The Ancient Mystery Tradition with its myriad of Sacred Wisdom Schools originate in the prehistorical civilizations from the antediluvian epoch becoming only apparent with the Ancient Indo-Aryan & pre-dynastic Egyptian Orders, and successively survived, despite genocidal fanaticism & persecution from a regressive animalistic Christendom, preserving the primordial initiatory knowledge all the way into Renaissance Rosicrucianism, fully reemerging with Eastern Theosophy and the Western Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. These Spiritual Orders were established for the express reason of illustrating and elucidating the Esoteric Spiritual Principles to those rare individuals endowed with a profoundly open mind, deep sense of moral integrity, an insatiable yearning for higher truths, and a singular capacity for the intellectual rigor involved. The Adepts and Hierophants of these Schools would initiate the neophyte aspirant into the cavernous depths of arcane philosophical concepts regarding the occult facets of the natural world, human consciousness, the nature of spirit, psychic phenomena, altered states of awareness, and pervading Natural Cosmic Laws.
The Mysteries of Mithra are most often associated with the scene of the Holy divinity slaying a bull with a dagger or knife. Mithras was the mediator between the Zoroastrian cosmic principles of good and evil, Ahura Mazda and Ahriman respectively. The Mithraic Mysteries and its exoteric religion was widely disseminated throughout the Roman Empire with many of its adherents coming from the Soldiers. At its height during the 4th century AD, Mithraism was one of the largest Religions in Rome and second only to Christianity right before its destruction by the Anti-Pagan sentiments erupting in the latter part of this Century under the auspices of Christian Emperors.
The Odinic Mysteries are promulgated through the emblematic representation of the World Tree, Yggdrasil. According to these ancient mysteries, there existed a Supreme, Invisible Creator of all things in the Universe called the All-Father. The Deity Odin, the One-Eyed God, presided over Nature as his Regent. The Odinic Tree is a symbolic representation of the nine realms in the Cosmic Super-Structure with our human realm, Midgard, in the middle of the tree. The Mysteries were specifically about the god Odin and the trials he underwent in his quest for ultimate understanding and knowledge of the cosmos.
The Mysteries of Orpheus are symbolically represented by the serpentine encircled world egg, and they held their origin all the way back to Orpheus himself. Orpheus was considered the greatest poet and musician of his age having mastered the Lyre. It was Apollo that purportedly taught the adolescent Orpheus the art and skill of music It has also stated that his musical aptitude had the capacity to charm animals and get trees to dance. He also journeyed with Jason on his Argonautic Expedition. The story involved Orpheus losing his beloved and wandering endlessly inconsolable until ripped apart by women he had spurned. Yet, it is also a sophisticated allegory for the spiritual nature of humanity.
The Bacchic and Dionysian Mystery School is most perennially represented by the Face of the boyish God Bacchus and the grotesque story of his dismemberment by a group of giants. Dionysus was the youngest of the Greek Olympian Heirarchy and the God of wine, parties, and hedonistic indulgence. This Mystery School was was quite prolific throughout the ancient world. Dionysian rites were often associated with abundant wine and sexual intercourse but their lies a hidden meaning to the story.
The Egyptian mystery schools are most pertinently enshrined by the Deity Thoth and the idea of the universal thought or mind of God called Atun. Some stipulate the notion that the hermetic principles originate with this school of spiritual thought, and regard the Hermetica or Corpus Hermeticum, as its foundation. These writings elaborate on an enlightening story where the Sage Hermes Tresmegistus encounters the God Atun in a vision and is taught the natural Laws of the Cosmos as well as Humanity's relationship to the Divine.
The Atlantean Mysteries concern the foundational origin story of how the great civilization came into existence, the wonders associated with it, and the eventual fall into moral decay before subsequent destruction by an earthquake and flood. The patron Deity of this Culture and Mystery School was Poseidon, brother of Zeus and son of Cronus, God of Time. The fall of this once Grand Civilization is partly historical and partly an allegorical representation of man's spiritual nature, his ensoulment in physicality, and his journey to regain his inherent divinity.
The lifting of the Veil of ISIS is truly to be understood as the inception of a deeply buried wisdom predicated on an understanding of the natural world in which we reside as a species, and catching a glimpse of the Organic Light, the Wisdom Goddess Sophia herself, the Aeonic Mother of The Anthropos. However, traditionally it revolved around the God Osiris and his Goddess queen Isis. Osiris was tricked by his brother Set and murdered with his parts scattered around the world. Isis seeks to retrieve them all and revive her beloved.
The Mysteries of Ishtar, pronounced Easter, are of Baylonian origin and originate in the story of her and her husband Tammuz. Tammuz is tricked and murdered by his brother God. Ishtar reacts to his savage death and betrayal by undergoing a quest to revive her lost Husband. She embarks on a perilous journey in an attempt to resurrect him by diving through the seven realms of the underworld to retrieve his soul and bring it back to the world of life. This Allegory is a representation of the many levels the soul or spirit traverses in its journey into materiality and subsequent involution back into spiritual understanding.
The Mysteries of Adonis are of a certain solar deity. The name Adonis or Adoni means "Lord" and was a designation applied to the Sun. The mysteries of Adonis were one of many conceived allegorical representation of the Solar Myth. These mysteries were celebrated annually in many parts of Egypt, Phoenecia, and Biblos. This was also one of the many Dying-God myths perpetuated in the ancient world to express certain Zodiacal concepts that are exhibited by the natural flow of time and cycles generated within the natural world through its interaction with the celestial spheres.
The ancient Persian Fire Mystic Zoraster was one of the most highly regarded sages throughout antiquity with his doctrines of Cosmic Polarity being disseminated far and wide with adherents in many cultures. Zoroastrianism and the mysteries propagated through his esoteric symbols are diagrammatic representations of the inherent Duality manifested into the Universe. This Dualism was demonstrated by the opposing powers of good and evil which manifested into Deities of great cosmic proportions. The benevolent magnanimous God was called Ahura Mazda and the nefarious, personification of Evil was called Ahriman.
The Druidic Mysteries were specifically concerned with the Laws of Nature, healing through sacred amulets and magnetism, the education of the peoples of both Britain and Gaul, and the transmigration and immortality of the soul. The druids held a council of 12 which enacted and disseminated these esoteric rights to their initiates and the exoteric rights to their common people within the Celtic Culture. Their understanding of Natural Laws, magnetism, psychology, altered states of consciousness, and use of sacred teacher plants was profound, revelatory, and insightful.
The Mysteries of Cabiri were traditionally held in the city of Samothrace and revolved around the Myth of the Dying-God. The major God was Cashmala who was subsequently murdered by his four brothers. Furthermore, it has also been stipulated that the annual rite and ceremonial act of cutting down the pine-tree (Christmas tree) arose from this mystery school through its celebration of this old Pagan Deity's death, though this has apparently been forgotten or deliberately ignored by ancient and modern Christianity who believe it stems from their Religion.
The mysteries at Eleusis were a Greek mystery school devoted to higher learning, seasonal initiation, ecological rapport, and devotion to the Magna Mater, or the Great Mother. This Mystery School was perhaps the most prolific and widely respected of all the Esoteric Spiritual Schools in Antiquity with many great ancient philosophers becoming initiated into their school of thought such as Pythagoras and Plato. There were several phases of initiation with subsequent stages being held during certain seasonal time frames such as during solstices or equinoxes. The Eleusinian Mysteries were reputed to include the imbibing of psychedelic agents to assist with the elevation of consciousness for full initiation.
The Rosicrucians were (are) a secret order which promulgated the idea of the eternal force, termed the Infinite Unmanifest, and subsequently extrapolate on the apophatic (negative) nature of this Infinite Unmanifested Essence manifesting and permeating the Universe. They go to great lengths to describe what it is not through concise Metaphysical precepts. Furthermore, they elucidate on how this Eternal Essence manifests our universe through specific principles that are immutable and logical. They are also an order dedicated to the study of our Superconsciousness, Unconscious, and everyday consciousness states of existence.
The Masonic mysteries involve the story of Solomon and Hiram Abith and the building of the Temple of Solomon of which Hiram Abith was one of the chief architects and masons involved in its construction. The story details the construction of the temple and the subsequent mystery death of Hiram Abith by several individuals that sought his exceptional knowledge.
Anthroposophy was an esoteric school of thought founded by the scientific naturalist thinker Rudolf Steiner in the early 20th century and sought to bridge the gap between philosophical thought and scientific methodologies. It is primarily a human oriented spiritual philosophy centered on the premise that the human intellect has far grander aptitude than typically believed with the latent potential to contact and interact with greater spiritual worlds, subtle forces, and a higher self.
