A Simple Desate Rite

Theoinophilus has written a lovely introductory ritual for our tradition that I am proud to share with you here.

A Simple Desate Rite

On a large plate on the floor in front of the shrine, or on an altar the following must be arranged:

An offering bowl
An ewer or bottle of wine
A very small cup for the akousmatikos
An 18-20″ length of green yarn, only wool
An ivy crown
Image of the God as a child or Bull
One lighting candle to be placed in a holder, five other candles to represent Dionysos.
A censer
A vessel of storax
Flower offering
Fruit offering, preferably figs
Khernips vessel

Arrange the plate and shrine and, after bathing, done a pure white robe or wear a clean loing cloth.

Pour water into the khernips bowl, then light either a laurel leaf or rosemary twig from the candle using your own words of purification or the following:

“The pure are purified by the pure and made pure.”

The akousmatikos then washes their hands up to their elbows, their face and then sprinkles water over the offerings and objects saying the same as the above. They then make an offering of incense, lighting the five candles saying:

“I come pure from the pure, O Pure Queen of the earthly ones, Eukles, Eubouleus, and You other Immortal Gods: Persephone, called ε-ε-ό-η; Ariadne, called ἀ-ι-ά-η; Aphrodite, called ἀ-ο-ί-η; Hermes, called ἑ-ῆ; Hekate, called ἑ-ά-η; male and female heroes and heroines, nymphs and satyrs, and Twice-Born Dionysos, Zagraeus called ι-ό-ῡ-ε! I too claim to be of your blessed race, but Fate and other Immortal Gods conquered me, the star-smiting thunder. Please attend this sacred rite, for I come hear having heard of the Starry Bull and seek to be bound to the True Vine.”

The akousmatikos places the crown of ivy on their head saying:

“I am dry with thirst and am perishing, O Immortal Gods, take what little I have here to offer that I may be worthy to behold the starry Bull.”

The akousmatikos sprinkles water from the khernips onto the image of the God saying:

“Io, Io, Io, Io, Io eoue! The foreigner has arrived into this home, you have entered into our home a stranger, I will greet you as a king.”

If the image is water-proof, they may wash the head, hands and feet of the image. If it is a picture they may make the same gestures on the picture or painting.

The akousmatikos then bows profoundly before the image and in his or her own words makes conversation to the deity. Next they make an offering of flowers and incense, smelling each first and then offering them to the image of the god saying:

“Of all the springing herbs with which mortals have to do on the earth, none has an unchanging destiny laid upon it, but all must go full circles, and it is not lawful to stop any part, but each bough holds to just a share of the course, even as it began it.”

They then take the food offering, and place it to the mouth of the image saying:

“Receive good fortune, receive good health, which we bring from the gods have commanded from of old.”

The akousmatikos may take a single bite of one of the pieces of fruit, placing the bitten piece to the side in remembrance of their ancestors. At this point they may abide in devotion to the god, talking with him and other divine beings present.

After this communion, the akousmatikos smells the wine and pours it in the offering bowl saying:

“There is truth only in wine; all else is dream.”

The akousmatikos then pours their own cup and makes conversation with the the god and other divine beings present.

“I sing praise of Zagraeus, child of Zeus, born of Persephone. He is called Dimetor, of two mothers, born of one father, born the dread of all the powers divine. His is the thread, made like a snake, into which he transformed while being pursued by the crafty powers which had yet to be overcome. His body fell, bruised and battered like the grapes of harvest and he was twice born and immortal.”

At the point where the akousmatikos says, “His body fell” they drop the green thread into the wine in the offering bowl. After the hymn, they sit in absolute silence, drawing on the sorrowful death of Zagraeus. Here they may sing in mournful tones, “Io eoue!”. After some time has passed, the akousmatikos takes the thread from the wine saying:

“Life. Death. Life. Truth. Zagreus. Dionysos.”

They then take the thread, making three knots in the center saying, the same as above. Next, they wrap the string three times around their right wrist and tie the final end together saying:

” Dionysos. Truth. Body. Soul.”

The akousmatikos may abide in mediation on the thread or may close the ceremony saying:

“Akousei! I have heard the beating of the Starry Bull and now, like a calf, I am bound to the beating of its heart! I praise you, all gods! I praise you Persephone, called ε-ε-ό-η; I praise you, Ariadne, called ε-ε-ό-η; I praise you, Aphrodite, called ἀ-ο-ί-η; I praise you, Hermes, called ἑ-ῆ; I praise you, Hekate, called ἑ-ά-η; I praise you all you male and female heroes and heroines, I praise you all you nymphs and satyrs, and I praise you Twice-Born Dionysos, Zagraeus called ι-ό-ῡ-ε! I too claim to be of your blessed race, but Fate and other Immortal Gods conquered me, the star-smiting thunder, yet I am in your care. Akousei! Akousei! Akousei!”

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6 thoughts on “A Simple Desate Rite

  1. sisterkrissy

    This is a great rite (ba-dum-ching! I’m here all night). I’m excited to put it into practice. I don’t have all the necessary equipment/tools/etc at the moment, but my feeling is that it’s always better to start doing the work with what you have and build up your practice as you go along than to not do anything at all. I’ll be working with this on Sunday.


    • I couldn’t agree more – especially since the point of this is sort of to introduce yourself to the gods and spirits of this tradition and better to say “Hey! Here I am. Let’s party!” than to sit on your thumbs waiting to collect all of the right props and never get around to doing anything.

      I can’t wait to hear how it goes on Sunday! (Good choice of day, by the way.)


  2. I might be a bit ignorant here, but what does “Desate” mean?


  3. Pingback: How traditions evolve within the thiasos of the Starry Bull | The House of Vines

  4. Pingback: A thiasos of the Starry Bull Liberalia | The House of Vines

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