The Prologue of John’s Gospel is a pithy description of human evolution. “In the beginning (when Archai begin time) was the Logos. And the Logos was within (the bosom) of God (the Father). A god was the Logos.” The common translation here is “God was the Logos.” The Greek here lacks the definite article ton that would make this clear that THE GOD was meant. Greek does not have indefinite articles, so either version is possible. But the next phrase supports, in my mind, a god: “This same one was, in the beginning, with God.” I have come to the conclusion after years of using the Prologue each morning, that what is being said here is that OUR beginning is the Logos who is with or within (the bosom) of the Father God. An Elohim, Christ, a god, had become one with the Logos in an earlier ‘incarnation’ of our solar system, so that John could then say “A god was the Logos”.
Easter was THE important Christian festival. St. Paul said, “If Christ be not risen, then is your faith vain.” A key purpose to the Council of Nicaea was to set the date of Easter (as calendars in those days had insufficient leap years to prevent the spring equinox from sliding in March towards February). The festival of the birth of Jesus was not at all celebrated. Christians felt that Jesus (both of Matthew’s gospel and of Luke’s) was born as a man and Christ entered this body at the baptism. As full of mystery as birth and baptism may be, for early Christians the important new mystery was what happened from Golgotha to the grave to the resurrection. With the early Christians, we do not find symbols of the suffering of Christ; rather we find their focus is on the resurrection.
Later, after 325 when the Council of Nicaea took place, materialism began to set in; even Christianity succumbed. The symbolic emphasis moved to the suffering Christ on the crucifix, to the bodily suffering of Christ. The crucifix is the expression of the transition to materialism taking root in Christianity. Spiritual reality is expelled by materialism. This comes to full reality with the 8th Ecumenical Council (Fourth in Constantinople). Here, by majority vote of the bishops, 27 canons were passed. The eleventh canon states “Though the Old and New Testaments teach that a man or woman has one rational and intellectual soul [compare to Aristotle], and all the fathers and doctors of the church, who are spokesmen of God, express the same opinion, some have descended to such a depth of irreligion, through paying attention to the speculations of evil people, that they shamelessly teach as a dogma that a human being has two souls, and keep trying to prove their heresy by irrational means, using a wisdom that has been made foolishness. Therefore this holy and universal synod is hastening to uproot this wicked theory now growing like some loathsome form of weed. Carrying in its hand the winnowing fork of truth, with the intention of consigning all the chaff to inextinguishable fire, and making clean the threshing floor of Christ, in ringing tones it declares anathema the inventors and perpetrators of such impiety and all those holding similar views; it also declares and promulgates that nobody at all should hold or preserve in any way the written teaching of the authors of this impiety. If however anyone presumes to act in a way contrary to this holy and great synod, let him be anathema and an outcast from the faith and way of life of Christians.”
Photius, who is revered as a saint in the Eastern Church but despised in the West, had argued that Aristotle indicated that each person has two aspects to their soul, one aspect focuses on the senses of the physical body and is thereby liable to error while another aspect focuses on the spiritual and is thus immune to error. With this decree, however, the human was reduced; no longer body, soul, and spirit, but now only body and (one) soul. One could be excommunicated from Christ’s Church for stating anything differently. When Christianity reaches the twentieth century, few theologians use or understand the term ‘soul’ anymore. Materialism reigns supreme.
Following this Ecumenical Council, the Eucharist was altered. Only the ‘prepared’ priests could receive the wine while all received just the body, the bread. For the congregation, this meant only the body matters. The troubadours then come to this drama to sing about the search for the Holy Grail. Where has the blood of Christ gone? Spirit triumphant over death, over the physical fades away replaced by portrayals the pain-racked soul of Jesus. Who guards and sustains mankind? Replacing the Triumphant Son of Man is the Man of Sorrows.
The Knights Templars dash onto this scene two hundred years later. In their initiation ceremony, one was led to understand why they rejected the crucifix as a symbol of their Christianity. Supposedly, during the initiation process, the elect was to spit on a cross that had an image of the suffering savior.
