The view of Jews as united in their opposition to Paganism is an illusion fostered by Christianity to act as the foundation for its own later claims to be spiritually distinct from Paganism – Freke & Gandy
As for the creation of the first man from loam, the theme was known, as we have seen at Sumer. Similar myths are documented more or less throughout the world, from ancient Egypt and Greece to the “primitive” peoples - Eliade
The Garden of Eden, with its river that divided into four branches, and its trees that Adam was to guard and cultivate, is reminiscent of Mesopotamian imagery.
The background suggests a well-known mythological emblem: the naked goddess, the miraculous tree, and its guardian, the serpent. But instead of a hero who triumphs and wins a share the symbol of life (miraculous fruit, fountain of youth, treasure, etc.), the biblical narrative gives us Adam, ingenuous victim of the serpent’s perfidy. In short, we are dealing with a failed “immortalization” like that of Gilgamesh
...the myth of an original paradise, inhabited by the primordial man, and the myth of a paradisal place whose access is difficult for human beings, were known beyond the Euphrates and the Mediterranean. Like all “paradises,” Eden is situated at the “center of the world,” where the four-branched river emerges. In the middle of the garden stood the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
…this archaic myth was radically altered by the author of the biblical accounts.
The biblical account has a certain number of elements in common with the account of the flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Shortly before 3000 B.C. a new civilization, that of the Early Bronze Age, appears in Palestine: it marks the first establishment of the Semites.
About 2200 B.C. the Early Bronze civilization is ruined by the irruption of a new Semitic population, the Amorites.
The first article of the Decalogue, “You shall have no gods except me,” shows that what is involved is not monotheism in the strict sense. The existence of other gods is not denied.
Moses exclaims: “Who among the gods is your like, Yahweh?” (Ex 15:11).
On entering Canaan the patriarchs were confronted by the cult of the god El, and the “god of the father” ended by being identified with him.18 This assimilation allows us to suppose that there was a certain structural resemblance between the two types of divinity.
A large part of the Canaanite sacrificial system was adopted. The simplest form of sacrifice consisted in the offering, on a consecrated site, of different gifts or in libations of oil or water. The offerings were regarded as food for the divinity (Jud 6:19).
they take over a number of Canaanite practices, related to agriculture, and even certain orgiastic rituals.35 The process of assimilation is intensified later, under the monarchy, when there is mention of sacred prostitution of both sexes.
As the assimilation of the god of the father with El proceeded, Yahweh was also identified with him. He took El’s cosmic structure as well as his title of king.
As the assimilation of the god of the father with El proceeded, Yahweh was also identified with him. He took El’s cosmic structure as well as his title of king.
On a stela of the fourteenth century he is represented enthroned, majestic, bearded, clad in a long robe, and wearing a tiara crowned by horns.
El impregnates his two wives, Asherah and Anath, with the Morning Star and the Evening Star.
El appears in the myths as physically weak, indecisive, senile, resigned. Certain gods treat him with scorn…Finally, his two wives, Asherah and Anath, are taken from him by Baal.
Genesis supplies popular etymologies for the names of the twelve patriarchs, few of them plausible.
The priests (khnm) had the same name as in Hebrew (kōhēn). With the priests, there is also mention of priestesses (khnt) and qadešim, “consecrated” persons. (In the Bible this term designates sacred prostitution, but the Ugaritic texts indicate nothing of the kind.) – Eliade
Hebrew tehôm, a word etymologically closely connected with the Babylonian tiāmat.
God had demanded of Abraham that he sacrifice his son to him as a burnt offering (olah), and Abraham was preparing to sacrifice Isaac when a ram was substituted for him.
The name of Moses, like that of other members of his family, is Egyptian.
Cain, Abel and Seth.
All the descendants of Seth and Cain enjoyed lives 800 to 900 years in length.
When he woke, Jacob set up the stone on which he had slept, and he called the place bêth-el, the “house of God” (Gen 28:10–22). Standing stones played a role in the Canaanite cult; this is why they were later condemned by Yahwism.
