left biblioblography: Orphism - Another Well To Draw Upon...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Orphism - Another Well To Draw Upon...


Cross posted @ God is for Suckers!

I have always been intrigued at the myths of humanity - how they weave the fantasy of an afterlife from simple to complex over imagination. A mixture of blood and thew, heart and mind, walking the strange labyrinths of allegory drawn from the complexities of nature and stretched like a canvas over the metaphor of death.

One of these older cults was for a time a rival of Christianity (and as we all know from history - these things end in tears).

Orphism blends a fairly unique and diverse degree of symbology:

According to legend Orpheus founded these mysteries and was the author of the sacred poems from which the Orphic doctrines were drawn. The rites were based on the myth of Dionysus Zagreus, the son of Zeus and Persephone. When Zeus proposed to make Zagreus the ruler of the universe, the Titans were so enraged that they dismembered the boy and devoured him. Athena saved Zagreus' heart and gave it to Zeus, who thereupon swallowed the heart (from which was born the second Dionysus Zagreus) and destroyed the Titans with lightning. From the ashes of the Titans sprang the human race, who were part divine (Dionysus) and part evil (Titan). This double aspect of human nature, the Dionysian and the Titanic, is essential to the understanding of Orphism. The Orphics affirmed the divine origin of the soul, but it was through initiation into the Orphic Mysteries and through the process of transmigration that the soul could be liberated from its Titanic inheritance and could achieve eternal blessedness. Orphism stressed a strict standard of ethical and moral conduct. Initiates purified themselves and adopted ascetic practices (e.g., abstinence from eating animal flesh) for the purpose of purging evil and cultivating the Dionysian side of the human character.

 So, here we have an all-father giving his son the ownership, son gets killed, son gets resurrected. Along with the concept of dualism (which Judaism rejects, but Christianity embraces), and we can liberally interpret 'Titanic inheritance' to mean 'original sin'.

What is of particular interest, is the influence it had upon fellows like Plato and Pythagoras, as stated by the Philosophy dictionary:

Mystical Greek religious and philosophical cult derived from the myth of Orpheus and the so-called ‘Orphic literature’. It involved stories of creation, reincarnation, and punishment after death, and had a large influence on Pythagoras and Plato. The mysteries of Eleusis were the initiation into Orphism.

The story of Dionysus' mother, Semele, is also of interest:

Zeus' wife, Hear, a goddess jealous of usurpers, discovered his affair with Semele when she later became pregnant. Appearing as an old crone, Hear befriended Semele, who confided in her that her lover was actually Zeus. Hear pretended not to believe her, and planted seeds of doubt in Semele's mind. Curious, Semele demanded of Zeus that he reveal himself in all his glory as proof of his godhood. Though Zeus begged her not to ask this, she persisted and he agreed. Mortals, however, cannot look upon Zeus without dying, and she perished, consumed in lightning-ignited flame.

For those of you familiar with the Christian mythology, recall that it was said that no mortal could look upon Yahweh and live (Exodus 33:18-23).

It's easy to see how the ancient Israelites borrowed symbology from their neighbors. It's what people do - we borrow from others, and tailor it to suit ourselves and our environments.

I happen to be a Jebus-myther - how about you?

Till the next post, then.

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