Author of the Month

The Electric Jesus: The Healing Journey of a Contemporary Gnostic (cont.)
By Jonathan Talat Phillips

Freke and Gandy argue adamantly that there never was a historical Jesus who walked the sands of Israel, but rather he is a composite of the earlier godmen. But perhaps that’s too hard of a line to draw, since mythical figures are often based on real people – think of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, for example.

As the Egyptian God of daytime, Horus battled his jackal-headed enemy Set (“Sun-Set”), the bringer of night, in a cosmic battle of light and dark. Jesus played a similar role as Horus being “the light of the world” surrounded by twelve disciples who represented the twelve months of the year, and the twelve signs of the zodiac. The sun enters each zodiac sign at thirty degrees (30 x 12 = 360); thus, these “Suns of God” embarked on their ministry at the age of thirty. The classic zodiac cross bisects the twelve astrological signs within a circle. The sun hangs “crucified” in the center as it passes through the precession of the equinoxes, something the mystery schools followed closely as each new sign marked the next world age.

Given the astrological significance of the cross, wisdom traditions often depicted the crucifixion in their writing and art. A notorious second-to-third century European talisman reveals a human figure that looks like Jesus on the cross (with a crescent moon and seven stars above him), but the inscription reads “Orpheus becomes a Bacchoi.” Orpheus was a prophet in the Dionysian mysteries and Bacchio refers to an enlightened disciple who had undergone the final stages of initiation. Around the same time as the talisman had been crafted, a Roman graffiti artist sketched on a pillar the image of a crucified donkey, which symbolized the initiates’ death to their animalistic nature and ascension to the higher Self. The first portrayal of Jesus on a cross wouldn’t appear until 200 years later.

Rather than rejoicing in their similarities, “literalist” Christian leaders -- those who had not experienced the secret gnosis (direct knowledge) of the highest mysteries -- created dams and divisions between the diverse spiritual streams that originally flowed from the same mystical source. As Freke and Gandy explain, the parallels between Mithras and Jesus threatened the emerging “Literalist Church.” Roman bishops such as Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Irenaeus made the ridiculous claim that the devil had engaged in “diabolical mimicry,” “plagiarizing by anticipation” the story of Jesus before it had actually happened in order to mislead the weak-minded.

The Golden Bough’s James Frazier noted a similar contention between Attis, the mystery god from Asia Minor, and Jesus. "In point of fact it appears from the testimony of an anonymous Christian, who wrote in the fourth century of our era, that Christians and pagans alike were struck by the remarkable coincidence between the death and resurrection of their respective deities, and that the coincidence formed a theme of bitter controversy between the adherents of the rival religions, the pagans contending that the resurrection of Christ was a spurious imitation of the resurrection of Attis, and the Christians asserting with equal warmth that the resurrection of Attis was a diabolical counterfeit of Christ.”2

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