Tag Archives: Odin

12 Apostles: Constellations, Numerology, &Theology in the world’s religions: Quest to Understand Origins; a study of textual criticism, translation, interpretation and linguistics

Christianity, like all religions, gives credence to numerology, and over the centuries has attempted to create perfect unions of numbers with beings. In order to fashion the perfect union, Christianity borrowed most of its theology, ontology, theophany, and religious ideology from other religions, philosophies, sciences and mathematics, and the writings the past contained.  From this plagiarism came the invention of a church created in 325 CE by the Emperor Constantine I.  It succeeded only by silencing the opposition, burning their books and their priests, and condemning those who do not accept as heretics, or those who leave the world of priestly disenchantment apostates. 

1520, German religious reformer Martin Luther burning the papal bull

These practices all religions and secular and sacerdotal dictators have used from the beginning of recorded history in an effort to erase the past so they can rewrite it in their own image that was fanciful and lacking fact.  The belief continues that if a “reformer”  erases the words and the scriptures or volumes written by those you oppose, the opposition with melt away and be forced to join the new cult.  It was the raison d’être for the holocaust by the Hebrews in their war on the original inhabitants of Palestine: Canaanites, Palestinians, Philistines, etc., through the carnage of the crusades and Inquisition of the Roman Catholic

Members of the Hitler Youth are shown burning books in Salzburg, Austria

Church and Protestant Thirty Years War, the rise of Adolf Hitler who regularly proclaimed his faith in the God of Christianity, to the organized certified hategroups in the USA (such as Focus on the Family), to radical Islams that demand the death of democracy, freedom, and non-believers in the non-Muslim world while attacking non-Muslims in Muslim lands. This has always been the

Muslims protest against freedom and democracy in the UK

case throughout the history of Christianity, Islam, and other theologies, with most congregations using the books to burn non-believers and apostates. 

Taliban terrorists destroyed the Buddha statues with artillery and explosives in 2001 (carved ca 500 CE)

Today evangelical extremists and religious fundamentalists, especially among the Baptists and Pentecostals, burn comic books, magazines, books, films and whatever they cannot censor: seeing in the unwanted media “pornography”–which has led even to the destruction of centuries old statues, as when Islamic radicals (Taliban) dynamited the famed Buddhas along the Silk Road in Afghanistan in 2001.  The statues had been carved more than 1500 years prior to their destruction, but when Islam conquered Afghanistan after numerous blood baths and the butcher of women, children and the elderly, the theological students (Taliban) of the new faith (Islam) began their systematic destruction of the famed statues.  This did not abate, for religious zealots continued to hurl stones against the great Buddhas who preached peace while Islam called for war (jihad) and demanded the destruction of all images–even though the images of Imams and the Prophet Muhammad continued for more than 1000 years: appearing in books–even the Qur’an–and papers (as I have in my private library).

Public comic book burning in Binghamton, NY by "the faithful"

Constantine accelerated by burning the writings of Arius (that, based on what slender information that exits, was closer to the New Testament Jesus than the Jesus of the official catholic [universal] Church). 

The Emperor Constantine and the Council of Nicaea, with Arius's books being burned, below. (Drawing on vellum. From MS CLXV, Biblioteca Capitolare, Vercelli, a compendium of canon law produced in northern Italy ca. 825)

Constantine I (known as “the Great”) was a firm “pagan” who was far more devoted to the worship of Mithras than any other deity.  He created the catholic [universal] Church to win over the growing number of converts to the new cult out of the Middle East in an effort to stabilize a decaying empire. 

To buttress the Imperial state, he called together a small number of congregational leaders that history has deemed to be “bishops” to meet at the city of Nicaea.  At Nicaea the “bishops” hammered out details that led to a united group–coming out of the wreckage of various splinter entities that originated in Jerusalem and drifted away to Alexandria (the largest ghetto), Rome, numerous Greek πολις (polis: city-states), Egypt and other appendages to the empire.

Christianity and its various sects with different ideologies 325 CE

Constantine tried valiantly to get the various communities of “Christians”  (chrestianos and christianos) to come together.  His solution, was to incorporate as many of the various rites, rituals, adiaphora contents, and so forth into what would emerge as official “Christianity”—but with little in common with the Jesus of the New Testament.  Instead, Constantine’s “church” quickly took on the tapestry of Paulinity: complete with doctrines that are nowhere to be found in the Sayings of Jesus, but popular throughout the Roman Empire: End Times, Apocalypse, and numerology: especially glorifying and elevating the number 12.

A group of twelve things is called a duodecad. Twelve was an appropriate number for the religions of the empire, as it represented a common reality: the number of months in a year in the Western and Eastern European provinces, and the division of the skies represented by constellations reflecting the annual movement of heavenly bodies. Since education was weak to non-existent for most of the people of the empire, religion created mythologies and gave rise to numerous serendipitous superstitions and rank religious beliefs that were piled on top of respect for the number 12.

Zodiac : the constellations on the celestial sphere

Fortuitous fantasies and subsequent superstitions concerning signs of the Zodiac and life events have been, recently, comprehensively shown to be false. However, the shibboleth of ignorance brought with it a phylactery of priestly classes, pastors of congregations, and rabbis of writ to the detriment of learning, all disguised with the mask of the number 12. Eschatological symbolism in Judaism, as with the 12 Tribes of Israel (each being named after one of the twelve sons of Jacob) and early Christianity (with its invention of twelve apostles) was deeply indebted to the number 12, as will be discussed shortly.  But the debt that both Judaism and Christianity owe to this “divine number” goes beyond each of the religion’s history and antecedents.

Zoroastrianism was the religion during most of the Persian Empire

The ancient Zoroastrian religion had twelve commanders (depicted with wings) on the side of light (light being a symbol for the sun).  The ancient Zoroastrian holy book, the Menok i Xrat, says that the “twelve Signs of the Zodiac, as the Religion says, are the twelve commanders on the side of light” (Sagan, Carl (1995). Cosmos. Originally published 1981 by McDonald & Company; the 1995 edition was published at Avenel, NJ, USA: Wings Books: Distributed by Random House Value Pub.; another printing is by Abacus a division of Time Warner Books UK, at London, UK.  p. 58).  

Ahriman tried to destroy Ahura Mazda's creation by starting a battle

Zoroaster’s commanders are like archangels: fighting against evil in a battle for the fate of the world, and their invention came with the introduction of the mythology of End Times, Apocalypse and a universal war.  According to Zoroaster, this Final Battle, the ultimate universal war, would be with Ahura Mazda (Ahura means “light” and Mazda means “wisdom” in the Old Iranian language. Ahura Mazda is the “lord of light and wisdom” a creator god who had no beginning but is now and will “forever be”) ultimately triumphing over wickedness and evil. Ahura Mazda’s counterpart is Angra Mainyu, the “evil spirit”. 

Angra Mainyu is the creator of evil who will be destroyed in the Final Battle.  Zoroaster’s account antedates John of Patmos and his Apocalypse by 3000 years.  Zoroaster relates that Ahura Mazda gave the gods unique attributes: omniscience (all-knowing), omnipotence (all-powerful) and omnipresence (being everywhere).

Zoroaster’s Apostles spread out over the known world, following the same injunction that the followers of Jesus of the New Testament required of his believers, and matched in the nineteenth century CE by the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons).  The Twelve Apostles are the second highest ranking group in the Mormon church. and are known as the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. 

The First Presidency (must be selected unanimously) and the Twelve Apostles in September 1898. Reed Smoot is missing from this photograph

They serve under the direction of the First Presidency, which consists of three high priests (considered by some to be the Mormon Trinity) generally selected from the ranks of the Quorum of the Twelve.  Mormons believe that their Apostles are identical to those selected by the New Testament Jesus.  The Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith said:

They are the Twelve Apostles, who are called to the office of the Traveling High Council, who are to preside over the churches of the Saints, among the Gentiles, where there is a presidency established; and they are to travel and preach among the Gentiles, until the Lord shall command them to go to the Jews. They are to hold the keys of this ministry, to unlock the door of the Kingdom of heaven unto all nations, and to preach the Gospel to every creature. This is the power, authority, and virtue of their apostleship. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols. 2:200)

The Mormon Apostles seek unanimity in all their decisions. (Doctrine and Covenants 107:27).  The determine faith and morals, in the same manner as the Roman Catholic pontiff. 

Current Mormon (LDS) Apostles

Apostles of the LDS serve for their lifetime, unless removed from their position for iniquity or through resignation.  Few resign or are removed.

In all cases there is strong similarity.  All begin with saviour gods who were born during the time of a bright star; are visited by wise men, minister and preach a universal peace, are crucified, die, are born again, and return for a final battle. The star-gazers and sun-worshippers of the ancient world would be proud that they were followed by a long series of cultures that imagined a collection of twelve gods:

Among all the gods worshipped by the Greeks, the twelve deities who dwelt on Mt Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece, formed a special category of their own. The gods of Olympus were usually taken to be Zeus, Hera, Athena, Poseidon, Apollo, Artemis, Demeter, Hermes, Aphrodite, Ares, Hephaestus and Hestia. In certain local variations, positions among the ‘twelve’ were occupied by Pluto, Dionysus, Heracles or other local cult heroes.

(Mavromataki, Maria (1997).  Greek mythology and religion: cosmogony, the gods, religious customs, the heroes. Athens, Greece: Editions Haïtalis (Astrous 13, 13121). p. 24). In short, there was not a single religion in the ancient world through the time of Constantine and even beyond to the present day that did not have a savior god or goddess who called 12 Apostles to minister in his or her name.

The Greeks went further than many other faiths.  While the Greeks imagined 12 Gods living, creating, ruling and judging from Mount Olympus, they were aided by numerous sons and daughters (the more important deities had 12 sons in a manner similar to the Jewish Jacob) who numbered from 12 to 70 or 72 (cp. Luke 10:1; 72 is a more reasonable number for the disciples, as it is more easily divided by 12, the ultimate number being 6 that is half of 12).  I will discuss the spiritual significance of 6 later and how it applies to all theologies from ancient Ethiopia and Egypt to the present plethora of religious faiths and pseudo-religions such as the contemporary New Apostolic Reformation and others.

Fresco of Mithras slaying the bull, 2nd century CE, Marino, Italy

Out of this came the Passion of Mithras: the slaughter of the Sacred Bull, the yeh of Imperial Rome before much of it is incorporated by Imperial decree into Paulinity.  The religion was a direct challenge to the rise of various Jewish sects, including that of Christian Judaism.

Mithras and his 12 Apostles (signs of the Zodiac)

The followers of the God Mithras, who was born out of a rock/stone (petras:

Mithras born from the rock (petra genetrix), Marble, 180-192 AD. From the area of S. Stefano Rotondo, Rome.

