Ecclesia Ordinis Caelestis Templum Olympicus/Celestial Order and Temple of Olympus

Greater (Eleusinian) Mysteries: Preparatory

September 27

(Greek) Ancient: 15–21 Boedromion (the festival begins on the full moon and continues to the third quarter)
In origin the Great (Eleusinian) Mysteries were a festival for the autumn sowing. They are, of course, mysteries, so some things about them remain concealed, in particular, the contents of the Sacred Kistai (boxes) and the actual initiation of the Mustai (Initiates). Anyone can be initiated, regardless of age or sex.

The festival is conducted by the Archon Basileus and four assistants. Two of these, the Hierophantes and Dadoukhos (Torch Bearer) wear the ependutes (a long-sleeved tunic ornamented at the hem and shoulders), headband and Thracian knee-boots; they carry one or two long torches. Further, there are Mustagogoi (Initiate Guides), who guide individual postulants, often their friends, through the initiation.

Preparations begin two days before the Mysteries proper (13 Boedromion, c. Sept. 27): on the 13th two mounted Epheboi (Youths) travel to Eleusis and on the 14th they accompany Ta Hiera (the Holy Things), contained in round Kistai bound with purple ribbons, which are brought by wagon to Athens, where they are received at the shrine (Eleusinion). (Mylonas has guessed that Ta Hiera are Mycenean goddess figures.) An official, the Phaidruntes (Cleaner) of the Two Goddesses, reports their arrival to Athena’s priestess (as at the Skira, c. June 27, Athena’s priestess pays her respects to Demeter’s). (The Two Goddesses are, of course, Demeter and Persephone, but Their names are considered too sacred to be mentioned in the rites.)