Crucifixion of Sun Gods as Atoning Saviours.
I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified,
writes Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:2. The determination not to know anything but the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was narrowing down knowledge to rather a small compass. Evidently converts in Corinth were questioning, and Paul begins by establishing that questions are not allowed to Christians. Paul has to berate the wise and praise the foolish in this epistle. God chose the foolish things of the world not the wise. And so it has always remained—the most marvellous way of gulling the credulous. Anyway, already in the 50s of the first century some people were asking questions and one of the questions will have been whether Jesus was really crucified.
Irenaeus, one of the most frequently quoted Christian writers of the ancient bishops, declares upon the authority of the martyr Polycarp, who claimed to have got it from S John and all the elders of Asia, that Jesus Christ lived to be about fifty years old. There must have been a margin for distrusting the fact of the crucifixion. Yet, if Jesus was a saviour, it is likely that he must have been crucified because other saviours of the same type were. “Sacrilege!” Paul’s Christians, trained in foolishness, cry. “Jesus Christ was the only crucified saviour!” Sorry, other saviours are suspected of crucifixion, and certainly many were cruelly punished for saving humanity. Irenaeus might have felt it politic to deny crucifixion to distinguish the Christian saviour from the others!
The Persian equinoctial ceremonies dedicated to Mithras seem to have involved crucifixion, when Haman the Wicked, standing for the winter sun, is crucified in Esther to arise as the summer sun who is the Saviour, Mithras. The slain Divine Intercessor of the Caucasians, Prometheus, suffered hung on a tree or a rock for the sins of mortal beings. Attis, Ixion, Tantalus were all hung on trees or wheels in crucifixion. Yet the Christian disciple hugs to his breast the bloody cross of the murdered Jesus, confident that he was the one god that ever died for the sins of man.
The Twin Sun Gods
There are two suns, summer and winter, bright and dark or stormy, and these are seen daily when the sun crosses the heavens bright, then sinks to the west darkening and remains dark through the night until dawn. The sun god therefore exists as twins—a bright twin and a dark twin. The god of the full year—the complete annual movement of the sun though the zodiac—is divided into its two half yearly parts—the good god, and his twin, the evil god. In solar mythology, the sun god has two twin sons.
These gods represent the summer and the winter but which is which depends on where you are. In the northern climates, the good god is the bright and light summer sun, while the wicked god is the dark and cold winter sun. In the ancient near east, the good god was the stormy sun of winter which brought the rains, while the wicked god was the fiercely burning hot sun of summer that scorched the earth and parched the vegetation. Either way, their lives are intertwined in the annual cycle, and give us the dualistic ideas that preceded the regression to monotheism. The crucified one, in the ancient near east, paradoxically, is the dark twin which is why saviour gods often have a dark or black complexion.
The summer “bright” sun god is born at the winter solstice, and the increasing hours of lightness in the day show him growing in strength until he reaches his greatest power, the summer solstice—the longest day. The winter “dark” sun god, is born at the summer solstice, and the increasing hours of darkness show him growing in strength until he reaches his greatest power, the winter solstice—the longest night. As one twin grows in power, the other declines in power in an endless battle between light and darkness and good and evil. John the Baptist gives us pause for thought when he says of Jesus:
He must increase, but I must decrease.
A relic of the original belief in the dual solar nature of the Christian myth, it must have been said at the birth of the summer sun at the winter solstice, for, in this myth, John is the winter sun, as his association with water makes clear. He is Oannes, the Babylonian equivalent (Ea), born at the summer solstice and dying at the spring equinox. 24 June, the end of the summer solstice, was supposedly the birth date of John the Baptist in the Christian calendar, who was born six months before Jesus, according to gospel tradition. In fact, “Jesus” is not a separate god but a title of John—Saviour. The gentile Churches deliberately confused the tradition to distinguish Christians from the followers of John the Baptist. Both were Nazarenes and both had the same sun god, but the Christians had to distinguish their god from the Baptist’s. So they made John the Baptist the herald of Jesus.
In the gospel stories, Jesus actually has a twin called Thomas but that is not his name. It simply means twin, as does his New Testament surname, Didymus. He takes no part in the drama except to doubt the resurrection for which he demands proof and is allowed to put his hand into the god’s spear wound. This is the mythical relic of the spear wound being caused at his hand.
The gospels also count among the apostles John and James of Zebedee who are brothers and rivals. John is the same winter sun. James is a rendering of the Hebrew Jacob, and Jacob in the Jewish scriptures is the twin brother and rival of Esau. Jacob is said to mean supplanter—he supplants his brother—and Esau is said to mean hairy. John the Baptist dressed in rough clothing of camel’s hair. Christian images remarkably show John the Baptist as horned like Moses—explained away by Christians as horns of light—and even with the limbs of a satyr and cloven hooves. Esau therefore equates with John, and they are emblems of summer fertility, effectively the classical god of woods and fields, Pan. The reason is again astronomical. John the Baptist is of course the water carrier of Aquarius, but the salvific rains in Palestine extend over December and January and so include the month of Capricorn. He is therefore also the Goat.
Like Esau, Jesus has a brother called James who supplanted him—he becomes the leader of the Nazarenes after him. He has the title, “The Just,” justice being a solar function, and perhaps particularly the harsh summer sun’s. Thus, the two solar gods of the original Christian myth are revealed as John the Baptist and James the Just, the winter and summer suns respectively, John being the Saviour—Jesus. The biblical books try their best to disguise the solar meaning underlying them, but leave enough tantalizing clues to make it evident, if not clear. The real life of a patriotic Jewish bandit has been forced into the container of this solar myth to give us Christianity.
In the complete original solar myth, each god dies when slain by their twin at the equinoxes. The winter dark sun dies at the spring equinox, when the daylight hours exceed the night time ones, while the summer bright sun dies at the autumn equinox, when the night time hours exceed the daylight ones.
In Welsh mythology, as Mike Nicholls has shown, Gronwy slays Llew and Llew slays Gronwy at each equinox in turn. Gronwy, Llew’s dark self, strikes Llew with a spear, but Llew is transformed into an eagle, an interpretation of the sun in Scorpio—the autumn equinox. Llew is the Welsh god of light, and his name means “lion.” The lion is the symbol of the bright sun god because Leo is the constellation of midsummer—the summer solstice. The goat is the symbol of the dark winter sun, being strongest in Capricorn—the winter solstice. Later, Llew kills Gronwy with a spear to have his revenge, while he is standing at the same spot, not literally, but the equivalent spot, the other equinox—Gronwy is the winter sun.
Other examples are Gwyn and Gwythyr, Balder and Hoder/Loki, Gawain and the Green Knight, Lugh and Balor, Balan and Balin, Romulus and Remus, Prometheus and Epimetheus, Merodach and Haman, Krishna and Balarama, Esau and Jacob, James the Just and John the Baptist (Jesus).
Their mode of death is by crucifixion, by transfixing with a spear, or perhaps an arrow, against a tree which thereby makes the shape of a cross with the projectile, or by being burnt on a pyre. In practice, one half of the myth is often suppressed to put more emphasis on the other which leads to salvation.
