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Inspiration from Shinto?

Shinto_torii_vermillion.svgWhen I, over two decades ago, decided to look beyond Catholicism, I had a look at all major religions. Shinto was one of those.

Recently I was reading a little book which had a text of a Dutch Shinto master. He had a few things that made me think of ‘heathen concepts’, a couple of remarkable correspondences. To look a little further I dove into my library. I indeed own a little book about Shinto which had a slightly different approach, but did confirm some of the concepts that caught my eye. Time to have a bit of a closer look at Shinto ‘from a heathen perspective’.

A little bit of background

“Shinto” (or “kami-no-michi”) is a bit of a generic term. Nowadays there are many forms of Shinto. When you are going to look up information you may notice that some people will say that Shinto is a religion, others will say it is not. I have the idea that people who see Shinto as a religion, look at it through ‘Western eyeglasses’. They will speak about “Gods” and “holy texts”, while neither really seems to be the case. Perhaps it is better to see Shinto as a ‘worldview’ or even a ‘way of life’. There are texts of importance to Shinto, by the way, but they are more like chronicles than Divinely inspired texts to have to be followed.

Shinto does not have a ‘start date’ or an ‘inventor’. It is regarded the original religion of Japan, that of the indigenous people (the Jômon). Ironically, the term “Shinto” is actually Chinese. It consists of two symbols and means something along the lines of ‘way of the kami’. The term was only invented in the 15th century, probably to tell it apart of other religions that had entered Japan. The lesser used Japanese term is “kami-no-michi”.Read More »Inspiration from Shinto?

Mithraism in Northern Europe

Again an article about the time of the beginning of our era. Mithraism has been a subject of articles within these pages more often recently, every time in another context. This time I want to speak about the German and Celtic tribes and their lives with the Romans, working towards interesting similarities in symbology of different convictions. The native peoples had strange relationships with the Roman empire. In 387 BCE the Celts managed to shortly conquer Rome. The Germans fought Rome a lot and the Bastarnae -for example- allied with the Cilician kings Perseus and later different kings Mithridates (I to IV) against Rome around 168 BCE. Teutons and Ambrones (German tribes) fought against Rome as well, but on the other hand Caesar writes in his ‘Bello Gallico’ that some German tribes helped him to fight the Celts. This friendly/hostile relationship-changes continued until the fall of the Roman empire. It… Read More »Mithraism in Northern Europe

Asatru and Hinduism

Often there is spoken about the fact that Asatru and Hinduism are family religions in the ‘Indo-European branch’. The prechristian religion of Northern Europe that is now often called “Asatru” (“true to the Aesir”) has a broken link with the past and limited information about the religion, worldview, practises, mythology, etc. is available. The fact that Hinduism is the oldest still living Indo-European religion and also the best documented has lead people to conclude that the study of Hinduism can shed light on -for example- the prechristian religion of Northern Europe. I share this opinion. More even, I wouldn’t limit myself to the Indo-European family, since I agree on many points with so-called “Traditionalists” who think that there is one source. I find it strange that (as far as I know) there is no “Traditionalist” writing about Asatru, no work that compares the prechristian Northern European myths and religion with… Read More »Asatru and Hinduism

Christian mysticism

A while ago I noticed a book in Dutch called Laat Heb Ik Je Lief Gehad – Christelijke Mystiek van Jezus tot nu by Boris Todoroff (2002 Davidsfonds – isbn 9058261832). The title means “late have i loved you – Christian mysticism from Jesus to the present day”. The first is a quote from Augustine (see later), but the Dutch version is more beautiful. “Liefhebben” is in a way the same as “houden van”, but not exactly. In English I don’t know of another expression than “to love”. “Je”/”you” refers to “God”. Another note about my native language though. “Je” is for people ‘on the same plane’, “U” you say against ‘higher’ people or strangers. It is notable that Augustine chose “je”. In Latin you can see this by the way the words in a sentence ends, English -again- makes no difference. Todoroff wrote a 480 pages history of Christian… Read More »Christian mysticism

Some information about Mithraism

There is plenty information about the cult of Mithras on the internet, but I was writing this short article in Dutch anyway, so why not translate it to English and put it here as well? My aim was a very general and short article, so I do not go into things too deeply. There is no longer scientific agreement on the origin of religion of Mithras. Actually I find the term “religion” not too suitable. The cult of Mithras was more like the mysteries of Eleusis, Isis, Bachus or Cybele than a religion such as Christianity. On the other hand, Mithraism may be more of a religion than the mysteries that I named. Mithraism was an initiation cult that had its peak in the Roman empire under soldiers and tradesmen. It didn’t originate in the Roman empire though. About 100 years ago, the Belgian scholar Franz Cumont (1868-1947) was the… Read More »Some information about Mithraism

Where did archeologists find Mithraeums?

In his Mysteries Of Mithra Cumont has a map from Roman times and notes where Mithraic findings have been done by archeologists and where Mithras-temples (“Mithraeums”) have been found. For years I have wanted to visit one of these temples and some of the marks on the map are even not that far away from where I live. The closest Mitraeum is marked at “Vetera”. It took some investigation to find out that nowadays this is Xanten in Germany not too far from the Dutch border. My girlfriend knew about an archeological park in Xanten where a Roman city is being excavated. Still, nowwhere could I find information about a Mithraeum in this park. Digging up old folders of the time that my girlfriend visited the park as a girl proved that the park is called “Colonia Ulpia Traiana” after the city, but that “Vetera” was an army-camp a few… Read More »Where did archeologists find Mithraeums?

the mithraeum of Saarbrücken – report of a visit

During my summer 2005 holidays in Germany, I paid a visit to the Mithraeum of Saarbrücken, or to be more correct: what is left of it. As I wrote in my article about Mithraeums, most have been smashed to bits. I didn’t have a whole lot of information about any of the Mithraums and the same was the case with Saarbrücken. This site has a few nice photos and a description of how to get there which was very helpfull. A few remarks about the route. The site that I refer to says (in my interpretation): – From Saarbrücken downtown follow the A 620 in the direction of Mannheim; – Pass the Bismarck-bridge; – Go left on the roundabout; – Then take the second street on the right (Mainzerstrasse). This is the hardest part. A map of the city is more than helpfull, because however we came from the centre… Read More »the mithraeum of Saarbrücken – report of a visit