Wednesday is going to get wyrd with two Odin’s folk on the air

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A while back we had one of our guests help us do a special episode of Wyrd Ways Radio where individuals who had suffered sexual abuse were given space to tell their stories, since many had been forced to keep silent by their local pagan communities.

Well, now that guest is back to do the show we originally had him scheduled for:

Sarenth Odinsson is a Northern Tradition shaman, and priest of Odin and Anubis. He has written as well as edited articles for RendingtheVeil.com, an occult ezine, and has been published in Witches and Pagans magazine. His passions include writing, reading, drawing, martial arts, spirituality, and sustainable living. He holds an Associate’s in Graphic Communication and has a BS in Psychology through Eastern Michigan University. He has edited the anthology Calling to Our Ancestors which is being released through Asphodel Press and can be contacted through his blog at sarenth.wordpress.com.

Tune in tonight at 10:00pm EDT to hear Sarenth discuss:

* Ancestor Work
* The Runes
* What being a shaman/spiritworker/religious and/or spiritual specialist means
* How he balances priestly obligations to both Odin and Anubis

If you’d like to call in with questions the number is 347-308-8222.

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Search term poetry

maiden in white comforts her knight
will you give everything for what you love?

what did the greeks burn for offerings?
what are the god anubis’s associations with the sea?
is the cave in caesaeria philippi bottomless?

what was the name of the god that sat on a tripod amid fumes?
a stranger from a far land
unusual masked deity
heart broken to let the light in

worship the cock god
cock worship for everybody
pussyloving
bacchanalibus
john the baptist with hooves
aghoris smoke hashish and eat human flesh
meditating with the sacred phallus
joker smile why so serious
stop letting fear rule your life

the monster is fucking someone’s wife
in the grove of the starry splendor
muttering words from the god at the temple of Delphi

achilles was still in full pursuit of hector, as a hound chasing a fawn

mysteries of love and death
sad girl in a swing
sexy cum faced young girl
holding a severed head
the spider is in the palace of kings

woman wrapped up by vines
open vision and pouring honey into the mouth followed by bitumen
this is how man creates his gods

we must all wear a scary nietzsche mask

a man hold a giant cockerel
blood splatters everywhere
you sacrifice for what you want
hellenismos and babies
how to get more likes on Facebook

what was your name before you had a face
orphic egg
phallic hieroglyphs
neoplatonic masturbation

work hard until you no longer have to introduce yourself

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Arma virumque cano

WAR AND CONFLICT BOOK ERA:  KOREAN WAR/AID & COMFORT

Pete Helms just let me know that he’s extending the deadline by a couple days for the Ares/Mars devotional anthology. If you’ve got something, please send it in and if you’re going to write something new contact him and let him know you’re working on it. This is important. Ares is deserving of honor.

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Taking off the mask for a moment

I made this post not only out of a strong desire to see polytheists coming together to do good works in their local communities and for some of that work to be done in the name of the dead who are dear to Dionysos …

There was something more, something initially left unsaid.

This is hard. I don’t like sharing too much personal stuff. I’ve put a lot of effort into building up the image of Sannion as a maddened, drunken, anarchic reprobate, damn it! I’m an empty, evil but sexy as fuck shell – I don’t care and I don’t feel anything and fuck all of you! Where’s my weed, man?

The Dionysian dead aren’t the only dead I’m doing this for. Before my mom finally made her journey West she had a lot of medical problems, including a couple surgeries that required transfusions. The blood that strangers gave kept her alive long enough for me to make it out there to Washington and say my goodbyes. I’ve never been able to thank them or express how much that gift meant to me. You could help me do that, though, by giving a little of yourself this August in the name of the Furious Host.

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Devotio

hermes3

As a way of tying these two threads together (the Feast of the Dionysian Kings and August as polytheist outreach month, in case you’re curious which threads I meant) your archiboukolos would like to make a personal request.

I want to start a blood drive for the Dionysian Dead.

At some point during the month of August, if you are able and willing, please give blood to a local blood bank saying while you do so, “I shed this blood for you, O heroes of the True Vine; may my deeds help cause your presence to be felt in the world this day and every day after.”

It’s not just draculas who believe that blood is the life. As the Red Cross website says:

• Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
• More than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day.
• A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
• The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
• The blood type most often requested by hospitals is Type O.
• The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
• Sickle cell disease affects more than 70,000 people in the U.S. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
• More than 1.6 million people were diagnosed with cancer last year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
• A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.

You can find a donation center near you through that site as well.

And finally you do not need to be a member of the thiasos of the Starry Bull to participate. The more the merrier in fact!

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What are your suggestions and what are you going to do?

Reading Galina’s declaration that August is Polytheist Community Outreach Month:

Ancient polytheisms promoted civic virtues and involvement in one’s local community. We have a lot of tremendously talented people in polytheism today and I think we could really make a difference if we started reaching out. I know a lot of us do things already all the time and we don’t draw attention to it. Maybe we should, not to brag, but to inspire each other to go out and make a difference. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problems we face as a community, as a human community and to feel that nothing we do, no effort will ever make any difference at all. That’s not true though and when we give in to those feelings of hopelessness, we’re denying ourselves a chance to make a good, solid change. We can poke the Filter in the eye! I saw a quote by Bruce Barton recently (no idea who he was but it’s a damned good quote): “Some­times when I con­sider what tremen­dous con­se­quences come from lit­tle things, I am tempted to think there are no lit­tle things.” I think he was absolutely right. People are fed up with these online arguments that never, ever go anywhere. Imagine what we could do if we took the energy we put into that and channelled it into our local communities.

As well as Christine Kraemer’s call to action:

And, knowing we cannot free ourselves from our economic bondage alone, we need to join forces with relatively like-minded people and – horror of horrors – learn to compromise, forgive, and be patient with each other. Our –isms and our desire that our groups or traditions be ideologically perfect will not serve us now. Our efforts must be both intrafaith and interfaith, and we must focus on what we can concretely achieve, not on how we theoretically differ. Whether we are ready to face it or not, we are in a life or death situation. It is time to embrace our imperfect allies, because that is all we have, and all we are.

I felt hope stir in my nether regions and an exhilarating rush of optimism for what we all could accomplish working together. Each of us have a part to play in creating the communities we want to belong to. And as the story of Galestes reminds us, you don’t have to be a great king to make a world of difference. You just have to care and be willing to act. Remember as well the meaning of the fasceswe are stronger when we act together.

baby-blankets-crochet

No child should go without,
not when there are polytheists in the community.

