I. ORPHEUS… THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT THE GREAT INITIATOR
Who was Orpheus really?
The Conception that serious scholars of Ancient Hellas have of Hellenic Antiquity is completely different from the official conception imposed by "Christian education". Those who study Archeology see revealed to them a world carefully hidden from the formal educational community and mainstream perception.
Let's make it clear from the beginning: For the Ancient Hellenes (and not only the initiated, the philosophers, the historians, the intellectuals, but also the common people) Orpheus was a real person for whom there are specific historical references, beyond the myths which were created for Orpheus, for various reasons.
The Northern Aegean coast, from Mount Olympus to the Hellespont, was known to the ancients as Thrace, for 35 centuries. Later the western regions were inhabited by Macedonians. It matters very little which populations inhabited all these areas. Pre-Hellenic, Hellenes, Extra-Hellenic, (Piers Thracians, Minyas, Magnites, Kikones, Pieriotes Macedonians, etc.) all these peoples have a common racial and cultural origin that goes back to the Paleolithic era.
The narrow fertile strip of land between Mount Olympus and the sea was Ancient Pieria (from the Macedonian progenitor Piero). In the pieric foothills of Olympus (southeastern foothills) there were cities that archaeological excavations trace back 35 centuries. Leivithra, Pimblia, Dion, and other cities.
Olympus is the highest mountain in Hellas (close to 3000 meters), a holy mountain, known worldwide for centuries, because it is related to the Hellenic religion, but also to Orpheus and the Orphic Tradition. The mountain range on the southeast side is split by the Ziliana ravine (ancient stream Sys, today Ziliana) dividing the Mountain into Upper Olympus and Lower Olympus.
The many ravines and gullies give a rare beauty to the landscape even today. In this landscape, which evokes sacred awe, calm and contemplation, and a thrill that takes your breath away (at least for those who keep their ties with nature), in front of the fold that separates Upper Olympus from Lower Olympus, were built Leivithra, the city where Orpheus was born.
Leivithra (= furrow, stream, torrent and wet place) means precisely the grooves and gullies that carry the waters from the Holy Mountain to the sea. The Leivithra, as they were circled from everywhere by the flowing waters, looked like an island at the foot of the Mountain. The settlement was located on the heights northwest of the Acropolis.
Where the ruins of the Acropolis are today there was an Ancient Sanctuary associated with Orpheus.
According to the Orphic Tradition, Orpheus was born from the Muse Calliope, a Virgin, who became pregnant when she bathed in the god-river Oiagros, in one of the caves of Olympus near Leivithra and Pimblia. Although Oiagros is related to Zagreus, and through his father Charope, to the dark kingdoms, it is more likely that Oiagros was a local lord (given this name as he was associated with the Cult of Dionysus Zagreus). Orpheus' mother was probably some local noblewoman.
At the time when Orpheus was born, 30 centuries ago, the Dionysian Cult (the Cult of the Bull) was known throughout the Mediterranean world, and in the wider region of Thrace. Orpheus was brought up in this religious environment.
The young lord, however, did not just receive a special education, he had special gifts by nature. They perceived the Divine in a special way:
Orpheus perceives the DIVINITY as a REALITY to which he relates directly, existentially, and experientially… not in an external way, as a Deeper Inaccessible Reality that is expressed as external faith and worship and through ritual acts… For Orpheus the DIVINITY is the Source and the Depth of Existence and the Essence of everything, which we experience within ourselves in a direct, internal and experiential way.
This ONE ESSENCE (metaphysically and in higher worlds) separates into many, individual entities, remaining the One Essence. Essentially and Secretly the One is within the many, in each and each is identified with the One, with the All.
From This State to the Higher Worlds the further evolution into the All and each leads to differentiation from the One and to distinct individuality itself. From here is derived the concept of the soul (as the whole of the spiritual entity) which originates and depends on the Godhead, whatever path of evolution it takes.
And from the Luminous World of the Mind the Soul falls into the World of the Simple Soul which expresses its nature with will and emotion.
It is this differentiated soul embodied in the material body that is metaphysically and literally a "tomb" for the soul.
From the Light Worlds of the Beyond, the Extra-Reality (of man) the Soul falls into the Metaphysical Hades, the "Lower World", which is the "material world".
The Soul with all its spiritual, mental, and psychic functions is literally bound within the psychosomatic processes, and the functions of the body, and the external world of matter. From the union of the Psychic Entity with the body, the material soul, the psychosomatic organism, the life, the vital body (to be distinguished from the Pure Soul) is created.
