Home (theory of the ego death and rebirth experience)

Hellenistic Mystery Religion


Mystery religions now an open book; solved. 1

Cracking the code of the mystery-religions. 2

Cracked mystery of Hellenistic thinking. 3

Directions in mystery-religion research. 4

Closing the theory of Western religion. 6

135-200: the ancient Psychedelic 60s?. 7

Hellenistic Mystery Religions: scholarly blind spot 7

Wilber & Hellenistic mystery-religions. 9

Hellenistic mystery cults were based on earlier myths expressing mystic-state phenomena. 10

Profaning the mysteries, stability of political and personal government 11

If you publically reveal the secret, you die. 12

Key themes of mystery allusions to mystic dissociative phenomena. 13

Character of Hellenistic mythic allegory. 14

Mystery-religion symbol manipulation. 15

Book: Hellenistic Religions: An Introduction. 17

Mystery-religion as entheogen allegory technology. 19

Routinization of mystery-religion initiation, hierophants downsized. 19

Apollo's contribution to transcendent knowledge. 20


Mystery religions now an open book; solved

Yesterday I cracked the mystery religions all the way open; they are now a fully open book.  No mystery remains, only the reading.  I did not do an in-depth study of mystery-religions, but used leverage of experiential description, and comparison of OT, NT, and mystery religions, with some reference to Zen and eastern religions.  Mystery religions have an especially intense connection with entheogen experiencing.  Keeping entheogen experiencing *foremost* in mind is essential for decoding and pattern-recognition in mystery-myth. 

Mystery-myth is expressly designed as a *game* of ego death allegory, unlike eastern religion.  Mystery-religion is designed to be something that can be, as a whole, "solved" like a puzzle.  I also had that same feeling of sudden pattern recognition, "solving" the "puzzle" of Watts' book Way of Zen in the 12/12/87 first insight.

I read Apples of Apollo when it first came out but it really isn't very helpful, dwelling only on the plant-symbol connection, missing the boat on experiential allegory.

Annotating Web pages about myth was helpful.

Usually when I reach a major milestone of insight, I can point to a few books that loom in my mind.  This time, it seems like a matter of sweeping vision across many books.  I *have* read some books lately, but what really looms in my mind is my book *lists* I put together.

So the main themes leading to this feeling of complete mastery of the basic patterns and hermeneutics of mystery-myth are:

o  Making good lists of books.  Finding out that various books exist is itself helpful.

o  Writing many postings -- my previous reading filled me with many questions, often forgotten, that just needed to work themselves out in writing.

o  Hardcore political analyses of Christianity and sociological analyses forced me to stand up and defend and characterize the genuine religious experiencing encoded in scripture.  Big difference between "it's political" and "it's only political".

Revisiting and posting in the JesusMysteries discussion group, which I love to hate, also helped me find ways to talk about entheogens and really compress my characterization of Christianity as mystery-religion.

Lately, when I touch a book on religion, I get slammed to the wall with a torrent of insight and stop and report it, so, ironically, it feels like I can't make much progress."

Cracking the code of the mystery-religions

I'm currently reading the latest 25 books I purchased a week ago, and some library books:

o Hellenistic myths and mystery religions

o The controversy over Copenhagenist quantum mechanics

o Tenseless (illusory) time

o Several ~$85 books on determinism, including in Stoic thought

o Rethinking "Gnosticism": An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category

The Gnostics, like the mystery initiates, understood the threat of block-universe fatalism to human freedom, and were motivated mainly by hating such a metaphysically disempowering jail cell of "astrological" cosmic determinism, and by *wanting* and *attempting* to find a way of transcending, in some sense, the frozen space-time cosmos. 

Whether they succeeded, in some sense, at transcending the ego-killing trap of illusory/frozen time is a matter of debate and a matter of investigating the notion of transcendence.  All the hatred and loathing of my block-universe idea exhibited by some contemporary Gnostics only serves to confirm the plausibility of my portrayal of how the ancients had mixed feelings about the Fatalism they perceived and believed in.

I'm not interested in truth per se, but by making sense out of mystery-experiencing.  I'm constructing a simple, consistent model of how our personal power of will and self-control sits with respect to the time dimension, and how the ancients experienced initiation in the mystery religions.  The ancients were concerned above all with the problematic metaphysical aspects of personal freedom. 

We cannot say, with low-level detail, that their myths had only one meaning, regarding our metaphysical freedom or lack of it, or our transcendence of metaphysical unfreedom.  But we can certainly say that the Gnostics and mysteries had one high-level, overarching meaning: grappling with the problematic nature of personal metaphysical freedom.  

Each Gnostic group or thinker, and each mystery tradition, and each myth, may have drawn different conclusions or told the religious story in different ways, but there is one commonality across all this diversity: they all were concerned primarily with the problematic nature of personal metaphysical freedom.  When certain contemporary Gnostics rail against my model of the frozen block universe, they only add support to the above thesis of what concern, what issue, what *problem* unites all the variant traditions of the diverse Gnostic groups and mystery traditions. 

I have cracked the code, penetrated the mysteries, and solved the puzzle, by identifying the question, the problem, what was really at issue.  The way to finally make sense of the various Hellenistic myths in an encompassing way is through reading them as encoded allegories of mystic-state encounters with the problematic nature of personal metaphysical freedom.  Cries by certain Gnostics against the frozen block-universe model only strengthen this thesis. 

o  Is the universe in fact frozen, with time being illusory? 

o  Is our power and freedom a frozen illusion as well? 

o  Can we meaningfully transcend such deathly freezing or rock-embedding of the entire time axis? 

o  Is there a legitimate and coherent way that we can, like Mithras, exit from the rock-womb and become legitimately free? 

These are matters for debate and do not overthrow the value of my model of time and personal control, as a fundamental and basic model to consider as a hypothesis and reference point that all initiates must know.  No one should believe that time is an illusion, along with our personal power to author our own future, but *everyone* should *know* this idea as a fundamental hypothesis and point of reference. 

Cracked mystery of Hellenistic thinking

I may somewhat artificially choose today as the day I cracked the mystery of Hellenistic thinking, although these breakthroughs always happen over more like a week, with even the peak spread out over two or three days like a plateau.  I pick today because yesterday and today as I listened to Philip Cary's lecture on Plato's allegory of the cave, it perfectly connected with the deepest issues of the mystic altered state peak. 

I particularly liked yesterday's "sun behind the sun" interpretation solution, where Sol is the initiate and the two suns are the two hierarchically related levels of cybernetic controllership.  When this then connected to another idea I was working on, the concept of an asymetrical covenant or pact, I remembered the handshake between Mithras and Sol from a book from months ago, after the threatening of Sol by Mithras which I read about in Entheos yesterday, that sealed it -- I knew then that I was on the right track.

I anticipate that I could sustain a flood of insights regarding various aspects -- books full of solutions to Hellenistic mythic puzzles.  It's as easy as knocking over domino chains now.  I could probably spend a couple months revealing the cybernetic altered-state meaning of many aspects of Hellenistic culture, but it's about time to prioritize and ask what's the goal.

Today's scholarship is so lame, so totally clueless, they think that Dionysus worship was about literally tearing apart and eating an animal raw, and they think that the Greeks got drunk on what we call wine.  Uninspired scholars always think "bodily death" when they read "death", and they always think of a literal king when they read "king" -- unlike the Hellenistic world.

My first breakthrough was Dec. 12, 1987 (no-free-will as the solution to make coherent sense of Alan Watts' book The Way of Zen). 

The second breakthrough was close on the heels: Jan. 11, 1988, finding the concept of timeless block universe determinism with respect to the illusory nature of personal controllership, connected with Zen satori.

My Nov. 14, 2001 "kingdom of God" breakthrough was major. 

