The Mysteries Religions were schools in which all religious functions were closed to the un-initiated and for which the inner workings were kept from the general public. They had secret rituals, sacraments, believed in rebirth - here and now - and in the afterlife. Jesus probably knew of the esoteric teachings of the Mystery Schools and Christianity adopted much from the Mystery Religions, but why has so much been in the dark?




Christ Taken Prisoner,

by Giuseppe Cesari, 1597, Museumslandschaft of Hesse,

Kassel, Germany 

There is a brief reference in the Gospel of Mark to some strange goings on in the Garden of Gethsemane.  

Mark 14:51-52  "A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth.  They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked."

j taken prisioner

This is one of the most remarkable passages in the bible.  Bibical commentators have tried to identify the young man, but could only guess it was Mark, or John or an angel.  After reading "The Secret Gospel" by Morton Smith, it is obvious.  The young man was an initiate in the teachings of Jesus.   We can make a hypothesis: Mark 14: 51-52 was part of special secret initiations and higher level baptisms that Jesus conducted and there are probably many such lost teachings.

Mark 4: 1-2  Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, ..." 

Mark 4:10-12  When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parablesso that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
    and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!"  How did the Church Fathers not understand? 

Mystery Religions ~ 

The cavern at Eleusia, in ancient Greece, shown above.  The Eleusianian Mystery Initiations were conducted there during the Festival of the goddess of Agriculture and the Mysteries.

Christianity adopted much from the Mystery Religions, but why has so much been in the dark?  Perhaps Christian dogma clouded things.  Some Christian sacraments probably came from pagan sources - and there is the Mystical Body of Christ.  Our words mystery and mystic derive from the same Greek word - mystikos - meaning initiate into religious rites.

orphic bowl Alabaster bowl, Orphic cultic initiation, late Roman, collection of J. Hirsch, New York.

Orpheus surroundend by animals, from an ancient Roman floor mosaic, Museo Archeologico di Palermo.

The legend, Orpheus descended into Hades and returned and is the basis of the Orphic Mysteries.  One such ritual involved leading the initiate down a dark stairway in a cave with terrifying images, then into the light after overcoming some task.


The Baptism of Christ, by Juan Fernandez de Navarrete, 1568, Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Baptism is a spiritual initiation. 

       Mark 8: 34-35  "He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” Here is a clear call to take up our own cross.  This path is not for all Christians, and it easier to have Faith, to accept Christ and say we believe in the Name.  This is really an unfair characterization, because faith too is a life changing experience.  

The Crucifixion of St. John of the Cross, By Salvadore Dali, 1951, Glasgow Art Gallery.

St. John of the Cross, was a mystic and a contemporary of St. Teresa of Avila.  He wrote the Dark Night of the Soul, which is now a term to describe part of the journey mystics may experience before their eventual enlightenment or divine union.  St. John writes about a form of Christian meditation on Christ’s crucifixion.

“I came into the unknown
and stayed there unknowing
rising beyond all science."

st john cross

Some will have a desert like experience like Jesus.  Others will descend to the lower depths of scary stuff and feel evil spirits.  Others will go to the brink of sanity and mental torment with demons real or of their own creation and sins and things to be purged.  Some will be born again - anew.  Others will have taken a small step on a rocky road. 
As we descend into the depths - we need the light - spiritual light and physical light.  We are afraid of the dark.  It is too scary to go all the way to Hell.

We must prepare ourselves and take up our own cross. 

With or without any lost teaching or special gnosis,

some mystics have found union with the Divine.

Ascend ~