Natty Dread and Planetary Resplendence
Christianity’s Apocalyptic Tragedy and the Immortal Tree of Life
For Elaine Pagels, in memory of Vibia Perpetua
Fig 1: Crucifixion, Mathias Grunwald
This is a complementary article to Natural Entheogens and Cosmological Symbiosis: Solving the Central Enigma of Existential Cosmology (King 2021), also conceived as a result of the same transfigurational entheogenic experience.
Christianity presents a unique threat to world futures by the misleading portrayal of Jesus as a miraculous supernatural "Son of God", in conflict both with any credible cosmological account of existence and not least with the core principles of Monotheism. The other monotheistic religions also have a scorched-Earth eschatology, in conflict with our primary cosmological responsibility to ensure the diversity of conscious life survives. The Christian canonical account undermines the capacity of humankind to fathom what kind of universe, or existential cosmos we are actually living in and threatens humanity's ability to survive in evolutionary time scales without lethal misadventure. It is a cargo cult illusion threatening our ability to survive, through a direct conflict of belief with reality, promoted by miraculous fallacy.
When the priestly author wrote Genesis 1, claiming the ‘Elohim said "Let there be light and there was Light", creating heaven and Earth out of tohu va vohu, casting the plants as created before the Sun and Moon, and making humanity male and female in “our” likeness, we know that black holes and galaxies had been forming long before, and that neutrinos were flashing through the Earth unnoticed. We now know that all people alive and present at the time were composed of quarks and leptons grouped in baryons, nuclei, atoms, molecules, organelles, cells and organs, with DNA, RNA and proteins coursing through their veins and permeating their tissues. That they/we were not created from clay or breath, but develop naturally from the fertilisation of egg and sperm. This is not materialism speaking, its cosmology. We can accept Genesis 1 as a beautiful allegory based on the understanding available at the time, even though the Yahwistic account in Genesis 2 is a punitive curse on humanity as sexual beings, casting womankind in the role of the “devil’s gateway”.
We know from Jeremiah's claims of God's anger and the resulting response of the people, that the religious practices of Jerusalem in the time of the Kings involved diverse forms of worship, including the Goddess by her various names – Inanna/Ishtar, or Asherah the ancient consort of El, and the male god Tammuz/Dumuzi. But we also at once know the people were using Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a eucaryote yeast, to make their bread and wine, which a couple of billion years before had arisen from symbiosis between an Asgard archaean and a proteobacterium, as we all have. Again this is not materialism but nature speaking.
Jer 7:17 "Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger”
Jer 44:17 “But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.”
Psalm 82’s confession of polytheism likewise shows this diversity: “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods ... I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High ... But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.”
History in both the Old and New Testaments is perceived through a glass darkly, in Paul’s own words, distorted by the political bias and religious imperatives of the redactors. The diversity of worship described in Jeremiah in the time of the Kings comes to us through the Yahwistic gloss of the exilic authors in Babylon, sharpened by Zoroastrian apocalyptic ideas, replacing the Hebrew notion of Sheol with a future purification by fire in the end of days, leading to the stark contrast of Heaven and Hell. This originated from the time Cyrus allowed the Jews in exile to return to Israel, where they instituted a more fundamentalistic paradigm, ordering the men of Israel to forsake their gentile wives. Ezra 10:2 And Shechaniah … answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.
Life in Israel up to this point had been culturally diverse. Free worship in the tabernacles from ancient times had been supplanted only a few years before the Babylonian annexation, by Jerusalem-centered worship, by the youthful Josiah. As Wikipedia puts it: “Between the 10th century BCE and the beginning of their exile in 586 BCE, polytheism was normal throughout Israel. It was only after the exile that worship of Yahweh alone became established, and possibly only as late as the time of the Maccabees (2nd century BCE) that monotheism became universal among the Jews.
Likewise, we know Christian history is a distorted tale, firstly of the supplanting of the original following of Yeshua by born again Pauline revisionism under threat of the anathema maranatha despite him having no direct knowledge of the events, or the key character involved, and then by the orthodox victors who suppressed the Valentinian gnostics and many others, causing the Nag Hammadi texts to be buried in jars until the 20th century, just as later developments like the Nicene creed and the Trinity also constitute confabulations of Yeshua’s mission.
To be fully understood, Yeshua's apocalyptic journey of redemption thus has to be seen in its context. Israel was in a state of flux, effectively ruled by the Romans, with the Sanhedrin Sadduces and the tetrarchs holding high office, Pharisees spread through the smaller towns and more extreme sects such as the Essenes in desert retreats. By contrast, the Edomite Kingdom of Nabatea which emerged around 300 BCE, was in its cultural prime and was an autonomous state, reaping rich commercial gains as the artery through which trade coursed from the East to and from Europe via Gaza. Edom was a nominally Arab culture whose original female deities, al-Lat, al-Uzza and Manat who continued to be worshipped in Mecca up to the time of Muhammad, as well as Dhushara the Lord of Seir. Gen 32:3 “And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom”.
In the wake of Alexander cutting a military swathe across the Near East and the ensuing Seleucid empire. These were imbued with Greek personae as can be seen in the architectural forms of Nabateaen deities where the female deities took on Greek forms like Tyche and Dhushara became a Dionysian deity whose tragic mask had the power to confer immortal life.
Israel, Nabatea and surrounding lands all spoke the Aramaic language of Syria. This was the language of Yeshua in Galilee and this was the language of the Nabateans. Deuteronomy notes of Jacob "A wandering Aramaean was my father". The word Aram goes right back to the Mari texts of the twelfth century BCE. The whole area around Israel was in a state of intercommunication through commerce and a common language. The rulers of Nabatea and the Herodian dynasty closely intermarried. There was a Jewish population scattered throughout and on all sides diverse beliefs. Nabatea held its own celebrations and religious festivals "on every high hill and under every green tree" as the Jewish curse against the nations goes.
Yeshua's mission was invoked when John the Baptist cursed Herodias, accusing Herod Antipas of taking the wife of his brother Herod II (Philip) in contradiction to Hebrew law. Lev 18:16 “Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness.” Josephus and Mark both recount aspects of this event. Herod asked Salome the daughter of Herodias to dance (the descent of the seven veils) in front of his generals at Macherus on the Nabatean border. Herod also swore unto her "Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom," echoing the sacrificial ending of the Book of Esther (Ishtar). In return, completing Inanna’s descent, Herodias demanded John's head on a plate. But this was no ordinary occasion and it's about a lot more than the morality of divorce and was in fact exposing a mortal threat to Herod. Herod's generals were present because Herod had sent his previous wife the Nabatean princess royal Phasaelis, daughter of Aretas IV, fleeing in fear of her life. Aretas, who figures as joint ruler with Queen Shaliqat on coinage, then invaded and defeated Herod with the military help of Herod's other brother Philip, attesting to the cooperation between the Herodian and Nabatean dynasties. The name Phasaelis was also the name of Phasael, Herod the Great's brother, himself born in the Hasmonean Kingdom to a Jewish aristocratic family of Edomite descent. What this goes to show is how interpenetrating the affairs of Israel and Nabatea actually were, despite their contrasting religious traditions and how Yeshua came to replace John when he was effectively sacrificed in the descent of Inanna (Wolkenstein & Kramer 1987).
2: Left: Aretas IV and Queen Shaliqat jointly on the Nabatean coinage.
Right: Aubrey Beardsley for Oscar Wilde's "Salome".
Thus the apocalyptic mission is portrayed in the Christian gospels as having passed to John’s baptised successor Yeshua. Luke 7:19 “And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?” Mark 6:16 “But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead”. John makes this even more explicit: 3:28 “Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled”. However it remains historically unclear whether the Baptist intended this succession, as he was beheaded. Luke notes Yeshua admitted his own style to be opposite to John's ascetic purity, as a winebibber and a friend of publicans and sinners (prostitutes) but that wisdom is justified of all her children.
To understand his mission and how Yeshua envisaged it, we have to turn to sources of material documented long after the events, by followers with divergent eschatologies. None of these authors had direct experience of Yeshua’s presence or were present during his mission, so all accounts are hearsay and thus non-evidential. Despite Yeshua’s miracles forming a key part of his ministry in the gospels, modern biblical scholars are almost universal in their scepticism of these accounts, although they form the central contrdiction of Christian beliefs.
One way of understanding these hearsay scriptural accounts is to combine (a) the three synoptic gospels, beginning from Mark (c 66-74 CE) underpinned by the Quelle sayings source, assigning John to be later (90-100 CE), historically less reliable and in conflict with the former three, with (b) the Gospel of Thomas (c 60-120 CE), forming a counterpoint, underpinned by material from other Nag Hammadi texts, (c) the relevant Talmud entries and (d) the works of Flavius Josephus, excepting the Christian redactions concerning Yeshua in Book 18.
John is clearly later than Thomas, with the former attempting to discredit the latter retrospectively, in the passage about the doubting Thomas not fully recognising Yeshua’s divinity thus disclaiming Thomas’s gnostic view in favour of its own. The Nag Hammadi texts, although diverse and apocryphal accounts, most of which are historically later, can be given a comparable weighting to the Pauline works, as both are derived by followers who did not actually meet Yeshua and were not present during his mission. This is the only unbiased way to give a investigative balance to the question of Yeshua's actual mission, as opposed to the Christian religious canon, on the basis that checking both sides, of the story, orthodox and gnostic, helps uncover the inconsistencies between them. This approach is again not materialistic, because the gnostic wing of the scripture is both the most spiritually diverse and fantastic and offsets the Pauline works as equally the product of an imaginative rewriting of Yeshua's mission in the eyes of the beholder.
