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Roman Mithraism and the origins of Freemasonry

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posted on Mar, 12 2006 @ 05:02 PM
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I had recently read a few articles that describe he Roman form of Mithraism, and the more I look at it the less it reminds me of a religion and the more it reminds me of a fraternity, with its initiations, degrees, and the functioning of its mithraeum (astrological setup and movement through it as representative of heavenyl movements) as being similar to lodges, and of course it being limited to men only.

Contrary to that, of course, is that Mithraism espoused metaphysical religious concepts for its members and also had a plan for salvation for them, so I wouldn't want to argue that it was infact not a religion.

However, in reading one article in particular, the author noted that he felt that the military commandry and elite of the kingdom of commagene were, in his conlusion, the most like body of people that formed what is known as roman mithraism, and that this also explains why it was able to move through the military posts so rapidly.

I also recall that lots of eastern military units were moved to the western parts of the empire, and that there were mithraeum in london itself.

So what if (put on yer tinfoil hats now), masonry started as an offshoot of mithraism, surviving the collapse of the empire in england/scotland?

A potential problem is explaining, well first, where's mithras, and secondly, why take up the guise of stoneworkers? But perhaps the stoneworkers bit is sustained by the cult of mithras being occupied by, along with soldiers, relatively educated individuals, who, when the state falls into anarchy, would be the only ones that would maintain and systematically pass on the mathematical knowledge that is a requisite of stonemasonry and that is also needed to understand mithraic astrological allegories.
As far as 'whither mithras', he is the sun, so perhaps the name itself is all that is lost. Recall that Thomas Paine, relatively incorrectly though, felt that masonry was a vestige of druidic sun worship.

Any thoughts?




posted on Mar, 12 2006 @ 05:14 PM
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I have a book which concludes that Mithraism was inspired by either an observation or a calculation made by astronomers at the time which incorporated the movement of the heavens, as viewed from Earth, when it 'wobbled' on it's axis, as it does every so often I believe.

Contemporaries were said to have been so stunned and amazed that such an event could occur that they decided only a God could be responsible, hence Mithras...the God of the wobble. But who knows?



posted on Mar, 12 2006 @ 05:15 PM
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Originally posted by Nygdan


Any thoughts?


There are many striking parallels between Mithraism and Masonry. This are actually dealt with at some length in Pike's version of the Scottish Rite rituals, especially the 14° and 32°, as well as in his books.

Another interesting note is the parallels between Mithraism and Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism. Some anthropologists, such as Frazer, have gone so far as to insinuate that Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, is simply a modern sect of Mithraism.

I don't know if I personally would go that far, but tracing the history and evolution of religious though does indeed uncover some fascinating, and sometimes unexpected, links.



posted on Mar, 12 2006 @ 05:18 PM
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I think some people believe Mithraism is derived from Zoroastrianism also...therefore so is a large chunk of Christianity...from a Persian religion. How ironic!!!!



posted on Mar, 12 2006 @ 05:32 PM
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Originally posted by KhieuSamphan
I have a book which concludes that Mithraism was inspired by either an observation or a calculation made by astronomers at the time which incorporated the movement of the heavens, as viewed from Earth,

Problem is that no such wobble occured.
The roman mithraists were very educated intheir understanding of astronomy, as the set up of the mithreaums indicates though. I think that you'd need more than a single event to create the specific mithraic religion though. Keep in mind that there is also a Mitra, an eastern god. If worshippers of Mitra were to have been the ones that observed this event, then why would mithraism be so different from the worship of Mitra?
Interesting theory!

believe Mithraism is derived from Zoroastrianism

Thats part of the eastern connection I alluded to, yes.

Also worth repeatingin this context I think is that, hinduism and zoroastrianism are open to women, but roman mithraism is strictly limited to men.

Some neoplatonic secret-society like religions that might qualify better than Masonry are the religion of the Druze of the levant and the Ansairee/Nosaire/Allawis of syro-turkey.


Masonic Light
Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, is simply a modern sect of Mithraism

A big stumbling block for any survival of mithraism idea is that they apparently were neoplatonists, beleiving that souls were pre-existent to birth, that the soul entered the gross physical world through one of the solstices, traveled through life as within that person, and upon death exited the world through the opposite solstice (or was it equinoxes?), thus the movement of the sun through the astrological signs and whatnot recapitulates the movement of the human soul.
Which, of course, is antithetical to christianity. I don't know if any of the neoplatonic aspects have (given the premise) survived in masonry or in what form they would've survived.

