Eleusinian Mysteries

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The Eleusinian Mysteries were spiritual initiation ceremonies held every year for the cult of Demeter (Mother of God) and her daughter Persephone (Sophia) based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. They are the "most famous of the secret religious rites of ancient Greece". It is thought that their basis was an old agrarian cult which probably goes back to the Mycenean period (c. 1600 – 1100 BC) and it is believed that the cult of Demeter was established in 1500 BC. The mysteries represented the myth of the abduction of Persephone from her mother Demeter by the king of the underworld Hades, in a cycle with three phases, the "descent" (loss), the "search" and the "ascent", with the main theme the "ascent" of Persephone and the reunion with her mother. It was a major festival during the Hellenic era, and later spread to Rome. The name of the town, Eleusís, seems to be Pre-Greek and it is probably a counterpart with Elysium and the goddess Eileithyia. The rites, ceremonies, and beliefs were kept secret and consistently preserved from antiquity. The initiated believed that they would have a reward in the afterlife. There are many paintings and pieces of pottery that depict various aspects of this Mystery School. [1]

To participate in these mysteries one had to swear a vow of secrecy. Four categories of people participated in the Eleusinian Mysteries:

  • Priests, priestesses, and hierophants.
  • Initiates, undergoing the ceremony for the first time.
  • Others who had already participated at least once. They were eligible for the fourth category.
  • Those who had attained "contemplation", who had learned the secrets of the greatest mysteries of Demeter.


See Also


Orphic Mysteries