World Enough in Time

The Two Faces of The Tempest


Mather Walker

Bacon wrote his amazing Plays, crafting in each what appeared to be merely an entertaining story on the surface, but underneath allegorizing some system of Ancient Knowledge, while, at the same time, allegorizing the operation of his discovery device in determining the "form" of some related aspect of future knowledge.

 The face which looks toward the past in The Tempest has to do with The Mysteries. The face which looks to the future has to do with a demonstration of the operation of Bacon's discovery device in inquiring into the "form" of the existing state of the Advancement of Learning. I will look at the aspect of knowledge from antiquity first.




In most ancient countries (Chaldea, Persia, Phoenicia, Syria, Egypt, Greece, The Roman Empire, Etc.) side by side with the orthodox public religion were religions whose rituals and ceremonies were cloaked behind a veil of strictest secrecy. Only those were admitted who had undergone special preparation, special screening, and who had sworn, under penalty of the most terrible reprisal, to not reveal what took place. The words currently in english usage of initiates and initiation are names the Romans gave to these rites and their participants.

In his book, "The Secrets of Ancient Geometry" Tons Brunes explains that, "All knowledge and experience was assembled over thousands of years in the Temples, and by permiting educated groups to share to a greater or lesser extent in this pool of knowledge the Temple brethren wielded-through these groups-infinite power." The more famous temples all had their Mysteries. Simply put, the Mysteries were the depositories of ALL ancient knowledge, although the main thrust of their knowledge dealt with the origin and destiny of man.

Indeed, the Mysteries were well named. The very word, according to Demetrius Phalereus, was a metaphorical expression that denoted the secret awe which darkness and gloom inspired. The night was the time fixed for their celebration; and they were ordinarily termed nocturnal ceremonies. Everything connected with them was mysterious. 

The major role played in the Mysteries by the doctrine of the Ancient Astral Mysticism was most apparent in the Chaldean Mysteries of Tammuz, and the Persian Mysteries of Mithra. The rites of Tammuz were built around the events described in the story of Ishtar and Tammuz. According to the story the great goddess Ishtar (mother of all living) had as consort Tammuz. Tammuz died, however, and she descended to the underworld in search of the sacred elixir which alone would bring him back to life. In her descent she had to pass through seven gates which led to the underworld. At the first gate she met the guardian of the gate, and he let her pass, but only after removing the crown from her head. At the second gate the earrings were removed from her ears. At the third, the necklace from her neck. At the fourth, the ornaments from her breasts. At the fifth, the girdle from her waist. At the sixth, the bracelets from her hands and feet. And at the seventh, the cloak from her body.

Ishtar remonstrated as each successive article of apparel was taken from her. But the guardian told her this was the penalty paid by all who entered the somber domain of the underworld. Finally, when she had reached the domain of death, the Mistress of Hades, enraged by seeing her there, inflicted all manner of disease upon her, and imprisoned her there. It is apparent this story was an allegory of The Ancient Astral Mysticism doctrine of the soul descending through the rings of the seven planets in its descent to the underworld. 

The Mysteries of Mithra came from ancient Persia, from the religion of Zoroastrianism (the teaching of the Magi). The founder of the religion was Zoroaster, and the principal religious book was The Zend Avesta. According to the Zoroastrian doctrine eveything came from an unknowable first principle called Zeroana Akerne. From this principle came forth the eternally opposing pair: Ahura-Mazda, and Ahriman. Ahura-Mazda, the Creator, was the God of Light and Good. His adversary, Ahriman, also known as The Serpent, was the God of Darkness and Evil. From each of these came forth six principles, or gods; from Ahura-Mazda principles of Light and Good; from Ahriman principles of Darkness and Evil. These opposing forces of Light and Darkness entered into all of universal nature so that their strife created an eternal war in nature, a war which would rage from the beginning until the end of creation. 

In "Isis and Osiris", Plutarch said this doctrine of the two opposing principles was a basic tenet of the most secret mysteries, having been handed down by the ancient theologians and law-givers. Numerous testimonies showed that the Mithraic Mysteries dealt with the old Astral Mysticism of the descent and reascent of the soul. Porphry in his CAVE OF THE NYMPHS said that the Mithraic Mysteries were celebrated in caves, where gates were marked at the four equinoctial and solstitial points of the zodiac; and the seven planetary spheres were represented, which the souls had to traverse in descending from the heaven of the fixed stars to the elements that envelop the earth; and seven gates were marked, one for each planet, through which they passed, in descending, or ascending. 