Solar myths were mixed up with the vegetation myths, the seasonal cycle that required the priests to tell the farmers the proper time to start ploughing. This needed the equinoxes to be noted easily. There is no actual cross in the sky that lets anyone know directly when the equinoxes happen, so the priests found proxies for them. The main one was the start of the year, the autumn equinox. This was noted as when the sun was in Virgo, and its sign was when the sun rose heliacally as if it was replacing the star Spica, which gave its name to the month originally (Chaitra). Spica is significant at the other equinox too because it rises just as the sun sets. The vernal equinox was when the sun was in Aries but there was no clear star marker for it. In Yehud, the sign will have been when the shafts of the dawn sun illuminated the Holy of Holies, and the orientation of the temple will have been fixed to capture the heliacal rising of Spica in Virgo. It meant that the temple was not oriented directly east but about 85 dgrees from the azimuth. H Van Dyke Parunak’s revised estimate (Was Solomon’s Temple Aligned to the Sun?) was 84 degrees.
More widely, the deity whose death brings on the death of vegetation is Kore at Eleusis, the daughter of Demeter, the corn Goddess. Yet elsewhere it is a dying god, Attis, Adonis, Tammuz, Osiris. The Persian religion is also unclear because Mithras and the goddess Anahita were so closely connected that Herodotus mistook Mithras as the goddess. Mithras killed the primeval bull which is likely to be the sun rising heliacally in Taurus, suggesting that Mithras is the summer half year, and the good sun of the northern tribes. Anahita does not seem to have been introduced until the Persians entered the near east in which case she would have been the Virgin sun heliacally rising as Spica in Virgo, and standing for the winter sun, the good, sun of the hot near eastern climates. Anahita was a water goddess which would mean she was associated with the winter rains that fertilised the earth. Mithras had been considered a good god in the north but now had become the bad sun of the hot season. The Persians in the fifth century swapped their calendar and made the day for celebrating Mithras an autumn day, in September. Thus the God and the Goddess stood for the same period of time, the wet season of winter.
Spica is the sheaf of corn held by Virgo, and the September sunrise might have been seen originally as the birth of Mithras, the winter sun. Virgo will have been Anahita seen as walking the land preparing it with her water, and Mithras the benevolent sun fertilised it with the water of life—semen. In spring, the winter sun died, crucified as the hot sun of the dry season rose into the sky. Anahita sacrificed a bull, the heliacal rise of Taurus, to bring back the winter sun to life, and since Mithras was the winter sun, this will be likely to have been where Herodotus made his error. The priests or priestesses of Anahita sacrificed the bull for Mithras.
In the Cybele myths, Attis is said to have been revivified as a goddess, seeming to combine the female and the male vegetative principles. The good winter sun was crucified or castrated in spring and the Virgin goddess was revived in autumn, giving birth to the good sun as the heliacal rise of the sun in Virgo. The goddess is both mother and lover of the sun god, their mutual love causing the plants to grow. She is also the old nurse, in many myths such as those of Eleusis, so that she appears in her triple aspect of Maiden, Mother and Crone.
Origin of the Crucifixion of the Gods
The doctrine of salvation by crucifixion had, like many of the ancient forms of religious faith, an astronomical origin. The sun is hung on a cross or crucified when it passes through the equinoxes. People in northern climates were saved by the sun’s crucifixion when it crossed over the equatorial line into the season of spring, at the vernal equinox at Easter, and thereby gave out a saving heat and light to the world and stimulated the generative organs of animal and vegetable life. The sun that is crucified is the dark winter sun, lacking the warmth and brightness of the summer. It is resurrected as, or supplanted by, its twin, the bright warm fertilizing summer sun that continues on to ascend into heaven.
When the dark sun is the undesirable one that is crucified, it shows that the myth is appropriate to northern climates. The legend is read as the salvific death of the evil winter sun to resurrect the summer sun. This seems to have been the Persian new year ceremony when it was the wicked Haman who was crucified. The Persians coming from the north and settled on the cooler Iranian plateau will have had the northern view originally, but changed it when they adapted to hot Babylonian conditions, and changed their calendar, as historians know they did.
In the hot climates of the ancient near east, the summer sun is undesirable because it burns up the landscape, so the myth was read as the unjust death of the desirable winter sun having nourished the land, leaving the people forlorn until he came again in the autumn. The cool winter sun that had brought the rains, the bounteous sun, made the sacrifice, and his death was bewailed. He had done nothing but kindness, but still had to die at the hands of his cruel adversaries. In Ezekiel, the women outside the temple gates bewailed the death of Tammuz, suggesting the latter interpretation.
The date of Jesus’s resurrection is the position of the sun at the time of the vernal equinox when the priests could declare that the winter sun was dead—the day was now longer than the night. March 25th was considered the end of the sun’s passing through the vernal equinox. Christ is plainly the loved sun god not the hated one, so he is the dark winter sun of the ancient near east, like Krishna, and is depicted as dark skinned in some pictures. Moreover, the “black but comely” lover of the Song of Songs was said to mean Jesus.
At a later part of the year the autumn equinox sees the bright summer sun transform into the dark winter sun. The ancients in the near east must once have celebrated the death of the blazing summer sun and the arrival of the stormy sun at the autumn equinox, when they carved or painted sexual organs on the walls of their holy temples with fertilization in mind. This was certainly the case with the temple at Jerusalem, the symbolism of which is purely sexual, the temple being the womb of the land, fertilized by Yehouah at the autumn equinox when its rays shone directly into the holy of holies from the Mount of Olives.
The fertilizing winter sun having been crucified, and the summer sun risen into the heavens in resurrection, the blood of the grape, ripened by its the heat, was symbolically “the blood of the cross,” or “the blood of the Lamb.” Jesus is not the true vine for no reason.
Because of our Christian culture and its imagery, the cross is necessarily the instrument of the saviour god’s torture. However, because the celestial origin of crucifixion in solar myths is that the sun crosses over the celestial equator, the heavenly sign of the equinoxes, the image of a crossover in the sky would be a cross like the Greek letter Chi (X) not a Plus (+). Constantine’s cross in the heavens that signalled his victory at the Milvian bridge was a Chi not a Plus, and the traditional Roman sign of the Christian was Chi Ro, the first two letter of the name Christ. This shape is the shape a man takes when he is stretched out by bonds such as he might have if tied to the ground, to a tree or a wheel. So we might be looking for icons in which the god is depicted such that his body forms a cross, like that of the famous illustration by Leonardo.
It has always been presumed that death, and especially death by crucifixion, involved the highest state of suffering possible to be endured by mortals. Hence, the gods must suffer in this way as an example of courage and fortitude which their followers must emulate. To do this they must be superior to their devotees. They must not merely die, but submit to the most ignominious mode of suffering death that could be devised—crucifixion. This gave the highest finishing touch to the drama.
And thus the legend of the crucifixion became the crowning chapter, the aggrandizing episode in the history of their lives. It was presumed that nothing less than a god could endure such excruciating tortures without complaining. Hence, when the victim was reported to have submitted with such fortitude that no murmur was heard to issue from his lips, this circumstance of itself was deemed sufficient evidence of his godship.
The story of the crucifixion, therefore, deified or helped deify great men and exalt them to the rank of gods, though it was usually falsely added for this purpose. Though some of the disciples of Buddhism, and some of the earliest professors of Christianity also, including, according to Christian history, Peter and his brother Andrew, voluntarily chose this mode of dying in imitation of their crucified Lord, they were not promoted to divine honours. Christianity focused all its attention on the singular sacrifice of its Christ but had it evolved slightly differently some of the earliest saints at least would now be worshipped as gods. They had been granted the divine qualification of crucifixion.
To retain their following, religions are based on unchangeable dogmas which disciples must accept to the exclusion of all knowledge adverse to their own creed. Whenever they are able, they actually destroy contrary evidence for fear of rivalry. Then they magnify their own religion to a unique position above all others. The earlier Christian saints, having determined like Paul, to know only “Jesus Christ and him crucified,” made stern efforts to obliterate from the page of history facts damaging to their case.
