TRICKY GODS and
Below is one artist's depiction of the experience of Saul
of Tarsus near the Middle Eastern city of Damascus as
he told of it in the Bible as recorded in Acts 9:1-12.
We Christians, because we are a gullible bunch, and rather imaginative also, have assumed that Saul of Tarsus came riding into Damascus with a squad of soldiers intent on hunting down every believer that Christ was the long looked for Messiah with a warrant from the Jewish High priest in Jerusalem to carry them off to jail. And then, Shhhs-BAM, he fell off his horse as a blinding light from heaven rendered him completely helpless. And he saw a twelve-foot-high apparition of Jesus Christ, the pope-above-all-popes demanding to know how come Saul was persecuting him. Here's Saul, lying on his back in the dirt, mumbling and whining like a sick puppy, wanting to know how he can get his eyesight back. We see all this because that's what an Essene author named Luke wanted us to see. And that's what we want to see also, because a little later Saul, renamed Paul, will offer us everything for nothing. Eternal life instead of burning in hell forever.
It's a simple transaction Paul asks us all to make, anyone can do it in ten minutes or less, and if you are fortunate enough to be born in a Roman Catholic family, somebody is sure to have done it for you as a newborn child as soon as you could be taken to church without catching pneumonia. A few words in Latin, a dab of holy water on your head, and the devil can never have you, even if you grow up to be a Mafia boss or his mistress.
All because a carpenter's son from Nazareth, who had a Shhhs-BAM experience like Saul's at Damascus, only this one was at the Jordan river near Qumran, wrestled with the Devil for three and one-half years, was executed on a cross, and won that contest for all of us. Turns out he was God in disguise, although it took three hundred years more and a decree ordered by a Roman emperor for the world to catch on what had happened. Some of us have had one or several of these Shhhs-BAM experiences ourselves, others never have had even one, but must plod through life either totally godless, or try to pick from the various stories we hear and choose what appears to be the best one for us, as individuals trying to find some reason for our existence, to believe in.
To human beings, born with large brains, even larger imaginations, and lots of curiosity, we must learn to survive, and once we have learned enough to survive we want to know more. More about where we came from, why we are here asking these questions, and watching others besides ourselves get sick, have accidents, go to war and not come back, and a fortunate few die of old age. We are not fruit flies, nor mice, nor even sheep. And its not enough for some of us to just grow up, accumulate a few toys, reproduce, and then die. So we look around for gods and devils, and choose our divine delusions.
Tricky Gods and Divine Delusions--We Love them Both!
Turns out that there were three Gods in heaven before the Carpenter's Son was born, not just One as the Jews claim to have always thought, and as the Muslims still think, only we're supposed to all count these three Gods as One, so Christians can still read the Old Testament without embarrassment. And recite the first two commandments that this One God, or three persons writing in unison and writing as One God wrote with His (Their) finger (s) on the two stone tablets Moses had to make after he rashly broke the first tablets God (those three who are One) made. According to the Jews, the first were made out of clear blue stone in the shape of a cube with the letters holographicly inside the stone. Evidently Moses' two stones were vastly inferior to those provided by the Trinity.
When Moses went back up that trail with the tablets you see above, they were blank. Moses had to wash the blood and the gold off both his hands and his clothing before making this second commandment- procuring trip because of an incident involving a golden calf. Until this incident was properly taken care of, there would be no replacement of God's broken blue Sapphire cubes with the holographic letters inside.
In one of the many chapters of Biblical Exodus most of us Bible-readers mostly choose to ignore (Chapter 32) is the story of the "God-Cubes" and also the story of the Golden Calf. Since Jews don't have to believe in Jesus and can religiously find most of the past 2000 years relatively irrelevant to their central beliefs, the Rabbis make much of these stories because it gives them something to speculate about and argue about. And that's what religion is mostly about, speculation and argument. Until we die, or perhaps learn that none of it was true.
Exodus 32:1 "And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him."
2 "And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me."
If you're a human being looking for religious guidance, some one to lead you to a spiritual place you suddenly feel a yearning for, some overly religious or spiritual person, in this case Aaron the perceived High Priest, can almost always find some use for the money you have given or are giving your wives and children. Better to "invest" the money in your heavenly future than waste it on the here and now. In the meanwhile, Aaron, or Aaron's surrogates, will have a nice future taking care of your "golden calf" -- that will lead you anywhere you want to go. It's a familiar story, a great system (for the priests) -- and very old.
3 "And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. 4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made a golden calf; and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt."
5 "And when Aaron saw it (the possibilities of adding this new "calf" to his existing program), he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord (Yahweh)."
6 "And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play."
