We had shared an obsession with world mysticism all our lives which recently had led us to explore spirituality in the ancient world. Popular understanding inevitably lags a long way behind the cutting edge of scholarly research and, like most people, we initially had an inaccurate and out-dated view of Paganism.
We had been taught to see it as a superstitious culture which indulged in idol worship and bloody sacrifice, and dry philosophers wearing togas stumbling blindly towards what we today call ‘science’. We were familiar with various Greek myths which showed the partisan and capricious nature of the Olympian gods and goddesses.
All in all, Paganism seemed primitive and fundamentally alien. After many years of study, however, our understanding has been transformed.
Pagan spirituality was actually the sophisticated product of a highly developed culture. The state religions, such as the Greek worship of the Olympian gods, were little more than outer pomp and ceremony. The real spirituality of the people expressed itself through the vibrant and mystical ‘Mystery religions’.