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the vernal equinox, in the neighbourhood of a marsh, like the festival of Saïs, in Egypt. On the night preceding the initiation the spouse of the hierophant sacrificed a ram. She represented the spouse of Bacchus, and when seated as such on the throne, the priests and initiated of both sexes exclaimed: “Hail spouse, hail new light!” The aspirant was purified by fire, water, and air, passing through trials similar to those described elsewhere (e.g., 42), and finally, was introduced into the sanctuary crowned with myrtle and dressed in the skin of a fawn.
70. Sabazian Mysteries.—Sabazius was a name of Bacchus, probably derived from Siva, whose astronomical meaning is the planetary system of countless suns and stars. The mysteries were performed at night, and represented the amours of Jupiter, in the form of a serpent, and Proserpina. A golden-others say a living-serpent was introduced into the bosom of the candidate, who exclaimed, “Evoe! Sabai ! Bacchi! Anes! Attes ! Hues!” Evoe or Eve in most languages of antiquity meant both serpent and life; whence Adam's wife was so called, and whence the origin of the serpent-worship of the ancient world. When Moses lifted up a brazen serpent in the Wilderness, the afflicted Hebrews knew that it was a sign of preservation. Sabai has already been explained; Hues and Attes were other names of Bacchus. These mysteries continued to be celebrated to the last days of paganism, and in the days of Domitian, 7000 initiated were found in Rome alone.
71. Mysteries of the Cabiri. The name of the Cabiri was derived originally from Phænicia; the word signifies “powerful.” There were four gods — Aschieros, Achiochersus, Achiochersa, and Cashmala, answering to the Ceres, Pluto, Proserpina, and Camillus of the Greeks. The last was slain by his three brothers, who carried away with them the reproductive organs; and this allegorical murder was celebrated in the secret rites. Camillus is the same as Osiris, Adonis, and others, all subject to the same mutilation, all symbolising the sun's loss of generative power during winter. The chief places for the celebration of these mysteries were the islands of Samothrace and Lemnos. The priests were called Corybantes. There is much perplexity connected with this subject; since, besides what is mentioned above, the mysteries are also said to have been instituted in honour of Atys, the son of Cybele. Atys means the sun, and the mysteries were celebrated at the vernal equinox, and there cannot, therefore, be any doubt that, like all the other
mysteries in their period of decay, they represented the enigmatical death of the sun in winter and his regeneration in the spring. The ceremonies lasted three days. The first day was one of sadness: a cruciform pine with the image of Atys attached to it was cut down, the mutilated body of Atys having been discovered at the foot of such a tree; the second day was a day of trumpets, which were blown to awaken the god from his deathlike sleep; and the third day, that of joy, was the day of initiation and celebration of his return to life.
72. Eleusinian Mysteries.—The Eleusinian mysteries were celebrated in honour of Ceres, the Isis of Greece; whilst Osiris appears as Proserpine—for the death of Osiris and the carrying off of Proserpine to the infernal regions symbolise the same thing, viz., the sun's disappearance during the winter season. The mysteries were originally celebrated only at Eleusis, a town of Attica, but eventually extended to Italy and even to Britain. Like all other mysteries, they were divided into the greater and the less, and the latter, like the Bacchic and Cabiric rites, lasted nine days, and were merely preparatory, consisting of lustrations and sacrifices. The ceremonies of initiation into the greater mysteries were opened by the herald exclaiming: “Retire, O ye profane.” A flat piece of wood, such as in England is called a whizzer, or bull-roarer, or a wheel (the póußos), was whirled round, at the same time, so as to produce a roaring sound. (For a curious parallel see “Miscellaneous Societies.") The aspirant was presented naked, to signify his total helplessness and dependence on Providence. He was clothed with the skin of a calf. An oath of secrecy was then administered, and he was asked : “Have you eaten bread ?” The reply was
Proserpine cannot return to the earth because she has eaten of the fruit of the infernal regions; Adam falls when he tastes of earthly fruit. “ I have drunk the sacred mixture, I have been fed from the basket of Ceres; I have laboured; I have entered into the bed.” That is to say, he had been placed in the pastos, in which the aspirant for initiation was immured during the period of his probation (42). He was then made to pass through a series of trials, similar in character to those adopted in other mysteries, after which he was introduced into the inner temple, where he beheld the statue of the goddess Ceres, surrounded by a dazzling light. The candidate, who had heretofore been called a mystes, or novice, was now termed epoptes, or eye-witness, and the secret doctrine was revealed. The assembly was then
closed with the Sanscrit words, “ Konx om pax.” According to Captain Wilford, the words Canscha om Pacsha, of which the above is a Greek corruption, are still used at the religious meetings and ceremonies of the Brahmin another proof, if it were needed, that the mysteries are of Eastern origin. Canscha signifies the object of our most ardent desires; om is the monosyllable used at the beginning and end of a prayer, answering to our word amen, and pacsha is equivalent to the obsolete Latin word vix, meaning change, turn, or fortune.
