Johnny Mercury: John the Baptist in Egypt

Originally posted last year on Miguel Conner’s Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio site.

As the transit of the sun by the planet Mercury on May 9 draws closer, one may wonder the lore associated with Mercury and how it relates to other religions such as Christianity. The cosmocrator, Mercury, does relate to one particular figure—John the Baptist. John the Baptist is a peculiar, eponymous hero that appears many times not only in Christianity and the Gospels, but also in Gnostic, Mandean, Freemasonic and last but not least, connected to Egyptian sources. In the Gospel of John, he is depicted as a witness, a herald, a dedicated servant or a “Prophet-King” for the Light of the Logos, personified as Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of John goes out of its way to make sure the reader doesn’t confuse John the Baptist with the Messiah. In John 3:25-30, we see this distinction between Jesus and John being brought out in the controversy over purification between John’s disciples and a Jew. After this, Jesus withdraws from the whole argument (4:1) and from baptism itself since something greater than water is coming, being the baptism in the Spirit, which Jesus provides after his death and resurrection. John is adamant in saying that Jesus alone, and not the baptism is enough to take away the sins of the world. We see later that through the death of Jesus, are water and Spirit united (the means to be born again: 3:5), for out of his pierced side flowed, both water and blood (19: 34), united by the Spirit in the water of baptism and the wine of the Eucharist (cf. 1 John 5:5-8).

“An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing.  They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”

To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven.  You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’  The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”

“He must become greater, but I must become less.” This is John’s swan song, his last word in the gospel. It is also the formula under which John operates in the entire gospel, as well. His witness abides, but John slips off the stage. His death of beheading isn’t even mentioned. There is a more interesting theory behind John’s parting words. The late, departed and always controversial mythicist author, Acharya S aka D.M. Murdock, in Christ in Egypt, has this to say on the subject:

Anubis is somewhat confounded or identified with the god Ap-uat as the “opener of the ways,” while, again, Apuat/Wepwawet is also “identical with Osiris.” Like Anubis, Osiris too was the opener of the way, being born at the beginning at the Egyptian New Year, when it occurred at the summer solstice with the inundation of the Nile. However, since Wepwawet has been identified with Osiris, who in turn has been identified with Jesus, this comparison between John and Anubis becomes increasingly apparent, as Anubis would represent the summer solstice and Osiris the winter, while John the Baptist was supposedly born at the summer solstice, six months before Jesus, who was purportedly born at the winter solstice, according to popular tradition dating from at least the third century onward and taught to billions of people worldwide since then.

This juxtaposition of John and Jesus as the sun at summer and winter solstice brings vividly to light the meaning of the enigmatic remark made by “the Baptist” at John 3:30, previously mentioned: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” As the sun passes through the summer solstice, the days begin to decrease in length, until the winter solstice, when the day’s increase again. This peculiar remark, which would not seem to be applicable to a human being, is all the more interesting in view of the fact that it appears only in the gospel of John, again the most Egyptian of the canonical texts, likely written at Alexandria for an Egyptian audience. It may thus serve as evidence that the writer of the gospel was aiming to usurp Anubis with the Jewish “prophet.”

In keeping with the interchangeability of gods within mythology, Anubis is identified not only with Thoth but also with Osiris, his father, depending on the myth. Osiris and Anubis alike not only were associated with the afterlife but also symbolized both the star Sirius and different aspects of the sun, Osiris frequently representing the sun at night, while, like Horus, Anubis was the sun at the horizon, whether rising or setting.

According to Plutarch…Anubis is the horizon itself, representing the line between light and dark. He may thus also be considered “twilight.” As the baby whom she suckles with her finger, Anubis (the horizon) is Isis’s “attendant,” who accompanies her when she seeks her own newborn son (the rising sun). In addition, like Osiris, Anubis is the “god of the dead or the night god.”…

Anubis is further the “‘giver of Sirius,’ the starry opener of the year,” corresponding to the summer solstice, which just happens to be the traditional nativity and feast of John the Baptist… Indeed, St. John’s Nativity or Feast occurs on June 24th, the last of the three days the sun “stands still” during the summer solstice. Like John, who was said to be born six months before Jesus, Anubis was born shortly before Horus. The connection between John the Baptist and Anubis becomes more pointed when it is realized that, while John’s fest days is on the summer solstice, Anubis actually represents the personification of the summer solstice…

