The Blessing of Dionysus

Dancing Maenad

Dancing Maenad

It’s interesting what Dionysus blesses you with, because unless you come to grips with His notion of Reality, everyone is liable to view His blessings as a curse. Or a series of curses. That’s why His calling isn’t for everyone. If it were, this world would be more fucked up than it already is. Even Dionysus, in His place among the Olympians, has to give way to Order and Civilization. Or some semblance of it.

The journey of my Blessing begins on August 21, 2012. If you’re interested in the entire story, you can read it here. In short, I was involved in a serious car accident in which I drowned. I also came away with a traumatic brain injury to my right side, frontal and temporal lobes. I have had a lot of negative affects from it to say the least: chronic depression, anxiety, memory loss, slower processing speed, epilepsy, an inability to distinguish certain types of pain levels and temperature changes, abnormal proprioception,  some slight asphasia, mood swings, ADHD, and exacerbated behavior on the Autism Spectrum. These are just some that I can currently recall. I am continuing cognitive rehabilitation and neurological visits, and various medicinal cocktails to try and help me live as much of a normal life as I can. Or at least functional.

How is all of this a Blessing? I’ve had many people tell me:

-It happened for a reason.

-Be thankful for the little things.

-God has a plan.

-You now know about the important things in life.

Do you know what my answers to these are?

Fuck you.

That’s right, fuck you and you’re philosophies. No, that’s not what I mean by a Blessing. As I said earlier, if you’re not Dionysian, then you’re looking at His Blessing as a curse.

The Dionysian Blessing
Dionysus bestows two kinds of madness: Lyssa and Mania.

Dionysus (left) watches on as King Lykourgos of Thrake attacking his wife (center). The winged daimon Lyssa hovers above.

Dionysus (left) watches on as King Lykourgos of Thrake attacks his wife (center). The winged daimon Lyssa hovers above.

Lyssa is related to the Greek word leukos, which means “white.” Lyssa was personified as a daimon of rage and rabid frenzy; it was sometimes used as a synonym for rabies. Lyssa was the daimon sent by Herakles to curse him into a fit of rage when he killed his family. This tragedy led to his Twelve Labors. Upon the impious Dionysus sent Lyssa, and the onset of the affliction is described by the winged spirit herself as a “scorpion’s sting.” (Aeschylus, Fragment 85 Xantriae (from Photius, Lexicon 326. 22) (trans. Weir Smyth) ).

The madness I am referring to is Mania. The Greek word mania is related to the Greek word mainesthai, which means literally “to go mad.” Mania itself is considered to be a type of otherness that is bestowed by a Deity upon a vessel. Four types of mania (theia mania) were outlined by Plato in his Phaedrus:

1) Mantic Mania (Mediumship): Apollon

2) Telestic Mania (Ritual Trance): Dionysus

3) Poetic Mania (Musical Passion): Muses

4) Erotic Mania (Passion, Love): Aphrodite, Eros

In regards to mania, Plato wrote:

…our greatest blessing comes to us by way of mania, which indeed is a Divine Gift.

Shamanic Mania
Enthusiasmos – literally, having the God within you – was a state of intoxication in which Dionysus revealed Himself in such a manner that it was overwhelming. A Dionysian broke free from the societal norms of the time to enjoy a liberated life, and that taste of liberation continued even after the ritual state was over. A Manic Dionysian – for one cannot have the God without being Manic – was a prey by choice, hunted to the brink where his sanity was captured and brought down by the God. Sanity is the sacrificial offering that the God takes when He anoints you. Sanity is the balanced state of the Ego when the Self is attempting to harmonize with the Greater Community that the Self is a part of. It is attempting to reach self-actualization by identifying with the Community one is a part of. Humans, being primates, have evolved to be social creatures. In order to maintain that social order, we have developed complex rules of behavior and hierarchy. And, no matter how many rebellions occur or anarchic movements occur, inevitably we come back to our natural instinctual behavior of social rule.

But a Dionysian is a type of shaman who lives in miasmic territory. Miasma was considered impurity by the ancient Greeks, and many things were done to ensure that such impurity was always cleansed. But a Dionysian, based on my personal experience, lives in miasma. We’re rule breakers. We dwell in the tombs and caves. We wander about the lands, with sacred sex polluting the people. We’re not fit to be part of the social order. Why? Agents of chaos. We remind society of its ills, its forgotten people. Dionysus is nothing if not a God who takes the oppressed and empowers them. Women, bound to serve their fathers or husbands in a man-ruled society, left the confines of the polis and found refuge in the remote forests and mountains to experience the ekstasis of the Raving One. Liberation came not through wars or laws, but by the God within.

