Chiara Baldini is an independent researcher from Florence (Italy) researching the evolution of the ecstatic cult in the west, particularly in ancient Greece and Rome. She wrote “Dionysus Returns: Contemporary Tuscan Trancers and Euripides’ The Bacchae” featured in The Local Scenes and Global Culture of Psytrance (Routledge, 2010) and she co-authored with Graham St. John “Dancing at the Crossroads of Consciousness: Techno Mysticism, Visionary Arts and Portugal’s Boom Festival” for the Brill’s Handbook of New Religions and Cultural Production (2012). From 2010 to 2014 she has been part of the Boom Festival team in Portugal, co-producing Boom’s cultural area “Liminal Village”. In 2015 she inaugurated and co-curated the program of “ConTent”, the new cultural area in Fusion Festival (Germany).
TITLE: A Temple Common to the Whole World – The Mysteries of Eleusis and the Evolution of Psychedelic Festivals
Abstract: The Mysteries of Eleusis, one of the most mysterious and revered sacred celebrations of the ancient world, has attracted in the past decades the attention of the likes of Albert Hoffmann and Terence McKenna, who have widely shared their belief that at the core of the Mysteries was a psychedelic-like experience. This has sparked the imagination of those who have seen the potential of proving that at the core of western culture lies a well-kept secret of a group initiation into altered states of consciousness. Many parallels with events related to the psychedelic culture scene have then started to appear and in this presentation we will explore which could be the similarities and differences between the rites of Eleusis and modern festivals. In particular we will look at psytrance festivals (and at Boom Festival in particular), a phenomenon originated on the shores of Goa in India in the 80s and 90s and considered among the finest examples of the evolution of psychedelic culture. How can these two radically different kinds of celebration be comparable? Is the flame of Eleusis who had ignited the soul of thousands of people from all over the ancient world, still burning in the underbelly of modern festivals at the leading edge of art, music and ecology?