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Some background for the festival

Assorted epithets related to Kingship
Adôneus = “Ruler” Ausonius, Epigrams 29.6
Aisumnêtês = “Ruler over all” Pausanias, 7.19
Anaktes – “the Lords” Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3.53
Anax = “Lord” Archilochos, Frag. 77
Eleuthereus = “He who frees” Pausanias 1.20.2
Eubouleus = “He of good counsel” Orphic Hymn 71.3
Kurios = “King” – Augustine, The City of God 7.21
Luaios = “He who frees from care”  Vergil, Georgics 2.229
Lusios = “The Deliverer” Orphic Hymn 49.2
Sôtêr = “The Savior” Lycophron 206

A selection of quotes on Dionysian kingship
“Like that of some flawless king, who, god-fearing, ruling a numerous and doughty people, upholds justice so that the dark earth brings forth wheat and barley, and the trees are heavy with fruit, and the sheep and goats give birth without fail, and the sea provides fish from his good leadership, and the people flourish under him.” – Homer, Odyssey 19.109-14

 

“But the rulers who give straight judgements to strangers and to the men of the land, and go not aside from what is just, their city flourishes, and the people prosper in it: Peace, the nurse of children, is abroad in their land, and all-seeing Zeus never decrees cruel war against them. Neither famine nor disaster ever haunt men who do true justice; but light-heartedly they tend the fields which are all their care. The earth bears them victual in plenty, and on the mountains the oak bears acorns upon the top and bees in the midst. Their woolly sheep are laden with fleeces; their women bear children like their parents. They flourish continually with good things, and do not travel on ships, for the grain-giving earth bears them fruit.” – Hesiod, Works and Days 225-237

 

“Why is the so-called rex sacrorum, that is to say ‘king of the sacred rites,’ forbidden to hold office or to address the people? Is it because in early times the kings performed the greater part of the most important rites, and themselves offered the sacrifices with the assistance of the priests? But when they did not practice moderation, but were arrogant and oppressive, most of the Greek states took away their authority, and left to them only the offering of sacrifice to the gods; but the Romans expelled their kings altogether, and to offer the sacrifices they appointed another, whom they did not allow to hold office or to address the people, so that in their sacred rites only they might seem to be subject to a king, and to tolerate a kingship only on the gods’ account. At any rate, there is a sacrifice traditionally performed in the forum at the place called Comitium, and, when the rex has performed this, he flees from the forum as fast as he can.” – Plutarch, Roman Questions 63

 

“Let them look at the standing crops already flourishing with waving heads in the broad fields, and at the meadows glittering with plants and flowers, in response to abundant rains and the restored mildness and softness of the atmosphere. Finally, let all rejoice that the might of the most powerful and terrible Mars has been propitiated by our piety, our sacrifices, and our veneration; and let them on this account enjoy firm and tranquil peace and quiet; and let as many as have wholly abandoned that blind error and delusion and have returned to a right and sound mind rejoice the more, as those who have been rescued from an unexpected storm or severe disease and are to reap the fruits of pleasure for the rest of their life.” – Rescript of Maximinus Daia, quoted in Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesastical History6.7.10-11

 

“A king should be one who is most just; and he will be most just who most closely attends to the laws. Without justice it is impossible to be a king; and without law there can be no justice. For justice is such only through law, justice’s effective cause. A king is either animated law, or a legal ruler, whence he will be just, and observant of the laws. There are however three peculiar employments of a king: leading an army, administering justice, and worshipping the gods. He will be able to lead an army properly only if he knows how to carry on war properly. He will be skilled in administering justice and in governing all his subjects only if he has well learned the nature of justice and law. He will worship the gods in a pious and holy manner only if he has diligently considered the nurture and virtue of god….. a good king must necessarily be a good general, judge and priest; which things are inseparable from the goodness and virtue of a king. It is the pilot’s business to preserve the ship; the charioteer to preserve the chariot; and the physician’s to save the sick, but it is a king’s or a general’s business to save those who are in danger in battle. For a leader must also be a provident inspector, and preserver. While judicial affairs are in general every body’s interest, this is the special work of the king; who, like a god, is a world-leader and protector. While the whole state should be generally organized in a unitary manner, under unitary leadership, individual parts should be submissive to the supreme domination. Besides though the king should oblige and benefit his subjects, this should not be in contempt of justice and law. The third characteristic of a king’s dignity is the worship of the gods. The most excellent should be worshipped by the most excellent; and the leader and ruler by that which leads and rules. Of naturally most honorable things, god is the best; but of things on the earth, and human, a king is the supreme. As god is to the world, so is a king to his kingdom; and as a city is to the world, so is a king to god. For a city, indeed, being organized from things many and various, imitates the organization of the world; and its harmony; but a king whose rule is beneficent, and who himself is animated law, to men outlines the divinity. It is hence necessary that a king should not be overcome by pleasure, but that he should overcome it; that he should not resemble, but excel the multitude; and that he should not conceive his proper employment to consist in the pursuit of pleasure, but rather in the achievement of character. Likewise he who rules others should be able first to govern his own passions.” – Diotogenes, On Kingship

 

“The Egyptian kings, according unto their law, used to swear their judges that they should not obey the king when he commanded them to give an unjust sentence.” – Plutarch, Sayings of the Kings and Commanders 174c

 

“As Alexander was sacrificing to the gods liberally, and often offered frankincense, Leonidas his tutor standing by said, ‘O son, thus generously will you sacrifice, when you have conquered the country that bears frankincense.’ And when he had conquered it, he sent him this letter: ‘I have sent you an hundred talents of frankincense and cassia, that hereafter you may not be niggardly towards the Gods, who have rewarded my piety with rulership over the country in which perfumes grow.’” – Plutarch, Sayings of the Kings and Commanders 179e

 

“Ptolemy, the son of Lagos, frequently supped with his friends and lay at their houses; and if at any time he invited them to supper, he made use of their furniture, sending for vessels, carpets, and tables; for he himself had only things that were of constant use about him, saying it was more becoming a king to make others rich than to be rich himself.” – Plutarch, Sayings of the Kings and Commanders 181f

 

“Demetrius Phalereus persuaded King Ptolemy to get and study such books as treated of government and conduct; for those things are written in books which the friends of kings dare not advise.” – Plutarch, Sayings of the Kings and Commanders 189d

 

“For Alexander did not follow Aristotle’s advice to treat the Greeks as if he were their leader, and other peoples as if he were their master; to have regard for the Greeks as for friends and kindred, but to conduct himself toward other peoples as though they were plants or animals; for to do so would have been to cumber his leadership with numerous battles and banishments and festering seditions. But, as he believed that he came as a heaven-sent governor to all, and as a mediator for the whole world, those whom he could not persuade to unite with him, he conquered by force of arms, and he brought together into one body all men everywhere, uniting and mixing in one great loving-cup, as it were, men’s lives, their characters, their marriages, their very habits of life. He bade them all consider as their fatherland the whole inhabited earth, as their stronghold and protection his camp, as akin to them all good men, and as foreigners only the wicked; they should not distinguish between Greek and foreigner by Greek cloak and targe, or scimitar and jacket; but the distinguishing mark of the Greek should be seen in virtue, and that of the foreigner in iniquity; clothing and food, marriage and manner of life they should regard as common to all, being blended into one by ties of blood and children.” – Plutarch, On the Fortune of Alexander 329c-d

 

“Wherefore greatness lies not in the possession of good things, but in our use of them, since even infant children inherit their fathers’ kingdoms and dominions.” – Plutarch, On the Fortune of Alexander 337d