Theosophy was an Esoteric Tradition primarily founded by H.P. Blavatsky, a Russian noble woman who went east discovered Eastern mystery schools and brought back their secret doctrines to the west. She then established the theosophical Society in 1875 basing it on these hidden Eastern Doctrines. It teaches concepts related to Esoteric Budhism including a Primordial First Cause and Reincarnation. Her magnum opus was "The Secret Doctrine". The Society is alive and well today still teaching and disseminating the pivotal ideas presented first by their Founder Blavatsky.
The Order of The Golden Dawn was a Secret Society and Magical Order devoted to the study and practice of Occultism, latent psychic abilities, and High Metaphysics. It was founded in 1887 by three Freemason-Rosecrucians William Woodman, William Westcott, and Samuel Macgregor Mathers. The Golden Dawn, though it fell apart within 2 decades, became the most influential purveyor of Occult thought and teachings of the era and into the 20th century. Ultimately, its ideology and methodologies have become the essence of modern Heremeticism, Practical Qabalah, and White Occultism in our current Age.
When the Persian mysteries migrated into Southern Europe it became absorbed into the latin mind quickly especially among the Roman soldiers, and the cult grew even more rapidly during the Roman wars of conquest as it was carried to nearly every part of Europe by these soldiers. So popular did the cult of Mithras become that even one Emperor became initiated into the Order. According to Alexander Wilders, Mithras was the Zend title for the sun with him dwelling inside the luminous orb.
Mithras was comprised of a female and male aspect though not himself androgynous. As Mithras he is the lord of the sun, powerful and luminous, and the most majestic of the Yazatas (Izads, or Genii, of the sun). As Mithra, this god represented the female principle and thus the mundane universe is recognized as her symbol. Mithra represents Nature as receptive and terrestrial with her only being bountiful under the glorious solar orb. The Mithraic cult is a simplified version of the the more complex teachings of the Zoarastrians. According to the disciples of Zarathustra, there coexisted in the eternal cosmos two principles. The first principle was Ahura-Mazda, or Ormuzd, who was the spirit of Good. the second of these infinite principles was Ahriman, who was also a beautiful and pure spirit that later rebelled against Ormuzd, being jealous of his power. However, this rebellion did not occur until after Ormuzd created light due to the fact that until this happened Ahriman was not conscious of Ormuzd's existence. Due to this jealous rebellion, Ahriman became the Spirit of Evil, and from himself he manifested an individuated host of destructive creatures to harm Ormuzd.
After Ormuzd manifested the terrestrial realm, Ahriman descended into its grosser elements. Whenever Ormuzd did a good deed, Ahriman placed the principle of evil within it. Finally when Ormuzd created mankind, Ahriman incarnated into the lower nature of man so that in every personality the Spirit of Good and the Spirit of Evil would struggle for control. For 3000 years Ormuzd would rule the celestial worlds with light and goodness. Then he created man and for another 3000 years he ruled man with integrity and wisdom. The the power of Ahriman began, and subsequently the battle for the soul of man would continue through the next period of 3000 years. During the fourth period of 3000 years, the power of Ahriman will be destroyed. Good will return to the world again, evil and death will be vanquished, and ultimately the Spirit of Evil will humbly bow before the throne of Ormuzd. Now, while Ormuzd and Ahriman are battling for the control of the human soul and supremacy in Nature, Mithras, God of Intelligence, would stand as mediator between the two cosmic principles. Many authors have commented on the similarity between Mithras and Mercury. As the chemical mercury acts as a solvent (according to alchemists), thus Mithras acts to harmonize the two celestial opponents.
There are to be noted many similarities between Christianity and the Cult of Mithras, and one of the possible reasons for this that the Persian mystics invaded Italy during the first century after Christ with the early history of both cults becoming closely interwoven as a result. The Encyclopedia Britannica makes the following statements concerning the Mithraic and Christian Mysteries, " The fraternal and democratic spirit of the first communities, and their humble origin; the identification of the object of adoration with light and the sun; the legends of the shepherds with their gifts and adoration, the flood, and the ark; the representation in art of the fiery chariot, the drawing of water from the rock; the use of the bell and candle, holy water and the communion; the sanctification of Sunday and the 25th of December; the insistence on moral conduct, the emphasis on abstinence and self-control; the doctrine of heaven and hell, of primitive revelation, of the mediation of the Logos emanating of the divine, the atoning sacrifice, the constant warfare between good and evil and the final triumph of the former, the immortality of the soul, the last judgement, the resurrection of the flesh and the fiery destruction of the universe-- these are some of the resemblances which, whether real or only apparent, enabled Mithraism to prolong its resistance to Christianity."
The rites of Mithras were enacted in caves. Porphyry. in his Caves of the Nymphs, states that Zarathustra was the first to consecrate a cave to the worship of God due to the fact that a cavern was symbolic of the earth, the lower world of darkness. John P. Lundy, in his Monumental Christianity, describes the cave of Mithras as follows: " But this cave was adorned with the signs of the zodiac, Cancer and Capricorn. the summer and winter solstices were chiefly conspicuous, as the gates of the souls descending into this life, or passing out of it in their ascent to the Gods; Cancer being the gate of descent, and Capricorn of ascent. These are the two avenues of the immortals passing up and down from earth to heaven, and from heaven to earth".
The initiation into the rites of Mithras, just like initiation into most other ancient schools of philosophy, consisted of three important degrees. The groundwork for these degrees was comprised of self-purification, the building up of the latent prowess of the intellect, and lastly the control of the animal nature. In the first degree the neophyte was given a crown upon the point of a sword and instructed in the mysteries of Mithra's hidden power. He was likely taught that the golden crown was symbolic of his own spiritual nature, which had to be objectified and unfolded before he would be able to glorify Mithras. Mithras would represent his own soul standing as the mediator between Ormuzd, his spiritual essence, and Ahriman representing his animal nature. During the second degree of initiation, he was provided the armor of intelligence and purity and then sent into the subterranean pits of darkness to battle with his own lust, passion, and degeneracy. During the third degree of initiation, the neophyte was provided a cape, upon which were woven the signs of the zodiac and other astronomical emblems, and after his initiation was finished, he became acclaimed as one who had risen from death and was then instructed in the sacred, secret teachings of the Persian mystics becoming a full member of the Order. The neophytes that accomplished this initiatic feat were titled Lions and were then marked upon their foreheads with the Egyptian cross. Mithras himself is traditionally depicted with the head of a Lion and two pairs of wings. Furthermore, during the entire ritual were repeated references to the birth of Mithras as the Sun God, his sacrifice for mankind, his death that mean could possibly attain eternal life, and finally, his resurrection and rescuing of all mankind by his intercession before the throne of Ormuzd.
Even though the Mithraic cult never was able to attain the philosophical heights by Zoroaster, it had an enormous impact on Western Civilization with its effects becoming far-reaching with at one point nearly all of Europe was converted to its doctrines. Rome, in her interaction with many other nations, inoculated these nations with her religious doctrines and principles with multiple future institutions exhibiting aspects of the Mithraic culture. Accordingly, the reference to the "Lion" and the "Grip of the Lion;s Paw" in the Master Mason's degree have a strong tinge of Mithraism and it could be speculated that it could have originated with this cult. A ladder of seven rungs appears in the Mithraic initiation rites and some have speculated, such as Faber, that this ladder was originally a seven stepped pyramid. It is also possible that the ladder with seven rungs in FreeMasonry had its origins in the cult of Mithras. Women were never permitted to enter the cult of Mithras and its Order, but their children of male orientation were initiates long before reaching maturity. The refusal to allow women to join the Masonic Order could be possibly predicated on the esoteric reason provided in the secret instructions of the Mithraics. The cult is just one of many pertinent examples of those secret societies whose legends are majorly symbolic representations of the sun and its path across the houses of the celestial heavens. Mithras, ascending from a rock or stone, is just merely the sun ascending over the horizon, or out of the horizon, at the vernal equinox.
However, one man, John O'Neill, has disputed this theory that Mithras was supposed to be a solar deity. He states in The Night of the Gods, "The Avestan Mithra, the yazata of light, has 10,000 eyes, high, with full knowledge (perethuvaedayana), strong, sleepless and ever awake (jaghaurvaunghem).' The supreme god Ahura Mazda also has one Eye, or else it is said that 'with his eyes, the sun, moon and stars, he sees everything.' The theory that Mithra was originally a title of the supreme heavens-god-- putting the sun out of court-- is the only one that answers all requirements. It will be evident that here we have origins in abundance for the Freemason's Eye and 'its nunquam dormio'".
