The Eleusinian Mysteries were a feast in the Athenian religious calendar.
They were held during the last two weeks of September in the sanctuary dedicated to Demeter and Persephone near Eleusis, a few kilometres from Athens.
The origin of these rites came from the abduction of Persephone by Hades: the myth tells that during the search for her daughter, Demeter arrived at Eleusis and instituted the Mysteries, religious rites of a secret nature.
The initiates who took part obtained two benefits: happiness in earthly life and better prospects for life after death. The Mysteries began in Athens, where the initiates took a ritual bath. Then, without eating, they marched towards Eleusis and along the Sacred Way, continuing to fast and performing rites and sacrifices. When they arrived at the sanctuary, they drank a mixture of water and barley, called kykeon, and entered a building, the Telesterion, which was prepared to host them.
Many mysteries still exist around the nocturnal ritual that was carried out inside the structure. We only know of one ritual formula that the new adepts performed during the night, which showed a reference to the ritual grinding of grain .
The Eleusinian Mysteries were mentioned for the first time in a document from the 7th century BC. Their spread to Rome and especially to Magna Graecia, where the cult of the chthonic deities was particularly felt, was recorded until the 4th century AD.