My "messianic apocalypse at last supper, and end of time" breakthough around March 13, 2003 was a medium-strength breakthrough.  (Triggered by Dale Allison's online seminar discussion.)

Today's (this week's) Hellenistic thinking breakthrough shows how to extend those type of ideas to the overall Hellenistic world of philosophy as well as religion.  The scope is major (actually applying to many more religions as well).

The hardest issues to write about include the issue of: can we, or why can we, trust God as controller during the ego-death control instability helplessness?  If Jesus exists only in the mythic realm, why does thinking about his sacrifice on the Cross restore stability? 

If my control and my fated near-future control thoughts are revealed to be metaphysically in God's hands and not my own, how can I manage to trust God, when he could just as well take away as restore my stability of personal controllership, and he could inject any control-thought at all? 

I really don't know what control-thought lies ahead in the near-future on my frozen railroad track, already frozen timelessly into the block universe -- how can I, as locus of control, reconcile myself to that frozenness of my fate, that nothingness of my power to originate my own fate and destiny?

Picking your axiomatic assumptions is crucial.  It has been completely successful, picking the assumptions that:

o  Entheogens were everywhere in the Hellenistic world.

o  Hellenistic religion and philosophy and myth all were entheogen-based.

o  Hellenistic thinking believed no-free-will.

o  Jesus didn't exist; instead, the Cross is densely packed with Hellenistic meaning.

o  The same core initiation technique and same ultimate belief system underlied Jewish, Christian, Gnostic, and Hellenistic mystery religions and philosophies and myths.  They all mean and point to the same thing: that which is realized and experienced in the entheogenic intense mystic altered state.

Using this interpretive framework, Hellenistic thinking fell open like a book, and I now read Greek, so to speak; I have found the Rosetta stone.  Greek thinking is strange and mysterious to the other scholars, but essentially coherent and clear to me using this interpretive framework of axiomatic assumptions.

Directions in mystery-religion research

>Christianity began as a mystery religion, per Andrew Welburn's book, "Gnosis: the mysteries and Christianity".

Welburn's work and the Steiner works he's translated are strong, and Freke & Gandy are strong on this point.  As far as I can tell, most of Steiner's writings contain noxious "psychic" and "reincarnation" notions, though he cautions about reading these ideas too literally.  However, his book Christianity as Mystical Fact is sound and as prescient as Welburn claims; I can see why Welburn took the trouble to provide a good translation of that book in particular. 

If you like Welburn, you will like this particular Steiner book.  It's interesting that Christianity re-understood as mystery religion seems more worthwhile than typical esoteric such as psychic religions; esoteric mystery Christianity seems true while turn-of-the-century "occult esotericism" seems regressive.

There is a very strange gap in surveys of religion: the Hellenistic Mystery Religions are loudly absent -- it's uncanny.  Hopefully Welburn, Freke & Gandy will inspire more research.

The Mystery Religions have been swept under the carpet: too threatening, too close to Christianity -- and swept under by the strategy of subsuming them as footnotes to Christianity.

Jesus didn't exist: when we collectively understand this, the ramifications will shake our self-confidence down to the ground and put us fully and truly into the postmodern era; we've barely begun to imagine what postmodern lack of certainty is like. 

I have lately been struck with a dizzy glimpse of the possibility that Socrates didn't exist -- I have not investigated that particular possibility, but I did read that scholars are finding that we either know a lot about Socrates, or actually almost nothing -- just like our man Jesus.  What if all the ancient writings were essentially edifying tall tales?  All our knowledge about classical culture will need to be radically reconsidered and brought into the full light of doubt. 

The ancients we literalized are dropping like flies, like a plague, who's next?  What can we know?  How are we to read the works we've inherited?  The Old Testament is also being called seriously into doubt as history.  The big question of the day is, what is the relationship between religion-myth and actual history, in all religions?

>Scholars disprove all theories I can come up with.

What if your theory is "It's all mythic-experiencing allegory" -- can that be shown false?

>Maybe Chrisitianity was the result of text selection from among various conflicting groups forcibly joined for political reasons.

Don't forget mythic-experiencing allegory, interpenetrating with socio-political allegory: that interpentration of allegory domains accounts for all the kind of complexity we're seeing.

>We've pretty much hammered the facts to death.

Agreed.  The facts are present in Doherty and Freke & Gandy and the like.  The main progress now lies in interpretation and reflection.  However, there are some nearly unexplored areas that are central and in need of research.  Scholarly investigation has hardly begun in key topics.

The question cannot be "Did Jesus exist or not?" but must instead be "How are we to think of Jesus?"

>Maybe folks using the group as research for a book on the subject think that there are a lot of areas to be investigated yet.  What are they?

Sacred meals -- what did they involve?

How did the mystery religion interpenetrate with Jewish esotericism, Hellenistic myth, and early Christian groups?

>I am surrounded by Christian Literalists and want to come to my own, best understanding of Jesus.

Many people feel that way.  The books The Jesus Mysteries and Jesus and the Lost Goddess are very popular.  Acharya S' book is very popular too, though I remain alienated from ancient popular *astrological* allegory for primary religious experiencing.

More New Agers need to start digging deep in the tradition of esoteric Christianity and the Hellenistic Mystery Religions.  Freke & Gandy are leading the way here, and Welburn is contributing (Welburn doesn't ask whether Jesus existed, however; he's not a scholar of Jesus so much as a scholar of early Christianity).

>I would like to be able to debate Literalists, because there are too many to ignore.

There are at least a few books now about esoteric Christianity, including early esoteric Christianity.  It's very early for this subject.  Many have wanted to write about this over the centuries, but were prevented.  Now with the Net, people are both willing *and* able to write about purely mystic Christianity.

>Peter Kirby summarized the various Jesus scholars.


My table is a different angle: different styles of approaches to scholarship about *Christianity* (not limited to varieties of *Jesus* figures).


My new age bookstore claims that they can get this out of print book; they say it appears to be in print (maybe in their supplier's warehouse):

The Complete Guide to World Mysticism: An Introduction to the Major Mystical Traditions, by Timothy Freke,  Peter Gandy.  "An illustrated guide to the world's mystical traditions and experiences, including a general history of the topic. It examines mysticism within the context of major religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, and other less orthodox ones, like Shamanism and the Mystery Schools."



Nov. 1998, hardcover was April 1997 -- which would be just before Jesus Mysteries.

Here's the hardcover:


"Throughout the world and throughout all of history, men and women of every creed and culture have known mystical experiences. The mystic path does not belong to any one religion, and is not necessarily religious at all, yet all religions have their mystical traditions and famous mystics. This guide begins with a general introduction to the traditions and history of mysticism. It then moves on to deal with mysticism within the context of religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, and other less orthodox traditions such as Shamanism and the Mystery Schools. The book finishes with an exploration of the essence of mysticism and the mystical experience in everyday life."

Most books of comparative religion have no chapter on mystery religions.  Ken Wilber's coverage of Hellenistic mystery religions is incredibly weak, dismissive of the Mysteries as an expression of the of "mere" mythic level of consciousness.

We must research the identification of myth with religion.  Campbell is on the right track, though he underestimates how alien primary religious experiencing is, and thus tends to misapply myth to mundane life without enough emphasis of the mystic state of cognition as a state that is stunningly different than that of mundane life.

I have just received the out-of-print book, Buddhism as a Mystery Religion.

Many scholars are ready to embrace the proposal of a mythic-only Jesus, but fewer so far have openly published such a view, or publish works that assume as much.  Many people are interested in a mythic-only Jesus proposal.  Although many in the past have so thought, and some have published as much in the ever-present tradition of purely-mythic Jesus research and mysticism, in some sense it is very early for the purely-mythic Jesus paradigm. 

