.
    130 Barlow, Symbolism, p. 127.
    131 Godfrey Higgins, Anacalypsis, book vi., ch. iv., p. 455.
    132 Rivers of Life, vol. i., p. 430.
    133 See Faber, Pagan Idolatry.
    134 Rivers of Life, vol. i., p. 430.
    135 Rivers of Life, vol. i., p. 81.

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    Default Chapter XIII. Christianity a Continuation of Paganism - Part II


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Chapter XIII. Christianity a Continuation of Paganism

    Although the tokens of friendship which were distributed by the pagans at the season of the mid- winter festival differed somewhat from those which at the present time are exchanged among Christians at the same season of the year, still, there can be no doubt that the Christmas tree, loaded with gifts, is a remnant of that worship under which the sun was recognized as the source whence all blessings flow. Down to a late date, fire was a conspicuous element at the festival of the winter solstice. As the yule-log blazed upon the hearth, our ancestors set up huge stones and danced round them, thus worshipping the god of fertility.

    On the 20th and 21st of March the sun illumines exactly half the earth. At this time the Day has conquered the Night. Light has dethroned Darkness, a complete victory has been gained over Typhon and the new god comes forth “with healing in his wings.” On Lady’s day, the 25th of March, the Virgin conceives. In Phoenicia numerous fetes were instituted to rejoice with Astarte in her conception. During the months preceding the birth of the young sun-god the Queen of Heaven receives marked homage.

    In a former portion of this work we have observed that the festival which celebrated the return of spring was instituted by the inventors of the Neros thousands of years prior to the beginning of the Christian era, to celebrate the vernal equinox and to commemorate a return of Nature’s bounties; but, after male reproductive power began to be regarded as the creator, when passion came to be considered as the moving force in the universe, and when the operations of Nature began to be typified by a dead man on a cross who was to rise again, Easter was celebrated in commemoration of a risen savior or sun-god.

    The following is an account given in Ramsay’s Travels of Cyrus, concerning the vernal equinox festivals in the East. When Cyrus entered the temples he found the public clad in mourning. In a cavern lay the image of a young man (the dying savior) on a bed of flowers and odoriferous herbs Nine days were spent in fasting, prayers, and lamentations, after which the public sorrow ceased and was changed into gladness. Songs of joy succeeded weeping (for Tamuz), the whole assembly singing hymns: “Adonis is returned to life, Urania weeps no more, he has ascended to heaven, he will soon return to earth and banish hence all crimes and miseries forever.” This scene, it will be remembered, was presented 500 years prior to the birth of Christ. In Rome, throughout the months preceding the winter solstice, Hilaria or Ceres, was especially honored. Apollo and Diana rose on the 7th of the Julian April and on the 10th their religious festivals began.

    On Easter morn, during the earlier ages of the church, the observances of Christians were exactly the same as were those of the so called pagans, all together hurried out long before the break of day that they might behold the sun ascend, or “dance” as they called it, for on this morning he was to “make the earth laugh and sing.” Pagan and Christian alike greeted each other with the salutation “The Lord is risen,” and the reply was “The Lord is risen indeed.” On Easter morning the peasants of Saxony and Brandenburg still climb to the hilltops “to see the sun give his three joyful leaps.”

    In Buckland’s Land and Water it is stated that on the first of May all the choristers of Magdalene College, Oxford, still meet on the summit of their tower, 150 feet high, and sing a Latin hymn as the sun rises, during which time ten bells are rung “to welcome the gracious Apollo.” Formerly, high mass was celebrated here and early mass for Sol was held in the College chapel, but, as at the time of the Reformation this service was forbidden, “it has since been performed on the top of the tower.” After the hymn is sung “boys blow loud blasts to Sol through bright new tin horns.”

    Perhaps none of the ideas which enter into present religious rites and ceremonies proclaims its eastern origin more forcibly than do those connected with the veneration of fire. The testimony of all writers upon this subject agrees that in Europe, down to a late date in the Christian era, fire was still adored, and in some mysterious manner was connected with the Creator.

    Upon the subject of the continuation of sun and fire worship to modern times, it is stated that the ancient bonfires with which the North German hills used to be ablaze mile after mile are not altogether given up by local custom. In Ireland as late as the year 1829, the ancient Canaanitish and Jewish rite of passing children through fire as a cleansing or regenerating process was still in operation. It is related that at stated seasons great fires were lighted in public places, on which occasions, fathers, taking their children in their arms, would leap and run through the flames. At the same time, two large fires were kindled a short distance from each other through which the cattle were driven. It was believed that by means of this ceremony, fecundity is imparted both to man and beast. May, the month in which all Nature revives, and in which life starts anew, is the time selected for the lighting of those sacred fires. May is the month of the fires of Baal. According to Maurice in his work on the Antiquities of India, the festival and the May-pole of Great Britain are the remnants of a religious ceremony once common in Egypt, India, and Phoenicia, which nations all worshipping the same Deity, celebrated the entrance of the sun into the sign of Taurus at the vernal equinox, but which in consequence of the precession of the equinoxes is removed far in the year from its original situation. This festival is thought to be coeval with a time when the equinox actually took place at that time. It was formerly in honor of the goddess Bhavania, who, under various names, was once worshipped in every country of the globe. “She is identical with the Dea Syria of Chaldea, and the Venus Urania of Persia.”

    At the present time there is direct and indisputable evidence that sacred fires once flamed over the whole of Britain. A few days prior to Bealtine season, every flame was ordered extinguished, to be relighted on the first of May by holy fire drawn directly from the sun. Of fire-worship Toland observes:

    “On May-day the Druids made prodigious fires on these cairns, which being every one in sight of some other could not but afford a glorious show over a whole nation. These fires were in honor of Beal, or Bealan, Latinized by the Roman writers into Belanus, by which name the Gauls and their colonies understood the sun, and therefore, to this hour, the first of May is, by the aboriginal Irish, called la Bealtine, or the day of Belan’s fires. May-day is likewise called la Bealtine by the Highlanders of Scotland, who are no contemptible part of the Celtic offspring. So it is with the Isle of Man: and in Armorica a priest is called Belee, or the servant of Bel, and the priesthood Belegieth."
    136

    Down to a comparatively recent time, in the British Isles, the youth of both sexes used to arise long before daybreak on May-day, and in large companies set out for the woods, there to gather flowers, boughs, and branches, which, on returning at night, were used to decorate their homes. This festival is said to be the most ancient of any known, and during the earlier and purer ages of human faith was celebrated in honor of returning spring. In later ages, however, after passion had become the only recognized god, May-day was celebrated with “all manner of obscenity and lewdness.”

