Despite the wealth of the cult's material remains, we still know relatively little about the ritual of the Mithraic mysteries. What was it, in the sense of liturgy performed, that Mithraists actually did in mithraea? How did it relate to myth, to the story of the god, which, by contrast, is singularly well documented on the monuments? Was it, in some way, a mimesis or re-enactment of that story? How, if at all, was it an expression of the initiate's progress, an actualization of his ‘salvation’, and thus of cult doctrine on these matters.
There are three major pieces of this puzzle already in place. First, and most important, we know that the cult meal, shared by the initiates on the banquet benches of their mithraeum, replicated the feast of Mithras and the Sun god at a table draped with the hide of the newly slain bull. We know this primarily from representations on the Konjic relief and the Sa. Prisca frescoes, where we see the initiates participating in roles defined by their positions within the hierarchy of grades: the Father (Pater) and the Sun-Runner (Heliodromus) represented Mithras and Sol reclining at their feast, the remaining grades their ministers. It is worth noting that there is no known counterpart in ritual to the central mythic act which precedes the feast, the bull-killing itself. Nevertheless, since the bull-killing in some sense effected ‘salvation’, we may suppose that the feast of the initiates, replicating the feast of the gods, celebrated this salutary effect for mortals. That the divine feast follows, and follows from, the bull-killing is assured by (1) the fact that it was served on the hide of the slaughtered bull, and (2) its depiction on the reverse of tauroctony reliefs, at least some of which could be rotated at the appropriate ritual moment. Finally, the ubiquity of the mithraeum's distinctive banqueting benches implies the ubiquity of the cult meal as the ‘liturgie ordinaire’.