Procession (in progress)

Heading west, on the ancient road of Iera Odos, 18km from the heart of the hectic metropolis of Athens, was once a sacred way, towards the Eleusinian Mysteries that were held during September of every year. These ceremonies were initiations for the cult of Demeter and Persephone and are considered to be the most famous of the secret religious rites and a wellspring of ancient Greek spirituality. All who gathered there were sworn to secrecy as to the activities of the rites, under pain of death, and those attendees were sure to have a life changing experience. The Eleusinian Mysteries were essentially a metaphor for rebirth and today some scholars believe that the ceremony was fuelled by a potion of psychedelic mushrooms to induce a sense of well being and connection with all life, coming to terms with ones own mortality.

The contemporary road to Eleusis is a story that attempts to understand present day Greece by tracing the ancient past. The trajectory is the same, but the present state of the sacred road is unrecognisable from its ancient past and yet its absence can somehow be an anchor for a narrative, not only about the road, and those who live either side of it, but also the port city of Eleusis, which is today a major industrial area, heavily polluted, and the place where the majority of crude oil in Greece is imported and refined. 

In The Colossus of Maroussi, Henry Miller writes: “At Eleusis one realizes, if never before, that there is no salvation in becoming adapted to a world which is crazy. At Eleusis one becomes adapted to the cosmos. Outwardly Eleusis may seem broken, disintegrated with the crumbled past; actually Eleusis is still intact and it is we who are broken, dispersed, crumbling to dust. Eleusis lives, lives eternally in the midst of a dying world.”