The disciples of the Christian faith have burnt books, blotted out passages and bowdlerised testaments which suggested the opposite of their belief. Not only that, they have demolished monuments showing crucifixions of previous atoning gods so that they are now unknown. Hence, the disbelief of Christians when other cases are mentioned. It continues in more recent times.
An ancient sculpture or icon in context tells us more about origins, and there have been reports of a crucified Hindu god, assumed to be Krishna, in ancient temples. Iconography can be placed in a historical period more closely than a text. Those responsible for evaluating these pictures should do so, not just pretend they are not there. Documents themselves are often unreliable, especially religious ones that have a clear purpose of persuasion to a particular belief. It is better to regard them as unreliable until they can be shown to be genuine.
A report on the Hindu religion, made out by a deputation from the British Parliament, sent to India to examine their sacred books and monuments, was left in the hands of a Christian bishop at Calcutta, with instructions to forward it to England. On its arrival in London, it was so horribly mutilated as to be scarcely recognisable. An account of the crucifixion was gone. But, if the Christian myth was syncretized to Krishna in the years since Christianity arrived in India, written sources like this would be valueless. No one knows when a legend was introduced.
Krishna, which means dark, plainly suffers huge losses, cursed as he was to lose the whole of his people and to die alone and miserable. The only death of Krishna now in the Mahabharata is to be shot in the sole of his foot by a hunter’s arrow while practising yoga in a forest. It seems odd, to the western way of thinking, that a man who had seen everyone he knew, including most recently his brother, Balarama, killed off under a curse, should be peacefully practising yoga in the forest. That is the way of mythology. It gave Krishna, by sitting crosslegged—possibly a remnant of the original myth—a way of receiving an unlikely wound in the sole of his foot, just as Achilles was killed in his heel. Christians will say that crossed-legs can hardly be seen as an indication of crucifixion, but they are indeed symbolic of the equinoxes, as the symbolic torchbearers of Mithras’s icons show. The uplifted torch with right leg over left is the bright summer sun, while the downturned torch with left over right is the dark winter sun. The hunter, Jar, who killed Krishna only has to be identified with the brother, Balarama, to restore the original myth—the summer sun killed the winter sun by crucifixion.
Hindus had a motive to suppress any crucifixion myths—to avoid parallels with Christianity that might have lost proselytes to the missionaries. Editors of the Hindu sacred texts will have altered the legend in the present era—when Christianity reached India with the heretical Christians called Nestorians—to avoid any implication that they had derived it from Christianity, or indeed to eliminate any possibility of Krishna being mistaken for Christ that might have assisted Christian proselytizing. The Krishna legends were still changing in the Christian era, as is shown by the accretion of the legends of Gopala to those of Krishna in the early centuries AD.
If this is true, Christians argue, it would have been better for Hindus to have kept Krishna crucified. Having their own crucified saviour would have stopped the Nestorians from making converts among the Hindus, whose crucified saviour was much older than Christianity itself, and who had existed long before Christians ever came to India. The assumption is that the crucifixion of Krishna had the same import as the crucifixion of Christ. Naturally, it would have been important as the god’s ultimate sacrifice, but Christians made it central to their outlook—Hindus probably did not. Indians attracted to the idea of crucifixion, and the success of Christianity shows it is an attractive idea, will have been more prepared to turn to Christ if they saw him as an aspect of Krishna, or even as another avatar of Vishnu. For most sun gods, crucifixion seems to have been an essential but not always the central part of the god’s myth.
There is nothing surprising about any god with a solar aspect being crucified or suffering some equivalent fate, and so we should not be surprised to hear that there is or was such a legend about Krishna. And it would not help to ask a Hindu what they thought the original legend was, or whether they counted Krishna as a sun god. A Hindu cannot enlighten us about the true origins of Krishna, once it had been suppressed, any more than a Christian can enlighten us about the suppressed history of Christ. Both have their preferred mythology that they will believe despite any evidence to the contrary.
Krishna is considered to have been a historic figure, like Christ, living about the time of the Indo-European conquest of India in 1000 BC. But he has acquired the attributes of a sun god just as Christ did in his elevation. He was an avatar of Vishnu, a sun god, who creates Krishna the dark twin and his brother Balarama the light twin from two hairs of his head, one dark and one white. He also had the patronymic Vasudeva, signifying he was a sun god.
The Romans saw Christ as a sun god and put the control of the solar religions of Rome in the hands of the bishops. No one can deny that Christian iconography shows Christ as a sun god. Later religions might have syncretized with Christianity by adopting a crucified saviour, but Christians do not like the fact that crucifixion was an earlier syncretization of ancient mythology with Christianity. Paul and others realised the value of having a newly crucified example of an old phenomenon.
These myths arose before the time of Christ, but their exact date cannot be fixed, because the history of ancient mythology is not known and probably cannot ever be known, and not least because chronology before the time of Alexander the Great (330 BC) gets increasingly uncertain. Some, like Alcestis, can be dated to before the life of the author of a work in which they appear. The dating of icons, especially from distant or isolated cultures is also uncertain. Even mainstream studies of the ancient Near East are involved in controversy over dates, Peter James, for example, claiming in a well argued case that several centuries have been mistakenly inserted into near Eastern chronologies.
Nevertheless, these instances show that the belief in the punishment of gods was prevalent long before the crucifixion of Christ. These crucifixions and atoning deaths are not vouchsafed as actual occurrences. They are mythical not real events. To establish the atoning punishment of divine saviours preceding Christ is an easier task than showing that some were crucified, but six will prove it as well as the sixteen given by Graves. Indeed, one case is sufficient. The reader is left to decide.
Tammuz was a god of Assyria, Babylonia and Sumeria where he was known as Dumuzi. He is commemorated in the name of the month of June, Du’uzu, the fourth month of a year which begins at the spring equinox. The fullest history extant of this saviour is probably that of Ctesias (400 BC), author of Persika. The poet has perpetuated his memory in rhyme.
Trust, ye saints, your Lord restored,
Trust ye in your risen Lord;
For the pains which Tammuz endured
Our salvation have procured.
Tammuz was crucified as an atonement offering: “Trust ye in God, for out of his loins salvation has come unto us.” Julius Firmicus speaks of this God rising from the dead for the salvation of the world. This saviour which long preceded the advent of Christ, filled the same role in sacred history.
Even the Catholic Encyclopedia notes:
Nature Worship generally, and Agrarian in particular, were responsible for the Tammuz cult of Babylon, with which the worships of Adonis and Attis, and even of Dionysus, are so unmistakably allied. Much might have been hoped from these religions with their yearly festival of the dying and rising god, and his sorrowful sister or spouse.
The cross of Christ, as experts seem to agree, was actually a bar placed across the top of an upright, so it was not a cross at all. It was a “Tee” (T), called “Taw” in Hebrew and “Tau” in Greek. So the cross that the victim was suspended from was actually a crossbar, and perhaps in those days this was called the cross. The “Taw” sign was the symbol of the dying and rising god, Tammuz, and “Taw” was the sign that was made on the heads of those marked for salvation by the god. So, crucifixion images might not be as conventional as the ones based on the Catholic crucifix.
Speaking of this crucified Messiah, the Anacalypsis informs us that several histories are given of him, but all concur in representing him as having been an atoning offering for sin. And the Latin phrase “suspensus lingo,” found in his history, indicates the manner of his death. He was suspended on a tree, crucified, buried and rose again. Attis is the Phrygian version of Tammuz, and Adonis and Jesus could equally well be included here as other versions of the same god.