The date of the founding of the Odinic Mysteries is uncertain, some stating it occurred in the first century before Christ and others saying it was established during the first century after Christ. According to a 33rd degree Freemason, Robert Macoy, there was a historical Odin, originally named Sigge, who was the chief of the Aser, an Asiatic tribe, that emigrated from the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus into northern Europe. He directed his course northwesterly from the Black Sea to Russia, over which, according to tradition, he placed one of his sons as ruler, as he is said to have done over the Saxons and the Franks. He then Advanced through Cimbria to Denmark, which acknowledged his fifth son Skiold as its sovereign, and passed over to Sweden, where Gylf, who did homage to the wonderful stranger, and was initiated into his mysteries, then ruled. He soon made himself master here, built Sigtuna as the capital of his empire, and promulgated a new code of laws, and established his sacred mysteries. He, himself, assumed the name of Odin, founded the priesthood of the twelve Drottars (Druids?) who conducted the secret worship, and the administration of justice, and , as prophets, revealed the future. The secret rites of these mysteries celebrated the death of Balder, the beautiful and lovely, and represented the grief of Gods and men at his death, and his restoration to life.
After his death, the historical Odin was apotheosized, his identity being conflated with that of the mythical Odin, the god of wisdom, which was the cult he disseminated. The twelve Drottars which presided over the Odinic Mysteries were the personification of the twelve holy and ineffable names of Odin. The rites and ceremonies of Odin were similar to those of the Greeks, Persians, and Brahmins, after which they were patterned. The twelve Drottars were emblematic of the 12 zodiac signs and were the custodians of the arts and sciences which were subsequently revealed to initiates of the Mystery school that were successful. The Odinic Mysteries were destroyed by the Christians, yet the major cause of their fall was the corruption of the priesthood.
The sacred Drama that is the basis of the Mysteries of Odin were as follows: The Supreme, invisible Creator of all things was titled the All-Father. His representative in nature was Odin, the one-eyed god. Odin was raised to the dignified position of Supreme Deity. The Universe was created from the body of Ymir, the hoarfrost giant. Ymir was manifested from the clouds of mist that ascended from Ginnungagap, the great rift in chaos into which the primordial frost and flame giants had thrown ice and fire. the three gods Odin, Vili, and Ve then slew Ymir and from him created the world. From Ymir's various parts the different aspects of Nature were manifested.
Upon Odin having created order, he fashioned an amazing palace, titled Asgard, to be constructed on the top of a mountain where the twelve Aesir (gods) dwelt together, far above the realm of limitations of mortal mankind. Vallhalla was also on this mountain and was the place for the slain where those who had died heroically battled and celebrated with feasts every day, and every night their wounds were healed and the boar they had eaten renewed itself for further consumption the next day. Balder the Beautiful-the Scandinavian Christ- was the beloved son of Odin and was not warlike. He was a kindly and beautiful spirit that brought joy and peace to the hearts of the gods and all loved him except for one. This one god who hated him was Loki, the personification of evil, and he caused the god Hothr, the blind god of fate, to shoot Balder with a mistletoe arrow. the death of Balder caused the joy and light to evaporate from the lives of the other gods. Saddened and Heartbroken, the deities got together to secure a way in which they could resurrect this spirit of eternal life and youth. The result was the founding of the Mysteries.
The Mysteries of Odin were practiced in underground crypts and caverns or caves, the chambers were nine in number which represented the Nine Worlds of the Mysteries. When a candidate was attempting initiate admittance he was assigned the task of raising Balder from death, yet unbeknownst to the aspiring initiate he was playing the part of Balder. He would call himself a wanderer with the caves he traversed through being symbolic of the worlds and spheres of Nature. The priestly adepts that were initiating him were emblematic of the sun, the moon, and the stars. The three supreme initiators- the Sublime, the Equal to the Sublime, and the Highest- were analogous to the Worshipful Master and the Junior and Senior Wardens in a Masonic lodge. After wandering for hours through the complex passageways, the initiate was brought into the presence of a statue of Balder, the prototype of all initiates into the Mysteries. The figure stood in the center-point of a great apartment roofed with shields and in the midst of the chamber was a plant with seven blossoms symbolizing the seven planets. In this chamber, the aspiring neophyte too his oath of secrecy and piety upon the bare blade of a sword. He then would drink the sanctified mead from a bowl made of a human skull and, having traversed through trials and tribulations meant to deter his path to wisdom, he was ultimately allowed to unveil the Mystery of Odin- the personified essence of Wisdom. He was then presented, in Balder's name, the sacred ring of the order, hailed as a man reborn, and it was stated of him that he had died and been reborn again without passing through the gates of death.
Orpheus , the Thracian bard, great initiator of the Greeks, ceased to be a mere mortal man and became celebrated as a divinity several centuries before the Christian era. Orpheus was the creator and founder of the Grecian mythological system which he then used as a medium for the dissemination of his philosophical doctrines, yet the origin of his philosophy is uncertain. He was initiated into the Egyptian Mysteries from which he was able to secure immense knowledge of magic, astrology, sorcery, and medicine. The Cabirian Mysteries from Samothrace were also conferred upon Orpheus and must have contributed to his knowledge of music and medicine.
The romance of Orpheus and Eurydice is one among many of tragic stories of Greek Mythology and constitute the major feature of the Orphic Rite. Eurydice, in her attempt to escape a villain trying to seduce her, died from the venom of a poisonous snake which stung her in the heel. Orpheus, penetrating into the very depths of the underworld, so charmed Pluto and Persephone with the beauty of his music that they then agreed to allow Eurydice to return to life if Orpheus could lead her back to the realm of the living without ever looking back to see if she was following. However, so great was his fear that she would stray from him that he turned to look, and Eurydice with a cry of anguish was swept back into the land of the dead. Orpheus then wandered the Earth for a time disconsolate, and there are various conflicting accounts of his death. Some say he was killed by a bolt of lightning with others saying that having failed to save Eurydice he committed suicide. The traditionally accepted manner of his death was that he was torn limb from limb by the various Ciconian women whose advances he spurned. In an account by Plato it was stated that, due to his fate at the hands by women, the soul that was once Orpheus, upon being destined to reincarnate into the material world, chose instead to return in the body of a swan than be born as a woman.
Orpheus has long been sung as the patron of music. On his seven-stringed lyre he played such perfect harmonies that the gods themselves were moved to acclaim his power. Upon touching his instrument's strings the birds and beasts gathered about him, and as he traversed the forests his enchanting melodies caused even the ancient trees to draw their roots from the earth and follow him. Orpheus is one of innumerable Immortals to have sacrificed himself so that humanity may have the wisdom of the gods. Through the symbolism of his musical harmonies he relayed the divine secrets to mankind, and some authors have stated that the gods, though admiring him, feared he would overthrow their kingdom and subsequently yet reluctantly encouraged his destruction.
As time went on the historical Orpheus became confounded with the doctrine he represented and ultimately became the symbolically representative of the Grecian school of ancient wisdom. This being so Orpheus was eventually acclaimed as the sun of Apollo, the divine and perfect truth, and Calliope, the Muse of Harmony and Rhythm. Put in another light, Orpheus is the secret doctrine as revealed through music. Eurydice is mankind dead from the sting of the snake of false knowledge and imprisoned in the lesser world of ignorance. In this allegory Orpheus symbolizes theology, which wins her from the lord of the dead but fails to accomplish her resurrection because it falsely estimates and distrusts the intrinsic spiritual knowledge within the human soul. The Ciconian women that tore Orpheus limb from limb represent symbolically the varied contending theological factions which destroy the body of Truth. They are unable to attain this until their discordant shouts drown out the harmony produced by Orpheus from his magical lyre. The head of Orpheus symbolically represents the esoteric doctrines of his cult and continue to live and speak even once his body (cult) has been destroyed. The lyre of Orpheus is the secret teaching - the seven strings of the lyre are the seven divine truths that are the master keys to the universal knowledge. The multiple and varied stories of his manner of demise are symbolic of the various means used to destroy the secret teachings- wisdom can die in many ways at the same time. The allegory of Orpheus incarnating into the white swan signifies that the spiritual truths he disseminated will continue and be taught by the enlightened initiates of all future ages. The swan is the symbol of the initiates of the Mysteries, and it is a symbol of the divine power that is the progenitor of the world.
