The Wild Hunt is struggling to meet its fundraising goals. With only 8 days remaining, they’ve still got 52% or close to $10,000 to go. Let’s see what we can do to help. If you contribute any dollar amount – and I’ll take your word for it, no need to send me receipts, etc – I will perform divination for you using one of the brand new methods I designed for my new book, Hunting Wisdom: A Bacchic Orphic diviner’s manual.
“Who are you?”
Lucian, The Syrian Goddess
16. I approve of the remarks about the temple made by those who in the main accept the theories of the Greeks: according to these the goddess is Hera, but the work was carried out by Dionysus, the son of Semele: Dionysus visited Syria on his journey to Aethiopia. There are in the temple many tokens that Dionysus was its actual founder: for instance, barbaric raiment, Indian precious stones, and elephants’ tusks brought by Dionysus from the Aethiopians. Further, a pair of phalli of great size are seen standing in the vestibule, bearing the inscription, “I, Dionysus, dedicated these phalli to Hera my stepmother.” This proof satisfies me. And I will describe another curiosity to be found in this temple, a sacred symbol of Dionysus. The Greeks erect phalli in honour of Dionysus, and on these they carry, singular to say, mannikins made of wood, with enormous pudenda; they call these puppets. There is this further curiosity in the temple: as you enter, on the right hand, a small brazen statue meets your eye of a man in a sitting posture, with parts of monstrous size.
28. The place whereon the temple is placed is a hill: it lies nearly in the centre of the city, and is surrounded by a double wall. Of the two walls the one is ancient; the other is not much older than our own times. The entrance to the temple faces the north; its size is about a hundred fathoms. In this entrance those phalli stand which Dionysus erected: they stand thirty fathoms high. Into one of these a man mounts twice every year, and he abides on the summit of the phallus for the space of seven days. The reason of this ascent is given as follows: The people believe that the man who is aloft holds converse with the gods, and prays for good fortune for the whole of Syria, and that the gods from their neighbourhood hear his prayers. Others allege that this takes place in memory of the great calamity of Deukalion’s time, when men climbed up to mountain tops and to the highest trees, in terror of the mass of waters. To me all this seems highly improbable, and I think that they observe this custom in honour of Dionysus, and I conjecture this from the following fact, that all those who rear phalli to Dionysus take care to place mannikins of wood on the phalli; the reason of this I cannot say, but it seems to me that the ascent is made in imitation of the wooden mannikin.
29. To proceed, the ascent is made in this way; the man throws round himself and the phallus a small chain; afterwards he climbs up by means of pieces of wood attached to the phallus large enough to admit the end of his foot. As he mounts he jerks the chain up his own length, as a driver his reins. Those who have not seen this process, but who have seen those who have to climb palm trees in Arabia, or in Egypt, or any other place, will understand what I mean. When he has climbed to the top, he lets down a different chain, a long one, and drags up anything that he wants, such as wood, clothing, and vases; he binds these together and sits upon them, as it were, on a nest, and he remains there for the space of time that I have mentioned. Many visitors bring him gold and silver, and some bring brass; then those who have brought these offerings leave them and depart, and each visitor gives his name. A bystander shouts the name up; and he on hearing the name utters a prayer for each donor; between the prayers he raises a sound on a brazen instrument which, on being shaken, gives forth a loud and grating noise. He never sleeps; for if at any time sleep surprises him, a scorpion creeps up and wakes him, and stings him severely; this is the penalty for wrongfully sleeping. This story about the scorpion is a sacred one, and one of the mysteries of religion; whether it is true I cannot say, but, as it seems to me, his wakefulness is in no small degree due to his fear of falling. So much then for the climbers of the phalli. As for the temple, it looks to the rising sun.