Though, refering back to the other religions, we can see an example of how this might work, called "crypto-paganism", only here it'd be to such an extent that the mithraists would simply forget that about Mithras.

[edit on 12-3-2006 by Nygdan]



posted on Mar, 12 2006 @ 06:40 PM
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Originally posted by Nygdan
Keep in mind that there is also a Mitra, an eastern god.

Very interesting. I see from Wikipedia



Mitra or Mithra was an important deity of Indic (Sanskrit mitra) and Iranian (Avestan miθra) culture. His first appearance is in the inscribed peace treaty between Hittites and Mitanni, ca. 1400 BCE.


My guy is saying that his explanation originates in Tarsus after 171BC (ish). Tarsus was ruled by the Hittites at one stage also.

Heres an extract -



To summarize briefly, a group of Stoicizing intellectuals in the Cilician capital of Tarsus interested in the traditional Stoic concerns of astrology, astral religion, and astronomical cycles learned of Hipparchus' discovery of the precession of the equinoxes.

p.93, The Origins Of The Mithraic Mysteries, David Ulansey

We now know that the Earth moves upon it's axis , in about a 25,00 year cycle, the precession of the equinoxes. -



The author then tells



...the last constellation the spring equinox had been in, according to Hipparchus' discovery, was Taurus the bull...

p.93, The Origins Of The Mithraic Mysteries, David Ulansey

The constellation Perseus, who is said to be a 'hero' of Tarsus, was in Taurus at the time of this movement. This imagery is said to have prompted the creation of the Tauroctony, which shows Perseus looking away from the bull as he slays it, signifying the death of the age of Taurus.

If I remember rightly, some of the elements of the author's 'Mithras' were derived from the Perseus icon at the time. Both deities are reputed to have been born in a cave.

The author then claims that the Tauroctony was depicted by the Stocists as a way of both worshipping a God who favoured them and could move the heavens, and passing down knowledge. It seems like it's origins, if the author is correct, included a fair degree of esoterica from the start.

The author does not delve too deeply into theories relating to time before the Roman rule in Tarsus, but the depiction of Mithras from 1400 may be a good of how intertwined religions are and how religions can be very dynamic things.


How could Mithraism relate to masonry? I don't really know.

Perhaps, if correct, they like the secrecy angle described above.

Maybe stonemasons were commisioned to produce Mithraic symbols for both public and private display, and as such, were made privy to the knowledge of this God.


Do we know what rituals today's Masonic lodges engage in which have historically also been performed by Mithraists?


As an aside, according to a map in this book, there was a Mithraic temple where I live. Local historians believe there was a large Roman barracks built built here too, which is where many soldiers who manned Hadrians Wallare said to have been stationed.



posted on Mar, 12 2006 @ 07:24 PM
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Quote: "Another interesting note is the parallels between Mithraism and Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism. Some anthropologists, such as Frazer, have gone so far as to insinuate that... Roman Catholicism in particular, is simply a modern sect of (Roman) Mithraism."


Good call ML! I find this very intriguing. Yes I also believe that there could be a very strong connection here between the RCC & Mithraism! Let me also add that the Mithraists also practiced BAPTISM!

The RCC has been hiding a lot of stuff for a long time - they have a LOT to answer for & thus far has not really been open to explaining itself.

I have found Freemasons to be open & responsive to questions on the other hand (especially on ATS - but also in person). ML doesn't the whole actual "Operative Stone Masonry" theme go back to the building of Churches & Cathedrals in Europe back in the Medieval days? Also more Symbolically to the building of Solomon's Temple & the Pyramids (Hence the Keeping of any Esoteric Knowledge that might be involved in such Enterprises being held within the Fraternity & passed onto the Worthy).

[edit on 12-3-2006 by Seraphim_Serpente]

[edit on 12-3-2006 by Seraphim_Serpente]



posted on Mar, 13 2006 @ 09:58 AM
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Originally posted by KhieuSamphan
The constellation Perseus, who is said to be a 'hero' of Tarsus, was in Taurus at the time of this movement. This imagery is said to have prompted the creation of the Tauroctony,

Ah, forgive me, I misunderstood, I thought you were refereing to a large and sudden and unusual event, a dramatic shift of the earths obliquity or somesuch. Yes, the Perseus/Taurus precession idea is another theory in the origins of the Mithraism.
Its actually a pretty fascinating field of study, I have read a few articles on it and its really taken up my interest.