This religious concept was nothing new in the Age of Orpheus. In fact, it is the very Essence of the Dionysian Cult (in the form of Zagreus) which is traced throughout the Mediterranean world, in Crete, Hellas, the Near East, Lower Italy, at least 35 centuries back.
The Worshipers of Dionysus with the perception of the Deepest Unity of Being (and the world), and with the sacred orgies (which means sacred works) Secretly experience the Oneness with God, the Being, identify with Him, thus participate in His Essence.
Orpheus does not deny this. But he believed that Divine Creation and Evolution take place in the metaphysical worlds and not externally in an "objective" world. Thus, only internally, experientially, can the Essence of Divinity be understood, and Union with God achieved. By internalizing the Dionysian Perception, approaching experientially (internally) the Deity opens the Inner Horizons of Existence to the Infinite Inner World and the DIVINITY.
What Does Orpheus Really Teach? That since the Soul is differentiated (in the higher worlds) from the One, the All, and falls into the material world, and binds itself to the body, the only way of redemption is the severance of the soul from the body. This can be done internally, within each one, by the contemplation of the powers of the soul and the "separation" from the body.
LYSIS, the "separation" from the body, has many levels of depth:
It can mean the external abstinence from mixed objects and unholy acts that leads to the moral attitude and tranquility.
It can mean the deepest mental (volitional and emotional) detachment from material life that cultivates indifference to the worldly and quietness.
It can mean the deepest detachment of the mind from its preoccupation with the external world.
It can mean the Ecstatic Immersion in the Oneness of Existence, behind all differentiations.
It can mean Complete Identification with Divinity.
It can still mean the conscious separation from the body and the transition to the worlds beyond (what some call astral travel).
It can mean the physical separation from the body, which we know as death.
Thus, Orpheus speaks of an upward course of the soul towards the Godhead, of an involution. He does not deny external worship and ritual, but considers that external worship is only an external first stage on the way to God. In fact, Orpheus with his Teaching gives an immense depth to the Dionysian Cult. His Teaching is Esoteric Dionysianism. On the other hand, without the interpretation of Orpheus, Dionysianism would remain an external, holy, but barbaric religion. Thus, Dionysianism, as Orpheus perceives it, is nothing but External Orphism.
Orpheus' reformation of the Dionysian Cult offered the Hellenes (and humanity) one of the deepest mystical interpretations of Reality. It inspired the world's greatest philosophers (i.e. the Hellenes Philosophers, from Pythagoras, Parmenides and Heraclitus to Plato and Aristotle, and the Cynics, Stoics, Epicureans, Skeptics, Neoplatonists...).
Pythagoras did nothing more than carry the Teaching of Orpheus to Croton, in Lower Italy. His very important contribution, beyond the Basic Orphic Teaching, is the use of mathematical concepts in the description of Reality. (In a separate article we will talk about the Pythagorean Teaching).
The Orphic Doctrine renewed the Delphic Worship, revived the Eleusinian Mysteries, and completely opened the Horizons to Philosophical Thought.
Plato is Orphic in all respects, and often refers to the Teaching of Orpheus in his dialogues. When he refers in Phaedo (Phaedo, 67, c , d ) to the "old discourse" ("old tradition") and the "solution of the soul", he is in fact simply conveying the Orphic Teaching:
“Certainly, said Simmias. – Katharsis (Purification) is not exactly what an old tradition says? That is, to separate the soul from the body as much as possible and get used to it being collected from every part of the body and being concentrated and staying as much as possible itself both in the present life and in the future, isolated to itself as if freed from the bonds of the body? - Certainly, he said. - Isn't this exactly called death? The dissolution and separation of the soul from the body? - Exactly. - As we have said, those, who always persistently try to free the soul from the bonds of the body, are those who philosophize in the proper sense of the word; and this is precisely what philosophers practice, to resolve and separate the soul from the body; or not? - So is”.
Orphism influenced Hellas for (at least) 15 centuries and remnants of this religious concept still exist today in thought, language, life, and celebrations. It was during the time of Peisistratus that Orphism became the official religion of Athens and the Festivals of Dionysus were (officially) established (without "trampling" the traditional concepts and the worship of other gods). Orphism, the Orphic concept of the common divine origin, equality, and equality of all people, essentially gave birth to Democracy (although it did not eliminate the institution of slavery) in Athens. If there was no Orphic Ideological Substratum in the perception of the Athenians, about Nature, life, and the "state", the Republic would not have been born. When the ancient world, and the Hellenic religion, ended, and other religions were forcibly imposed on the Hellenic Space, the Republic also died out.
