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Riccardo Zerbetto

Returning to Eleusis and its great mysteries

For over a thousand years the initiates to the Great Mysteries have walked the 21 km of the Sacred Way, still today the Jera odòs, that separates Athens, from where they departed in September from the altar of the 12 gods, to reach the sanctuary of Eleusis to celebrate Demeter (the Mother Goddess … Earth today exploited and torn apart by voracious men who have lost the sense of her sacredness) and to mourn the loss of her daughter Persephone kidnapped by Hades (Pluto), god of death … and money. But what was the telos, the end-meaning of this journey that, like ours every day, moves in a more or less conscious search for a ‘meaning’ to our life path? In the mystery of this question, we are accompanied by the moving testimony of Plato who, in the Symposium, thus describes the ecstatic vision (epòpteia) that motivated his path “having reached the end of the discipline of love, there will arise – in an instant – something beautiful, admirable in its nature (…) itself, for itself, with itself, simple … eternal”. A “Return to Eleusis” experience that I have been pursuing for 21 years with other aspirants to an initiation that recalls the experience of “sitting in the temple (Telesterion) in religious silence and with dignity” as Aristotle invites us to do (On Philosophy, fr. 14) after having questioned ourselves on the principles (logoi) and tales (mythoi) that prepared for this event, which also included the use of the “kikeon” to which the Homeric Hymn to Demeter explicitly refers. We will prepare for this event, scheduled for September, also in connection with a Study Day linked to the celebration of Eleusis as European Capital of Culture for 2023 with a we will blog documents and updates on the ‘journey’.


Medical Specialist in Clinics of Nervous and Mental Illnesses and Child Neuropsychiatry. He has worked for over twenty years in mental health and drug addiction services for which he was a consultant and supervisor of the therapeutic communities of the Municipality of Rome for over 15 years, as well as a consultant to the Ministry of Health in 1980. In this field, he has edited four publications on behalf of the Ministry of Health and still carries out training and supervision initiatives for public and voluntary social structures. He is a founding member and current vice-president of the Association for Professional Operators in Addiction (Erit-Italy) and co-founder and past-president of Alea-Association for the study of gambling and risk behaviour. With M. Croce he published ‘Il gioco & l’azzardo’, FrancoAngeli Ed. He has held and still holds teaching positions in Psychopathology at the School of Specialisation in Psychiatry, in Social Psychiatry and Criminology at the Chair of Forensic Medicine at the University of Siena. He is president of Orthos, an association set up to run therapeutic-rehabilitation programmes for gamblers He is director of the Gestalt Therapy Study Centre, an institute recognised by the Ministry of University and Scientific and Technological Research for the development of professional courses in Psychotherapy based in Milan. Riccardo Zerbetto (