The Samothracian Mysteries

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A few months ago I wrote an article on ‘Recreating the Samothrakean Mysteries‘ – I’m happy to say I put the theory into practice &, well, recreated them. The final form is that of a ‘sequanto’ – a term I have fashioned to describe a 14-strong sonnet sequence that is part of a larger series of sonnet sequences. In this case it is one of the 100 sequantos that contribute to the 1400 sonnets of my Silver Rose epic – which may be perused here.


The Anaktotelestes (priests)
Three Kabeiroi – Alkon, Eurymedon & Onnes
Three Kabeirides – Axieros, Axiocersan & Axiocersus

The Korybantes

The Sanctuary of the Great Gods

I: To the sound of music the initiates are led into the Sacred Precinct of Samothraki. In the Sacristy three Anaktotelestes await. Around the theatre stand the nine Korybantes.

First Anaktotelestes:
Welcome ye beautiful Initiands,
Youth is your mantle, energy your fruit
We are the Anaktotelestes, three,
Presiders of things

Preside over us!

Second Anaktotelestes:
Upon this only day of holy days
Into our sacred precinct have you come
Must give yourselves complete to this priesthood

From freedom comes release!

Third Anaktotelestes:
& from desire
Demeter comes in sweetness like the Spring.
These rites a gift for the Kabeiroi three,
Dwelling in the Samothracian cavern

First Anaktotelestes:
Salute the island, her powers are strong

Hail Samothraki! Praise the Kabeiroi!

Second Anaktotelestes:
Into these sacred mysteries, proceed

II: The initiates are led along the Sacred Way by the Priests, with the helmeted Korybantes accompanying them on all sides playing the flute & the sounding lyre, while leaping with rhythmic steps, dancing feet and circling measures to the brassbeaten beats of their shields. At the thresfoldto the Sanctuary of the Great Gods there are crystal glasses & deep bowls of wine.

First Anaktotelestes:
Dance Korybantes, deathless as thou art
Who dwell in Samothraki’s sacred ground
By your powers alone were mystic rites
First shown Mankind, play immortal Daimones!
Beat the dance Knossian! Lead us down
This Sacred Way, replenish balmy air,
The food of life, under concave heaven,
Let lucid breaths of Zeus sustain our souls.

Second Anaktotelestes:
Are we to enter the the Sanctuary
Our old selves – no! first quaff the ruby grapes
Of Dionysis, crush’d ambrosial,
Come fill your crystal cups with elixir
Bowl-bubbling dew of vintage Lemnian.

Third Anaktotelestes:
Fill your cups, drain them whole, fill them again ,
Then enter, saying farewell to your fears.

III: The procession reaches the Anaktoron’s main hall

First Anaktotelestes:
Mystai of these marvellous mysteries,
Let us witness this Myesis, your soul’s state

Unpurified, immerg’d in mire has been
But waits on the threshfold, lovely as stars

Korybantes play music & circle the initiates – the oxhides thud under the blows of iron as they whirled them about in rivalry, while the double pipe makes music and quickens the dancers with its rollicking tune in time to the bounding steps of war-dances, accompanied by uproar and noise and cymbals and drums and arms, and also by flute and outcry

Second Anaktotelestes:
Listen to the melodies of Linus
Apollo’s son adopted, hymnal praise
For nurse Demeter, mother of the Gods
Whose sceptre sway’st twyx the poles divine.

Third Anaktotelestes:
From pagans suckld in an outworn creed
What diamond dusted people you’ll become
Tho not yet born – the living parts you’ll play Are not created yet

Enter the three Kabeiroi

First Anaktotelestes:
The Kabeiroi
Have come, three sons of Hephaestus born
Two plotting mindless murders on the third

IV: Two of the Kaberoi – Alkon & Eurymedon – murder their brother, Onnes, by lulling him with wine then severing his head with one blow. Enter Hermes

