All posts by Andrew Linnell

The Scapegoat and the Blood of Christ

What is blood? What requirements were there in Jewish traditions for a blood sacrifice? What does it mean that Christ’s blood was shed? Where did this blood go? What did Joseph of Arimathea collect in the Grail? How does this affect us today?

To begin this study, we’ll go to Leviticus 16 where we read “Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoatAaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to theLord and sacrifice it for a sin offering.10 But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before theLord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.” [comment: John the Baptist says of himself I am a voice crying in the wilderness and after the baptism, Christ goes out into the wilderness to be tempted. The wilderness is the uncivilized part of our soul, the untransformed part where animalistic desires exist].

Now back to the theme of sacrifice and again to Hebrews, now in 13:12 we read: 11″The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.”

So if Christ becomes the slaughtered goat, who is the scapegoat? According to Berenson Maclean, “although Hebrews does not mention the pair of goats, the implication is that Christ’s blood corresponds to that of the immolated goat.” She goes on to conclude that “Jesus’ death must have been modeled on the goat’s sacrifice in the purgation ritual.” [Berenson Maclean, “Barabbas, the Scapegoat Ritual, and the Development of the Passion Narrative,” pg. 319] Christ clearly is the sacrifice. This was first mentioned at the raising of Lazarus [John 11] when some present went and told the high priests what had happened [that an initiation had taken place in public].

46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” 49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish. 51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

The scene with Pontius Pilate and Barabbas is, in my mind, when the high priest, enacted by Pilate, brings forth the two goats and reverses the cult by having the (unclean) people select. Thus Barabbas becomes the scapegoat and Christ the sacrifice. Both are named Jesus – making them alike. I wonder if Pilate was a lower initiate. Just as one goat would be sacrificed and one let go, so this cult was enacted by Pontius Pilate! The two goats? Jesus Christ and Jesus Barabbas. The crowd decides which to release. [For more on this see Andrei Orlov’s paper Jesus as the Scapegoat]. So Jesus Christ becomes the sacrifice which takes place on Golgotha. What once took place within the Holy of the Holies now is enacted in public. Here His blood is sprinkled not in front of and onto the atonement cover but onto the earth and into the Grail. That which the Heavenly Hierarchies could not know, Death, was to be overcome by this sacrifice. Humanity now could become free of the Temporal where death rules and enter the Eternal with a purified, transformed soul and body.

With the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, the Most Holy Place, the Holy of the Holies, was gone from the physical world. Without this physical temple, it was impossible to perform a blood sacrifice. When we consider Christ’s words “destroy this temple and in three days I will rebuild it” we come to realize the mystical depth of His act on Golgotha. The rebuilt body is the Third Temple. Christ was (and is) the last blood sacrifice. And the blood entered the Earth. What can this mean? We can look at this in a future blog. And the blood was caught in the Grail. What can this mean? The greatness of this act is that each of us can reenact it within our soul.
The “camp” or “tabernacle” refers to the temporal body. The spirit is, of course, the eternal. The human being consists of body (soma), soul (psyche), and spirit (pneuma). Within our soul we have our lower ego. When we can allow this lower ego to go through “the disgrace” and the stages of the cross, we experience the Rosicrucian saying “In Christos Morimor” [in Christ we die]. Through this death process our soul becomes part of the soul of Christ whose ego becomes our higher ego. Now one can say as Paul did, “No longer I but Christ in me [Galatians 2:20]!”
Ages ago people could be initiated into a Mystery whereby they could experience the spiritual world. To develop Freedom, the spiritual world withdrew. The experience of spiritual beings outside of one, dimmed to darkness as the place for the experience entered within the individual. We can have spiritual experiences once again today. Through them we can lift our consciousness to higher levels in the Spiritual Hierarchies. But only through him can we come to experience the Father [John 14:6]. Note the reverse direction is found in John’s prologue [1:3] where it says “Through Him [Christ] all things became.” The things of the physical world belong to the Temporal and succumb to Death. Through Him, we can come to our Eternal. To do this, we must go outside of our body, our camp/tabernacle in the physical world. This is the goal of meditation. We must learn how to experience without (or beyond) the senses and without (or beyond) our normal thinking, our normal mental picturing. Only through Him can we today come to the experience of the Father.
For more on this see this article The Scapegoat and the Blood of Christ.

Was Pontius Pilate an Initiate?

Last blog, we looked at the meaning of the inscription INRI that Pontius Pilate wrote on a plaque and had placed on the cross above the head of Jesus. Who was this governor of Judea?

To answer this, we should review an apocryphal book entitled the Acts of Pilate. Here is a letter from Pilate to Emperor Tiberias. This is found in the Greek Acts of Peter and Paul and as an appendix to the Gospel of Nicodemus in Latin. The translation is from M. R. James:

There befell of late a matter which I myself brought to light (or, made trial of): for the Jews through envy have punished themselves and their posterity with fearful judgements of their own fault; for whereas their fathers had promises (al. had announced unto them) that their God would send them out of heaven his holy one who should of rightly be called their king, and did promise that he would send him upon earth by a virgin; he then (or this God of the Hebrews, then) came when I was governor of Judea, and they beheld him enlightening the blind, cleansing lepers, healing the palsied, driving devils out of men, raising the dead, rebuking the winds, walking upon the waves of the sea dry-shod, and doing many other wonders, and all the people of the Jews calling him the Son of God: the chief priests therefore, moved with envy against him, took him and delivered him unto me and brought against him one false accusation after another, saying that he was a sorcerer and did things contrary to law.

But I, believing that these things were so, having scourged him, delivered him unto their will: and they crucified him, and when he was buried they set guards upon him. But while my soldiers watched him he rose again on the third day: yet so much was the malice of the Jews kindled that they gave money to the soldiers, saying: Say ye that his disciples stole away his body. But they, though they took the money, were not able to keep silence concerning that which had come to pass, for they also have testified that they saw him arisen and that they received money from the Jews. And these things have I reported (unto thy mightiness) for this cause, lest some other should lie unto thee (Lat. lest any lie otherwise) and though shouldest deem right to believe the false tales of the Jews.

It is possible, even likely, that many (perhaps all?) of the early texts were altered (or forged) in order to persuade people.  In earlier ages, the role of scribe required the utmost integrity and ethically sound character. By the 2nd century AD, alteration of sacred texts was all too frequent.

New Testament Documents book coverF. F. Bruce, in his book The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? writes “About AD 150 Justin Martyr, addressing his Defence of Christianity to the Emperor Antoninius Pius, referred him to Pilate’s report, which Justin supposed must be preserved in the imperial archives. ‘But the words, “They pierced my hands and my feet,” ‘ he says, ‘are a description of the nails that were fixed in His hands and His feet on the cross; and after He was crucified, those who crucified Him cast lots for His garments, and divided them among themselves; and that these things were so, you may learn from the “Acts” which were recorded under Pontius Pilate.” Later he says: ‘That He performed these miracles you may easily be satisfied from the “Acts” of Pontius Pilate.”

Another historian, Johannes Quasten, in his bookPatrology, cites church father Tertullian who “refers twice to a report made by Pilate to Tiberius. According to him, Pontius Pilate informed the Emperor of the unjust sentence of death which he had pronounced against an innocent and divine person; the Emperor was so moved by his report of the miracles of Christ and his resurrection, that he proposed the reception of Christ among the gods of Rome. But the Senate refused (Apologeticum 5). In another place Tertullian says that the ‘whole story of Christ was reported to Caesar—at that time it was Tiberius—by Pilate, himself in his secret heart already a Christian’ (Apol. 21, 24).”

PatrologyIf we now turn to the Gospel of Judas, we find that the heresy hunters of the 2nd century, such as Irenaeus, were particularly upset by Gnostics and they felt this gospel could not be authentic because of the Gnostic tones in it. I quote from the above link for Roberts-Donaldson translation of this section from Irenaeus:

Others again declare that Cain derived his being from the Power above, and acknowledge that Esau, Korah, the Sodomites, and all such persons, are related to themselves. On this account, they add, they have been assailed by the Creator, yet no one of them has suffered injury. For Sophia was in the habit of carrying off that which belonged to her from them to herself. They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas.

Duccio Kiss of JudasWe find that in this story Judas was only following Christ’s instructions to “betray him.” Why? Christ knew his time was at hand. The time for the Greatest Cosmic Deed had come. The crucifixion had to take place. This God had to experience Death to become fully Human. This Son of Man had to become the Second Adam, to open a new path of Resurrection. The Cosmic significance of this event, with the cross placed on the skull of Adam, can be overwhelming. The Earth now begins her journey to become a new Sun.  Once the Earth and Sun were one and then they were separated. At this Turning Point in Time, the Earth was changed by the blood of this Human-God, Jesus-Christ, flowing into the soil on Golgotha.  Like homeopathy, this small amount of spiritualized blood began to transform. Judas fulfilled his terrible mission. So too did Pilate. To ensure that they fulfilled their respective missions, they were somewhat aware. No human being at this time could rise to the heights of consciousness to fully grasp this event. But Hellenism, the Essenes and the Gnostics had preserved enough, just enough, for some to grasp this Mystery of Golgotha.

G.W. Barkley
G.W. Barkley

Lastly, we look at G.W. Barkley’s book on Origen where we find Origen explains how we cannot fault Pilate who can be taken as “a prepared man.” Origen goes on to say, “Certainly he was the judge of the nation itself who sent him by his sentence ‘into the wilderness.’ But hear how he was washed and made clean. When he had said to the people, ‘Do you want me to release to you Jesus, who is called the Christ,’ and all the people had shouted out, saying, ‘If you release this one, you are not a friend of Caesar,’ then it says ‘Pilate demanded water and washed his hands before the people, saying, I am clean from his blood; you should see to it.’ Thus, therefore, by washing his hands he will appear to be made clean.” G.W. Barkley, Origen, Homilies on Leviticus: 1-16 (Fathers of the Church, 63; Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 2010), pg 204-205. Even Pilate’s wife, through a dream [the old way of spiritual inspiration], knew this man was innocent and that Pilate should remain ‘clean’ in the outcome. Many high ranking officials in this time had sought and received initiation into one or another Mystery. His washing of his hands after handling the freeing of either Jesus Christ or Jesus Barabbas could be seen as the action of a cultic priest after handling a sacrifice.

The Gospel of Nicodemus has an appendix entitle The Acts of Peter and Paul in which the words of Pilate’s letter to Emperor Claudius is contained as follows

Pontius Pilate unto Claudius, greeting.

There befell of late a matter which I myself brought to light (or, made trial of): for the Jews through envy have punished themselves and their posterity with fearful judgements of their own fault; for whereas their fathers had promises (al. had announced unto them) that their God would send them out of heaven his holy one who should of right be called their king, and did promise that he would send him upon earth by a virgin; he then (or this God of the Hebrews, then) came when I was governor of Judea, and they beheld him enlightening the blind, cleansing lepers, healing the palsied, driving devils out of men, raising the dead, rebuking the winds, walking upon the waves of the sea dry-shod, and doing many other wonders, and all the people of the Jews calling him the Son of God: the chief priests therefore, moved with envy against him, took him and delivered him unto me and brought against him one false accusation after another, saying that he was a sorcerer and did things contrary to law.

But I, believing that these things were so, having scourged him, delivered him unto their will: and they crucified him, and when he was buried they set guards upon him. But while my soldiers watched him he rose again on the third day: yet so much was the malice of the Jews kindled that they gave money to the soldiers, saying: Say ye that his disciples stole away his body. But they, though they took the money, were not able to keep silence concerning that which had come to pass, for they also have testified that they saw him arisen and that they received money from the Jews. And these things have I reported (unto thy mightiness) for this cause, lest some other should lie unto thee (Lat. lest any lie otherwise) and though shouldest deem right to believe the false tales of the Jews

Pilate likely had been initiated into a lesser Mystery and, perhaps, to an even higher degree. His inscription INRI shows remarkable insights into who Christ Jesus was but like other initiates of this time, he could not fathom the depth of what was about to take place, the Turning Point in Time, the Fulfillment of the Mysteries, The Great Mystery of All – the Mystery of Golgotha.

 

What Role Did the Ancient Mysteries Play for Early Christianity?

Something that most historians miss is the role that the Ancient Mysteries had in the ease of the spread of Christianity.  After the event of Whitsun, some of the disciples and those with them began missions to spread Christianity.  Where did they go? They went to the Mystery Centers throughout the world.  There the initiates could understand them and could approach a grasp of the Mystery of Golgotha.  The apostles said to the initiates of the Mystery Centers, “What your mystery foresaw, what it prepared you for, has taken place.  Your mystery is fulfilled. Christ the Sun God Mosaic St. Peters Basilica Rome fourth century

In Persia they may have said, “The Sun God, Ahura Mazdao, who has long been expected, has come.” In other places, similar wording may have been spoken.  The initiates could see the souls of the apostles and see what Whitsun had done to them.  They could understand that what their mystery had awaited, had arrived and been fulfilled.

Further, they understood that the new Mysteries could now begin.  They brought forth their pupils and they listened to and learned from the apostles.  They easily became Christians.

Each such mystery center then practiced Christianity according to their customs that were renewed by the new customs learned from the apostles.   But each such mystery center had its traditions and customs and knowledge.  They interpreted the scriptures perhaps differently than another mystery center.  So different “flavors” of Christianity came to be.

In the 3rd century, the battle between the converted mystery-stream Christians and the proto-orthodox forces intensified to the point that both sides altered the scriptures to agree with their position. Many of today’s books of the Christian Bible were altered making some passages suspect. Modern day scholars claim that they can detect such alterations or insertions by how the style of writing changes. For example, passages where Paul excludes women seem to have been added by proto-orthodox zealots.

The internal battles must have driven Constantine crazy.  So he called for the leaders to get together and unify Christianity.  Out of this the Nicene Creed was adopted but several Christian groups could not accept this creed. At one point in history, there likely were more Christians who did not ascribe to the Nicene Creed than did. These were located mostly from the middle east eastward to China. Many were part of the Nestorian church.

So, the fading Mystery Centers knew their time was coming to an end. Many centers had already closed by the time Christianity began to spread.  These centers, with their wisdom and expectations, easily grasped what the apostles brought and easily became strong advocates for Christianity and thereby easily converted the peoples of their land.

The opposition came from Roman culture where the image of a God, of a Savior, would need to be a super warrior type who would conquer – someone like but greater than Caesar.  For them, no grasping of the Mystery of Golgotha was possible.  But for those already in possession of ancient wisdom from the mystery centers, this humiliating death on a cross, this passage of a God through human death to become fully human and its later resurrection meant that a new way to the spirit for mankind was opened, death and karma was overcome, the old mysteries were fulfilled, the new ones had begun.   No longer would they need to pursue their dying path that traversed backwards the path of descent from the spirit.  Now a path of ascent was available.  A new Christian initiation began.

INRI and Pilate

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:

  1. What was the significance of the plaque above Jesus where “INRI” was written by Pilate
  2. 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?

 

Ishtar and Easter

In a conversation today, the Goddess Ishtar was mentioned.  Her rites, it was suggested, may be a possible forerunner to the Easter bunny and egg festival. I looked up Ishtar and found this interesting passage in Wikipedia: (keep in mind Ishtar is an immortal, Gilgamesh is a hero but a mortal).

