EMS | Catechumen Phase: Lesson 4


 Esoteric Mystery School

Lesson Four,
Catechumen Phase











In the next lesson we will go over the actual steps of your first initiation, water baptism. We will walk you through the ancient pure form of water baptism and anointing with oil of Chrism. But in this lesson, Lesson Four of the Catechumen phase of the Esoteric Mystery School, we want to look at why following the ancient ways is so important and what sets this baptism and anointing apart from any others you may have experienced in your life.

As a catechumen preparing for water Initiation and anointing with chrism oil, you are part of a very ancient tradition. Just after Yeshua / Jesus ascended into heaven his students and many followers continued to practice the purist form of his teachings. New members were called catechumens until baptized with water and then the greater mysteries were shown them.

These earliest followers of Yeshua, many of which had met him personally or been a part of the thousands who had heard him teach, met in house churches approximately half of which were led by women. Their “service” consisted of preparing and sharing a sacred meal in remembrance of Yeshua’s special meal and special sacrifice.

This lesson will delve into these early practices of the primitive Christian Church. First let’s get some name stuff out of the way. Jesus–what was his name really? And the word Christian, isn’t it a Greek word, too, and never used by Yeshua himself?



Yeshua is a variant of Joshua, and is the Hebrew name for Jesus, the true way his name was spoken. “Jesus” is the warped English pronunciation of the Greek word “Iesous.” And “Jesus Christ,” is another Greek phrase, coined by Paul. To say Yeshua’s name the way his friends, family and students would have spoken it, would be “Yeshua”.  Add the “Christ” title in Hebrew, which is “haMoshiach.”  His name and title was pronounced Yeh-SHU-ah ha Mah-SHEE-ock. It means Yeshua the Messiah, or the literal translation: Yeshua the Anointed One. But since he didn’t go about bragging that he was the Messiah, he might have gone by Yeshua the Teacher or Master Yeshua (Rabbi or Rabboni).

About twenty years after Yeshua’s resurrection, it is believed that Paul coined the term, “Christian.” Nobody is certain whether he used the word first or the public did.  We’ve all been taught that it was in Antioch, a city in Syria, where Christians were first called Christians, and then the label spread to all the Greco-Roman world.   What we haven’t been taught is that the Believers and followers of Yeshua’s Way hated the term.  It was a sneer word, a derogatory label used by non-christians to tease and ridicule the Believers.  The sneer-word “Christian” originally meant, “wanna-be Chosen Ones,”  “wanna-be Christs,” and for at least a hundred years the Believers refused to be called Christians.  To be truly accurate, the original Greek word should be spelled more like:

Krist-iani (plural) = “Christians”

Krist-iana (singular feminine) = “female Christian”

Krist-ian (singular male) = “male Christian”

The Esoteric Mystery School often prefers the spelling Kristians or even Kristeans instead of the overused English spelling, Christians.  Words like Believers and Walkers of the Way resonate well, too, since they were terms used by the earliest of Yeshua’s students.  In Russia, Egypt, Greece, Lebanon and Jerusalem today the Orthodox Christians will not ask you if you are a “christian”, they’ll ask if you are a “believer.” Another word for “believer” is Credant, a term we use for members who have completed the self-initiation and are no longer Catechumens. A Credant is also an Initiate.  Some people are uncomfortable with the “believer” aspect of the word credant.  They think being called a believer is a negative thing because it implies “blind faith” or belief in scriptures and dogma.  But that is not the case, it implies instead a commitment.  In the words of Karen Armstrong:

There is a widespread, popular conviction that science and religion are diametrically opposed, and that science has rendered most religious truth frankly incredible.

But this conviction is based on an erroneous assumption: that faith is synonymous with belief, and that to be religious, people must accept certain credal propositions. This is a relatively recent development, one that has arisen since the Enlightenment, and then only in the west. Originally the Middle English word beleven meant “to love”. The Latin credo probably derives from co do: “I give my heart”. Faith was therefore not belief but commitment. Even Martin Luther, who taught that human beings were justified by faith, did not define faith by belief; he had in fact very little time for dogma and creeds. Faith was a heroic cultivation of trust in the idea that, against all the evidence to the contrary, life had some ultimate, though ineffable, meaning and value.

“Religion is not about thinking, but doing things that change you at a profound level”
– Karen Armstrong, from issue 2510 of New Scientist magazine,
30 July 2005, page 42

The Eastern Orthodox Christians (aka Eastern Church) have been largely untouched by the influence of the Roman Church and in many ways adhere to the ancient original practices.  In many more ways, however, they do not.  Orthodox Christian women were also demoted  around 110AD and to this day are considered second-class, cannot go behind the altar, cannot come to church during menstruation, must cover their heads.   Orthodox theology is totally patriarchal, the godhead is an all-male executive branch.

The derogatory word “christian” slowly became a positive term as Christianity grew and more “respectable” people became believers.  The label stuck when they looked at the word from a different angle, a positive angle.   Literally, christian means “Little Christ.” Since Christ means anointed one—one set apart and called for a special mission—Christians are supposed to be Little Anointed Ones. “Little” is used in the sense of “lesser” whereas Yeshua is the “greater” Anointed One, he is THE Christ. This is a rather nice concept; that we are chosen ones, too, baptized by water and anointed with oil just as Yeshua was. He was baptized by John the Baptizer, a priest of YHVH and was anointed by Mary Magdalene, a priestess.  In Yeshua’s case the one who baptized him also happened to be his cousin, and the one who anointed him also happened to be his wife.  Ancient middle-east tradition dictated that the shepherd king should be anointed by his wife-queen-priestess, and that is what appears to happen in the New Testament when Mary Magdalene anoints Yeshua with oil. To the crowd of people who witness his anointing by a woman, Yeshua fortells the world will always remember her for this one deed. He uses the words, “in memory of Her” (Mark 14, Matthew 26) reminiscent of his “do this in remembrance of me” a few days later when he establishes the wine-bread ritual.

