Glossary of Hellenic Mystery Religion (Part One)


Part One



NOTE: A list of abbreviations can be found on this page: GLOSSARY HOME.

Abaccheutos - See Avákkheftos.

Acusma - See Ákouzma.

Acusmaticus - See Akouzmatikós.

Aeiyænæsía - (aeigenesia; Gr. ἀειγενεσία, ΑΕΙΓΕΝΕΣΙΑ. Noun.) perpetual generation.

Ækpýrohsis - (Ecpyrosis; Gr. Ἐκπύρωσις, ΕΚΠΥΡΩΣΙΣ. Noun.) Ækpýrohsis is conversion into fire, conflagration. Iráklitos (Heraclitus; Gr. Ἡράκλειτος) believed in the periodic destruction by fire of the Kózmos, only to rise again; that all things in existence are born from and dissolve into fire. The early Stoics held a similar belief. Cf. Diakósmisis.

Ækthǽohsis (Ektheosis; Gr. Ἐκθέωσις, ΕΚΘΕΩΣΙΣ. Noun.) Ækthǽohsis is the deification of the soul.

Ællánikos - (Hellanicus; Gr. Ἑλλάνικος. A man’s name.) Ællánikos is one of two possible sources for a very famous Kozmogonía (Cosmogony; Gr. Κοσμογονία) quoted by the Neoplatonist philosopher Damáskios (Damascius; Gr. Δαμάσκιος), who was not sure if it came from Ællánikos or from Iæróhnymos (Hieronymus; Gr. Ιερώνυμος - of Rhodes?). This kozmogony very clearly posits the primordial nature of Earth and Water.

Æmpædoklís - (Empedocles; Gr. Ἐμπεδοκλῆς, ΕΜΠΕΔΟΚΛΗΣ. A man’s name.) Orphic influenced philosopher who spoke of the elements as well as reincarnation.

Æphivolipsía - (Epheboleipsia [not to be confused with ephebophilia]; Gr. Εφηβοληψία, ΕΦΗΒΟΛΗΨΙΑ; Etym. ἔφηβος “pubescent young man” + ληψία "violent attack." Noun.) ) Æphivolipsía is the experience of Ærohs (Eros or Attraction; Gr. Ἔρως) from the Gods when encountered by a female. This is not the same as erotic love between humans. Cf. Nympholipsía.

Æpiphanís - (epiphanes; Gr. ἐπιφανής, ΕΠΙΦΑΝΗΣ. Adjective.) appearing, coming into light, the appearance of Gods.

Æpiphainoh - (epiphaino; Gr. ἐπιφαίνω, ΕΠΙΦΑΙΝΩ. Verb.) show forth, appear; often of a divine manifestation in a dream or vision.

Æpohdí (epode; Gr. ἐπῳδή, ΕΠΩΔΗ. Plural: ἐπῳδαί. Noun.) song used as a spell, charm, or enchantment. When Orphéfs sang, even the trees swayed and the animals listened attentively. An æpohdí is kind of spell. The golden tablets, Orphic poems and prayers imprinted on thin sheets of gold which were left in the graves of the initiated, could be said to be a type of æpohdí.

Æpóptis - (epoptes; Gr. ἐπόπτης, ΕΠΟΠΤΗΣ. Noun.) one admitted to the highest grade of the Mysteries.

Ǽriphos - (eriphus; Gr. ἔριφος, ΕΡΙΦΟΣ. Noun.) The word ǽriphos means kid, such as a kid goat. Many of the Orphic golden tablets include this phrase: "A kid I fall into the milk." Various ideas have been proposed as to its meaning, but this author is inclined towards the theory that it is a phrase which must have been common in ancient times and understood by anyone in farming societies, a phrase expressing the joy and a type of serendipity of abundance. Simultaneously, the phrase evokes the God (Diónysos), for he is worshiped as a goat or a kid-goat and, by falling into the milk, we unite with him.

