Monday, March 30, 2015
Magus Magazine: Paganism & Christ: A Theosophic Perspective: Paganism and the Christ Mythos: A Theosophic Perspective By Jack Vates On the nature of what was deemed arcane in the Greco-Roman world...
Paganism and the Christ Mythos: A Theosophic Perspective By Jack Vates
On the nature of what was deemed arcane in the Greco-Roman world, an influx of esoteric knowledge passed both within and outside specific initiatory schools. These Ancient Mystery Cults were hierarchically structured networks where Mystae or initiates were granted cryptic knowledge of the Self and the universe around them. The Mysteries spanned from Greece and Rome to Egypt and Persia and the doctrines revealed were thought to be precious spiritual truths.
Because of the abundance of both domestic and foreign deities in the Greco-Roman pantheon, it was easy for various systems to incorporate nuances of other methods into their own Mystery religion. For example, both the book of Job and Noah’s Ark can be interpreted as narratives inspired by Egyptian mythos. According to Blavatsky, “The Whole allegory of Job is an open book to him who understands the picture language of Egypt as it is recorded in the Book of the Dead.” We can surmise that the Ordeals Job suffered are analogous to initiatory terrors associated with spiritual ‘judgment’. By taking away everything of value to the initiate, the adversary or ‘Satan’ can act as instrument for spiritual awareness and be the mediator between divinity and earthly attachments. Likewise, the Old Testament narrative of a deluge and subsequent Ark can also be interpreted in terms of initiation. The noticeable connotation of the flood is as symbol for the unconscious or ‘abyss’. The building of an Ark then embodies revelatory ‘safe passage’ as the initiate travels through the subconscious mind or Egyptian Amenta.
The Hebrew god Yahweh was also influenced by pagan deities as Judaism assimilated into the Roman panoply. The most thought-provoking archaeological find that points to Yahweh being part of the pagan pantheon is a fourth century BCE coin from Gaza that depicts Yahweh as a bearded man with a mask laying at his feet. The Greeks associated masks with Dionysus and according to Blavatsky, “When Antiochus Epiphanes tried to Hellenize Judaism and incorporate Yahweh into the Greek pantheon, he identified the Jewish God with Dionysus.” Another correlation between Judaism and pagan spiritual systems is in the concept of resurrection. Nearly all the fertility cults of the region celebrated a deity that was archetypal symbol, destroyed by death and subsequently reborn at springtime.
Now that we’ve established a connection between pagan fertility cults and the Hebraic God Yahweh, we can now turn to the influences these two spiritual paradigms had on early Christian formation. We know that early Christians met at isolated places such as caves and mountains in order to avoid persecution. Because of the sects refusal to participate in the State sanctioned Pax Deorum, and rumors of widespread cannibalism, Rome became increasingly suspicious of the new cult. For these reasons, the first Christians organized into small enclaves and created secret symbols, signs, and passwords for their followers. Many of the characteristics promoting secrecy came directly from the fertility cults that surrounded the early church. Blavatsky states that, “nearly everything in Christianity is more baggage from the pagan Mysteries. The primitive Christian worship is nothing but a Mystery. The whole interior police of the church, the degrees of initiation, the command of silence, and the crowd of phrases in the ecclesiastical language, have no other origin.”
The first aspects of the early Christian Mystery cult that borrowed from pagan influences were a specific jargon exclusive to members of the early church. We have read in the scriptures a series of words that would leave us ambivalent if not for the deeper, esoteric meanings that hide beneath the exoteric surface. For example, words like ‘dog’ or ‘the profane’ constituted somebody that had not been initiated into the cult. When we read of somebody being ‘outside the kingdom of God’, the only intended connotation is that they had not yet been initiated into the Mystery. We also know that the term ‘shadow’ was an ancient Mystery term meaning ‘vehicle’ or ‘body’. So when we read in John’s gospel: “And the light shines in the shadow/And the shadow took it not up.” We can surmise that the light is ‘the body’. This would be a replica of the ritualization that occurred in both the Osiris/Isis cult and the Eleusinian Mysteries. In both cases, the light of ‘becoming’ is said to reside within the neophyte. Purucker elaborates that the verse is an ancient Mystery teaching that refers to the fact that “primordial man has as yet evolved no vehicle or mind to facilitate the light of becoming.” So what was needed was a teacher or Christos to initiate the vehicle and spark the ‘light’ of knowledge. It is also interesting that in Syria, outsiders were labeled ‘dogs’ or ‘swine’. And a ‘fox’ was characteristic of somebody who attempted to ascertain the Mystery teachings unlawfully.