We are only beginning to ask "So what then, is mystery-religion Christianity really about?"  Here are a few books on esoteric and experiential Christianity.


Books about the mythic-only Jesus:


A relevant book may be Marcus Borg: Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally.


A problem and opportunity have arrived, to completely reconceive Christianity and religion in a non-Literalist way: this requires a lot of work, a lot of rethinking.  Freke & Gandy develop the conceptual language of "Literalist vs. Gnostic", where "Gnostic" means experiential esoteric religion of all brands, and Literalist means exoteric, superficial religion of all brands.

For the future direction of Jesus research, or Christ research, extrapolate from Doherty's Jesus Puzzle to Freke & Gandy's Jesus Mysteries, and then beyond.  How are we to think of Jesus?  That is a question requiring debate and research.  If Jesus was mythic-only, what was that mythicness really about -- political allegory interpenetrating with allegory of primary religious experiencing as was apparently fairly common and domesticated in the Hellenistic era?

See you at the banquet

Closing the theory of Western religion


I now have a complete theory of mythic allegory covering the Bible, mystery-religions, Attic tragedy, and Greek epic poetry.  I would like to fill in more details, but the framework is essentially finished and "closed"; the paradigm for reading the scriptures and other such Western literature is defined.  Next I need to extend this theory out to esoteric Islam and Eastern religions, which I expect to be easy, with everything falling into place as fast as I can survey the books.  Some top-priority tasks: copy my past year of postings to my website, write a glossary, write an article.

As Earl Doherty says, the history of the origins of Christianity needs to be completely scrapped and rewritten.  Everything we "know" is completely incorrect.  Christianity began as a mythically allegorized mystical experiential religion like the Hellenistic mystery-religions ("Gnostic" in the universal sense defined in Lost Goddess, which Wilber would call "esoteric"), and was only later taken over, by bloody brute force and power-politics strategy, by the Literalist authoritarian hierarchical Catholic church in Rome. 

The Gnostic truth was perverted, Literalized, and supernaturalized.  All that we thought we knew about the history of the origins of Christianity is the supernaturalist story told by the power-mongering authoritarians who took over and completely ruined the original, true, popular Christianity.

Studying the political corruption of the original religion will surely turn out to be worthwhile and helpful.

135-200: the ancient Psychedelic 60s?

>>We need a general theory of the relation of mystery-religions and political power in late antiquity.

>Good point.  Now I'm trying to figure out just what you mean by "late antiquity".  I've had the idea that pretty much everyone who was someone in the golden time of Greece attended the mysteries.

http://www.nipissingu.ca/department/history/muhlberger/orb/LT-ATEST.HTM -- "Late Antiquity -- A.D. 284-632, the period between the Emperor Diocletian and the Prophet Muhammed -- was a period when the Mediterranean world changed dramatically. It saw the triumph of Christianity over paganism, the fragmentation of the Roman Empire, the rise of new polities, and the emergence of Islam. Many of the ideas and institutions important to the Middle Ages were formed in this period. Those of us who study Late Antiquity, as professionals or as amateurs, find it one of the most exciting periods of all history. This section of ORB hopes to convey some of that excitement, and to make available both original sources from Late Antiquity and some of the best modern scholarship about the era. 

Contents of this Section:

An Overview of Late Antiquity by Steven Muhlberger 

A Visual Tour through Late Antiquity"

I should specify the years I have in mind when discussing the age of original Christianity and the mystery-religions.  Some period from the classical Greek culture (600 BCE ) to the forcing underground of the mystery religions (500 CE).  Roughly, we can consider the period of ancient mystery-knowledge to be 500 BCE to 500 CE, with the early part being 500 BCE to 1 BCE, and the late part being 1 CE to 500 CE.  In considering the origin of Christianity, I feel we should study 200 BCE to 400 CE.  I'm especially curious about the years 135-200: it seems like things really came together then, in the following areas:

o  Rabbinical Judaism

o  The mystery religions

o  The Christian mystery religion

o  Stoic philosophy

o  Astrotheology

o  Magic

As late modernity has its psychedelic 60s, I consider the era 135-200 to have been the ancient equivalent.  135-200 was the psychedelic 60s of the Roman era.  This is the era of peak inventiveness.

All these dates are highly subject to adjustment, but I have a strong feeling that there are such eras.  Something major and unusually inventive was happening across religions in that era.  The Roman empire mixed peoples together, resulting in feverish syncretism.

I'm especially inclined to consider two separated periods: the Greek mysteries (500s-300s BCE) and the Roman mysteries (100s-300s CE).  I look forward to having a more exact understanding of the dates.  I'm particularly interested in asserting that the items in the above list are all essentially the same thing. 

What's required then is to determine the start and end date for each item in that list while considering them all in approximately the same era and looking for similarities.  Insofar as they are similar, what dates can we assign to each, and what overall dates should we assign for this "kind" of religion/philosophy?  Something was happening around 135-200, and I want to zoom in and determine what the important start and end dates are, and study the period more.

Hellenistic Mystery Religions: scholarly blind spot

The new book Rational Mysticism (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0618060278) clearly highlights a key controversy, between:

o  The exclusivists, such as Stephen Katz, who say all mystic traditions/insight/experiencing are different in their very essence – Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/019520011X

o  The universalists, who assert the equivalence of all versions of mysticism & mystic experiencing – Robert Forman: Mysticism, Mind & Consciousness http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0791441709).

I’m a universalist, primarily interested in a purely mystic and purely allegorical interpretation of Christianity, but with a strong influence from Zen Buddhism such as presented by Alan Watts. I’ve also been tracking Ken Wilber’s work since the 1980s. I’ve been finding some good books about world mysticism and about strongly esoteric/mystic interpretation of Christianity. Such books compare the esoteric version of each major religion, including Sufi, Kabala…

I’m distinctively interested in the esoteric aspect of a dead religion, the Hellenistic Mystery-Religion, conceived of in the singular per Luther Martin’s book. Popular scholarship has a blind spot regarding the Hellenistic mystery-religions: even omniscient Ken Wilber is very weak in that area. The assumptions about religious experiencing in the Hellenistic mysteries starkly contradict today’s popular scholarly way of thinking about world mysticism. Go into a New Age bookstore, with books on every form of esoteric religion, but where is the Hellenistic mystery-religion section?

To my surprise, I’m not reading philosophy much anymore – it seems like I’ve read all that, and there’s not much to it. But philosophy of religious experiencing or mysticism, or religious philosophy, remains complex and interesting, such as the battle between official religion and mystic religion, in each religion. Aside from Watts’ interesting coverage of all traditions, I find it easier to read Christian theology than reading about Buddhism, so I’m more like force-feeding myself some of the highly rated short Buddhism introduction books (I’ve read some general surveys of world religion already). Like reading Christian history and theology, some aspects and passages are tedious and of less interest, while others click and connect naturally with my interests and way of thinking.

Wisdom is encrypted and expressed more obscurely in the Christian tradition than in Buddhism. Can the religions be ranked in terms of degree of encryption?

I’m interested in the shamanic background of Vajrayana. I read much of the new book Shamanism and Tantra in the Himalayas (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0892819138).

The double dorje pendant -- Google’s pictures seem similar to some pictures I’ve seen in books lately. There are probably such pictures in some of my books.

Thich Nhat Hanh -- the name is very familiar, but I don’t think I have or have read any of the books. I note the titles:

Living Buddha, Living Christ

The Raft Is Not the Shore: Conversations Toward a Buddhist/Christian Awareness

Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers

I like Luther Martin’s treatment of all the Hellenistic Mystery Religions as a single family or as sects or forms of a single religion. Mithraism looms fairly high in my interests there – it was a significant competitor of Christianity for official religion of the Roman empire around 313.

