Truth or Lies
November 2, 2003: Getting back to the subject of cults, the modern day cults of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are - as we can see - rather different from the ancient pagan cults. Keep in mind that a cult is defined as having an "object of worship," the worship of which/whom - if the rules of worship are followed properly - will result in certain benefits. Yes, I'm glad you noticed: it's basically an act of trade; a sales job.
The god of the Jews leaped upon the stage of history and promised his people something new and different - destruction of everybody else on the planet who were nasty to them - and only those who followed his rules carefully would survive and get to rule everybody else. Notice that this didn't necessarily mean resurrection: it was to be a physical earthly kingdom with the Jews in top position.
In addition to the material included in my series Who Wrote the Bible, there are many other issues regarding the founding of Judaism that will be covered separately. Suffice it to say, there are definite tracks that can be followed to show where, when and even how Judaism came into being; the why is more problematic though the events of the present day suggest the answer.
If you noticed in the brief review of pagan cults, they fell into two general categories. Most of the cults simply dealt with the issues of the material world: seeking the protection of the gods against calamities. But there was a smaller category of cults that dealt with "otherworldly" issues, such as the future life of the soul.
It could be said that Judaism was essentially a "twist" on the first group: the cults that dealt with issues of the material world. The cataclysm to end all cataclysms was predicted, and those who followed Judaism were promised physical survival or resurrection.
The idea of bodily resurrection was the chief concern of the Egyptians - which suggests where this particular influence came from in respect of Judaism - who devoted a great deal of time and energy to this future "hope." It could be said that the reason we know so much about the Egyptians was due to the fact that they did, in fact, expect this future resurrection and mummified their dead and made preparations for this event and included all the necessary goods in their tombs. But, of course, this was only possible for those who were wealthy enough to be able to afford the "right" burial.
Judaism, while promising this future physical/material rule of the world - was a more or less "low rent" version of the Egyptian religion. Instead of the great care being taken to preserve the bodies, it was declared that Yahweh/Jehovah could take care of the bodies, and the only thing needed was a good record of who was to be among the elite. And so, the "history" of the Jews was born which essentially amounted to a "record" of who was to be included in the benefits bestowed by the god.
Christianity - as it was later formulated - took care of those who followed the "otherworldly" cults such as the Eleusinian Mysteries. I ought to make it clear here that the evidence for a "real" Jesus is compelling even if the "history" that is given for him in the New Testament is altogether bogus and based on the mythical models of other gods. We can note that the Christianity that was formulated around the life and work of a unique sage in the Middle East - which almost obliterated what he really did and said - filled a particular vacuum.
Since Judaism was the "monotheistic answer" to the cults that dealt with materialistic issues, Christianity became the monotheistic answer to the "otherworldly" cults that dealt with the issues of the fate of the soul.
For the pagan, the realm of the gods - both upper and lower - met at the earth's surface. There was no moral abyss between them. Rather, demons were not always bad and Olympians were not always good. And between the "spheres of influence" of the two, the man of classical times had to navigate in a state of something akin to "free piety." He moved not so much as an inch on his own subjective judgement since he knew that his own actions, his passions, he likes and dislikes, were simply manifestations of the will of the gods. The gods acted in and through human beings and just as there were interesting varieties of human beings and human dramas, so were there myriads of gods and goddesses as representations of these archetypal interactions.
Indeed, the pagan knew that at a much higher "realm," there was the Creator of all, but such a being was so vast and incomprehensible that the endless manifestations of mood and inclination of the Primal Deity could well and fruitfully thought of as the "children of the Universe and Time." Pindar wrote: Eternity is a boy play-acting to himself on his own stage. It was understood that the actor and audience were one. The great game of the cosmos was artfully performed on a set stage, and in accordance with mathematical laws. With Divine energy, the creator both permeates and consecrates existence. As the fancy takes him/her, he fashions beauty or ugliness.
