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Anthesteria Day 2: short notes

Just could not get into a mixed melancholy and joyful mood. As weird as it seems, I think I was too productive to get into the right mood (lots of studying for my personal insurance test on Friday, choreography work) but I did settle down to do a decent ritual.

I love, love, love doing a silent ritual though. It never fails to feel both somber and expecting. How glorious for the god the comes!

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Anthesteria day 1

really, my only note on this is that I’m fairly certain that when this wine was given to my brother, they probably weren’t thinking that it wasn’t going to be used as part of a Dionysian festival.

But it was! And it was grand.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Pagan Blog Project: Ephemeral

As I mentioned in yesterdays post, I spent the time since last Friday helping my husband through the death of his grandmother. The funeral was Thursday, and very Catholic. It was actually my first Catholic Mass since they changed up the liturgy, and it was a little disorientation. Things I have known by heart since childhood have changed and while some weren’t hard (Nicene Creed was interesting to read) others would have tripped my tongue, if I had been responding (And with your spirit? I love the change, but boy, that would be hard!)

Already, what’s with all the Catholicism here, this is a pagan blog prompt. A few things, since I’ve gained a few new readers since I started the Blog Project; 1; I not only grew up Catholic, my oldest brother is a Catholic Priest, and I married into another family that is heavily Catholic and 2; growing up that way has impressed itself on my idea of ritual. I like smells, bells, and a little formality. I’m comfortable with Mystery and eating gods.

But it really impressed upon me just how ephemeral ritual, language, personhood and humanity is. One of my favorite bits of literature is from Ptolemy, “I know that I am mortal and the creature of a day; but when I search out the massed wheeling circles of the stars, my feet no longer touch the earth, but, side by side with Zeus himself, I take my fill of ambrosia, the food of the gods.”

One of the great aims of Mysticism is to give an idea of immortality to we mere mortals, and eat with (or you know, of…) the gods, and to give a little substance to our ephemeral natures.

When my mental Mass tripped over Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, and realizing just how old and young the phrasing is at once, I was struck again by just how wondrous it is that we keep reaching towards our gods, keep wanting both embrace and transcend our mortality.

Tomorrow begins Anthesteria, which is quite possibly the very best of Hellenic festivals: opening wine, the joy of life,  the worst pains of life, and when the spirits of the dead walk. In Anthesteria’s three days, we experience Dionysos in his complexity.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Pagan Blog Project: Dionysos part 2: The Ecstasy

Dionysos
or, reflections while I drink

Dionysos finds his Maenads among women who can’t stand any longer being locked into the domestic enclosure.
~Pagan Grace, Ginette Paris

So last week was all about the dangers of Dionysos: how he isn’t soft and safe. But now, you need to know why it’s worth it.

For those of you who don’t know me outside of blogging, I’m a contradiction myself. I’m a hyperactive introvert, socially awkward and fundamentally nervous about embarrassing myself. I’m also a performer, opinionated person who tries to live by the motto: What Would Mister Rogers Do?

The thing is, I have to break out of myself to perform.  When I was a kid, and I was a choir girl, this was easier, because it was a group thing most of the time. But now, it’s hard. I dance by myself most of the time, and it isn’t nearly as anonymous as performing used to be.

And that’s Dionysos for me: the enabler and liberator, who allows me to access the parts of myself that I would not otherwise. Because of my repeated rituals, where I struggle (yeah, struggle) to enter a trance state, I’m also able to get outside of myself enough to dance in front of people.

I think it’s a pretty mundane example of the type of liberation that Dionysos can offer. Real liberation isn’t the bombastic; it’s the ability to choose and discern and see your freedom, even when your situation is limited.

If Apollo is the kind of god who sheds light and illuminates the world, Dionysos is the fucking god that gives life to the world.

Dionysos is the god of the held breath, expectant and waiting for the next.

Dionysos is the god of the wild forest, of the wildlife creeping into the cityscape, pushing through cracks in the sidewalk, the weeds in the cultured suburban lawn. He will always take root, starting in the marginalized spaces: is there any wonder that he is lauded amongst the women, and coded as queer?

I think we take for granted the popular perception of Dionysos: as the drunkard, the partier, the oversexed god, reclining on a couch, fat and sated. This, the god of the aftermath is my god, too, but he is not the god who comes.