The Brain-Injured Blessing
My brain injury, as I said before, brought me a lot of weaknesses that keep me from being in pace with the world around me. People have to slow down for my sake in many ways. But, the brain injury also exacerbated my behavior on the Autism Spectrum: thus, when I speak to someone, I pay very close attention to their body language and nonverbal nuances. I also log discrepancies and contradictions in their speech and behavior, something that most people do everyday without awareness. The Mania that was bestowed upon me in this net of mental illness is that I am actually more sane than the rest of the world. Watching at a slower pace, I can pay more close attention the details that escape the observations of others in our increasingly fast-paced world. This condition has enlightened me to the depths of my core, shattering the notion of Self I was attempting to build up through my identity with my job and my friends rather than my identity with the God within. It is Dionysus who defines me – no one else. It is Dionysus who shapes me, molds me, and gives me the lens by which I can view the insanity of the world. People do the strangest things to achieve their lives: this is Lyssa in action. People are enraged, rabid and hostile, ready for conflict at anytime. I don’t move at society’s leisure; my whirlwind dance is in keeping with the cyclical rhythm of the Cosmos. But while I dance, I am not paying attention and knocking everything over into a sordid mess. But how can creation occur if destruction does not happen first?

The Manic Jester
I’ve often bemoaned the fact that I am a Heirophant and Kurios (High Priest and Guardian) of my Tradition, because I think a Dionysian Jester is absolutely the worst kind of leader in many respects. I don’t even follow my own rules half the time, because some things are changeable. I dispense advice to my members that I don’t even go by, because I live in a different dimension. But an Oracle, such as I am, ironically is of help in a manic state. Plato wrote of the Pythia that she was not helpful to anyone when she came to her senses; it was her induced mania – taking leave of her senses – when she was able to help out world events. It’s for this reason I can also be viewed as a trouble maker, because I just tend to have that personality clash with people who like a certain type of order to look at me and say, “Yep, you’ll be trouble.” Whether it’s self-inflicted or not, the end result is that trouble follows me. For many people who are in power positions, they view this kind of aura as antithetical to their visions. And, they would be right. However, it has been my experience that what people in power need is a Jester, an appointed Fool that will mock the hierarchy. That was the position of the Jester after all – to help the Powers that Be not take themselves so seriously, and point out the flaws in their otherwise self-centered egos.

Having a brain injury (and I can only speak for myself here) on the day of my accident conferred a type of spontaneous trance-like state that brought on a crisis in my life. Crisis, in Greek, has several meanings, including: selection, judgement, to be separated, to be decided upon, an election. The term is a legal one that spoke of a decision reached by a tribunal whose judgement would affect a person’s place within that society. It was usually used in the sense of a punishment and condemnation. But for a Dionysian, what society deems a punishment, I see as a gateway to enlightenment. The Fool, after all, is perhaps the one who is more at peace than everyone else.

I may not be able to walk with my community how others do. I may not be as fast in processing as everyone else. I may need to use communication and sentences, breaking them down into minute building blocks that may form a different message than the sender intended (or am I reading something hidden that shouldn’t be revealed?). But a krisis is exactly that – a separation unto the Lord of the Vineyard. A turning point when I become His Wine and Intoxicant. So many people think that Dionysian mania is rooted in being drunk and horny. Oh, my friend, if you only knew the real conveyance of the unction of the Bull-Horned Liberator.

Eirene kai Hugieia!
(Peace and Health!)
~Oracle~

 

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Return from Hiatus: Polytheist Leadership Conference and Other Goings-On

My model of Hekate

Hekate

Hi all,

This blog has been quiet for awhile, and I’d like to apologize to all of my readers for that. It’s been a tough few months for myself, both financially, spiritually, and physically. Just as a reminder, I suffer with a traumatic right brain injury and all of the side effects that come with it, including epilepsy. I was on one medication, but it seemed to have exacerbated some nasty stuff like vivid hallucinations. In addition, I had 2 or 3 episodes. So now I am weaning off of that one and starting on a new one. Taking both are currently affecting my energy levels, but still I intend to restart my blogging. I need to. Writing is my creative and cathartic outlet for many things, and also my way of remaining in touch with the goings-on of the blog-o-sphere. In addition, I get to share any major events happening in my side of the country as well as with my Temple.

For starters, the Summer Solstice came and went. It was magnificent. Our Temple honored Dionysus Dendritos and the Nymphai. The Solstice is significant in that it signals in our Calendar the end of the Bull Half of the Year and the start of the Wolf Half. That is, the Great Festivals give way from cultus to Dionysus to Hekate. Our Temple is named after Her, after all: Temple of Hekate: Ordo Sacra Strix. So I’ll be writing more about Hekate and how we at the Temple honor cultus to Her in forthcoming blogs.

