Sunday, May 10, 2009

Alien Dreaming, pt. V: The Mithraic Liturgy

The first four posts in this series can be read here

In this post, we will look at excerpts from the Mithraic Liturgy of the Paris Codex. This liturgy was part of a body of ancient Egyptian Hermetic writings compiled in the early 300s CE. The liturgy is filled with tons of uppercase glossolalia, which I've omitted. I also have included only the section of the liturgy believed to be the genuine Mithraic component- apparently there are some additional verses and spells tacked on follow the invocation.

There is some controversy as to whether the liturgy represents "orthodox" Mithraism, or some Hermetic variant thereof. But it certainly does present a pretty powerful personal experience typical of the Mystery tradition. Experience is the unique component that separates the Mysteries from other cults. And for some time, modern scholars have speculated that entheogenic compounds were the actual sacraments of these cults.

This is just a shot across the bow with this topic, but it might shed new light on the ancient Mysteries for some of you. As with the Gnostics, there is so much ridiculous nonsense floating around out there about the Mysteries, most of it written by biased individuals who have never read the actual history of these movements, never mind their texts.

If you read the text of the liturgy carefully, some very interesting themes might catch your eye. I've been agonzing over this post for some weeks now, but I thought the best way to present it was to let the ancient Mithraists speak for themselves. We can get into interpretation later.

I've also added some images from our modern mysteries to break up the monotony.

Be gracious to me, O Providence and Psyche, as I write these mysteries handed down for gain but for instruction; and for an only child I request immortality, O initiates of this our power...
...furthermore, it is necessary for you, O daughter, to take the juices of herbs and spices, which will to you at the end of my holy treatise which the great god Helios Mithras ordered to be revealed to me by his archangel, so that I alone may ascend into heaven as an inquirer and behold the universe.
"First - origin of my origin, first beginning of my beginning, spirit of spirit, the first of the spirit in me, fire given by god to my mixture of the mixtures in me, the first of the fire in me, water of water, the first of the water in me, earthy substance, the first of the earthy substance in me..."
I, sanctified through holy consecrations!-- while there subsists within me, holy, for a short time, my human soul-might, which I will again receive after the present bitter and relentless necessity which is pressing down upon me...
...It is impossible for me, born mortal, to rise with the golden brightnesses of the immortal brilliance ...Draw in breath from the rays, drawing up three times as much as you can, and you will see yourself being lifted up and ascending to the height, so that you seem to be in mid-air.

You will hear nothing either of man or of any other living thing, nor in that hour will you see anything of mortal affairs on earth, but rather you will see all immortal things.

For in that day and hour you will see the divine order of the skies: the presiding gods rising into heaven, and others setting.

Now the course of the visible gods will appear through the disk of god, my father...

...and in similar fashion the so-called "pipe," the origin of the ministering wind. For you will see it hanging from the sun's disk like a pipe.

You will see the outflow of this object toward the regions westward, boundless as an east wind, if it be assigned to the regions of the East--and the other similarly, toward its own regions.
And you will see the gods staring intently at you and rushing at you. So at once put your right finger on your mouth and say: "Silence! Silence! Silence! Symbol of the living, incorruptible god!

Then you will see the gods looking graciously upon you and no longer rushing at you, but rather going about in their own order of affairs.

So when you see that the world above is clear and circling, and that none of the gods or angels is threatening you, expect to hear a great crash of thunder, so as to shock you. Then say again: "Silence! Silence! (the prayer) I am a star, wandering about with you, and shining forth out of the deep...

Immediately after you have said these things the sun's disk will be expanded. And after you have said the second prayer, where there is "Silence! Silence!" and the accompanying words, make a hissing sound twice and a popping sound twice, and immediately you will see many five- pronged stars coming forth from the disk and filling all the air. Then say again: "Silence! Silence!"

"And when the disk is open, you will see the fireless circle, and the fiery doors shut tight."
Say all these things with fire and spirit, until completing the first utterance; then, similarly, begin the second, until you complete the seven immortal gods of the world. When you have said these things, you will hear thundering and shaking in the surrounding realm; and you will likewise feel yourself being agitated. Then say again: "Silence!"
Then open your eyes and you will see the doors open and the world of the gods which is within the doors, so that from the pleasure and joy of the sight your spirit runs ahead and ascends. So stand still and at once draw breath from the divine into yourself, while you look intently.

When you have said this, the rays will turn toward you; look at the center of them. For when you have done this, you will see a youthful god, beautiful in appearance, with fiery hair, and in a white tunic and a scarlet cloak, and wearing a fiery crown. At once greet him with the fire-greeting:

"Hail, O Lord, Great Power, Great Might, King, Greatest of gods, Helios, the Lord of heaven and earth, God of gods: mighty is your breath; mighty is your strength, O Lord. If it be your will, announce me to the supreme god, the one who has begotten and made you.

He will come to the celestial pole, and you will see him walking as if on a road. Look intently and make a long bellowing sound, like a horn, releasing all your breath and straining your sides; and kiss the amulets and say, first toward the right: "Protect me, PROSYMERI!"

After saying this, you will see the doors thrown open, and seven virgins coming from deep within, dressed in linen garments, and with the faces of asps. They are called the Fates of heaven, and wield golden wands. When you see them, greet them in this manner:
"Hail, O seven Fates of heaven, O noble and good virgins, O sacred ones and companions of MINIMIRROPHOR, O most holy guardians of the four pillars!

There also come forth another seven gods, who have the faces of black bulls, in linen loin-cloths, and in possession of seven golden diadems. They are the so-called Pole-Lords of heaven, whom you must greet in the same manner, each of them with his own name:
"Hail, O guardians of the pivot, O sacred and brave youths, who turn at one command the revolving axis of the vault of heaven, who send out thunder and lightning and jolts of earthquakes and thunderbolts against the nations of impious people, but to me, who am pious and god-fearing, you send health and soundness of body, and acuteness of hearing and seeing, and calmness in the present good hours of this day, O my Lords and powerfully ruling Gods!"

Now when they take their place, here and there, in order, look in the air and you will see lightning-bolts going down, and lights flashing , and the earth shaking...

...and a god descending, a god immensely great, having a bright appearance youthful, golden-haired, with a white tunic and a golden crown and trousers, and holding in his right hand a golden shoulder of a young bull: this is the Bear which moves and turns heaven around, moving upward and downward in accordance with the hour.

Then you will see lightning-bolts leaping from his eyes and stars from his body.

And at once produce a long bellowing sound, straining your belly, that you may excite the five senses: bellow long until the conclusion, and again kiss the amulets... And gaze upon the god while bellowing long; and greet him in this manner:
"Hail, O Lord, O Master of the water!
Hail, O Founder of the earth!
Hail, O Ruler of the wind!
O Bright Lightener...

So, here we have a two thousand year-old prayer from one of the ancient world's most powerful cults, which talks about a flying disk with doors that open and close, and is filled with "gods" who take people up into the heavens.

I think it's safe to say they didn't get these ideas from Buck Rogers or 50's sci-fi movies.

Mysteries within Mysteries, to be sure...