It is clear that, whatever his strengths or weaknesses, Yeshua was a brilliant transformative innovator, with an unparalleled insight into the spiritual zeitgeist, a literal Einstein of the existential crisis of his time, who embraced the true meaning of apocalypse, to throw the covers of reality, by bridging the full scope of the extant traditions, both to redeem the lost sheep of Israel and to fulfil the expectations of the wider backdrop of fertility worship of the nations, leading to Christianity becoming a world religion through its popularity among the gentiles. That said, one can also fairly claim, unlike some docetic gnostic texts that, whatever else may have subsequently happened, Yeshua the man had human DNA and was composed of molecules and cells consistent with the natural world as we have now discovered it to be, given that his mission took place only once he became around 30 years of age. Again this is not reductionism speaking, it is evidential realism.
The scope of Yeshua’s mission goes far beyond Essene ideas of the end of days and constitutes a forcible challenge to bring on the Kingdom of the Father, ostensibly in three days, through a sacrificial confrontation, in which the forces of dark and light are brought into violent confrontation, in the persona of Yeshua as the baptised Son of God. The span of Yeshua’s mission thus becomes that of a messiah fomenting controversy and chaos focussed on the corruption of Jerusalem, leading to the tragic enactment of the Crucifixion.
Mark 8:38 “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.”
This has been portrayed in the Christian account as a sacrificial act, in which God’s only begotten son has to die, so that humanity fatally flawed by being infected with the original sin of the serpent can live, provided they believe in him, but otherwise they will burn in hell fire as unredeemed sinners. But whence the origin of this peculiarly pagan sacrificial idea? But why does the God of Creation require his only begotten son to be killed? It is also completely unclear why attacking only certain factors of society deemed to be corrupt serves this purpose. To redeem the sins of the world would require taking on the entire burden of sin, both in the strong rulers and in the weak. Why does inducing a frenzied level of conflict against the authorities in the enactment of a tragedy leading to his own death serve the purpose of defeating sin as a whole? Why is this necessary, or even helpful cosmologically?
Fig 3: The as we now know it to be: (a) The origin and evolution of the universe over 13 billion years. (b) Andromeda our sister galaxy, like the milky way, contains around 100 billion stars many of which could also contain life, whose organic basis pervades the galaxy from supernovae. (c) The standard model of physics involves symmetry-breaking of four wave-particle forces from a unified superforce. (d) Evolutionary diversification of genes has occurred over around a quarter of the universe’s lifetime. (e) DNA and protein structures interacting. (f) Life evolved from complementary roles of archaea and bacteria, in which complex eucaryotes including plants, animals, fungi and protists, including human cells (g), arose from a symbiosis between them. (h) Viruses including corona viruses, although parasitic, complement the role of cells. (i) The “Mandala of Evolution” Dion Wright illustrates evolution as a cosmological process. This is empirical cosmology speaking, not materialism.
This conceives a universe entirely inconsistent with the universe as we now know it to be. If God created the universe as we now know it, "He" created the black holes, galaxies, and the four forces of nature and their underlying symmetries and symmetry-breakings necessary for the complexity of the universe to emerge. He also therefore created the physical circumstances in which life can evolve and beome conscious. Social morality is not the driving force of the natural world, but a product of it, and climax diversity arises from adventitious mutation, a balance between predators and prey and parasites and hosts, amid a counterpoint between competition and cooperation, in which symbiosis has also been pivotal. Humanity could not come to exist unless these processes of complexification had been able to play out unhindered. Morality is not a prime motivating force, but a product of complex animal societies that arises naturally, because reduction of internal strife makes a species, or society, more resilient against external competition.
There is thus no way that, if a God, or "the" God, created the natural universe, that the appeal of Yeshua to create a religious suicide bomb to blow apart the presumptions of a corrupt and sinful generation, would abruptly, in three days, bring on the Kingdom in power, by annihilation of a physical universe of 13 billion years stable existence, necessary for conscious life to be able to emerge and evolve.
What is clear throughout the canonical gospels is that Yeshua’s mission has two complementary and yet discordant themes leading to inevitable catastrophe.
A. The light side provides the wisdom and compassion for which Yeshua is renowned is composed of astute sayings, particularly those which stress compassion. To fully understand the breadth and scope of these it is essential to also consider the contrapuntal sayings of the Gospel of Thomas, which are pivotal in gaining a true perspective.
A key example of the astute sayings is Yeshua’s golden rule, which is an inversion of Hillel’s earlier (110 BCE – 10 CE) silver rule: "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn”, which Yeshua inverted: Matt 7:12 “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets”.
One can immediately see that Yeshua’s statement is derived from Hillel’s, complete with the the trailing “law and prophets” repeating Hillel’s “torah”. It is also notable that Hillel’s statement was prefigured 500 years before by Confucius: “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself”. This gets to the quick of the issue. Both Hillel and Confucius are stating an ethic of avoiding bad acts, respecting the autonomy of others, but Yeshua is going further, invoking active intervention ostensibly for the good. While this may seem beneficial, there is a pitfall demonstrated throughout history. What if the other person or social group doesn’t want you to do to them what you would like them to do to you? If a large group of people want a conservative society of a certain kind for themselves, even for their own protection, does this mean it is reasonable for them to pass restrictive laws to enforce it on a diverse society, or is mutual tolerance of differences essential for humanity and for nature to flower? If I want you to have sex with me, is it reasonable for me to proactively have sex with you? The answer is no.
The Sermon on the Mount goes further than mere cooperation and invokes actively rewarding ones enemies twofold. Matt 5:38 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain … Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”.
The central question here is this: Are we invoking a paradigm of natural survival in perpetuity, or one in which all care is cast to the winds, because our rewards are in eternal life in Heaven and not on this Earth? Christians extol these passages as pivotal to Yeshua’s compassionate teachings, in contrast to the narrower, more punitive “eye for and eye” of Old Testament teachings, but they are unsustainable in the natural world of living survival.
These questions pivot around the of tragic temptation universal to the dilemma of cooperation and defection, and hence good and evil. Two prisoners are arrested for a crime. If they cooperate and remain silent they will receive a moderate sentence, but if one betrays the other the one cooperating with the prosecution may get off altogether and the other will go down severely. But this can lead to temptation and both defecting, so they both receive a long punitive sentence. This is the central question around which the ethics revolves and it is also illustrated in the tragedy of the commons (Hardin 1968), where winner-take-all gains tempt people to exploit the common resource before others do and the entire commons is destroyed, just as humanity is doing to the planet today.
Elementary evolutionary game theory has established that both tit-for-tat – doing to others what they last did to you – and win-stay lose-shift – switching between cooperation and defection depending on how the payoffs of the last round worked out – out-survive both systematic cooperation and systematic defection. However tit-for-tat strategies can lead to endless rounds of retaliation characteristic of clan hostilities. Marcus Frean (1994) established a middle ground between eye-for-an-eye and turn-the-other-cheek, called firm-but-fair. This is a form of tit-for-tat that turns the other cheek about a third of the time and leads to the firm-but-fair population reaching 98% of the whole, when each party can make their response asynchronously. Always cooperate is a suckers game which can be invoked only when we have the out of a quick exit to Heaven, in fear of Hell, otherwise it is cumulative suicide. Again, this is not materialism speaking, but the ethics of constructive diplomacy, to protect the whole for the future of all and the survival of human life and nature.
The sermon also has a strong current of having no care for even moderate self protection of one’s own life. Matt 6:25 “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”
Nor is there any thought for the future, nor the future of life: Matt 6:34 "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
The sayings on the mount are thus being made in a context where no thought needs to be given for survival because of the immanent Kingdom of God in Heaven and the much more dire consequences of being thrown into Hell.
These positive sayings are also mixed with destructive sayings: Matt 5:29 “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell”.
This generosity does not apply to anything except the material: Matt 7:6 “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”
It is wonderful that Yeshua considers the lilies of the field, who “toil not” as plants, to be more beautiful than Solomon in all his glory, but the rains fall on good and bad people alike because that is how nature works. The fowls of the air are not fed by God’s grain. The hawks are also part of nature, as are the lion, and all carnivores. Climax life requires an interplay of cooperation and defection. Carnivores’ tooth and claw killings ensure the herbivores don’t become extinct by eating all the plants. Even parasitic diseases end up playing a role in the evolutionary process. Sexuality and hence all complex life has arisen from a Red Queen race between diseases and hosts, in which the endless variations of sexual individuals avoid a pandemic that would wipe out a non-sexual species. Hence individual mortality arises from sexuality and we could not have evolved as humans, or be alive without sexuality and hence the mortal coil.
Yeshua also intimates that any sexual feelings are against the law. Matt 5:28 “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart”. In a sense anyone who looks on a woman with lust is committing adultery, but as long as they don’t act upon it without the consent of the other, that is an essential manifestation of the natural fertility of sexuality, through which all human beings on this planet have come to exist. Lust is natural and fertility incarnate. It is sexual exploitation that is an evil.
B. The dark side, all the more ominous because it would ultimately lead to Yeshua’s crucifixion, stands out as completely alien to the Hebrew prophetic tradition, claiming to perform nature miracles walking on water and calming the storms on Galilee, bringing people back from the dead, and other actions causing him to be typecast by the scribes as “Baal Zebul” the Lord of Flies, when he cured a man by mere sleight of hand, rather than the traditional methods of faith healing at the time. Yeshua’s response was incendiary, claiming that the scribes were cursing themselves because the devil can’t cast our devils.
Some “miracles” were outright grotesque: After exorcising the legion of spirits of a madman, Yeshua drives a helpless herd of pigs into the lake to drown: Luke 5:13 “And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea”.
The credibility of the miracles wanes in the presence of more familiar company of people rather than excited superstitious crowds seeking faith healing, as noted in Nazareth Mark 6:4 "A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.”
Even the disciples did not have confidence in the miracles at least until the wind died on the lake: Mark 6:51 And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.
Yeshua’s mission became a three year long enactment of a Dionysian tragedy, just as Dionysian theatre and the three tragedies for one comedy became the cathartic portal in which the lives of men and gods intertwined in ancient Greece, as it remains the nuclear core of all dramatic productions, movies and television series today.
