Her most beautiful pride

A while back I posted the preliminary translation that Giulia Rossetto prepared of the Orphic hexameters found in a palimpsest from the library of Saint Catherine’s monastery at Sinai. It was a very tentative translation since there are a number of problematic passages due to the poor condition of the manuscript and other issues I’m not going to bother detailing here.

Boris Kayachev has published a supplementary translation for the Archiv für Papyrusforschung which clarifies some of those issues, provides alternative readings of certain passages, and is generally (without taking anything away from Rossetto’s groundbreaking discovery and the difficult labor of putting together that initial translation) more readable. (Note some portions were too fragmentary for Kayachev to include in this translation, which is a shame as they can be pretty evocative.) I am not sure I agree with all of his corrections and conclusions, but it’s a huge step forward. For instance I do not believe that Γίγαντες instead of Τῑτᾶνες is necessarily an errata, and I remain agnostic on whether these fragments come from the Sacred Discourses in 24 Rhapsodies or some other Orphic text; there are also a couple other points I want to tease out but for now I will simply share Kayachev’s emended translation with immense gratitude to both him and Giulia Rossetto for the work they put into this. Anyone without access to the Archiv für Papyrusforschung hit me up and I’ll send you a PDF.

Fragments 1 & 2 concern an otherwise unattested katabasis of Aphrodite in search of Dionysos, and a conversation she has with the Queen of the Underworld. (There’s also a delightful pun, transforming the Hesiodic epiklesis “laughter-loving” into “penis-loving.”) Fragments 3 & 4 are about the Giants’ attempt to seduce and lure Dionysos away from the throne of Zeus, which is unsuccessful until they deploy “childish toys and gentle words.” Earlier attempts were thwarted by the Korybantes — Akmon made noise at a forge to drown out their enthralling song (creating, notably, a bronze axe) and Kyrbas and Proteus draw their scimitars and fight off the opponents, including a gross pedophile who wants to rape the bibulous baby Bakchos. Good stuff!

Fragment 1:
ὣc φάτο Φερcεφό̣νη{ι} καὶ ἀπὸ θρόνου ὦρτο φαεινοῦ·
c̣ε̣ύ̣ατ’ ἔ̣π̣ε̣[ιθ’ ὅθι … ἔcω κ]ρυφίοιο μελ[ά]θρου
{ἐ}κλήϊc̣ε̣ν̣ Δ̣ιό̣ν̣υ̣cον ἐρίβρομον εἰραφιώτην,
⟨ε⟩ἴκελον [αὐ]γ̣ῆ̣ιc̣ιν̣ ̣μηνὸc περιτελλομέν̣ο̣ιο̣ ̣
εἵμαcί τε cτ̣[ιλβ]ο̣ν̣τα κα̣ὶ̣ ἱμερτοῖc cτεφάνοιc̣ιν̣ ̣.
πα̣ῖδ’ ̣ἐν χε̣ρc̣ὶ[ν] ̣ἀ̣ν̣ε̣ῖλ̣ ̣ε̣ν̣, ἑὸν περικαλλὲc ἄ̣γ̣α̣λ̣μ̣α̣,
αἰνό̣[ν], καρποφ̣όρον, Χαρίτων ἄπο κάλλοc ἔχ[οντα,
καὶ̣ ῥ’ ἐ̣πὶ γ̣ο⟨ύ⟩να̣c̣ι θ̣ῆ̣κ̣ε̣ φιλ̣̣ο̣μ̣μη̣δοῦc Ἀφρο̣[δίτηc.

Thus Persephone spoke, and rose from her lustrous throne. She then hastened to the place where inside a secret chamber she had locked up Dionysos, the loud-roaring bull God, similar to the radiance of a rising Moon and shining with clothes and lovely wreaths. She took up the child in her arms, her most beautiful pride, awesome, fruit-bearing, endowed with the Graces’ beauty, and put him on the knees of penis-loving Aphrodite.

Fragment 2:
ὅν ποτε κιccοφ[ό]ρου Νύc[ηc ἐ]νὶ δαcκίωι ἄντρωι
ἔτρεφον ἀμβ[ροcί]η͙ι κ͙α͙ὶ {επ} ἐκόcμεον εἵμα̣c̣ι καλοῖc.

cῶι δὲ πόθωι χ[θόνα π]ᾶ̣cαν [ ]ν αἰθέρα θ’ ἁγνόν
πόντον τ’ ἠδ’ [Ἀχ]έροντοc [ὑπὸ χ]θονὶ χεῦμα κελαινόν.

ἔ̣τλην δ’ ε̣ἰc̣ Ἀΐδαο δόμουc cκοτ[ίο]υc καταβῆναι,
ἠελίου προλιποῦcα φάοc λαμπράν τε cελήνην
οὐράνιόν τε πόλον, διὰ cὸν πόθον, ἄ̣μ̣β̣ροτε κοῦρε.
ὣc φάτο Κύπριc ἄναccα, φίλον δ’ ἄ̣[ρα] π̣ο̣λ[λά]κ̣ι π̣αῖδα ̣
ἀ̣cπα̣cίωc ἀγάπαζε, χέραc περὶ γυῖα [β]α̣λο̣ῦcα.

“(You) whom once in a shaded cave on Nysa grown over with ivy I nourished with ambrosia and adorned with beautiful clothes. … Out of love for you, I traversed all the Earth, and the hallowed Heaven, and the Sea, and even the black stream of Acheron under Earth.… I dared to descend into the dark abode of Hades, leaving behind the light of Sun, the bright Moon and the vault of Heaven, out of love for you, divine child.” Thus Lady Kypris spoke, and again and again joyfully greeted her sweet child, embracing him with her arms.

