The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)
By Eliza Burt Gamble

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Chapter XVIII. The Cross and a Dying Savior

In Egypt, the cross when unaccompanied by any other symbol signified simply creative energy both female and male, but whenever a distinctively female emblem was present it denoted the male power alone. The Ibis, which is represented with human hands and feet, bears the staff of Isis in one hand and the cross in the other. There is scarcely an obelisk or monument in Egypt upon which this figure does not appear. The symbol or monogram of Venus was a circle and a cross, that of Saturn was a cross and a ram’s horn.

Plato declared that the son of God was expressed upon the universe in the form of the letter X, and that the second power of the supreme God was figured on the universe in the shape of a cross.

There is little doubt that the early Christians understood full well the true meaning of the cross, and that it was no new device. In later ages, however, every monument of antiquity marked with this symbol was claimed by the Church and by it believed to be of Christian origin.

It is related that when the temple of Serapis at Alexandria was overthrown by one of the Christian Emperors, beneath its foundation was discovered the monogram of Christ. The Christians made use of this circumstance to prove the divine origin of their religion, “thereby making many converts.” The Pagans, on the contrary, were of the opinion that “it should forever silence the claim put forward by the devotees of Christianity.” It is plain, however, that the Christians had the better of the argument for “the cross being uneasy under the weight of the temple overthrew it.”

On the coins of Decius, the great persecutor of the Christians, is to be observed the monogram of Christ which is also the monogram of Osiris and Jupiter Ammon. On a medal proved to be Phoenician appear the cross, the rosary, and the lamb. There is another form of the same monogram which signifies DCVIII. These devices although in use hundreds of years prior to the Christian era are all said to be monograms of Christ. At the present time they may be seen in almost every church in Italy.

In the cave of Elephanta, in India, appears the cross in connection with the figure which represents male reproductive power. Inman relates that a cross with a rosary attached has been found in use among the religious emblems of the Japanese Buddhists and the lamas of Thibet, and that in one of the frescoes of Pompeii, published at Paris, 1840, is to be seen, vol. v., plate 28, the representation of a phallic cross in connection with two small figures of Hermes.[170]

[170] Inman, Ancient Faiths Embodied in Ancient Names, vol. i., p. 408.

The Rev. Mr. Maurice adds his testimony to that of other investigators to show the universality of this emblem. He says that the principal pagodas in India, viz., those of Bernares and Mathura, are built in the form of a cross.

In the museum of the London University is a mummy upon whose breast is a cross “exactly in the shape of a cross upon Calvary.”

The true significance of this emblem, and the reason for its adoration are not, at the present time, difficult to understand; but whence comes the symbol of a dead man on a cross, and what is its true meaning?

Perhaps there is no problem connected with ancient symbolism, or with mythical religion, which is more difficult to solve, than is the representation of a dying Savior on a cross. It is stated by those who have investigated this subject, that although the sun, or the fructifying power within it, was adored by all the historic nations, no hint of a cross is to be found amongst the most ancient Nature worshippers. We must then look for a solution of this problem to those ages in which the higher truths of an older race were partially forgotten, and to a time when phallic worship had supplanted the adoration of Light or Wisdom. The cross doubtless came into use as a religious emblem at a time when the sexes in union began to stand for the god-idea, the lower end of the upright shaft being transfixed to the horizontal bar.

As soon as the male energy became god, the cross gradually grew into the figure of a man with arms extended. It became the original “life giver,” it was Adam, the creator of the race. Doubtless for ages Adam represented the god-man-phallus-Tree of Life, or cross idea. He was the progenitor of the race. From this same idea sprang ancestor worship, or the deification of the past vital spark. The adoration paid to the Lares and Penates, the household gods of the Romans, on the first of May, is an example of this worship, as is also the homage paid by the Chinese to their progenitors.

Of religious emblems R. P. Knight says that one of the most remarkable among them is a cross in the form of the letter T which was used as an emblem of creation and generation before the church adopted it as a sign of salvation. To this representation of male reproductive power “was sometimes added a human head, which gives it the appearance of a crucifix, as it has on the medal of Cyzicus.”

Originally the figure of a dead man on a cross typified creation and destruction or the operations of the creative forces in Nature. Everything dies only to live again. Although man dies, and although the individual man becomes but a dead branch on the tree of life, still the tree lives. Through the cross- phallus idea, or through man’s power to create, existence on the earth continues. Although the sun dies in winter, in spring it revives again to quicken and enliven Nature and make all things new.