    Although the uneducated masses among the Gauls worshipped Apollo, Mercury, and Mars without understanding their true significance, the Druids, who are thought to be Pythagorians, invoked one great power, the animating force which pervades the universe, the essence of which they believed resides in fire.

    It is related that although after the introduction of Romish Christianity, May fires still continued to be lighted on Bealtine day, the more impressive ceremonies took place on the 23d of June, on the eve of the nativity of St. John. The early preachers, wishing to defer to the prejudices and usages of the people, “yet not so as to interfere with the celebration of Easter at the vernal equinox, retained the Bealtine ceremonial, only transferring it to the saint’s day.” Of these fire festivals and their adoption by the Christian church Tylor says:

    “The solar Christmas festival has its pendant at mid-summer. The summer solstice was the great season of fire festivals throughout Europe on the heights, of dancing round and leaping through the fires, of sending blazing fire-wheels to roll down from the hills into the valleys, in sign of the sun’s descending course. These ancient rites attached themselves in Christendom to St. John’s Eve.

    “It seems as though the same train of symbolism which had adapted the mid-winter festival to the Nativity, may have suggested the dedication of the mid-summer festival to John the Baptist, in clear allusion to his words ’He must increase but I must decrease.’ “
    137

    In a description recently given of the “moral, religious, and social disease” which broke out A.D. 1374, in the lower Rhine region, and which was denominated as the “greatest, perhaps, of all manifestations of possession,” Andrew D. White says: “The immediate origin of these manifestations seems to have been the wild revels of St. John’s Day."138

    Upon this subject Toland observes that he has seen the people of Ireland running and leaping through the St. John’s fire proud of passing through it unsinged. Although ignorant of the origin of this ceremony, they nevertheless regarded it as some kind of a lustration by means of which they were to be specially blessed.

    To every domestic hearth was carried the seed of Bealtine, or St. John’s fire, which during the year was not permitted to go out.139

    According to the testimony of Tylor, the festival of John the Baptist was celebrated in Germany down to a late date. This writer quoting from a low German book of the year 1859, refers to the “nod fire” which was sawed out of wood to light the St. John’s bonfire “through which the people leapt and ran and drove their cattle.”

    With regard to the worship of Fire and Light it is related that in Jerusalem, at the present time, the Easter service is performed by the bishop of the church emerging from a tomb with lighted tapers “from which all crave lights.”

    On the authority of Peter Martyr, Bishop of Alexandria in the third century, we are informed that the place in Egypt where Christ was banished, which is called Maturea, a lamp is kept constantly burning in remembrance of this event. Although the story of this banishment is doubtless borrowed from the life of the Hindoo god Crishna, the fact is evident that those who appropriated it, and used it in furbishing the mythical history of Christ, had no scruples against fire worship–a religion which we have been taught to regard as belonging exclusively to the pagans.

    In the ecclesiastical processions of the Church of Rome is frequently to be observed the figure of a dragon, in the mouth of which “holy and everlasting fire” is observed to be burning. A boy follows the procession with a lighted taper, so that in case the fire is extinguished it may be relighted. In referring to this subject the Rev. J. B. Deane says:

    “The whole ceremony may be considered as a lively representation of an ophite procession as it advanced through the sinuous paralleiths of Karnak. So that no wonder the illiterate races were deceived into thinking that there was no harm in calling themselves Christians, for all their dear old faiths are here–fire, arks, poles, and fire in an ark.”

    Almost innumerable instances are given by various writers upon this subject, showing that the sun worship of the ancients has been continued to the present time by the so called followers of Christ, in the shrines of the East, with no change even of names to distinguish it from that of the Christian faith. By those who have spent much time in investigating the Holy Land, it is related that nearly all the spots in and about Jerusalem, sacred to Greek and Romish Christians as connected with the life and death of their risen Lord, are equally sacred to the pagans as commemorating the life and death of their Savior–the New Sun. Even Gethsemane is marked by characteristics which prove that it is no less interesting to pagans, or, more properly speaking, to the pagan followers of Christ, than it is to those of the Greek and Romish churches. Here is a holy tree, and not far distant is a cave of Mithras. There is also to be seen a trinity of stones “those of Janus (Chemosh), Petros and Ion, all solar terms and connected with the sitting or sinking down to rest of the Kuros.”

    Messrs. Maundrell and Sandys, who in 1697 visited all the holy places in and around Jerusalem, state that the entire city, but especially the sites of Moriah, Zion, and suburbs were hotbeds of fire and phallic worship as usually developed still in the East.

    The topography of ancient Delphi, on the site of which was built the village of Kastri, and at which place excavations are now being made under the direction of the American School of Archaeology, has ever been a place of peculiar interest to the mystic. Here are to be found all the natural features and objects which gladden the heart and stimulate the imagination of a solo-phallic worshipper. The holy Mt. Parnassus, the fountain of Kastali, the deep cave said to be Pythian, and the remnants of huge sepulchres hewn in the rocks all conspire to make of this spot a perfect abode for the god, or goddess, of fertility. Here, too, is a beautiful lake and near it a sacred fig-tree which has been struck by lightning, or, “touched by holy fire.” Of this sacred place Forlong writes:

    “Christianity has never neglected this so-called Pagan shrine, nor yet misunderstood it, if we may judge by the saint she has located here, for Mr. Hobhouse found in the rocky chasm dipped in the dews of Castaly, but safe in a rocky niche, a Christian shrine; and close by a hut called the church of St. John; yea verily of Ione, she who had once reigned here supreme; whilst on a green plot a few yards below the basin, in a little grove of olive trees, stood the monastery of Panhagia or Holy Virgin, so that here we still have and beside her sacred form in the cleft, men who have consecrated their manhood to the old Mother and Queen of Heaven, just as if she of Syria had never been heard of.

    Doubtless they knew little of what civilized Europe calls Christianity, for I have spent many days conversing with such men, and seen little difference between them and those similarly placed in the far East–fervid Christians though Greeks and Syrians are.”


    Perhaps nothing shows the extent to which the religion of the pagans has been retained by Christianity more than does the worship of the serpent. It has been said that this reptile enters into every mythology extant. Ferguson is authority for the statement that “he is to be found in the wilderness of Sinai, the groves of Epidaurus, and in Samothracian huts.” He constitutes a prominent factor in the religious worship of India, Assyria, Palestine, and Egypt, and, notwithstanding the fact that he is not a native of Ireland, in an earlier age representations of him appear in profusion among the symbols of that country. It has been said that there is scarcely an Egyptian sculpture known in which this reptile does not figure. The serpent whenever it appears as a religious emblem always typifies desire–creative energy–which, proceeding from the sun, is manifested in man and in animals. Whether it be a veritable snake in a box, a serpent connected with the figure of a woman, or as a carved representation on monuments or stones, or as chains or wreaths on columns, bas-reliefs or friezes, the signification is the same.

