From the time that the neophyte enters the first stage of initiation, i.e. becomes a ‘mystic’, he leads a life of abstinence. But abstinence is not the end. Abstinence, the sacramental feast of raw flesh, the holding aloft of the Mother’s torches, all these are but preliminary stages to the final climax, the full fruition when, cleansed and consecrated, he is made one with the god and the Kouretes name him ‘Bacchos.’

The word ‘pure,’ in the negative sense, ‘free from evil,’ marks, I think, the initial stage a stage akin to the old service of ‘aversion’. The word ‘set free’, ‘consecrated’, marks the final accomplishment and is a term of positive content. It is characteristic of orgiastic, ‘enthusiastic’ rites, those of the Mother and the Son, and requires some further elucidation. …

It was Euripides, and perhaps only Euripides, who made the goddess Hosia in the image of his own high desire, and, though the Orphic word and Orphic rites constantly pointed to a purity that was also freedom, to a sanctity that was by union with rather than submission to the divine, yet Orphism constantly renounced its birth-right, reverted as it were to the old savage notion of abstinence. After the ecstasy of

‘I am Set Free and named by name
A Bacchos of the Mailed Priests,’

the end of the mystic’s confession falls dull and sad and formal:

‘Kobed in pure white I have borne me clean
From man’s vile birth and coffined clay,
And exiled from my lips alway
Touch of all meat where Life hath been.’

He that is free and holy and divine, marks his divinity by a dreary formalism. He wears white garments, he flies from death and birth, from all physical contagion, his lips are pure from flesh-food, he fasts after as before the Divine Sacrament. He follows in fact all the rules of asceticism familiar to us as ‘Pythagorean’. …