Modern-day Eleusis lies in the same location as ancient Eleusis, which was one of the five holy cities of Greece from 1600 BCE through 400 BCE. It was there that the Eleusinian Mysteries took place in honor of the goddess Demeter, the goddess of agriculture and fertility and mother of Persephone. It is commonly regarded as being holiest and most honored ritual among all those of ancient Greece. Taking place near the end of what is now known as September, it lasted for nine days and drew pilgrims from around the world The Mysteries were an initiation ceremony based on the myth of Demeter and Persephone. Ancient Eleusis was built around the sanctuary of the goddess Demeter.

Persephone was the daughter of Zeus and the Demeter. When she grew up, Pluto, the god of the Underworld (also known as Hades), fell in love with her, kidnapped her and took her to the Underworld. Out of despair, Demeter let the crops dry out and threatened the gods that, if she didn’t get her daughter back, the earth would never blossom again. Thanks to the intervention of Zeus, a deal was reached for Persephone to spend six months with her mother and six months with Pluto. Thus, for the six months that she was in the Underworld, it was autumn and winter as nature mourned for Demeter, while for the six months when Persephone was with her mother, it was spring and summer and nature was joyful, blossomed and full of light.

Photo: elefsinacityguide.gr

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