Modern, representative, parliamentary democracies are parodies of democracy. Political parties are political gangs, which call "democracies" authoritarian, unjust and violent regimes. This is because all these pseudo-democracies do not have a sound ideological background, as was the case with the True Athenian Democracy.
It was natural that the religious perceptions and experiences of Orpheus (the internalization of perception, and the internal direct experiential approach to the Reality of God), would bring the young prince, at the beginning of his public action, into "contrast" with his environment. It was difficult for them to understand without effort the message of the Inspired. He "withdrew" early from public affairs, to deal with his "religious experience", to codify it, to make it a practice and a life.
The "myth" says that Orpheus traveled to Egypt. He had no reason to. Orpheus found in his homeland all the religious tradition on which he based himself to develop his own religious concepts. The Dionysian Cult prevalent in Hellas, Crete, and the Greater Mediterranean Area, is not an Egyptian Phenomenon (and is quite different from the Cult of Osiris and its mysteries). But even if Orpheus traveled to Egypt, he did not become any wiser from this journey. In our opinion, his activity developed entirely in Pieria, and especially in his Homeland of Leivithra and the surrounding area, at the foot of Mount Olympus.
Orpheus quickly created a circle of people with whom he shared his experiences. The creation of religious circles is a global, timeless, and interreligious phenomenon. In Hellas, religious circles are called troupes (especially the groups of Dionysus believers). Orpheus created a compact circle of initiates who had a certain conception of the Divine (Orphic Theology), and a particular way of life (Orphic life), and behavior.
According to the testimonies of many ancients (philosophers, historians, writers) in Leivithra (as in all the cities of Hellas) there was a Sanctuary, on a hill southeast of the settlement, which was surrounded by streams, long before Orpheus. Public worship took place there, the followers of Dionysus performed their worship there, and Orpheus himself officiated there. Orphic ceremonies included the ritual use of sacred fire, the use of hymns, music, and dance. The Orphic rites differed quite a bit from the public Dionysian Worship, and the rites of the Bacchus and Maenads. The Orphic rites will be preserved in various Orphic troupes, while the public Dionysian Worship will be transferred to the Dionysian Feasts, while the maenad rites will be preserved in the Delphic Cult.
In fact, there is no contradiction between the Orphic conceptions and the ordinary Worship of Dionysus and the Dionysian Festivals established around the worship. In essence, all perceptions are correct and are addressed to people with a different degree of understanding of the religion of Dionysus. Orphism and the external Dionysian Cult function not in competition but in complementarity. This is demonstrated by the respect that all Hellenes had for Orpheus, the Delphic Cult, the Eleusinian Mysteries, even when they were not initiated and did not know the content of the initiation, but also by the acceptance of external worship as a sign of respect for God by external actions. Even the “eating raw meat” that would be preserved in some troupes (but abolished from public festivals in Classical Athens) is a sacred act, however hideous it may seem. Hypocritical people find a religious act abhorrent, but they can be unjust to their fellow human beings, indifferent to the unfortunate, and destroy the planet...
Religious groups similar to that of Orpheus would exist at least 15 centuries later…
Following the example of Orpheus, religious troupes, or organized associations, with specific places of worship and teaching, will be created by all the Great Hellenes Philosophers, Pythagoras in Croton (community), Plato in Athens (academy), Aristotle (lyceum or walking school), the Stoics (portico), Epicurus (garden)...
Orpheus lived and acted, taught and wrote, in his Homeland, at the Foot of Olympus. He lived by living out his religious vision and devoting his time to teaching and serving people.
The myth says that Orpheus married Agriope or Eurydice. In fact Orpheus was so devoted to his work that he never married. The myth of Orpheus' "love" with Eurydice was a narrative constructed to teach something (the relationship of the Pure Soul to the material soul, as we will explain below). It was a story like the parables of Buddha, or Jesus...
Orpheus died relatively young, probably of natural causes.
Legend has it that it was devoured by the maenads of Pieria. The mythic dispersal of Orpheus does nothing more than repeat the myth of Zagreus (the ritual dispersal of the bull) in the person of Orpheus. Then the excuses for the dispersal are silly.
They say that Orpheus honored Apollo so Dionysus instructed the Maenads to kill Orpheus. For Orpheus and the other initiates Dionysus and Apollo are God Himself (symbolized in the Winter Sun and the Summer Sun). Thus, he could not provoke the anger of any God, not even of the followers of Dionysus. This is what the ignorant say.