But it is in ritualization that we find the most stunning early Christian adoptions of pagan ceremonies. For example, it is no accident that Christian holy days correspond to the winter solstice. The association of Solstice with Jesus is important because the Persian god Mithras and the Egyptian Horus were said to have been born on this day. It stands to reason that the Christian cult would seek to maintain a celebration on, or around the time of other celebratory festivals so as to promote legitimacy in the region.
Moreover, if we analyze the narrative of Jesus Christ, we find that many of the events described correspond to Mystery religions. The birth of the ‘anointed one’ in humble settings fits perfectly into the hero paradigm of a great leader or king who is discovered by shepherds or sometimes even animals. For Jesus, three probably Persian magi follow distinct signs to discover the holy family. Already we have links to both Zoroastrianism and Mithraism. There are also indelible connections to ancient Egyptian Osiris/Isis motifs in the gospel accounts. We are told in Mk 8: 22-26 that Jesus heals a blind man by spitting in his eyes. This peculiar act seems to have a basis in the Egyptian story of the war between Set and Horus. In the Egyptian account, Horus ripped out Set’s genitals and Horus plucked out one of Horus’ eyes. It is at this time that Khenti-Amenti arrives and heals the eye of Horus by spitting in his face. In both narratives, the healing attributed to spitting in one’s eye is meant as a veiled esoteric teaching.
Another aspect of the Jesus story that takes on ancient Egyptian mythos is in the concept of resurrection. It is easy to infer the raising of Lazarus as an allegory of initiation. In this sense, Lazarus has to give up his worldly concerns, or symbolically die, in order to be reborn in the spirit. All ancient Mysteries were privy to the mystic death and resurrection sequence that entails an ontological liminality between separation and reincorporation. But the story of Lazarus also has striking liturgical similarities to the Egyptian Book Of The Dead. For example, if we compare the Egyptian:
O King live, For you are not dead,
Horus will come to you,
That he may cut your cords,
And throw off your bonds,
Horus has removed your hindrance.
With John 11:44:
The dead man came forth,
His hands and feet bound with bandages,
And his face wrapped with a cloth.
Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him and let him go’.
In both passages we find nearly identical portrayals of resurrection. Furthermore, if we deduce that the Lazarus story is influenced by Egyptian mythology, we should note that Lazarus was mourned by two sisters- Mary and Martha-just as Osiris was grieved over by Nephthys and Isis.
In addition, the goddess Isis makes its way into the Christian mythos in the personification of Mary. The Madonna and child images we have become so accustomed to seeing were co-opted from the iconography of the Isis cult. What is more, Blavatsky remarks that, “As the goddess who gathers the remains of Osiris and mourns for him, Isis would also seem to be the original model for Mary’s gathering Jesus’ body from the cross in the many paintings and sculptures of the pieta.” The correlations between The Madonna, and in particular, the Black Madonna and Isis are truly profound. The reasons for shaping, at least in part, the early Christian message on that of Egypt suggests that the already flourishing Hellenized cult held powerful influence in the area.
Some of Christianity’s most revered ceremonies and doctrines were in circulation long before Jesus entered the Greco-Roman world. If we look at the notion of the Eucharist, we find that this ritual was customary to practitioners of Mithraism. In this pre-Christian Mystery, the mystae who succeeded in various initiatory trials was given a small piece of unleavened bread as a symbol for the sun. The Christian writer Justin Martyr himself recognized the Mithraic ritual when he sarcastically wrote: “Which (the Lord’s Supper) the wicked devils have imitated in the Mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same to be done.” Although Martyr attributed the Mithraic ceremonies to demons, the fact remains that Mithraism was a successful pagan religion long before the emergence of Jesus Christ. The Dionysian cult also had sacraments and miracles comparable to the Christian Eucharist. When Jesus stated that the bread was his body and wine his blood, we are immediately reminded of the Titans who ate the flesh and blood of Dionysus. The miracle during the wedding feast at Cana is another episode in the life of Jesus that may have been structured on Dionysian myth. The transformation of water into wine was actually believed to occur during a festival of Dionysus in Ellis Greece. During this festival, the springs that ran near Dionysian temples were thought to run with wine instead of water. Blavatsky remarks that, “Dionysus is a reasonable source for this miracle, as he was the god of wine, and, as a dying and resurrected God, his miracles were readily transferable to Jesus.”