There is much evidence to show that a dying figure on a cross was no new conception at the advent of Christianity. Crishna, whose history as we have seen is almost identical with that of Christ, and Ballaji, from whom the thorn-crowned figures of Jesus have doubtless been copied, are illustrations of this mythical figure of a crucified savior in India.

It seems altogether probable from the facts at hand that the Romans worshipped a cross with a dying figure of a man upon it. Minucius Felix, a Christian father, in defense of his religion, has the following passage:

“You certainly, who worship wooden gods, are the most likely people to adore wooden crosses, as being parts with the same substance as your deities. For what else are your ensigns, flags, and standards but crosses gilt and purified? Your victorious trophies not only represent a simple cross, but a cross with a man upon it. When a pure worshipper adores the true God with hands extended, he makes the figure of a cross. Thus you see that the sign of the cross has either some foundation in Nature, or in your own religion, and therefore not to be objected against Christians.”

Higgins says that it is proved as completely as it is possible to prove a fact of this kind that the Romans had a crucified object of adoration, and that this could be no other than an incarnation of the God Sol, represented in some way to have been crucified.

An ancient medal found in Cyprus has upon one of its sides the figure of a crucified man with the chaplet or rosary, the same as those now in use by Romanists. From the style of workmanship it is thought that this medal must have been anterior to the Macedonian conquest.

There is little doubt that the early fathers and the bishops in the Christian church recognized in the cross the ancient emblem of fertility, but as the idea of a spiritual life had begun to take root, it was deemed proper to conceal its real significance; hence from a symbol representing the continuity of existence on the earth the cross now prefigured eternal life or existence after death. Henceforward although man was dead in transgressions, through the cross, or through the crucified Christ, he received eternal life.

That the original signification of this symbol was understood by early Christians is apparent from the fact that the Emperor Theodosius, between the years 378 and 395, issued a decree prohibiting the sign of the cross being sculptured or painted on the pavements of churches. Tertullian also, after declaring that the devil made the sign of the cross on the foreheads of the followers of the Persian Mithra, accused the Christians of adoring the same emblem.

In 280, A. C. Porphyry, referring to crosses, asked why theologists give passions to the gods, erect Phalli and use shameful language; to which the Christian Iamblichus in the year 336 replied: “Because Phalli and crosses are signs of productive energy, and provocative to a continuance of the world.”

It was not until the second century, or until after the days of Justin Martyr, that the instrument upon which Jesus was executed was called a cross. But whatever may have been its form, as soon as the myths of former religious worship began to attach themselves to his history, he became the symbolical dead man on a cross, the original sacrifice to Mahadeva. He portrayed the same idea as did Crishna, Ballaji, the dying Osiris, and all the other sun-gods. He, like each of these, represented a new sun at the beginning of a new cycle. He was a risen savior, and to him were finally transferred all the festivals, seasons, symbols, and monograms of former solar deities. That the figure of a dead man on a cross was a familiar emblem throughout Asia and various portions of Europe, and that numberless crucified gods–incarnations of the sun–have been worshipped throughout the East, is a fact which it has been the aim of the initiated among the Christian clergy to conceal, but one which no one who has examined the evidence with a mind free from prejudice attempts to deny.

In Italy, on many of the earlier pictures of Christ, may be observed the words Deo Soli, which inscription signifies either “to the only God,” or “to the God Sol.”

Of the various so-called Christian antiquities which cover the walls of the Vatican, we are assured by those who have acquainted themselves with the signification of pagan symbolism that “they have no more reference to Christianity than they have to the Emperor of China.” The same may be said with reference to the representations on the walls of the Catacombs.

Crishna, who was the equinoctial sun in Aries, appeared 2160 years after the first Buddha, who was the equinoctial sun in Taurus. According to Plutarch they were both modern gods when compared with the deities which gave names to the planets. Buddha, or the sun in Taurus, was worshipped in the form of a bull. Crishna, or the sun in Aries, was adored under the figure of a ram with a man’s head. The true significance of these figures was the fructifying sun or reproductive energy as manifested in animal life, and this meaning to those who worshipped them was identical with the carved figures on the caves of India, the Lares and Penates of the Romans, and the stone pillars or crosses in the market-places and at the intersection of roads in Brittany.

Eusebius says that at Elephanta they adored a Deity in the figure of a man in a sitting posture painted blue, having the head of a ram with the horns of a goat encircling a disk. The Deity thus described is said to be of astronomical origin, denoting the power of the sun in Aries.