The Bacchic or Dionysian ceremonies, rituals, and rites were focused on the allegory of the youth Bacchus being ripped apart by the Titans. These gigantic Titans were able to accomplish this feat by causing Bacchus to become enamored with his own image in a mirror. Upon his dismemberment, the Titans then boiled his body parts in water and then roasted them The hero Pallas recovered his heart and through this rescue the god Bacchus was able to resurrect himself in all his former majesty. Jupiter, the Demiurgus, having seen this crime, threw his lightning bolts slaying the Titans destroying them in a holy fire. Out of the ashes of the Titans, who had partly devoured pieces of Bacchus, the human race was manifested through his residual blood. Thus, the life of mortal man was supposed to have a piece of the Bacchic life. It is for this reason the Greek Mysteries warned against taking your own life.
Bacchus represents the rational soul of the lesser world. He is the leader of the Titans, the artificers of the mundane spheres. The disciples of Pythagoras called him the Titantic Monad. Subsequently, Bacchus is the omni-inclusive idea of the Titantic sphere and the Titans, or gods of the fragments, are the active agents by which the universal essence is manifested into the blueprint of this idea. The Dionysian state symbolizes the unification of the rational soul in a state of self-knowledge or awareness, and the Titantic state signifies the diversity of the rational soul which having been scattered throughout creation, suffers a lose of its consciousness of its own primal one-ness. The mirror that Bacchus gazes upon and the major cause of his fall is the great ocean of illusion- the lesser realm fashioned by the Titans. Dionysus, the rational soul, seeing his image in front of him, accepts the simulacrum as a likeness of himself and ensouls the likeness; meaning the rational idea ensouls its reflection- the irrational universe. Through ensoulment of of the irrational image it imbues in it the urge to become like its source, the rational image. Furthermore, the ancient magi stated that man does not know the gods through logic or reason but instead by understanding the presence of the gods within himself.
After Bacchus looked into the mirror and followed his own reflection into matter, the rational soul of the world was split up and distributed by the Titans throughout the lesser sphere of which it is the essential nature, however, the heart or source of it they could not scatter. The Titans boiling of the body parts of Bacchus is symbolic of immersion into the material universe which is representative of the incorporation of the Bacchic principle into form. The pieces of his body being roasted is to symbolically represent the subsequent ascension of the spiritual nature out of form.
Upon Jupiter, the father of Bacchus and the Demiurgus of the cosmos, seeing that the Titans were hopelessly involving the rational or divine idea by splitting up its members through the constituent parts of the lesser world, he slew the Titans in order that the divine idea might not be totally lost. From the ashes of the slain Titans he created mankind, whose reason and purpose of existence was to preserve and eventually to release the Bacchic idea, or rational soul, from the Titantic manifested fabrication. Jupiter, being the Demiruge and manifester of the material universe, is the third entity in the Creative Triad, the Lord of Death, for death only exists in the lower sphere of being over which he presides. Disintegration must take place for reintegration to occur upon a higher level of form and intelligence. Jupiter's thunderbolts are are emblematic of his disentegrative power revealing the purpose of death which is to rescue the rational soul from the devouring power of the irrational nature. Man is a composite entity with his lesser nature comprised of the fragments of the Titans and his higher nature the sacred, eternal flesh (life) of Bacchus. Subsequently, man is capable of either a Titantic (irrational) or a Bacchic (rational) existence. The Titans of Hesiod who were twelve in number are likely analogous of the celestial zodiac, whereas the murderous Titans are symbolic of the zodiacal powers corrupted by involvement in the material reality. Therefore, Bacchus is a schematic of the sun which is dismembered by the signs of the zodiac and from whose body the universe is created. When the earthly archetypes were fashioned from the various parts of his body the sense of oneness was lost and the sense of separateness is established. The heart of Bacchus was lifted out of the four elements symbolized by his dismembered body and placed in the ether. The heart of Bacchus is the eternal center of the rational soul.
The Bacchic Mysteries were established for the sole purpose of disentangling the rational soul from its irrational Titantic nature. This disentanglement was the process of lifting the soul out of the state of separateness into that of unity. When all the rational parts were gathered together from across the world Bacchus is resurrected.
Manly P. Hall records The Atlantean mythological story as reported by Plato in the Critias and may be summarized. In The first primordial ages of the deities carved up the world among themselves, sectioning it off in accord with their respective dignities. Each became a specific divinity of his own allotment and established therein temples devoted to himself further consecrating an ordained priesthood and systematically institutionalizing a method of sacrificial rituals to the said divinity. To the god Poseidon was given the sea and the Island continent of Atlantis. In the midst of the Island was a mountain which was the home of three-earth born primitive human beings: Evenor and his wife Leucipe as well as their only daughter Cleito. She was a magnificent beauty and after her parents became deceased she became ensnared by Poseidon and from him she begat five pairs of male children. Following this Poseidon allocated the Island among these ten semi-divine children, with Atlas the eldest, becoming crowned overlord to the other nine kings. The Lord of the sea saw fit to name the Island Atlantis and the surrounding sea after his eldest Atlas in his honor. The Island was also created by Poseidon in a geological array of concentric zones of land and water alternating back and forth in circles.
The descendants of Atlas continued as rulers of Atlantis , and with shrewd governance and high industry were able to elevate the country into a cultural achievement of surpassing dignity and renown. The natural resources of Atlantis were practically without limit with an abundance of precious metals for mining, plenty of wild animals for domestication and husbandry, fragrant flowers able to be converted into wondrous perfumes, and a particular composite of white, black, and red stones which were quarried and smelted into Orihalcon for the construction of many public buildings as well as elaborate palaces. The engineering feats of the Atlanteans encompassed the erecting of many canals and bridges used to unite the inner and outer circles of land and sea which enhanced commerce between the kingdoms. Their was a central citadel that contained the palaces, temples, and public buildings which was at its middle point surrounded by a wall of gold and sanctuary dedicated to Cleito and Poseidon. Here the first ten princes of the Island country were born and here each year their descendants brought offerings to honor and commemorate them. In the beautiful groves and gardens were hot and cold springs. There were also a plethora of temples devoted to various deities, areas allocated for men and animal to exercise, extensive public baths, and even a magnificent course for the racing of horses. At various vantage points on the zones were military fortifications, and at the splendid harbor traversed vessels from all the diversified maritime nations included in the Atlantean culture. The part of the Island that faced the sea was essentially rendered as lofty and precipitous with the central city encompassed by a great plain that was further sheltered by great mountains renowned for there magnitude, multitude, and sheer beauty. The plain would yield two crop every year, in the winter being watered by the rains and in the summer through the use of massive irrigation canals, that were also used for transportation. The plain was carved up into sections and during times of war each section generated its supply of military men and chariots.
The various ten governments were different from one another in their details concerning martial and battle requirements. The ten kings of Atlantis had total control over his respective kingdom, yet there mutual cooperative relationships were governed by a code engraved by the first ten kings on a column of Orihalch at the temple of Poseidon. At certain intervals of either five or six years a pilgrimage was made to this temple so that equal respect could be conferred on both the even and odd numbers. Here, with appropriate sacrificial offerings, every king renewed his oath of loyalty on the sacred inscription. The kings would adorn azure robes and sit in judgement at this place. At dawn the kings made their sentences on a golden tablet and then would drop them with their robes as memorials. The major laws of Atlantean rulers were that they shouldn't ever raise arms in force against each other and that they also should arrive in defense and assistance to any of their number who became attacked. In times of war and momentous events the ultimate decision was held in the authority of the direct descendants of the family of Atlas. Furthermore, no king had the right to sentence life or death over his various kinsmen without the consent of a majority of the ten other kings.
Plato finishes his description by stating that it was this great empire that attacked the hellenic states, but this was only after their power and glory had diverted the Atlantean kings away from their original path of wisdom and virtue. Subsequently, full of false ambition, the Atlantean rulers decided they would attempt a conquest of the entire globe. Zeus, seeing the wickedness of the Atlanteans, decided to destroy them with violent earthquakes and floods, and in a single night and day of rain all their military men as one unit sank into the bowels of the earth and similarly the actual Island of Atlantis also sank beneath the waves of the Ocean.
The story of Atlantis should not be considered solely historical but as both allegorical and historical. Origen, Iamblichus, Syrianus and others felt that the story of Atlantis veiled a deep philosophical and spiritual mystery. Plato's Atlantis almost certainly symbolically represents the three fold nature of both the physical body and the cosmos. The ten kings of Atlantis are the tetractys, or numbers, of Pythagoras which are then born as five pairs of opposites, (Manly P. Hall). The numbers 1 through 10 rule all creatures, and the numerals, in turn, are under the control of the MONAD, or 1 - the Eldest among them all. With the trident of the Sea God these kings held dominion over the people of the seven small and three great islands that make up Atlantis. Philosophically, the ten islands symbolize the triune powers of the Superior Deity and the seven regents who bow before His eternal throne. if Atlantis be considered the archetypal sphere, then its immersion signifies the descent of rational, organized consciousness into the illusionary, impermanent realm of irrational, moral ignorance, ( Manly Hall). Both the sinking of Atlantis and the Biblical fall of man symbolize spiritual involution, the prerequisite to conscious evolution. The city of the Golden gates , capital of Atlantis, is now preserved among many religions as the City of The Gods or The Holy City and is the archetype of the New Jerusalem model. According to manly P. Hall, nearly all of the great cosmological myths which form the foundation of the many sacred books of the world are based on the Atlantean Mystery Rituals.