Prometheus (Hesiod 800 BC)
Prometheus was an Indo-European sun god, as his procurement of the sun’s energy as fire shows. He was the Caucasian Orpheus, the benefactor of humanity, whom he taught skills he had learned from Athene (whose birth from the head of Zeus he had assisted). The skills were those such as architecture, astronomy, navigation, mathematics, metallurgy, medicine and such like. In Attica he was worshipped as the god of craftsmen.
Zeus wanted to destroy humanity and spared them because of Prometheus’s plea. But Prometheus was getting too clever and suffered the fate of several saviours who upset Zeus. The legend of Prometheus justifies the sacrificial practice in the ancient Near East of offering fat (for the fire) and bones (for the sweet smell) to the gods while the lean flesh is reserved for the priests. In particular, Prometheus stole the fire of the sun from Olympus by hiding a glowing charcoal in a stalk of fennel and taking it to mortal beings who had been condemned by the angry Zeus to eat their flesh raw. He is depicted as Zeus Prometheus at Thurii, where he holds a swastika (Sanskrit, pramantha—prometheus), the symbol of the sun and fire—produced by a fire drill (swastika), often a tedious process which made the Aryans prefer to keep their fires permanently alight. So, the cause for which Prometheus suffered was his love for the human race. Humans were punished by Zeus but Prometheus took pity on them and gave them warmth. Therefore, he too was punished by Zeus.
The punishment of Prometheus was described by Hesiod, and other writers. Prometheus was crucified on a symbolic tree, depicted as a post, situated near the Caspian Straits. Hesiod writes:
With shackles and inescapable fetters Zeus riveted Prometheus on a pillar.
The illustration is of an ancient Laconian bowl with Prometheus on it, tied to a pillar, a symbolic tree like the cross, while the eagle eats at his liver. The point about the carrion eating birds in these legends is that the crucified corpse was left hanging to be pecked by birds, doubtless a familiar sight at one time, and deserving a mythical explanation. An anonymous poet describes a scene like it, thus:
Lo! streaming from the fatal tree
His all atoning blood,
Is this the Infinite?—Yes, ’tis he,
Prometheus, and a god!
Well might the sun in darkness hide,
And veil his glories in,
When God, the great Prometheus, died
For man the creature’s sin.
Christians complain that Prometheus is not “crucified” here, because “a real crucifixion is on a cross, and Prometheus is not on a cross. He is just tied to a tree, with his feet on the ground, and is is not nailed to anything.”
The word crucifixion refers nowadays to a cross, but the ancient punishment which it represents is most commonly hanging on a tree, a form that applied to several ancient gods. Most scholars, even Christian ones, recognize that the cross is a symbolic tree. Justin Martyr, thinking he is quoting from a psalm, tells us that Jesus was considered to have been hung from a tree:
Let them rejoice among the nations. The Lord hath reigned from the tree.
1 Apology 41,
Indeed the scriptural reference in Deuteronomy 21:22—often taken as prophetic of Jesus—is to hanging on a tree, and Peter and the apostles (Acts 5:30;10:39) say Jesus had been hanged on a tree. Crucifixions generally did not involve nailing but tying, and tying even when the hands or wrists were nailed to make sure the weight was carried even if flesh yielded. Ultimately, the point is that the saviour of mankind, here the Titan Prometheus, was cruelly punished, or at least had to suffer cruelly in the myth.
The story of Prometheus’s punishment, burial and resurrection was acted in Athens, in a trilogy of plays written by the great Greek playwright, Æschylus, five hundred years before Christ, showing its great antiquity. Prometheus Bound is the only survivor of the three plays. Zeus had decided to put an end to humanity, but the titan, Prometheus, intervenes, saving them, so Zeus punished him for it. What Prometheus had done was to make humans immortal, so that Zeus’s thunderbolts did not force them to descend in death to Hades. Besides this, when the wrath of Zeus terrified them and they knew they were about to die, Prometheus gave them hope. Now, these are the very gifts that Christians still believe Christ has exclusively conferred upon them—the hope and expectation of life after death!
Besides these gifts, though, Prometheus taught people how to be civilized. Christians also think that to be Christian is to be peculiarly civilized in outlook, despite all the historical evidence to the contrary. Some non-canonical myths of Jesus have him teaching humanity ploughing, planting the vine and so on, just as Prometheus did, and Orpheus after him too. The civilization Christians attribute to Christ is the love of others, something they like to boast about so long as they never have to put it into practice. Loving someone as strange to them as Arabs is just too much! The myth of Prometheus later made him the creator of humanity as well, moulded by him out of clay, according to Pausanias in the second century AD. The goddess, Athena, breathed life into the clay figures to vitalize them. Non-Christians, like Lord Byron, depicted Prometheus as a kind god whose aim was to make the wretched human condition more tolerable. Christians like John Milton saw the parallel of Prometheus and Christ, Milton using Prometheus as an image of Christ, even though he preceded Christ by hundreds of years.
The modern story of this crucified God, which has him bound to a rock for thirty years, while vultures preyed upon his vitals, is a Christian fraud, inasmuch as the crucifixion aspect of the drama was omitted. Yet even in the extant translations of Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus, the god is plainly crucified, albeit on a rock:
Force: Seize his hands and master him.
Now to your hammer. Pin him to the rocks.
Drive stoutly now your wedge straight through his breast, the stubborn jaw of steel that cannot break.
Now for his feet. Drive the nails through the flesh.
When Prometheus is crucified in this way, Force taunts him just as Jesus was in the gospels:
Run hot now, you there on the rocks,
Go steal from gods to give their goods to men
What will they do to lift these woes from you?
Prometheus, whose name means “forethought,” had foreseen it all, just as Jesus was supposed to have, and muses to himself in his agony that he had:
Nothing, no pang of pain that I did not foresee.
A chorus of maidens lament his agony and desolation, weeping in sorrow. Soon we hear the very line that is attributed to Christ addressing Paul (Acts 26:14), proof enough that the author knew the play:
Don’t kick against the pricks,
The version of Prometheus given by Aeschylus has Prometheus bound for eternity, because as a god, he was immortal and his liver grew again every night, but Zeus fired a thunderbolt that sent the captive to Tartarus still bound.
Zeus’s thunderbolt shook the earth, rocks were rent, the whole frame of nature became convulsed, and in a storm, which seemed to threaten the dissolution of the universe, the solemn scene closed, and Prometheus departed to the underworld in death. Tartarus is the abyss of the underworld—the equal of the Christian Hell—and to go there means death! Prometheus had told Zeus the secret he wanted to know, and Zeus, responding to his son Herakles’s pleas, allowed Herakles to kill the eagle and free the captive. Prometheus was freed from Tartarus, and later was elevated to Olympus. Confinement to Tartarus is death, liberation from Tartarus is resurrection. Christians find it impossible to understand this.
The dismissal to the underworld after the crucifixion suggests that Prometheus was crucified at the autumn equinox. He is therefore the beneficial summer sun of cool countries being sent back to Hades at the end of the summer. Prometheus is only restored to Olympus because the centaur, Cheiron agrees to lose his immortality to allow Prometheus to regain his. So here the redeemer of humanity is himself redeemed by the self-sacrifice of his personal redeemer Cheiron!
Several other benefactors of humanity—and therefore saviours—were cruelly punished by Zeus. At one time they were the gods of foreign, rebellious or defiant people and so have been punished in hell in the myths of the Greeks.
