The purple-clad prince rose
like a goat capering gaily down the slopes
of the golgothean mount,
dripping and trembling, he was brought up from the river
by the hand of the baptizer clad in animal pelts,
face smeared with pale clay and Kronian trinkets hanging off him,
jangling in the wind.
The man howled like one swollen with wine and rushed raging into the desert wilderness,
chased by the ghostly hooves of the circuit-riding judge who tests the heart in flames.
He offered him the world – all he had to do in return was bend the knee.
Instead the man chose to swing from the lunatic tree
in order to give the souls below crowns of flowers
and wine as their fortunate reward.
He staggered out of the frigid maze,
aflame for the bull-horned lord of the double door
and the dove-maiden held out a bunch of plump grapes
in her bone-white hands and beckoned him to eat, to rejoice.
The purple-clad prince rose
I was just reading this passage from Lactantius Placidus:
Having seen Medea expel Aeson’s old age with her medicines, Father Liber asked her to help his nurses in the same way and lead them back to youthful vigor. Driven by his authority, by the medicines she had used on Aeson, she restored them to the first fruits of youth. She gave Liber an everlasting favor. (Narrationes fabularum ovidianarum 7.3)
Then I checked my Feedly and saw this post by Galina:
Today, I’m offering conjure bath powder (it’s purpose is to relax and, as I was taught, “beautify.” It’s a step away from the foundation for a lovely glamour. :) This bath is soothing and quite nice simply as a bath. (I made a batch as a gift for a friend and decided to try some myself and ooh, it was quite pleasant and relaxing).
the Insane Ones,
the Nurses and the Furious Ones,
the Poets and Prophets,
the Initiates and the Bakchoi.
These are a few of his favorite things.
Who would you cast in The Bakchai?
My choices change all the time, but right now I would say:
DIONYSOS: Joaquin Phoenix
What sort of trick,
if I want to save you in my own way?
To the gods we mortals are all ignorant.
Those old traditions from our ancestors,
the ones we’ve had as long as time itself,
no argument will ever overthrow,
in spite of subtleties sharp minds invent.
Will someone say I disrespect old age,
if I intend to dance with ivy on my head?
Not so, for the god makes no distinctions—
whether the dancing is for young or old.
He wants to gather honours from us all,
to be praised communally, without division.
KADMOS: Udo Kier
My dearest friend,
I was inside the house. I heard your voice.
I recognized it—the voice of a man truly wise.
So I’ve come equipped with all this god stuff.
We must sing his praise, as much as we can,
for this Dionysos, well, he’s my daughter’s child.
Now he’s revealed himself a god to men.
Where must I go and dance? Where do I get
to move my feet and shake my old gray head?
You must guide me, Tiresias, one old man
leading another, for you’re the expert here.
Oh, I’ll never tire of waving this thyrsos,
day and night, striking the ground. What rapture!
Now we can forget that we’re old men.
PENTHEUS: Antonio Banderas
Again you fluently evade my question,
saying nothing whatsoever.
AGAVE: Monica Bellucci
Why such scowling eyes?
How sorrowful and solemn old men become.
As for my son, I hope he’s a fine hunter,
who copies his mother’s hunting style,
when he rides out with young men of Thebes
chasing after creatures in the wild.
The only thing he seems capable of doing
is fighting with the gods. It’s up to you,
father, to reprimand him for it.
Who’ll call him here into my sight,
so he can see my good luck for himself?
FIRST MESSENGER (a cattle herder): Elijah Wood
The entire mountain and its wild animals
were, like them, in one Bacchic ecstasy.
As these women moved, they made all things dance.
Agave, by chance, was dancing close to me.
Leaving the ambush where I’d been concealed,
I jumped out, hoping to grab hold of her.
But she screamed out, “Oh, my quick hounds,
men are hunting us. Come, follow me.
Come on, armed with that thyrsos in your hand.”
We ran off, and so escaped being torn apart.
