MITHRAISM FOR TODAY
Modern explorations into the worship of Mithras, that make no claim to be the ancient Mithraic Mysteries.
People seeking to be involved with Mithraism in the modern world have faced a real dilemma. How do isolated individuals approach a religion that was focused on group community, ritual and initiations?
The answer to this is not an easy one, and it is the reason why this website has made a clear distinction between "Mithraism for Today" and "Reconstructed Ancient Mithraism".
A rebirth of Mithraism means dealing with a challenge that did not exist in the ancient world. In antiquity, Mithraism was passed throughout the Roman world by the Legions as an organized force. Today, individuals interested in Mithraism are widely scattered and have little, if any, recourse to group practice or worship.
It is not unreasonable to expect that if Mithraism as a living religion can be maintained by individuals, it will eventually grow again into group practice as it becomes more popular. This by necessity means maintaining Mithraism for a period of years as a personal path - unlike what was practiced in the ancient world.
Is a solitary Mithraist still a Mithraist?
Our answer is yes, provided that those who practice a modern path of Mithraism out of necessity do not confuse such practice with ancient Mithraism. Many pagan religious paths have been revived in the modern world over the past few decades. Experience has shown that real problems occur only when accurate history is lost, and modern adaptations are confused with ancient tradition.
The goal of Modern Mithraism is to keep Mithraism alive, not to replace the ancient Mysteries with something new. If individuals can keep themselves involved and make Mithraism interesting to others - it will make a reconstruction of the organized Mithraic Mysteries that much more possible.
Modern vs. Ancient Practice
As an organization, Mithraeum hopes both to encourage Modern Mithraism, and ensure that modern rites do not interfere with a rebirth of the ancient Mysteries as accurately as possible. In our view is a Modern Mithraic practice necessary for the survival of Mithraism as a path? Yes. In our view, is Modern Mithraic practice "just as important" as the ancient Mysteries? No, but that doesn't mean that modern rites are completely invalid either. If you seek Mithras with a sincere heart and a desire for knowledge, you will find him even if alone.
It is our great hope that Modern Mithraism will become a valuable tool for the rebuilding of accurate Mithraic Mysteries, not a watered-down modern replacement for them. Our goal is to make Mithras and his Light more available to the modern individual - even as we instill a desire for accurate scholarship and reconstruction.
The key to making Modern Mithraism a useful aid to rebuilding the Mysteries is clear labeling. Modern rites, rituals, festivals, prayers, ideas and writings should be clearly labeled as such. We must not confuse modern efforts with history today if we hope to rebuild something that is historically accurate in the future.
The Rebirth of Mithraism is more completely set forth in a comprehensive document:
DECLARATION OF MITHRAIC RELIGION
Further Guidelines for Modern Practice
A path of Modern, solitary Mithraism could conceivably take a variety of forms. The guidelines presented here are only one possible path. Mithraeum as a service organization invites individuals to explore other practices, and to share them!
Seven Aspects of Mithraic Worship
As a bare-bones approach to personal Mithraic worship, Mithraeum offers the following seven things as a way to become involved with Mithraism on a solitary basis:
I. Sacred Space - we advocate setting aside a a separate place for Mithraic prayer, ritual, contemplation, and learning. In ancient times the Mithraeum temple was the place in which this was done - but an individual alone must adapt. Click HERE to learn more about creating sacred Mithraic space.
II. Imagery/Art - we have found that it is helpful to have Mithraic iconography present during rites and meditation to help create a setting more like that experienced by ancient Mithraists. Ancient Mithraea were rich in Mithraic art, and there can be no doubt that this art was considered important. Click HERE to learn more about Mithraic Iconography.
III. Ritual Tools and Items - ancient Mithraeum temple sites contained many Mithraic items that were used in rites and rituals. We recommend some here as being an important physical aid to personal practice. Click HERE to learn more about Mithraic ritual items.
IV. Prayer/Meditation - it is well known that personal, informal prayer and meditation was done by individuals throughout the ancient world as a means of communing and communicating with deity. We believe this must have been a part of Mithraic life as well. Click HERE for more information about ancient prayer.
Rituals - ancient Mithraism is known to have encompassed a
variety of group rituals, including both those of worship and
initiation. While we do not advocate self initiation rites, we do
recognize that formal ritual is an important part of Mithraic
VI. Study and Learning - ancient Mithraism was organized around a grade system which expressed various aspects of spiritual knowledge. Learning and understanding were key elements to Mithraism, for only by gaining knowledge could one progress spiritually. We cannot stress enough the importance of dedicated scholarship to modern Mithraism. For more information on Mithraic learning, click HERE.
Active Deeds - ancient Mithraism was a dynamic path. Worship
and knowledge were important - but it is clear that in addition to
spiritual learning a major goal of Mithraism was to improve the daily
life of the individual, and the individual's connection with deity. We feel that active deeds
reinforce learning, and also
manifest Mithraism in the world around us.
MODERN MITHRAIC TEXTS
As Mithraism is a growing and living religion once again, there will be an ever increasing body of articles, rites, rituals, and instructional materials available. While many growing Mithraic groups may not be able to share their materials publicly, we will try to build a compendium of modern information here. Click on the title below for available texts. We welcome contributions to any of these topics - please forward submissions to Mithraeum@aol.com.
MODERN MITHRAIC TEXTS - modern Mithraic prayers, meditations, rites, scholarly articles and Mythology from the Mithraic Community.