“The Mysteries of Adonis, or Adoni, were celebrated annually in many parts of Egypt, Phoenicia, and Biblos. The name Adonis, or Adoni, means ‘Lord’ and was a designation applied to the sun and later borrowed by the Jews as the exoteric name of their God. Smyrna, mother of Adonis, was turned into a tree by by the gods and after a time the bark burst open and the infant savior came forth. According to one account, he was liberated by a wild boar which split the wood of the maternal tree with its tusks. Adonis was born at midnight of the 24th of December, and through his unhappy death a Mystery rite was established that wrought the salvation of his people. In the Jewish month of Tammuz (another name for this deity) he was gored to death by a wild boar sent by the god Ars (Mars). The Adoniasmos was the cerimony of lamenting the premature death of the murdered god. …
“Adonis was originally an androgynous deity who represented the solar power which in the winter was destroyed by the evil principle of cold – the boar. After three days (months) in the tomb, Adonis rose triumphant on the 25th day of March, amidst the acclimation of his priests and followers. …
“In the Mysterie of Adonis trhe neophyte passed through the symbolic death of the god and, ‘raised’ by the priests, entered into the blessed state of redemption.” ~Manly P. Hall
Birth of Adonis
I have known for some time that the Greek god Adonis represented the Spiritual Sun, but this story of his being born from Smyrna after she had been turned into a tree is new to me. It is a strange tale that is undoubtedly symbolic rather than literal. So let’s look at some of the symbols involved in the tale.
A tree can symbolize a number of things. I think in the case of Adonis, we can say that this tree is none other than the Tree of Life. After being thrown out of Heaven by our own actions, humanity has no direct access to this spiritual “tree”. We can access it only through an intermediary. The primary intermedia between man and the Tree of Life is the Spiritual Sun, which Adonis represented.
God was never born. Spirits and souls are not born. They exist outside the limitations of time and space, so the very idea of birth is meaningless to them. So why would Adonis, who represents the Spiritual Sun, have a birth? The idea is that while the spirit of the sun is immortal, it doesn’t always shine down on us from within (or around) the physical sun. And when it does, it isn’t always with the same energy, the same vigor. So you could say that when the spiritual sun is not shining on us at all or is very weak, it is, from our point-of-view, dead. When it starts shining on us again, it can seem to be birth from our perspective. So much as birth in a dream is symbolic of a major change coming, the birth of Adonis represented a return of the Spiritual Sun to full vigor. Birth in general represents a renewal. So being born from the Tree of Life is instruction for us to do the same.
It seems surprising that Adonis was originally an androgynous god since he is generally depicted as very masculine and muscular. A very handsome man is still sometimes called an Adonis. But it actually makes perfect sense that a god should be androgynous or asexual. First, a god has to serve both men and women, so the god should have aspects of both male and female. Second, a creator god can only create from some aspect of himself, so there must be both aspects within him. Third, a god creates without sex so while he may mentally have an androgenous mental attitude, he is probably more asexual. In other words, there is no reason for a god to have sex, so being male or female doesn’t really apply to a god. This is especially true of the One true God, the God of Spirit and Light.