Origen quoted Celsus as saying that the symbolic image of the passage of the souls among the stars, used in the Mithraic Mysteries, was a ladder reaching from earth to Heaven, and divided into seven steps or stages, to each of which was a gate, and at the summit an eighth one, that of the fixed stars.

 In his book, "The Mysteries of Mithra", Cumont said:  

"The heavens were divided into seven spheres, each of which was conjoined with a planet. A sort of ladder, composed of eight superimposed gates, the first seven of which were constructed of different metals, was the symbolic suggestion in the temples, of the road to be followed to reach the supreme region of the fixed stars. To pass from one story to the next, each time the wayfarer had to enter a gate guarded by an angel of Ormazd. The initiates alone, to whom the appropriate formulas had been taught, knew how to appease these inexorable guardians. As the soul traversed these different zones, it rid itself, as one would of garments, of the passions and faculties that it had received in its descent to the earth.

It abandoned to the Moon its vital and nutritive energy, to Mercury its intellectual capacities, to Mars its love of war, to Jupiter its ambitious dreams, to Saturn its inclinations. It was naked, stripped of every vice and every sensibility, an essence supreme, and in the eternal light that bathed the gods, beautitude without end." 

The most famous of all the Ancient Mysteries were those of Eleusis, a small village about 14 miles from Athens, celebrated in honor of Ceres and her daughter Persephone, or Kore. As Albert Pike remarked, these swallowed up all the others, and neighboring nations began to neglect their own Mysteries to celebrate those of Eleusis. In the following account I have gathered and collated all of the ancient sources to give a complete picture of the Eleusinian Mysteries. I have removed the ancient references for the purpose of saving space in an already overlong article.

Each year in the city of Athens, in Ancient Greece, a banquet known as the Anthesteria was held in connection with the vernal equinox. Immediately after the feast of Anthesteria the Lesser Mysteries were celebrated at Agra, a suburb of Athens. The candidates for initiation gathered in a temple of Demeter and of Kore, located at Agra. The hills around Agra formed a natural ampitheatre, and surrounded a beautiful stage of white stone. The candidates first submitted to an examination. One of the principle point of this examination was to ensure the candidate understand the Attic language. This was showed the importance of the sacred discourses which took place in the ceremonies. In addition to this, the candidate was also required to have fasted for a certain time. On the stage at Agra, a drama was made acted out, which presented to the candidates the myths of Dionysos and Perserphone. 

According to the myth, Dionysos was twice born, both times as the son of Zeus, but his first birth was the result of the union of Zeus with the Goddess Persephone, and his second with a mortal woman Semele. Thus Dionysos was called bimater because he had two mothers. Zeus centered all of his affections upon his divine son. Even as an infant Dionysos was seated on his father's throne, and in his tiny hand was placed the great sceptre that ruled the world. Zeus even permitted his little son to cast the great thunderbolts and hurl the lightnings. But Dionysos was slain by titans, who then began to devour his body. Zeus looked down with his all seeing eye and saw what was taking place. He immediately dispatched Athena who swooped down from heaven, but managed to save only the heart of Dionysos before it was consumed, and brought it back to Zeus.  In his anger then, Zeus hurled great bolts of lightning at the titans, nor did his wrath subside until only ashes remained of their bodies. From the ashes of the titans arose the race of man. Within man therefore was a portion of the divine Dionysos, along with the elements of the titans. 

What was the meaning of this strange story? We have the testimony of Plutarch, himself a priest of Delphi. Speaking of Bacchus or Dionysos in his treatise, On The Eating of Flesh, Plutarch declared that the whole story of Dionysos being torn into pieces by the titans, and their subsequent destruction by Jupiter, was "A sacred narrative concerning reincarnation." 

The myth of the Rape of Persephone also contained the same ideas as the Dionysian myth. She was abducted by Hades the Lord of the underworld. Her mother, Demeter, discovered that Zeus had abeted Hades in the plot to abduct her daughter. Angered and saddened she went into seclusion into her temple, and nothing grew on earth.