Heed me! Hear me! Be still ye dwarf-boy kings
Alkon & Eurymedon, the lord Gods
Of Olympus send displeasures thro me,
Hermes, first messenger of the Divine
Who, by light leaps directs my steps to thee,
Demanding of a penitential trek
Back to Olympus, bearing on this shield,
Forg’d in the furnaces of your father,
The head of your bonnie brother, Onnes,
Cover it with cloak of ruby purple
& bury it beneath the gaze of Zeus,
Else by his vengeant lightning be struck down

Exit Hermes – to the sound of the Korybantes, Alkon & Eurymedon do all they were bidden to, including burying their brother’s headless body – they then leave the Anaktoron

First Anaktotelestes:
Mystai of the Mysteries, fill your wine
Escort Kabeiroi gone Olympus-bound

V: The procession is led outside the Anaktoron to the accompaniament of the Korybantes

First Anaktotelestes:
Play ye Corybantes, with your parents
Apollo and Rhytia, watching on
Ye who hold mountain-ranging instruments
Bringing your notes of barbarous delight

Second Anaktotelestes:
As Korybantes strain unearthly tunes
Like birdsongs underneath unnatural light
Allow your mind’s imaginations rise
& form the lofty slopes of Olympus

Alkon & Eurymedon begin to bury their brother’s head

Third Anaktotelestes:
Below them burying their brother’s head
Alkon & Eurymedon show remorse
To drums bull-bellowing Hades semblance,
Subterranean thunderings of guilt

{crying out from emulous throats}
Euoe saboe… Hyes attes, attes hyes.

Euoe saboe… Hyes attes, attes hyes!


Drink, my dreamy initiands, drink deep
Release yourself from irridescent dark
By purified by such ceremonies
Which flipp’d the guilt of living Kabeiroi
Into our divine stations of remorse
Who know now only that a blameless death
Will cease the body’s eternal torment

As you live our death, so you die our lives,
Transmigrating sleep to sleep, dream to dream,
You may leave, now, the skirts of Olympus
Cast off impurities at last to merge
With the miky divinity of Gods
Like souls released from dull prisons by death
A death more permanent & more profound

The priests lead the initates away from the Anaktoron

VII: The initiates arrive at the Telete – waiting for them are the three Kabeirides beside a box.

Hail! to those on the edge of becoming,
The progression of your procession
Brings thee to the test of the Telete

We are the three Kabeirides, vestal
Daughters of the eternal Kabeiroi
Protectors of the world famous phallus
That is the penis from Zagreus hewn

Entrusted to us, by Demeter, Hail!

Anaktotelestes & Korybantes:
Hail Demeter!

First Anaktotelestes:
Both Gods & Men arose
From thee, & thro’ thee every river flows,
Celestial & life-supporting maid,
With joyful aspect on our incense shine,
Propitious to our rites, Hail Demeter!

Hail Demeter!

First Anaktotelestes:
Open the sacred chest

Axiocersus opens the chest to reveal the penis of Zagreus stood upright upon a large silver dish, which is lifted by Axieros & Axiocersa.


O Leader of the chorus of the stars!
Whisper to our psyches how the Titans
Zagreus tore apart, phrenzied, dismember’d
Son of fair Persophone & Zeus

Our fathers recover’d virrilia
Eternally & vernally arous’d

Demonstrate respect

Fill your bowl with wine

Drink deep, libations pour then to the Earth
As if Dyonisian ejecta

A gift from Demeter this ruby rite
& after hearts shall gleam with molten bronze
Bonding together in the common forge

For passion never happens without trust
& candles never melt in the darkness


First Anaktotelestes:
Drink thy fill of Samothrakean wine
Then follow the phallus of Zagreus

Follow! Follow! the phallus of Zagreus

Fair sisters hold the phallus well upright

Axiocersus leads the way with Axieros & Axiocersa together wielding the penis-mounted silver dish.

Second Anaktotelestes:
Understand priapos vitality
Generations of genitalia
Ensure no unbecoming, like a sun
Dawning every morning, perpetuates

Third Anaktotelestes:
The penis is our first-born king
Which celebrates the Gods’ creative gift
As the crown’d companion of our orgies
Admonishing revolting barbarity
By bringing beauty to the union
Of men & women, consecrated, kiss’d.