Our Bomos during our Summer Solstice Festivities.

Our Bomos during our Summer Solstice Festivities.

Polytheist Leadership Conference
Now, as some of you may recall, I was trying to attend the Polytheist Leadership Conference which took place this past July 11 – 13. I missed out on it and told Sannion as such that I would. Sadly, I had other things to attend to. It would have wonderful had I been able to join this historic Inaugural setting, but I’ll work on ensuring that attend future conferences as best as I am able. In the meantime I have this blog. But from what I’ve been reading, it was excellent. You can read about the goings-on in the following areas:

Sannion doesn’t talk about any specific details of the Conference as of yet, but there are some tidbits in a question raised by someone following the Conference. You can read it here.

Galina Krasskova kept some continuous updates at her blog here. Just scroll down and take your pick, folks. There’s a lot to take in, as there should be. I’m jealous.

The Thracian will have some follow-ups coming along at his blog here.

PSLV (aka Lupus), as always, has detailed journalistic entries here. As with Galina’s, scroll down and take your pick. I’m salivating and very sad that I couldn’t attend. “Next time,” I keep telling myself. “Next time.”

Finally, Ruadhan McElroy pens some interesting experiences here and here.

I’m positive there are many more links and blogs talking about the Conference, but since these I follow I figure I’ll post them here. Like you all, I will be following in the days to come.

Impact
What are the ramifications from the Conference? What is it that we, as a people, are being asked to do? What have those who have gone and set themselves up as leaders of Polytheism planning to come forth with in the coming days, months and years? What are the plans for our respective Communities? Do we who did not attend agree on major points, or are there points to disagree on? Now, with the latter questions I tend to try and be careful on, because I’ve had my fair share of criticisms with people who are “armchair debaters.” They feel it is their task to not do anything at all while others do a lot of hard work. And then, they sit back and critique everything down to the last iota. Yet they never contributed anything. I’d hate to be viewed as one of those people, because I didn’t attend. But, we all have voices, and I take a small comfort in that my Work here with my Temple may be enough to let me have some allowance. I also consider myself pretty objective, yet passionate about my views. I don’t tend to take sides in debates very easily, but neither do I make the mistake of always seeing a “third road.” Sometimes the middle way is no way at all, and a side must be taken. Anyway, enough said. I say all of that to say this:

Lupus brought up something interesting, which I’ll quote some of it here. Hopefully it will not be taken out of context. For the full blog, please go here, where he posts a follow-up regarding the Thracian’s appearance on Wyrd Ways Radio. Here’s the issue/question/matter:

And the question is this: have we created a “polytheist echo chamber”? Despite our many disagreements, there is a great deal that we do agree on, and that we have found “unity” of purpose over as a result of all this. That’s a great and powerful thing, and in fact it’s the origin of the term “syncretism,” which I’m unsurprisingly in favor of heavily–!?!–and yet, Fox News is an echo chamber, and various other groups that are not looked on very charitably (with good reason!) are also echo chambers.

Are we at all in danger of becoming an echo chamber? While I don’t think so, realistically, I know that our newfound sense of common purpose and our enjoyment at having had such a great experience will likely prompt those of our critics who already find us distasteful and erroneous for various reasons to say that we’re only interested in our own opinions and hearing them agreed with and supported by like-minded folks. (And that makes us different to EVERYONE ELSE how, exactly?)

I’m beginning to move to the point of thinking that Wicca, Christianity, and all of these other things are perfectly fine for themselves, because they’re entirely different religions than our own. That is obvious, needless to say. I think that it might be more necessary, though, for us as modern polytheists to withdraw from the wider pagan community and umbrella in various ways because our religion and theological viewpoints are so vastly different to most of those, which will then allow us to preserve our autonomy and not be interfered with by their wishes for our conformity. If they can begin to see us as different religions, rather than as being under their umbrella, then there will be no reason for them to try and regulate our rhetoric, our practices, or anything else, in the same way that Hindus don’t do that and pagans don’t do it to Hindus, Buddhists don’t do that and pagans don’t do it to Buddhists, and some Christians don’t do that and pagans don’t (usually) do it to Christians, even though some of them do and would like to on both sides of that issue…

I don’t know…what do you all think?

