Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Second Reading 21 June 2016




6:30 p.m. Teatro Ateneo Porfirio Barba Jacob. Torres de Bomboná. Panel: Los Misterios de Eleusis. Ilias Monacholias (Grecia), Tarsicio Valencia (Colombia), Carl A. P. Ruck (Estados Unidos), Hatto Fischer (Alemania). Celebración de la Memoria de Eleusis.






The influence of the Mysteries upon Christianity


Ilias Monacholias

I want to say hello to all of you, feeling very nice to be here.

It is common to say that Christianity was influenced by the pagan religions, especially of the Ancient Greece.

Christianity triumphed over mystery religions after long conflict. This triumph may be attributed in part to the fact that Christianity took from its opponents their own weapons, and used them: the better elements of the mystery religions were transferred to the new religion.

It is inevitable when a new religion comes to exist side by side with a group of religions, from which it is continually detaching members, introducing them into its own midst with the practices of their original religions impressed upon their minds, that this new religion should tend to assimilate with the assimilation of their members, some of the elements of these existing religions.

Knowledge of the Mystery religions is important for any serious study of the history of Christianity. It is impossible to grasp Christianity through and through without knowledge of these cults. It must be remembered, as implied above, that Christianity was not a sudden and miraculous transformation, springing, forth full grown as Goddess Athena sprang from the head of Zeus, but it is a composite of slow and laborious growth. Therefore it is necessary to study the historical and social factors that contributed to the growth of Christianity.

In 1950 Martin Luther King Jr wrote his scientific paper regarding the influence of Mystery Religions. He wrote a special chapter for The Influence of the Great Eleusinian Mysteries.

In the first century of the Christian era the Eleusinian mystery cult was more favorable known than any of the cults of Greece. Its fame and popularity was large also due to the connection of Eleusis with Athens. The origin of this cult is obscure and uncertain.

In order to understand the type of religious experience represented by this important cult, we must turn to the myth of the rape of Demeter's daughter by Pluto. It is stated with sufficient elaboration in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. The mother, frenzied with grief, rushed about the earth for nine days in search for her lost daughter. As a result of her wandering, she came to Eleusis where she was seen, although not recognized, by the four daughters of King Keleos sitting near a public well called the “Kallichoron”. She won the sympathy of the girls who took her home and at her own request was given a job to nurse their infant brother, Demophon. After making herself known, she commanded the people of Eleusis to build her a temple. In connection with the temple, she established certain ceremonies and rites for her worship.

During her short stay at the temple of Eleusis, the whole earth grew barren. People began to die for the lack of food while the sacrifices to the gods decreased in number because the animals were dying out. The other gods pleaded with her to relent but she refused to do so until Persephone was restored to her. Pluto, (also called Hades) therefore, at the request of Zeus released her but not before he had caused her to eat pomegranate seeds which magically required her return after a period of time. Demeter, in her joy at the restoration of her lost daughter, allowed the crops to grow once more and institute in honor of the event the Eleusinian mysteries which gave to mortals the assurance of a happy future life.

The significance of this story is immediately clear. It was a nature myth portraying a vivid and realistic picture of the action of life in the vegetable world in regards to the changing seasons. Every year nature passes through a cycle of apparent death and resurrection. In winter, all plants die, this represents the period of Demeter's grief over her daughter. Spring, the time when all plants come back to life, indicates the return of plenty when the goddess maintains all life until autumn when her daughter returns to Hades and the earth becomes once more desolated.

The myth is also an example of poignant human experience, reflecting the joys, sorrows, and hopes of mankind in the face of death. The mysteries of human life and death are vividly enacted by Demeter, Persephone, and Hades. Hades, the god of death, stole the beloved daughter, Persephone, from Demeter, the life giver, who refused to admit defeat until she secured her daughter's resurrection. In this legend, human beings, who are always loved and lost, are depicted as never or seldom loosing hope for reunion with their God. These fundamental human experiences and the life of nature are the main substances of the Eleusinian Mysteries.

To the searchers of salvation, the Eleusinian cult offered not only the promise of a happy future, but also a definite assurance of it.