Our Mystery School teaches that Mary Magdalene was an equal part of Yeshua’s mission and chose to incarnate among us just as Yeshua did .  They both had roles to play, and sacred balance was needed in order to show humankind the Way.  Here is the Creed used by our Church of the Way.  Each of the Esoteric-Christian-based orders in our Mystery School use this same creed, but with a few added phrases regarding Melchizedek, the Knights Templar or whatever.  The Order of the Northern Way, being a pre-Christian European ancestral tradition uses another Creed altogether, called the Code of Nine. Some Northern Way members are dual-faith (our favorite!), honoring both Yeshua’s message AND the ways of their European ancestors.



*I believe in One Godhead of Sacred Masculine and Sacred Feminine

by which all things, seen and unseen, came into being.

*I believe in the Incarnation of the Divine Son, Yeshua, Logos,

begotten by the Father and born of the Mother;

Light of Light, true God of true God.

*I believe in Mary Theotokos, God-Bearer, who was the Divine Mother Incarnate.

*I believe in Pneuma, the Holy Spirit and Life-Giver;

the Power, the Presence, Wisdom and Breath of Deity

working in all worlds of matter, mind, and spirit.

*I believe in Mary Magdala, an incarnation of the Divine Feminine

who did anoint the Son of Man to seal his divine kingship;

to prepare Him for His death, descent into Hell and Resurrection.

*For Yeshua and His Bride the Magdala did come in the flesh,

were wed, and together showed us The Way to freedom from suffering,

to gnosis, to balance and union with our Source.

*I acknowledge their continued presence among us.

They are co-Redeemers in joint priest- and priestess- hood leading all

back into kinship with the Creative Godhead.

*I embrace their guidance, embody that compassion,

and work for the awareness of All

I AM that awakening

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *




In the next day or so, take some time

to read

Today, as in the days of pure Kristianity, in order to follow in his footsteps and accept their mission you and I also undergo water baptism and anointing with oil. Is is a solemn rite, not to be taken lightly. Yes, it is a simple rite, easy to perform even by yourself. Our baptism rite is designed so that you invoke the presence of Yeshua and Magdala, who are always on call—still actively present among us— especially to those who are aware of their true mission and are trying to be a part of the reconstruction of the pure Church of the Way. They will actually come when you invoke them, “dunk” you under and anoint you with oil of chrism. Despite its simplicity our rite of baptism is accurate and the symbolism is profound.

Some of the symbols of the rite of Kristian Initiation are: The soul-cleansing function of the water, the blessing of the earth (water and oil only come from planets, the earthly realm), the rebirth as in the waters of the womb, the anointing with oil to “seal” your destiny and mark your soul for God and Goddess. Oil, by the way, is the cream of the crop, it has taken months to produce and is a product of the earth, her fruits and the sweat of man’s labor. Oil when placed on the forehead, hands and feet as in our initiation rite, is said to make a permanent mark which penetrates the astral realm, and like infrared vision, God/Goddess and other entities of the spirit world (yes, there are angels and demons out there) can see who has been marked.

Comment from Initiate Robert Straitt:   John the Baptizer baptizes with water, but also says there is one that comes who will baptize you with the holy spirit and fire. Baptism by water is a ceremonial washing off your past ways of life, but it seems that Yeshua would baptize his chosen with the holy spirit and fire, not just water.

Luke 3:16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

Acts 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.



You would have been hated, persecuted, possibly arrested and maybe even executed as public entertainment. Early Kristians were accused of baby sacrificing, cannibalism, incest and other perversions. They were like a new cult that everyone is afraid of and makes up wild stories about. Nero blamed the great fire of Rome on them and this made the pagan population revile the new kristians to the point of dragging them out of their houses (if they hadn’t been burned) and mob killing them.

If you were one of them, you would have had to do everything in secret. They met in house churches, for privacy and because there was nowhere else to meet. Early kristians might say to an uninitiated friend, “hey come over for Sunday dinner,” NOT come over for Bible-Study so I can brainwash you. You would be very careful whom you tried to convert!  In fact, the original practice was not to go out and shove your faith down everyone’s throat but to let people come to you. Someone in your acquaintance might ask, “what’s your secret?” or, “there’s something about you that’s different.  I want what you’ve got, how do I get it.”  Then and only then might you invite someone over for “sunday dinner” and start explaining the Way.  This is how you most likely became a Believer, unless you were one of the lucky thousands who happened to hear Yeshua speak in person and got started down the Way by the great Way-Shower himself.

The situation in Rome and Greece was pretty bad and downright dangerous.  Kristianity was an illegal religion and everything Believers did had to be in secret. That secrecy only fueled the wild tales of perversions. It was worse in Rome, especially after the Great Fire. The Roman historian Tacitus wrote that the Kristians were dragged from their homes, crucified and set on fire to burn like torches in the night. Would you have held firm in your faith, I don’t know if I would have.  To see my family members and perhaps my children crucified and burned…?  I might have re-canted, I just don’t know.  A century later in 303 AD came the Great Persecution when the new Emperor Diocletian said, “Apollo has just come to me in a dream saying he is mad at the Christian god and wants him stamped out.” The idea was to enter every Kristian house, arrest and execute them all.

Codex of St MarkIronically it only made the Believers stronger.  Persecution from without often does.  Infighting and factionism, now that’s another story.  Twenty years after the Great Persecution a new Emperor rose to power and his mother Helen was a Kristian.  He credited it for helping him win a big battle, and though he never gave up his Sun worship, he made Christianity the official State religion of the Roman Empire. That was Emperor Constantine. Sadly, that’s when Kristianity began to change beyond recognition and eventually lost almost all of its original purity.  A thousand years later the Christians (spelled with a Ch- ) were doing the persecuting—killing pagans and Jews for their religion.

