(continued from last post)
D.) The Eleusinian Mysteries: where the Shamanic Experience merges with
the Mystery Initiatory Experience
There had been an initiatory institution in Greece at Eleusis at
least since the 8th century BCE, celebrating both the Greater and
Lesser Mysteries of Demeter. The function of all lesser mysteries,
and equally of the lower grades of initiation was to impart
information on the nature of higher worlds. The Eleusinian symbolism
of corn, pomegranates and poppies refers to the unseen forces which
affect humanity via the vegetable kingdom, building the body and
informing the mind. The intuitive grasp of this relationship, in all
its wonder and complexity, was summarized in the famous climax of
the Mystery, so disappointing to non-initiates, the displaying of an
ear of wheat.
Certain information was also given at Eleusis by word of mouth,
including the 'password to the Paradise of Demeter' to be used after
death. In the Lesser Mysteries of Orpheus, it is suggested that the
fact of heliocentricity was revealed. So Lesser Mysteries give the
initiates theoretical knowledge which changes their whole view of
humanity and the cosmos, and stands them in better stead when they
have to leave this world for the unknown.
The Mysteries of Demeter were celebrated every five years
at Eleusis. The candidate of the Lesser Mysteries underwent a symbolic
journey in which the quest of Demeter for her lost daughter Persephone
in Hades was reenacted with the would-be candidate in the role of
Demeter. The journey within was that of the darkened soul: the candi-
date passed through a door into total darkness: if they survived the
experiences met within they passed through a second door into
brilliant light - symbolizing rebirth into the heavenly sphere. Here
they actually meet the gods, experiencing Demeter's journey as their
own recovery of lost enlightenment.
The function of the Greater Mysteries of Eleusis was to bring
about direct contact with the beings who were believed to inhabit the
higher worlds. The higher grades of initiation were conducted
individually rather than collectively as in the Lesser Mysteries.
In the inner truth of the Eleusinian mysteries, the birth of the soul
into matter is seen as death; only through participation in the
mysteries can the initiate rise to a timeless reality where he is
utterly free and alive.
Again, you have the belief that humanity is insufficient without
the agency of the Priests of the Mysteries to achieve enlightenment.
The soul sleeps in the body for most of the time, awakening only when
it has been transformed by ritual and the use of an initiatory drink.
To die without this experience is to sleep forever or to wander
homeless in the caverns of Hades.
The primary objective in these initiations was to take the
candidate through the gates of death. In that, the initiations resemble
that which a candidate to become a Shaman goes through almost
universally in Shamanic lifeways. Just as in the ancient Shamanic
initiation, the candidate was placed in a Non-Ordinary State of
Consciousness disassociated from the body, and in this state to
experience higher states of being and journey in other (internal)
worlds. Through these ecstatic experiences the candidates would learn
that they could live freely without their physical bodies, and would
be convinced that the gods they worshipped were perfectly real.
Then they would return to the Ordinary State of Consciousness
fully convinced of their own immortality and prepared to meet death
fearlessly, knowing it is the gate to freedom and the soul's true
(continued next post)