 

“But the ability to sustain and administer great authority when one has received it, and not to be crushed or turned from one’s purpose by the weight and the magnitude of one’s activities, is the mark of a man who possesses virtue, sense, and intelligence. This virtue Alexander possessed, whom some accuse of drunkenness and a passion for wine! But he was truly a great man, for in his conduct of affairs he was sober, nor was he made drunk nor led to revelling by authority and power; but others, when they get but a small portion, or even a taste, of power are unable to control themselves.” – Plutarch, On the Fortune of Alexander 337f

 

“Who, then, shall rule the ruler? The Law, the king of all, both mortals and immortals, as Pindar says – not law written outside him in books or on wooden tablets or the like, but reason endowed with life within him, always abiding with him and watching over him and never leaving his soul without its leadership.” – Plutarch, Ad Principem Ineruditum 780c

 

“One might justly say that rulers serve god for the care and preservation of men, in order that of the glorious gifts which the gods give to men they may distribute some and safeguard others. The sky sends down the beginnings of the appropriate seeds, and the earth causes them to sprout up; some are made to grow by showers and some by winds, and some by the warmth of stars and moon; but it is the sun which adorns all things and mingles in all things what men call the ‘love charm’ which is derived from himself. But these gifts and blessings, so excellent and great, which the gods bestow cannot be rightly enjoyed nor used without law and justice and a ruler. Now justice is the aim and end of law, but law is the work of the ruler, and the ruler is the image of god who orders all things.” – Plutarch, Ad Principem Ineruditum 780d-e

 

“Such a ruler needs no Pheidias nor Polycleitus nor Myron to model him, but by his virtue he forms himself in the likeness of God and thus creates a statue most delightful of all to behold and most worthy of divinity. Now just as in the heavens god has established as a most beautiful image of himself the sun and the moon, so in states a ruler ‘who in god’s likeness righteous decisions upholds,’ that is to say, one who, possessing god’s wisdom, establishes, as his likeness and luminary, intelligence in place of sceptre or thunderbolt or trident, with which attributes some rulers represent themselves in sculpture and painting, thus causing their folly to arouse hostile feelings, because they claim what they cannot attain. For god visits his wrath upon those who imitate his thunders, lightnings, and sunbeams, but with those who emulate his virtue and make themselves like unto his goodness and mercy he is well pleased and therefore causes them to prosper and gives them a share of his own equity, justice, truth, and gentleness, than which nothing is more divine; nor fire, nor light, nor the course of the sun, nor the risings and settings of the stars, nor eternity and immortality.” – Plutarch, Ad Principem Ineruditum 780f-781a

 

“The kings were appointed from the priests or from the military class, since the military class had eminence and honour because of valour, and the priests because of wisdom. But he who was appointed from the military class was at once made one of the priests and a participant in their philosophy, cwhich, for the most part, is veiled in myths and in words containing dim reflexions and adumbrations of the truth, as they themselves intimate beyond question by appropriately placing sphinxes40 before their shrines to indicate that their religious teaching has in it an enigmatical sort of wisdom.” – Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris 354c

 

“One of the first acts related of Osiris in his reign was to deliver the Egyptians from their destitute and brutish manner of living. This he did by showing them the fruits of cultivation, by giving them laws, and by teaching them to honour the gods. Later he travelled over the whole earth civilizing it without the slightest need of arms, but most of the peoples he won over to his way by the charm of his persuasive discourse combined with song and all manner of music. Hence the Greeks came to identify him with Dionysos.” – Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris 356e

 

“A king is, in the first place, mindful of the gods and holds the divine in honour. For it is impossible that the just and good man should repose greater confidence in any other being than in the supremely just and good — the gods. He, however, who, being wicked, imagines that he at any time pleases the gods, in that very assumption lacks piety, for he has assumed that the deity is either foolish or evil. Next after the gods the good king has regard for his fellow-men; he honours and loves the good, yet extends his care to all. Now who takes better care of a herd of cattle than does the herdsman? Who is more helpful and better to flocks of sheep than a shepherd? Who is a truer lover of horses than he who controls the greatest number of horses and derives the greatest benefit from horses? And so who is presumably as great a lover of his fellow-man as he who exercises authority over the greatest number of men and enjoys the highest admiration of men? For it would be strange if men governing beasts, wild and of another blood than theirs, prove more kindly to these their dependants than a monarch to civilized men who are of the same flesh and blood as himself.” – Dio Chrysostom, First Discourse on Kingship 15-18

 

“The good king also believes it to be due to his position to have the larger portion, not of wealth or of pleasures, but of painstaking care and anxieties; hence he is actually more fond of toil than many others are of pleasure or of wealth. For he knows that pleasure, in addition to the general harm it does to those who constantly indulge therein, also quickly renders them incapable of pleasure, whereas toil, besides conferring other benefits, continually increases a man’s capacity for toil. He alone, therefore, may call his soldiers ‘fellow-soldiers’ and his associates ‘friends’ without making mockery of the word friendship; and not only may he be called by the title ‘Father’ of his people and his subjects, but he may justify the title by his deeds. In the title ‘master,’ however, he can take no delight, nay, not even in relation to his slaves, much less to his free subjects; for he looks upon himself as being king, not for the sake of his individual self, but for the sake of all men.” – Dio Chrysostom, First Discourse on Kingship 21-23

 

“For wealth, his would outweigh the wealth of all the princes of the earth together, – so much comes into his rich habitation both day by day and from every quarter. And as for his peoples, they occupy their business without let or hindrance, seeing that no foeman hath crossed afoot that river of monsters to set up a cry in alien townships, nor none leapt from swift ship upon that beach all mailed to make havoc of the Egyptian kine, – of such noble sort is the flaxen-haired prince that is throne in these level plains, a prince who not only hath cunning to wield a spear, but, as a good king should, makes it his chiefest care both to keep all that he hath of his father and to add somewhat for himself. But not to no purpose doth his gold lie, like so much riches of the still-toiling emmet, in his opulent house; much of it – for never makes he offerings of firstfruits but gold is one – is spent upon the splendid dwellings of the gods, and much of it again is given in presents to cities, to stalwart kings, or to the good friends that bear him company. Nay, no cunning singer of tuneful song that hath sought part in Dionysos’ holy contests but hath received of him a gift to he full worth of his skill.” – Theokritos, Idyll 17.95-114

 

“Ptolemy was a blood-relation, and some believed him to be a son of Philip; at any rate it was known for certain that he was the offspring of one of that king’s concubines. He was also a member of Alexander’s bodyguard and a most valiant warrior, and even greater and more distinguished in the arts of peace than in those of war; modest and affable in his manner of life, particularly generous and easy of access, he had assumed none of the haughtiness of royal origin. Because of these qualities it could be doubted whether he was dearer to the king or to the people; at all events, it was at that time that he first realized the affection of his countrymen; which was so great that in that time of his peril the Macedonians seemed to have presaged the rank to which he afterwards rose.” – Quintus Curtius 9.8.21-24