It’s interesting to consider how the Christianity, Judaism, and the Greek symposium of the time (~200 BCE – 350 CE) were also forms of that single religion, variations on the same essential theme. Similarly, scholars should suspect that Gnosticism was also a form of that same theme, to a greater degree than has been acknowledged.

Can we plot how close religions are to each other? I’d place all those Hellenistic Mystery Religions and the supposed alternatives of the time closer together (in form and essential spirit) than, say, today’s Christianity and Buddhism, which are understandably conceived as two religions so different as to make it problematic calling them both “religion”, since the latter two seem to assume entirely different conceptions of the notion of “religion”.

There’s some debate about whether Hellenistic Mithraism came from Persia. I think it depends on whether you assume the ancient European and Near Eastern religions are essentially different or similar. I suspect that all these religions have closely shared roots, forms, and methods of initiation, and that there’s always been tension about whether to portray them as multiple expressions of one religion, or opposing and essentially different from each other.

Judaism can be seen as an exaggerated version of literalizing a religion for political reasons, even an ironic hyper-literalization of the political allegorization of religion, where those who are initiated are metaphorically called a “nation” set against “the other nations” (the uninitiated). Mystics (esotericists) of each religion emphasize the essential sameness and equivalence, while religio-political officials stress and exaggerate the differences.

Mystics in any religious tradition recognize how religious symbolism and metaphor are distorted for political reasons, literalized and turned into tools of exclusivism, so that legitimate mystic or metaphysical exclusivism (differentiating between initiates and the non-initiated) is turned into mundane socio-political exclusivism.

The Cathars had a religion of Courtly Love, which included some Christian elements but was mostly set against official Christianity. There are recently a few good studies of Western Esoteric Traditions, such as Faivre’s work, and Hidden Wisdom (Richard Smoley of Gnosis journal is a co-editor).

First consider the official main religions and how they were set against each other for largely political reasons, then fill in the many esoteric semi-underground groups or traditions as a rich undercurrent which the officials sought to control, suppress, and harness – not just officials in one religion, but in all main religions to some extent, certainly of European religions.

Look at tensions between leading, official sects within a religion, and look at tensions between the official sects and the semi-suppressed rich variety of esoteric groups. Catharism is one largely esoteric group among others, with a rich intermingling of traditions both official and unofficial. Given this dynamic complexity, it requires some detailed examination of the relation between these groups and types of groups over time, and then we’d be able to summarize the main dynamics in these relationships.

This is only now starting to happen in the scholarly world. Related to Cathars are Templars and Freemasons. To some extent, we can trace a single esoteric tradition across time, set against official state religion. Scholars too often think in terms of dividing up the world into the main religions, but another important divide is the exoteric/esoteric, or official/anti-official distinction in religion.

The Hellenistic Mystery Religions, like most religious forms during that milieu, were predominantly and essentially initiation systems that routinely had mystic experiencing, and that used metaphor and allegory to convey and express the initiation experience. Such allegorical initiation religion includes some key forms of Judaism and Christianity, and this essential character can be found in Gnosticism, Zoroastrianism, and Egyptian religion as well – both ancient Egyptian religion and Hellenistic Egyptian-styled Mystery Religion.

Official religion characteristically sought – and seeks – to superficially mimic that experiential initiation religion, harnessing its popularity and surface forms of expression while suppressing the personal direct mystic experiencing aspect. Toward that perennial direction of official influence, official religion strives to literalize, while the esoteric forms of religion strive to allegorize. This is the sort of framework in which I propose scholars should evaluate religious groups or sects in any era.

Jansenism should probably be grouped under Protestant Mysticism.

Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons, was immersed in the European esoteric traditions. This new religion was quickly literized and fossilized, but seems to retain many esoteric elements. Someone is currently writing a book on this.

Wilber & Hellenistic mystery-religions

As far as I can find, Wilber has never written about the Hellenistic mystery-religions as such.  These terms do not appear in his book indexes: Greek, Hellenistic, mystery religion.  He hasn't seriously grappled with them on their own terms.  He covers the Christ figure but tears him completely out of the mystery-religion context.  He does not consider entheogens in mystery-religions.  He has not put the pieces together. 

He portrays that era as the prerational, mythic era, and claims that very few people actually experienced the mystery religions as esoteric religions; for most people, they were magical and exoteric.  What little he's written, I don't like much.  His coverage has a lot of merit, but he falls short.  For the most part, he just avoids covering the mystery religions -- he is more intent on jamming them into his complex framework than studying them on their own terms. 

He hasn't written a chapter titled The Mystery Religions and discussed the meanings of various myths.  The subject is interesting, uniting Jewish, pagan, and Christian esoteric schools, and entheogens, and timeless determinism. 

His drawing of Christ is a disaster: Jesus is revealing his heart: it has a small cross floating over it, and flames around it... and that's all.  No spear wound, no crown of thorns; it's a mere living heart -- this must be the mere emotionalized Jesus, judging from the picture without the text.  The whole concept of the self-cancelled cybernetic heart is missing.  Wilber omitted the "cancelled" part, which is the whole point. 

As with Wilber's scant, spotty, and by-the-way coverage of determinism, the will, entheogens, self-control transcendence, and mystery religions, is not *wrong* so much as grossly inadequate.  It fails due to lack of commitment and depth, more than being incorrect -- and the result is largely off-base.  In the end, he fails to comprehend the mystery religions.  Watts has a better grasp of the kinds of thinking involved, but I think Watts also, practically, forgot to cover mystery religions as such. 

Having bits and pieces scattered about is not a solution, not an explanation.  If we could be satisfied with bits and pieces existing somewhere scattered throughout books, that's always been the case.  No, the real goal is to gather together and flesh out in a cogent and useful way.

Hellenistic mystery cults were based on earlier myths expressing mystic-state phenomena

What is the temporal, historical relation between the Greco-Roman/Hellenistic mystery cults, myths, and mystic-state experiential phenomena?  Myth expressed the experiential phenomena of the psyche encountered during the peak window of the intense mystic altered state.  This intense mystic state and the myths which describe metaphorically the phenomena of the intense mystic state are far older than the formalized Hellenic or Hellenistic mystery religions. 

The early formalized Hellenic mystery religions, such as the mysteries at Eleusis, were a formalization of ancient initiations, including Egyptian initiations that used the intense mystic altered state to induce the death and rebirth experience.  The era of the later, widespread mystery cults -- variants on initiation and Eleusis -- was mainly between the eras of Alexander and Constantine. 

Alexander spread Greek culture, including Eleusinian styled formalized mystery cult, to the entire world, which made universalist adaptations of formal mystery cult incorporating local themes.  The Christian version of the standard Hellenistic mystery religion is one instance of the post-Alexander universalist adaptation of local (Jewish, Israelite) themes. 

The main mistake of modern thinking is overcompartmentalization in which these are considered completely separate and distinct:





Mystery religion

Mysticism & mystic experiencing


These are all the same identical thing, with no more than slight differences of highlighting certain aspects. 

Lecture course:

Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age

Jeremy McInerney, Ph.D, University of California–Berkeley, 1992, Associate Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania


>>Alexander tried to spread the culture but his successors didn't do much with Hellenizing their territories, aside from the locals learning Greek to get ahead.

The Hellenistic era, between Alexander and Constantine (300-300) was characterized by relatively mobile, displaced, mixed cultures throughout "the entire world".  This mobility was enabled by Alexander's conquest and uniting of many regions.  This new layer of uniformity or increased connectedness resulted in the universalization of formerly local, location-tied religions, and also led to characteristic restylization of local religions and local ancient indigenous mystic religious myths as formalized Hellenistic mystery cults.

Profaning the mysteries, stability of political and personal government

Profaning the mysteries.  Protecting the stability of political government and personal self-government (self-control).