Ishtar in the Epic of Gilgamesh [from Wikipedia]

The Epic of Gilgamesh contains an episode involving Ishtar which portrays her as bad-tempered, petulant and spoiled by her father. She asks the hero Gilgamesh to marry her, but he refuses, citing the fate that has befallen all her many lovers:
“Listen to me while I tell the tale of your lovers. There was Tammuz, the lover of your youth, for him you decreed wailing, year after year. You loved the many-coloured Lilac-breasted Roller, but still you struck and broke his wing […] You have loved the lion tremendous in strength: seven pits you dug for him, and seven. You have loved the stallion magnificent in battle, and for him you decreed the whip and spur and a thong […] You have loved the shepherd of the flock; he made meal-cake for you day after day, he killed kids for your sake. You struck and turned him into a wolf; now his own herd-boys chase him away, his own hounds worry his flanks.”
Angered by Gilgamesh’s refusal, Ishtar goes up to heaven and complains to her father the high god Anu that Gilgamesh has insulted her. She demands that Anu give her the Bull of Heaven. Anu points out that it was her fault for provoking Gilgamesh, but she warns that if he refuses, she will do exactly what she told the gatekeeper of the underworld she would do if he didn’t let her in:
“If you refuse to give me the Bull of Heaven [then] I will break in the doors of hell and smash the bolts; there will be confusion [i.e., mixing] of people, those above with those from the lower depths. I shall bring up the dead to eat food like the living; and the hosts of the dead will outnumber the living.”
Anu gives Ishtar the Bull of Heaven, and Ishtar sends it to attack Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu. Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the Bull and offer its heart to the Assyro-Babylonian sun-god Shamash.
While Gilgamesh and Enkidu are resting, Ishtar stands upon the walls of the city (which is Uruk) and curses Gilgamesh. Enkidu tears off the Bull’s right thigh and throws it in Ishtar’s face, saying, “If I could lay my hands on you, it is this I should do to you, and lash your entrails to your side.” (Enkidu later dies for this impiety.) Then Ishtar called together “her people, the dancing and singing girls, the prostitutes of the temple, the courtesans,” and had them mourn for the Bull of Heaven.
Now, what is the Bull of Heaven? Recall that in the time of this myth, we were in the midst of the sun in Taurus at the vernal equinox. The Bull represents the basic sensory experiences of the physical body. Later, when we enter Aries, the Lamb, we also have the rise of Mithraism whose descendant is the bull fighting in Spain (and Latin America). Mithra must kill the Bull to rise to higher consciousness. Overcoming the bull is also in the Greek myth of the Minotaur which is a word from the combining of (King) Minos and Taurus. The wife of Minos wanted to copulate with the Bull of Heaven and in so doing gives birth to the Minotaur. Each year the Athenians must offer up virgin boys and girls to the Minotaur until Theseus slays the Minotaur and escapes from the labyrinth (we could go into what labyrinth means another time) with the help of Minos’ daughter Ariadne. Here we have a story of the human soul who, in the wife of Minos, wants to “marry” the physical body, to enjoy the sensuality provided by the body. Theseus represents the spiritual man and Ariadne the soul who desires the “mystical marriage” with her spiritual member Theseus. (Next comes the part of Icarus in the story and flying over the “sea” from the island to the land of the spirit. But such a path is narrow; one cannot soar too high (into Lucifer’s realm) or too low (into the earthly, Ahriman’s realm)). One may ask, what is the relationship of Mithraism to Christianity? Mithraism could be called a cosmic Christianity in the time of Aries.
For me, Easter is the beginning of the Fulfillment of the Promise, the New Adam, the Overcoming of Death that began at baptism when the Logos entered the body of the man Jesus making this entity Jesus-Christ (I-CH in German or IX in Greek). The God whose name is I AM entered not just as an avatar into the body of Jesus, but fully becomes Man on Golgotha with death. The blood had been transformed to the blood of this God-Man (or Man-God) and flowed into the Earth. The transformation is stated when His side is pierced and out flowed blood AND WATER. On the third day, the stone in him is removed (as is the stone to the tomb). His physical body has been transformed – the Third Temple arises, rebuilt in 3 days. His body is real but has no mineral composition so even Mary and the disciples cannot at first recognize Him. By doing this, He has made it possible for each of us to do so. He is the New Adam.
Avatar comes from ancient Sanskrit and means ‘ descent ‘ as in descent of a divine being to earth. Such a spiritual being descends into a human body not for it self but in order to intervene in evolution as a human being, Nothing of any significance is experienced here in the physical world. An avatar enters a physical body for the blessing and advancement of mankind.
May you all have a blessed Easter.

What is a Mystery? What is a Christian Mystery?

MacMillan Dictionary defines Mystery as something that you are not able to understand or explain. Another definition is information about a subject or activity that only some people are allowed to know.

If we go back to 500 BCE and especially if we go further back, the Mysteries played a vital role in all cultures everywhere in the world. Candidates who proved worthy were specially prepared to serve their people through service to their Mystery Center. This preparation involved a transformation administered by the hierophant who oversaw the death of the former person, a 3 day death experience, and then a calling back to new life.  The initiate, who during these 3 days experienced the spiritual world, was so changed that they took on a new name.