πέτρα; cp. Matthew 16:18) that was to be the basis of faith as detailed in decorations and graffitti, including many Roman emperors such as Constantine, believed that the crucified Mithras was their eternal saviour who would transport them to a heavenly realm while having his message sent to all people of all nations by 12 disciples.  The same story is the foundation for what would become the faith of Christians who also believe that their saviour, in most ways identical to Mithras and with the Mithraist religion, had 12 disciples. 

Ancient religions used the number 12, believing, as Pythagoras argued, that it was a god-given gift to mortals and had divine properties and a profound mystical meaning.  This was because it is one of the lowest easily divisible numbers, unlike other numbers it has several dividing factors: 6, 4, 3, and 2. Since 12 was the lowest easily divisible number, it was used to prepare calendars and time pieces (clocks) that were used for and with astronomy (star-gazing, star charting, and that ultimately led to astrology—the study that assumes and attempts to interpret the influence of the heavenly bodies on human affairs—and the believe in a mystical heaven that was centered between the stars and composed of 12 constellations).

Sumerian Zodiac with inscription "the city of Nippur, honored by them as a central shrine"

The oldest preserved zodiac dates from 3100 – 3000 BCE when the Sumerians in Mesopotamia developed their Zodiac based on the six heavenly bodies (known as “houses” or “star groups”) they could see with the naked eye (astronomy).  These celestial objects are now known as planets.

On tablets the Sumerians wrote of visitors from “beyond the stars” who  had selected certain Sumerian cities as special communities for worship. The symbols on the Zodiac were remembrances of those who came, and used to understand (“foretell”) the future.

While the Sumerians used symbols in their Zodiac, theirs were not the first symbols of religious orientation.  Much of ancient Sumerian theology became the foundation for what would emerge as Hebrew theology.  For example:

“In the beginning everything was ocean – the Apsu – Chaos, whence arose a number of divinities, including Tiamat (the sea) and the gods Anu, Enlil and Enki (Ea), the later representatives of the tripartite world. Now Apsu desired to destroy his offspring, but was killed by Enki, who looked upon the Apsu as his home. Then Tiamat, who went forth to revenge Apsu, was vanquished in conflict with Sumer, Babylon and Assur, respectively. Now before the struggle, Tiamat had created, in place of Apsu, huge monsters in animal form.” 

To strengthen the faith, a Zodiac was created with early symbolism and text that includes passages about winged being who came to earth and would return someday from distant planets.  In the Heavenly Ocean were a variety of animal constellations: the “vanished” gods.  By 2600 BCE the Sumerians are writing about a great battle between Sumer, Babylon and Assur: the foundation for what would become Gog and Megog (Hebrew: גּוֹג וּמָגוֹג  that translates as “the four corners/quarters of the earth”; it is the cornerstone for Ezekiel 38-39 that was used as the foundation for Revelation 20; but, in Genesis 10, where Magog is the eponymous ancestor of a people or nation the text is more realistic and most likely written after the battle of the King Gyges of Lydia (687 BCE-652 BCE), although Josephus in separate passages in the “Jewish Antiquities” and “Jewish War” of the 1st century details that Jews of that time identified Gog and Magog with the Scythians, and concluded that Alexander the Great locked these horse-riding barbarians of the far north behind the Caucasus mountains with iron gates (Bietenholz, Peter G. (1994). Historia and fabula: myths and legends in historical thought from antiquity to the modern age. Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill).  It is a myth that has fascinated people from Scandinavia to China, speaks of giant warriors such as Ghengis Khan and contemporary dictators–but it remains an ever-expanding myth that brings out the wildest fears of many self-styled prophets (cp. Derry, T.K (1979). A history of Scandinavia: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland. St. Paul / Minneapolis, MN, USA: University of Minnesota Press; Marshall, Robert (1993). Storm from the East: from Ghengis Khan to Khubilai Khan. London, UK: BBC Books, and Berkeley, CA, USA: University of California Press; and the thesis/dissertation of Christensen, Arne Søby (2002). Cassiodorus, Jordanes, and the History of the Goths: Studies in a Migration Myth. Published in Copenhagen, Denmark: Museum Tusculanum Press).

Gog and Magog appear in Qur’an sura Al-Kahf (The Cave), 18:83-98, as Yajuj and Majuj (Ya-juj/Ya-jewjand Ma-juj/Ma-jewjor يأجوج و مأجوج, in Arabic), but this is a plagiarism from the “Gates of Alexander” story from the Alexander Romance, a thoroughly embellished compilation of Alexander the Great’s wars and adventures (Omrani Rekavandi, H., Sauer, E., Wilkinson, T. & Nokandeh, J. (2008), The enigma of the red snake: revealing one of the world’s greatest frontier walls, Current World Archaeology, No. 27, February/March 2008, pp. 12-22).  As with the Christian or Hebrew Bible or Torah, very little in the Qur’an is original or true.

Scorpio, Kudurru, Meli-Shipak and Nebuchadnezzar boundary stones 12th century BCE

Heavenly symbolism begins ca 4000 BCE and in Europe we have many megaliths and remains from the fourth millennium BCE.  Some megaliths with symbols can be dated back to 6000 BCE. The asterism (the science of the asterisk or “little star”; see: Walker, Christopher B. F. (1996). Astronomy before the Telescope.  London, UK: British Museum Press. pp. 50-67) Scorpio is the common denominator and symbol for the Ritual Age that extended from Northern Scandinavia and the Atlantic to the Pacific. There are no scorpions in Scandinavia so if we find several images it is surely the asterism; on the other hand there are a couple of rock carvings in the shape of Scorpio.

Canchal Mahona cave symbol (Spain)

At the same time, the eye symbol is used for the moon and has been found in a cave in Canhal Mahona (moon cycle; noting that the original first deity was a goddess: Venus) Spain.  It is also seen in Egyptian roof paintings of the celestial world.

It would not be until the rise of Babylon (and Assyria) that the Zodiac would be transmogrified into 12 signs or symbols, arising in the second millennium BCE with a cult growing up around its astrology.  Astrology became a cult in itself, with official claim that it was one of the two chief means at the disposal of the priests (who were called bare or “inspectors”) for ascertaining the will and intention of the gods (the other being through the inspection of the liver of the sacrificial animal).

Sumerian tablet: ancient aliens and the heavenly war

The Sumerians, however, had the number 12 and did more with the number 12 and astronomy than merely calculate the planets or tell times of planting and harvesting.  The number and its mythology played an intricate role in the Sumerian government, as the government was always composed of twelve people.

Sumerian ideas and technologies were passed to other civilizations: from Egypt to Mesopotamian empires, such as that of Babylon (Iraq).  In ancient Egypt, the number 12 stood for maturity, and girls under the age of 12, and boys under the age of 13, remained naked to testify to their innocence.  12 had no special divine qualities, but the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus and the Moscow Mathematical Papyrus show that the ancient Egyptians could perform the four basic mathematical operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division  (Gardiner, Sir Alan (1957). Egyptian Grammar: Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs. Oxford, England: Griffith Institute. p. 197).  These were used ultimately, in praise of the Goddess Isis, a part of history’s original Trinity (Isis-Ra-El that the mercenaries known as Habiru/ Hebrews changed into Israel), and her theology.  From it came the obelisks and various calculated structures (Siliotti, Alberto (1998). The Discovery of Ancient Egypt. Edison, NJ, USA: Book Sales, Inc., p. 8 seq.). The Egyptians also used fractions, computed the volumes of boxes and pyramids, and calculate the surface areas of rectangles, triangles, circles and even spheres using principles underlying the Pythagorean Theorem: Area ≈ [(89)D]2 = (25681)r 2 ≈ 3.16r 2 being the basis for Pythagoras πr 2 (Strouhal, Eugen (1989). Life in Ancient Egypt. Norman, OK, USA: University of Oklahoma Press, p. 241).  

Like the Sumerians, the Babylonians, with their numbering system of 60, found the number 12 to be practical and useful for calendars and times—and to explain how their religion influenced the religions throughout the Middle East: from Mesopotamia to Southern Egypt and beyond. The author of Science: a Four Thousand Year History, Patricia Fara, says “the Babylonians split the heavens into twelve equal sections, one for each lunar month and carrying the name of a prominent constellation. Translated into Latin, these now exist as the twelve signs of the zodiac familiar from newspaper horoscopes, such as Aries the Ram and Taurus the Bull” (Fara, Patricia (2009). Science: A Four Thousand Year History. Oxford, UK; New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press. p. 13). This idea was passed on from culture to culture:

The notion of the zodiac is very ancient, with roots in the early cultures of Mesopotamia. The first 12-signs of the Zodiac were named after the gods of these cultures. The Greeks adopted astrology from the Babylonians, and the Romans, in turn, adopted astrology from the Greeks. These people renamed the signs of the Mesopotamian zodiac in terms of their own mythologies, which is why the familiar zodiac of the contemporary West bears names from Mediterranean mythology.

(Lewis, James R. (2004) in Partridge, Christopher (2004).  Encyclopedia of New Religions (2004 edition). Oxford, UK: Lion Publishing. p. 337.)

Shēngxiào (chinese zodiac)

The same situation occurs in the orient (the Far East). The Chinese zodiac (The Shēngxiào) also had twelve divisions; although they were different to the common ones that Western culture adopted from the Sumerians.  The Chinese used animals to mark the zodiac, not gods.  Some scholars argue that the animals were representations of god, such as the winged-lion in Christianity representing the Apostle Mark.  This Zodiac was used from Korea to Japan and throughout East Asia (the Thais have the most unusual of calendars: “การเปลี่ยนวันใหม่ การนับวัน ทางโหราศาสตร์ไทย การเปลี่ยนปีนักษัตร โหราศาสตร์ ดูดวง ทำนายทายทัก” where the year starts at different times. 

Chinese Zodiac (art object)

The Chinese Zodiac reflected time cycles divided into 12 parts, and each is widely associated with a culture of attributing influence of a person’s relationship to the cycle upon their personality and/or events in their life.  None of the animals of the Chinese zodiac are associated with constellations but are linked to agriculture leading to 24 two-week segments known as Solar Terms that were defined by popular mythology by the Jade Emperor who selected twelve animals to represent the generation of matter: planets, people, and so forth.

Ivory Buddhist Tibetan talisman

When China was influenced by Buddhism, the Zodiac and its cycles were affected, in part. As the division of the divine realm into 12 areas was based on the original stellar usefulness of the number, non-godly religions also developed mystical systems that divided existence into 12 parts. Buddhists hold that life is composed of 12 stages, which together keep the wheel of life turning, ensnaring all life in a samsaric (cyclic) form of existence from which it is hard to escape.

The Buddhist teaching on samsaric existence is […] depicted in the Wheel of Becoming. […] The rim of the wheel is divided into twelve segments and scenes. These show how beings pass from one realm to another, and are call the nidanas. […] These scenes depict Buddhist teaching on Dependent Origination: the causal chain which ensures that the Wheel of Samara keeps revolving.