Now when we observe the modern Greek Easter festival it seems certain that it preserves the spirit if not the form of the old Eleusinian worship. In the spring, those who had shared Demeter's grief for the loss of her daughter, welcomed the return of Persephone with all the joy that the returning life of vegetation might kindle. And today similar experiences are represented by Greek Christians. After mourning over the dead Christ, represented most conspicuously by a wax image carried through the streets, there comes an announcement by the priest, on the midnight before Easter Sunday, that Christ is risen. At this moment the light from the candle of the priest is passed on to light the candles of his companions.

As in the Eleusinian mysteries, the modern Greek Christian finds this a moment of supreme joy.

Also, during the ceremonies for the dead people, in the day of burying them or in the 9th, 40th and 90th day from the burying, relatives and friends eat seeds of wheat and pomegranate, pointing directly to Demeter and Persephone.

So we might say that Eleusinian Mysteries was not blotted out by Christianity. On the contrary, many of its forms and some of its old content has been perpetuated in Christianity.

Thank you

Ilias Monacholias


The discussion about the "Mysteries of Eleusis"

While Ilias Monacholias gave a thorough account of the Mysteries of Eleusis being linked to Gaia or "earth", Carl A. P. Ruck referred to Hoffmann, a scientist in Switzerland, who discovered LSD and who developed ideas about the link between drugs, experience and escasty. For Ruck everything has to be 'sacred' and true to the original. Both agree that the world is in calamity and only Eleusis can safe this world.

Hatto Fischer challenged this interpretation as if making special experiences need to be mystified. Rather simple sense impressions suffice if you go outside Plato's cave and really see the beauty of the world. As introduction, he read the little piece written by Stamatis Polenakis.




So, is this is the road of mysteries? This is where the processions and initiates passed? What does all this mean to us today, I wonder? For us, the heirs of this remote and incomprehensible world who awoke one day with this marble head in their hands?However much we try to grasp its hidden meaning, the ancient world, more distant than the most remote stars, remains intact and inaccessible. Our civilization has been reduced to rubble. Today it is easy enough for anybody to go anywhere. Today everyone goes; but no one comes from Eleusina.



Taken from:

Stamatis Polenakis, "WANDERING THROUGH THE CITY OF ATHENS", Translated from the Greek by Richard Pierce, to be published in READER about GREECE, Mumbai: Paperwall, editor: Poiein kai Prattein, 2016.




Entonces, ¿es este el camino de los misterios? ¿Por acá pasaron las procesiones y los iniciados? ¿Todo eso qué significa para nosotros hoy? me pregunto. ¿Para nosotros, herederos de este mundo remoto e incomprensible, quienes despertamos un día para encontrar esta cabeza de mármol entre las manos? No importa cuánto nos esforcemos en alcanzar su significado secreto, el mundo antiguo, más distante que las estrellas más lejanas, permanece intacto e inaccesible. Nuestra civilización ha sido reducida a escombros. Hoy es fácil para cualquiera ir donde sea. Hoy todos van; pero nadie viene de Eleusina.


Tomado de:

Stamatis Polenakis, "Vagando por la ciudad de Atenas”. 2016.



Important is that Stamatis Polenakis points towards a break between past and present as far as cultural heritage is concerned. Too often there is sworn in Greece a continuity of the past as if "then as now", a most famous slogan used by Melina Mercouri, prevails without breakages. Also Greece suffers all too often from being forced to import its own past. It should also be kept in mind what Paul Tillich said about the use of tradition (and emphasis upon rituals), namely it distorts the perception of the present.


Hatto Fischer





If I could ever draw a funny picture

of myself, and even though the lines

would be in black and white,

then it would be like taking a pot shot

at myself as snow man with a carrot as nose

and eyes those of a coal miner, and even

with some resemblance to a clown

or to a simple fool trapped in the circus

with men crowding around the lion's cage

to see wildness behind iron bars

just like society perceives me as a wild beast,

although in reality a dove hovers in my jest

to reflect what Surrealists dreamt about

when they saw a wanderer could not fly away.

