Many ancient cultures focus on the physical and spiritual transitions of life. Some cultures created stories and legends as a way of reinforcing the lessons of these significant benchmarks. See how they affect your life.
Symbols of Rebirth and Transformation
Stories are a great way to communicate complex information. A good story will have a memorable progression of events. To make a good story unique, it will often use common themes and archetypes. These elements are things that have clearly defined attributes.
The symbols of rebirth vary from culture to culture, but they all have similar meanings. A common theme in many cultures is one Joseph Campbell calls the Hero’s Journey (1). It’s the typology of the spiritual quest.
Stories of rebirth and renewal are the central focus of the journey. The story has a hero who undertakes the quest. It’s a story about spiritual transitioning in life from the ordinary to the extraordinary.
On this journey, these seekers of enlightenment encounter roadblocks, which often include an adversary. The hero also has a core group of helpers or followers. These characters are also crucial in the evolution of the hero. The hero overcomes the adversary and returns triumphantly from the quest to teach others.
The quest follows a pattern of awakening. It’s the part of the story where the main character hears the call of the journey, embarking on the adventure. The seekers go through stages of transition involving a spiritual battle, death, and rebirth. Finally, they return to inspire and guide others. It’s a process that showcases the spiritual transitioning in life.
Stories of Rebirth and Renewal
The most popular stories are our most prominent religions, the legacy of the Abrahamic line, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Let’s start with a look at the “dying-god” sects and those closely related common elements. (2)
When we talk about dying gods, we are referring to those avatars who were killed but resurrected. One of the most common methods of mythology for this health is crucifixion. Not sure if it’s the sheer brutality of suffering or the spectacle of watching someone die in such a horrible manner. Nevertheless, it was trendy in the Mediterranean region before the common era.
One of the most interesting early compilations of this phenomenon was the investigator and writer Kersey Graves. His work, The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors: Christianity before Christ a History of Sixteen Heathen Crucified Gods (3), is still compelling. The evidence he provides correlates over 40 similarities between earlier so-called pagan gods and Christianity, everything from betrayal by one of his twelve disciples to a virgin birth. We’ll cover a few here.
“The Christian cross comes from Egypt and India; the triple miter from the Mithraic faith; the shepherd’s crook from the Hermetic Mysteries and Greece; the immaculate conception from India; the transfiguration from Persia; and the trinity from the Brahmans. The Virgin Mary, as the mother of God, is found in a dozen different faiths. There are over twenty crucified world saviors. The church steeple is an adaptation of Egyptian obelisks and pyramids, while the Christian devil is the Egyptian Typhon with certain modifications” ― Occult Anatomy of Man; Occult Masonry, Manly P. Hall
Jesus of Modern Christianity
Jesus of Nazareth is the most popular avatar, dying-god in modern times. The story takes place in Palestine 1 CE. Constantine (312-337) established the new Universal Religion during his reign. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, is the first to coin the term “Catholic Church,” meaning universal and orthodox to all local congregations. (4)
- Born of a virgin on the Winter solstice December 25
- Titles, “Star in the East,” “King of Kings,” “The Alpha and Omega”
- Had 12 disciples
- Performed miracles including healing, raising from the dead and turning water into wine.
- Crucified and rose from the dead three days later to ascend to heaven
- Created the first mass zombie raising event
Many scholars point out that the story of Jesus is a solar allegory. Born of a virgin mother at the winter solstice and “crucified” between two thieves at the vernal equinox. The “crucifixion” is symbolic, a representation of the sun’s path through the zodiac. The “plane of the ecliptic” crossing or “passing over” Passover”) the equator at the vernal equinox. It is common to represent this path crossing as a 90 deg cross on old star charts. The star chart provides evidence of where the cross in a circle motif originates.
The story of Christianity starts as the Universal Religion of Catholicism. It is a collaborative version of the dying-god model, mainly from Asia and the Mediterranean regions. The stories of rebirth and renewal come together in the rebranding of many traditions. We will outline some of the most prominent stories of these “mystery religions.”
