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~

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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~