For the ancients, the gods were beyond good and evil as man would judge it. It was the task of man to accommodate himself to the gods, not the other way around. How one was able to withstand life and its events was the supreme test and therein was the only difference between noble and base humans. It was unseemly to whine and beg for "insurance against risk." It was understood that not every shoulder is strong enough to bear the burden of all the heaven and stars. Only a hero can do it, and only such heros become stars.
The "noble sufferers" and bearers of the burdens of the world were the spiritual aristocracy; they were those who can endure, open-eyed, heads bloody but unbowed, active and not passive. Such an individual needs no doctrine of redemption as do those who are puny and easily crushed by life. Such beings are not disturbed by ideas of "original sin" nor are they encumbered by the somber and humorless puritan mentality.
But, as in all times, whenever the population increased to a level that the land would no longer support it, quantity dilutes quality. You could say that the ancient world became over-stocked with gods. And with the increase in gods, there was an increase in priests or representatives of these gods. They had to wrangle for their daily bread, becoming importunate and speaking oracles unasked. Temples degenerated into menageries and Great Mothers became procuresses.
From dawn to dusk, crowds of priestesses and eunuchs wearing Phrygian caps would stalk the cities, knocking on people's doors offering talismans for sale, tickets for the next magical ceremony, prophecies charms and potions against evil omens. People jingled like sleigh-horses with all their dangling amulets. Speculators would buy the land around where a "holy man" or prophet lived so that they could charge transit fees for those going to visit them, or so they could profit by the miracles that might take place after the death of the seer.
It was really no different from today with the abundance of cults that are called religions and denominations with the addition of the New Age cults and systems of ascension.
But, in the ancient world, along came Christianity. For hundreds of years it was just another god among many. Nothing more, nothing less.
With one exception: by their totalitarian claims of the one and only god, Judaism and Christianity were sharply distinguished from the hundreds of other cults of the classical world. According to these novel cults, it was not ethics or good behavior or even worthy deeds that would enable the follower to receive the benefits of the god; it was, instead, a PARTICULAR BELIEF. A great advantage for Christianity was that it was officially thought to be just a part of Judaism which was a tolerated cult. Before the time of Hadrian, little attention was even paid to the Christians since experience had shown that the Jews, priding themselves on being the Chosen People, had no inclination to mix or mingle or meddle with the beliefs of others.
What was important at the time of the "creation" of Christianity was that, obviously, since so many years had gone by without the Jews getting the goods they were promised, something had to be done. Christianity came along and added a new twist: HEAVEN! Yes, that's right. Now you don't have to worry about the fact that you aren't getting what you were promised here on earth, we can ASSURE you that we have ocean front property in Arizona! No, you can't go and inspect it, and we certainly aren't going to show you any photographs; you have to take our word for it! In fact, that's going to be part of the contract: if you DON'T take our word for it, deal's off!
Talk about your major sales rush! No other cult has been so lavish in its promises to its followers. A pledge of eternal bliss was given to those who meet the basic, minimum requirements of believing, and just asking for forgiveness when they sinned. Of course, the "ability to believe" came only through god's grace and it was good news to the poor and downtrodden that such grace was not easily given to the rich.
It was also a very popular idea that the wisdom of the simple-minded was greater than the wisdom of a sage, and that the very privileges of the well-to-do were a shame. There was a cornucopia of prizes for the poor and puny and lowly. Not only that, but all the benefits of a fantastic future could be had without having to bring offerings of a chicken or a lamb!
What good were those old gods anyway? If you brought an offering, you had no guarantee they would listen to you and here was a cult that guaranteed that your prayers would be heard and answered!
Look at those mean and withholding gods of the past! Did it ever occur to any of them that they could step off their pedestals and immolate themselves for the poor? They had been so cruel, had perpetrated countless injustices! The good priests of Christianity were right! Tear them down, smash them to pieces so the demons could be driven out of them. Divide the gold and precious jewels among the poor!