Fragment 3:
ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ̣ τ̣ά̣δ̣ε̣ πάντ̣α διαμπερέωc ἐτέλεccαν,
ἂψ δ̣’ ἀ̣πὸ πα̣[ιδ]ὸ̣c̣ ἕ̣λ̣οντ’ ὄccω̣ν κ̣εφα̣λῆc̣ τε̣ κ̣ά̣λ̣υ̣μ̣μα,
καὶ τότε δ̣ὴ τομὸν ε̣ὔ̣[χαλ]κ̣ον πέλ̣εκυν τολυπεύων
Ἄκμων παιδ̣ ̣ὸc {δ’} ἔναντα κατε̣cτ̣άθ̣η̣. ἦ̣λ̣θ̣ε̣ δ. . α̣μ̣ε̣ο̣c
ἀ̣θ[ανάτ]ουc̣ τ̣’ ἤ̣ε̣ιδ[ε]ν ἀνώϊcτ’ ἔργα τελ̣οῦντα̣c̣.
αὐτὰρ ἔπειτ’ [±2]κρατα θενε̣ον̣ c͙χ͙εδ͙ὸν ἦλθε μ̣ὲ̣ν̣ Οἴνου,
πάντα φόβον προϊεὶc ε̣[ἴ] πωc̣ προλ̣[ίποι] Διὸc ἕδρη̣[ν·
Κύρβαc δ͙’ ἀντήμυνεν, ἐ̣γ̣{ε̣}ίνετο δ’ ἔργ̣’ ὑπ̣έροπ̣[λα.
Πρωτε̣ὺc δ’ εἰcήϊξ’ ἅρπην μετὰ χ̣ερcὶ τιτ[αίνων,
φάσγ̣ανα δ’ ἄλλοθεν ἄλλοc͙ ⟨ἔ⟩χ̣εν̣ περι[̣
ἀ͙λ͙λ̣’ οὐδ̣’ ὣ̣ c̣ἀ̣πέλειπε Διὸc [θρόνον
κιcc̣̣ο[ῦ] δ’ ε̣ὐπλέκτοιο̣

But when they performed all these things from beginning to end, and took again off the child the veil covering his eyes and head, after that Akmon stood in front of the child, finishing a sharp axe of fine bronze. Then came … and sang of the Gods performing unexpected deeds. … he (?) came close to Dionysos in the hope that, letting all fear go, he would abandon the throne of Zeus; but Kyrbas defended him, and there took place deeds of martial arrogance. Proteus rushed in, holding out a scimitar in his hands, and they pointed swords from everywhere around. … But not even so did he leave the throne of Zeus. … of nicely twisted ivy…

Fragment 4:
ἐκ θ]ρ̣όνου ἀν[c]τ̣ῆναι, πατρ̣ὸc δ’ ἐφράccατο βουλά[c,
ἅc ο]ἱ τ̣ ὸ πρῶτ[ον . . .] πέφραδε μητίετα Ζεύc,
ὁππότ’ ἀπ’ ὠκεαν[οῖο] ῥοῆc εἰc οὐρανὸν ἦγεν.
ὡc δ’ οὐ πεῖθον παῖδα Διὸc καὶ Φερcεφονείηc
δώροιc παντοίοιc ὁπόcα τρέφει ε̣ὐ̣[ρ]ε̣ῖα χθών,
οὐδ’ ἀπάτη⟨ι⟩c δολίηιcι παρ̣α̣[ι]φαcίηιcί τε μύθων,
ἐκ θρόνου ἀνcτῆναι βαcιληίου, αὐτίκ’ ἄρ’ οἵ γε
κόcμηcαν κεφαλὴν cτεφάνο̣ιc̣ἀνθῶν ἐ̣ρο̣έ̣ντων
παιδὸc Ζηνὸc ἄνακτοc ἐριγδούπο̣ιο γίγαντεc
κ̣ύ̣κλωι δ’ ἐcτιχόωντο ⟨ ⟩
μει]λιχίηι κα͙ὶ πᾶcιν ἀθύρμαcι νηπιάχοιcι
μύθοιcίν] τ’ ἀγανοῖcι παραιπε⟨π⟩ιθε{μ}ῖν μεμαῶτεc.

(Dionysos was about) to stand up from the throne, but he pondered his father’s counsels, which all-wise Zeus first gave him when he led him from the stream of Ocean into Heaven. When they did not persuade the child of Zeus and Persephone with all kinds of gifts which the wide earth breeds, nor with treacherous wiles and words of persuasion, to stand up from the royal throne, then at once they, the Giants, adorned with wreaths of lovely flowers the head of the child of Zeus, the loud-thundering Lord; they marched in circle … wishing to persuade him with kindness and all sorts of childish toys and gentle words.


Okay, just one.

What do you call a bundle of sticks?

Jesus, what’s wrong with you people!? Why would you use that word?

I clearly meant θύσθλα, the sacred implements which the Nurses of Dionysos were forced to toss aside in their flight from the wolfworking King Lykourgos:

All together they dropped their thústhla on the ground, (being) struck with a bouplêx by men-slaying Lykourgos. (Homer, Iliad 6.136)

The word bouplêx can either be translated “double-axe” or “ox-goad” while there’s greater ambiguity surrounding thústhla. Most scholars consider it a primitive νάρθηξ or θύρσος (bonus points if you know the difference without googling it) but Emperor Julian the Pious uses it of a bunch of sticks or rods:

Is not this deed worthy of the pit? Shouldn’t those who approve of such things be driven out like the pharmakoi not just struck with rods (θύσθλοις) — for the penalty is too light for the crimes — but put to death by stoning? (Or. 7.209d)

This was a fate which Sokrates often suffered:

Owing to his vehemence in argument, men set upon him with their fists or tore his hair out or beat him with sticks; and that for the most part he was despised and laughed at, yet bore all this ill-usage patiently. (Diogenes Laërtius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers 5.21)

Indeed, one might even say that it was a fate the son of Sophroniskos the sculptor and Phainaréte the midwife was born to:

He was born, according to Apollodoros in his Chronology, during the archonship of Apsephion in the fourth year of the 77th Olympiad, on the sixth day of Thargelion, when the Athenians purify their city and the Delians say that Artemis was born. (5.44)

During Thargelia the Athenians enacted one of their most primitive and brutal rites, the expulsion of the φαρμακοι:

They used to pick out two men at Athens to be purifiers of the city during the Thargelia, one representing the men, one the women. That Pharmakos is also a proper name is clear: for he stole the sacred bowls of Apollo, was convicted, and was stoned to death by Achilles and his men – events which what happens at the Thargelia are meant to imitate. Istros tells the story. When Demosthenes in the speech Against Aristogeiton says “so this is the man, the scapegoat, who will beg him off.” Demosthenes in the second speech Against Stephanos also has “drugged”. Someone “drugged” has been harmfully affected by drugs, as Theophrastos indicates in book 15 of Laws. (Suda s.v. Pharmakós)

According to Helladios of Alexandria (as preserved in Photius Biblitheca 279) an alternate name for such individuals was συβάκχοι:

It was the custom at Athens to lead two pharmakoi, one on behalf of the men, and one on behalf of the women, and these were led for purification. And the pharmakos for the men had black figs around the neck, and the other one had white figs. He says that they were called subakchoi. And this cleansing served to ward off plagues of disease, and it took its beginning from Androgeus the Cretan, because the Athenians were afflicted with a plague of disease when he died unjustly in Athens, and this custom began to be in force, to always cleanse the city with pharmakoi.