    The sacred character of this reptile among the Gnostics is shown by the accounts given of their religious rites and ceremonies. By many of these sects this holy creature was kept in a box, ark, or chest, and when the eucharistic service was to be performed, he was enticed forth from his resting- place by a bit of bread. So soon as his holiness had wound himself about the offering, the sacrifice was complete and the service was concluded by “singing a hymn to Almighty God, and praying for acceptance in and through the serpent.”

    In later ages when the attempt was made to abolish serpent worship from the Christian church, it was declared by the leaders in the movement that Ophiolatry had been imported from Persia–that it had been brought in by ignorant devotees who were too weak to renounce their former faith.140

    The extent to which the symbols representing Serpent, Sun, Tree, and Plant worship are still retained as part and parcel of the symbolism of Christianity is shown by the following report regarding the adoption of a seal by the Presbyterian Church which appeared in the daily press only a few years ago.

    “After the assembly opened, the committee for the selection of a seal made a report recommending: That the general assembly hereby adopts as its official seal the device of a serpent suspended upon a cross, uplifted within a wilderness, in form as represented upon the official seal of the trustees of the general assembly, and displayed upon a circular field of the same proportions. In addition thereto the figure of a rising sun appearing above the margin of the wilderness, whose out-shooting beams shall occupy the centre of the field. Further, the decoration of a demi-wreath of two palm branches (in the form of the wreath upon the seal of the Westminster assembly of divines), placed around the margin of the upper hemisphere of the field; and on the lower hemisphere of the field a demi-wreath composed of a branch of oak united with an olive branch. Further, that the words of the motto, ’Christus Exaltus Salvatar,’ shall be displayed in a semi-circle upon the upper part of the field, on either side of the standard of the cross, and, encompassing the whole in a bordure, the following words, in full or in proper abbreviation thereof, ’The Seal of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.’ “

    The origin of the rite of Baptism as performed at the present time in Christian churches, may be traced directly to the worship of the sun, within which were supposed to reside the reproductive powers of Nature. All nations have had ceremonies corresponding to our baptism and confirmation rites, such baptism being either by fire or water. When we remember that for ages fertility, or the power to reproduce, constituted the idea of the Deity, we are not surprised to find that the original signification of the rite of baptism had, and still has, in some of the oriental countries, special reference to the child’s sexual obligations.

    In India, the religious rites performed upon the individual occur at birth or soon after; at betrothal, which takes place in childhood; at puberty; at marriage, and at death. The fact will be noticed that all sexual (spiritual) obligations and seasons fall within the domain of priestly supervision and surveillance. The child at baptism is dedicated to Vesta, or Hestia, the Queen of Hearths and Homes, a divinity who is supposed to assist him in securing the special evidence of divine favor, namely, fruitfulness of body.

    Among Hindoos and Jews, excessive reproduction was the Lord’s mark of favor. In India there has been a special hell provided for childless women, and with Jewesses no curse was equal to barrenness.

    Baptism, or the ceremony connected with the naming of children in Christian countries, is seen to be identical with that performed in Mexico among the Aztecs. After the lips and bosom of the infant had been sprinkled with water, the Lord was implored to “permit the holy drops to wash away the sin that was given to it before the foundation of the world, so that the child might be born anew.”

    Among the petitions which are offered to the Deity is the following: “Impart to us, out of thy great mercy, thy gifts which we are not worthy to receive through our own merit.” In their moral code appear these maxims: “Keep peace with all; bear injuries with humility; God who sees, will avenge you.” “He who looks too curiously on a woman, commits adultery with his eyes."141
    136 Quoted by Godfrey Higgins, Celtic Druids, ch. v., p. 181.
    137 Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. ii., p. 271.
    138 Pop. Science, vol. xxxv., p. 3.
    139 Although the preservation of holy fire upon every hearth was clearly a religious observance, still, as in those days there were no matches, the material benefit to be derived from this precaution doubtless had a significance apart from that connected with worship.
    140 Forlong, Rivers of Life.
    141 Quoted by Prescott from Sahagun. Conquest of Mexico, book i., chap 3.

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    Default Chapter XIV. Christianity a Continuation of Paganism–(Continued)


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Chapter XIV. Christianity a Continuation of Paganism–(Continued)

    From the facts recorded in the foregoing pages, we have seen that true Christianity was but a continuation of that great movement which was begun in Persia seven or eight centuries before, and whose gathering strength had been emphasized by the humane doctrines set forth in the various schools of Greek philosophy.

    In the first century of the Christian era may be observed among various sects, notably the Gnostics, a desire to popularize the teachings of an ancient race, and to accentuate those principles which had been taught by Buddha, Pythagoras, the Stoic philosophers, the Roman jurisconsults and others. In other words the object of the new religion was to stimulate the altruistic characters which had been developed during the evolutionary processes, and to strengthen and encourage the almost forgotten principles of justice and personal liberty upon which early society was founded, but which through ages of sensuality and selfishness had been denied expression.

    When we remember the tenacity with which the human mind clings to established beliefs and forms, it is not perhaps singular that in a comparatively short time these principles were lost sight of, and that the entire system of corrupt paganism, with Christ as the New Solar Deity, was reinstated; neither is it remarkable, when we reflect upon the length of time required to bring about any appreciable change in human thought and action, that the principles which this Great Teacher enunciated are at the present time only just beginning to be understood.

    To one who carefully studies the history of Christianity by the light of recently developed truths, the fact will doubtless be discovered that the fundamental difference existing between Catholic and Protestant sects is grounded in the old feud arising out of the relative importance of the sex-principles. From the days of Zoroaster to the final establishment of Christianity by Paul, the tendency–although slight–had been toward the elevation of woman, and consequently toward a greater acknowledgment of the female element in the god-idea. Considerable impetus was given to the cause of woman’s advancement through the doctrines of the various schools of philosophy in Greece, and subsequently by the efforts put forth by the Roman lawyers to establish their equality with men before the law; hence, during the first hundred years of the Christian era the “new religion” seems to have contained much of the spirit of the ancient philosophy.

    By several of the early Christian sects, the second person in the trinity was female, as was also the Holy Ghost.

