Could this be where the word elusive is derived from? Big mystery there!
A short drive south from Athens, towards Corinth, on the National Highway, lies the modern industrial Greek town of Eleusis. Elefsina in colloquial Greek.
Here you will find the remains of ancient fortified Eleusis Still barely keeping a toehold. Ancient Eleusis was first a place of worship and then of initiation to thousands over it sthousand year exstence. It was a big deal in its way and was of paramount importance to the ancient Greeks as the sacred Sanctury of Demeter and housed several other temples as well.
This suggested excursion is for you die hard archeology buffs as the surrounding area is unattractive and as indutrialized as Greece gets as in petroleoum refineries. On the other habd it is on the way to the Peloponnese so why not stop?
I'd love to tell you I had fathomed the ancient Mysteries of Eleusis. They rank up there with the Dionyssian rites for mystery and well kept secrets. The revelation of either was punishible by death.
Like most Greek Myths they revolve around natural phenomena as an attempt to explain and influence Mother Nature herself.
In this instance the goddess Demeter represented the Harvest of Grain and the most basic of neccessities: Food.
However my friend Stuart Thorne, a respected Archeolgist lent me a book about the mysteries called:
The Road to Eleusis by R. Gorden Wasson, Crl A.P. Ruck and Albert Hoffman
Apparently Demeter was worshipped particularly for the grain harvest where as Dionyssos was worshiped for the grape harvest.
Now everybody knows that wine will get you drunk if you drink too much but what I didnt know was that some grains like barley are susceptable to a certain kind of mold that will give you halucinogenic kind of buzz if its prepared properly. One that 'in fact' disturbs mans inner ear and trips astonishing ventriloquistic effects.
This fungus, the ergot fungus, causes the sclerotia of barley to fall to the ground and then sprout up tiny purple mushrooms which gave you the buzz if prepared properly.
So scholars everywhere forgive me for my less than learned dissertation but the Induction into the Mysteries were probably accompanied by this drug which enhanced the experience.
If you want to know more go out and buy the book! And dont go around eating any mushrooms that you find sprouting up either please as many are poisonous.
Another interseting thing is that the word 'meekites' in modern Greek means: mold or spores or yeast and it is derived from the word Mycenea which was the name of Agamennons Dynasty or Period.
So, perhaps, they as well, partook of these little purple mushrooms? Only for religious purposes ..... naturally!
In the Museum (Tu - Sun., 8:30-3pm) many interesting finds are to be seen including a copy of the Niinnion Tablet whose figures are believed to be preforming part of the rite.
The original is in the National Archeology Museum in Athens.
The town of Eleusis is reachable from Constitution Sq. take yellow trolley # 026 to Komondourou Sq. and then the Orange bus to Eleusis.