This figure, which was one of the representations of the sun-god Crishna, was worshipped both in India and in Egypt. In various of the manifestations of this Deity he appears in the act of killing a serpent. He was the dead man on a cross and also the sun, which although continually dying is constantly being revived again. Various incarnations of this God have appeared as crucified saviors.

Of the avatar of Crishna known as Ballaji or Baal-Jah little is positively known. Indeed there seems to be some impenetrable mystery surrounding this figure, which makes it impossible for scholars to absolutely prove that which by means of the evidence at hand amounts almost to a certainty.

A print by Moore of this god represents him in the shape of a Romish crucifix, but although there is a nail hole in his foot he is not transfixed to a wooden cross. Instead of a crown of thorns a Parthian coronet encircles his head. As all the avatars of Crishna are represented with coronets, this fact has caused several writers to observe that the effigies of Ballaji have furnished the copies for the thorn-crowned Jesus. Through the ignorance of the early Christians who in the second century adopted the religion of Crishna, the true significance of this coronet was not understood, hence the thorns upon the head of Christ. In referring to the effigy of a crucified savior found in Ireland the author of The Round Towers says that it was not intended for our Savior for the reason that it wore the Iranian regal crown, instead of the Jewish crown of thorns.[171]

[171] The Round Towers of Ireland, p. 298.

Regarding this effigy, Higgins remarks that the crucified body without the cross reminds one that “some of the ancient sects of heretics held Jesus to have been crucified in the clouds.”

Moore, who has produced several prints of Ballaji, says he is unable to account for the pierced foot of a crucified figure in India. He endeavors to prove, however, that this crucifix cannot be Hindoo “because there are duplicates of it from the same model.” As the mould is made of clay, he contends that only one cast may be made from it. This argument falls to the ground, however, so soon as it is found that duplicates, or copies of these brass idols which may not be distinguished from the originals, are seen in the museum at the India House, and also in that of the Asiatic Society.

The admission of Moore that “great influence was brought to bear upon him to induce him not to publish the prints of Ballaji for fear of giving offense,” serves as a hint in determining the cause for the lack of information respecting this god.

It is believed that, were the development of truth upon this subject rather than its concealment the object of Christian missionaries, the temples of Ballaji would have furnished more important information to the Christian world than would those of any other of the Hindoo gods; but while numberless pilgrimages have been made to Juggernaut and other shrines devoid of interest to the student, we have heard little concerning the shrines of this deity, although at the time Moore wrote, Terputty was in the possession of the English who made a profit of L15,000 a year from the temple.

On the Brechin Tower in Ireland are two arches one within the other in relief. At the top of the arch is a crucifix, and about midway from top to bottom on either side are two figures which, according to Romanist Christians, represent the Virgin Mary and St. John. At the bottom of the outer arch are two couchant beasts, the one an elephant and the other a bull. The figure on the cross has a Parthian coronet. The appearance of a crucifix on the towers of Britain and Ireland has in the past led many writers to ascribe to these singular structures a Christian origin. To the critical observer, however, the first question which presents itself is whence comes the elephant–an animal not found within these countries?–and again why should these beasts have been placed here as Christian emblems? The facts in the case as revealed by unprejudiced investigators are, that the towers in Ireland are not Christian monuments, and that the crucifix found on them is not that of Christ but of Ballaji, or of some one of the avatars of Crishna.

The fact that the figure of Crishna as a crucified god was found in the ruins of a temple at Thebes in Egypt, is sufficient to prove his antiquity; still, as we have seen, he represents the god-idea at a much later date than did Buddha. Regarding the evidence furnished by the Rev. Mr. Maurice of the ten avatars of the Indian sun-god, Higgins observes:

“The only fact worthy of notice here is, that Buddha was universally allowed to be the first of the incarnations; that Crishna was of later date; that, at the era of the birth of Christ, eight of them had appeared on the earth, and that the other two were expected to follow before the end of the Caliyug, or of the present age.”

With reference to the fact that the Hindoo God originally represented Wisdom or the Logos, the same writer says:

“Then here is DIVINE WISDOM incarnate, of whom the Bull of the Zodiac was the emblem. HERE he is the Protagonos, or first begotten, the God or Goddess Mhtis of the Greeks, being, perhaps, both male and female. Buddha, or the wise, if the word were not merely the name of a doctrine, seems to have been an appellation taken by several persons, or one person incarnate at several periods, and from this circumstance much confusion has arisen."[172]

[172] Anacalypsis, book v., p. 201.