Ǽrohs (Eros; Gr. Ἔρως, ἜΡΩΣ. Noun.) Ǽrohs is a great force, the power of Attraction. Orphismós, the heart of the ancient Greek religion, is based on Ǽrohs, the attraction to the beauty of the Divine; thus, ours is an Erotic religion.

Æxorkhísthai - (exorchisthai; Gr. ἐξορχεῖσθαι, ΕΞΟΡΧΕΙΣΘΑΙ. Verb.) Æxorkhísthai are imitations of the the sacred rites of the Mysteries in dance, to represent the Mysteries through dance and thereby reveal its secrets. This word is usually mentioned in connection with breaches in the secrecy of the Mystíria.

Aglaophamus - The Aglaophamus (1829) is an important book on ancient Greek religion by the German grammarian and classical scholar Christian August Lobeck (1781-1860). It is relevant in our study because of the section (233-1104) on Orphismós which is frequently referred to in scholastic writing on the subject. The book is not currently available in translation but is said to argue that the Mystíria were not essentially different from Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός) as a whole, a position held by Greeks in this author’s acquaintance.

Aióhn - (Aion, Aeon, or Eon; Gr. Αἰών, ΑΙΩΝ. Noun; here a proper name.) ) Aióhn is a deity identified with Diónysos in the teachings of Orphismós. This identification is supported in this quotation from the notes of a book by Vittorio D. Macchioro:

"Aion was son of Kronos (Euripides: Heraclidai, 898), that is, identical with Protogonus according to Hellanikos' theogony (Kern, p. 130, 54; p. 158, 85); but Protogonus, Dionysus and Phanes are identical (Aristocriton Manichæus: θεοσοφία 116, 15, Buresch; = Kern, 61. Erichepaius was identical with Dionysus (Hesychius: Ἠριξεπαῖος; Proclus: In Platonis Timœum, II, 102 D, E; = Kern, 170); Phanes with Erichepaius (Orphic Hymns, VI, 9). Protogonus was one of the names of Phanes (Damascius: Quœstiones de primis principiis, III; = Kern, 64) and of Erichepaios (Proclus: In Platonis Timœum, 29A; = Kern, 167); Phanes was Aion (Proclus: In Platonis Timœium E; = Kern, 107). An inscription of a statue of Aion at Eleusis (Dittenberger: Sylloge Inscriptionum, 3rd ed., 1125) affords a statement about the identity of Phanes (Dionysus) and Aion. Aion was son of Kore, that is, the mother of Dionysus (Epiphonius: Panarion, 51, 22, 8-10). Epiphonius mistakes the Goddess Kore for the Virgin, owing to the meaning of the Greek word ϰόρη. (FROM ORPHEUS TO PAUL: A History of Orphism by Vittorio D. Macchioro, 1930, Henry Holt and Co. [New York], where this quotation may be found on pp. 251-252, note 22.)

Aithír - (Aether or Ether; Gr. Αἰθήρ, ΑΙΘΗΡ. Noun.) In the mythology, Aithír is the pure air breathed by the Gods. In Isíodos (Hesiod; Gr. Ἡσίοδος), Aithír is the son of Ǽrævos (Erebos = Darkness; Gr, Ἔρεβος) and Nyx (Gr. Νύξ). (Ἡσίοδος Θεογονία124.)

Aristotǽlis (Aristotle; Gr. Ἀριστοτέλης) calls aithír the "fifth element" (quinta essentia), earth, water, air, fire, and aithír. So there are various ways of understanding Aithír.

In the theogony in the Ὀρφέως Ἀργοναυτικά, Aithír is the child of Khrónos (Time; Gr. Χρόνος) and Anángki (Necessity; Gr. Ἀνάγκη).

Aithír-Water-Fire is one of the two basic material kozmogonic substances, in Orphic literature referred to as simply Water. These three are indeed different, but they have the continuous (synækhís; Gr. συνεχής) quality in common (as well as other things in common). The Aithír is inseparable or continuous: it is the Divine Energy, above all the Gods: Aithír is Zefs (Ζεύς). To create souls, the Aithír enters into the Mæristi (divisible) Substance (Earth). The Aithír is spinning, filling all the space, and by spinning it draws the particles of Earth into its center and unites with them, creating Form.