Western culture where materialism is most deeply rooted must find a renewal of the Easter experience. The renewed Easter thought should lead one to be lifted into the Spirit. Christ then becomes ‘visible’ as a super-sensible, super-earthly Being who entered into the stream of earthly evolution.
At the tomb that is the body, do we see only the stone? When we enter the tomb (Oh Man, Know Thou Thyself — Delphi) can we see the Kingdom within? Will we find “The One you seek is not here” or will we find “The One Who is here now,” the one Who from the spirit calls you to your spirit-awakening.
“In this Easter mood we shall also be able to find the strength with which our will must be imbued if the forces of decline are to be countered by those which lead humanity upwards. We need the forces that can bring about this ascent. And the moment we truly understand the Easter thought of Resurrection, this Easter thought — bringing warmth and illumination — will kindle within us the forces needed for the future evolution of mankind. Easter must become an inner festival, a festival in which we celebrate in ourselves the victory of the Spirit over the body. But we need the Christ for Whom we can seek in our inmost being, because when we truly seek Him, He at once appears.” — Rudolf Steiner,The Festivals and Their Meaning II, Lecture 4, March 27, 1921.
Normally I hate to quote so much but this time it is important to set the scene as described in Matthew chapter 27:
“And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate, the governor. …
And Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked Him, saying, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” And Jesus said unto him, “Thou sayest.” And when He was accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto Him, “Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?” And He answered him never a word, insomuch that the governor marveled greatly.
Now at that feast, the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, “Whom will ye that I release unto you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”
For he knew that for envy they had delivered Him. When he had sat down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, “Have thou nothing to do with that just man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.” But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.
The governor answered and said unto them, “Which of the two will ye that I release unto you?” They said, “Barabbas!” Pilate said unto them, “What shall I do then with Jesus, who is called Christ?” They all said unto him, “Let him be crucified!” And the governor said, “Why, what evil hath he done?” But they cried out the more, saying, “Let him be crucified!”
When Pilate saw that he could not prevail, but rather that a tumult was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person. See ye to it.” Then answered all the people and said, “His blood be on us, and on our children!” Then released he Barabbas unto them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto Him the whole detachment of soldiers. And they stripped Him and put on Him a scarlet robe. And when they had plaited a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head and a reed in His right hand, and they bowed their knees before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spat upon Him, and took the reed and smote Him on the head. And after they had mocked Him, they took the robe off from Him and put His own raiment on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.
And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; him they compelled to bear His cross. And when they had come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a Place of a Skull, they gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall. And when He had tasted thereof, He would not drink. And they crucified Him and parted His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: “They parted My garments among them, and upon My vesture did they cast lots.”
And sitting down, they watched Him there, and set up over His head His accusation, written: This Is Jesus The King Of The Jews.
Then were there two thieves crucified with Him, one on the right hand and another on the left. And those who passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in three days, save thyself! If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross!” Likewise also the chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders said, “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver him now, if He will have him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
The thieves also, who were crucified with Him, cast the same in His teeth. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is to say, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, “This man calleth for Elijah.” And straightway one of them ran and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed and gave Him to drink. The rest said, “Let be; let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”
Jesus, when He had cried out again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom, and the earth quaked and the rocks rent. …
Now when the centurion, and those who were with him watching Jesus, saw the earthquake and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”
And many women were there beholding afar off, who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto Him, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s children. When the evening had come, there came a rich man of Arimathea named Joseph, who himself also was Jesus’ disciple. He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher and departed. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the sepulcher.
Now the next day, that following the Day of the Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said while he was yet alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Command therefore that the sepulcher be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night and steal him away, and say unto the people, ‘He is risen from the dead,’ so that the last error shall be worse than the first.” Pilate said unto them, “Ye have a watch. Go your way, make it as secure as ye can.” So they went and made the sepulcher secure, sealing the stone and setting up a watch.”
Let’s look at two themes from this story:
- What was the significance of the plaque above Jesus where “INRI” was written by Pilate
- Who was Pilate?