Was "revealing the mysteries" considered a threat to stable society?  Was society afraid to admit that there really was no logical basis for holding that God is Good and preserves the order of personal and societal controllership?  What aspects of "revealing the mysteries" were considered a serious threat to stable society?  I suppose the most threatening aspects were:

o  The failure to have reverence for the gods

o  The failure to honor the logically baseless ethics that were modeled on the Good -- the logically baseless assumption that the One is Good

o  The failure to revere visionary plants that expose the unstable basis of morality and personal agency

How to profane the mysteries and threaten to destabilize Hellenistic society: indiscriminately distribute entheogens to everyone, explain that these cause consciousness of utter dependence on the Ground to restore viable self-government, explain that the rebooting is called "the Good" and that that is treated as the basis for ethics and order, as opposed to chaos and dog-eat-dog will-to-power. 

Societal order needs people to obey ethics and preserve order, although ethics and order have no logical basis.  The goal was to protect the delicate conventions of ethics and order in society.  Profaning the mysteries would amount to a collapse of following ethical conventions, and ordered civilization would collapse.  Peace and order, stable society, was valued, therefore profaning the mysteries was nominally punished by death. 

Was public admission of no-free-will what everyone was afraid of?  The answer is not so simple -- for one thing, the Hellenistic world didn't theoretically believe in metaphysical freewill in the first place -- they were too informed by entheogenic exposure to no-free-will.  Generally, their goal was to protect societal order against dog-eat-dog chaos and war, and they used religion (mystic-experiencing based mystery religion, mythically described) as a kind of ethical foundation. 

To the answer "How to stabilize society?", they looked to the highest realm they knew, entheogenic mystic experiencing: "Well, how do we stabilize personal controllership during ego death?  We honor and sacrifice to the gods, and they give us personal controllership stability." 

Religion was about discovering truth, purifying thinking about personal controllership, and petitioning the transcendent controllers for stability -- for personal stability and for stability of the polis.  Religion, mysticism, myth, metaphysics, philosophy, science, politics, and cybernetic stability -- self-government and societal government -- all were considered as aspects of the same thing, and all was guided by entheogenic ego death and rebirth.

If you publically reveal the secret, you die

If you turn on your introspection lamp to full brightness and bring forth your inner demon openly onto the stage of your awareness, you will be punished by death-seizure.  To avoid this death-seizure, we virtual control agents must keep it hidden.

What I'm doing is systematically mapping myth to theory.  Myth is metaphor and allegory describing altered-state initiation experience and insights.  Theory here is the cybernetic theory of ego transcendence.

We are commanders, controllers, kings, sources of action.  And yet the simplest, comprehensible worldmodel regarding self, time, and control is that all our actions are timelessly frozen in a block-universe, so we are not sources of our thoughts; we are not, from that perspective, controllers at all, but rather, prefabricated puppets of the Ground or entirely pre-scripted actors controlled by some transcendent god outside time. 

There is no motion, from this perspective; all our thoughts simply sit frozen in time at all points in time.  The problem arises *from the point of view of the personal control agent*:

Hmm, interesting, I see panic, ego death, loss of control, fatal danger approaching on the road ahead, and it includes the deadly attractor idea of unavoidability.  I imagine an explosion of self-control there with indeterminate actions placed on the thoughtstream (worldline, thread, track, tunnel, path, rail) past that point of possibility-explosion, that event-horizon, that self-eating snake short-circuit -- what's the math graph term for a point that is infinitely high? 

I see a shocking realization of control-seizure like infinity over zero lying unavoidably on the track ahead, a delusion-destroying angel with sword swinging inexorably toward me as control-wielding agent; he is about to disarm me and hang me on a tree. 

I as controller am king Pentheus resisting Dionysus, and because I resist him and so dishonor his rule, he tricks me so that my own deranged mother-matrix (that produced all of my thoughts at all points in time) tears me apart as a controller-agent into dis-integrated mental constructs and kills me, suspending my supposed kingship control-agency up on the tree of spacetime.

I look ahead on the track and I recoil from what I see, horrifying death-goddess -- yet am in love with her, because I know that enlightenment, too, is nowhere but in that precise direction.  Normally, I imagine that whatever is past 30-seconds-from-now is more or less under my control; I feel reasonably safe and in control of myself. 

But with cognition disintegrated and the light of introspection turned on to full intensity, now I see radical indeterminacy on the track ahead, and past that point I can only picture control-chaos or transcendently trusting faith.  What will become of me?  I am helpless, as control-agent, in the hands of Kronos the time-lion and Zeus.  Kronos produced me as a god-like control-agent, as self-willed as a goat or donkey, and yet he devours me at his discretion as well.

So what is the poor deluded *nonexistent* and fully disarmed control agent to do when the secret at his cybernetic self-control heart is revealed, that he never was a primary controller in the first place?  "What must I do" -- says the personal control-agent mind, now shorn of ego-delusion -- "to retain control and stability -- given that the personal control I *seem* to wield is nothing but an insult to Reason and is now manifestly an empty illusion? 

I can't *do* anything, in the sense that is needed, and yet my very life and wellbeing are at risk.  I can't do anything, helplessly nailed to the tree as I am, and yet my life and future viable self-control *demand* that I do something to save myself?  My operating system is hung, control vanished in a Hofstadter/Mobius loop (movie/book 2001/2010, describing HAL 9000's contradictory programming-psychosis, "Do anything necessary to avoid jeopardizing the mission to the mysterious door-satellite).

At this point, the control system breaks.  That whole way of thinking is dead, cancelled, null and void.  At this point, the play comes to a halt like a stray foosball ball beyond reach of any player.  At this point, time comes to a halt, and a god is lowered from the rafters onto the stage set to resolve the story and put the ball back into play, and put the scepter of virtual self-control back into the hands of the virtual control-agent.

We are free to bring out our inner secret, that the god is controlling us from our very core, as we go about our pseudo, virtual, kingly sovereign control-agent business.  If we bring that secret out in front of ourselves, we are punished by cybernetic death-seizure of the donkey control-agent that carries our drama forward through life.

Key themes of mystery allusions to mystic dissociative phenomena

Key themes of mystery allusions to mystic dissociative phenomena

I could explain Attis in terms of the mystic altered state and its associated concepts, adding that to my new pile of cracked mythic codes, such as Promethus, several modes or variants of the Christ myth, and Dionysus.  However, by this time, I need to do the same as I did when sweeping the classic-rock lyrics to seek out the allusions to the common distinctive phenomena of the mystic altered state: list the categories of themes, forming a catalog of themes that can be freely arranged so that you can construct your own genuine mythic tradition, following the strict rules of the ancient poets.

o  ithyphallus = goat = the inability of our personal power of will to control ourselves

o  pierced side = slaying of the illusion of our personal will = arrow of time

o  donkey = goat = bull = unenslavable, disobedient, self-willed, sovereign (self-ruling)

o  horse = sheep = ox = enslavable, obdient, other-controlled, subject (ruled over)

o  goats vs. sheep = seemingly self-willed (deluded) vs. metaphysically ever-obedient (enlightened)

o  insane = dionysian = entheogenic loose cognition

o  torn to pieces = entheogenic loose cognition; cognitive dis-integration

o  castrated = unrebellious/obedient = ultimate securing of control over one's rebellious will = mind has transcended illusion of authoring its will = Amanita under pine tree

o  drunken = unmixed wine = psychoactive mixture in a preservative wine base

o  gorgon face = bloated face of rancid, unburied death = metaphor for ego death upon seeing illusory aspect of time & fixity/preexistence of future

o  child = uninitiated = naive delusion of metaphysical freedom

o  abduction of young daughter or son = sudden destroying of one's naively confident illusion of metaphysical freedom by seeing the frozen-future concept

o  winnow = separate the poisonous/psychoactive ergot from the ordinary grain

o  death penalty = penalty of death = what the uninitiated is subject to, and suffers upon enlightenment

o  doll = puppet = experience of metaphysical helplessness in light of frozen/illusory time

o  sin = morality = error of moral thinking = pseudo-guilt of conceiving people as morally culpable

o  rebel = uprising = contender for king = would-be-king = rebel king = false sovereign = illusion of metaphysically free ego who controls oneself and authors the open, not-yet-settled future

o  transgression = sin = trespasses = trespassing = conceiving of ourselves as wielding sovereign power over the space-time block that produces our every thought and action

o  tomb = womb = cave = matrix = cosmos = rock = astrological determinism = frozen space-time block that prevents metaphysical freedom

o  slavery = captivity = realizing the plausible concept that we are frozen into space-time and authored ultimately by it rather than our own power as free agents.

