Christianity, Jesus and the Pagan Connection
Is it possible that Christianity and Paganism have more in common than our Christian authorities are willing to admit? An article by Ellen Lloyd, author of Voices from Legendary Times.
Did Christianity arise from ancient mystery Pagan religions? Did the early Roman Church deliberately adopt a vast number of Pagan rites, festivals, and beliefs?
If this was the case, what motivated the priests to copy specific aspects of Pagan mythology? What is the connection between Jesus and certain Pagan gods? Is it possible that Christianity and Paganism have more in common than our Christian authorities are willing to admit?
A majority of us associate Paganism with idol worship, blood sacrifices, and witchcraft. We were taught to believe that Pagans are primitive people, who in some way worship the devil. So, how can a pure, sacred, and unique religion as Christianity be based on such occult concepts? Surely, this assumption can only be dismissed as absurd. To write off something as "impossible" is an easy and quick process.
Still, before we reject the Christian/Pagan connection, we should first ask ourselves a couple of questions. Could it perhaps be that we have a totally wrong and twisted image of old traditional Paganism? Were the mystery religions maybe more spiritually developed than we realize? What was the true reason for painting followers of the mystery religions in such black colors?
We must keep in mind that the early Church of Rome used all of its political, financial, and social power to conquer Paganism and its followers at any price. Sacred Pagan literature was destroyed and all heretics were "eliminated".
Assisted by the Roman Empire, the Church engaged in a long and terrifying war against the "infidels". It was a battle, which of course the Church at the end won.
Old-fashioned Paganism was extinct and the world was "purified." Nowadays, Paganism is considered a dead religion, and what we encounter in modern times are new branches of the old mystery traditions. Ancient Paganism has turned into Neo-Paganism, which is systematically gaining new members in various countries.
Our current, negative, and dark image of Pagans is the one, which the Church has presented to us for 2,000 years. It is a very long time and we all know that old ideas and beliefs do not die quickly.
Nevertheless, it is utterly wrong to proclaim that Christianity is against Paganism, when Christianity itself originates from it. This might sound as a bold statement and naturally, many readers will demand convincing proof. Still, to provide a person with proof is not a problem, however to change old, deep-rooted beliefs is a task that cannot be easily accomplished.
Actually, Christianity contains so many aspects of Paganism that it is difficult to imagine this religion without the occult features. This brings us to another rather obvious question - if there really are so many parallels between these religions, why are these similarities not common knowledge? The answer is straightforward and simple - because the early Roman Church did all in its power to prevent us from discovering them.
Early Christians were aware of the common ground they shared with followers of the mystery religions. Today, these Christians would be judged as heretics. The ancient beliefs have long been forgotten and the true meaning of the symbols, festivals, and rites was erased from history. Certain Christian symbols and celebrations, like the cross and Christmas for example were, because of their pagan origins later even condemned by the Church Fathers.
The Church's Comment on Christian/Pagan Similarities:
The Devil is Accused of Plagiarism
Before we take a closer look at rituals, symbols, festivals, and Jesus role as savior of humanity, all elements, which unite the Christians and Pagans, it is wise to listen to the voice of the Church. How do priests explain these remarkable similarities between these two religions? The Church fathers attitude towards the Christian/Pagan connection has changed over the years, or perhaps we should say that the explanations have changed, the denial has always been present. The greatest problem for the Church is of course to explain how Pagan myths, which predate Christianity by hundreds and sometimes-even thousands of years have so much in common with the biography of Jesus Christ.
The early Church Fathers such as Justin Martyr (100 - 165 CE), Tertulian (160 - 220 CE), and Irenaus (130 - 202 CE) claimed that the similarities were the result of "diabolical mimicry". They accused the devil of "plagiarism by anticipation". They pointed out that the devil had deliberately copied the true story Jesus Christ in advance. This was the devil's attempt to mislead all the naïve and innocent people.
Some Church Fathers were a bit more open-minded. They suggested that the parallels between Jesus and other dying and rising savior gods before him should be regarded as premonitions or prophecy of Jesus coming.
Modern priests claim there are only minor similarities between Christianity and the mystery religions. Many Christian authorities of today use to point out that mystery religions were based on gods who were not historical persons. Therefore, there is no need for the comparison at all.
Are we really supposed to believe that all Pagan deities worshipped on every single continent were fictional characters, and Jesus Christ was the only person, who lived and died as a savior of humanity? What makes the Jesus myth more reliable than the myth about Osiris, Dionysus, Mithras, Adonis, and others?