SECOND MESSENGER (an attendant on Pentheus):
That you may be forgiven, but to cry
aloud with joy when such disasters come,
women, that’s not something you should do.
John Halstead did a very brave thing:
I stayed there for a little while, soaking in the feeling. And then I got up an went home. The houses still seemed strange to me. Unreal. The grass seemed artificial. Nothing had changed, except me. I had changed. I was healed a little bit. It’s the strangest thing. If anyone had seen me, they would have thought me insane, but it was the most sane thing I had done for weeks. I wondered what other true places my neighborhood might hide, waiting for me to discover them.
Everyone should go give John a hug and tell him, “So what if those people think you’re insane; we think you’re swell!”
Here is the report from the Weather Chanel:
Winter Storm Dion, the fourth named winter storm of the 2013-14 season, will result in more snow and ice for some of the same areas impacted by Winter Storm Cleon.
Dion initially will produce snow in the West through Saturday.
From there, Dion will then spread snow and ice from the Plains to the mid-Mississippi Valley, Ohio Valley, Middle Atlantic and Northeast Sunday into Monday.
Dion will push across Northern California, Oregon and Nevada through Friday night into early Saturday.
Since cold air is already in place, snow will fall at low elevations across these states. In fact, accumulating snow has been reported all the way to sea level along the coast of Oregon in the town of Newport. Many cities along the I-5 corridor in western Oregon have also seen accumulating snow, including Portland, Corvallis and Medford. Up to nine inches was reported in Corvallis as of Friday afternoon.
On Sunday, December 8th 2013 the Lizard King would have been 70 years old.
Instead he died one year shy of Osiris.
Here are some quotes from the great man:
People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that’s bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they’re afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they’re wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It’s all in how you carry it. That’s what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.
I like people who shake other people up and make them feel uncomfortable.
Listen, real poetry doesn’t say anything; it just ticks off the possibilities. Opens all doors. You can walk through anyone that suits you.
That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is. Most people love you for who you pretend to be. To keep their love, you keep pretending – performing. You get to love your pretence. It’s true, we’re locked in an image, an act – and the sad thing is, people get so used to their image, they grow attached to their masks. They love their chains. They forget all about who they really are. And if you try to remind them, they hate you for it, they feel like you’re trying to steal their most precious possession.
The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.
I see myself as an intelligent, sensitive human, with the soul of a clown which forces me to blow it at the most important moments.
I’ve noticed that when people are joking they’re usually dead serious, and when they’re serious, they’re usually pretty funny.
Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.
Hatred is a very underestimated emotion.
I think the highest and lowest points are the important ones. Anything else is just…in between.
Where’s your will to be weird?
The future is uncertain but the end is always near.
It may have been in pieces, but I gave you the best of me.
People fear death even more than pain. It’s strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death. At the point of death, the pain is over. Yeah, I guess it is a friend.
No one here gets out alive.
Break on through to the other side.
Since it’s the fourth of the lunar month, the day I traditionally set aside to honor Hermes, I’m going to begin working on some magical charms to bring about lusis kakōn or a release from evils. I’m going to collect a bunch of appropriately sized rocks (a nod to the treatise Lithoi which discusses the esoteric properties of stones and circulated in antiquity under the name of Orpheus) from the shores of the thrice-holy Willamette river and soak them in a bowl of consecrated and blessed wine overnight on my Dionysos shrine. Then tomorrow I’ll inscribe them with this passage from Homer which was often used in ancient Greek magical workings to alleviate suffering and anxiety:
ἔνθ᾽ αὖτ᾽ ἄλλ᾽ ἐνόησ᾽ Ἑλένη Διὸς ἐκγεγαυῖα:
αὐτίκ᾽ ἄρ᾽ εἰς οἶνον βάλε φάρμακον, ἔνθεν ἔπινον,
νηπενθές τ᾽ ἄχολόν τε, κακῶν ἐπίληθον ἁπάντων.
