July 16, 2004

Sacred Pathways To Understanding
Egyptian Mystery Schools

In ancient Egypt, before universities fed the mind while separate organizations fed the soul, there existed institutions that nourished humanities' hunger for learning and oneness with all things. In the tradition of Osiris, who taught the still-savage humans the tools of civilization, these mystery schools accepted seekers longing to gain self-knowledge, as well as an understanding of the universe. To foster an intimate connection with the natural and ethereal world, initiates including Plato and Euclid partook of rites, elaborate rituals and study in order to develop their minds and spiritual abilities.

Though teaching methods used in mystery schools varied, lessons were often imparted through myths both mundane and deeply mystical. Initiates who recognized the symbolic meanings of the stories of Isis, Osiris and Thoth were called upon to develop their intellectual natures through the study of astronomy, mathematics and medicine to prepare themselves for intense concentration and focus. They studied the ethical principals of the goddess Maat, who represented duty and responsibility. These were the lower or public mysteries. The higher mysteries were kept hidden and divulging them to the uninitiated was considered a supreme sacrilege. Those party to them underwent dramatic initiation ceremonies, which tested both intelligence and courage, intended to free the spirit from its corporeal prison and to reunite it with the universe.

When the Egyptian mystery schools had outlived their purpose, the oneness they had taught was carried in the traditions of mystery schools in Europe and the Middle East, finally becoming the basis of many modern secret societies as well as groups that strive to help initiates explore the mysteries of existence. Through such groups, it is possible to recapture that oneness through the same self-discipline, devotion, and drive that, thousands of years ago, helped seekers find their way to wisdom.

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