Mystiria (Mysteria or Musteria; Gr. Μυστήρια, ΜΥΣΤΗΡΙΑ. Latin: Mysteria. Both the Greek and Latin words are plural) Pronunciation: mees-TEE-ree-ah.
Mystiria is the Greek word for what is commonly called The Mysteries or Mystery Religion. In simplest terms, Mystiria is the deeper aspect of Hellenismos. The Mysteries are sacred teachings, rites, and initiations to develop aræti (arete; Gr. ἀρετή). Mystiria is a means of accelerating the natural progression of the soul. Mystiria is for those who wish to venture fully into Hellenismos, to put the religion into practice, and to accomplish something significant with one's life. Mystiria pierces through the mask of thriskeia (= religion; Gr. θρησκεία), journeying beyond the outside shell of religion to the very core of what is actually important. Mystiria is not outside of and independent from the rest of the Greek tradition, but consists of teachings within the body of Hellenismos, teachings which are central to Hellenismos. The Mysteries are, in fact, the very heart of Hellenismos, without which the entire tradition is superficial. Orphefs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς) is regarded as the founder of all Mysteries. 
The most prominent of the formal Mysteries from antiquity are the Ælefsinian (Eleusinian) Mysteries. Mystiria is intimately connected with the rites of Dionysos (Gr. Διόνυσος) and that of Dimitir (Demeter; Gr. Δημήτηρ) and her daughter Pærsæphoni (Persephone; Gr. Περσεφόνη). The Mysteries are hidden in the dialogues of Platohn (Plato; Gr. Πλάτων) and in the writings of the philosophi (philosophers; Gr. φιλόσοφοι) who came after him. In contemporary Greece, the Mysteries have become integrated within the tradition and Philosophia (philosophy; Gr. φιλοσοφία) such that the whole of established practice is referred to as the Orphic-Pythagorean-Ælefsinian tradition.
Mystiria is thought of as a secret tradition. This is because these teachings are not for the profane, but for those of pure heart. In reality, much of the teaching is "self-secret" because the profane or unprepared cannot understand them, as is stated by the composer of the Derveni Papyrus:
"His (ed. Orphefs) poetry is something strange and riddling for people. But Orpheus did not intend to tell them captious (ed. meant to confuse) riddles, but momentous things in riddles. Indeed, he is telling a holy discourse from the first and up to his last word. As he also makes clear in the well-chosen verse: for having ordered them to put doors to their ears he says that he is [? not legislating] for the many...[? but only for] those pure in hearing..." (The Derveni Papyrus, Col. 7, trans. by Gábor Betegh in the book of the same name, Cambridge University Press [Cambridge UK], 2004, p. 17)
Some contemporary practitioners of Hellenismos are adverse to the Mysteries. This is not true with practitioners of the religion inside Greece, as can be attested by anyone who has actually spent time there and met, face-to-face, teachers and students of repute.
Reconstructionists in the United States rightly rely on antique sources for justification of their beliefs and practices, but they also depend heavily on secondary scholarship. Many disparaging ideas regarding the Mysteries were promulgated in the 1800s and early 20th century by scholars such as John Bagnall Bury in his book, A History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great, 1900, until recently a common textbook in schools.  Bury associates "Orphism" with an invasion of oriental ideas into Greek culture, rule by aristocracy, domination by a priestly class, and subordination of reason to irrationality. He see the teachings of Orphefs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς) as a religious system that relied on superstition, and he contrasts Orphism with Greek scientific inquiry, an inquiry which he equates with philosophy and reason, positioning philosophy in opposition to Orphic teaching. Regarding the latter criticism, Bury points to the Orphic Theogony as an example of an unscientific explanation of the Kosmos (Cosmos; Gr. Κόσμος). He interprets this theogony purely on its surface level, seemingly not even vaguely suspicious that there could be a more profound interpretation. If he had so much as a hint of any such intuition, he did not reveal it in this book. Contemporary scholarship is, perhaps, more congenial to Orphic teaching, but, nonetheless, many of these ideas persist.