Standing stones played a role in the Canaanite cult; this is why they were later condemned by Yahwism. But the custom existed among the pre-Islamic Arabs, so it is probable that it was also practiced by the ancestors of the Israelites.
As for the departure from Egypt, it seems certainly to reflect a historical event. However, it does not involve the exodus of the whole people, but only of a group, and precisely of the group led by Moses…Later, the Exodus was claimed by all the Israelite tribes as an episode of their sacred history.
Age of Judges
The period between 1200 B.C., when the group that had been led by Moses entered Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, and 1020 B.C., when Saul was proclaimed king, is, by common consent, known as the Age of the Judges.
The judges were military leaders, councilors, and magistrates.
...Yahweh proves to be stronger than the gods of the Canaanites. War waged in his name is a holy war:32 the men are consecrated and must preserve ritual purity. As for booty, it is “forbidden,” that is, it is entirely destroyed, offered as a holocaust to Yahweh.
“When Samuel grew old, he appointed his two sons as judges over Israel.” But his sons did not follow his example, and then the leaders came to him and said: “Give us a king to rule over us, like the other nations” (1 Sam. 8:1–5).
As representative of Yahweh, the king of Israel, exactly like the sovereigns of the ancient East, must maintain cosmic order, impose justice, defend the weak, and insure the fertility of the land:
The First Temple
Solomon builds the Temple at Jerusalem, close to the royal palace; he thus associates the cult of the sanctuary with the hereditary monarchy. The Temple becomes Yahweh’s residence among the Israelites.
Mount Zion, on which the Temple was built, is a “center of the world.”
...the ritual delimitation of the sacred space and the symbolism of the “center of the world” are reported by ancient authors and are found in Irish mythology.
Just as the Temple was built after a foreign model, the cult borrowed Canaanite forms. Syncretism attained proportions hitherto unknown, for the monarchy encouraged the fusion of the religious ideas and practices shared by the two strata of the population, the Israelites and the Canaanites.
Solomon accepted the cults of his foreign wives and allowed the building building of sanctuaries in honor of their gods (1 Kings 11:6–7).
And Psalm 110:4 proclaims the king “a priest of the order of Melchizedek for ever.”
The Two Kingdoms
At Solomon’s death the kingdom split into two: that of the North, or Israel, and the kingdom of the South, or Judah.
Man as Sinner
Man’s mortality is the consequence of original sin, particularly of Adam’s desire to make himself like God (§ 59). The biblical texts dwell on the futility of the human condition. Man was made from dust and will return to dust...Obedience is the perfect religious act. On the contrary, sin is disobedience, breaking the Commandments.
...the unio mystica of the soul with its creator is unthinkable for the theology of the Old Testament.
I shall make you keep my laws and sincerely respect my observances. You will live in the land which I gave your ancestors. You shall be my people and I will be your God” (36:25–28).
Aside from wandering diviners and visionaries, two categories of prophets are distinguished. The first group comprises the cult prophets. They live near the temples, take part in the rites with the priests,16 and are court prophets, connected with the royal sanctuaries.
All the great prophets are sincerely and passionately convinced of the genuineness of their vocation and the urgency of their message. They do not doubt that they are proclaiming the very word of God, for they have felt Yahweh’s hand, or his spirit (rūaḥ), upon them.
Their divine possession is sometimes manifested by ecstasy, though exaltation or an ecstatic trance do not seem to be indispensable.19 Certain prophets were even accused of “madness...”
He announces that God will judge the neighboring peoples - Damascus, Gaza, and Philistia, Tyre and Phoenicia - who have sinned against morality. This implies that all nations are under the jurisdiction of Yahweh. However, Amos fulminates especially against Israel, the Kingdom of the North, against its social injustices and its religious infidelity.
Tirelessly, Hosea attacks the syncretism Baal-Yahweh. “They renounce their God to play the whore. They offer sacrifice on the mountain tops, burn their offerings on the hills, under oak and pine and terebinth.