(Erricker, Clive (1995). Buddhism. Publisher: Lincolnwood (Chicago), Illinois, U.S.A. : NTC Pub. Group, 1995, pp. 45-48; reissued: London : Teach Yourself, 2008.  Cp. Erricker, Clive (1995). Teach Yourself Buddhism. London : Hodder Headline, 1995.)

In nearly every theology there have been lesser gods (usually twelve in number) and twelve superior gods. The ancient Zoroastrian holy book, the Menok i Xrat, says that the “twelve Signs of the Zodiac, as the Religion says, are the twelve commanders on the side of light” (Mavromataki (1997) p. 24); the full passage from the actual text reads:

All welfare and adversity that come to man and other creatures come through the Seven and the Twelve.  Twelve signs of the Zodiac, as the Religion says are the twelve commanders on the side of light; and the seven planets are said to be the seven commanders on the side of darkness.  And the seven planets oppress all creation and deliver it over to death and all manner of evil:  for the twelve signs of the Zodiac and the seven planets rule the fate of the world.

It is also found in cuneiform on stones from Assyria, Samaria and Babylon, which read:

The signs on Earth, just as those in heaven, give us signals.  Sky and Earth both produce portents; though appearing separately, they are not separate:  Sky and Earth are related.

This gave antecedent to the horror mythology of John of Patmos, the alleged author of the Christian Apocalypse. Christianity, like Judaism and Islam, is, indeed, deeply endebted to Zoroastrianism.  In Zoroastrianism, long before the advent of any of the other Mesopotamian/Middle Eastern religions even surfaced to attract any attention, the commanders fight against evil in a battle for the fate of the world. The star-gazers and sun-worshippers of the ancient world would be proud that they were followed by a long series of cultures that imagined a collection of twelve gods:

Among all the gods worshipped by the Greeks, the twelve deities who dwelt on Mt Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece, formed a special category of their own. The gods of Olympus were usually taken to be Zeus, Hera, Athena, Poseidon, Apollo, Artemis, Demeter, Hermes, Aphrodite, Ares, Hephaestus and Hestia. In certain local variations, positions among the ‘twelve’ were occupied by Pluto, Dionysus, Heracles or other local cult heroes.

Maria Mavromataki, Maria (1997).  Greek Mythology and Religion, loc. cit.

Some Gods had twelve sons, and some sun gods had 12 disciples to spread the message across the world that the sun wasn’t dead; it was rising again in the sky in spring, after being defeated in autumn.  This ideological theology transcended boarders, nations, and people, for it reached into Scandinavia, Russia, the Americas, and beyond.  As the stars are divided into twelve, it is only natural to presume that communities of Homo sapiens (even Neanderthals) can be divided into twelve geographical locations, and each one administered by a different personification of the Sun.

The Signs of the Zodiac became Leaders.  It was thought their influence over the lives of individual people could be worked out through a mixture of planet-watching and confused mysticism. The legacy that such lunacy left us was a deep-rooted religious tradition that the affairs of mankind are rightfully led by twelve leaders, with the religious literature of each including the notation: “As in heaven, so on Earth.”  

A detail from runestone G 181 in the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm. The three men are interpreted as Odin, Thor and Freyr.

Odin (Old Norse Óðinn) was referred to by more than 200 names; see: Gylfaginning XX, and Harrison, Dick & Svensson, Kristina (2007). Vikingaliv. Stockholm, Sweden: Natur och Kultur, 2007. p. 63, in Swedish; cp. Finnur Jónsson (1926-28). Ordbog til de af samfund til udg. af gml. nord. litteratur udgivne rímur samt til de af Dr. O. Jiriczek udgivne bósarimur, pp. 51-51. København: J. Jørgensen & Co., in Danish where there is an unfortunate mixture of Biflindi and Byrlindi), for example, who sat on a chair that overlooked all of creation, has 12 sons, and like the sons of Jacob, Odin’s sons represented mortal nations and places.  The best known children of Odin are Thor , Týr , Freyr , Heimdallr , and Loki (the “trickster” who frequently becomes combative and sometimes is considered a devil).  Other sons include Balder, Sigi, Vali, and Vithar.

God Lugh/Lugus

Odin and his children had one special gift: they could change shapes and turn from mortal bodies into those of animals.  There are parallels between Odin and Celtic Lugus: both are intellectual gods, commanding magic and poetry, yet furious in battle using a spear and carrying ravens. Julius Caesar (de Bello Gallico, 6.17.1) mentions Mercury as the chief god of Celtic religion, and Mercury has 12 sons who spread out across the known world to preach to and teach the people. 

Odin (the father) is a part of the Norse Trinity, joined by his son Thor (who is crucified), and son of inspiration—a Holy Ghost—Freyr (Adam of Bremen’s Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum 26 notes:

In hoc templo, quod totum ex auro paratum est, statuas trium deorum veneratur populus, ita ut potentissimus eorum Thor in medio solium habeat triclinio; hinc et inde locum possident Wodan et Fricco. Quorum significationes eiusmodi sunt : ‘Thor’, inquiunt, ‘praesidet in aere, qui tonitrus et fulmina, ventos ymbresque, serena et fruges gubernat. Alter Wodan, id est furor, bella gerit, hominique ministrat virtutem contra inimicos. Tertius est Fricco, pacem voluptatemque largiens mortalibus’. Cuius etiam simulacrum fingunt cum ingenti priapo. In this temple, entirely decked out in gold, the people worship the statues of three gods in such wise that the mightiest of them, Thor, occupies a throne in the middle of the chamber; Wotan and Frikko have places on either side. The significance of these gods is as follows: Thor, they say, presides over the air, which governs the thunder and lightning, the winds and rains, fair weather and crops. The other, Wotan—that is, the Furious—carries on war and imparts to man strength against his enemies. The third is Frikko, who bestows peace and pleasure on mortals. His likeness, too, they fashion with an immense phallus.

12 "sons" (tribes) of Jacob: astrological symbols

Much of this became the foundation for one of the greatest plagiarism in the ancient world: The Torah and the Talmud.  Not only were their twelve tribes named after the twelve sons of Jacob who is considered both a man (Genesis 32:24, 28) and a god (Genesis 32:28, 30), but Israel knew twelve tribes, called after the twelve sons of Jacob, according to mythology (there is no historical record of a Joseph in Egypt), Joseph had two sons: Manasseh and Ephraim who, by command of Jacob (actually one of the ancient gods of Israel [Is{is}-Ra-El]) were regarded as de facto “tribes” of Israel (Genesis 48:5, to preserve the numerological theology of 12; cp. Joshua 14:3-4). The best known of the sons of Jacob are Benjamin whose lineage produced King Saul and also who the Books of Acts of the Apostles introduces as Saul of Tarsus.  The priestly tribe of Levi produced Moses and the first High Priest, the brother of Moses: Aaron.  Judah’s family tree would boast of Kings David and Solomon and other rulers; the New Testament attached Jesus to the House of David even though there is no historical record to substantiate this Biblical figure.

12 sons/tribes of Jacob/Israel

The lineage of Jacob, in the Torah, includes: Reuben (it translates as “see”, and the tale is found in Genesis 29:32), Simeon (it translates as “hearing” and is also the son of Leah as was Reuben, and detailed in Genesis 29:33; he is not blessed by Moses and most likely was unknown), Levi (also a son of Leah, and translates as “joined” or “attached” and is found in Genesis 29:34), Judah (translates as Yah—not Yahweh—but is the name of an ancient Egyptian bull god, and is read at Genesis 29:35), Dan (a word meaning “judge” and the son of Bilhah who was Rachel’s servant, and is at Genesis 30:6), Naphtali (meaning “my wrestling” and invokes combat, with his nativity at Genesis 30:6), Gad (a word that details the Habiru/Hebrew’s origin, as it means “invader” or “troop” as the ancient Hebrews were mercenaries in Egypt working for the Hyksos; it is found at Genesis 39:11),  and he is the son of Leah’s servant Zilpah, whose story is at Genesis 30:11), Asher (which means “happy” was also the son of Zilpah and is recorded at Genesis 30:13),  Issachar (translates as “man for hire” or “wages” and implies prostitution; he is the son of Leah in Genesis 30:18), Zebulun (meaning “dwelling” and is the son of Leah and implies both greed and ownership, as it is recorded that Leah said “…now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons”—six being a division of twelve by two sisters as Jacob committed incest by marrying his two first cousins; the story is at Genesis 30:20b), Joseph (translates as “increaser” and was the son of Rachel, but also was a term used for anticipated future pregnancies and thus the enrichment of the land through additional laborers or soldiers; it is found at Genesis 30:24), and, finally: Benjamin (translates a “son of the right hand” born to Rachel as she was dying (in Genesis 35:18, Rachel calls the infant Ben-Oni—“son of sorrow”—but Jacob renamed him Ben-Jamin, to do his bidding).  There is a popular myth of 10 Lost Tribes of Israel, but there is no historical basis for this claim:  Most Hebrews moved before and after the “Babylonian Captivity” and Jews are found in Alexandria, Egypt in the first century CE.

Judaism includes prophecies that are more condemnation, as with Reuben who “defiled” Jacob’s bed: implying incest with the mother or possibly a sister.  Simeon and Levi were known for sadism, and were cursed to be “scattered”. Judah was the most favored to become a king and ultimately to produce a warrior leader (messiah) to go against the enemies of Jacob and his tribes. Dan who was to be a judge over Israel is also called a serpent: “a viper by the path” that will ultimately force a rider to fall backward—and thus is the foundation for the allegory of Saul of Tarsus trip to Damascus.  Naphtali was a flatterer who “uses beautiful words” but could not always be trusted, and most likely has his origin in Loki or Scandinavia. Gad was to be routed in battle, but becomes a king and a judge. Asher loves “dainties” (delicacies of food) and represents the gluttony of a few both in food and possessions: “Let him dip his foot in oil. Your sandals shall be iron and bronze”. Issachar was considered “strong [as a] donkey”, while Zebulun “shall become a haven for ships”.  Joseph was to wear a crown—for which there is no historical evidence, but he would be permanently separated from his brothers.  Benjamin was to become a warrior but shares in the spoils with his tribe. (Genesis 49:1-27, ref. Deuteronomy 33:6-25).

Besides the “sons of Jacob” (females were seldom counted), there were twelve “minor” prophets (the Hebrew Bible, the Nevi’im, or Prophets): referring to the length of each “book”—not to the writer’s importance.  The Minor Prophets are: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

There were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, (symbolic of the seventy disciples (Luke 10:1) and other groups of seventy) at Elim (אֵילִם : sExodu ), probably 100 km southeast of Suez.  The breast piece of the high priest was decorated with twelve stones bearing the names of the twelve tribes (Ex-28:21) and the “bronze Sea” in the Temple of Jerusalem stood on twelve bulls (1Kings-7:25), for the bull, seen as a Golden Calf, was the symbol of Yeh (Exodus 32:4-5); Yahweh’s original name was El (Genesis 6:3).