When religion becomes a political institution instead of an organic expression of family/human life, it loses its soul. It fails to nurture its followers and they become dissatisfied and even aggravated. Their souls turn to other sources for fulfillment.  People are noticing that lack today more than ever and are leaving the institutionalized churches by the droves. The church authorities don’t know what to do about the drop in numbers and are trying all  manner of useless methods to get back that “control” over the masses.  The masses won’t fall for it anymore, however, and so the institutionalized church is doomed.  It may hang in there for another thousand years, but it will slowly become a pale and useless play-acting club if they don’t give up the junk they adopted in the dark ages, try to reconstruct practices of the early followers of Yeshua and most of all–get rid of the institution, putting the Divine Family back into the house churches and hearts of Believers.

In reconstructing Kristianity to its pristine earliest practices, we look mostly at the first 100 years. This is because after that time the primitive religion began to change and became drastically different from Yeshua’s original Way. In 110 AD we have Ignatius of Antioch vigorously organizing all the Kristian churches in Greece and Rome into a hierarchical system under authority figures called Bishops. Only men can become Bishops after around 120 AD and many of the house churches end up getting closed down, especially those run by women. Ignatius of Antioch writes “if you don’t listen to everything the Bishop tells you to do, you are listening to the devil.” Already the devil is used as a fear tactic amongst members in order to make Christians behave the way the “authorities” want them to behave.

The first 100 years of the Common Era, from 1 to 100 AD, saw the purist forms of Christianity and are therefore the years that we focus most on, though we take a look at everything up until around 500 AD. After studying carefully what evidence and writings we do have (i.e. the New Testament and Gnostic scriptures) of Yeshua’s hands-on methods, we then look at how the earliest members of his School and Church carried on his teachings after he left. Some of their behavior, such as making the sign of the cross, was preserved in unwritten church tradition.



The home is a domestic place, and many homes are run by women. Men feel comfortable letting a woman “rule” in this domain and so it was not unusual for women to be priests and even bishops during the House-Church era of Christianity. It is estimated that at least half, maybe more, of the earliest churches were run by women.

So the early church was not a men’s club. Children were welcome, too, and encouraged to share in the rites, chief of which were baptism and the regular sharing of the Sacred Meal.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Isis with Horus on her lap. Striking similarity to later images
of the Madonna & Child Jesus

SIDE NOTE: The other Mystery Cults of the day charged exorbitant initiation fees and only the rich could afford to join the Cult of Isis and worship at her temples. The Cult of Mithras was expensive, too, and only men were allowed to join, though the wives and daughters of Mithras worshipers were encouraged to join the Temple of Isis. The connections of Isis and Mithras to Christianity are profound. For example: Isis was often shown with a baby in her lap, her son Horus, called “the Son of God.” The many extant statues and paintings of Isis and Horus as Mother and Child are believed by scholars to be the inspiration for the first Madonna and Child images. And Mithras was born on Dec. 25, please see
https://www.northernway.org/god.html#Persian for the striking similarities between Yeshua and Mithras. That article may blow your mind, but don’t let it blow your “faith.” I’ve had students write to me distraught after reading it, thinking, so Yeshua was just a made up god to fill the shoes of Mithras? No, no and NO. Yeshua was a way awesome god-man who filled that archetypal role, the role of the Son of God, and the sacrificed king for the love of his people. Mithras and Yeshua are one, just manifested to different groups of people. Mithraism didn’t allow women or child members, and so it had to go.  It wasn’t the best form of the Way, only allowing males and usually only soldiers, into its ranks. Mithraism was too limiting, even though they had the right idea about God. That idea and their religion became perfected after Yeshua appeared and took his turn as the Son of God archetype. Balanced out by his female partner the Magdala and by his mother, Mary, both manifestations of the Sacred Feminine, his message was more profound, more universal and was able to stand the test of time.

* * * * * * * * *

What was a typical House Church like? People would gather on the Hebrew Sabbath, as Yeshua had done.  Sunday worship was unheard of until 325 AD when Emperor Constantine commanded all Kristians to stop worshiping on the Hebrew Sabbath and switch to Sundays, the Day of the Sun.  It is important to remember that nearly all of Yeshua’s direct followers who studied under him personally were Jews. They all kept the Jewish Sabbath which falls on Saturday, beginning on Friday night at sundown and ending on Saturday evening at sundown. After Yeshua left, these Jewish-Kristians would therefore have
their Sacred Meal on Friday nights, just as Jews do even today, and would have been appalled at Emperor Constantine’s command.

Our Church of the Way works on reconstructing the behavior of the earliest Kristians, when the religion was still illegal, not institutionalized by a powerful politician who still secretly worshiped his sun god.  The very first Kristians met on Friday evenings or Saturday mornings for discussion and if there were any catechumen (student) members, they would gather for question-answer sessions.  Baptisms took place outdoors in some natural body of water because early believers followed Yeshua’s example and wanted a baptism of total immersion. Few places at home offered the chance for total immersion since practically no one owned bathtubs back then and the public baths were too, well, public.

Baptisms were often done just before dawn, for secrecy. Afterward the group would gather back at the House Church for the rest of the sacred activities, the new Initiate now being eligible to taste the supreme mystery, the “blood” and “flesh” of Yeshua in the form of wine, the blood of mother nature /earth, and bread, her flesh. Around noon, when the sun was at its height they would share this Sacred Meal. All would dine, but only the baptized initiates could share the mysteries. At the most holy time of the meal, when the body and blood of Christ was brought out, the catechumens would be asked to go into another room.  “The doors! The doors!” The priest would shout, “All ye catechumens depart!” To this day, in churches of the old rite, the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches, the priest shouts out those very lines, but they don’t make the catechumens actually leave anymore.

