The Mysteries of Eleusis
These are of interest because of the very many similarities to Masonic Lodge ritual. The Sacred Texts site says that:
It appears, that, at a very early period, some contemplative men were desirous of deducting from the observation of nature, moral rules for the conduct of mankind. Astronomy was the science selected for this purpose; architecture was afterwards called in aid of this system; and its followers formed a society or sect, which will be the object of this enquiry.
In the same way, Freemasons refer to the Great Architect of the Universe.
The aspirant for these mysteries was not admitted a candidate till he had arrived at a certain age, and particular persons were appointed to examine and prepare him for the rites of initiation. Those, whose conduct was found irregular, or who had been guilty of atrocious crimes, were rejected, those found worthy of admittance were then instructed by significant symbols in the principles of society.
Likewise, a masonic candidate must be of mature age and sound morals.
At the ceremony of admission into these mysteries, the candidate was first shown into a dark room, called the mystical chapel. There certain questions were put to him. When introduced, the holy book was brought forward, from between two pillars or stones: he was rewarded by the vision: a multitude of extraordinary lights were presented to him, some of which are worthy of particular remark. He stood on a sheep skin; the person opposite was called the revealer of sacred things and he was also clothed in a sheep skin or with a veil of purple, and on his right shoulder a mule skin spotted or variegated, representing the rays of the sun and stars. At a certain distance stood the torch-bearer, who represented the sun; and beside the altar was a third person, who represented the moon. Thus we perceive, that over those assemblies presided three persons, in different employments, and we may remark, that in the government of the caravans in the eastern countries, three persons also direct them, though there are five principal officers, besides the three mathematicians; those three persons are, the commander in chief, who rules all; the captain of the march, who has the ruling power, as long as the caravan moves; and the captain of the rest, or refreshment, who assumes the government, as soon as the caravan stops to refresh.
Ref: Sacred Texts
This would sound familiar to modern Freemasons who sometimes say:
Question: Why are you placed there?
Answer: To mark the sun at its meridian, to call the Brethren from labour to refreshment and from refreshment to labour, that profit and pleasure may be the result.
These ceremonies, thus far, appear to contain the lesser mysteries, or the first and second stages of the candidate in his progress through the course of his initiations. There was, however, a third stage, when the candidate, himself, was made symbolically to approach death, and then return to life. In this third stage of the ceremony, the candidate was stretched upon the couch, to represent his death. The sun itself, considering its beneficial influence in the physical world, was chosen as; the symbol of the Deity, though afterwards taken by the vulgar as a Deity.
Ref: Sacred Texts
This also sounds familiar from the Third Degree ritual in which the candidate symbolically dies and is reborn as part of the raising to the Third Degree.
Ref : Mysteries of Eleusis
Ref : Serpent tribe
The "Dionysian Artificers" is an interesting tale. According to Sacred Texts it was an attempt by Hippolyto Joseph da Costa in 1820 to "prove that modern Freemasonry derived from ancient Greek philosophical and religious ideas."
- and this -
As briefly as possible, it starts with the Mysteries of Eleusis as a Mystery School older than the Greeks, but established in Greece.
In the article on Dionysian Artificers they summarise the start thus:
These Ionians, participating in the improved state of civilization in which their mother country, Greece, then was, cultivated the sciences, and useful arts; but made themselves most conspicuous in architecture, and invented or improved the order called by their own name Ionian. These Ionians formed a society, whose purpose was to employ themselves in erecting buildings. The general assembly of the society, was first held at Theos; but afterwards, in consequence of some civil commotions, passed to Lebedos. This sect or society was now called the Dionysian Artificers, as Bacchus was supposed to be the inventor of building theatres; and they performed the Dionysian festivities. They afterwards extended themselves to Syria, Persia, and India. ... These Ionian societies divided themselves into different sections, or minor assemblies. Some of those small or dependent associations; had also their distinguishing names. But they extended their moral views, in conjunction with the art of building, to many useful purposes, and to the practice of acts of benevolence. ... Let us now notice the passage of the Dionysian Artificers to Judea. Solomon obtained from Hiram, king of Tyre, men skilful in the art of building, when the Temple was erected at Jerusalem. Amongst the foreigners, who came on this occasion, we find men from Gabel, called Giblim; that is to say, the Ionians settled in Asia Minor, for Gabbel, or Byblos, was that city where stood the temple of Apollo, where the Eleusinian rites or Dionysian mysteries were celebrated. ... DaCosta ends his essay with the statement that after the Dionysian Artificers made it to Israel to work on the Temple, some of their rites were introduced, in a modified form, to be compatible with the Monotheism... ... the Artificers simply attached themselves to the most learned of those who weren't propagandists of the Yahweh cultus, and then DaCosta states that eventually this group of Initiates became known in Maccabeean times as Hasidim. These mystics were responsible for the formation of the Essene communities, Da Costa says. .
So we have non-Greeks from Greece getting a sub-contract as the architectural designers from Hiram of Tyre, who had the main contract to build Solomon's new temple in Jerusalem. In the Second Book of Kings, v. 17, 18, it says that "the King commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house. And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them, and the stone squarers." The last word in the original is “giblim”. The Giblemites, or, as they are called in Scripture, the Giblim, were inhabitants of the city and district of Gebal, in Phoenicia, near Mount Lebanon.
Robert Clegg describes how they moved in turn to Pergamum, Teos, Ephesus, Myonessus, Lebedos.
Robert I. Clegg, in Mackey's Revised History of Freemasonry, Volume I (1921) "Later history of the association of Dionysian Architects forms no part of the Legend just cited. But we may here to advantage trace their progress. About seven hundred years after the building of the Temple at Jerusalem, they are said to have been incorporated by the King of Pergamum, an ancient province of Mysia, as a society exclusively engaged in the erection of public buildings such as theaters and temples. They settled at Teos, an Ionian city on the coast of Asia Minor, where notwithstanding its troubles they remained for several centuries. Among the works by them were a magnificent theater and a splendid temple of Dionysus, ruins of which still remain. "Becoming unruly they were at length expelled from Teos and departed to Ephesus. King Attalus sent them from that city to Myonessus. The Teians sending representatives to Rome requesting that the Myonessians should not be permitted to fortify their city, the Dionysiacs removed to Lebedos, about fifteen miles from Teos, where they were welcomed. "In the 5th Century of the Christian Era, the Emperor Theodosius forbid all mystical associations but the Dionysiacs are said to have continued their existence until the time of the Crusades. Then they passed over into Europe, and were merged in the association of Builders known as the Traveling Freemasons of the Middle Ages." http://www.masonicdictionary.com/hiramt.html
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