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wolves, the fierce and threatening bark of dogs. But his attendant, who maintained a profound silence, hurried him forward towards the quarter whence these sounds proceeded, and at the sudden opening of a door he found himself in a den of wild beasts, dimly lighted with a single lamp. He was immediately attacked by the initiated in the forms of lions, tigers, wolves, griffins, and other monstrous beasts, from whom he seldom escaped unhurt. Thence he passed into another cavern, shrouded in darkness, where he heard the terrific roaring of thunder, and saw vivid and continuous flashes of lightning, which in streaming sheets of fire rendered visible the flitting shades of avenging genii, resenting his intrusion into their chosen abodes. To restore the candidate a little, he was next conducted into another apartment, where his excited feelings were soothed with melodious music and the flavour of grateful perfumes. On his expressing his readiness to proceed through the remaining ceremonies, a signal was given by his conductor, and three priests immediately made their appearance, one of whom cast a living serpent into his bosom as a token of regeneration (57); and, a private door having been opened, there issued forth such howlings and cries of lamentation and dismay, as struck him with new and indescribable emotions of terror. On turning his eyes to the place whence these noises proceeded, he beheld exhibited in every appalling form the torments of the wicked in Hades. Thus he was passed through the devious labyrinth consisting of seven spacious vaults, connected by winding galleries, each opening with a narrow stone portal, the scene of some perilous adventure, until he reached the Sacellum, or Holy of Holies, which was brilliantly illuminated, and which sparkled with gold and precious stones. A splendid sun and starry system moved in accordance with delicious music. The archimagus sat in the east on a throne of burnished gold, crowned with a rich diadem decorated with myrtle boughs, and habited in a tunic of bright cerulean hue; round him were assembled the præsules and dispensers of the mysteries. By these the novice was received with congratulations, and after having entered into the usual engagements for keeping secret the rites of Zoroaster, the sacred words were entrusted to him, of which the Tetractys, or name of God, was the chief. The Tetractys of Pythagoras is analogous to the Jewish Tetragrammaton, or name of the Deity in four letters. The number four was considered the most perfect, because in the first four properties of
Nature (11) are comprised and implied all the rest; wherefore also the first four numbers summed
the decad, after which all is only repetition.
28. Myth of Rustam.—This progress was denominated ascending the ladder of perfection, and from it has arisen the tale of Rustam, the Persian Hercules, who, mounted on the monster Rakshi, which is the Arabic name of Simorgh, undertakes the conquest of Mazendaraun, celebrated as a perfect earthly paradise. Having amidst many dangers fought his way along a road of seven stages, he reaches
the cavern of the White Giant, who smites all that assail him with blindness. But Rustam overcomes him, and with three drops of the giant's blood restores sight to all his captives. The symbolical three drops of blood had their counterparts in all the mysteries of the ancient world. In Britain the emblem was three drops of water; in Mexico, as in this legend, three drops of blood; in India, a belt composed of three triple threads; in China, the three strokes of the letter Y, &c. The blindness with which those who seek the giant are smitten, of course refers to the emblematic mental blindness of the aspirant to initiation.
29. Mysteries of Mithras.—Upon the trunk of a religion so spiritual and hostile to idolatry, which undertook iconoclastic expeditions into Babylonia, Assyria, Syria, and Libya, which vindicated the pure worship of God, destroying by means of the sword of Cambyses the Egyptian priesthood, which overthrew the temples and idols of Greece, which gave to the Israelites the Pharisees, which appears so simple and pure as to have bestowed on the Parsees the appellation of the Puritans of antiquity, and on Cyrus that of the Anointed of the Lord-on this trunk there were afterwards ingrafted idolatrous branches, as perhaps the Brahminic, and certainly the Mithraic worship, the origin of which latter Dupuis places at 4500 years before Christ.
30. Origin of Mithraic Worship.—Mithras is a beneficent genius presiding over the sun, the most powerful of the twentyeight izads, or spirits of light, invoked together with the sun, and not at first confounded with it; the chief mediator and intercessor between Oromazes and man. But in course of time the conception of this Mithras became perverted, and he usurped the attributes of divinity. Such usurpation of the rank of the superior Deity on the part of the inferior is of frequent occurrence in mythology; it suffices to refer to Siva and Vishnu in India, Serapis in Egypt, Jupiter in Greece. The perversion was rendered easy by confounding the symbol with the thing symbolised, the genius of the sun with the sun itself, which alone remained in the language, since the modern Persian name of the sun (mihr) represents the regular modification of the Zend Mithras.
