Sunday, April 8, 2012

Eastre - kristos anesti!

Many, perhaps most, Pagan religions in the Mediterranean area had a major seasonal day of religious celebration at or following the Spring Equinox. Cybele, the Phrygian fertility goddess, had a consort, Attis, who was believed to have been born via a virgin birth. Attis was believed to have died and been resurrected each year during the period March 22 to March 25.

Cybele originated as an earth goddess worshipped in Asia Minor, primarily at Çatal Hüyük. She was known as Kubaba and was earliest depicted as an earth mother… in plump and heavy forms. The name may be derivative of the local word for cube and may refer to a black meteorite that was associated with her, giving Cybele a distinct extra-terrestrial origin. The black meteorite was adapted as the head of the cult statue. Cybele, like Artemis of Ephesus, was a "black virgin".

She was primarily associated with the concerns of women, protection against one's enemies, the healing of grave illnesses, guardianship of the dead, a granter of boons and a giver of the gift of prophecy.

"About 200 B.C. mystery cults began to appear in Rome just as they had earlier in Greece. Most notable was the Cybele cult centered on Vatican hill ...Associated with the Cybele cult was that of her lover, Attis (the older Tammuz, Osiris, Dionysus, or Orpheus under a new name). He was a god of ever-reviving vegetation. Born of a virgin, he died and was reborn annually. The festival began as a day of blood on Black Friday and culminated after three days in a day of rejoicing over the resurrection."

- Gerald L. Berry, author of "Religions of the World

Many religious historians and liberal theologians believe that the death and resurrection legends were first associated with Cybele’s consort, Attis… many centuries before the birth of Jesus. They were simply grafted onto stories of Jesus' life in order to make Christian theology more acceptable to Pagans. Later images of Attis show him as a shepherd, holding a shepherd’s crook or playing the panpipes.

Others suggest that many of the events in Jesus' life that were recorded in the gospels were lifted from the life of Krishna, the second person of the Hindu Trinity.

Ancient Christians had an alternative explanation; they claimed that Satan had created counterfeit deities in advance of the coming of Christ in order to confuse humanity. Modern-day Christians generally regard the Attis legend as being a Pagan myth of little value with no connection to Jesus. They regard Jesus' death and resurrection account as being true, and unrelated to the earlier tradition.

The early Christians were determined to destroy the cult and St Augustine condemns her as a "demon" and a "monster" and the Gallae were "madmen" and "castrated perverts". In the 4th century CE, Valentinian II officially banned the worship of Cybele, and many of her followers perished at the hands of zealous Christians.

Justinian continued the persecution of the cult and the Gallae. Under his reign, transgendered persons, and those indulging in same sex eroticism had their property confiscated, sacred texts burned, temples raised; they were tortured, forced to commit suicide, or burned alive. By the start of the 6th century CE, the Cult and the ancient Gallae were extinct. Elements of the cult were assimilated into Christianity in a manner similar to that of Isis. There is a much of Cybele and Isis in the Virgin Mary.

According to Gerald L. Berry, author of “Religions of the World” …the original “sacred site” of the Cybele Mystery Cult was located on what was to become The Vatican. It seems that the master of assimilation, the early church, saw fit to appropriate the sacred site for their Holy See, later to build the Vatican City right on top of the Pagan site. Apparently attempting to “steal the mojo” of the earlier mystery religion.