In order for Humankind to fully develop Freedom, that is, spiritual freedom in thinking and consciousness, the Mysteries had to die out.  The Dark Age settled in when direct guidance from the spiritual world came to an end – the Twilight of the Gods passed.  Into this darkness came the new Adam, the Logos.

The greatest mystery of all, the Turning Point of Time, occurred on Golgotha as the blood of the Son of Man ran into the earth transforming it forever. With this deed, Humanity could now become the tenth hierarchy.  The New Mysteries had begun.

This web site is devoted to what these new mysteries can become.  We explore the ancient mysteries and what they can tell us about the human being, who we are, and what we are to become.

What do we know of the ancient mysteries?

The Greek Mysteries are the most visible to historians but all cultures had their own Mystery Center(s).

Well known are many the leaders of Greek Mystery Centers such as Pythagoras and Heraclitus.

And well known are the mystery centers Cabeiri on the islands of Lemnos, and Eleusis in west Attica, about 12 miles from Athens.  Mysteries known as Dionysian, Eleusinian, Orphic, and others are well known to historians.  Many an emperor wished to be initiated, thus some of these Mysteries formed a Lesser Mystery appropriate for the unprepared while the original remained secret as the Higher Mystery.  Anyone who attempted to reveal a higher mystery forfeited their life.

A veil of secrecy concealed the manner whereby spiritual needs were satisfied for those within the older civilizations who sought a deeper religious and cognitive life than was offered by the religions of the people. “We are led into the obscurity of enigmatic cults when we inquire into the satisfaction of these needs. Each individual who finds such satisfaction withdraws himself for some time from our observation. We see that the religion of the people cannot give him what his heart seeks. He acknowledges the gods, but he knows that in the ordinary conceptions of the gods the great enigmas of existence are not disclosed. He seeks a wisdom which is carefully guarded by a community of priest-sages. He seeks refuge in this community for his striving soul. If the sages find him mature they lead him step by step to higher insight, in a manner hidden from the eyes of those outside. What happens to him now is concealed from the uninitiated. For a time he appears to be entirely removed from the physical world. He appears to be transported into a secret world. — And when he is returned to the light of day a different, entirely transformed personality stands before us. This personality cannot find words sufficiently sublime to express how significant his experiences were for him. He appears to himself as though he had gone through death and awakened to a new and higher life, not merely figuratively, but in highest reality. And it is clear to him that no one can rightly understand his words who has not had the same experience.

Thus it was with those persons who through the Mysteries were initiated into that secret wisdom, withheld from the people, and which shed light upon the highest questions. This “secret” religion of the elect existed side by side with the religion of the people. So far as history is concerned, its source fades into the obscurity where the origin of people is lost. We find this “secret” religion everywhere among ancient people insofar as we can gain insight concerning them. The sages of these people speak of the Mysteries with the greatest reverence. — What was concealed in them? And what did they reveal to one who was initiated into them?

The enigma becomes still more puzzling when we realize that at the same time the ancients regarded the Mysteries as something dangerous. The way leading to the secrets of existence went through a world of terrors. And woe to him who tried to reach them unworthily. — There was no greater crime than the “betrayal” of these secrets to the uninitiated. The “traitor” was punished with death and confiscation of property. We know that the poet Aeschylus was accused of having brought something from the Mysteries to the stage. He was able to escape death only by fleeing to the altar of Dionysus and producing legal evidence that he was not an initiate.” [Rudolf Steiner, Christianity as Mystical Fact]

Flowing out of the Mystery Centers were stories for the general population to help shape evolution, especially the evolution of consciousness.  These include the stories of Demeter and Persephone, Prometheus and Heracles, Jason and the Argonauts,  Theseus and the Minotaur, and from Egypt: Isis and Osiris.

An entry in Wikipedia claims “Christian Mystery” is used in Eastern Christianity to refer to what the Western Church currently calls Sacraments.  This writer goes on to reveal that the seven sacraments were defined for the Western Church at the Council of Trent that took place 1545-1563.  For the gospel writers, use of the term “mystery” refers to The Mysteries: both the ancient Mysteries and the new Mysteries.  It likely was taught in early Christian circles that the ancient Mysteries led to the Mystery of Golgotha.  These ancient mysteries were necessary to prepare humanity to understand this central mystery for humanity.  Following the Mystery of Golgotha, the New Mysteries of the future could begin – and these, to begin with, were enacted no longer secretly within the Holy of the Holies, but in public during the Mass.  As Christ had initiated Lazarus in public, so now the mysteries came out of hiding.  The sacraments are indeed part of the new mysteries.  But the soul mood of the participants must be prepared to receive.  A mood of sacredness must prevail to receive.  For centuries, it was felt that one should come clean, that is confess all sins, before receiving the Eucharist.

Reviewing Solomon’s Temple

The Temple in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus was no longer Solomon’s Temple.  and it was no longer the Second Temple built by Zerubbabel after The Captivity in Babylon. An inspiration from the arch-angel Michael (known then as Marduk in those Persian times) had moved Cyrus the Great to free the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild their temple.

