Today we have a guest blogger, Alexandra Cipriani Pettitt, who is well-known and highly regarded as a Trip Advisor reviewer. So far Alexandra has written sixty seven T. A. reviews which have earned her the awards of “Attraction Expert Level 14” and almost 7,000 points!
All Alexandra’s reviews are of particular interest, especially for visitors to London, and she writes with style and knowledge. This is her latest review on a particularly unusual London attraction which she visited in 2018.
Alexandra has given us plenty more information about Mithraism of which I was unaware when I wrote on the London Mithraic temple in my post addressed to an Italian audience at https://longoio3.wordpress.com/2017/12/23/il-dio-mitra-a-londra/
PS You may also know Alexandra as my wife!
Mithraic Mysteries was a religion on the god Mithras.
A rival of early Christianity Mithraism was subsequently suppressed and often Mithraic Temples are found below church crypts such as Santa Prisca Rome.
It was mainly an orally transmitted cult although there are some written references to the practices in early literature. Worshippers of Mithras were mainly military, minor merchants, customs officials and bureaucratic officials; thus it was mainly a male cult but some women, it seems, were involved with Mithraic groups.
One can admire a most endearing copy of the sculptural head of Mithras wearing a Phrygian hat.
Mithras was born from a rock as a bas relief testifies from the Baths of Diocletian. So Mithras slaughters a sacred white bull and then shares a banquet with the god Sol (the sun). This, again, can be seen in cult icons which were portable and double sided reliefs with, on one side, the depiction of the Tauroctony (slaughter of the bull) and, on the reverse side, the banquet scene of Mithras and Sol feasting on the bull.
The Mithraic Festival was held on 26th June the then Summer Solstice which coincided with the feasts of Roman clubs or collegia. Indeed, this cult held initiation ceremonies consisting of seven grades which were connected to the Planets and at each grade the initiates were placed under the protection of different planetary gods and called Syndexioi “those united by the handshake”. They prayed three times daily to the sun and Sunday was sacred.
As you enter the now ground floor you view a wall of Roman debris or artefacts found in the archaeological dig some everyday items of Londinium explanations are given throughout on an interactive mobile device as well as by guides.
You then go to a mezzanine level to discover Mithras and the Mithraic cult.
Finally you descend into the lower level of the site, seven metres below the modern pavement level.
At this point of the visit you can actually experience a revocation of the reconstructed Temple of Mithras a kind of son and lumière. As the lights dim special effects recreate the Roman Temple of Mithras – a most convincing experience. We might even have expected to see Ulpius Silvanus, the original founder, appear amongst the seven columns.
These Temples were, indeed, built underground. They were windowless and very distinctive and known as Mithraea or Mithraeum. Rome was the cult centre and the Mithraea were found in Roman Africa Roman Britain as well as Roman Syria.
The visit also includes the Bloomberg SPACE gallery as you enter. At present there is an extraordinary tromp d’oeil wallpaper exhibition inspired by Wren-aissance visions of London:
The whole Mithraean experience is situated in the European headquarters of Bloomberg close to Cannon Street Station.
Date of experience: October 2018