It was Orpheus the past life of Buddha, who founded the first Grecian Mystery school. It was also Orpheus who first brought the science of "Initiation" in that very early period of history. Orpheus also traveled greatly, and both studied and taught this ancient science.
Both Pythagoras (Kuthumi) and Plato were greatly influenced by his teachings. The purpose of the Orphic mysteries was to attain spiritual awareness. Orpheus was the founder of Theology in Greece, and within this context laid down the moral ideals for Greece for centuries to come. he was a prophet, poet, and priest. While still young he traveled to Egypt to study the Egyptian Mysteries. When he returned he had obtained great mastery in medicine, astrology, and magic. The name Orpheus actually means, "He who heals with light".
He was also an accomplished musician. The focus of Orpheus’ work was to establish the divine nature of man, personal responsibility, and purification so the divine nature could be revealed. Once an initiate lived these ideals it was called, "living the Orphic life".
Orpheus believed in reincarnation, and taught how we all are required by spiritual law to forget our past lives when we incarnate into a new body. Orpheus was also a great writer and many of his writings are still intact to this day. They include "The Enthronings of the Great Mother", "The Sacred Vesture", and "The Rite of the Girdle". This last writing tells of an ancient initiation ceremony where the initiate is given a band or cord of gold. This ceremony is much like the ceremony all Hindu boys go through where they are given a thread or string that they carry with them the rest of their lives.
Orpheus’ best known writing is the Hymns of Orpheus. Appolonius said that the followers of Orpheus should be called magicians because of the secret magic found in these hymns.
Orpheus also taught mantras and words of power. He composed an alphabet and system of hieroglyphics. He gave prophecies and oracles. Much of Pythagoras teachings had their foundation in what Orpheus set forth. Orpheus’ teachings also clearly set forth a belief in one monotheistic type of God.
Legend has it that wild animals were tamed by his divine melodies as well as mankind’s lower self and own animal nature. He was a Master healer through his writing, teachings, and music. He spoke a great deal about "divine essence". All things had their source in this "Divine essence" and everything returned back to it. Legend also has it that he sailed with Jason and the Argonats to seize the Golden Fleece. (If you have never seen this movie, or video, to get it. It is one of my favorite movies of all time.)
Orpheus, may be most famous for the "Golden Tablets", which were recently discovered in tombs in Southern Italy. Inscriptions are engraved on the tombs on how to direct the deceased into the astral world after death. It is a type of Book of the Dead, as the Tibetans and Egyptians similarly use.
These tablets date from the fourth to the third century BC. On one of the tablets it says, "I’m a child of earth and of the starry sky, yet my origin is in heaven." In the next part the soul asks to drink of the waters of memory to remember how it existed before it fell under the illusion of matter. The goal of the Orphic mysteries was liberation from the wheel of rebirth. This was achieved through a process of purification, and initiation.
The tablets show the need to live a righteous, moral life. The Golden Tablets also teach the need for confessions and self discipline. Certain prayers were also taught that need to be constantly repeated, along with sacraments of communion and purification following specific initiations.
The Orphic initiates all wore pure white robes and garments. They also were all required to be vegetarians, and fast at certain intervals. The initiates of Orpheus were well known throughout the country for their demonstration of the highest virtue and purity.
During the day of initiation, the initiate carried a symbolic serpent in their hands, which may have been a symbol for the raised kundalini. During the initiation ceremony they performed a sacred dance and then were baptized in holy water. The skin of a young fawn was fastened over their clothes to symbolize being spiritually reborn. The Higher Self had triumphed over the lower self. Each initiate was given the promise of immortality and union with God at the time of their passing.
Orpheus taught that the body was a tomb for the soul, and the purpose of life was to seek liberation from this tomb. This was achieved through the sacrifice of the lower passions and the living of a life of the highest character, righteousness, and virtue. Dionysus was the Savior in the Orphic teachings just as Jesus might be considered the Savior in the Christian teachings, or Buddha in the Buddhist teachings.
Initiates were taught that by living a pious life that their next incarnation, if they had to have one, would be on a much higher spiritual level. Orpheus most definitely set the stage for a series of great future teachers to come in Greece by the names of Pythagoras (Kuthumi), Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.