The myth of Tammuz and Ishtar is certainly one of the most ancient renderings of what has been routinely titled the "Dying-God" allegory. According to Manly Hall, Tammuz was the esoteric god of the sun and did not occupy a high position of among the first deities honored by the Babylonians for lack of deeper understanding was seen as a god of agriculture or a vegetation spirit. He was originally described as being one of the guardians of the underworld. Like many savior gods before and after him he was regarded as the "Shepard" or " the lord of the shepherd seat". He did however occupy the majestic position son and husband to the goddess Ishtar, the Babylonian and mother-goddess of the Assyrians. Ishtar herself was one of the most widely venerated goddesses of the Assyrian and Babylonian pantheon. She could be easily identified with the goddesses Ashteroth, Astarte, and Aphrodite respectively. The tale of Ishtar's descent into the underworld to find the presumed sacred elixir which was the only thing that could possibly restore Tammuz to life is generally accepted as the key to the rites and rituals of her mysteries. Tammuz's annual festival took place poignantly before the summer solstice; he died in the mid-summer during the month which heralds his name with extensive and elaborate mourning ceremonies enacted in his honor. The manner of his death remains a mystery but some have asserted that his wife Ishtar may have been a contributor to his premature demise. His Resurrection was an occasion for enormous rejoicing and he became praised as a "redeemer" of his people.
Upon open wings did the goddess Ishtar, the daughter of Sin( the moon), descend down towards the gates of the underworld and death. This realm of deep darkness was the habitat of the god Irkalla and has been refereed to as the "place of no return". It is a realm without light with the nourishment available being dust and mud for food and drink. The ominous door of the house in which Irkalla resides was guarded by keepers who were entirely covered with feathers like birds. Ishtar demands to be permitted to pass through the gates and threatens destruction of the doorposts, strike of the hinges, and raise the dead in retaliation. The keepers of the gates the asked Ishtar to be patient while they went to secure permission from the queen of Irkalla for admission but also admonish her by relaying that she will likely only be permitted in after the same fashion as any other who seeks admittance. Upon receiving permission, Ishtar descends through the seven gates leading into the utmost depths of the realm of the dead. At each interval gate an item of Ishtar's is removed from her as she passes through the seven gates. At the first gate the great crown is taken from her head, at the second her earrings are removed, at the third gate her necklace is taken from her, at the fourth gate the ornaments at her breasts are removed, at the fifth gate her girdle is taken, at the sixth gate the bracelets at her hands and feet are removed, and finally at the seventh gate the cloak which enshrouds her body is taken from her. At each and every gate Ishtar remonstrates as each subsequent piece of attire is confiscated from her, but the keepers relay to her that this is the experience all must undergo who descend into this gloomy realm of death. Once the queen of Irkalla finally beholds Ishtar she becomes enraged and afflicts Ishtar with all manner of disease imaginable and imprisons her in the lowest depths of the Underworld.
The imprisonment of Ishtar incites a major issue for the world at large due to the fact that Ishtar is the divine spirit of fertility and thus her loss subsequently begins to forestall and halt the ripening of the people's crops as well as the maturation of all vibrant life forms on the earth. Noticeably this legend presents a strong parallel to the myth of the Greek Goddess Persephone. and how her imprisonment by Hades had similar earthly repercussion for life growth. Therefore, when the other gods realize that the resulting disharmony of all the natural world is occurring, they dispatch a divine messenger to the underworld and demand her immediate release from the Mistress of Irkalla. Once this compliance is forcible asserted upon the queen of the dead, she relents and pours the waters of life over Ishtar, which consequently cure her of the numerous infirmities cast upon her person and allow Ishtar to retrace her pathway of ascent through seven gates with her reacquiring at each interval the various apparel that had been confiscated. It must be noted that their is not a record that exists of Ishtar acquiring the water of life with which she would be able to resurrect Tammuz from his sudden death.
Now the myth of Ishtar's descent and ascent through the seven layers of the underworld is a symbolical representational schematic for the descent of the Human Spirit through the seven worlds, or spheres of the 7 sacred planets, until ultimately deprived of its inborn spiritual adornments it becomes encased and incarnated into the physicality of the material human body, thus Hades; and where the queen of that physical form administers all types of sadness and misery upon the imprisoned human consciousness. Furthermore, the sacred waters of life, which is the secret doctrine, will then cure the infliction of ignorance with the spirit subsequently ascending once more to its divinely originating source, regaining its God-Imbued adornments as it reascends through the ring of the 7 sacred planets.
The ancient mysteries of the god Adonis, or Adoni, were widely held and celebrated across the nations of Egypt, Byblos, and Phoenicia. As stated briefly above the name or title Adoni translates into "Lord" and was a designation allotted to the celestial sun. The mother of Adonis was Smyrna and she was transformed into a tree by the gods and after some passage of time the bark of the tree erupted open with the infant Savior springing forth. In at least one tale of Adonis, he became freed by a wild boar which split open the bark of the maternal tree with its tusks. Also of note was the fact that Adonis was born at midnight on December the 24th and following this upon the event of his unexpected death a Mystery rite was founded that wrought the salvation of his people. In the the Judaic month of Tammuz, another name for Adonis, he was gored to death by a wild boar who was sent by the god Ares(Mars). There was a ceremony titled the Adoniasmos which consisted of lamenting the early death of the murdered god. In the bible the book of Ezekiel has written passages about women weeping for the god Tammuz (Adonis) at the north gate of the Lord's house in Jerusalem. " He tells us that Bethlehem, the birth place of the Lord, was shaded by a grove of that still lesser Syrian Lord, Adonis, and that where the infant Jesus had wept, the lover of Venus was bewailed." The effigy of a wild boar was said to have been placed draping over a gate in Jerusalem in respect for Adonis with his rituals celebrated in the grotto of the Nativity of Bethlehem. Manly P. Hall asserts that Adonis as the "gored" ( or "god") man is one of the keys to Sir Francis Bacon's use of the "wild boar" in his cryptic symbolism.
The god Adonis in his inception was considered an androgynous deity which was representative of the solar powers that during the winter was destroyed by the evil like principle of cold , thus the boar. Subsequently, after the passage of three days (months) in a tomb, he rose in majestic triumph on the 25th day of March with the acclamation of his priests and disciples stating, "He is risen". Furthermore, the god Adonis was birthed out of a Myrrh tree; Myrrh, being the symbolic conceptualization of death due to its connection with the process of embalming, was also interestingly one of the several gifts brought by the three Magi to Jesus' manger.
In the mystery rites and ceremonies of Adonis the aspiring neophyte traversed through the symbolic death of the god, and once "raised" by the priests became initiated and transformed into a redemptive and blessed state made possible by the sufferings of Adonis. In almost every authored accounts it was thought that Adonis was originally a vegetation deity who was directly associated with the growth and maturation of flowers and fruits.
In Phyrigia there was a school of religious and philosophical thought which surrounded the life and premature fate of another Savior-god known as Atys whom was held by many to be synonymous with Adonis. This deity was also apparently born at midnight on December 24th and had generally two accounts of his death: one tale describes him being gored to death in a manner similar to the Adonic death; and the second story he emasculated himself beneath a pine tree and died. Afterwards his body was carried to a cave by the Great Mother Cybele, where it stayed during the ages without being subjected to decay. In this story and the ceremonies associated with Atys, the modern world is indebted to for the Symbolism of the Christmas Tree. Atys imbued the tree with his immortal nature with Cybele taking the tree with her when she removed his body. Atys stayed three days in the tomb, subsequently rose up again on a date correlating with the Easter morning, and thus by this Resurrection overcame death for all who were initiated into his Mysteries.