The curious, and perhaps even tenuous connection between John and Anubis, is nonetheless trumpeted by Acharya S, who draws extensively on nineteenth century researchers like Gerald Massey, among others. It still remains to this day that Egyptian parallels are viewed with suspicion by most mainstream scholars (e.g. parallelomania). Gerald Massey, as it turns out, has many interesting things to say throughout his work, especially in his Historical Jesus and Mythical Christ. Here is put a tiny glimpse in his work:

The words of John, “Jesus wept,” are like a carven statue of the “Afflicted One,” as Remi, the Weeper. Ra is also the God who “makes the mummy come forth.” Jesus makes the mummy come forth in the shape of Lazarus; and in the Roman Catacombs the risen Lazarus is not only represented as a mummy, but is an Egyptian mummy which has been eviscerated and swathed for the eternal abode. Ra says to the mummy: “Come forth!” and Jesus cries: “Lazarus, come forth!” Ra manifests as “the burning one, he who sends destruction,” or “sends his fire into the place of destruction.” “He sends fire upon the rebels,” his form is that of the “God of the furnace.” Christ also comes in the person of this “burning one”; the sender of destruction by fire. He is proclaimed by Matthew to be the Baptiser with fire. He says, “I am come to send fire on the earth.” He is portrayed as “God of the furnace,” which shall “burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” He is to cast the rebellious into a “furnace of fire,” and send the condemned ones into everlasting fire.

All this was natural when applied to the Solar-God, and it is supposed to become supernatural when misapplied to a supposed human being to whom it never could apply. The Solar fire was the primary African fount of theological hell-fire and hell.

Of particular importance to uncovering the theological identity of this baptism is its description as an external physical purification, whose efficacy is also preconditioned by inner spiritual purification. Such practices did not exist in mainstream Judaism, and in fact developed on the fringes of Jewish religion, like Qumran (perhaps with the Essenes) and continued by Jewish-Christian groups in the first century (A.D.) onward. However, such practices actually originate in Egypt. In the Hermopolitan Pyramid Texts (Sarcophagus Chamber: East Gable, Utterance 211:132), we read:

“Unas is conceived at night, Unas is born at night, for he belongs to the Followers of Re who are before the Morning Star. Unas is conceived in the Watery Abyss, he is being born in the Watery abyss. He has come, he has brought your bread which he has found there!”

Unas, was, in actuality, an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh, the ninth and last ruler of the Fifth Dynasty during the Old Kingdom period. Unas was also the first Pharaoh to have the Pyramid Texts carved and painted inside the walls of the chambers of Egypt as well. These texts identify Unas with Ra and Osiris, who were meant to help Unas reach the afterlife. Unas is said to be born at night in the watery abyss, and belong “to the followers of Re, who are before the Morning Star.” Gnostic texts like On the Origin of the World also depicts the Demiurge, Ialdabaoth, “moving in the depths of the waters of the abyss.” The title “Morning-Star” (Lucifer) here probably refers to Horus. Furthermore, Unas brought the “bread” in the “watery abyss” which brings to mind John the immerser, and Jesus’ words about being born again through “water and spirit” while bringing the Eucharistic “bread out of heaven.” (As pointed out further onward). 

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The English word “messiah” is a corruption of the Hebrew mashiach, which came to mean “anointed,” referring to how Egyptian Pharaohs and kings were invested and consecrated as royalty. At death, it may also refer to one is embalmed and prepared for mummification to survive in the netherworld. The root meaning of being a messiah meant to be like a “Moses”, a king, leader, way shower-to-freedom, and emissary to God. In the Old Testament (2 Samuel 2:14), we see King David, being anointed as a “Son of God.”

“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.”

Psalms 2:6 also says similar things. Thus the Gospel of John draws a parallel between Moses and Jesus specifically to state that Jesus is the Messiah, by God’s anointment and appointment. And it says Jesus is superior to him in a few verses. Although Jesus in the Gospel of John builds on Moses’ tradition with allusions to the raising of the bronze serpent (just like the caduceus of Enki, Asclepius and Hermes is said to be raised), Jesus declares himself and his heavenly substances as superior (6:32):

“Jesus therefore said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, the bread out of heaven is not given you by Moses; no, the real bread out of heaven my Father is giving you. For the bread of God, is the one coming down out of heaven and giving life to the world.”

