The ritual of purification and the long period of fasting preliminary to the great mysteries were intended to wash away the stains of the old life so that the purified candidates might approach the two goddesses prepared for personal renewal. Then the initiates realized a real unio mystica with the divine, in itself a completely transforming process. If the sacred marriage was followed by a holy birth, then the idea of a new life “spiritual, heavenly, and from above,” was further accentuated. With the exhibition of sacred relics the initiates were brought very close to things divine, and the most sacred of these objects, the corn token, was a symbol of regeneration. Furthermore, in a realistic sacrament of eating and drinking, the neophytes assimilated food charged with such divine potency that it could transmute human nature into immortal essence. Thus, by realistic union as well as by sympathetic communion, the individual neophyte came to realize a new life by means of initiation…

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