Then I’m going to wrap them in yarn from the ball that I discovered waiting for me outside my apartment after a particularly intense journeying I did with Ariadne and Spider on the hero-feast of Jim Morrison. The yarn is seafoam green so wouldn’t necessarily be my first choice for this, but on the other hand how I came by it and the associations it has as a result are too good to pass up. (Plus the seafoam is a nod to Aphrodite and she’s very good at soothing sorrows.) As I wind the thread around the stone I will intone nine healing epithets of Dionysos over it to give it added potency.
If you’re interested in acquiring one of these contact me at email@example.com. I’m offering them for $25 a piece plus an English translation of the Homeric passage so you can use it for meditative or magical purposes.
So last night I discussed modifying my practices to bring them more into line with the Hellenic polytheist mainstream. Not only do the majority of people either perform the deipnon as an act of charity or approve of others doing so but this stance is advocated by people in leadership positions within Neokoroi, Hellenion and Elaion and there is even a philanthropic organization founded with this specific goal in mind.
Everyone applauds their efforts – and yet when I do the very same thing I get censured.
It’s not easy being Sannion sometimes.
Of course the reason for that censure is because I’ve argued in the past that performing the deipnon in such a fashion is a dangerous and immoral act.
I came to this belief after reading the relevant texts and their ancient and modern commentaries – but in the end all that that is is a belief.
As the majority of pagans will tell you, having a strong emphasis on belief is a holdover from Christianity. Why, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone define Hellenismos as orthopraxic (doing things in the correct manner) as opposed to orthodox (holding right beliefs) then I’d have a whole bunch of dollars to give to the homeless along with Hekate’s deipnon!
More to the point, the humanists are always telling us theists that we need to have more respect for science. Well, I ask you friends, what could be more scientific than withholding judgment until the proper experimentation has been done and the results methodically analyzed?
I’m not going to go around telling Hellenic polytheists that they are wrong for making homeless people lawful prey to frightening and vengeful spiritual entities until I know that that is actually the case.
Therefore the only logical course of action is to find out through direct experimentation. It would be irresponsible not to.
Tonight I carried some bread and honey and garlic and a little baggy with the sweepings from my home to the park and when a homeless person approached me asking for a smoke I said, “You look hungry, my good fellow. I have here a supper of Hekate, which is traditionally left at the crossroads on this, her holy night.”
I extended my hands and waited for him to happily take the offerings. I then dug out a five dollar bill and gave it to him.
As I was walking away I could hear the baying of hounds in the distance. A chill went down my spine.
I totally see why mainstream Hellenic polytheists do this now.
“When you let go of your hand, the tambourine starts playing, when you let go of your voice, the song starts singing; and when you let go of your body the pizzica starts dancing.” – a teacher in the Salento, as quoted by Karen Lüdtke
Ecstasis in Healing: Practices in Southern Italy and Greece from Antiquity to the Present by Andromache Karanika
Issues of both sexual suppression and liberation are not to be ignored in any interpretation of tarantism. That women are the predominant “victims” of the tarantula has led I. M. Lewis to speak of a “feminist sub-culture.” The peculiarity of women’s social and sexual status also seemed to be the case in ancient instances of cultic madness, particularly of the Dionysian variety. In most of the mythological examples we know, we have women who are either concerned about future marriage, therefore in their teenage years, or are older, and thus their active role is slowly fading away. [Footnote Twelve: For more details on this matter, see Ross S. Kraemer, “Ecstasy and Possession: The Attraction of Women to the Cult of Dionysus,” Harvard Theological Review 72 (1979), 78–79. When discussing the mythology of the daughters of Minyas who refuse to worship Dionysus, he notes that “they are roughly at the age of puberty and anticipating a major socio-biological change from girlhood to womanhood.” By considering the example of Agave and her sisters who are older, he writes that “it seems possible to suggest that women whose socio-biological status is in a situation of flux of uncertainty are more vulnerable to peripheral possession and more in need of its therapeutic advantage than are women whose social status is relatively assured.”]
