In the ancient world of the Greeks and Romans, there was a growing unsettlement with traditional religion. People were becoming less accepting, taking less for granted, and wanting more; more knowledge and more answers. A new age of questioning was surfacing. Searching for alternative answers and truths, new groups began to develop in order to deal with the discontentment and hoping, ultimately, to end it. Thus we have the mystery cults and philosophy, two of the ancient world's answers to new belief systems.
Mystery cults are perhaps the greatest held secrets of the ancient world. The name mystery cult is one that was actually assigned later on, being derived from word "mysterion." This word was used by the ancient Greeks to describe someone who had been initiated into one of these cults and therefore knew the secrets which no outsider would ever have the privilege of knowing. There are three aspects of these cults: "ta dromena," "ta deiknymena," and "ta legomena," meaning things that were done, things that were shown, and things that were said. Most of the practices of the mystery cults were done secretly. While little detail is known about what actually took place behind closed doors, we do know something about the appeal that these "alternative religions" had on the people of that time. .
Just about every mystery cult known to modern man has some origin in, or connection with, fertility. The primary god being worshiped is often a god representative of fertility, as in the cults of Demeter, Dionysus, and Cybele. By worshipping fertility gods and/or goddesses, the people were able to feel a direct connection to nature. By reenacting a sacred myth and performing secret rituals, followers of the cults felt connected in new ways to the gods and to their world. They felt as though they were playing an important role in the world through their worship. Rather than simply follow the rules of traditional religion and be silent bystanders, the mystery cults allowed the people to be active participants.