Oh, but wait. There’s more!

Anyone recall the name of Sokrates’ accuser? 

No, not Anytos who was “roused to anger on behalf of the craftsmen and politicians” — nor Meletos who represented the interests of the poets. I mean the guy who was pissed on behalf of the rhetoricians and sophists. 

Lykon. The Wolf.

Κύκλοι, και τα λοιπά.

Oh, and because I haven’t been pedantic enough: some scholars believe that θύσθλα comes from the Greek θύω meaning “sacrifice, to burn” — which connects it to Thyonê, Thyia and the Thyiades. (As well as Charilla — note the tossing into the ravine and the arrogant king who gets trounced by the Bull because Dionysos is even more badass.)

Not too shabby for a joke I came up with while getting high and listening to Puscifer in the wee dawn hours. My first one was just gonna be a play on “wand” and “male genitalia” or “dildos” which Dionysos is the proud inventor of. Not surprising since he’s a gay God:

On one Salona relief the rites of Liber are shown, with various figures taking part, shown in several rows. The relief slab has a simple moulding, where the dedicatory epigraph is carved – DEO LAETO – to the Merry God, i.e. Liber. In the first row is a piper, in front of whom is a maenad in dance, moments that show off her fluttering clothing. Then there is a figure with a basket or vessel from which winds a snake, chthonic creature very indicative in the procession of the mystery cult. The next row is preserved only in the upper parts of the figures, of a person bearing an animal over his shoulder, probably a kid to be sacrificed, and a female figure with her hands on her abdomen. In the last and third row only the head of one figure is to be discerned. The relief depiction of the cult ceremony of an agrarian character was made by a local artist who was faithfully transmitting the essential elements of the participants in the procession celebrating the god of vegetation and nature – Liber. (Jasna Jeličić Radonić, The Cult of Dionysus or Liber: Votive Monuments in Salona)

Not one!

You must respect my restraint, dear reader. I didn’t make a single narthēkophóroi joke. Not one! And I even set that shit up with the Sokrates post.

Anyway, here’s some more Dionysian eye-candy. Enjoy!

He sure puts the ἐπίθεσθε in the θύρας δ’ ἐπίθεσθε βέβηλοι, now don’t he?

May Iris bless their hearts and other parts

For those of you in the Massachusetts area looking for a fun way to celebrate ὕβρις month they’re planning a fabulous Bacchic κῶμος on June 24th. The organizers encourage folks to “dress in your best Dionysian regalia and dance in celebration of our beautiful, diverse, wild community” with the following helpful suggestions: “leopard print, togas, wands, pine cones, laurel wreaths, grape vines and leaves, goblets, satyrs, bells, colors of purple, red, green, and gold.” They promise to provide “purple ribbons, eco-friendly glitter, bubbles, music.” This sounds like so much fun. But alas, I am tabooed from wearing anything other than white, red and black so I just don’t think I’ll be able to pull off that whole purple, red and green combo. Thankfully I have my own glitter and bubbles. But I do wish them unfettered success and if you would like to join in the revelry here is their information

ὡυτὸς δὲ Θάνατος καὶ Νίκη, ὅτεῳ µαίνονται καὶ ληναΐζουσιν

I was thinking about Sokrates tonight, truly one of the παῦροι βάκχοι (“Bacchic few.”) Throughout his dialogues Plato often makes allusion to Dionysian myth and festivals, particularly when he wants to score a dramatic point; he also has his hero demonstrate a more than casual familiarity with Orphism, for instance in Charmides 155B-157C where Sokrates prescribes a leaf-charm to cure headache, or Kratylos 400b where he quotes the famous σῶμα σῆμα (“body is a tomb/sign”) symbolon. One of the most profound and beautiful of these allusions often goes unnoticed. In the Phaido Plato has Sokrates characterize philosophers as those who ἐπιτηδεύουσιν… ἀποθνήσκειν τε καὶ τεθνάναι (“cultivate nothing but dying and death.”) The dialogue progresses with Oschophoria in the background, a harvest festival honoring Apollon and Dionysos which was instituted by Theseus upon his triumphant return to Athens after slaying Asterios the Minotaur. (You can learn more about it here.) Three rites of this festival are mirrored in the dialogue: a foot-race (61b), the telling of consoling stories (61d) and a victory-libation among friends, like the deadly φάρμακον Sokrates quaffs surrounded by his companions and students. The most interesting part comes after that: upon drinking the hemlock, Sokrates looks up and flashes his eyes “in a bull-like (ταυρηδόν) fashion.” This has, appropriately so, a double meaning. It not only identifies Sokrates with the Ταυροπόν (“Bull-faced”) and Ταυροκέρος Θεός  (“Bull-horned God”) Dionysos — but this was also one of the gestures by which the sacrificial animal consented to being slaughtered for the good of the πόλις-community. This makes Sokrates’ death into a voluntary act of self-offering to cleanse Athens of the evils and pollution which democracy had loosed upon it. That’s … pretty fucking deep, Plato. More and more I’m coming to realize the closer the reading the richer the rewards the text contains. Sometimes you just have to tear it apart to get to the juicy center. 


I’m sorry Lactantius, but that looks like εὐσέβεια to me, not δεισιδαιμονία:

The mother of Galerius, a woman exceedingly superstitious, was a votary of the Gods of the mountains. Being of such a character she made sacrifices almost every day, and she feasted her servants on the meat offered to idols. (De Mortibus Persecutorum 11)

Asian Heritage Month is almost over

As I mentioned at the start of the month, Dionysos loves Asians. So it feels fitting to close the month with this passage from John of Ephesos which was quoted in the third book of the Chronicle of Zuqnin:

In the nineteenth year of the Emperor Justinian, they were busy, thanks to my zeal, with the matter of the Pagans who were discovered in Constantinople. These were illustrious and noble men, with a host of grammarians, sophists, scholastics and physicians. When they were discovered and, thanks to torture, denounced themselves, they were seized, flogged, imprisoned, and sent to the churches so that they might learn the Christian faith as was appropriate for Pagans. There were among them patricians and nobles.