More Saviours Punished in Hell
Tityus was another god punished by crucifixion, with vultures pecking at his liver in Tartarus, but this time he was spreadeagled and pinned on the ground, the oldest form of the punishment. This was for trying to have illicit sex with Leto—the liver was thought of as the centre of sexual power. He was a giant and a son of Gaia, so must have been a Titan, as his name might imply. Stealing a sexual pleasure from a goddess or revealing sexual indiscretions of a god seem to be euphemistic ways of hiding the revelation of divine secrets to humanity. In other words, he sounds like a disguised or older version of Prometheus.
Another suffering god was Tantalus, who was supposed to have been a king of Lydia and therefore extremely rich, blessed by his mother, the Titaness, Pluto (wealth). Tantalus, being so favoured by the gods, became immortal by dining with them on nectar and ambrosia, and one story of his punishment is that he served up to the gods in return the boiled corpse of his son Pelops. The Gods detected the nature of the meal and he was punished for it. Only Demeter anguishing over the fate of Kore, absentmindedly chewed a shoulder. The shoulders of sacrifices were always reserved for the king or the priests as they were in the Jewish religion (Lev 7:32;11:21). Those who dine with gods are gods, so Tantalus was really a non-native Greek god popular enough to have been once acceptable to the Greeks. Sacrifices were offered as broth, not roast, in countries influenced by the Persian religion, or perhaps in ancient Indo-European tradition.
There are other, more “tantalizing” myths however. Some place him in Corinth not Lydia, suggesting he might be associated with the legends of Sisyphus with whom he is punished in Tartarus. Like Prometheus, he stole from the gods to give to mortals. He betrayed to humanity certain divine secrets that he heard at the dinner table with them, and also stole nectar and ambrosia, the food of the gods, which confers immortality. There is a strong hint here of a eucharistic type of meal believed to confer immortality on to its partakers. When the gods found out he intended to benefit mortals he was punished for it. The Greek gods reserved immortality to themselves.
Because his secrets came from dining with the gods, he was forbidden to eat or drink, even though food and drink were tantalisingly available. This saviour of humanity was obviously crucified! He is hung on the branch of a fruit tree! It is perhaps a tree of life because it has multiple fruits growing in it—the tree of life has twelve—and is suspended over a lake. He is depicted peering through the greenery in abject terror. The level of the lake slowly rose up to his chin such that he could bend his head for a gulp of water, but each time he did, the water level fell away to expose the muddy bottom. Each time he bent his head to bite a fruit, a gust of wind bounced it from his mouth. So, he suffered everlasting torments of hunger and thirst. Jesus was, of course, tormented with gall to drink when he thirsted.
In another myth, Tantalus is punished by having a large rock suspended above his head threatening to fall upon him at every moment, so he suffers an eternity of immediate fear. The rock, like that of Sisyphus is the solar disc, showing that Tantalus was a sun god. Scholiast on Pindar’s Odes declares this to be the case.
A sacrificial victim to the sun god will have been put in a cage decorated with the fruit of the earth and dropped into a lake as the canonical myth suggests, or burnt on a pyre as was Tantalus’s son, whence the real reason for his fear. In fact, the folk custom of the Jack in the Green (Green George) in which an effigy is first ducked and then burnt will be the relic of the custom. In Medieval times, at May Day, the victim was encased in a wooden cage decorated with holly, ivy, spring flowers and fluttering ribbons. The tradition was maintained by chimney sweeps which suggests the fate of the original victim. The fearful image of the green man sprouting leaves will be the same. The man was not originally sprouting leaves but looking through them in terror.
Yet another benefactor of humanity punished in hell was Sisyphus, who was condemned to rolling a large stone up a hill in Tartarus, but each time it rolled back again. Sisyphus who is supposed to have founded Corinth and the Isthmian games, revealed one of Zeus’s amorous affairs, but this will be another derogation of the original in which he aimed to pass divine secrets to mortals. Zeus sent Thanatos (death) to embrace him. Sisyphus however, tricked and overpowered Thanatos, and chained him up, so that he could not embrace people, and human beings became immortal like gods. Here again is a strong hint of the god promising eternal life to his devotees. Mars, who had a vested interest in people killing each other, set Thanatos free again and despatched Sisyphus to Tartarus, probably signifying that the religion was forcibly suppressed. A saviour of the human race, actually saving them from death, is punished by a jealous patriarchal god. Sisyphus was read by the Greeks as including the word “sophos,” “wisdom,” and they took it to mean “crafty,” in the sense of “cunning” but originally will have meant “clever” or “thoughtful” like Prometheus. Curiously Jesus is often identified with Wisdom, though Wisdom was a goddess, Sophia.
The punishment of Sisyphus reflects his original nature as a sun god, presumably of Corinth, where there was a temple to Helios. The time spent by Paul at Corinth might not have been purely fortuitous. The cult was based upon the Hittite sun god, Tesup, and will have been brought into Corinth by traders from Rhodes where Tesup was worshipped. The boulder Sisyphus rolls up the hill stands for the disc of the sun, and Sisyphus was the god who rolled the solar disc across the vault of the heavens, having to begin his endless task anew each morning because overnight the sun has returned to the east. Sisyphus and Ixion (another, sun god—see below) were put next to each other in Hades, suggesting an association.
In his myth, Sisyphus was a cattle owner, another characteristic of some sun gods, who were often represented as bulls (compare Mithras). He is the parallel of Laban in Genesis (29-30) from whom Jacob tricked cattle. Laban means white, a colour associated with the sun.
The end of the story of Sisyphus is even more revealing. Being so wise, he tells his wife not to bury his body when he dies. This is a mythical explanation of the corpses of crucified victims being left to hang. Arriving in Hades, he complains to Persephone, the queen of the underworld, that he had suffered an injustice by not being buried and asked for a three days respite to correct it. Persephone agreed but Sisyphus had no intention of keeping his three day promise. It could not work. Omniscient gods could not be tricked so simply, and Hermes was quickly sent to inflict permanent death on Sisyphus. Paul addresses the Greeks (Acts 17:2-34) referring to an altar inscribed “To an Unknown God.” Luke puts this speech in the Areopagus in Athens immediately before Paul departs to Corinth. Perhaps Luke was misinformed or has used poetic license and the altar was to Sisyphus, whose name was unmentionable and whose tomb was unknown—in Corinth.
What is interesting is the reversal of myths like that of Jesus where the god dies for three days. Here the god is reprieved from death for three days. It might be simply an expression of the ancient belief that the soul does not finally leave the corpse until after three days, or it might be part of the denigration of the Corinthian god by inverting what was a resurrection after three days. The Hellenes will have denigrated the Corinthian god for racial reasons, they disliked the importation of a foreign god into the heart of the Greek peninsular, and so had him punished by their own gods.
The Greeks eventually accepted foreign gods—including gods who died for three days—and some aspired to Olympus, but these sinning gods punished by Zeus in Tartarus were pre-Olympian, or gods of rebellious nations seen as rivals to the Olympians, or perhaps the Greeks were suppressing mysteries except their favoured ones of Eleusis, and a few other privileged places. Only Tantalus and Ixion of these saviours of humanity are still seen as crucified, but the common themes among them imply that it, and a communion meal conferring immortality, are likely to have been in the original myths, now suppressed. Aesculapius was a sun god as his parents prove. He was born of Apollo and Coronis. Zeus raised Aesculapius from the dead and restored him as a god. Before that Zeus slew him with a bolt lest the whole race of mortals should escape death. Aesculapius had raised so many from the dead that Pluto thought he waould have no dead people to rule. Here is the same myth of immortality, first suppressed then admitted as legitimate.