Maybe stonemasons were commisioned to produce Mithraic symbols for both public and private display, and as such, were made privy to the knowledge of this God.

An important aspect of Roman Mithraism was that the initiates became educated in astrology/astronomy and the movements of the heavens, which of course involves its fair share of mathematics. Its possible, though something of a stretch, that this meant that mithraists, or at least people educated by mithraists, were the only ones with enough mathematical knowledge to work as stone masons (both for shaping raw stone and for building large buildings). And then that the mithraic system and 'lodges' provided a way for these stonemasons to remain cohesive, train people in their Craft. The religious symbolism within mithraism functions to educate its members on, presumably, the mathematical knowledge required to make sense of it.

Do we know what rituals today's Masonic lodges engage in which have historically also been performed by Mithraists?

From what I understand, a masonic lodge is arranged such that the Eastern section represents the rising sun, and the west the setting sun, and that this serves as an axis about which other astronomical and solar events can be 'hung', so to speak. The postitions of members (officers in their office) within the lodge are maped out in reference to this solar axis. Members also commonly engage in communal meals.
A mithraeum also has a solar axis, with different sections of the mithraeum representing different constellations and movement within the mithraeum is thought to recapitulate the movement of the sun through the heavenly bodies. Members also gather for a communal meal that reenacts a meal between mithras and some of the other gods.



there was a Mithraic temple where

museums.ncl.ac.uk...
www.flickr.com...



posted on Mar, 13 2006 @ 10:44 AM
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Originally posted by Nygdan
with its initiations, degrees, and the functioning of its mithraeum


Did you find any good online resources for these. It be cool to see them side by side and see where the similitude are. Have you found any layouts of a mithraeum. Or a list of degree initiation for Mithraism. I’d be interested in looking into this as well.
Your example of the solar axis is interesting, worth looking into for sure.



posted on Mar, 13 2006 @ 11:06 AM
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1. Corax (the Raven)
2. Nymphus (bridegroom),
3. Miles (soldier),
4. Leo (lion),
5. Perses (Persian),
6. Heliodromus (Runner of the Sun)
7. Pater (Father).

source



posted on Mar, 13 2006 @ 11:20 AM
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Here is the one that outlines the commagene royals as the foundational group:

www.savefile.com...

Here is a longer one by the same author that looks at the functioning of a mithraeum and its layout in the context of a cup that has representations of an initiation and the 'rite' of the Sun-runner:

www.savefile.com...



posted on Mar, 14 2006 @ 09:04 PM
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It's interesting, I'd never considered a link between Freemasonry and Mithraism, but it makes a lot of sense. If Freemasons trace their heritage back to Egyptian times, then all these 'Mystery Religions' closed to all but the initiated would surely be these same foundations?

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RE: Mithraism and Christianity..... It stands to reason that as a Solar deity, Mithras has parallels with Christianity's own Solar deity, Jesus.


The Jesus Mysteries: Was The Original Jesus A Pagan God? is one of a few books I have on comparative religion.



The book draws parallels between the Solar deities from Osiris, Attis, Adonis, Dionysus, Mithras, Jesus - Essentially concluding that they are all different versions of the same Solar allegory.

See also: en.wikipedia.org...


-------


Originally posted by KhieuSamphan
We now know that the Earth moves upon it's axis , in about a 25,00 year cycle, the precession of the equinoxes. -



The author then tells



...the last constellation the spring equinox had been in, according to Hipparchus' discovery, was Taurus the bull...

p.93, The Origins Of The Mithraic Mysteries, David Ulansey

The constellation Perseus, who is said to be a 'hero' of Tarsus, was in Taurus at the time of this movement. This imagery is said to have prompted the creation of the Tauroctony, which shows Perseus looking away from the bull as he slays it, signifying the death of the age of Taurus.


Good call. Mithras I would say is definately a solar symbol for the end of the Age of Taurus.

I find it interesting that the precession of the Equinoxes is of constant fascination and symbology to the people behind these Mystery Religions and Secret Socities, it definately adds weight behind the opinion that there is a thread of commonality to them all.

Mithras slaying the bull - Jesus as the ('slaughtered') Lamb of God, the sign of the fish for Christianity, the Egyptian reverence of the Bull (associated with the Jesus-paralelled, Osiris), the Golden Calf..... All corrolate to Zodiac signs, specifically those aligned with the astrological age at the time of the religious allegories creation and/or use.

[edit on 14-3-2006 by VelvetSplash]





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