With such notion of freedom I have no pain

when having to beg the muse to return to me.


Hatto Fischer





Vincent Van Gogh


In his paintings

one does walk out into corn fields,

all alone.

It does no matter if it snows, rains

or shines the sun.

Sadness descends like ravens do

on fields ploughed by a heavy hand.

He lets potatoe pickers eat

The earth apples with the same hand.

Time passes by in all his paintings.

One stands on the fields after harvest

while at a distance, on an embankment,

the train races by and heads to the city.

This abandonment of time underlines

what happens year after year,

as every autumn leaves behind the summer.

Underneath the railway bridge

another time zone reigns.

Rain water still drips, drips, drips

with only footsteps echoing off the walls,

but then they are drowned out

once the train thunders again overhead

- again and again.

Always around that time of the year

yellow becomes the dominant color

to show what life promises to be

after the fields have been harvested.

And again ravens appear on the horizon.

He lets them fly on, for nothing is in vain.

Only in the tavern the unemployed

gaze into their glasses

with the waiter a butcher of time.

There Van Gogh sees no one

striking a chord of agreement

with his fellow men.

Quickly the brush goes over the canvas.

He sees and detects Japanese shades of time

within a scene not merely marked by earth and horizon, but in between is felt

past, present and future.

He lets everything become a daze

as if already drunk while gazing into the sun.

Here insanity dances in front of the eyes

till concentric like circles

reinforce the blazing sun

now burning deep inside his head

from which there is no escape.

Even if Dr. Gachet attests that he is worse off

than his after-death-to-be-most-famous patient.

Yet with his forever blue eyes

Van Gogh did not answer him, but instead

looked inside of himself. Deeper and deeper

he looked courageously enough,

as he stayed steadfast even when he began

to see only nothingness.

It is the most cruel aspect of all emptiness.

Still Van Gogh could recall his father, a priest

dressed in black robes,

leave the mine shaft and while

crossing over the snow fields,

he thought Rembrandt could have painted

that scene much better than he.

Recognition of others was his art.

It shows how he draws the hand.

All alone, he reflected himself

as a tree standing all by itself,

outside the family circle, alone,

without leaves, while the other trees

would frolic around, love each other,

their leaves still intact,

dangling from every branch

to recall longing of the heart

is like having in front of the eyes

a human body to be drawn.

But nothing could have altered his fate.

As a painter he searched for the atelier of the South

since he knew not alone, but many together

would have only the energy to take up then subjects worthy to be painted.

There he lies, his brother Theo beside him,

in a cemetery in Arles, near that church,

around them an open field and that horizon

with that special light of the South.

Both are covered by a blanket of ivy!

Forever are true his letters to his brother.

In them he describes art as a lesson of proportions -

the greatest of all arts!

This he maintained when painting a chair

standing beside the bed.

It reminds of that gaze into the sun,

for the room wobbles a bit,

but not the blue door beside the yellow floor.





En sus pinturas

caminamos en los maizales

muy solos.

No importa que nieve, llueva

o brille el sol.

La tristeza desciende como los cuervos

en los campos arados por una mano fuerte.

Y deja que los recogedores de papas

coman con las mismas manos.

En todas sus pinturas pasa el tiempo.

Nos paramos en los campos después de la cosecha

Mientras en lo alto, en un terraplén,

Un tren avanza hacia la ciudad.

Este abandono recalca

la forma como año tras años el otoño

deja atrás el verano.

Bajo el puente del tren

el agua de lluvia aún gotea, gotea, gotea,

mientras unos pasos hacen eco en los tabiques,

pero luego se apagan

al pasar el tren con estruendo

una y otra vez.

Siempre en ese momento del año

el amarillo es el color dominante

para mostrar que la vida promete ser

como los campos cosechados.

Y de nuevo los cuervos aparecen en el horizonte.

Deja que vuelen pues nada es solo en vano.

Aunque en la taberna los desempleados

miran absortos sus vasos

y el mesero es el carnicero del tiempo.

Allí Van Gogh no ve a nadie

haciendo un acuerdo

con sus semejantes.

Rápido pasa el pincel sobre el lienzo.

Ve y detecta sombras japonesas de colores

dejando todo convertirse en un ofuscamiento

como si ya estuvieran ebrios de mirar fijo el sol.

Aquí la locura baila frente a los ojos

hasta que concéntricos como círculos

refuerzan el deslumbrante sol

ahora ardiendo profundo en su cabeza

de la cual no hay escape,

aunque el doctor Gachet afirme que está peor

que su paciente más famoso después de su muerte.

Sin embargo, con sus ojos siempre azules

Van Gogh no le responde, pero en cambio

mira dentro de si mismo. Más y más profundo

miró con bastante valor

permaneciendo firme incluso cuando empezó

a ver únicamente la nada.

Es el aspecto más cruel de todo vacío.

pero Van Gogh puedo recordar a su padre, un sacerdote

vestido con ropas negras,

salir del pozo de la mina y mientras

cruza los campos cubiertos de nieve,

pensó que Rembrandt habría pintado

esa escena mucho mejor que él.

Su arte era el reconocimiento de los demás.

Muestra cómo dibuja las manos.

Muy solo, se reflejó a sí mismo

como un solitario árbol,

fuera del círculo de la familia, solo,

sin hojas, mientras los demás árboles

retozan y se aman,

sus hojas intactas aún,

colgando de todas las ramas

como recordando que el ansia del corazón

es como tener frente a los ojos

un cuerpo humano para ser dibujado.

Pero nada podría alterar su destino.

Como pintor buscó un taller en el sur

pues sabía que no solo, sino muchos todos juntos

tendrían la energía de abordar temas

que valiera la pena pintar.

Allí yace, su hermano Theo a su lado

en el cementerio de Arles, cerca de esa iglesia,

en torno a ellos un campo llano y el horizonte

con esa luz muy especial del sur.

¡A ambos los cubre un manto de hiedra!

Siempre serán verdad las cartas a su hermano.

En ellas describe una lección del arte de la proporción

¡la mayor de todas las artes!.

Mantuvo esto cuando pintó una silla

al lado de la cama.

Recuerda esa mirada suya al sol,

pues el cuarto se bambolea un poco,

aunque no la puerta azul al lado del suelo amarillo.

Hatto Fischer (Alemania, 1945),

Traducción de Nicolás Suescún

Translated for the 26th World Poetry Festival in Medellin, Colombia, June 18 - 25, 2016







Whisper to trees

for they will bend over and listen

till their branches sweep the streets

to clear them for people to experience

a sky free of smoke of battles long gone

with only the cemeteries back in the woods coughing out messages of the dead

so that the living can draw their faces in the sand.


Ambivalence has spread to the edge of the city known for centuries to have been on the waiting list for recognition

by the winds and travelers

all while miners were finally freed to sudden fame

after two months under ground in this land called Chile where once Neruda

created a river out of the silence of people

longing to escape oblivion and hate.


Now, who ever gives up hope these days,

in the belief that the rescue work

shall not succeed,

he risks to take the impossible more serious,

but here the youth gripped by bursts of energy are like those cities imagining invisible love shall return one day

to warm up again every corner

too long left in the shadows of after thoughts trailing behind a child

like the teddy bear.


Pecs 15.10.2010



Susúrrale a los árboles pues se inclinarán para escucharte

hasta que sus ramas barran las calles,

despejándolas para que la gente viva

un cielo libre del humo de las batallas libradas hace mucho

con solo cementerios en el fondo de los bosques,

espetando mensajes de los muertos

para que los vivos puedan dibujar sus rostros en la arena.


La ambivalencia ha llegado hasta el borde de la ciudad

por siglos conocida por estar en la lista de espera

para el reconocimiento de los vientos y de los viajeros

todo esto mientras los mineros fueron libres y de súbito famosos

después de dos meses bajo esta tierra

llamada Chile donde una vez Neruda

creó un río con el silencio del pueblo

ansiando escapar el olvido y el odio.


Ahora bien, quien desecha la esperanza en estos días,

creyendo que el trabajo de rescate no tendrá éxito,

corre el riesgo de tomar lo imposible más en serio,

pero aquí la juventud está poseída por arranques de energía

y como esas ciudades que se imaginan amores invisibles

para volver un día y calentar de nuevo cada esquina

dejada demasiado en las sombras de nuevas ocurrencias

siendo arrastradas como el oso de juguete de un niñito.



Pecs, 15/10/2010


Hatto Fischer (Alemania, 1945),

Traducción de Nicolás Suescún




Continuity of life

We believe we go blind

when in fact time elongates awareness,

provided we avoid looking into the sun.

Icarus didn't heed that advice, and when he flew too high

he no longer descended gently, but fell, fell, fell.

Tumble and fall, that was Humpty Dumpty's last call.

Yet sunshine galore shows during daytime

which graffiti was painted on the walls the night before.

It seems no longer just another day.

It seems no more to be a lovely time,

even if beauty goes to sleep at noon.

Dreams enter barefooted.

While the cat may snore or the dog just yawn,

guests sip tea after nap.

In such a setting every rustle of a leave

has a similarity to the stroke of a pen.

Soon metaphors awake to run not over water,

but over blank pages, and leave the universe of doubt

in the shade.

A banana in Europe has much to say

about those norms not letting everything in,

while in wild gardens things still bloom.

Unfortunately she did not come around

all year long to say just 'hello',

as neighbors would do over the garden fence.

If only the whale fish would undo the puzzle.

We heard a scream, we heard about the loss,

now only a lantern swings where once was the boat.

It had gone out to sea; if only those times would come back.

Every new generation looks out from the white cliffs

where below waves asunder to create a difference between land and sea.

A melody may be sung or another story told,

then comes along the postman to pick up the letter,

but nothing is ready, the ink still not dry.

Rather things shall reveal themselves in traces on dusty window sills.

For many write absent minded a poem or thought in just dust,

and make it to look like the man

who went to the moon with Armstrong.

It is a story which goes on in the belief,

there exists something called continuity of life.




Creemos enceguecernos

Cuando de hecho el tiempo amplía la consciencia,

Siempre y cuando evitemos mirar fijo el sol.

Ícaro no siguió este consejo y voló demasiado alto,

de modo que no descendió suave sino que cayó, cayó, cayó.

Se desplomó dando tumbos, eso fue lo último que hizo Zanco Panco.

Pero el brillante sol muestra durante el día

los grafitis que pintaron en las paredes por la noche.

Ya no parece que sea solo otro día.

Ya no parece que sea un tiempo muy agradable

porque la belleza se queda dormida al mediodía.

Los sueños entran descalzos

mientras el gato ronronea o el perro solo bostece

y los huéspedes sorban té después de la siesta.

En tal ambiente hasta el frotar de una hoja

se parece a un trazo de la pluma.

Pronto despiertan las metáforas para correr no sobre el agua

sino sobre páginas en blanco dejando así el universo de las dudas

a la sombra.

Un banano en Europa tiene mucho qué decir

sobre esas normas que no dejan entrar nada

mientras en jardines silvestres las cosas aún florecen.

Desafortunadamente ella no se presentó

en todo el año para saludar,

como hacen los vecinos a través de la cerca del jardín.

Si solo la ballena acertara el enigma.

Oímos un alarido, y nos contaron sobre la pérdida,

ahora solo se mece un farol donde antes había un barco

que navegó a mar abierto; si solo volvieran esos tiempos.

Cada nueva generación divisa desde los peñascos blancos

donde abajo las olas crean ruidosas la diferencia

entre el mar y la tierra.

Una melodía puede ser cantada, otra historia contada,

pero llega el cartero para llevarse la carta

que no está lista, la tinta aún fresca.

Es más posible que las cosas sean reveladas en rastros

en los alféizares de las ventanas.

Pues muchos escriben distraídos un poema sobre una idea

y hacen que se parezca al hombre

que fue a la luna con Armstrong.

Es una historia que persiste en la creencia

de que existe algo llamado continuidad de la vida.




Hatto Fischer (Alemania, 1945),


Traducción de Nicolás Suescún


Tarsicio Valencia - Colombia


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