Was it a third temple built by Herod the Great who had been selected by Rome to be King of Judea or did Herod merely fix-up the second Temple? The question is important to some concerning prophecy of the third temple. Thus it was either new construction or reconstruction by King Herod that the Romans would tear down after the defeat of Jewish Revolt in the year 70 CE.

This raises the questions:

  • Was Herod’s Temple the Third Temple?
  • Was Jesus-Christ the Third Temple? (recall John 2:19 where “Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ “)
  • Is there to be a new temple in Jerusalem where currently the mosque Dome of the Rock exists?

We will examine these questions in a later post to this blog.

For now, let’s examine Solomon and Hiram and the First Temple.

 

The Biblical version of Solomon goes like this:

1 Kings 4:29 -34 (for more see Bible Gateway)

The Wisdom of Solomon

29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.

30 And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.

31 For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about.

32 And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five.

33 And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.

34 And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.

Then 1 Kings 7:

Dimensions of Temple and Adjoining Buildings

It took Solomon thirteen years, however, to complete the construction of his palace. He built the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon a hundred cubits long, fifty wide and thirty high, with four rows of cedar columns supporting trimmed cedar beams. It was roofed with cedar above the beams that rested on the columns—forty-five beams, fifteen to a row. Its windows were placed high in sets of three, facing each other. All the doorways had rectangular frames; they were in the front part in sets of three, facing each other.[b]

He made a colonnade fifty cubits long and thirty wide.[c] In front of it was a portico, and in front of that were pillars and an overhanging roof.

He built the throne hall, the Hall of Justice, where he was to judge, and he covered it with cedar from floor to ceiling. And the palace in which he was to live, set farther back, was similar in design. Solomon also made a palace like this hall for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had married.

All these structures, from the outside to the great courtyard and from foundation to eaves, were made of blocks of high-grade stone cut to size and smoothed on their inner and outer faces. 10 The foundations were laid with large stones of good quality, some measuring ten cubits and some eight.11 Above were high-grade stones, cut to size, and cedar beams. 12 The great courtyard was surrounded by a wall of three courses of dressed stone and one course of trimmed cedar beams, as was the inner courtyard of the temple of the Lord with its portico.

Solomon sends for Hiram

13 King Solomon sent to Tyre and brought Hiram, 14 whose mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali and whose father was from Tyre and a skilled craftsman in bronze. Hiram was filled with wisdom, with understanding and with knowledge to do all kinds of bronze work. He came to King Solomon and did all the work assigned to him.

15 He cast two bronze pillars, each eighteen cubits high and twelve cubits in circumference. 16 He also made two capitals of cast bronze to set on the tops of the pillars; each capital was five cubits high. 17 A network of interwoven chains adorned the capitals on top of the pillars, seven for each capital. 18 He made pomegranates in two rows encircling each network to decorate the capitals on top of the pillars. He did the same for each capital. 19 The capitals on top of the pillars in the portico were in the shape of lilies, four cubits high.20 On the capitals of both pillars, above the bowl-shaped part next to the network, were the two hundred pomegranates in rows all around. 21 He erected the pillars at the portico of the temple. The pillar to the south he named Jakin and the one to the north Boaz. 22 The capitals on top were in the shape of lilies. And so the work on the pillars was completed.

23 He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it. 24 Below the rim, gourds encircled it—ten to a cubit. The gourds were cast in two rows in one piece with the Sea.

25 The Sea stood on twelve bulls, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south and three facing east. The Sea rested on top of them, and their hindquarters were toward the center. 26 It was a hand-breadth in thickness, and its rim was like the rim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It held two thousand baths.

27 He also made ten movable stands of bronze; each was four cubits long, four wide and three high.28 This is how the stands were made: They had side panels attached to uprights. 29 On the panels between the uprights were lions, bulls and cherubim—and on the uprights as well. Above and below the lions and bulls were wreaths of hammered work. 30 Each stand had four bronze wheels with bronze axles, and each had a basin resting on four supports, cast with wreaths on each side. 31 On the inside of the stand there was an opening that had a circular frame one cubit deep. This opening was round, and with its base work it measured a cubit and a half. Around its opening there was engraving. The panels of the stands were square, not round. 32 The four wheels were under the panels, and the axles of the wheels were attached to the stand. The diameter of each wheel was a cubit and a half. 33 The wheels were made like chariot wheels; the axles, rims, spokes and hubs were all of cast metal.

34 Each stand had four handles, one on each corner, projecting from the stand.35 At the top of the stand there was a circular band half a cubit deep. The supports and panels were attached to the top of the stand. 36 He engraved cherubim, lions and palm trees on the surfaces of the supports and on the panels, in every available space, with wreaths all around. 37 This is the way he made the ten stands. They were all cast in the same molds and were identical in size and shape.

38 He then made ten bronze basins, each holding forty baths[v] and measuring four cubits across, one basin to go on each of the ten stands. 39 He placed five of the stands on the south side of the temple and five on the north. He placed the Sea on the south side, at the southeast corner of the temple. 40 He also made the pots and shovels and sprinkling bowls.

