Alongside the developing mainstream religion of Christianity and its early competitors, the Gnostics, there were a variety of alternative options available within esoteric philosophy and arcane spirituality. This course traces some of these currents noting the geographical spread of various mystery traditions and the time periods in which they were popular. We will look at the key elements making up the concept of `tradition’ and evaluate their respective importance.
Examples will include the Eleusinian mysteries of ancient Greece and their Dionysian/Bacchic counterparts. The importance of the Orphic tradition is also noted as are the significance of Egypt and its mysteries of the goddess Isis. Nor will be the path of the warrior, Mithraism, be ignored. The course will also raise the question - did the early British themselves have mysteries? - and look especially at earlier romantic understandings of the place of the ancient Druids in this context.
Key issues to be discussed include what actually happened in these, often secretive, enclaves; what were the traditions’ fate and why did they die out; plus the vital importance of initiation and rebirth in facilitating ways for achieving transformation and hoped for immortality. This will give a chance to assess the value of the early mystery tradition ethos for the surrounding culture and for the individual.
The six-week course will run on Tuesdays from 8pm – 10 pm from 10 January – 14 February 2012.
Fees are: £44 Cons. £15. For more information, call 020 8671 6372. For enrolment, call: 020 7269 6000, quoting course no. 438.
The nearest tube stations are Russell Square or Holborn.