The Mystery Religions of Rome
The mystery religions included an initiation process in which the initiates were taught a variety of moral truths, along with each particular groups supposed insights into life and death.
The Mithraic mysteries which centered on the god Mithras was found in the Roman empire from the first century until the fourth century AD. Many underground temples called mithraia still survive in and around Rome. The most prominent and well known scene from these mithraia is called “tauroctomy” which show Mithras killing a bull.
The origins of the Mithraic mysteries have been debated. One scholar, David Ulansey, has a theory (as noted in my book, Sacred Strands) that Mithras represents the god Perseus, as shown by his constellation. In the constellation Perseus is holding in one hand a dagger and in the other hand the head of the Medusa, and Perseus is looking away from the Medusa. The common myth about Perseus is that he is able to kill the Medusa because he avoids looking at her and thus is not turned into stone. Perseus is also shown sometimes wearing a Phrygian cap. It is curious that Mithras is holding a similar style dagger, wearing a Phrygian cap and also looking away from his deed of killing the bull.
Other scholars associate Mithras with the sun god Orion and write that Mithras is the constellation Orion.
Whether Mithras represents Orion or Perseus, they are both representing god-men who are “conquerors of the serpent,” and as such come from ancient constellation symbols which can be seen as a prediction of Christ. In very ancient times, men copied onto the constellations the idea of Genesis 3:15, that of a woman-born conqueror of the evil one. This verse is a prediction of the coming of Christ. Down through the ages, men have attempted to understand this prediction and have spun fantastic tales to illustrate it.
You can purchase my book, Sacred Strands, the Story of a Redeemer Woven Through History on my website here.