One can have little doubt that controversy and confrontation was anything other than intentional on Yeshua’s part, in the light of his first sermon at the synagogue in Nazareth, where despite admitting his own affliction (possibly the lameness mentioned in the Talmud), his incendiary claims caused the people to seek to throw him off the cliffs.
Luke 4:23 “And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way”.
Luke’s (80–100 CE) description can be taken in one of two ways. A sceptic would say this is a contrivance of the Christian forefathers, calculated to destine Yeshua’s mission as being at the outset to the Gentiles rather than Israel, where he will not be accepted and indeed betrayed by the Jews. However, if we accept Luke’s account as genuine, then it is Yeshua saying he is opening mission to envelop the gentile religious paradigm from the outset in a clash of the cultures against the existing hierarchy in Israel. This duality extends throughout all the descriptions of Yeshua’s mission by all the gospels. Either Yeshua is being misrepresented as forming a bridge to the gentiles by the Christian forefathers to further the Christian interpretation of history as a gentile religion, or Yeshua was himself seeking to form an apocalyptic bridge transcending both the Hebrew religion of the Israelites and the fertility traditions of the nations, when Christianity did not yet exist.
Yeshua’s purported miracles fall into three types (a) Healing miracles involving (i) curing sickness, (ii) exorcisms of evil spirits or devils and (iiI) three resurrections; (b) Procedural “miracles” in which loaves loaves and fishes are shared among a large congregation in much the manner of a communion wafer; and (c) nature miracles including water into wine, cursing the fig, driving swine to drown after an exorcism and walking on and calming the waters.
Spiritual healings were mainstream activities in an era where spiritual cures were sought given limited medical knowledge. It’s thus not simply that crowds seek a faith healer because they heal many people but can be the reverse – they appear to heal many people because crowds gather round them seeking a cure. The pool at Bethesda was famous for healing simply via troubled waters. John 5:4 “For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.” The procedural “miracles” were not fundamentally miraculous but just anticipating the communion rite. However, the nature miracles both set Yeshua completely outside the framework of Hebrew religious principles and are systematically consistent with Dionysian traditions.
John begins with Yeshua’s first miracle at Cana, where his mother says “They have no wine.” Yeshua says “Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come”, but Mary tells the servants “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it” and Yeshua says “Fill the water pots with water.” When they take them to the governor, they are fresh wine. Scholars note this miracle is likely to be a credible account derived from a lost earlier source listing miracles, as shortly after casually declaring the son of a nobleman near death to be healed, John notes “This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.”
This raises several issues. Why is Yeshua’s mother asking him to perform a miraculous feat over a trivial request for alcohol at a wedding? Doesn’t this indicate a family operation in miraculous cures? But the third issue is pivotal. Why is Mary inciting Yeshua to perform a miraculous feat known throughout the Near East as the signature of Dionysus as the god of wine and miraculous altered states?
His relationship with his family and his friends became more troubled as his spell-binding approach to the mission evolved. John 2:12 “After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.” Mark: 3:21 “And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.” 3:31 “There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him”, upon which he replied “whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother”. John: 7:3 “His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. For neither did his brethren believe in him.” This is also an indirect swipe against James the Just.
Metaphors of the winebibber pervade Yeshua’s mission. Luke 7.33 “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all her children.” Mark 2;18 “And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.” John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.”
This enactment of his mission as a destined dramatic tragedy on a catastrophic collision course with the forces of darkness, perceived in both the devil and the Jerusalem authorities, religious and secular, ultimately culminated in a series of ritual events, from the necromancy of Lazarus in John, through the march of the palm king and turning the tables in the temple, resulting in Yehsua’s trial and crucifixion for both insurrection against the Romans and blasphemy against the Hebrew tradition, ostensibly set at nought in the Saturnalia by the Roman guards, and later crucified on the Cross, echoing the Canaanite cry of the death god Mot to El. Matt 15:34 “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? – My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? “
This doesn’t mean that Yeshua was posing as Dionysus but that he was bringing together all the spiritual currents extant in the greater Israel and its neighbour nations, and adopted currents of Dionysian magical transformation and fertility worship notions of sacrifice of the sacred king, as well as the apocalyptic expectations of the Jewish eschatology in its Zoroastrian-inspired end of days form. These then form a bridge to a new Heaven and a new Earth.
To imbue prophetic validity to Yeshua's apocalyptic mission, Christian scriptures attempt to conflate these assumed events with passages from the prophets such as Zechariah, where the foolish shepherd brings about an apocalyptic denouement replete with echoes of Judas' betrayal, culminated by a tumultuous triage of Jerusalem:
"And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD" (Zech 11:13).
But the Christian accounts incorrectly attribute this to Jeremiah and Matthew is in double contradiction with Acts:
"Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value. And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me" (Matt 27:3).
"Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood" (Acts 1:16-19).
Either these "prophecies" were part of a Dionysian enactment, with Jesus and Judas both complicit, or they are a contrived imputation by later writers, who did not have first hand experience of the mission.
Evidence from the Mycenaean period shows that Dionysus is one of Greece's oldest attested gods 1400 years before Yeshua. His attribute of "foreignness" as an arriving outsider-god may be inherent and essential to his cults, as he is a god of epiphany, sometimes called "the god that comes”. With the advent of viticulture in archaic Greece, Dionysus became a god of transformation, and eternal life. His cult involved bands of married women (thiasoi - adherents of a deity) periodically retreating to the mountain forests at night to hold an ecstatic revel rout, where through dances and other rituals they experienced the divinity of Dionysus and the release and liberation he afforded as liber, associated with the orgiastic and ecstatic frenzy of his worshipers, including the maenads (“raving ones”) who were said to use nightshade to dilate their pupils to make them 'dolorous' from which nightshade’s name Belladonna (“beautiful lady”) comes. In Athens there was a procession on his feast day, when his image was paraded before the crowd, after which he performed a sacred marriage ritual with the king’s wife.
Dionysus, who was the twice born and resurrected son of God Zeus by mortal Semele, was said to perform a variety of miracles in connection with grapevines and wine, all to do with the god’s seasonal epiphany at the time of his festival, evidencing the presence of his divinity. Epiphania means "appearance" in Greek and refers to the revelation of the Lord's power in his appearance. In pagan antiquity, 6 January was the epiphany of Dionysus. Vase paintings depict wine flowing directly from grape clusters, presenting wine as a product of the divine. On the occasion of Dionysus’s festival called Thyria (“raging”), when Dionysus was thought to be present there, priests under the watch of witnesses placed three empty basins in a building under seal. The next morning when the seal on the door was broken and people entered, the basins were full of wine. In Euripides’ Bacchae, a maenad struck the ground with her thyrsus, “and the god at that spot put forth a fountain of wine.”
Dionysus, of all deities, stands as the manifestation of miraculous dread at a level unsurpassed by Yeshua’s miracles on Lake of Galilee. The magical metamorphoses of Dionysus are rendered on the Dionysus Cup from around 540-530 BCE by Exekias. A band of Tyrrhenian pirates sailing by the shore happens upon Dionysus and kidnaps him for ransom, believing him to be a wealthy prince binding him to the mast. To their surprise, the fetters fall away from his hands and feet. The ship’s helmsman cries out: “Madmen! What god is this whom you have taken to bind? Do not lay hands on him, lest he grow angry and stir up dangerous winds and heavy squalls.” His mates do not heed the warning and strange things are seen about them. Sweet, fragrant wine runs streaming throughout the pirates’ black ship. Vines dripping with clusters of grapes spread across the tops of the sails, while dark ivy blooming with flowers and berries entwines the ship’s mast. Dionysus transforms into a dreadful lion and summons illusions of wild beasts, the leopard or panther, sacred to him, and lions, tigers, and bears. As the beasts lunge, the terrified pirates promptly jump overboard into the sea’s cold embrace, but the god enjoys the last laugh as the pirates transform into dolphins upon striking the waves. Only the helmsman, who enjoyed the change of heart, is spared to tell this tale of the wrath of Dionysus.
What is distinctly different about the Dionysian tale is that it is and has always been recognised as mythopoetic allegory, not a physical fact, while Yeshua’s alleged miracles and his promises of a return from the dead in power have been crafted by the Christian forefathers to be a claimed cosmological fact more real than the word around us. This is profoundly dangerous, because it lays a false cosmological claim in complete contradiction to every verified form of knowledge, to jam pack the persona of the Son of God into the portal of reality to make a claim of ultimate ascendency over nature on the part of the Son of Man become the Son of God under pain of eternal torment.
Fig 4: Dionysian parallels: Memling’s “Carrying the Cross” shows Mary Magdalene with scored cheek following Jesus in despair. The women of Galilee figure as the effective maenads of Yeshua, in supporting him out of their substance, in anointing hm for his burial and in watching from far off during the crucifixion and announcing his resurrection. Gospel accounts of Yeshua walking on water and rescuing Peter are prefigured in the story of Dionysus miraculously turning the pirates into dolphins when they jump into the ocean in fear of his miraculous manifestations. Inset: two Nabatean and Syrian tragic masks used to confer immortal life on the bearer prefiguring the apocalyptic notion that the death of the saviour is the key to immortal life.
The Dionysian connection pervaded the Near East with the rise of Alexander and the ensuing Greek empires and became integral to Syria and Nabatea. Dhushara was an ancient Arabic deity originally represented by a simple stone block in a similar manner to the worship of a stone pillar at Bethel by Jacob , as a non iconic face of the abstract God, as Yahweh was. Gen 35:14: “Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone; and he poured out a drink offering on it, and poured oil on it”. However with the rise of Nabatean commerce and viticulture, Dhushara gained the persona of the Greek Dionysus, just as al-Uzza, al-lat and Manat gained the forms of Tyche, Atargatis and Aphrodite. Nabatean culture had shrines scattered far and wide across the fertile landscape.