The songs with which the woman invokes the saint:
Santu Paulu miu de le tarante
Pizzichi le caruse a mmienzu all’ anche
Santu Paulu miu de li scursuni
Pizzichi li carusi a li cujuni
(My St. Paul of the tarantate
who pricks the girls in their genitals,
my St. Paul of the serpents
who pricks the boys in their testicles)
The character is intensely erotic. It is, then, only legitimate to see that earlier cults, pagan in origin, have been accommodated within the local Christian cults. The erotic frame is clearly noted in all the songs used by the tarantati/e. In some songs it tends to be more graphic while in others the intense religious voice is equated with the passion of the devoted to the saint, as is the case in the following song performed by a woman:
Santu Paulu veni mo’
Santu Paulu veni qua
Tene ferme le mie catene
Ma nu abbandunare.
(Saint Paul come to me,
hold tightly my chains,
do not leave me.)
The same song continues with the woman’s desire for exclusivity with the god:
Santu Paulu resta qua
Nella mia casetta insieme imu restar . . .
Santu Paulu veni qua
Cu la manu benedetta mi devi de sanar
Santu Paulu veni qua
E damme la mia vita ca ieu te deu lu cor!
Santu Paulu veni qua cerca la Caterina e nu me abbandunar!
(St. Paul stay here,
in my little house stay with me . . .
St. Paul give me the cure with your healing hand.
St. Paul come here
and give me my life as I give you my heart.
St Paul come here, look for Caterina and never leave me.)
These simple songs form an intense prayer. The women seek appropriation of the saint to whom the desired cure is directed. The content of their songs justifies the name given by the locals to these women, which is precisely how they see themselves, as spose di San Paolo (brides of St. Paul). The dance performance reveals a latent sexual content as it follows the progress of a wedding ceremony.
Intense preparation is followed by a moment of absolute self-giving to the god, and finally exhaustion after the demanding performance. The climax of the performance is not the musical part, nor the dance performance per se, it is the moment of complete giving up of one’s senses, after the task of “purification” and healing has been completed. The real climax is the moment of self-rendering with a complete trust to the divine. When the tarantato/a lies down, he/she resembles patients in Antiquity waiting for the cure in incubation. The main difference is that the recurrence of tarantism and the social and psychological sides interwoven therein makes us wonder to what extent one really wants a cure.
It seems from most accounts that the real goal is to remain in complete union with the divine. The account of a tarantata called Maria is very revealing in this regard, and most accounts consider hers to be a representative example. She was a tormented teenager who fell in love with someone who did not return her love. One day she felt she was “bitten” by a spider and wanted helplessly to dance. The story becomes more complicated as another woman attempted to have Maria married off to her son. The proposal was not very appealing to Maria, and in her endeavor to gain time she collected money to pay for the musicians’ cure. The would-be mother-in-law, together with her son, abducted Maria. After some time she claims to have seen both St. Peter and St. Paul, as she was walking, who asked her to follow them. She started wandering around the fields and danced incessantly.
Such an incident is typical of the sorts of relationships and the psychology involved in tarantism. The conception of unity with the saint alludes to the Dionysian past and the role of the maenads in religion and in everyday life. It also alludes to the relationship between mortals and gods in antiquity as it was expressed in the gods’ cult. The state of maenadism did not consist of a permanent situation but rather was a periodic and recurrent phenomenon that did not demand any further participation in the Dionysian cult. Evidence from the Bacchic revels, involving both men and women, that caused a scandal in 186 B.C. in Rome has not only helped us understand some of the aspects of the cult, but has also been greatly misleading.
The maenads of Magna Graecia survive in artistic representations on vases from southern Italy. One of the most significant sources, however, is a fragment of Aristoxenus of Tarentum from the mid-fourth century B.C. who gives information about the performance of women from Rhegium and Locri Epizephyrii.