Egyptian god Yah a golden calf (Apis)

These are just a few of the many occasions in which the Old Testament mentions the number twelve.  There were twelve stones of Hoshen (breastplate of judgment or priestly breastplate (Hebrew: hoshen חֹשֶׁן) was a sacred breastplate worn by the High Priest for the Israelites that contained 12 jewels: three in four rows), twelve loaves of show-bread on the shulchan (table) in the Beit Hamikdash: “House of Holy” (בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ) or the Temple, and it was the age at which Bat Mitzvah is attained in Orthodox Judaism, and so forth.

Many sun-worshipping religions had their god-man figure gather twelve disciples, one for each division of space. The prime example is Mithras, the half-god half-human saviour of Mithraism, a Roman mystery religion. In keeping with other developed sun-worshipping religions, the saviour (Mithras) is depicted in drawing with an aurora behind his head, representing the sun. Followers were seen as stars.

As the stars are divided into twelve groups, it is natural to presume that communities of mortals can be divided into twelve geographical locations, and each one administered by a different personification of the Sun. The Signs of the Zodiac became Leaders; it was thought their influence over the lives of individual people could be worked out through a mixture of planet-watching and confused mysticism. The legacy that such lunacy left us was a deep-rooted religious tradition that the affairs of mankind are rightfully led by twelve leaders: As in (the heavens) heaven, so on Earth. Odin, for example, who sat on a chair that overlooked all of creation, has 12 sons.

Hávamál (Odin the crucified God)

Odin is one of more than 70 crucified saviours of the world. In Rúnatal, a section of the Hávamál (it translates as “Sayings of the High One” and is similar to the “Sayings of Jesus” presenting advice for living, proper conduct and wisdom and is both practical and metaphysical.  The Gestaþáttr is stanzas 1-80 (stanzas 1-79 comprise a set of maxims for how to handle oneself when a guest and traveling, focusing particularly on manners and other behavioral relationships between hosts and guests and the sacred lore of reciprocity and hospitality to the Norse worshippers of “the True God Odin”) and is a collection of proverbs and gnomic wisdom: sententious maxims put into verse to aid the memory that is considered divine opinions (it is best understood in the manner of Greek gnomes, belonging to the family of wisdom literature). Odin sacrifices to himself, being hung from the world tree (verdenstreet and världen träd) Yggdrasil for nine days and nights.  At this point Odin’s name is Hangatýr (meaning “the God who is hanged”; cf. Patton, Kimberley Christine (2009). “Myself to Myself: The Norse Odin and Divine Autosacrifice” in Religion of the Gods: Ritual, Paradox, and Reflexivity. Oxford, UK & New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press). Odin, the Father God, is pierced by his own spear (cp. John 19:34), in order to learn the wisdom that would give him power in the nine worlds. The worship of Odin, in the Norse form is particularly acknowledged in Ásatrú, the “faith in the Æsir”, an officially recognized religion in Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Spain.

Many sun-worshipping religions had their god-man figure gather twelve disciples, one for each division of space. The prime example is Mithras, the half-god half-human saviour of Mithraism, a Roman mystery religion. In keeping with other developed sun-worshipping religions, the saviour (Mithras) is depicted in drawing with an aurora behind his head, representing the sun.  Mithras had twelve apostles, celebrated feasts with twelve loaves of bread and twelve cups of wine that he proclaimed symbolized his body and blood.  Christian apologists, such as J. P. Arendzen, attempt to portray Mithras as being but an offshoot of Hindu theology, or M. J. Vermaseren, who argued that it comes as a “late[r] date for the expansion of Mithraism to the west” affirming that Mithraism borrowed from Christianity (M. J. Vermaseren (1963). Mithras, The Secret God. London, UK: Chatto & Windus, p. 76).  The absurdities in the apologists’ claims are abundant and the result of their desire to disprove Mithras and the theology it inspired: 

The few texts that do refer to the cult come not from Mithraic devotees themselves, but rather from outsiders such as early Church fathers, who mentioned Mithraism in order to attack it, and Platonic philosophers, who attempted to find support in Mithraic symbolism for their own philosophical ideas [emphasis mine].

The majority tried to claim the deity to be of Sanskrit extraction (मित्रा) found in the Rig Veda (3, Hymn 59) but this reasoning is contrived and strained.  (Ulansey, David (1991). The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries. Oxford, UK & New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press; it is digested in Biblical Archaeology Review under the title “Solving the Mithraic Mysteries” vol. 20.5 [September/October 1994] pp. 40-53; discussed here).  

The destruction of Mithraic literature and theology was calculated and executed by the emerging community (εκκλσία: ecclesia that originally meant “assembly” as in a debating society, but became the word for a “church” militant”: ecclesia militans, ecclesia penitens, ecclesia triumphans in preparation for battle against an Anti-Christ who was seen in the followers of Mithras, later Roman emperors from Nero to Constantine, and all “foreign” religions, based on Matthew 10:34) of Chrestianos, who were determined to erase any heritage of the past or any item that countered their god Jesus—a reminder that is poignantly portrayed in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. What exists, lives on in graffiti in the worship centers and in fragments of art (Francis, E.D. (1971). Hinnells, John R. ed. “Mithraic graffiti from Dura-Europos,” in Mithraic Studies, vol. 2. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. pp. 424–445).  Mithraic temples were neither isolated nor few.  These subterranean worship centers that numbered in the thousands have been found throughout the Roman Empire: from England in the north and west to Palestine in the south and east. Iconography in the Mithraea, such as that at Dura Europos wall paintings depict prophets carrying scrolls (Hinnells, John R., editor (1971). Mithraic Studies, vol. 2. Manchester University Press.  plate 25)—but their titles and duties are not found given the barbaric treatment the religion felt under the formally declared Christian church in 325 CE and its warrior bishops who were among the world’s most numerous book burners.

Tauroctony of Mithras

The iconography of Mithraism: the so-called tauroctony or “bull-slaying scene” in which the god of the cult, Mithras (Greek Μίθρας; the Persian is Mithra—an early example of the Greek form of the name is in a 4th century BCE work by Xenophon, the Cyropaedia (7.5.53), which is a biography of the Persian king Cyrus the Great; in Porphyry’s Greek text De Abstinentia (Περὶ ἀποχῆς ἐμψύχων II.56 and IV.16 for Pallas, and De antro nympharum 6 (for Euboulus and his history), there is a reference to the now-lost histories of the Mithraic mysteries, the wording of which suggests that these authors treated the name “Mithras” as an indeclinable foreign word), accompanied by a dog, a snake, a raven, and a scorpion, is shown in the act of killing a bull.  Other iconic scenes of Mithras show him being born from a rock (Commodian, Instructiones 1.13), slaughtering a bull, having a banquet (Plutarch, Pompeii 24-25) and sharing a banquet with the god Sol (the Sun). 

Sol and Mithras in a fresco from the Middle Mithraeum at Dura Europos, Syria ca 210 CE

Contrary to early “Christians” who tried to prove their god superior and antedating Mithras, we have written evidence to the contrary.  As Marvin Meyer argues that “early Christianity … in general, resembles Mithraism in a number of respects—enough to make Christian apologists scramble to invent creative theological explanations to account for the similarities” (Meyer, Marvin (2006). “The Mithras Liturgy”, in A.J. Levine, A. J.; Allison, Jr. Dale C.; and Crossan, John Dominic. The Historical Jesus in Context. Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press. p. 179).  The Romans themselves regarded the mysteries as having Persian or Zoroastrian sources, a view sometimes argued by modern-era scholars. The historian Plutarch says (46 – 127 CE) that in 67 BCE a large band of pirates based in Cilicia (a province on the southeastern coast of Asia Minor) were practicing “secret rites” of Mithras. Initiates called themselves syndexioi, those “united by the handshake”.  Walter Burket noted: “Taking the right hand is the old Iranian form of a promise of allegiance,…” (Burkert, Walter (1987). Ancient mystery cults. Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press. pp. 16-17). Later, in Judaism and Paulinity (the Christian church), this allegiance was sealed with a kiss (osculum pacis), that is still practiced in different religions and groups.

An army of divine men and the secret army of Mithras (fresco from the catacomb of Priscilla)

The earliest physical remains of the religion of Mithras date from around the end of the first century CE.  While the majority of the faithful came from the ranks of the military (primarily soldiers) who came from all nations under Roman jurisdiction (even worshipping gods associated with Mithras), the

Julius Terentius, tribune of the Cohors XX Palmrenorum,and his men sacrificing sacrifice before the statues of Gordian III, Pupienus, and Balbinus

religion’s membership included significant numbers of bureaucrats and merchants, as well as laborers and “occasional men”: in short, from all walks of life (Clauss, Manfred (1990). “Die sieben Grade des Mithras-Kultes”. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik [ZPE] 82: 183–194); only women were excluded.

Mummy funerary inscription of the priest of Mithras: Ornouphios, son of Artemis, lived 14 years, Choiak 15, The 3rd year

This accelerated Mithraism‘s revival in the fourth century CE—although it was short-lived given the power being accumulated by the Christian Church (Griffith, Alison. “Mithraism in the private and public lives of 4th-c. senators in Rome”. Electronic Journal of Mithraic Studies [EJMS]).  That Mithraism was a part of far older periods can be seen in the mummy funerary inscription of the prieset of Mithras (MS in Greek on linen cloth, Egypt, late 1st c. BCE, 1 cloth (complete), 14×39 cm, single column, (9×21 cm), 6 lines in Greek half-uncial. Provenance: 1. H.P. Kraus, New York). There are more than 677 papyri, mainly originating in Middle Egypt, including Oxyrhynchus and Fayum, that are in the collection of the renowned papyrologist Prof. Atiyah. We find confirmation in Porphyry (Πορφύριος, ca 234-305 CE, who was best known for his notable and scholarly  De Philosophia ex oraculis [Philosophy from Oracles] (Read: De Philosophia ex oraculis haurienda librorum reliquiae. Wolf, Gustaff, ed. Berlini [Berlin, Germany] 1856: in Greek; a Latin version is available) and Adversus Christianos [Against the Christians] in which he wrote: “The Gods have proclaimed Christ to have been most pious, but the Christians are a confused and vicious sect.” Read: Porphyry, Contra los Cristianos: Recopilación de Fragmentos, Traducción, Introducción y Notas E. A. Ramos Jurado, J. Ritoré Ponce, A. Carmona Vázquez, I. Rodríguez Moreno, J. Ortolá Salas, J. M. Zamora Calvo. Cádiz: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Cádiz 2006), De antro nympharum 6 [On the Cave of the Nymphs 6 in On the cave of the nymphs in the thirteenth book of the Odyssey, translation by Thomas Taylor. London: [n.p.], 1895; a Greek edition was reissued by [Buffalo, NY, USA] Arethusa [Dept. of Classics, State University of New York at Buffalo] 1969), and in numerous shards (a few that I possess in my private library), and fragments of graffiti.  Prophyry was among the earliest to declare that parts of the Bible, especially the Book of Daniel, were fraudulent, being the work of a writer in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (2nd century BCE). St. Jerome details this discovery (Gelasius, Historia Ecclesiastica III.23). 

