The Eleusinian Mysteries & Other Mystery Religions



There was a time when, with the rest of the happy band, they saw beauty shining in brightness --- We philosophers following in the train of Zeus, others in company with other gods; and then we saw the beatific vision and were initiated into a Mystery which may be truly called most blessed, celebrated by us in our state of innocence, before we had any experience of evils to come, when we were admitted to the sight of apparitions innocent and simple and calm and happy, which we saw shining in pure light, pure ourselves and not yet enshrined in that living tomb which we carry about, now that we are imprisoned in the body, like an oyster in his shell..."
-Plato, Phaedrus

"...we have learned from them the fundamentals of life, and have grasped the basis not only for living with joy but also dying with a better hope."
-Cicero on the Mysteries

"Beautiful indeed is the mystery given us by the blessed gods: death is for mortals no longer an evil, but a blessing."
-Inscription found at Eleusis

"There we must ascend again towards the good, desired of every soul. Anyone who has seen this, knows what I intend when I say it is beautiful. Even the desire of it is to be desired as a good. To attain it is for those who will take the upward path, who will set all their forces towards it, who will divest themselves of all that we have put on in our descent:---so, to those who approach the Holy Celebrations of the Mysteries, there are appointed purifications and the laying aside of the garments worn before, and the entry in nakedness---until, passing on the upward way, all that is other than the God, each in the solitude of oneself shall see that solitary-dwelling existence, the apart, the unmingled, the pure, that from which all things depend, for which all look and live and act and know, the source of life and of intellection and of being."
-Plotinus First Ennead VI, 7

"[Upon dying] the soul suffers an experience similar to those who celebrate the great initiations... Wanderings astray in the beginning, tiresome walking in circles, some frightening paths in darkness that lead nowhere; then immediately before the end all the terrible things, panic and shivering and sweat, and amazement. And then some wonderful light comes to meet you, pure regions and meadows are there to greet you, with sounds and dances and solemn, sacred words and holy views; and there the initiate, perfect by now, set free and loose from all bondage, walks about, crowned with a wreath, celebrating the festival together with the other sacred and pure people, and he looks down on the uninitiated, unpurified crowd in this world in mud and fog beneath his feet."