He describes how women suddenly are overcome by ecstasis, while in the midst of dining or some other activity. The symptoms seemed to be of the same periodic, non-permanent type proper to tarantism today. They are not strictly related to a Dionysian cult or ritual maenadism as we know it from other extant sources, but a maenadic ambiance might be assumed. What is more interesting is the origin of the cure that was prescribed by the Delphic oracle. As Henrichs remarks,
The cure prescribed by the Delphic oracle consisted in the singing of paeans during spring-time. The mysterious voice which unbalanced the women, and their sudden and agitated escape from their normal way of life, highlighted by the “Bacchic verb” “jump,” have close parallels in Euripides’ Bacchant Women, 1078–1094. The delphic cure is similar to the homeopathic treatment which the Proetids received from the prophet Melampus.
Dodds, in his influential study of the “irrational” in ancient Greece, distinguishes among four different types of madness: prophetic madness associated with Apollo; telestic or ritual madness associated with Dionysus; poetic madness inspired by the Muses, and erotic madness induced by Aphrodite and Dionysus. In a sense, the kind of ecstatic dance performance that has been attested to in southern Italy could be seen as an example of ritual madness, enhanced with erotic and certainly poetic overtones, as the song is the cure.
To read the rest of this amazing article – and you really should – click here.
Ahead he sees the first splashes of light
and his heart beats with joy,
a strange sensation after so long.
Then a sudden madness stirs his soul
and gives way to paralyzing doubt.
A furtive, backwards glance
(certainly the lord below won’t notice)
and for a second their eyes meet
- just a second.
Then the girl is falling
the winding, spiral staircase
dissolving back into that other world
where mad and strange spirits dwell.
When thirst and a mighty hunger
finally drive the weary poet from death’s somber cave
he rushes like a gadfly-stung bull into the radiant day
and raucously proclaims, “I’m gonna get drunk and invent pederasty!”
From this great man, famous Orpheus,
we satyrs and bakchoi have received our mysteries.
Within each of us there is a potent lifeforce, fiery and primal and mad to experience everything that there is. But in the rush to do so it wears itself down, becomes dull and sluggish and apathetic. Constrained by custom and obligation, forced to be tame and small by society. As it retreats in on itself it creates a vacancy within the soul and bad shit takes root there. Ancestral wounds bubbling forth, madness born of repression that lashes out violently and blindly. A poison that spreads and infects others until a community goes down in flames. Left to our own devices we’d endlessly be running around in torment, inflicting pain on our fellows until no one’s left and we’re all alone. But then the stranger steps in. He’s been here before and knows the way out. He knows the words that take the pain away, he knows how to shake you up and loosen your bonds so that you can break free and run wild in the woods. He can make you burn, make you feel alive again. He knows the songs. He knows the dances. He knows everything you’re afraid of – and how to build you back up after he’s destroyed you. Once he’s done that you belong to him and he’ll look out for you. He’ll even come back for you when your days are done and seduce you into the next world, bull-horned death with the eyes of Eros. Eyes that will watch you dance in the heavens with the fire-breathing stars, drunk for all eternity.
Irenaeus: Against Heresies Book I, Chapter XXV
1. Carpocrates, again, and his followers maintain that the world and the things which are therein were created by angels greatly inferior to the unbegotten Father. They also hold that Jesus was the son of Joseph, and was just like other men, with the exception that he differed from them in this respect, that inasmuch as his soul was stedfast and pure, he perfectly remembered those things which he had witnessed within the sphere of the unbegotten God. On this account, a power descended upon him from the Father, that by means of it he might escape from the creators of the world; and they say that it, after passing through them all, and remaining in all points free, ascended again to him, and to the powers, which in the same way embraced like things to itself. They further declare, that the soul of Jesus, although educated in the practices of the Jews, regarded these with contempt, and that for this reason he was endowed with faculties, by means of which he destroyed those passions which dwelt in men as a punishment [for their sins].