Muslims of Spain as they depicted themselves

Prophyry’s attack on Christianity caused many faithful to rethink their conversion.  This led Constantine to order the work’s repression.  However, copies survived, being hidden by those who trusted the writer–much in the same manner as Muslims protected the writings of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and other pagans, and spirited them to the Caliphate while Christian bishops and priests were hunting both the Muslims and the pagan writings in order to destroy them. The major error, however, made by those defending Mithras was in claiming the faith came from an ancient Iranian text—there is no Iranian text, iconography, or other evidence for this assumption.  All that is known by direct evidence is that the worship service and theology was Roman in origin and is older than the legends of the New Testament.

What gives Mithraism scriptural importance is its use of the Zodiac and the use of constellations: Taurus the bull being sacrificed, supported by the images of other astronomical symbols: Canis Minor (the dog), Hydra (the snake), Corvus (the raven), Scorpio (the scorpion), and so forth—all being the elements of a star map.  The “bull-slayer”—the figure of a male killing the bull—is an allegory of the Father slaying his son that does come from the Hindu idea that is personified in Brahama, who is fashioned into Abraham (the final “a” is moved from the back to the front) who was ordered to slay Isaac, as “Theos” (θεός that is both plural and singular and the name of many gods) god of the New Testament.

While the concept of god is monotheistic in Christianity, it has not always been that way in other related faiths.  In fact, in Judaism “god” has 72 Divine Names. Islam has 99 Names for God, and the Hindu scripture Mahabharata contains a thousand names of Vishnu.  In every case the god(s) was/were determined to slay his son (cp. John 3:16). 

Sacrifice of Isaac by Orazio Riminaldi

All of these “religious sacrifices” were made under the constellations. This required that the saviour god(s) died at night—with a “cross” (Justin Martyr: crux, original text has σταυρός: pole) being made of wood: the spear that killed the bull (son) in Mithraism, the stake on which Jesus was sacrificed, the wood on which Isaac was to be burned after being stabbed, and so forth. 

Boninsegna: Jesus Last Supper with the 12 Apostles

From Mithraism came the story of Jesus and ultimately the New Testament. Christianity arose out of Judaism, and from Judaism and its predecessor theologies it inherited the reverence of the number 12. Jesus had 12 disciples. Early Gnostic Christians accepted this as a symbolic and figurative account, but later Pauline Christians took it all literally.

Jesus surrounds himself with 12 disciples [Barnabas was called Zeus, and Paul, in the Bible, is styled Hermes; Acts 14.12 my addition]. This is usually taken to be symbolic of the 12 tribes of Israel. This notion of 12 tribes, however, is itself a symbolic reference to the 12 signs of the zodiac in Babylonian astrology, which the Jews adopted whilst in exile in Babylon. The zodiac was an extremely important symbol in the Pagan world. Osiris-Dionysis is symbolically represented as the still spiritual center of the turning wheel of change represented by the 12 signs. […] [In] the Mysteries of Mithras 12 disciples surrounded the godman, just as the 12 disciples surrounded Jesus. The Mithraic disciples were dressed up to represent the 12 signs of the zodiac and circled the initiate, who represented Mithras himself.

Shamash cylinder seal (Louvre AO9132) Sumerian origins of Mithraism

 Freke, Timothy & Gandy, Peter (1999). The Jesus Mysteries; Was the Original Jesus a Pagan God?  London, UK: Thomas (2000 paperback edition). [Book Review by Vexen Crabtree], p. 51.

Other religious scholars such as “Robertson, Niemojewski, Volney and others” also hold that “as son-god Jesus had twelve apostles representing the twelve houses of the zodiac” (Reynolds, Alfred (1993; originally published 1988).  Jesus versus Christianity.  London, UK: Cambridge International Publishers. p. 77-78).   The number 12 goes beyond the legendary apostles.  Revelation gives a description of the heavenly Jerusalem:  a city laid out like a square with twelve gates and twelve angels.  There are name plates on each of the gates, one for each of the names of the twelve tribes of Jerusalem, build on twelve foundations and with on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. It is clear that the writer wants to indicate that God’s new chosen people will be the followers of Jesus—no longer is heaven reserved for the Jews.  It is not clear why the heavenly Jerusalem required gates–to keep whom out? Nor is it stated why there would be houses, and angels acting as guards.  This reflects Babylonian theology, and does not take into consideration the laws of gravity.

The writer, whom tradition and redaction has styled as John Patmos, expresses his appreciation for the number twelve: “He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by man’s measurement, which the angel was using” (verse 17). The writer raises the number twelve to the square in order to elevate it above ordinary human dimensions but still an angel was required to use mortal measurements.

The number 12 appears in numerous other “miracles” that the Jesus of the New Testament performed. “And a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years and could not be healed by any one, came up behind him (Jesus), and touched the fringe of his garment; and immediately her flow of blood ceased” (Luke 8:43).

5 loaves and 2 fish

The number also plays a role in the tale of Jesus feeding “the multitude” with five small barley loaves and two small fish supplied by a boy (in the original it is 5000 men; cf. Mark 8:9, 6:40 NIV, the emphasis is on smallness that becomes greatness; cp. Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:5-15).  When the men had eaten, the remaining food was gathered up into twelve baskets—an imagery found in most mystery religions. The story is repeated as the “Feeding of the 4000” with seven loaves and an unknown quantity of “fishes” [sic] in Mark 8:1-9 and Matthew 15:32-39.

Mary Magdalene’s name is mentioned twelve times in the New Testament: Matthew 27:56 and 61, 28:1; Mark 15:40 and 47, 16:1; Luke 8:2, 24:10, John 19:25, 20:1 and 8.

Ariadne with stars over her head (Tintoretto)

The mythology in the Book of Revelation has “a woman clothed with the sun,

St. Mary with stars above her head and the moon at her feet

with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (12:1); this is among the most pagan additions to Patmos’ publication as it comes from Ovid’s Ariadne (Αριάδνη) whose heroine is given a constellation of stars (the Corona Borealis) and became immortal when assumed into heaven, having sat on the lap of the God Dionysius while drinking wine that represented the God’s sacred blood and by imbibing the fluid she became the God’s bride after hanging herself on a tree (crucifixion); she was the mother of numerous deities: Oenopion, the personification of wine, Staphylus (related to grapes), Thoas, Peparethus, Phanus, Eurymedon, Ceramus, Maron, Euanthes, Latramys and Tauropolis and an “unnamed” twelfth (Euanthes, Latramys and Tauropolis are only mentioned in scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 3. 997, read also Hesiod (ca 750 – 650), Θεογονία (Theogonia) 949 (showing Eastern influences such as the Hittite Song of Kumarbi and the Babylonian Enuma Elis that entered Greek culture by Greek trade with Mesopotamia that became highly popular in the 8th-7th centuries BCE); Ovid, full name Publius Ovidius Naso (20 March 43 BCE – CE 17/18) Metamorphoses (the Latin word comes from the Greek μετά meta and μορφή morphē, meaning “changes of shape”) l. c. ; Gaius Julius Hyginus (ca. 64 BCE – CE 17) Poeticon astronomicon opus utilissimum  ii. 5, while his Latin is acceptable, his Greek is saturated with elementary mistakes, but Hyginus does establish Ariadne theology and the use of stars denoting holiness and even divinity—almost always with women, setting the stage for tales of the assumption of virgins into heaven), setting the stage for the Twelve Gates, Twelve Pillars and other illusions illustrated by Patmos in his Apocalypse. 

Theseus and Ariadne at the Door to the Labyrinth

Homer suggests that the goddess eloped with Theseus after he slew the Minotaur in Odyssey XI, 321-325, but this cannot be verified because of the paucity of records, for that which exists claim that Dionysius demanded the Goddess for his wife, and Theseus abandoned her: Diodorus Siculus iv. 61, v. 51; Pausanias, i. 20. § 2, ix. 40. § 2, x. 29. § 2; the abandonment, however, was rejected by Paeon of Amathus as cited by Plutarch in his vita of Theseus, cf. 20.3-5 that has Theseus’ ship swept off-course in a store, leading Theseus putting his suffering and pregnant Ariadne on land, then attempting to save his ship—but failing and being swept out to sea).  The stars are a symbol of the constellations and as were painted on the lining of the robe of Mithras, will circle the head of the “Blessed Virgin Mary” and numerous saints in various religions, and tie these pictorializations to theologies as late as 800 BCE within the Greek world, and far older in the North and West. 

Revelation also contains a Tree of Life.  It is abundant “with its twelve kinds of fruit yielding its fruit every month” (22:2). 

The Tree of Life is found in every religion that has ever existed.  It is not unique to the Jews or to Revelation.  In Hindu theology, the Tree of Life is the human body (koshas) and its fruit the reproductive elements (this indicates that what was the “sin” of mortals was oral sex) that, if allowed to germinate and grow brings new generations and thus “eternal life” (cf. 135th hymn of the 10th book of Rig-Veda, and in the 15th chapter of Bhagavad-gita(1–4). banyan is

Fragment of a bronze helmet from Urartu, with the "Tree of Life" depicted.

believed to have nourished mortals with its “milk” before the advent of grain and other food. In Urartu around 13th to 6th century BCE, the Tree of Life was a religious symbol that had servants (some winged) standing on either side of the Tree of Life with one of their hands up as if they are taking care of it or petitioning God of Urartu for abundance and protection.  In ancient Egypt it was the same, although sometimes considered the tomb/coffin of Osiris, and at other times the penis of Osiris.

Tomb of Osiris (antecedent for the Ark of the Covenant)

In the Osiris Legend, Osiris was induced by his wicked brother Set to lie down in a magnificent coffer under the pretext of a game at a banquet. Set and his seventy-two (cp. Luke 10:1) conspirators immediately closed the lid and threw the coffer into the Nile.  This led his sister/wife, Isis, to search the globe for it so she could impregnate herself to give birth to a divine child (Horus) and complete the Egyptian Trinity.  Sacred and divine knowledge is associated with the Tree (phallus or coffin) as sacred lotus lilies that by the fourteenth century CE were known as fleur de lis, used by the French kings.