 

“Ptolemy Philadelphos’ father, while yet alive, proclaimed him king; he won battles that did not cost a tear, made merry all his days in processions and theatres, and because of good fortune grew old upon the throne.” – Plutarch, On the Fortune of Alexander 341a

 

“In all the qualities which make a good ruler, Ptolemy Philadelphos excelled not only his contemporaries, but all who have arise in the past and even til today, after so many generations, his praises are sung for the many evidences and monuments of his greatness of mind which he left behind him in different cities and countries, so that, even now, acts of more than ordinary munificence or buildings on a specially great scale are proverbially called Philadelphian after him. … To put it shortly, as the house of the Ptolemies was highly distinguished, compared with other dynasties, so was Philadelphos among the Ptolemies. The creditable achievements of this one man almost outnumbered those of all the others put together, and, as the head takes the highest place in the living body, so he may be said to head the kings.” – Philo, Life of Moses 2.29-30

 

“Demetrios is present, joyful and beautiful, as a god ought to be, with smiling face showering his blessings round. How noble does he look! his friends around, himself the center. His friends resemble the bright lesser stars, himself is the sun. Hail, ever-mighty Poseidon’s mightier son; hail, son of Aphrodite. For other gods do at a distance keep, or have no ears, or no existence; and they heed us not – but you are present, not made of wood or stone, a genuine god. We pray to you. First of all give us peace, O dearest god – for you are lord of peace – and crush for us yourself, for you’ve the power, this odious Sphinx; which now destroys not Thebes alone, but Greece – the whole of Greece.” – Athenaios 6.253d-e

 

“The Athenians had a war on against the Boiotians over Kelainai, which was a place in their borderlands. Xanthios, a Boiotian, challenged the Athenian king, Thymoites to a fight. When he did not accept, Melanthos, an expatriate Messenian from the stock of Periklymenos the son of Neleus, stood up to fight for the kingdom. While they were engaged in single combat, someone wearing a black goat-skin oraigis appeared to Melanthos from behind Xanthios. (It was later said to be the god.) So Melanthos said that it was not right to come two against one. Xanthios turned round. Melanthos smote him and killed him. And from this was generated both the festival Apatouria and ‘of the Black Aigis’ as an epithet of Dionysos.” – Suidas s.v. Apatouria

 

“Note that the ancients used the word phlyein (to luxuriate) of an abundant yield of fruit. So they called Dionysos Phleon (the luxuriant), Protrygaios (the first at the vintage), Staphylites (the god of the grape), Omphakites (the god of the unripe grape), and various other epithets.” – Aelian, Historical Miscellany 3.41

 

“Now you, Bacchus, will I sing, and with you the forest saplings, and the offspring of the slow-growing olive. Hither Lenaean sire! Here all is full of your bounties; for you blossoms the field teeming with the harvest of the vine, and the vintage foams in the brimming vats. Come hither, Lenaean sire, strip off your buskins and with me plunge your naked legs in the new must.” – Virgil, Georgics 2.1

 

“I imitate Herakles, and emulate Perseus, and follow in the footsteps of Dionysos, the divine author and progenitor of my family, and desire that victorious Greeks should dance again in India and revive the memory of the Bacchic revels among the savage mountain tribes beyond the Kaucasos.” – Plutarch, On the Fortune of Alexander 1.332A

 

“At the proper time Zeus loosened the stitches and gave birth to Dionysos, whom he entrusted to Hermes. Hermes took him to Ino and Athamas, and persuaded them to bring him up as a girl. Incensed, Hera inflicted madness on them, that Athamas stalked and slew his elder son Learkhos on the conviction that he was a dear, while Ino threw Melikertes into a basin of boiling water, and then, carrying both the basin and the corpse of the boy, she jumped to the bottom of the sea. Now she is called Leukothea, and her son is Palaimon: these names they receive from those who sail, for they help sailors beset by storms. Also, the Isthmian games were established by Sisyphos in honor of Melikertes.” – Apollodorus, 3.26-29

 

“Lykourgos the powerful once drove the nurses of rapturous Dionysos headlong down the sacred Nyseian hill, and all of them shed and scattered their wands on the ground, stricken with an ox-goad by murderous Lykourgos, while the infant Dionysos in terror dived into the salt surf, and Thetis took him to her bosom, frightened, with the strong shivers upon him at the man’s blustering.” – Homer, Iliad 6.129

“Dionysos crossed Thrake and came to Thebes, where he compelled the women to leave their homes and cavort in a frenzy on Kithairon. Now Pentheus, Ekhion’s son by Agave and current lord of the land after Kadmos, tried to prevent these goings-on. He went up on Kithairon to spy on the Bakkhai, but was torn to pieces by his mother Agave, for in her madness she thought he was a wild animal. After Dionysos had demonstrated to the Thebans that he was a god, he went to Argos.” – Apollodorus, 2.36-37

 

“The tomb in the city of Argos they call that of the Mainas Khorea, saying that she was one of the women who joined Dionysos in his expedition against Argos, and that Perseus, being victorious in the battle, put most of the women to the sword. To the rest they gave a common grave, but to Khorea they gave burial apart because of her high rank. They say that the god, having made war on Perseus, afterwards laid aside his enmity, and received great honors at the hands of the Argives, including this precinct set specially apart for himself. It was afterwards called the precinct of Kres or the Kretan, because, when Ariadne died, Dionysos buried her here. But Lykeas says that when the new temple of Dionysos was being rebuilt an earthenware coffin was found, and that it was Ariadne’s. He also said that both he himself and other Argives had seen it.” – Pausanias, 2.20.4-2.23-7-8

 

“After Hera inflicted madness upon him, he wandered over Egypt and Syria. The Egyptian king Proteus first welcomed him.” – Apollodorus, 2.29

 

“Midas, the Mygdonian king, was said to be a son of the Mother goddess from Timolus. At the time when Father Liber was leading his army into India, Silenus wandered away; Midas entertained him generously, and gave him a guide to conduct him to Liber’s company. Because of this favour, Father Liber gave Midas the privilege of asking him for whatever he wanted. Midas asked that whatever he touched should become gold. When he had been granted the wish, and came to his palace, whatever he touched became gold. When now he was being tortured with hunger, he begged Liber to take away the splendid gift. Liber bade him bathe in the River Pactolus, and when his body touched the water it became a golden colour. The river in Lydia is now called Chrysorrhoas.” – Hyginus, Fabulae 191

 

“When Liber had come as a guest to Oeneus, son of Parthaon, he fell in love with Althaea, daughter of Thestius and wife of Oeneus. When Oeneus realized this, he voluntarily left the city and pretended to be performing sacred rites. But Liber lay with Althaea, who became mother of Deianeira. To Oeneus, because of his generous hospitality, he gave the vine as a gift, and showed him how to plant it, and decreed that its fruit should be called ‘oinos’ from the name of his host.” – Hyginus, Fabulae 129

 

“Lycus, the King of Thebes, married Dirce. She, suspecting that her husband had secretly lain with Antiopa, ordered her servants to keep her bound in darkness.When the sons of Antiope, Amphion and Zethos found out who their mother was, they put Dirce to death by binding her to an untamed bull; by the kindness of Liber, whose votary she was, on Mount Cithaeron a spring was formed from her body, which was called Dirce.” – Hyginus, Fabulae 7

 

“Pandion became King of Athens. It was during his reign that Demeter and Dionysos came to Attika. Keleus welcomed Demeter to Eleusis, and Ikarios received Dionysos, who gave him a vine-cutting and taught him the art of making wine. Ikarios was eager to share the god’s kindness with mankind, so he went to some shepherds, who, when they had tasted the drink and then delightedly and recklessly gulped it down undiluted, thought they had been poisoned and slew Ikarios. But in the daylight they regained their senses and buried him. As his daughter was looking for him, a dog named Maira, who had been Ikarios’ faithful companion, unearthed the corpse; and Erigone, in the act of mourning her father, hanged herself.” – Apollodorus, 2.191-192

 

“After the precinct of Apollo is a building that contains earthen ware images, Amphiktyon, king of Athens, feasting Dionysus and other gods. Here also is Pegasus of Eleutherae, who introduced the god to the Athenians. Herein he was helped by the oracle at Delphi, which called to mind that the god once dwelt in Athens in the days of Ikarios.” – Pausanias 1.2.5

 

“Philokhoros has this: Amphiktyon, king of Athens, learned from Dionysos the art of mixing wine, and was the first to mix it. So it was that men came to stand upright, drinking wine mixed, whereas before they were bent double by the use of unmixed. Hence he founded an altar of Dionysos Orthos (Upright) in the shrine of the Horai (Seasons); for these make ripe the fruit of the vine. Near it he also built an altar to the Nymphai to remind devotees of the mixing; for the Nymphai are said to be the nurses of Dionysos. He also instituted the cutom of taking just a sip of unmixed wine after meat, as a proof of the power of the Good God, but after that he might drink mixed wine, as much as each man chose. They were also to repeat over this cup the name of Zeus Soter as a warning and reminder to drinkers that only when they drank in this fashion would they surely be safe.” – Athenaios 2.38c-d

 

“To Dionysos alone did Kyanippos, a Syrakousan, omit to sacrifice. The god was angry and cast upon him a fit of drunkenness, in which he violated his daughter Kyane in a dark place. She took off his ring and gave it to her nurse to be a mark of recognition. When the Syrakousans were oppressed by a plague, and the Pythian god pronounced that they should sacrifice the impious man to the Averting Deities, the rest had no understanding of the oracle; but Kyane knew, and seized her father by the hair and dragged him forth; and when she had herself cut her father’s throat, she killed herself upon his body in the same manner. So says Dositheüs in the third book of his Sicilian History.” – Plutarch, Greek & Roman Parallel Stories 19

 

“Aristaios received especial honour as a god, in particular by those who harvested the fruit of the olive-tree. And finally, as the myths relate, he visited Dionysos in Thrake and was initiated into his secret rites, and during his stay in the company of the god he learned from him much useful knowledge. And after dwelling some time in the neighbourhood of Mount Haimos he never was seen again of men, and became the recipient of immortal honours not only among the barbarians of that region but among the Greeks as well.” – Diodoros Sikeliotes, Library of History 4.81.1

 

“When Troy was captured, and the Greeks divided the spoils, Eurypylos the son of Euaimon got a chest. In it was an image of Dionysos, the work, so they say, of Hephaistos, and given as a gift by Zeus to Dardanos. But there are two other accounts of it. One is that this chest was left by Aeneas when he fled; the other that it was thrown away by Kassandra to be a curse to the Greek who found it. Be this as it may, Eurypylos opened the chest, saw the image of Dionysos, and forthwith on seeing it went mad. He continued to be insane for the greater part of the time, with rare lucid intervals. Being in this condition he did not proceed on his voyage to Thessalia, but made for the town and gulf of Kirrha. Going up to Delphoi he inquired of the oracle about his illness. They say that the oracle given him was to the effect that where he should come across a people offering a strange sacrifice, there he was to set down the chest and make his home. Now the ships of Eurypylos were carried down by the wind to the sea off Aroe. On landing he came across a youth and a maiden who had been brought to the altar of Artemis Triklaria. So Eurypylos found it easy to understand about the sacrifice, while the people of the place remembered their oracle seeing a king whom they had never seen before, they also suspected that the chest had some god inside it. And so the malady of Eurypylos and the sacrifice of these people came to an end, and the river was given its present name Meilikhos (Soothing). Certain writers have said that the events I have related happened not to the Thessalian Eurypylos, but to Eurypylos the son of Dexamenos who was king in Olenos, holding that this man joined Herakles in his campaign against Troy and received the chest from Herakles. The rest of their story is the same as mine. But I cannot bring myself to believe that Herakles did not know the facts about the chest, if they were as described, nor, if he were aware of them, do I think that he would ever have given it to an ally as a gift. Further, the people of Patrai have no tradition of a Eurypylos save the son of Euaimon, and to him every year they sacrifice as to a hero, when they celebrate the festival in honor of Dionysos. The surname of the god inside the chest is Aisymnetes (Dictator), and his chief attendants are nine men, elected by the people from all the citizens for their reputation, and women equal in number to the men. On one night of the festival the priest carries the chest outside. Now this is a privilege that this night has received, and there go down to the river Meilikhos a certain number of the native children, wearing on their heads garlands of corn-ears. It was in this way that they used to array of old those whom they led to be sacrificed to Artemis.” – Pausanias, 7.19.6-20.1

 

“I will tell of Dionysus, the son of glorious Semele, how he appeared on a jutting headland by the shore of the fruitless sea, seeming like a stripling in the first flush of manhood: his rich, dark hair was waving about him, and on his strong shoulders he wore a purple robe. Presently there came swiftly over the sparkling sea Tyrsenian pirates on a well-decked ship – a miserable doom led them on. When they saw him they made signs to one another and sprang out quickly, and seizing him straightway, put him on board their ship exultingly; for they thought him the son of heaven-nurtured kings.” – Homeric Hymn to Dionysos 7

 

“God of the many names, golden child of Semele and Olympian thunder, Italy’s lord.” – Sophokles, Choral Ode of Antigone

 

“Now the Hellenes disagree with the Indians, and the Indians among themselves, concerning this Dionysos. For we declare that the Theban Dionysos made an expedition to India in the role of soldier and reveller, and we base our arguments, among other things, on the offering at Delphoi, which is preserved in the treasuries there. And it is a disc of Indian silver bearing the inscription: ‘Dionysos the son of Semele and of Zeus, from the men of India to the Apollon of Delphoi.’” – Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 2.6-10

 

“Dionysos fell in love with Ariadne, and kidnapped her from Naxos, taking her off to Lemnos where he had sex with her, and begat Thoas, Staphylos, Oinopion, and Peparethos.” – Apollodorus, E1.9

 