    In a “fragment of a gospel preserved by St. Jerome, and believed to have been from the original Aramaean Gospel of St. Matthew, with additions, the Holy Ghost (ruach), which in Hebrew is feminine, is called by the infant Savior, ’My Mother, the Holy Ghost.’ “142

    The mission of Christ was that of a Regenerator of mankind, an office which had been symbolized by the powers of the sun. He was to restore that which was lost. He attempted to teach to the masses of the people the long neglected principles of purity and peace. He did not condemn woman. He was baptized by John (Ion or Yon) in water, the original symbol for the female element, and while in the water; the Holy Ghost in form of a dove (female) descended upon him. To those who have given attention to the symbolism of the pagan worship these facts are not without signification.

    Because of the peculiar tendency of Christ’s teachings women soon became active factors in their promulgation. If there were no other evidence to show that they publicly taught the new doctrines, the injunction of St. Paul, “I suffer not a woman to teach,” would seem to imply that they were not silent.

    The doctrines of the Gnostics were particularly favorable to women. Marcellina, who belonged to this order, was the founder of a sect called Marcelliens. Of her works Waite observes: “It would scarcely be expected that the heretical writings of a woman would be preserved amid such wholesale slaughter of the obnoxious works of the opposite sex. The writings of Marcellina have perished."143 Not only did women teach publicly, and write, but according to Bunsen they claimed the privilege of baptizing their own sex. The reason for this is evident. Before baptism it was customary for the newly-made converts to strip and be anointed with oil. After the establishment of Paul’s doctrines, however, “the bishops and presbyters did not care to be relieved from the pleasant duty of baptizing the female converts."144

    Although the utmost care has been exercised to conceal the fact that women equally with men, performed the offices connected with the early church, yet by those who have paid attention to the true history of this movement, there can be no doubt about the matter. Notwithstanding the early tendencies of the “new religion” toward the recognition of women, and toward the restoration of the female principle in the Deity, the policy to be pursued by the church was soon apparent, for Paul, the real founder of the system calling itself Christian, and a man imbued with Asiatic prejudices concerning women, arrogantly declared that “man is the head of woman as Christ is the head of the Church.” Women were commanded to be under obedience. Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man; thus was re-established and emphasized the absurd doctrine of the Lingaites, that the male is an independent entity, that he is spirit and superior to the female which is matter. After this indication of the policy to be pursued under the new regime, it would scarcely be expected that theefforts put forth by the various sects among the Gnostics toreinstate the female element either on the earth or in heavenwould be successful, and as might be anticipated from the factsalready adduced, as early as the year 325, at the council of Nice, a male trinity was formally established, and soon thereafter, the Collylidians, a sect which rigorously persisted in the adoration of the female principle, were condemned. At the council of Laodicea, A.D. 365, the 11th canon forbade the ordination of women for the ministry and the 44th canon prohibited them from entering the altar.

    The devotees of female worship, although for a time silenced, were evidently not convinced, and to force their understanding into conformity with the newly established order, the Nestorians, in the year 430 A. D., reopened the old dispute, and formally denied to Mary the title of Mother of God. Their efforts, however, were of little avail, for in the year 451, at the council of Ephesus, the third general council, the decision of the Nestorians was reversed and the Virgin Mother reinstated. Upon this subject Barlow remarks: “Well might those who made this symbolical doctrine what it now is, at length desire to do tardy justice to the female element, by promoting the mother to the place once occupied by the Egyptian Neith, and crowning her Queen of Heaven."145 The fact will doubtless be observed, however, that by the Romish Church the idea of the god-mother differs widely from the Queen of Heaven–the original God of the ancients. Mary the Mother of Jesus is not a Creator, but simply a mediator between her Son and His earthly devotees–a doctrine only a trifle less masculine in texture than that of an Almighty Father and his victimized son. The worship of Mary was adopted by the so-called Christians in response to a craving in the human heart for a recognition of those characters developed in mankind which may be said to contain the germ of the divine. The masculine god of the Jews was feared not loved, and his son had already been invested with his attributes. He was all powerful, hence a mediator, a mother, was necessary to intercede in behalf of fallen man, and this, too, notwithstanding the fact that woman had become the “cause of evil in the world.”

    The Great Goddess of the ancients, Perceptive Wisdom, the Deity of giving, she who represented the purely altruistic characters developed in mankind, and whose worship involved a scientific knowledge of the processes of Nature, when engrafted upon the so-called Christian system, although indicating an important step toward the recognition of the genuine creative principles, was not understood. Although her effigies were brought from the East and made to do duty as representations of Mary, the Mother of Christ, a knowledge of her true significance lay hurled beneath ages of sensuality and selfishness.

    By those who have made it their business to investigate this subject, it is observed that there is scarcely an old church in Italy in which there is not to be found a remnant of a black virgin and child. In very many instances these black virgins have been replaced by white ones, the older figures having been retired to some secluded niche in the church where they are held especially sacred by the ignorant devotees who know absolutely nothing of their original significance. We are assured that many of these images have been painted over, ostensibly in imitation of bronze, but the whites of the eyes, the teeth, and colored lips reveal the fact that they are really not intended to represent bronze, but figures of a black virgin goddess and child whose worship has been imported into Europe from the East. I had been told that one of the oldest of these images extant was to be found in Augsburg; a thorough search, however, in all the churches and cathedrals of that city failed to reveal it, but in the museum at Munich such a figure is to be seen. It is in a state of decay, one arm of the mother and a portion of the child’s figure being worn away. Upon this subject Godfrey Higgins remarks:

    “If the author had wished to invent a circumstance to corroborate the assertion that the Romish Christ of Europe is the Crishna of India, how could he have desired anything more striking than the fact of the black virgin and child being so common in the Romish countries of Europe? A black virgin and child among the white Germans, Swiss, French, and Italians!!!"146

    We have observed that during an earlier age in the history of religious worship, as the female was supposed to comprehend both the female and male elements in creation, a belief in the possible creative power of the female independently of the male was everywhere entertained, and that after the schismatic faction arose which endeavored to exalt the male, the production of a son by a woman unaided by man, was among the Yonigas to be the sign which would forever settle the question of the superior importance of the female functions in the processes of reproduction, and consequently, also, her claim to the greater importance in the deity.

    The sacred books of India show that from a former belief in one or the other of the two creative principles throughout Nature as God, the people had come to accept both female and male as necessary elements in reproduction, the latter being the more important. In course of time this change seems to have been universal and to have extended to all the countries of the globe.

    As the male could not create independently of the female, or, as spirit was dependent on matter for its manifestations, there arose a necessity for a Savior to redeem man from the evil effects arising from his relations with woman who was regarded as matter, and who in course of time became the cause of evil.