There were certainly slaves and soldiers and those who were generally disenfranchised who found solace in a cult that had, essentially, no requirements other than belief. But the majority of peoples of the ancient world, after the adoption of the new faith by Constantine, were certain - from his actions, his "sculpting" of the new religion to suit his ends - that the gods had withdrawn leaving the world to its fate. The sense of abandonment, of desolation, the feeling that something had fled, sank deep into the folk-unconscious, and remains there today.
Getting back to Constantine and the asteroid: For a long time, the conversion of Constantine was one of the unsolved problems of history. This event essentially changed the history of the world, and yet nobody could ever agree as to what really happened in the story of his seeing a "sign" in the sky, followed by a vision. I think that Constantine saw a good product and knew what to do with it. There were all those cults around him promising to protect everybody from the sky falling, and darned if it didn't fall right there in front of him. He was familiar with the teachings of Christianity because he had relatives who were Christians. It's not too much of a stretch to see that a clever person facing the political and military issues that concerned Constantine would go back to his tent after witnessing such an awesome event, and try to figure out how best to use it to advantage.
Such a use of natural phenomena to inspire the ignorant to a system of control is not without precedent. In like manner must the early Luvites have used the eruption of Thera to awe and inspire the future Jews: the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night that was the "Angel of the Lord" leading them out of Egypt.
The facts seem to demonstrate that this was, indeed, what Constantine did. He didn't become a "Christian" - at least not then - but he certainly utilized the cult and shaped it specifically to his intentions. For years after his purported conversion, Constantine continued to use Pagan language and he remained the head—Pontifex Maximus or Sovereign Pontiff—of the old Roman religion until he died.
Constantine appointed pagan aristocrats to high offices in Rome; pagan army officers and orators addressed him as if he were one of themselves, addressing him with the greeting, "May the immortal gods preserve you for us!" And in 321, Constantine made the day of Sol Invictus a holy day and a day of rest for the Christians—Sunday.
In 321 he ordered the religious diviners of the Pagan religion, against whom he had issued a severe decree, to make their exploration of the entrails of birds as usual. In the following year he instituted the Sarmatian Games, with the usual Pagan religious accompaniments to the scandal of the Christians. In 330 he ordered the closing of two of the liveliest temples of Aphrodite in the east, and they were either not closed or were reopened at once. After his death, the Pagans made him, as was customary, a god. Most He deferred his own baptism as a Christian until just before he died since it promised to wash away all his sins and he was taking no chances; and you will soon see why.
To expand on the subject, since it is worth exploring a bit, Constantine was the illegitimate son of a Bithynian barmaid, Helena, and a distinguished Roman military officer, Constantius, who placed his faith, according to Constantine himself, in "the One Supreme God," Sol Invictus. It is said that the upper class Romans snubbed and rejected Constantine as an equal due to the circumstances of his birth and he obviously had some resentment against them due to this early trauma.
His mother, Helena, was converted to Christianity also, and her generosity to the new clergy earned her sainthood. She must have deserved it because she miraculously "discovered" all the sites of the gospel stories and all the relics of Christ that had mysteriously gone missing in the 300 years since the crucifixion!
Having previously attained the rank of tribune, provincial governor, and probably praetorian prefect, Constantius was raised, on 1 March 293, to the rank of Caesar in the First Tetrarchy organized by Diocletian. On this occasion he was required to put aside Helena and to marry Theodora, the daughter of Maximian. Upon the retirement of Diocletian and Maximian on 1 May 305 Constantius succeeded to the rank of Augustus.
Constantine, in the meanwhile, had distinguished himself in service to both Diocletian and Galerius in the East. In the beginning, he was kept at the court of Galerius as a pledge of good conduct on his father's part but possibly due to his good service, he was later allowed to join his father in Britain and assisted him in a campaign against the Picts.
When Constantius died, on 25 July 306, at Eburacum (York), Constantine was at his side and the troops at once proclaimed him Augustus; Constantine henceforth observed this day as his dies imperii. He settled the affairs in Britain swiftly, he returned to the Continent, where the city of Augusta Treverorum (Trier) served as his principal residence for the next six years. Also, as his father did with his mother Helena, he put aside his mistress - mother of his first son, Crispus - and married Maximian's daughter Fausta.
