Moses and the Mystery School

Apollo's Temple at Delphi
Apollo’s Temple at Delphi

There are clues in the Bible that Moses had knowledge of mystery school teachings:

The first clue comes from Delphi at Apollo’s temple (photo above).   Inscribed at the temple were the words “know thyself.”  This is a hallmark of mystery school teachings.   A crucial part of “knowing thyself” is recognizing and honoring ones ancestors.   Moses was adopted by the pharaoh and so, presumably, did not grow up knowing his earthly lineage. But as a member of the pharaoh’s household he would have had access to the finest education available in his day. That would have certainly included both military and spiritual training.  But then one day, he went out to learn of his ancestry . . .

And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.
Exodus 2:11-12

What happened “after Moses had grown up”? What changed his outlook? Why did he suddenly yearn to “know thyself” so urgently that, with no prior inducement, he went “out unto his brethren”?  And when he did, he was filled with so much emotion that he actually ended up slaying an Egyptian in defense of his ancestral kin.

Egypt was known for having the most renowned and ancient mystery schools in the world, existing from long before the time of Moses. How could their spiritual message not be an integral part of its culture and thusly a part of Moses’ education? This story was set in motion because Moses, at some point in his life, felt a burning desire to “know thyself” and set off to learn of his ancestry.   This is a primary lesson of mystery schools.

Another clue to Moses and his possible knowledge of the mystery school is his use of the Mystery Play.   The mystery play is a tool of mystery schools used to ripen the initiate for the transformational experience.

Performing one or even viewing one is designed to be just such a transformational experience. Experiencing a mystery play entrains one to grasp knowledge not only with the mind, but with the heart. Their themes deal with issues of life, death, rebirth, and the potential of seeds. Perhaps the most famous of the ancient world is the Greek story of Persephone traveling to the underworld.   Her story was enacted at the mystery school in Eleusis. The crux of the story lies in the fact that Persephone ate six pomegranate seeds while in the underworld. The result is the mythic foundation of the cycles of the seasons stressing the themes of cycles and fertility.

Egypt, too, had its mystery plays, often involving the story of Osiris, his journey to the underworld and ultimate resurrection which was enacted by the raising of a sacred pillar called a Djet column.  I discuss one such play in my book ONE GODS: The Mystic Pagan’s Guide to the Bile.

And lest you think this is an older paradigm that is no longer applicable today, ponder this.  There is one special mystery play that is still regularly performed in modern times, in spring, the season of rebirth. It is the familiar passion play of Christianity that relives in detail the life story and final days of Christ. The themes are familiar mystery school themes; life, death, and rebirth.

And turning back to the Bible, Moses performed a play, a mystery play, “in the sight of the people.” Although some of the underlying themes are different on the surface, it was performed so the people witnessing it would experience a transformation.  The phrase that the King James bible translates to “did the signs” is often translated as “performed,” linking Moses’s and Aaron’s actions to the mystery play.

And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel:
And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses,
and did the signs in the sight of the people.
Exodus 4:29-30

Next up:   What mysteries was Moses performing and why they are so important and so unique to history.

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