Ákouzma - (acusma; Gr. ἄκουσμα, ΑΚΟΥΣΜΑ = ἀκοή. Noun.) thing heard, oral guidance and instruction, in the Pythagorean school and in Iámvlikhos (Ἰάμβλιχος).

Akouzmatikós - (acusmaticus; Gr. ἀκουσματικός, ΑΚΟΥΣΜΑΤΙΚΟΣ. Noun [also adjective]. Plural: ἀκουσματικοί) The akouzmatikí were students of Pythagóras whose interest was the secret mystical teachings. They are seen in contrast to the mathimatikí (μαθηματικοί), who were concentrated on the doctrines of numbers.

Alitrós - (Gr. ἀλιτρός, ΑΛΙΤΡΟΣ = ἀλιτηρός. Adjective.) sinful, wicked.

Amýitos - (amuetos; Gr. ἀμύητος, ΑΜΥΗΤΟΣ. Adjective.) uninitiated, profane.

Anabasis - See Anávasis.

Anángki - (Anangke; Gr. Ἀνάγκη, ΑΝΑΓΚΗ. Noun.) Anángki is the force of Necessity or Need. Anángki is defined as the excess of inertia.

Anapsýkhoh - (anapsucho; Gr. ἀναψύχω, ΑΝΨΥΧΩ. Verb.) Anapsýkhoh means to cool, to refresh, to relieve; the word is found (ἀναψῦξαι) on a number of the Orphic golden tablets in reference to refreshing water from the Well of Memory.

Anávasis - (anabasis; Gr. ἀνάβασις, ΑΝΑΒΑΣΙΣ) Anávasis means ascent; it is a Neoplatonic term referring to the turning around and journeying back to the One.

Antapǽteisa - (antapeteisa; Gr. ἀνταπέτεισα, ΑΝΤΑΠΕΤΕΙΣΑ. Noun.) Antapǽteisa is recompense, make amends; the word is found on a number of the Orphic gold tablets.

Apollóhnios Ródios - (Apollonius of Rhodes; Gr. Απολλώνιος Ρόδιος) The Argonaftiká (Ἀργοναυτικά) of Apollóhnios Ródios (3rd century BCE) contains this brief thæogonía (theogony; Gr. θεογονία), attributed to Orphéfs:

"He sang how the earth, the heaven and the sea, once mingled together in one form, after deadly strife were separated each from other; and how the stars and the moon and the paths of the sun ever keep their fixed place in the sky; and how the mountains rose, and how the resounding rivers with their nymphs came into being and all creeping things. And he sang how first of all Ophion and Eurynome, daughter of Ocean, held the sway of snowy Olympus, and how through strength of arm one yielded his prerogative to Cronos and the other to Rhea, and how they fell into the waves of Ocean; but the other two meanwhile ruled over the blessed Titan-Gods, while Zeus, still a child and with the thoughts of a child, dwelt in the Dictaean cave; and the earthborn Cyclopes had not yet armed him with the bolt, with thunder and lightning; for these things give renown to Zeus.

(Απολλώνιος Ρόδιος Ἀργοναυτικά 1.496-512, trans. R. C. Seaton, 1912. We are using the 1930 edition entitled Apollonius Rhodius: Argonautica, LCL, William Heineman [London] and G. P. Putnam's Sons [New York], where this quotation may be found on pp. 37-39.)

Apomássoh - (apomasso; Gr. ἀπομάσσω, ΑΠΟΜΑΣΣΩ. Verb.) This word in reference to the yípsos (γύψος), the chalk or gypsum, used by the Titánæs to smear over their faces before presenting the Toys to Diónysos. It is believed that ancient initiates were smeared in this way symbolically as a type of purification as ἀπομάσσω means to wipe clean.

