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The Eleusinian Mysteries and Rites   By: (1868-1949)

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THE ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES

By

DUDLEY WRIGHT

INTRODUCTION BY THE REV. J. FORT NEWTON, D.Litt., D.D.

Past Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Iowa, U.S.A.

THE THEOSOPHICAL PUBLISHING HOUSE

LONDON DENVER

1919

[Illustration]

Reproduced by permission of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

PLAN OF THE SACRED BUILDINGS OF ELEUSIS.

1. Temple of Artemis Propylæa. 2. Outer Propylæon. 3. Inner Propylæon. 4. Temple of Demeter. 5. Outer Enclosure of the Sacred Buildings. 6. Inner Enclosure.

PREFACE

At one time the Mysteries of the various nations were the only vehicle of religion throughout the world, and it is not impossible that the very name of religion might have become obsolete but for the support of the periodical celebrations which preserved all the forms and ceremonials, rites and practices of sacred worship.

With regard to the connection, supposed or real, between Freemasonry and the Mysteries, it is a remarkable coincidence that there is scarcely a single ceremony in the former that has not its corresponding rite in one or other of the Ancient Mysteries. The question as to which is the original is an important one to the student. The Masonic antiquarian maintains that Freemasonry is not a scion snatched with a violent hand from the Mysteries whether Pythagorean, Hermetic, Samothracian, Eleusinian, Drusian, Druidical, or the like but is the original institution, from which all the Mysteries were derived. In the opinion of the renowned Dr. George Oliver: "There is ample testimony to establish the fact that the Mysteries of all nations were originally the same, and diversified only by the accidental circumstances of local situation and political economy." The original foundation of the Mysteries has, however, never been established. Herodotus ascribed the institution of the Eleusinian Mysteries to Egyptian influences, while Pococke declares them to have been of Tartar origin, and to have combined Brahmanical and Buddhistic ideas. Others are equally of opinion that their origin must be sought for in Persia, while at least one writer and who, in these days, will declare the theory to be fanciful? ventures the opinion that it is not improbable that they were practised among the Atlanteans.

The Eleusinian Mysteries those rites of ancient Greece, and later of Rome, of which there is historical evidence dating back to the seventh century before the Christian era bear a very striking resemblance in many points to the rituals of both Operative and Speculative Freemasonry. As to their origin, beyond the legendary account put forth, there is no trace. In the opinion of some writers of repute an Egyptian source is attributed to them, but of this there is no positive evidence. There is a legend that St. John the Evangelist a character honoured and revered by Freemasons was an initiate of these Mysteries. Certainly, more than one of the early Fathers of the Christian Church boasted of his initiation into these Rites. The fact that this is the first time that an attempt has been made to give a detailed exposition of the ceremonial and its meaning in the English language will, it is hoped, render the articles of interest and utility to students of Masonic lore.

As to the influence of the Mysteries upon Christianity, it will be seen that in more than one instance the Christian ritual bears a very close resemblance to the solemn rites of the Latin and Greek Mysteries.

The Bibliography at the end does not claim to be exhaustive, but it will be found to contain the principal sources of our knowledge of the Eleusinian Mysteries.

DUDLEY WRIGHT.

OXFORD.

CONTENTS

PREFACE

INTRODUCTION

I. THE ELEUSINIAN LEGEND.

II. THE RITUAL OF THE MYSTERIES

III. PROGRAMME OF THE GREATER MYSTERIES

IV. THE INITIATORY RITES

V. THEIR MYSTICAL SIGNIFICANCE

BIBLIOGRAPHY.

INTRODUCTION BY THE REV. J. FORT NEWTON, D.LITT., D.D.,

Past Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Iowa.

Few aspects of the history of the human spirit are more fascinating than the story of the Mysteries of antiquity, one chapter of which is told in the following pages with accuracy, insight, and charm... Continue reading book >>




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