There are over twenty dying-god religions that Roman collaboration rebranded into a central archetype. How did they do it? They had the world’s most powerful army, which conquered the Mediterranean region. (4)(5)
There are many similarities between Jesus and the other dying-gods, born to a virgin on December 25. The Roman army transitioned these existing religions under the umbrella of the new universal religion based in Rome.
The rebranding of the dying-god temples gave Rome the immediate and long-term cash flow needed to build the Vatican city-state. It continued to expand around the world, making it the wealthiest single entity.
“Symbolism in a greater or lesser degree is essential to every kind of external worship, and we need not shrink from the conclusion that in the matter of baptisms and washings, of genuflection’s and other acts of reverence, of lights and sweet-smelling incense, of flowers and white vestitures, of spiritual unction’s and the imposing of hands, of sacrifice and the rite of the Communion banquet, the Church has borrowed without hesitation from the common stock of significant actions known to all periods and all nations. In such matters as these, Christianity claims no monopoly or originality.” ― The Catholic Encyclopedia and International Work, Vol. 13 (1907)
The story is of the hero, Jesus, who is the spawn of God, not man. He is raised in Jewish culture and becomes an educated scholar of the tradition, which he rejects. As a rebel, he undergoes a spiritual awakening in the wilderness and then embarks on his quest to confront the religious leaders. He is the victim of betrayal by one of his followers and subsequently tortured to death but then resurrects and ascends to heaven. Because, after all, he was not a man but an avatar. So, his life was a showcase for the symbols of rebirth and transformation.
The authority of Christianity comes from texts voted into the cannon of divinely inspired writings of those who knew Jesus. These writings are often contradictory and stretch the bounds of logic. Our favorite parts of the new testament are the places where Jesus is talking to himself inside his head, and there’s no one around who could have possibly recorded these conversations.
Before we look at the other stories, it’s worth noting that many of the sources of the information that existed in the 17th century, particularly those temples and statues that were not protected, have been defaced and destroyed.
Egypt, approximately 3000 to 4000 BCE. In Egyptian mythology, known as the sun god. He is the Son of Isis and Omiris. Adopted by the Greeks as the God of silence and also called Harpocrates. (bullfinch) Notable characteristics of his legend:
- Born on December 25 or Winter Solstice
- Born of a virgin mother
- Symbol a Start in the East
- Adorned by 3 Kings
- At 12 years, ole became a learned spiritual teacher
- Baptized into ministry at 30 years old
- Had 12 disciples
But there are more similarities in the texts between the Horus and the composite known today as Jesus. (6)
- Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” Horus says, is the father seen in the Son? And, Jesus claims to be the Son in whom the father is revealed.
- Horus is the light of the world; he is the light of the all-seeing eye, the revealing light of divinity. Peacock feathers were his symbol, which you see today in Christianity as a symbol of resurrection. Of course, Jesus declared he was the light of the world.
- Horus was baptized in a stream by Anup at the age of 30. Jesus was baptized with water by John the Baptist when he was 30 years old. Anup is the name of the divine scribe; the name John means scribe.
- Horus was born in Annu, the place of bread. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which means the house of bread.
- We see Horus with a shepherd’s crook on his shoulder, known as the good shepherd. Sound familiar? Jesus is also called the good shepherd, often shown carrying a lamb.
- Horus has seven onboard the boat, and Jesus’s story also has seven who board a vessel. Later in the story, they both had twelve trusted disciples.
- Horus is known as the Lamb and Lion, as is Jesus.
- Horus uses the symbol a Tat or Cross. The followers of Jesus use the same logo to identify with his crucifixion.
Could all of these similarities be just a coincidence?
The defacing of statues in India and Egypt is the basis for the denial of the connection. Indeed, the story of Jesus was not original. Some Christian authorities claim all the pagan stories are true. However, they are the preconceived forgeries of the devil who foresaw the birth of Christ duplicated the events ahead of time. But, the problem with preconceived fakes is that it ascribes omniscience to the devil, a trait supposedly reserved for the one true God.
Some anthropologists like Godfred Higgins traveled to India in the early 1800s. He describes temples where Horus had his arms outstretched on a cross. Some statues even have holes in wrists and feet. However, the only connection here is in Celtic relics, which depict their God Heus or Esus as crucified. On this, Christian apologists show there is no connection to Horus. So, then what about Hesus?