“One of the Argonauts was King Phliasus, the son of Father Liber and Ariadne, daughter of Minos, from the city Phlius, which is in the Peloponnese. Others call him a Theban.” – Hyginus, Fabulae 14

 

“Physkoa they say came to Olympia from Elis in the Hollow, and the name of the parish where she lived was Orthia. She mated, they say, with Dionysos, and bore him a son called Narkaios. When he grew up he made war against the neighboring folk, and rose to great power, setting up moreover a sanctuary of Athena surnamed Narkaia. They say too that Narkaios and Physkoa were the first to pay worship to Dionysos in Elis.” – Pausanias, 5.16.7

 

“The Khians were the first to learn how to plant and tend vines from Oinopion, son of Dionysos, who also was the founder of that island-state.” – Athenaios, 1.26b-c

 

“Who gave birth to you, dear child? Was it the Bacchanalian god dwelling on the mountain tops who took you as a new-born joy from maiden nymphs of Helikon with whom he often romps and plays?” – Sophokles, Oedipus the King 1105-9

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The Feast of the Dionysian Kings

val_kilmer_king_bacchus_mardi_gras2009_3

The Feast of the Dionysian Kings is coming up, so I figured I’d talk a little about that and how folks can celebrate at home.

The term “Dionysian King” refers to a specific category of the dead we honor, some of whom blur the line between hero and demigod. The one thing that they’ve all got in common is that they were originally royal humans who had a special relationship with Dionysos – though they can be separated into two groups depending on the nature of that relationship. On the one hand there are those figures who honored the god and may have even incorporated elements of his story and iconography into their kingship, as well as the royal houses of legend who graciously received Dionysos during his travels. These include Pandion, Oeneus, Demetrios Poliokertes, certain members of the Argead, Ptolemaic and Attalid dynasties, Julius Caesar, Nero, Valens, the Borgias and so forth. Then there’s the other group, the Neoi Dionysoi, who embodied Dionysian traits in a far more extreme and intimate way, to the point that some not only acted out his myths on the world stage but were either possessed by him or mortal incarnations. These include Skyles, Alexander the Great, several members of the Ptolemaic and Attalid dynasties, Marcus Antonius, Jesus Christ and the Emperor Hadrian. The category of Neoi Dionysoi is not entirely limited to royalty as Akoites, Friedrich Nietzsche and Jim Morrison are also counted as members (though it’s interesting to note that Morrison claimed the title of Lizard King as part of his stage persona.)

There is uncertainty about the place of Orpheus in this category. In some traditions Orpheus is described as a king of one of the Thracian tribes and his life followed a Dionysian model, particularly in his role as culture-bringer, the frenzied effect he had on people, his descent into the underworld to save a loved one and one of the deaths ascribed to him was being torn apart by a group of mainades. However he differs in some important ways from other members of this category and is already honored as the founder of our tradition and a member of the Dionysian Prophets, so his inclusion is not necessary.

Now the reason that we honor the Dionysian Kings on August 1st is because this is the date on which Marcus Antonius ended his life and Octavian proclaimed victory over Kleopatra Philopator, the last of the Ptolemies to rule the Hellenistic kingdom of Egypt that had been carved out of the remnants of Alexander’s great empire. In one foul swoop several royal Dionysian lines and their ambitions are brought to an end – indeed though others after would take up the purple mantle and Bacchic diadem none would do so with such grandiosity.

So this is a time to reflect on the lives of these figures, why Dionysos has such a persistent connection to royalty, what Dionysian kingship entails (particularly the cardinal virtues of tryphê, philanthropia, eleutheria, and harmonia) and why all who walk this path seem to come to a tragic end. There’s much to ponder with this last one: what are the common weaknesses of these great men that contribute so strongly to their downfall? Is their greatness in spite of our because of this? Is it unavoidable, an ingrained part of the role they perform as the New Dionysos, just as the legendary kings of the stage all bring about self-destruction through their own fatal flaw? Are both the literal and figurative kings raised up just to fall in some savage agrarian rite – and is it necessarily a good thing if one is clever enough to avoid the pattern?

In addition to this I would recommend setting a feast fit for kings, with plentiful wine and spirits. Dine in their presence and hail Dionysos through them, the masks he wore on the stage and in the world. Read their stories and remember them. If you’re able, open yourself up to them so they can experience the pleasures of material existence through you. Listen to music, sing, dance, dress like a king, write poetry in their honor. And watch thematically appropriate movies or plays.

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A chatty bunch

This Thursday at 9:30pm EDT we’ll be having a discussion about our upcoming festivals in the thiasos of the Starry Bull and also getting used to the new location and format, as we’re moving our weekly chats from Zoho to Skype. If you don’t have an account set up comment on the Facebook thread or contact Emily, our chat hostess.

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A maiden will I die

Oh she looked out of the window
As white as any milk
But he looked into the window
As black as any silk
Hello, hello, hello, hello
Hello you coal black smith
Oh what is your silly song?
You shall never change my maiden name
That I have kept so long
I’d rather die a maid yes
But then she said
And be buried in my grave yes
And then she said
That I’d have such a nasty
Husky dusky musty funky
Coal black smith
A maiden will I die
Then she became a duck
A duck all on the stream
And he became a water dog
And fetched her back again
Then she became a hare
A hare all on the plain
And he became a greyhound dog
And fetched her back again
Then she became a fly
A fly all in the air
And he became a spider
And fetched her to his lair

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Whiskey helps the goddess Hera through her identity crisis in this short film by Jameson Irish Whiskey

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How it works

Everyone who wants to understand how communication with gods and spirits works should read this comic that Erik found for us.

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a representation of the wondrously-wrought stars and of the vault of heaven

Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.18
The Romans call the sun Liber, because he is free (liber) to wander — as Naevius puts it:

Here where the wandering sun flings loose his fiery reins and drives nearer to the earth.

The Orphic verses, too, by calling the sun “Eubouleus,” indicate that he is the patron of “good counsel”; for, if counsel is the offspring of the Mind and if, in the opinion of our authorities, the sun is the mind of the universe from which the first beginning of intelligence is diffused among mankind, then the sun is rightly believed to preside over good counsel. In the line:

The sun, which men also call by name Dionysus

Orpheus manifestly declares that Liber is the sun, and the meaning here is certainly quite clear; but the following line from the same poet is more difficult:

One Zeus, one Hades, one Sun, one Dionysus.

The warrant for this last line rests on an oracle of Apollo of Claros, wherein yet another name is given to the sun; which is called, within the space of the same sacred verses by several names, including that of Iao. For when Apollo of Claros was asked who among the gods was to be regarded as the god called Iao, he replied:

Those who have learned the mysteries should hide the unsearchable secrets, but, if the understanding is small and the mind weak, then ponder this: that lao is the supreme god of all gods; in winter, Hades; at spring’s beginning, Zeus; the Sun in summer; and in autumn, the splendid Iao.

For the meaning of this oracle and for the explanation, of the deity and his name, which identifies Iao with Liber Pater and the sun, our authority is Cornelius Labeo in his book entitled On the Oracle of Apollo of Claros.