Not long ago, I read an article in which a Catholic priest stated that the biggest threat to Christianity was not one of the major religions, like Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. No, the greatest danger towards Christianity was in fact Paganism. This is interesting, is it not? It is quite a contradiction. That is indeed surprising to hear, considering the official declaration that Pagan gods never existed and Christianity has so little in common with the occult traditions. So, why should Christianity be threatened by mystery religions from the past?
Maybe the answer to our question is hidden in the distant past. Maybe an examination of certain similarities can give us more clues to the true origins of Christianity and the reason why the Church have always feared Pagans.
Haloes, Saints and Solar Religion
Abraham and Jesus depicted with halos
Many essential Christian symbols have been derived from the old solar religions. We find worship of the Sun in ancient Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Mexico, Peru, Persia, India, Ireland, and other places.
The halo is best known from appearance in Christian iconography from the 2nd century and onward. The halo, which surrounds the heads of saints, is according to Christian tradition a sign of holiness.
Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, saints, and martyrs were depicted with a halo, but the luminous halo is not a Christian invention. The halo is a Pagan symbol that is identical to the solar discs surrounding gods and goddesses associated with the Sun.
Egyptian deities depicted with sun discs
Egyptian art is filled with halos and finding examples of them is not difficult.
Here we see the most important of Egypt's leonine deities, Sehkmet depicted with a large sphere over her head. Isis, the most important Egyptian goddess and mother of Horus has a similar disc, and so has the Sun God Ra.
The bull deity Apis carries also a sun disc between his horns. The sun disc was used to distinguish the gods from the humans. Why would the ancient Egyptians bother to depict these persons with sun discs above their heads, if they were merely human or fantasy figures? No, the ancient people of Egypt knew their gods were living non-human beings. The ancient Egyptians used the sun disc very early in their history, thousands of years before the Christians adopted the symbol as a halo.
Halos in ancient Greece and Rome
The Greek and the Romans most likely borrowed the symbol from the early Egyptians. Helios, the Greek sun god was often portrayed with a halo surrounding his head, and so was Neptune, the Roman sea god.
There are even many illustrations of halos in Hindu and Buddhist art. Here we see Krishna and Buddha surrounded by halos.
Halos in ancient Asia
The Christian halo is therefore by no means unique. This symbol signifying divine radiance, wisdom, and life-force was used by the Pagans thousands of years before Christ.
The concept of praying to saints in order to receive blessings has also its roots in occult traditions. There is nothing in the Bible, which tells us that we should worship saints, but this practice is widespread throughout all Paganism.
Many former Pagan gods and goddesses became replaced and worshipped as saints by the early Christians. In Christianity, the saints are believed to have control over certain aspects of daily life. If we pray to a saint, we can obtain his or hers blessing for good health, safe journey, luck, and many other things.
The Pagans believed angels and demons governed over specific aspects of a person's existence. In order to invoke an angel or demon, you had to pronounce his or hers name aloud. By doing so, you could make your request to this entity and your wishes would come true.
The act of calling upon supernatural beings and ask for their assistance was performed among Pagans and is practiced among Christians today. Whether the invoked being is an angel, demon, or a saint is irrelevant, because the principle is still the same.
Christmas - a Pagan Holiday
Each year, many people look forward to Christmas. Together with our family, and other people we hold dear we exchange gifts and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Still, the birth of Jesus did not occur on 25 December.
Actually, there is no reason for us to believe that Jesus was born on Christmas Day at all. The date of Jesus birth is unknown. Both the year and month of his birth are unknown. There are no real clues in the Bible to when Jesus was born. The only hint we have, is that we are told shepherds were watching their flocks by night. This means that the date of the Nativity could not have been in December since this was a rainy season in Palestine, and neither shepherds nor flocks could have been out at night in the fields of Bethlehem. Thus, based on the Gospels, it is more likely that Jesus was born in the spring or summer.
We celebrate Jesus birthday on 25 December because Dionysius Exiguus, a Scythian Monk told us to do so. In 530 A.D. Dionysius Exiguus, who at that time was also an abbot and astronomer of Rome was ordered to decide a date for Christ's birth. For year, he assigned the date, which we now adopt and for day and month, he chose deliberately 25 December. Why did he select that particular day and month? The answer is rather simple. The 25th December was reckoned as the day of winter solstice and of the Nativity of the Sun. This date was also recognized throughout the Roman Empire as the birthday of various Pagan gods. On this day, the Egyptians celebrated the birth of Osiris, god of the dead and underworld and of Horus, the sky god. The Phrygians and later the Greeks paid tributes to Adonis, their dying and rising god. For the Persians this was the birthday of Mithras. Apollo and Hercules were honored on this day. The Roman god Bacchus, known as Dionysus among the Greeks was also believed to have been born 25 December.
