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Mircea Eliade - On Plutarch



Type of spiritual experience

A description of the experience

Mircea Eliade – Patterns in Comparative religion

Plutarch believed man to be made up of three parts, this meant that the souls of the just were purified in the moon while their bodies were given back to the earth and their minds to the sun……………

Plutarch wrote that man has two deaths; the first took place on earth, in the domain of Demeter, when the body became cut off from the psyche and the nous and returned to dust – which is why the Athenians called the dead demetreioi; the second takes place in the moon, in the domain of Persephone, when the psyche separates from the nous and returns into the moon's substance.  The soul or psyche, remains in the moon, though holding on to dreams and perceptions of life for some time.

The righteous are soon reabsorbed; the souls which have been ambitious, self willed, or too fond of their own bodies are constantly drawn towards earth and it is a long time before they can be reabsorbed.  The nous is drawn towards the sun, which receives it, to whose substance it corresponds.

The process of birth is the exact reverse; the moon receives the nous from the sun and coming to fruition there, the moon gives birth to a new soul.  The earth furnishes the body.  Note the symbolism of the moon rendered fertile by the sun, and its relation to the regeneration of the nous and psyche, the first integration of the human personality.

The source of the experience


Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image