For Isaiah, it is a case of divine vengeance; Yahweh is punishing the religious infidelity that has flowed like a torrent from social injustice and the collapse of moral values. This is why he opposes the king’s foreign policy. Coalitions and political maneuvers are chimerical. There is but one hope: faith and confidence in Yahweh. “If you do not stand by me, you will not stand at all” (7:9b).
The catastrophe had decisive consequences for the history of Israel and for the development of Yahwism. The fall of the political and religious capital meant the disappearance of the state and the end of the Davidic monarchy. The Temple was burned and ruined, which entailed the cessation of sacrifices. A large part of the population was deported. But Babylon was an impure country, where the cult could not be practiced. The place of the Temple was taken by the religious school, which, in the course of time, will become the synagogue; here the community gathered periodically periodically for prayers, hymns, and homilies. But the destruction of the Temple was a constant reminder of the disappearance of the nation.
Many were those who, at Jerusalem or in exile, doubted the power of Yahweh and adopted the gods of the conquerors. Some even doubted Yahweh’s existence.
He was a priest, which explains the importance he attached to ritual purity...Yahweh would bring about the redemption of his people by cleansing them...Ezekiel announced the coming end of Jerusalem, the ineluctable consequence of Israel’s infidelity...Ezekiel constantly returns to the theme of the unfaithful woman whom Yahweh nevertheless was slow to abandon out of respect for his name. Israel’s privileged situation is in no way due to merit; it is Yahweh’s choice that has singled Israel out among other peoples.
Yahweh had no problem finding followers among wandering drug-crazed "prophets."
Ezekiel gives a detailed description of the future Temple (whose image he sees in ecstasy) and of the cult as it is to be celebrated in the new Israel.
Desacralization of nature, devalorization of cult activity, in short, the violent and total rejection of cosmic religiosity, and, above all, the decisive importance attributed to spiritual regeneration of the individual by a definitive return to Yahweh were the response of the prophets to the historical crises that threatened the very existence of the two Jewish kingdoms. The danger was great and immediate. The “joy in life” that is bound up with every cosmic religion was not only an apostasy, it was illusory, bound to disappear in the imminent national catastrophe.
The prophets reacted against the official political optimism and attacked the Davidic monarchy for having encouraged syncretism instead of setting up Yahwism as the state religion.
Yahweh Proves False
Liberated by Yahweh, the deportees will return to Zion “shouting for joy, everlasting joy in their faces; joy and gladness go with them, sorrow and lament are ended...The ordeal of the deportation is a sacrifice by virtue of which Israel’s sins were wiped out...Yahweh will make his Servant “the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth”...
...intoxicated by the recent prophecies, this was the beginning of a new series of disappointments.
Since the divine judgment was now accomplished, when, they asked, would the eschatological age announced by Second Isaiah appear?
And he (Zerubbabel) announced that the day that the work was ended would see an earthquake, the fall of the “kings of the nations,” the annihilation of their armies, and the installation of Zerubbabel as messianic king (2:20–23). However, when the Temple was finally consecrated, why, it was asked, did the eschaton still not arrive? One of the most plausible answers explained the delay by the corruption of the community.
But, as happened many times in history, the postponement of the universal transfiguration predicted by Second Isaiah altered the concept of salvation, and the eschatological hope was gradually extinguished.
Yahweh will “shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.” The Last Judgment will be accompanied by cosmic catastrophes that will destroy the world (Is 34:4 & 51:6).
The Jewish Revolt
Hasmoneans, gave the signal for armed revolt. From the outset he was supported by a group of zealots, the “pious” (hassidim). After Mattathias’ death, one of his sons, Judas Maccabeus, took over the direction of the war. In 164 AD, he occupied the Temple and restored the cult. This religious victory was regarded as sufficient by the hassidim. But the Maccabees continued the struggle for political freedom as well, which they succeeded in obtaining in 128 AD. After a lapse of several centuries, there were, once again, Jewish kings, now elected from the family of the Hasmoneans.
Their reign was disastrous, and in 63 AD the people accepted Roman suzerainty with relief.
...the revolt in 66–70 ended in the destruction of the second Temple and of Jerusalem itself by Titus’ legions.