The Celts didn’t keep written records. The oral tradition was still the way of transmitting information from generation to generation. So, the artifacts of their lineage, including the cross of Hesus, date to before 50 BCE. Heus or Esus of Lactantius and Lucan describe him as God of the Gauls. Canon MacClouch regards as an old-culture God. He is depicted as a woodsman but also as an Ox or Bull.
Heus is a name from an older language than the Gaelic of the Celts. The name comes from Hu. Hu or Huwa (Arabic: هُوَ meaning “He”) is a name for God in Sufism, and it is Hebrew and Arabic term for the English third person. Sufism uses this term to avoid attributing a grammatical gender to Allah. In Sufism, Hu or Huwa is the pronoun for Allah or God. It is also the way one refers to the generic term of God. The meaning of Hu is simply “deity,” a word you can use for any God. Husus or Hesus is a God adopted by the culture, as was Osiris, with the Egyptians. (5)
- Legend has Hesus was sacrificed like a bull or ox but rose again three days later.
- He is pictured crucified on a cross with hands and feet pierced by the nails.
Persia and Rome approximately 1200 to 1 BCE. The Roman army assimilated the blood-letting ceremonies of Mithraism as a form of initiation, a doorway to spiritual transitioning in life to an invincible male warrior. (7) He is linked to the Vedic God Mitra and is part of the trinity of Persian mystery religion with Ahura Mazda and Ahura Berezaiti. These traditions go back further than 5000 years.
Mithraism is often associated with the Roman Mystery Cult of “The God Mithras,” which flourished 100-400 CE when Constantine created Christianity (280– 337 CE). Mithraism was part of the rebranding of the mystery religions. The blood-letting of animals became symbolic in the Communion Ceremony of Catholicism.
We know there were seven levels of initiation but not precisely what each contained. The Church should have this information in its archives, but it is silent on the matter. The use of the blood of bulls was the culminating ritual.
What we do know is that Mithriams were built underground with a two-tiered platform. They slit the throat of an animal on the top so the warriors could walk below through the blood. Some say they drank the blood and ate the body of the animal, preferably a bull. Partaking would absolve them from the acts they would perpetrate as Roman soldiers. Hence the reference later to the Christ offering his blood and body as a sacrifice. (3)(4)
The Roman empire built many Churches over the sites where Mithriams once existed. And, this is where the tradition of catacombs began. There is speculation that the secret rites, the original symbols of rebirth and transformation are still in use by the Church elite.
Mithra’s name is on inscriptions dating to the Achaemenid Empire (c. 550-330 BCE), during the reign of Artaxerxes II (404-358 BCE). This God is prominent during the Sassanian Empire (224-651 CE). After the Sassanianfell to the invading Muslim Arabs in 651 CE. (5)(8)
The main characteristics of Mithras life:
- Born on December 25 or Winter Solstice
- Born of a virgin mother
- Had 12 disciples
- Performed miracles, healing, turning water to wine, raising the dead
- Resurrected and Rose from the dead after three days
Greek Avatar approximately 500 to 1 BCE. In Roman mythology Bacchus god of wine, the Son of Jupiter, and Semele for the Greeks. (2) Bacchus entered Thebes in a chariot drawn by elephants and married Ariadne after Theseus deserted her. (9) The legend of Dionysus is older than that of Apollo. (2)(6)
- Born of a virgin on the Winter Solstice
- Turned water to wine
- Performed miracles of healing and prosperity
- Known by Titles, “King of Kings,” “The Alpha and Omega”
- Resurrected and ascended to heaven
Greece from 1500 to about 50 BCE. The direct forerunner of Dionysus, from Adonis, Symrna the myth related to Tammuz. Tammuz is one of high antiquity dating from 4000 BCE or possibly earlier. (10) Both Tammuz and Ishtar were non-Semitic, the name derived from Akkadian Dumuzi, meaning the Son of light, the only Son, the bright and morning star. (2)
- Yes, also born of a virgin on December 25, the Winter solstice
- Crucified on a cross but resurrected from the grave after three days
He lived in India approximately 1200 BCE. Unlike the other dying-gods, Krishna met his demise in a hunting accident. Some traditions say he was mistaken for a deer and shot with an arrow. Some versions of the story say the arrow nailed him to a tree, but this is not common.
