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Porphyry - The cave as the symbol of the perceptible cosmos



Type of Spiritual Experience


It is about rebirth, hence the experience type

A description of the experience

Porphyry – De Antro Nympharum [On the cave of Nymphs]

…as Eubolos says, in the mountains near Persia, Zoroaster dedicated a natural grotto, flowery and with springs, to honour the Mithras, the maker and father of all, because for him the grotto was an image of the cosmos that Mithras created, and the things arranged symmetrically within were symbols of the cosmic elements and regions.

Then, after Zoroaster, the habit of performing the Mysteries in caves and grottoes, either natural or artificial prevailed also with others.  For as they founded temples, abodes, and alters for the Olympian gods, sacrificial hearths for deities of the earth (chthonioi) and heroes and trenches and pits for deities under the earth (hypochthonioi), so also they founded caves and grottoes for the cosmos and similarly for the nymphs on account of the waters that pour down or come up in caves.  And the Naiads, as we shall go through a little later, are nymphs set over the waters

Not only have they made the cave a symbol of the perceptible cosmos but they have also used the cave as a symbol of all the unseen powers, since the caves are dark and that which is the essence of the powers is invisible

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Sacred geography

Activities and commonsteps



Visit sacred sites


Sensory deprivation