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The Oracle

Historical Perspective of Fraternity Rituals


Some of the Common Characteristics of Ancient Rituals:

bulletA physical or symbolic purification of the neophyte.
bulletA symbolic journey either observed or participated in by the neophyte. Tests of courage, physical ability. Accompanied by an initiate or guide.
bulletThe teaching of secrets (ritual ceremony), including symbols, objects, and means of identifying other initiates. It included the nvestiture of a symbol of initiation (crown, tattoo or scar, jewelry, etc.)
bulletAn interpretation or inspiration, by lecture, on the expectations of future behavior based on the values presented in the initiation.
bulletSometimes there were degrees or multiple levels of initiation, often with a waiting period of a year or more between each.

Greek Mysteries (Orphic and Eleusinian)

Eleusinian Mysteries

People traveled from around the Roman Empire to ask to receive these mysteries. The first degree of the initiation was conducted once per year, with another degree available after a one year waiting period. The most important part of the festival included a play based on Greek mythological play of the abduction of Kote (often known as Persephone), daughter of Demeter (Goddess of the Corn and with Dionysus they were the supreme gods of the Earth). Demeter goes on a journey in search of Persephone. The journey takes her through the underworld, and the theme of death and rebirth using agricultural symbolism becomes central to the initiation.
Elements included:

bulletCommunication of the mystics
bulletExposition of "holy" objects and symbols
bulletInvestiture by crowning with a garland.

Orphic Mysteries

Performed by the Dionysian cult (Dionysus was God of Life and Earth, also lord of the world of souls).
Elements included animal sacrifice.


Mithras, God of Light. The neophyte went through 7 degrees representing the seven spheres through which the soul passes on its way to perfection. The neophyte was a "servant" until completing the third degree (similar to the current practice of Freemasonry). The seven degrees were:

bullet1. The Raven-the servant of the sun.
bullet2. The Occult-signifying hidden things.
bullet3. The Soldier-signifying holy warfare against evil.
bullet4. The Lion-symbolic of fire.
bullet5. The Persian-symbolic of ancient origins.
bullet6. Heliodromus-courier of the Sun.
bullet7. Fatherhood-bringing the participant into the brotherhood for the rest of his life.

Rituals in early Christianity

Symbolism of death and rebirth in the baptism in water.
People to be baptized were clothed in white, a symbol of purity, a custom still seen today.
Marriage ceremony (symbolism of rings, reference to miracles, expression "What God has joined together let no man put asunder")
Ordination of deacons by the apostles (laying on of hands by the apostles still practiced today in the ordination of priests)

Other Ritualistic Ceremonies

bulletBaptism, marriage, ordination of priests, confirmation, Bah Mitzvah, Communion, funerals, etc.
bulletGraduation ceremonies, induction of officers, ceremonies marking attainment of a level of achievement (induction into Hall of Fames, insurance sales clubs, real estate sales clubs, etc).



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Last Updated: 2008-03-14 18:23
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