    Concerning the doctrines which prevailed in the earlier ages of Christianity relative to the ancient dual principle in creation, and regarding the offices which were performed by the two elements, male and female, in the deity, we have the following from Justinus, who is said to have been contemporary with Peter and Paul:

    “When Elohim had prepared and created the world as a result from joint pleasure, He wished to ascend up to the elevated parts of heaven, and to see that not anything of what pertained to the creation laboured under deficiency. And He took His Own angels with Him, for His nature was to mount aloft, leaving Edem below; for inasmuch as she was earth, she was not disposed to follow upward her spouse. Elohim, then, coming to the highest part of heaven above and beholding a light superior to that which He himself had created, exclaimed: ’Open me the gates, that entering in I may acknowledge the Lord.’ “

    As he enters the Good One addresses him in the following manner: “Sit thou on my right hand.” Then the soaring male principle says to the Good One “permit me Lord to overturn the world which I have made, for my spirit is bound to men.” To which the Good One replies: “No evil canst thou do while thou art with me, for both thou and Edem made the world as a result of conjugal joy. Permit Edem then, to hold possession of the world as long as she wishes; but you remain with me.” While the father is drawn away from earth to Heaven, Edem, in the meantime is bringing woes innumerable upon man. Naas, who has received his evil nature from her, and who is a child of the Devil, has debauched Eve, “Henceforward vice and virtue are prevalent among men.” The Father seeing these things dispatches Baruch his third angel to Moses, and through him spake to the children of Israel, that they might be converted unto the Good One. But the third angel, Naas, by the soul of which came from Edem upon Moses, as also upon all men, observed the precepts of Baruch, and caused his own peculiar injunctions to be hearkened unto.

    Again, after these occurrences Baruch, the angel of the Good One, was sent to the prophets to warn them against the wiles of Edem, but in the same manner Nass, the Devil, enticed them away, they being allured by him to their own destruction. Again Elohim selected Hercules, an uncircumcised prophet, and sent him to quell the disturbance caused by Naas or Edem and to release the Father from their power.

    “These are the twelve conflicts of Hercules which He underwent, in order, from first to last, viz.: Lion, and Hydra, and Boar, and the others successively. For they say that these are the names of them among the Gentiles, and they have been derived, with altered denomination, from the energy of the maternal angels. When he seemed to have vanquished his antagonists, Omphale (now she is Venus) clings to him and entices away Hercules, and divests him of his power, viz.: the commands of Baruch which Elohim issued. And in place of this power Babel, or Venus, envelops him in her own peculiar robe, that is, in the power of Edem, who is the power below; and in this way the prophecy of Hercules remained unfulfilled and his work.”

    As men were still bound by the power of Edem, or the Devil, in the days of Herod the king, Baruch was again dispatched by Elohim, and coming to Nazareth delivered his message to Jesus, son of Joseph and Mary. Nass, who, as we have seen, was the evil spirit in Edem, wished to entice away Jesus also. He was not, however, disposed to listen but remained faithful to Baruch. Naas, overcome by anger at not being able to seduce him, caused him to be crucified.

    “He, leaving the body of Edem on the accursed tree, ascended to the Good One; saying to Edem, ’Woman, thou retainest thy Son,’ that is, the natural and the earthly man. But Jesus himself commending his spirit into the hands of the Father, ascended to the Good One. Now the Good One is Priapus, and he it is who antecedently caused the production of everything that exists. On this account he is styled Priapus, because he previously fashioned all things according to his design. For this reason, he says, in every temple is preserved his statue, which is revered by every creature; and there are images of him in the highways carrying over his head ripened fruits, that is, the produce of the creation, of which he is the cause, having in the first instance formed, according to his design, the creation, when as yet it had no existence."147

    Thus the fact is observed not only that in the time of Paul, phallic worship still existed, but by the writings of Justinus and others is shown the manner in which the doctrine that woman is the cause of evil in the world became formulated and adopted as part and parcel of the Christian belief.

    Staniland Wake, director of the anthropological society of London, when commenting on the obscene myths upon which the Christian religion rests, remarks:

    “The fundamental basis of Christianity is more purely phallic than that of any other religion now existing, and its emotional nature . . . shows how intimately it was related to the older faiths which had a phallic basis.”

    After stating that the myth of creation and that of the flood have their exact counterpart in India, the Rev. Mr. Faber remarks that “there is no rite or ceremony directed in the Pentateuch of which there is not an exact copy in the rites of the pagans.”

    The Christian doctrines as established by Paul, and afterwards formulated into a system by the Romish Church, were adopted by the ignorant multitude who, being incapable of understanding the higher principles involved, accepted the allegories beneath which were veiled the ancient mysteries literally, and as the highest expression of divine wisdom. Hence the comparatively recent observation that the “new religion was eventually but the gathering in of the superstitions of paganism” is a matter of little surprise to those who have carefully examined the facts connected with the growth of religious faith.

    Under the new regime Christ became the New Solar Deity and round him were finally ranged all the myths of Solo-phallic worship which had prevailed under the adoration of Crishna at a time when the higher truths underlying pure Nature-worship had been forgotten.
    142 Barlow, Essays on Symbolism, p. 135.
    143 History of the Christian Religion, p. 405.
    144 Ibid., p. 23.
    145 Essays on Symbolism, p. 134.
    146 Anacalypsis, book iv., ch. i., p. 175.
    147 Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, book v., p. 188.

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    Default Chapter XV. Christianity in Ireland


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Chapter XV. Christianity in Ireland

    According to the accounts in the New Testament, the wise men of the East, meaning Persia, had foretold the coming of Christ. The fulfilment of the ancient Persian prophecy as applied to Jesus, together with the reference to the “star” which the Maji saw, and which went before them till it came and stood over where the young child lay, furnishes a striking illustration of the manner in which Eastern legends and ancient sacred writings are interwoven with the doctrines relating to Christianity.

    In the sacred books of the East it is prophesied that “after three thousand and one hundred years of the Caligula are elapsed, will appear King Saca to remove wretchedness from the world.” We have seen that at the birth of Christ the time had arrived for a new solar incarnation.

    Regarding the introduction of Christianity into Ireland it is claimed by certain writers that the Irish did not receive the “new religion” from Greek missionaries; but when at the close of the cycle, a new solar deity, an avatar of Vishnu or Crishna was announced, and when missionaries from the East proclaimed the glad tidings of a risen Savior, the Irish people gladly accepted their teachings, not, however, as a new system, but as the fulfilment to them of the prophecy of the most ancient seers of the East, and as part and parcel of the religion of their forefathers. Therefore when the devotees of the Romish faith, probably about the close of the fifth century of the Christian era, attempted to “convert” Ireland, they found a religion differing from their own only in the fact that it was not subject to Rome, and was free from the many corruptions and superstitions which through the extreme ignorance and misapprehension of its Western adherents had been engrafted upon it.

