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Cabiric Mysteries

The Cabiri were gods who' worship was first established in the island of Samothrace, where the Cabiric Mysteries were practiced. The gods called the Cabiri were originally two, and afterward four, in number, and are supposed by Bryant (Analysis of Ancient Mythology, iii, 342) to have referred to Noah and his three sons, the Cabiric Mysteries being a modification of the arkite worship. In these mysteries there was a ceremony called the "Cabiric Death," in which was represented amid the groans and tears and subsequent rejoicing of the initiates, the death and restoration to life of Cadmillus, the youngest of the Cabiri. The legend recorded that he was slain by his three Brethren, who afterward fled with his virile parts in a mystic basket. His body was crowned with flowers, and was buried at the foot of Mount Olympus. Clement of Alexandria speaks of the legend as the sacred mystery of a brother slain by his brethren, or in the original as frater trucidatus fratribus.

There is much perplexity connected with the subject of these mysteries, but it is generally supposed that they were instituted in honor of Atys, the son of Cybele or Demeter, of whom Cadmillus was but another name. According to Macrobius, Atys was one of the appellations of the sun, and we know that the mysteries were celebrated at the vernal equinox. They lasted three days, during which they represented in the person of Atys, or Cadmillus, the enigmatical death of the sun in winter, and his regeneration in the spring. In all probability, in the initiation, the candidate passed through a drama, the subject of which , was the violent death of Atys. The Cabiric Death was, in fact, a type of the Hiramic, and the legend, so far as it can be understood from the faint allusions of ancient authors, was very analogous in spirit and design to that of the Third Degree of Freemasonry.

Many persons annually resorted to Samothrace to be initiated into the celebrated mysteries, among whom are mentioned Cadmus, Orpheus, Hercules, and Ulysses. Jamblichus says, in his Life of Pythagoras, that from those of Lemnos that sage derived much of his wisdom. The mysteries of the Cabiri were much respected among the common people, and great care was taken in their concealment. The priests made use of a language peculiar to the Rites. The mysteries were in existence at Samothrace as late as the eighteenth year of the Christian era, at which time the Emperor Germanicus embarked for that island, to be initiated, but was prevented from accomplishing his purpose by adverse winds.

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