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The God-Idea of the Ancients or Sex in Religion by Eliza Burt Gamble

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formation of the world."[96]

[96] Ibid. p. 16.

The oldest or Elohistic portion of Genesis is, at the present
time, seen to conceal great wisdom and a knowledge of Nature far
surpassing that of later times.

According to Higgins, the first verse of the first chapter of
Genesis, if properly translated, would not declare that in the
beginning God created the heavens and the earth, but that Wisdom
"formed" the earth and the planets. In none of the ancient
Kosmogonies can there be a word found regarding the creation of
matter. From the facts which have come down to us respecting the
speculations of the ancients, it is plain that the original
conception was, that within the primeval beginnings described in
their Kosmogonies, in chaos or unorganized matter, was contained
primeval force; no attempt, however, was made by them to account
for the creation of either motion or matter.

As soon as human beings began to speculate on the attributes of
their Deity; when the two principles composing it began to
separate, and the idea was gaining ground that the male was the
only important factor in reproduction, the sun became male, the
earth and sea female. Still, even then the doctrine seems not to
have been questioned, that the creative agency had proceeded from
matter, or that it was developed in and through it. The belief
that something can be made from nothing was reserved for a later

In the oldest Semitic Kosmogonies, we are assured that the
self-conscious God who is manifested in the order of the
universe, proceeded out of the great abyss, and out of
unorganized, dark, primeval matter. During the earlier historic
period, however, by both Jew and Gentile, the belief was
entertained that spirit is material. It is the essence of
fire--a substance akin to the galvanic or electric fluid. This
masculine element, the manifestation of which is desire, or heat,
and which was finally set up as an eternal, self-existent,
creative force, or God, was originally regarded as a
manifestation of matter, and as having no independent existence.
In an earlier age, this so-called creative agency is associated
with a force far superior to itself, namely, Light or Wisdom.
Minerva, who is the first emanation from the Deity, "formed" all
things. She it is who discriminates all things and gives laws to
the universe. "She represented to the Greeks that spiritual
element which lifts knowledge into wisdom, and talent into
genius."[97] But with the importance which began to be assumed by
man when he began to regard himself as a creator, and when
through ignorance and sensuality the principles of a more
enlightened race were forgotten, desire, or heat, was separated
from matter and came to be regarded as an independent entity,
which itself had created matter out of nothing. Thus is noticed
the extent to which the god-idea has been developed in
accordance with the relative positions of the sexes.

[97] L. T. Ives, Art Words.

According to the Grecian mythology, much of which was a
comparatively late development, mortal woman was the handiwork of
Vulcan the Firegod, who, being commissioned by Jove to execute "a
snare for gods and man," moulded the beauteous form of woman.
This is a worthy example of the contempt and scorn shown by the
Greeks for women during the later period of their career as a
nation. That such contempt was a later development is shown in
the fact that woman was originally the gift of Pallas Athene, or
Wisdom. When she first appeared on the scene she was crowned by
the gods, in fact she was the first object honored with a crown.
Concerning the conceptions regarding women as held at an earlier
age, and those which came to prevail after she had become "the
cause of evil in the world," we have the following from

"If there was a Pandora, whom Hesiod mentions as the first woman,
hers was the first head the Graces crowned, for she received
gifts from all the gods, whence she got her name Pandora. But
Moses, a prophet, not a poet-shepherd, shows us the first woman
Eve having her loins more naturally girt about with leaves than
her temples with flowers. Pandora then is a myth."[98]

[98] Tertullian, vol. i., p. 341.

Woman, who was originally the gift of Wisdom, or Minerva, and who
when created was garlanded with flowers as the crown of creation,
became, in course of time, an accursed and wicked thing who must
henceforth cover herself with leaves to hide her shame.
Tertullian, who, with the rest of the early fathers in the
Christian church, had imbibed the latter doctrine concerning her,
could not believe the tradition set forth by Hesiod; therefore
Pandora was a myth, while the corrupted fable, that of Eve as the
tempter, was accepted as a natural representation of womanhood.

When woman was created, "all the gods conferred a gifted grace."

"Round her fair brow the lovely-tressed Hours
A garland twined of Spring's purpureal flowers:
The whole attire Minerva's graceful art
Disposed, adjusted, form'd to every part."[99]

[99] Hesiod, Works and Days.

Later, however, Pandora herself becomes the pourer forth of ills
on the head of defenceless man.



"Know, first a spirit with an active flame
Fills, feeds, and animates the mighty frame;
Runs through the watery worlds and fields of air,
The ponderous Earth and depths of Heav'n and there
Burns in the Sun and Moon, and every brilliant Star
Thus mingling in the mass, the general soul
Lives in its parts and agitates the whole."

Although earth, air, water, and the sun were long venerated as
objects of worship, as containing the life principle, in process
of time it is observed that fire attracted the highest regard of
human beings, and on their altars the sacred flame, said to have
been kindled from heaven, was kept burning uninterruptedly from
year to year, and from age to age, by bends of priests "whose
special duty it was to see that the sacred flame was never
extinguished." The office of the vestal virgins in Rome was to
preserve the holy fire. The Egyptians, and in fact all the
earlier civilized nations, knew that force proceeds from the sun,
hence the frequent appearance of this orb among their symbols of
life. Indeed there is not a country on the globe in which, at
some time, divine honors have not been paid to fire and to light.

The Hindoos, "believing fire to be the essence of all active
power in Nature, kept perpetual lamps burning in the innermost
recesses of their pagodas and temples, and in the sacred edifices
of the Greeks and Barbarians fires were preserved for the same

The festival of lamps, which was once universal throughout Egypt,
still prevails in China. On the evening of the fifteenth day of
the first month in the year, every person is compelled to place
before his door a lantern or light, such lights differing in size
and expense according to the degree of wealth or poverty of those
to whom they belong. Light was the symbol of Muth (Perceptive
Wisdom). Among the Persians, the Egyptians, the Mexicans, the
Jews, the Etruscans, the Greeks, and the Romans, fire was
venerated as the essence of the Deity; and, at the present time,
in Thibet, in China, in Japan, and in portions of Africa, it
still forms an important part of worship. The Hebrew writings
show conclusively that not only the Jews but all the surrounding
nations were fire-worshippers, and that their sacrifices were not
infrequently to the God of Fire. Of this Forlong says:

"When Rome was rearing temples to the fame and worship of Fire,
we find the prophets of Israel occasionally denouncing the
wickedness of its worship by their own and the nations around
them; nevertheless, even to Christ's time Molok always had his
offerings of children."[100]

[100] Rivers of Life and Faiths of Man in an Lands, vol. i., p.

It is believed that Abraham introduced fire-worship among the
Jews from Ur in Mesopotamia, a land in which lights are still
venerated, and fire altars are worshipped as containing the

The real essence of fire which was identical with the
life-principle was holy. The "Lord" of the Israelites was in the
fire which descended on Mt. Sinai, Exodus xix., 18. "The bush
burned with fire and the bush was not consumed," Exodus iii., 2.
Whether the signification of "bush" is the same as "grove," I
know not, but Josephus assures us that the bush was holy before
the flame appeared in it. Because of its sacred character, it
became the receptacle for the burning "Lord" of the Jews. The
ark, the religious emblem which Moses bore aloft, was simply a
fire altar on which the fire must continually burn. The fact
will doubtless be observed that although the ark and the bush
(female emblems) were invested with a certain degree of sanctity,
they were nevertheless only receptacles for the substance within

At the same time that the Jews kept sacred or holy fires
continually burning on their altars, they carried about a serpent
on a pole representing it to be the "healer of nations." They
also kept a phallic emblem in a box, chest, or ark which they
worshipped as the "God of Hosts," the "Life Giver," etc. It has
been observed that although the Jews frequently lost their ark,
they were never without their serpent-pole. At a certain stage
in the religious development of mankind all the temples in Africa
and Western Asia were dedicated to Vulcan the fire god or the
"Lord of Fire," to whom all furnaces were sacred. The principal
festivals in honor of this Deity took place in the spring, at the
Easter season, and on the 23d of August, when it is said that the
licentiousness practiced in the temples compared with those of
the "Harvest Homes" of Europe when the sun was in Libra and the
harvest had been garnered in. Vulcan was the "God of
fornication" or of passion.

These excesses, which remained unchecked down to the fourth
century before Christ, are said to have somewhat abated after the
rise of the Stoic philosophy.

Various philosophers of early historic times as well as many of
the early fathers in the Christian church believed that God was a
corporeal substance which in some way is manifested through fire.

In Egypt, during the early ages of Christianity, "a great dispute
took place among the monks on the question, whether God is
corporeal." Tertullian declared that "God is fire"; Origen, that
"he is a subtle fire"; and various others that "he is body."

There is little doubt that in early historic ages the Persians,
who had undertaken to purify their religion, were the strongest
and purest sect of this cult; they were in fact the genuine
worshippers of the pure creative principles which they believed
resided in fire.

We have observed that force or spirit was originally regarded as
a part of Nature, or in other words that it was a manifestation
of, or an outflowing from matter, but so soon as it began to be
considered as something apart from Nature, there at once arose a
desire for some corporeal object to represent this unseen and
occult principle.

During many of the ages of fire-worship, holy fire, although a
material substance, seems to have been too subtle to clearly
represent the god-idea, hence everywhere the worship of the
serpent is found to be interwoven with it. In fact, so closely
are serpent, fire, pillar, and other phallic faiths intermingled
that it is impossible to separate them.

The Persians are by some writers said to have been the earliest
fire-worshippers: by others the truth of this statement is
denied, while many claim, and indeed the Maji themselves
declared, that they never worshipped fire at all in any other
manner than as an emblem of the divine principle which they
believed resided within it. It is probable, however, from the
evidence at hand, that they, like all the other nations of the
globe, prior to the reformation led by Zarathustra and his
daughter, had lost or nearly forgotten the profound ideas
connected with the worship of Nature.

Passion, symbolized by fire, is declared by various writers to
have been the first idol, but later research has proved the
falsity of this assumption. It is true that at an early age of
human experience the creative processes were worshipped, but such
worship involved scientific and, I might say, spiritualized
conceptions of the operations of Nature which in time were
altogether lost sight of. Gross phallicism is clearly the result
of degeneration, and of a lapse into sensuality and superstition.

I think no one can study the facts connected with fire and light
as the Deity in the various countries in which this worship
prevailed, without perceiving the change it gradually underwent
during later ages, and the grossness of the ideas which became
connected with it as compared with an earlier age when mankind
"had no temples, but worshipped in the open air, on the tops of

In another portion of this work we have observed that in the
rites connected with the worship of Cybele (Light or Wisdom),
although phallic symbols were in use, the ceremonies were
absolutely pure, and that throughout all the earlier ages her
worship remained free from the abominations which characterized
the worship of later times.

At what time in the history of the human race the organs of
generation first began to appear as emblems of the Deity is not
known. Within the earliest cave temples, those hewn from the
solid rock, sculptured representations of these objects are still
to be observed. Although until a comparatively recent period
their true significance has been unknown, there is little doubt
at the present time that they were originally used as symbols of
fertility, or as emblems typifying the processes of Nature, and
that at some remote period of the world's history they were
worshipped as the Creator, or, at least, as representations of
the creative agencies in the universe.

Concerning the origin and character of the people who executed
them there is scarcely a trace in written history. Through the
unravelling of extinct tongues, however, the monumental records
of the ancient nations of the globe have been deciphered, and the
system of religious symbolism in use among them is now

A small volume by various writers, printed in London some years
ago, entitled A Comparative View of the Ancient Monuments of
India, says:

"Those who have penetrated into the abstruseness of Indian
mythology, find that in these temples was practiced a worship
similar to that practiced by all the several nations of the
world, in their earliest as well as their most enlightened
periods. It was paid to the Phallus by the Asiatics, to Priapus
by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, to Baal-Peor by the
Canaanites and idolatrous Jews. The figure is seen on the fascia
which runs round the circus of Nismes, and over the portal of the
Cathedral of Toulouse, and several churches of Bordeaux."

Of the Lingham and Yoni and their universal acceptance as
religious emblems, Barlow remarks that it was a "worship which
would appear to have made the tour of the globe and to have left
traces of its existence where we might least expect to find it."
In referring to the "sculptured indecencies" connected with
religious rites, which, being wrought in imperishable stone, have
been preserved in India and other parts of the East, Forlong says
that when occurring in the temples or other sacred places they
are at the present time evidently very puzzling to the pious
Indians, and in their attempts to explain them they say they are
placed there "in fulfilment of vows," or that they have been
wrought there "as punishments for sins of a sexual nature,
committed by those who executed or paid for them." It is,
however, the opinion of Forlong that they are simply connected
with an older and purer worship--a worship which involved the
union of the sex principles as the foundation of their god-idea.

Regarding the cause for the "indecent" sculptures of the Orissa
temples, the same writer quotes the following from Baboo
Ragendralala Mitra, in his work on the Antiquities of Orissa.

"A vitiated taste aided by general prevalence of immorality might
at first sight appear to be the most likely one; but I can not
believe that libidiousness, however depraved, would ever think of
selecting fanes dedicated to the worship of God, as the most
appropriate for its manifestations; for it is worthy of remark
that they occur almost exclusively on temples and their attached
porches, and never on enclosing walls, gateways, and other
non-religious structures. Our ideas of propriety, according to
Voltaire, lead us to suppose that a ceremony (like the worship of
Priapus) which appears to us infamous, could only be invented by
licentiousness; but it is impossible to believe that depravity of
manners would ever have led among any people to the establishment
of religious ceremonies. It is probable, on the contrary, that
this custom was first introduced in times of simplicity--that the
first thought was to honor the Deity in the symbol of life which
it has given us; such a ceremony may have excited licentiousness
among youths, and have appeared ridiculous to men of education in
more refined, more corrupt, and more enlightened times, but it
never had its origin in such feelings. . . . It is out of the
question therefore to suppose that a general prevalence of vice
would of itself, without the authority of priests and scriptures,
suffice to lead to the defilement of holy temples."[101]

[101] Rivers of Life, vol. i., p. 275.

Originally the Ionians, as their name indicates, were Yoni
worshippers, i. e., they belonged to the sect which was driven
out of India because of their stubborn refusal to worship the
male energy as the Creator. During the later ages of their
history, at a time when their religion had degenerated into a
licensed system of vice and corruption, and after their temples
had become brothels in which, in the name of religion, were
practiced the most debasing ceremonies, the Greeks became ashamed
of their ancient worship, and, like the Jews, ashamed also of
their name.

It is believed that the Greeks received from Egypt, or the East,
their first theological conceptions of God and religion. These

"were veiled in symbols, significant of a primitive monotheism;
these, at a later period, being translated into symbolical or
allegorical language, were by the poets transformed into epic or
narrative myths, in which the original subject symbolized was
almost effaced, whilst the allegorical expressions were received
generally in a literal sense. Hence, to the many, the meaning of
the ancient doctrine was lost, and was communicated only to the
few, under the strictest secrecy in the mysteries of Eleusis and
Samothrace. Thus there was a popular theology to suit the
people, and a rational theology reserved for the educated, the
symbolical language in both being the same, but the meaning of it
being taken differently. In course of time, as knowledge makes
its way among the people, and religious enlightenment with it,
much of what had been received literally will relapse into its
original figurative or symbolical meaning. Reason will resume
her supremacy, and stereotyped dogmas will fall like pagan idols
before advancing truth."[102]

[102] Barlow, Essays on Symbolism, p. 121.

Although, during the later ages of the human career, the higher
truths taught by an earlier race were lost, still a slight hint
of the beauty and purity of the more ancient worship may be
traced through most of the ages of the history of religion. Even
among the profligate Greeks, the mysteries of Eleusis, celebrated
in the temple of Ceres, were always respected. Care should be
taken, however, not to confound these remnants of pure Nature-
worship with that of the courtesan Venus, whose adoration, during
the degenerate days of Greece, represented only the lowest and
most corrupt conception of the female energy.

Down to a late date in the annals of Athens there was celebrated
a religious festival called Thesmophoria. The name of this
festival is derived from one of the cognomens of Ceres--the
goddess "who first gave laws and made life orderly." Ceres was
the divinity adored by the Amazons, and is essentially the same
as the Egyptian Isis. She represents universal female Nature.
The Thesmophorian rites, which are believed by most writers to
have been introduced into Greece directly from Thrace, were
performed by "virgins distinguished for probity in life, who
carried about in procession sacred books upon their heads."

Inman, in his Ancient Faiths, quotes an oracle of Apollo, from
Spencer, to the effect that "Rhea the Mother of the Blessed, and
the Queen of the Gods, loved assemblages of women." As this
festival is in honor of Female Nature, the various female
attributes are adored as deities, Demeter being the first named
by the worshippers. After a long season of fasting, and "after
solemn reflection on the mysteries of life, women splendidly
attired in white garments assemble and scatter flowers in honor
of the Great Mother."

The food partaken of by the devotees at these festivals was
cakes, very similar in shape to those which were offered to the
Queen of Heaven by the women of Judah in the days of Jeremiah, an
offering which it will be remembered so displeased that prophet
that a curse was pronounced upon the entire people.

As the strictest secrecy prevailed among the initiated respecting
these rites, the exact nature of the symbols employed at the
Thesmophorian festivals is not known; it is believed, however,
that it was the female emblem of generation, and that this
festival was held in honor of that event which from the earliest
times had been prophesied by those who believed in the superior
importance of the female, namely, that unaided by the male power,
a woman would bring forth, and that this manifestation of female
sufficiency would forever settle the question of the ascendancy
of the female principle. Through a return of the ancient ideas
of purity and peace, mankind would be redeemed from the
wretchedness and misery which had been the result of the decline
of female power. The dual idea entertained in the Thesmophorian
worship is observed in the fact that although Ceres, the Great
Mother, was the principal Deity honored, Proserpine, the child,
was also comprehended, and with its Mother worshipped as part of
the Creator. Thus we observe that down to a late date in the
history of Grecian mythology the idea of a Holy Mother with her
child had not altogether disappeared as a representation of the

To prove the worthiness of the ideas connected with the
Eleusinian mysteries it is stated that "there is not an instance
on record that the honor of initiation was ever obtained by a
very bad man."

In Rome these mysteries took another name and were called "the
rites of Bona Dea," which was but another name for Ceres. As
evidence of their purity we have the following:

"All the distinguished Roman authors speak of these rites and in
terms of profound respect. Horace denounces the wretch who
should attempt to reveal the secrets of these rites; Virgil
mentions these mysteries with great respect; and Cicero alludes
to them with a greater reverence than either of the poets we have
named. Both the Greeks and the Romans punished any insult
offered to these mysteries with the most persevering
vindictiveness. Alcibiades was charged with insulting these
religious rites, and although the proof of his offense was quite
doubtful, yet he suffered for it for years in exile and misery,
and it must be allowed that he was the most popular man of his

[103] Chambers's Edinburgh Journal.

In Greece, the celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries was in the
hands of the Emolpidae, one of the oldest and most respected
families of antiquity. At Carthage, there were celebrated the
Phiditia, religious solemnities similar to those already
described in Greece. During the two or three days upon which
these festivals were celebrated, public feasts were prepared at
which the youth were instructed by their elders in the state
concerning the principles which were to govern their conduct in
after life; truth, inward purity, and virtue being set forth as
essentials to true manhood. In later times, after these
festivals had found their way to Rome, they gradually succumbed
to the immorality which prevailed, and at last, when their former
exalted significance had been forgotten, they were finally sunk
into "the licentiousness of enjoyment, and the innocence of mirth
was superseded by the uproar of riot and vice! Such were the

From the facts connected with the mysteries of Eleusis and the
Thesmophorian rites, it is evident that in its earlier stages
Nature-worship was absolutely free from the impurities which came
to be associated with it in later times. As the organs of
generation had not originally been wholly disgraced and outraged,
it is not unlikely that when the so-called "sculptured
indecencies" appeared on the walls of the temples they were
regarded as no more an offense against propriety and decency than
was the reappearance of the cross, the emblem of life, in later
times, among orthodox Christians.

Neither is it probable, in an age in which nothing that is
natural was considered indecent, and before the reproductive
energies had become degraded, that these symbols were any more
suggestive of impurity than are the Easter offerings upon our
church altars at the present time. Whatever may now be the
significance of these offerings to those who present them, sure
it is that they once, together with other devices connected with
Nature-worship, were simply emblems of fertility--symbols of a
risen and fructifying sun which by its gladdening rays re-creates
and makes all things new again.

If we carefully study the religion of past ages we will discover
something more than a hint of an age when the generative
functions were regarded as a sacred expression of creative power,
and when the reproductive organs had not through over-stimulation
and abuse been tabooed as objects altogether impure and unholy,
and as things too disgraceful to be mentioned above a whisper.
Indeed there is much evidence going to show that in an earlier
age of the world's history the degradation of mankind, through
the abuse of the creative functions, had not been accomplished,
and the ills of life resulting from such abuse were unknown.

We may reasonably believe that those instincts in the female
which are correlated with maternal affection and which were
acquired by her as a protection to the germ, or, in other words,
those characters which Nature has developed in the female to
insure the safety and well-being of offspring, and which in a
purer and more natural stage of human existence acted as cheeks
upon the energies of the male, were not easily or quickly
subdued; but when through subjection to the animal nature of man
these instincts or characters had been denied their natural
expression, and woman had become simply the instrument of man's
pleasure, the comparatively pure worship of the organs of
generation as symbols of creative power began to give place to
the deification of these members simply as emblems of desire, or
as instruments for the stimulation of passion.

We are assured that on the banks of the Ganges, the very cradle
of religion, are still to be found various remnants of the most
ancient form of Nature-worship--that there are still to be
observed "certain high places sacred to more primitive ideas than
those represented by Vedic gods."

Here devout worshippers believe that the androgynous God of
fertility, or Nature, still manifests itself to the faithful.
Close beside these more ancient shrines are others representing a
somewhat later development of religious faith--shrines, by means
of which are indicated some of the processes involved in the
earlier growth of the god-idea. Not far removed from these are
to be found, also, numerous temples or places of worship
belonging to a still later faith--a faith in which are revealed
the "awakening and stimulation of every sensuous feeling, and
which has drowned in infamy every noble impulse developed in
human nature."

Of the depravity of the Jews and the immorality practiced in
their religious rites, Forlong says:

"No one can study their history, liberated from the blindness
which our Christian up-bringing and associations cast over us,
without seeing that the Jews were probably the grossest
worshippers among all those Ophi--Phallo--Solar devotees who then
covered every land and sea, from the sources of the Nile and
Euphrates to all over the Mediterranean coasts and isles. These
impure faiths seem to have been very strictly maintained by Jews
up to Hezekiah's days, and by none more so than by dissolute
Solomon and his cruel, lascivious bandit-father, the
brazen-faced adulterer and murderer, who broke his freely
volunteered oath, and sacrificed six innocent sons of his king to
his Javah."

Of Solomon he says that he devoted his energies and some little
wealth "to rearing phallic and Solophallic shrines over all the
high places around him, and especially in front of Jerusalem, and
on and around the Mount of Olives." On each side of the entrance
to his celebrated temple, under the great phallic spire which
formed the portico, were two handsome columns over fifty feet
high, by the side of which were the sun God Belus and his

In a description of this temple it is represented as being one
hundred and twenty feet long and forty feet broad, while the
porch, a phallic emblem, "was a huge tower, forty feet long,
twenty feet broad, and two hundred and forty feet high." We are
assured by Forlong that Solomon's temple was like hundreds
observed in the East, except that its walls were a little higher
than those usually seen, and the phallic spire out of proportion
to the size of the structure. "The Jewish porch is but the
obelisk which the Egyptian placed beside his temple; the Boodhist
pillars which stood all around their Dagobas; the pillars of
Hercules, which stood near the Phoenician temple; and the spire
which stands beside the Christian Church."[104]

[104] Forlong, Rivers of Life, vol. i., p. 219.

The rites and ceremonies observed in the worship of Baal-Peor are
not of a character to be described in these pages: it is perhaps
sufficient to state that by them the fact is clearly established
that profligacy, regulated and controlled by the priestly order
as part and parcel of religion, was not confined to the Gentiles;
but, on the contrary, that the religious observances of the Jews
prior to the Babylonian captivity were even more gross than were
those of the Assyrians or the Hindoos.

These impure faiths arose at a time when man as the sole creator
of offspring became god, when the natural instincts of woman were
subdued, and when passion as the highest expression of the divine
force came to be worshipped as the most important attribute of

The extent to which these faiths have influenced later religious
belief and observances is scarcely realized by those who have not
given special attention to this subject.

It has been stated that in the time of Solon, law-giver of
Athens, there were twenty temples in the various cities of Greece
dedicated to Venus the courtesan, within which were practiced, in
the name of religion, the most infamous rites and the most
shameless self-abandonment; and that throughout Europe, down to a
late period in the history of the race, religious festivals were
celebrated at certain seasons of the year, at which the
ceremonies performed in honor of the god of fornication were of
the grossest nature, and at which the Bacchanalian orgies were
only equalled by those practiced in the religious temples of

It is impossible longer to conceal the fact that passion,
symbolized by a serpent, an upright stone, and by the male and
female organs of generation, the male appearing as the "giver of
life," the female as a necessary appendage to it, constituted the
god-idea of mankind for at least four thousand years; and,
instead of being confined to the earlier ages of that period, we
shall presently see that phallic worship had not disappeared,
under Christianity, as late and even later than the sixteenth

Such has been the result of the ascendancy gained by the grosser
elements in human nature: the highest idea of the Infinite
passion symbolized by the organs of generation, while the
principal rites connected with its worship are scenes of
debauchery and self-abasement.

At the present time it is by no means difficult to trace the
growth of the god-idea. First, as we have seen, a system of pure
Nature-worship appeared under the symbol of a Mother and child.
In process of time this particular form of worship was supplanted
by a religion under which the male principle is seen to be in the
ascendancy over the female. Later a more complicated system of
Nature-worship is observed in which the underlying principles are
concealed, or are understood only by the initiated. Lastly,
these philosophical and recondite principles are forgotten and
the symbols themselves receive the adoration which once belonged
to the Creator. The change which the ideas concerning womanhood
underwent from the time when the natural feminine characters and
qualities were worshipped as God, to the days of Solon the
Grecian law-giver, when women had become merely tools or slaves
for the use and pleasure of men, is forcibly shown by a
comparison of the character ascribed to the female deities at the
two epochs mentioned. Athene who in an earlier age had
represented Wisdom had in the age of Solon degenerated into a
patroness of heroes; but even as a Goddess of war her patronage
was as nought compared with that of the courtesan Venus, at whose
shrine "every man in Greece worshipped."

The extent to which women, in the name of religion, have been
degraded, and the part which in the past they have been compelled
to assume in the worship of passion may not at the present time
be disguised, as facts concerning this subject are well
authenticated. In a former work,[105] attention has been
directed to the religious rites of Babylon, the city in which it
will be remembered the Tower of Belus was situated. Here women
of all conditions and ranks were obliged, once in their life, to
prostitute themselves in the temple for hire to any stranger who
might demand such service, which revenue was appropriated by the
priests to be applied to sacred uses. This act it will be
remembered was a religious obligation imposed by religious
teachers and enforced by priestly rule. It was a sacrifice to
the god of passion. A similar custom prevailed in Cyprus.

[105] See Evolution of Woman, p. 228.

Most of the temples of the later Hindoos had bands of consecrated
women called the "Women of the Idol." These victims of the
priests were selected in their infancy by Brahmins for the beauty
of their persons, and were trained to every elegant
accomplishment that could render them attractive and which would
insure success in the profession which they exercised at once for
the pleasure and profit of the priesthood. They were never
allowed to desert the temple; and the offspring of their
promiscuous embraces were, if males, consecrated to the service
of the Deity in the ceremonies of this worship, and, if females,
educated in the profession of their mothers.[106]

[106] Maurice, Indian Antiquities, vol. i.

That prostitution was a religious observance, which was practiced
in Eastern temples, cannot in the face of accessible facts be
doubted. Regarding this subject, Inman says:

"To us it is inconceivable, that the indulgence of passion could
be associated with religion, but so it was. The words expressive
of 'sanctuary,' 'consecrated,' and 'sodomites' are in the Hebrew
essentially the same. It is amongst the Hindoos of to-day as it
was in the Greece and Italy of classic times; and we find that
'holy woman' is a title given to those who devote their bodies to
be used for hire, which goes to the service of the temple."

The extent to which ages of corruption have vitiated the purer
instincts of human nature, and the degree to which centuries of
sensuality and superstition have degraded the nature of man, may
be noticed at the present time in the admissions which are
frequently made by male writers regarding the change which during
the history of the race has taken place in the god-idea. None of
the attributes of women, not even that holy instinct--maternal
love, can by many of them be contemplated apart from the ideas of
grossness which have attended the sex-functions during the ages
since women first became enslaved. As an illustration of this we
have the following from an eminent philologist of recent times, a
writer whose able efforts in unravelling religious myths bear
testimony to his mental strength and literary ability.

"The Chaldees believed in a celestial virgin who had purity of
body, loveliness of person, and tenderness of affection, and she
was one to whom the erring sinner could appeal with more chance
of success than to a stern father. She was portrayed as a mother
with a child in her arms, and every attribute ascribed to her
showing that she was supposed to be as fond as any earthly female
ever was."[107]

[107] Inman, Ancient Faiths, vol. i., p. 59.

After thus describing the early Chaldean Deity, who, although a
pure and spotless virgin, was nevertheless worshipped as a
mother, or as the embodiment of the altruistic principles
developed in mankind, this writer goes on to say: "The worship of
the woman by man naturally led to developments which our
COMPARATIVELY SENSITIVE NATURES [the italics are mine] shun as
being opposed to all religious feeling," which sentiment clearly
reveals the inability of this writer to estimate womanhood, or
even motherhood, apart from the sensualized ideas which during
the ages in which passion has been the recognized god have
gathered about it.

The purity of life and the high stage of civilization reached by
an ancient people, and the fact that these conditions were
reached under pure Nature-worship, or when the natural attributes
of the female were regarded as the highest expression of the
divine in the human, prove that it was neither the appreciation
nor the deification of womanhood which "led to developments which
sensitive natures shun as being opposed to all religious
feeling," but, on the contrary, that it was the lack of such
appreciation which stimulated the lower nature of man and
encouraged every form of sensuality and superstition. In other
words, it was the subjection of the natural female instincts and
the deification of brute passion during the later ages of human
history which have degraded religion and corrupted human nature.

Although at the present time it is quite impossible for scholars
to veil the fact that the god-idea was originally worshipped as
female, still, most modern writers who deal with this subject
seem unable to understand the state of human society which must
have existed when the instincts, qualities, and characters
peculiar to the female constitution were worshipped as divine.
So corrupt has human nature become through over-stimulation and
indulgence of the lower propensities, that it seems impossible
for those who have thus far dealt with this subject to perceive
in the earlier conceptions of a Deity any higher idea than that
conveyed to their minds at the present time by the sexual
attributes and physical functions of females--namely, their
capacity to bring forth, coupled with the power to gratify the
animal instincts of males, functions which women share with the
lower orders of life.

The fact that by an ancient race woman was regarded as the head
or crown of creation, that she was the first emanation from the
Deity, or, more properly speaking, that she represented
Perceptive Wisdom, seems at the present time not to be
comprehended, or at least not acknowledged. The more recently
developed idea, that she was designed as an appendage to man, and
created specially for his use and pleasure,--a conception which
is the direct result of the supremacy of the lower instincts over
the higher faculties,--has for ages been taught as a religious
doctrine which to doubt involves the rankest heresy.

The androgynous Venus of the earlier ages, a deity which although
female was figured with a beard to denote that within her were
embraced the masculine powers, embodied a conception of universal
womanhood and the Deity widely different from that entertained in
the later ages of Greece, at a time when Venus the courtesan
represented all the powers and capacities of woman considered
worthy of deification.

To such an extent, in later ages, have all our ideas of the
Infinite become masculinized that in extant history little except
occasional hints is to be found of the fact that during
numberless ages of human existence the Supreme Creator was
worshipped as female.

One has only to study the Greek character to anticipate the
manner in which any subject pertaining to women would be treated
by that arrogant and conceited race; and, as until recently most
of our information concerning the past has come through Greek
sources, the distorted and one-sided view taken of human events,
and the contempt with which the feminine half of society has been
regarded, are in no wise surprising. We must bear in mind the
fact, however, that the Greeks were but the degenerate
descendants of the highly civilized peoples whom they were
pleased to term "barbarians," and that they knew less of the
origin and character of the gods which they worshipped, and which
they had borrowed from other countries, than is known of them at
the present time.

About 600 years B.C., we may believe that mankind had sunk to the
lowest depth of human degradation, since which time humanity has
been slowly retracting its course; not, however, with any degree
of continuity or regularity, nor without lapses, during which for
hundreds of years the current seemed to roll backward. Indeed
when we review the history of the intervening ages, and note the
extent to which passion, prejudice, and superstition have been in
the ascendancy over reason and judgment, we may truly say: "The
fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth have been
set on edge."



It has been said of the Persians that in their zeal to purify the
sensualized faiths which everywhere prevailed they manifested a
decided "repugnance to the worship of images, beasts, or symbols,
while they sought to establish the worship of the only true
creative force, or God--Holy Fire."

From the facts to be gleaned concerning this people during the
seventh and eighth centuries B.C., it is quite probable that they
still had a faint knowledge of a former age of intellectual and
moral greatness, and that it was their object, at that time, to
return to the purer principles which characterized it. That
their efforts were subsequently copied by surrounding nations is
shown in the facts connected with their history.

Soon leading Syrians and Jews began to learn from their Eastern
neighbor that the worship of images could scarcely be acceptable
to a god which they were beginning to invest with a certain
degree of spirituality. There is little doubt, at the present
time, that the attempt to spiritualize the religion of the Jews
was due to the influence of the Persians. However, the length of
time required to effect any appreciable improvement in an
established form of worship is shown by the fact that, two
hundred years later, little change for the better was observed in
the temples, in which licentiousness had become a recognized
religious rite. Even at the present time, it is reported that in
many places of worship in the East there still reside "holy women
--god's women," who, like those in Babylon, described by various
writers, are devoted to the "god of fire."

In a comparison made between the religion of Persia and the
doctrines said to have been taught by Moses, Inman remarks:

"The religion of Persia as reformed by Zoroaster so closely
resembles the Mosaic, that it would be almost impossible to
decide which has the precedence of the other, unless we knew how
ancient was the teaching of Zoroaster, and how very recent was
that said to be from Moses. Be this as it may, we find the
ancient Persians resemble the Jews in sacrificing upon high
places, in paying divine honor to fire, in keeping up a sacred
flame, in certain ceremonial cleansings, in possessing an
hereditary priesthood who alone were allowed to offer sacrifices,
and in making their summum bonum the possession of a numerous

[108] Ancient Faiths, vol. ii., p. 64.

It is quite plain that by both these nations the wisdom of an
earlier race was nearly forgotten. Seven hundred years B.C. the
Persians had doubtless already adopted the worship of "One God"
who was the Regenerator or Destroyer, a Deity which, as we have
seen, originally comprehended the powers of Nature--namely the
sun's heat and the cold of winter. That at this time, however,
they had lost the higher truths involved in the conception of
this Deity, is evident. They had become worshippers of fire, or
of that subtle igneous fluid residing in fire which they believed
to be creative force. Although the Persiaus like all the other
nations of the globe had lost or forgotten the higher truths
enunciated by an older race, there is no evidence going to show
that they ever became gross phallic worshippers like the Jews;
that they were not such is shown in the fact that down to the
time of Alexander the women of Persia still held a high and
honorable position, and that the female attributes had not become
wholly subject to male power.

Had we no other evidence of the comparatively exalted character
of the religion of the Persians than the history of the lives of
such men as Darius, Cyrus, Artaxerxes, and others, we should
conclude, notwithstanding the similarity in the ceremonials of
these two religions, that some influence had been at work to
preserve them from the cruelty and licentiousness which prevailed
among the Jews. It is related of Cyrus that he used to wish that
he might live long enough to repay all the kindness which he had
received. It is also stated that on account of the justice and
equity shown in his character, a great number of persons were
desirous of committing to his care and wisdom "the disposal of
their property, their cities, and their own persons."

In striking contrast to the mild and humane character of Cyrus
stands that of the licentious and revengeful David, a "man after
God's own heart."

"As for the heads of those that compass me about, let the
mischief of their own lips cover them."

"Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the
fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again."[109]

"Happy shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones
against the stones."[110]

[109] Psalms cxl.

[110] Ibid., cxxxvii.

No one I think can read the Avestas without being impressed by
the prominence there given to the subjects of temperance and
virtue. In their efforts to purify religion, and in the attempts
to return to their more ancient faith, the disciples of
Zoroaster, as early as eight hundred years before Christ, had
adopted a highly spiritualized conception of the Deity. They had
taught in various portions of Asia Minor the doctrine of one God,
a dual entity by means of which all things were created. They
taught also the doctrine of a resurrection and that of the
immortality of the soul. It was at this time that they
originated, or at least propounded, the doctrine of hell and the
devil, a belief exactly suited to the then weakened mental
condition of mankind, and from which humanity has not yet gained
sufficient intellectual and moral strength to free itself. This
Persian devil, which had become identified with winter or with
the absence of the sun's rays, was now Aryhman, or the "powers of
darkness," and was doubtless the source whence sprang the
personal devil elaborated at a later age by Laotse in China.

As the Jews had no writings prior to the time of Ezra or
Jeremiah, it is now believed that many of the doctrines
incorporated in their sacred books were borrowed from Persian,
Indian, and Egyptian sources. Resurrection from the dead, or the
resurrection of the body, was for hundreds of years prior to the
birth of Christ an established article of Egyptian and Persian
faith, while spiritual regeneration, symbolized by the outward
typification of "being born again," was the beginning of a new
life and an admission to the heavenly state.

In the Khordah Avesta we have the following concerning the
doctrine of the resurrection and that of future rewards and

"I am wholly without doubt in the existence of the good
Mazdaycinian faith, in the coming of the resurrection and the
later body, in the stepping over the bridge Chinvat, in an
invariable recompense of good deeds and their reward, and of bad
deeds and their punishment."

The Zoroastrians, who led the way in the great intellectual and
religious awakening which took place during the intervening years
from 700 B.C. to 400 B.C., sought to purify all things by fire
and water, the two principles which had come to be regarded as
the original elements, from which, or by which, all things are

Prior to this time, in Persia, and long afterwards by various
other nations, baptism, a rite performed at puberty, was
connected only with the sexual obligations of the person
receiving it, but in the age which we are considering it became
especially a cleansing or regenerating process, and was the means
by which the pious devotee became initiated into the mysteries of
holy living, or by which she or he was "born again."

As in their religious procedure every act was performed in
connection with symbols, so in the matter of baptism they were
not satisfied with the inner consciousness of regeneration, but
must go through with certain processes which typified the new
life upon which they had entered. According to Wilford, the
outward symbolization of the "new birth" in the East is
manifested in the following manner:

"For the purpose of regeneration it is directed to make an image
of pure gold of the female power of nature, either in the shape
of a woman or of a cow. In this statue, the person to be
regenerated is inclosed, and dragged out through the natural
channel. As a statue of pure gold and of proper dimensions would
be too expensive, it is sufficient to make an image of the sacred
Yoni, through which the person to be regenerated is to pass."

Thus at the time Nicodemus is said to have queried concerning the
mysteries of the new birth, it is observed that the outward forms
of regeneration had long been in use among the pagans. In
passing themselves through these apertures, the applicant for
regeneration was supposed to represent the condition of one
"issuing from the womb to a new scope of life."

According to the testimony of various writers upon this subject,
there are still extant, not alone in oriental countries, but in
Ireland and Scotland as well, numerous excavations or apertures
in the rocks which by an early race were used for the same
purpose. Through the misconception, bigotry, and ignorance of
the Roman Catholic missionaries in Ireland, these openings were
designated as the "Devil's Yonies." Although these emblems
typified the original conception of one of their most sacred
beliefs, namely, the "new birth," still they were "heathen
abominations" with which the devotees of the new (?) faith must
not become defiled.

The people who executed these imperishable designs, and who have
left in the British Isles innumerable evidences of their
religious beliefs, are supposed by some writers to belong to a
colony which, having been expelled from Persia on account of
their peculiar religious beliefs, settled in the "White Island,"
the "Island of the Blessed." This subject will, however, be
referred to later in this work.

When we closely examine the facts connected with the evolution of
religion, there can be little doubt that the Persians laid the
foundation for that great moral and intellectual awakening which
a century or two later is represented by Confucious, Gotama
Buddha, and Pythagoras. From the Persians, doubtless Jew and
Gentile alike received the little leaven of spirituality which in
later ages crept into their gross conception of a Deity.

By the Persians, the Hindoos, and other nations of the East, it
was believed that the end of each cycle of six hundred years, at
which time a new sun or savior was to come, would mark a new era
of religious development. At the close of each of these cycles
it was devoutly expected that the "golden age" of the past would
be restored, and that mankind would again be freed from the ills
which had overtaken them. As many of these cycles had passed,
numerous deliverers, saviors, or solar incarnations had appeared
in India, Gotama Buddha having been the ninth. In the East,
about six or seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, not
only one savior or prophet but three or four of them appeared.

Concerning the leader of the reform in Persia there seem to be
many conflicting accounts. The learned Faber concludes that
there were two Zarathustras or Zoroasters, the former being
identical with Menu, the law giver and triplicated deity of
India, and who by various writers is recognized as the Noah of
the Hebrews. According to Pliny, the former lived thousands of
years before Christ. Several writers concur in placing him five
thousand years before the siege of Troy. According to Sir Wm.
Jones, the latter Zoroaster lived in the time of Darius
Hystaspes. It is now claimed that in the Dabistan, one of the
sacred books of Persia, thirteen Zoroasters appear. The name of
the last great leader, together with a few of his doctrines, and
various scattered fragments in the Gathas, are all that remain on
record of a man whose personality stands connected with the
earliest attempt to reform a degraded and sensualized religion.

That this prophet was without honor in his own country is shown
by the following lamentation:

"To what country shall I go? Where shall I take refuge? What
country gives shelter to the master, Zarathustra, and his
companion? None of the servants pay reverence to me, nor do the
wicked rulers of the country. How shall I worship thee further,
living Wise One? What help did Zarathustra receive when he
proclaimed the truths? What did he obtain through the good mind?
. . . Why has the truthful one so few adherents, while all the
mighty, who are unbelievers, follow the liar in great

[111] Quoted by Viscount Amberley from Haug's Translations.

Although the prophet Zarathustra and his companion were first
rejected, the fact seems plain that the monotheistic doctrines
which they set forth were subsequently accepted as the groundwork
of the religion of Persia.

In the opening verses of the 5th Gatha appears the following:

"It is reported that Zarathustra Spitama possessed the best good,
for Ahura Mazda granted him all that may be obtained by means of
a sincere worship, forever, all that promotes the good life, and
he gives the same to all who keep the words and perform the
actions enjoined by the good religion. . . .

"Pourutschista, the Hetchataspadin, the most holy one, the most
distinguished of the daughters of Zarathustra, formed this
doctrine, as a reflection of the good mind, the true and wise

The fact will doubtless be observed that Pourutschista was not
merely a disciple of Zarathustra, but that she FORMED the
doctrine which was accepted as a "reflection of the good mind."

In the 5th Gatha it is stated that among those who "know the
right paths, the law which Ahura gave to the Profitable," is
Pourutschista the "Holy worthy of adoration among the daughters
of Zarathustra. . . . wise female worker of Wisdom."[112]

[112] Spiegel's Translation.

Ormuzd, or Ahura Mazda, which was the essence of heat or light,
was the principle adored by the followers of the reformed
religion in Persia. Throughout the Avesta the most desirable
possession, and that which is most praised, is purity of life.

"We praise the pure man.
"The best purity praise we.
"The best wish praise we of the best purity. The best place
of purity praise we, the shining, endued with all

"This Earth, together with the women, we praise
Which bears us, which are the women, Ahura Mazda
Whose wishes arise from purity, these we praise--
Fullness, readiness, questioning, wisdom."[114]

[113] Vespered xxvi. Spiegel's Translation.

[114] Yacna xxxviii.

Praise is offered to the "everlasting female companion, the

The following is a part of the marriage ceremony of the Persians
as it is found in the Khorda-Avesta:

"Do you both accept the contract for life with honorable mind? In
the name and friendship of Ormuzd be ever shining, be very
enlarged. Be increasing. Be victorious. Learn purity. Be
worthy of good praise. May the mind think good thoughts, the
words speak good, the works do good. May all wicked thoughts
hasten away, all wicked words be diminished, all wicked works be
burnt up. . . . Win for thyself property by right-dealing.
Speak truth with the rulers and be obedient. Be modest with
friends, clever, and well wishing. Be not cruel, be not
covetous. . . . Combat adversaries with right. Before an
assembly speak only pure words. In no wise displease thy mother.
Keep thine own body pure in justice."

Confucius, the great Chinese teacher and philosopher, who lived
probably in the sixth century B.C., may be said to have been a
humanitarian or moralist instead of a mystic. Although he
believed in a great first principle, or cause, which he termed
Heaven, we are given to understand that in his philosophizing
little mention was made of it.

The system known as Confucianism was not originated by Confucius.

In referring to this subject Legge remarks:

"He said of himself (Analects, vii., I), that he was a
transmitter and not a maker, one who believed in and loved the
ancients; and hence it is said in the thirtieth chapter of the
doctrine of the Mean, ascribed to his grandson, that he handed
down the doctrines of Yao and Shun, as if they had been his
ancestors, and elegantly displayed the regulations of Wan and Wu,
taking them as his models."[115]

[115] Legge, Preface to vol. iii. of Shu King.

The ancient books which Confucius interpreted or rewrote laid no
claim to being sacred in the sense of being inspired; but, on the
contrary, were works of wisdom put forth by historians, poets,
and others "as they were moved in their own minds." The most
ancient of these doctrines was the Shu, a work which since the
period of the Han dynasty, 202 years B.C., has been called the
Shu King.

A number of documents contained in this work date back to the
twenty-fourth century B.C., and as they are regarded as
historical are considered to be of greater importance than are
any others of their ancient writings.

Second in antiquity and importance is the Shih or the Book of
Poetry. This work contains the religious views of its writers,
also an account of the manners, customs, and events of the times
to which they belong. For 5000 years, in China, Tien or Ti has
expressed the moving or creating force in the universe. In later
ages it is observed that this name has been attached to royalty.
Hwang Ti is the present title of the Emperor of China.

From some of the texts found in the Shu King, it would seem that
the Chinese had in the remote past caught sight of the scientific
fact that virtue is its own reward. "Heaven graciously
distinguishes the virtuous. . . . Heaven punishes the

[116] Max Muller, Sacred Books of the East, book iv.

The principal object of Confucius seems to have been to inculcate
those doctrines of his ancestors which, taking root, would in
time bring about a return to those principles of former virtue, a
faint knowledge of which seems still to have survived in China.
The following precepts are found among his teachings:

"Knowledge, magnanimity, and energy are the virtues universally
binding. Gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness,
and kindness constitute perfect virtue. Sincerity is the very
way to Heaven. My doctrine is that of an all-pervading unity.
The superior man is catholic and not partisan. The mean is
partisan and not catholic. The superior man is affable but not
adulatory, the mean is adulatory but not affable."

When asked for a word which should serve as a rule of practice
for all our life he replied: "Is not Reciprocity such a word?
What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others." On
one occasion the question was asked him: "What do you say
concerning the principle that injury shall be recompensed with
kindness?" To which he replied: "Recompense injury with justice,
and recompense kindness with kindness."[117]

[117] Lun Yu, xiv., 26.

It is recorded by his disciples that there are four things from
which the master was entirely free. "He had no foregone
conclusions, no arbitrary predeterminations, no obstinacy, and no
egoism." Contrary to the rule of most reformers or leaders of
opinion, he always regarded himself as a learner as well as
teacher. It is related of Confucius that he at one time desired
a governmental position, thinking that through its occupancy he
might the better disseminate the ancient doctrines of rectitude
and virtue. Offers of individual advantage could not swerve him
from his well-grounded principles of honor. On one occasion one
of the rulers of the country proposed to confer upon him a city
and its revenues, but Confucius replied: "A superior man will
only receive reward for services which he has rendered. I have
given advice to the duke-king, but he has not obeyed it, and now
he would endow me with this place! very far is he from
understanding me."[118]

[118] Quoted by Amberley, Analysis of Religious Belief, vol. i.,
p. 197.

The fact seems evident that Confucius had not sufficient strength
of character to attempt a change in the social conditions of his
time. He had not that grandeur of soul which enabled him to
strike the key-note of reform. Monarchical institutions and
social distinctions he did not rebuke. The brotherhood of man
and the levelling processes in human society were probably never
thought of by him; certainly they were never attempted.

By certain writers Confucius has been accused of insincerity in a
few minor matters; still, the wisdom contained in his religious
doctrines, the philosophical value of his teachings relative to
the regulation of human conduct, and, above all, his purity of
purpose, justly entitles his name to be enrolled among the great
reformers of the world.

The lasting influence which this man exerted upon the minds of
his countrymen, and the appreciation in which his name and works
are still held, are shown by the fact that his descendants
constitute the only order of hereditary nobility in China.

"He lived five hundred years before Christ; and yet to this day,
through all the changes and chances of time and of dynasties, the
descendants of Confucius remain the only hereditary noblemen and
national pensioners in the empire. Even the imperial blood
becomes diluted, degraded, and absorbed into the body politic
after the seventh generation; but the descendants of Confucius
remain separate, through all the mutations of time and of

[119] Thomas Magee, in the Forum, vol. x., p. 204.

Laotse, the founder of the smallest of the three sects in China,
namely, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, was an old man when
Confucius was in his prime. The word Taou signifies reason, but
the doctrines believed by the Taoists prove their system to be
the most irrational of all the religions of the East. In an
article on The Taouist Religion, Warren Benton says:

"The tendency in rationalism is toward the utter destruction of a
belief in the existence of unseen spirits of evil. Enlightened
reason dethrones devils; but Laotse created devils innumerable,
and the chief concern of the Taouist sect has always been to
manipulate these emissaries of evil. Modern rationalists deny
the existence of devils, and relegate them to the category of
myths and to personified ideas. Not so the rationalist of the
Orient. He finds his greatest pleasure in contemplating the very
atmosphere he breathes as filled with spirits constantly seeking
his injury; and to outwit his satanic majesty is the chief end of

[120] Pop. Science, Jan. 1890.

At a time when a personal devil was gradually assuming shape, it
would have been singular, indeed, if there had not arisen one
who, by his peculiar temperament and natural disposition, was
exactly suited to the task of elaborating this doctrine in all
its grim seriousness. That such an one did arise in the person
of Laotse is evident from what is known regarding his history and

The growth of religious faith had long tended in this direction.
Typhon, "the wind that blasts," "Darkness," and the "cold of
winter," constituted the foundation of a belief in a personal
Devil; and, when the time was ripe for the appearance of his
satanic majesty, it required only a hypochondriac-- a disordered
mental organization--to formulate and project this gloomy and
unwholesome doctrine.

There is little known of the life and character of Laotse except
that he labored assiduously through a long life-time for the
establishment of certain principles or tenets which he believed
to be essential to the well-being of humanity. In the twentieth
chapter of his work are found to be some hints of his personality
and of the gloomy cast of his character. He complains that while
other men are joyous and gay, he alone is despondent. He is
"calm like a child that does not yet smile." He is "like a
stupid fellow, so confused does he feel. Ordinary men are
enlightened; he is obscure and troubled in mind. Like the sea,
he is forgotten and driven about like one who has no certain
resting place. All other men are of use; he alone is clownish
like a peasant. He alone is unlike other men, but he honors the
nursing mother."

Of all the various teachers which arose during the fifth, sixth,
and seventh centuries B.C., none of them were able to rise to the
position of moral grandeur occupied by Gotama Buddha. The
efforts put forth by this great teacher seem to have been humane
rather than religious. In his time, especially in India, society
had become encysted beneath a crust of seemingly impenetrable
conservatism, while religion, or priestcraft, riveted the chains
by which the masses of the people were enslaved.

The mission of Buddha was to burst asunder the bonds of the
oppressed and to abolish all distinctions of caste. This was to
be accomplished through the awakening of the divine life in each
individual. The leading processes by which the lines of caste
were weakened were in direct opposition to the established order
of society. It was a blow at the old Brahminical social and
religious code which had grown up under the reign of

Notwithstanding the sex prejudice which had come to prevail in
India, it was directly stated by Buddha that any man or woman who
became his disciple, who renounced the world and by abstinence
from the lower indulgences of sense proclaimed her or his
adherence to the higher principles of life, "at once lost either
the privilege of a high caste or the degradation of a low one."
Earthly distinctions were of no consequence. Rank depended not
on the outward circumstance of birth, but on the ability of the
individual to resist evil, or, upon his capacity to receive the
higher truths enunciated by the new sun or savior--Buddha.

In one of the canonical books he is represented as saying:

"Since the doctrine which I teach is completely pure, it makes no
distinction between noble and common, between rich and poor. It
is, for example, like water, which washes both noblemen and
common people, both rich and poor, both good and bad, and
purifies all without distinction. It may, to take another
illustration, be compared to fire, which consumes mountains,
rocks, and all great and small objects between heaven and earth.
Again, my doctrine is like heaven, inasmuch as there is room
within it without exception, for whomsoever it may be; for men
and women, for boys and girls, for rich and poor."[121]

[121] Viscount Amberley, Analysis of Religious Belief, vol. i.,
p. 216.

There is little doubt that the religion of Buddha was an attempt
to return to the almost forgotten principles of a past age of
spiritual and moral greatness. According to this ancient wisdom,
man is an immortal soul struggling for perfection. The growth of
the real man is a natural unfolding of the divine principle
within, such process of evolution being accomplished through the
power of the will. As every individual must work out his own
salvation, this will-force must ever be directed toward the
complete mastery of the body, or the lower self. In other words,
the development of the higher life depends upon the power of the
individual to overcome or conquer evil. The effect of every
thought, word, and deed is woven into the soul, and no one can
evade the consequences of his own acts. All sin is the result of
selfishness, so that only when one renounces self and begins to
live for others does the soul-life begin. No one who has arrived
at a state of soul-consciousness will lead a selfish or impure
life. On the contrary, every impulse of the devout Buddhist goes
out toward humanity and God, of whom he is a conscious part.

Gotama Buddha was not a "savior" in the sense of bloody sacrifice
for the sins of the people. On the contrary, he was an example
to mankind--a man who through moral purification and a life of
self- abnegation had prepared himself for this holy office.
Mythologically, or astrologically, he was the new sun born at the
close of the cycle. He was the great Light which revealed the
way to eternal repose-- Nirvana. The mythical Buddha was the
prototype of the mythical Christ. His mother was Mai or Mary,
Queen of Heaven, or the Vernal Spring. He was a new incarnation
of the Sun--the Savior of the world. In process of time his many
miracles were offered as proof of his divine character. Although
he taught the existence of a great and universal Power, he made
no attempt to explain the unknowable. The Infinite is to be
contemplated only through its manifestations. Nirvana is not
annihilation, as has been erroneously taught by Christian
missionaries. As explained by Buddhists themselves, it
comprehends a state of absolute rest from human strife and
wretchedness. It is the absorption or relapsing into the great
First Principle, whence all life is derived--a state so pure that
the human is lost in the divine.

"Lamp of the law!
I take my refuge in thy name and Thee!
I take my refuge in thy Law of Good!
I take my refuge in thy Order! Om!
The dew is on the Lotus!--rise, Great Sun!
And lift my leaf and mix me with the wave.
Om Mani Padme Hum, the Sunrise comes!
The Dewdrop slips into the shining Sea!"[122]

[122] Arnold, Light of Asia.

From the Buddhist colleges at Nolanda went forth teachers who,
inspired with enthusiasm in the cause of human justice and
individual liberty, endeavored to abolish the abominations which
had grown up under Brahminical rule. The masses of the people,
however, were too deeply sunken in infamy, wretchedness, and
ignorance to accept, or even understand, the pure doctrines of
the great teacher, and, as might have been anticipated, priest-
craft soon assumed its wonted arrogance, and eventually the whole
paraphernalia of antiquated dogmas were tacked upon the new

Through the various efforts put forth for the elevation of
mankind during the six or seven hundred years which preceded the
advent of Christianity, sufficient strength had been given to the
moral impetus of humanity to create in many portions of the world
a strong desire for a return to purer principles, and to make the
appearance of a spiritual teacher like Christ possible. The
effects, however, of ages of moral and intellectual degradation,
in which the lowest faculties have been stimulated to the highest
degree, are not wiped out in a few centuries of struggle by the
few among the people who desire reform. As true reform means
growth, those who have reached a higher stage of development can
only point the way to others--they are powerless to effect
changes for which the masses are unprepared.

Although through a partial revival of the ideas entertained by an
ancient people the attempt was made by Zoroaster, Confucius,
Gotama Buddha, Pythagoras, the Stoics, and other schools of
philosophy, to elevate the masses of the people, and, although
the unadulterated teachings of the man called Christ were
doubtless an outgrowth of this movement, yet the human mind had
not, even as late as the appearance of this last-named reformer,
sufficiently recovered from its thraldom to enable the masses to
grasp those higher truths which had been entertained by an
earlier civilized people.

While there are doubtless many points of similarity between the
religious system elaborated by Gotama Buddha and that enunciated
by Christ, there is little likeness between the teachings of the
former and those set forth by the Romish Church, or by Paul.
Seven hundred years B.C., the Persians had grasped the idea that
virtue is its own reward, and that every soul is responsible for
its own growth. The fundamental doctrine of the Christian Church
to-day is that of a vicarious atonement--a belief which takes
away man's responsibility for his own misdeeds.



By comparing the sacred writings of the Persians with the history
of the events connected with the conception and birth of the
mythical Christ as recorded in the New Testament, the fact is
observed that the latter appears to be closely connected with the
central figure of Persian mythology. It has been found that the
visit of the Magi, who, following a star, were guided to the spot
where the young child lay, was the fulfilment of a Persian
prophecy, which is to be found in the life of Zarathustra as
recorded in the Zendavesta, while the subsequent history of the
same personage is seen to be almost identical with that of the
Hindoo Sun-god Chrishna.

According to the sacred books of the Persians, three sons of the
great Zarathustra were to appear at three successive periods of
time. These sons were to be incarnations of the sun, and the
result of immaculate conceptions.

"The first is named Oschederbami. He will appear in the last
millennium of the world. He will stop the sun for ten days and
ten nights, and the second part of the human race will embrace
the law, of which he will bring the 22d portion.

"The second posthumous son of Zoroaster is Oschedermah. He will
appear four hundred years after Oschederbami. He will stop the
sun twenty days and twenty nights, and he will bring the 23d part
of the law, and the third part of the world will be converted.

"The third is named Sosiosch. He will be born at the end of the
ages. He will bring the 24th part of the law; he will stay the
sun thirty days and thirty nights, and the whole earth will
embrace the law of Zoroaster. After him will be the
resurrection."[123] This last named son was to be born of a pure
and spotless virgin, whereupon a star would appear blazing even
at noonday with undiminished lustre.

[123] Quoted by Waite, History of the Christian Religion, p. 168.

"You, my sons," exclaimed the seer, "will perceive its rising
before any other nation. As soon, therefore, as you shall behold
the star, follow it, withersoever it shall lead you; and adore
that mysterious child, offering your gifts to him, with profound
humility. He is the Almighty Word, which created the

[124] Ibid., 169.

Waite notices the conclusion of Faber that this prediction was
long before the birth of Christ, and states that one of the
reasons for such a conclusion was, that in the old Irish history
a similar prophecy appears--a prophecy which was delivered by a
"Druid of Bokhara." The identity of this Irish prophecy with the
one in the East ascribed to Zarathustra or Zoroaster, is so
singular that Faber thinks it can be accounted for only on the
hypothesis "of an ancient emigration from Persia to Ireland by
the northwest passage, which carried the legend with it."

By those who have investigated the origin of the early gospels,
it is stated that the story of the Magi and the star appeared in
the Gospel of the Infancy early in the second century, and was
subsequently incorporated into the preparatory chapters of Luke
and Matthew. According to Waite, there was a sect of Christians
called Prodiceans whose leader, Prodicus, about A.D. 120, boasted
that they had the sacred books of Zoroaster. From an extant
fragment of the Chronography of Africanus is the following:

"Christ first of all became known from Persia. For nothing
escapes the learned jurists of that country, who investigated all
things with the utmost care. The facts, therefore, which are
inscribed upon the golden plates, and laid up in the royal
temples, I shall record; for it is from the temples there, and
the priests connected with them, that the name of Christ has been
heard of. Now, there is a temple there to Juno, surpassing the
royal palace, which temple Cyrus, that prince instructed in all
piety, built, and in which he dedicated, in honor of the gods,
golden and silver statues, and adorned them with precious stones.
. . . Now about that time [as the records on the plates
testify], the king having entered the temple, with the view of
getting an interpretation of certain dreams, was addressed by the
priest Prupupius thus: 'I congratulate thee, master: Juno has
conceived.' 'And the king, smiling, said to him: 'Has she who is
dead conceived?' And he said: 'Yes, she who was dead has come to
life again, and begets life.' And the king said: 'What is this?
explain it to me.' And he replied: 'In truth, master, the time
for these things is at hand. For during the whole night the
images, both of gods and goddesses, continued beating the ground,
saying to each other, Come, let us congratulate Juno. And they
say to me, Prophet, come forward, congratulate Juno, for she has
been embraced. And I said, How can she be embraced who no longer
exists? To which they reply, She has come to life again, and is
no longer called Juno, but Urama. For the mighty Sol has
embraced her.' "[125]

[125] Hyppolytus, vol. ii., p. 196.

There is a tradition which asserts that during the early part of
the second century, St. Thomas went as a missionary to Parthia;
that after he had visited the various countries of the Parthian
Empire, tarrying for a time at Balkh, the capital of Bactria, and
the ancient residence of the Magi, he went to India. Soon after
the visit of Thomas to Persia and India, there appeared in
Palestine and the adjacent countries a gospel of Thomas, in which
were set forth various stories closely resembling the legends
found in the Hindoo sacred writings. After comparing various
passages of the Bhagavat Purana with those of the Infancy, and
after furnishing conclusive evidence that the latter must have
been copied from the former, Waite says:

"The conclusion must be, that while for some of the salient
points of the Gospels of the Infancy, the authors were indebted
to Zoroaster, and the legends of Persia, the outline of the story
was largely filled up from the history of Crishna, as sent back
to Palestine, by the Apostle Thomas, from the land of the

Concerning the story of Herod and his order to slay all the male
infants, there has been discovered in a cavern at Elephanta, in
India, a sculptured representation of a huge and ferocious
figure, bearing a drawn sword and surrounded by slaughtered
children, while mothers appear weeping for their slain. This
figure is said to be of great antiquity.

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, like Mai, the Mother of Gatama Buddha,
was regarded by certain sects in the earlier ages of Christianity
as an Immortal Virgin whose birth had been announced by an
angel.[126] She was in fact the ancient Virgin of the Sphere--the
Mother of the Gods--the Queen of Heaven.

[126] See Gospels of Mary and the Protovangelion.

As soon as Christ was born he conversed with Mary, as did also
Crishna with his mother, informing her of his divine mission.

Crishna was cradled among shepherds, so was Christ. Cansa,
fearing the loss of his kingdom, sought to destroy the life of
the divine infant in the same manner as did Herod in the case of
Christ. Both children are carried away by night, after which an
order is issued by the ruler of the country that all the young
children throughout the kingdom be slaughtered.

When Joseph and Mary arrived in Egypt, they visited the temple of
Serapis, where "all the magistrates and priests of the idols were
assembled." Upon the image being interrogated concerning the
"consternation and dread which had fallen upon all our country,"
it answered them as follows: "The unknown god has come hither,
who is truly God; nor is there anyone besides him, who is worthy
of divine worship; for he is truly the son of God." And at the
same instant this idol fell down, and at his fall all the
inhabitants of Egypt, besides others, ran together.[127] A
similar story is related of Crishna. This Indian god, the same
as Christ, cured a leper. A woman, after having poured a box of
precious ointment on the head of Crishna, was healed; so also a
woman anointed the head of Jesus. Crishna when but a lad
displayed remarkable mental powers and the most profound wisdom
before the tutor who was sent to instruct him. Christ astonished
the school-master Zaccheus with his great learning.[128]

[127] Gospel of the Infancy, ch. iv.

[128] Gospel of the Infancy, ch. xx.

Crishna had a terrible encounter with the serpent Calinaga; the
infant Christ had also a dreadful adventure with a serpent. Now
this Calinaga which Crishna encountered was a serpent goddess who
was worshipped by the sect in India which was opposed to the
adoration of the male principle. The early Christians, however,
being ignorant of the allegorical meaning of the legend,
transferred it to Christ literally.

The mother of Crishna looked in his mouth and beheld all the
nations of the earth. The same story is reported of Christ and
his mother. Finally Christ, like Crishna, was crucified, and
like him was buried. He descended into hell and on the third day
arose and ascended into heaven.[129]

[129] It will doubtless be urged that I am quoting from the
Apocryphal Gospels--that the genuine books of the New Testament
are silent concerning many of these Eastern legends. We must
bear in mind, however, that during the earlier ages of
Christianity, these finally rejected gospels were, equally with
the canonical books, considered as the word of God. The Infancy
is thought to be one of the earliest gospels. Justin Martyr was
acquainted with it, A.D. 150 to 160. It is referred to by
Irenaeus, A.D. 190.

In the poetical myths of the ancients the sun is yearly
overpowered by cold or by the destructive agencies in Nature.
Astronomically, or astrologically, it wanders in darkness and
desolation during the winter months; in fact dies, and descends
into hell in order that he may rise at the Easter season to
gladden and make all things new again. Mythologically, this new
sun becomes incarnate; enters again his mother's womb, and is
born into the world in the form of a man whose mission is to
renew human life. Hence we have an explanation of the Eastern
Buddhas and Crishnas, all of which were born of virgins at the
winter solstice.

The new sun which at the close of each cycle was believed by the
more ancient people of the globe to "issue forth from the womb of
Nature to renew the world," now that the truths underlying
Nature-worship were lost, became a redeemer or mediator between
earth and heaven, or between spirit and matter. It is stated
that at the time of the appearance of Christ not alone the Jews,
but the Persians, the Romans, the ancient Irish, and in fact all
the nations of the globe, were anxiously awaiting the event of
another incarnation of the solar Deity; and that maidens of all
classes and conditions were in a state of eager expectation, the
more pious, or at least the more ambitious among them, being in
almost constant attendance at the temples and sacred shrines,
whither they went to pay homage to the male emblem of generation,
thereby hoping to be honored as a Mai or Mary.

On the wall of the temple at Luxor are a series of sculptures,

"in which the miraculous annunciation, conception, birth, and
adoration of Amunoph III., the son of the Virgin Queen Mautmes,
is represented in a manner similar to what is described in St.
Luke's Gospel (ch. 1 and 2) of Jesus Christ, the son of the
Virgin Mary, and which is found also in the Gospel of St.
Matthew (ch. 1) as an addition not met with in the earliest
manuscripts,"[130] which fact has caused Sharpe, from whom the
above is quoted, to suggest that both accounts may have been of
Egyptian origin.

[130] Barlow, Symbolism, p. 127.

The titles "lamb," "anointed," etc., which were applied to
Christ, all appear attached to former in- carnations of the sun,
the first named standing for the sun in Aries. The effigies of a
crucified savior found in Ireland and Scotland in connection with
the figure of a lamb, a bull, or an elephant, the latter of which
is not a native of those countries, shows that they do not
represent Christ, but a crucified sun-god worshipped by the
inhabitants of the British Islands ages before the birth of the
great Judean philosopher and teacher.

It is plain that Crishna of India and the Persian Mithra
furnished the copy for the Jesus of the Romish Church, all of
whom mean one and the same thing--the second person in the Solar
Trinity. By the Jews, who attempted to ignore the female
principle, this God is called the "Lord of Hosts" and "God of
Sabaoth," which astronomically means God of the stars and
constellations, and astrologically the creator or producer of the
multitudes. Of this God, ieue, I H S, the author of Anacalypsis
says that he was the son of the celestial virgin, which she
carries in her arms; the Horus, Lux, of the Egyptians, the Lux of
St. John.

"It is from this infant that Jesus took his origin; or at least
it is from the ceremonies and worship of this infant that this
religion came to be corrupted into what we have of it. This
infant is the seed of the woman who, according to Genesis, was to
bruise the head of the serpent, which, in return, was to bruise
his foot or heel, or the foot or heel of her seed as the figure
of the Hindoo Crishna proves. From the traditionary stories of
this god Iao, which was figured annually to be born at the winter
solstice, and to be put to death and raised to life on the third
day at the vernal equinox, the Roman searchers after the
evangelion or gospel made out their Jesus. The total destruction
of everything at Jerusalem and in Judea--buildings, records,
everything--prevented them from coming to any absolute certainty
respecting this person who, they were told by tradition, had come
to preach the gospel of peace, to be their savior, in fulfilment
of the prophecy which their sect of Israelites found in their
writings, and who had been put to death by the Jews. From all
these circumstances he came to have applied to him the monogram
of I H S. . . . and to him at last all the legendary stories
related of the god Iao were attributed."[131]

[131] Godfrey Higgins, Anacalypsis, book vi., ch. iv., p. 455.

According to Faber, Jesus was not originally called Jesus Christ,
but Jescua Hammassiah--Jescua meaning Joshua, and Jesus, Savior.
Ham is the Om of India, and Messiah, the anointed. Commenting on
this Higgins remarks: "It will then be, The Savior Om the
Anointed, precisely as Isaiah had literally foretold; or reading
in the Hebrew made, The Anointed Om the Savior. This was the
name of Jesus of Bethlehem."

We have observed the fact that at the time of the birth of Christ
the entire world was expecting a Savior--a new incarnation of the
sun. The end of a cycle had come and the entire earth was to
undergo a process of renovation.

In a poem by Virgil, who was a Druid, the birth of a wonderful
child is celebrated, and the prophecy of a heathen Sibyl is seen
to be identical with that of Isaiah.

"The last period sung by the Sibylline prophetess is now arrived;
and the grand series of ages. That Series which recurs again and
again in the course of our mundane revolution begins afresh. Now
the Virgin Astrea returns from heaven; and the primeval reign of
Saturn recommences; now a new race descends from the celestial
realms of holiness. Do thou, Lucina, smile propitious on the
birth of a boy who will bring to a close the present age of iron
and introduce throughout the whole world, a new age of gold.
Then shall the herds no longer dread the fury of the lion, nor
shall the poison of the serpent any longer be formidable. Every
venomous animal and every deleterious plant shell perish
together. The fields shall be yellow with corn, the grape shall
hang its ruddy clusters from the bramble, and honey shall distil
spontaneously from the rugged oak. The universal globe shall
enjoy the blessings of peace, secure under the mild sway of its
new and divine sovereign."

There is no lack of evidence to prove that for several centuries
great numbers of Christians regarded Christ as a solar
incarnation similar to those which from time to time were born in
the valleys of the Nile and the Ganges. By the fathers in the
church Jesus Christ was named the New Sun, and in the early days
of Christianity the Egyptians struck a coin representing O. B. or
the holy Basilisk, with rays of light darting from his head, on
the reverse side of which was figured "Jesus Christ as the New
Solar Deity."

The similarity if not the actual identity of the religion of
Christ and that of the pagans in the second century is shown by
various writers. The Emperor Hadrian writing to his friend
Servianus says:

"Those who worship Serapis are also Christians; even those who
style themselves the Bishops of Christ are devoted to Serapis. .
. . There is but one God for them all; him do the Christians,
him do the Jews, him do all the Gentiles also worship."

It has been said that the head of Serapis supplied the first idea
of the portrait of Christ. Before the figure of Serapis, in his
temple, used to stand Isis, the Celestial Virgin, with the
inscription "Immaculate is our Lady Isis." In her hand she bore
a sheaf of grain.

As Serapis, or Pan, finally became Christ, so Isis, or the Queen
of Heaven, became his mother, and to the latter were transferred
all the titles, ceremonies, festivals, and seasons which from the
earliest time had belonged to the great Goddess of Nature.
Subsequently, probably about the close of the second century,
Christianity began slowly to emerge from the worship of Mithras
and Serapis, "changing the names but not the substance."

Upon the coinage of Constantine appears Soli Invicto Comita--"To
the invincible sun my companion or guardian," and when the Greek
and Roman Christians finally separated themselves from the great
body of pagan worshippers they apologized for celebrating the
birthday of their Savior on the 25th of December, saying that
"they could better perform their rites when the heathen were busy
with theirs." We are assured that the early Christians no less
than the Maji acknowledged Mithras as the first emanation from
Ormuzd, or the God of Light. He was the Savior which in an
earlier age had represented returning life--that which follows
the cold of winter. It was doubtless while they worshipped the
Persian Mithras that many of the so-called Christians gathered
their first ideas concerning the immortality of the soul and of
future rewards and punishments.

The analogy existing between the festivals, seasons, mythoses,
etc., of the various incarnations of the sun which were
worshipped by the early historic nations and those belonging to
Christianity is too striking to be the result of chance.

Buddha originally represented the sun in Taurus. Crishna was the
sun in Aries. The laborings and sufferings of Hercules, a god
who was an incarnation of the latter, portrays the history of the
passage of the sun through the signs of the Zodiac.

All the principal events of Christ's life correspond to certain
solar phases; or, in other words, all ecclesiastical calendars
are arranged with reference to the festivals which commemorate
the important events of his life from his conception and birth to
his ascension and reception in heaven. Each and every one of the
solar deities has been born at midnight, on the 25th of December,
at the time when the sun has reached its lowest position and
begins to ascend. Macrobius, a learned Roman writer, observes
that the early historic nations "believed that the sun comes
forth as a babe from its cradle at the winter solstice." Neith
is made to say, "The sun is the fruit of my womb."

The 15th of August, assumption day, the time when Mary, the
mother of Jesus, ascends to heaven is the day when the Zodiacal
constellation Virgo, "the Greek Astrea, leaves the European
horizon," and the "8th of September, when Virgo emerges from the
sun's rays, is held sacred as the Nativity of the Queen of

Of the mid-winter festival, Bede says: "The Pagans of these isles
began their year on the eighth of the Kalends of January, which
is now our Christmas Day. The night before that (24th Dec. eve)
was called by them the Medre-Nak, or Night of Mothers, because of
the ceremonies which were performed on that night."[132]

[132] Rivers of Life, vol. i., p. 430.

Among Christians as among Pagans the Christmas season was in
honor of "returning light," the vernal equinox of "growing light"
and St. John's day of "perfected light."

In England, among pagan Saxons, the midwinter festival lasted
twelve days, during which time light, fire, the sun, huge stones
and other similar manifestations of the Deity were adored.
Christian and pagan alike worshipped these objects. They called
Christmas "the birthday of the god who is light." The Savior, or
the New Sun, was the true light which lighteth every man who
cometh into the world. According to the testimony of various
writers, the festival held by Christians on Christmas eve used to
resemble the Feast of Lights, celebrated in Egypt in honor of
Neith. The tokens distributed among friends were cakes made of
paste in the form of babies. These cakes were called yuledows.
Dow means to "grow bigger," or, "to increase."

The Kalends of January at Rome were sacred to Janus and Juno to
whom sacrifices were offered. The Etruscans also worshipped
Janus who was the god (or goddess) of the year. Although this
Deity does not appear among the twelve gods it is said to be the
parent of them all. It was represented as having two faces.
Upon one were the letters representing 365, and upon the other
were the keys of life and death. According to Bryant this Deity
was called Junonius, from the goddess Juno, whose name resolves
itself into Juneh, a dove. In the Hebrew this name is identical
with Yoni or Yuni--the female principle. On the coins of this
god (which was subsequently regarded as male) is usually figured
a boat, although a dove with an olive branch is sometimes

[133] See Faber, Pagan Idolatry.

Juno is thought to be the same as Jana, which came from Jah of
the Hebrews. Diana was Diva Jana or "Dea Jana who is the same as
Astarte or Ashtaroth of the Sidonians."

Regarding the transference of the mid-winter festival of the
pagans to the Christian calendar, Forlong says:

"The early Christians undoubtedly selected this Roman Saturnalia
as an important period in the life of Christ, at first calling it
the time of his conception, and later of his birth, this last
best suiting the views and feelings of their Solo- Christian
flocks. The Jews called the day of the Winter Solstice The Fast
of Tebet. The previous time was one of darkness, and on the 28th
began their Feast of Lights."[134]

[134] Rivers of Life, vol. i., p. 430.

In France the ancient name for Christmas is Noel, a term which
until recently has baffled all antiquarian research. It is now
thought that it is formed from Nuadh and Vile which together mean
All Heal.

Although every possible effort has been put forward to give to
this date (the 25th of December) the appearance of authenticity
as the birth of Christ, still, so far as I am able to find, no
one accredited with any degree of trustworthiness has ever been
rash enough to attempt its ratification as a matter of history.

Tylor calls attention to the fact that in the religious symbolism
of the material and spiritual sun Augustine and Gregory of Nyssa
discourse on the "growing light and dwindling darkness that
follow the nativity," and cites the instance of Leo the Great
who, in a sermon, rebukes the "pestiferous persuasion, that this
solemn day is to be honored not for the birth of Christ, but for
the rising of the New Sun."

On the authority of this same prelate it is found that in the
fifth century, the faithful, before entering the Basilica of St.
Peter, were wont to turn and salute the shining orb of day.

The Roman winter solstice which was connected with the worship of
Mithra, and which was named the "Birthday of the Unconquered Om,"
was adopted by the western churches some time during the fourth
century. From the west it passed to the eastern churches, where
it finally became "the solemn anniversary of the birth of

In Ireland the ceremonies attending the mid-winter festival were
formerly regarded as exceedingly important. A short time before
the approach of the winter solstice, voices were heard throughout
the island proclaiming: "The New Year is at hand! Gather the
Mistletoe!" The mistletoe wreaths which formed the principal
decorations of Venus' temple were at first proscribed by the
Christian preachers, but, in process of time they not only found
their way into the sanctuary, but were given a place over the
altars, their final signification being "good will to men."[135]

[135] Rivers of Life, vol. i., p. 81.

Although the tokens of friendship which were distributed by the
pagans at the season of the mid- winter festival differed
somewhat from those which at the present time are exchanged among
Christians at the same season of the year, still, there can be no
doubt that the Christmas tree, loaded with gifts, is a remnant of
that worship under which the sun was recognized as the source
whence all blessings flow. Down to a late date, fire was a
conspicuous element at the festival of the winter solstice. As
the yule-log blazed upon the hearth, our ancestors set up huge
stones and danced round them, thus worshipping the god of

On the 20th and 21st of March the sun illumines exactly half the
earth. At this time the Day has conquered the Night. Light has
dethroned Darkness, a complete victory has been gained over
Typhon and the new god comes forth "with healing in his wings."
On Lady's day, the 25th of March, the Virgin conceives. In
Phoenicia numerous fetes were instituted to rejoice with Astarte
in her conception. During the months preceding the birth of the
young sun-god the Queen of Heaven receives marked homage.

In a former portion of this work we have observed that the
festival which celebrated the return of spring was instituted by
the inventors of the Neros thousands of years prior to the
beginning of the Christian era, to celebrate the vernal equinox

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