The term Mysteries (from the Greek μυστήριον [mysterion], later Latinized as mysterium) refers to esoteric, initiatory, and shamanic cults that constitute the oldest and most archaic roots of spiritual doctrines spread from the Anatolian peninsula and the Middle East to the entire ancient Greek world, including the Mediterranean basin, Egypt, and the ancient land called Hyperborea.

Aristotle on the mysteries “those who are initiated should not learn something but experience emotions, evidently after having become capable of receiving them“.

The Greek poet PindarBlessed is he who goes underground having seen those things: he knows the end of life, and he knows its divine beginning“.

Sophocles: “Thrice blessed are those among mortals who go to Hades having seen these mysteries; for to them alone there is life there, for others there is all sadness“.

Homeric Hymn to DemeterBlessed among men living on Earth is he who has beheld these things“.

Since its origins, mystical wisdom has been transmitted directly, orally, and experientially within circles and temples, called schools. One of the main purposes of mystical doctrine is to guide students to self-knowledge and the attainment of the condition of “immortals” through the experience of ecstatic and mystical states of consciousness that allow the overcoming of the transient and limited human condition. In this perspective, meditative practices, teachings, sacred rites, ceremonies, ecstatic music, and dance are the means that allow to “remember” and restore the original state of fusion with the divine and heavenly origin of the human being.

The spread and influence of mystical cults are historically attested throughout the basin from the Middle East to the Mediterranean for millennia and find numerous and constant testimonies in Hellenistic, Greek, Roman literature, as well as in philosophical schools from Platonism to Pythagoreanism to Renaissance Neoplatonism. Poets, authors, philosophers, emperors, and prominent figures in ancient history were all united in participating in the Mysteries and their teachings as students and initiates of the schools.

In every ancient nation worthy of being called civilized, there was an Esoteric Doctrine, a system designated by the name of Wisdom, and those who were devoted to its continuation were first called wise or learned men […] Pythagoras called this system ή γνώσις τών όντων [hé gnòsis tòn ònton], the Gnosis or Knowledge of things that are.” Alexander Wilder, New Platonism and Alchemy, page 6, Albany, N.Y., 1869.