In the Orthodox Church, all children are considered initiates because they are baptized as infants. But any adult converts are called catechumens and must study a bit before they are initiated and allowed to take communion. Catholics do the same, and it is very close to how the earliest “primitive” christians practiced.  It is nice that they preserved some of the old ways, but there are other annoying things that the institutionalized church created on its own.  For example, the constant stress on sin and requirement that you go to confession.  In every modern Orthodox church if you don’t go weekly to confession, spill everything you know to one of the priests,  you are not allowed to take communion.  In Catholic churches you have to confess at least twice a year, once during Lent. No bread or wine for you unless you tell all first. Originally this was probably a good idea, and it was psychologically good to get things off our chests, but confession then became a way the “authorities” kept informed and kept iron control over the people.  Today confession is merely a psychological service, few priests use it to control their members, but for many it is uncomfortable and the constant searching for sins and errors creates excessive dwelling on the negative.  This is one of the reasons I find even the beautiful Greek and Russian Orthodox religions unsatisfactory. Denying the Sacred Feminine is one problem for me, and the obsession with sin and confession is another.

Early Kristians would share the Sacred Gifts, the bread and wine on Friday nights or Saturdays.  After Constantine hijacked the religion and started making his drastic changes, the Eucharist was given out at high noon on the day of the Sun. (And it was given out by a celibate priest in a state run facility)  The time and day is significant.  Sun worship is so heavily tied into every aspect of masculine deities. “Light of the world” was not just a made-up title for Yeshua. The later Kristians, those coming after 325 AD when the faith was protected met on Sundays by decree. But they didn’t mind making the switch because most were very aware of Yeshua’s connection to sun worship.


In Remembrance of Me, by Greg Olsen

Our Mystery School tries to honor the pagan heritage of our ancestors as well as the Kristian one.  But we also work for the total reconstruction of Yeshua’s true Church of the Way.  He and his band met on Friday nights and Saturdays.  The Last Supper was held on a Thursday evening. No Sundays—except for that special day, the Resurrection.  So which takes precedence?  Ah the battle of Sabbath versus Sunday, Old Testament law versus New Testament Grace.  We believe it is up to the individual believer, and some of our people keep the Friday night ritual while some honor the Sunday high noon event.  In my house church we do both.  Our sacred meal is on Friday nights and we invite the Sabbath Bride in (see Sacred Meal below), but on Sundays at high noon we join in spirit with believers all over the world and honor Yeshua’s pagan connection which is really his universal appeal. If he wasn’t the god of the pagans as well as of the Jewish-Kristians, most of us (unless you’re Jewish) would never have heard his name.

Mystery School Initiate Robert Straitt writes the following

Note on Saturday vs. Sunday meeting days. “It was customary for early Christians to meet on the 1st day of the week during and after Yeshua’s time. The reason for this was that Saturday was the Sabbath. People were not allowed to leave their homes or work on the Sabbath, not even to kindle a fire. There is a misconception that people met at synagogues on the Sabbath  — this was not true back then, though it is today. A synagogue in Jesus’ time was more like a school then a contemporary church. The only worship center in all of Israel/Judea was the Temple. God commanded that no other altars be made on the face of the earth, nor that any worship be done at any other altar. So the first home churches — or more accurate translation — home assemblies were held on Sunday (do not confuse this with Sabbath keeping, the Sabbath is Saturday and was kept by the early church) as a time to get together and see who had lived through the weekend persecutions and discuss church business and education, but not to worship as we generally think of doing today. Acts 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.”

For 40 years after the Resurrection the Jewish-Kristians, those original members of Yeshua’s Mystery School, met regularly in house churches in Jerusalem, Galilee and all over what is now Israel. The book of Acts tells how Saul of Tarsus hunted them down and if he found “any of the Way” he would bring them back to Jerusalem in chains to be tried by the Temple priests. Saul was a serious Kristian-hater for several years.  It’s one of history’s great ironies that he ended up being the man who brought Christianity (spelled with a Ch- , some call it “Paulanity!”) to the pagans, the gentiles, and indirectly the whole world. After he converted during that dramatic experience on the road to Damascus, Saul was still not trusted by the other Jewish-Kristians, especially the direct students and family of Yeshua. So he changed his name to the more Roman sounding “Paul” and left Jerusalem to become a missionary. That’s how he ended up in Turkey, Syria and Greece bringing Yeshua’s story and at least part of his true teachings to the non-Jews of the world. In Greece and Asia Minor and right in Rome the house churches sprang up.  Paul later got himself in trouble with other Jewish authorities (non-Kristians) in one of the towns he preached and ended up being sent to Rome for trial. After living in the Eternal City for several years under house arrest, he was executed during one of the first Kristian purges. Peter was in Rome at that time and was executed, too. Kill the leaders and we’ll wipe out this dangerous new movement, was the theory. It didn’t work, as we’ve seen.

The Jerusalem group was led by James the Just—a man who just happened to be Yeshua’s little brother. In the New Testament, Paul writes, “I met James, the brother of the Lord,” and Paul describes how awesome it was to meet the actual brother of Yeshua. Some modern Christian churches hope we don’t notice those verses. They somehow want us to forget that Jesus had a family. They like to keep Yeshua sterile and separated, “owned” and “controlled” only by them, the Institution.

Anyway, James was a way-cool dude who kept the ways of his brother alive. Tradition and Gnostic writings say that while Yeshua was on the cross and in the tomb, James refused all food and drink, saying, “I will not partake of anything after that Last Supper until my brother himself puts it in my mouth.” Upon resurrecting, Yeshua is said to have rushed to his brother’s side, to find James in a dead faint from no water in three days.

Too bad we only have one book written by James in the New Testament and it seems to have been edited big time. In Jerusalem today, right near the tomb of David which sits below the hill called Mount Zion, the tour guides will point out the spot where James and some of Yeshua’s band of 12 built a big house-church, the first Kristian Church of all time. The Jerusalem house-church was a thriving one, and it was walking distance from Mary of Jerusalem’s house where the Last Supper was held. Mary of J’s house was also a house church and is where they met while the other one was being built.

