Kaviria Mysteries

samothrace-kaveirianFor about a millennium, Samothraki was one of the most sacred places worldwide. It was a nationwide religious center, similar to the Temple of Dimitra and Persephone at Eleusina. Here were the Temples of Great Gods and mystery rites. The cult of Great Gods on Samothraki existed before the arrival of Greek colonists and it was including rites and mysteries, in which all believers regardless of social class, ethnicity and age were admitted. In Kaveiria there were two degrees of initiation, the “Initiation” and “Supervision”. The acceptance of believers was concerning only the first step of initiation, and the second step was for few and chosen members. The initiation into the mysteries was either serving the ultimate catharsis from major crimes that anyone had committed or protecting the believers were from sea risks and promising happiness in the afterlife.

The Greek kings of Macedonia, Thrace and Egypt took the Temple under their protection and enriched it with luxurious marble constructions and offerings, ruins of which survive until today. Here Goddess Axieros was worshiped whom the Greeks identified with goddess Dimitra and Kadmilos the god of fertility whom the Greeks identified with Hermes. The twin demons Cabiri belonged to the same circle of devotion. Later people worshipped the god of the underworld Axiokersos and his wife Axiokersa. However, the nature of gods of Samothraki remains enigmatic, since ancient writers that seem to have been insiders occasionally give information about the simple ritual, while they deliberately say nothing about the higher initiation.

The annual celebrations in the Temple were happening in the heart of summer, where crowds of visitors were flocking to the island by any means. The language of the ceremonies was prehellenic and rituals were predominantly at night. Candidates with special piece of clothing and lamps in hand were watching a series of sacred revelations from the insiders and simultaneously participating in rituals of purification with sacrifices. Also, an explanation of secret symbols was given and candidates were participating in specific rituals…. Finally, a key element of the ceremony was the abundant wine drinking to the point of intense drunkenness.