On Saturday we celebrated the solstice in our own unique way here at Tamesa by performing a group ritual to the pre-Christian solar deity Mithras.

Mithras worship was brought to this country by Roman soldiers and was an entirely male religion, obviously in our updated version we’re into equal opportunities Mithraism!

Many churches particularly those dedicated to St Micheal (who took over as the patron of soldiers after paganism was banned) are built on top of Mithraeums, the temple in which rites of Mithras would be performed. These buildings would be long and thin and dimly lit with seating down each side and a Tauroctony, an image of Mithras slaying the sacred bull, at one end. There would be three pillar altars: one fire altar, one font and one other.

This is ours:

mithraem

And our main altar complete with bad latin:

mithras altar

 

Mithras did not want to slay the bull when he was ordered to so his head is turned away. The bull bleeds wheat and seeds and from its body grew all the loveliness of nature.

In front of the Tauroctony was placed offerings of bread including spelt bread which would have been the type of bread the Roman soldiers would have eaten, we found wine called ‘Sange del Toro’, fruit (oranges seemed appropriately solar), flowers, spiced biscuits, vegetables and beef stew and other lovely things.

tauroctony

 

 

The ritual was adapted fromĀ  the Paris Magic Papyrus 574 (Supplement grec de la Bibliotheque nationale), the date of which is fixed with every probability as the earlier years of the fourth century A.D. The only changes that were made to it were to break up the parts for a narrator, an invoker and a chorus to make it workable for a group.

It was an excellent ritual and wonderful feast, one which we may be repeating next year!