Polytheist Religions
I don’t think there is any one simple response to this, as I don’t think there should be. What Lupus is asking is very relevant, and something that everyone should be careful of: the dreaded Group Think. Everyone starts to feel like they are so like-minded that suddenly the group becomes a place where ideas and innovations stagnate in the face of hardened dogma, and there lies a potential danger even for historically reconstructed Polytheist groups. Thankfully there are questioning Dionysians like myself who love nothing more than to enter an echo chamber and cause a little mayhem and chaos in order for people to see the systems which they have in place will always contain a flaw of some kind, and it’s necessary at times to ensure especially when Old Systems need to die for New Systems to arise. That’s just the cycle of energy: evolution and entropy. In my Temple, our teachings tend to illustrate this cycle between the Forces of Aphrodite and Ares: Love and Strife. In order for Creation to occur, Aphrodite brings forth Desire for the Four Elements to dance in rhythmic Harmony. This rhythmic Harmony is at the heart of all things. But lest matter implode upon itself, Ares must come forth and wield His weapon to separate the Elements into their pure states. However, by separating them into their pure states, destruction of matter occurs. It’s a constant flux and flow dance.

I say all of that to say this: I think there’s a flaw. Lupus groups all Polytheist religions beneath one umbrella in and of itself, when in reality that isn’t very simple. For example, taking the term by itself, Polytheism can be found among Christians and Wiccans. But I guess since most official denominations regard themselves as monotheist, perhaps we can’t include them? I don’t know. It seems weird that we ourselves (or perhaps me) can’t study some Christian denominations like Mormonism and Catholicism and say, “Yeah, despite what they say they are Polytheist.” I mean, we study other cultural faiths and do it all of the time. I don’t think Western religions should be exempt just because they try and say otherwise. Traditional Wicca, for the record, isn’t a religion. It’s a priesthood of initiates dedicated to specific tribal Gods and spirits of those Traditions. Neo-Wicca is a vastly different creature, but I don’t think I have space for that right now. I’m trying to focus on Lupus’ question, and giving an answer that I’m sure plenty will disagree with. Honestly, I’m okay with that! I really hope people do, because we need honest dialogue about these kinds of things. Now, while perhaps the vast majority (I’m guessing) of Polytheist-labeled faiths group themselves as “historically accurate,” there may be Temples and groups which will rise up and revive the worship of the Old Gods in their own way. There may not be any historical precedent for what they do, but they may claim to be Polytheist nonetheless.

As an example, many cults and groups of Sanatana Dharma (or what we Westerners call “Hinduism”) are considered more orthodox in their approach to the Vedas and other Scriptures. But there are cults and groups that fall under the umbrella of polytheism, henotheism, etc. within Hinduism and yet may not be considered “orthodox” by the majority. There may be gurus or saints that have their own revelations about the Gods, their own teachings about how they approach them, and so forth. (I need to stop here and say I honestly hope I am making sense and that I didn’t make a mistake in my insomnia to type this at 4am and it’s all gibberish). I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think rather than pull completely away from Neo-Paganism, we should find ways to have our own dialogues with our local Communities which may include Neo-Pagans. The problem I think is that Neo-Pagans have had a start since the 1960s, so inevitably now they are going to host gatherings under their label, whether large or small. But as Polytheist-labeled groups can start their own momentum, we need not exclude anyone. We can have our Conferences, Festivals and Workshops and be inclusive as well. We’re siblings anyway, worshiping the same or similar Gods but perhaps in vastly different ways. Not all Neo-Pagans are Deists, just as not all Polytheists are historically accurate. There are still some people, such as myself, who hold the label of a Neo-Pagan and a Polytheist. My Temple is labeled as Polytheist, however, because it’s important to distinguish that unlike the Neo-Wiccan groups in the area that are a venerable free-for-all, we carry structure, hierarchy and dogma. We even have our own set of sacred Scriptures that detail our own Mythology unique to our Temple. Thus, we are very different.

Getting Out from under the Umbrella
But just to make sure I’m saying something correct and not misreading, I agree with Lupus that insofar as the Greater Pagan Communities are concerned, there are organizations that tend to speak for the Communities as best as they are able (i.e. Pagan Pride, Cherry Hill Seminary, Circle Sanctuary, etc.), and they don’t speak for us. Or, speaking for myself, they don’t speak for me (I apologize to any Polytheist who enjoys those organizations and feels they do speak for them). We just need to be careful, I think, that again while having our own gatherings that we do not totally separate. It’s a precarious dance. Some of us, like I said, will walk in both worlds at the same time, being neither here nor there. Lupus in a blog entry described a brief presentation by the Thracian in which the latter spoke about regional cultus in modern polytheism. According to what I can gather (I’m sure more details will come later), the viewpoint that modern Polytheists can do is to look at different people, cults and Temples from how they worship Deities and if their approach to similar/same Deities are different, it’s because of regional variation. No one can speak for anyone. That’s how the ancient world practiced. We must keep in mind that Polytheism means plurality: a kaleidoscope worldview that makes room for many different universes and possibilities. For every fragment of the ancient world that has survived, perhaps hundreds are lost that we may never know of. We can never be truly sure how one person or group approaches the Gods is not an approved way. Neither can we speak for the Gods. Well, I can’t, short of blasphemy going on. Even though as an Oracle They choose to speak through me, I can’t just assume something. It doesn’t Work that way. I hate that.