A less usual atoning god was Alcestis, who was female, the only example of a feminine god atoning for the sins of the world by self-sacrifice, unless the Danaids are considered in the same light. Her husband, Admetus, who wins her in marriage by riding a chariot pulled by a lion and a boar, forgets to sacrifice to Artemis on his wedding day and, entering the bedchamber, sees a coil of snakes. This will be a polite way of saying snakes copulating, which is considered a bad omen in India still, and plainly relates to the bridal chamber.
It signifies his early death, but the sun god Apollo, whom he had done a favour for, arranges for him to escape death if someone would die in his place. His elderly parents refuse telling him to accept his fate, and only Alcestis is willing to die for him. She takes poison in the canonical myth, and dies but Persephone in Hades refuses to accept her because of her devotion and sends her back. So the saviour goddess dies and is resurrected.
The chariot of Admetus pulled by a boar and a lion suggests the full year, since these are the symbols of the two half years. The implication is that Admetus was another sun god, whose chariot was the half year of winter represented by a boar and the summer represented by a lion. The sun often is depicted as riding a chariot or as a charioteer. Admetus has the same form as Prometheus and Epimetheus, so might stand for the full year.
Mithras of Persia atoned for mankind, and prepared for the salvation of mankind through slaying the primaeval bull—the first sacrifice. He was born on the twenty-fifth day of December, and his celebrations at the spring and autumn equinoxes were associated with crucifixion on a tree. These were the Persian New Year festivities described in the scriptural book of Esther, and involved the crucifixion of the old year, considered wicked, so that a new and uncorrupted year could take its place. This was seen as an annual rehearsal of the eschaton when the wicked world is finally replaced by the purity of the original creation of Ahuramazda. Christian writers, like Tertullian, imply that Mithras was slain, and yet do not say how. It has been suppressed. The Romans saw a great deal in common between Mithras and Christ, probably because they both originated in Persian mythology.
Ixion, a mythical king of Thessaly, was crucified on a wheel, the rim representing the world, and the spokes constituting the cross. Ancient kings were often the god of the tribe, because unsophisticated people saw themselves as ruled by the god, not by the man who acted for him on earth. He is said to have carried the burden of the world on his back while suspended on the cross. He was therefore called the crucified spirit of the world. Ixion was another sun god, a Thessalian sun god.
He was married to Dia, meaning the sky, but had intercourse with a cloud, but the cloud was the wife of the sky god, Zeus, who therefore punished the headstrong sun god. This signifies a victory of the Greeks (God = Zeus) over the Thessalians (God = Ixion). The sky God Zeus condemned him to be crucified on the solar wheel as it traversed the sky forever. A man tied to a wheel is crucified because his body forms a cross. This myth seems to be a Hellenic version of a non-Hellenic sun god where the god is considered ignoble for ravaging the wife of Zeus, and so is punished.
Like most ancient myths, there are competing versions. In one version the punishment was an eternal crucifixion in Tartarus but in another the eternal crucifixion was in the sky. The latter was probably the original one, but the Greeks would not allow such a glorious crucifixion and placed it in the pits of hell. The cause of the punishment might have been historic—an ambush of Ionians (Eioneus) who were trapped and burnt in a fiery pit—but even this might have been part of a solar myth, the victims being sacrificed to the sun.
It is curious that Christian writers will recount a long list of miracles and remarkable incidents in the life of Apollonius of Tyana, the Cappadocian saviour, forming a parallel to those of the Christian saviour, yet say not a word about his crucifixion, even though they can—and do when forced to consider it—attribute it to syncretism to Christianity.
Christian writers find it necessary to omit the crucifixion of these saviours fearing the telling would lessen the spiritual force of the crucifixion of Christ, which has to be unique. They thus exalted the tradition of the crucifixion into the most important dogma of the Christian faith. Hence, their efforts to conceal from the public the fact that it is of pagan origin. They had full control and power over publishing for a millennium, a much longer time than was needed to expunge all referemnces to the crucifixion of earlier gods. Even icons were destroyed and the few that remain can and are always questioned by Christians, either as not authentic or misinterpreted.
Justin Martyr admits that the cross was already a well known and used symbol to the Romans. Addressing the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius, he wrote:
And the power of this form (the cross) is shown by your own symbols on what are called “vexilla” (standards) and trophies, with which all your state possessions are made, using these as the insignia of your power and government, even though you do so unwittingly. And with this form you consecrate the images of your emperors when they die, and you name them gods by inscriptions.
Justin was pleading for his life but was so inept that he repeatedly insulted the emperor and the Romans. That is why he is now called “Martyr.” Minucius Felix, one of the most popular Christian writers of the second century, confirms this not long afterwards, charging Pagan Romans with displaying “gilded and adorned crosses” sometimes hung with the image of a man, but denied that crosses were significant to Christians. Addressing the people of Rome, he says:
Crosses, moreover, we neither worship nor wish for. You, indeed, who consecrate gods of wood, adore wooden crosses perhaps as parts of your gods. For your very standards, as well as your banners and flags of your camp, what else are they but crosses gilded and adorned? Your victorious trophies not only imitate the appearance of a simple cross, but also that of a man affixed to it.
And this man Christians denoted a god. Mackey’s Lexicon of Freemasonry says that Freemasons secretly taught that the doctrine of the crucifixion, atonement and resurrection preceded the Christian era, and that similar doctrines were taught in all the ancient mysteries. These coincidences are evidence that the tradition of the crucifixion of gods has been long prevalent among Pagans.
To those who say the ancient crucifixions of gods were mere myths or fables, having no foundation in fact, but added to their histories as mere romance, the reply is that there is the same ground for suspecting it as being true of Jesus Christ. Many of the early Christians and contemporary Jews and gentiles doubted it, and some openly disputed its ever having taken place. Others bestowed upon it a mere spiritual significance, and not a few considered it symbolical of a holy life.
Quirinus (Romulus) of Rome
The association of the crucifixion of Christ with a violent convulsion of nature, and the resurrection of the long-buried saints, events not supported by anyone in contemporary history, can only discredit the whole story. To appeal to Romans, Jesus was partly given a parallel history to Romulus (Quirinus). The death of this Roman saviour is remarkable for the parallel features to that of the Judaean saviour, not only in the circumstances of his crucifixion, but also in much of his antecedent life.
•Romulus and Remus were of royal blood, their mother, Rhea Silvia, being of kingly descent from Aeneas,
•Romulus and Remus were conceived and born of a virgin because Rhea Silvia was made a Vestal Virgin by the usurping king Amulius, so that she could not bear a son,
•Romulus and Remus were sought by the reigning king, Amulius, to be put to death, but were saved in the fashion of Moses and Sargon of Assyria by being floated down a river (another ancient legend),
•Romulus and Remus were watched over by shepherds as children,
•Remus was put to death by his brother, perhaps crucified,
•Romulus was put to death by wicked hands, and the whole earth was covered in darkness,
•Romulus finally was resurrected, and ascended to heaven.
In the canonical narrative, Romulus dies as an old man by disappearing during a thunder storm whereupon he was deified, but there are many variations in which he is murdered. Romulus was supposed to be favoured by Jupiter (Zeus), the sky god, to whom he dedicated a temple in his myth, and Rome was founded at the spring equinox.
