The initiates lived in pure regions and consorted with holy men. Once a year they would walk from Athens to Eleusis to be made ecstatic from revelation. A world wide truce was declared that all initiates might come thank the Goddess for the civilized nourishment she bestowed upon the lands.
Their procession began by bringing piglets to the sea for slaughter.
Barbarians were not welcome, neither were those without clean hands nor clear speech. The un-initiated lived in mud and fog. They were trodden under foot. The impious were tried and accursed by the holy families, the families who were the richest, who were granted their holiness by the Gods themselves. Questioning them resulted in exile or death.
Cylindrical was the holy Kistai which were placed on chariots led by sacred virgins. The ribbons which bound the Heira fluttered in the wind as the procession stopped to rest at the consecrated fig tree. They walked on in good cheer, in happiness and joy. Cries to Iacchus rose above the revels of the myrtle enwreathed pilgrims.
At the end of the procession they reached the Greater Propylaea where the sympathetic Kykeon was consumed. Next followed the Dromena, the things which are done, the Legomena, the things which are said and the Deiknymena, the things which are shown.
The initiates lighted their olive oil torches and searched for the sorrowful daughter; the daughter who was seduced by a single narcissus, who was tricked and kidnapped by Hades, the daughter who was abducted to the underworld and ravished.
For two thousand years Eleusis was the center of Demeter and Persephone's religion, now the omphalos is a maze of pipes and tanks. In the month of Boedromion the Telesterion no longer hears a chorus of "HYE KYE!". The bold footed dance no longer happens in flower strewn fields.
The timeless Dromena perseveres however as plutonian pipes penetrate the abducted daughter. The Sacred Way has become the center of petroleum for the region.
The holy families favored by the Gods are still the richest though the burning torches of olive oil have been replaced by the burning of crude oil. The piglets are roasted and the initiates become purified. The unclean are trodden under foot. Iacchus, who aided in the defeat of the Persians, wears a new mantle.
The sublime gift of regeneration lays buried in the Underworld. Cylindrical is the holy Kistai. Persephone is kept in servitude for the bidding of Plouton, there she awaits her mother and the initiates.
photos and text copyright Edmond Deraedt 2017