Euhemerism Is Superstition
by T Polyphilus
On a recent yuletide, an initiated sister wrote to a priestess with a rhetorical question:
If there's no difference between Jesus and Aslan, what's the problem with worshiping Aslan instead of Jesus? If we get the story of the slain and resurrected god from Bacchus, or Osiris, or Odin, or Jesus, or Aslan who cares–what's important is that we get the story period.
That's a very sensible attitude. One important obstacle to it is the euhemerization of the Jesus story.
In the fourth century BCE, the philosopher Euhemerus (following Herodotus and others) popularized the notion that all the gods were actually historical persons who had become inflated to divine status through the retelling of their stories. This form of religious reductionism accordingly became known as euhemerism.
Many figures in Hebrew scripture were produced through euhemeristic processes by which dieties of universal significance were appropriated as tribal ancestors and quasi-historical heroes, or had their attributes attached to actual individuals. Samson (a name that literally means “the sun”) was certainly a sun-god credited with burning the Philistine harvest of grain. His salvific nature is described in Judges XIII:2-5. This sort of euhemerism, “naturalizing” a diety as one's own provincial kinsman, is a bigoted affront to both the Mystery of Universal Brotherhood and the divine mystery. It is also a natural outcome of the negotiation between a monotheism and its polytheistic environment.
The history of Christianity can be seen as one long (rather retarded) euhemeristic process of this kind. The Pauline Jesus Christ is entirely free of biography, as are the early gnostic Christs and Jesi. The “sayings” literature like the Gospel of Thomas and the hypothetical “Q” scripture also lacked any view of Jesus as a historical earthly personage. Only the later gospels begin the descent of the Sacrificial Savior into the historical caricature that he has become. Ironically, Christians later used euhemerism in several attempts to discredit pagan cults, claiming that since the pagan gods were merely historical figures, they were not truly divine. In the meanwhile, the Church continued its campaign of subordinating the Jesus of visionary initiation to the Jesus of official fable and concocted history. What's more, it actually Christianized pagan gods through euhemerization, making “saints” out of gods like Diana, Bacchus and Priapus.
Protestantism, with its “consistently bestial interpretation of all things human and divine” only increased the degeneration of supertemporal divine presence into historical human absence. The final outcome of the process is Jesus-as-secular-socialist, as extolled by George Bernard Shaw in his preface to Androcles and the Lion. Aleister Crowley's response to that document became the long essay “Jesus” (Liber DCCC), in which he wrote:
There are dozens of variations upon this theme, but the symbols are always the same; it is the eternal miracle of abounding life, ever self-restored, triumphant over death, the return of the Sun and the resurrection of the Seed, which makes even George Bernard Shaw, professional skeptic, iconoclast of romance, scourge of poets, break out into lyrical prose, “he will not resist you nor reproach you, but will rise again in golden beauty amidst a great burst of sunshine and bird music, and save you and renew your life.” It is indeed a triumph for Solar-Phallic worship to add to the names of General Forlong, Sir Richard Burton, Sir R. Payne Knight, Mssrs. Hargrave Jennings, Godfrey Higgins, Gerald Massey and Theodor Reuss the name of Bernard Shaw!
The chief anti-euhemeristic instruments of modernity have been astronomical and sexual theories of religious origins, for which Crowley lists a group of the canonical theorists. (More recently, the psychopharmaceutical school–sometimes misunderstood as “reductionist”–has also shown some capability and merit.)
The fact that in other places Crowley himself showed a euhemeristic tendency is no argument for it in the case of Christianity. His insistence in The Book of Lies and in Liber Aleph that all of the prophetic Magi (i.e. Lao-tzu, Siddartha, Krishna, Tahuti, Moses, Dionysos, and Mohammed) “were men; their Godhead is the result of mythopoeia,” neglects the fact that their mythopoeic Godhead is more valuable than their unprovable historicity. Of course, Crowley was also motivated by a view that his own obstinately historical person belonged in the list of Magi, so it was important for him to emphasize their common human origins.
“It is modern materialistic religion which has degraded the Universal Spirit into a limited being, and the great powers of nature into Christian saints.” –Franz Hartmann
Glory to God, and Thanksgiving to God!
There is One God alone, and God is exceeding great.
We offer in sacrifice the body of God!
There is no god but man.
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