Defining the "Mystery" in "Mystery Religions"
But to return to the main topic, the main part of all of these religions is the initiation. Without being initiated, one could not be taught the mysteries which that specific path held. There were usually several parts to the initiation, some of which are mirrored in Wicca:
- catharsis - a purification process which is necessary to take the next step into initiation because initiation in itself is seen as beginning a new chapter in one's life or perhaps an entirely new life and of course everyone wants to enter this new life clean, calm and unburdened.
- palingenesis - a symbolic death and rebirth during which new knowledge is given to the initiate
- hieros gamos - a sacred wedding referring to the unity of the initiate and the god/goddess/gods where the initiate truly understands the deity/deities at hand
- orgia - no, this is NOT an orgy. An orgia is an ecstatic emotional feeling that the initiate may experience during the hieros gamos which then leads to the last step of the initiation
- ekstasis - the actual ecstasy itself, or rather the "getting out of oneself", going beyond limited perceptions, going beyond existence. This is where true spiritual knowledge is obtained.