It is not only the story of Jesus that has elements of ancient Mysteries infused in its doctrines and ritual. The apostles also are laden with esoteric and initiatory characteristics that were prevalent during the Greco-Roman era. The name ‘Peter’, along with Ptah, Patera, and Patras all come from the same root. The designation of the name is supreme pontiff and hearkens back to the pagan Mystery. As we know from Christian mythos, Peter was given the keys to heaven and hell by Jesus. Mithraism also had a Pater Patri who held the keys to the afterworld. Early Christians appropriated this idea and the title developed into papa, then pope. The name Peter is a variation of the title. The pope can also be equated with the hierophant of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Like the pope, the hierophant was assigned the presiding power of the sacred rite. According to Besant, “the organization of the celestial hierarchies was one of the subjects in which instruction was given in the Mysteries. And of the high priest, or hierophant, the holy of holies has been committed, and who alone has been entrusted with the secrets of God.”
The concept of initiatory secret knowledge being transmitted to some while others only taught exoteric surface teachings is customary in both Pagan and Christian systems. Even the classical writer Origin stated, “if you come to the books written after the time of Jesus, you will find that those multitudes of believers who hear the parables are, as it were, ‘without’. And worthy only of exoteric doctrines, while the disciples learn in private the explanation of the parables.” In his letters to the Corinthians, Saint Paul himself asserts that,
“We speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory;”
In the same letter, Paul goes on to state:
“According to the grace of God which is given to me, as a wise ‘master-builder’, I have laid the foundation.” (1- Corinth. 3:10)
This seemingly ubiquitous remark holds certain connotations to the Mysteries. By asserting himself as a master-builder, Paul is declaring himself an adept of initiatory rites. This honor would also include the right to initiate others thus shedding new light on early missionary work. Likewise, the concept of master-builder is no stranger to adherents of Freemasonry and its allusions to both operant and speculative design.
Another statement by Paul that hearkens back to the Eleusinian Mysteries can be found in the second epistle to the Corinthians. In this passage, Paul is describing a ‘vision’ of witnessing events that he could not speak about.
“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago-whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows-such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man-whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know-was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.” (2 Corinth. 12, 2-4)
Here we have what many scholars have deemed a description of the liturgical rites of the Eleusinian epopteia. The wording of the Christian verses alludes to the climax of mystical initiations that took place at Eleusis. For example, the phrase ‘caught up in the third heaven’ carries both Judaic and Pagan undertones. Besant remarks that, “these different regions of the invisible supernal worlds are known to initiates, and they are well aware of those who pass beyond first heaven need the truly spiritual body as their vehicle, and that according to the development of its three divisions is the heaven into which they can penetrate.” It can only be speculated whether or not Paul intentionally alluded to the epoptai as a way to attract more followers to the Christian cause but this sort of evangelizing would certainly have been advantageous for the growth of the cult.
Perhaps the most profound piece of esotericism in the New Testament is the ‘Sermon on the Mount’. As we know, Jesus divided his followers into neophytes, brethren, and the perfect. As the apostles were closest to him, it stands to reason that it was them that undertook the most secret of initiatory teachings. The ‘sermon’ was one of those teachings. Besant describes it as a metaphor of the hierarchical degrees of spiritual awakening. She states that, “if you refer guardedly to the ‘mountain’ which Jesus ascended, from which he came down again to help ‘those who were unable to follow him whither his disciples went.’ The allusion is to the mountain of initiation.” The sermon then is evidently a mystery teaching. If we analyze just a few verses during the sermon, we find it laden with Mystery school and pagan connotations.
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Ask, it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, it shall be opened to you.”