Acharya S, throughout Christ in Egypt, point out other similarities between Anubis, as being the “preparer of the way of the other world”, just as John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the Lord, and a connection between the Old Testament and the New (as a return of Elijah in which John denies being), as being the last Prophet-King and the first Christian saint. According to the arch-heretic Marcion, John proclaimed a Jewish messiah conversant with the Old Testament creator-God and had not expected a messiah like Jesus at all (Jesus as the Only-Begotten Son of the God above Jehovah). And so, John belonged to the old dispensation because of the connection between him and Elijah (Tertullian, Adv. Marcion, IV, 18). This wasn’t an attack against the Baptist cult, but rather a projection of Marcionite interpretation of the New Testament.

Acharya S further writes:

“Anubis is also the messenger of the gods, equivalent to the Greek god Hermes or Mercury, the counterpart of the Egyptian lunar god Thoth or Djehuty/Tehuti. Moreover, like Thoth, whose emblem is the Tau or T, Anubis is “never without a cross,” specifically the life-giving ankh, one of the holiest symbols in Egyptian religion. As related by the ancient writer Iamblichus (c. 245-c. 325 AD/CE), “The cross with a handle which Tot [Thoth] holds in his hand was none other than the monogram to his name.”

The connection between the ankh and the cross of Jesus is made more apparent when in Matthew 10:37, Jesus tells his disciples, “And he who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.” Luke and Mark have similar variations of this passage. St. Paul is also said to be “crucified with Christ” often in his crucifixion mysticism. The Egyptian cross could be what Jesus is referring to in his commandment above. The ankh was a sign of royalty and life, whereas the cross of Christ was a symbol of debasement and sacrifice (but transformed into the means for “eternal life”).

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One might also consider that the reason for such a strong connection between the Fourth Gospel, John the Baptist, Anubis, Hermes and the Egypto-Hermetic religion might be because John was initiated in Egypt, just as his son/disciple Simon the Magician was said to be. This would make sense considering there are so many similarities between the Corpus Hermeticum and the Gospel of John, too. In the Gospel of John, we see that Simon the Rock (Simon Peter) is said to be the son of John the Baptist, as well.

We must also remember that Mercury is Hermes, who was also depicted as a psychopomp—the god who guides dead souls through the netherworld. As it follows, John is following the tradition of the “wisdom god” via Hermes, Aquarius, Anubis, Oannes, Enki, etc. The last god, Enki, the Sumerian water god of creation and agriculture, is said to provide two streams of Living Waters from his shoulders. The baptism of the initiate is said to herald the anointing of God’s supernatural power via the Holy Spirit, but also given the means to successfully separate or cross over from the world of flesh and into the world of spirit, and thus be saved. This is the meaning behind the allegory of “crossing the River Jordan.”

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It has been often been speculated that John was involved with the Essenes: his with this description in Mark 1:6, as being clothed with camel hair with a leather belt about his waist, and eating locusts and wild honey, as do the themes of repentance and purification. The Clementine writings, the Homilies and Recognitions also play an important part of the lore concerning John. In Baphomet: The Temple Mystery Unveiled, we discuss how the Clementines and the Babylonian Talmud show how Simon Magus and Jesus were both initiated in Egypt. Simon was known to pass on “the Christ” in discipleship succession—a practice that would be eventually adopted by Catholic Church through the apostolic succession of Bishops, Popes, etc.

Irenaeus (A.H. 1, 23.5) says that Simon initiated his disciple Menander, and as he passed the anointing holy spirit to his disciples—Saturninus and Basilides, which were both Gnostics. The Clementines also capture the idea that John the Baptist was hailed and considered to be the original “Christ”. Their enemies, however, would interpret this spirit as being a demon. This is actually what the unforgivable sin is according to Jesus (Matthew 12:30-32): blaspheming the holy spirit as demonic. Acts 8 also seems to be an early polemic/parody against this Simonian/Johannite practice, with Peter appropriating it, while Simon is seeking to “purchase” the powers of the Holy Spirit.

