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History of the Western Mystery Schools

Western Mystery Schools History or “The force be with you Luke…”

I have studied Hermetics/Alchemy/Occult systems for years as a part of a larger study on Comparative Religions and Philosophy. I dusted off my research notes and have tried to do a Readers Digest version of the history here; don’t want to put anyone to sleep!

First what are these schools? The word “mystery” comes from the Greek “mysteria” which means secret or hidden. The schools involve systems of secret knowledge taught to initiates (Jedi Knights?); its also known as mysticism. The Western equivalent to Eastern mysticism is Hermetics, Gnosticism, Rosicrucianism and the Illuminati schools. Jewish mysticism, or Kabbalah, derived from a mixture of Babylonian dualism and Jewish beliefs. The Star Wars saga is an embodiment of these mystery school teachings: by secret knowledge one can become a Jedi Knight and learn to manipulate The Force. You can’t get any more “yin/yang” than Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker or the Sith and the Jedi!

The History of what?

All Mystery Schools – East and West – have the doctrine of Illumination or Inner Light as in “don’t forget your Light Saber”. Put another way, it is called The Great Work, The Craft, or The Path. Man can reach perfection (become god or awaken) through his own efforts by journeying through higher spheres of knowledge. Altered states of consciousness are achieved (by meditation, drugs, ritual) to tap into the spirit world “Above” from the material world of “Below”. All the mysteries involve death and resurrection of the ego; man is a microcosm of the universe and can become One with The All or Universal Mind, The Absolute, or The Force. It involves the balancing of forces (as in Eastern Yin/Yang doctrine) and manipulation of energies (Wicca/Occult) as in Harry Potter’s wand; the union of the Male/Positive creative principle and Female/Negative principle in the union of the Divine Couple; The Great Work of Alchemy; or “Balance the Force Luke…”. These energies are symbolized by the Sun (+) and Moon (-) which form the One or Monad.

God is a Force or Divine Intelligence IN all of Nature and is in all creation as opposed to the God of the Bible who is OUTSIDE of creation, is a personality with attributes and who requires a personal relationship involving moral judgment.

History of the Philosophy behind the beliefs:

Ancient Mystery Schools were divided into the Lesser Mysteries, open to many initiates involving basic lessons of spirit, and the Greater Mysteries taught to a few “Jedi” by Priests/Priestesses who had taken vows of secrecy in a hierarchy of degrees of training. (Neophytes, Hierophants, Adepts; today its Padawans and Jedi Masters, etc.)

The Egyptian Mysteries were said to be the key to a complete knowledge of the universe and man which was preserved in the Hermetic (Thoth) Books; however, in the 17th Century many of these books were proven to be a fraud; they were written by anonymous Greeks living in Egypt in the 2nd and 3rd Centuries; must have come from the Dark side of the Force. There still remains “The Emerald Tablet” of Hermes which is considered the Bible of Alchemy and Hermetic teachings. Its origins are vague and there is much debate over that issue; however, it appears in the West around 800 AD in the translation of a book of advice to Kings. Babylonian dualism (Zoroaster) and Egyptian Hermetics were picked up and spread to Greece and Rome by various philosophers like Plato and Pythagoras.

The earliest civilizations of Sumer/Babylon developed the Babylonian Doctrine of Apsu or the pre-existence of matter in the Primal Ocean; Plato, Pythagoras and others expounded on this idea which developed into the Doctrine of Emanations. “God” a force, the All, emanated out of itself into this physical world. Some Christians mixed this doctrine with their beliefs and voila….Gnostics were born. The Eleusinian mysteries and Jewish Kabbalah sprang from these philosophies. The Egyptian doctrine of Heka or the divine creation force explains all creation from a sacred mound which contained a Cosmic Egg from which the Sun god came.

We won’t get into all the phallic symbolism here; however, sexual energies play an enormous role in the belief system. Recent discoveries in Egypt of paintings of Babylonian style boats suggest that the Egyptian civilization possibly came directly from Babylon. Some histories note that Shamans were the first appearance of this doctrine of initiation into secret knowledge. Death and spiritual rebirth permeates all the mysteries in one way or another. The Shamans would ingest a psychedelic substance and “travel” to the Above in a visionary dream state where they usually experienced dismemberment and a rebirth of their bodies from a magical substance; they definitely were in a Galaxy far, far away. They became the “go-between” for the tribe administering knowledge and healing.

So, you have the ancient shamans and philosophies of the Sumer/Babylonian culture spreading the schools to Egypt, Greece, Rome and then Europe as in the Druid schools; sacred trees are the connection of the Above with the Below. I wonder if they had a transmitter in there to the Death Star.

This doctrine in the West manifested as Egyptian Hermetics, Babylonian Dualism, Eleusinian Mysteries in Greece and as Mithraism Schools in Rome. From these sprang Gnosticism, the Rosicrucian Mysteries or The Order (Christianity mixed with the Mysteries), Jewish Kabbalah and Builders of the Adytum (offshoot of the Golden Dawn hermetic mystery school).

An excellent book on the ancient origins was written by Alexander Hislop called “The Two Babylons”. He connects the Babylonian Ninus (Nimrod) as the son of Eel (Cush) or Nebo the Babylonian prophetic God. All these gods get confusing because their Egyptian name is different from their Babylonian or Roman name; however, they are all connected.

SUN and MOON = The Divine Couple SUPREME BEING
Osiris and Isis – Egypt Atum Re
Tammuz and Ishtar – Babylon Zoroaster
Baal and Astoreth – Sumerian/Caananite El
Ouranos and Gaia – Greek Chaos
Saturn and Rhea – Rome Uranus
Adam and Lilith – Gnostic Christian The All or One
Anakin Skywalker and Queen Amidala – Global The Force

TODAY we end up with Star Wars, 2001, Harry Potter and The Matrix that are embodiments of the mystery schools. We have indeed come a long, long way in our Galaxy; actually NOT, its the same old theme just different actors.