As discussed earlier, the word ‘dog’ referred to somebody not yet initiated into the Mysteries. When Jesus warns about not giving what is holy to the ‘dogs’, he simply meant to keep secret the teachings that made Christianity a Mystery cult. The verse also alludes to the Dionysian Mysteries. When Jesus warns about the profane ‘tearing you to pieces’, we are immediately reminded of the Dionysian sequence of events. And when Jesus prompts initiates to ‘seek’ so that they may find; and to ‘knock’ so it can be opened for them, there is another implication of Mystery. We know that both Mithraic and Eleusinian schools entailed secrets being divulged in caves or secret places. It is possible that the opening of the sanctuary and subsequent showing of sacred ‘things’ could be the inspiration for these remarks.
When Christianity spread its wings and began to grow within the Greco-Roman state, qualities of pagan religions were infused in the young cult. While we can say that the Christian church is the most successful of Mystery religions, it is in every way a product of the influences that helped shape it. Because of the strength of its early master-builders, this Mystery has survived thousands of years and still retains, perhaps now hidden in its cavernous foundation, a very esoteric origin. There is a strange fascination that comes with realizing that many of the rituals so commonplace in every Christian church are descendents of the pagan fertility religions. Seeming to take on new connotations and deeper meanings, these truths have been passed along and created a Christianity that is both unique and reminiscent of the past.
 H. P. Blavatsky. Isis Unveiled: A Master Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology. 1877. J.W. Bouton. New York. pp. 495.
 Ibid. pp. 20.
 Ibid. pp. 334.
 G. Purucker. Fundamental Aspects of Esoteric Philosophy. 1932 Theosophical University Press. Covina, CA. pp. 385.
 Ibid. 387.
 Ibid. pp. 403.
 Annie Besant. Esoteric Christianity or the Lesser Mysteries. 1957. Theosophical Publishing House. New York. pp. 51.
 Ibid. 68.
 Besant. pp. 165.
 Ibid. pp 63.
Monday, March 23, 2015
Magus Magazine: Op-Ed- Anarchism and Sub-Cultural Excavation: Pol...: Op-Ed Anarchism and Sub-Cultural Excavation: Politics as Occult? By Preston Copeland I used to think that occult and politics were...
Anarchism and Sub-Cultural Excavation: Politics as Occult? By Preston Copeland
I used to think that occult and politics were incompatible. That adventure in subversion and the pillars of the underground had no substantial place in esoterica. Even now, it’s hard to reconcile socio-spiritual paradigms of Self with the machinations of the political beast. But the correlations are prevalent and I don’t mean in just right-wing extremist cults or left-hand path liberalism. These things have been discussed extensively. No, I mean politics is occult. It is full of mechanisms that are secret, obscure, unseen and hidden behind a veil. Political occult is a bombardment of subtle yet complex myths designed under a network that remains behind closed doors.
Yet this network makes use of the media to perpetuate ‘tradition’ and discourage change. The press itself is in collusion with these reality makers to maintain the traditional status quo. When information funnels through the tunnels of media and is highly editorialized, it becomes a representation of tradition. Some viewpoints or “currents” are accepted while others whither in the cold. This results in “falsification through miscontextualization even of the currents properly present.” The status quo no longer accurately represents the reality it tries so hard to convince us of. Thomas Jefferson understood these problems with the press when he remarked that “Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.”
You could say I’m an anarchist- but not in the ‘traditional’ sense of no government and unrestricted chaos. As philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend once remarked, “professional anarchists oppose any kind of restriction and they demand that the individual be permitted to develop freely, unhampered by laws, duties or obligations. And yet they swallow without protest all the severe standards which scientists and logicians impose on research and upon any kind of knowledge-creating and knowledge-changing activity.” (my italics).  It is the same with the reality making that occurs within political media arenas. Many so-called anarchists want to beat governmental policy like a mule yet tolerate restrictions on epistemological processes at face value. Many don’t even know what the acronym FOIA stands for or the implications of having this law prohibited. Peter Alexeivich Kropotkin said it best when he remarked that “Anarchism is a world concept based upon a mechanical explanation of ‘all phenomena’. It’s method of investigation is that of the exact natural sciences…the method of induction and deduction.” A concept of “anything goes” must be included in modern political occult because ‘traditional’ epistemology, however decisively grounded in social architecture, is violated at one time or another. Ideas and information acquisition become the most important facet of this “anything goes” anarchism.