After Judaism and Christianity, Islam became another Abrahamic religion to accept the traditional division of the land into 12 areas (See sura 2:60 of the Qur’an).  “And [remember] when Musa [Moses] asked for water for his people, We said: ‘Strike the stone with your stick.’ Then gushed forth therefrom twelve springs. Each [group of] people knew its own place for water.  “Eat and drink of that which Allah has provided and do not act corruptly, making mischief on the earth.” (Qur’an sura 2.60)

In all religions where there is a discipleship of twelve, those who oversaw in the past and today in the Mormon faith send out missionaries in groups of two, who were/are called Apostles who were and are considered guides to perfection.  They have always been viewed as holy people (singularly and when together in conclave or consortium).  The Apostles are depicted with a bright solar light around their heads (frequently oval, but in the case of some early Christian saints, the halos were square).  This depiction has been universally recognized as a symbol of being either the son of a god/goddess or sons of gods/goddesses (directly: when both parents are deities; indirectly: when one of the parents is a mortal).  Many of these Apostles are accompanied by their brothers and/or sisters (for example, in Christianity the brothers by later redactions were Simon “Peter” and Andrew (Mark 1:16), while Zebedee is given parentage of James and John, (Mark 1:19; the word, used as a name only in Mark 15:40 and Matthew 27:56, means “the gift of god”).  Legend has it that Zebedee was the husband of Salome.

Adolf von Harnack

Scholars since the nineteenth century (at the latest) began to accept the fact that there is no historical proof that there was ever an Apostle, with Adolf von Harnack, a German theologian, criticizing the Act of the Apostles as being historically inaccurate (Harnack, Adolf von (1909). The Acts of the Apostles. New York, NY, USA: G. P. Putnam’s Sons ; London, UK: Williams & Norgate.  In the first century no record keeper or historian, not even Josephus (Yosef ben Matityahu, Hebrew יוסף בן מתתיהו, ca. 37-100 CE), recognizes the existence of any Apostle of the New Testament Jesus, except for “James the Just” who is styled as the “brother of Jesus”, and only briefly mentions Jesus—but the reference in his Testimonium Flavianum found in the Antiquities of the Jews 18.63-64 has been contested by reputable scholars since the seventeenth century with the majority arguing that it is a later addition and even fraud since the words and phrases correspond with standard Christian formulae and were added by a Christian copyist (much like university students who copy and paste together essays) in an effort to create evidence of a real Jesus (cp. Meier, J. P. (1990), “Jesus in Josephus: A Modest Proposal,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 52, pp. 76-103; Wells, George Albert (1971). The Jesus of the Early Christians. London, UK: Pemberton Books, p. 190; Brandon, S.G.F. (editor). Religion in Ancient History: Studies in Ideas, Men and Events. London, UK: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., p. 309; and, old, but not outdated: Whiston, William (1826), The Works of Flavius Josephus, the learned and authentic Jewish historian and celebrated warrior, vol. 4, London, UK: T. & J. Allman, pp. 380-385).  “Jesus who was the Christ” has been universally rejected as meaning Jesus (Wise, Isaac Mayer (1868). The Origin of Christianity, and a commentary to the Acts of the Apostles. Cincinnati, OH, USA: Bloch & Co., p. 137; Remsburg, John (1909) The Christ: a Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidences of His Existence. New York, NY, USA: The Truth Seeker Company; Wells, George Albert (1986). Did Jesus Exist? London, UK: Pemberton Publishing Co., p.11, with Arthur Drews in The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus, stating: “In the edition of Origen published by the Benedictines it is said that there was no mention of Jesus at all in Josephus before the time of Eusebius [about 300 CE, Ecclesiastical History, 1.11).  Moreover, in the sixteenth century Vossius had a manuscript of the text of Josephus in which there was not a word about Jesus” (Drews, Arthur (1912)  The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus. Chicago, IL, USA: Open Court Publishing Co.; London: UK: Watts).  Claudia Setzer summarized the debate over the authenticity and historicity of Josephus succinctly:

British scholarship has been relatively positive about Acts’ historicity, from Lightfoot and Ramsay to W.L. Knox and Bruce. German scholarship has, for the most part, evaluated negatively the historical worth of Acts, from Baur and his school to Dibelius, Conzelmann, and Haenchen. North American scholars show a range of opinion. Mattill and Gasque align with the British approach to Acts. Cadbury and Lake take a moderate line and to some degree sidestep the question of accurate historicity.

(Setzer, Claudia (1994). Jewish responses to early Christians: history and polemics, 30-150 C.E. Minneapolis, MN, USA: Fortress Press, p. 94.)

The situation is no different in Islam.  The lineage of the Prophet Muhammad were his relatives and descendants.  His familial successors spoke as if they were infallible popes, on faith and morals.  People listened to them as if they were gods, and from this rose the ayatollahs who claimed that they acted for the god of Muhammad.

Islam, nothing more than a discount version of a combination of Judaism and Christianity, mixed with Greek fables and Bedouin ontology developed one group of faith known as Muslim Shi’ahs.  These followers created a list of 12 ruling Imams or Ithna-‘ashariyyah branch of Shī‘ah Islam following Muhammad.

The Investiture of Ali, at Ghadir Khumm (Edinburgh codex: MS Arab 161, fol. 162r, CE 1309 or 8 Ilkhanid manuscript illustration)

It is believed by Twelver Shi’a Muslims that the Twelve Imams were foretold in the Hadith of the Twelve Successors and each of the Muslim Apostles (who originally were thought to be the twelve sons of Ishmael, the first-born son of Abraham: Genesis 25:13-16, cp. 25:17-20; ref. Sahih Bukhari 89:329), sequentially, is seen as the successor of Muhammad who is an infallible human individual who not only rules over the community with justice, as he is considered free from error and sin, and is chosen by divine decree, or nass, through the Prophet, being foretold by the Prophet he is able to keep and interpret the Divine Law and its esoteric meaning (Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (1979). Ideals and Realities of Islam. London, UK: Unwin Paperbacks. p. 10; and, Momen, Moojan (1985).  An Introduction to Shi`i Islam: The History and Doctrines of Twelve. New Haven, CT, USA: Yale University Press. p.174). 

The Imam has the same stature and command as the Pope of Roman Catholic Church, the Prophet of the LDS Mormons, and the Patriarchs in the Greek Orthodox religion.  The first successor to Muhammad, was Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (Arabic: علي بن أﺑﻲ طالب) who was the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, and ruled the Caliphate from 656-661 CE, having been the first male convert to the new religion (his reign was marked by caravan raids from Mecca, civil wars, and his assassination in the mosque of Kufa).

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Bradlee Dean of You Can Run But You Cannot Hide: the voice of Christian hatred

Islam’s history, with the Number 12, has not been glorious nor peaceful, and Islam has devolved into a religion of violence, mind and body control, and hated—matching that of what is contemporary Christianity (for example, the messages of hate bleated by Bradlee Dean (Smith) in Minnesota (a self-confessed drug addict), Dakota Ary in Texas, James Dobson in Colorado, and other would-be demigods).  In the case of Islam, the first eleven Imams were murdered—even though they were heralded as being divinely ordained to preach the gospel of the Qur’an/Koran.  And as it was with the medieval Roman Catholic church that ordained children and even sold bishoprics and the rank of cardinal to small children (as was the case especially under Pope Julius II, to pay for his wars that he rode into, covered with human beloved so he could “preach the gospel of love”).

12 Imam (Apostles) of Islam following death of Muhammad 632 CE

Islam, as with all religions, had its mad prophets:

  • from the illiterate camel driver who married a 6 (or 7, the age is not precisely known) girl (on the age of A’isha, consult: Spellberg, D. A. (1994).  Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: the Legacy of A’isha bint Abi Bakr.  New York, NY, USA: Columbia University Press, 1994, p. 40; and, Armstrong, Karen (1992). Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet.  San Francisco, CA, USA: Harper, p. 157),
  • to Ali (the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad) who was slashed with a poisoned sword while praying in the mosque of Kufa in 661 CE;
  • Hasan who succeeded his father and was poisoned by his fourth wife (Ju’da) in 669,
  • he was followed by his brother Husayn—who was beheaded in the Battle of Karbala—in 680;
  • he was succeeded by Zayn al Abidin (great-grandson of the Prophet Muhammad) who survived the Battle of Karbala because he was too sick to fight but was murdered by poison in 712;
  • Muhammad al-Baqir the son of the previous Imam, took over the caliphate and although it is claimed “he was respected by all”, he was murdered by poisoning in 743;
  • Ja’far al-Sadiq who is best known for expanding Shari’a law to greater barbarity was murdered by poisoning in 765, was next;
  • Musa al-Kazim was next in line and died similarly in 799,
  • he was followed by an eight-year-old Muhammad al-Taqi who was poisoned by his wife in 835, a fate that awaited his successor:
  • Hasan al-Askari, who died of poisoning in 874, and, finally, the
  • twelfth profit, Muhammed Mahdi, son of Hasan al-Askari, went into hiding as a young child, and Shi’a Muslims still believe that he is alive and they are waiting for his return in Apocalyptic glory or gore in a Final Battle.

It has always been common in Islam to bestow Imamships on young children.  It is the belief that the Prophet loved young children so much that he married several, including the now famous Aisha bint Abu Bakr (612 – 678) (Arabic: عائشة‎) who has the unique distinction of achieving near divine status as the “Mother of the Believers” (أمّ المؤمنين in Qur’an/Koran 33.6; cp. Abbott, Nabia (1942). Aishah: the Beloved of Muhammad. Chicago, IL, USA: University of Chicago Press, 1942), and thereby gained for them eternal life following the resurrection of the body (يوم القيامة‎) before being judged (a break with pre-Islamic Arab thought) and sent to either be with Muhammad and the other Prophets (the Islamic heaven (جنّة‎ : paradise) is described in Qur’an/Koran 13:3518:3138:49–54, 35:33–3552:17–27 where everything anyone longs for in this life on earth will be found in paradise that is composed of seven levels, and the faithful obtain a level based upon their good deeds (the highest level has angels building palaces of solid gold for the chosen/most blessed, and everyone wears costly apparel, dines on exquisite banquets of all possible approved foods, and reclines on couches inlaid with gold or precious stones, while rejoicing in the company of their parents, wives, and children), or cast into a fiery hell (كفر‎‎). 

Hell in Islam

Hell was similar to that conjured by Christian prophets and priests. The Islamic hell is also divided into several levels where punishment is done according to the level of evil done in life, and while most of hell is fire (fueled by burning idols (rocks and stones) and human beings who were, in life, nonbelievers.  The hell known as Zamhareer is the coldest and most freezing of all and has regular blizzards, ice, snow, and cold that is unbearable—similar to Dante’s Inferno—and houses hypocrites (the most diabolical of sinners), two-faced people who claim to believe in Allah and his Prophet but denounce both in their hearts. 

Mohammed’s Call to Prophecy and the First Revelation; leaf from a copy of the Majmac al-tawarikhTimurid. From Herat, Afghanistan. In The Metropolitan Museum of Art, ca. 1425 CE

Islam has a special regard for the stars and nature, it is within the realm of Islam  belief  that all things are of divine origin and that Allah is the author of the world and the sky in which there are various homes for the faithful to enjoy worldly delights.  The number 12, since it was twelve years after Muhammad began to preach and with his converts performed the Hijra (“emigration”) to the city of Medina (formerly known as Yathrib) in 622, and converted everyone by the sword.  Unlike other religions, Islam does not have a Zodiac as its calendar is not based on the sun but the moon (which prior to Muhammad represented the goddess of love: Venus) with the invention of a new calendar in 622 CE known as the year 1 AH (التقويم الهجري : Hijra calendar, or anno Hegirae); it is a lunar calendar with days lasting from sunset to sunset.  Islamic holy days fall on fixed dates of the lunar calendar, which means that they occur in different seasons in different years in the Gregorian calendar. Islam dates its history from the First Day: (1 Muharram 1 AH) or Friday, 16 July 622 CE.

