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Pagan Origin of Partialist Doctrines by Pitrat

Presided by the second of the Archontes


"The

celebrations are presided by the second of the Archontes, whose duty is to keep order, and to prevent any change or alteration in the worship. They last several days. Sometimes those initiated interrupt their sleep to continue their pious exercises: we saw them during the night crossing the enclosure, walking in silence two by two, and holding each one a lighted torch. When they reentered the sacred asylum they hastened their march; and I learned that they were going to figure the courses of Ceres and of Proserpine; and that, in their rapid evolutions, they shook their torches, and handed them to each other. The light which springs out, it is said, has the virtue of purifying the souls, and becomes the symbol of the light which ought to instruct them.

"One day games were celebrated in the honor of the two goddesses. Famous champions had come from various parts of Greece, and the prize was a measure of barley, raised in the neighboring plain, whose inhabitants hold from Ceres the art of cultivating this sort of wheat. On the sixth day, the most brilliant of all, the priests of the temple, and those initiated, carried from Athens to Eleusis, the statue of Iacchus, said to be the son of Ceres or of Proserpine. The god, crowned with myrtle, held a flambeau. About thirty thousand people followed, making the air resound with the name of Iacchus. The march, led by the sound of instruments and the singing of hymns, was sometimes suspended to perform

dances and sacrifices. The statue was introduced in the temple of Eleusis, and then taken back in his own, with the same splendors, and the same ceremonies.

"Many of those who composed the procession had been initiated only to the minor mysteries, annually celebrated in a small temple, situated near the Illissus. There a priest examines and prepares the candidates; he excludes them if they are guilty of enormous crimes, and particularly if they have committed murder, even without purpose. He imposes upon the others frequent expiations, and teaches them the first rudiments of the sacred doctrine. This noviciate sometimes lasts several years, but generally one only. During the time of probation, the candidates assist at the celebration of the major mysteries; but they remain at the door of the temple.

"The initiation to the great mysteries had been appointed for the night following. One of the preparatory ceremonies was the offering of sacrifices, for the prosperity of the state, presided by the second of the Archontes. The novices were crowned with myrtle. Their robes seem to contract such a holiness that many of them wear them until they are worn out; others make of them swaddling-clothes for their children, or hang them in the temple. We saw them enter in the sacred hall; and, on the next morning, one of my friends, who had been newly initiated, related to me many of the ceremonies which he had witnessed.

"He told me, 'We found the ministers of the temple dressed in their pontifical robes. The Hierophant, who, in that moment, represents the author of the universe, had symbols which designated the power supreme. The flambeau-bearer and the assistant to the altar appeared with the attributes of the sun and of the moon; and the sacred herald with those of Mercury. We had just taken our seats when the herald exclaimed: 'Away from here ye profane and impious men, and all those whose souls are contaminated with crimes!' The penalty of death was decreed against those who had the temerity of remaining in the temple without being entitled to it, after this admonition. The second of the priests ordered that the skins of the victims be spread beneath our feet; and he purified us anew. The rituals of initiation were loudly read, and hymns in the honor of Ceres were sung.


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