Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Today In Arcane Deities! – A New, And Perhaps Regular, Feature At Defcon House!

Aa and I were chatting about upcoming Christmas parties at our two places of employment. I commented that one co-worker of mine doesn’t usually come because “he probably worships Mithras or some shit”. Aa suggested that perhaps I write about different arcane deities, since I have all this useless god-trivia stuffed in my head. So, there it is.

Today’s arcane deity is MITHRAS!

Mithras is a pagan god who was worshipped throughout the Roman Empire. He was worshipped mainly by soldiers - so, mainly by dudes who weren’t super-scholarly. This could be a reason there aren’t many records or writings on the religion from the time period it was practiced – no scripture or anything like that. The religion was passed down from person to person, and you learned about the practices of the religion only after being initiated into. There’s some thought out there that the King Arthur story is the story of converting the British Isles from the worship of Mithras the Christianity. (Mithraic priests were thought to wear pointy hats and wear robes and carry staffs – like Merlin! And Dumbledore!) Also, some scholars believe the Mithraic mysteries are a precursor to Christianity, and that the Mithras figure influenced the creation of the Jesus story. There are similarities, for sure. But of course, scholars disagree on that. It makes sense for Roman officials to make the new official religion (Christianity) kind of similar to the old official religion (Mithraic mysteries), though, huh?

Mithras’ birth story is that he was born from a virgin (like Jesus and some other gods), or that he sprung fully formed from a rock or maybe a tree (kind of like Athena jumping out of Zeus’ head fully formed and adult), or possibly something called The Cosmic Egg (like Mork). Being a pagan god, Mithras had worship rituals that corresponded to the seasons – for example, every spring a bull (Taurus?) was sacrificed to Mithras. He was often called the Sun God or the Invincible Sun God (although he was worshipped in caves, underground, in windowless rooms, etc), and some depictions show him wearing a cloak with a lining of the starry nighttime sky. He also had a chariot that he rode across the sky (hello, Apollo!) Other depictions show him hunting a stag on horseback, using a bow and arrow (again, a nod to Mr. Apollo). He was a pretty male-only kind of god, although it seems like there was some kind of god-goddess hanky-panky going on with him during later Mithras worship on the British Isles.


1 comment:

Magpie said...

Oh! I love this. Please do more. Way better then wikipedia. Info and a sense of humor, nice!