It is understandable that the Roman Church decided that Christians should celebrate the birth of Christ on 25 December. The dates of main religious Pagan festivals were so popular that Christianity was obliged to accommodate itself to them.
However, it took a long while to unite Christians and convince them to celebrate the Nativity of Jesus on this particular day. Many early Christians celebrated the birthday of their savior on 6 January. Armenian Christians still do. The Church of Jerusalem began to celebrate Christmas in the 7th century, Ireland in the 5th century, England in the 8th century and Slavic lands in the 9th and 10th century.
Many of the symbols and practices we associate with Christmas are of pure Pagan origin. The decorated evergreen tree, the giving of gifts, the holly, the yule log, the mistletoe, the ivy and so on were all elements adopted from the ancient Pagan traditions. In fact, some Christian authorities even considered the Christmas so Pagan in origin that people were encouraged to abandon the Nativity celebrations on this day. For example, during the 17th century, the Puritans in Massachusetts tried to ban Christmas completely, but they were unsuccessful. Still, there are Christians today like the Jehovah's Witnesses who do not celebrate Christmas.
Christmas is of course not alone in having its roots in Pagan traditions. Other festivals like John the Baptist in June took place of the Pagan midsummer festival of water and bathing, All Souls Day that takes place early in November was based on the famous Pagan festival of the dead and their ghost at the same season, and the list goes on…
The Cross and Crucifixion
"Hu, of light died on the cross at the equinox, descending to the southern hemisphere, and was re-born at Christmas, when rising toward the northern summer lands."
Myfyr, the late Welsh Archdruid
In Christianity, the cross is considered a sacred symbol and for believers it is a representation of the Christian faith. There are many different designs of a cross. The Anglican Church recognizes as authentic at least fifty variants of the Christian cross. Yet, again the cross was used by the Pagans millennia before the appearance of Jesus. We can find several types of crosses in many ancient cultures.
The Egyptian gods are often shown with the Ankh cross, which was a symbol of life and immortality.
The Ankh was later adopted by the Coptic Church as its unique form of the Christian cross.
The Celtic cross pre-dates Christianity. The cross was used in Ireland long before St. Patrick reached the country. The crosses of the Tuatha de Danaan are often associated with snakes. The Druidical temple of New Grange is in the form of a Latin cross. In China, the cross was a symbol of the earth. Sometimes it was used as a depiction of power and strength. The Chinese Emperor Fu-Hi, 2953 B.C. is depicted with a cross. For Assyrians the cross was a representation of their sky god Anu.
When the Spaniards landed in Mexico in 1519, they were surprised to find crosses in the natives' temples. It was the Toltecs' symbol of their gods Tlaloc and Quetzalcoatl. In the Osirian temple at Alexandria the astonished, Christians encountered a huge cross on the marble pavement.
The Greek sun God Apollo used to carry a cross on his tunica. The solar cross was used in Asian, American, European, and Indian art from the dawn of history. There are numerous carvings of this cross all over the world. The Greek cross with four arms of equal length was a common symbol in the Near East, Sumer, and ancient Greece. The swastika is of pre-hindu origin. It was used as a symbol of the sun. The arms represented also the four directions, north, south, west, and east. In Scandinavia, the Tau cross symbolized the hammer of the god Thor. There are many other examples of the ancients' use of the cross.
So, as we can see followers of the mystery religions were very familiar with the best-known Christian symbol, the cross. Early Church Fathers even condemned the use of the cross due to its Pagan origins. The first appearance of a cross in Christian art is on a Vatican sarcophagus from the mid 5th century. It was a Greek cross with equal length arms.
It is very difficult to trace the origins of the cross. Some scholars believe the cross might have its roots in the practice of the solar religions. In many cultures, the cross became a symbol of the sun as a dying and resurrected god. From an astronomical and religious point of view, the sun was hung on a cross, in other words crucified when it passed through the equinoxes. The dark winter sun was believed to be the crucified one. It is resurrected as the bright summer sun that ascends into heaven. The crucifixion must have been especially important for the people living in northern climates. The Scandinavians had a crucifixion ceremony of the sun on the shortest day.