Again, Orpheus, pointing out that Liber and the sun are one and the same god, writes as follows of the ornaments and vestments worn by Liber at the ceremonies performed in his honor:

Let the worshiper first throw around him a crimson robe,
like flowing rays resembling fire.
Moreover from above the broad all-variegated skin of a wild fawn
thickly spotted should hang down from the right shoulder,
a representation of the wondrously-wrought stars and of the vault of heaven.
And then over the fawn-skin a golden belt should be thrown,
all-gleaming to wear around the breast a mighty sign
that immediately from the end of the earth the Beaming-one springing up
darts his golden rays on the flowing of ocean.

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War is the father of all

Reading P. Sufenas’ thoughts on the lack of a Greek eschatology, I was reminded of the notion Plutarch discusses in one of his Pythian Dialogues of the existence of a plurality of competing worlds. Briefly, there are a bunch of worlds (he suggests anywhere from five to an infinite number) each of which are subtly different (as an example he proposes a world where fire is the dominant element, as earth is here) spinning about and periodically bumping into each other. When that happens there are cataclysmic repercussions including the potential for one world to absorb the reality of another.

dionysian_fool

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Melissa is dying

Have you read Rhyd Wildermuth’s latest piece on Alley Valkyrie’s latest piece for the Wild Hunt? You should.

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If you’re not following the Boukoleon you should!

Just over the last couple days, Markos has discussed the Dionysian and Phrygian elements in the French revolution:

Back to the Phrygian cap, Attis is a transsexual god known to been castrated, usually by himself in madness or by Dionysus. Marianne wearing the cap again reinforces that, while Marianne is female she is taking a dual sex role as liberty is a universal right.

Teresa shared a powerful account of how she found her way to Dionysos:

You’ve seen the movie Dead Poets Society, right?  I grew up very much like Neil in that movie (just without the acting bug), with very overbearing parents trying to dictate my every move in life.  I was never allowed to figure out what I wanted to do with my life because I was told what I wanted to do.  I was supposed to be a doctor of some sort and make them proud.  They sent me to a private high school and a private university so I could do just that.  But I didn’t want to be a Dr. and I wanted to make myself proud . . . but I wasn’t.  I wasn’t proud of anything I had done because it wasn’t of my own choosing, and over time I became very depressed.

And Narkaios shared his battle with his personal Hydra:

Yes, Dionysos showed up… The god who comes, came into my life and he brought with him pretty much all what he has to deliver. Yes. He freed me from the madness that had poisoned my mind. He cured me, as the mountain-mother cured him. I look back on my past, and (still a bit ashamed) I can truly say, “That is not me anymore! I do not recognize me in those acts or those feelings… I have become someone else. I am not the one I was before this episode either… I am someone new.” I learned a f*cking lot in those months!

While Emily explores the chthonic core of our tradition:

In the Bacchic Orphic traditions of the Starry Bull, we are encouraged to pray for the dead. Our actions in life affect the lines that came before us, and our prayers can help them just as their power can help us. Since the entire pantheon of the Starry Bull is either chthonic or worshipped in a chthonic aspect, we can call upon almost any of Them to help our ancestors (blood or lineage), our beloved dead, and any restless spirits around that might need some guidance.

And Aridela discusses Minoan Yoga and the power of the stars:

I journeyed to my sacred forests and cliffs for the weekend to celebrate a festival for Ariadne as Lady of the Labyrinth. Within and surrounding the festival, I also intended to experiment with some potential trance postures and dances whose depictions I’d been studying in the Minoan epiphany scenes. Here I must again credit Bruce Rimell, whose essay and collection of images turned me onto this idea. Unfortunately, I still haven’t been able to track down the article he references about the visionary potential of these particular postures, but I’m familiar with the concept within the work of Felicitas Goodman, a different anthropologist (although Goodman never experimented with Minoan postures that I know of). On the bright side, I didn’t have too many preconceived notions.

My only frustration with these pieces is that there isn’t more discussion in the comments. I mean, this is some good shit! These authors are pouring their hearts and minds out. That deserves some kind of response, no? So go forth and read, discuss and enjoy. And if you’d like to be a contributor to the Boukoleon contact me and I’ll set you up.

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Ever more miasma

Really good discussions are going on around miasma (some of which I’ve previously collected here and here) but I also wanted to direct you to some older pieces, such as Suz’s thoughts on miasma and mourning, Dver’s little rant on miasma, Ruadhán pondering what’s that miasma, J. Agathokles’ take on miasma, Pete Helms’ exploration of the miasma of war and Sarduriur’s suggestions on how to maintain ritual purity which ends with this link to a ton of Kemetic bloggers’ writings on the topic.

Lots of good stuff! Hopefully it’ll spur you to share your thoughts or tradition’s take on impurity.

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An important message from Christopher Blackwell

I was just interviewed by Christopher Blackwell (I’ll be sure to post the link once it’s up as I’m sure you’re dying to read my thoughts on Bacchic Orphism, regional cultus and the inherent superiority of the Italian people) and in passing he mentioned that he’d like to give more polytheist voices and perspectives space in his publication. I said I knew a lot of smart, funny, creative and sexy polytheists I’d be happy to put him in touch with. So he sent me this blurb and I’m passing it on to you. Get in touch with the man; he does good interviews and it’s important for us to have wider representation so that people don’t think the only options are Wiccanate neopaganism or reconstructionism. Not that there’s anything wrong with either approach but the greatest strength of polytheism lies in its diversity and that diversity is only apparent when you speak up. Your voice matters.

I am editor of ACTION, the official newsletter and e-zine of Alternate Religions Educational Network, a Pagan and Heathen Religious rights organization. http://aren.org/

May I interview you for ACTION?

ACTION, besides covering religious rights issues in our various communities also covers Wiccan, Pagans, Heathens, Druids, and Polytheists that are taking action in their own lives, in their religious communities and in society at large. It is my hope that by covering both people well known, and in the background, that I might inspire an “Ah ha, I could do that” moment and encourage others to be more active.

http://aren.org/newsletter/index.php

Please feel free to check out our organization and our newsletter either on line or have a PDF attachment sent out for print out. In the 2011-on ones you can read online of down load it from the computer. It is free and we have somewhere over three thousand readers both here in the states and in various parts of the world. My readers often suggest people in their communities that they think others would be interested in knowing about.

Sincerely,
Christopher Blackwell
Editor of ACTION
myrddin1@wildblue.net

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A brief account of how I became an evil cult leader

sannion

I hold the title of archiboukolos (“chief cow-herder”) of the thiasos of the Starry Bull.

One may naturally wonder what that entails, how I came to hold this title and by what authority I do so.

Basically what it means is that I guide the progression of my cult, the thiasos of the Starry Bull, which is a voluntary religious association and mystery tradition devoted to Dionysos and his retinue of gods and spirits. It is a chthonic, ecstatic cult that uses dance, madness, possession and related things to bring about release, cleansing, cures and empowerment. It has a strong eschatological focus and the aim of preparing initiates to become hunting and feasting heroes in the afterlife. There are multiple mysteries into which one can be initiated and that process is strongly guided by Dionysos.

The thiasos basically has an inner and outer expression. There’s the open, public face consisting of akousmatikoi and then there are a handful of people who have contacted me expressing interest in becoming boukoloi. Both draw on the Bacchic Orphic tradition as it found expression in Magna Graecia – but the one group does so voluntarily and the other under special guidance and instruction from me. At the akousmatikos (“listener”) level everything is up to the individual – I’ll suggest ideas and practices and they can decide to do them or not. I encourage them to get to know all of the members of our pantheon but it’s up to them how frequently or in what manner that’s done – everyone’s equal, there’s no obligation or competition. It’s just about honoring our holy powers, hanging out with some cool folks, doing intense ritual, discussing neat stuff and having a good time. People pick up the rudiments of the tradition through immersion – and it’s a tradition that we’re shaping together through our shared experiences. People have had stuff come up for them or asked a question which resulted in that becoming a canonical part of the tradition.

Now for those who are called to go further there are two additional stages – boukolos (which means one who tends the bull) and mystes (initiate). It is required of most people that they spend at least six months as akousmatikoi before contacting me about progressing to the next stage, however there are protocols to fast track things, particularly if Dionysos indicates that he would like it so. Boukoloi are on special paths of service, which are tailor-made for them through counseling and divination. Once we have determined a) if the person has Dionysos’ blessing to proceed b) the nature of the work they will be doing c) and any prescriptions or prohibitions that will be involved we begin an extensive training process which is carried out under my supervision and Dionysos’ direction. Once this is completed to the satisfaction of Dionysos the person is consecrated as a boukolos within the thiasos of the Starry Bull, and after fulfilling this role for three years is considered a tradition-bearer with all of the rights and responsibilities that that entails. One of those rights is that they are then eligible to seek initiation into the mysteries of our tradition. There is no requirement to become mystai (and divination is performed to determine whether that is even an option) and I suspect most will remain boukoloi, as it involves the form of service most suited to them. If Dionysos requires it, however, even the rule of three-year service may be superceded.

My interest in the Bacchic Orphic tradition began around 2003, roughly a decade into my worship of Dionysos. I was hanging out with some friends and we decided to take some mushrooms. They all had a really pleasant trip – last thing I remember was them rolling on the floor laughing. Then I’m in the underworld being chased by shadowy monsters with white faces who eventually caught me and tore me to pieces. The leader of the monsters revealed himself to be Dionysos and he put me back together, stuffing his ivy in my chest in place of a heart. Needless to say I did not share this experience with my friends when I came to. Poor bastards would have had a hard time understanding what a beautiful, powerful and positive thing I had gone through.

From that moment on I began following a very specific path of Dionysos as opposed to the more generic Pan-Hellenic form I had up until then. Basically what I did was trace the path he had walked through the world, fully immersing myself in the mythology, cult practices and other traditions of each specific location. So for instance I spent some time doing Greco-Egyptian syncretism and working with the Ptolemaic dynasty and was initiated into probably the most grueling mystery I’ve yet been through. (It involved carrying Dionysos, at least sixteen members of the family and about thirteen other deities and spirits simultaneously. If you want to get a sense of what it was like I wrote a highly fictionalized treatment of the experience in the story Running with the Apis.)

sannion_fair

I spent another year or so doing the Greco-Egyptian thing and then was introduced to the Pacific Northwest mask of Dionysos, which kicked off a new phase of my religious life. This is when I began working with land-spirits and the Dionysian dead in a more concentrated manner and it too culminated in a mystery experience. However that experience brought to a close something that had been inaugurated by my race with the Apis. Practically overnight I lost contact with certain deities and spirits I’d worked with since my Greco-Egyptian days and even earlier and the ability to do a range of things that had been tied in with that work.

I wandered about aimlessly for a bit and then one of the spirits I work with, whom I have taken to referring to as Spider, began showing me a bunch of prophetic severed heads. Eventually I put together that these weren’t just decapitated heroes but masks and that lead to an interest in commedia dell’arte and the presence of Dionysos in Medieval and Renaissance Italy. Simultaneous with that my work involving the Dionysian dead deepened and I got a lot of downloads about Ariadne, the Minotaur and the Labyrinth – I wrote Strange Spirits as a way to make sense of this whole system of obscure and contradictory mythology that had been dropped into my lap. This is also when I was doing a lot of the Holy Fool stuff which ended up taking on elements of folk Catholicism with a strong emphasis on Saint Paul and John the Baptist in a sequence of events that still doesn’t make much sense to me.

Towards the end of that Spider started showing me more severed heads, which I connected with Orpheus. I was deeply ambivalent about that at first because everything I’d read about Orphism really turned me off. I kept having these weird experiences and mythic downloads that were undeniably Orphic but of an entirely different strain than I was used to, and it brought together a lot of loose threads, especially around the whole Cretan mythic cycle.

Then I underwent another initiatory death and my whole life fell apart around me, as it had done a couple other times at really pivotal moments. I had to put myself back together this time and when I emerged from Haides I carried with me knowledge of how to bring others through what I had experienced. More than that I had specific rites and techniques and an overarching cosmology in my head. I tentatively tried some of this out a couple times in ritual with folks I knew and had results that far exceeded anything I could have anticipated. It actually freaked me out a bit how well this stuff worked.

I was even more freaked out when I started finding a ton of confirmation in books and articles on Orphism – not only did they provide solid ground for rejecting a lot of the stuff I’d always found problematic with the tradition but they flat-out described shit I thought was UPG or my own delusions getting the better of me. Having done this stuff for close to twenty years at that point and being no stranger to my wacky ideas finding corroboration I should have just been able to shrug it off, but it started giving me some massive existential anxiety because it was so exactly what I had been shown and gone through, and all these totally random pieces fit together in ways that they totally fucking shouldn’t have.

I started getting hit by a clue-by-four that none of this was accidental and I had been given this tradition with the express purpose of bringing others into it so I decided to accept the mantle of Orpheoteleste and cult-leader that was being draped over my shoulders – but I’d do it in such an exaggerated and absurd manner that no one would take it seriously and I’d be saved having to bring others into this fucking weird ass tradition.

So I tongue-in-cheek announced that I was starting up an evil sex and death cult and people were free to join it if they wanted but they probably shouldn’t. By the end of the week I had something like twenty perspective members.

Fuck, man. I was so fucked. Now I actually had to do this shit … for real!

I spent some time codifying things and coming up with a progressively hierarchical system and started writing about it on my blog. Interest increased, so I gave folks some rituals and structures to do and to my complete surprise they not only began having experiences with what I had considered personal spirits up to that point but getting downloads themselves that further corroborated what had been shown to me. (Really specific and random stuff, too, that I hadn’t written about publicly or seen discussed anywhere else before then.)

And we’ve been growing ever since.

sannion-costume2

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Gnomai of Melampos

You’re not really living if you’re still afraid of dying.

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