Astral worship came to involve elaborate repasts on triclinia overseen by “the consecrated and inviolable possession of” Dhushara, in which concern for making detailed preparations for immortal life had a pivotal focus. Dhushara became the god with the tragic death mask conferring immortal life on the wearer: “The Nabatean use of the tragic mask furnishes yet another example of their preoccupation with immortality and their intense desire to become identified with their divinity. The mask served as a portrait of the deathless God Dushara, Dusares Dionysos and its wearer became united with him through its use for life everlasting escaping thus the limitations of the mortal span” (Glueck 242) .
Given that these forms of worship extended across the East of the Jordan from Arabia in the South to Syria in the North, and the commercial currents running between East to West by sea, it is inescapable that these currents of deity would have been grist to the mill of religious and apocalyptic ferment.
Yeshua's mission is intimately bound up in the affairs of key women who ministered unto him out of their substance, effectively providing the financial funding for the mission: Luke 8:1 “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance”.
Fig 5: Piero della Francesca “The Baptism of Christ”, Giovanni de Milano “Anointing”, Piero della Francesca “The Crucifixion”, Icon “The Holy Myrrh Bearing Women”, Titian “Noli me Tangere”. The women play a pivotal role in Yeshua’s mission and are thus portrayed as witnesses and ritual participants in all the critical events, from the baptism, ministering unto him out of their substance, with Mary Magdalene, out of whom went the seven Galla of Inanna (above) anointing him for his burial, watching over his crucifixion and witnessing the risen Christ.
Rather than being anointed by a high priest, as was David and Solomon, Yeshua is anointed by a woman, either on his feet or head and in Mark and John ominously for his burial as a sacred king.
John’s account has Mary performing the task. John 12:3 “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him. Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this”. This appears to link to Luke’s reference to Mary playing “that good part” in the Dionysian ritual: Luke 10:41 “And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
The seven devils are the seven Galla of Inanna-Ishtar that pursued and ravaged Dumuzi, corresponding to the seven layers of hell when the goddess of heaven does her descent, so mentioning them specifically in the gospels casts Mary Magdalene as the sacrificial Queen of Heaven in the piece, preemptively anointing him for his burial after his sacrifice as a sacred king in the shadow of Dumuzzi and Tammuz. This means that, as we converge on the crucifixion, there is a relentless parallel with John the Baptist’s death in Inanna’s Descent enacted by Salome at Macherus.
In Mark, Yeshua is anointed on his head and the pharisees murmur against him because of the cost: Mark 14:3 “And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. ... She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.
In Luke this woman is described as a “sinner”, interpreted as a prostitute and they murmur because she is a sinner: Luke 7:37 “And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment”.
This sinner has also been associated with Magdalen and with the woman caught in adultery in John 8:3 “And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery, saying to Yeshua “Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act” to which he replied He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her, And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, and so Yeshua said “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee”.
Yeshua’s very fanciful genealogy in Matthew, as King of the Jews, descends through five “fallen” women: Tamar who covered her head with a veil as a prostitute to become impregnated by her father-in-law when he failed to honour betrothing her to a brother on the death of her husband according to Hebrew law, Rahab, the prostitute who let the Israelite spies into Jericho, Ruth who lay with Boaz at night and later became his wife, and Bathsheba who sired Solomon with David, although then married to Uriah, whom David later had killed and finally mother Mary who was found with child out of wedlock and was partnered by Joseph (Matt 1:19 “Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily”). All these women are perceived to be virtuous but all have at face value sexually transgressed, despite the fact that Mary is claimed by the Christian account to be impregnated by God in the form of the Holy Ghost, just as Semele was impregnated by Zeus.
Likewise the parable of the foolish virgins, which is clearly apocryphal, as it appears only in Matthew, overlays an intensely sexual theme of the Bridegroom entering a marriage ceremony with multiple virgins, at least five of which he consorts with. This is of course an echo of the Jewish relationship of God with the bride Israel, expounded throughout the Old Testament in God’s jealousy and violent opposition to the whoring of the nations, taken to a pastoral climax with Rabbi Akiva’s adoption of the Song of Songs, one of the most fertile and haunting love songs ever committed to scripture, as the Holy of Holies, which despite its myrrh on the locks still enigmatically remains in the Christian bible.
However the dark side of this parable is that it is used sacrificially. Luke 2:19 “And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days”. Christianity thus waits endlessly for the messiah’s Second Coming, in contrast to the fertile quest of the Jews to go forth and multiply as a living species. It thus constitutes a hijacking of the fertility principle to enshrine Christianity as the cosmic portal of salvation.
The women also play a pivotal role in the tragic enactment of the Crucifixion, with the daughters of Jerusalem and the women of Galilee playing opposing parts as a contrapuntal dramatic chorus:
Luke 23:27 “And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck”.
Luke 23:48 “And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things”.
Consistent with both the Dionysian maenads and the fertility traditions of the nations, the women are intimately involved, while the male disciples are scattered like sheep in Yeshua’s hour of need. The women of Galilee were also pivotal and Magdalen prominently among them for pronouncing the risen Christ: Luke 23:55 “And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment”.
Luke 24:10 “It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.”
7. Whom do Men say that I Am?
The canonical gospels pivot on the critical assumption that Yeshua is Christ the Son of God who must die and rise again on the third day. Luke 9:20 “He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God. And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing; Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.”
Mark has the latter discussions in more detail which indicates that the entire mission was conceived as a confrontational assault on the division of dark and light in which the sacrifice would bring about the Resurrection in three days. When Peter rebukes Yeshua, his response is to call him Satan, confirming the war of dark and light – Matt 12:30 "if you are not with me, you are against me": “Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”
Matt 16:13 “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
In his trial, Yeshua confirms he is the Christ and will return in power. Mark 14:61 “But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven”.
In complete contrast, in The Gospel of Thomas Yeshua says he is NOT their master, but they are drunk on his Dionysian spring: Thom (13) Jesus said to his disciples, "Compare me to someone and tell me whom I am like." Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a righteous angel." Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher." Thomas said to him, "Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom you are like." Jesus said, "I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out.”
Likewise, the Kingdom, which the canonical gospels declare will come with apocalyptic cataclysm, is the natural world around us obscured by our own barriers to knowing and appreciating reality: Thom (113) ‘His disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?" Jesus said, "It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying 'here it is' or 'there it is'. Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it”.’
Thom (51) His disciples said to him, "When will the repose of the dead come about, and when will the new world come?" He said to them, "What you look forward to has already come, but you do not recognize it.
The Kingdom is preceded and evoked by the natural condition in which we all become the sons of God: Thom (3) Jesus said, "If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father.
Thom (20) The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us what the kingdom of heaven is like." He said to them, "It is like a mustard seed. It is the smallest of all seeds. But when it falls on tilled soil, it produces a great plant and becomes a shelter for birds of the sky.”
The end of days is not an end but is as it was in the beginning. Thom (18) The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us how our end will be." Jesus said, "Have you discovered, then, the beginning, that you look for the end? For where the beginning is, there will the end be. Blessed is he who will take his place in the beginning; he will know the end and will not experience death."
Nevertheless he reinforces that he is there to provoke conflict and conflagration: Thom (16) Jesus said, "Men think, perhaps, that it is peace which I have come to cast upon the world. They do not know that it is dissension which I have come to cast upon the earth: fire, sword, and war. For there will be five in a house: three will be against two, and two against three, the father against the son, and the son against the father. And they will stand solitary.”
Yet he will do this by instilling new vision: Thom (17) Jesus said, "I shall give you what no eye has seen and what no ear has heard and what no hand has touched and what has never occurred to the human mind."
The key to the kingdom is childlike innocence: Thom (46) Jesus said, "Among those born of women, from Adam until John the Baptist, there is no one so superior to John the Baptist that his eyes should not be lowered (before him). Yet I have said, whichever one of you comes to be a child will be acquainted with the kingdom and will become superior to John."
He says we all have it within us, but warns that what we lack through denial can also kill us. Thom (70) Jesus said, "That which you have will save you if you bring it forth from yourselves. That which you do not have within you [will] kill you if you do not have it within you.”
And that the undivided unity removing the duality of division is the key:
Thom (106) Jesus said, "When you make the two one, you will become the sons of man, and when you ' say, 'Mountain, move away,' it will move away."
Thom (22) Jesus said to them, " When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female; and when you fashion eyes in place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness, then will you enter [the kingdom].”
Yeshua sees himself as pure cosmological spirit permeating the natural world. Thom (77) Jesus said, "It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the all. From me did the all come forth, and unto me did the all extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will I find me there."
Yeshua feels afflicted by human ignorance of his insights: Thom (28) Jesus said, "I took my place in the midst of the world, and I appeared to them in flesh. I found all of them intoxicated; found none of them thirsty. And my soul became afflicted for the sons of men, because they are blind in their hearts and do not have sight; for empty they came into the world, and empty too they seek to leave the world. But for the moment they are intoxicated. When they shake off their wine, then they will repent."
Some of the sayings tend to a gnostic pessimism about the natural world, but accepting of its potential to produce conscious enlightenment: Thom (29) Jesus said, "If the flesh came into being because of spirit, it is a wonder. But if spirit came into being because of the body, it is a wonder of wonders. Indeed, I am amazed at how this great wealth has made its home in this poverty."
He does not say physician heal thyself but acknowledges deftly that a physician does not treat their friends: Thom (31) Jesus said, "No prophet is accepted in his own village; no physician heals those who know him."
He makes a cryptic observation that the king will die after the sacred union: Thom (61) Jesus said, "Two will rest on a bed: the one will die, and the other will live." Salome said, "Who are you, man, that you ... have come up on my couch and eaten from my table?" Jesus said to her, "I am he who exists from the undivided.”
Although he rejects Peter’s patriarchalism, he still entertains a notion that the male is spiritual: Thom (114) Simon Peter said to them, "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life." Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven.
