Having started out as a Gathic Zoroastrian I am only gradually learning about the Iranian Mithra.|
Originally of course Mithra was just one of the gods that the ancient tribal Iranians would have worshipped - though Mithra was very popular he was not at the centre of everything.
In Mazdaism (Zoroastrianism) of course Ahura Mazda is the number one god and not Mithra.
So what can be said about Iranian Mithraism - i.e. cults that worshipped Mithra above all - Mithrayasna as opposed to Mazdayasna?
I found this in the article just posted:
"In the Parthian era (247 BC – 224 AD) the cult of Mithra rose to prominence in order to foster military cults that would fight for the empire of the Parthians, with an identity and purpose of defending the realm from non-Zoroastrian invaders."
Could this be the origin of the idea of Mithraic brotherhoods among soldiers?
Other writers have suggested an Iranian Mithraism which was not orthodox zoroastrian but took in influences from outside the Iranian cultural sphere - especially from Babylon.
So perhaps the original Mithraic brotherhoods developed from being a simple way of bonding soldiers together to a more elaborate ritual practice to develop the mind as well as the body of the practitioners.
We know Mithraic brotherhoods of some sort were present in Asia Minor around 100AD whose members were described as pirates with a strong sense of mutual solidarity succesfully raiding Roman ships. These seemed to be the immediate inspiration for Roman Mithraism which though seemed to be a new movement created consciously as a way of binding Roman soldiers together.