Here is more of what we have to say about it all this, in our book, Baphomet:

“In The Clementine Recognitions (1.54) and (1.60), it is described how some disciples of John felt that he was a more apt owner of the title “Christ” than Jesus:

Yea, some even of the disciples of John, who seemed to be great ones, have separated themselves from the people, and proclaimed their own master as the Christ. But all these schisms have been prepared, that by means of them the faith of Christ and baptism might be hindered.

. . .

And, behold, one of the disciples of John asserted that John was the Christ, and not Jesus, inasmuch as Jesus Himself declared that John was greater than all men and all prophets.

In John 8:48, Jesus is accused of being a Samaritan magician in control of a demon:

Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. And I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks and judges.”

It should be noted that Jesus doesn’t deny being a Samaritan (as Simon was), but only having a demon. This must be significant since in an older, primitive text may have had Christ admit that he was a Samaritan. The Samaritans were also associated with witchcraft. One must keep in mind that The Babylonian Talmud also named Jesus as a sorcerer who studied magic in Egypt, just as Simon is said to have done in the Clementines. They were probably trained by a Hermopolitan priesthood (the likely authors of The Pyramid Texts). This may account for the twelve missing years in Jesus life. When he finally returned to face the Temple hierarchy, he was a highly educated young man full of heterodox ideas—a savvy, mystical antagonist, just as John was. In The Babylonian Talmud, specifically in Tosefta Shabbat 104b, we find an obscure figure by the name of “Ben Stada” or “Ben Sattadai” who is said to have had the “witchcraft of Egypt” (i.e. magic spells) tattooed on his flesh. (Some scholars have identified Ben Stada as Jesus Christ, but this is a point of contention.)”

Elsewhere in the Clementines, John is paired opposite Jesus in a series of “syzygiai” or pairs, in league with such characters as Cain, Esau, Aaron, Simon Magus and the Antichrist (Hom. 11, 17; cf. Recog. III, 61). The old Egyptologist, E.A. Wallis Budge, suggests that Horus is the embodiment of “He who is above” and Set of “He who is below,” (in their eternal struggle) thus holding a significance to “As Above, So Below” much like how John’s arms are depicted (pointing up and down) in Leonardo da Vinci paintings, as well as Baphomet.

In Hom. III, 22 John is referred to as one “born of a woman” and therefore of the feminine (fallen) order, whereas Jesus, as the Son of Man, is masculine (heavenly)—a familiar Gnostic idea. Both the Homilies and Recognitions connect John with the rise of the Gnostics Dositheus and Simon Magus, as well as being connected to the Jewish sects that opposed the Apostolic church—the Sadducees, Samaritans, Scribes/Pharisees, and the Baptists (the last of which would morph into other cults like the Simonians, Dositheans, Mandeans, etc.) While this might be pure speculation, since some of Simon Magus’ titles include “Standing One” and the “Great Power of God,” we might also find its origins in the Pyramid Texts (Utterance 222, saying 199).

“Stand up upon this land [which came out of Atum, the spittle] which came out of the Becoming One! May you become over it, may you be high over it, so that your father sees you, so that [Re] sees you!”

Jesus is called the “Word/Logos of God” or more accurately, the “Reason of God”. The Logos translates to “reason.” The Logoi are also principles of reasons in Platonic material, as a plural of the Logos. The Logoi also refer to the Platonic Forms related to the Gods. Theurgical tokens and symbols as used by Neoplatonists like Iamblichus use as manifestations of these divine powers. These symbols may exist in the forms of a lion, a rooster, or heliotrope, all of which are representations of Helios and Apollon.

Iamblichus also interprets Greek and Hermetic gods like Dionysus and Asclepius as manifestations of the sub-lunar Demiurge (the craftsman of the world, below the moon). The initiated theurgist was said to have the Logoi filled in their souls. In magical rituals dedicated to Mercury, such as a consecration of a talisman, the Logoi or element of that deity is said to “empower” the object, much like how a Catholic Priest is said to bless “holy water,” the Eucharist, etc., through the laying of hands via Holy Spirit power. One may think of the Logoi as “daimons” who draw the Hermetic god’s power to the magician.

We will return to ritual magic and Johnny Mercury. But for now, let us gaze at Leonardo da Vinci’s “Baptism of Christ.” Notice how John the Baptist is depicted as the Zodiacal sign of Aquarius (the figure who pours water), and Jesus is depicted as the sign of Pisces with the shape of his hands.

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