Moreover, the same story they tell about Lycurgus, in Thrace, Pentheus in Thebes, and others. There is very little truth in all this…
Nor was Orpheus opposed to the external worship of Dionysus followed by ordinary people. Instead, he saw external worship as complementary to his own perceptions. Certainly he spoke of the need to deepen religious activity, but his respect for man would never allow him to fight or ridicule the simplistic notions of his fellow men...
Nor, of course, did he deprive the men of their wives, thus causing the revenge of the women. These are said by obscene people, who have no idea what we are talking about.
Orpheus was a Visionary of Light, a Champion of Justice and a Worker of Compassion and Help to man...
The only thing that is certain is that when he died, he left behind a huge intellectual work, but also a lot of pain for his loss. But as he himself taught, Orpheus, loosened his bonds with the body and ascended to the Higher Worlds of Light.
The people who loved him and followed him buried him in the Acropolis of Leivithra, near the Sanctuary where he taught and officiated, and raised to his honor a Monument, which many ancient Hellenes writers saw with their own eyes and recorded.
According to Pausanias, Leιvithra was destroyed when the river Sys flooded. Its sanctuaries, buildings and walls were destroyed. (Today the archaeological researches have identified the Settlement, and the Acropolis, but no building has been identified in the Acropolis, only some parts of the wall).
This is more or less the truth about Orpheus. But his personality will be more enlightened through his work which we will analyze next.
But the question is this: If Orpheus was a real person (and this cannot be disputed by any serious scholar of Antiquity) and indeed such an important person, then why did some people furiously try to prove that he is a mythical person, a myth?
This was done by passionate Christians, who were not interested in historical (religious and theological) truth, but were interested in hiding that they took everything from Orphism. However, all that is proven is that Christianity as practiced is a historical fraud. We will prove this next.
Orpheus was a Great Man, as great as Buddha, Lao Tzu, Jesus...
What Orpheus offered to man and to history is the Supreme Secret of Existence:
Existence Itself (manifested in each), Consciousness, Perception, is the Inexhaustible Source of Unity and differentiation, perceptions, orientations, and actions. Everything comes from Inside. We don't need to look for "outside", no explanations, no excuses, no things to "seize" from. Existence alone is the Inexhaustible Source of all experience and experience, the Flowing Source, the Talking Water (of Delphi)... the Source of Life...
The Soul Is Infinite, Boundless, Free, Pure, Eternal. Binding to the body, even when repeated by reincarnation, is temporary.
The Only Way of Redemption is the Release of the Soul from the bonds of the body. This is the true content of Orphic Theology and the object of the Mysteries.
The Soul's True Abode is the Light Realms of the Beyond, the "Upper-reality", not the underworld of earth.
Orpheus and the religious reformation
The basic innate functions of human intelligence, such as generative thinking (from the whole producing the parts) and inductive thinking (reducing from the parts to the whole) appear with the starting of conscious thought. In his attempt to explain his environment, man was quickly led (long before the Paleolithic era) to the notion that from One Original Unity, Some Cosmic Being, were created all that we do not see (powers, souls...) and all that we see ( natural beings and natural phenomena).
This concept was essentially, symbolically, and practically associated with sacrifice. It is the cosmic sacrifice that produces everything.
On the other hand, man, for hundreds of thousands of years, in order to survive, was forced to use meat as well, near the collection of fruits and roots, which at first he grabbed from other carnivorous animals, while later he started hunting himself. Killing an animal, even for primitive man, was not only an act of life, giving life by eating meat, it was also an act that created guilt (for the life taken away).
Thus, for thousands of years, the killing of animals was transformed in the thought and practical life of people into (forced) sacrifice. By dedicating the animal to supernatural powers man could consume the animal without guilt.
From the beginning, therefore, in human thought, sacrifice, secular or simple sacrifice, has both a positive content (offering an animal) and a negative content (taking life). This is where the concept of original sin comes from.
All these concepts are developed in the Paleolithic era (30,000 years ago) and the Cosmic Being is associated symbolically and practically with various animals. During the Neolithic era (10,000 years ago) which is associated with the agricultural and livestock revolution and the establishment of man in permanent settlements, an important religious change occurs (due to the new living conditions). The Celestial Deities (the Overworld Above, the Unknown, the Upper Heaven, etc.) give way to more specific aspects of the Divine that are precisely related to the generative and fertilizing power of God: the Fertilizer Gods appear. In the context of the polytheistic system, old concepts coexist with newer concepts without problem. In the historical era things will change.