In complete contrast to the canonical succession through Peter to Paul, Thomas has Yeshua declare that James the Just, his brother the original founder fo the Jewish Christian movement was his ordained successor: Thom (12) The disciples said to Jesus, "We know that you will depart from us. Who is to be our leader?" Jesus said to them, "Wherever you are, you are to go to James the righteous, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being."
As a counterpoint to the Gospel of Thomas, Thunder Perfect Mind remains the most enigmatic of the Nag Hammadi texts. It reveals a female presence at least as enigmatic and paradoxically transcendent as Yeshua’s persona in the Gospel of Thomas. Here her statements and Yeshua’s are presented as a refrain between female thunder and male lightning titled in the name of another gnostic text.
A: Thunder - Perfect Mind
'Look upon me you who reflect upon me
and you hearers hear me
You who are waiting for me
take me to yourselves.
For I am the first, and the last.
I am the honored one and the scorned one.
I am the whore, and the holy one.
the virgin and the wife..
I am [the mother] and the daughter....
I am the barren one, and many are her sons
I am she whose wedding is great,
and I have not taken a husband....
B: En/lightning El-Nino
Look upon me you who reflect upon me.
For I am alpha and omega,
the divine and the blasphemer,
Ba'al Zebul and the Holy Ghost,
the Father and the Son of Man.
I am the father of my mother
and it is my wife who begot me
or ever I was born
I am the Bridegroom
whose communion is celebrated
and I have not
taken a wife.
A: I am knowledge and ignorance....
I am shameless and ashamed.
I am strength, and I am fear....
I am senseless, and I am wise. …
I am the silence that is incomprehensible
and the idea whose remembrance is frequent.
The voice whose echo is reverberating
the thunder that intoxicates.
I am the one whom you have pursued .
I am the one that you have seized.
I am the one that you have scattered
and you have gathered me together.
B: I am the word made flesh
and yet the bread of life.
I am the good shepherd
and yet the paschal lamb.
I am the true vine
and yet the sprouting rod.
I am the fisher of men
and yet the eye of the storm.
I am the lightning uniting heaven
and earth in rains of plenty.
I am the light of the world
and the darkness at noontide.
A: The union and the dissolution.
I am the judgment and the acquittal.
I am the shameless one
before whom you are ashamed.
Though sinless, I am the root of sin.
The solace even of my labour pains.
I am the meaning of the word
and the very sound of the name.
I am the one whom they call Life
and you have called death.
In my weakness do not ever forsake me,
nor ever fear my power.
B: Split a piece of wood and you will find me there
Lift up a stone and you will find me there
for I am the light above the All
and to me did the All extend.
I am not your master but you've become drunk
from the bubbling stream that I have measured out
and whoever discovers this interpretation
will never experience death
I am the one who returns to loosen the bands
and open the prison to them that are bound.
I am the din that is unendurable.
The epiphany of miraculous dread.
A: I am the intimate companion of the savior.
He would come to kiss me on my mouth
He asked them "Why do I not love you,
as I love the one who permeates the All?”
I am lust in [outward] appearance
and yet I'm the very soul of discretion,
for many are the forms ...
and fleeting pleasures
which men embrace, till they become sober
and go up to their resting place.
And there they will find me
and live and not die again.’
B: I am the one who is called Truth
and I am cast upon the face of the earth.
I am the one who you have despised
and yet you love me all the more.
Why do you curse me and honour me?
Why do you consume and sanctify me?
Why do you leave the body hanging there
when the fire is already alight?
I bring you to weave, the garments of salvation
and offer you the requital of true love.
In our blood flows the fruit of the Tree of Life
and in our flesh the healing of the nations.
8. Balaam the Lame: Talmudic Entries
In contrast to the Christian gospels, the Talmudic entries cast Yeshua as a false messiah who led Israel into misfortune. These entries portray an antagonism which in itself explains the attitude in the gospels is not merely anti-Jewish polemic based on the betrayal by the high priests, but genuinely records a spiritual tension about cosmological pretensions that arose from the Crucifixion and the claim to be the Son of God.
The Lexicon Talmudicum and Talmud babli Sanhedrin 106b, 43a, 51a and the Toldoth Jeshu states (Graves 1946 6, 1953 23, 288): Commentators refer to Jeshu-ha-Notzri [Jesus of Nazareth] by mention of the wicked kingdom of Edom, since that was his nation... he was hanged on a Passover eve... He was near to the kingdom [genealogically].
Likewise the Qur'an refers to Jesus as Isa after Esau the “red man” of Edom. It thus appears that both the Jews and the Arabs recognised the Edomite character of Jesus' mission in a way not understood by Christians themselves.
Balaam the lame was 33 years old when Pintias the Robber [Pontius Pilate] killed him... They say that his mother was descended from princes and rulers but consorted with carpenters.
The Mishnah (Baraitha and Tosefta) note the following passages highlighting the tension between conventional Jews and Jesus' followers: "It has been taught: On the eve of the Passover they hanged Yeshu ... because he practised sorcery and enticed and led Israel astray ... Our Rabbis taught Yeshu had five disciples Mattai, Nakkai, Netzer, Buni, and Todah.”
Rabbi Elizah ben Damah is cited asking that Jacob came to heal him in the name of Yeshu[a] ben Pantera. He died being forbidden to do so.
A disciple of Yeshu the Nazarene is cited in Sepphoris capital of Galilee saying "It is written in your Torah 'Thou shalt not bring the hire of a harlot ...' How about making it a privy for the high priest? Thus did Yeshu ... teach me 'For the hire of a harlot hath she gathered them, And unto the hire of a harlot shall they return', from the place of filth they come, and unto the place of filth they go.
The Jewish citing of Jesus as son of a Roman 'Pantera' [panther] has been cited as another term of derision insinuating Dionysian heritage, but a Roman gravestone has been found in Bingerbrück Germany for Julius Abdes Pantera, an archer of Sidon, dating from the appropriate early Imperial period.
Another Sanhedrin entry 103a by Rabbi Hisda comments on Psalm 91:10 "There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling" that "Thou shalt have neither a son nor a disciple who will publicly let his food burn (forfeit his salvation in a public display) like did Jesus the Nazarene". Rabbi Abbahu taught "If a man say unto thee 'I am God' he lieth; if he saith 'I am the Son of Man' he will live to rue his words; and if he saith 'I ascend into Heaven' he will not bring to pass that which he saith".
9. Soma and Sangre: No Redemption without Blood
Ultimately the Crucifixion and the account of the last supper leads to the cannibalistic Eucharist to seek immortal life by consuming the bread and wine as body and blood of the saviour. John 6:53 “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day”.
This in turn becomes the central Christian thesis “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin”, coined from Heb 9:22 “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission”, in an erroneous exegesis of Lev 17:11 “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”
Hence the Eucharist – consuming the body and blood of the Christ – becomes the central rite of Christianity as a sacramental religion. But the blood spilled is not merely metaphorical, but actual ,as ensuing waves of Christian martyrdom, the blood of the Crusades, and the deaths of the Inquisition and Witch Hunts and the genocide of native Americans by the Conquistadors attest.
Elaine Pagels (1988 33-6) describes the way in which the Kingdom of the Father has led to precipitate and tortured death on the part of a young female Christian believer. Whatever their courage and conviction, the prophesied Kingdom has been too long in coming to justify such needless loss of life. The fallacy that the Kingdom was about to arrive was shared by groups such as the Montanists. Perpetua's sacrifice of herself is even more poignant in a young girl. Because her name is Perpetua she remains forever a living symbol in her precipitate martyrdom of that physical immortality which is vested in the passage of the generations through the fecundity of the female line.
Vibia Perpetua, fluent in both Greek and Latin, wrote about her experiences from the time of her arrest until the evening of her execution. Perpetua, twenty-two years old, recently married, and nursing her infant son, was arrested along with her friends and her personal slave Felicitas. Perpetua and her companions were scourged and thrown into a stifling and crowded African jail. After her arrest, Perpetua's father, .. “out of love for me," she wrote, "was trying to persuade me to change my decision." Refusing his pleas to give up the name Christian, Perpetua rejected her familial name instead, although she says she grieved to see her father, mother, and brothers "suffering out of compassion for me." At first, she wrote, "I was tortured with worry for my baby there," but after she gained permission for him to stay with her in prison, "at once I recovered my health, relieved as I was of my worry and anxiety for the child."
Fig 6: “Triumph of Faith” Eugene Thirion
Then my brother said to me, "Dear sister, you already have such a great reputation that you could ask for a vision indicating whether you will be condemned or freed." Since I knew that I could speak with the Lord, whose great favors I had already experienced, I confidently promised to do so. I said I would tell my brother about it the next day. Then I made my request and this is what I saw. There was a bronze ladder of extraordinary height reaching up to heaven, but it was so narrow that only one person could ascend at a time. Every conceivable kind of iron weapon was attached to the sides of the ladder: swords, lances, hooks, and daggers. If anyone climbed up carelessly or without looking upwards, he/she would be mangled as the flesh adhered to the weapons. Crouching directly beneath the ladder was a monstrous dragon who threatened those climbing up and tried to frighten them from ascent. I began my ascent. At the summit I saw an immense garden, in the center of which sat a tall, grey-haired man dressed like a shepherd, milking sheep. Standing around him were several thousand white-robed people. As he raised his head he noticed me and said, 'Welcome, my child." Then he beckoned me to approach and gave me a small morsel of the cheese he was making. I accepted it with cupped hands and ate it. When all those surrounding us said "Amen:' I awoke, still tasting the sweet cheese. I immediately told my brother about the vision, and we both realized that we were to experience the sufferings of martyrdom. From then on we gave up having any hope in this world (Young 47).
Hilarianus the governor, who had received his judicial powers as the successor of the late proconsul Minucius Timinianus, said to me: "Have pity on your father's grey head; have pity on your infant son. Offer the sacrifice for the welfare of the emperors." "I will not," I retorted. "Are you a Christian?" said Hilarianus. And I said: "Yes, I am. When my father persisted in trying to dissuade me, Hilarianus ordered him to be thrown to the ground and beaten with a rod. I felt sorry for my father, just as if I myself had been beaten. I felt sorry for his pathetic old age. Then Hilarianus passed sentence on all of us: we were condemned to the beasts, and we returned to prison in high spirits.