In 312, he set out for Rome to try his strength against his brother-in-law Maxentius. On the evening of October 27, he came face to face with the legions of Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge on the Tiber River. As he prepared to pit his small army against the military might of Rome, so the legend goes, he vowed that if God would help him conquer Rome, he would institute Christian rule. Eusebius the sycophant wrote in The Life of Constantine, that above the setting sun, Constantine and his troops saw a cross in the sky, and above it were the words: "Hoc signo victor eris", which means: "In this sign you shall be victorious." That night, Christ appeared to him with the cross, and told him to use it as a guardian. The next morning, he had this "sign of God" placed on his helmet, and the shields of his men.
Eusebius claimed that he was given this account by the emperor himself, years afterward but Lactantius, a Christian, a few years later, wrote that Constantine actually had a vision of Apollo at the temple in Gaul, who instructed him to place the "celestial sign of God" on their shields prior to going into battle. Constantine felt that Christ was a manifestation of the Sun God, Sol Invictus, or Apollo, but that Christians didn't know this. The actual emblem he used, was not the cross he had allegedly seen, but the symbol, known as the labarum, which was the first two Greek letters of the word "Christos", Chi and Rho.
In 313, Constantine, now emperor, met his co-Emperor Licinius at Milan and together they issued the Edict of Milan. Along with this, he exempted the Christian clergy from municipal offices. In the Roman administration, as we have already described, these local functions, were not paid offices. On the contrary, to be an official was extremely costly. For some, such appointments were onerous and - like taxes in the present day - there was a general attempt to evade them. But, as noted previously, this system put the burden of taxation and public works on the wealthy and the poor were the beneficiaries.
However, over time, as the demands of the empire placed upon their public officials increased - just like rising taxes - exemption was regarded as so valuable a privilege that an extraordinary number of Roman citizens now discovered that they had a "vocation" to the Christian priesthood.
The effect of this measure was soon felt on all sides. There was a general exodus of wealthy pagans to Christianity who were moved not so much by conviction as by the tax exemption. However, this special compensation granted to Christianity served only to bring to its support those least likely to be Christian in practice. The complaints of the municipal bodies and the disorder that followed in the administration of the provinces soon compelled Constantine to modify the exemption and ultimately, he was forced to withdraw it.
In 319 Constantine did something rather odd: he issued a savage decree that any auspex who entered the house of a citizen should be burned alive, though the auspices might continue to function in the temples! It is said that the aim of the decree was to prevent the fraudulent exploitation of the citizens by private fortune-telling for money, but the real aim was a deadly blow at the old religion by making impossible the assumption of its offices. Again, two years later Constantine was forced to modify, or virtually repeal, his law, and it was probably never applied.
In the same year, he tried to impose a "seventh day of rest," handily modified to be Sunday in honor of Sol Invictus, on his Empire. The reason this was so vigorously resisted was because not only did the Romans rest on Thursday (Thor's or Jupiter's Day—Dies Jovis), they also had more than a hundred cult holidays throughout the year. Constantine's aim was, as in his previous measures, to bring about political and social controls by using Christianity as the "excuse." Again, however, he failed, and he had to modify his own decree.
In 325, Constantine called the Council of Nicaea, and placed himself - a confirmed worshipper of Sol Invictus - as the "Summus Pontifex." He considered himself to be the head of the Church, and all writings that did not fit in with his view of the proper worship of of Sol Invictuswere to be gathered up and destroyed. (In 303, pagan emperor Diocletian had already destroyed most of the Christian writings around Rome, so of all the manuscripts of the New Testament available, not one had been produced before the fourth century, which made it easy for the Church to alter the Scriptures to fit the point of view Constantine wanted to convey, not to mention the agenda of those who had become priests for tax purposes.) Thus, paganism became Christianity, and that is all we really know about it today: it's pagan form.