...the insurrection led by Bar Cochba in 132–35, was savagely put down by Hadrian.
The doctrine of resurrection will be assiduously proclaimed in the apocalyptic literature (4 Esdras; 1 Enoch 51:1–3, 61:5, 62:14; the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch) and by the Pharisees. At the time of Jesus’ preaching, it was universally accepted, except by the Sadducees.
...the Messiah is always regarded as a human being: he is the King of God’s people.
Several texts rank the Messiah among eternal beings, together with Enoch, Elijah, and other personages who were taken up to Heaven by God...The Testament of Levi states that under his priesthood “all sin will disappear...and he himself will open the gates of Paradise...and to the Saints he will give to eat of the Tree of Life.” In short, the priestly Messiah will annul the consequences of original sin.
The figure of Satan probably developed under the influence of Iranian dualism...Probably Satan is at once the result of a “splitting” of the archaic image of Yahweh (a consequence of reflecting on the mystery of divinity) and of the influence of Iranian dualistic doctrines.
Jewish Apocalypse Accounts
in the Jewish apocalypse the end of the world is announced by a number of cataclysms and strange cosmic phenomena: the sun will shine by night and the moon by day, blood will flow in the fountains, the stars will leave their orbits, the trees will drip blood, fire will spring from the bowels of the earth, stones will cry out, etc. The year will be shortened, men will kill one another, there will be drought and famine, etc. And, just as in the Iranian tradition, the end of the world will see the universal judgment and hence also the resurrection of the dead.
Nordic Origin of Romans
Georges Dumézil has shown that the Romans “historicized” the great themes of Indo-European mythology, to such an extent that it is possible to say that the earliest Roman mythology - the mythology that existed before Etruscan and Greek influences - is to be found, disguised, in the first two books of Livy. Thus, in regard to the war between the Romans and the Sabines, Dumézil notes the astonishing symmetry between it and a central episode of Scandinavian mythology, that is, the conflict between two groups of gods, the Aesir and the Vanir. The former are grouped around Odin and Thór. Odin, their chief, is the god-king-magician; Thór, the god with the hammer, is the great celestial champion. In contrast, the Vanir are the gods of fecundity and wealth.
Oriental Influence in Rome
It was not until later, under the influence of Greek philosophy and the Oriental cults of salvation, that the Romans discovered the religious importance of the person; but this discovery, which will have marked consequences, more especially affected the urban populations.
Origin of Collectivism
The social character of Roman religiosity, and first of all the importance attributed to relations with others, are clearly expressed by the term pietas...pietas means not only scrupulous observance of the rites but also respect for the natural relationships (i.e., relationships in conformity with the norm) among human beings. For a son, pietas consists in obeying his father; disobedience is equivalent to a monstrous act, contrary to natural order.
Together with pietas toward the gods, there is pietas toward the members of the groups to which one belongs, toward the city, and, finally, toward all human beings. The “law of peoples” prescribed duties even toward foreigners. This conception reached its full development when, “under the influence of Hellenic philosophy, the concept of humanitas became clear - the idea that the mere fact of belonging to the human race constituted a true kinship, similar to that which linked the members of one gens or one city, and created duties of solidarity, of friendship, or at least of respect.” The “humanitarian” ideologies of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries only return to and elaborate, though at the same time they desacralize, the old conception of Roman pietas.
Unlike the Greeks, who had early organized a well-defined pantheon, the Romans at the beginning of the historical period had only a single hierarchic group of divinities, namely, the archaic triad Jupiter, Mars, Quirinus, completed by Janus and Vesta.
As patron god of “beginnings,” Janus headed the list, and Vesta, protectress of the city, closed it.
only the sanctuary of the Vesta is round (all other temples being quadrangular...Temples must be inaugurated and oriented in accordance with the four celestial directions; but the house of Vesta must not be inaugurated, since all the power of the goddess is from the earth; her sanctuary is an aedes sacra, not a templum. Vesta was not represented by images; fire was enough to represent her. This is yet another proof of archaism and conservatism, for the absence of images was originally characteristic of all the Roman divinities.
