What a grand spectacle was Persephone’s kidnapping and its consequences! Pluto means ”Earth”, Demeter – ”Wheat” (1) and Persephone – “Seed” (Persephone in Greek means ”hidden fruit or fruit kept secret”). Thus one can soon understand that in the agricultural process Pluto must kidnap or extract the Seed Persephone from the Wheat-Demeter. Who, in her turn is Saturn/Time daughter, since wheat is a Time work. Of course, when Persephone got seized by the earth-ground-soil Pluto she was already in the fields. Pluto brought Persephone to Nether land in his horse-drawn carriage. Demeter starts to look around for the daughter when she is already in Pluto-Earth grasp, that Homer called ”dark earth”. Demeter wanders around night and day with two torches (faci) , which very likely do represent the Sun and Moon. They are two torches/personifications of Demeter/Wheat as well, since through them Persephone-Seed gets discovered. But heat is not enough to make the Persephone/Seed to grow up. Water is also necessary to moisten ground. In fact by means of the subterranean River Aretusa Demeter-Wheat can at last see her hidden daughter. A superior rule states that Persephone cannot be sent back to her mother, because of some pomegranate grains she has eaten. But Demeter wishes to be with her daughter, so Persephone stays six months above the ground as seed/plant, and the other six months as “Wheat” in a granary.
Thus we have turned into deities the most common agricultural things and, at the same time, turned into common things some hidden spiritual-magical doctrines and practices. The word mystification does mean exactly that, that’s to say to give solemnity to common things. But this was just the public part of the Eleusinian rites. Damned who dare to reveal what one have seen and heard through the seven levels of the entire secret ritual. Ascalaphus was condemned to be turned into a night bird to never see the Sun again for having revealed that in the subterranean garden he had swallowed seven pomegranate grains. This sentence to signify the exclusion the frivolous people from the real truth. The pomegranate fruit has a double wall and inner divisions which contains several grains. This symbol was used as emblem by many secrets school and academies.
In ancient Rome a part of the rite was to wander in the fields in a kind of procession to signify a never-ending ritual. Or eternity, since along with Demeter-Ceres her closed friend Anna Perenna, or the eternal in Latin, was celebrated in those processions. So the goddess of agriculture was also of eternity. From this come all the different representations of Demeter: either as companion of Apollo/the Sun, or with red poppies in her head, or multi-breasted, or with sickle and sheaf, or on a double serpent-drawn carriage, or winged with seven planets on the border.
Eleusinian Mysteries were divided in Minor and Major, and five years of meditation were the gap to bridge from the first to the second ones. In front of the temple entrance there were two large stones fitted to be, in certain occasions, overlapped to make some written instruction perfectly readable to priests. The rites were celebrate during the night, in the darkness inside the Goddess temple. In the first chapter Apuleius mentioned to have been to hell (we don’t know if scenic or not) and to have then arrived to heaven through the purgation of all the elements and by means of seven steps. The dark phase was frightful with thunders, lightnings and cries. In the minor Mysteries the many were allowed, but only few of them after five years were allowed to the majors, where the allegories were finally explained.
The Eleusinian Mysteries were celebrated to honor Demeter, in fact the tour ended before a huge statue of the goddess. The difference between Wheat and Seed depended on the use, and that was the source of the differentiation in mother and daughter. We can distinguish in the Seed three different stages: when simple germ it is underground, when it appear above the ground as a tiny plant, and finally as a grown up ear of wheat. These three modifications, one by one, did produced the awful threefold Hecate (Dea Tergemina) who include Persephone, when she is underground, Diana, who loves the Fields, and the Moon, magnificent from the higher zones. The last one in a threefold aspect in her turn: when all invisible, when starts to get visible, and fully visible.
Hecate is a real visual compendium of Eleusinian Mysteries. She had an emblematic role with three heads and four hands which stand for the seven steps we have already encountered in the seven pomegranate grains allegory. Three contemplative degrees and thus three heads. Four active degrees and therefore hands. In the first hand she held a torch, symbol of priestly knowledge; in the second a key, symbol of the language opening the science; in the third a serpent, symbol of the prudence guarding the science; in the fourth a scourge, symbol of punishment for squeakers.
Much has been written about the various degrees of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which makes us understand that the secret learning was larger than what we may suppose. Clemens of Alexandria states that the minor Mysteries was the basis of the learning for the major ones. Which were about things and nature. In the major one there were at least three degrees: the first for those just cleaned of the layperson roughness; the second for those allowed to hold the torch; the third for those allowed to declaim the sacred words.
Synesius writes: ” In the major Mysteries, under the continuos progress of the seed vegetation to the final unveiling of Demeter, are hidden the conditions of the mind.
The Hyle, that’s to say Ύλην the raw part of a human being that Greeks called the first indefinite shape – the matter of things while Latins called it simple matter, in receiving the Divine cannot take it as a whole, but receives the seeds and wraps around them and uses………till the creation of an image is perfect. But if the Mind/Soul is the most divine of the seeds coming from the upper zones, and has its room in the head, and its fruit is the Mind accompanied with the Hyle, we recognize it as the style of nature. Thus the fruit is invisible before the falling of the flower, neither the Mind can be visible before having got rid of superfluous. The seed given to humankind by God is the Mind. The Seed must be perfectly cleaned up”. There is no doubt that Synesius has here given an insight of the Eleusinian Mysteries.
Olympiodorus the younger, in his commentary on Plato’s Phaedo, says: ” For the Soul to descend, it needs to mainly establish an animated image of itself in the body, and secondarily to sympathize with its image because of the similitude of the form“. Thus the Sun is a symbol of the Mind. The Water tending to the bottom and the Sun tending to the upper zones do symbolize the body tending to the earth and the mind tending to the sky.
To be continued.