"According to the gospel story, at the height of his popularity Jesus rides into Jerusalem while crowds sing his praises and lay branches in his path. Traditionally the crowd is said to have waved palm leaves. The palm was symbolic in the Mysteries. Plato writes of 'the palm of wisdom of Dionysus’. The great festival of the Mystery godman Attis began with the 'Entry of the Reed-Bearers’, which was followed by the 'Entry of the Tree’, an evergreen pine upon which was tied an effigy of the godman. One modern scholar remarks: 'It is impossible to ignore the associations with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem surrounded by palm-bearers, and his bearing of the cross or tree which became his chief symbol.’ The gospels relate that Jesus goes out of his way to make sure he is mounted on a donkey. In vase representations, Dionysus is also often pictured astride a donkey, which carries him to meet his passion. The playwright Aristophanes writes of 'the ass who carried the Mysteries’. When the crowd of pilgrims at Athens walked the Sacred Way to Eleusis to celebrate the Mysteries, a donkey carried a basket containing the sacred paraphernalia which would be used to create the idol of Dionysus, while the crowds shouted the praises of Dionysus and waved bundles of branches. In this way, like Jesus entering Jerusalem, Dionysus rode in triumph to his death. The mythical motif of 'riding on a donkey’ is often taken as a sign of humility. It also has a more mystical meaning, however. To the ancients the donkey typified lust, cruelty and wickedness. It symbolically represented the lower 'animal' self which must be overcome and subdued by an initiate of the Mysteries. Lucius Apuleius wrote a story called The Golden Ass, which was an allegorical tale of initiation. In it Lucius is transformed into a donkey through his own foolishness and endures many adventures which represent stages of initiation. At his final initiation he is transformed back into a human being. This story is symbolic of the initiate being overcome by his lower nature and then, through initiation into the Mysteries, rediscovering his true identity. The Egyptian goddess Isis tells Lucius that the donkey is the most hateful to her of all beasts. This is because it is sacred to the god Set, who in Egyptian mythology is the murderer of Osiris. Plutarch recorded an Egyptian festival in which donkeys were triumphantly pushed over cliffs in vengeance for Osiris' murder. Set is symbolic of the initiate's lower self, which slays the spiritual Higher Self (Osiris) and must be metaphorically put to death for the spiritual Self to be reborn. The donkey was also a common symbol of the lower 'animal' nature in the Greek Mysteries of Dionysus. A vase painting represents a ridiculous donkey with an erect phallus dancing among the disciples of Dionysus. A design on a wine pitcher shows donkeys having sex. In another design a pilgrim is shown stopping to pull the tail of a donkey. A favourite representation of afterlife sufferings in the Underworld was the figure of a man condemned to forever plait a rope which his donkey continually eats away, symbolic of the lower self constantly trying to eat away the spiritual achievements of the Higher Self. The figure of the godman riding in triumph on a donkey symbolized that he was master of his lower 'animal' nature."
-Timothy Freke, The Jesus Mysteries.
"The ass connects Christianity to Roman traditions. As Thomas Mathews states, "Early Christian art is rich with Dionysiac associations" He also points out that in "classical art the ass is common in Dionysiac processions, whether carrying Hephaistus, the divine smith, on his entry to Mt. Olympus, or Silenus, Dionysus' aged mentor... In addition, a mule, offspring of an ass and a horse, is the common transport of Dionysus himself." Thus just as visual portrayals show Jesus and Mary riding on an ass in the flight to Egypt, so Dionysus mounts an ass rather than the more noble horse, making even more interesting connections to Christianity. Images of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem while riding an ass appear on numerous Roman sarcophagi, thereby reinforcing the connection of this humble animal to Jesus."
- Laura Hobgood Oster, Holy Dogs and Assessable: Animals in the Christian Tradition.
The Last Supper...
"Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified... And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it up to them saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my father's Kingdom. And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives."
- St. Matthew 26:26, King James Bible.
"The communion, the union with the divinity, plays a very great part under various forms in the later, mystically inclined religions of antiquity. In the older Greek religion it occurs in one typical and important case, the worship of Dionysos. The central rite in the orgies of Dionysos was the omophagy. In the intoxication of their ecstasy his Worshippers tore an animal to pieces and swallowed the flesh raw. The God himself was incarnated in the animal, man by virtue of the omophagy received him into his own being, was filled with his power, and was caught up from the human sphere into the divine. Here the primitive rite is transformed into a means to mystical ends, and it is because the rite provided an outlet for this tendency that the cult of Dionysos was of such great importance in the history of the Greek religion."
Martin P. Nilsson: a History of Greek Religion, page 95.
"The child of the abyss, whose blood, in this chalice to be drunk, is the pagan prototype of the wine of the sacrifice of the mass; which is transubstantiated by the words of consecration into the blood of the son of the Virgin."
- Joseph Campbell: The Masks of God: Creative Mythology, vol 4, page 23.
"The water of Lincestis, called Acidula (sour), maketh men drunken no less than wine. Also in Paphlagonia, and in the territory of Cales. Also in the Isle of Andros there is a Temple of father Bacchus, which upon the Nodes of January always runneth with water that tasteth like wine; as Mulianus verily believeth; who was a man that had been thrice consul: the name of the spring is Dios Tecnosia."
- Pliny Natural History
"Bacchus slept three nights with Proserpine."
Plutarch - on Isis & Osiris