By the terrible famine she would have destroyed the whole race of men, had not Zeus sent Hermes down to the underworld to lead Persephone back again to her mother. However, Hades, by trickery prevailed upon Persephone to eat a sweet seed of red pomegranate, and because of this, even though Persephone was able to abide with her mother in the upper world for two thirds of the year. She had to spend the remainder of each year in the underworld with Hades. Demeter allowed the earth to become fruitful again and instigated the rites at Eleusis. The ancients had a saying: 

"Happy is he of men upon earth who has seen these wonders, But those uninitiate, having no part in the Mysteries, never share the same fate, but perish in the shadows."  

The meaning of the myth of Persephone was given by Sallust, as well as by others. In The Gods of The World, Sallust said that the rape of Persephone signified, "the descent of souls." And Olympiodorus, in his commentary on the Phaedo of Plato, supported the statement of Sallust in more detail. The myth was another version of the ancient Chaldean myth of Ishtar and Tammuz. 

This was followed by a sacred discourse in which it was explained to the candidates that they should look within themselves for the meaning of the myth, that what was represented was the descent of the soul to the underworld; its fall into matter, where due to the contamination received, it must remain trapped until, through a long process of purification, it might once again regain its celestial estate. Following the dramatic presentation and the sacred discourse a pig was sacrificed, and the person being initiated was purified through a process which involved a rigorous schedule modeled closely after that carried out at the temples of Asklepious. where the candidate was prepared for, and induced into, the mystic Temple Sleep.

In the Greater Mysteries one entire day was dedicated to Asklepios, and, in view of the obvious resemblance of the purificatory processes of the Lesser Mysteries with those which took place in the temples of Asklepious, it is easy to see why.

The Greater Mysteries of Eleusis were celebrated around the autumnal equinox and lasted nine days. They began on the 15th of Boedromion, which was termed Agurmos (i.e., a gathering, an assembly, or all collecting together). The reason for this was that prior to their fall through the rings of the planets to the earth, the souls gathered together, after having come along the track of the galaxy, at the northern gate of Cancer, the place of entrance into the solar system, and, only afterwards, from this part of the heavens did they begin their descent.

The candidates for initiation into the Greater Mysteries had been required to remain chaste and to fast for a period which was probably nine days. During the celebration of the Mysteries the use of certain foods were prohibited, and the Mystae fasted during the daylight hours. 

On this first day the Archon Basileus (the magistrate of Athens who had supreme direction of the celebration) called the people together at the painted porch (the Stoa Poikile) in the famous Agora of Athens. In this stoa, in the presence of the Hierophant, and the Dadouchos (the Torchbearer), the Hierokryx repeated the Prorrhesis which gave official invitation to the people to participate in the Mysteries, and warned those away who were excluded. The proclamation rejected criminals and people who did not speak Greek from participation in the Mysteries.

A strict injunction of silence during the ceremonies was imposed on the mystae, and they were made again to swear to conserve the secret of all the initiations and ceremonies. Following this, those who were admitted, washed their hands in the basin by the entrance to the Eleusinion, and entered within. Anyone burdened with the guilt of homicide was completely excluded from participation, as he was normally excluded from religious acts by the Archon Basileus. Those who could not understand Greek were excluded because they could not hope to understand the sacred formulas pronounced during the course of the initiation.


On the second day the crier ordered the initiates to the sea. This day represented the fall of the soul into the ring of Saturn. When the souls reached the ring of Saturn they received physical vehicles or chariots, therefore, this day was known as the Elasis (chariot). The whole planetary system was considered under the dominion of Neptune, and the planet Saturn was compared to a vast flood of water, the sea being termed, "The Tear of Saturn." Thus on this day the initiates ran to the sea to bathe in its waters. Each carried with him a small pig that was also cleansed and afterwards sacrificed. 


This was the day of the great sacrificial fire in which the victims were sacrificed. This represented the fall of the soul into the ring of Jupiter, because the eastern part of the universe, analogous to fire, belonged to Jupiter.



This day represented the fall of the soul into the ring of Mars, the planet which was supposed to give warlike energy, rashness, and profane boldness. On this day, therefore, the initiates were required to offset this influence by inactivity, quietness, and staying indoors.



