Priests and Priestesses

In this article are presented the characteristics of the priests of the Gods and the responsibilities of the priest in Eleusinian Mysteries. The Priests of the Gods should be able-bodied, having deep knowledge and venerable so that they inspire reverence and not lough. On the inside, they should be well-educated and adept of the mysteries and every theology because it was their job to teach others the mysteries, how to pray, how to believe and how to do offerings and sacrifices. They had to live a pure bios, be abstemious and sensible. They used to avoid meat and other inimical habits to the health.

For all these reasons people show great appreciation and respect to them and they thought of them that they were ambassadors of the people to the Gods and messengers of the will of the Gods to the people. They also used to prophesy and they were called prophets.

Dressing Code

The dressing code was different according to the place, temple and God. Their ritual clothes were bright in celebrations and always clean since the cleanness of the body symbolizes the cleanness of the soul. The ritual clothes should never touch a dead body. Their colors were according to the nature of the God. For the heavenly Gods they were wearing red ritual clothes, for the chthonic (earthly) Gods they were wearing white clothes and for the katachtonic deep dark colors, almost black. By the same way, they were wearing crowns form the sacred tree of each God.

Priests in Eleusinian Mysteries

Each God had his own priests and priestesses with different axioms and grades until the follower would achieve a high axiom. The priest and priestesses were different in number according to the place and the temple.

For example, the priests of Demeter in Eleusinian Mysteries were:

  • Hierophant (Ιεροφάντης) and he symbolized the brilliance of the creator of the whole world and he was receiving the initiates.
  • Torchbearer (Δαδούχος) who symbolized the Sun and that symbol was formed on his head with his hair and it was his job to clean the initiate.
  • Epivomios (Επιβώμιος) who was the overseer of the altar and he symbolized the Moon.
  • Ηierokiryx (Ιεροκήρυξ) who was blocking the way of the uninitiated to the hiero and who was telling the answers to the initiates to what they had been asked. He was dressed like Hermes.

The priestesses were

  • Mitropoli ( Μητροπόλοι)
  • Melisse (Μέλισσαι)

who were accepting the women initiates in the mysteries.

There were other 4 Epimelite (Επιμεληταί=stewards) called:

Neokoros (Νεωκόρος=sacristan) who were taking care of the temple cleaning the temple and the statues and keeping everything in order in the temple,

Klidouchos (Κλειδούχος=keybearer) and they were hanging the keys on themselves, Hieropoios ( Ιεροποιός) and they were responsible for the offerings and sacrifices

Naofylakes ( Ναοφύλακες=guardians of the temple) and they were responsible for the money they were receiving

Kirykes (Κήρυκες=speachers),

Pyrforoi (Πυρφόροι=firebringers) who were lighting every fire needed, Hymnodi (Υμνωδοί=hymnists) who were chanting hymns, Vouthyte (Βουθυται=killers of the cowbutcher)

Parasitoi (Παράσιτοι) who were gathering the wheat in depositories which would be used for the public rituals,

Propoloi (Πρόπολοι) who were like the servants of the temple

-Torchbeares were also called those who were carrying torches during the pomp and rituals.

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DornDryad's picture

It amazes me how so many traditions follow these ancient protocols and roles, I walk a Tri-fold spiritual path, truly Trioditis, guided by 'Εκάτη Propolos and each path of my three-ways incorporates the Eleusinian thread. Dadoukhos, Torchbearer, Priestess. Good to read that each tradition I walk and work conjoined represents the same manner or approach.

Theurgy and Philosophy are two different methods which lead to the union with God.

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