Among religious practices in the ancient world were the following:
Acquisition of divine strength by the king, through anointing by the priests with sa-ankh.
Visits to shrines, e. g. to the sanctuary on Mount Iuktas, so as to be nearer to the lightning god, and, in the case of caves, to places where there were differences of electrical potential between split rocks, such as the 'Brazen Threshold' of the Oedipus at Colonus.
Visits to mountain tops, where lightning was known to strike frequently, aided if necessary by a bothros as at Chamaizi. Fires on hill tops may in some instances have been mimesis, in an attempt to atttract lightning. The reports of Moses and his visit to Mount Sinai would have been influential.
Worship of the bull: protection of the Apis bull. Slaughter of bulls and goats. Drowning the bull for the release of the divine element. Eating the bull; compare the Etruscan vacl, banquet. Drinking blood mixed with milk, honey and wine. In the worship of Mithras, the devout were drenched with bull's blood. Imitation of the bull, by wearing tail, mask and horns. Grasping the bull's horns, being tossed up and doing a somersault, perhaps, like Europa, riding on the bull to illustrate a degree of control over a dangerous and powerful object. Tracking down the bull in a maze and killing it. The maze could symbolise the sky through which the celestial bull pursued a dangerous winding course. At a Roman sacrifice, the man who sacrificed the animal was the popa. It was his task to cut open the animal to inspect the liver, in order to find whether the future was favourable or not. The Greek opopa means 'I have seen'.
An Etruscan mirror shows an official inspecting a liver. The inscription is "pavatarchies", which Mayani translates as "Tarchies has seen". [The Etruscans Begin to Speak, p. 25]
Hair [comet's tail?] was cut from a victim's head and thrown on the fire. This may symbolise Zeus or Jupiter destroying his enemy by lightning.
Spiral decoration may have symbolised the maze, or the orbital circling of an intruder.
Wine symbolised the blood spilt in battles in the sky. Columns and trees were worshipped. The Latin for an oak, quercus, shows that it was a ka-container. Khu is the Egyptian spirit soul.
Symbolic activity at Knosos included the destruction of dangerous monsters, union with the deity, descent to the underworld, resurrection, and ascent to the sky.
The task of the ruler was to acquire and exercise divine powers. Incubation was practised with the aim of uniting the royal family with the deity. Babylonian kings would spend the night in the saharu, a shrine on top of a ziggurat, in the company of a chosen priestess.
The healing power of the snake was exploited in Greek and Roman temples. During an epidemic, snakes from the temple of Asklepios at Epidaurus were taken to Rome. As the ship was approaching the island in the Tiber, the snakes went overboard and landed on the island. A temple was built there; snakes were induced to lick diseased or injured parts of the body. Dogs also were used and were sacred. In Christian churches in the Middle East dedicated to St. George, rings were fixed in stone pillars. Sufferers from mental disease were chained to a pillar for the night to be cured.
In this context, it is of interest to note that Morton, in his book In the Steps of the Master, reports that the Oecumenical Patriarch of New Rome had a serpent-headed crozier.
An early term for Christians after baptism was 'illuminated'.
Apparently there was thought to be a link between water, divine
visitation, and light.