Anthesteria is only a couple weeks away at this point and that makes me a little nervous because I’ve got no idea what to expect from the festival this time around. I’ve been observing it in various forms for close to twenty years so you’d think I’d have a handle on it by this point. But somehow it always finds a way to surprise me.
Although the things done remain fairly constant, each year different themes stand out, new mysteries reveal themselves and I come a little closer to understanding Dionysos.
This festival isn’t just the most important on my religious calendar — it’s unlike any of the others. My whole cosmology is contained in it and what’s more I don’t so much celebrate it as live it. From the moment the sun rises on 11 Anthesterion until it sets on the 13th I am completely in another world, a world in which the boundaries between life and death, the past and the present, the holy and the impure dissolve.
This happens for the sake of renewal, for the revitalization of the land and ourselves — but that renewal comes from a very dark and painful place. It is only when we have looked Finality in the face that we are truly capable of experiencing the joy of life.
The marriage of the king’s wife to the god takes place while the city swings for a sad girl who has lost everything.
Children receive their first sip of wine from cups that are used to pour out libations for the ancestors.
There is feasting in the streets in front of temples that have been locked tight so that a man who murdered his mother may be offered the necessary hospitality of a suppliant.
The souls of those who drowned are led up by Hermes, creating a passage for the flowers to follow.
This is potent stuff — and it’s just the tip of what Anthesteria is about. There is always so much more going on behind the scenes, under the surface.
I can feel myself beginning to shift into Anthesteria mode already. And yet it’s different from anything that I have felt before. There’s still those couple weeks before the festival is upon us — but I don’t think this Anthesteria is going to be like any of the previous ones, at least if what I’m sensing is any indication. So much has changed over the last couple months, especially as a result of the work I’ve been doing with Ariadne.
But you want to know what really has me nervous and so uncertain about how this year’s festival is going to play out? The changes aren’t through. Even bigger changes are close — so close I can feel their ripples reaching back even though they haven’t happened yet and I have no idea what those changes are and what their full effects will be. I’m fairly intuitive and can usually anticipate how the narrative pattern is going to unfold even if the precise details elude me. But this change is completely closed off to me. All I know is that it’s going to be big and that it will directly relate to Anthesteria. I got the first intimations of this while I was in Marysville and haven’t been able to shake the feeling since.
Which is why I’m nervous. Not scared; I’m actually looking forward to whatever it is. My life is a grand, strange adventure — and I have a hunch this change or changes are going to make things even more interesting than they’ve been.
Which is why I’m preparing. First with the devotional stuff for Harlequin which … has already started doing funny things to my brain and I haven’t gone nearly as deep with that as I need and plan to. This next week, in particular, is going to be all about immersing myself in his particular form of insanity.
Then I’ll be rapidly shifting gears with Lent.
The transition alone should be enough to derange my senses.
You know, the human brain is not meant to be tinkered with in this fashion. One of these days there are going to be irreversible repercussions. That should concern me, but I’m kind of looking forward to it.
I don’t think this work is going to cause the change or changes; but I feel it’s necessary to prepare the way.
Here, have some Nirvana: