A mystagogue (from Greek: μυσταγωγός "person who initiates into mysteries") is a person who initiates others into mystic beliefs, an educator or person who has knowledge of the Sacred Mysteries. Another word is Hierophant.

In ancient mystery religions, a mystagogue would be responsible for leading an initiate into the secret teachings and rituals of the cultus. The initiate would often be blindfolded, and the mystagogue would literally "guide" him into the sacred space.

In the early church, this same concept was used to describe the bishop, who was responsible for seeing to it that the catechumens were properly prepared for baptism. Homilies given to those in the last stages of preparation, and which deal with the Sacraments are called "Mystagogical Homilies." Sometimes these mystagogical instructions were not given until after the catechumen had been baptized. The most famous of these mystagogical works are the "Mystagogical Homilies" of St. Cyril of Jerusalem and the work, "On the Mysteries" by St. Ambrose of Milan.

In various organizations, it is the role of the mystagogue to "mystify" pledges. The term is sometimes used to refer to a person who guides people through religious sites, such as churches, and explains the various artifacts. This branch of theology is at times called mystagogy.

Max Weber, considered to be one of the founders of the modern study of sociology, described the mystagogue as part magician, part prophet; and as one who dispersed "magical actions that contain the boons of salvation"[1] According to Roy Wallis, "The primary criterion that Weber had in mind in distinguishing the prophet from the mystagogue was that the latter offers a largely magical means of salvation rather than proclaiming a radical religious ethic or an example to be followed."[2]

See also


  1. ^ Kirkpatrick, R. George and Diana Tumminia: "California Space Goddess: The Mystagogue in a Flying Saucer Cult", In: Twentieth-Century World Religious Movements in Neo-Weberian Perspective, 1992, 300
  2. ^ Wallis, Roy, "The Aetherius Society: A Case Study in the Formation of a Mystagogic Congregation", In: Sectarianism, 1975, 25.

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  • mystagogue — [ mistagɔg ] n. m. • 1564; lat. mystagogus, gr. mustagôgos, de mustês « initié » et agein « conduire » ♦ Antiq. gr. Prêtre qui initiait aux mystères sacrés. ● mystagogue nom masculin (grec mustagôgos) Prêtre chargé d initier aux mystères dans les …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Mystagogue — Mys ta*gogue, n. [L. mystagogus, Gr. ?; ? one initiated in mysteries + ? leading, n., a leader, fr. ? to lead: cf. F. mystagogue. See 1st {Mystery}.] 1. One who interprets mysteries, especially of a religious kind. [1913 Webster] 2. One who keeps …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • mystagogue — (n.) person who initiates into mysteries, 1550s, from L. mystagogus a guide to the mysteries, from Gk. mystagogos, from mystes one initiated into the mysteries (see MYSTERY (Cf. mystery) (1)) + agogos leading, a leader (see ACT (Cf. act) (n.)).… …   Etymology dictionary

  • mystagogue — [mis′tə gäg΄, mis′təgôg΄] n. [Fr < L mystagogus < Gr mystagōgos < mystēs (see MYSTERY1) + agōgos, leader < agein: see ACT1] a person who interprets religious mysteries or initiates others into them mystagogic [mis΄təgäj′ik] adj.… …   English World dictionary

  • mystagogue — noun Etymology: Latin mystagogus, from Greek mystagōgos, from mystēs initiate (perhaps akin to Greek myein to be closed) + agein to lead more at agent Date: circa 1550 1. one who initiates another into a mystery cult 2. one who understands or… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • MYSTAGOGUE — s. m. T. d Antiq. grecque. Prêtre qui initiait aux mystères de la religion …   Dictionnaire de l'Academie Francaise, 7eme edition (1835)

  • MYSTAGOGUE — n. m. T. d’Antiquité grecque Prêtre qui initiait aux mystères de la religion …   Dictionnaire de l'Academie Francaise, 8eme edition (1935)

  • mystagogue — mystagogy /mis teuh goh jee, goj ee/, mystagoguery /mis teuh gaw geuh ree, gog euh /, n. mystagogic /mis teuh goj ik/, mystagogical, adj. mystagogically, adv. /mis teuh gawg , gog /, n. 1. someone who instructs others before initiation into… …   Universalium

  • mystagogue — noun A person who prepares an initiate for entry into a mystery cult, or who teaches mystical doctrines …   Wiktionary

  • mystagogue — (mi sta go gh ) s. m. Terme d antiquité grecque. Prêtre qui initiait aux mystères de la religion.    Par extension, nom donné à ceux qui entreprennent d expliquer ce qu il y a de merveilleux dans chaque religion, et de donner un sens pratique et… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

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