Sounds like a really great program to me. Whenever any church is showing a lack-luster performance, membership is dwindling, and that old Moses-person is spending too much time on the mountain and not providing the congregation what they need, find someone else who has new ideas, and pay him or her handsomely for trying out these new ideas. Notice that the "Golden Calf" seems to have been Aaron's idea. The people would have been happy with any type of "gods". Aaron narrowed it down to One and called this One Yahweh. Once this new religious prop was constructed, Aaron proclaimed a feast to Yahweh. It was a nice feast, lots of good stuff to eat, and entertainment afterwards. Sounds almost Baptist or Adventist. A formula that should work quite well.
Tricky Gods and Divine Delusions--We Love them Both!
Meanwhile, up on the mountain, Yahweh was having a serious discussion with Moses. He, Yahweh, had become the advocate of the older members of the congregation who saw only evil in the new "calf-worship" innovations. Yahweh suggested that perhaps he (Yahweh) should just wipe out this entire congregation and have Moses start another one somewhere else. He showed Moses His new Sapphire God-Cubes (described in verses 15 and 16). Perhaps they, Moses and Yahweh, could use these as the basis of a new monotheistic religion. Moses picked up the God-Cubes and headed down the mountain, but got so excited and angry when he saw the golden calf and a feast going on that he had not authorized that he dropped them and they broke into a thousand pieces. Why God did not make them indestructible is just another of those questions we aren't supposed to ask.
Then ensued the inevitable conflict between that part of the congregation that liked the new "calf-worship" ideas, and those who decided that Moses was the only guide they needed to the "Promised Land". Moses provided his dedicated group of followers with some swords and they reduced the opposition leaders to bloody corpses, ground up the golden calf into a fine powder, threw the powder into the water supply, and forced the survivors of the original congregation to drink this water. Only then could Moses persuade Yahweh to write out some more secure guidelines for monotheistic religion on some newly made but vastly inferior rocks.
The Egyptian God-Stories
As families, tribes, and nations we pick and keep those "God Stories" that reinforce our sense of worth and destiny. The group of tribes wandering in the desert of the Sinai peninsula and living in Canaan were split in their admiration of the larger and more prosperous nations that lived in Mesopotamia and in the area known as Egypt. IB.RU.UM (Abraham) whose religion was derived from the Sumerian Annunaki (Elohim) must be their ancestor, because he was the "Father of many nations."
But two of the largest and most influential of these tribes that became known as the "Children of Israel" were Ephriam and Manasseh, living in the area of Canaan where Samaria, the capital of northern Israel was later located. These two tribes traced their lineage back to Joseph son of Jacob whose name became Israel after he wrestled with God or an angel one night while preparing to meet his twin brother Esau, whose birth-right he had stolen by tricking his blind father.
Joseph had become the de-facto ruler of Egypt, and invited his 11 brothers to live there during an ancient famine that lasted 7 years. The tribes related to Joseph lived in Egypt for many centuries and were eventually enslaved by the Egyptians, or so the story goes, but one particular God, a god of the desert who called Himself Yahweh, commanded Moses to lead the enslaved tribes to Canaan. It should not surprise us that some of these tribes were tempted to worship a golden calf during this 40 year migration because the major Egyptian goddess of the Sinai was named Hathor, and she was often pictured as a Cow. Indeed, the only ancient picture of Yahweh that has been found, was found in Samaria, and pictures Yahweh as a bull. and his divine consort as a cow.
The major "God Stories" of Egypt involved the sun, although there were many minor gods and goddesses, mostly connected with pictures of various beasts, including the crocodiles. The Egyptian Trinity consisted of Osiris as the Sun, the goddess Isis, both his mother and wife, and their son Horus. The present pharaoh was Horus incarnate. And would become Osiris as the sun in the sky at his death so his eldest son could become the next Horus on earth.
The golden calf in the wilderness was Horus in an improved "tricky god" story in which the whole process was speeded up to occur daily. The sun as the bull calf begins each day as the ruler of creation. During the day he matures, becomes sexually potent, and mates with the cow, Hathor, goddess of the desert, who during the night gives birth to the next bull calf, Horus. Who the next day rules the world and the sky as the new bull. This variation on the Egyptian Sun-Trinity worked well among the desert tribes who didn't have much contact with metropolitan Egypt and the established priesthood of Ra, the sun-god in their great temples.
The other major tribe responsible for later Jewish traditions was found since ancient times in the Bethlehem, Hebron, Jerusalem area. King Saul came to rule this area, and with the help of a religious leader named Samuel made the worship of Yahweh compulsory in the area he ruled. Samuel discouraged image worship as did Saul and his successor David. Indeed even drawing pictures of Yahweh was later declared to be a great sin, and made a part of the Ten Commandments of Yahweh.
