In 2004, Tom Harpur, a Canadian Anglican theologian and priest, published a book titled The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light. It became an instant best seller in Canada.
His teachings in this book most definitely lie way outside the carefully patrolled borders of his bureaucratized Christian faith. For example, his discourse, based in scholarly research, begins with his discovery that Isis, the ancient Egyptian goddess of Love and the archetypal Mother, had a second name four thousand years ago—the name "Mery" which means "beloved"... and her son Horus, who was immaculately conceived after the death of his father Osiris, had a second name as well—"Iusa." Sound familiar?
Grounded in relentless scholarship, Harpur reveals that Horus was the Pagan Christ and that the Christos myth was alive and well two thousand years before the story of Jesus of Nazareth appeared in the Middle East. Harper then documents how this myth was ‘borrowed' part and parcel from the Egyptians by the early Christian theologians who then created a figurative flesh and blood Jesus—an embodied god-human hybrid on Earth for the common people to believe in as a divine messiah and redeemer.
Harpur describes this blatantly political act as "the shadow of the Third Century" because once the Church had taken the Christos myth from the Egyptians and made it their own, they did everything they could to destroy any evidence of their mythos' pagan roots.
There are more parts of Harpur's book that some readers may find challenging such as his conclusion that it is questionable, even doubtful, whether a flesh and blood Jesus ever lived. He suggests that the entire story of Jesus, from his immaculate conception right up to his sacrifice and his resurrection, was completely fictional and was (and is) a reworking of the myth of the god Horus of Egypt.
Yet Harpur also reveals something in his book that converges directly upon the new mysteries appearing in our time. He presents us with a central teaching that is found at the heart of all the world's religions and in every culture--the incarnation of the Divine into Human Form.
This is familiar territory in Christianity in which this teaching takes the form of Jesus being the Son of God. Yet in considering the nature of Divinity, Harpur observes that the solar being we call the Sun is the source and thus the actual creator of everything in our solar system. It is also by its light alone that we are able to know and see everything that exists. Therefore, he posits, the Sun was a natural symbol in antiquity for the ultimate source of all Being... for God.
Harpur also reiterates a fact well known to mythologists everywhere. A myth is never intended to be taken as factual. Myths are fictions... and yet every myth embodies timeless truths that are real. Even children can understand this.
An Eternal Truth
The mythos that gave rise to our Judeo-Christian-Islamic religious traditions, correctly understood, contains such an eternal truth--that the Divine Seed of Light that was sourced into us by God at the beginning of our life is the true Christos.
The mystics of antiquity taught their acolytes that we received our Divine Seed when we took our first breath, revealing that the breath is the link between spirit and form... and in fact all three of our Abrahamic traditions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—agree that "God breathes life into form."
However, the teachers of the ancient mystery schools knew that this "God" is not some mythic off-planet father figure living in Heaven. Rather it is our own personal God-Self—our mysterious, immortal spiritual aspect that many today call our Oversoul, a term coined by the American philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson.
This truth correctly understood, reveals that the Christos, known by many names in many cultures, is present within every single member of humanity as our common spiritual property.
Through our accepting and embracing of this extraordinary revelation, the power of the Christos within each of us may be activated and unleashed to spiritualize our own nature. It is through direct experience (gnosis) of the sacred nature of our soul seed that we discover that each of us embodies an aspect of the Divine Source and that the presence of the Christos within us gifts each one us with the potential to become gods ourselves.
Blasphemy? Absolutely not... and yet almost none of our monotheistic Abrahamic traditions affirm this progression. But the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition does.
The Eastern Orthodoxy
While the Western church in Rome placed more and more power in the hands of its pope, its cardinals, and its bishops over the past seventeen hundred years, the guardians of spiritual truth in the Eastern Orthodoxy are considered to be the entire people of God—the populus at large. This created a strongly democratic religious complex in the Eastern Christian world about which most of us in the West are largely unaware.
Here is a quote about the Eastern Orthodoxy from the writer Patricia Storace from her book Dinner with Persephone.
Our people have followed the path that Alexander laid down for us in the pre-Christian world and that (the Roman emperor) Constantine (embraced) in the fulfilled world-(the goal) of becoming gods.
This is part of our Orthodox theology, not like your "salvation" (in the Western tradition) which puts a piece of virtue in the bank and gets back divine grace as interest. To understand us, you must understand the concept of theosis (becoming one with God).
Our (Eastern) church teaches that the goal of each Christian is deification (to become God). Saint Athanasius wrote that the Christ says to us, "In my kingdom, I shall be God with you as Gods."
My favorite saint in this Eastern tradition is a Tenth Century monk who was born with the Christian name George and eventually canonized as Saint Symeon (949-1022). He was called the "New Theologian" of the Stadium in Constantinople. The word theologian in the perspective of those times meant "one who has had the direct one-on-one mystical experience of God."
Saint Symeon achieved his transpersonal connection with the Holy Spirit through dedicating his life to the practice of hesychia (hess-ick-kia)—the cultivation of a stillness or silence of the heart. Hesychia is a form of meditation that incorporates directed inner focus and control of the breath with an intention, usually expressed through prayer. This is a mystical practice like that of the deep listening of the Australian Aboriginals—dadirri—that I described in another essay.
Through this discipline, Saint Symeon and his acolytes (his "hesychasts") attained visions of Divine Light through breathing into their hearts and through merging with the Christos seed residing there. This is authentic deity mysticism in every sense... a practice that will bring the spiritual seeker into direct conscious relationship with their Oversoul through that seed within them, and with the greater Holy Spirit of which each Oversoul is a part.
Now... this brings up the big question: how does this actually translate for those of us living a thousand years later, with jobs to perform, goals to achieve, bills to pay, children to raise, husbands or wives to nurture and cherish, friends to hold dear, sports teams to support, and so forth and so on?
The Mystical Life
For Saint Symeon, the mystical life was not to be considered extraordinary. Rather he understood it to be quite ordinary—that it is one of our natural birthrights to achieve the direct, transpersonal conscious connection with that field of grace that he called the Holy Spirit. In his words: "Only the one who becomes aware of signs and wonders happening within them self is truly a God-bearer."
His words confirm that any authentic spiritual practice worth its salt must be about helping us achieve that direct connection with the sacred seed of Light that dwells within our hearts—the Christos. For it is through this experience alone that we may connect with our Oversoul and with the greater spiritual field of the Holy Human Spirit.
Through this practice, Saint Symeon counseled, we discover that the answers to all the mysteries, great and small, lie within us... mysteries that can be accessed through practice of deep listening through the stillness of our heart. He knew that through this inner silence, it was possible to become one with God... to actually become God—an awareness that is very much part of the New Mysteries coming into being in our time.
The growing awareness and acceptance of this truth has enormous implications for it carries the potential to unify all three of our Abrahamic religious traditions into one singular spiritual complex.
When this unification occurs, our world will change dramatically... and for the better. Our understanding that all of our Judeo-Christian-Islamic teachings are manifestations of a single, central theme will enable each of us to acquire both the power as well as the responsibility to become our own prophet, our own teacher, receiving our own mystical revelations from the highest spiritual sources ourselves, without the need for any organized priesthood, mythic father-god or salvationist redeemer complex standing between us and our experience of the Divine.
Does this mean that we have to abandon our churches, temples and mosques? Absolutely not. These are our spiritual communities and the source of much comfort and support... yet we might consider taking these thoughts into those communities for meditation and discussion.
The time has come for us to live our lives and behave toward each other as though we are embodied Gods in training... which in fact we are. And so from our hearts to yours' in this holiday season...
Happy Christos! And may you always be merry and bright!