Concerning the religion of an ancient race the following facts have been ascertained, namely:

The first of the Buddhas or Incarnations of the Deity was Minerva, and her mother, who was the sun, was the mother of all the Buddhas. She was Mhtis, Mubt or Mai, “the universal genius of Nature, who discriminated all things according to their various kinds of species.”

In the earliest ages she comprehended not only matter but the moving force in the universe. She was the Deity which by a very ancient race was represented by the mother idea–Perceptive Wisdom. She was the sun and the first emanation from the sun. She was the Divine Word, the Logos, the Holy Ghost which in the time of Christ was again by various sects recognized as female. The allegory of the Greeks concerning Jupiter taking Mhtis (Wisdom) to wife and from this union with her producing Minerva from his head, is seen to be closely connected with the doctrine of Buddha (Wisdom) or of the Rasit of Genesis. According to Faber, the import of the Greek word Nous and of the Sanscrit Menu is precisely the same: each denotes mind or intelligence, and to the latter of them the Latin Mens is nearly allied. “Mens, Menu, and perhaps our English mind are fundamentally one and the same word.” All these terms in an earlier age meant Buddha, Wisdom, or Minerva.

Later, with the worship of the sun in Aries, appeared a crucified savior. During the earlier ages of Crishnaism, the ideas typified by a dying savior were still those pertaining to the processes of Nature. Matter was still believed to be indestructible and seeming death but a preparation for renewed life, or for birth into another state of existence Subsequently this dying sun-god, which disappeared in winter only to return again to re-animate Nature, became a veritable man–a man on a cross who must be sacrificed to Mahadeva in order that humanity might be saved. Here we have the origin of the doctrine of a Vicarious Atonement. Later, under the system called Christianity, woman, who had previously become identified with the evil principle, became the Tempter. She was the cause of sin in the world and wholly responsible for the evil results arising from desire. Indeed, according to the doctrines annunciated by the Christian Church, had woman, who was an after thought of the Almighty, never been created, man would have lived forever in a state of purity and bliss, free alike from the toils, pains, and temptations of life, and from the crafts and assaults of the Devil.

Through the over-stimulation of the animal instincts man had become wholly unable to overcome the evil in his constitution, hence the adoption of the doctrine of Original Sin and the necessity for an Atonement, or for a crucified savior, who would take upon himself the sins of poor, weak human nature. By simply believing on this crucified redeemer, man would be saved, not from sin itself, but from the penalty of sin. To bolster up the belief in original sin and the necessity for an atonement, the allegory of the fruit tree and the serpent in Genesis was taken literally.

The more the religion of the past is studied the more plainly will the fact appear, that not only have the ceremonies, symbols, festivals, and seasons adopted by Christianity been copied from India and Persia, but also that all the leading doctrines of the so-called Christian Church originated in those countries. The belief in a Trinity, the Incarnation of the Deity, a Crucified Savior, Original Sin and a Vicarious Atonement, the last three having been elaborated after the ancient natural truths underlying sun worship had been forgotten, are all to be found in the East.

The doctrine of a Trinity is supposed to have been received directly from the Platonists, who had learned it from the Persians; while that of a Crucified Savior, and also that of the seed of the woman bruising the serpent’s head, belong, as we have seen, to the religion of Crishna.

Concerning Original Sin, which is the foundation of the doctrine of the “Atonement,” it is plain that it was not known to the earlier followers of Christ, but that it was subsequently copied from the corrupted religion of the Hindoos.

The symbolical meaning of the serpent and the Tree of Life was doubtless understood by the earliest adherents to the Christian faith; it is not surprising, therefore, that by them there is no mention of the doctrine of Original Sin. Their theory to account for evil in the world was the same as that of an ancient and almost forgotten race. The belief that the soul of man is a spark from, or a part of the universal soul, that at the death of the body it returns to its source, and in process of time appears as the animating principle in other bodies, was believed by Pythagoras, Aspasia, Socrates, and Plato and, in fact, for thousands of years it was entertained by the best and wisest of the human race. It was a part of the early Christian doctrine and is still believed by the followers of Buddha and by the Theosophists of Europe and America.

