Mystery Religion

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Mystery Religion

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Witchcraft/Wicca is a mystery religion similar to the ancient Greek mysteries. A mystery in this sense is a rite or religion that is kept secret from all but its initiates, who have been trained, prior to the revelations of the rite, by a heirophant, or "revealer of holy things."

There are various parts to a mystery religion initiation: a catharsis, or purification; a palingenesis, or symbolical death and rebirth, with the imparting of new knowledge; a heiros gamos, or sacred marriage with the deity; an orgia, or overpowering emotion, leading to an ekstasis, or getting out of oneself. (The Greek Theo Smyrnaeus referred to this as "the bliss of being god-beloved and sharing the life of the gods.") There is also a final triumphal procession.

Lawson suggests that the reason for secrecy in the mysteries was due, in part, to the intrusion of the Achaeans upon the Pelasgians, whose worship of Demeter was the most holy part of their religion. The Pelasgians would not accept the Achaeans into their rites, hence the performance of them in secret. Yet in Crete these same rites were open to all.

The leitmotif of the mysteries was the marriage of mortals with the gods. In the earliest period for which there is a written record, the principle deities of the mysteries were Demeter and her daughter Kore. (Kore was never styled Persephone in the official language of Eleusis.) The third deity, god of the lower world, was known by the names Pluto and Eubouleus, according to the Homeric hymn to Demeter (circa seventh century BCE) and reaffirmed in an ancient hymn of Pamphos. One view is that Dionysus entered at a somewhat later period, due to the great influence of the Orphic sects, while another view is that he was a part of some inner mystery.

Besides the greater mysteries at Eleusis, there were lesser mysteries at Agrae, on the banks of the Ilissus. Sacrifices were made to the same great goddesses at both. The Oriental mysteries associated with Attis, Cybele, Isis, and Sabzius, were akin to these and came into later Greece and early imperial Rome. However, their orgiastic ecstasy was more violent, with emasculation practiced by the devotees of Attis. Religious dramas were an important part of all the mysteries.


The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
So they created religions, such as mystery religions, to transport them from this soiled world to God's pure and clean world.
Throughout, Verene makes the case for dialectic against Cartesian soliloquy that characterizes too much modern philosophy and for a restoration of that special soul-seeing that Plato took from the Greek mystery religions, theorein, long since rendered as contemplation.
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(Ehrman speculates that mass conversion to Christianity would have occurred even without Constantine.) And wasn't the potent sense of identification with Jesus-as-Savior a headier brew than the dutiful carrying out of ritual obligations to gods whom one could not "contact" in any subjective fashion, save perhaps for practitioners of mystery religions such as Mithraism?
The book helps readers to connect the dots between ancient mythologies, paranormal activities, mystery religions, occult societies, and more.
(52) During the Hellenistic period, both the Greek musterion and Latin mysterium came to describe the so-called 'mystery religions', cults of initiates worshipping Mediterranean and Middle Eastern deities with elaborate, secret ceremonies.
In their floruit, Templargnostic insights go back to the mystery religions and syncretistic thinking characteristic of the earliest beginnings of Christianity and of spiritual movements competing with it.
Among essays focusing on religion are those treating his views on the nature of God, the soul, and popular beliefs such as the evil eye; and the relationship between mystery religions and politics in his era.
"Jesus: The Explosive Story of the 30 Lost Years and the Ancient Mystery Religions" looks at the potential expanded legacy of Jesus of Nazareth and how he could have had spiritual impact on many religions throughout Europe and Asia before he began his more well known tale in Palestine.
Many further meanings have been devised for the Grail, which has been linked to the Celts and King Arthur, the eucharistic rites of Eastern Christianity, ancient mystery religions, Jungian archetypes, dualist heresies, Templar treasures and even the alleged descendants of Christ and Mary Magdalene.
This was one reason why Christianity and the mystery religions were so popular, with Christianity winning out eventually (pp.
Furthermore, with the mythologies of mystery religions and the categories of Neo-Platonic philosophy the early Christians found symbols and categories that enabled them to speak of the ultimate meaning of Jesus within the Hellenistic culture.