Theseus and the Minotaur

More enlightened religions and theosophies also had Apostles but these were exclusively used as symbols of the zodiac that represented time.  This was the case with the advanced theologies of the Gnostics understood things had natural origins and were in quest of truth, and were like the twelve disciples of Mithras who understood the symbols of the Zodiac and the number 12 to be symbolic of the stages of the waning and waxing sun throughout the year and thus the bull (slavery) who was sacrificed is the mark of harvesting and the beginning of repose (death) before renewal (being reborn) in spring.  Later religions took it literally and believed in an actual 12 disciples.  Some religions still do believe that there were 12 actual disciples who spread the message of their god(s)/goddess(es) and rely on disproven theories and numerology, especially glorifying the number 12 and its divisible numbers (6 is numerological common number in Islam, for example).

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Cannibalism: Part 1

The term cannibalism means the eating of human flesh by human beings, and/or eating of animals by members of their own species. It is a relatively recent word, and not found in the ancient world or any ancient text. However, the action of consuming blood and flesh are common throughout the world’s history.

Carib Indian natives in Dominica

Cannibalism was derived from the Carib Indians, discovered by Christopher Columbus, during his quest in search of the West Indies. The earliest mention of the Caribs is that made by Columbus in his journal on 26 November 1492: ‘All the people that he has found up to today, he says, are very frightened of those of can iba or can ima’ [the name of a place, not a people]. Evangelicals distorted the name so that the Caribs were defined as man-eaters, and the Spanish name for the tribe was Canibales, meaning in Spanish: bloodthirsty and cruel (http://ian.macky.net/secretmuseum/page_1.2.html) but the Caribs saw themselves as god-fearing, loyal, and loving who live in the Lesser Antilles islands. (http://www.dominicacompanies.com/features/caribpeople.html) The people were betrayed by the evangelizing missionaries who gave them an alternative: convert or die. Conversion was made simpler by incorporating many of the Caribs native faith into Christianity, with the Last Supper being the easiest to explain.

The practice of cannibalism reaches back into antiquity and has been found in many areas of the world. Evidence indicates that it may have been practiced as early as the Neolithic Period. The Greek historian Herodotus (5th century BCE) wrote of the ανθρωπογενών τρώγοντες  or Androphagoi (man-eaters) [Histor. 1.216 (to bring a happy death as a sacrifice): When a man is very old all his kin meet together and kill (thuousi) him, with beasts of the flock besides, the boil the flesh and feast (kateuokheontai) on it. This is held to be the happiest death; when a man dies of a sickness they do not eat him, but bury him in the earth, and lament that he would not live to be killed. While both the Issedones and Massagetae are generally presumed to have been Iranian-speaking, Herodotus also attributes cannibalism to two tribes living immediately south of the Indus: the Kallatiai, who ‘devour (katesthiousi) their parents’ (3.38), and the Padaioi, described as nomads who eat raw flesh, among whom when ‘one has come to old age, they sacrifice (him) and feast (kateuokheontai) on his flesh’ (3.99). Later, in 4.26 Herodotus notes how flesh-eaters will cut up the flesh of the dead father), 106 (eat people to gain their strength)], and other ancient writers gave accounts of various ancient people as being cannibals. Strabo (63 BCE – 24 CE) arguing it was a custom among the Irish whereas in Britain the family will devour (καταβροχθίσει: katesthiein) the dead to honor them (Geographia 4.5.4); in 11.11.8 he writes: When men become over 70 years of age they are slaughtered and their flesh is consumed (analiskousi) by their nearest of kin; but their old women are strangled and then buried. However, the men who die under 70 years of age are not eaten, but only buried. Marco Polo details cannibalism in the Orient in his Travels (1.61; cf. http://www.armeniapedia.org/index.php?title=The_Travels_of_Marco_Polo_1:_Chapter_61 with full text at http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Travels_of_Marco_Polo/Book_1/Chapter_61) reported tribes ranging from Tibet to Sumatra who practiced cannibalism.

North American Indian tribes of the western coast of the Gulf of Mexico practiced cannibalism. Until recently the practice prevailed throughout much of central and western Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Melanesia, Sumatra, New Guinea, Polynesia, and remote portions of South America. (cp. http://hubpages.com/hub/cannibal)

Cannibalism at times has had religious significance. This stems from the belief that the person who eats of the deceased person acquires the desired qualities or characteristics of that person if both the body and the blood of the one who is living is to be sacrificed and consumed immediately upon death. Frequently this consumption of body and blood took place in a large cave or tomb in front of which a huge stone was rolled to keep non-communicants out for three days. After the three-day period of feasting and gorging on the body and blood of the sacrificed person, the congregants would emerge and declare that the one whom they had fed on had “risen” (meaning: the person had become a part of them and they a part of the sacrificed whom they would meet after death). In most cases this resembles the theory of sympathetic magic: something must transfer the effect of the magician’s actions on the physical object to the person who once was in contact with the object, and became a part of Middle Eastern / Mesopotamian cultural theology; cf. Meyer, Melvin W., translator.
The Secret Teachings of Jesus: The Four Gnostic Gospels. New York: Random House, 1984; 5:102-103). Some examples of this are seen in Attraction of Blood that meant that not only did the man’s blood contain his life (women were seldom sacrificed), but the blood that was drunk (usually from the severed skull) also contained his experiences, characteristics and qualities.

It soon came to be thought these characteristics and qualities could be passed onto others if they consumed or were touched by the blood [Cavendish, Richard, The Black Arts. New York: Peigee Books, Berkley Publishing Group, 1967]). Rituals were performed for many reasons. These reasons included ritual purification after an immersion in sanctified water (baptism), pacification of gods, and ancestor worship which was common throughout the world from Asia to Mesoamerica. It is true that in a few instances cannibalism was practiced for revenge, but these also had religious overtones, for the revenge killing and eating of the deceased’s body and drinking his blood gave to the assassin special magical powers that would permit the slayer to ascend to a near deity position and summon others to attend him as followers (οπαδοί) who were usually twelve in number (twelve being a specially significant and religious potent symbol) or in rare cases 70 (as in Luke 10:1). There are twelve ‘ Jyotirlingas’ (epitome of God Shiva) in Hindu Shaivism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam (In Shi’a Islam, there are twelve Imams, legitimate successors of the prophet Muhammad), and also found in some older religions and belief systems. For example: In ancient Greek theology, the Twelve Olympians were the principal gods of the pantheon. The chief Norse god, Odin, had 12 sons (in memory of his nine-day crucifixion, Adam of Bremen (eleventh century) relates that every ninth year, people assembled from all over Sweden to sacrifice at the Temple at Uppsala, where male slaves and males of each species were sacrificed and hanged from the branches of the trees; cf. Turville-Petre, Gabriel. Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964, and Munch, P. A. Norse Mythology: Legends of Gods and Heroes. In the revision of Magnus Olsen; translated from the Norwegian by Sigurd Bernhard Hustvedt. New York: The American-Scandinavian foundation; London: H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1926), quite similar to Jacob’s 12 sons in the Old Testament (Genesis 29:31-30:24). In other cases it was believed that the ghost of the enemy would be utterly destroyed when his body was eaten, thus leaving nothing in which his spirit could exist.

The Binderwurs of central India ate their sick and aged in the belief that the act was pleasing to their goddess Kali. While the blood was fresh and warm, the head of the family and community, revered as a priest, pronounced an invocation that the drinking of the deceased’s blood be a remembrance of the dead and a drink of everlasting life.

Aztecs sacrificing to the gods Codex Tudela folio 76

The Aztecs sacrificed thousands of human victims annually to their deities. Following the sacrifices, the Aztec priest and people ate the bodies of the victims believing the acts brought them closer to their gods. Ritual prayers were said over the dead bodies before the flesh consumed, and when the blood was brought to all the faithful, it was drunk with knowledge that each of those who tasted the blood of the sacrificed victim would obtain greater strength.  In some records there is a hint that those who drank the blood would win eternal life. (cf. http://video.pbs.org/video/1207009525/program/1185782726) Many of the 16th century sources that describe ancient Aztec customs do not come from impartial observers. Their authors, in fact, were especially interested in Aztec culture from a religious perspective, namely because they were Catholic evangelists. Authors such as friars Sahagún (who is claimed to have been Mexico’s first anthropologist), Torquemada, and Motolinía, amongst many others, dedicated themselves to writing gargantuan works on everything from Aztec religious rituals to their astronomy and fine arts. These early Roman Catholic writings express how misguided and barbaric they thought their Mexican charges to be in their worship of multiple gods, and eating of human body parts, yet used the Aztec theology to push their own Christian theology.

Mesoamerica communion sacrificial ritual

Aztec religious mythology was about the creation and destruction of the world. If the gods, who created humankind, did not receive regular gifts of human blood, the Aztecs believed that life as they knew it could easily be taken away. To stave off this apocalypse, the Aztec people ate the bodies and drank the blood of sacrificial victims. All of those sacrificed (we know only of males) were about thirty years of age (a sacred number), all celibate males, and all who were hailed as the “Sons of God”.  Captives who faced the sacrificial knife acted either as live images of gods or offerings to them. Their deaths signified the continuation of the life cycle, be it agricultural, lunar, or seasonal. It is imperative in solid interpretation of the original texts chiseled in stone or cast in other formats to view the bodies the Aztecs ate as ‘little pieces of life’, symbols of good fortune to come. Often, only people of high standing were privileged enough to consume human flesh, and they were styled and called priests and bishops who presided over an altar dedicated to God of the Aztecs pronouncing incantations prior to drinking the blood and eating the body of the Son of God—much as in the same way as did the ancient Egyptians. While later Christian missionaries attempted to portray the Aztecs as bloodthirsty and enjoying the sacrificial rituals, this is propaganda, as the texts that exist today show that the Aztecs didn’t consider sacrifice to be pleasurable. It simply had to happen in order for the earth to keep on turning.