Then a powerful and wealthy Pagan named Phocas, who was a patrician, saw the harshness of the inquisition and knowing that those arrested had denounced him as a Pagan, and that a severe sentence had been given against him because of the zeal of the emperor, that night took deadly poison and so left this earthly life. When the emperor heard this, he ordered with justice that he should be interred like an ass, that there should be no cortege or prayer for him. So his family during the night put him on a litter, carried him, made an open grave and threw him in it like a dead animal.

Thanks to this the Pagans were afraid for some time. Later on the goodness of god visited Asia, Caria, Lydia and Phrygia, thanks to the zeal of the victorious Justinian and by the efforts of his humble servant. So by the power of the holy spirit, 70,000 souls were instructed, and left behind the errors of Paganism, the worship of idols and the temples of the demons for the knowledge of the truth. All were converted, disavowed the errors of their ancestors, were baptized in the name of our lord Jesus Christ, and were added to the number of Christians.

The victorious Justinian paid the expenses and clothing for baptism; he also took care to give three gold pieces to each of them. When god had opened their minds and had made known the truth, they helped us with their own hands to destroy their temples, to overthrow their idols, to extirpate the sacrifices that were offered everywhere, to cut down their altars, soiled with the blood of sacrifices offered to demons, and to cut down countless trees that they worshipped because they were leaving all the errors of their ancestors.

The salutary sign of the cross was planted everywhere among them, and churches of god were founded everywhere. They were built and erected, to the number of eighty-six, with great diligence and zeal, in the high mountains and steep and in the plains, in all the places where there was Paganism. Twelve monasteries were also founded in places which were Pagan, and where the name of Christian name had never been heard from the beginning of the world until this time. Fifty-five churches were founded at public expense and forty-one at the expense of the new Christians. The victorious emperor gave them willingly, by our hands, the sacred vessels, clothes, books and brass items.

Around this time rumors circulated that Alexander had returned to the world of men, as once before he had in the tumultuous time of Cassius Dio:

Shortly before this a man that many said was a daimon — though he himself claimed to be the famous Alexander of Macedon and resembled him in looks and general attire — set out from the regions along the Ister, after somehow or other making his appearance there. He made his way through Moesia and Thrace performing Bacchic rites. He was accompanied by as many as four hundred men equipped with Bacchic wands and fawn-skins, but they harmed no one. In fact all in Thrace at the time agreed that bed and board would be provided for the man and his company at public expense. And no one — no governor, soldier, procurator or local magistrate — dared to confront or contradict him. He traveled the whole time as if in a solemn procession as far as Byzantium and then, taking ship, he made his way to the region of Chalcedon where he performed some sacred rites by night, buried a wooden horse, and then vanished completely, never to be heard from again. (Roman History 80.18.1-3)

The Ister is the Greco-Roman name for the Danube, the second largest river in Eurasia which flows from the Black Forest in the heart of Germany to the Black Sea near the border of contemporary Moldova and Ukraine.

I wonder if Cassius was drawing on the symbolism of the Thracian Rider who went by different names depending on the region, including Rhesos, Karabasmos, Keiladeinos, Manimazos, Aularchenos, Aulosadenos, Pyrmeroulas, Salenos, Pyrmerula, the Dioskouroi, Sabazios and Dionysos and later was Christianized with Saint George, Ss Sergios and Bakchos, the Archangel Michael and other Mounted Saints. Here is a fascinating study on them by Antonis Sakellariou.

The reason I bring this up is I suspect we shall hear reports of phantom hoofbeats in that part of the world as June 12th approaches. 

Who We Are is Revealed by Suffering

If you practice an Orphic-derived religion, or have done any study of the subject or ancient Hellenic religion generally, chances are you’ve encountered this fragment by Pindar preserved in Plato’s Meno 81b-c:

But for those from whom Persephone accepts requital for the ancient grief, in the ninth year she returns their souls to the upper sunlight; from them arise proud kings and men who are swift in strength and greatest in wisdom, and for the rest of time they are called sacred heroes by men. (fr. 133)

Most commentaries focus on the eschatology of the passage, the ποινή of Persephone, early concepts of the hero, and the like, but I just noticed something in the Greek, bolded for emphasis:

Φερσεφόνα ποινὰν παλαιοῦ πένθεος δέξεται, εἰς τὸν ὕπερθεν ἅλιον κείνων ἐνάτῳ ἔτεϊ ἀνδιδοῖ ψυχὰς πάλιν, ἐκ τᾶν βασιλῆες ἀγαυοὶ καὶ σθένει κραιπνοὶ σοφίᾳ τε μέγιστοι ἄνδρες αὔξοντ΄· ἐς δὲ τὸν λοιπὸν χρόνον ἥρωες ἁγνοὶ πρὸς ἀνθρώπων καλεῦνται.

That’s right, the “ancient grief” (παλαιοῦ πένθεος) of Persephone contains the name of Dionysos’ cousin! Which is significant, to my mind at least, since it’s far from the only word used for grief or suffering, especially in tragic and epic vocabulary. Euripides, for instance, uses πάσχειν and πάθος throughout the Bakchai, and some are even further afield. 

His Cup Runneth Over

I am recovering nicely after a follow-up surgery at an ungodly hour this morning. When the idiots performed the amputation they left a large knob of bone, despite the protestations of my podiatrist. And, as he predicted it’s been giving me trouble, so he went ahead and finished what they started. Thankfully it was a pretty standard in-n-out procedure and I’m home recovering — no hospice full of lunatics and demoniacs this time around, woo-hoo!

The hardest part of it all was keeping down a pretty serious panic attack brought on by stupid, repetitive questions during intake (like what kind of hot sauce I had with dinner the night before, which they asked four times) but thankfully I’ve got Dionysos, my early Buddhist training, and the support of my beautiful, strong and wise wife to draw upon so I managed to make it through without completely embarrassing myself. Let me tell you, folks, medically-induced PTSD fucking sucks. One moment you’re calm and perfectly in control and the next your body does all of this crazy shit without bothering to consult you. (I’d rather not scream at nurses while my heart’s beating like a tympanum and there’s so much adrenaline pumping through my system I can taste it, thank you very much. Even if they deserved it, Fucking White people and their inability to handle spice.) In addition to the capable hands of my podiatrist I have one of the most skilled and Gods blessed herbalists I’ve ever seen, so recovery should be a breeze.

My primary concern at this point is that the recovery process is going to impact my ability to complete the ἱερὸς νόμος by the noumenia of Prosopon. When I decided on that date for the relaunch the surgery was scheduled for July or late June if something opened up. I figured if I busted my ass I’d have everything put together by the noumenia, and a couple weeks of this new style of devotion under my belt before I had to make post-surgical accommodations. Then the opportunity presented itself, and I figured it made more sense to seize it than wait, especially with the trouble the foot’s been giving me. Well, I’m not going back on my pact with Dionysos — in the end all a man’s got is his word, especially when it comes to the Gods — so that just means I’ll have to bust ass even harder. Or work smarter and simply focus on the material I’ll need to start up this practice, finishing the rest as I’m able. And, despite the time crunch it is definitely better this way because I won’t be starting the practice, stopping, and picking it back up again. So there’s that. Ultimately I don’t really care — I just don’t want to disappoint Dionysos.

So I won’t. Tomorrow it’s back to the grindstone after spending the day relaxing and recuperating just like my doctor told me to. (Technically he prescribed bed rest for a week, but I think we all understood that was never going to happen.)

An important announcement regarding the Bakcheion

At this point I figure I can let y’all in on the secret I alluded to in the previous post. I have been running the Hudson Valley Bakcheion now for five years, which just doesn’t seem possible but my records confirm it. In that time my practice has seen ups and downs, depending on external circumstances and especially things like my health. Since I am generally feeling better I want to do more for Dionysos and the Gods and Spirits associated with him, and so I stripped it all back to the bone and codified a system of temple cultus for the Starry Bull tradition, which I then compiled in a document entitled The ἱερὸς νόμος of the Hudson Valley Bakcheion. The schedule of devotions prescribed therein will take effect on the next New Moon, and two of those are pertinent to y’all. On the Second of each Month I am going to make offerings to Dionysos Lusios and bring before him the prayers and petitions of the community. A couple days before the Noumenia I’ll put out an open call and anyone is welcome to send in whatever you’d like to say to or ask of the God, regardless of your affiliation with the temple and degree of dedication to Dionysos. And on the Thirteenth of each Month I will make offerings to Dionysos Eubouleos and do divination or oracular consultations for the community, depending on where we’re at in the Calendar. (Open call on the First.) Anyone who wishes to receive the sage counsel of the God may do so, regardless of your affiliation with the temple or ability to pay. (Though donations, which will go towards the upkeep and operation of the temple, will very much be appreciated.) Later on I will share the full schedule in case folks want to line their devotions up with those of the Hudson Valley Bakcheion. Although most of my community-building efforts are going to be directed at finding and cultivating folks locally going forward, I figure the more the merrier when it comes to βακχεία, right?! Io evohe! Io io Dionysos!

The sounds of animals and nature are equally well suited to supplicate the divine

Reading Jacco Dieleman’s guide to studying the Greco-Egyptian Zauberpapyri and came across the following, which amused me, both “birdglyphic” and the attempt to replicate the enchanting language of falcons. I wonder what prayers the chattering jay offers to Dionysos. 

This discourse mode is not limited to human languages, though. The sounds of animals and nature are equally well suited to supplicate the divine:

I call upon you, lord, in birdglyphic: ARAI; in hieroglyphic: LAÏLAM; in Hebrew: ANOCH BIATHIARBATH BERBIR ECHILATOUR BOUPHROUMTROM; in Egyptian: ALDABAEIM; in baboonic: ABRASAX; in falconic: CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI TIPH TIPH TIPH; in hieratic: MENEP HŌÏP HŌTH CHA CHA CHA CHA CHA CHA CHA. (PGM 81–86, cf. 149–60, 454–70 and 593–98)

Open thy mouth, speak whatsoever occurs to thee, and thou shalt prophesy.

This morning I was reading about Markos the Magician, a Gnostic Christian and Neo-Pythagorean who was loathed so much by Irenaeus of Lyons that he spent a significant chunk of his Adversus Haereses besmirching the man’s personal life and lampooning his elaborate, syncretic cosmotheology. In it Yahweh (equated with a personified Tetraktys, the Platonic Demiurge and likely Zeus or Hermes) is alone in the vast emptiness, contemplating his own mind, when he opens his mouth and speaks the letters of the Greek alphabet into existence. Not only were these the στοιχεία or elemental building-blocks of material existence, but each letter — going beyond the canonical 24 to include the archaic digamma (ϝ), qopa (ϙ), and sampi (ϡ) among others — not only had its own δυνάμεις (powers) and φρένες (intelligence) they also were/were overseen by a pantheon of Gods and Angels. All of which was pretty interesting (especially since he was an itinerant wonder-worker who likely traveled in the same circles as the Orphikoi) until it started getting into a bunch of math stuff and I zoned out. When I came to I was staring at a fascinating passage that reminded me of Parmenides, Empedokles, the Olbian Bone Tablets and the katabasis and encounter with the Sentries recounted in the Gold Leaves.

θέλω δέ σοι καὶ αὐτὴν ἐπιδεῖξαι τὴν Ἀλήθειαν. Κατήγαγον γὰρ αὐτὴν ἐκ τῶν ὕπερθεν δωμάτων, ἵν’ ἐσίδῃς αὐτὴν γυμνὴν, καὶ καταμάθοις τὸ κάλλος αὐτῆς· ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀκούσῃς αὐτῆς λαλούσης, καὶ θαυμάσῃς τὸ φρόνημα αὐτῆς. Ὅρα οὖν κεφαλὴν ἄνω, τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ω, τράχηλον δὲ β καὶ ψ, ὤμους ἅμα χερσὶ γ καὶ phi; χ, στήθη δ καὶ φ, διάφραγμα ε καὶ υ, νῶτον ζ καὶ τ, κοιλίαν η καὶ σ, μηροὺς θ καὶ ρ, γόνατα ι καὶ π, κνήμας κ καὶ ο, σφυρὰ λ καὶ ξ, πόδας μ καὶ ν. 

I also wish to show you Truth herself. I have brought her down from the dwellings on high that you might look on her naked and examine closely her beauty, and indeed that you may also hear her speak and marvel at her wisdom. See, then, alpha and omega are her head on high;  beta and psi are her neck; gamma and chi are her shoulders and hands; her breast is delta and epsilon and upsilon are her diaphragm; zeta and tau are her stomach; eta and sigma are her private parts; theta and rho are her thighs; iota and pi are her knees; kappa and omicron are her legs; lambda and xi are her ankles; mu and nu are her feet.