    Concerning the form of religious worship in Great Britain, and the fact that phallic worship prevailed there, Forlong writes: “The generality of our countrymen have no conception of the overruling prevalence of this faith, and the number of its lingham gods throughout our Islands.” These symbols were always in the form of an obelisk or tower, thereby indicating the worship of the male energy. Although emblems of the female element in the deity were present, they were less pronounced and of far less importance than those of the male.

    These monuments were erected on knolls, at crossroads and centers of marts or villages, and were placed on platforms which were usually raised from five to seven steps. A few years ago the shires of Gloucester, Wilts, and Somerset still claimed over two hundred of these crosses, though all of them were not at that time in a perfect state of preservation.

    It would seem that in Britain and Ireland the seed of the “new" doctrine, that which involved a recognition of the mother element in the god-idea, had fallen on more congenial soil, for within three centuries after the birth of Christ, the various original monuments typifying the male principle had all been ornamented with the symbols representing the female in the deity. The ancient religious structures of the Lingaites still continued as recognized faith shrines, changed only by the emblems of the new religion which had been engrafted upon them.

    The earliest Greek and Roman missionaries knew full well the significance of these symbols, and we are given to understand that “a few of the more spiritual of the Christian sects made war upon them and all their ephemeral substitutes, such as Maypoles, holy-trees, real crosses, etc.” It is declared also that, as “later” Christians were unacquainted with the significance of these emblems, “they adopted them as their own, employing them as the mystic signs of their own faith.”

    Although the earliest Greek and Roman missionaries understood the signification of these faith shrines, the complaints against them seem soon to have ceased, and the “fierce wars” waged over them appear to have left little trace of their ravages, except that the female emblems with which these monuments had been supplied by those who had received the new faith direct from the East, were all removed. As the male monuments and symbols were all permitted to remain undisturbed, this fact of itself would seem to indicate that the “pagan abominations” against which these pious devotees of a “spiritual religion” thundered their denunciations, included only the female emblems.

    The fact must be borne in mind that the Western Church, which was rapidly usurping the ecclesiastical authority of Britain and Ireland, had not itself at this time adopted the worship of the Virgin Mary.

    A set of iconoclastic monks whom the Christian world is pleased to designate as St. Patrick, and who probably early in the fifth century of our era amused themselves by chiseling from the Irish monuments many of the symbols of the female power, removed also the figures of serpents which had for ages appeared in connection with the emblems of woman, and by this act won the plaudits of an admiring Christian world; chiefly, however, for the skill manifested in “banishing snakes from Ireland.” In addition to this dignified amusement, we find that the same person or set of persons ordered to be burned hundreds of volumes of the choicest Irish literature, volumes which contained the annals of the ancient Irish nation, and in which, it is believed, was stored much actual information concerning the remote antiquity of the human race.

    The extent to which the worship of the male emblems of generation prevailed in the Christian Church even as late as the 16th century, proves that it was not the particular symbols connected with the worship of fertility upon which the Western Christian missionaries made war, but, on the contrary, that it was the recognition by them of that detested female element against which, even before the erection of the Tower of Babel, there had been almost a constant warfare. The rites of Potin, or Photin, Bishop of Lyons, who was honored in Provence, Languedoc and the Lyonais as St. Fontin, also the rites performed in many of the Christian Churches as late as the 16th century, prove that the devotees of the Christian system were not at this time a whit behind their Pagan predecessors in their zeal for “heathen abominations.” The only difference being that the Druids, a people who still retained a faint conception of ancient Nature worship, had not become entirely divested of the purer ideas which in an earlier age of the race had constituted a creative force.

    That the war of the sexes was revived, and that for many centuries much strife was engendered over the exact importance which should be ascribed to the female element in the Deity may not be doubted.

    An ancient homily on Trinity Sunday has the following: “At the deth of a manne, three bells should be ronge as his kuyl in worship of the Trinitie, and for a woman, who was the Second Person of the Trinitie two bells should be ronge.” Upon this subject Hargrave Jennings remarks: “Here we have the source of the emblematic difficulty among the master masons who constructed the earlier cathedrals, as to the addition, and as to the precise value of the second (or feminine) tower of the Western end or Galilee of the Church."148

    The fact that the religion of the ancient Irish, who, were phallic worshippers, was modified but not radically changed by the introduction of Christianity, is believed by at least one of the Irish historians of that country. He says:

    “The church festivals themselves, in our Christian calendar, are but the direct transfers from the Tuath-de-danaans’ ritual. Their very names in Irish are identically the same as those by which they were distinguished by that early race. If, therefore, surprise has heretofore been excited at the conformity observable between our church institutions and those of the East, let it in future subside at the explicit announcement that Christianity, with us, was the revival of a religion imported amongst us many ages before by the Tuath-de-danaans from the East, and not from any chimerical inundation of Greek missionaries–a revival upon which their hearts were lovingly riveted, and which Fiech, the Bishop of Sletty, unconsciously registers in the following couplet, viz.:
    “The Buddhists of Irin prophesied
    That new times of peace would come."
    149

    The conditions surrounding the ancient inhabitants of the “White Island,” or Ireland, a remnant of which people may be observed in the Highlanders of Scotland, furnish an example of the fact that a much higher standard of life had been preserved among them than is known to have prevailed either among the Jews or the Greeks. The comparatively advanced stage of progress which is now known to have existed in Ireland at the beginning of the present era, which even the bigotry and falsehood of Roman priestcraft have not been able wholly to conceal, is seen to have been a somewhat corrupted remnant of a civilization which followed closely on ancient Nature worship.150

    Hence the intermingling of races and tongues among the ancient Irish. The Druids adopted, or appropriated, the religion and culture of the Tuath-de-danaans, who, it is claimed, were the real Hibernians. The Scythians changed the name of Irin to Scotia–the latter being retained until the 11th century. According to the annals of the ancient Irish, Scotland was formerly called Scotia Minor to distinguish it from Scotia Major, or Ireland.

    Because of their isolated position, or for some cause at present unknown, these people do not seem to have degenerated into a nation of sensualists. It is true they had departed a long distance from the early conditions of mankind under which altruism and the abstract principle of Light or Wisdom were worshipped under the form of a Virgin Mother and her child, but they never wholly rejected the female element in their god-idea, nor never, so far as known, attempted to degrade womanhood. Women were numbered among their legislators, at the same time that they officiated as educators and priestesses. In fact wherever the Druidical order prevailed women exerted a powerful influence in all departments of human activity. Among the Germans, Valleda, a Druidess, was for ages worshipped as a deity.