INRI means Jesus Nazorite Rex Judeaorum which means Jesus the Nazorite, King of the Jews. Many translations will read Jesus the Nazarean, King of the Jews. The Greek word is Nazoraios. It does not mean from Nazareth but, rather, the one singled out. Such an inscription meant that Pilate knew something key about Jesus – that he belonged to the secret Jewish sect, the Essenes. Books of the Essene community in Qumran are discovered in 1947 and are today known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
In this word Nazoraios, the Alpha and the Omega are the first two vowels as well as the first and the last. Was Jesus, from approximately age 12 to age 30 part of the Essene sect? Did Pilate know this? Does the inscription INRI point us to this?
His wife is so deeply troubled by the unfolding of this event she sends word to Pontius “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.” In some dreamlike way, could Pilate foresee that this man would need to die to save “the nation” but he does not want to be morally connected to those who condemned him?
Within the Gospel of Peter we find a narrative that places responsibility for the crucifixion not on Pontius Pilate but on Herod Antipas, one of three sons of Herod the Great. As a Roman prefect, Pontius Pilate would have been the region’s supreme judge, not ruler. He had the sole authority to order a criminal’s execution. His principle duty was to maintain law and order. Additionally his duties included mundane tasks such as tax collection and to oversee construction projects. He had up to 3000 soldiers at his command to enforce his orders.
It was in 26 A.D. that the Roman Emperor Tiberius had appointed Pontius Pilate as prefect of the Roman provinces of Judaea, Samaria and Idumæa succeeding Valerius Gratus. While the typical term for a Roman prefect was 1–3 years, Pilate would hold this post for 10 years. In my next post we’ll look more at this interesting historical figure, Pontius Pilate and ask, could he have been an initiate?
The following passage from Paul’s Letter to the Romans is about the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law through Christ-Jesus. Below I offer an explanation of what this letter means.
1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. 5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. 6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
God’s Law is Holy
7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. 9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. 12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
Struggling with Sin
13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it isgood. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Before Moses, humankind was led by the Mysteries which were led by gods. In our soul at this time, we had developed sentient capabilities but needed the teachings of the mysteries to guide our deeds based on the sensory impressions. At that time, it was not sinful to act according to the instincts and passions (if that word even applied in those days, certainly its manifestation was different) that arose in our soul. Through the bloodline we felt our tribal-ness. Into this poured the guidance of our folk spirit.
At the time of Moses, roughly 600BC, the beginnings of an individual intellectual soul had begun. Development of this intellectual soul would continue as the most important new soul development until the 15th century. Into this aspect of the human soul our lower ego would build its throne. With this, we now became responsible because now we could understand with our own intellect. Karma was, of course, already working but now it moves from mostly tribal manifestations to mostly individual. With the advent of the Intellectual Soul, Mosaic Law was needed for the guidance of this new Intellectual Soul and because, at the same time, the awareness of reincarnation was vanishing. Making the most of one’s life now needed to become important. Hence the awareness arose in the Hebrews to become free of being slaves in Egypt.
Mosaic Law is about karma. It is for all of us when going the path of developing freedom where one must deeply enter life in the physical body and embrace materialism in order to separate from the spiritual world. Each person must experience one lifetime without any direct spiritual experience. But this path is a path of death. This intellectual soul’s activity towards understanding happens through tearing things from their wholeness to examine them. It can grasp what is removed from life. Through Him in whom life is, we may overcome death and step out of this cycle of birth and death. The Intellectual Soul and its ego cannot take us there; they remain in the cycle. Only through the death of the ego and the awakening to higher self, to Christ in me, can we arise from the Law. So while my soul is married to my body, the Law applies. But when my soul is mystically married to our Christ spirit, then I become free, free from death and the Law. While the development of the Intellectual Soul continues, since the 15th century a new development of human soul has begun which spiritual science calls the Consciousness Soul. As this aspect of soul develops, individuals will achieve what Paul writes about, to be “delivered from the law”.