On the other hand, the people who start in the Middle Neolithic era to domesticate and breed animals, were impressed by the great and fertilizing power of the bull and saw in this animal a symbol of the generative god. Thus "god" was identified with the bull and ritually the secular sacrifice was identified with the bull sacrifice.
The Cult of Fertilizer Gods is a global phenomenon (in the then known world) where cattle were raised, and prevailed in the late Neolithic era, for 5,000 years. This religious phenomenon was thoroughly studied by Eliade ("Treatise on the history of religions", chapter 2, 27). In the context of these cults, the Cult of Dionysus was created (although it would receive this name millennia later). Already in Minoan Crete the Cult of Zagreus was formed, with a specific sacred myth and ritual and sacred actions.
All these cults have a common origin and a common ideological background and are more or less alike. So, those who worship the bull god do not find it difficult to recognize their god in other similar cults. In this sense, for example, the Baal of the ancient Eastern religion has similar characteristics and worship to the Egyptian Min (Ammon), the Cretan Zeus (and later Zagreus) and later Dionysus.
It is understood that here we have a religious concept that prevails worldwide, and not an external transmission of a religion from place to place, or the influence of one people by another. The Hellenic Dionysus is a Hellenic god that originates from the world religious concept. The main features of this cult are very simple and express Neolithic man. God is the Creator, the Generating and Fertilizing Power of the world (invisible and visible). Man is born from the very essence of god. Creation is perceived as a cosmic sacrifice and is ritually represented by the sacrifice of the bull. By participating in the worship and partaking of the bull's blood and body (Omophagia), man participates in the essence of God, in his generative act, and unites with Him in the physical realm, thus gaining redemption.
The Cult of Dionysus (with all the features we described above) already exists in the time of Orpheus. Sacrifice will be preserved in the centuries to come but Omophagia (dispersing an animal and eating raw meat) in the end will only be preserved in certain groups. In Classical Athens, Omophagia would be replaced by the drinking of wine (and ivy in some places).
From this ancient liturgical act of divine communion will come, as substance and as content, the divine communion, the partaking of the blood and body of Christ (even if Christians do not want to hear that from ancient mysteries and Omophagia comes the their own sacrament of Holy Communion). Unfortunately, history shows otherwise, no matter how much we deny the truth we do not convince anyone.
After all, since the Cult of Dionysus is already formed in the age of Orpheus, then what on earth did Orpheus teach? What does the Orphic reform consist of? What is its essence and its content and its fields of application?
Orpheus perceives the God who creates the worlds not as something external and creation as something that happened in the distant past, but as an Inner Reality, as the Infinite and Unfathomable Depth of Consciousness, from which all beings and worlds come and Human. He thus feels in Direct Relationship with God, who Gives Birth, Supports and Guides the beings and each one individually into existence. God Is the True Father (or Mother, as Nature) of Being, its Support and Spiritual Horizon.
Thus, Orpheus by transferring the creation from the outer level that we perceive mentally to the inner experience of the relationship with a Higher State of human consciousness, shifted the interest from the outer reality to the inner reality of man. While the Great Hellenes Poets - Homer and Hesiod - talked about the gods and founded theogony and creation as a theory, Orpheus founds psychogony and anthropogony. By transferring the myth of God and the sacred sacrifice that creates the world to the human realm, Orpheus psychologically and anthropologically interprets creation and evolution.
But the most important thing that this Great Initiator of Truth and Humanity did is that he was not content to internally interpret the Myth of God (of Zagreus), he goes further by clarifying that the man who is born from the splitting of the Unity of Being can internally, by spiritual means , to rise again from the multiplicity of individual consciousness and the human condition into the Divine Unity, the One. And to do this he must loosen the bonds that bind the soul to the body. Route it is not external worship and ritual but internal purification of the soul, abstinence from passions, contemplation, and mystical immersion in the Oneness of Being, God.
Of course, Orpheus did not want to replace external worship with the internal contemplation of Being, but he showed the way to those who wanted, to anyone who wanted, beyond simple worship to explore the Immensity of Consciousness, to rise beyond the limits of nature, in the Immensity of the True Being, and to become again what it really is (and forgot it) namely Deity.
The Path of Orpheus functioned as a supplement to the Dionysian Cult, giving an inner depth to the Dionysian Cult and a timeless metaphysical perspective. Orphism is the full flowering of the Dionysian Worship that from simple external worship becomes a secret contemplation of the True Being, within us, within everyone.