In ancient times, the cross was used as tool for torture and punishment. There have been many debates concerning the original shape of the crucifixion device. It is believed that people were sometimes executed on a Tau cross, from time to time on a Roman cross, and sometimes on a stake.
Obviously, St. Augustine must have believed that the Christian savior died on a Tau cross.
The current Christian cross is an invention of St. Augustine, who changed the original shape of the Tau cross into the Latin cross. Apparently, he did not want Jesus to be identified with the same type of cross that was used to crucify criminals and prisoners.
However, it is uncertain whether Jesus was crucified on a Tau cross or a stake. What we do know on the other hand is that Jesus was not the only Son of god who died for humanity, descended into hell, and rose from the dead.
Jesus and other Crucified Saviors
Currently everyone seems to be focusing on the Da Vinci Code. Now it is suddenly believed that Jesus never died on the cross. Instead, he escaped with his wife Mary to Europe. In Rosslyn Chapel, in Scotland the Holy Grail is supposed to be hidden. Mary Magdalene, who was also the mother of his child, was apparently a former prostitute, or maybe not, this allegation seems to be an uncertainty. Well, it is indeed a remarkable story, and of course, anything is possible.
Still, let us examine the story of Jesus life from a different angle. What if Jesus never lived during the period he was supposed to be crucified, but rather much earlier? Is it possible to trace the life and death of Jesus hundreds or perhaps even thousands of years back in time? What if the story of Jesus was based on a Pagan myth describing another resurrected savior of the world? Afterall, all Pagan myths pre-date the birth of Jesus by centuries.
What did the specific Pagan gods, who were regarded as human saviors, have in common with Jesus Christ? Let me present a very short overview from list that sometimes seems never ending.
were born out of a Virgin Mother.
were born in a cave or some underground chamber.
toiled for the sake of humanity.
were referred to as savior, healer, mediator, deliverer, light-bringer.
were conquered by the dark forces.
descended into hell or the underworld.
rose from the dead and became the guides of humanity leading the way to the heavenly world.
founded communions consisting of saints and churches into which followers were received by baptism.
All of the Pagan gods:
Osiris, the Egyptian god was born out of a virgin in a cave or cowshed. His birth was prophesied by a star. During marriage ceremonies, he could perform miracles turning water into wine. His followers were baptized. He was described like a quiet man with long hair and a beard, precisely like Jesus. He had twelve disciples and was unjustly accused of heresy. He was hung on a tree or crucified, and he died for the sins of the world. After death, he descended into hell and resurrected on the third day. He appeared to his disciples and thereafter ascended into heaven. Osiris died and resurrected on the same dates as Jesus. During the end-times, Osiris shall return to earth and judge the human race.
The pyramid texts, which describe the life, death, and resurrection of Osiris were written before 2,500 B.C.
Mithra, the Persian god, whose birthday is on 25 December, was also born in a cave out of virgin. He traveled a lot and acted as a teacher of mankind. Naturally, he too had twelve disciplines. Mihra was called the savior and sometimes he figured as a lamb. He was buried in a tomb from which he rose again. His resurrection was celebrated each year.
Krishna, the Indian god was born in a cave. His mother was a virgin and a star announced his birth. A massacre of infants took place because Krishna as baby was ordered to be killed. He performed miracles wherever he went. He could heal sick people, deaf and blind and raise the dead. He taught spirituality and devoted his time to the poor and oppressed. According to some ancient texts, Krishna was killed by an arrow, other sources tell he was crucified. He descended into hell and rose again from the dead, ascending into heaven in the sight of the people. Krishna is believed to come during the final days and judge.
Krishna lived and died at least 14 centuries before Jesus Christ.
This is only small fraction of all the Pagan gods who lived and died a similar life to Jesus. As we can see, the resemblances between the Pagan deities and Jesus are numerous. The question is - was the story of Jesus derived from myths about other gods or did the real Jesus exist in a different time and place?
Whether we believe that Jesus was the only true son of god, or an extraterrestrial being, or a pure myth, or figure based on the history of another god, or a married man with a child, the recent debate regarding the origins of Christianity is in many ways a positive sign. It can help us to find the "true source" of Christianity - because one thing is certain - Christianity needs to be re-examined.
This article is written in the memory of the creators, teachers and saviors of mankind, the alien gods, the forgotten ones...
Copyright © 2006 Ellen Lloyd. Visit Ellen Lloyd's website at www.ufoarea.com.