.My first thought was, “Oh, very cool. Δ = Διόνυσος is on Aletheia’s breast, above her heart.”

My second thought was, “Niiiiice. Σ = Σαννίων is on her private parts.”

Once I stopped doing my best Beavis and Butt-Head impression about 20 minutes later my third thought was that this could be some valuable spiritual tech. And then dismissed that because I’ve already worked out a soul parts system for the Starry Bull tradition. So I closed the website and went downstairs to make coffee and tea for our household, and take my morning regimen of pills, vitamins, herbal tinctures and the like, which were especially necessary since I was in excruciating pain thanks to the lovely spring showers I’d been watching all morning. As I shambled about the kitchen it started to dawn on me that I am, indeed, a fucking idiot

Markos was a Neo-Pythagorean — that’s how this tech was meant to be used!

While his friends were in good health Pythagoras always conversed with them; if they were sick, he nursed them; if they were afflicted in mind, he solaced them, some by incantations and magic charms, others by music. He had prepared songs for the diseases of the body, by singing which he cured the sick. He had also some that caused forgetfulness of sorrow, mitigation of anger, and destruction of lust. (Porphyry, Life of Pythagoras 33)

I’m going to experiment with it, tinker around a bit and maybe incorporate the Pythagorean Table of Opposites or astrology (12 pairs of letters = 12 signs of the Zodiac, etc) and if it works I’ll be adding it to the growing body of Starry Bull praxis.

And if you’d like to learn more about Markos the Magician, click here. The good stuff starts at chapter 13. Just keep in mind that Irenaeus is a total prick…

But there is another among these heretics, Marcus by name, who boasts himself as having improved upon his master. He is a perfect adept in magical impostures, and by this means drawing away a great number of men, and not a few women, he has induced them to join themselves to him, as to one who is possessed of the greatest knowledge and perfection, and who has received the highest power from the invisible and ineffable regions above. Thus it appears as if he really were the precursor of Antichrist. For, joining the buffooneries of Anaxilaus to the craftiness of the magi, as they are called, he is regarded by his senseless and cracked-brain followers as working miracles by these means.

2. Pretending to consecrate cups mixed with wine, and protracting to great length the word of invocation, he contrives to give them a purple and reddish colour, so that Charis, who is one of those that are superior to all things, should be thought to drop her own blood into that cup through means of his invocation, and that thus those who are present should be led to rejoice to taste of that cup, in order that, by so doing, the Charis, who is set forth by this magician, may also flow into them. Again, handing mixed cups to the women, he bids them consecrate these in his presence. When this has been done, he himself produces another cup of much larger size than that which the deluded woman has consecrated,) and pouting from the smaller one consecrated by the woman into that which has been brought forward by himself, he at the same time pronounces these words: “May that Chaffs who is before all things, and who transcends all knowledge and speech, fill thine inner man, and multiply in thee her own knowledge, by sowing the grain of mustard seed in thee as in good soil.” Repeating certain other like words, and thus goading on the wretched woman [to madness], he then appears a worker of wonders when the large cup is seen to have been filled out of the small one, so as even to overflow by what has been obtained from it. By accomplishing several other similar things, he has completely deceived many, and drawn them away after him.

3. It appears probable enough that this man possesses a demon as his familiar spirit, by means of whom he seems able to prophesy, and also enables as many as he counts worthy to be partakers of his Charis themselves to prophesy. He devotes himself especially to women, and those such as are well-bred, and elegantly attired, and of great wealth, whom he frequently seeks to draw after him, by addressing them in such seductive words as these: “I am eager to make thee a partaker of my Charis, since the Father of all doth continually behold thy angel before His face. Now the place of thy angel is among us: it behoves us to become one. Receive first from me and by me [the gift of] Chaffs. Adorn thyself as a bride who is expecting her bridegroom, that thou mayest be what I am, and I what thou art. Establish the germ of light in thy nuptial chamber. Receive from me a spouse, and become receptive of him, while thou art received by him. Behold Charis has descended upon thee; open thy mouth and prophesy.” On the woman replying,” I have never at any time prophesied, nor do I know how to prophesy;” then engaging, for the second time, in certain invocations, so as to astound his deluded victim, he says to her, “Open thy mouth, speak whatsoever occurs to thee, and thou shalt prophesy.”

Note the importance of the cup? Also, I suspect that Markos’ Χάρις is the Acquired Goddess

Drink up!

Happy νουμηνία everybody!

Unless things have significantly changed since my ostracism, most contemporary Hellenic polytheists observe some variation of the Attic calendar, meaning that for them Thargelion (Θαργηλιών) has just begun — but according to the system we use in the Bakcheion it’s the month of Kantharos (Κάνθαρος), the sacred cup of Dionysos. In fact the God is so strongly associated with this particular style of drinking vessel — famed for its elongated handles — that it’s often used to identify him on vases, frescoes, sculptures and the like when names or other distinguishing characteristics are absent.

In myth the cup was said to have been created by Hephaistos in gratitude for the role Dionysos played in his reconciliation with Hera and readmittance to Olympos (not to be confused with the urn Hephaistos also made Dionysos, which was then gifted to the Goddess Beneath the Sea Thetis for the kind assistance she gave during his fight with Lykourgos, which unfortunately was destined to hold the bones and ashes of her beloved son Achilles and not his care-banishing φάρμακον.) Bearing Dionysos’s blessing the cup was said to be impossible to drain, even by as thirsty a hero as Herakles. In a related myth Herakles borrowed the cup and used it to sail across the ocean.

Archaic poets such as Archilochos and Pindar, by metaphor and metonymy, referred to the kantharos as the “shield of Dionysos” and shields as the “kantharos of Ares,” while comic poets played up the fact that in Greek kantharos can also refer to a beetle, specifically the dung-beetle which was the form that the Egyptian God Khepri (“Becoming” or “Manifestation,” like the Orphic Phanês Protogonos) took when he rolled the aged solar deity Rē up the primordial mountain so that he could be reborn at dawn. (Which makes an interesting parallel with the Herakles myth, since I believe that he was ferrying Helios across the ocean in the borrowed kantharos.)