Apórritos - (Gr. ἀπόρρητος, ΑΠΟΡΡΗΤΟΣ. Adjective.) Apórritos means forbidden, that which is not to be divulged, secrets not for the profane. Cf. Árritos.

Argonaftiká, Orphǽohs - (Orphic Argonautica; Gr. Ὀρφέως Ἀργοναυτικά) The Orphǽohs Argonaftiká tells the story of the search for the Golden Fleece, but the emphasis is more on the religious role that Orphéfs played as a member of the crew. This important text contains a small but significant theogony and is, generally, more mystical in nature than the Ἀργοναυτικά of Apollóhnios Ródios. It is only recently that this text has become available in English translation.

Arignote - See Pythagóras.

Arkhí – (Gr. ἀρχή, ΑΡΧΗ. Noun.) beginning, origin.

Árritos - (aretus; Gr. ἄρρητος, ΑΡΡΗΤΟΣ. Adjective.) unutterable, that which cannot be spoken or expressed, not to be divulged. Cf. Apórritos.

Árritos Arkhí (Ἄρρητος Ἀρχή, ΑΡΡΗΤΟΣ ΑΡΧΗ. Etym. árritos "that which cannot be expressed" + arkhí "beginning.") The Árritos Arkhí is the Unutterable Principle, the beginning which cannot be expressed.

Avákkheftos - (abaccheutos; Gr. ἀβάκχευτος, ΑΒΑΚΧΕΥΤΟΣ. Adjective. Etym. α "not" + Βάκχος "Diónysos.") Avákkheftos refers to those who are uninitiated into the Mystíria of Diónysos. Cf. Vǽvili.

Baccheumata - See Vakkhéfmata.

Bebeloi - See Vǽvili.

Bebelos - See Vǽvilos.

Bedu - See Vǽdi.

Boukoleo - See Voukolǽoh.

Boukolos - See Voukolos.

Brontinus - See Pythagóras.

Cercops - See Pythagóras.

Choreuo - See Khorévoh.

Crateres - See Kratíræs.

Díki - (Dike; Gr. Δίκη, ΔΙΚΗ. Noun.) Justice. The divine power and authority of Justice is closely associated with Orphismós, as is demonstrated in the quotation of the great orator and statesman (pseudo-) Dimosthǽnis (Δημοσθένης) who said that Orphéfs himself proclaims that Justice sits beside the throne of Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς), this can be found in Against Aristogiton 25.11. Justice is considered so important in our religion that there is an Orphic hymn specifically dedicated to the Goddess (O.H. 62) and another for her sister, Dikaiosýni (Equity; Gr. Δικαιοσύνη) (O.H. 63). Therefore, for those who follow the Mysteries, the deepest meaning of our religion, injustice (ἀδικία) is intolerable and one's entire being should be oriented against it.

Diothíki - (Diotheke; Gr. Διαθήκη, ΔΙΟΘΗΚΗ. Name of a text.) The poem Diothíki, probably originally the work of an Alexandrian Jewish writer, is a spurious testament put in the mouth of Orphéfs and delivered to his son/pupil Mousaios denying the existence of the ancient Gods and accepting the deity of the Jews. The text may be found in the Εὑαγγελικὴ προπαρασκευή (Lat. title: Praeparatio evangelica) of the Christian bishop Efsǽvios (Εὐσέβιος) of Kaisáreia (Καισάρεια).

Dráoh - (drao; Gr. δράω, ΔΡΑΩ. Verb. δράω is the etymological root of the English word drama.) to accomplish, offer sacrifice or perform ritual.

Dróhmæna - (Dromena; Gr. Δρώμενα, ΔΡΩΜΕΝΑ. Participle. δρώμενον is singular. A form of the verb δράω.) Dróhmæna are those things which are performed, i.e. as, perhaps a play, in the Mystíria. We have the Deiknýmæna (things shown), Dróhmæna (things performed), and Lægómæna (things explained). Dróhmæna can also mean, simply, ritual observances.

Earth - (Yi or Ge; Gr. Γή, ΓΗ. Noun.) Earth is the receptive substance and characterized as “female.” Earth is one of the two basic material kozmogonic substances. Earth is the Mæristí Ousía, the divisible substance. The other kozmogonic substance is Ýdohr (Water-Fire-Aithír). Earth is receptive to the formative action of Ýdohr, the active, “male” substance. Plátohn (Plato; Gr. Πλάτων) calls these two substances the One (Monad) and the Other. See Ýdohr.

Efklæís - (Euclius; Gr. Εὐκλεής, ΕΥΚΛΕΗΣ. Noun/Adjective.) Dionysos the glorious; renowned, famous. Cf. Efklís.

Efklís - (Eucles; Gr. Εὐκλῆς, ΕΥΚΛΗΣ. Pronounced: ef-KLEES. Proper name.) Efklís is Ploutohn (Pluto [Ἅιδης]; Gr. Πλούτων). Cf. Efklæís.

Elements, The Classical - The elements (Gr. στοιχεῖα, plural) enumerated by the theologian Orphéfs are Yi or Yaia (Ge or Earth; Gr. Γῆ or Γαῖα) and Ýdohr (Hydor or Water; Gr. Ὕδωρ); these are the primary material substances of which everything consists. It is the interaction of Earth and Water which creates the soul, both of the Kózmos (Cosmos; Gr. Κόσμος) as well as the soul of every individual being. Earth is a divisible substance (Gr. Μεριστή Οὐσία) while Water is a continuous substance (Gr. Συνεχής Οὐσία). Because Pyr (Fire; Gr. Πῦρ) and Aithír (Aether; Gr. Αἰθήρ) are also continuous substance, they are grouped together with Water. This gives us four elements organized as follows: Earth and Water-Fire-Aithír. To this list, may be added Air (Aer; Gr. Ἀήρ), comprising the five classical elements of antiquity, an understanding which was viewed as scientific through the medieval era and beyond. While these ideas must be approached as antique, they retain a validity, for they are the foundation of modern physics, a view of the universe as consisting of material substances rather than unknowable "spiritual" elements.

Empedocles - See Æmpædoklís.

Epiphanes - See Æpiphanís.

Epiphaino - See Æpiphainoh.

Eriphus - See Ǽriphos.

Epoptes - See Æpóptis.

Ericapaeus - See Irikapaios.

Eucles - See Efklís.

Euclius - See Efklæís.

Eudemus of Rhodes - See Évdimos Ródios.

Évdimos Ródios - (Eudemus of Rhodes; Gr. Εὔδημος Ρόδιος) Évdimos Ródios (370-300 BCE) was an important student and editor of Aristotǽlis (Aristotle; Gr. Ἀριστοτέλης). He wrote down an Orphic theogony which is entirely lost but for a very brief description by the philosopher Damáskios (Damascius; Gr. Δαμάσκιος) which begins with Nyx (Gr. Νύξ), this summary being the only useful information recorded.

Goat - See Ǽriphos.

Grigorǽoh - (gregoreo; Gr. γρηγορέω, ΓΡΗΓΟΡΕΩ. Verb.) to be awake; the Mysteries quicken our souls to true wakefulness. Metaphorically, we are asleep and the Mystíria arouses us to wakefulness.

Hellanicus - See Ællánikos.

Hierocles of Alexandria - See Iæroklís of Alæxándreia.

Hieroi Logoi - See Iærí Lóyi.

Hieronymus of Rhodes - See Iæróhnymos Ródios.

Iærí Lóyi - (Hieroi Logoi; Gr. Ἱεροὶ λόγοι, ΙΕΡΟΙ ΛΟΓΟΙ. Pronounced ee-ay-REE LOH-yee.) Iærí Lóyi, literally "divine words," refers to Pythagorean texts on the mystical meaning of numbers. Cf. Iærós Lógos.

