In the excellent book “The Immortality Key” the author Brian Muraresku reveals the most famous of the secret Greek religions, the Eleusinian Mysteries which are theorized to have conducted annual psychedelic rituals observed from c. 1600 BCE — 392 CE.
“Mysteries” refers to the annual festival held at Eleusis (the Mystēria), rather than to the religion itself.
Eleusinian initiates who lived through the rituals are known to have said that the secrets revealed during the journey are of tremendous importance for civilized life, in such a way that these secrets act like a glue that holds society together, and it was believed that without the mysteries, society would most likely crumble.
This makes me wonder if part of the problem with the present state of affairs in our society is due to the stigmatization of psychedelic rituals.
Death Before Death
The most notable theme of the Eleusinian Mysteries is the experience of death before death. This means that the rituals were meant to induce epiphanies of the afterlife by making the participant experience a mind-expanding death-like psychedelic voyage.
The secret revealed during the Eleusinian Mysteries rituals offered comfort to the initiates because it made them understand the afterlife in a way that made death seem like just the beginning of a larger journey.
The ritual is described by worldhistory.org:
At Eleusis they (…) would fast, and would then drink a barley and mint beverage called Kykeon. It has been suggested that this drink was infused by the psychotropic fungus ergot and this, then, heightened the experience and helped transform the initiate.
After drinking the Kykeon the participants entered the Telesterion, an underground `theatre’, where the secret ritual took place. Most likely it was a symbolic re-enactment of the `death’ and rebirth of Persephone which the…