Fiddlesticks indeed.

Ivy backed out and I haven’t been able to get in touch with “Anonymous” for a couple days now, so I guess the Starry Bull prayer card auction is a bust.

I’ll set the price back to $32 and if you want to buy them outright shoot me an e-mail by the weekend, otherwise I’ll just return the cards to Galina and be done with it.

Clearly I’m not very good at this fundraising business. If you’d like to help out you can join the Bakcheion Support Team here:



On divination by means of twitches

“So soon you return to my Silent Realm,
bordering the Kingdom of Dream and the House of the Sun,
O speaker of soothing verse and master of poisonous plants?”
“Soon?” There was confusion and then bitterness
mixed in the voice of the grey son of Amythaon.
“It feels as if I have wandered the wastes for a lifetime, or even two.
I have worn so many faces since last I laid eyes on you.
And yet,” his voice cracked. “it is as if part of me never left this place.
All that passed so fleeting fast,
a dance of shadows cast upon a cave wall.
Like I watched it, but through a mirror darkly.
I was ever only a stranger in that land, stranger still.
Here, by your side, is truly where I belong.”
Death stroked his leathery cheek, and smiled
as the man grew into a flowery youth,
his belly sickness and wounded knee dissolving
into vitality. He’d nearly forgot what it was like
to feel sap coursing through his body,
ache for release, hunger to explore
and to test his limits.
Death, as she often had before, asked
“Do you wish to remain with me still?”
“My Lady, I love you as no other, and yet -”
“And yet … ?”
“I have not yet had my fill of this world’s treasures
or her sweet suffering. I swear to return, my Queen. And soon.”
“You always do.”

Lovely as the necklace of fair Harmonia

After getting home from the dentist I received some news that’s had my head in the clouds all evening – Ellen wrote to notify me that the necklaces were finished.

“Who’s Ellen?” you’re probably asking at this point. Followed closely by, “What necklaces?”

Chances are unless you’re one of the lucky few in our overlapping communities that she’s reached out to over the years, you don’t know Ellen.

You might recognize the name if you’ve been following along at Art is Anathema; it’s not a big name though. She’s not a fixture of the pagan/polytheist festival circuit, she doesn’t have a ton of books out, write for one the major community hubs or even have a blog (at least that I’m aware of.) You won’t find her on Tumblr, Twitter, Google+, Kwazzle, Flippidygibbit or wherever everyone’s hanging out these days; shockingly, she doesn’t even have a Facebook account. I know. Mind blown.

Where you will find her is in the background, quietly doing her thing. Her thing involves honoring her Gods and Spirits, working some heavy magic and offering support, encouragement and sage counsel to those people she feels are doing serious shit for their Gods and Spirits.

Yeah, I’m not sure why she contacted me either – but I’m glad that she did!

It’s been several months since we started corresponding but it feels like I’ve known her for years. I wish that I had, because her gentle wisdom and the example she provides of humble devotion could have helped me avoid some major blunders of my past. There’s a lot more I could say, but that’s her story to share with whom she will – however I will say this, I’d be proud to call her an elder of my tradition, because she embodies so many of the virtues so many of our so-called leaders only pay lip service to.

And that’s the crazy thing. Though she belongs to other Gods and works in a different tradition she has already done so much for the Starry Bull. I’d like to rattle off a list of all the ways she’s helped out in just the handful of months I’ve known her, but I suspect that would only make her profoundly uncomfortable and that’s the last thing I’d ever want.

I also suspect she wouldn’t be terribly happy being saddled with the title of “elder”; she steadfastly holds to the position that what she’s doing isn’t extraordinary, it’s what committed laypeople all over the world and in every religion do all the time.

She’s right and she’s wrong about that; no religious community would be possible without the contributions of the “rank and file” who so often get overlooked and yet keep helping because they’re not doing it for the pats on the head anyway, but for the many Gods and Spirits who deserve the best that we can give them. People like you guys. And like Ellen. And that is what makes it so extraordinary.

Which brings us to the second question.

The answer is these necklaces:


A wearable shrine for Dionysos and his bride Ariadne, hand-crafted by an artisan of the sacred and specially blessed to help foster an ecstatic connection with the happy couple.

You can feel the power radiating off these things just through the pictures and she hasn’t even finished charging them.


She made one for each of the members of the ritual team as a way of thanking them for putting together this grand and tragic spectacle on behalf of the community, as well as five others we could sell to help raise the funds needed to get Bakcheion to Many Gods West in August.

She refused compensation for supplies, labor or even to offset the cost of shipping, considering that all part of her donation to the cause.


I should be pricing these things much higher but I want them to be available to anyone who will properly appreciate and give them a good home. If you’ve got $45 and a willingness to help some crazy Dionysians do their thing then one of these necklaces can be yours. But act fast, because I have a hunch they’re going to sell out pretty quick.