Lastly, the Mysteries of Atys included a sacramental meal during which the aspiring neophyte ate out of a drum and drank from a cymbal. Following this, after they were baptized by the blood of a bull, the aspiring initiate was fed entirely on milk to symbolically represent that the said initiate remained a philosophical infant, having been recently birthed from the sphere of manifested materiality. There seems to be a potential connection between the proposed lacteal diet of Atys initiates and St. Paul's allusion to the food for spiritual babes. The key to the esoteric interpretation of the Atys rituals was possibly provided by Sallust. The Great Mother Cyblele symbolizes the animating forces of the cosmos with Atys representing the aspects of the spiritual intellect which is suspended between the divine and animal spheres. Then Cybele from a sense of love for Atys provided him with a starry hat, symbolizing the celestial powers, but Atys (humanity), having fallen in love with a nymph ( symbolic of the lesser animalistic tendencies), gave up his divine nature losing his creative abilities. Thus, according to Manly P. Hall is becomes evident that Atys signifies the human consciousness with his Mysteries being primarily the path of reacquiring the starry hat so to speak.
The Druids were initiates of a secret mystery school that existed in their midst. Their school had a close resemblance to Bacchic and Eleusinian Mysteries of Greece and of the Egyptian mystery rites of Isis and Osiris. There has been enormous speculation about the secret wisdom the Druids claimed to posses. The Druids were priests and physicians who cured people by magnetism and the charging up of amulets with their fluidic influence, according to Eliphas Levi. Their universal remedies were mistletoe and serpent's eggs due to the fact that these substances purportedly attract the astral light in a special manner. They also had a fundamental understanding of medicine and particularly the use of herbs and simples. They are credited with having a deep understanding of Nature and her Laws. Their secret teachings were never written down and were passed on orally to specially instructed candidates. The nearness of the British Isles to the lost Atlantis could account for the sun worship that played an integral part in the rites and rituals of Druidism. According to Artemidorus, Ceres and Persephone were worshiped on an island close to Britain with rituals and ceremonial rites that were similar to those of Samothrace. There is little dispute on the fact that the Druidic Pantheon includes many of the Greek and Roman gods. It is nearly certain that the Mysteries of the Druids were not indigenous to Britain or Gaul, but had been transferred to there from one of the more ancient civilizations.
The Order of the Druids was divided into three distinct parts, and the secret teachings imbued and embodied therein are almost entirely identical to the mysteries veiled beneath the allegories of Blue Lodge Masonry, states Manly P. Hall from which the majority of this information has been drawn. The lowest of the three degrees was that of Ovate (Ovydd). This was just an honorary degree which required no specific or special purification or preparatory work. The Ovates dressed in green, their color for learning in Druidism, and were generally expected to know information concerning medicine, astronomy, poetry if capable, and occasionally music. The Ovate was a person allowed entry into the Druidic Order due to his general excellence and higher knowledge about the problems of life. The second degree was that of the Bard (Beirdd) which wore robes of sky-blue, representing harmony and truth, and who were assigned the arduous task of memorizing the twenty thousand verses of Druidic sacred poetry. The Bards were often assigned the other task of teaching and vetting initiate candidates who sought to enter the Druidic Mysteries. The Neophytes of the Druidic Order wore striped robes of blue, green, and white, with these colors being the three sacred ones of the Order.
The third degree was that of Druid (Derwyddon) and its specific task was to administer to the spiritual and religious needs of the people. However, to even reach this illustrious status, the candidate had to first become a Bard Braint. The Druids always dressed in white robes, symbolic of their purity, and the white color was also used to symbolize the sun. In order to reach such a prestigious position as Arch-Druid, the spiritual head of the organization, it became incumbent for a priest to pass through six successive degrees of the Druidic Order. Some authors are of the opinion that such a position was hereditary, yet others believe it is more likely it was decided democratically through ballot election. The one hailed as an Arch-Druid was chosen for his exquisite virtue and moral integrity by the most highly learned adepts of the highest Druidic degrees in the Order. According to James Gardner, there were generally two Arch-Druids in Britain with one residing on the Isle of Anglesea and the other one on the isle of Man. These dignitaries usually bore golden scepters and were crowned with wreaths of oak leaves which symbolized their authority. The younger Order members were shaved and humbly dressed, but the older members had long gray beards and were dressed with stately golden ornaments. The systems of educational learning the Druids erected in Britain were superior to that of their Druidic brothers on the Continent, and thus many of the Gallic youths were sent to the Colleges in Britain for philosophical education and knowledge. According to Eliphas Levi, the Druids lived in strict abstinence, preserved the deepest secrecy, and only admitted new initiates after long periods of probation. Many of the Druids resided in buildings very similar to the monasteries of the modern world, and were also organized into groups like the ascetics from the Far East. Celibacy was not a requirement of the Druidic Order, but few ever married with many choosing to retire from the world to live, pray, and meditate in caves, stone houses, or tiny shacks built deep in the forest only emerging to perform religious duties.
According to James Freeman Clarke, in his Ten Great Religions, he states the following about the beliefs of the Druids, "The Druids Believed in three worlds and in transmigration from one to the other: In a world above this, in which happiness predominated; a world below, of misery; and this present state. This transmigration was to punish and reward and also to purify the soul. In the present world, said they, Good and Evil are so exactly balanced that man has the utmost freedom and is able to choose or reject either. The Welsh Triad tell us there are three objects of metempsychosis: to collect into the soul the properties of all being, to acquire a knowledge of all things, and to get power to conquer evil. There are also, they say, three kinds of knowledge: knowledge of the name of each thing, of its cause, and its influence. There are three things which continually grow less: darkness, falsehood, and death. There are three which constantly increase: light, life, and truth."
Like most Mystery schools, the teachings of the Druids were split into two specific sections. The basic one, a moral code, was generally taught to all the people, while the profound, esoteric doctrine was provided only to the initiate priests. For one to be allowed entrance into the Order, a neophyte candidate was inherently required to be of a good family and be of a high moral character. The important secrets were never provided to a neophyte unless he had been tempted in a multitude of ways and his strength of character extremely tried. The Druidic Order educated the people of Britain and Gaul about the immortality of the soul, and believed in transmigration and also reincarnation. They borrowed in one life, promising to pay it back in the next life. They purportedly also believed in a purgatorial type of hell where they would be purged of their sins, subsequently moving on to the bliss of unity with the gods. They of the Druidic Order also taught that all men would be saved, yet that some must return to the terrestrial realm many times to adequately learn the lessons of the human life and also to defeat the intrinsic evil of their own natures.
Before an aspiring initiate could be entrusted with the Druids' secret doctrines, he would be bound with a vow of secrecy with these doctrines only being imparted to the neophyte in the depths of a forest or in the darkness of caves. In these dark and sacred places, far from men, the initiate was educated about the formation of the cosmos, the personalities of the deities, the laws of Nature, the secrets of occult medicine, the secrets of the celestial orbs, and also the basics of magic and sorcery. The Druids had a plethora of feast days. The new and full moon and the sixth day of the moon were sacred periods. It is further thought that initiations only took place during the two solstices and the two equinoxes. At dawn of the 25th of December, the birth of the Sun God was celebrated. The secret doctrines of the Druidic Order are stated by some to contain a smattering of Pythagorean philosophy. Furthermore, the Druids did have a Madonna, or Virgin Mother, with a child held in her arms that was sacred to their mysteries; and also their Sun God was resurrected at the same time of the year corresponding to the time of the year which modern Christianity celebrates Easter.
Both the cross and the serpent were sacred symbols to the Druidic Order, and they fashioned the cross by cutting of all the branches of an oak tree and attaching one of the branches to the main trunk in the pattern of the letter T. The Oaken Cross became emblematic of their superior God. They also practiced reverent worship of the sun, moon, and stars with the Moon receiving special veneration. The Druids are also thought to have worshiped Mercury under the similitude of a stone cube, and they also had great reverence for Nature spirits (fairies, gnomes, and undines), the little creatures of the forests and rivers to whom a lot of offerings were made. Describing the temples of the Druids, Charles Heckthorn in his book The Secret Societies of All Ages and Countries, states, "Their temples wherein the sacred fire was preserved were generally situate on eminences and in dense groves of oak, and assumed various forms-- circular, because a circle was the emblem of the universe; oval, in allusion to the mundane egg, from which issued, according to the traditions of many nations, the universe, or, according to others, our first parents; serpentine, because a serpent was the symbol of Hu, the Druidic Osiris; cruciform, because a cross is an emblem of regeneration; or winged, to represent the motion of the Divine Spirit. their chief deities were reducible to two-- a male and a female, the great father and mother--Hu and Ceridwen, distinguished by the same characteristics as belong to Osiris and Isis, Bacchus and Ceres, or any other supreme god and goddess representing the two principles of all Being."