Doubtless the doctrines of Re-incarnation and Karma were set forth by those very ancient philosophers who were the near descendants of the inventors of the Neros and the Metonic cycle–those who believed in the indestructibility of matter, and that spirit proceeds from or is evolved through it. It was an effort on their part to solve the problem of the existence of evil, and was far more satisfactory to the reasoning mind than was the literal translation of the story of the woman, the forbidden apple, and the talking serpent in Genesis.

Original sin of which woman is said to be the cause, and the necessity for a spiritual (male) savior to deliver man from the wretchedness which she had produced, are doctrines which took their rise in the grossest ignorance, and in an entire misconception of the natural truths which had previously been set forth by the figure of a dying sun-god. Original Sin and a Vicarious Atonement–doctrines by means of which man has attempted to evade moral responsibility and the legitimate results of evil-doing–have, by weakening his moral sense, and by shifting the responsibility of his deeds upon another, resulted in greatly lowering the standard of human conduct.

Science teaches that the penalty for sin is inherent in it, and that virtue is its own reward; the so-called Christian doctrines assert that although a man’s sins be as scarlet, they may, simply through a certain belief, become white as wool. It has been claimed that a belief in original sin caused all the human sacrifices in ancient times and that it “converted the Jews into a nation of cannibals.”

That the system which has borne the name of Christianity is an outgrowth of Sun, Serpent, and Phallic faiths is so plainly proven by the facts brought out by later research as no longer to be a matter of reasonable doubt to those who have given any considerable degree of attention to this subject. The more exalted ideas which from the time of Zoroaster to that of Jesus had been struggling for existence, and which through various means had been gradually gaining a foothold, were, by the influx of Crishnaism, soon choked out, and mythical Christianity, which was but a gathering in of the grosser forms of the prevailing Hindoo faith, mounted the throne of the Roman Empire.

During the nineteen hundred years that have elapsed since the inauguration of this system, little has been understood concerning the real philosophy of Christ–a philosophy which is seen to be simply a recognition of those higher scientific truths enunciated by an ancient race.

The fact is observed in these later times that the altruistic principles involved in these teachings contain the highest wisdom–that they form the basis of a true social science, and that a high stage of civilization will never be reached until these principles are recognized as the foundation of human conduct Unselfishness, purity of life, and the brotherhood of man will never be realized so long as man shifts the responsibility of his wrong-doing upon another.

Quite recently the fact has been proved that the progressive principle originated in the female constitution; that in sympathy, a character which has its root in maternal affection, lies the key to human progress. Conscience and the moral sense are outgrowths of sympathy; therefore, that which distinguishes man from the lower orders of life originated in and has been developed through the female organization.

When these plain scientific truths, which are so simple as scarcely to need demonstration, become popularized, doubtless our present god-idea will undergo a process of reconstruction, and the later development will probably involve conceptions more in keeping with science and human reason. Surely a scientific age will tolerate no religious conception whose principles are not founded on truth. The worship of a male god as the sole creator and sustainer of the universe is as unphilosophical as it is unreasonable and unscientific.

As in many ways at the present time, mankind seems inclined to retrace its steps, and as upon its onward march humanity is beginning to manifest a willingness to return to truer and more primitive methods of thought and action, it is not impossible that in the not distant future, Perceptive Wisdom and the altruistic principles, together with the power to give life, may again be divinely enthroned in the place so long usurped by physical force and virile might.


Preface  •  Introduction  •  Chapter I. Sex the Foundation of the God-Idea  •  Chapter II. Tree, Plant, and Fruit Worship  •  Chapter III. Sun-Worship--Female and Male Energies in the Sun  •  Chapter IV. The Dual God of the Ancients a Trinity Also  •  Chapter V. Separation of the Female and Male Elements in the Deity  •  Chapter VI. Civilization of an Ancient Race  •  Chapter VII. Concealment of the Early Doctrines  •  Chapter VIII. The Original God-Idea of the Israelites  •  Chapter IX. The Phoenician and Hebrew God Set or Seth  •  Chapter X. Ancient Speculations Concerning Creation  •  Chapter XI. Fire and Phallic Worship  •  Chapter XII. An Attempt to Purify the Sensualized Faiths  •  Chapter XIII. Christianity a Continuation of Paganism  •  Chapter XIV. Christianity a Continuation of Paganism–(Continued)  •  Chapter XV. Christianity in Ireland  •  Chapter XVI. Stones or Columns as the Deity  •  Chapter XVII. Sacrifices  •  Chapter XVIII. The Cross and a Dying Savior  • 

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