This was a piece that I re-wrote. Much of it is my own, but some of it is by Brad Hicks, a
This was a piece that I re-wrote. Much of it is my own, but some of it
is by Brad Hicks, a noted Pagan author and founder of the Magicknet
Fidonet echo. The piece is not in its original form, but excerpted.
*THE MYSTERY-RELIGION ROOTS OF ORGANIZED RELIGION*
I. MYSTERY RELIGIONS...COMMON THREADS.
A Mystery Religion, first and foremost, is a religion of symbolism.
Through the use of myth and allegory, iconic representations,
blazing lights and dense darkness, liturgies and sacramental acts, as
well as suggestion, the intuitions of the heart of the initiate were
quickened until s/he was provoked into a mystical experience.
This experience led to a feeling of regeneration, a feeling that
the initiate is back in the good graces of their God. It professed to
remove the estrangement between man and God, to procure forgiveness of
sins, and to furnish mediation. Means of purification and the formulae
of access to the God, and acclamations of confidence and victory were
part of the apparatus of every Mystery. The Sacramental Drama, the core
experience of a Mystery Religion, whether it is as simple as a
Fundamentalist Christian Baptism service, as stylized as the
"Sacrifice" of the Catholic Mass, or as elaborate as the rites of
Eleusis, appeal primarily to the emotions, short-circuiting the
rational. Thus the neophyte is convinced that s/he has been purified,
and has experienced the exaltation of a new life.
The Mystery Religions are also earmarked by an emphasis on
eschatology, on final ends. The interests and issues of life, death
and redemption are bound up in a future Apocalypse, where the old will
yield to a new, more perfect order. Most mystery religions were and
are Apocalyptic in nature. For the multitudes, it was the mysteries of
their faith which illuminated the hereafter, and provided answers to
the tough questions of life.
A mystery religion was a personal religion, to which membership
was open, not by accident of birth into any particular class, but
by a religious rebirth. On the surface, especially in the case of the
great Mystery Religions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and
Hinduism (especially Vaishnavite Hinduism, which is the "orthodoxy" of
Hindu thought, as opposed to the more esoteric, heterodox and Tantra-
infused Shavite Hinduism) the experience of conversion which is at the
core is a levelling, democratizing one, and one that makes the believer
feel that they matter in the sight of a personal, loving Deity.
(More to come)
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