36. There are many oracles among the Greeks, and many, too, among the Egyptians, and again in Libya and in Asia there are many too. But these speak not, save by the mouth of priests and prophets: this one is moved by its own impulse, and carries out the divining process to the very end. The manner of his divination is the following: When he is desirous of uttering an oracle, he first stirs in his seat, and the priests straightway raise him up. Should they fail to raise him up, he sweats, and moves more violently than ever. When they approach him and bear him up, he drives them round in a circle, and leaps on one after another. At last the high priest confronts him, and questions him on every subject. The god, if he disapproves of any action proposed, retreats into the background; if, however, he happens to approve it, he drives his bearers forward as if they were horses. It is thus that they gather the oracles, and they undertake nothing public or private without this preliminary. This god, too, speaks about the symbol, and points out when it is the due season for the expedition of which I spoke in connexion therewith.
“Remember who you are,” whispers the God beneath the tripod,
breath of late autumn leaves and loamy soil,
animal heat and wine that is velvety smooth upon the tongue.
His voice is dark and slow,
like blood that drips down the side of a smoky altar,
and mysteries about which no man may speak.
His eyes embers smoldering
behind a blank, expressionless mask
and his smile devouring.
His words stir a secret longing in your breast,
for breezes thick with pine scent and winter
that play with your loosened hair
as you dance and howl back his name into the night black sky
on the side of the mountain
where your seething sisters gather,
and have gathered since the days of Deukalion, sailor of the wine-dark sea.
A longing for fawnskin and the sound of thyrsoi striking stones
in the dance that swirls like flame in the hearth,
bare feet slapping out the frenzied rhythm of the beating heart
of the bull who shakes the earth while the chorus of fiery stars wheel and spiral overhead
in the dance,
all together in the dance,
in the dance
is where you discover his question’s answer.
sent to me by an adoring reader.
no idea where it originated from. but i like it!
puzzle-solving, the Starry Bull way.
Galina and I had a blast working on the Starry Bull bullae.
They are now well packed and sitting on various shrines (depending on whether folks wanted protection, healing or spiritual connection) to charge over the next couple days.
We should have them shipped out by mid-week.
Remember – do not open the pouches when they arrive, or insane spirits in the shape of clowns and spiders will eat your face!
sannion [6:07 PM]
You’ve seen the Monkey Chant video, right?
tetradactyl [6:07 PM]
No, I haven’t. I’d love to
sannion [6:07 PM]
best thing ever:
asia has this sublime sense of the collective
which is very much a part of the Dionysian
tetradactyl [6:11 PM]
That was fascinating. What was that?
sannion [6:11 PM]
it’s a completely different experience, worshiping him as part of a large group
Kecak. It’s a ritual they do for the Monkey God in Bali, which has this wonderfully blended Hindu-Buddhist tradition.
tetradactyl [6:13 PM]
Hmmm that’s awesome. I’ll have to look into it
sannion [6:14 PM]
they have this absolutely stunning shadow puppet theater tradition
tetradactyl [6:15 PM]
Tell me if I understand this: being torn apart and then stitched back together is a part of the rituals in honor of Dionysos. Is this why worshipping has a collective effect? Does Dionysos tear down our borders with each other and stitch us together into him? (edited)
sannion [6:15 PM]
Think about it like this, once you’ve gone through initiation – which mimics the process he suffered – a little piece of him is stitched into you.
What happens when bunches of these pieces come together?
tetradactyl [6:16 PM]
They become a whole. A tapestry
sannion [6:16 PM]
and he’s much more manifestly present
tetradactyl [6:17 PM]
Is this why grapes are sacred to Dionysos (among other things)? Because we crush individual grapes together to make them the same liquid?
sannion [6:18 PM]
we have a very symbiotic relationship with the vine and wine
both the divine and the human are involved in the wine-making process
the soil, the sun, the air and water mingle to provide form and sustenance to the grape
and yet it is a very vulnerable plant.
it requires constant tending
and then there are all the steps involved in its harvesting and the transformation into wine
all steps that reflect different stages of Dionysos mythology
for instance the story of Lykourgos brandishing his ox-goad and chasing the Nurses and baby Bacchus into the waves
Pentheus getting plucked
the descent to retrieve his mother
These aren’t just metaphors. They really happened. But each also fits into a larger narrative.
And Dionysos is the Vine
And the Mystery.
tetradactyl [6:27 PM]
So fascinating. Who knew such a tender plant could teach us so much