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The basket or fan was among the Egyptians a symbol of the purification of souls. The idea seems to have been adopted by other nations, and hence, "initiations in the Ancient Mysteries," says Rolle (Culte de Bacchus,1, 30), "being the commencement of a better life and the perfection of it, could not take place till the soul was purified.
The fan had been accepted as the symbol of that purification because the mysteries purged the soul of sin, as the fan cleanses the grain." John the Baptist conveys the same idea of purification when he says of the Messiah, "His fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor" (Matthew iii, 12; Luke iii, 17).
The sacred basket in the Ancient Mysteries was called the xikvov, and the one who carried it was termed the xwv or basket-bearer. Indeed, the sacred basket, containing the first fruits and offerings, was as essential in all solemn processions of the mysteries of Bacchus and other divinities as the Bible is in the Masonic procession. As lustration was the symbol of purification by water, so the mystical fan or winnowing-basket was, according to Sainte Croix (Mystres du Paganisme, tome ii, page 81), the symbol in the Bacchic rites of a purification by air.
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