As the human body requires maintenance, so too does the body of the earth and even the universe itself. This is something that was recognized by our ancient ancestors universally, if you will, from the Egyptians to those who inhabited the Near East to Europe. This understanding is fundamental to all Sacred Mysteries.
Coupled with this understanding came the equally important understanding that it is the female who gives birth and that birth simply cannot take place without the feminine principle. The male simply cannot produce offspring by himself. Thus, the feminine principle is elevated to the status of most important in the greater scheme of things. This is why the earth herself was seen by the ancients as a goddess, especially by the ancient Minoans and Greeks. And, although the bull was seen as important to these ancient peoples in the West, so also was the cow (as in the Egyptian goddess Hathor) and there was no necessary connection to male dominance.
Thus, this Western (Euro-Mediterranean) understanding of the life cycle and the importance of the feminine stood in direct contrast to understandings developed in more Eastern areas of the world in which humanity would observe, for example, that an alpha-bull would procreate with multiple cows within the same herd, thus producing many offspring. This was seen as a sign of male strength and male dominance by these people. So, for them, the feminine was relegated to a subordinate status and the masculine was seen as dominant.
Along with these two foundational understandings came the third most important understanding that the entirety of the universe, as observed in nature itself, operates in a certain fundamental and inerrant way. The very cycle of life, as the ancients observed, repeats itself. Life flows from death. They observed this, as an example, in the life-cycle of the caterpillar which seemed to serve no particular purpose in and of itself, but which would later form a cocoon and appear to die, frozen in time and space, only to later emerge as a beautiful butterfly or moth. They also observed how the seed of grain and other plants appeared to be dead, but once it fell into or was planted into the ground (the womb of the earth herself) it would spring forth as a living plant that, in turn, also produced more seed and the cycle would be endlessly repeated.
Thus, the ancient Sacred Mysteries, with very few exceptions, were based upon goddesses rather than gods, female deities rather than male ones. For the initiate, this should have been an obvious point from the very beginning. But, if they happened to miss this point somehow, as they proceeded through the initiations they would be shown, in various ways, this exact concept until the end point at which, if they did not understand somehow when shown the “holy thing” by the hierophantes (hierophant), then they had not achieved enlightenment and were, therefore, not true Mystai. So it was indeed possible to go through all of these initiations and still miss the point entirely as, I submit, Clement of Alexandria must have done based upon his obvious misunderstanding of the Sacred Mysteries of Demeter.
Thus, people such as Clement failed to recognize the fundamental connection between the life cycle observed in nature as in the examples above to that of the human life-cycle. So obsessed was he and others of his ilk in the concept that time is linear and that there is some actual ending to it, culminating in eternal reward or punishment (as in Eastern thought) that he could not see the marvelous and very simple truth of it all. He could not see that the human soul recycled just as everything else in nature did and that it would endure repeated lifetimes upon this beautiful earth until, with increasing efforts toward a pure state in each lifetime, it would finally merge into the realm of the deities and be with them. He could not see that it was necessary for this natural cycle (for we and out souls are a part of nature) to continually repeat itself and, in turn, it was necessary for humanity to do its part to maintain it.
Our primordial and ancient ancestors did understand these basic concepts and incorporated that understanding into what we refer to today as “Mysteries” or “Mystery religions”. These Sacred Mysteries taught the initiate these fundamental principles, which are not only observed directly from nature but are also possible to deduce logically by way of rational analysis. For even Platon (Plato) produced a logical argument in favor of the belief in reincarnation in his Meno: 81-86 in which he shows that a certain boy could not possibly have answered questions put to him had he not experienced life in some pervious time. Thus, reincarnation.