Mithraic Iconography and The Changing of the Ages

Mithras, The Lion-Headed God
standing on a globe with crossed circles

Modern scholarship has revealed that the ancient Roman religion called the Mithraic mysteries incorporated iconography that symbolized astronomical concepts as they were understood at that time.  The depiction above could perhaps tell us something about the 1999 solar eclipse, and how it might be symbolized in dreams, myths, or crop circle formations.  

The lion, of course, is a major symbol in the meaning of the eclipse, as I see it.  The sphere upon which Mithras is standing is of special interest, because similar crop formations have appeared, such as the 1998 formation next to Bell Inn, and because it illustrates an astronomical concept.

I first read about the Mithraic mysteries several years ago in Jesus Christ, Sun of God. I found a site on-line that covers the subject - The Cosmic Mysteries of Mithras.  The cross shape within the globe above is thought to have come from Plato's concept of the "X," as stated in his dialogue, Timaeus. He wrote that the Creator formed the "X" in the cosmos, as indicated by the intersection of the two celestial circles . . .  the belt of the zodiac and the celestial equator.

The celestial equator does not remain fixed. From our perspective, it moves very slowly in a manner that causes the precession of the equinoxes. The idea of the twelve Zodiac Ages of 2,160 years each, came from this effect. The two equinoxes and the two solstices seem to travel backward through the belt of the Zodiac at a rate of one degree every 72 years. They travel one full 360-degree circuit in 25,920 years. The Ages are determined by the position of the spring equinox in relation to the Zodiac constillations. This was all apparently known by the ancient people who belonged to the Mithraic cult. The Greek astronomer, Hipparchus, is said to have discovered the phenomenon of the precession around 128 B.C. Other evidence suggests that this was a re-discovery . . . that the precession was known to even more ancient peoples.

The Tauroctony
Mithras Killing the Taurus Bull

The Mithraic depictions of the Tauroctony symbolicly represent a star map, showing the end of the Age of Taurus. During the Age of Taurus (around 4,000 to 2,000 B.C.) the spring equnox, of course, was in the Zodiac constillation of Taurus. The fall equinox at that time was 180-degrees from Taurus, in the Zodiac sign of Scorpio. Thus the scorpion in the Mithraic depictions. The two equinoxes are symbolized by the two torch-bearers in the above depiction.

The summer and winter solstices, in the Age of Taurus, were in Leo (the Lion) and Aquarius (The Waterbearer). These were symbolized in Mithraic iconography as a lion and a cup.


Dreams of the Changing of the Ages

Like most people, perhaps, my original impression of mythical symbols was that they were simply created by human beings in the past to express a story or idea. They are interesting, but have little deep meaning. I have a different view now, after following dreams for many years, and learning more about mythology and religions. ..



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This site was last updated on November 9, 1998.

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