Some of the typical objections to Mystiria fall into the following categories: 1) Objection to the teaching on the Deification of the Soul, Ækthæosis (Ektheosis; Greek: ΕΚΘΕΩΣΙΣ), and the conviction that such an idea must involve great yvris (hubris; Gr. ὕβρις); 2) that the Mysteries are not conventional or consistent with the the rest of the Hellenic tradition; 3) that correct understanding of the Mysteries is inaccessible because the traditions were cut off, and that consequently, contemporary ideas about the Mysteries must necessarily be misled reconstructions; and 4) the belief that people who claim to practice the Mysteries have confused these teachings with superstition.
These criticisms reveal a mistaken conception of the Mysteries either as they existed in antiquity or as they exist in contemporary Greece. As is stated in the opening section of this essay, Mystiria is the deeper meaning of Hellenismos. By this definition, rejection of Mystiria is as though one was saying that thriskeia (Gr. θρησκεία) is sufficient. Thriskeia is a word usually translated as "religion." Thriskeia is the outward manifestation of a religious belief-system, the rituals, the vestments of the priests/priestesses, the incense, etc. But thriskeia can be taught to a monkey. The perspective of Mystiria is that thriskeia is only an aspect of Hellenismos, and for those who wish to truly live the tradition and put Hellenismos fully into practice, one must go beyond thriskeia to the Mysteries.
1) Criticism of the teaching of the Deification of the Soul: Is this hubris?
One of the principle points of attack of Mystiria is the teaching regarding the Deification of the Soul, Ækthæosis (Ektheosis; Greek: ΕΚΘΕΩΣΙΣ). It has even been proposed that the doctrine of deification does not have its roots in antiquity or that its contemporary interpretation is a distortion of what has been taught by the ancient philosophers. In response to this criticism and to help the reader make a more informed judgement, visit this page of citations: Deification of the Soul: Sources.
Deification bears similarity to Hindu beliefs, or the Buddhist nirvana, i.e. to become a Buddha oneself, through a process of development over many lifetimes. The beliefs of these other systems, as in the Mysteries, involve the process of reincarnation, what is called in the Hellenic language palingænæsia (palingenesía; Gr. πᾰλιγγενεσἰα) or mætæmpsykhohsis (metempsychōsis; Gr. μετεμψύχωσις). The Deification of the Soul is a state of being that we are all capable of attaining, albeit after many thousands of incarnations involving concerted effort.
While presenting a powerful vision, the Deification of the Soul is also a humble conception. To explain, the thrust to deification puts the individual at the service of the entire cosmos rather than centered on the minuscule sphere of one's own selfish pursuits. Rather than glorifying the ego, the deification of the soul includes an acknowledgement that we are like grains of sand in a vast desert, or drops of water in an immense ocean.
So is deification yvris (hubris; Gr. ὕβρις)? No; the opposite. Deification is the organic result of the natural progress or evolution of the soul, achieved in conjunction with the Ærohs (Eros, Gr. Ἔρως) which flows between Gods and pious mortals. Those who follow the path of Mystiria do not so much desire immortality, but immortality is the natural result of progress. If an individual had such a motivation, such motivation would involve a complete misunderstanding of Mystiria. It is also possible that an individual could have an inflated view of his or her personal progress. Such impediments would delay one's progress dramatically. A monstrous ego disqualifies someone from the Mysteries. Consequently, it is said that there was a public initiation of convenience for tyrants such as the Roman emperor Caligula, but in reality those unsuitable candidates were not admitted to the authentic Mysteries. Apollohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων) is the principle God of deification and he is the principal protector of the Mysteries. He is the Destroyer who slays the multi-headed ythra (hydra; Gr. ὕδρα) of ego. Therefore, it is the very destruction of yvris, the absolute annihilation of exaggerated self-importance that is the mark of one who is at the brink of deification, not the other way around. It is the humble but noble soul who exemplifies the Mysteries, one who embodies all the qualities of perfect piety and supreme aræti (arete; Gr. ἀρετή).
2) Are the Mysteries part of the traditional Hellenic polytheistic tradition?
Some scholars and some contemporary Hellenic groups outside of Greece position the Mysteries far apart from mainstream Hellenic tradition. This posture cannot be supported. Perhaps the most obvious demonstration of the acceptance of the Mysteries in the ancient world is the fact that Ælefsis (Eleusis, modern Ælefsina [Elefsina]; Gr. Ἐλευσίς), the site of the most famous of the Mystery cults, flourished for 2000 years, and its requirement of secrecy, was actually protected by Athenian law, and that many many thousands of individuals of every status were initiated, from rulers to slaves. Ælefsis was a pan-Hellenic sanctuary to which people came from the entire Greek world and beyond to be initiated. To go to Ælefsis and receive initiation was the dream of all pious Greeks.
Yet another testament of the ancient acceptance of the Mystiria is the ubiquity of Orphic eggs and other Orphic symbols. Such symbols are found everywhere in the ruins of ancient archeological sites, and very prominently in some of the most important quarters of the Hellenic world. Most notably, Orphic symbols can be found at Dælphi (Delphi; Gr. Δελφοί), arguably the very seat of the ancient religion, the holy sanctuary of the great oracle, the utterance of Apollohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων), and by extension, the voice of Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς) himself.
Reconstructionists usually give precedence to the Thæogonia (Theogony; Gr. Θεογονία) of Isiothos (Hesiod; Gr. Ἡσίοδος), pointing out that this text is older and therefore more traditional than Orphic texts, but this view is not held by all scholars. W.K.C. Guthrie remarks: "Among the many names to which theogonical and cosmogonical writings were attached, two, as is rightly remarked by the Christian apologist, stand out, Orpheus and Hesiod. The other writers whose names I have quoted (ed. theogonies of Akusilaos of Argos, Epimenides of Crete, and Pherekydes of Syros) were always known to be later than Hesiod, who was sometimes regarded as the father of this kind of composition. Herodotus thought him so, and there were others too who doubted the authenticity of the theogony of Orpheus. The weight of that ancient name, however, was not taken away from it, and this must have suggested to many of the ancient world that, if not the poems, at least the stories which they told belonged to a time before Hesiod and Homer himself."  So, Guthrie is saying that it is likely that the Orphic theogonic mythology pre-dates Isiothos that of Isiothos (Hesiod) and Omiros (Homer; Gr. Ὅμηρος). Guthrie goes on to say that the content of the Orphic theogony can be found in Neoplatonic writings and even Platohn (Plato; Gr. Πλάτων) himself. "In their (ed. the Neoplatonists) commentaries therefore they made a point of illustrating a sentence of Plato, whenever they could, by a quotation from the Orphic poems." [This is but one illustration that Bury's criticism of Orphism (see above, paragraph two) as standing in opposition to philosophy (and scientific inquiry) is not correct.] It is interesting to note that the Derveni papyrus, an Orphic text, is the oldest surviving manuscript from Greek antiquity.
3) Has the tradition of the Mysteries been so severed from antiquity that it cannot be legitimately be practiced in the contemporary world?
Some individuals take the position that the Mysteries were lost to antiquity because of the secrecy of the traditions themselves in combination with Christian repression and various historic events, such as the forced closing of Ælefsis in 380 CE by Theodosius I.  This author suggests that precisely because it has an ancient tradition of secrecy, the core of the Mystiria were ideally positioned to survive.
It is further believed by some that Mystiria cannot be safely and legitimately restored because the Mysteries are easy targets for distortion by charlatans and superficial individuals. Of course, a similar argument can be made for all practice of Hellenismos. Nonetheless, there are those who believe that the Mysteries should not be reconstructed. This scenario is absurd if the genuine Mysteries are currently existing and have succession with antiquity. In other words, why would you need to reconstruct something that already exists?
In all honesty, the presence of people teaching the Mysteries in Greece is known. The issue is more of continuity and authenticity. When confronted by those who claim continuity, skeptics are unable to believe that such continuity is possible. It is difficult to prove the unbroken continuance of something that has been deliberately concealed. From this author's experience, the desire to substantiate continuity is not a pressing consideration with those who practice the Mysteries, especially when those demanding such substantiation are belligerent. Those who practice Mystiria seem to be only interested in individuals who are genuine, people who can discern by their own reasoning and sensitivity the immense beauty of these teachings and the truth which, when understood, is self-evident.
Nonetheless, it should be known that the initiations and content of the famous Mysteries such as those at Ælefsis have been lost. We are making no claim to special knowledge regarding this. In particular, the great magia (Gr. μᾰγεία), the genuine magic of the Mysteries that requires intimate knowledge of the Natural Laws: this has been lost. So, what remains? We have the echoes of the past, but these are very powerful echoes. Much can be found in the philosophers and much in the hearts of those who attempt to practice the remnants which have been passed down. Those who practice the way of aræti (arete; Gr. ἀρετή) are already practicing the Mysteries, for, as has been previously stated, the Mysteries are none other than the deepest meaning of Hellenismos.
4) Are the Mysteries steeped in magic and superstition?
The reader should not be misled by preconceptions that have been layered on the word mystery. The contemporary associations on this word do not reflect the original understanding of Mystiria. The Mysteries are not an eclectic mish-mosh of anything unusual and bizarre. The Mysteries have nothing to do with any common notions of magic, and are devoid of superstition. If your interest is in subjects such as divination, astrology, necromancy, casting spells, witchery, or anything similar, you will find nothing of interest here. Although there is a type of magic which is discovered in the Mysteries, this magic bears no similarity whatsoever to any common notion of the magic as is understood by this word today. Contemporary Hellenic communities have endured impostors who claim to be adherents of the Mysteries, individuals who practice any variety of "occult sciences." Much of the trepidation regarding Mystiria has these experiences as its source. Genuine Mystiria is protected from such pollution. Those reconstructionists who are simply trying to protect our religion from charlatans who give Hellenismos a bad reputation should be commended, but rejection of the Mysteries is an over-reaction and the result of misunderstanding.
Contrary to these distortions, Mystiria is the root of clear thinking and genuine philosophy, particularly the thread which flows from Orphefs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς) through Pythagoras (Gr. Πυθαγόρας), Sohkratis (Socrates; Gr. Σωκράτης), Platohn (Plato; Gr. Πλάτων), and beyond.  The Mysteries transcend the superficial interpretation of mythology and anchor Hellenismos on solid ground.
TERMS CONCERNING THE MYSTERIES:
Mystagohgæoh - (Mystagogeo; Gr. Μυστᾰγωγέω) initiate. 2. celebrate sacred rites. II. metaph., act as a guide or cicerone (ed. guide, sight-seer). Mystagohgia - (Mystagogia; Gr. Μυστᾰγωγία)
Mystarkhis - (Mystarches; Gr. Μυστάρχης), chief of Μύσται (ed. chief of the Mystai, i.e. those initiated). 
Mystilaria - (Gr. Μυστηλᾰσία)driving of initiates. 
Mystiria - (Mysteria; Gr. Μυστήρια, ΜΥΣΤΗΡΙΑ; Latin: Mysteriis, both plural) the Mysteries.
Mystiriasmos - (Mysteriasmos; Gr. Μυστηριασμός) ὁ, initiation, Eust.1854.46, al. 
Mystiriazoh - (Mysteriazo; Gr. Μυστηριάζω) initio, Gloss. Μυστηριακός, (ed. Mystiriakos) ή, όν, = μυστηρικός, Ptol. Tetr.163, Sch.Ar.Pl.27 (Sup.). Μυστηριάρχης, (ed. Mystiriarkhis) ου, ὁ, = μυστάρχης, CIG3666.6 (Cyzicus, dub.).
Mystirikos - (Mystericus; Gr. Μυστηρικός) ή, όν, of or for Mysteries, χοιρία Ar.Ach.747. 
Mystirion - (Mysterion; Gr. Μυστηριον) τό, (μύστης, μυέω) Mystery or secret rite (ed. Orgy): mostly in pl. (plural = Mysterita, Μυστηριτἁ; Orgies), τὰ μ. the Mysteries. 2. mystic implements and ornaments. 3. metaph., generally, mystery, secret. 4. secret revealed by God, i.e. religious or mystical truth. 
Mystis - (Mystes; Gr. Μὐστης) one initiated. Μύστῐς, ῐδος, fem. of Μύστης, initiate or initiator. 
Mystagogus - = Μυσταγωγόσ, (Latin) one who conducts a person through secret and sacred places as a guide, an initiator, a Mystagogue. 
Mystagogica - = Μυσταγωγικά, (Latin) a treatise on initiation into the Mysteries. 
Mysteriarches - = Μυστηριάρχης. (Latin) the presider over secret rites. 
Mysterium - = Μυστηριον, (Latin) is a secret service, secret rites, secret worship of a deity, divine mystery (ed. Orgy). - of the Mysteries of Ceres, otherwise called Sacra Eleusinia, to celebrate the sacred Mysteries, --Also, the festival on which these Mysteries were celebrated.  (The plural of Mysterium being Mysteria.)
Mysticus - = Μυστικός, (Latin) of or belonging to secret rites or Mysteries, mystic, mystical, Mystica, things pertaining to secret rites. 
A list of abbreviations used on this website may be found at the bottom of this page: GLOSSARY HOME.
 L&S p. 1156.
 LD p. 1183, right column.
 "As founder of Mystery-Religions, Orpheus was the first to reveal to men the meaning of rites of initiation (teletai). We read of this in both Plato and Aristophanes." (Orpheus and Greek Religion by W.K.C. Guthrie, 1906; found in the 1993 Princeton Univ. Press edition on p. 17.)
Also, in Pausanias' Guide to Greece 1: Central Greece, 9.30.4, trans. Peter Levi in 1971; found here in the 1979 Penguin Books edition, p.371-2: "In my view Orpheus outdid his predecessors in beautiful verse, and obtained great power because people believed he discovered divine mysteries, rites to purify wicked actions, cures for diseases, defenses against the curses of heaven." Pausanias implies a connection between the teachings of Orpheus and the Eleusinean Mysteries in 1.37.3-4 from the same translation by Levi, p.104-5: "Across the Kephisos .... A small shrine built along the road is called the shrine of the Bean man. I am not sure whether he was first to grow beans, or they simply named a hero like that because the discovery of beans cannot be traced to Demeter. Those who know the mystery of Eleusis and those who have read Orpheus will know what I am talking about." In a note to this section concerning the 'Bean Man', Levi points out that "There is a mysterious ancient Pythagorean, Orphic, and Eleusinian prohibition of bean-eating..."
Diodoros Siculus states: "But when Heracles had made the circuit of the Adriatic, and had journeyed around the gulf on foot, he came to Epirus, whence he made his way to Peloponnesus. And now that he had performed the tenth Labour he received a Command from Eurystheus to bring Cerberus up from Hades to the light of day. And assuming that it would be to his advantage for the accomplishment of this Labour, he went to Athens and took part in the Eleusinian Mysteries, Musaeus, the son of Orpheus, being at that time in charge of the initiatory rites." (Diodorus Siculus Library of History 4.25.1, trans. C.H. Oldfather, 1935; found here in the 2006 Loeb/Harvard edition of Diodorus Siculus II LCL 303 on pp. 423-245.)
The teachings of Orpheus and his student (possibly son) Musaeos are also intertwined in the Eleusinian Mysteries as well: From the Parian Chronicle, also called the Parian Marble, translated by Gillian Newing, Fragments 12-15: "From when Demeter, coming to Athens, [invented] the seed corn, and the [first festival of ploughing time was celebrated, under the instruction of T]riptolemus, son of Celeus and Neaira, 1146 years, when Erechtheus was king in Athens. From when Tripto[lemus reaped the corn which] he sowed in the Rarian plain called Eleusis, 145 years, when [Erechtheus] was king of Athens. [From when Orpheus ____] made known his own poetry, the rape of Kore and the search of Demeter and [the seed created by her and the mult]itude of those receiving the corn, 1135 years when Erechtheus was king of Athens. [From when Eumolpus _____] instituted the mysteries in Eleusis and made known the works of the [father of M]ousaios, [11______, when Erechthe]us son of Pandion [was king of Athens]." (These translations can be found on the Ashmolean website: http://www.ashmolean.org/ash/faqs/q004/q004009.html)
Again from Pausanias: "Anyone who has already made a serious study of poetry knows the hymns of Orpheus are all extremely short, and even if you take them together not numerous. The Lykomidai know them and sing them at their mysteries. These beautiful verses are second only to the hymns of Homer, and even more honoured by the Gods." The Lykomidai were the hereditary family of torch-bearers at Eleusis. (Ibid. Pausanias Guide to Greece I 9.30.5-6, Peter Levi, pp. 373-4)
In the play Rhesus by Euripides: "And yet I and my sister Muses make your Athens great in our art, and by our presence in the land; and it was Orpheus, own blood cousin to this man you have slain, who first instructed your people in the rites of mystery and secrets revealed; last, it was we the sisters who with Phoebus educated Musaeus, your great and respected citizen, so he surpassed our other pupils." (Euripides Rhesus 941-948, trans. Richard Lattimore 1958; found here in Vol. IV Euripides of the 1959 edition of The Complete Greek Tragedies published by Univ. of Chicago Press, p. 127.)
 See A History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great by J.B. Bury, 1900, Chapter VII, Section 12, Religious Movements in the Sixth Century. It is worth reading the entire chapter.
 Orpheus and Greek Religion by W.K.C. Guthrie, 1906; found in the 1993 Princeton Univ. Press edition on pp. 71-72.
 "...Theodosios, towards the end of the fourth century (379-395), issued strict laws against secret cults, and these must have affected the fortunes of the Sanctuary (ed. Eleusis). Evidently even the administrative arrangements of the cult were interfered with, since the last high priest of Eleusis, the last Hierophant, was not from the family of the Eumolpids as prescribed by tradition, nor was he even an Athenian or an Eleusinian, but a citizen of Thespiai, a follower and priest of Mithras. A great part of the Sanctuary was perhaps destroyed by the hordes of Alaric, when in the year 395 they invaded and devastated Attika. By the end of the fifth century of our era, however, the Sanctuary seems to have been completely destroyed the the Early Christians, who built their church near the ruined temple of the Mysteries and buried their dead in the sacred area. Crosses, scratched especially upon the marble pavement of the Greater Propylaea, mark this transformation of the "temenos of the word" into a wasteland and serve as the funeral symbols of a glorious cult which served humanity for almost two thousand years..." (Eleusis and the Eleusinian Mysteries by George E. Mylonas, 1961; found in the 1969 Princeton University Press edition on pp. 8-9)
 Excerpt from Thomas Taylor's introduction to The Theology of Plato by Proclus: "I rejoice in the opportunity which is afforded me of presenting the truly philosophic reader, in the present work, with a treasure of Grecian theology; of a theology, which was first mystically and symbolically promulgated by Orpheus, afterwards disseminated enigmatically through images by Pythagoras, and in the last place scientifically unfolded by Plato and his genuine disciples." (The Theology of Plato: Proclus, from the introduction by Thomas Taylor, 1816; found here in the 1999 Prometheus Trust edition, Vol. VIII of The Thomas Taylor Series, on p. 1)
Proklos states: "For all the Grecian theology is the progeny of the mystic tradition of Orpheus; Pythagoras first of all learning from Aglaophemus the orgies of the Gods, but Plato in the second place receiving an all-perfect science of the divinities from the Pythagoric and Orphic writings." (The Theology of Plato: Proclus, Book I, Chapter 5, Ibid. Taylor, p. 64)
two Kosmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithara, the . It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphefs (Orpheus).
PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.
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