Also hidden, made secret or outright ignored by mainstream media is the influence the 1% has on reality-making. For example, in Bill Clinton’s first six months in office a series of private parties or “soirees for the elite” were hosted. Guests were political leaders, business men, and influential members of the press-corps such as Sidney Blumenthal of ‘The New Yorker’, Rita Braver and Susan Spencer of CBS and Evan Thomas of ‘Newsweek’. These parties were a way of molding upcoming reality. This was in the mid-1970s, “a period when Samuel Huntington of Harvard and Nelson Rockefeller’s Trilateral Commission wrote of the need to curb the ‘excess of Democracy” in the USA, Japan and Western Europe. At the time, profits were down and businesses needed to convince Americans to have less so corporations could have more. As elucidated in a mid- 1970s issue of ‘Business Week’, “Nothing that this nation, or any other nation, has done in modern economic history compares in difficulty with the selling job that must now be done to make people accept the new reality.” In an attempt to shape a new trajectory, millions of dollars were funneled into right-wing think tanks with ideas saturated by the media. It was reality-making at its best.
But perhaps the most concealed aspect of the socio-political spectrum now sits in the 4th branch of government known as the NSA. Abhorrent as it seems, a second Defense Department now acts without any fear of accountability whatsoever. In 2001, ‘The Economist’ wrote in regards to the Patriot Act, “Infringement of civil rights, if genuinely required, should be open to scrutiny and considered a painful sacrifice, or a purely tactical retreat, not as the mere brushing aside of irritating legal technicalities. Those who criticized such measures should be given a careful hearing, even if their views must sometimes be overridden.” Yet this hasn’t happened. The Department of Homeland Security has operated with impunity with much of the American public ready to protect it under a veil of fear. Now, CIA in collaboration with U.S. Marshal Services are invoking digital dragnet on cell phones. Planes equipped with tech that mimics cellphone towers can now gain complete access to emails, texts, and phone calls.
Indeed, we exist in a new Aeon- One in which politics, government and the media operate under a cabal while the populace remains blissfully unaware. I can only imagine the lunacy of the 2016 elections were these issues really addressed in open forum. As it is, there is an underground movement but it now exists in a re-design of the anarchist ideal. Anarchy is now pluralism and the real enemy is physical and mental constraints. When an anarchist now says they oppose the ‘state’ they refer to a state of ‘Being’; an ontological State of obliviousness and gullibility. The enemy is any law, organization or ideal that attempts to stop information from getting to the public. Citizen journalists are now the most important members of the socio-political system. Not just because they challenge the major news media to think for themselves but because they instill a shift from a few powerful entities towards an information democratization characteristic of grass-roots movements. Now, news consumers are also the creators. The sub-underground are those that utilize online and mobile technologies to contribute information to global discourse and re-affirm the real beauty and power of information dissemination.
 See Black’s ‘Beneath the Underground’ 1994.
 Paul Feyerabend. Against Method. 2010. Verso. New York. pp. 4.
 Peter Alexeivich Kropotkin. Modern Science and Anarchism. Kropotkin’s Revolutionary Pamphlets. Ed. RW. Baldwin. 1970. pp. 150-52.
 Roxanne Roberts of ‘The Washington Post’.
 End Times: The Death Of The Fourth Estate. Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. 2006. CounterPunch. pp. 25 See Reference for more information.
Friday, March 13, 2015
ETHOS HERESY AND MODERN RELIGIOUS TRAJECTORY by Preston Copeland
One glance at contemporary events makes it clear as crystal that there is a modern problem with religious perversions. From right-wing Christian mutterings to the horrors of Islamic extremism, religious trajectory has stopped and its movements paralyzed. It’s not the gods fault. They too bear witness to the distortions carried out in their name. The problem isn’t even modern – if we can even call ourselves that. In reality, this religious sickness has festered and metastasized since ancient Egypt and even before that. The problem is embedded in religion itself and came to light when mankind realized that power to control can be perpetuated religiously.