X: The processsion arrives at the Hall of the Choral Dancers to the accompaniment of the Korybantes – there are many rugs & cushions laid around a central bed on which lies Persophone eating fruit – incense wafts through the hall, wine sits in bowls

First Anaktotelestes:
This is the Hall of the Choral Dancers
Being guests you are welcome to enter
Into a sense of seal’d obedience
Exert great efforts of body and soul

Second Anaktotelestes:
This is the Lady Persophone
Solitary now, she waits for Hermes

Man’s life a day – what he is, what he’s not
Are shadows only of a lonely dream
But when the Gods shed brightness on a life
All shadows fade away, & all is light

Enter Hermes, naked, with an erection

Third Anaktotelestes:
Enters Hermes as the Fate of Heaven
Come celebrate his presence, slide your wine
Down throats of effortless lubrication

First Anaktotelestes:
Hail Hermes

Second Anaktotelestes:
Hermes hail

Korybantes & Kabeirides
Hail ! Hail ! Hail ! Hail !


I am Hermes, Messenger of the Gods
Thro’ ithyphallic images of me
I might be recognizable, ox-eyed
Queens of heaven & ministers of lust,
Ye fresh & dashing prince-like manlings all
Persophone has summon’d me

Embrace me with insatiable desire
Take me to place I’ll feel divine as you
When virgin kiss becomes the lover’s clasp.

{drawing wine}
With playful laughter, Bacchus in the mood,
Let us make this house of vinegar scant
Then passion’s gasps breaths denary consume,
Ensuring life’s anxieties vanish
Eschatogamic, to Elysium.

Hermes begins to make love to Persophone / exit the Kabeirides


First Anaktotelestes:
Lord Zeus, fumigation from Frankincense,
To these veil’d rites I, deferential, call.

Second Anaktotelestes:
Look ! as the lust of Hermes burns & probes
Persophone’s slippery wound, & deep

Third Anaktotelestes:
Hear as the fount of passion gushes forth
Against intruders to her nubb’d desire

The Anaktotelestes:
The gateway to her citadel is storm’d
Her portal cleft & carried by assault

Third Anaktotelestes:
Lovers unite, vigorous interplay
Made audible in mutual embrace

Second Anaktotelestes:
& now the time has come to disavow
Your ordinary lives, Korybantes

First Anaktotelestes:
Pair our couples in a tender wooing
Let passionburts excuisite follow on

The Korybantes pair couples together, including pairing themsleves with each other & the initiates / the couples are led to the rugs & pillows


First Anaktotelestes:
Ye lustful men, ye mystai on the mounds,
Like dewdrop pearls the scent is collecting
Your lily reds are blossoming, the blue
Lotuses are opening inside her

Second Anaktotelestes:
Let Demeter’s body be transmuted
Make love to your woman, the ruddy spring
Of passion is a floodswell of kisses
Do not be afraid, she wants you to dive
Deep inside her life – again & again

Third Anaktotelestes:
Again & again – do not stop young men
Let serpents coil’d entwining round your spines
Uprise together – gasping – bursting – free…

Hermes, Persophone & the couples reach orgasm together

The Anaktotelestes:
When… entering the treasury of peace,
Life-giving breezes issue from the east.

Exit Hermes & Persophone / wine is passed around the couples


First Anaktotelestes:
Those spent of lust with Nature have communed
Demeter knows you now & will accept
Your statusus, initiated souls,
Unless you’ll share the secrets of these rites,
When death shall find & strike you as unjust

Second Anaktotelestes:
Being better in every respect
Ye pious to the Hieron proceed
Your laurell’d epopteia to receive
Under the gaze of our glittering gods

Third Anaktotelestes:
Who now have sworn your whole lives to protect
If ever daunting danger flaunts its face
Blustering boistrous winds of circumstance
Defy, offer this island’s deities
Your prayers of salvation & of love.

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