Orphic, Pythagorean and Platonic authors gave mystic, metaphysical and political significance to the cup and mixing-bowl (or krater) of Dionysos, which is too weird and tangential to get into here, though I was mulling over some of it this morning as I greeted Eos and watched the lovely ῥοδοδάκτυλος θεά drive the darkness back through the dense trees outside the window above my writing desk.

I also contemplated the Year Divination I did during our Foundation Day celebration and specifically what Dionysos said the month of Kantharos would hold in store for us. If you recall, he compared it to Ρ (Rho) the letter overseen by the magnificent mother Goddess Rheia who was one of the τροφοί (“nurses”) of Dionysos, and according to Philodemos and Euphorion either put the pieces of bibulous baby Bakchos back together after the Titans tore him apart, or brought them to Delphi where they were stored beneath the sacred tripod of Apollon Pythios. Plato in the Kratylos (402b) derives her name from ῥέω (“flow, flux, stream”) and Orphic and Homeric speculation about the liquid, oceanic element being the origin and outflow of all things, from the Gods on down. He also connects it to Herakleitos’ famous maxim, though later in the dialogue (509a) instead of the normal πάντα ῥεῖ (“everything flows”) Plato gives it as πάντα χορεί (“everything dances”) which he clearly got from listening to Jim Morrison. (You know how he loved that New Music.)

According to the Starry Bull Alphabet Oracle, the letter Ρ signifies:

Rabasso (ῤᾰβάσσω) to make a noise by dancing or beating time with the feet.
Radis (ῤάδις) cyclical, whirling, rotation.
Riza (ῤίζα) root, element, outflow.
Rimma (ῤιμμα) throw, cast, swing.
Roomai (ῤώομαι) to move with speed or violence, to rush on, forceful.

That should sure make for an interesting month, especially when that month is inundated with the ever-flowing wine from Dionysos’ kantharos.

The early worm gets eaten by the bird

So … what project am I working on?

While I’m not ready to talk about it just yet, I can say that it will affect the future of the Bakcheion and the Starry Bull tradition more generally. Gods willing, I should be ready to announce and begin implementing these changes by the Noumenia of Prosopon (June 19th, by the common reckoning.) I would have preferred that it be the Noumenia of Kantharos, but since that’s just two days away I think that a rather unrealistic expectation — which is probably for the best, as this extra month will give me time to prepare, practice and pick up any remaining supplies I’ll require for this. Plus there is a certain appropriateness to doing this during the Month of Masks, I must say.

And I must also say, though it pains me to admit it … sometimes grey hair does bring wisdom; younger me would have said, “Fuck it,” and spent the next 48 hours cramming to get everything done just to meet that arbitrary deadline, without bothering to sleep, eat, or take care of other necessities; and then I’d probably crash and snore my way through the big day. Though I may be taking my time, that means I’m going to do this right and it’s just too important not to. Both Dionysos, and you guys deserve no less than my absolute best. Ἀρετή, bitches.

It’s hard not to spill though. This is gonna be so much fun!

Here an αἰδοῖον, there an αἰδοῖον

Since I discovered the most recent Sannion I’ve encountered the word αἰδοῖον somewhere between five and seven times. It literally means “the shameful part” but came to be the common term for genitalia, and the male member in particular — though interestingly it informed the development of Latin pudendum which today is mostly used for female genitalia. It also influenced Old English scamlim, which has to be one of my favorite names for the penis: “shame-limb.”

Now, in fairness two of those instances were the result of reading Marco Antonio Santamaría’s A Phallus Hard to Swallow (about dynastic succession in the Orphic Theogony discussed in the Derveni Papyrus) and The Power of the Phallus in Greek Divination by Salvatore Costanza (which definitely delivers on its evocative title) so it’s only to be expected – but that doesn’t really explain the other instances, especially a couple of them where I was researching subjects completely (or at least mostly) unrelated to the Dionysian and ithyphallicism. I can’t say it’s been an uninteresting intellectual detour, but I’m a μάντις so I tend to pay attention to patterns such as this. (I’d share links but I’m curious what comes up when y’all google “phallus,” “hard” and “swallow.” For science.)

Well, I now know a whole lot more about Greek and Italian penises (a subject I was already intimately familiar with) so that’s good, but I still haven’t found the appropriate term for a divination manual, which is what prompted this morning’s plunge into that particular rabbit’s hole. The closest I’ve come is βίβλους τὰς περὶ τῆς μαντικῆς from Isokrates’ Aiginetikos 5-6, which I can always shorten to περὶ τῆς μαντικῆς or περὶ μαντικόν, though I’m not sure this hits the right note for the project I’m working on. But have no fear, for I am on the hunt. In the meantime, here’s that passage:

Thrasyllos, the father of the testator, had inherited nothing from his parents; but having become the guest-friend of Polemaenetos, the soothsayer, he became so intimate with him that Polemaenetos at his death left to him his books on divination and gave him a portion of the property which is now in question. Thrasyllos, with these books as his capital, practiced the art of divination. He became an itinerant soothsayer, lived in many cities, and was intimate with several women.

nōmen est ōmen

I just came across another Sannion, which is usually a momentous occasion, foreshadowing some new peripeteia in my spiritual life. I don’t think that’s what this one is gonna be, but it was still cool.

F 83 Stele of Sannion
NM 2567.
Found at Liopesi, Attica.
Dimensions: H 0.70, W 0.295.
Date: 375-350 BC.
Inscription: Σαννίων (IG II2 12582).
Relief: The stele is crowned by a rounded finial. Sannion, a boy, wears a himation over his left shoulder and arm. He holds a bird in right hand and is also accompanied by a small dog.
Bibliography: Fragiadakis 1986: no.57; CAT 0.883.

