Eleusinian Mysteries

The Rites

 

 

 

 

Designs Taken from Pottery and Carvings

 

Procession Along the Sacred Way

 

Ritual Cleansing

 

Preparing the Drink

 

Drinking the Barley Wine

 

Instructing the Initiate

 

 

The Greater Mysteries

   

 

 

Initiations into the Eleusinian Mysteries, celebrating Demeter's journey and Persephone's return, were held every year from the Mycenean period 1700 BCE. Although the rites were kept secret, much of their beliefs have been handed down to the Craft, including the ritual sacrifices and conjurations to receive foresight, revelation and life after death.

 

The Mysteries fame spread right across the Greek world, and many prospective initiates made the journey to Eleusis to take part in the festival.

 

Initiation was only available to Greeks, although all men, women and slaves were allowed to take part.

 

The Mysteries were set in two parts, the Lesser Mystery involving the "victims" in a symbolic bathing, a spiritual journey along the sacred way carrying branches to be used for self flagellation, and the sacrifice of a pig on arrival. Having reached this level they were allowed to take part in the coming ritual.

 

The Greater Mystery is kept secret and can only be divulged under the punishment of death, however I can give a few details of what has been passed down over the millennia, although they may have changed from the ritual used today.

 

From the arrival of the procession a day of fasting was held, and at nightfall a drink of barley was prepared for all the prospective initiates. It is now assumed that the barley was infected with ergot, and as happened at Salem centuries later, the psychedelic drug gave the recipients hallucinations. Prior to the use of barley however hallucinogenic mushrooms were used in Crete.

 

On the following morning the initiates were presented with a fire, offering life or death, which blocked the entrance to the temple, and through which they were invited to walk. The fire in their drugged state could have looked like anything at all, so what they saw varied from person to person. Obviously, like still happens today, this sorts the sheep from the lambs, and only the very brave ventured through into the Great Hall.