Finally, there were three degrees of the Druidic Mysteries, yet very few ever successfully passed them all. The initiate was buried in a coffin, as emblematic of the death of the Sun God. However, the ultimate test was to be sent out to sea in an open boat, and while attempting to pass this test many lost their lives. Taliesin, an ancient scholar, that passed through these Mysteries, relays the initiation of the open boat test in Faber's book Pagan Idolatry. The very few that proved themselves capable of completing this third, final degree were said to have been "born again", and were subsequently educated and instructed in the secret and hidden truths that the Druids had preserved since antiquity.
The Cabiric Mysteries of Samothrace were renowned among the ancients, being next to the Eleusinian in public esteem. Herodotus declares that the Samothracians attained their doctrines, especially those concerning Mercury, from the Pelasgians. Little is know concerning the Cabiric rites, for they were enshrouded in the profoundest secrecy. Some regard the Cabiri as seven in number and refer to them as " the Seven Spirits of fire before the throne of Saturn". Others believe the Cabiri to be the seven sacred wanderers, later called the planets. While a vast number of deities are associated withe the Samothracian Mysteries, the ritualistic drama center around four brothers. The First three-- Aschieros, Achiochersus, and Achiochersa-- attack and murder the fourth-- Cashmala (or Cadmillus). Dionysidorus, however, identifies Aschieros with Demeter, Achiochersus with Pluto, Achiochersa with Persephone, and Cashmala with Hermes. The worship of Atys and Cybele was also involved in the Samothracian Mysteries. In the rituals of the Cabiri is to be traced a form of pinetree worship, for this tree, sacred to Atys, was first trimmed into the form of a cross and then cut down in honor of the murdered god whose body was discovered at its foot.
The Mysteries of Cabiri were divided into three degrees, the first of which celebrated the death of Cashmala at the hands of his three brothers; the second, the discovery of his mutilated body, the parts of which had been found and gathered after much labor; and the third, accompanied with great rejoicing and happiness, his resurrection and the consequent salvation of the world. the Cabirian Temple at Samothrace had a number of multitude of peculiar divinities, and many of these misshapen creatures represented the elemental powers of Nature, being possibly the Bacchic Titans. Also of note, was the fact that children were allowed to be initiated into the Cabirian Mysteries with the same respect as the adults, and furthermore criminals who were able to reach the temple abode they became safe from further pursuit. Also the Cabirian ceremonies were concerned with navigation, the Dioscuri--Castor and Pollux, navigation gods, --were among those promoted by members of the Cabirian Mysteries. The Allegory of the Dying-God mythos of the Self-murdered god by the not-self is pervasive throughout all the religious mystical traditions of all people. According to Manly P. Hall, the mythos of the dying-god is the key to both universal and individual redemption and regeneration, and " those who do not comprehend the true nature of this supreme allegory are not privileged to consider themselves either wise or truly religious."
According to Manly P. Hall, a curious aspect of the n dying-god myth is that of the Hanged Man. The more prominent and important illustration of this strange concept is found in the Odinic rites where Odin hangs himself for nine nights from the branches of the World Tree and on the same occasion he also pierces his own side with the sacred spear. The result of this magnanimous sacrifice, Odin, while suspended above the depths of Nifl-heim, was able to garner by meditation the runes or alphabets which he later used to preserve the records of his people. Due to this amazing experience, Odin is occasionally seen seated on a gallows tree and thus he became the patron deity of all who died by the noose. According to Manly P. Hall, esoterically, the Hanged-Man is the human spirit that is suspended from heaven by a single thread. Wisdom, not death, is the reward for this voluntary sacrifice during which the human soul, being suspended over the world of illusion, and meditating on its unreality, is then rewarded by the accomplishment of Self-realization.
The most famous of the ancient religious Mysteries were the Eleusinians, who celebrated their rites every five years in the city of Eleusis to honor Ceres (Demeter, Rhea, or Isis) and her daughter Persephone. The initiates of this school were heralded across Greece for the beauty of their philosophy and the high standards of morality which they demonstrated in their daily lives. The Eleusinian Mysteries are traditionally thought to have been founded by Eumolpos fourteen hundred years before the birth of Christ, and thanks to the Platonic system of philosophy their principles have been retained into modern times.
The rituals and ceremonies of Eleusis, imbued with the adepts mystic interpretations of Nature's most fundamental and sacred secrets, overshadowed the civilizations of their time period and eventually gobbled up many smaller schools, with the Eleusinian Mysteries incorporating in their system any valuable knowledge these lesser organizations had possessed. There is ample reason to believe that all the so-called secret schools of the ancient world were mere branches from one philosophic tree that, with its roots in heaven and its branches on the terrestrial realm of earth, is -- like the spirit of man-- an invisible but omnipresent cause of the concretized vehicles that give it expression. The ancient Mysteries were the avenues through which the one primal philosophic light was promulgated; and their adepts and initiates, majestically endowed with intellectual and spiritual knowing , were the perfected fruit of the divine tree, that bore witness before the realm of matter of the veiled source of Light and Truth.
The rituals and ceremonies of Eleusis, imbued with the adepts mystic interpretations of Nature's most fundamental and sacred secrets, overshadowed the civilizations of their time period and eventually gobbled up many smaller schools, with the Eleusinian Mysteries incorporating into their system any valuable knowledge these lesser organizations had possessed. There is ample reason to believe that all the so-called secret schools of the ancient world were mere branches from one philosophic tree that, with its roots in heaven and its branches on the terrestrial realm of earth, is -- like the spirit of man-- an invisible but omnipresent cause of the concretized vehicles that give it expression. The Ancient Mysteries were the avenues through which the one primal philosophical light was promulgated; and their adepts and initiates, majestically endowed with intellectual and spiritual knowing, were the perfected fruit of the divine tree, that bore witness before the realm of matter of the veiled source of Light and Truth.
The rituals and rites of Eleusis were split into what was termed the Lesser Mysteries and the Greater Mysteries. According to James Gardner, the Lesser Mysteries were held during the springtime (likely around the vernal equinox) in the town of Agrae, and the Greater Mysteries in the fall (the autumnal equinox) in Eleusis. It is thought that the lesser Mysteries were held annually and the Greater Mysteries only every five years. The rites of Eleusis were extremely involved, and to actually understand their meaning required an in depth study of Greek Mythology, that they interpreted in its esoteric light only with the aid of their secret keys. The Lesser Mysteries were dedicated to Persephone, and in Thomas Taylor's book Elesusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, he states, " The Lesser Mysteries were designed by the ancient theologists, their founders, to signify occultly the condition of the unpurified soul invested with an earthy body, and enveloped in a material and physical nature."
The legend used in the Lesser rituals is that of the abduction of the goddess Persephone, daughter of Ceres, by Hades lord of the underworld. While the goddess Persephone is picking flowers in a lush and beautiful meadow, the earth suddenly opens up and the gloomy lord of the underworld, astride his magnificent chariot, emerges from the depths of his realm and, grabbing here into his arms, steals away the screaming and struggling goddess into his subterranean palace, where he then makes her become his queen. It is unlikely that many of the initiates understood the mystic and spiritual meaning of this allegory, for many of them thought that it referred only to the succession of the seasons. It is not easy to garner satisfactory understanding nor information pertaining to these Mysteries due to the fact that the neophytes were bound to unbreakable oaths to never reveal their secrets to the profane person. At the initial part of the rites of initiation, the neophyte was placed on top of animal skins sacrificed for the purpose, and vowed that death would silence and seal his lips before he would reveal the secret truths that were about to be communicated to him. However, through indirect channels, some of their secrets have been retained. These teachings are as follows according to Manly P. Hall: The soul of man, often called Psyche, and in the Mysteries of Eleusis symbolized by Persephone, is at its essence a spiritual thing. Its true home is in the higher realms of existence, where, freed from the enslavement of the material form and material concepts, it is said to be truly alive and self-expressive. The Human, or physical, nature of man, according to this doctrine, is a tomb, a quagmire, a false and impermanent thing, the origin of all misery and suffering. Plato describes the body as the sepulcher of the soul; and by this he means not only the human form but also the human nature.
According to Manly. P. Hall, the gloom and depression of the Lesser Mysteries was symbolic of the agony of the spiritual soul being unable to express itself due to the fact that it has agreed to the limitations and illusions of the human world and environment. The major theme of the Eleusinian argument was that man was neither better nor wiser after death than during life, and if he did not seek to and actually rise above his ignorance during his time here, man will go to, at death, eternity to wander forever, and thus making the same mistakes he had made here. If he is unable to banish the desire for material objects and possessions here, he will take it with him into the invisible world, where, due to his inability to sate his desires, he will continue in perpetual agony.
