Tonight marks the start of the preperatory days for the Eleusinian Mysteries. Tonight--but most likely tomorrow morning--in the daylight hours of the thirteenth of Boedromion, riders would assemble. They were 'epheboi' (youths) and traveled to Eleusis, and back to Athens the day after, to bring the Ta Hiera (the Holy Things) to Athens, where they were received at the shrine to Demeter, the Eleusinion, on the Acropolis. It is possible priestesses of Demeter and Persephone joined the epheboi on the journey back to Athens, and they carried the holy objects themselves, perhaps on their heads. Villagers might have accompanied them as well.

The procession along the twelve miles of the 'Hieros Hodos' (the Sacred Way) that ran between Athens and Eleusis would have arrived at Athens at the end of the day, no doubt being welcomed by celebrants already in the city. The head priestess of Demeter would have climbed up to the Akropolis to announce the arrival of the Ta Hiera, and the religious ambassadors in entourage, to the priestess of Athena. In this way, the relationship of these two Goddesses and of their two, once independent regions, was established, and celebrants became free to travel to Eleusis the day after.

On the fifteenth the Mysteries would have actually started, with a procession back to Eleusis by all participants. To celebrate this events, I would like to gather some of the more important blog posts on the Mysteries I have written thus far, so those interested in the Mysteries can more easily find the information they are looking for.

The Eleusinian Mysteries
A short introduction to the Mysteries, which includes the mythological reason for the festival and the rewards for being innitiated.

Eleusinian festivals
A summary of the festivals included in the cycle of the Mysteries. It also includes a description of the way the days of the Mysteries would have been spent--as well as we can gather about a mystery tradition, of course.

The ancient tradition of Martes
Martes were pieces of string, worn around the wrist. The innitiates of the Mysteries recieved yellow ones on the way to Eleusis.

On Persephone and Spring
A writer's perspective on the myth of Persephone's abduction.

Dadoukhoi: torch bearers
On the importance of torches and torch bearers in the Eleusinian Mysteries.

It's not possible to reconstruct the ancient practices of the Mysteries, but we can take a moment to appreciate the massive undertaking they were, and how sacred they were in ancient Hellas. I will be offering to Demeter and Persephone daily from now on, until the 23th of the month. There are also dietary choices one can make: for example, the innitiates went without pomegranates, apples, eggs, fowls, and some varieties of fish for the duration of the Mysteries. As I don't eat grains and meat (save fish), it's not possible for me to completely cut out eggs and fish for this long a period (as they are major parts of my diet), but I will take care to avoid everything I can avoid, and to limit my intake of the rest. Will you be celebrating the Mysteries in some way? I would love to hear how.