“The most famous of the ancient religious Mysteries were the Eleusinian, whose rites were celebrated every five years in the city of Eleusis to honor Ceres (Demeter, Rhea, or Isis) and her daughter, Persephone. The initiates of the Eleusinian School were famous throughout Greece for the beauty of their philosophical concepts and the high standard of morality which they demonstrated in their daily lives. Because of their excellence, these Mysteries spread to Rome and Britain, … The Eleusinian Mysteries, names for the community in Attica where the sacred dramas were first presented, are generlly believed to have been founded by Eumolpos about fourteen hundred years before the birth of Christ, and through the Platonic system of philosophy their principles have been preserved to modern times. .. There is every reason to believe that all so-called secret schools of the ancient world were branches from one philosophic tree which, with it roots in heaven and its branches on the earth, is—like the spirit of man—an invisible but ever-present cause of the vehicles that give it expression.” ~Manly P. Hall
First, let me correct one common error in this quote. Christ was not born 2000 years ago, Jesus was. Christ is an eternal spirit that, for a time, dwelled in the body of Jesus. Since Christ is eternal, nothing could have happened before He was born.
There were, apparently, many ancient mystery schools. In all of these schools, it was important for the mysteries practiced and taught to be kept secret. Yet somehow most of these schools taught essentially the same thing. And it wasn’t just in Europe and Asia. Similar teaching can be found among ancient civilization in Africa and South America as well. Hall gives one excellent explanation for this: the teachings came down to Earth from Heaven. In fact, these mystery schools could be considered branches of the one school of truth and wisdom fond in Heaven (or the worlds of spirit, if you prefer). In a sense, satellite campuses of the one school. The Essenes, of which most spiritual schools now agree that Jesus and His family belonged to, were one of these schools and taught that they had existed for thousands of years despite the historians who think they were only in existence for a few hundred years. They can’t seem to comprehend that the same group was known by different names in different places and times.
I like the way Hall wrote, “ and the high standard of morality which they demonstrated in their daily lives.” Today, we see many churches, and even some spiritual schools and teachers, who preach one thing, but practice another. They tell people to live simply, and give to God, while their ministers live in luxury. They tell people to get along and live in peace, then support sending young people off to fight in a war because the politicians can’t get along. So it is great that the Eleusinians taught good moral behavior through their actions as well as their words. But their mysteries were about much more than simple morality.
Much of what was taught in this school remains unknown, but we can assume it was similar to other schools including those of Pythagoras, Plato, and the Gnostics. We do know that following certain major ceremonies, they held an all-night feast called Pannychis, which sounds much like the Essene celebration of Pannuches that was held every fifty days. Symbols found on Eleusinian art such as seeds, corn, and a winged chariot are good indications that this was a school that, like all real spiritual schools, taught it’s students to gaze upon the spiritual sun so it’s light would awaken and nourish the soul.