    It is recorded that St. Bridget planted a monastery for women at Kildare and entrusted to its inmates the keeping of the sacred fire, and that in later times the Asiatic missionaries founded there a female monkish order. After the establishment of Western Christianity, however, no woman was permitted to enter into the monasteries, and we are assured that this ridiculous affectation of purity was extended even to the grave. During the earlier ages of Christianity, in many portions of Ireland there were cemeteries for men and women distinct from each other. “It had been a breach of chastity for monks and nuns to be interred within the same enclosure. They should fly from temptations which they could not resist.”

    Although volumes have been written to prove that Christianity was carried to Britain by Paul, and although the energies of scores of Romish writers have been employed in attempting to prove that Ireland was in heathen darkness prior to its conversion by the priests of the Romish Church, yet these efforts so vigorously put forward seem only to strengthen the evidence going to show that the Christianity of the British Isles antedates that of either Paul or Rome.

    According to Scripture, Claudia, the wife of the Senator Pudens of Britain, was a Christian,151 as was also Graecina, the wife of Plautus, who was governor of Britain in the first century. The latter, it is related, was accused before the Roman senate of “practicing some foreign superstition.” Although Lingard, in his History and Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church, has endeavored to annul the force of the evidence which places two Christian women from Britain in Rome during the first century of our era, he is nevertheless constrained to use the following language: “We are, indeed, told that history has preserved the names of two British females, Claudia and Pomponia Graecina, both of them Christians, and both living in the first century of our era."152

    According to the Romanists, between the years 177-181 of the Christian era, a British king named Lucius sent a messenger to the authorities at Rome, with a request that he with his people be admitted into the bosom of the “Holy Catholic Church.” By those not prejudiced in favor of the Romish hierarchy, this bit of amusing “evidence” shows the anxiety manifested lest the facts concerning the religious history of the British Isles become known. Regarding this embassy of King Lucius there is an extant version which is far more in accordance with reason and with the known facts concerning this people.

    When we remember the advanced stage of civilization which existed in Ireland prior to the Christian era, and when we bear in mind the fact that, as in the case of Abarras mentioned by various Greek writers, the people of the British Isles were wont to send emissaries abroad for the sole purpose of gathering information relative to foreign laws, customs, usages, manners, and modes of instruction, we are not surprised to learn that the message to Rome sent by Lucius, instead of containing a request for admission to a foreign church, embodied an enquiry into the fundamental principles underlying Roman jurisprudence; and especially does this appear reasonable when we remember that the remodeling of the Roman code on principles of equity and justice had for several centuries employed the energies of the best minds in Rome.

    Concerning the planting of Christianity in Ireland, we have the following from Ledwich:

    “Thus Bishop Lawrence in Bede tells us Pope Gregory sent him and Austin to preach the Gospel in Britain, as if it never before had been heard, whereas the latter met seven British Bishops who nobly opposed him. In like manner Pope Adrian commissioned Henry II. to enlarge the bounds of the church, and plant the faith in Ireland, when it had already been evangelized for eight hundred years. The faith to be planted was blind submission to Rome and the annual payment of Peter’s pence."153

    Of the exact time at which Romish and Greek missionaries first went to Ireland we are not informed, but there is ample evidence going to prove that a regular hierarchy had been established in that island before the beginning of the fifth century, and that this religion which had been brought in through the efforts of missionaries from the East was, by the legendary writers of the later Christian Church, ascribed to Romish monks.

    The Jealousy of the Romish priests, and the means employed by them to usurp the ecclesiastical authority of the Irish people, is shown in the history of their councils. The 5th canon of the Council of Ceale-hythe requires

    “that none of Irish extraction be permitted to usurp to himself the sacred ministry in any one’s diocese, nor let it be allowed such an one to touch anything which belongs to those of the holy order. . . .; neither must he administer the eucharist to the people because we are not certain how or by whom he was ordained.”

    After quoting the above Ledwich queries thus: If St. Patrick had been a missionary of the Romish Church, would the Anglo-Saxon clergy have abjured the spiritual children of that see? In the year 670 Theodoret, Archbishop of Canterbury, decreed that they who were consecrated by Irish or British Bishops should be confirmed anew by Catholic ones.154

    It is observed that as early as the fourth century A.D. there were three hundred bishops in Ireland, and to account for so large a number, it is declared that ignorant legendary writers had recourse to the fable of St. Patrick.

    The remarkable “conversion” of the Irish to Romish Christianity, which it is said took place in the latter part of the fourth century or the beginning of the fifth, is to be explained by the fact that a number of Romish priests or monks which in later ages came to be designated as St. Patrick, claimed all the monasteries, bishops, and priests already there as a result of the remarkable power and pious zeal of this miracle-working saint. It is claimed that St. Patrick founded over three thousand monasteries, consecrated three hundred bishops, and ordained three thousand priests.

    According to Ledwich and other writers, this St. Patrick was not heard of earlier than the ninth century A.D., and the legend concerning him “was not accepted until the twelfth century, at which time his miracles are set forth with great gusto.”

    Nothing, perhaps, which is recorded of this monk will go farther toward proving him a myth than the miracles ascribed to his saintship.

    While yet an infant he raised the dead, brought forth fire from ice, expelled a devil from a heifer, caused a new river to appear from the earth, and changed water into honey.

    “These were but the infant sports of this wonder-working saint. The miracles recorded in holy writ, even that of creation itself, are paralleled, and, if possible, surpassed by those of our spiritual hero."155

    Concerning St. Patrick, Forlong writes:

    “Various Patricks followed from Britain and Armorika, but even the Catholic priest, J. F. Shearman, writes that he is forced to give up the idea that there ever was a real St. Patrick. Thus the name must be accepted only in its Fatherly sense, and with the fall of the man Patrick all the miraculous and sudden conversions of the kings, lords, and commons of Ireland must vanish."156

    The Irish Church bishoprics differed from the Romish in that they were held by hereditary succession, after the custom of ancient nations. All bishops were married.

    Prior to the introduction of the Christian system in Ireland the Sabian ceremonial had been succeeded by the Druidical, upon which had been engrafted that of the Culdees, and notwithstanding the fact that the Romish Church gradually usurped the ecclesiastical functions in Ireland, the last named people who for ages had been regarded as the depositaries of the ancient faith and the ancient system of laws, were highly respected by the people for their sanctity and learning. Many of the Greek and Roman writers who have dealt with this subject agree in ascribing to the Druids a high degree of scientific knowledge and mechanical skill. The principles of justice set forth in their judicial system, their love of learning, and the standard attained in the sciences and arts, prove the early people of Ireland to have been equal if not superior to any of the early historic nations.