Sadly, also within walking distance is the Temple Mount from which James was thrown to his death in 62 AD by the idiot Romans who were afraid he might try to lay claim to the non-existent title, “King of the Jews” as they thought his brother had done 30 years earlier. The Jerusalem Church was then wiped out, many members fled to other parts of the Mediterranean world, others got killed in the Roman suppression.

[In the Fall of 2002 an ossuary box (“coffin”) was supposedly discovered. It dates exactly to the year James the Just was killed, 62 AD. The writing on it reads Ya’akov bar Yosef akhui diYeshua (James, son of Joseph, brother of Yeshua). On the right is a picture of the inscription. It was later “proved” to be a forgery, but a very convincing one because the lettering and wording was done exactly as it would have been during Yeshua and James’ time.  An antiquities dealer in Israel was accused of carefully adding the inscription to a 2000 year old ossuary. Now however (2006) they are saying it might be legitimate after all! Do a search for James ossuary box and you will find the latest on this intriguing topic.]


The beautiful Temple itself was burned to the ground in 70AD and all Jews were forbidden to enter Jerusalem on pain of death. If any outside the city were found to be keeping the Sabbath or practicing the rite of circumcision they were also put to death. This time period is known to Jews as the great dispersion or diaspora because it is then that they fled their sacred homeland and went to cities and towns all over the world. The Jewish-Kristians fled, too, because the Romans didn’t like them any more than they liked the Jews, in fact, less.



Many people think it is quaint and out of date to consider a meal as “sacred.” This is because we don’t struggle for every meal these days. We don’t even have to kill and pluck the chicken. We don’t pray over every animal before we take its life, asking that it willingly give its energy for our survival, we have lost the covenant our ancestors had with the animal kingdom. The symbolism of the sacrificial meal is therefore lost on us. But we can bring it right back into our consciousness—it has only been gone for about a hundred years and our people practiced it for thousands of years before now.

In the A & E documentary, “Christianity: The First Thousand Years,” the controversial theologian John Dominic Crossan says, “Heaven was a banquet” to ancient people. “God was in the Food.” Every action was sacred, even preparing the meal. Yeshua had made it so when he presided over that last supper with his students and family. Women were present, and children at the Last Supper, by the way. It was held at widow Mary of Jerusalem’s house, the mother of the young boy John-Mark who later grew up to write the Gospel of Mark. Her cooking was legendary and her upper room is where Vatican and Orthodox tradition says Yeshua and his students often gathered, especially that fateful night for the Passover Supper. You can still go to see where her house stood in Jerusalem on a street at the foot of the hill called Mount Zion.

[Note the two children. John Mark is believed to be the little boy
on the right, and the child on the lap of a gentleman sitting next to Mary
Magdalene could possibly be Yeshua’s own legendary daughter, Sharai.]

Passover is Judaism’s yearly sacred meal. They also have a weekly sacred meal on Friday nights during which they invite the “Sabbath Bride” to come be with the Lord, Adonai, (Yahweh). Some groups within modern Judaism are trying to bring back the beauty of the Sabbath home rituals but sadly it is an uphill battle because so much of the symbolism has been watered down and explained away by such lines as, “oh the sabbath bride is just a myth, she doesn’t really exist.” Yet in Jewish homes that observe this rite each Friday night—and there are hundreds of thousands—they still send a child to fling open the front door at a certain point in the service to let in the Sabbath Bride.

They know she exists, yet they deny she is “real.”  All that mysticism and beautiful relationship with God and Goddess, yet modern Jews explain it away and even deny the existence of the Hebrew Goddess.  Here is a basic
Jewish Friday
night Shabbat Ritual
.  There is no opening the door for Goddess or other details, but it gives instructions for the basic structure of the rite.

Recent studies show that families who regularly share an ordinary evening meal are mentally healthier. The family that eats together, bonds forever, said one study. What is it about sitting at table together that binds people? Anthropologists remind us that we are vulnerable when we eat, easy prey for enemies.  And we must trust the food provider, Mom, in most cases, to have not poisoned us. Psychologically while we’re chewing along we know we are nourishing our bodies in order to keep alive, and that is tied to nourishing our souls.  Most significantly of all:  the studies say that because our first experience of food was Mother, we have associated eating with the powerful mystical mother-child bond. Go ahead can do some human bonding while eating, says your subconscious. Whoever is regularly near you when you eat is okay to consider a soul-mate. This is why it is way healthy to make the family sit down, turn off the TV and dine together as often as possible. The family of believers (aka “credants”) is made up of people who are not relatives by blood, but should do this meal bonding, too.

The ancient Kristians used the Sacred Meal as their primary rite of worship. They were not just bonding with each other, but also with the Master Yeshua as well as with his Sabbath Bride, Mary Magdalene. Yeshua and Mary Magdalene were approachable and helped lead the people back to that ultimate Divine Pair with whom we all need to bond: God-the-Mother and God-the-Father. The Godhead was a family, and the Church was a house.

Sadly things later got institutionalized, sterilized. Marital relations were considered dirty, children were all “born into sin.” Around 600 AD Mary was proclaimed a virgin even AFTER she gave birth to Yeshua. Can’t have Mary
ever be sexually active even though the New Testament clearly states that Yeshua had several brothers and at least two sisters. They are part of his story, right there in the Bible, yet we are asked to believe that maybe they were his cousins, or Joseph’s kids by a first marriage. Yeah, right.

But before all this brainwashing, there was balance in Kristianity. Sadly that balance in primitive Christianity only lasted about two hundred years. No, it wasn’t goddess worship and it wasn’t a matriarchy. That would be an imbalance in favor of the feminine. There was both god and goddess worship. It was a state of sacred balance and sacred union. The Family was supreme. Kinship with the Divine was lived and felt. Read the Creed again and notice especially the part concerning kinship. The word Kingship is in there, too, so don’t get it confused with the word kinship, which comes near the end.