- Born of a virgin
- Title, the Star in the East
- Performed miracles of healing
Islam is the youngest of the major world religions. It recognizes the authority of the writings of the dying-god Jesus and the Septuagint version of Hebrew Tanak. Islam was created around the 7th century and comes from the reports of those who supposedly knew Muhammad. He was not an avatar and didn’t do any of the miracles of the dying-god predecessors. The things he said did things are recorded in two documents, the Quran and Hadith, around 1000 CE. That’s about 400 years after Muhammad died.
According to tradition, Muhammad began receiving be divine revelations, calling for submission to the one true God. His message gained a group of followers and like similar to the previous story of Jesus, was met with increasing opposition from religious Meccan leaders. But, unlike the other dying-gods of the region, he was not tortured to death.
Judaism is a religion based on the tribal ethnicity of ancient Israelites. It began in Babylon approximately 4000 BCE. (11) It began compiling writings which became the Torah. The core of these writings comes from earlier Babylon, Assyria, and Persia mystery religions.
The symbols of rebirth and transformation center upon daily compliance with various practices outlined not only in the Torah but also includes other works such as the Talmud, Zohar Siddur, and Tanya.
For example, once scholars were able to decipher the old Babylonian dialect of Akkadian, they revealed many things, including the link to the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi. Hammurabi was the ruler of Babylon from 1792 to 1750 BCE. He is famous for documenting 282 laws of the Babylonian culture, inscribed on a stela in Babylon’s temple of Marduk. Many of these statutes are in the Book of Exodus. The stele was originally at Susa in present-day Iran. The stele now resides in the Louvre Museum.
With our ability to read cucumiform, we could unveil many of the ancient Mesopotamian languages revealing the stories of Job and many others contained in the writings of the Torah.
Spiritual Transitioning in Life
All of the Avatars and Sages are extraordinary examples of spiritual growth. There are some common lessons we can use in our spiritual walks.
1) Create a Unique Path
First and foremost, do it on your own. Do not become a follower and join a religion. All the enlightened beings’ stories tell us they did it in the wilderness, away from doctrines and dogma of any organized faith.
2) Spiritual Trajectory — Growth or Disintegration
Spiritual transitioning in life can lead either downward or upward. The movement from one state of awareness is on a continuum. You can become more aware or more asleep.
3) Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Path
Whether you believe the New Testament story or not, the tale of Jesus demonstrates how someone can spend a significant amount of time studying stuff that has no spiritual content and leads nowhere. Even Jesus spent years studying only to change paths. The same with Mohammad and Buddha. All of these stories of rebirth and renewal take place after realizing organized religion is a dead end.
Are you interested in spiritual exploration? Check out the blended learning process at the core of our teaching process. We offer this curriculum through our individually tailored virtual learning academy and our traditional face-to-face sessions. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey ( ). Our learning options include both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions.
(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia
(2) Bulfinch’s Mythology, Illustrated Edition Including the complete texts of the Age of Fable, 1978 by Thomas Bulfinch (1796-1867)
(3) The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors, or Christianity before Christ, Kersey Graves 1881.
(4) Church History in Plain Language, Bruce L. Shelley, 1982
(5) Anacalypsis, an Attempt to Draw Aside the Veil of the Saitic Isis; Or, an Inquiry Into the Origin of Languages, Nations, and Religions; Volume 1 and 2 by Godfrey Higgins published in 1836 after his death.
(6) The book Your Church Doesn’t Want You To Read, Tim C. Leedom, 1993.
(7) Roman Society from Nero to Marcus Aurelius by Samuel Dill, 1905
(8) The Mysteries of Mithra, by Franz Cumont, 1903
(9) Dionysus, Myth, and Cult by Otto Walter Fredrich, 1874-1958 republished 1965.
(10) The Mysteries of Britain or the Secret Rites and Traditions of Ancient Britain Restored by Lewis Spence, 1918 reprint 1995
(11) Myths and Legends, Babylonia and Assyria, Lewis Spencer, 1916 reprint 1995.