But Orpheus did not only (completely) reform the religious concept of Dionysianism. By shifting the interest and attention from the outer world to the inner reality he opened the way for great philosophers, Pythagoras, Parmenides, Heraclitus, the Sophists, Plato, and other Great Ones, to deal with man and the true problem of existence: He showed that the solution of the problem it is experiential and not theoretical (intellectual) or practical (political). Man must experience the Truth (the Reality) of the Oneness of Being and then make that Knowledge Virtue and Action and Politics and Life.
Orpheus was not only a religious reformer, teacher and guide, he also created a school of thought and imbued the Hellenic spirit to its deepest depth and widest understanding. Orpheus was the Inexhaustible Source of Inspiration for all Hellenes Sages and common people. How Great he was will be seen later.
In Hellas, in the Third Millennium before today (and shortly after the "Trojans" which are placed about 32 centuries ago), a great religious development takes place (as in China, India, and the Near East). Through the Polytheistic scheme (which, however, is clearly structured, with a hierarchy of Divine Powers, etc.) tendencies of monotheism appear, while 29 centuries ago, approximately, it was done by Orpheus (lord, or prince, of some Thracian tribe at the foot of Olympus) an important religious reform (of the Dionysian Cult) that we will "clarify" below.
Orpheus was a real person and not a mythical culture hero. There are many reasons for this...
1) There is a tradition surrounding his name, and a specific religious reform work (requiring a creator).
2) Orpheus' religious reform is a product personal inspiration of some inspired person and not a collective work (like the work of the "Sages of the Upanishads").
The concept of the transcendence of God (the Ineffable Zeus), the organization of Orphic theology, the synthesis of concepts and cults, into an organized compact whole, and the ultimate purpose of the Sacred Teaching (of the Sacred Word) indicate personal mystical experience transferred to the intellectual plane, and not collective intellectual work.
3) The depth and sanctity of the Teaching would never allow a "historical fraud" to be committed.
4) In the Orphic Theology delivered by Orpheus the One Transcendent Reality is revealed, in a manner analogous to that of Lao Tzu, the Sages of the Upanishads, the Buddha, and Jesus, much later. Orphic Theology is a unique religious synthesis that interprets everything and will prevail in antiquity for at least 15 centuries.
5) Orphism not only gave deeper (more spiritual) content to existing cults - of Zeus, Dionysus (the Son of Zeus) - but also enriched the Mysteries at Eleusis (Eleusinian Mysteries) and renewed the Delphic Cult. All those initiated into the mysteries speak with respect of the theologian Orpheus.
6) The placement (historically) of Orpheus 29 centuries ago (and not 35 centuries ago that Apollonius of Rhodes places him in his Argonauts), is because then the religious reform attributed to Orpheus took place.
7) Orpheus was already known in religious circles at the time of the Peisistratids, and not even by imagination could the reforming work of Orpheus (Initiator and Mystagogue and Inspired Man) be attributed to the religious reformer Onomacritus, who already had a long tradition behind him. Peisistratus, who " established" Orphism the official religion of Athens (without rejecting the traditional religion of the Olympian Gods), "removed" Onomacritus when he realized that he was adulterating the spirit of Orphism...
8) Finally, Orpheus should be placed historically a little after the Poets (Homer and Hesiod) and before the Philosophers, in the age of theology and theologians (according to Aristotle).
9) His name Orpheus was inextricably linked with Orphic Theology, a tradition that cannot be disputed. We have no reason to question the tradition that wants Orpheus to be a real person... On the other hand, some pseudo-historians have questioned the existence of other great people. Obviously there is some purpose here.
10) According to the Orphic tradition, Orpheus was a real person who lived in Leivithra, on the Holy Mountain of the Gods, on Olympus, 29 centuries ago. Inspirational Person, Great Teacher (as great as Buddha or Jesus) who left behind a certain teaching and a way of life that shaped Hellas by inspiring its Sages and guiding ordinary people for 15 centuries.
The mental image of Antiquity imposed by the Christians (about the ancient world, Orpheus, the Hellenic religion) is completely distorted since they wanted to completely eliminate from History, Orpheus, Orphism and his relations with the Hellenic intellect. Unfortunately, they still teach Hellenic children that their ancestors were pagans who believed in the Twelve Gods. Not a word about Orpheus, Orphism, the historical reality about the Peisistratids, the Miracle of Democracy (which has Orphism as an ideological background and is a spinoff of “Peisistratus” rule): A completely false mental image! This is what they teach in Hellenic schools.