This day represented the fall of the soul into the ring of the Sun, and, accordingly, was the most brilliant day of the ceremony, officially known as the day of pomp. Iamblichus placed the hades of mythology between the sun and the moon. On this day the initiates began their journey to Eleusis, and the first stop was the sacred fig tree, the place where, in the Homeric Hymn, the earth opened up and Persephone was carried off by Pluto in the descent to the underworld. The procession, after having left Athens, arrived at the fig representing the entrance to the underworld, and went on passing, one after another, the many monuments flanking the Sacred Way, and reaching the height of the pass. Here stood the Sanctuary of Apollo, god of the sun. From here the sacred way descended sharply downward toward the sea.



With the Greeks the day ended at nightfall. Following nightfall a new day began. Shortly after nightfall, at the very beginning of the sixth day, which represented the fall of the soul into the ring of Venus, the shrine of Aphrodite (Venus) was reached. This shrine was only a short distance from the sea. In the topology of the Ancient Astral Mysticism, the descending soul here entered the darkness of the underworld, so it was appropriate that it should be reached at nightfall. Here began the journey through hades.

From here the procession went on with lighted torches over the hill to emerge behind the lakes of Rheitoi. In the symbolism of the journey to Hades, the lake of Rheitoi represented the river Styx over which the dead had to be ferried by Charon. In keeping with the myth a boat met the Mystae here, and they each had to pay the boatmen a coin in order to be ferried across.

 As each myste was rowed across the lake he saw only mud and darkness around him, and heard only the frogs of the lake. Further on, in the lake, he saw, as in a great sea of mud, people buried up to their necks who represented the evil doers in Hades. 

This swampy lake of Rheitos was 3 and 3/4 miles from Eleusis, so the Mystae still had a considerable way to travel in the darkness. When they reached the other side, the descendants of Orokos, the legendary original dweller of the territory, was waiting for them, and tied a woolen kroke (ribbon) of saffron color around their right hand and left leg so they could be easily identified as Mystae.

 Next the Mystae had to cross the bridge which spanned the small river Dephissus. As they continued on through the darkness they saw a strange sight,-Empousa, a monster which kept changing shape, now a cow, now a mule, now a girl, now a bitch, now with face afire. 

Next the mystes proceeded onward to the Rharian Plain. Here on the meadow of the Rharian Plain all the mystae were assembled, and the judgement took place. This judgement divided the mystae into three groups: those who were judged evil; those who were judged good; and the majority, somewhere in between. For the evil the way led now to the left and downward, i.e. from the ridge of the plain down to the shore around the bay. For the good the way led on upward to the Temples of Eleusis, and for the many, they lingered there wandering in the darkness of the Rharian Plain. 

Although these three divisions are mentioned by Proclus and others, Plutarch gives the clearest description. In A Pleasant Life Impossible, Plutarch brings out the idea of three classes of men, the evil men, the great multitude in between, and the good men. In Live Unknown he goes on to say that they each have a separate lot in hades. The good attain to the Elysian Fields. Those, on the other hand, who have lived a life of impiety and crime; are thrust into a pit of darkness, whence sluggish streams of murky night belch forth the dark that has no borne, as they recieve into their waters those sentenced to punishment, and engulf them in obscurity and oblivion. And the great multitude, he implies, meet neither of these extremes, but wander somewhere in the darkness in between. 

Those judged evil were conducted from the ridge of the plain down to the shore around the bay. The only light to guide them was the single flame of the torch bearer, so they went mostly in darkness, and as they went, in the darkness heavy with dread they heard the uncanny noise of the rhombos. A sharp, trilling, humming noise, entirely unearthly and uncanny, which built up through an uncanny whirring sound to a sound like the mutterings of distant thunder, and finally the roaring of a bull. They were led down to the shore around the bay, and back along the curve of the shore until they came to the Lakes of Rheitos, where they were placed with the numbers of the evil doers, buried up to their necks in the swampy water. Later they were allowed to continue on their way. Next they heard in the distance the baying of hounds. These sounds came closer and closer, until finally they saw spectral forms of the hounds, and were hunted about by them.

Those mystae judged "good", were led along the rising tract of the Rharian plain into the high walls of stone which enclosed the court and temples of Eleusis. At the famous "laughless rock", where Demeter had sat beside the sacred well, they were led in a circle dance around the sacred well.

In a chorus of his tragedy ION, Euripides made the sea and sky reply to the dance of the throng arriving at Eleusis along the Sacred Way for the Mystery Night : 

The starry ether of Zeus takes up the dance, the moon goddess dances, and with her the fifty daughters of Nereus dance in the sea in the eddies of the ever flowing streams, so honoring the daughter with the golden crown and the holy Mother... 