2. The soul, therefore, which is like that of Christ can despise those rulers who were the creators of the world, and, in like manner, receives power for accomplishing the same results. This idea has raised them to such a pitch of pride, that some of them declare themselves similar to Jesus; while others, still more mighty, maintain that they are superior to his disciples, such as Peter and Paul, and the rest of the apostles, whom they consider to be in no respect inferior to Jesus. For their souls, descending from the same sphere as his, and therefore despising in like manner the creators of the world, are deemed worthy of the same power, and again depart to the same place. But if any one shall have despised the things in this world more than he did, he thus proves himself superior to him.
3. They practise also magical arts and incantations; philters, also, and love-potions; and have recourse to familiar spirits, dream-sending demons, and other abominations, declaring that they possess power to rule over, even now, the princes and formers of this world; and not only them, but also all things that are in it. These men, even as the Gentiles, have been sent forth by Satan to bring dishonour upon the Church, so that, in one way or another, men hearing the things which they speak, and imagining that we all are such as they, may turn away their ears from the preaching of the truth; or, again, seeing the things they practise, may speak evil of us all, who have in fact no fellowship with them, either in doctrine or in morals, or in our daily conduct. But they lead a licentious life, and, to conceal their impious doctrines, they abuse the name [of Christ], as a means of hiding their wickedness; so that “their condemnation is just,” when they receive from God a recompense suited to their works.
4. So unbridled is their madness, that they declare they have in their power all things which are irreligious and impious, and are at liberty to practise them; for they maintain that things are evil or good, simply in virtue of human opinion. They deem it necessary, therefore, that by means of transmigration from body to body, souls should have experience of every kind of life as well as every kind of action (unless, indeed, by a single incarnation, one may be able to prevent any need for others, by once for all, and with equal completeness, doing all those things which we dare not either speak or hear of, nay, which we must not even conceive in our thoughts, nor think credible, if any such thing is mooted among those persons who are our fellow-citizens), in order that, as their writings express it, their souls, having made trial of every kind of life, may, at their departure, not be wanting in any particular. It is necessary to insist upon this, lest, on account of some one thing being still wanting to their deliverance, they should be compelled once more to become incarnate. They affirm that for this reason Jesus spoke the following parable:–”Whilst thou art with thine adversary in the way, give all diligence, that thou mayest be delivered from him, lest he give thee up to the judge, and the judge surrender thee to the officer, and he cast thee into prison. Verily, I say unto thee, thou shalt not go out thence until thou pay the very last farthing.” They also declare the “adversary” is one of those angels who are in the world, whom they call the Devil, maintaining that he was formed for this purpose, that he might lead those souls which have perished from the world to the Supreme Ruler. They describe him also as being chief among the makers of the world, and maintain that he delivers such souls [as have been mentioned] to another angel, who ministers to him, that he may shut them up in other bodies; for they declare that the body is “the prison.” Again, they interpret these expressions, “Thou shalt not go out thence until thou pay the very last farthing,” as meaning that no one can escape from the power of those angels who made the world, but that he must pass from body to body, until he has experience of every kind of action which can be practised in this world, and when nothing is longer wanting to him, then his liberated soul should soar upwards to that God who is above the angels, the makers of the world. In this way also all souls are saved, whether their own which, guarding against all delay, participate in all sorts of actions during one incarnation, or those, again, who, by passing from body to body, are set free, on fulfilling and accomplishing what is requisite in every form of life into which they are sent, so that at length they shall no longer be [shut in the body].
5. And thus, if ungodly, unlawful, and forbidden actions are committed among them, I can no longer find ground for believing them to be such. And in their writings we read as follows, the interpretation which they give [of their views], declaring that Jesus spoke in a mystery to His disciples and apostles privately, and that they requested and obtained permission to hand down the things thus taught them, to others who should be worthy and believing. We are saved, indeed, by means of faith and love; but all other things, while in their nature indifferent, are reckoned by the opinion of men–some good and some evil, there being nothing really evil by nature.
