About Mithras and Mithraism
Mithras is the god from whom Christians stole their myth of Christ's divinity. Without Mithras, Jesus would be only the simple Jewish reformer of the Ebionites and other Jewish Christians. He is the god of Mithraism, a religion which started in Mitanni. Mitanni means Land (-anni) of Mithra in the Hurrian language, it was the first land to become Mithraist. "Mitanni = Mithra-anni = "Land of Mithra" (Hurrian)" From Mitanni, it spread across Armenia, Phrygia, Commagene, Cappadocia, Pontus, and Georgia [Iberia and Colchis]. (His Phrygian connection is shown in his icons, where he usually wears a Phrygian cap, an international symbol of freedom.) When Phrygia, Cappadocia and Armenia were annexed by the Roman Empire, it became the main religion of the Roman Army and spread across the whole Empire as far as Hadrian's wall. Emperor Constantine merged Mithraism with Christianity to make Catholicism. Elements from Mithraism still preserved in Catholicism but not from early Christianity: pope, Vatican, divinity of Jesus, virgin birth of Jesus, priesthood, eucharist (bread and wine), Christmas (December 25), Sunday worship instead of Sabbath. The Armeno-Phrygian roots of Mithraism plus the fact that Armenians are the only nationality which were at one time almost all Mithraist which still exists gives an Armeno-Phrygian identity to the religion (The Armenians, the Mushki of Cappadocia, and the Phrygians are believed to have entered Anatolia as one people from Thrace, then separated but stayed close). Mithra was attested as early as 1450 B.C.E., so he is at least 3500 years old. In Armenia, Mithraism at least partially merged with Zoroastrianism after the Persian conquest.
If you read about Mithras on the internet or in general reference books, the information is very confusing because there were four different religions which worshiped him and they believed different things about him. Mithra or Mitra was originally a god of the Indo-Iranian peoples of Central Asia. As they moved south, they split into three main groups. One small Indic group went southwest, conquered and unified the Hurrians to form the Indo-Hurrian state of Mitanni. Their religion was Mithraism. A large Iranic group went south to become the Medes, Persians, Parthians, Bactrians, etc. Their religion was first Magianism (the Magi), and later Zoroastrianism. A large Indic group moved southeast to become the Indo-Aryans, speaking Sanskrit. Their religion was and is Hinduism. Mithras is presented only in his Mithraic form here, the western form found in Mitanni, Armenia, Phrygia and the Roman Empire. See Mythraic mysteries in Wikipedia for a lot of information on Roman Mithraism, but it ignores the Mitanni, Armenian and Phrygian roots. The name was/is usually spelled Mithras in the Roman empire west of Armenia, Mithra in Iran (Persia, Media, Parthia, Bactria,etc.), Mitra in India and Mitannia,and Mihr or Mehr in Armenia and Georgia. (These first two paragraphs are adapted from the profile of Mithra on Sodahead.) "At first it was a religion only for men, and there were seven different orders into which believers could be successively initiated. Later on, the wives and daughters of believers were admitted to the temples of the Great Mother, which adjoined the Mithraic temples (Mithraeum). The women's cult was a mixture of Mithraic ritual and the ceremonies of the Phrygian cult of Cybele." The Worlds Religions Cybele riding on a lion. "MITHRA OF PERSIA
--Mithra was born of a virgin on December 25 in a cave, and his birth was attended by shepherds bearing gifts.
--He was considered a great traveling teacher and master.
--He had 12 companions or disciples.
--Mithra's followers were promised immortality.
--He performed miracles.
--As the "great bull of the Sun," Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace.
--He was buried in a tomb and after three days rose again.
--His resurrection was celebrated every year.
--He was called "the Good Shepherd" and identified with both the Lamb and the Lion.
--He was considered the "Way, the Truth and the Light," and the "Logos," [Word] "Redeemer," "Savior" and "Messiah."
--His sacred day was Sunday, the "Lord's Day," hundreds of years before the appearance of Christ.
--Mithra had his principal festival on what was later to become Easter.
--His religion had a Eucharist or "Lord's Supper," at which Mithra said, "He who shall not eat of my body nor drink of my blood so that he may be one with me and I with him, shall not be saved."
--"His annual sacrifice is the Passover of the Magi, a symbolical atonement of pledge of moral and physical regeneration."
Furthermore, the Vatican itself is built upon the papacy of Mithra, and the Christian hierarchy is nearly identical to the Mithraic version it replaced ...
... Virtually all of the elements of the Catholic ritual, from miter to wafer to altar to doxology, are directly taken from earlier Pagan mystery religions.