Psychology of the Unconscious

[Carl Jung on Mithraicism and the superiority of Christianity.]

The foremost authority on the Mithraic cult, Franz Cumont, says as follows.:

“The gods were everywhere and mingled in all the events of daily life.

The fire which cooked the means of nourishment for the believers and which warmed them, the water which quenched their thirst and cleansed them, also the air which they breathed, and the day which shone for them, were the objects of their homage.

Perhaps no religion has given to its adherents in so large a degree as Mithraicism opportunity for prayer and motive for devotion.

When the initiated betook himself in the evening to the sacred grotto concealed in the solitude of the forest, at every step new sensations awakened in his heart some mystical emotion.

The stars that shone in the sky, the wind that whispered in the foliage, the spring or brook which hastened murmuring to the valley, even the earth which he trod under his feet, were in his eyes divine , and all surrounding nature a worshipful fear of the infinite forces that swayed the universe.” ~Carl Jung, Psychology of the Unconscious, Page 83.

These fundamental thoughts of Mithraicism, which, like so much else of the ancient spiritual life, arose again from their grave during the renaissance are to be found in the beautiful words of Seneca.:

” When you enter a grove peopled with ancient trees, higher than the ordinary, and whose boughs are so closely interwoven that the sky cannot be seen, the stately shadows of the wood, the privacy of the place, and the awful gloom cannot but strike you, as with the presence of a deity, or when we see some cave at the foot of a mountain penetrating the rocks, not made by human hands, but hollowed out to great depths by nature, it fills the mind with a religious fear, we venerate the fountain-heads of great rivers; the sudden eruption of a vast body of water from the secret places of the earth, obtains an altar we adore likewise the springs of warm baths, and either the opaque quality or immense depths, hath made some lakes sacred. “~Psychology of the Unconscious, Page 84.

The comparison of the Mithraic and the Christian sacrifice plainly shows wherein lies the superiority of the Christian symbol, it is the frank admission that not only are the lower wishes to be sacrificed, but the whole personality.

The Christian symbol demands complete devotion, it compels a veritable self-sacrifice to a higher purpose, while the Sacnficium Mithnacum, remaining
fixed on a primitive symbolic stage, is contented with an animal sacrifice.

The religious effect of these symbols must be considered as an orientation of the unconscious by means of imitation. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and the Unconscious, Pages 478-479.