Heavenly and Earthly Worships
From the moment when human thought, thousands of years ago, "separated" the Transcendent, Invisible, Immaterial Divine from the cosmic, visible, material, human, it did not stop relating, finding analogies and trying to discover "bridges" between the two worlds.
The Perception of the Unseen necessarily moved between the Abstract Transcendent and the Concrete Divine directly related to the earthly world. So, two kinds of conceptions of the Divine were "established" from the beginning, which led to two conceptions of God, to two kinds of worship, Transcendent and Heavenly (which lead to Transcendence and Mysticism...) and Concrete and Chthonic (which lead to Devotion and psychosomatic worship...).
These understandings are dialectically related and often lead to a Religious synthesis or fusion that aims at the Holistic understanding of the world.
The Idea of God (even from the time of polytheism) has always been preserved within its "Transcendent Character". On the other hand, the concept of "God" who is "Sacrificed" ("Dismembered") was cultivated (already 4000 years ago) for the creation of the world. Such secular myths (allegories) are found in almost all religious traditions. In the Indian Tradition Prajapati (or the Cosmic Giant Purusha) is sacrificed to shape the world, in the Germanic Tradition it is the Giant Ymir, in Mesopotamia it is the Primordial Beast Tiamat, in the Iranian Tradition the Primordial Bull Ekvadat, etc... The Cosmogenic Myth of Zagreus belongs to this category of allegories.
Even times when God is Raised as the Transcendent, Incomprehensible and Ineffable Space and therefore not "Directly Related" to Creation, there is the perception of One God, One Son of God, through Whom All Things Are Made. Passing from the allegorical language of myth to the area of theology as such, to the area of philosophical language, this perception plays an important role:
In the religious language we have an ancient tradition of the "Son of God": In Hellas it is Dionysos (Dios-nysos, Dios-kouros, the son of Zeus... "epithet" which slowly evolves into "main name"...). And still centuries after the time of Orpheus we are talking about, Jesus (identified with the Cosmic Logos) is the "Son of God"...
In philosophical language the Universal Spirit which Proceeds from the Invisible Divine, is the Primordial Source of All. The Foundation on which Creation rests, the worlds, the invisible and the natural visible world.
In the language of dialectical thought it is the abstract perception (idea, concept, word) of Being that comes from The Incomprehensible Zero, which encloses every concept of existence…
Orpheus (like all the Great Mystics, Lao Tzu, Buddha, Jesus later...) was a Reformer who drew from the World Religious Tradition (going back many millennia...) his religious ideas, giving a new synthesis, a Single view of existence:
The Concept of the Transcendent (the Incomprehensible Ineffable, etc.) of God already existed (and in many religious traditions, in India, China, the Near East... and Hellas. So, does the "Cosmogenic Myth" of creation by God which is “Sacrificed.” As well as the conceptions of the invisible worlds (the beyond) and the material world. Also the analogies between the Cosmic Being and man, the relationships, the associations and the orientation of human life (because of these very relationships) .
What Orpheus did was to organize all this into a Theological System: At the Basis of All Is the Boundless God, the Primordial Chaos of Myths who, while retaining his Transcendent and Ineffable Character Intact, in theological language becomes Timeless Zeus, the Supreme Divine. The God "Creator" (who is the Concrete Aspect of the Divine) is identified with the Son of God, the Zagreus of the Cosmogenic and Ritual Myth, or else the Dionysus, (the Fertilizing God) of the various traditions that were known throughout the Mediterranean World . The Various Myths surrounding the Person of the Creator God are masterfully interwoven and often escape the strictly mystical interpretation of the initiates who hold the code of truth and become the subject of folk tales associated with teaching or folk festivals. The worlds are ranked and the worlds of the mind are already distinguished from the lower world of the soul and the physical world of the senses.
But Orpheus did not only work at the theoretical level of the interpretation of the world and the various myths through which man tried to unravel, for thousands of years, the mystery of existence. At the same time, he tried to enlighten, identify and define, on a purely initiatory (human, mental, psychosomatic) level, the Relation of the Transcendent Divine with the specific human existence. God the Creator, Zagreus, Dionysus, Bacchus, is the Creator of all beings and all beings are a face of God, and every being is God Himself. This was not enough to be theoretically understood but had to be realized through religious practice. The Soul (in the sense of the total entity) had to return to God. This was not an original concept (since it is also found in other religious traditions). Orpheus spoke of the Liberation of the Soul from the bonds of the body and its Elevation to God. Orpheus taught the Unity of Existence and unified the secret space of the metaphysical experience. He united the Space of the Inconceivable Divine with the Space of Ecstasy which Reveals the Unity of Being, with the space of human contemplation (of the mind), of mental discipline and of psychosomatic action.