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*I believe in One Godhead of Sacred Masculine and Sacred Feminine

by which all things, seen and unseen, came into being.

*I believe in the Incarnation of the Divine Son, Yeshua, Logos,

begotten by the Father and born of the Mother;

Light of Light, true God of true God.

*I believe in Mary Theotokos, God-Bearer, who was the Divine Mother Incarnate.

*I believe in Pneuma, the Holy Spirit and Life-Giver;

the Power, the Presence, Wisdom and Breath of Deity

working in all worlds of matter, mind, and spirit.

*I believe in Mary Magdala, an incarnation of the Divine Feminine

who did anoint the Son of Man to seal his divine kingship;

to prepare Him for His death, descent into Hell and Resurrection.

*For Yeshua and His Bride the Magdala did come in the flesh,

were wed, and together showed us The Way to freedom from suffering,

to gnosis, to balance and union with our Source.

*I acknowledge their continued presence among us.

They are co-Redeemers in joint priest- and priestess- hood leading all

back into kinship with the Creative Godhead.

*I embrace their guidance, embody that compassion,

and work for the awareness of All

I AM that awakening

Cross Byzantine


Cross Byzantine

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Interestingly, there is a house-church movement currently at work in the United States. Modern house-churchers are usually fundamentalists who have finally rebelled against their control-freak churches. They leave their mainstream church vowing never to be so narrow-minded again (hah) and set up a house-church. Do a search for “house churches” and you’ll find a few articles on things like, “how to defend your house church when other Christians say you’re crazy.” The Amish, those Germans who still use horse-and-buggies and no electricity, have been meeting in house churches ever since they came to America. They have special partition walls in the downstairs of their homes which they push aside so that the benches and chairs can be brought in for the meeting. It is not as organic and original as the ancient practices but at least it is family and home oriented.

The Mystery School encourages you to start a house church in your home if you can. Even if the members are only your own small family, that is plenty. If you feel inclined to or if you live alone, please feel free to make our internet “cyber” house church your church. Gather with us whenever you can, discuss, fellowship and even share the sacred meal. Fridays at sundown, and Sundays at high noon, no matter what your time zone, there is always someone of the Way gathering for the Eucharist. Grab some grape juice or wine and some wafers when you’re at the grocery store next time. And then on Friday at sundown or Sunday, just at noon, read the Creed and partake. That’s what we do at my house church, usually with a small crowd of family and friends and always with the knowledge that our hundreds of internet church members are doing the exact same thing.  In my house we also try to make the Friday night Shabbat meal as often as possible.  Yeshua and Magdalene would’ve kept this candle-lighting and eucharist-like (wine and bread) ancient ritual, and Jews all ’round the world do it to this day. As esoteric Judeo-Christians, we have inherited this kinship ritual, and our house tries hard to do it as many Friday nights as we can.  We are united with all of you out there who partake of the Sacred Meal with us.

In some forms of Christianity, like Catholicism and Protestantism, one is not supposed to eat the bread and drink the wine until they are initiated / baptized, but  the Eastern Orthodox Church, whose rituals are directly from the Holy Land, not from Rome, baptizes their children as infants, and so everyone from babyhood up can eat the bread and drink the wine.  Go right ahead and join this coming Friday night and Sunday at high noon.

If you have children and they were not properly baptized to your satisfaction, you may baptize them after you go thru the initiation rite of baptism that we will be sending you soon. It is very easy to baptize someone else, just take them to the beach, a lake or somewhere special—we have members who had to use the bathtub for their kids—and dunk them under for just a second, saying the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Mother, Sacred Son and Daughter.” This is how the early Kristians did it, and from that point on, the child, even an infant, was allowed to have a tiny bit of the bread and wine every week. The Eastern Orthodox Church still does this today. The Catholics (called “the Roman Church” by Orthodox) baptize infants, but not by total immersion. They just sprinkle the water on the baby.  The Catholic child is not allowed to partake of the Sacred Meal until his/her first communion at around 8 to 13 years of age.  And that’s fine, there are a lot of arguments against infant baptism, but we believe the early Kristians practiced it, especially the Jerusalem Church which remained for forty years after Yeshua’s Resurrection. That way the entire family can become one in the gifts, an organic whole joined in kinship with the Divine Family Godhead.  Remember that you, even if you’re all alone in your spiritual practice, can join in with this kinship, too.  Think of us, all your fellow Mystery School members, at our tables, while you’re at yours.  We are united in spirit and in kinship.  (And it’s very cool!)

In our Church of the Way, altho we believe in infant baptism, we also allow for teenagers to make a new commitment to Mother Church and the Sacred Family by going thru the same Rite of Initiation by water baptism that you are about to experience. The cleansing with water and then the enrobing in a white garment are life-changing rites of passage into adulthood.  These milestones shouldn’t be left out just because a person was baptized as a baby. That reminds me, be sure to obtain or dig out of your closet a white garment of some kind. Even if it’s a bathrobe or white T-shirt or white vest, that’s fine. After coming out of the water you will want to enrobe yourself and light that special candle. Don’t worry, all of the steps will be explained in the next lesson.


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The dictionary has this under catechumen….

CAT*uh*cue*men (noun)

[Middle English cathecumyn, from Middle French cathecumine, from Late Latin catechumenus, from Greek katechoumenos, present passive participle of katechein]

1 : a convert to Christianity receiving training in doctrine and discipline before baptism

2 : one receiving instruction in the basic doctrines of Christianity before admission to communicant membership in a church

The word Catechumen comes from the Greek word “katekoumenos” which has a couple of meanings which sort of overlap, intermingle. The first meaning of this ancient word is “person of the catacombs,” the massive network of hidden tombs existing to this day underground in Rome and other cities. Since the catacombs were ‘hidden’ or underground, the word came to also mean a hidden knowledge or mystery. “So in essence,” says Eleni my native Greek speaking friend and an Initiate of the Mystery School, “the word katekoumenos means a pre-initiate learning the hidden mysteries and knowledge of our world but also of worlds beyond ours.”