Rome was already familiar with the Greek gods in the sixth century, during the rule of the Etruscan kings.
Cult of Dionysus
In ca. 186 the authorities discovered, with surprise and indignation, the existence in Rome itself of bacchanalia, that is, of nocturnal “orgiastic mysteries.”
The cult of Dionysus had become widely disseminated in the Mediterranean world, especially in the Hellenistic period.
Following the Roman conquest of Magna Graecia, esoteric associations of mystai spread through the peninsula, especially in Campania. Indeed, it was a Campanian priestess-seeress who had introduced into Rome a secret cult, modified according to her own directions and including certain rites comparable to those of the Mysteries.
...they practiced pederasty and organized murders in order to obtain fortunes. The rites were performed in the greatest secrecy.
According to Livy, men, their bodies tossing as if they were demented, uttered prophecies; women “in the dress of bacchantes, with disheveled hair,” ran to the Tiber, “carrying blazing torches,” which they thrust into the water and withdrew still on fire, for “they contained live sulphur mixed with calcium.”
Wonder where the pederasts went to?
...the Dionysians especially proliferated among the criminal classes. In the second century, the senate, after long tolerating this quasi-religious cult, felt compelled to repress with great rigor the Bacchic gatherings. About 7,000 perjurers, swindlers, and conspirators were banished or executed. Only in Hellas itself did the radiant Apollonian principle, mastering chaos, still prevail - A. Rosenberg (Mythos des 20 Jahrhunderts)
The black stone in which Cybele was ritually present testifies to the archaism of her cult: rock is one of the oldest symbols of the Earth Mother.
Cult of Cybele & Attis
...the blood and the sexual organs offered to Cybele insured the Earth Mother’s fertility. With the passing of time, however, this immemorial cult became invested with new religious meanings; its bloodstained rites became so many means of redemption. Probably the soteriological function of the cult had been known for some time. At Pessinus there was a closed brotherhood of the Mystery-religion type. Long before it was introduced into Rome, the cult of Attis and Cybele had spread into Greece, where it probably underwent some changes. In Greece as at Rome, the repulsion aroused by the bloodstained rites of castration and by the eunuch priests had kept Attis in a subordinate position.
It was only under Claudius and his successors that Attis and the rites he had established were raised to the first rank - an event whose importance we must point out. The festivals were celebrated at the spring equinox,
Death of Attis
...the brotherhood of reed-bearers brought cut reeds to the temple (according to the legend, Cybele had found the infant Attis exposed on the bank of the river Sangarius). After seven days the brotherhood of tree-bearers brought a cut pine tree from the forest. Its trunk was wrapped in narrow narrow bands, like a corpse, and an image of Attis was fastened to the middle of it. The tree represented the dead god. On March 24, “the day of blood,” the priests (the Galli) and the neophytes indulged in a savage dance to the sound of flutes, cymbals, and tambourines, whipped themselves until the blood flowed, and gashed their arms with knives; at the height of their frenzy some neophytes cut off their virile organs and offered them to the goddess in oblation.
...individual initiations were performed on March 28; the neophyte was sanctified by the blood of a sacrificed bull or ram. Presumably this sacrifice took the place of the mystes’ self-mutilation, for he offered the victim’s genital organs to the goddess. He was admitted to the “nuptial chamber,” as mystical husband of Cybele, just like the Gallos, who entered this sacrosanct place to offer the Mother the fruits of his mutilation.
As for the kernos, it is probable that in the initiatory cult of Attis this terracotta vessel was not used to hold an oblation of food but to carry the sexual organs of the bull or the ram to the Mother “under the canopy.”
The Kernos was a vessel designed to receive the bloody offerings to the mother-goddess Cybele, that offering being the phallus of her son-lover Attis. Acolytes and priests of the goddess were more often than not castrati. Many vessels were designed to resemble mushrooms. They can be found the world over, as far away as Mexico and S. America where similar rites were practiced.
The Hellenistic Mysteries drew on archaic ritual modes of behavior - savage music, frenetic dances, tattooing, the use of hallucinogenic plants - in order to force the divinity to approach or even to obtain an unio mystica.