In other words (and with a reverse course and arrangement), he explained very simply to his disciples (the later mystics) that man is from the beginning at the Center of the Divine Existence United Pervadingly with God through his Essence, and this he could to realize it, to experience it, to realize it completely by going through the various levels of initiation.
The First Initiation is the psychosomatic Purification, physical purifications, impure abstinence and other material actions (i.e. a rationalization of material life).
The Second Initiation has to do with getting rid of the passions of the soul (apathy).
The Third Initiation consists in the practice of withdrawing the mind from all activities and attaining the inner silence which can reveal to us the True Character of Being.
The Fourth Initiation is Ecstasy, the Dissolution of being into Being, into the Infinite Unity and Timeless Eternity, the Union with God, or the transfiguration of the human being into Bacchus.
The Fifth Initiation is something of which little can be said and few have experienced, it is the Dissolution into Eternal Zeus, the Father of all beings.
Of course, Orpheus entrusted all this to a few trusted people... But this is where all the Hellenic Theology, the Theology of the Mysteries and the Delphic Worship and the Truth of the Philosophers (Pythagoras, Parmenides, Heraclitus, Plato, etc.) will later come from, who did nothing but to popularize Mystic Knowledge and transfer it to philosophical language (substituting terms such as God, Creator, evolution, worlds, etc. with terms such as Utterly Being, Being, mind, soul, body, etc.).
But such a Secret Knowledge, such an inner approach to existence could not be taught publicly. And that never happened. The Secret Knowledge was well guarded in the solitary course of the Orphic initiates, or in the sanctuaries of Eleusis and Delphi, and was hidden under mystery. No one was excluded from Knowledge, but also no profane could violate the Sacred Enclosure of Orphic Theology, the Sacred Temple of the Mystical Experience and the Shelter of Divine Ecstasy that Unites us with God. Nevertheless, the initiates and the superiors of the Mysteries transmitted a part of the Teaching, as much as the common people could bear.
As a safety valve for guiding people to the Truth, Orpheus, who gave a purely internal interpretation of the Dionysian Religion, wanted to unify the Secret Space of Experience and the Space of External Worship. He related the Mystical and Cosmic Events, of Creation and Evolution, to the natural environment of men, to the movement of the Sun (the Solstices and Equinoxes) and to the Natural Festivals of Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. He symbolically interpreted the various rituals (animal dispersal and eating raw meat, etc.). Thus by assimilating the external worship of Dionysus (as many people perceived it) he gave the opportunity even to the common man to assimilate High Truths, to serve Moral Ideals and Elevate himself, to the extent that was possible for him, as God. Later, some of the Feasts assimilated by Orphism, either by giving them an inner meaning, or by transforming their ritual, will become official feasts of Classical Athens.
Orpheus delivered his Theological Vision, his Mystical Experience, his Sacred Word, his Teaching to the few mystics at first who met him in his Homeland in Leivithra, or in his few wanderings, not far from his Homeland. From these few will come a whole movement of "theologians" who will not only give the True Religion of Antiquity, Orphism, but will also influence religious life in general, Theology, the Mysteries, and will give the basic philosophical terms (Indeed Being, Being, mind, soul, creation, man, evolution, redemption, etc.), the raw material, the foundations of philosophical thought.
In fact, Orphism provided the basic principles upon which the whole of Hellenic thought would be based. From this point of view, Orphism is a phenomenon of world history, as important (if not more important, as we will show later) with other religions, Buddhism, Christianity, etc.
It becomes clear from what we have said so far that the Tradition of the Primordial God the Father, the Son of God, i.e. the Creator, the Divine creation of the world and man, etc. goes back many millennia. But it was Orpheus, 30 centuries ago, who clearly formulated a Theology of the Son of God, who related the Divine to the human and offered the means (internal and sacramental for those able, external and ritual for those less able) to elevate the man as God.
Centuries later, the theology of the Son of God of the Christians (Jesus) will be based on this Theology of the Son of God (Dionysus). In fact, Christianity (not as Jesus preached it and the mystical fathers experienced it, but as it was shaped by Christian theologians and History) is nothing more than a popularized Orphism. We will prove this later (we promise).