Most of the night was spent in this activity. Finally the wanderers on the Rharian plain were led on to the court at Eleusis, and the other mystae, judged "the evil doers" with their muddy garments, were led by the mystagogue to ascend running up the hill to the temples of Eleusis. As they ascended they stripped off their muddy garments for they had to enter the Telestrion, or initiation temple, nude. At the top of the hill they washed themselves, and finally they were all foregathered with the others streaming toward the Telestrion. Here they waited, seeing no entrance, and there was talking and noise and pushing of one another, but there was also nervousness and vertigo. 

The temple doors open. The Mystae stream inside. They are nude as they enter, but once inside they are issued new, white linen garmets to wear. The torches are extinguished. The Mystae stand, in almost total darkness, holding their Kernos in which the flame has almost completely died, so that there remains only a faint glow. Suddenly the door of the Anaktoran opens. From within the shrine a great light radiates from the huge bonfire which blazes there. An instant hush falls upon the Mystae for the rite is about to begin. The heirophant, who is seated on his throne upon the platform in the enclosed booth to the left of the entrance to the Anaktoran, stands. He is a tall, august, commanding figure, with a long white beard, and dressed in a long flowing purple robe. He strikes the Echeion(gong) making a noise like the crashing of thunder, and, in a loud, high pitched voice, calls the name, "KORE!" Inside the Anaktoran a veil falls away, and reveals the resplendent figure of Kore, streaming with light from inside.

The figure floats above the floor, slowly rising until it is suspended in the air above the Anaktoran. Suspended there, with no support, in mid air, a resplendent light streams from it on all sides. 

Next followed the sacred discourse. From the two connected stones known as Petroma, the sacred writing were taken out and read to the mystae. These writings included a mythic recital of what took place in hades, giving the mystae the meaning of the symbolic drama through which they had just passed, of wandering in the darkness. Showing that the separation of the three groups at the judgment represented the three ways in hades. They were told that unless they purify themselves while on earth, they will be plunged in mire and lost in darkness in the World Beyond. But if they purify themselves, then this present life where they are not fully awake, but living instead in a kind of dream, will be exchanged for a real life in the company of the blessed.

The sacred discourse also reveals that there was a purpose and a happy ending to the abduction of Persephone. As a result of this abduction resulted the birth of her son. The hierophant crys out his proclamation: "August Brimo has brought forth a holy son, Brimos!" At these words the mystae see in the midst of the great bonfire in the shrine a lovely living infant, lying in perfect happiness and comfort in the flames. 

The Goddess is now present. The communion meal takes place. The mystae drink the Kykeon. They taste the cakes taken from the mystic chest. The effect of the drug in the Kykeon and the communion cakes is almost instantaneous. The shrine seems to reel, and its foundations to totter from the swimming sensation the drug causes in the heads of the Mystae. They see the threshold glow with a radiant light, and hear a loud din, as if from the depths of the earth. The initiating officials wave the holy torches. Huge snakes come forth from the shrine, hissing, and raising their scaly necks on which are curved collars. They glide toward the chanting priestesses. Within the shrine arises Hecate with her three heads. and with her comes forth Iacchus, the youthful, his temples crowned with ivy. The Mystae raise the cry,"Iacchus!", three times. Aphrodite assists the torch-bearer, and the charities receive the Mystae, and guide them to the sacred bed where they will receive the initiation. 

Having entered the mystic bed the initiation is now administrated. The Mystae are struck with the "Rod of Initiation." They immediately enter a deathlike state, and assume the rigidity of death. Once the initiates are out of their bodies the flowery meadows and shining plains of the Elysian Fields immediately open up before them, bathed in a divine light, and they are entertained with hymns and dances.

Those who were to experience the third degree of the initiation-The Epotica, and who had already been initiated into the Greater Mysteries, are also put into the trance state, but they, while accompanying the others to Elysium, instead of taking part in the choral dances, the songs, and the sacred discourse, experience the visions, and the rapturous union. 

The Mystae were revived from their deathlike state on the night of the 24th. They would return to Athens the next morning, but this night was filled with the display of many marvels. There were oracles and the presentation of the fantastic appearances of gods, daemons, and angels. The mystae also saw shapes of fire, of various forms, which moved, sometimes at a high rate of speed, through the air.






 - Sir Francis Bacon's New Advancement of Learning