Iæróhnymos Ródios - (Hieronymus [of Rhodes]; Gr. Ιερώνυμος [Ῥόδιος? or from Egypt]) Iæróhnymos is one of two possible sources for a very famous Kozmogonía (Cosmogony; Gr. Κοσμογονία) quoted by the Neoplatonist philosopher Damáskios (Damascius; Gr. Δαμάσκιος), who was not sure if it came from Iæróhnymos or from Ællánikos (Hellanicus; Gr. Ἑλλάνικος). This kozmogony very clearly posits the primordial nature of Earth and Water.

Iæroklís of Alæxándreia - (Hierocles of Alexandria; Gr. Ἱεροκλῆς. Pronounced: Yai-ro-KLEES) Iæroklís of Alæxándreia (active in the 4th century CE) was a Neoplatonic philosopher whose only work which survives is a commentary on the Golden Verses of Pythagóras. He is known to have been one of several Neoplatonic writers who attempted to harmonize Pythagorean/Platonic thought with the ideas associated with Orphismós.

Iærós Lógos - (Hieros Logos; Gr. Ἱερός Λόγος, ΙΕΡΟΣ ΛΟΓΟΣ) Iærós Lógos means Sacred Story, often used in reference to the Orphic Rhapsodies, the Sacred Logos in Twenty-Four Rhapsodies (Ιερός Λόγος σε 24 Ραψωδίες), a lost Orphic theogony (θεογονία), the content of which is known through numerous quotations found in ancient literature, gathered together and published in 1922 by Otto Kern. The term may be used to simply refer to the stories of the Gods as understood in Orphismós. Cf. Iærí Lóyi.

Ibycus – See Ívykos.

Irikapaios - (Ericapaeus; Gr. Ἠρικαπαῖος, ΗΡΙΚΑΠΑΙΟΣ; also: Ἠρικεπαῖος. Proper name.) Irikapaios is Phánis (Φάνης), or an evolution of Phánis. Damáskios calls him Power. He is described by G.R.S. Mead (Orpheus, 1895), as one of three aspects of Phánis known as the Triple God born from the Egg. In this description, Irikapaios is power, Mítis (Μῆτις) is intellect, while Phanis is the father.

- Orphic Hymn Triætirikós (Trietericus; Gr. Τριετηρικός) 52.6, Irikapaios is called First-Born and both the father and the son of the Gods: πρωτόγον', Ἠρικεπαῖε, θεῶν πάτερ ἠδὲ καὶ υἱέ.

- Irikapaios is a name for Diónysos.

Ívykos - (Ibycus; Gr. Ἴβυκος, ΙΒΥΚΟΣ. Proper name.) Ívykos was a lyric poet, sixth century BCE, who is only mentioned here because the first known mention of the name of Orphéfs (Orpheus) is found in a fragment of his poetry.

Kǽrnos - (kernos; Gr. κέρνος, ΚΕΡΝΟΣ. Plural is kǽrni [kernoi; Gr. κέρνοι]. Noun.) - The kǽrnos is a special offering vessel associated with Mystíria, especially the Ælefsínia. It can take many forms but it basically consists of a pottery, a round ring to which little offering bowls are attached.

Katávasis - (Catabasis or Katabasis; Gr. Κατάβασις, ΚΑΤΑΒΑΣΙΣ. Noun.) Katávasis is the mythological or symbolic descent into the underworld, such as when Orphéfs goes to seek Evridíki (Euridice; Gr. Εὐρυδίκη). 2. Katávasis can also refer to the experience of the soul as one passes between lives and the Mystic instructions given to the dead that are written, for instance, on the Golden Tablets inserted into the graves of Mýstai, those who are initiated. 3. Katávasis is a Neoplatonic term which refers to the descent of being into embodiment, the decline or degeneration as being emanates further and further from the source of being, the One/the Good.

Kataivátai - (cataebatae; Gr. καταιβάται, ΚΑΤΑΙΒΑΤΑΙ. Noun.) brotherhood of worshippers of Diónysos.

