Initiation into the Mysteries

Bremmer, Jan N., Initiation into the Mysteries of the Ancient World (De Gruyter, 2013), has been published now as an ‘Open Access’ book, thus downloadable to read (thanks to Larry  Hurtado for the info).

The publisher states: “It gives a ‘thick description’ of the major Mysteries, not only of the famous Eleusinian Mysteries, but also those located at the interface of Greece and Anatolia: the Mysteries of Samothrace, Imbros and Lemnos as well as those of the Corybants. It then proceeds to look at the Orphic-Bacchic Mysteries, which have become increasingly better understood due to the many discoveries of new texts in the recent times. Having looked at classical Greece we move on to the Roman Empire, where we study not only the lesser Mysteries, which we know especially from Pausanias, but also the new ones of Isis and Mithras. We conclude our book with a discussion of the possible influence of the Mysteries on emerging Christianity.”

The book kan be  downloaded in chapters (as pdf files), or as a whole.

Visiting Elevsis

DSCN1134
If you go to Greece, studying their ancient religious traditions, Elevsis (Elefsina), ca. 30 km outside Athens, is surely a place you ought to see.
Being one of the most famous sites of the ancient mystery cults, it has a history going back to ca 700 BCE. But to have a good understanding of the site, you need to know the story behind it, that is, the story of Demeter and Kore. You can read about the legend here:

DSCN1132
Part of the great hall were family and friends were on-lookers to the rituals of initiation their friends were undergoing. The room shall have been able to keep ca 3000 persons. We can still see the seats on two of the sides, but not much is left of the rest of this location.