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date: 20 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Aiming at a better understanding of ways through which the ancient Greek religious experience was shaped, this chapter investigates the role and use of darkness in religious belief and practice. The orientation and certain architectural features of Greek temples, Dionysiac and Mystery cults, divination, rites of passage, magic, and other nocturnal rituals are examined here in an investigation of the interplay between light, darkness, and shadow and the aims fulfilled by such associations. It transpires that darkness was a decisive element in the religious experience, one that intensified the emotional condition of the participants, whilst shaping the ritual experience and memory of the event.

Keywords: Eleusinian Mysteries, Dionysiac Mysteries, oracle of the dead-Nekyomanteion, pannychis, magic, Arrephoria, nocturnal rites, temple orientation, astronomy, religious experience

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