Feature: Mithra & The Great Sacrifice

Mithraism, the worship of the god Mithra, originated in Persia. As Roman rule extended west, the religion became extremely popular with traders, imperial slaves and mercenaries of the Roman army, and spread rapidly throughout the empire in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. In fact, Mithraism was the principal rival of Christianity until Constantine, a Christian convert, came to the throne in the 4th century.

Mithraism's devotees guarded its secrets well. What little is known of Mithra, the god of justice and social contract, has been deduced from reliefs and icons found in temples, such those at Rožanec near Črnomelj and at Ptuj in eastern Slovenia. Mithra is portrayed in Persian dress sacrificing a white bull in front of Sol, the sun god. From the bull’s blood sprout grain and grapes, and from its semen animals grow. Sol’s wife Luna, the moon, begins her cycle and time is born.