Document Type

Audio File

Publication Date



The Eleusinian Mysteries as Illuminated by Diotima’s Spiral of Love The secret teachings of the Eleusinian Mysteries — celebrated annually every Autumn in ancient Greeceto honor Demeter and Persephone — are illuminated by Diotima’s teaching to Sokrates in Plato’s Symposium. Diotima combines the erotic love of beauty with the philosophical love of wisdom in order to illuminate the lesser mysteries of procreation and the greater mysteries of universal love. I compare what I name Diotima’s “Spiral of Love” to Plato’s “Ladder of Love,” to emphasize an embodied knowing which unites not only eros and wisdom, but spiritual ascent with descent, transcendence with immanence, the universal with the individual.


Mara Lynn Keller, PhD is a Professor of Philosophy, Religion, and Women’s Spirituality at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She is a philosopher, thealogian, and specialist on the Eleusinian Mysteries of Demeter and Persephone. Her articles include “The Ritual Path of Initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries,” “Ancient Crete of the Earth Mother Goddess: Sacred Arts and Communal Ritual;” “Goddesses around the World,” and “Violence against Women and Children in Religious Scriptures and in the Home.” As director of the Women’s Spirituality program from 1998-2008, she produced dozens of special events on women’s sacred arts and scholarship, most recently, a joint art exhibition with CERES Gallery in New York on Ineffable/Woman. She serves on the Editorial Council of the OCHRE Journal of Women’s Spirituality. Previously, she taught Philosophy and Women’s Studies at the University of California at Riverside, and at the San Francisco State University, where she also co-founded and coordinated the Global Peace Studies program.