6. Others of them employ outward marks, branding their disciples inside the lobe of the right ear. From among these also arose Marcellina, who came to Rome under [the episcopate of] Anicetus, and, holding these doctrines, she led multitudes astray. They style themselves Gnostics. They also possess images, some of them painted, and others formed from different kinds of material; while they maintain that a likeness of Christ was made by Pilate at that time when Jesus lived among them. They crown these images, and set them up along with the images of the philosophers of the world that is to say, with the images of Pythagoras, and Plato, and Aristotle, and the rest. They have also other modes of honouring these images, after the same manner of the Gentiles.
You don’t say.
I’m finding this whole conversation about pagan charity rather enlightening. Despite the fairly dim view that Alley Valkyrie has of her friend Mary Ann, I believe that this woman has eloquently articulated ideas that are endemic within the community:
I never heard of Osiris and Dionysis tending to the poor and oppressed, chastising the rich, specifically promising the persecuted an eternity in Heaven. Jesus has got my back. Who else has got my back like that? None of the other gods or spirits I talk to. They got my back for other reasons, but not because I’m poor. They don’t want to liberate me. They don’t inspire masses of others to fight oppression. Not like Jesus does.
In other words people expect to be given everything for nothing. They want a gold star in life just for showing up. As I’ve argued previously that is simply not how things work, especially within the context of ancient Mediterranean spirituality. Death is the only blessing that the gods freely bestow upon us; everything else is the result of a reciprocal relationship that must constantly be maintained. This is what the Greeks called charis, the grace of giving and receiving, and which the Romans expressed as do et des or a transaction of something for something.
If you have done nothing to build a relationship with the gods and spirits, never remember them or honor them through ritual or other forms of devotional activity, do nothing in your life that distinguishes you or makes you in any way useful to them – you’ve got some audacity to approach their shrine with open palms demanding the world and, as Mary Ann does, more than the world from them!
Think about it. This woman expects an eternity in heaven with the gods just because she feels persecuted! Not necessarily persecuted for their sake – because that at least would be something – just persecuted presumably by a cold, indifferent and greedy society.
The natural order of things is for the mass of humanity to go down into the gloom of Haides when they die where they subsist as gibbering, mindless shades of their former selves, forever lamenting the sorrows and frustrations they experienced while alive. For those of you who participated in the orgy of consumerism on Black Friday – you pretty much got a preview of what awaits you in the afterlife.
Unless you’re a Dionysian. Because our god went down into the underworld (something most divinities could not have done) and he confronted the terrors and implacable guardians of this place in order to make a bargain with Haides so that his beloved followers would not experience the debilitation of death. If they proved worthy they would retain their power and intelligence and be permitted to join him in eternal intoxication and festivity in the small kingdom he prepared for them down below.
And you just want to be handed a ticket to the party?
The thing is, you don’t. That ticket is initiation and it’s a real bitch to go through. But it’s absolutely necessary because initiation opens you up and prepares you for the experience that awaits.
From the moment that you’re initiated to the moment you die you are preparing and being prepared to take your seat at the bridal feast. But think about what that means.
Eternal intoxication – μέθη αἰώνιος.
Imagine a time when you had incredible sex or were really, really drunk or just had this perfect moment where you felt fully and completely alive.
That’s kind of what it’s like.
Except now imagine that magnified by a hundred, and then magnified a hundredfold again. Now take this experience outside of the confines of time so that it is both a single instant and something that lasts forever and ever and ever.
Even those who have been through initiation and are deeply, madly in love with Dionysos have a difficult time adjusting to this. Glimpses of it on this side of the divide can drive a person completely insane.
And you want to just jump right into that with no experience, no context, no preparation at all?
Go right ahead sweetheart.
That ought to be real fun to watch.
Bacchic “heaven” isn’t for everyone – and you should be damned thankful for that. Go play with Jesus if that’s what you’re looking for. I’m quite happy with wine as my fortunate reward.