Then came the dreadful year 326. In that year, seemingly out of the blue and with no reason given, Constantine ordered the execution of his oldest son Crispus, who had been appointed Caesar in 317, had three times served as consul, and had distinguished himself in the recent campaign against Licinius. In the same year, soon after the death of Crispus, Constantine also ordered that his wife, Fausta, the mother of his other three sons, be strangled in her bath. Zosimus reports that Crispus had come under suspicion of "being involved" with his stepmother Fausta. Aurelius Victor reports that Constantine killed Fausta when his mother Helena rebuked him for the death of Crispus.
It is impossible now to separate fact from scandalous gossip and to know with certainty what happened. Both of them suffered damnatio memoriae and were neither of them ever rehabilitated.
What I think happened was that Constantine must have discovered the pair of them in an extremely compromising situation and the wife must have immediately blamed the son and cried "rape." So, Constantine executed his son. But, after that, Helena must have gone to him in outrage saying that "it takes two to tango" accusing the wife of being the one who had led on the son and no "rape" was involved. For all we know, Helena detested her daughter-in-law - a not uncommon situation - and saw a way to get rid of her. Constantine also had his nephew murdered around the same time, so he must have been mixed up in the affair, but it is uncertain exactly how.
In any event, this action - murder of three members of his family right in the royal palace, in the heart of the empire - was too much for the Romans to take. Fausta was beautiful, an aristocrat, and her public reputation was spotless no matter what she may or may not have done. Undoubtedly, this event had a powerful effect on Constantine himself in other ways later reflected in laws passed against adultery and sexual misconduct.
The Greek historian, Zosimus, (experts disagree on whether or not this is true) wrote that after the murders at Rome the emperor applied for purification in the temple of Jupiter, and the Pagan priests sternly refused. And so, Constantine went to his Christian priests who readily agreed.
Rome, which was still overwhelmingly Pagan, scorned the emperor with furious indignation and rejected him. He was a barbarian.
But Christianity - the Christianity he had created - received him.
Constantine had already been planning to build a new capital, but everything was advanced now that he was faced with unbearable scornful opposition to his person and his religious designs.
The conclusion we can tentatively draw from all of this is that Constantine saw the Christian god as the same as Apollo or Sol Invictus, and he essentially swapped sun gods without changing his fundamental Pagan ideas. The new religion was created in the image of the Pagan religion of Sol Invictus.
What seems to be the truth is that his generosity to the Christian Church was merely a means to an end: he wanted to create a powerful organization that was attached to HIM as the "son." One could say that the new Christian Church was just as converted to the emperor as he was to the Church. The perfect political tool.
Christians like to believe that the "superiority" and "truth" of their religion is what led to its growth and development, overtaking and supplanting all of the "superstitious beliefs" of Pagan peoples. The truth is that, at the beginning of the 4th century, all the blood of all the martyrs had converted only a tiny fraction of the Roman world and Christianity became what it is and grew quite simply because Constantine created it as a political tool.
From the first Constantine had, apart from his unsuccessful decrees, showered wealth and privileges upon the Church. A stream of gold flowed from the palace and new churches of a more attractive nature began to rise. At court and in the army the best way, if not the only way, to secure promotion was to become convinced by the brilliant evidence of the religion of which the emperor was the head. Even ordinary citizens were rewarded with a baptismal robe and a piece of gold. Villages were raised to the rank of cities if all their inhabitants exchanged Jupiter for Christ. In ten years, imperial gold had done more than the blood of all the martyrs, the miracles of all the saints, and the arguments of all the apologists.