On the day before her execution, Perpetua wrote down another vision: She dreamed that she was led to the amphitheater, where enormous crowds waited to see her fight with a ferocious Egyptian athlete. 'Then a certain man appeared, so tall that he towered above the amphitheater. He wore a loose purple robe with two parallel stripes across the chest; his sandals were richly decorated with gold and silver. He carried a rod like that of an athletic trainer, and a green branch on which were golden apples. He motioned for silence and said, "If this Egyptian wins, he will kill her with the sword; but if she wins, she will receive this branch" Then he withdrew. "My clothes were stripped off, and suddenly I was a man." She fought and wrestled until she got him into a headlock and so won the fight. "But when I saw that we were wasting time, I put my two hands together, linked my fingers, and put his head between them. As he fell on his face I stepped on his head. Then the people began to shout and my assistants started singing victory songs. I walked up to the trainer and accepted the branch. He kissed me and said, 'Peace be with you, my daughter" And I triumphantly headed towards the Sanavivarian Gate. Then I woke up realizing that I would be contending not with wild animals but with the devil himself, but I knew that I would win the victory."
Two days before the execution, the Christians prayed for her in one torrent of common grief, and immediately after their prayer the labor pains came upon her. She suffered a good deal in her labor because of the natural difficulty of an eight-month delivery. One of the Christian women took the infant daughter to raise as her own, leaving Felicitas free to join her companions.
When the day arrived, Perpetua and Felicitas, together with their Christian brothers Revocatus, Saturninus, and Saturus, were led out of the prison to the gates of the amphitheater. The officer in charge, following the common practice, ordered the men to dress in robes of priests of the god Saturn, and the women to dress in the costumes of priestesses of the goddess Ceres, as if they were offering their deaths in sacrifice to the gods. Perpetua adamantly refused, saying: "We came to this of our own free will, so that our liberty should not be violated. We agreed to pledge our lives in order to do no such thing [as sacrifice to the gods]. And you agreed with us to do this." Again her plea prevailed, and the officer yielded. But just as Perpetua and Felicitas were to enter the arena, they were forcibly stripped naked and placed in nets, so that even the crowd was horrified when they saw that one was a delicate young girl, and the other woman fresh from childbirth, with milk still dripping from her breasts. A mad heifer was set loose after them; Perpetua was gored and thrown to the ground. She got up and, seeing Felicitas crushed and fallen went over to her and lifted her up, and the two stood side by side. Then after undergoing further ordeals and seeing their friend Saturus endure agonizing torture. Perpetua and Felicitas, along with the others were called to the centre of the arena to be slaughtered. A witness records that Perpetua "screamed as she was struck on the bone; then she took the trembling hand of the gladiator and guided it to her throat".
The acid test of Yeshua’s mission is the actual appearance of the Kingdom with power in the same generation of those present when he was alive:
Mark 9:1 "Jesus said unto them, ‘Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power’.”
Luke 21:32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
Luke 12:40 & Matt 24:44 Christ comes as a thief in the night: "And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.”
These statements claimed in the gospels to be direct from Yeshua confirm the intention of the mission to be to bring about by his crucifixion the Kingdom of God, and effectively the Day of Judgment, as diabolically described in Revelation’s multiple genocides. This led to an urgent anticipation by early Christians that the kingdom was at hand encouraging many to become martyrs rather than denounce their beliefs to the Romans.
The earliest Christian writing is 1 Thessalonians, dated circa CE 50. In it Paul's message is to wait and not slumber, for the son of man shall come at any time hence, in the Rapture in the air:
"And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. ... Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”
In the light of our burgeoning knowledge of cosmology, the Rapture in the clouds is a dangerous contrivance. What is both alarming and appalling is that it is now over 2000 years since the Crucifixion and the Christian religion, despite failing to convincingly prove the acid test of veracity by the Fall of Jerusalem in CE 66, which committed virtually the entire generation in Yeshua's presence to oblivion, has locked itself into a perpetual delay of the Kingdom, claiming a false remit of authority, refusing to honestly admit to humanity the entire edifice of belief is a pagan contrivance, holding imperatively to the claimed status of being the ordained stewards of the Lord's return in the End of Days, the Day of Judgment, as diabolically described in Revelation's multiple genocides. This position is inconsistent with the paradoxical visionary immanence of Yeshua's own teachings, particularly those in the Gospel of Thomas, and strategically fixes the persona of Yeshua as pagan the Christ Son of God into the portal of reality, in a cosmological lie, preventing any evolution of the tradition through the insight of living people to address the actual needs of humanity and the living planet.
Paul's 'rapture', is both completely unnatural, and profoundly dangerous, because it leads to many Christians today imagining the second coming of Jesus as the heavenly rapture in which the 'late planet Earth' is carelessly discarded for an eternal life in mid-air. This completely frustrates being able to address the apocalyptically urgent questions of avoiding a planetary Armageddon from human misadventure disrupting the climate depleting Earth’s resources and causing a mass extinction of the diversity of life, turning the planet from an immortal paradise into a potentially lethal man-made hell.
The Bacchae, written by Euripides around 405 BCE, is considered to be not only one of Euripides's greatest tragedies, but also one of the greatest dramatic work ever written, modern or ancient. A clear exception has to be Yeshua’s mission and Crucifixion which has clearly reverberated unparalleled throughout two millennia of blood spilled in the name of Christianity in martyrdom, Crusade, inquisition and witch hunt.
The Bacchae recounts in violent detail the slaying of Pentheus by the maenads and the reformation of religious practice in Thebes for not recognising the true divinity of the Son of God. To many Christians it may seem an antithesis of all that is good in Yeshua’s compassionate sayings, but the consequences of the Kingdom coming with power invoked slaughter on a genocidal scale which leaves the single murder in the Bacchae paling to insignificance.
Semele, was a princess in the royal Theban house of Cadmus. She had an affair with Zeus, the King of the Gods, and became pregnant. As revenge, Zeus's jealous wife Hera tricked Semele into asking Zeus to appear in his divine form. Zeus, too powerful for a mortal to behold, emerged from the sky as a bolt of lightning and burnt Semele to a cinder. He managed, however, to rescue his unborn son Dionysus and stitched the baby into his thigh. This means that the historical journey of the concept of the Son of God by a mortal woman runs from Dionysus to Yeshua 500 years later.
Semele's family claimed that she had been struck by lightning for lying about Zeus and that her child, the product of an illicit human affair, had died with her, maligning her name and rejecting the young god Dionysus. Dionysus arrives in Thebes disguised as the stranger. During Dionysus's absence, Semele's father, Cadmus, had handed the kingdom over to his grandson Pentheus, who decided to forbid the worship of Dionysus. Dionysus tells the audience that when he arrived in Thebes he drove Semele's sisters mad, and they fled to Mt. Cithaeron to worship him and perform his rites on the mountainside. Unconvinced of their divinely-caused insanity, Pentheus sees their drunken cavorting as an illicit attempt to escape the mores and legal codes regulating Theban society. He orders his soldiers to arrest the Lydian stranger and his maenads. He orders Dionysus to be chained, bound and tortured, but Dionysus escapes his bands. Similar stories are told in the Pauline letters. When he tries to tie Dionysus he ties only a bull, and when he plunges a knife into Dionysus. the blade passes only through shadow. Suddenly an earthquake shakes the palace, a fire starts.
Fig 7: Left: Greek bowl illustrating the Bacchae and Lazzarini’s Orpheus and the Bacchae. Orpheus is a personification of Dionysus. Right: Memling’s “Day of Judgment”. While in the Bacchae, despite madness and mayhem, only one person is killed, in the Christian version, failing to recognise Yeshua as the Son of God results in genocidal cosmological catastrophe.
Dionysus tries to persuade Pentheus to abandon his destructive path, but Pentheus refuses. A cowherd arrives and describes sighting the maddened women of Cadmus seen resting blissfully in the forest, feasting on milk, honey and wine that sprang from the ground. They played music, suckled wild animals and sang and danced with joy. But when they saw the cowherd, they flew into a murderous rage. The cowherd barely escaped, but the herd of cattle was captured and torn apart by hand.
Dionysus offers Pentheus a chance to see the maenads for himself, undetected. He agrees to do all Dionysus suggests, dressing himself in a wig and long skirts. Once in the woods, Pentheus cannot see the bacchants from the ground, and wants to mount a tree for a better vantage. Dionysus miraculously bends a tall fir tree, puts Pentheus on top, and gently straightens the tree. At once the maenads see him, and with rolling eyes and frenzied cries the women attack, bringing Pentheus down and dragging him to the ground. His mother Agaue, driven mad by Dionysus, proceeds to rip her son to death and returns home with Pentheus's head in her hands.
Cadmus, who knows what has happened, sadly approaches his daughter and Agaue begins to weep. Cadmus remarks that the god has punished the family rightly but excessively. In the end, Dionysus finally appears in his true form to the city. He banishes Agaue from Thebes and ordains that Cadmus and his wife will turn into snakes, destined to invade Greek lands with a horde of barbarians.
Christianity, cast in the apocalyptic traditions of John the Baptist and the desert Essenes, adopted a fully fledged End of Days, with Jesus claiming in the synoptic gospels and John to challenge the devil in a final confrontation, through which he would come to return in power at the right hand of God. The siege of Jerusalem, the Jewish diaspora and the depravities of the Roman emperors subsequently sublimed this picture in Revelation into a view of world history in which Christ would return as the Lord and conqueror of evil in the Millennium and the effective Day of Judgment. Despite the failure of this entire concept over two millennia in the absence of the Lord's return, the spectre of apocalyptic victory in tumult and conflict remains integral to Christian eschatology.