Okay, I am still the worst Dionysian ever. I’m drinking, sure. There’s a reason I didn’t talk about alcohol during this: I’m not much of a drinker. If wine exposes hidden truths, then my hidden truth is that I’m exhausted. Worst Dionysian Ever.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Pagan Blog Project: Dionysos part 1: The Agony

Welcome to week one of the D’s. And I decided that I’m going to write about the same thing for both weeks. Of course. Hi, my name is Nuri and I’m a Dionysian. I’m a little god-proud. This is not a perfect essay by any means, so feel free to argue in the comments.

Dionysos: The Agony

So, my notes for this entry start off with “Fuck it, Dionysos is dangerous”.  and I mean it, he really really is.

What I want to do with this two-part entry is provide an introduction to Dionysos via a basic duality: Agony and Ecstasy. There is of course, a lot in between but it’s a start. So, again, fuck it, Dionysos is dangerous. To really honor Dionysos you have to bring madness in your life and let go of the structures that you have understood to be true for your entire life.

On a surface level, this just sounds awesome. I’ll be free from everything that’s kept me down my entire life. Some might realize that this also means that everything that supports you can be broken down too. If you can’t manage this, well, there’s a reason Dionysos is the god of madness. I’ve often wondered if the rate of depression is higher than the average in Dionysians, during the times when that breakdown isn’t managed well. Would be interesting.

Dionysos is the breaker of bonds, yes, but freedom from bonds isn’t the freedom to do whatever you want. What happens isn’t utopia, because you are left with an enormous responsibility: You have to replace the restrictions, the rules and your boundaries. It’s freedom, yes, but it’s a terrible type. Dionysos takes your worldview and breaks it into little pieces. If you can’t rebuild it…well, it can be enough to find the darker side of Dionysos’s madness.

Dionysos does not shy away from taking people past the brink; he’s been there himself. When Hera finds the young God, he goes mad (somehow) and wanders across Greece, Egypt, Syria, and all the way to India. Along the way with his throng of followers,  he teaches his ways: cultivation of vines and wine, creating villages and meeting people, and being cured of his madness by Kybele or Rhea, depending on the myth. Those who saw Dionysos for who he is and his divinity were blessed, and the Kings and sailors who didn’t, who not just didn’t honor him but denied him, were driven past that point, and none more famous than Pentheus.

Dionysos does not just punish Pentheus for his transgression, he does so by sending his mother to madness, and she tears her own son apart. Pentheus was terrified of the mad women, and is killed in what has to be the most offensive way possible to him.

And you can be careful, you can have the best of intentions and still struggle and hedge on just this side of madness. Here’s my own story.

My interest in Dionysos had been pretty strong since I started in Hellenic Paganism, but it was still mostly academic and mostly one-sided. Until I slipped into a near-trance like state in the bathtub, and when I came out it took hours to get into a state where I was able to coherent, and days to recover from a depressive funk. Turns out, ecstasy turns to agony quickly when you aren’t prepared for it. As academically interested I was, I was not prepared to have the support beams knocked out. In many ways, I’m still recovering from that single experience, and if I hadn’t had other structures to cling to (schoolwork and going to classes is calming) and to help me build back up,  I don’t know if I would be able to figure this out now.

But I have found this experience worth it. Dionysos is dangerous, but so many good and worthy things are.

Next week? The Ecstasy, and possibly the reasoning of why I am the worst Dionysian ever.

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Pagan Blog Project: Building and Bromios

Building

Yep, I’m cheating on this one. Building, why building? In the way I’m thinking of it, it’s not the physical building at all, but the metaphorical action. I am building relationships with gods and with mortals, I am building new skills and laying them upon my foundation.

Hellenics have a concept of arete, or excellence. You really can’t do that without a commitment to building. If you seek excellence in what your word and actions, you start with very little  and build as you go. I’m learning how to weight lift, and I’ll probably soon turn it into a devotional activity (build a ritual around it), and I started not even able to deadlift the bar. A few months later, and I’ve hit my first milestone, getting over a hundred pounds.

It’s the same when you devote yourself to a religion, to gods, or whatever mix. You start with whatever you have and just keep going.

Bromios

Just another epithet of Dionysos….what, you thought I’d go into Bacchus already? That can wait until we hit the D’s. This one means loud, boisterous — and often relating to thunder. As the son of Zeus, this is appropriate with multiple layers of meaning.

Now, I’m the worst Dionysian ever — but friends keep telling me that parties, a true outpouring of the Dionysian spirit, are pretty loud and boisterous. And drumbeats over a large  space sound very much like a good thundering.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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I will come with the brights of their eyes…

My radio silence has been purposeful. A few weeks ago, I took time to have a real in-depth ritual, not just an offering, for Dionysos. I haven’t had a huge need lately, like our relationship had reached a point where contact wasn’t needed on the level it was before.

