Our Lady of Celestial Fire

Greater (Eleusinian) Mysteries: 5th Day (March to Eleusis)

October 3

(Greek) Ancient: 15–21 Boedromion (the festival begins on the full moon and continues to the third quarter)
In origin the Great (Eleusinian) Mysteries were a festival for the autumn sowing. They are, of course, mysteries, so some things about them remain concealed, in particular, the contents of the Sacred Kistai (boxes) and the actual initiation of the Mustai (Initiates). Anyone can be initiated, regardless of age or sex.

The festival is conducted by the Archon Basileus and four assistants. Two of these, the Hierophantes and Dadoukhos (Torch Bearer) wear the ependutes (a long-sleeved tunic ornamented at the hem and shoulders), headband and Thracian knee-boots; they carry one or two long torches. Further, there are Mustagogoi (Initiate Guides), who guide individual postulants, often their friends, through the initiation.

5th day: March to Eleusis
The mounted Epheboi, the postulant Mustai, their Mustagogoi, initiated Mustai, and the officials escort Ta Hiera back to Eleusis. The procession begins at the shrine of Iakkhos, and His priest, the Iakkhagogos (Iakkhos Guide), leads the procession with the sacred image of Iakkhos, which depicts Him as a torch-bearing youth. Iakkhos is the Eleusinian name of Dionysos/Bacchus; in the procession He is the joyous attendant of the Two Goddesses, and mediates between Them and the Mustai. The marchers are accompanied by musicians (flute, harp, voice); all join in the ecstatic cry, “Iakkhe!” (Shout!).

The Mustai wear garlands of myrtle and may carry bakkhoi, which are bundles of myrtle branches tied with wool; they may also carry a sack of travel necessities on a pole. Religious observances are made at sacred sites along the way. At one place the Krokidai tie a yellow woolen thread (kroke) on the right hand and left leg of each postulant. At another place disguised men verbally abuse the postulants, which may drive away bad luck. The final part of the procession is by torchlight, because Demeter is traditionally depicted seeking Kore by torchlight.

At night the postulant offers to Demeter the Kernos, which is an earthenware dish with many small cups attached; small offerings of the fruits of the earth (grain, peas, beans, etc.) are placed in the cups. The postulant shares these with the Goddess.