One of my grandfather’s hobbies was the study of ancient mystery religions, especially Eleusis and Eleusinian Mysteries. One thing that was striking in reading his work was how much we don’t know. The rites continued for thousands of years, but the initiates kept confidences. They abided the social covenant [http://adrr.com/adr2/ethics2.htm]. The same is true of the sacred mysteries of the early Christian Church which were completely lost by the third century A.D. or so.
Myself, I’ve had an interest in modern mystery religions and paths of sudden enlightenment. Some, like Primal Scream, are open. Some, like EST, are closed. A striking feature of many is the complete willingness of anthropologists studying them to complete disregard any interest the participants have in preserving the confidence that is part of a sacred space.
Of course their motives are pure. They say so. They take all the benefits, others experience all of the costs. What other measure is there of pure motives.
Not to mention, what seemed like a hobby that crossed generations and brought me a sense of being closer to an estranged grandfather, now makes me feel like a voyeur, at least in the modern era. Especially as I have my own sacred spaces I would like preserved.
I know, that is a long introduction to the question: what level of encryption is required to preserve a sacred space? With temple dedications, the parameters of the sacred are wide. They are recorded and thereafter freely available, so there is no confidentiality expected. They are sometimes broadcast, so they are not limited in space. But the broadcasts are encrypted to preserve the nature of the sacred space while the dedication service is ongoing.
So what does it take to preserve a sacred space, and when are our motives pure in the violations of the sacred spaces of others? What about the nature of the loss when the knowledge passes? Nibley preserved the confidences of the Hopi sacred spaces, but his knowledge of those sacred spaces died with him. Does that matter? Are we better off with tatters of knowledge of a tradition that has suffered a break in transmission than we would have been with a complete knowledge gained forty to fifty years ago when the preservers of the tradition were still vital and able to discuss its depths and intricacies with a scholar? How does that reflect on our own sacred spaces?
What level of encryption is required to preserve a sacred space?