A mystery religion is any religion with an arcanum, or body of secret wisdom. In a mystery religion, an inner core of beliefs, practices, and
the religion's true nature, are revealed only to those who have been initiated into its secrets.
These secrets are not to be profaned (pro + fanum "beyond the fane, or religious precinct"). By their very nature mysteries are ineffable,
beyond what can be expressed in words, or esoteric. As in Gnosticism, gnosis, "knowledge", is conveyed experientially, thus mysteries and mystery
religions do not produce a body of scripture that is claimed to be "revealed" by the prophet of a deity.
I'm very interested in religion, especially the origins of Christianity, from a purely spectator point of view, i.e. I'm not religious.
If you read about early Christians, you'll come across Gnosticism
, which is classed as a Mystery
I've often wondered - "what's the mystery?" That is, what is the secret knowledge that must not be profaned? It seems to me that this is just
another way for the elite to keep the masses in the dark. The esoteric information must be important, or it wouldn't be so highly guarded.
I'm going to take a stab at guessing what this secret knowledge is......
Firstly, since the information is bound up in a religious context, it stands to reason that the information, at least partly, pertains to spiritual
affairs. If it's being kept secret, then it means the 'outside' of the religion is not telling people the entire truth about it's subject
Beyond this, I also think the information has a definate purpose - that is, it's not just some information about the religion that is being withheld,
but the information has a practical use.
For example - Let's take a popular theory like Jesus being married to Mary Magdalene, and baring a child with her, I imagine most of us are familiar
with this, after the da Vinci code and such.
Now, completely hypothetically, let's say that this is information only initiates of the Mystery religion would be privy to - What is the reason for
holding back this information?
Would it be because telling all Christians this would make Jesus seem less 'Godly', that it would taint his divinity to know that he had a wife,
children, and thus had sex and had sexual desires? OR is there another reason to hold back this information, something more important than another
chapter in the story?
I'm willing to bet on the latter. Mystery Religions sound very much like what is often proposed of
, in that the lower initiates know nothing of the real purpose of their rituals and
customs, only those higher up are privy to real information.
Examples of mystery religions no longer practised
The Eleusinian Mysteries
The Cult of Orpheus
The Cult of Isis
The Cult of Attis
The Cult of Tammuz
Most of the above have parallels with Christianity:
- Isis - The Egyptian Goddess, mother of Horus, with parallels to the Virgin Mary.
- Tammuz - The Babylonian deity, the inspiration for the Syrian/Greek deity, Adonis, also parrallels
aspects of the Jesus story.
- Mithras - The Persian/Greek deity, also parallels Jesus' life.
- Orpheus - From Greek mythology, believed in monotheism and has many parallels to
Dionysus, the Greek/Roman deity, himself having parallels with Jesus.
- Attis - A Greek life/death/rebirth
deity (parallels Jesus' resurrection).
- The Eleusinian Mysteries - Greek/Roman cult revolving around the
seasonal/agricultural tale of Persephone's death and rebirth (she was kidnapped by Hades, God of death and the underworld).
It seems that all these Mystery Religions have a common thread in their use of deities that all parallel each other in some respects. The odd one out
from the list seems to be Pythagoreanism
The Pythagoreans were a Hellenic organization of astronomers, musicians, mathematicians, and philosophers who believed that all things are,
essentially, numeric. The group strove to keep the discovery of irrational numbers a secret, and legends tell of a member being drowned for breaching
this secrecy (see Hippasus).
The pentagram (five-pointed star) was an important religious symbol used by the Pythagoreans. It was called "health".
Pythagoras and his students believed that everything was related to mathematics, and thought that everything could be predicted and measured in
rhythmic patterns or cycles.
It's my belief that all these mystery religions are in fact the same teaching being shared to initiates at different times and places. It doesn't
matter what the religion is, who the characters are, what the larger story revolves around, as long as certain important points are kept in tact, then
the allegorical information is there to be taught to the initiated, and the un-initiated are left to take the allegory at face-value.
This allows an initiate of the Mysteries to worship any of Gods or idols in any of the outer religions, since they know that it is simply an allegory
- it wouldn't matter if they were Christian or a follower of Mithrasism for example.
Pythagoreanism is the odd one out in that it is concerned largely with mathematics and cosmology. To me, Pythagoreanism seems like it has dispensed
with the allegory, and just keeps the information that was wrapped up in the allegory, a secret.
The secular aspect of Pythagoreanism possibly ties it with secret societies that have esoteric teachings, such as Freemasonry, the Illuminati, the
Prior of Scion, Rosicrucianism - all of which are connected in one way or another.
claimed heritage to the Knights Templar - which of course brings us full circle to
the theory of Jesus being married and having children with Mary Magdalene.
Now, I wouldn't want to turn this thread into a discussion of whether Jesus existed or not - But I'm of the belief that he did not, at least as
documented in the Bible.
As shown above, there are a plethora of deities that pre-date Jesus who share uncanny parallels with his life story, too close to pass off as
coincidence. And the examples listed above are just the tip of the iceberg, there are many books explaining these similarities
is the one that sparked my interest in the matter).
I think the Jesus story in the New Testament is a continuation of this allegory, and encoded in it is the esoteric information available to the
initiates of the Mystery Religion.
There are theories that the Jesus story is an astrological allegory - Jesus is the Sun (Son), and the New Testament story of his life charts the
Sun's movement throughout the sky in a year. Here is a site that explains this theory very well, explaining the journey of the Sun through the
constellations in the sky, paralleled with the events of Jesus' life:
On Christmas day, December 25, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. December 22 was the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, when the Sun
was at its lowest.
Three days later, on December 25, the sun rises 1/10 of it's width farther north — just barely detectable by carefully observing the shadows cast
at sunrise. Our savior, the Sun, has been reborn, to begin the cycle of the year and the cycle of life again.
In the Gospel story of Jesus, after his resurrection the story ends. People have always asked what did he do after that? Why does the story end
here? Why isn't the rest of his life chronicled? — The reason is, if you want to read the continuation of the story, turn back to page one. The
story is circular. Three days after Jesus dies and is placed in the cave he is born again, and the story begins anew.
If this is true, then it's possible that the 'treasures' the Knights Templar allegedly came across in the Temple of Solomon pertained to this
esoteric information, and it is this that has been passed down through the various secret socities and orders, just as it was in religions in ancient
So, have I answered my own question? The Mystery Religion's inner knowledge is that of astrology, astronomy and mathematics - Basically scientific
information. Knowledge is power, and being initiated into the religion makes the initiates privy to this powerful information - again we see an
example of the powerful wishing to keep that power for themselves and capitalise on it.
Is there more to it than this? I know I've written a lot there about my thoughts on the matter, but I'm still not satisfied that that is all it is,
I think the mysteries hold something else, something bigger, I just can't put my finger on it. Any takers?...............
[edit on 29-11-2005 by VelvetSplash]