Why All the Fuss?
If the aforementioned is true, then why all the fuss about rituals in Pagan Pride Day events? Why all of the kerfuffle when it comes to the differences between Polytheists and some Neo-Pagans? Here’s my honest answer, for what it’s worth: it’s because our ways are being questioned and threatened with exclusion, not the other way around. It’s because many Neo-Pagans desire Magick and to walk with the Gods, and yet when it’s in front of them, they fucking stomp on it because it doesn’t mesh with their semblance of reality. They only recognize it when they see pseudo-shamans who charge exorbitant amounts of cash for a weekend retreat to pound a few drums, paint their faces, find their Wolf/Bear/Eagle totem, and then suddenly they think they’re a fucking shaman. It’s because they don’t know the meaning of sacrifice – only reward. It’s because they think all rituals are the same, and everyone is the same, and we’re homogenized with them against our wishes. It’s because no one wants any controversy in the Pan-Pagan Movement. Traditional Wiccans get enough flack for being secretive and keeping their Mysteries to themselves. People want to come in, be a 3rd degree without any sincere training of what it means to touch the spirit world, and then claim a title without knowing just what that title entails. They see the gold tiara, not the thorns. They see the shiny fetishes as an excuse for their hoarding problem. They disrespect themselves, so how can they possibly respect the Unseen Powers they desire to know so much?

That’s why there is a fuss. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: we are different cultures, different tribes, different peoples. We’re not all the same, and that’s okay. We need to have:

Unification in Diversity!!!

Fuck. I missed a great Conference.

Eirene kai Hugieia!
(Peace and Health!)
~Oracle~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asterion: Star of the Labyrinth

The Star Within the Labyrinth

The Star Within the Labyrinth

The following is based upon a combination of research and personal gnosis.

The Starry Bull of Heaven.

The Sacred Moon-Child of the Moon and Sea.

Half-Bull, Half-Man, All Hero.

He is the Sacred King who sits within the center of the Labyrinth.

The Labyrinth: the spiral dance of the Sun Bull, the House of the Double-Axe, the fylfot womb which nurtured the Beloved Child. He is Taurus, the Starry Bull of the Equinox that marked the New Year. His sacrifice maintained the Law of Themis, the covenant  between the Deathless Ones and the mortal realm. His death was the expiation for the world to maintain its harmony. He is simultaneously father and son. He is the light that perpetually shines in the Underworld as He walks the veil above. He is Zagreus: the torn child whose seven separate limbs became the Seven Planets, His heart remaining to birth forth humanity. Order from Chaos.

He is the apotheosis of the Labyrinth mandala –  the place to which we all aspire to travel, and come forth back again. I desire for the Bull to eat and ravage me into pieces, for I desire rebirth into His world. I desire to be eaten, to be separated, and to be brought back together within His body. I desire to know the pain of omophagia that I might truly live in wonder, and behold the Starry world which is hidden from all but those courageous enough to walk the darkness of the spiral.

I am His sacrifice. I am His propitiation. I am His expiation. I am His and I am not my own.

I am the sweat of the stars made flesh. I am the incarnation of His form above. I am the spilled semen, the joy of His ejaculate, the ekstasis of His guttural cries, the bliss of His little death (or is He the bliss of mine?). Where does He begin and I end? Where do I end and He begins?

He is my Psychopomp, guiding my soul to reunion with the stars. As the light penetrates the entrance to the cavernous womb in Knossos, might He be its very manifestation, come to awaken us to Truth?

Awaken, awaken. Awake!

Eirene kai Hugieia!
(Peace and Health!)
~Oracle~

Oracle from Dionysus

The Sacred Bull of Crete

The Sacred Bull of Crete

Last night I performed a midnight devotional to Dionysus. I poured libations to the dead, blessed the wine, and began a sacred dance in my backyard to him. All I had on was a red scarf while I was nude, the wind and the stars witnessing my ode. Oh how I reveled in ekstasis! I danced my love, my worship, crying glossolalia. My body was His, IS His, and as I drank within the sacred precinct of my Temple-Not-Made-With-Hands, I became inexorably possessed:

I began to fall on my hands and knees, raved like a mad bull in heat, bellowed out gutteral ties. I was possessed! Oh yes, my sweet delicious Intoxicant bestowed His mercy and grace to come down and inhabit my body. I won’t go into the rest of the details, as they are extremely private, but an oracle did pour forth as I lay panting after seizing. Here it is, both the Vision and the Voice:

I saw His infant form torn apart, blood splattered with tendons, bones and meat everywhere. His ichor stained the earthen cave; you could smell the iron. When the white-chalk Titans had finished their course, the blast of a thousand million volts came and sizzled the very cavern. Where once lay the mighty, now they had fallen so low. Nothing but post-apocalyptic ash remained, mixing with the ichor of the God babe. It was then that I heard a voice,

“From my suffering, I gave you life.
From my blood, I gave you thought.
From Myself, came forth You,
In all your perfected Glory.
Your kind is My kind:
mortality, suffering, and death.
And so it was My joy to come among you long ago,
And bestow the salvation to your suffering –
Pleasure. Undeniable pleasure.
The grace of wine,
The nectar of sex,
The ambrosia of freedom,
The ointment of laughter,
The weapons of peace,
The promise of a shared concord with the Immortal Ones.
This was my Gift,
This was my Joy,
To teach you rites to touch the breath of the Mighty Ones.
To show you rituals whereby you may engage with the Shining Ones.
Indeed, it is within your nature to be violent, to suffer.
It is your doom that you share the flesh of the Strugglers.
And so it is your doom, too, that within you flows My blood.
This is the salvation you seek.
This is the purpose you long for.
It is not that evil shall be taken away,
But that you are given the choice to engage with Pleasure,
That with it, your suffering might me eased,
And your Memory, your Soul, shall be set free.
Set free…”

Dionysus and The Sacred Bull

Courtesy of http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/chauvet/venus_sorcerer.php

Cave painting from Chauvet Cave, France (c. 30,000 BCE). The Man-Bull and the vagina of the Woman.

The sanctity of the Bull as a symbol for the Sacred Masculine can be found as early as the Paleolithic cave paintings of Lascaux, Livernon and Chauvet in France. During the Bronze Age (4000 – 1700 BCE) the Spring Equinox occurred during the constellation Taurus due to the Precession of the Equinoxes[i]. Currently it occurs in the constellation Aries (the Sacred Ram). During the Age of Taurus the Myths of many cultures personified the life forces as a Bull that needed to be slain so that the Cosmos would continue. As a result, many cultures and religions celebrated their New Year on the Spring Equinox. The New Year would entail the sacrifice of an actual bull, reenacting the First Sacrifice that made the Cosmos possible, as everything that exists was said to be made from parts of the Bull. Cultures and religions that had these mythic motifs included the Persians, the Mesopotamians, the Minoans, Eastern Anatolia (where Phrygia was located), the Indus Valley, the Gaulish Celts, the Canaanites, and the Thracians. Interestingly, the Sacred Bull was also linked to the Goddess Hekate. In the Greek Magical Papyri, a collection of texts with spells and incantations dated from the 2nd century BCE – 5th century CE, Hekate is addressed in the Prayer to Selene as “O Night Bellower, Lover of Solitude, Bull-Faced and Bull-Headed One,” and “Bull-Eyed, Horned, Mother of Gods and Men.”

Dionysus and the Bull
Dionysus was also described as being “bull-horned.” In the Orphic Hymn to the God of the Triennial Feasts[ii], the hymnist writes, “I call upon you, blessed, many-named and frenzied Bacchos, bull-horned Nysian redeemer, god of the wine-press, conceived in fire.” Other hymns go on to say that He is “bull-faced.” Dionysus may have had origins in Crete, where the Sacred Bull was especially venerated. The Sacred Bull was linked to the symbolism of the Moon. A Zoroastrian prayer says that the “Moon is the Seed of the Bull.” Apis, an Egyptian God who is another form of the Sacred Bull, was illustrated with the Moon between his horns. Shiva is linked to the Sacred Bull, and drawings often show him with a Crescent Moon on His brow resembling horns. The Minoan Horns of Consecration sculpted to represent the horns of the Sacred Bull, I believe symbolize the powers of the Moon. The Egyptian God Ptah was said to incarnate as a black bull created by moonbeams. This connection of the Sacred Masculine to the Moon may be rather startling to find since many modern Pagans, familiar with Wicca, have come to symbolize the Moon as a solely female. As we are seeing, the ancient world was not so easily divided.

Photo courtesy of http://www.minoanatlantis.com/Minoan_Mirror_Web.php

Horns of Consecration (restored) in Knossos, Crete.