What is mysticism? Simply put, mysticism is the practice or pursuit of a path to the spirit. The term “Mystery” derives from the Greek word “mysterion” (plural mysteria μυστήρια) which means the practice of an experience of a reality surpassing normal human understanding, a spiritual reality perceived as essential to the nature of life. It is implied that the knowledge of a mystery was secret.
What happened in a Mystery Center? One initiated into an ancient Mystery School had to pledge, on their life, never to reveal outside the Mystery Center its rituals or its secrets. An individual who taught at a Mystery School was a mystes, “one who has been initiated”. Each Mystery Center contained a school in which selected students studied and practiced meditation. Eventually a student would be deemed ready for initiation. This happened within the Holy of the Holies, deep within the local religion’s temple. The high priest or hierophant placed the prepared student into a near-death like state. To any uninitiated observer, the student was dead. For three and a third days, the student’s body lay as dead within the Holy of the Holies. Now free of the physical body, the student could experience and explore the spiritual world with the guidance of the hierophant. After the three days, the hierophant would call the student back to his body. The experience was so profound, the newly initiated mystic could no longer go by his or her old name. They had become born again, a new person. For them, their old self had died. Typically their new name came from their experience in the spiritual world. We find this taking on a new name after initiation occurring in all cultures everywhere in the ancient world. Remnants of this continue into our times when, for example, a cardinal is promoted to become the new pope.
When did mysticism arise? No one can adequately answer this question with historical documents because there was only an oral tradition for many centuries. Plato spoke of a time long ago where the center of culture was in Atlantis. Here it may be where the mysteries arose.
A water catastrophe is said to have brought an end to the Atlantean Age – perhaps this is recorded in the Bible as the Flood. Noah and his seven sons rode out the flood in an ark. When their ark landed, the world had greatly changed – the first rainbow was experienced. Rudolf Steiner, through his reading of the Akashic Record (Book of Life in the Bible), has shown that Noah and his sons came to live and restart civilization in India where they were known as Manu and the seven Holy Rishiis. The Atlantean mystery wisdom went with them. Since that time, one stream of civilization has steadily marched westward through Persia, Babylonia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Europe to America perhaps in search of Atlantis. Each wave of civilization achieved something for the advancement of humanity. It is said the mysteries helped prepare humanity for each cultural wave.
While a Mystery existed within a local religion, an individual could be initiated into several mysteries at the same time. While each local religion had public rituals in which participation was expected (perhaps mandatory) of every member of society, an initiate could wander the world to experience mystery initiation into other mysteries.
When did mysticism die out? All teachings were by word-of-mouth. Nothing was written down until Aristotle sent Alexander out to establish Alexandrias (new cities with large learning libraries) throughout the known world in the 4th century BCE. Aristotle knew that the ancient mysteries were fading away. They could no longer fulfill their mission because crossing the threshold to the spiritual world became increasingly difficult. Taking the place of the mysteries was the evolving intellectual capability of each person. In ancient times, one experienced the gods active in Nature. One might experience the Muse inspiring their poetry or an arch-angel streaming thoughts into their head. Now, the spiritual world had withdrawn so far that initiations within the mystery centers were no longer successful. The level of higher consciousness that could be attained was falling. When the Mysteries faded away during the 4th century, the most popular ones were the Greek Mysteries. So we know these best. The Greek mystery schools include the Eleusinian, the Dionysian, the Orphic Mysteries, and many others. In addition, other mysteries in other geographies persisted up until the time of Christ including the Egyptian Isis, Persian Mithraic, Thracian/Phrygian Sabazius, and Phrygian Cybele.
Does mysticism relate to Christianity? When Christianity arrived, the Mystery Centers were still prevalent, beloved, but fading away. Early Christians believed that Christ was a God who entered at baptism into the body of Jesus and therein remained for three years. The Mystery of Christ is that a God became a human, thereby giving humanity a path forward. A path not back to the divine, but forward to become divine.