We know very little of the mysteries of ancient Yucatan, but from what has come down to us through the Maya, or native language, we know this remarkable fact, that the priests dismissed their mystic congregations with the words « Con-ex Omon Pault !” meaning “Strangers, depart.” It is also noteworthy that they used the symbols of ancient Egypt, and that the doors of their temples devoted to the mysteries, such as those at Labnah and Uxmal, had the same
as those of the Chaldean temples, or of the
Great Pyramid of Ghizeh. It will be noticed that in this figure, the two ends being closed with doors, you have an apartment with seven plane surfaces, exclusive of the floor.
73. Doors of Horn and Ivory.—The sixth book of the Æneid," and the “Golden Ass” of Apuleius, contain descriptions of what passed in the celebration of the Eleusinian Mysteries. In the former work, Æneas and his guide, having finished their progress through the infernal regions, are dismissed through the ivory gate of dreams. But there was another gate of horn through which the aspirant entered; for all caverns of initiation had two gates, one called the descent to hell, the other the ascent of the just. The ancient poets said that through the gate of horn issued true visions, and through the gate of ivory false. Now from this, and the fact that Æneas and his guide issue through it, it has been inferred by some critics that Virgil meant to intimate that all he had said concerning the infernal regions was to be considered a fable. But such could not be the poet's intention. What he really implied was that a future state was a real state, whilst the representations thereof in the mysteries were only shadows. The ivory gate itself was no other than the sumptuous door of the temple, through which the initiated came out when the ceremony was over.
74. Suppression of Eleusinian Mysteries.—These mysteries
survived all others; they shone with great splendour when the secret worship of the Cabiri, and even of Egypt, had already disappeared, and were not suppressed until the year 396 of our era by the pitiless Theodosius the Great, who, in his zeal for the Christian religion, committed the greatest cruelties against unbelievers.
75. The Thesmophoria.—The term signifies a legislative festival, and refers specially to the symbolic rites forming part of the festival consecrated to Ceres, who was said to have given to the Greeks sound laws founded on agriculture and property,
of which chosen women in the solemn processions of the Thesmophoria carried at Eleusis the tablets on which the laws were written; hence the name of the festival, which was one of legislation and semination. We have only fragmentary notices concerning these festivals, though we derive some information from Aristophanes'
Thesmophoriazusæ," which, however, is very slight, as it would have been dangerous for him, in alluding to these mysteries, to employ more than general and simple designations. We discover, however, that they were celebrated in the month of October, and lasted three or four days. Females only took part in them, and it was death for a man to enter the temple. Every tribe of Athens chose two females, born in wedlock and married, and distinguished for virtue. The men who possessed a capital of three talents were compelled to give their wives the money necessary to defray the cost of the festivals. For nine days also there was to be total forbearance between married couples; for the Thesmophoria not only had reference to agriculture, but also to the more intimate relations between man and wife. As Ceres, or the Earth, mourned for the absence of Proserpiņe, or the sun, so the Athenian women mourned during the celebration for the absence of the light of love.
76. Aim of Grecian Mysteries more Moral than Religious.The object of the initiation into the mysteries of Greece was more moral than religious, differing in this from the Indian and Egyptian mysteries, that were religious, scientific, and political. For at the time of their introduction into Greece science had ceased to be the prerogative of the few; the political life of that country had stirred up the energy of the people and made it the architect of its own greatness. We therein behold already the dawn of a new era, the decay of the ancient Nature-worship, and a tendency to, and endeavour on the part of mankind after, inquiry and free striving to overcome Nature, which is diametrically opposed
to the spirit of antiquity, which consisted in the total resignation and surrender of the individual to the influences of the All. Pythagoras was one of the first representatives of this new tendency. He divided his followers into exoterics and esoterics. After his death the latter joined the Orphic league, so called after the fabulous singer Orpheus. The hymns attributed to him were probably composed by Onomakritos (circa 516 B.C.). They breathe the spirit of what in modern phraseology would be called pietism, though representing the worship of Dionysius instead of that of Christ. The Orpheothelestes, as the vagabondising priests of the league were styled, became notorious as mountebanks and cheats.