Back when the Roman authorities were raiding house churches on a daily basis, the believers had to come up with a better way to meet. But just meeting wasn’t the goal—they wanted to honor the Godhead and share the Sacred Meal together, too. Let us break bread together, as the saying goes. That was the central mystery of their religion and to deny it would not be a good thing. But where could they go? Underground. Ironically, those underground tombs were already places in which pagans met and even shared a meal! It was the perfect place for secrecy-bound endangered Kristians to gather, share a meal, and not arouse suspicion. The pagan population of Rome had long practiced the art of visiting the deceased’s grave, taking a picnic along, and sharing a meal with their departed loved one. This was a big deal and there was always some pagan family in the catacombs singing and celebrating, trying to act normal in what was undoubtedly a frightening place. When the Kristians started meeting down there at their own family tombs, they could share the Sacred Meal and have as many discussions as they wanted without worrying about authorities overhearing. What was neat was that the pagan worshippers sometimes ran into them and many converted right on the spot. But some of the Roman practices started rubbing off on the Kristians, too, and this is the period when Kristianity is said to have started “romanizing.” On another interesting note, it is known that the Mithras worshippers also met underground in tomb-like rooms. Archaeologists have recently uncovered a few Mithras cave-temples. We see where the term “underground religious movements” comes from, don’t we?!



Imagine walking down a street in the great city of Rome. The year is 110 AD and you are constantly on the lookout to avoid being followed. It is dusk and someone in an upper story window just threw out a pot of dirty water which got your feet a bit wet. The splash almost hit you in the head, but you dodged out of the way, praying it was not a chamber pot. Other prayers are going thru your head, too, such as “Lord help me find them,” and “Divine Mother, protect them. Let them be okay. Please let them be okay.”

And so you hurry on your way, round this turn, then that one. Suddenly up ahead you hear shouting and screaming. “All Kristians are under arrest!” The screams intensify and there are scuffling and thud-like sounds. Now the scene comes into view as your steps have brought you close enough to see by the light of the torches the police are holding. You immediately see that those being arrested are none that you know, but that doesn’t cause too much relief because all walkers of the Way are like family. The Divine Family was Yeshua’s most passionate teaching.

“Those are not Kristians, you idiot!” says someone else nearby. A neighbor it seems like to you. “They are an old respected family not filthy atheists or baby-killers like the Kristians. I’ve known them for years. You must be after the Kristians we heard about on the next street over.”

You stop by a doorstep and sit down, not wanting to continue thru the conflict and not wanting to turn around and go the other way, either. Something told you to stay and see what happens. More heated talking ensues and finally after searching the house, the police move on, apparently headed to where the neighbor directed them. As soon as they are out of sight, the accused family starts to cry, and the husband hugs the neighbor who saved them. You walk closer to them in time to hear, “but you know we are Kristians, you were angry with us for converting,” The neighbor replies, “yes, but I’ll be damned if I’ll stand by while they cart you away, now shut up before everybody else hears you.” Other neighbors are coming out of their homes now and some are hanging out windows to have a better look.  The family that caused all the ruckus heads for their door.

So they are Kristians, you think, instantly hating yourself for using the term. It is a derogatory word, meaning “wanna-be Christs” and most true followers of the Way don’t like to be called it.  But the label is starting to stick and just recently you heard one of the long-time believers, one of the teachers of the new religion, almost defend the word Kristian. He said, “It means little Christs, or little anointed ones, and aren’t we all trying to be like him?” Harumph, you thought at the time.

Now you are thinking, good thing those policegoons didn’t ask the family to deny Christ or to spit on his name. Many believers cannot bring themselves to publicly curse Yeshua or Mary and the outcome of their loyal faithfulness is not a pretty sight.  You can’t imagine having to deny them yourself, and hope to all that’s holy you never have to face that choice.

The people you are watching see you now and suddenly collect themselves start thru the door of their home. So you quickly lock your arm out straight while making the special hand gesture to show them you can be trusted. It is occult sign language, a simple thumb curved over the index finger to make the sign of the fish (the other 3 fingers are splayed straight up). The wife’s eyes grow wide and the husband says, “Ah, there you are, we’ve been expecting your message, come inside!” The neighbor shakes his head, mutters something about, “you’re gonna get yourself killed,” pushes through the crowd of onlookers and goes home.

“Who are you?” asks the man of the house once you are all safely inside. “I should have seen your waist-cord and tassel. Welcome to our home, ransacked though it is. Do you need shelter?” One of the children is still crying over the recent violence and you notice another child seems to have an injured arm. “His arm,” you say, pointing. “Yes, oh!” exclaims the wife, “One of them yanked him by the arm down the stairs into the street. And poor Drulla was dragged by her hair. Why do they hate us so, what have we done?!”

You answer the husband, “I am a believer, I walk the Way as you do. I am looking for some members of my catacomb church, a large family.  We usually meet at a certain tomb and there was a note there saying, “all is lost” and nothing more. I fear the worst. I heard they lived in this neighborhood and I hope it is not on the next street over where your neighbor just sent those brutes.”

“Oh no, he just made that up. There are only good pagans living where he sent the police, but what is the name of the family you seek?”

“That’s just it, I don’t know their family name, nor they mine. We all go by sister and brother this or that so as to keep anonymity. I’m sure you do that too with your group.”

“Yes, you’re right,” replies the man shaking his head and frowning in thought, “I am just trying to think who it might be, my family has lived in this house for almost 100 years and I know everyone in this neighborhood. So far as I know we’re the only believers.”

