(continued from last post) In the Zoroastrian pantheon these opposing forces are referred

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(continued from last post) In the Zoroastrian pantheon these opposing forces are referred to as Ormuzd and Ahriman, who derive ultimately from Ahura Mazda, the divine principle. Known as the Holy Immortals, or Amesha Spentas, they correspond to the levels of creation, clearly foreshadowing the teaching of later mystery schools such as those of Orpheus and Mithra. Against the Spentas are arrayed the Devas, the companions of the Evil One, who are seen as ruling over the earth. "Deva" means "shining one" or god in Sanskrit. There may be an interesting connection here between Zoroastrianism and orthodox Hinduism, namely that Zoroastrianism was created as a direct competitor against Hinduism, which also has its origins among the Arya people of Persia. In Zoroastrian teaching, a savior or saoshyant was to be born, who would combat evil and bring the struggle to an end once and for all, thus betokening the Frasokereti, the making perfect at the end of time. In this we see an echo of Horus in the Egyptian mysteries, and a prefiguring of all other eschatologies. It also prefigures the appear- ance of a third figure in the great mythic struggle between Good and Evil...the savior known to Judaism and Christianity as the Messiah, to Buddhism as The Buddha Maitreya, to Islam as the Mahdi or Hidden Imam, and to Hinduism as The Tenth Avatar of Vishnu, Kalki. To the Zoroastrians, this savior-figure was known as Mithra. Mithra's birth was witnessed by shepherd and Magi, who brought gifts to his sacred birth-cave of the Rock. Mithra performed the usual assortment of miracles - raising the dead, healing the sick, making the blind to see and the lame to walk, casting out devils. As a 'Peter', son of petra, he carried the keys of the kingdom of heaven. His triumph and ascension to heaven were celebrated at the spring equinox, when the sun rises toward its apogee. Before returning to heaven, Mithra celebrated a Last Supper with his 12 disciples, who represented the signs of the zodiac. In memory of this, his worshippers partook of a sacramental bread marked with a cross. This was one of the seven Mithraic sacraments. It was called mizd. In Latin, mizd became missa, which later found its way into the English language as the word mass, referring to the sacramental drama of the Catholic Church. Mithra's image was buried in a rock tomb, the same sacred cave that represented his Mothers' womb. His image was later withdrawn from the cave and was said to live again. What began in water would end in fire, according to Mithraic beliefs. The great battle between the forces of light and darkness in the Last Days would destroy the earth with its upheavals and burnings. Virtuous ones who followed the teachings of the Mithraic priesthood would join the spirits of light and be saved. Sinful ones who followed other teachings would be cast into hell with Ahriman and the fallen angels. Mithra's cave-temple on the Vatican Hill was seized by the Christians in 376 CE. Christian Bishops of Rome pre-empted the Mithraic high priest's title of Pater Patrum, which became Papa, or Pope when fused with the old Roman Imperial title of Pontifex Maximus. (continued next post)

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