Early Christians believed that Christ-Jesus was the fulfillment of the ancient mysteries. They felt that now, the ancient mysteries could indeed fade away as the new mysteries, exemplified by the initiation of Saul on the road to Damascus (note, Saul changes his name to Paul after his initiation) had begun. Aspects of a local religion carried out by its respected high priests, for example presiding over sacrifices, ritual meals, ritual purifications, and initiations in secrecy, became totally changed by Christianity. This lead to the early persecution of Christians because the Roman establishment saw Christianity as subversive to its prevailing traditions and to its respected mysteries. When Christianity successfully took root in a locale, it typically was because their initiates went to the local mystery center and discussed with its initiates how their expectations, the fulfillment of their mysteries had been accomplished in Christ-Jesus.
Early Christian writings indicate that practices from the ancient mystery centers continued within the new faith such as the path towards initiation. There is a letter from Clement of Alexandria found in 1973 by Prof. Morton Smith of Columbia University called Secret Mark. It describes how Mark the Evangelist knew of the common gospel plus a gospel for initiates, “Mark, then, during Peter’s stay in Rome, he wrote of the Lord’s doings, not, however, declaring all [of them], nor yet hinting at the secret [ones], but selecting those he thought most useful for increasing the faith of those who were being instructed. But when Peter died as a martyr, Mark came over to Alexandria, bringing both his own notes and those of Peter, from which he transferred to his former book the things suitable to whatever makes for progress toward knowledge [gnosis]. He composed a more spiritual Gospel for the use of those who were being perfected. Nevertheless, he yet did not divulge the things not to be uttered, nor did he write down the hierophantic teaching of the Lord, but to the stories already written he added yet others and moreover, brought in certain sayings of which he knew the interpretation would, as a mystagogue, lead the hearers into the innermost sanctuary of that truth hidden by seven [veils]. Thus, in sum, he prearranged matters, neither grudgingly nor incautiously, in my opinion, and, dying, left his composition to the church of Alexandria, where it even yet is most carefully guarded, being read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries.”
With twelve apostles (eleven disciples plus Paul), early Christianity had (at least) twelve personalities. As the apostles journeyed out into the world, their brand of Christianity took root in different locations. As Christianity was accepted at a given locale and by its mystery center, it took on the characteristics of the local mystery traditions. Out of these traditions arose great second and third generation Christians. Arius developed a huge following that included the Germanic tribes (the German name “ICH” – “I” in English – was created for them by the Initiate Ulfinas who used the letters Jesus-Christ to form this new German word!). Nestorius brought Christianity eastward all the way to China with missionaries as far as Japan. When Constantine, whose mother was already a Christian, allowed for Christianity to become the state religion, he wanted all these different feuding Christian sects to agree on one Christianity. This noble goal for religious peace through a universal, a Catholic, Christianity resulted in the Nicene Creed. What Constantine did not expect is that later enforcement of this creed resulted in the persecution, torture, and death of millions of mystery-loving Christians by Christians.
Are the Mysteries dead? Nothing with spirit really dies. After Constantine, and after his son, arose Julian as Emperor. Julian had been raised as an Arian Christian but he had witnessed Christians killing his own family for power. In 337 AD when Constantine died, Julian’s cousin, Constantius II, in order to consolidate his position as emperor, massacred most of Julian’s close relatives leaving only Constantius and his brothers Constantine II and Constans I, and their cousins, Julian and Gallus (Julian’s half-brother), as the surviving males related to Emperor Constantine. Julian received an excellent education learning theurgy and Neo-Platonism from Maximus of Ephesus. Ephesus is where the Temple of Artemis was burned in 356 BC (same day as Alexander’s birth) by Herostratus who sought fame. Ephesus is also where St. Paul lived and was imprisoned from 52–54 AD and where John the Evangelist lived and wrote circa 90-100 AD. In 354, Julian wrote a treatise Against the Galileans where he states, Christians were fanatics and cheerfully massacred heretics. By contrast the Greeks were mild and forbearing; they were superior in wisdom and intelligence. Christianity has achieved little or nothing in the fields of science, astronomy, arithmetic and music. The achievements of Plato, Socrates, Aristides, Thales, Lycurgus, Agesilaus and Archedemus, the Sibyls, the Delphic Oracle and the pagan Mysteries surpassed anything that Christianity has to offer.
