Thursday, June 5, 2008

Eleusinian Mysteries

Our departure from Athens took us through Elefsina, a very industrial suburb of Athens. My eye caught a sign that rang back to my childhood love of mythology, "Sanctuary of Eleusis", and there it was - the very cave that Hades came up through to abduct the innocent and unsuspecting young Persephone. Could it be? Could I really be cycling through the site of one of the most famous religious festivals of the ancient Greeks? Surrounded by oil refineries and cargo shipyards it hardly seemed believable that I was cycling an ancient route that ran between the Acropolis in Athens and Eleusis the site of the Sanctuary of Demeter. For two thousand years, initiates of the Eleusinian Mysteries travelled this same route to celebrate mother earth, the return of spring, and to be initiated into a cult rumoured to bestow immortality . Today, this site that once venerated the power of mother earth, is surrounded by heavy industry and oil refineries as far as the eye can see.

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