The main components of Egyptian theology that still survive are the Trinity and Sunday as a day of worship. Not because they are superior divine delusions, but because the Roman emperor Constantine was an admirer of Egyptian theology, and imagined himself as the "Invincible Sun".
The Greek God-Stories
Alexander the Macedonian changed all this, temporarily at least, when he set out to conquer the western world, and very nearly succeeded. Wherever the Greeks were victorious, they carried their own versions of the original Sumerian God-Stories with them, but with variations and improvements. Mainly they worshipped strength, and cleverness, and sexual prowess, so their father-god became Zeus, who lived on Mount Olympus with his wife the goddess Hera. Hera tried to keep a close eye on Zeus' sexual adventures, which often involved human women, but he managed to have a lot of half-divine half- human sons and daughters anyway. Which later made parts of the Jesus story more understandable to Greeks and Romans than it was to the Jews.
When the Romans became masters of most of Alexander's Greek empire, they realized that the Greeks were much superior to them in imagination and other artistic skills, so they renamed the Greek gods with Latin names, but credited them with the same exploits. The Roman emperors became gods at their deaths, but some, like Augustus Caesar and Gaius Caligula, and even some say Nero insisted on being worshipped as gods while they were still living. The Caesars themselves hoped to, and sometimes succeeded in becoming a part of
A Long List of Tricky Gods and Divine Delusions.
The Jewish Messiah,
Canaan, now called Palestine, was located in the middle, the cross-roads of these various major empires, so the tribes that later became known as Judea and Samaria and Galilee were constantly being conquered by, and forced to pay taxes to, each succeeding victorious king or emperor. In the era of Jesus Christ, the Jews had high hopes that he would be the one, the ultimate Messiah of the lineage of King David, who would miraculously overcome the Romans and rule the entire area under the laws of Yahweh, not Rome. Jesus did finally overcome the Roman empire, but not until many centuries after the Jews expected him to. And the laws were not those of Yahweh, but those of paganized Christian popes who paid little heed to the teachings of the Bible.
Although Alexander's Greek army reached northern India, Greek religious stories never made much headway in India, and neither did Jewish teachings that Yahweh was the only god that should be worshipped. One of the very first and oldest of the gods of India to achieve the title of Father of the gods, or King of the gods was Indra, who sometimes also went by the name of Meghavahana, the "Rider of the Clouds." Here's a minor early picture of him below.
Indian artists developed their own artistic conventions that they applied to religious subjects, and the greatest and holiest gods were painted blue, because blue was thought to be a very good color, the color of heaven. Also the gods would hold out items or weapons that demonstrated their powers in certain fields of endeavor. A particularly powerful or talented god would need more than two arms or hands to show what he (or she) could do, so extra arms were added by the artists. Indra - Meghavahana became so famous for so many abilities that one artist has pictured him thus, at the limit, or for most of us, past the limit of credibility!
I do not feel it is my duty or responsibility on this web site to recount to you all the "God-Stories" that inspired this artist to paint this picture, but since according to my research Jesus Christ showed up in India as a youth and took the name of "Prince Meghavahana" I thought it might be useful to show this was not a minor figure whose name he chose to be known by for 34 years. And I'll let you know also that I wrote a book about Jesus as Meghavahana which is custom-printed by Lulu.com. The book is pictured below.
Indra, as Meghavahana, was an invincible warrior, who had a select army of holy warriors, who lived with their god on a certain holy mountain inaccessible to others besides this group. If one of his warriors was struck down in battle, Indra had the power to bring him back from the dead, and restore him to fighting condition. This group was almost always victorious, and would celebrate these victories by drinking a non-alcoholic drink in major feasting that might last all night long. Indra's feasting-hall was unequalled in size and decorative beauty and I suppose we could compare it to our Christian ideas about heaven.
In more recent times, beginning perhaps several centuries before the era during which Jesus Christ was born in the Qumran area of the Wilderness of Judea, Lord Shiva in Kashmir gradually took over the reputations, traditions, and "God Stories" of all the major gods of India. Including those connected with Indra and Varuna, the major sky gods, and the god of the sea.
The Original God-Stories
It's a relatively new idea that gods should only do good and holy things, and should be our models for ethical behavior. Back in prehistoric times the gods did more or less as they pleased, and although the gods themselves had a code of conduct in dealing with other gods that were their equal, what humans thought of these actions was of little or no concern to them. Anu was the Father-god of the Annunaki (Elohim) and in many ways was the worse model for behavior of all of them. Like Zeus of the Greek gods, he was generally on the prowl for goddesses and women, but would reward his often talented or beautiful illegitimate children with special privileges, including, but not limited to, eternal life.