“On 4 February 362, Julian promulgated an edict to guarantee freedom of religion. This edict proclaimed that all the religions were equal before the law, and that the Roman Empire had to return to its original religious eclecticism, according to which the Roman state did not impose any religion on its provinces.
“In his Tolerance Edict of 362, Julian decreed the reopening of pagan temples, the restitution of confiscated temple properties, and the return from exile of dissident Christian bishops. During Julian’s brief reign from 361-363 CE, his popularity among the people and the army indicated that he might have brought paganism back to the fore of Roman public and private life [keep this point in mind].
On 26 June 363, at the indecisive Battle of Samarra in Persia, Julian was stabbed by a spear. In 364, Libanius stated that Julian was assassinated by a Christian who was one of his own soldiers.” Rudolf Steiner states that “Julian was brought face to face with the deeper implications of the problem of evil and the relation of Christ Jesus to this problem. He hoped to find an answer through initiation into the Persian Mysteries [Mithraic and Zarathustrian] and to return to Europe with the solution. But unfortunately he fell by an assassin’s hand during the Persian campaign. It can be proved historically that this was the work of an adherent of Constantine. … In the following years the Augustinian principle [of blind faith in the Authority of the Church] triumphed – ideas that in any way echoed Manichaeism [a Christian sect founded by Mani] were forbidden, i.e. the inclusion of material ideas into spiritual thinking. The West therefore was driving to an abstract mode of thinking and in the course of time this mode of thinking permeated the whole of Western Europe.
“Julian therefore was engaged in a titanic struggle. He finally attempted, by reviving Manichaeism, to bring about continuity in the evolution of the pagan Mysteries. … That he was doomed to fail was a necessity of the time. And we shall not understand the reason for his failure if we belittle his great achievements, if we fail to see him as a titanic figure, fighting for a realistic understanding of the relations between man and the universe. And it is of paramount importance today to recall these great moments in the historical evolution of the West. For we are living in an age from which we shall not emerge with a healthy outlook unless we make a fresh assessment of the aims of Julian the Apostate. It was not possible in his time – herein lies his great tragedy – to reconcile the old principle of initiation with the real essence of Christianity. Today this has become possible and we must not fail to translate the possibility into reality if the world and mankind are not to suffer evolutionary decline. People must realize the need for regeneration in all spheres of life and above all the crying need to restore communication with the spiritual world.” [i]
A few years following Julian came Emperor Theodosius from 379 to 395 who set to work to totally destroy the remaining mystery centers and all pagan learning centers within Roman rule believing that the old mysteries worked against Christianity. From this time through Emperor Justinian ‘s reign 527 to 565, soldiers and mobs destroyed books, centers, shrines, and the “pagan” people associated. To survive, the Mysteries went underground only to surface from time to time in non-violent Christian groups such as the Bogomils, the Cathars, and the Knights Templar.
The Mysteries Today. In 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini called America the Great Satan. Perhaps in his spiritual insights he could see America’s destiny with the Prince of Darkness. America was founded as a Holy Experiment largely by Freemasons but also by other mystical groups. Here, with peoples from all over the world, a land was prepared for the future incarnation of the Prince of Darkness, called Ahriman in Persian lore. One can bemoan such a burden, but it is with great wisdom that such a place could be so prepared that it would be capable of confronting such a powerful spiritual being. America is deemed worthy to take on such a difficult task for she is wrest something from this being that will be important for the further development of Mankind. The new mysteries are working towards such a noble goal.
Conclusion. The Mysteries, as we saw, were fading at the time of Alexander. 666 years later, under severe persecution, they went underground . They spring up from century to century in various groups who try to demonstrate the true life of a Christian. Such groups sacrifice themselves for the future. The Cathars were brutally extinguished but their treasure survived, the child who would become Christian Rosenkruetz, founder of the Rosicrucians. These all point back to the greatest mystery of all, namely the Mystery of Golgotha when a God experienced Death and thus fully became Human, thereby changing forever our world. How can Man find the Christ today? This is the mystery of our times.