    In referring to the number and magnitude of the monumental remains in Ireland, and while commenting on the mechanical skill of the Druids, the Rev. Smedley says:

    “I was present at the erection of the Luxor Obelisk in Paris, and yet I think that I would have felt greater emotion if I had witnessed the successful performance of the old Celtic engineer who placed on its three pedestals of stone the enormous rock which constitutes the Druidical altar here at Castle May.”

    It is believed that this people understood the art of mining and that they were acquainted with the use of iron. The following is an extract from one of Hamilton’s letters on the Antrim coast:

    “About the year 1770 the miners, in pushing forward an adit toward the bed of coal, at an unexplored part of the Ballycastle cliff, unexpectedly broke through the rock into a narrow passage, so much contracted and choked up with various drippings and deposits on its sides and bottom, as rendered it impossible for any of the workmen to force through, that they might examine it farther. Two lads were, therefore, made to creep in with candles, for the purpose of exploring this subterranean avenue. They accordingly pressed forward for a considerable time, with much labor and difficulty, and at length entered into an extensive labyrinth branching off into numerous apartments, in the mazes and windings of which they were completely bewildered and lost. After various vain attempts to return, their lights were extinguished, their voices became hoarse, and, becoming wearied and spiritless, they sat down together, in utter despair of an escape from this miserable dungeon. In the meanwhile, the workmen in the adit became alarmed for their safety, fresh hands were incessantly employed, and, in the course of twenty-four hours, the passage was so open as to admit the most active among the miners . . . On examining this subterranean wonder, it was found to be a complete gallery, which had been driven forward many hundred yards to the bed of coal: that it branched off into numerous chambers, where miners had carried on their different works: that these chambers were dressed in a workmanlike manner: that pillars were left at proper intervals to support the roof. In short it was found to be an extensive mine, wrought by people at least as expert in the business as the present generation. Some remains of the tools, and even of the baskets used in the works, were discovered, but in such a decayed state that, on being touched, they immediately crumbled to pieces. From the remains which were found, there is reason to believe that the people who wrought these collieries anciently, were acquainted with the use of iron, some small pieces of which were found; it appeared as if some of their instruments had been thinly shod with that metal.”

    Through various means the fact has been ascertained that although in the sixth century the buildings in Ireland were mean and wholly without artistic merit or skilful design, in an earlier age they were magnificent. Of the causes which produced the decay of architecture, the extinction of the arts and sciences, and the general degradation of the people of this island the devotees of St. Paul and of the Romish Church are alike silent.

    For ages after the subjection of Ireland, in open defiance of the English, the people continued to dispense justice, and to enforce the old Brehon laws of the country.

    The lack of regard shown for English law in Ireland, even as late as the sixteenth century, is set forth by Baron Fingles, who wrote in the time of Henry VIII. He says:

    “It is a great abuse and reproach that the laws and statutes made in this land are not observed nor kept after the making of them eight days, while diverse Irishmen cloth abuse and keep such laws and statutes which they make upon hills in this country, firm and stable, without breaking them for any favor or reward.”

    By a statute of Parliament enacted at Kilkenny, it was made high treason to administer or observe these old Brehon laws. The two enactments especially obnoxious to the English were Gahail Cinne, and Eiric. The former of these enactments was that which in opposition to the English law of primogeniture declared that the estate of a parent should descend in equal proportion to all members of the family. There was another law, or custom, among this people, which provided that the chief of the tribe or people should be elected by general suffrage.

    We have something more than a hint of the condition of ancient Ireland and its people in a description given by the Greeks of one of its inhabitants. Abarras, who visited Greece about six hundred years before Christ, and who was called by the Greeks a Hyperborean, was a priest of the Sun, who went abroad for the purpose of study and observation, and to renew by his presence and his gifts the old friendship which had long existed between the Celts and the Greeks. Strabo remarks concerning Abarras that he was much admired by the learned men of Greece. Himerius says of him that he came

    “not clad in skins like a Scythian, but with a bow in his hand, and a quiver on his shoulders and a plaid wrapped about his body, a gilded belt encircled his loins, and trousers reaching from his waist downward to the soles of his feet. He was easy in his address, agreeable in conversation, active in dispatch and secret in the management of great affairs; quick in judging of present occurrences, and ready to take his part in any sudden emergency; provident, withal, in guarding against futurity; diligent in quest of wisdom, fond of friendship; trusting very little to fortune; yet having the entire confidence of others, and trusted with everything for his prudence. He spoke Greek with so much fluency that you would have thought that he had been bred or brought up in the Lyceum and had conversed all his life with the Academy of Athens. He had frequent intercourse with Pythagoras whom he astonished by the variety and extent of his knowledge.”

    From the descriptions given of the native country of Abarras by the Greeks, it is evident that it could have been none other than Ireland.

    Although at this time in their history, Apollo the sun-god was the Deity worshipped in Greece and in Ireland, still both nations honored Latona his mother. The same as in the mother country (Persia, or Phoenicia), the oracles, or sybils of Ireland, had prophesied a “Savior,” and three hundred years before Greek emissaries visited that country, its people, through the preaching of Eastern missionaries, had substituted for the worship of Latona and Apollo that of the new solar incarnation–the third son of Zarathustra, whose appearance had been heralded by a star.

    The identity of the symbols used by the early people of Ireland who were sun worshippers, and those employed in that country for ages after the Romish Church had usurped the ecclesiastical authority, has been a subject for much comment. After describing the peculiar form of the early Christian Churches and the attention paid to the placing of the windows which were to admit the sun’s rays, Smedley says: “It is possible, in an age of allegory and figures, this combination and variety expressed some sacred meaning with which we are unacquainted at present.”

    The similarity observed in the sacred festivals and religious seasons of the ancient inhabitants of Ireland and those of the early Christians, the extent to which large stone crosses, lighted candles, the yule log and the various other symbols belonging to fertility, or sun worship, were retained by Christianity, furnish strong evidence of the fact that the latter system is but part and parcel of the former.
    148 Rosicrucians, vol. i., p. 206.
    149 The Round Towers of Ireland, p. 493.
    150 It is thought by certain writers that when the Tuath-de- danaans emigrated from Persia to the “White Island” they found it inhabited by the Fir-Bolgs, a colony of Celts. After conquering the island they engrafted upon it the religion, laws, learning and culture of the mother country. In a later age the Scythians, whose religion was similar to that of the Fir-Bolgs, united with them and succeeded in making themselves masters of the situation.
    151 2 Timothy, iv., 21.
    152 Vol. i., p. 1.
    153 Antiquities of Ireland, p. 78.
    154 Ledwich, Antiquities of Ireland, p. 81.
    155 Ledwich, Antiquities of Ireland.
    156 Rivers of Life, vol. ii., p. 417.

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