In the myth, the twin who dies is Remus, killed by Romulus, and the reason is that he stepped across the boundary of Rome before the wall was built, an obvious parallel of the sun crossing the celestial equator. But it is Romulus who goes on to ascend to the godhead as Quirinus. Remus is the Roman Haman, who dies to permit the city of the sun to rise. The two brothers, Romulus and Remus, have echoes of Prometheus and Epimetheus, and could be distant variants of them. Mitra had his dark twin Varuna (perhaps evolved into Ahuramazda in Persia). Krishna had his twin Balarama. And sure enough, we find in the Christian myth that Jesus was a twin too, his brother being “doubting” Thomas Didymus (the twin)—not that we hear anything of it in the birth narratives!
The Virgin Birth of Romulus and Remus
Retold © 1998 by Frank E Smitha from The Ancient World Online
Fire awed the early Romans, as it did the Greeks and others. The Romans believed in a goddess of fire called Vesta, and they had a sacred temple of fire tended by four females—the Vestal Virgins—who were selected while they were children and were expected to serve thirty years. During their service they were expected to remain virgins, for the Romans believed that to please the gods, women who were unmarried and not trying to bear children should remain chaste.
A Vestal Virgin was part of the greatest legend among the Romans—the legend about Rome's origins. The legend begins with a Vestal Virgin giving birth to twin boys and claiming that the boys had been fathered miraculously by the god Mars—a god of fertility and later also of war. The Vestal Virgin was the sister of a king. The king believed his sister was lying and that she had violated a sacred law. To put things right with the gods the king had his sister imprisoned, and he had her twins put afloat in a basket on the Tiber River. The two boys, called Romulus and Remus, were expected to drown, but the river receded and the basket carrying the boys came to rest on the river's bank, where a shepherd found them.
Around the time of Jesus Christ, when this legend was still popular among Romans, a Roman historian named Livy tried looking back centuries to determine whether the legend was true. The earliest version that Livy found described the wife of the shepherd who rescued Romulus and Remus. It described her as a she-wolf (a bitch) because of her alleged loose morals. Legends evolve, and by Livy's time the legend held that the boys had been rescued by a real female wolf—a notion that was put into the famous Roman sculpture a wolf nursing the two boys.
According to the legend that Livy studied, Romulus and Remus grew into manhood, and they killed their uncle, the king, in revenge for his having imprisoned their mother and for his having unjustly usurped power from their grandfather. The boys restored their grandfather to the throne, and they founded Rome where they had emerged from the river.
Then Romulus and Remus quarreled—as had Cain and Abel. Romulus killed Remus, and he became Rome's first king. To populate his city, Romulus gathered people from other countries. And, to give his subjects wives, he abducted young unmarried women from a nearby tribe called the Sabines—an incident to be known as “The Abduction of the Sabine Women.” The fathers of the women were outraged, and the Sabines retaliated by attacking the Romans. The abducted Sabine women, now apparently contented wives, intervened in the fighting and brought peace between their husbands and their fathers. The legend ends with Romulus, after a long reign, vanishing into a thunderstorm. He became a god. Then he reappeared, descending from the sky, declaring to those listening that it is the will of heaven that Rome be the capital of the world, that Romans cherish the art of war and that others realize that they cannot resist the strength of Roman arms.
Jesus as a Sun God
The idea of a Son of God is amongst the oldest cults of the patriarchal god worshippers. The sun is the son of heaven in all primitive faiths. The firmament is personified as the Father on High and the sun becomes the Son of God. Then, because no wrongdoing is missed by the sun in its travels around the heavens, it becomes the Son of Righteousness. The sun in its annual course around the zodiac and its regular daily periodicity typified the ever present, everlasting, ever faithful qualities that reassured people.
For Christian clergy who are always scared that one of these days their flocks will catch on and be outraged at the confidence trick they have been subject to, the Jesus of the New Testament bears an uncomfortable resemblance to other mythical figures. Many of the patriarchs, prophets, priests and kings of the bible are sun gods allegoricized as men by ancient poets. They can be recognized because there is negligible historical evidence for them. Many scholars agree that the patriarchs of the bible and even Saul, David, Solomon and Samson are ancient gods whose myths have been ludicrously accepted as history even by the most scholarly of men.
The ancients saw in the sun’s annual course round the heavens an image of human experience—conception, birth, growth, victory, death and resurrection. In the dramas of the mystery religions the central character was the initiate in the role of the sun god.
Christians have confounded pre-Christian Persian and Hellenistic cosmic principles with Jesus, a historical human being, a national hero of the Jewish nation fighting repression. The Jesus of the gospels was given the characteristics of a solar god. The Jews too then connived in the deception by rejecting their hero as a Pagan sun god and nothing more!
When the cruel summer sun of the ancient near east died at the autumn equinox, by a miracle the sun rose in the constellation of Virgo—the sun was born of a Virgin. When the bounteous winter sun was crucified at the spring equinox, the sun rose in the constellation of the lamb, and the crucified god was the sacrificed lamb of god. Light imagery is widespread in descriptions of Jesus. He is the “Light of the World” (Jn 8:12) but the only proper “Light of the World” is the sun.
Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him, and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.
is a description of the sun as the god, Tammuz. The sun, in the form of its reflexion as it rises and sets, walks on water. Jesus is the saviour of mankind, but truly the proper saviour of mankind and all life on earth is the sun—without it we should be unable to survive.
The sun’s corona is traditionally depicted by a halo, a sunburst or a crown of thorns, and indeed the halo can be taken as an indication of a sun god in pre-Christian art. Sun gods such as Horus, Buddha and Krishna are shown with haloes before it became a Christian convention. Often Jesus is depicted surrounded by a sunburst of rays. The horns of the older deities and the rays of light radiating from the heads of Hindu and Pagan gods show that gods were often given the attributes of the sun. The halo, that originally indicated a solar god, was transferred to other divine people in Christian art. The halo became the symbol of a god and then a holy person because it is a characteristic of the holy sun.
The sun has 12 aspects being the 12 signs of the zodiac or constellations, through which it must pass in its yearly journey. It is born in the sign of the goat, the Augean stable of the Greeks, then has an adventure as it enters each different sign during the course of a year. Finally it dies and is reborn or resurrected after three days on the twenty-fifth of December in the same sign of the celestial goat. From ancient times the year was partitioned into the 12 segments based on the constellation that the sun was in at the time, and from this the sun itself was given the aspects of the imagined signs in the heavens or friends or foes were given these imagined characteristics.
The magic number 12 is usually derived from this source and so it is with the twelve Labours of Hercules and the tribes of Israel. The rationalisation of the number twelve of the apostles is that they were to rule over the twelve tribes, but the origin of the twelve is then still solar. In fact, there were not twelve tribes and the number is only chosen to meet the requirements of a sun god.
People in agrarian societies appreciated the importance of the sun in agriculture. Farmers noted that the sun descended in altitude in the sky as it moved southwards until 21 or 22 December, the winter solstice, when it stopped declining for three days and thereafter started to ascend and move north again. The sun seemed to die for three days on 22 December when it ceased its heavenly motion and was born again on December 25th, when it resumes its heavenly motion. The punter worried that the sun might really die and not begin its annual ascent again, just as primitive peoples worried that the night might not end when the sun had set.
Ancient astronomer-priests knew of the annual cycles of the sun and told the punters that they could influence it in its journeys—if they were rewarded for their skills. Priests always were frauds—modern ones are no different in claiming they can help people get eternal life—and pretended they had rituals to revive the sun each winter. Each year on 25 December, when it was born again, people celebrated its birthday. Sons of god are born on December 25th because the sun is. Jesus has no known birthdate but he was given the birthdate of the Unconquerable Sun because he was perceived by the Romans and the Greeks as a sun god.
