The Orphic system of the Mystery teachings emphasizes that the Cosmos is a creation of harmonies and tones. The scale of these tones, these cosmic resonances, is also represented in the interplay of polarities, from the coarse to the fine. No tone exists in isolation, or does one polarity prevail over the other. For there to be positive tones, there must also be negative or dissonant tones. The same for Light and Darkness, Harmony and Disharmony, the interplay of forces or ‘Good and ‘Evil’. The one relies on the other to become.

The Underworld is a necessary reflection of the ‘Above’. Were this not so, the ‘Above’ could not exist. This being so, in spiritual initiation the lessons or experiences of the positive would be meaningless for the candidate were he/she not exposed to the ‘flip side’ of creation through the sheer reality of decay, darkness, fear, and all the experiences which demand he go through the gauntlet of night to appreciate the dawn.

The candidate for initiation in the Mystery Schools was tested, put through the confrontation with his own raw self on all levels and faced with the reality of his own mortality. He/she was exposed to whatever terrors the hierophant/initiator proposed in the faith that such terrors were necessary for the candidate’s spiritual progress. He/she was doubly tested, once on his approach to the place of initiation and put through Hell to awaken him from his worldly stupor and to fortify him for the next stage of his initiation – his ‘death’ and ‘rebirth’ as a successful initiate of the Mysteries.

The entire aim of initiation from the Darkness culminating in the Light is to instil by ‘suffering’ and ‘working’ (called in the Eleusinian mysteries: ‘ergasamenos’) to develop in the candidate for initiation what can’t be learned from books. For Heaven to be reached there must be a mandatory journey through the Underworld. A candidate fed only on a bland diet of positivity without experiencing the negative is in no way going to truly appreciate the value of the positive. The lesson here is that for the positive to be truly appreciated, there must be the negative. In fairy tale terms it is Beauty and the Beast.

The journey through the Underworld is necessary to achieve the status of an initiate of the Mysteries. It is also a tester of spiritual fitness and physical resolve to proceed. Along with the positives of initiation it is the purifying fire which burns away the dross of self to achieve the next stage of self-realization and regeneration. Thus, these Lesser Mysteries open the way to the Greater Mysteries which still remains for the candidate to achieve.