Monday, January 08, 2024

Foundation And The Eleusian Mysteries.

From the Hmm, I Did Not Know That, and The No-one Who Reads My FB Feed Cares So This Goes To The Blog files comes this fascinating connection:

In Series 1 Epsisode 8, "The Missing Piece" of Asimov's Foundation on Apple+, "Brother Day embarks on a journey that no other Cleon has ever attempted." This is a religious ceremony that involves a long arduous walk in the sun without food or water that is deadly for many, called The Great Spiral. Br Day expects to reach a sacred cave, referred to as a womb by a priestess (note the rebirth motif) where salt in the water has some mind-altering property that may grant him a vision of the three goddesses (mother, maiden and ... cleaning lady?) and some enlightening message.

And hopefully some aloe vera for that sunburn.


It just so happens that The Eleusian Mysteries of ancient Greece bear a striking resemblance, at least part, to this fictional ritual journey. The Mysteries involved a once in a lifetime experience for the elite of the time and requiring them (people like Marcus Aurelius!) to oversome some harsh trials/tests/etc? and reach a certain underground temple or cave, ritualistically descend into hades and return with the goddesses Persephone and Demeter (daughter and mother).

References to re-birth from a seed (it obviously began as an an agricultural festival), visions, a revelation of spiritual and mental enlightenment, and eventually, as the mysteries evolved, eternal life and maybe even becoming a god. Magic mushrooms or some other psychedelic may very well have been involved, but we don't know as the rites were (the clue is in the name) a Mystery.

Anyone seen Marcus?

E@L couldn't find a correpsondence to this TV show's Great Spiral subplot in the books by polymath Isaac Asimov. Well, research, as in he did a search for "cave" and "goddess" in the seven Foundation ebooks he has, with no result. Maybe the scriptwriters' put it in? Seems unlikely. It must be there. Anyone here read them all?


Anyway, it was an interesting (to E@L) parallel, even though he has probably misread the details in the Wikipedia entry completely as he was drinking a double negronic (negrotonic? Anyway, negroni topped up with tonic) as he drafted this.


No doubt a dunk into reddit or somesuch chat area, even Google, would provide E@L with a wealth of discussion on this obvious, to many, association and several PhD theses have already been submitted on it and Stephen Fry probably explained it on Qi (even though he doesn't do it anymore) or in his latest book, and it is only because E@L lives in isolation from the cultured world (the bars of Bangkok and breweries in Singapore?) that he can claim to claim it as his own discovery.

To be totally honest, the correspondence hit E@L while he was doing his daily constitutional around said culturally isolated home village, sipping his barista-brewed flat white, and listening to a recent Sam Harris podcast on the use of psychedelics in religious ceremonies in the ancient western world, and the blindingly obvious pagan origin of many Christian rituals, natch. The guest describes the Mysteries in as much detail as, even more than, any brain could hold onto, least of all the exploding one of


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