Divine interaction and cosmology creation is a beautiful thing. But when ethos was thrown into the cauldron, mankind made a mockery of the relationships formed with the Other. The gods fled man and even now much of our interactions bear little or no resemblance to the bond of before. When Moses shattered the sapphire tablets that supposedly bore the Ten Commandments, he should have destroyed the stone versions as well. Not as an iconoclastic gesture but because that particular interaction may have been a trap. Similar to the warnings attached to Via Negativa or traversing into religious wilderness, sometimes deity contact isn’t beneficial to religious trajectory. And not because we aren’t ready for spiritual evolving-although ufologists would understand these kind of utterances. No, Judaic mysticism provides a clue as to why the Ten Commandments narrative may have been designed to steer man away from god.
Think on the sequence of events that characterizes the Ten Commandments. Moses is contacted by an otherworldy entity that then relays the message on sapphire tablets. After the interaction culminates, Moses then shatters the sapphire and inscribes the message on stone. But we’ve heard this narrative before in Judaic mysticism. Specifically, in the creation of the Kelipot husks that characterize evil in Jewish tradition. According to legend, the emanations of god or Sephiroth were filled with the love and light of god but began to overfill due to the sheer enormity of the divine. As they ran over and spilled those emanations or states of consciousness ‘shattered’ and became personifications of evil. This is the problem of evil in Jewish mysticism. Does that not sound eerily similar to the Moses narrative on Mount Sinai? As any folklorist will tell you, these slight variances usually hold some correspondence or connection. Is it so farfetched to suggest that these nearly identical events were deliberately conceived? That the message is meant to be the same? No, I’m no anarchist. I firmly believe in a set of secular rules and regulations. But it’s repugnant to attach what should be purely secular laws to gods and goddesses that probably could care less whether they are adhered to or not. In fact, it is evil to do so.
And I only used Judaism as a quick example of this very human process of propagating greed and control onto fellow humans through deity manipulation. A cursory glance at Christian history, ancient Egypt, and even the concept of karma all use some sort of divine retribution as a means to control the herd. This is why many atheists despise the concept of religion in its entirety. What they don’t understand is that the pantheons despise it as well. The gods are also disgusted with how man makes the Other both in-determinate i.e. archetypal and self-determining i.e. autonomous then has the vile nerve to ascribe secular restrictions in their name. It’s an offensive gesture meted out for human property and wealth.
But as you can surmise, this has been the problem for thousands and thousands of years. And although it seems organized religion must also project an aspect of human values or ethos to be successful-It really doesn’t. Who made that rule? I would even suggest that the reason religious method and more importantly, religious ideas have become stagnant is due to our own perversions of religious interaction. I can’t be the only one to recognize that ideas concerning religious form and philosophy are not just few and far-between but nearly indiscernible in the modern world. Oh sure, there are a few exceptions but they are either marginalized or content to be small movements. This point is: Why does control of the populace always involve divine threat and where are the religious thinkers that offer new avenues of faith and form? Probably being stoned to death by perpetrators of the ethos heresy.
Now I won’t just spout my mouth off without offering some sort of alternative to the status quo. One possible option can be found in ontological certainty. This method negates that gods can get into our heads through an understanding of our own thoughts and desires. Instead, god is as surprised as we are about our lunacy. Also irrelevant is suggesting that god’s ‘Being’ is proven by the properties of his creation such as the universe or that the Other exists to right humanity’s wrongs. Perhaps we can take a page out of Claude Bruaire’s (1932-86) book of ideas and suggest ontology as a gift. For Bruaire, gift is a substance (being), (absolute) freedom, and donation. We gift the Other within the awe and wonder of an encounter with the Other. He once remarked that, “Accepting both the Other and one’s own otherness translates into the intellectual inquisitiveness set in motion by the encounter with the Other and the humble receptivity of the Other as what it is, in its insuppressible Otherness.” How refreshing is it to regard the Other in its pure and utter numinousness? To gift being onto the gods through our encounters with them. In our ‘surprise’ of the interaction, we give the gods a gift and in turn receive one ourselves. Our astonishment is its own alterity. Bruaire once stated that “eternity” should be translated as “victory”. Doesn't this seem like a viable alternative to the ethos heresy? I think the gods would be much more receptive to interacting with us if we came bringing gifts.