Mithraism is a religion or cultural tradition centred around the god Mithras.
We can identify four distinct Mithraisms:
- Pagan Mithraism was the religion of the early Iranian tribes who worshipped many gods but for whom Mithras (which they called Mithra) was an especial favourite.
- Zoroastrianism developed as a synthesis between the pagan religion and the humanistic teachings of Zarathustra (perhaps born around 1000BC). In the popular religion of the first Persian Empire Mithras was worshipped alongside Zoroaster's god Ahura Mazda, and the goddess Anahita.
- Roman Mithraism was a movement of the late Roman Empire. It was distinctly different from Zoroastrianism and involved ritual practices held in underground meeting places with parallels to modern freemasonry.
- Modern Mithraism is the revival of interest in Mithras in modern times in reaction to a perceived crisis in the cultural life and religion of European or Western countries.
Modern Mithraism is still an experimental project with a handful of people trying to develop good material that builds on the historic legacy while reflecting the needs of the modern age.
The kind of Mithraism we favour borrows heavily from Zoroastrianism which has a strong philosophical and ethical aspect to it while adopting something of the Roman culture.