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The Mithras Liturgy

Category: Books sutras and myths

The Mithras Liturgy is part of the great magical codex of Paris (Papyrus 574 of the Bibliotheque Nationale). It is believed to date from about the early fourth century C.E./AD and contains a variety of tractates, hymns, recipes, and prescriptions, which were apparently collected for use in the working library of an Egyptian magician. Lines 475- 834 of the codex constitute the Mithras Liturgy.


The "Mithras" Liturgy from the Paris Codex - Edited and Translated by Marvin W. Meyer
The text of the Mithras Liturgy is composed of two main parts: a liturgical mystery of ascent (lines 475-750), and a set of instructions (lines 750-834) for the use of the mystery.
After the brief introduction (lines 475- 485), the mystery of ascent presents the seven liturgical stages for the soul's ecstatic journey: the soul thus encounters the four elements (lines 485-537), in their generative and regenerative aspects; the lower powers of the air (lines 537-585), including the winds, bolts of thunder and lightning, and meteors; Aion and the Aionic powers (lines 585-628) , as planetary guardians of the heavenly doors; Helios (lines 628-657), young and fiery; the seven Fates (lines 657-672) and, next, the seven Pole-Lords (lines 673-692), both groups from the region of the fixed stars, and both depicted in Egyptian fashion; and finally the highest God (lines 692-724), portrayed like Mithras himself.
After the conclusion (lines 724-750) to the mystery of ascent, the instructions for the use of the mystery present a scarab ceremony of the sun (lines 750-798) provide instructions for the obtaining of the kentritis herb and the fashioning of amulets (lines 798-830) and append two additional spells (lines 831-834)
The predominant place of magic within the Mithras Liturgy deserves special mention. The entire text of the Liturgy is permeated with magic, including breathing techniques (cf. lines 537-538: drawing in breath from the rays) , special recipes (cf. lines 750-755: preparing the cake for the scarab), magical rituals (cf. lines 767-769: burying the scarab) amulets (cf. lines 659-660: kissing the amulets), and magical formulae.
The magical formulae themselves are diverse in character: some seem onomatopoetic (cf. line 488, PPP: making a popping sound, possibly like thunder), symbolic (cf. line 487, AEEIOYO: using the seven vowels in a series), or perhaps glossolalic (cf. line 492, EY EIA EE); some seem derived from or imitative of Greek (cf. line 562, PROPROPHEGGE: Primal Brightener?) Egyptian (cf. line 672, ARARRACHES: Horus of the two horizons; and line 717, PHRE: Re, the Sun) , or Semitic words (cf. line 591, SEMESILAM: Eternal sun; and line 593, IAO: Yahweh).

So in this translated codex we have examples of very specific spells.

I suspect the very act of translation has removed the essence of the spell itself, because the translator has assumed a word based spell rather than a musical spell, but despite the mistranslation, we still have some interesting clues in the text.


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