As for the self-mutilation of the Galli and of certain disciples during their ecstatic trances, it insured their absolute chastity, in other words, their total gift of themselves to the divinity.
In their hands they held snakes consecrated to Sabazius, daggers or thyrsi. Attaining paroxysm, “sacred madness,” they seized animals chosen to be sacrificed and tore them to pieces, eating the raw flesh. This ritual omophagy (raw-eating) produced identification with the god; the participants now called themselves Sabos or Sabazius.
Thrace was connected with the cult of “Dionysus.” A certain tribe, that of the Bessi, managed the oracle of “Dionysus:” the temple was on a high mountain, and the prophetess predicted the future in “ecstasy,” like the Pythia (Snake Priestess) at Delphi.
Ecstasy could also be brought on by certain herbs or by asceticism (solitude, vegetarian diet, fasting, etc) and by prayer.
Among certain Thracian tribes, the belief in immortality and the certainty of bliss for the discarnate soul end in an almost morbid exaltation of death and a depreciation of existence.
Beginning in the fifth century the iconography of Orpheus becomes continually richer: vase paintings show him playing the lyre and surrounded by birds or wild animals or else by Thracian disciples. He is torn to pieces by maenads, or he is in Hades with other divinities.
Dionysus sent the maenads against him; the lyre-player was torn to pieces, and the parts of his body were scattered.5 His head, thrown into the Hebron, floated to Lesbos, singing. Piously recovered, it served as an oracle.
Like the shamans, he is both healer and musician; he charms and masters wild animals; he goes down to the underworld to bring back the dead; his head is preserved and serves as an oracle.
Orpheus attributed great importance to purifications, and katharsis was a specifically Apollonian technique...We do not know the fundamentals of the initiation that was supposed to have been “founded” by Orpheus. We know only its preliminaries: vegetarianism, asceticism, purification, religious instruction (hieroi logoi, sacred books).
Some references in Plato enable us to glimpse the context of the Orphic conception of immortality. As punishment for a primordial crime, the soul is shut up in the body (soma) as in a tomb (sema). Hence, incarnate existence is more like a death, and the death of the body is therefore the beginning of true life. However, this “true life” is not obtained automatically; the soul is judged according to its faults or its merits, and after a certain time it is incarnated again.
...for Empedocles, who lived the “Orphic life,” the soul was a prisoner in the body, exiled far from the Blessed, clothed in “a fresh garment of flesh.”
Certain Oriental influences must not be excluded.
...the success of other Oriental religions, introduced later, was insured by the urban proletariat and by the large number of foreigners settled in Rome.
The Orient is glorified as the fatherland of the earliest and most respected “sages,” the land where the masters of wisdom have best preserved and guarded esoteric doctrines and methods of salvation.
Cults native to Egypt and Asia Minor enjoyed an astonishing popularity; they also benefited from imperial protection. Commodus (185–92) had been initiated into the Mysteries of Isis and those of Mithra, and Caracalla (211–17) had encouraged the cult of the Syrian solar god, Sol Invictus.
...Emperor Heliogabalus, himself a Syrian and a priest of the god of Emesa, introduced this cult into Rome. Heliogabalus was assassinated in 222, and the Syrian god was then banished from the city. However, as we shall see (p. 411), Aurelian (270–75) successfully reintroduced the cult of Sol Invictus.
Pherecydes of Syros had been the first to maintain that the soul is immortal, and that it returns to earth in successive reincarnations. It is difficult to identify the possible source of this belief. In Pherecydes’ day it was clearly formulated only in India. Pherecydes’ eschatology had no echo in the Greek world.
...we may recognize in the “Orphics” the successors to the initiatory groups that in the archaic period performed various functions under the names of Cabiri, Telchines, Curetes, and Dactyls - groups whose members jealously guarded certain “trade secrets” (they were metallurgists and smiths, but also healers, diviners, masters of initiation, etc).