o  delivered = ransomed = released = freed = exodus = exit = reborn = resurrected = redeemed = the hope that we can in some sense transcend the frozen-future concept or realization that would destroy our power of originating our own actions and future states.

o  judgement = trial = court = justice = condemnation = in the mystic altered state, examining our concept of oneself as initiator and change-agent, and finding it untenable in light of our altered-state peception of time and personal control

o  forgiven = sanctified = cleansed = washed = sin-cancellation = letting go of the naive assumption of our moral culpability, necessarily together with letting go of the assumption of our metaphysical freedom and the open future

o  sacrifice = substitute sacrifice = willing sacrifice = abandoning our naive assumption of metaphysical freedom and corresponding mental-model of oneself and the world, in order to gain a new view of ourselves as being produced as part of the frozen space-time block.

These are allegorical metaphors for the mystic altered state and the concepts and experiences brought forth in it.  These metaphors explain the mystic meaning of the Jesus myth, the Attis myth, the Dionysus and Prometheus myths, and all other paradigmatic Hellenistic myths.  The central theme is the problematic nature of our metaphysical freedom, including encountering and seeking to transcend the problem.

Now I am entering a period where cracking the code, deciphering the language, has become reduced to routine.  Today, or this week, marks the effective culmination and peak of such mystery-concept code-cracking, just as there was a specific week during which I wrote lists of lyrical allusions to the phenomena of the mystic altered state in popular acid rock or classic rock songs.

http://www.egodeath.com/mcpnotes.htm#xtocid15387 -- Key themes of lyrical allusions to mystic dissociative phenomena

http://www.egodeath.com/rushacid.htm#xtocid12715 - lyric lines for one artist

Since I have characterized acid rock as the genuine mystery religion of our era, it is fitting that my greatest summary of acid-rock thematic categories should so closely match my catalog of themes from the mystery religions and myths.  If we dissolve or analyze the mystery stories into their key motifs, we have the building blocks for such classic-rock lyrical allusions. 

Where in classic rock/acid rock lyrics do we find anything that can be called a mythic story, as opposed to a mere technique of inserting isolated allusions as a secondary encoded layer?  These rock lyrics usually are put forth in the guise of a song about a non-mystery subject, with individual phrases serving as isolated pointers to prompt the altered mind to recognize a hidden layer of meaning alluding to the shared experience of artist and hearer. 

These classic-rock songs and ancient religious mythic stories both have the form of a surface story that serves to allude to the phenomena, experiences, and insights that come forth in the mystic altered state.  The story embodies, encodes, and conveys the materials that have come forth from the experience and serve to reproduce and lead back into the experience.

Character of Hellenistic mythic allegory

To understand the Christian myth-system, you have to understand the character of Hellenistic mythic allegory, which amounts to clever tragi-comic storytelling with double-meanings that allude to and convey and make tangible the experiences encountered in the mystic altered state of the mystery-religion initiations.  The Christian myth-system is the penultimate instance of such clever, humorous double-meanings.  Being the penultimate Hellenistic mystery religion, the Christian myth-system acts like a riddle and a puzzle, an enigma, that challenges Reason's ability to manipulate systems of metaphor.

Distant religions have no knowledge of Jesus, so how could it possibly be true that "Jesus is the only way to heaven"?  The supernatural is false, so in what way can the scriptures be true when they talk of Jesus "casting out a demon" from someone?  What can it mean for Jesus to refer to God as "Father"?  What can all these strange supernatural religious myths *mean*, given the axiom that the Greeks were *experts* at what they did: create myth systems and design mystery-religions.  What could the best of the Hellenistic masters of mystery-allegory initiation do with the Jewish scriptures, given that the Septuagint itself contains such allegorical encoding of mystic-state experiences and insights?

The following terms are essential double-entendre words whose meaning altogether shifts after ingesting the Last Supper in the Christian Hellenistic mystery-religion initiation: demon, angel, die, eternal life, heaven, kingdom of God, son, father, king, follow, enter, saved, damned, sin, forgiveness, reward, release, punish, accuser, advocate, free, slave, child, adult, believe, rebellious, obedient. 

Will you habitually continue, though you are no longer a child, to read these in the accustomed "supernatural" way?  There is another, *perfectly coherent* way to read the meaning of this network of terms, a way that is blatantly obvious and funny once you are aware of it.  The key is to assume block-universe determinism and reject free will, in which case we are not culpable of guilt, and our thoughts are not engendered by ourselves, but by a higher hidden author. 

Jesus becomes "Mr. Determinism", Satan becomes "Mr. Freewill Delusion", and the assumed move from metaphysical slavery to metaphysical freewill is ironically inverted during salvation, or enlightenment, because in fact we move from the childish delusion of free will to the adult realization of timeless block-universe determinism.  Thus "the last shall be first, the highest shall become the lowest."

Just as it claims, the New Testament is a hidden mystery that is waiting to be unveiled by those who have ears to hear.  It is a synthesis that applies all of the Hellenistic playful double-meaning technology and the common though sacred psychoactive sacraments, together with all that the Jewish religion has to offer, with special attention to its own mystic-state initiation traditions.

In practice, holding onto the assumption of a historical Jesus, apostles, and Paul prevents you from cracking this puzzle.  Historical Literalism can never solve the enigma of the kingdom of God, not in two thousand years of trying.  But treating the scriptures entirely as a Hellenistic systematic riddle-system involving an essentially simple network of double-entendres in the form of a pseudo-historical story of rebellion set in Palestine before the temple fell, immediately leads to an answer -- if the Holy Spirit of the mystic altered state is once again introduced as it was in the beginning.

If the freewill devil tempts you, call out the name of Jesus to be saved: that name, which saves all the cosmos, including Buddhists and aliens, is "Determinism!"

Mystery-religion symbol manipulation

This page has interesting commentary on Dionysus.  The author is as ignorant as the king who rejected Dionysus -- he thinks Greek wine is used to provide mere alcohol inebriation.  http://www.piney.com/WinFemin.html -- here enter the world of Dionysus, gender transcendence, madness, and divine cannibalism.  It is most amusing to see this conservative Christian Literalist grapple with the clusters of altered-state and ego-death metaphors in the Dionysus allegory-space. 

The initiates, who understand the patterns and allusions to the experiences, recognize the ways in which the Christ allegory-space is equivalent to the Dionysus allegory-space.  There is some debate between uninitiated mythicists and Christian Literalists about whether the Dionysus and other dying/rising godman storylines are the same as the Jesus storyline. 

As literal storylines the godman stories are different, but initiates recognize the same types of allusions and essentially the same mechanisms of metaphor across these various mythic domains.  Myth is designed to separate the men from the boys, or better, the children from the adults.  Children read myth in the supernatural, illogic, magic way and they consider themselves freewill agents (egos). 