Early Christians, like Minucius Felix, repudiated the cross because it was Pagan. The first images of Jesus show him as an androgynous youth, the Good Shepherd, carrying a lamb. The original occupant of the cross was this lamb. A man was not shown hanging on a cross until long after the invasions of the barbarian whose traditional sun symbol was the cross.
That Christians worship on Sunday shows the origins of their god. The sun has been viewed consistently throughout history as the saviour of mankind for reasons that are obvious. Without the sun, life on the planet would die. The Eucharistic host, meant to be the body of Christ is kept and displayed for worship in a monstrance, having the shape of a radiating sun!
The ancients had no “only-begotten” son of the Christian type because the term they used was in Greek “monogenes,” and in Latin “unigenitus,” and did not mean “only-begotten,” but “that which was begotten of one parent,” the father, alone. The ancients meant by the term to designate the projection into matter by God of the force of life, not the sole and unique product of the union of spirit and matter, or a male god and a female human.
What can the Christian honestly make of the story of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? It is a stolen legend. The Indian chief Red Jacket is reported to have replied to the Christian missionaries:
Brethren, if you white men murdered the son of the Great Spirit, we Indians have nothing to do with it, and it is none of our affair. If he had come among us, we would not have killed him. We would have treated him well. You must make amends for that crime yourselves.
This view of the crucifixion, from the viewpoint of a people regarded as savage, is more sensible and rational than that of Christians, who make it meritorious and a moral necessity. If the act were a moral necessity then Judas as well as Jesus was a saviour, because, without him in the Christian story, the act which saved the world could not have happened. If it was necessary for Christ to suffer death upon the cross as an atonement for sin, then the act of crucifixion was right, and a monument should be erected to the memory of Judas for bringing it about. Only Christian logic can find a flaw in this argument. They say that even though it was God’s fore-ordained plan, Judas could only have played his part because he was wicked! So the Christians finish up believing that the means justify the end, because their own Father would use a wicked man to achieve the salvation of the world. It is hardly any surprise that the Christian world remains so wicked despite being saved.
If the inhabitants of this planet required the murderous death of a god as an atonement, we must presume that all other inhabited worlds need a divine atonement. If there are millions of world inhabited by intelligent beings in the universe then they all need a saviour. Presumably, there is only one Most High and it is He who has to be incarnated in each case. He begins to look a bit like a fetishist getting a kick out of slumming it in the worlds of the mortals. Or rather, it begins to make the whole concept look ludicrous.
The idea of gods coming down from heaven, being born of virgins and dying a violent death for the moral blunders of the people originated in an age of the world when mankind was savage and blood was the requisition for every offence. In those days no one had any idea of other possible worlds besides our own and the realms of the gods themselves. So the idea of the supreme god playing his tricks seemed reasonable. Today it does not, to anyone with a remaining brain cell.
Sixteen Crucified Saviours
Kersey Graves, in a well known book written over a century ago, gives examples of sixteen crucified gods or saviours. Most are very ancient and the evidence he presents arguable, depending upon the interpretation of pictures or sculptures, since no original written sources now exist, often victims of Christians determined to preserve the memory of only one crucified god. Some have already been considered. Others are doubtful. Any evidence of these doubtful cases—or indeed others—particularly pictures would be welcomed.
Kersey Graves cites the god Wittoba of the Telingonesic (500 BC), woshipped apparently in the Travancore and other southern states of India in the region of Madura, who is depicted with nail-holes in his hands and the soles of his feet. Nails, hammers and pincers are constantly seen represented on his crucifixes and are objects of adoration among his followers, just as the iron crown of Lombardy has within it a nail claimed to be of his true original cross, and is much admired and venerated for that reason. The chance of Christian syncretism has to be discounted, but references to Wittoba are impossible to find in accessible books.
He also cites Bali of Orissa 725 BC. In Orissa, in India, they have the story of a crucified God, known by several names, including the above, all of which, we are told, signify “Lord Second,” his being the second person or second member of the trinity. Most of the crucified gods occupied that position in a trinity of gods, the Son, in all cases, being the atoning offering. This God Bali was also called Baliu, and sometimes Bel. Monuments of this crucified God, bearing great age, may be found amid the ruins of the magnificent city of Mahabalipore, partially buried amongst the figures of the temple.
Graves says Indra of Tibet is shown nailed to the cross and that the antiquity of the story is beyond dispute. There are five wounds, representing the nail-holes and the piercing of the side. Marvellous stories are told of the birth of this Divine Redeemer. His mother was a virgin of black complexion, and hence his complexion was of the ebony hue, as in the case of Christ and some other sin-atoning saviours. He descended from heaven on a mission of benevolence, and ascended back to the heavenly mansion after his crucifixion. He led a life of strict celibacy, which, he taught, was essential to true holiness. He inculcated great tenderness toward all living beings. He could walk upon the water or upon the air and he could foretell future events with great accuracy. He practised the most devout contemplation, severe discipline of the body and mind, and completely subdued his passions. He was worshiped as a god who had existed as a spirit from all eternity, and his followers were called Heavenly Teachers.
The Celtic Druids depict their god Esus (Hesus) of Gaul as having been crucified with a lamb on one side and an elephant on the other, and that this occurred long before the Christian era. The elephant, being the largest animal known, was chosen to represent the magnitude of the sins of the world, while the lamb, from its proverbial innocent nature, was chosen to represent the innocence of the victim, the god offered as a propitiatory sacrifice. We have the Lamb of God taking away the sins of the world. The Lamb of God could therefore have been borrowed from the Druids. This legend was found in Gaul long before Jesus Christ was known to history.
Graves claims the historical basis of the crucifixion of the Mexican god Quezalcoatl is explicit, unequivocal, tangible, and ineffaceable, “being indelibly engraven upon metal plates.” One of these plates shows him as having been crucified on a mountain. Another shows him as having been crucified in the heavens, as S Justin tells us Christ was. Sometimes he is shown as having been nailed to a cross, sometimes with two thieves hanging with him, and sometimes as hanging with a cross in his hand. If these are unquestionably pictures of Quezalcoatl, the question has to be asked whether they are Christian syncretisms and therefore later than Cortez.
Today, Quetzalcoatl is said to have departed to the east saying he would one day return, but his manner of doing this seems to have been by throwing himself on to a funeral pyre, being cremated and then resurrected as the planet Venus. The ancient sun gods demanded human sacrifice to start the solar year and often rather than crucifixion, this was burning on a pyre, or in Europe in a wicker basket. Another myth is that he burnt in the heat of the sun. Birds flew out of his ashes which carried his heart up to the sky to become the planet Venus.
Quetzalcoatl again has characteristics of a sun god. The Aztecs seem to have been sun worshippers and Venus is the planet that heralds the sun. A picture that purports to illustrate the legend of Quetzalcoatl rising as Venus, shows a sun figure emerging from a fire with outstretched arms! There seems to be no heart or birds or planet Venus. Elsewhere in Aztec legend, Nanahuatzin self-immolates on a pyre to create the fifth sun. Are these myths being properly distinguished?
Iao of Nepal in 600 BC was crucified on a tree. The name of this incarnate god and oriental saviour occurs frequently in the holy bibles and sacred books of other countries. Some suppose that Iao is the root of the name of the Jewish God, Yehouah (Jehovah), often abbreviated to Yeho. Christian (Nestorian) influence must be discounted for several of these, to our mind, remote gods to be accepted as original. Devatat of Siam, and Apollonius of Tyana in Cappadocia are also reported to have died on the cross.
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