Although the prestige of Orphism declined after the Persian Wars, its central ideas (the dualism, immortality, and therefore the divinity of man, the eschatology), especially through Plato’s interpretation, continued to influence Greek thought. in the Hellenistic period, we can identify the influence of certain Orphic conceptions in the Mystery religions; still later, in the first centuries of the Christian era, Orphism will arouse a new interest, due especially to the Neo-Platonists and Neo-Pythagoreans.
For the first two centuries, Christianity was considered a religio illicita, and Christians were persecuted because they practiced a clandestine religion, one that had no official authorization. In 202 Septimus Severus published the first anti-Christian decree, forbidding proselytizing. Soon afterward, Maximus attacked the ecclesiastical ecclesiastical hierarchy, but unsuccessfully. Until the reign of Decius, the Church developed in peace. But in 250 Decius published an edict requiring all citizens to offer sacrifices to the gods of the Empire. The persecution, though short, was extremely severe, which explains the large number of abjurations...the Church emerged from the ordeal victorious.
Christianity was able to infiltrate everywhere in the Empire and on every social level (even into the emperor’s family).
...the esoteric traditions of the Apostles carry on a Jewish esotericism concerning the mysteries of the ascent of the soul and the secrets of the celestial world.
For the Greeks, death is assimilated to forgetting; the dead are those who have lost the memory of the past.
The name of Hermetism is applied to the whole body of beliefs, ideas, and practices transmitted in the Hermetic literature. This is a collection of texts of unequal value, composed between the third century BC, and the third century AD. Two categories are distinguished: writings pertaining to popular Hermetism (astrology, magic, occult sciences, alchemy) and learned Hermetic literature, first of all the seventeen treatises, in Greek, of the Corpus Hermeticum.
...the writings that make up the learned Hermetic literature are held to have been revealed by Hermes Trismegistus.
...it is important to emphasize at this point that these archaic scenarios and images, rehandled by Christian authors, enjoyed an unparalleled success in the religious folklore of Europe - Mircea Eliade
Term for king - regent, regal, rex, roi, ri, raj, all similar etymology the world over. Probably versions of Ari or Arya.
The Irish texts present Lug as the leader of an army, using magic on the battlefield, but also as a master poet and the mythical ancestor of an important tribe.
We may conclude from this that Lug represented sovereignty in its magical and military aspect: he is violent and to be feared, but he protects warriors as well as bards and magicians.
Ard Ri (High King)
he who would become king of Ireland could do so only by marrying the tutelary goddess who bore the same name; in other words, he attained to sovereignty by a hieros gamos with the Earth Goddess.
...the vernacular literature preferred to present the mother goddesses grouped in triads. The most famous are the three Machas, personifying the tutelary goddess of the capital of Ulster. Accession to the throne is possible only by sleeping with one of the Machas.
The suppression of the Druids under the emperors Augustus, Tiberius, and Claudius aimed at annihilating Gallic nationalism. Yet in the third century, when Roman pressure lessened considerably, there was a surprising renaissance of Celtic religion, and the Druids regained their authority. But it was in Ireland that the Druids, as well as the principal religious structures, survived until the Middle Ages.
Aesir & Vanir
The pantheon is divided into two divine groups: the Aesir and the Vanir. The most remarkable among the Aesir are Tyr, Odin and Thor.
On the other side, the most important among the Vanir - Njord, Freyr, and Freyja - are characterized by their wealth and by their relations with fecundity, pleasure, and peace.
Their long hard-fought, and indecisive war, ends in a definitive reconciliation.
The mythological theme of the war between the Aesir and the Vanir precedes the process of Germanization, for it is an integral part of the Indo-European tradition.
Yggdrasill means “the horse (drasil) of Ygg,” one of Odin's names.
Tree & Garden
The tree beside a spring or a fountain is an exemplary image of “Paradise”; in Mesopotamia what corresponds to it is the garden with a sacred tree and a spring, guarded by the Gardener King, representative of the god.
Finns & Iranians
Other borrowings of Iranian origin have been mentioned above. As to the similarities with the beliefs and customs of the Finno-Ugrians, they can be explained either by contacts during the proto-historic period, or by their derivation from a common tradition.