So Hiram finished all the work he had undertaken for King Solomon in the temple of the Lord:

41 the two pillars;

the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;

the two sets of network decorating the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;

42 the four hundred pomegranates for the two sets of network (two rows of pomegranates for each network decorating the bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars);

43 the ten stands with their ten basins;

44 the Sea and the twelve bulls under it;

45 the pots, shovels and sprinkling bowls.

All these objects that Hiram made for King Solomon for the temple of the Lord were of burnished bronze. 46 The king had them cast in clay molds in the plain of the Jordan between Sukkoth and Zarethan. 47 Solomon left all these things unweighed, because there were so many; the weight of the bronze was not determined.

48 Solomon also made all the furnishings that were in the Lord’s temple:

the golden altar;

the golden table on which was the bread of the Presence;

49 the lampstands of pure gold (five on the right and five on the left, in front of the inner sanctuary);

the gold floral work and lamps and tongs;

50 the pure gold basins, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, dishes and censers;

and the gold sockets for the doors of the innermost room, the Most Holy Place, and also for the doors of the main hall of the temple.

51 When all the work King Solomon had done for the temple of the Lord was finished, he brought in the things his father David had dedicated—the silver and gold and the furnishings—and he placed them in the treasuries of the Lord’s temple.

public domain
public domain

Now comes the Queen of Sheba to visit Solomon (1 Kings 10):

10 When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relationship to the Lord, she came to test Solomon with hard questions.Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind. Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her. When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built,the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the Lord, she was overwhelmed.

She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.”

10 And she gave the king 120 talents of gold, large quantities of spices, and precious stones. Never again were so many spices brought in as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

11 (Hiram’s ships brought gold from Ophir; and from there they brought great cargoes of almugwood and precious stones. 12 The king used the almugwood to make supports for the temple of the Lord and for the royal palace, and to make harps and lyres for the musicians. So much almugwood has never been imported or seen since that day.)

13 King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for, besides what he had given her out of his royal bounty. Then she left and returned with her retinue to her own country.

[thanks to www.biblegateway.com for the above text from 1 Kings]

Some important points from above are:

  • Hiram was the son of a widow
  • Hiram came with understanding and with knowledge to do all kinds of bronze work
  • The Temple Legend contains much more about Solomon, Hiram, and the Queen of Sheba – we’ll explore this more in another post.

Reevaluating Julian the Apostate

A complex person and emperor of Rome, Julian’s biographers have described him as “a man of unusually complex character: he was ‘the military commander, the theosophist, the social reformer, and the man of letters’. He was the last non-Christian ruler of the Roman Empire, and it was his desire to bring the Empire back to its ancient Roman values in order to save it from dissolution. He purged the top-heavy state bureaucracy and attempted to revive traditional Roman religious practices at the cost of Christianity. His rejection of Christianity in favor of Neo-platonic paganism caused him to be called Julian the Apostate (Ἀποστάτης Apostates, ‘a person who has abandoned their religion, principles’)

“Julian’s personal religion was both pagan and philosophical; he viewed the traditional myths as allegories, in which the ancient gods were aspects of a philosophical divinity. The chief surviving sources are his works To King Helios and To the Mother of the Gods.

“He learned theurgy from Maximus of Ephesus, a student of Iamblichus; his system bears some resemblance to the Neoplatonism of Plotinus; Polymnia Athanassiadi has brought new attention to his relations with Mithraism, although whether he was initiated into it remains debatable; and certain aspects of his thought (such as his reorganization of paganism under High Priests, and his fundamental monotheism) may show Christian influence. Some of these potential sources have not come down to us, and all of them influenced each other, which adds to the difficulties.” For more on Julian visit here on Wikipedia.

Continuing from the historical account from Wikipedia, Julian “restored pagan temples which had been confiscated since Constantine’s time, or simply appropriated by wealthy citizens; he repealed the stipends that Constantine had awarded to Christian bishops, and removed their other privileges, including a right to be consulted on appointments and to act as private courts. He also reversed some favors that had previously been given to Christians.

“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].

“In 363, not long before Julian left Antioch to launch his campaign against Persia, he ordered the Temple in Jerusalem to be rebuilt.  A personal friend of his, Ammianus Marcellinus, wrote this about the effort:

‘Julian thought to rebuild at an extravagant expense the proud Temple once at Jerusalem, and committed this task to Alypius of Antioch. Alypius set vigorously to work, and was seconded by the governor of the province; when fearful balls of fire, breaking out near the foundations, continued their attacks, till the workmen, after repeated scorchings, could approach no more: and he gave up the attempt.’

The failure to rebuild the Temple has been ascribed to the Galilee earthquake of 363, and to the Jews’ ambivalence about the project. Sabotage is a possibility, as is an accidental fire. Julian’s support of Jews caused Jews to call him ‘Julian the Hellene.’

On 26 June 363, at the indecisive Battle of Samarra, received a wound from a spear that reportedly pierced the lower lobe of his liver, the peritoneum and intestines. Although the wound was not immediately deadly, Julian would die a few days later. In 364, Libanius stated that Julian was assassinated by a Christian who was one of his own soldiers.”

