The Christian mystic Instagram page Gnostic Alchemy just published a really interesting overview about sacrificial god folklore in many cultures before Christianity utilized it for its Christ liturgy.
Their brief essay reads:
“Among those connected historically or allegorically with a crucifixion are Prometheus, Adonis, Apollo, Arys, Bacchus, Buddha, Christna, Horus, Indra, Ixion, Mithras, Osiris, Pythagoras, Quetzalcoatl, Semiramis, and Jupiter. All these heroes gave their lives to the service of humanity and, with one or two exceptions, died as martyrs for the cause of human progress.
“The prevalent idea that the reverence for the cross is limited to the Christian world is disproved by even the most superficial investigation of its place in religious symbolism. The early Christians used every means possible to conceal the pagan origin of their symbols, doctrines, and rituals.
“Saviors unnumbered have died for the sins of man and by the hands of man, and through their deaths have interceded in heaven for the souls of their executioners. The martyrdom of the God-Man and the redemption of the world through His blood has been an essential tenet of many great religions.
“Nearly all these stories can be traced to sun worship, for the glorious orb of day is the Savior who dies annually for every creature within his universe, but year after year rises again victorious from the tomb of winter.
“Certain of the pagan Mysteries included in the ceremony of initiation the crucifixion of the candidate upon a cross, or the laying of his body upon a cruciform altar. Apollonius of Tyana was initiated into the Arcanum of Egypt in the Great Pyramid, where he hung upon a cross until unconscious and was then laid in the tomb (the coffer) for three days.
“While unconscious, his soul was thought to pass into the realms of the immortals (the place of death) After it had vanquished death (by recognizing that life is eternal) it returned again to the body, which then rose from the coffer, after which he was hailed as a brother by the priests. This concept was, in substance, the teaching of the Mysteries.
“If this be so, is the crucifixion story literal? Or is there possibly a hidden, deeper meaning that has been part of humanity’s transcendent myths and practices for eons?”
As I’ve lamented in previous articles, great folklore is ruined when you literalize it. The questions aren’t, “Is this story real?” or “Do you believe this actually happened?” The questions are, “Why was this story told?” and “What does this story teach us about our humanity?” Either way — here’s the story of a man many worship as God: He spent his whole life preaching love, forgiveness, and social justice; in his final hours, he begged his followers to put down their swords as he is dragged to his execution and then forgave them as they nailed him to his death. We focus so much on Jesus’s divinity that we forget the profound humanity that he demonstrated in this call for peace among all mankind over his own life’s value. No matter what you believe or why, there’s something to that story. It doesn’t have to be real to matter.
And if the sacrifical god metaphor isn’t one that connects with you personally as a way to journey deeper into the divine mystery, that’s okay too. There are as many paths as there are people, and it is absolutely fine to take an occassion like Easter weekend to celebrate your own journey on your own terms.
Anyway — there’s my #exvangelical contribution to Good Friday. I love you. Remember to be kind to yourself and to each other.
One thought on “Exvangelical Meditation: The Many Faces of Good Friday”
This sentence stood out to me: “Great folklore is ruined when you literalize it.” It made me also think that great folklore ruins people when you actualize it, such as the way evangelicals actualize the bible. Thanks for sending me on a thought journey here.