The oration given by Eusebius to Constantine in 336 AD reveals the relation between Church and state that Constantine had sought from the Christians as the condition for his acceptance of Christianity as the controlling religion in the empire. He was happy to accept that there was one ruler in heaven, God, and one divine law, the Christian law. In return, the Christian leaders accepted the absolute rule on earth of the Roman Emperor, acknowledged as God's viceregent on earth, and there was one secular law, the law of Rome. Eusebius declared that Constantine was the earthly reflection of the Logos or Word of God—the principle by which God gave order to the world. He was, in fact, recognized as Christ reincarnate! Christ as Emperor was the concept of Christ for the next millennium, and the bishops were happy to be seen as baby Christs in their dioceses.
The key factor was the organisational strength given to the Church by Constantine who provided the Church with the legal privileges that allowed it to accummulate the power and wealth to dominate Europe a few centuries later. With power behind them, the bishops immediately stopped Christians from choosing their own bishop. Bishops were to be made bishops by other bishops, so they became a self electing body independent of their sheep and totally able to do and to decide whatever they liked.
After Constantine's death, the Empire fractured and emperors changed frequently, especially in the West. Constantine's son, Constantius, made the Pagans' ritual sacrifices a capital offense. Mobs of zealous Christians took it as carte blanche to invade pagan temples and overturn alters. Pagans retaliated with riots and similar actions against Christian churches. Christianity also fractured, with the schism between Catholic and Orthodox, the stresses of different approaches to divinity, eucharist and celebration, and eventually to that of iconoclasm. The Roman Church sought to bring local churches, often with regional or political variations, into line with official church dogma.
Under Pope Gregory the "Great," the church adopted the tactic of converting many of the pagan festivals and practices to Christian by fiat. Local cults became the cults of saints, Pagan festivals became Christian holy days and Pagan temples became Christian churches. These were the clever ways devised so that Christianity took over Europe. There were certainly enforced conversions but there were actually fewer instances of outright coercion than one would think.
In some of the centuries before this, except in the matters of scholarly or theological debate, individual belief was often not a big issue, the big exception being the Cathars. Common people were seen as a sheep to be led through life, rude, remote from God. Thus overlooked, they continued to practice the old formulae of their ancestors, often believing them to be as Christian as the eucharist itself.
So we come back to the fact that, while the majority of pagan cults didn't deal much with an afterlife, all of a sudden, it was the chief carrot to dangle. Not only that, but it was a useful carrot because those who dangled it didn't have to pay up on their end of the bargain. Jehovah/Yahweh was off the hook. He hadn't made the Jews rulers of the world as he promised and for those who questioned that troubling item, there was Christianity that promised a variation on the end of the world scenario with an immediate reward in heaven so that nobody would get tired of waiting.
In every society, people believe that they have some idea of their history whether this history is told as myth and legend or in a literal chronological presentation of events. All of us live with the idea that we have some accurate overview of where we are situated in space and time and where we came from and how we got there.
And yet, it is also said that the victors write history as they choose. In our own day and time, the world witnessed this process in Russia, where the process of "Stalinization" included re-writing history textbooks. Those of us who lived in the West were appalled at this desecration of history and truth and smugly reassured ourselves that no such thing could happen in a democracy. And most certainly, such a thing had never happened to us in our own past! But clearly it did.
There is now irrefutable evidence that, at the time of the famous "conversion" of Constantine, an asteroid fell in the exact area where said conversion took place. Following this event, if we examine the evidence, we see the definitive outlines of a "state religion" designed to act as an "opiate of the people." The history of Christianity - from the apostles in Rome down to the present day - had been an unquestioned premise upon which much that exists in our world to day is founded. The very condition of our planet at the moment is based upon this "history of Christianity" which we are beginning to think might be a tad distorted.
There is a reason that we do not know our true history. And the truth is, we don't even have to look for extraordinary, evil forces to explain it. The simple fact of the entropic nature of the universe suffices to create conspiracies designed to establish and maintain political and social controls. Call it the Cosmic Murphy's law, if you like.
In the next section, we are going to talk about a series of events that buried our true history and how it was "re-created" for us - again, with political controls in mind, and how important it is to realize this in order to escape the black-hole of Entropy that threatens to swallow our world.
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