According to Eleusinian philosophic thought, birth into physical existence was death in the fullest sense of the word, and the only real or true birth was that of the spiritual soul of mankind ascending out of the womb of his own material nature. "The soul is dead that slumbers," so says Longfellow, and with this poignant statement he strikes the heart of the Eleusinian Mystery concept. Just as Narcissus, gazing at himself in the water ( symbolically used by the ancients to express the transitory, illusionary, material universe) lost his life trying to embrace his reflection, so mankind, peering into the mirror of Nature and accepting as his true self the ridiculous clay he sees reflected back at him, will lose the opportunity offered by the physical life to unfold his eternal, invisible self. Transmigration and reincarnation were taught in tehse Mysteries, yet they were expressed in an unusual manner. It was thought that at midnight the invisible realms were nearest to the terrestrial sphere and that souls coming into to physical existence slipped in during the midnight hour, and for this express reason the Eleusinian rituals and rites were only enacted at midnight. It was also believed that some of those sleeping spirits that had failed to gain access to their divine, higher nature during their life on earth and who now wandered around in the invisible realms, encompassed in a deep darkness of their own making, would sporadically slip though at this hour and would assume the form of various creatures and animals.
The mystical adepts of Eleusis also stressed the evil of suicide, stating that there was a deep and profound mystery pertaining to this crime of which they wouldn't and couldn't speak, but they emphatically warned their students and disciples that a great sorrow and misery would come to anyone who took their own life. This, in essence, constitutes the esoteric secret provided to the neophytes of the Lesser Mysteries. Since this degree of initiation was largely based on the sorrows of those individuals that failed to make the best of their philosophic opportunities, the many chambers of initiation were underground and filled with visceral illustrations of the Horrors of Pluto and enacted in a complex ritualistic drama. Once traversing successfully through the tortuous passages, with their trials and dangers, the neophyte was awarded the honorific title of Mystes, and this term Mystes meant one who had seen past a veil or had a clouded vision. Furthermore, it signified that the initiate had been brought to the veil, which would subsequently be ripped away in the higher degree.
The Greater Mysteries ( into which the initiate was allowed admittance only upon successful completion of the trials and ordeals of the Lesser Mysteries, and not always then) were sacred to Ceres, Persephone's mother, and represent her as traversing through the material world in a quest to rescue her stolen daughter. Ceres carried two torches, intuition and reason, to help her with her search for her lost child (the soul). Finally, she found Persephone not very far from Eleusis, and out of extreme gratitude educated the people residing there in how to cultivate corn, which is sacred to her, and subsequently founded the Mysteries there. Afterwards, Ceres manifested before Pluto pleading with him to allow her daughter Persephone to return to her home. This the God of death initially refused to do due to the fact that Persephone had eaten of the pomegranate, the fruit of mortality. Ultimately, he made a compromise with Ceres permitting Persephone to reside in the upper world half of the year if she would then reside with him in darkness for the remaining half of the year. The Greeks believed that Persephone was a manifestation of the solar energy, which during the winter months lived under the earth with Pluto, but in the summer months returned again with the goddess of natural fertility.
Thomas Taylor describes the secret doctrines of the Greater Mysteries in the following statement: " The Greater Mysteries obscurely intimated, by mystic and splendid vision, the felicity of the soul both here and hereafter when purified from the defilement of a material nature, and constantly elevated to the realities of intellectual (spiritual) vision." Just as the Lesser Mysteries spoke of the prenatal epoch of man when the consciousness in its nine days ( embryologically, months) was going down into the world of illusion and taking on the veil of unreality, so the Greater Mysteries spoke about the principles of spiritual regeneration revealing to their neophytes not only the most basic but also the most direct and complete methodology for freeing their higher natures from the enslavement of terrestrial ignorance. The nine days of initiation were also symbolic of the nine celestial spheres through which the human soul descends during the process of embodying an earthly form. The secret exercises for spiritual unfoldment provided to initiates of the highest degrees are not known, yet there is every reason to think that they were in ways similar to the Brahmanic Mysteries, since it is know that the Eleusinian rituals and ceremonies were closed with the Sanskrit words " Konx Om Pax".
The part of the allegory referring to the two six-month periods during one of which Persephone must remain with Pluto, while during the other she may revisit the upper world, may offer material for deep consideration states Manly P. Hall in his Secret Teachings of All Ages, from which i pull a lot of this material. It is possible and nigh probable that the Eleusinians realized that the soul left the body during sleep state, or was at least made capable of this feat through special training of which these mystics could likely provide. Thus Persephone would remain as Pluto's queen during the waking hours, yet would ascend into the spiritual realms during the periods of sleep. Subsequently, the initiate was educated on how to intercede with Hades to allow Persephone ( the neophyte's soul) to ascend from the abyss of his material nature and into the light of understanding. When thus liberated from the constraints of clay and crystallized concepts, the initiate was freed not only for the period of his life but for all eternity. for never thereafter was he divested of those soul qualities which upon death were his vehicles for manifestation and expression in the so-called heaven realm.
in an Initiates wanderings the aspiring neophyte entered chambers of successively increasing magnificence to relay the idea of the spiritual ascent from the lesser realms into the worlds of bliss. At the peak or climax of his wanderings he would enter into a green vaulted chamber, in the center of which stood a majestically illuminated statue of the Goddess Ceres, and here, in the presence of the hierophant and surrounded by priests in ornate robes, he was educated in the highest and deepest of secret mysteries of Eleusis. Upon conclusion and culmination of this ceremony he became hailed as an Epoptes, which means one who has seen or beheld directly. For this reason also initiation was termed autopsy. The Epoptes was then provided certain sacred books, likely written in cipher, together with tablets of stone on which secret instructions were engraved.
In the book The Obelisk in Freemasonry, John a Weisse describes the officiating personages of the Eleusinian Mysteries as consisting of a male and female hierophant that directed the initiations; a male and a female torchbearer; a male herald; and a male and female altar attendant as well as numerous minor officials. He further states that according to Porphyry, the hierophant represents Plato's Demiurgus, or Creator of the World; the torch-bearer, the Sun; the altar man, the moon; the herald, as Hermes or Mercury; and the other officials, as the minor stars. The records also allude to strange and apparently supernatural phenomena which occurred during the rituals. Many initiates have claimed to have actually seen the living gods themselves. Whether this was the result of religious ecstasy or the actual cooperation of invisible powers with the visible priests remains a mystery.
Notably, both women and children were admitted to the Eleusinian Mysteries with at one point there being literally thousands of initiates. However, due to the fact that this vast host was not prepared for the highest spiritual and mystical doctrines, a split necessarily took place within the society itself. The higher teachings were given only to a limited number of initiates, who due to superior mentality, displayed a comprehensive grasp of their underlying philosophical concepts. That the Mysteries of Eleusis were based upon great and eternal truths is attested by the veneration in which they were held by the great minds of the ancient world. The garments in which candidates were initiated were preserved for many years and thought to possess almost sacred properties. Just as the soul can have no covering save wisdom and virtue, so the initiate, being as yet without true knowledge, was presented to the Mysteries unclothed, being first given the skin of an animal and later a consecrated robe to symbolize the philosophical teachings received by the initiate. During the course of initiation the candidate passed through two gates. The first led downward into the lower worlds and symbolized his birth into ignorance, and the second led upward into a room brilliantly lit by unseen lamps, in which was the statue of Ceres and which symbolized the upper world, the abode of Light and Truth. Strabo states that the great temple of Eleusis would hold between twenty and thirty thousand people. The caves dedicated by Zoroaster also had these two doors, symbolizing the paths of birth and death.
The following paragraph from Porphyry gives a reasonably adequate conception of the Eleusinian symbolism: " God being a luminous principle, residing in the midst of the most subtle fire, he remains for ever invisible to the eyes of those who do not elevate themselves above material life: on this account, the sight of transparent bodies, such as crystal, Parian marble, and even ivory, recalls the idea of divine light; as the sight of fold excites an idea of its purity, for gold cannot be sullied. Some have thought by a black stone was signified the invisibility of the divine essence. To express supreme reason, the Divinity was represented under the human form-- and beautiful, for God is the source of beauty; of different ages, and in various attitudes, sitting or upright; of one or the other sex, as a virgin or a young man, a husband or a bride, that all the shades and gradations might be marked. Every thing luminous was subsequently attributed to the gods; the sphere, and all that is spherical, to the universe, to the sun and the moon-- sometimes to Fortune and Hope. The circle, and all circular figures, to eternity-- to the celestial movements, to the circles and zones of the heavens. The section of circles, to the phases of the moon; and the pyramids and obelisks, to the igneous principle, and through that to the gods of Heaven. A cone expresses the sun; a cylinder the earth; the phallus and triangle (a symbol of the matrix) designate generation."