Gods come and go, so I didn’t consider this a bad thing. But I think this ritual was really needed for our god-mortal relationship. So I pushed my boundaries; I stayed up late, I drank, then cleansed myself both physically and mentally and approached my altar.

I don’t really like to talk much about what I do during ritual, because while I start off with a traditional Hellenic structure (I love the traditional structure, because it is very much like what I grew up with in the Catholic Church, and so I gravitate towards it naturally now), the content really will vary. I offer to Hestia as I light my candles and incense, pour wine for Dionysos and open with prayer.  Then dancing, as much as I can stand, enough to link my mind and body together, which ends with communion with Dionysos.

I have a hard time expressing the emotional intensity and just what happens during the moments of communion and experience, and I think that’s really the point. You have to experience it for yourself to really understand why I do it and why I follow this god.

I do however, want to share one of the concepts I got out of that ritual. One thing I really struggle with is that I’m not an outgoing person; not a drinker; not the sort of person you’d think of when you’d picture a Dionysos devotee. I’m a homebody and while utterly delightful, in truth, a little awkward. But the concept I got was to inspire within others, facilitate within others, what I cannot be myself.

Maybe that’s my work to do; prepare the way, make things ready and such so that others can experience the joy of my god. Even if they don’t believe, people like a party.

I’ve also been silent because we had a very intense scare with my mother. She was in ICU for two days after not being able to breathe and congestive heart failure, and spent a week on the general heart floor, getting tests done. They just wouldn’t let her leave, her blood pressure kept spiking. I spent the first weekend up with them, helping manage my brother and visiting mom. I’ll probably go back next weekend too.  They found a 90% blockage in her heart, in the area usually called the Widowmaker (cheerfully relayed via text message by my dad, as he was giving us updates. There is always time for trivia in my family),  and put in a stent. She’s home now, but has to make serious changes, ones that didn’t stick when she first was diagnosed with diabetes.

I hope it really hit home for my middle brother as well, as he is rapidly on the same path as my mother. We were all scared, and it really reinforced why I work out, why I watch what I eat, because in our family, weight and health are connected. I’m a firm believer in health at every size, but also know what is good for my own health.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Vineyard of Dionysus

The Vineyard Of Dionysus
by Vyacheslav Ivanovich Ivanov

 

Dionysus walks his vineyard, his beloved;
Two women in dark clothing – two vintagers – follow him.
Dionysus tells the two mournful guards – The vintagers:
“Take your sharp knife, my vintners, Grief and Torment;
Harvest, Grief and Torment, my beloved grapes!
Gather the blood of scarlet bunches, the tears of my golden clusters –
Take the victim of bliss to the whetstone of grief,
The purple of suffering to the whetstone of bliss;
Pour the fervent liquid of scarlet delights into my ardent Grail!”

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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A short burst of Maenad Activity

The bathtub continues to be a place of inspiration. A few entries ago I mentioned that I haven’t felt Dionysos lately. Well, yup, that’s changed. If someone can explain to me why periods of Maenadic Activity happen while I am bathing, I will be forever thankful, because that’s just weird to me. Sort of. I think the naked helps.

I can’t remember all that came out of my mouth as I acted, but here is the bit that stuck with me afterwards.

He does not care if you are pretty,
nor if you are vulgar.
All women are made beautiful when called by the madness.

So take that, unedited and unrefined, as you will.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Coming and Going

“This is what I believe: That I am I. That my soul is a dark forest. That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest. That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back. That I must have the courage to let them come and go. That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women. There is my creed.”
DH Lawrence

I need to admit it, I haven’t been feeling or hearing from Dionysos lately. Even though I am having really good dance practice, which is my usual devotional practice for him, I think I have entered a time where he has gone from my dark forest. And it is hard to have that courage to not rant and rave at this. I mean, I know I have a stronger and more aware connection during the winter and dark months, and that’s why this summer has felt a little low, but it always feels like a profound loss.

At the same time, Hestia has been really strong over the past couple of months. I’ve really been growing into her domestic cult, into making a house a home. I’ve expanded my skills! Added new dishes to my cooking, getting into cleaning and organizing, supporting my husband, embracing simplicity. The hearth is strong and my relationships are strong. This little fledging practice of mine is truly blossoming.

And I think, as the seasons turn, this too will provide a platform for a deepening and different experience of Dionysos, who calls the women out of their domesticity to revel and partake of the wine and his mysteries.

I am truly blessed to have heard and accepted with courage these two gods, the cornerstones of my life.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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