Katávasis eis Aidou - (Gr. Κατάβασις εἰς Αἵδου, ΚΑΤΑΒΑΣΙΣ ΕΙΣ ΑΙΔΟΥ) an Orphic text by either Kǽrkops (Cercops; Gr. Κέρκωψ) or Pródikos (Prodicus; Gr. Πρόδικος), which speaks of the descent of Orphéfs into Aidis (Hades; Gr. Ἀΐδης) to retrieve Evridíki (Euridice; Gr. Εὐρυδίκη).

Kátharsis - (catharsis; Gr. κάθαρσις, ΚΑΘΑΡΣΙΣ. Noun.) Kátharsis is purification, a cleansing from guilt and defilement. Zínohn (Zeno; Gr. Ζήνων) used this word to refer to a cleansing of the Kózmos by fire.

Khorévoh - (choreuo; Gr. χορεύω, ΧΟΡΕΥΩ. Verb.) to dance with joy, to participate in Vakkhic choral dance or chorus. When you feel Gods, it is not enough to merely savor such an experience, but you are drawn to participate (συγχορεύω) in the sacred dance (χορός).

Khrismológos - (chresmologos; Gr. χρησμολόγος, ΧΡΗΣΜΟΛΟΓΟΣ) expounder of oracles. This word was applied to Onomákritos (Onomacritus; Gr. Ὀνομάκριτος) [530-480 BCE] who claimed to have collected mystical oracles.

Kirýkeion - (Kerykeion or Caduceus [Latin]; Gr. Κηρύκειον, ΚΗΡΥΚΕΙΟΝ. Etym. From κήρυκας and κῆρυξ, both meaning "herald.") The Kirýkeion consists of a staff with two intertwined snakes which represent the two suns, the solar powers over which Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων) has dominion. At the apex of the Kirýkeion are two wings which represent immortality (this is a later development which cannot be found in early iconography). The mundane meaning of the Kirýkeion is that it is the herald's staff used in times of war. Ærmís (Hermes; Gr. Ἑρμῆς) is said to be the great messenger, the great herald of the Gods who holds the Kirýkeion.

The Kirýkeion is the scepter of Phánis which unites the three worlds, Earth, the Middle Sky, and Ólympos (Olympus; Gr. Όλυμπος), the realm beyond the Moon. Phánis means "I reveal;" he is a mighty power controlled by Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς); Zefs therefore holds the scepter of Phánis. Zefs gives the Kirýkeion to Apóllohn, who in turn gave it to Ærmís. The Kirýkeion is a symbol of Zefs, representative of his power to unite and divide, the creative power, so, therefore, anyone who wields this power could be said to hold the Kirýkeion.

Orphic fragment 356 refers to the scepter:

ὄρθιον ἑξαμερὲς τετόρων ϰαὶ εἴϰοσι μέτρων

straight, six parts, four and twenty measures

M. L. West suggests that the scepter of Phanis is emblematic of the reign of the Six Kings and the four and twenty measures to the 24 Rhapsodies, this being the history of their dynasty. (The Orphic Poems, M. L. West, 1983, 1998 Sandpiper Books edition, Clarendon Press, Oxford, pp. 232-233.)

Kratíræs - (Crateres; Gr. Κρατῆρες, ΚΡΑΤΗΡΕΣ. This is the plural of κρατήρ, a type of pottery vessel to mix wine with water.) Kratíræs is the title of an Orphic work (not extant) which exists only in fragments, consisting of a greater κρατήρ (a "mixing"), and a lesser κρατήρ, which talk of the unity of the Gods. The book seems to have discussed ideas of the universal soul and individual souls (Aglaophamus Lobeck p. 736).

Krátis – (Crates; Gr. Κράτης, ΚΡΑΤΗΣ) mystical title.

Krótalon – (crotalon; Gr. κρόταλον, ΚΡΟΤΑΛΟΝ) The krótalon is a clapper used in the worship of Diónysos and Kyvǽli (Cybele; Gr. Κυβέλη).