Adults read myth in the knowing, transcendent, innuendo, referential, mystic-state way.  Dionysus played with his toys and was torn to pieces -- a shocking story for Literalist uninitiated Christians, drastically different from Christ.  Yet recognizably equivalent, to those minds that are initiated and are generally able to manipulate the mental items -- symbols, signs, language, metaphors, allusions -- pertaining to the phenomena of the mystic altered state. 

See Ken Wilber's coverage of ability to perform operations within various domains: a mind that has developed to a certain stage (of a certain developmental thread) has gained the general ability to perform operations on the *kind of* elements that populate that level.  The initiated mind is able to operate on mystic-state metaphors and allusions: if a mind is able to make sense of the Christian metaphor-space in terms of allusions to mystic-state phenomena, it is straightforward (even if not completely effortless) for that mind to make sense of the Dionysus metaphor-space. 

High Classic Rock as mystery-religion symbol manipulation

Greek tragedy was a deliberately veiled public expression of this metaphor-space, just as LSD-oriented High Classic Rock lyrics functioned as a covert encoded mystery-religion of the late 20th century.  In High Classic Rock acid-mystic encoding, it's not a matter of explicitly rationally conveying an encoded message, but rather, "speaking a language" -- so to speak -- of allusion to distinctive altered-state experiential phenomena. 

This High Classic Rock culture was a matter of a shared "language" in Wilber's sense of a kind of, or level of, symbol-manipulation.  The symbols on this level, or within this symbolic realm, are concerned with metaphorically expressing and conveying and delivering-across, or communicating, the phenomena of the mystic altered state.

Once you have cracked the riddle of the mystery-religions, you have cracked the riddle of the Cross and also possess the main meaning of all religions.  From here on out, rationally explaining alien religions is about as easy as switching between a Mac user-interface and a Windows user-interface.  It becomes merely a matter of applying a known kind of technology to yet another puzzle within the same realm, of the same essential type."

>This page has interesting commentary on Dionysus. …



Dionysus was clearly the god of choice for the women in Corinth and Ephesus. All false religions have a form of Satan as their God. The New Wineskin fulfills all of the tests to define Dionysus, the god of new wine and female authority.

Wine, left to itself, rots. It takes a certain skill to ferment wine which intoxicates without killing you. Therefore, when people appeal to fermented wine they intend to get drunk even, as the ancients believed, drunk on ignorance. While you may not know the end-game, the god does--

"The story goes that dionysus paid a visit to the house of a horticulturist, Ikarios. He left with this man a vine-plant, telling him that by following the instructions he would be able to extract from the plant an unusual drink. Ikarios planted the vine, harvested the grapes, fermented the liquid exactly as he had been told to.

"He then invited his neighbours over to taste the new wine. The fragrance of the drink amazed them, and before long they were singing its praises.

"Then suddenly the drinkers began to collapse, falling over in drunken stupor. Those left standing accused Ikarios of poisoning them, and they beat him to death and threw his mutilated body into a well.

His daughter hanged herself.

This, according to myth, was the first manifestation of dionysus, benefactor of mankind, giver of good things.

"dionysus's worship is thus established by the simple means of killing the opposition. It has been suggested that every tragic hero who suffers and dies on stage at the Dionysia, the great dramatic festival at Athens (of the South?), is in fact dionysus himself, being killed."

In the Eleusian mysteries, the wine was not noted for its alcohol but for drugs perhaps from fermented barley or from mushrooms used to bring on the exhilaration. Of the priest, it is said that:

"As he performed the service, he intoned ancient chants in a falsetto voice, for his role in the Mystery was asexual, a male who had sacrificed his gender to the Great Goddess."


Reading that page is an exercise in irony and missed allusions.  Is the adult to deign to debate seriously with the child about whose reindeer fly higher, those of Dionysus or the Christian Santa?  Is not the bloody cross just as scandalous as Dionysus bringing the gift of death?  The Cross is a scandal to those who are outside, who are those who don't understand what Jesus says, and have not transformed their thinking and who have therefore not been forgiven of sin and guilt.  Dionysus brings death, not goodness -- the stories tell as much.  Instead, people ought to follow the way of the Cross and martyr themselves like Jesus.

The harder such Christian literalists grasp at differentiating pagan mysteries from Christianity, the more the difference can be called into question as equivalence (not literal similarity) manifests itself."

Book: Hellenistic Religions: An Introduction

Hellenistic Religions: An Introduction

Luther H. Martin




192 pages, $22

This book is a quick, easy read and perfectly vindicates and encourages me in my theoretical explanation of my own experiential insights -- it independently corroborates my own conclusions.  It explains all the Mystery-Religions including Gnosticism and the Jewish Mysteries as being concerned with transcending hiemarmene -- Fate, cosmic determinism -- without denying the universal dominance of such Fate.

My own theoretical addition, unique to me but quietly yet distinctly reflected in such scholarly books, is that entheogens were involved in this effort to transcend hiemarmene.  What *is* completely unique to my theory is that entheogens not only were used to seek a way to transcend cosmic determinism, but were the very thing to present cosmic determinism as a problem in the first place.

My theory is that religious experiencing, at least in the Hellenistic realm, was the entheogenically produced experiencing of Fatedness as a severe problem, and the subsequent effort to transcend, without denying, such Fatedness. 

"Wine" means "psychoactive drink".  "Sacred meal" means psychoactive food.  I accept broadly saying "psychoactive" rather "entheogenic", because even mere cannabis is entheogenic when used in quantity. 

Cannabis can lead to panic attack, self-control seizure, and the concomitant religious insight into the sovereignty of the cosmos over the egoic agent whose every thought and act of will is produced by the cosmos in a semi-obscured, semi-revealed way.  Whether a psychoactive is an entheogen depends alot on usage, context, and disposition.

Religious experiencing is about experiencing and transcending determinism.  This book only covers the second part, and is not really about religious *experiencing*, just the religious *meaning* of the Mysteries. 

Martin would say that the Mysteries are about transcending determinism, but I'd say that they are about experiencing determinism, experiencing the dire need to transcend determinism, and finding a way to somehow in some sense transcend determinism.

From the back cover: "Martin provides an integrated view of Hellenistic religion as a coherent system of religious thought defined by shifting views of fate."  These views only shift slightly, though, and hiemarmene as a problem to be transcended is a constant and the key that unites the Mysteries.

I'm finding that there were some schools of thought that balked at the absolutely dominant belief in Fate, Necessity, and cosmic determinism.  The Epicureans advocated free will, against the Stoic determinists. 

The Notes favorably recommend The Road to Eleusis and explain its psychoactive hypothesis, and mention "wine" and sacred meals -- so there is enough material, there are enough hooks in this book, like most, to integrate the entheogen theory of the origin of religions.

Page 106 describes the Essenes as pure determinists, the Pharisees as Arminians or Compatibilists, and the Sadducees as freewillists.  I've never considered the possibility of dividing Jewish groups in relation to hiemarmene.  "Josephus differentiated the three major Jewish philosophies on the basis of their relationship to fate."

I am considering making these equations:

Determinism = Essenes = Reformed & Gnostic

Compatibilism = Pharisees = Arminian

Freewillism = Sadducees = Catholic

Catholic theology is probably very freewillist, because that is the most profitable doctrine for salesmen of moral cleansing.  Freewillism asserts most strongly that we are moral agents, that sin is fully real and its existence is simple and unproblematic.

Martin tends to portray the myths as reflecting people's daily experiences, but like most, he really misses the main show here.  He subscribes too much to the existential parallels of one of the most well-known books about Gnosticism. 

That kind of mystery inspiration lacks kick, lacks intensity.  That's like Catholocism building up an entheogenic cathedral of mystic allusions and then removing the actual active entheogen, leaving a superficially impressive structure. 