Minoan Sacred Bull
The Sacred Bull was particularly venerated in Crete, where representations of Sacred Bulls can be found everywhere. According to the Orphic Hymns, Dionysus was born in Crete. The name itself, Dionysus, was first found in Mycenaean fragments known as Linear B. The Linear B alphabet predates Greek by several centuries, and was found mostly in the Minoan capital city of Knossos. It is descended from the older Linear A alphabet spoken by the Minoans, and as of this writing remains undeciphered.  This language was formed after the language found in Linear A, confirming the Orphic Hymns that Dionysus may have originated from the Minoan Civilization. Or, perhaps an archetypal Deity like this has always existed in various forms in various cultures? What we do know is that in Minoan Crete He was given the name Zagreus, a title for a hunter who captured live animals. As Zagreus, He was identified as the Cretan Zeus. Carl Kerenyi[iii] stated that the title was rooted in Minoan Mythology.

Image Courtesy of http://www.andrewgough.co.uk/bee2_1.html

Bakkhoi women leading a bull to the altar.

The Sacrifice of the Bull
Rites depicting the Sacred Bull would always recreate the creation of the Cosmos and humanity by sacrificing a bull. The sacrificial death of the Sacred Bull was seen as a dismemberment of the God Himself. His flesh and blood, eaten by His worshippers, would be viewed as the God investing His very Presence into the bodies of His followers, granting them a portion of His Divinity (known as theophagy, or “God-Eating”). This omophagia (eating raw flesh) would ensure immortality. Such a sacrifice occurred among raucous festivals on the island of Crete every two years. At the height of the ritual when the Bull was killed, a basket would be held aloft showing the survival of the heart[iv]. In Orphic Myth, seven Titans sought to dismember the infant God. In order to escape, Dionysus shape-shifted into various animals, the last being a young Bull. They tore Him into seven pieces (diasparagmos) and ate His flesh. They were killed by Zeus, and the only surviving piece of flesh was His heart.

Cakes and Ale
The reenactment of the sacrifice of the God lives on today in the Cakes and Ale portion of many Pagan rituals, although many usually just see it as the “grounding” portion after performing a ceremony. Between the main part of the ritual and the end when announcements are made, Cakes and Ale are usually handled as a brief “snack break” that is there just because.  I wonder how many realize the significance of Cakes and Ale as the modern Pagan continuation of the ancient custom of the Sacrifice? To simply view the Cakes and Ale as a mere “add-on” in ritual removes the importance of the Cakes and Ale from its origins as the very embodiment of the Divine into humanity.  In ancient times the animals that were sacrificed were very often shared among the ritual participants. This was viewed as partaking of the essence of the God. This part of the ancient rituals was often the most important, because it symbolized the reciprocity between the Gods and mortals. The sacrifice itself was a gift of thanksgiving to the Gods so that Their essence was fed by hymns, prayers, worship and offerings. In turn, the Gods would bless the worshippers and renew their life force through the medium of the animal that was the God Incarnate. The cakes are the flesh of the God, and the ale is the blood of the God. What we have here is a return to our Classical Pagan roots in the Eucharist symbolism of the Cakes and Ale. In Roman Catholicism, the Eucharist (or Communion) is the belief that the wafer and wine literally become the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. This is merely a Christian adoption of what once was a Pagan ritual. In the third century CE, beneath St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican[v], a fresco of Jesus shows him with symbols from both Apollo and Dionysus. In this syncretic mosaic are written the words:

I am the True Vine.”

Dionysus
In our Temple, our religious calendar places the New Year celebrations to take place at the Full Moon closest to the Spring Equinox for a public celebration, and a more private celebration typically for Temple members only held during the Spring Equinox itself. The Sacrifice of the Bull is very important, as in so doing we are reweaving the energies throughout the land itself, and we are participating in the First Sacrifice. We are also remembering that it was by Sacrifice that humans were created: from the ashes of the Titans and the blood of Dionysus Zagreus. Thus, by blood and ash we are ever participating within ourselves the suffering of the sacrifice. Our lives are a gift from tragedy, something that a God had endured, but we were the result.

Ritual is Memory: it is reentering the Sacred Dance and Rites given to us by Dionysus. In ritual we touch the very core of our inner being, bringing forward from the past the power we need to engage the present and ensure the continued existence of the future. That’s what sacrifice is all about: legacy. A legacy built on a continuous gift exchange which was first bestowed upon us. And we have that opportunity to always return it to Them.

Thank you, Dionysus.

Eirene kai Hugieia!
(Peace and Health!)
~Oracle~

Footnotes and Sources:


[i] As the Earth revolves and rotates, it also “wobbles” like a spinning top. This wobble causes the constellation that the Spring Equinox occurs in to change. Because there are 12 constellations, it takes 2167 years (1/12) for the Spring Equinox to rise in each constellation. A complete rotation = 1 Platonic Year (26,000 years).

[ii] The Orphic Hymns translated by Apostolos N. Athanassakis.

[iii] Kerenyi, Carl. (1976). Dionysus: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life. UK: Princeton University Press.