Christianity, cast in the shadow of the apocalyptic traditions of John the Baptist and the desert Essenes, adopted a fully fledged End of Days with Jesus claiming in the synoptic gospels and John to challenge the devil in a final confrontation, through which he would come to return in power at the right hand of God. The siege of Jerusalem, the Jewish diaspora and the depravities of the Roman emperors subsequently sublimed this picture into a view of world history in which Christ would return as the Lord and conqueror of evil in the Millennium and the Day of Judgment. Despite the failure of this entire concept over two millennia in the absence of the Lord's return, the spectre of apocalyptic victory remains in tumult and conflict remains integral to Christian eschatology.
Revelation, is the culminating chapter of the Christian bible, although till not recognised as such by the Orthodox Church. Ironically it is not the latest work. The bulk of traditional sources date it to the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian (CE 81–96). Revelation is a fully-fledged apocalyptic fantasy of the triage of all life, amid conflict of nations in which there are cataclysmic cosmological phenomena - a great earthquake where the sun becomes black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon like blood, mixing an eclipse of the sun, an eclipse of the moon and an earthquake. The stars of heaven fall to the earth, the sky recedes like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island is moved out of place.
Also implicating the Hebrew tradition, there are there are forerunners of this, for example in post-exilic Zechariah (520-518 BCE), which does have an apocalyptic climax, which however ends in pastoral tranquillity despite the destruction of the enemies:
"And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God. … And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south … And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; ... And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one. All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: ... And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited. And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth. ... And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. ... and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts" (Zech 13-14).
In Daniel, which is believed to have originated as a collection of folktales among the Jewish community in the late 4th to early 3rd centuries BCE, the apocalypse is political in nature, with the "abomination of desolation" identified with Antiochus IV, the king of the Greek Seleucid dynasty, who in 167 BCE, put an end to the practice of a lamb being sacrificed morning and evening, on the altar of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. The visionary chapters of Daniel, chapters 7-12, are said to have been added to reassure Jews that they would survive in the face of this threat.
In 66 the Jews rose in revolt against the Romans as their ancestors had once done against Antiochus. The resulting First Jewish-Roman War ended in 70 CE when the legions of the Roman general Titus surrounded and eventually captured Jerusalem. The city and the temple were razed to the ground, and the only habitation on the site until the first third of the next century was a Roman military camp. According to Josephus this resulted in over 1.1 million deaths. It was against this background that the gospels were written, Mark around 70 CE and Matthew and Luke around 80–85. Mark harks specifically back to Daniel to validate the Kingdom as a prophecy:
This world view, which in Zechariah leads to an ultimate divine victory and the subsequent transformation of the cosmos is taken to its cosmological extreme in Revelation. This takes us straight back to the flat-Earth cosmology of the sabbatical creation. :
This world view is taken to its annihilating cosmological extreme in Revelation, the culminating chapter of the Christian bible, although it is still not recognised as such by the Orthodox Church. Ironically it is not the latest work. The bulk of traditional sources date it to the reign of Domitian (CE 81–96), but still in the wake of the siege of Jerusalem. Revelation becomes a fully-fledged apocalyptic fantasy of the triage of all life, amid conflict of nations in which there are cataclysmic cosmological phenomena - a great earthquake where the sun becomes black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon like blood, mixing an eclipse of the sun, an eclipse of the moon and an earthquake. The stars of heaven fall to the earth, the sky recedes like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island is moved out of place.
This takes us straight back to the flat-Earth cosmology of the sabbatical creation. There is no way that the islands and mountains would just move and shake when the stars fall and the sky rolls up. This is a cosmology in frank conflict with the 13 billion year evolution of the universe full of galaxies and the 3 billion year evolution of the diversity of life. This account only makes sense as a conscious nightmare vision, and political hyperbole, not a genuine cosmological event. It is the most extraordinary book of eschatological religious vision ever written, bursting with tumultuous battles and cataclysms, from the beasts of belial, to the avenging Lord, amid tumult and destruction, resulting in the triage of all life and impossibly a triage of the Sun, Moon and stars.
The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. … And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. (Rev 8). And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths (Rev 9).
Later we see the pregnant woman clothed with the Sun standing on the Moon, who is an apotheosis of the Queen of Heaven, Inanna-Ishtar but also identified by Christians with Mary. Her boy-child, the warlord-to-come, is attacked by a dragon, and taken up to God, precipitating the war in heaven:
Fig 8: The woman clothed with the sun and the dragon (William Blake).
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne (Rev 12).
On the other side of the cosmic battle we find the great whore of Babylon, the dark manifestation of the same Inanna-Ishtar Goddess figure:
I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, "mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the Earth". And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration (Rev 17).
The cosmic Christ appears as an utterly feudal dictator-Lord of mass destruction treading the winepress of Dionysian revenge:
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God (Rev 19).
Unmitigated death and destruction is cast on the unbelievers:
And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. … And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. … And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh (Rev 19).
As gratuitous violence, Revelation reigns supreme, but as a model for planetary apocalypse, it is profoundly dangerous, deceptive and misleading – an unmitigated disaster. Yet it contains two pivotal elements – the Tree of Life entwined around the throne of the Lamb, giving its Twelve monthly fruit for the healing of the nations – and the notion of the sacred marriage, or hieros gamos.
However the sacred marriage here is not that of the true fertility between woman and man as sexual beings that generates the passage of the living generations, but in the corrupted form of the Lamb and the Heavenly Jerusalem, Christ and his Church, falling in the shadow of the dysfunctional marital relationship of Jehovah and the whoring bride Israel, whose ultimate Holy of Holies is sequestered in the metaphor of unrequited love in the Song of Songs.
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready (Rev 19). And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. … And there came unto me one of the seven angels … and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife (Rev 21).
Fig 9: The Tree of Life in the new Jerusalem with the twelve gates, the throne of the lamb, and the twelve monthly fruit for the healing of the nations conflating the transcendent and the accursed physical into one contradictory fantasy (Heavenly Jerusalem miniature from Apocalypse 13th cent).
Finally we come to the Tree of Life itself, hidden since the foundation of the world in Eden, still beckoning to our living futures:
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations (Rev 21).
12. Planetary Ecocrisis and Resplendence
The Tree of Life is the immortal Tree of Evolution of living diversity upon which Homo sapiens is utterly dependent as a species, for our food, many of our medicines, for the air we breathe and the balance of the climate and the entire verdant paradise that Earth is capable of being in perpetuity if we don’t critically injure it or allow an ill fate to befall it.
But the shoots and whole branches of the Tree are being cast into the fire of mass extinction by human misadventure. This is the most climactic crisis to face humanity in evolutionary time and it is one the traditional religions, despite attempts by some church leaders to address, are tragically ill-equipped to deal with, because the founding presumption of patriarchal monotheism is that nature is a flawed creation of God, doomed by moral sinfulness, that will be discarded in favour of eternal life in Heaven if we believe in him, but if we do not the fires of Hell await us.
Fig 10: “Paradise Found” David Miller
There is thus an acute reason, driven by sheer urgent necessity, to address the obstruction Christianity and other patriarchal world religions are causing to the planetary condition and unfold an epoch of planetary resplendence, in which the climax diversity of life can reflower. The planet is genuinely facing an apocalyptic crisis because a combination of business-as-usual exploitation of the Earth’s habitat and climate and archaic religions based on patriarchal religious and moral imperatives, amid scorched-Earth desert eschatologies, is precipitating a mass extinction of the diversity of life which could also result in perpetual human attrition, or our acutal extinction. This is a far more ancient crisis that is foreshadowed in the Fall from Eden, and has emerged with humanity in evolutionary time in the transition from gatherer-hunter existence within nature into urban civilisation and empire in dominion over it, with resulting habitat destruction and potentially irreversible climatic disruption.
Christianity is pivotally at fault because it has contrived an eschatology of history to make the planetary future subject to the return of a miraculous man-God whose powers are so extreme over the entire universe as to make it difficult or impossible for any mere mortal to correct the fallacy and for any true enlightenment about our actual cosmological condition to prevail.
Although we are each mortal sexual beings, unfolding life is immortal. As a biological species, we are utterly dependent on the genetic and species diversity of life, for our food, for our climate and environment, for our health and medicines and for a sustainable economic future. This is the principle of cosmological symbiosis that the Judeo-Christian notion of dominion over nature stemming from Genesis has instead made a tragedy of the commons.
But this is not the teachings of Yeshua we find in the Gospel of Thomas:
"If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you.
If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you."
The cosmological situation as we have discovered it is that the conscious sentience of the universe arises from the living biota and so far as we know, only the conscious biota. As the mediators of conscious intent, we each inherit a personal responsibility to care for the universe we inhabit and to ensure life within it continues to flower and does not suffer risk to its future viability through human exploitation. This is the prima facie responsibility, we each inherit as incarnate sentient beings.
It is abundantly clear that humanity is risking a planetary extinction of the diversity of life due to human misadventure, driven by business as usual’s, non-renewable energy consumption and habitat destruction and by the scorched earth moral delusions of world religions which are founded on moral imperatives that deny the sacredness of cosmological nature in favour of fantastic realms.
We can thus no longer continue to see through a glass darkly in the distorted prism of Christianity’s eschatological expectation and the false belief in a man-God who still hangs mortified on the cross two thousand years later in every church, whose flesh and blood we must consume, while endlessly awaiting the return of the Lord in power to have forgiveness of sins and achieve immortal life. It is now time for us to put away childish things, to see face to face and know also as we are known.
Corinth 13:11 “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a
child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known”.
It is we who are the portal of cosmic awareness and the buck stops with us to take responsibility as stewards and guardians of the tree of evolutionary life, to ensure it survives and flowers in perpetuity. To allow this to fail is to anoint us all for our burial, with no hope of salvation.
