(continued from last post) D.) The Eleusinian Mysteries: where the Shamanic Experience mer

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(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 home. (continued next post)

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