In this classic study are considered three paths in the evolution of religion: the connection of religious rites and observations with the sun and other astronomical bodies, leading to the invention of remote deities in heaven; the second involving religion with the earth, nature, and seasonal changes; the third linking religion with the human body, aspects of fertility and undying life. So too covered is the process which divinities and demons were created and rites for their propitiation and placation established.
Contemporary readers seeking answers to the question of what caused the appearance of faith and the phenomenon of religion will find this book invaluable study.
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About the Author
A leading figure in late 19th- and early 20th-century Britain, he was instrumental in the foundation of the Fabian Society and the Labour Party. A poet and writer, he was a close friend of Walt Whitman and Rabindranath Tagore, corresponding with many famous figures such as Annie Besant, Isadora Duncan, Havelock Ellis, Roger Fry, Mahatma Gandhi, James Keir Hardie, J. K. Kinney, Jack London, George Merrill, E D Morel, William Morris, E R Pease, John Ruskin, and Olive Schreiner.
As a philosopher he is particularly known for his publication of Civilization, Its Cause and Cure in which he proposes that civilization is a form of disease that human societies pass through. Civilizations, he says, rarely last more than a thousand years before collapsing, and no society has ever passed through civilization successfully. His 'cure' is a closer association with the land and greater development of our inner nature. Although derived from his experience of Hindu mysticism, and referred to as 'mystical socialism', his thoughts parallel those of several writers in the field of psychology and sociology at the start of the twentieth century, such as Boris Sidis, Sigmund Freud and Wilfred Trotter who all recognised that society puts ever increasing pressure on the individual that can result in mental and physical illnesses such as neurosis and the particular nervousness which was then described as neurasthenia.
An early advocate of sexual freedoms, he had a profound influence on both D. H. Lawrence and Aurobindo, and inspired E. M. Forster's novel Maurice.
Read an Excerpt
Imitation is not only the sincerest flattery, but it is often the most subtle and effective way of defeating a rival. The priests of the rising Christian Church were, like the priests of all religions, not wanting in craft; and at this moment when the question of a World-religion was in the balance, it was an obvious policy for them to throw into their own scale as many elements as possible of the popular Pagan cults. Mithraism had been flourishing for 600 years; and it is, to say the least, curious that the Mithraic doctrines and legends which I have just mentioned should all have been adopted (quite unintentionally of course!) into Christianity; and still more so that some others from the same source, like the legend of the Shepherds at the Nativity and the doctrine of the Resurrection and Ascension, which are not mentioned at all in the original draft of the earliest Gospel (St. Mark), should have made their appearance in the Christian writings at a later time, when Mithraism was making great forward strides. History shows that as a Church progresses and expands it generally feels compelled to enlarge and fortify its own foundations by inserting material which was not there first. I shall shortly give another illustration of this; at present I will merely point out that the Christian writers, as time went on, not only introduced new doctrines, legends, miracles and so forth -- most of which they took especial pains to destroy the pagan records and so obliterate the evidence of their own dishonesty. -- from Chapter XIII, The Genesis of Christianity
Table of Contents
II. Solar Myths and Christian Festivals
III. The Symbolism of the Zodiac
IV. Totem-Sacraments and Eucharists
V. Food and Vegetation Magic
VI. Magicians, Kings and Gods
VII. Rites of Expiation and Redemption
VIII. Pagan Initiations and the Second Birth
IX. Myth of the Golden Age
X. The Saviour-God and the Virgin-Mother
XI. Ritual Dancing
XII. The Sex-Taboo
XIII. The Genesis of Christianity
XIV. The Meaning of it All
XV. The Ancient Mysteries
XVI. The Exodus of Christianity
Appendix on the Teachings of the Upanishads
II. The Nature of the Self
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A very fascinating book about the origins of Christianity.
For those who want to know how the enemy has always counterfeited God's originals, this is a good study. God dealt with these ancient people on the basis of what they already knew but the enemy preverted. There has always been magic (supernatural phenomena), priests/priestesses and Kings/gods who were the mediators between the people and the gods (complete with sacrifices of some nature). Even Adam and his sons knew how to prepare and present a sacrifice to God who had instructed them. (Which was a type of Chirst who would come and present himself as the spotless lamb at the appointed time.) However, as always man takes the instructions of God and adds or takes away and preverts and counterfeits the things of God (Cain offered veggies which he knew was not what God prescribed and then killed his brother because God accepted the correct sacrifice)...he made a mockery of the sacrifice and then got angry because he disobeyed the pattern). An example of counterfeiting is when Moses was sent to Pharoah and He threw down his staff/rod/snake and Pharoah's magicians/priets threw down their rods/serpents but God's snake ate all theirs showing that God has total authority over all counterfeits and (gods) which the serpent represented (one of many Egypt had). I have read other books regarding this subject and it is not a bad place to start. I, for one, am so glad we have moved away from so much superstition and stupid behavior as a whole.