[Eleusis, Barley Road]
Doves and sparrows seem to be perched on every rooftop, swooping to the pavement in large groups searching for food. As the road is well-traveled, the startled flocks scatter upward frequently to avoid confrontation before returning to the street. It seems impossible that their method provides sustenance, yet all the birds are quite plump.

Eleusis is located northwest of Athens and is perhaps best known for The Telesterion (a large temple dedicated to Demeter) and the Eleusinian Mysteries.

The Mysteries

Happy is he among men upon earth who has seen these mysteries; but he who is uninitiate and who has no part in them never has lot of like good things once he is dead, down in the darkness and gloom.
— hymn to Demeter

The Mysteries were part of an annual celebration in Eleusis in honor of Demeter and her daughter Persephone. After Hades abducted her daughter, Demeter found refuge in the palace of King Keleos of Eleusis and founded her temple there as a show of gratitude. This temple is known as the Telesterion.

Up to three-thousand people could be initiated a year, but only those who had not committed murder and were Greek speaking.

The procession begins in Athens during the in the month of Boedromion (September) with festivities and rites performed for the goddess for four days. On the fifth they start the march to Eleusis during which more rites and sacrifices and purifications took place. The purifications took place in the Aegaean and the sacrifice was usually a piglet. At a certain point along the road to the temple, the procession would stop and the initiates would yell obscenities as a re-enactment of a woman named Iambe who was said to have made Demeter smile for the first time after her loss of Persephone.

On the fifth night the procession would reach Eleusis where they would stop and rest and begin to make preparations for the next day. It was during this time that they mixed a sacred drink called the kykeon. This drink consisted of barley and mint and is thought to have had mind-altering qualities due to trace amounts of a natural fungus found on the barley and other grasses used in the concoction. This substance would be comparable to modern day LSD.

The sixth day was a day of fasting and was the time that the initiates and priests enter the sacred temple and the initiations take place. In the initiation hall they would show sacred objects to the initiates and the priestesses would display a fire symbolizing life after death known as "the holy night". These rituals were kept secret from all but the initiates and priests and it was forbidden that they be spoken of in public.


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License