[iv] Albinus, L. (2000). The House of Hades: Studies in Ancient Greek Eschatology. Aarhus, Denmark: Aarhus University Press.

[v] Morford, M.P.O., & Lenardon, R. (1999). Classical Mythology (6th Ed.).NY: Oxford University Press.

My Minoan God

Courtesy of http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/greece/crete/knossos/t.html

Ancient Cretan coin. (Left) Head of Pasiphae/Ariadne. (Right) Swastika Labyrinth with four crescents between arms, five pellets in center.

I happen to be an initiate Witch of the Minoan Brotherhood, a men’s Mystery Tradition for gay, bisexual and hetero-comfortable-with-their-sexuality-and-willing-to-engage-with-other-men-erotically men. (I know a mouthful. Get it? Mouth.Full.? Never mind). Being a Mystery Tradition, there isn’t much really I can share about the lore, but what I aim to do is to bring in the Dionysian aspect as I study about Dionysus Zagreus more in His role of Asterion, the Sacred Bull God of the ancient Minoans. Anything I share will already have been published in scholarly books, and the rest is pure guesswork and my own careful navigation of what I can share versus what I feel is very, very private. Sub rosa.

Courtesy of theoi.com

Europa taken by the White Bull

Asterion
Asterion (Gk. “Starry One”) was the name of two kings in ancient Crete, the island-nation that was the seat of the Minoan Civilization. Publicly, it is the also the name of the Bull-Horned Son of the Great Goddess Rhea. As my devotion towards Dionysus continues, I’ll be posting my personal thoughts and research on Asterion, and His connection to my beloved Intoxicant. Asterion was my first cult-image connection to the Raving One, and my spiritual path was all the better for it. He became more real, more sublime, and much more powerful than I could have ever known.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

(Roman Motif, 1st Century CE) Grapes being torn apart, much as Zagreus was also torn apart by the Titans.

Zagreus
Zagreus is another cult-image of Dionysus from Crete: the Divine Son of the Dread Queen and Zeus (although sources may differ on whether it was Sky Zeus or Hades). Zagreus is also another face of the Divine Son and Mother motif as recorded from Alkmeonis, an early Greek epic that is now lost, with only fragments quoted here and there. Dating from about the sixth century BCE (about the time when Pythagoras was born), a prayer goes:

“To Mistress Earth and Zagreus who art above all the other Gods.”
(~Alkmeonis)

I’ll be exploring these and other Mysteries during the upcoming week. Maybe longer or shorter, depending on the Serpent-Crowned God Himself and what He wants. Either way, this should be of interest. If to no one else then to at least me.

Eirene kai Hugieia!
(Peace and Health!)~Oracle~

Preparing the Vine

Vitis Vinifera: the vine of Dionysus.

Vitis Vinifera: the vine of Dionysus.

I have of things to think about and to write my thoughts on here. Thank the Gods for blogging and social networking! A lot of times I need some sort of creative outlet to express myself unhindered, even if it can be rather crude. Having a right-brain injury has affected how I used to be and how I am now. So many times the only outlet I have is writing, which is good considering that I’m not usually as crude as I have been in a couple of blog posts. But moving past that…

A few days ago, just before our Temple celebrated the Rite to Hestia, Dionysus came a’knocking and instructed me to begin an intense devotional with him that will last 3 lunar cycles. I have absolutely no idea what is in store, if anything. But I plan on sharing some of my experiences and thoughts throughout this process.  I’ve done it before with Hekate, and the gnosis achieved was beyond intense. The subsequent revelations and Visions I received led me to the path I am now, and to the establishment of the Ophic Strix Mysteries.

In any case, I know I can expect one thing: change. Change for my own good, whatever that may entail. As I write about (some of) my experiences and thoughts, I hope to spur others to worship the Gods. Because sometimes, while venting can be an outlet, a lot of arguing accomplishes nothing. Especially if that arguing is not backed up by actually doing any work. I mean, hell, that’s all anyone complains about when it comes to politics! And while I think there is a time and place for debate, there is also a time when we need to center ourselves and commit to the kind of Work we proclaim to do.

I know for myself one of the things which Dionysus has done is take away my craving for meat. I am a proud omnivore, glad to fill my face with steak cuts of any kind! But when He began to impel this kind of Working upon me, I began to notice that I wasn’t craving meat, chicken or seafood. And…I was okay with that. This is very different from when Hekate asked me to go on a temporary fast for Her. She didn’t ease anything at all! Ugh! *blows a kiss to the Bitch’s altar* I love you, Momma! Hehe.

Anyway, off I go. Time for some pruning and shearing. Time for some preparation. Oh, sacred God, let me be intoxicated with Your love!

Eirene kai Hugieia!
(Peace and Health!)
~Oracle~