The mystery religions, or cults, involved initiation into secret rites and the performance of sacred dramas that presented the initiate with hidden knowledge pertaining to the afterlife and the gods. Although there are differences between them, most of the mysteries involved fertility rites and harvest celebrations. The Telesterion of Athens, portrayed in the model above, was the location where the main part of the Eleusinian initiation was performed, after initiates had undertaken a symbolic journey that led to this final destination. In his Immortality of the Soul, Plutarch writes that “the soul at the moment of death, goes through the same experiences as those who are initiated into the great mysteries. A couple of months from now (after school is done), I hope to start a series of posts that comment on the translation of some gold plates that have been discovered buried with the bodies of initiates into the Orphic mysteries. This entry was posted in Early Christianity, Heavenly Ascents, Temple and tagged Deification, eleusinian mysteries, Initiation, mystery religions, orphic, Orphic gold plates, Telestai, Telesterion, Telestial World.
I recently ran across a forum given at BYU-Idaho (then Ricks College) by Hugh Nibley in 1990. Though we can not always visit these places in the physical body, we can visit through meditation, taking us back to a time we were initiated there. I just wanted to post a brief description of what these mystery religions entailed, as I found them very interesting and think some of you may as well.


Often they entailed a dramatic representation of the fertility god’s death and journey to the underworld and subsequent resurrection and immortality. I have always been intersted in ancient history and the links it has to the world around us. In it he talks about Facsimile 2 from the Pearl of Great Price and describes it as essential the same thing you describe these plates. There must’ve been another event in the same location, so they had to move out to make way for it.
The Greek word “musterion” here means “secret rite or teaching,” and a “mystes” was one who had been initiated.
The initiate would usually re-enact or otherwise imitate the god’s journey, thus obtaining the same immortality as the god.
I do see the connections with our beliefs, and logically there would be if all religions ultimately came from the same origin. You are most likely right that the plates served a similar function to the bowl you mention.
This was such a common motif in ancient religion that it turns up in all kinds of formats and sources.


Many times, these cults were not religions, per se, but were groups attached to more mainstream belief systems. The details of these rites were generally not written down and were to be kept secret, death being the penalty for revealing them. If I’m not mistaken, it seems like the Egyptians had similar bowls that were buried with them. Burnside on Joseph Smith and the Genealogy of MelchizedekDavid Carlisle on Important New Monograph by Andrei A. The mystery cults were very widespread, being found in various cultures and times, the most famous being the Eleusinian, Orphic, Dionysian, Cybellic, and Mithric. There is much in early Christianity, with its dying and rising God and secret apostolic traditions, that can be compared to these mysteries.



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