The Persian Mithras must not be confounded with that of India, for it is undoubted that another Mithras, different from the Zendic, from the most ancient times was the object of a special mysterious worship, and that the initiated knew him as the sun. Taking the letters of the Greek word “Meithras" at their numerical value, we obtain the
number 365, the days of the year. The same holds good of “ Abraxas,” the name which Basilides gave to the Deity, and further of “Belenos," the name given to the sun in Gaul.
31. Dogmas, &c.—On the Mithraic monuments we find representations of the globe of the sun, the club and bull, symbols of the highest truth, the highest creative activity, the highest vital power. Such a trinity agrees with that of Plato, which consists of the Supreme Good, the Word, and the Soul of the World; with that of Hermes Trismegistus, consisting of Light, Intelligence, and Soul; with that of Porphyry, which consists of Father, Word, and Supreme Soul.
According to Herodotus, Mithras became the Mylitta of Babylon, the Assyrian Venus, to whom was paid an obscene worship as to the female principle of creation, the goddess of fecundity, of life; one perhaps with Anaitis, the Armenian goddess.
The worship of Persian Mithras, or Apollo, spread over Italy at Rome, in fact, it superseded the Greek and Roman gods-Gaul, Germany, Britain ; and expiring polytheism opposed to the sun Christ, the sun Mithras.
32. Rites of Initiation. The sanctuaries of this worship were always subterranean, and in each sanctuary was placed a ladder with seven steps, by which one ascended to the mansions of felicity. The initiations into this degree were similar to those detailed in the foregoing section, but, if possible, more severe than into any other, and few passed through all the tests. The festival of the god was held towards the middle of the month of Mihr (October), and the probationer had to undergo long and severe trials before he was admitted to the full knowledge of the mysteries.
The first degree was inaugurated with purifying lustrations, and a sign was set on the neophyte's brow, whilst he offered to the god a loaf and a cup of water. A crown was presented to him on the point of a sword, and he put it on his head saying, “ Mithras is my crown.
In the second degree the aspirant put on armour to meet
1 Underneath the church of St. Clement, at Rome, a singularly wellpreserved temple of Mithras was discovered some years ago. When the monk who had, on my visit to Rome, shown me the church above, said that he would now take me down to the pagan temple of Mithras, I could not help saying to myself, “ If you but knew it, Mithras is above as well as below !” A well-preserved temple of Mithras was discovered at Ostia in 1886, displaying in mosaics all the symbols of the worship of the Persian sun-god.
giants and monsters, and a wild chase took place in the subterranean caves. The priests and officers of the temple, disguised as lions, tigers, leopards, bears, wolves, and other wild beasts, attacked the candidate with fierce howlings. In these sham fights the aspirant ran great personal danger, though sometimes the priests caught a Tartar. Thus we are told that the Emperor Commodus on his initiation carried the joke too far, and slew one of the priests who had assailed him in the form of a wild beast.
In the next degree he put on a mantle on which were painted the signs of the zodiac. A curtain then concealed him from the sight of all; but this being withdrawn, he appeared surrounded by frightful griffins. After passing through other trials, if his courage did not fail him, he was hailed as a
“Lion of Mithras,” in allusion to the zodiacal sign in which the sun attained his greatest power. We meet with the same idea in the degree of Master Mason. The grand secret was then imparted. What was it? At this distance of time it is difficult to decide, but we may assume that the priests communicated to him the most authentic sacerdotal traditions, the best accredited theories concerning the origin of the universe, and the attributes, perfections, and works of Oromazes. In fact, the Mithraic mysteries represent the progress of darkness to light. According to Guignault, Mithras is love; with regard to the Eternal, he is the son of mercy; with regard to Oromazes and Ahrimanes, the fire of love.
33. Thammuz.—The ceremonies connected with the myth of Thammuz, the Chaldean sun-god, were another phase of solar worship. M. Lenormant was the first to demonstrate, from the Assyrian tablets, that Thammuz was the prototype of Adonis, and of all the subsequent sun-gods worshipped in various countries and under various names. On those tablets also is found the story of Istar, the prototype of Astarte, Isis, and the other female deities, who afterwards, under various names, represented cosmically the female principle, and astronomically the moon. The great festival of Thammuz was held at the summer solstice (even now in the Jewish calendar the month of July goes by the name of Tamuz); it lasted six days, and in the functions ascribed to each day we find a curious agreement with the corresponding properties of eternal Nature (11). For the first day was a day of rest, motionless, inactive; the second and third days celebrated the struggle of the imprisoned life to become free—they were days of grief and suffering; the fourth day was dedicated