Additional Material. Augustine (345–410 AD) was a Manichaean for ten years but he lost faith with Manichaeism when Faustus, a leader of the sect, failed to resolve his doubts. Abandoning Manichaeism (see Confessions, Books IV and V), Augustine went to Rome where St. Ambrose, in 386, opened his eyes to the authority of the Church. Augustine then directed his literary work against the Manichaeans. For him, the lineage of the Church gave it authority to know the Scriptures from whence one’s faith originated. His dictum, “Better a man’s body be destroyed than his soul” leads to Crusades and Inquisitions. Augustine is credited as founder of Western monasticism.
[i] Building Stones for an Understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha, lecture 7, 19Apr1917, GA 175
Why 153 Fish?
Let’s start with the scene in John 21:10-11 [King James Version], “Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of fish, a hundred and fifty three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.”
The catch of 153 fish in the Epilogue is a story about the resurrected Christ and the Fishers of Men. Throughout the early years of Christianity, Christ is depicted with two fish. The time of the coming of Christ was in the Age of Aries, hence he is called the Lamb of God. In 1413 we entered the Age of Pisces. Soon followed the Renaissance. Later the Reformation as materialism continued to sink deeper and deeper into science, cultural, and religion. By the year 1900, many Christians saw Jesus as just a remarkable man, or maybe even a myth. The nets of the Fishers of Men were empty.
But why 153? Many have attempted to solve this because the writer of John did not waste words. Such details indicate deeper mysteries to be sought.
Before we get into this, let me first describe a mathematical operative called the Power of. Its symbol is a triangle with a number written inside. So the Power of 10 is 1+2+3+…+9+10. There is a formula one can use to quickly calculate the result: n* (n+1)/2. For the Power of 10 = 10*11/2 = 55.
Many before me have found that 153 is the Power of 17. Early church father Augustine described the significance of 153 as the sum of 1+2+3+4+…..+16+17. That then leads to the question what is the significance of 17?
Augustine says 17 means 10 + 7 and represents the ten commandments plus the seven spirits of God, that is the solar system to Saturn. Gregory the Great agreed with Augustine’s 17 but he comes to 153 by multiplying 17 by the number of heavenly hierarchies, 9.
I see the significance of 17 as the combination of the number of heaven, 7, and the number of earth, 10. Now we can better understand Christ’s words in the Epilogue “unto me is given all authority in heaven and earth.” [We’ll discuss this word “authority” in a later blog].
17 also equals 12 + 5. This would represent the zodiac, the fullness of the Cosmic Archetype of Man plus the fullness of the Earthly Man. In this formulation, the number 153 represents every possible people group in the world and each fish represents one power of the archetype-pairing to people the world.
This Wikipedia entry has several more mathematical attributes to 153.
Why does the author of John say “the net was not torn”? Earlier, when Peter and Andrew were called we read, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of me. Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” In Luke 5:2-6 we read, “And he saw two boats by the lake; but the fisherman had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.’ And when they had down this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them.” At the calling, the nets of the Fishers of Men break. Here in the epilogue of John, these nets no longer break.
Where else in the gospels do we have something torn? In Mark 15:37-38 we read, “And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last. And the veil in the temple [to cover the Holy of the Holies] was torn in two, from top to bottom.”
In summary, the Epilogue to John’s gospel is a scene where the Resurrected Christ stands on the shore of a lake. This scene recapitulates the scene in Luke where Jesus Christ calls the fishermen Andrew and Peter. In Luke, they fish all night but catch nothing. Christ advises them where to cast their nets and in so doing the catch is so great the nets break. When he says “follow me” they immediately do so. Here in John’s Epilogue, Christ again is on the shore of a lake and again they were fishing unsuccessfully in the night (dark). When he advises where to cast their net, again the nets are full but this time they do not break. It is said they contained 153 fish. Only after this do they all recognize the Resurrected Christ and only through the elevated vision of John.