Sacred Mysteries

Sacred Mysteries

Sacred Mysteries were initiatory rituals or ritual cycles in the ancient world which revealed secret wisdom to participants. Some examples include the Eleusinian Mysteries of ancient Greece and the Mysteries of Dionysos in Rome, and the initiatory mystery religion of Mithraism, also from the Roman period. These rituals and ritual cycles were characterized by solemn oaths of silence, so many of the secrets revealed in them are now lost, or can only be pieced together through comments made by initiates who later converted to Christianity and rejected their prior pagan experiences.

Modern Pagan practitioners have resurrected some of these Mystery initiation traditions by creating new rituals that draw on the symbology and what is known about the meanings of the ancient ones. I am an initiate (a Mystai) in a modern recreation of the Eleusinian Mysteries, and participated as a cast member in two more Eleusinian ritual cycles in subsequent years. We had the advantage of being able to use as a site a complex of caves in a national park, so when it came time to “descend into the Underworld”, that involved a pitch-black staircase of nearly 100 steps.

This was all nearly 20 years ago, mind you. But being involved in these resurrected traditions got me interested in the idea of Mysteries: what they’re for, why they were important in ages now gone. And it showed me that rituals that “reveal” or highlight meaningful “secrets” to initiates can be deeply moving and impactful.

So that got me to wondering: If I were going to create “Atheopagan Mysteries”, what would they be intended to reveal? Typically, there are a small number of meaningful concepts revealed in a mystery ritual—say, four or five; what would they be?

Perhaps the Four Pillars of Atheopaganism? Or a selection of the Atheopagan Principles? An all-night ritual in which initiates are introduced through symbolic, metaphorical ritual activities to the emotional heart of the practice, what makes it meaningful and true?

Time the final revelation for sunrise, and that could be really powerful.

Definitely something to ponder.

Worth fleshing out, for certain. I have a lot more ideas but don’t want to telegraph them here, so someday I can put the event on and the contents will still be a surprise…

I will put more thought into it.

Perhaps, if you like, you can develop your own.



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