Kýklos yænǽsæohs - (cyclus geneseos; Gr. κύκλος γενέσεως, ΚΥΚΛΟΣ ΥΕΝΕΣΕΩΣ) the endless wheel of births; palingænæsía (palingenesía; Gr. παλιγγενεσία), the transmigration of the soul. This cycle of births and deaths is involuntary and is referred to as "sorrowful," for which the Mysteries provide a means of escape. Cf. Kýklou líxai.

Kýklou Líxai - (Cyclou Lexae; Gr. Κύκλου Λήξαι, ΚΥΚΛΟΥ ΛΗΞΑΙ) Kýklou líxai is the end of the circle of rebirths, i.e. Ækthǽohsis (Ektheosis; Gr. Ἐκθέωσις) or deification; it is also called the final death because the soul is now Athánatos (Gr. Ἀθάνατος), deathless or immortal. Cf. Kýklos yænǽsæohs.

Líknon - (Gr. Λίκνον, ΛΙΚΝΟΝ. Also λεῖκνον. Cf. λικνίτης, λικνοφόρος.) a cradle, a winnowing-basket. The líknon is sacred to Diónysos. At his festivals the líknon was worn on the head of some of the worshipers. The individual carrying the líknon in procession is known as the Liknophóros. The Líknon represents the basket containing the Toys of Diónysos. Sometimes the kǽrnos was substituted for the líknon. The líknon is also sacred to Athiná (Athena).

Liknophóros - (Gr. Λικνοφόρος, ΛΙΚΝΟΦΟΡΟΣ. Adjective.) carrying the sacred λίκνον in procession.

Línai - (Lenae; Gr. Λῆναί, ΛΗΝΑΙ. Noun. Plural. Etym. ληνός "wine-press.") The Línai are Mainádæs or ecstatic Nýmphai (Nymphs; Gr. Νύμφαι) in the entourage of Diónysos.

Lykomídai - (Lycomidae; Gr. Λυκομίδαι, ΛΥΚΟΜΙΔΑΙ) The Lykomídai were a priestly family of Athens involved with the cult of Dimítir and a form of the Mystíria. The Lykomídai had a sanctuary in Phlýa (Gr. Φλύα) where they conducted initiations. In 380 BCE, the Lykomídai took on the role of the Dadoukhos (Dadouchos; Gr. Δαδούχος) at Ælefsís (Eleusis; Gr. Ἐλευσίς), either wholly or in part. The Lykomídai recited hymns of Orphéfs in their rituals; this may be seen in the writings of Pafsanías (Παυσανίας 9.27.2 and 9.30.12)

Lýsiï Thæí - (Lysioi Theoi; Gr. Λύσιοι Θεοί, ΛΥΣΙΟΙ ΘΕΟΙ. Pronounced: LEE-see-ee thay-EE) The Lýsiï Thæí are Gods of Deliverance.

"ἀλλ᾽, ὦ φίλε, φήσει λογιζόμενος, αἱ τελεταὶ αὖ μέγα δύνανται καὶ οἱ Λύσιοι Θεοί, ὡς αἱ μέγισται πόλεις λέγουσι καὶ οἱ θεῶν παῖδες ποιηταὶ καὶ προφῆται τῶν θεῶν γενόμενοι, οἳ ταῦτα οὕτως ἔχειν μηνύουσιν."

"Yes, my friend, will be the reflection, but there are Mysteries and Atoning Deities, and these have great power. That is what mighty cities declare; and the children of the Gods, who were their poets and prophets, bear a like testimony."

(Plátohn Πολιτεία [The Republic] 366a, trans. Benjamin Jowett, 1892.)

This Glossary is continued on the following page:

Glossary of Hellenic Mystery Religion Part 2

For a list of terms specifically associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries, please visit this page:

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.

How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.

The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia, Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase (Γῆς παῖς εἰμί καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος) are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara, κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus, Ὀρφεύς). 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.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

SPELLING: uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages:

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek

Transliteration of Ancient Greek

Pronouncing the Names of the Gods in Hellenismos

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