“Neston,” the wife says to her husband, “maybe we should take our new friend to see Qiber, maybe he will know of this family.  Our group is meeting in less than an hour, if you hurry you can just make it and you really should go to tell them about tonight’s close call anyway….”

So you and the man called Neston set off from the back door of the house into an alleyway. You are carrying plates of food as though going to a family tomb to share a “meal” with your deceased loved ones. This is a common pagan practice and Kristians have been using it for several years now in order to mask their meetings and disguise their comings and goings.

“Normally my wife and children come along, too, we’re all believers, but after that nasty business it’s best she stay home. Our tomb church meets on the south end of the great catacombs, it’s not far if we keep a quick pace.”

“Oh you’re one of those many new groups that’s sprung up in the tombs closer to the surface. I’ve heard that’s risky, but at least you don’t have to worry about getting hopelessly lost in the winding passageways of the catacombs. Our church group has to use the sigils and signs and keep them freshly painted or scratched in because somebody was always getting lost, one guy and his mother wandered around for an entire day and finally found their way out almost 2 miles from where they went in. It’s scary as hell to get lost down there.”

“Hah, some would say it IS hell down there.” says Neston grimly,  “Imagine what it’s like for those that don’t get out. They get lost, disoriented and get deeper and deeper in.  Some wander for days until they die of thirst. I’ve found a few hapless souls myself—bodies.”

“If only we could worship in house-churches the way it was when I was a child.”

“Oh wow, you were RAISED a believer then!” exclaims Neston, waving his torch into your face as though to see you more clearly. “I’ve only met a few like you. Have you heard of Qiber then? He’s been walking the Way since childhood, too, and his father met the Holy Student Peter and once saw the Holy Writer Paul.”

“Hey, there’s a sigil sign.” you point out.  “Is that the way to your group’s meeting place?” The fish symbol is barely visible, looks like just another bit of graffiti positioned as it is on a wall full of other painted nonsense, some of it not fit for young eyes. It is drawn so that its nose is pointing down the street in the direction the believer is supposed to walk. The street is totally dark and has now become a very narrow walled in walk-way, not really a street anymore. You are entering the catacombs. You are not thrilled at the idea of entering catacombs you are not familiar with, but your friend hurries on saying, “Yes, this is the way, now see this other sign here telling us to turn left?”

“No, I’ve never Qiber, though his name is certainly known to me,” you answer while making the turn.

And so you follow the signs until you are walking thru the tombs themselves. Your plate of food is getting heavier, as is the flask of wine around your shoulder that you brought from your own home. Another torch ahead, is this finally the group’s meeting place? No, some real pagans doing what you are pretending to do. You nod your heads in respect to them and continue past, down the dank corridorlike passageway. Another secret sigil on the wall, this time not a fish but a lamb holding a spear in his mouth. The spear points the direction you are to turn. You are just about to comment to Neston that his catacomb church is not so near the surface as you had thought, and is seeming like it is even deeper in than your own church, when suddenly you come around another turn and upon a well-lit tomb. People are sitting or standing around, the torches are ensconced and the women are uncovering food pots, setting up for the picnic with the dead. You are almost fooled into thinking it is indeed a pagan feast of the dead until a young furtive looking man comes striding right toward Neston saying, “Halt! Who do you bring among us, brother! You did not mention a new convert when I saw you this morning…”

Neston interrupts, “Yes brother Awlas, I only just met this person an hour ago—“

“And you bring them here already!” Awlas interrupts incredulously, “Are you crazy, don’t you know they’re arresting people up there tonight!”

You try to shift the burden you’re carrying over to the right so that the people can see the blue cord tied round your waist whose tassel hangs down your left side. This is something Kristians schooled in the higher mysteries have taken to wearing and it should show that not only are you a believer but you have climbed thru several initiations after the standard water-baptism and are close to taking holy orders (becoming a priest/priestess).

Suddenly a middle-aged gentleman, where did he come from?, puts his hand on your shoulder and says, “Are you a fisherman looking for work?”

Instantly you respond with the proper password as your mother taught you years ago, “I have been made a fisher of men.”

Audible sighs of relief are heard in the cave-like room and one of the women comes to take your food platter from you. “Welcome,” she says and smiles warmly. “Good to know you are not an agent. Are you from the northside of the city?”

You nod and end up answering several questions from the crowd of people before being able to ask some of your own questions about the family you are looking for. Neston is also speaking animatedly as he tells of the nightmare his family only just avoided.

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Some of the tools the early believers used were:

1. spoken passwords and password phrases

2. scratched or painted sigils, fish, lamb, etc.

3. hand gestures / sign language

4. cords and tassels

Another common “test” was for one christian to scratch only half of the fish symbol in the dirt or on a slate. It would be a simple curved line like the smile on a smiley face. Then the other person being tested would draw another curved line, only upside down, in order to complete the fish symbol.

There were many other passwords, too, such as the Ichthys acronym password we use in our first initiation. That initiation is your next step, and the next lesson will walk you thru one of the most ancient symbolic rites known to man.

See you then….


How To Submit Answers



Please copy and paste the following questions onto your Catechumen Lesson “Discussion” on your Ning MemberFiles page. Next, insert your answers, then click on the “Add Reply” button.


Catechumen Four Quiz from ________________ (your spiritual name).

1. What was a house church? Are there any today?

2. True or False: Early baptism required total immersion.

3. Where did people have to go usually to get total immersion?

4. What period of time do Kristian Reconstructionists such as our Mystery School and Church of the Way focus on?

5. How do you feel / what do you think about infant baptism?

6. What is a catacomb church? Why did they meet there?

7. Who was James the Just?

8. Do you have any opinion (or “feeling”) regarding Sabbath versus Sunday worship? (see House Churches section in the lesson)