There are those who claim that the Aztecs practiced cannibalism and human sacrifice in order to compensate for meat shortages, but there is no proof of this assertion. If it did happen, there is no record, but at best the material (flesh) and other dietary needs were not known at that time. A far better reason would be that the principle justification for sacrificial blood rites among the Aztecs was to maintain the metaphysical and cosmological system that upheld the hierarchical social order of the Aztec elite. The Aztecs believed that the universe depended upon the blood of the sacrificed victims just as Christians believe that the universe began and will end in relation to the body and blood of Christ.  The violence of Aztec civilization was directed against smaller tribes considered to be enemies of the empire. Likewise, Christian civilization was spread by colonial violence, all over the world. “He that is not with me is against me”(Matthew 12:30) and “Go all of you into the world and preach the Gospel to every creature”(Mark 16:15) are two of the many sentences of Christ that justified the violence and rapaciousness of Christian colonial practices. The Aztecs have no record of ever using a speech by a god or a son of a god to justify colonialization or the overthrow of a people, as did the Spaniards, Luther’s German nobility (see: Martin Luther, Wider die räuberischen und mörderischen Rotten der Bauern), and other sects in Christianity. When Christianity plundered the New World and soiled the earth with human blood in quest of forced conversions, those who brought the sword came like thieves at night to wreck carnage on all people. Far crueller were the Christian missionaries, especially the Jesuits, Augustinians, Benedictine, Franciscans and

Cannibalism in the New World

Dominicans who celebrated the most barbaric tortures (including water boarding) to be inflicted on the natives who did not rush to Christian conversion, always citing scripture when raping, murdering, and robbing the natives. The missionaries frequently proclaimed that the Biblical Christ said he did not come to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34), to divide “brother against brother” (Matthew 10:21), and indeed he did so, as two thousand years of bloody Christian wars and conquests demonstrate. The hypocrisy of the Conquistadores, whose own Eucharistic rite was symbolically cannibalistic, could hardly condemn Native American practices when their own practices were as bad or worse.

Seige of Tenochtitlan by Cortez 1519

With the blessings of the Roman Catholic the Spanish tortured and maimed those they considered heretics. Aztecs and other tribes people were burned at the stake, thrown into pits of spikes and attacked by ferocious mastiffs (large dogs) brought from Spain. Both Aztecs and Spaniards committed carnage in the name of a god that no one knew but declared primacy rights over!  The Spanish attacked the Aztec capital (Mexico City) with only a few score of men in 1519, and massacred thousands in a single day. W.H. Prescott wrote: “The carnage was horrible. The ground was heaped up with slain, until the maddened combatants were obliged to climb over the human mounds to get at one another. The miry soil was saturated with blood, which ran off like water and dyed the canals themselves with crimson.” 

Spanish priests praised god in song and with masses, and when news of this barbarity reached Europe, church bells pealed and Te Deum was the only song sung with prelates everywhere celebrating the slaughter of babies, women, and the elderly who dared to feast on the blood a god other than their own.

Inquisition Museum (Lima, Perú)

Spanish priests in Perú were extremely cruel and extraordinarily brutal in forcing conversions. They established torture chambers throughout the capital city of Lima, and invented mind and body breaking techniques to “encourage the heathens” to change from their religion of consuming the body and drinking the blood of their victims whom they saw as sons of god so that the Inkas and other indigenous people would eat the body and drink the blood of the son of the Christian god. Those who would not obey the cruelty of the Spanish Jesuits in Lima, or refused the orders of the Augustinians, truly the most corrupt of all missionaries to Perú, were

Inquisition in Lima, Perú

 forced to parade around in the garments of fools (complete with dunce caps) until the natives of Perú were “dispatched” for refusing conversion to Christianity.  The attack upon the natives continued while the Jesuits and other religious orders founded schools to teach (demanding rote memorization) Christianity which confused the locals who saw no difference between the new religion and their old. Those who dared question the priests and brothers were put before the Inquisition which tortured them into submission–a scar that remains to this day in Perú education where students go to schools and universities to sit and listen without being invited into discourse unless the conversations supported the professors. Those   executed by the Spanish Inquisition in Lima, Perú were decapitated and their skulls thrown into a pit at the convent/monastery-church of San Francisco to decompose with hundreds of other martyred Inkas.

Convent San Francisco (Lima, Perú)

Critical thinking was denied and the goal of students was only to complete their learning and escape the insanity of the religious orders. Unfortunately, that remains the rule for most of Perú’s schools and universities: do not question, do not read widely, sit silently and know that they will pass the course and complete their studies to go on and teach the same ignorance to future generations.  Learning was not a process to gain knowledge or to question all things, as originally enjoined by Socrates (cf. Plato, The Republic, Book 10), but, instead, was blind obedience to the pomposity of the teachers who were to be venerated as surrogates and intercessors of the Christian gods (the Trinity) and subservience to the interpretations of mortal men who molested women, children, and the elderly with impunity, while Spanish soldiers spread veneral diseases among the Inkas and other tribes, decimating their numbers so that most disappeared within a generation. (Captain Francisco

Francisco Pizzaro

Pizarro formed a partnership in Panama with Diego de Almagro and the nefarious and vile priest Hernando de Luque in order to explore the Pacific coast, looking for a Biru tribe that became the name Peru.  An envoy invited Pizarro to come to Cajamarca to meet the dominant Inca emperor Atahualpa, wrongfully thinking that Pizarro was a rational and reasonable man–two qualities the Spaniard lacked. Instead of treating the Inkas with human respect, he commissioned Hernando de Soto, who found five hundred women from a convent in a square, to give many of them to his men who were laced with syphlis. Pizarro sent Soto and his brother Hernando Pizarro ahead with fifteen horseman and the interpreter Martin; Atahualpa complained that they had treated chiefs badly by chaining them but offered them houses on the square. This did not soften Pizarro’s hear, for when Francisco Pizarro arrived he planned a treacherous

Pizzaro slaughters Inkas

attack. Atahualpa asked the Spaniards to return what they had stolen and threw down a prayer book that Friar Vicente de Valverde gave him. The Dominican shouted it was an outrage against the Dominican’s god, and Pizarro ordered the cannons fired. As if they were from the Apocalypse, Spanish horseman rode out and slaughtered the unarmed Incas, as Pizarro tried to grab Atahualpa. Pizzaro was successful and the king was captured. In two hours about 7,000 natives were killed in Cajamarca. Pizarro had Atahualpa instruct the Incas to surrender, and Soto gathered men, women, llamas, gold, silver, and clothing. Although Governor Pizarro said the Spaniards wanted only gold, Atahualpa promised to fill a room with gold in exchange for his freedom. Some caciques came and obeyed their captive Inca emperor. His rival brother Huascar was killed on the road, and Atahualpa also had two half-brothers murdered.  Pizarro, his priests and evangelists and royal officials condemned the Inca emperor to be burned; but because he agreed to be baptized, Atahualpa was strangled in 1533.  Later Young prince Manco, son of Huayna-Capac, arrived and denounced Chalcuchima, who refused to become a Christian and was burned to death. In 1535, when Cuzco would not surrender to Pizzaro, Hernando Pizarro ordered women natives killed. In 1539, the Spaniards captured the Inka high

Pizarro marches on Cuzco

priest Villac Umu in October and executed him with Tiso and fifteen commanders the following month.  Discrimination against mestizos became official in 1549 when Carlos V decreed they could not hold office nor have Indian servants. He also forbade coercing natives to work but allowed it if they were paid. In 1551 the University of San Marcos was founded in Lima, and the first ecclesiastical council of Lima condemned the use of coca, education became marginalized and the conduct of inquiry and opposition to current thought discouraged with the whip and execution. Rectors and professors were selected not for intellectual abilities nor for knowledge, but, as it is today, because they were friends with the conquerors or received royal patronage, a situation that further eroded education in Perú, to the point that today not a single university, with the exception of the Pontifical University in Lima, ranks above 5000 in the world. Worse yet, in 1532 the Andean population had been about nine million, but by 1590 only about one and a half million survived by submitting to the Christian yoke.)

Spanish Inquisition slaughtering all heathens in Mexico of all ages

In order to preserve the power and values of the status quo, in a given society, sacrificial violence must be brought against those who live outside the society. From this the psychological concept of social deviance emerged long before it was written down and codified (see: Social deviance : readings in theory and research / edited by Henry N. Pontell; 3rd edition, Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Prentice Hall, c1999; סטייה חברתית / ש. גיורא שוהם ; עברית, דבורה מורג;  Tel-Aviv: Agudat ha-studentim, Universiṭat Tel-Aviv, [1978]; Kai T. Erikson, Wayward Puritans : a study in the sociology of deviance. Boston : Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, c2005.) In the case of mortuary cannibalism, the dead of one’s own people must be eaten, to preserve the power of tribal values against the ravages of time and bodily mortality. Among the Hua, of New Guinea, for instance, mortuary cannibalism serves to assimilate the spirits of the dead back into the living—a concept in vogue in first century cloistered communities in Israel. It was also used to preserve an elaborate reciprocity of balance and submission among power relationships between males and females. While females in most societies were given little notice, save as housekeepers and child bearers, in Hua society women were important as without women there would be no future generations. For this reason, women were as quick to cannibalize their dead as were men willing to eat their women. The devouring of dead males by females, the Hua believe, insures the tribe of regeneration, and follows the rituals of most ancient agricultural communities.

Maori (New Zealand) cannibal

One example in particular can be found practiced in the funery rites of certain Melanesians. In their society, this act of ritual cannibalism is observed as an essential act upon an ambiguous attitude of death by maintaining ties to the deceased and with the ancestors who oversaw the continuation of the family line. While some argue that this ritual reveals a level of disgust and fear of death at the same time, this cannot be empirically proven. (William A. Haviland, Anthropology (10th ed. Belmont, CA : Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, c2003, 376) Anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, who actually witnessed this type Melanesian ritual, described the act to be an “approved” collective means for individuals to express these feelings of grief and fear of being separated from the original family source while still maintaining social cohesiveness, thereby preventing disruption of society. (Haviland; 377; the 13th edition is subtitled The Human Challenge pub. 2010). The Wari, it is found today, use cannibalism to stay closer to their ancestors and thus to god (Ritual and belief: readings in the anthropology of religion / edited by David Hicks; 2d ed.;  Boston: McGraw Hill, [2001], pp 220-223.)

All civilizations have illustrations and other art forms depicting the bereaved and the faithful eating the body of their dead: be it a lord, a god, or a son of god. It is not only in Mesopotamia nor in Mesoamerica, but there remain many African tribes who practice cannibalism (see, for example: Idi Amin: http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/august/16/newsid_3921000/3921361.stm and http://www.nndb.com/crime/690/000044558/ both before and after his conversion to Islam while ruling Uganda) . Remains of Peking Man, discovered in 1972 near Choukoutein in China, and possibly half a million years old, show evidence of human skulls split open and their brains extracted. This practice was especially true in Europe, as well.

The Christian St Jerome wrote of cannibalism in Scotland in the 4th century CE (Jerome. “Against Jovinanus.” Book 1: Why should I speak of other nations when I myself, a youth on a visit to Gaul, [I] heard that the Atticoti, a British tribe, eat human flesh, and that although they find herds of swine, and droves of large or small cattle in the woods, it is their custom to cut off the buttocks of the shepherds and the breasts of their women, and to regard them as the greatest delicacies?). Yet Jerome sees nothing peculiar with the British eating human flesh while praising a similar practice in his own community.

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