A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Sunday, 23 September 2007

The Eleusinian Mysteries

Today is the autumnal equinox. It's a time of balance - as the hours of night equal the hours of daylight - but it can also be a time of stress, meditation and re-evaluation, as we pause, take stock, and move on. It's a time of harvest, when grain and fruit have been gathered and thanks is given to Mother Earth for her bounty. And it's also the time of the Vine, when excess fruit is made into wine, and the Greek god Dionysus (or the Roman god Bacchus) drinks, dances and revels before descending into the Underworld for the winter months. The falling leaves of autumn reflect his journey. In the well known story from Greek mythology Persephone (daughter of Demeter, goddess of life, agriculture and fertility) is abducted by Hades, god of death, into the Underworld at this time of year. She returns to the land of the living in spring, when new life blossoms once more. This timeless and symbolic myth of death and rebirth is re-enacted in the enigmatic Eleusinian Mysteries. Little is known about these secret, ancient rites from Eleusis, except that they were some kind of initiation ritual for the cult of Demeter and Persephone held throughout the Hellenistic and later the Roman World. Two axioms have emerged around these Mysteries: Know thyself and In silence is the seed of wisdom gained.

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