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Author: Dusty Dionne
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For the history of the Eleusinian Mysteries Oath is one of the most prevalent topics when discussing the Mysteries. The main reason for this is because without the oath, we would know exactly what was done in each part of the Sacred Rites. As it stand we know a fair bit about what happened in the Lesser Mysteries, but not so much as to what happened in the Greater Mysteries. Scholars, many of which have worked with the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, have pieced together a great deal of what they think happened, but that oath has stood strong to keep the complete mystery of the rites shadowed in time.
The Mysteries are known as a ‘cursed rite’ in that if one is to break their vows connected with the production and/or sanctity of the Mysteries and their secrets, they can have unintended consequences. It is said that in ancient times. when people spoke of what they saw to others, often they would wind up killed. This is why we have stories of what happened in the Lesser Mysteries, but not so much the Greaters. The people who would have been loose lipped were often removed from the equation.; leaving only the truly devout and honorable to live long enough to return to the great city for the second part.
At the recreation at Fort Flagler, these oaths are still enacted. In the Theater, before the Gods and your fellow pilgrims, you are asked if you are willing to keep the secrets that you are reveled. Three times the participants are asked if they will keep the secrets of the mysteries, knowing that to share them with those that have not experienced them would cheapen their own experience, as those that they attempted to enlighten would have not experienced the sacredness of their epiphany. Epiphany’s at their core are unsharable. Bolts of realization that convey a feeling through your bones of a new, and more profound understanding on a subject. How can you share that in a conversation with someone who has no context to apply it to? You can’t. You can only drain your experience of its magic as the person paints it black with their misunderstanding. As you attempt over and over again to explain how sacred the experience is, and they continue to reply with a simple “I don’t know. It sounds cool, I guess”
So what does that mean? Don’t talk about the people you see there? Don’t talk about the rituals? The food? The location? Don’t talk about ANYTHING??!?
Well that is a fine question, and one that in the past few weeks has been getting some attention as we get within just a few weeks of Spring Mysteries Festival 30. So let’s talk about it. When you take your oath you are asked not to reveal the things you see at the festival, but this doesn’t mean that you cant speak about EVERYTHING you experience. For many, the pilgrimage to The Pacific North West can be costly, and time consuming. The Mysteries throughout have always demanded the time, treasures, and talents of those involved and attending. It would further cheapen your experience if you couldn’t talk about your how much the event meant to you. So below are two lists of examples of things that would and would not break your oaths.
Oath Keepers. These are the things you can do that will keep your oath.
- A person coming to the Mysteries is taking a pilgrimage that is highly spiritual. Even if she has never come to the festival before, and has no idea what to expect, the time and treasure involved have already made her connected to the energy of the rites. It is fully appropriate to tell the people around you about the experience you are about to embark on. Tell your social media, friends, family (considering you are open in your life with your faith, and comfortable with people knowing you are attending a Pagan Passion Play) and the person sitting next to you on the bus if you are so inclined. It is a beautiful thing to be proud of your spirituality, and you should express it as much as your comfortable.
- There are many things that happen at the Mysteries that are not ritual. There is a Talent Show, Workshops, Auctions, Eight Wonderful Meals, Wild Animals, Hiking Trails, and an entire Fort to explore. These things are all open game to talk about. (With some restrictions that we will get into in Oath Breakers) Some amazingly talented, dynamic, and life changing events, acts, and items from the auction come across peoples paths. How better to honor your experience by allowing that sword you got at the auction to have it’s story told to those that ask about it? Telling them that you got it at a life changing event called Spring Mysteries Festival. That it came from a Priestess in the community and how you got in a bidding war, but it came home with you. That’s a powerful experience. You should share it.
- Did you have a good time at the event, and you want your best friend to come with you? You are fully at liberty to talk about the festival with people. You can tell them they should come. It’s an amazingly life changing event that has 30 years of history behind it. You can tell them about the sleeping arrangements. We have barracks that we sleep in, as well as housing that can be rented for extra. The fort, itself. Fort Flagler is out in Nordland, WA on the Puget Sound. It was the long range gun battery that would have been the first munitions to fire at ships attacking from the Pacific during WWII. The amount of rituals. There are 4 parts to the Eleusinian Mysteries Proper: Parade to the Sea, The Lesser Mysteries 1 and 2, and The Greater Mysteries. There is also historically a Skyclad Ritual, as well as a tertiary ritual of some sort, depending on the year. The schedule. It is a Pagan Passion Play. So it is not a ‘sleep in and go to the workshops later in the day’ event. It is a ‘get up at 7am each day and interact in a highly participatory weekend long ritual’ event. The food. Eight wonderful meals. Meals are on a tight schedule to work with the ritual. Most food issues are taken care of. The headliners. Did you meet Selena Fox? Oberon Zell? Terry Riley? Sonya Hill-Miller? Willo’ Wellspring and Alfred Willowhawk? Share your experience. What did you learn from them? What did seeing them mean to you? The workshops (unless otherwise stated) Did you learn a lot? How was the teaching? The myth. The Eleusinian Mysteries are the story of the Kore’s abduction by Hades into the underworld, the blighting of the world by Demeter at the loss of her daughter, and the reemergence of the Holy Daughter as Persephone, Queen of the Underworld. This is not a secret, this is historic fact. Are there deeper lessons revealed through the administering of these sacred rites in ritual form? Yes. Can You talk about those? That brings me to our next part:
Oath Breakers: The things you cant do, or else you have broken your oath.
- No. You can not tell people what happens within the ritual as it is presented at the event. You cant talk about any of it. The Gods, the presentation, the words spoken, the specifics of a particular God or their costume, or anything that happens in any of the secondary or tertiary rituals. Likewise you cant speak on any workshop that teaches a broader view of the mysteries themselves. These Workshops are always marked as sensitive.
- Likewise we have 2 levels of participants. Mystai (Mist-eye) and Epoptai (EE-pop-tie). Mystai are those who have been through the Mysteries one time. They are able to see the Parade to the Sea, and Lessers 1 and 2. They are welcome to talk about their complete experience with any other Mystai or Epoptai. Epoptai are those that have seen the Mysteries at least 2 times, and have been through the Greater Mysteries. They are only at liberty to talk about their experience in the Greaters with other Epoptai.
- You cannot talk about the participants that attend with you. You never know who attends in silence without telling their world about their spirituality. It is their right to keep their activities to themselves, and so if a person is a simple participant, you should never talk about seeing them at them event
- No Pictures. You can take pictures of you and your friends, by yourselves, with no person or prop in the background. Catalog your experience, but keep it your experience, and leave the other participants who arent aware of your promotions, out of it.
And there you have it. Now you know how to keep your oath. Now you know that you are fully open to tell people who you are, and what you do. Just keep the mysteries safe for those that long to experience them, and allow us to unfold the spirit of those that your stories have touched, who now long to attend. Children of the Goddess, it’s time to come home. See you there, SMFPilgrim.