Initiation is nothing but a lot of empty pretentious bluffing, a fake substitute initiation, if there is no intense mystic-state experiencing, and the definitive standard for intense mystic-state experiencing is the use of entheogens -- entheogens are the "sacred" in "sacred meal". 

A sacred meal without entheogens is counterfeit, a fake, a bluff, a put-on, and self-deception -- cargo-cult sacrality, and any religious experiencing thereby produced is generally as weak as any placebo.  Entheogenless initiation is only suited for the lowest levels, if at all.

Most elements throughout an entire Mystery myth allude to the mystic- state experiences of the initiate.  Just like it doesn't make much sense to have a single 4-minute song with entheogen-state allusions in the middle of a non-entheogenic album, given that the state may last 12 hours, so it doesn't make much sense to have a long myth which mostly represents mundane experiences but then suddenly represents peak experiences.  Rather, then entire story has elements throughout which resonate with the initiate during their altered state.

I'm surprised that I'm still surprised when scholarly books confirm my theory of religious experiencing.  I've long taken it as axiomatic that I have found a flashing beacon of a set of ideas and am standing in the middle of the path down which the theorists *must* arrive sooner or later. 

This is the knowledge that the advanced aliens are bound to possess.  The only reason that this set of ideas has been forgotten is due to the suppression of entheogen use during the dark ages.  The molecules in the plants teach these lessons.  These are the lessons that the plants teach.

Some of my most difficult peak ideas are especially difficult to make sense of, but I finally did make sense of them and then haltingly, and recently completely, succeed at finding these same ideas buried in scholarly books. 

Freke and Gandy are not original, yet they pull together an originally and unprecedentedly clear and relevant way of explaining what the scholars have known for a few years.  So must I gather the bits of light and pull them together to construct a working and fully operational model gathered together and assembled ergonomically, ready to run. 

So I approach a more classic understanding of theory-building, as seeking a new expression of the ancient knowledge, an expression that is fitting for our age -- but unlike late antiquity, I am intent on publishing the mysteries openly in the center of the public square, to prevent the return of the dark ages. 

Hellenism may have wanted to give egoic delusion a little breathing room, but it seems to be more an all-or-nothing affair.  The mysteries tried to half-reveal and half-hide transcendent knowledge.  But State Christianity led toward complete suppression of transcendent knowledge.  It would be better to have complete public revealing of transcendent knowledge.

Mystery-religion as entheogen allegory technology

It was the most natural thing in the world to express the standard initiatory mystery-religion in political-allegory form.  The given problem was:

o  Given: We downtrodden are oppressed like the Jewish peasants

o  Given: We have all knowledge about mystery-religion and have learned to routinely allegorize mystery-religion with new surface storylines

Therefore, what storyline would express both mystic-state experiencing and social-political-religious rebellion?  The natural, even easy answer was to create the Jesus Christ storyline.  The whole scheme or technology of mystery-religion initiation, and techniques for allegorizing those mystic altered state experiences that occurred after ingesting the entheogenic sacred food and drink, was thoroughly routinized during that era. 

Given the standard mystery-religion technology of the day, it was utterly simple to allegorize it in a way that added only an increment of novelty: don't just picture the storyline's savior figure as a king, but rather, as a politically relevant kind of king that expresses our particular concerns and relationship with the reigning power-establishment.  Thus Christianity had everything of all the mystery-religions and only differed incrementally, and that difference was just on the exoteric storyline level. 

On the esoteric level, Christian initiation was identical to the other determinism-transcending, entheogen-inspired mystery- religions.  So even though genuine initiation experience is the most profound experience in life, it had become, in a way, utterly routinized and almost irrelevant to the political concerns.  It's only because we lack awareness of the entheogen/determinism nexus that we put mystery-religions on such a pedestal as though it is rare or difficult to come by.

Routinization of mystery-religion initiation, hierophants downsized

>>http://www.hermes-press.com/high_myst.htm -- Ancient works like the "Book of the Dead" had nothing to do with literal death; they were initiatory texts.  But the initiate was very much in an altered state, which is why the initiation process worked. The early Christian "gnostic" texts were initiation texts.  Initiates became "Christ" in the same way earlier pagans were Osirisized.

That article is a mixed bag, just like everything else.  I like many phrases and sentences in it -- "He had partaken of the holiest food that exists in life"; Alex Gray's painting -- but I reject the standard paradigmatic assumption that initiation was or is rare or hard to come by.  The article is a relatively good, insightful article, compared to other treatments of mystery religion -- or, more to the point of the new paradigm, other treatments of *initiatory religion* in general. 

For too long, Mystery Religion has been put in too separate a category from Jewish mystic religion and Christian agape meals.  These are all superficially different metaphorical packagings of essentially the same thing: religious altered-state initiation, for which no rare hierophant was needed. 

Any religious banqueting club -- dues paid in 'mixed wine' -- had a leader who acted as a little hierophant, having authority to have the thyrssus of Dionysus placed next to any reclining initiate who could not control himself under the inebriation of the mixed wine, becoming a wild Centaur and having to be thrown out by the Centaurs (bouncers). 

Take mystery religion initiation down off its too-high pedestal; it was much more routinized than modern scholars have assumed, like I felt in a stadium Pink Floyd show: arena Rock has a certain flashiness and bigness of production, and has authentic initiatory mystery religion (it has much about Dionysus in it), yet also it became boringly routine, and the latter aspect is left out of too much of the standard scholarly paradigm.

The religious banqueting associations were like small Rock or Punk Rock clubs, against the Prog Rock arena shows of the mass-scale mystery initiations.  Mithraism was like a large network of intimately tiny Rock clubs.

In religious writing, the first meaning of 'death' is always mystic-state death of ego, *not* literal bodily death.  These different readings correspond with higher and lower levels of religion, which generally utilizes systemic meaning-flipping from the lower, deliberately misleading meaning-system, to the higher, puzzle-resolving meaning-system.

Books of the Dead: Manuals for Living and Dying

Stanislav Grof


The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead

Ralph Metzner, Richard Alpert, Timothy Leary


Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip

Robert Hunter, Stephen Peters, Chuck Wills, Dennis McNally


Apollo's contribution to transcendent knowledge

>W. K. C. Guthrie, in The Greeks and Their Gods, suggests that Apollo originated in Siberia and that the ecstatic powers attached to his cult were derived from the tribal [entheogenic] shamanism of that area rather than from the Dionysian cult at Delphi. Because of the common ecstatic elements, Apollo 's cult exerted a moderating nfluence upon the distinctly non-Olympian religious experience of Dionysus.

If we consider Apollo as order or Reason, and Dionysus as entheogenic inebriation, the need to combine them to obtain a balanced and complete life is like my insistence that you must put two things on a pedestal in order to become enlightened: rationality, and loose cognition.  In this arrangement, Apollo = rationality, Dionysus = loose cognition (or entheogens, or the mystic altered state).

For the purposes of short-path enlightenment, I consider sitting meditation, trance dance, and ritual as mere adjuncts for entheogens.  I put the emphasis on loose cognition rather than on entheogens that *produce* loose cognition.  Is Dionysus the psychoactive plants themselves?  No, the story is more complex.  If I had to choose, I say that Dionysus is the mental state of altered consciousness that results from psychoactives, not the chemicals or plants themselves.

For the purposes of short-path enlightenment, loose cognition is more important than entheogens and entheogens are more important (potent, effective, ergonomic, reliable, intense) than sitting meditation.  Dionysus is not sitting meditation, though in some cases, after some work and time, some meditation may produce some Dionysian loose cognition.  I side with ancient Greeks here against modern Buddhists.


Home (theory of the ego death and rebirth experience)