At the centre of it all, at the centre of it all … Your eyes, your eyes

Anthi Chrysanthou, Defining Orphism: the Beliefs, the Teletae and the Writings
In a pottery fragment from an Attic red-figure Kalpis in Malibu (c.480 B.C.) a sun-struck satyr is represented looking at the sky and hiding his face from the sunlight, while next to him there is the inscription ΔΥΕΛΙΟ (δυ΄ἥλιο), which means two suns. This also brings to mind the double vision of Pentheus in Euripides’ Bacchae when under frenzy he says: ‘I see two suns’ to which Dionysos replies ‘Now, you see what you should’. Typically, it would be Apollo who would be identified with the sun but we often see Dionysos and Apollo to be perceived as one, as was also discussed earlier in this chapter in relation to the Delphic rites. Aeschylus refers to Apollo as: ὁ κισσεὺς Ἀπόλλων, ὁ βακχεύς, ὁ μάντις (‘Apollo, the ivy-crowned, the reveller, the seer’) and Euripides says: δέσποτα φιλόδαφνε Βάκχε, παιὰν Ἄπολλον εὔλυρε (‘Lord Bacchus who loves the laurel, Paean Apollo skilled with the lyre…’) It might be, thus, that the two suns that were related to Dionysiac beliefs and mysteries were a nocturnal ‘sun’ and the actual sun. A deity such as Apollo represented through an Orphic heliadic deity such as Protogonos/Phanes could personify the actual sun (creative light/present life) and Dionysos/Zagreus could represent the eschatological nocturnal ‘sun’ (death/afterlife). […] If we were right earlier in our astronomical interpretation, this nocturnal sun represented by the mystic light could in reality be the Auriga star, the point of contact between the Charioteer constellation and the Taurus constellation. This would explain why the ‘good ones’ according to Pindar enjoy the sun during the night, too, in the afterlife. A katabatic mystery, then, where the initiates would follow the mystic light to ascend into the light and the meadows from the darkness might have represented the journey of the soul from the underworld on a ‘chariot’ – much like the one mentioned by Plato – to become a star in the sky and dwell with the gods at the blessed meadows, where the Taurus constellation is situated in the Milky Way.

Leads you here, despite your destination

Anthi Chrysanthou, Defining Orphism: the Beliefs, the Teletae and the Writings

If we accept that gala refers to the Milky Way, I suggest that the bull, the ram and the kid could refer to constellations. The ἔριφος, ταῦρος and κριὸς according to ancient sources would correspond to the constellations of Auriga (referred to as Ἔριφοι in ancient sources), Taurus (bull) and Aries (ram) respectively. These three constellations are next to each other and located on the Milky Way.

The constellation Taurus is related to Zeus but also to Dionysos since as already said the bull was Dionysos’ persona. Diodorus Siculus quotes some relevant verses: ‘One of them, Eumolpus, in his Bacchic Hymn speaks of ‘Our Dionysus, shining like a star, with fiery eye in every ray’ (ἀστροφαῆ Διόνυσον ἐν ἀκτίνεσσι πυρωπόν), while Orpheus says: ‘And this is why men call him Shining One and Dionysus’ (τούνεκά μιν καλέουσι Φάνητά τε καὶ Διόνυσον)’. We can see, thus, an association of the Orphic Dionysos-Phanes with the stars. In Sophocles’ Antigone the chorus of Theban elders addresses Dionysos, who is identified with the Eleusinian Iacchos:

O leader of the chorus of the stars with the fiery breath, overseer of the nocturnal chants, child begotten of Zeus, come to light, my king, with your attendants the Thyiades, who in night-long frenzy dance for Iacchus the giver!

Also, in Aristophanes’ Frogs the chorus says: Ἴακχ᾽ ὦ Ἴακχε, νυκτέρου τελετῆς φωσφόρος ἀστήρ φλογὶ φέγγεται δὲ λειμών (‘Iacchos, Oh Iacchos, the light-bringing star of our nocturnal rite. Now the meadow brightly burns’).

These passages give a clear identification of Dionysos-Iackhos as a star leading a chorus of stars. The chorus refers to the Thyiades who were the ones performing rites at Delphi to bring to life Dionysos. Their rite must have been important since the west pediment of the classical temple of Apollo at Delphi depicted Dionysos and the Thyiades, while the east pediment depicted Apollo’s arrival with Leto, Artemis and the Muses. The rites of the Thyiades took place in November and February and the Taurus constellation is most visible in November. Perhaps the resurrection of Dionysos was associated with the specific location of the constellation Taurus in the sky, which also marked the beginning of the new cycle of the grape season which ended in October with the harvest of the grapes. Taurus was formed from the Pleiades and the Hyades. Aratus (3rd B.C.) refers to the constellations and other celestial bodies in his Phenomena. He notes that the Pleiades were used for marking agricultural and seasonal cycles:

Small and dim are they all alike, but widely famed they wheel in heaven at morn and eventide, by the will of Zeus, who bade them tell of the beginning of summer and winter and of the coming of the ploughingtime.

We can see, thus, that the constellation of Taurus was associated with motifs of death and rebirth. It would not be surprising, then, if the owners of the gold tablets connected Taurus with eschatological beliefs of immortality and its location in the Milky Way with the Isles of the Blessed where they could dwell with the gods for all eternity. By uttering the makarismos of falling into milk as a bull, the initiates proclaimed their ultimate union with Dionysos and their new immortal state in the stars where Dionysos was also forever fixed as the constellation of Taurus and the leader of a chorus of stars (souls?), as the Theban elders in Antigone proclaim.

But what about the eriphos falling into milk? According to Aratus, the Auriga (Ἔριφοι) constellation is associated with the Charioteer and one of the kids he holds are identified with Amaltheia who suckled young Zeus. He notes:

At the feet of the Charioteer seek for the crouching horned Bull [Taurus]. […] Often spoken is their name and famous are the Hyades. Broadcast are they on the forehead of the Bull. One star occupies the tip of his left horn and the right foot of the Charioteer, who is close by. Together they are carried in their course…

An epigram from Miletus which includes ideas found in the gold tables and is dated to the 1st century A.D. locates the Isles of the Blessed at the exact same place that I have suggested:

You have not drunk the water from Lethe, Hermaios, and neither
Tartarus nor the abode of hateful Persephone is hidden to you. But
Hermes, of the beautiful ankles, led you up to Olympus and he saved
you from the painful life of human beings. At the age of eight, you have
seen the aether and now you sparkle among the stars, beside the horn,
in the constellation of the Goat, and next to the elbow of the
Charioteer. You shine now to protect the strong boys in the wrestling
school and thus the blessed show you their favour.

Hermaios’ blissful afterlife is dependent on the fact that he did not drink from the water of Lethe, just as in the gold tablets. Another similar idea is that human life is perceived as painful. The divine celestial substance is aether and Hermaios now sparkles among the stars located between the constellation of the Goat and the Charioteer. Even though this epigram comes from an area where no gold tablets have been found, it still lends support to my suggestion of locating the Isles of the Blessed in the Milky Way near the constellations of Eriphos and the Bull.