I mean, if you got this necklace and the set of Starry Bull prayer cards you’d have yourself the start of a rather lovely shrine. It’s even in the right colors and everything. Just saying.

[Dionysos to Ariadne]
Don’t you know my name,
well, you been so long.
See these eyes so red,
red like jungle burning bright.
Those who feel me near
pull the blinds and change their minds.
It’s been so long.
Still this pulsing night,
a plague I call a heartbeat,
just be still with me.
– David Bowie, Putting Out the Fire

And be you witnesses of this conjuration!

In the poem Indigen I wanted to “de-translate” Ovid’s account of Arachne by having the Maeonian maiden depict stories drawn from her own local Lydian traditions. Not only did I use the more authentic Kuvava for Cybele, Baki for Bacchus and so forth, but the subject matter of her tapestry is a lot more bleak and monstrous than what we find in the sixth book of the Metamorphoses, which suits the general tone and recurrent themes of NOT AN EXIT. There’s a bit I’m sure no one got, because I didn’t even fully understand it as I was writing it:

And there the hunting god stands, fox-clever and grinning,
mask-like face – Santai’s double – turned to stare straight at the tapestry’s viewer
and through them.

Like, I knew it was a play on Herakleitos’ assertion that the nearby Ephesian Dionysos Lenaios was the equivalent of Haides, while also bringing in some stuff about Herakles and Harlequin.

You see, the Anatolian Sandon or Santai (Sandas, Sandes, Santa, Sannon, Disandas, et alia) was worshiped as a God of plague and the underworld; his weapon of choice was the double-axe and he led a host of monsters in the hunt and later was syncretized with Herakles. That’s pretty much all I was able to turn up on him, but it was sufficient for the allusions I was aiming for.

Until tonight when lo, what should I behold but Attilio Mastrocinque’s The Cilician God Sandas and the Greek Chimaera. I read many interesting things therein that started sounding an awful lot like they were talking about an indigenous expression of Dionysos – source material I had no idea existed when I wrote the poem – when one text (KUB IX.31) leaps out at me in particular:

Zarpia, physician in Kizzuwatna, speaks as follows:
if the year is bad and in the land there are many deaths,
in any town the plague broke out from,
also the householder should perform the following.
He puts on the table a bronze axe, a hot bread and a cheese-bread.
He puts on the bronze axe a brazen dagger,
a bent bow and an arrow.
Now they take a she-goat and the householder
pours a libation to Marduk with wine in front of the table,
draws out the bronze axe and speaks in this wise …
When he has finished uttering the conjuration
he puts the bronze axe on the table,
and they slay the she-goat…
Also, Marduk and you, Innarawanta, we have done the spells!
And we have taken a piece of raw liver,
and we have drunk from a spoon…
And he speaks as follows:
In the high and in the low the Sun-god is banqueting!
The divine fathers of my house should banquet!
The thousand gods should banquet!
And be you witnesses of this conjuration!”
Then the householder takes his wooden rod and enters the door
and in Luwian he perform a spell as follows:
Santa, king, and you Innarawanta (Luwian: Annarummenzi)
who are wearing bloody clothes
who are girdled with the huprus of the Lulahhi
Do not take maliciously the food!
Eat this offering?
Do not eat our sheep, our beef, our men.


I’ve bolded the parts that are significant. Especially when read in conjunction with the confession of the mystai of Idaian Zeus, according to Euripides’ Cretans fragment 472:

Son of the Phoenician princess,
child of Tyrian Europa and great Zeus,
ruler over hundred-fortressed Crete—here am I,
come from the sanctity of temples roofed with cut beam of our native wood,
its true joints of cypress welded together with Chalybean axe
and cement from the bull.
Pure has my life been since the day when I became an initiate of Idaean Zeus.
Where midnight Zagreus roves, I rove;
I have endured his thunder-cry;
fulfilled his red and bleeding feasts;
held the Great Mother’s mountain flame;
I am set free and named by name a Bakchos of the Mailed Priests.
Having all-white garments, I flee the birth of mortals and,
not nearing the place of corpses,
I guard myself against the eating of ensouled flesh.

This actually confirms a suspicion of mine that the chorus of mystai aren’t talking about full abstention but meat that has been offered to the dead in a hero-feast. Obviously they weren’t vegetarians since they mention a couple lines up engaging in initiatory omophagia.

First the Oinanthe stele and now this. These things tend to come in threes, so I wonder what else awaits discovery. I bet it involves panthers!

That, folks, is why I always, always say trust your intuition no matter how random it might seem; you never know what weird rabbit holes you may end up getting led down into.

They are everywhere

I’ve had a broken tooth for a couple months now and finally got the chance to go to the dentist today. Behind the receptionist I spotted this, which I managed to snap a covert picture of:


It made things a little better, even if the visit itself was mostly a bust.