The remedy the psychic species provides is to give us a direct route to experience reunion with the awakening of the conscious universe, so that we can learn to protect the planet as guardians of life in evolutionary and cosmological time scales. This both alleviates our mortal fear and gives us the ability to make our lives a meaningful part of unfolding life rather than a curse upon it.
The meaning and significance in the spiritual quest of humanity lies not in false fantasies of Heaven and Hell or the Rapture in the sky, but in developing the spiritual insight and practical motivation to care for the planet as guardians of the diversity of life in evolutionary time, so that life can truly flower as a cosmological phenomenon of conscious illumination over cosmological time scales. This is profoundly urgent and it can be achieved if we recognise the wisdom and inevitable necessity of this together.
Redemption of the Soma and Sangre
Despite its history of spilled blood, violent Crusade and eschatological apocalypse, redemption is at hand. Christianity stands uniquely positioned as the founding religious tradition underlying Western culture. Christianity is also uniquely positioned as the prime vehicle of a worldwide sacramental religion, founded on 'holy communion' - a flesh and blood sacrament - the sangre and soma - albeit symbolic of a sacrificial death. It is thus the natural forerunner of a sacramental tradition of true integration with life immortal. These simple wafers of bread and sips of diluted wine carry no effect in themselves, but claim to infer a reality so powerful that merely to partake of the 'eucharist' is deemed to be the innermost mystery of communion with the godhead. If such a sacrament is going to be of functional effect, one should as the "acid test" of validity, expect it also to be a potent psychoactive substance in biological terms.
The notion of "sacrament" as something natural that is consumed to make 'holy' or whole poses a central question of symbiotic paradox in consciousness. How is such completion achieved in the universe? Is it arrived at through an outer journey of scientific or empirical discovery in the material world? Is it to be found through philosophical analysis and discourse? Is it to be found in a covenant of submission to the will of God? Is it to be pursued through an arduous meditative journey into the innermost reaches of the mind and soul to the cosmic self? Or is it to be found in symbiotic reunion in the interactive mysteries of the 'living sacraments' of the biosphere and the nierika portal to the cosmological mind at large?
Each of the three living sacraments discussed in Section 1 have been adopted within nominally Christian traditions, seamlessly integrating the biospheric sacraments with Christian sentiments, attesting to Christianity's redemption as a sacramental tradition to reflower the Earth as a living paradise throughout the generations of humanity and life as a whole.
Fig 11: Traditionally used entheogenic species provide access to a first person visionary experience of genuine spiritual significance (Griffiths et al.). Top row Maria Sabina my benefactress, Gordon Wasson and sacred mushrooms. Second row my roadman Tellus Goodmorning, The Nierika peyote's portal to the spiritual realm and Don Jose Matsuwa and peyote. Right and bottom row My curandero Snr. Trinico, chacruna and the vine of the soul, UDV and ayahuasca. While these are cyclonic experiences in themselves, that can challenge our conceptions of reality and need careful guidance, at the centre of the cyclone lies the compassionate redemption of a moksha epiphany that can both provide comfort to the terminally ill, restore faith in life of the depressed and reveal first-person insight and illumination into the roots of the spiritual quest into the cosmological nature of consciousness. The antiquity of sacred use is clear from the peyote deer (500 BCE) Monte Alban, mushroom stone (1000 BCE) Mayan.
Maria Sabina's Holy Table and Gordon Wasson's Pentecost
Maria Sabina was both a Mazatec curandero of the "little things that spring forth" – teonanactl – flesh of the gods and at the same time a life long member of the Catholic sisterhood. The sacred mushroom is 'known to the ancient Meso-Americans as the Flesh of God, echoing the soma and sangre of the Christian Eucharist (Harner R229 90). The mushrooms were consumed before a small altar. The curandera kept one corner free so that the Holy Ghost could descend in the form of the sacred words that came to her, the words of her little book: "I see the word fall, coming down from above as though they were little luminous object falling from heaven. The word falls on the Holy Table, on my body, with my hand I catch them word for word." (Halifax R222 134).
'On both nights Wasson stood up for a long time in Cayetano's room at the foot of the stairway, holding on to the rail transfixed in ecstasy by the visions that he was seeing in the darkness with his open eyes. For the first time that word 'ecstasy' took on a subjective meaning for him. ... There came one moment when it seemed as though the visions themselves were about to be transcended, and dark gates reaching upward beyond sight were about to part, and we were to find ourselves in the presence of the Ultimate. We seemed to be flying at the dark gates as a swallow at a dazzling lighthouse, and the gates were to part and admit us.'. (Riedlinger R453 31)
The mushrooms were consumed before a small altar. The curandera kept one corner free so that the Holy Ghost could descend in the form of the sacred words that came to her, the words of her little book: "I see the word fall, coming down from above as though they were little luminous object falling from heaven. The word falls on the Holy Table, on my body, with my hand I catch them word for word." (Halifax R222 134).
Gordon Wasson's opinion of what this portends for Christian worship is unequivocal: '... God's flesh! How those words echo down the centuries of religious experience! The Christian doctrine of Transubstantiation is a hard saying, calling for great faith .... The Mexican Indian with his teonanactl has no need for Transubstantiation because his mushroom speaks for itself. By comparison with the mushroom, the Element in the Christian agape seems pallid. The mushroom holds the key to a mystical union with God, whereas only rare souls can attain similar ecstasy and divine communion by intensive contemplation of the miracle of the Mass'." (Riedlinger 1992)
The Man in the Buckskin Suit
Jesus came to the white man as flesh and blood, but to the Native American as peyote. John Wilson, who many claim as the 'founder' of the peyote religion in the United States claimed that he was continually translated in spirit to the 'sky realm' by peyote and it was there that he learned the events of Christ's life and the relative position of several of the spirit forces such as sun, moon and fire.
He reported that he had seen Christ's grave, now empty and that peyote had instructed him about the 'Peyote Road' which led from Christ's grave to the moon (this had been the Road in the sky which Christ had travelled in his ascent. Most peyotists strongly affirm the Christian elements as an important part of their religion (Anderson R12 36, 51)
"God told the Delawares to do good even before He sent Christ to the whites who killed him ...
God made Peyote It is His power. It is the power of Jesus. Jesus came afterwards on this earth, after peyote."
"You white people needed a man to show you the way, but we Indians have always been friends with the plants and understood them ...
The white man goes into a church and talks about Jesus , but the Indian goes into a teepee and talks to Jesus."(Anderson R12 52).
However, it is Christ in his second-self who came to give the peyote ritual to the Menomini:
"This old man was a chief of a whole tribe, and he have his son to be a chief. He said, 'I'm going to go, and you take my place. Take care of this [tribe].' And the boy, he went out hunting; He was lost for about four days. He began to get dry and hungry, tired out; so he gave up. ... So he went, lay himself down on his back; he stretched out his arms like this [extending his arms horizontally], and lay like that. Pretty soon he felt something kind of damp [in] each hand. So he took them, and after he took them, then he passed away. Just as soon as he - I suppose his soul - came to, he see somebody coming on clouds. There's a cloud; something coming. That's a man coming this way, with a buckskin suit on; he got long hair. He come right straight for him; it's Jesus himself. So he told this boy, 'Well, one time you was crying, and your prayers were answered that time. So I come here. I'm not supposed to come; I said I wasn't going to come before two thousand years,' he said. 'But I come for you, to come tell you why that's you [are] lost. But we're going to bring you something, so you can take care of your people.' ... So they went up a hill there. There's a tipi there, all ready. So Christ, before he went in it, offered a prayer. ...'Take this medicine along, over there. Whoever takes this medicine, he will do it in my name.' So that's how it represents almost the first beginning." (Anderson R12 23-4)
Santo Daime and the Union Vegetal
The indigenous use of Amazonian ayahuasca, has been reformed into a modern religious movement, Union of the Vegetal, to "remember past lives and to understand the true meaning of reincarnation as well as to become familiar with the origin and the real destiny of nature and of man". The Union Vegetale or UDV is a nominally Christian movement devoted to experiencing inner harmony through partaking of ayahuasca tea. The UDV seeks to promote peace and to "work for the evolution of the human being in the sense of his or her spiritual development". It has over 18,000 members, distributed among more than 200 local chapters located in all the states of Brazil, as well as in Peru, Australia, several countries in Europe, and the United States. The translation of União do Vegetal is Union of the Plants referring to the sacrament of the UDV, hoasca tea, also known as ayahuasca.
Likewise in Santo Daime, a Christian core is combined with other elements, such as an emphasis on personal gnosis and responsibility, an animist appreciation of nature, such as the Sun, Moon and Stars, as well as the totemic symbol of the beija-flor (hummingbird). Spiritual beings from indigenous Amazonian shamanism and deities from the African pantheon are also incorporated into the doctrine. The nature of the work is sometimes personified and addressed as Juramidam, "God (jura) and his soldiers (midam)", disclosed to Irineu in his visionary experience.
Ayahuasca, consumed by Daimistas in ceremonies, has many different traditional names, but is known within the Santo Daime as Santo Daime, meaning Holy Daime, or simply, Daime, as originally named by Irineu. Dai-me (with a hyphen) means "give me" in Portuguese. A phrase, Dai-me força, dai-me amor ("give me strength, give me love"), recurs in the doctrine's hymns. Participants in the ritual come to submit themselves to a process through which they may learn. This may include various wonders — ayahuasca is known for the visions it generates, and the sense of communion with nature and spiritual reality — as well as more mundane, less pleasant lessons about the self. The Daime is thought to reveal both positive and various negative or unresolved aspects of the individual, resulting in difficult "passages" involving the integration of this dissociated psychological content.
These movements clearly show how Christianity can make a transition to a sustainable tradition reparadising the planet. However, what is at stake here goes far beyond Christian horizons. It is the discovery that the mystical visionary state is unlocked, not by doctrine or conscious control, but the incipient visionary cyclone surrounding the portal to ultimate reality that comes from the symbiosis with the 'Other' – the cosmological consciousness of the mind at large.
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