Sassanian relief of the investiture of Ardashir II showing (right to left) Shapur II, Mithra, and Ahura Mazda above a defeated Julian, lying prostrate.

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 triumphed – ideas that in any way echoed Manichaeism were forbidden, i.e. the inclusion of material ideas i 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.

Coptic icon showing Saint Mercurius killing Julian. 

Julian understood the greatness of the ancient mysteries and had hoped to restore them for the guidance of mankind. He could not fully grasp Christianity as already in his time much was deceived and lost.

Soul, Consciousness, and Embryology

  • Is mind a product of brain and body?
  • Does consciousness arise magically out of matter?
  • Are embryo cells individually intelligent, knowing what to do?

Like these questions above, the study of Embryology gives us some wonderful leading questions to this subject of consciousness. Here are some more:

  • What were we actually doing when we were an embryo?
  • Who is realizing itself?
  • When does this realization occur?
  • Are there patterns to consciousness arising that apply generically to all humans?
  • How does one exist as an embryo?

Much of modern philosophy on consciousness begins with an adult in its study. Only a few years ago, it was felt that by about 7 years of age, tEarly embryohe brain completed its infrastructure development as a hard wired machine that now could be properly filled with knowledge data.  Mental illness was typically seen as irreversible because it arose out of ‘bad wiring’.  Today plasticity of the brain has been recognized but often this fixed-brain psychology persists in practitioners.

Futurologists such as Ray Kurzweil insist that artificial intelligence (AI) will one day soon be able to ‘reverse engineer’ the brain and thereby endow a computing machine with the ability to think and act like a human being.  Ray goes on to claim that with the exponential growth in computing capabilities, that by mid-century (roughly 2050) we will pass a Singularity point after which AI will race along leaving carbon-only humans behind. He states that to survive we will need to become a hybrid person, part carbon-based and part computer (silicon based) and eventually the weaker carbon-based part will disappear.  This concept of a hybrid human, oddly, may have some unintended truth to it which I’ll discuss in another offering later.  In many ways, we began down this path with the ‘personal computer’. But the intention that we can reverse engineer the brain to build a computer-based mind will fail because it fails to recognize the role of soul in human thinking.

Soul? Is not this an out-dated concept rejected in the 19th century? Indeed, materialism has sent the concept of soul to its death. Only religion, it seems, holds on to the concept to use it for the promise of an afterlife. Now, through an examination of pre-birth, through embryology, we can ask if this materialistic concept makes sense! [BTW, until the 8th Ecumenical Council at Constantinople, the human was always thought of as soma, psyche, and pneuma: body, soul, and spirit].

We turn now to embryologist Jaap van der Wal, some of whose work can be found here.  One of his [slightly edited quoted] papers show that “an embryo ‘behaves’. It is shaping its body, it moves, it performs (literally).  The first manifestation of behavior we exhibit as the psychosomatic body-mind being that we are, is our morphological behavior – that is to say, our body.  The gestures we make on the physiological level are also performance, the en-act dimension in us.  Going upright, finding the balance, centering: these are acts of the soul, of the human Self or spirit.  Before we can do these psychologically, we perform them physiologically at about one year of age, as in, trying to get upright in a playpen.  And even that is not the first time.  The first time you found your balance was when you shaped and organized the bodily organization as an embryo.  The human body is the only primate and mammalian body where the gravity center is organized inside and within the body.  To come to yourself as a human being you need the organization for that, i.e., a body (not only a brain) that can do so.  This is exactly what you do in the growing and shaping of your body as an embryo: you perform here the act of going upright and balancing in a morphological way.”

“Our body is behavior, human behavior, to be explicit.  The body is not a thing, an anatomical substrate; it is a performance, a function, a behavior.  Soul does not have a body, it is body; body does not have a soul, it is soul.  Even your spinal columnskeleton and brain (organs that for example are nearly structuralized to death and physical substance) are ‘on the move’, are processes. [Note the mystical numbers: 7, 12, 5, 5, 3]. I learned from embryology, Motion is primary, form is secondary!  Form arises out of motion (and not the reverse as reductionistic thinkers always propagate).  In that motion a behavior is performed.”

“Within the embryo, form and function are still related and linked together firmly.  Bodily and physiological functions are pre-exercised as growth gestures and as growing movements in the embryo.  In this respect a human being has already breathed long before he has taken his first breath after birth.  The dynamics with which lungs, thorax and diaphragm are developing and unfolding may be considered as a type of breathing because these dynamics are already breathing movements.  Considered in this way, an embryo looks, grasps, walks.  This can be called morphological behavior.”

Thus, I am a being of soul and body (not body and soul). It is not my muscles that move me, rather, it is my willing activity in my soul directed from my I that moves my limbs.  I am integrated with my body for my life on earth but I must not be confused to believe that my body is me or is moving me.  Consciousness is primary.

This takes us to more leading questions:

  • Does the soul exist before birth? before conception?
  • Can consciousness exist without the brain? If so, how is it different?
  • Besides our awake consciousness, we know we have three levels of lesser consciousness: dreaming, dreamless sleep, and coma. How many higher levels might there be?
  • If consciousness is primary, did evolution arise from it? If so, is the fossil record a story of the sequence of what precipitated out of a consciousnes
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