After many centuries of looking at carvings of the original gods, the Annunaki, on monuments, cliff-sides, and old temple walls, the Persians decided to come up with a uniform picture of God, One God not many gods, that must look like this. They called this god Ahura-mazda, the god of light and truth.
The great prophet who gets the credit for this idea among the Persians was called Zoroaster, and he became the founder of the religion called Zoroasterism.
This idea that God, supposing that there is a God, must be connected in some way to light and truth and the things we like and consider to be ethical was a new idea at that time, and it never really caught on with the Greeks, the Romans, or even the Jews, who considered Yahweh to be responsible for everything that happened to them, be it pleasant or unpleasant. Thus Yahweh sent evil spirits to torment King Saul, and then sent the youthful David to play on his harp to drive the evil spirits away. When Israel won battles it was because Yahweh was helping them. When they last battles it was because Yahweh was punishing them. But Zoroaster had a second great revelation that was even a greater game- changer once it caught on. There must be another great divine being out there who was just as evil as Ahura-Mazda was good. The Persians liked the idea, and the Big Devil was born. Satan, the Big Devil. The one in charge of all the other devils large and small, who torment the human race, and tempt us to do evil. And how old is this "Big Devil"? Estimates as to when Zoroaster lived vary widely, but the best guesses narrow the possibilities to between the 11th century BC to about the 6th century BC. Before the Jerusalem temple was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
And what does the Devil look like?
He must, the Persian artists decided, look like this.
And so, now you know who inspired this web page!
Tricky Gods and Divine Delusions--We Love them Both!
The Essenes and Us
There was no real literature in the Old Testament advocating the Zoroastrian theology of a major war between Good and Evil, between Light and Darkness, until the Essenes wrote this theme into the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the earliest Scroll scholars assume they did this around the time of the Maccabees, perhaps in 167 BC or later. It is of little importance when they started, because it was an on-going fascination with them, and they were still using what was basically a Zoroastrian theology when Jesus was born near Qumran in March of 7 BC.
The Essenes were also astrologers, and they used both the idea of Zoroastrian good-bad and astrology to construct horoscopes of their own members, and perhaps others outside their group, although this latter possibility is extremely unlikely, because the Essenes had as few dealings as possible with non-Essenes.
Here's several of their horoscopes:
II ....and his thighs are long and lean, and his toes are thin and long. He is of the second Column. His spirit consists of six (parts) in the House of Light and three in the Pit of Darkness. And this is his birthday on which he (is to be/was?) born: in the foot of the Bull. He will be meek. And his animal is the bull. III ....and his head .... [and his cheeks are] fat. His teeth are of uneven length (?). His fingers are thick, and his thighs are thick and very hairy, each one. His toes are thick and short. His spirit consists of eight (parts) in the House of Darkness and one from the House of Light...'
I .....order. His eyes are black and glowing. His beard is .... and it is ...... His voice is gentle. His teeth are fine and well aligned. He is neither tall, nor short. And he .... And his fingers are thin and long. And his thighs are smooth. And the soles of his feet ... [And his toes] are well aligned. His spirit consists of eight (parts) [in the House of Light, of] the second Column, and one [in the House of Darkness. And this is] his birthday on which he (is to be/was) born: ... his animal is ...."
And now for what to me is Jesus' own horoscope!
I ....of his hand:two .... a birthmark. And the hair will be red. And there will be lentils on .... and small birthmarks on his thigh. [And after t]wo years he will know (how to destinguish) one thing from another. In his youth, he will be like ....[like a m]an who knows nothing until the time when he knows the three Books.
And then he will acquire wisdom and learn und[erstanding] ...vision to come to him on his knees. And with his father and his ancestors ... life and old age. Counsel and prudence will be with him, and he will know the secrets of man. His wisdom will reach all the peoples, and he will know the secrets of all the living. And all their designs against him will come to nothing, and (his) rule over all the living will be great. His designs [will succeed] for he is the Elect of God. His birth and the breath of his spirit ... and his designs shall be for ever..."
Since I discovered that Jesus was born 1 Km. from Qumran I have never doubted that this is his horoscope, although few others may agree this is so.
Tricky Gods and Divine Delusions--We Love them Both!
Isaiah 66:1 "Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?
2 For all those things hath my hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
3 He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol.
Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.
4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not."
Tricky Gods and Divine Delusions-We Love them both!
Isaiah's Prophecy Fulfilled:
at Qumran and in Kashmir