Preparing for Yule

We just finished our ritual for the 4th week of Sunwait, a modern Heathen custom counting down the time until Yule.

In addition to copious prayers and offerings to our assorted Gods and Ancestors, we placed the first batch of Bakcheion calendars on the shrine so that they could be charged with blessings and protections for the recipients in the year to come, before they get shipped out tomorrow.

It was a lovely and moving rite that called to mind previous Yule observances and put me in the mood for celebrating this festival with my household once again.

I hope all of my readers are doing well this season and that luck, health and wealth be yours in the year to come!

Boötes is the Arctophylax

I’m currently reading a couple articles y’all might find interesting. First, a general overview of Boötes and its related constellations, and secondly E. Antonello’s suggestion that roughly 5,000 years ago Ursa Major and Minor appeared closer to Boötes than they presently do.

Don’t miss out

If you’re still interested in getting a Year 4 (2022 e.v.) Bakcheion calendar shoot me an email and I’ll give you payment details. I’ll be sending the files to the printer over the weekend and mailing out the calendars early next week. I won’t be doing a large print run on these (unless I suddenly get a lot of requests) so don’t hesitate, or you may miss out!

Fairies Wear Boots

Fun fact! The upcoming year requires intercalation, meaning we’ll have thirteen lunar months this time around to keep things synched with the solar cycle.

Some ancient Greek systems just repeated the final month*, while others gave the extra month its own name. The Bakcheion follows the latter custom, calling it Eriaphioteion after the Dionysian epiklesis Eriaphiotes meaning “insewn” or “stitched together,” since he was snatched from the smouldering wreckage of his mother Semele and placed in an artificial womb in his father Zeus’ thigh to finish gestating.

As a consequence of this most of our festivals (with the exception of Foundation Day, which is always on January 1st) will be about 3-4 weeks earlier than normal. Without this adjustment, however, we’d have seasonal creep resulting in Anthesteria being celebrated in autumn, or worse!

And note that this calendar, and its sequence of festivals, is just for the Bakcheion and those who wish to follow along – it is not in use by Hellenic polytheists or Dionysians in general, nor does it represent the “official” calendar of the Starry Bull tradition as a whole, although Starry Bull myth and cosmology definitely provides the backdrop for it. But different groups and streams of the tradition will have their own festival-cycles, calendars, etc. Anyone is welcome to use it, of course, it just has no binding authority outside the temple.

* A notable exception being the Rhodians who put their Embólimos or repeated month between the 6th and 7th.

Cocaine & Cowboy Boots 

Question for those who have pre-ordered a Bakcheion Year Four (2022 e.v.) calendar; and if you haven’t, you should do so soon! – do you want me to include a little pamphlet explaining how it works (largely recapping the info found here) and listing the feast days for the Heroes and Heroines (not marked on the calendar, as there are just too many of them) or will the calendars by themselves be fine? Without the pamphlets I could probably have things ready to ship by the end of the week, though it might take a little longer if I need to put them together.

Edited to add: No one requested the pamphlets so I’m going to print the calendars without them. If you have any questions consult the Bakcheion site or shoot me an email.

Silent Lucidity

I was a kid when Empire came out, so didn’t really get a lot of the broader themes explored therein, but I was sooo into it, playing the cassette over and over until my step-father would pound on my door demanding I put something else on or he’d beat me retarded with his belt. I loved the symbol on the cover, and created a superhero (basically a Batman knockoff) who used it as his emblem, complete with shuriken and a car in that shape. About six months later I discovered Nirvana, Mother Love Bone, Green River and other bands in the local grunge scene (I was living in Everett at the time, roughly 30 miles from Seattle) and pretty much forgot about Queensrÿche altogether.

Recently, however, a bout of nostalgia led me down a Queensrÿche rabbit hole and I found myself appreciating them in ways I never had before, including songs that had left me cold and utterly indifferent. Some of their songs even feel more relevant with the shit going on today than when they were written (the whole Operation: mindcrime album is particularly prescient.)

But the song I’ve been listening to the most is “Silent Lucidity,” which, for some reason is giving me strong Dionysos vibes, though mostly in the past this song has made me think of Hermes.

And another thing…

I’m stoned and hit post too soon. Sorry.

But anyway… you’ll note that the Fury-like attendant weighs his liver along with his heart, since it was the seat of Darnell’s thumos. In my Bacchic Orphic soul-parts system, however, the thumos is located in the heart not the liver. Ancient Greek sources differ on the matter so I just went with the organ that made the most sense to me, even if this contradicted what I had previously written.

And as for why she has an aardvark at her feet, well, that’s a mystery you’ll have to read the book the poem was originally published in to understand. In fact you should probably read the entire ‘Nykteliad’ Poetic Cycle if you haven’t already. (And that’s the current official order in which they should be read; disregard previous suggestions. Consistency is highly over-rated. Panta chōrei, bitches.)

Psychostasia

Galina mentioned this poem in the comments to my post on Bacchic Orphic eschatology, so I decided to repost it. A couple notes may prove helpful.

First, the title is a quote by Pablo Neruda which can be Englished as, “There is a certain pleasure in madness, which only the madman knows.”

Secondly, it’s a riff on the interrogation scene found in the Gold Leaves, combined with the Oath of the Initiates from Euripides’ Cretans. (And some Matrix allusions, natch.) Although the Gold Leaves do not identify the underworld interlocutors I went with the tradition where the three sons of Zeus – Minos, Rhadamanthys and Aiakos – are responsible for passing judgment on the souls in Haides. They are aided in this process by the enigmatic figure seen flogging the initiate/bride in the fresco of the Villa dei Misteri at Pompeii, whom some identify as Dike, Nemesis or the Etruscan Vanth. I have my own theories on who she is, and how she came into the Bacchic orbit, but I’ll save those for another time.

And thirdly, the poem contains the message that we should not root our identities in the ephemeral things of this world, but in divine things that will abide even beyond the grave – which is why the ivy-shaped lamellae buried with the initiates are inscribed on gold foil, one of the purest and most enduring of metals.

Hay un cierto placer en la locura, que soloel loco conoce.

Darnell approached the Table of Judgment
behind which sat the Three Kings,
Minos, Rhadamanthys and Aiakos
who were sober and somber and severe men,
famed even in life for their wisdom and equanimity. (Mostly.)
The Zeus Below had put them in charge
of weighing the souls and assigning the lots
of all those who entered his Kingdom,
and they were very diligent in executing their duties,
especially when it came to doling out punishment.

Beside them stood a Black woman
blacker than the Midnight Sun,
with hair the color of a corpse-eating
blue bottle fly, a silver sword sharp like desire
and shaped like the Moon’s crescent,
a perfectly balanced scale
made of a man’s ribcage and tendons,
a gown of fingernails,
a blindfold soaked in blood,
and at her feet lay a giant, snarling aardvark.

“Mr. Anderson, would you please seat yourself
on the Table of Judgment so that we may begin?”
Aiakos’ voice was cold, clinical
and strangely comforting to Darnell.

“Lay back, if you would.”
Darnell did as he was bid,
the table hard and chill
despite the room’s balmy temperature,
and waited for the next instruction,
but none came.

Instead the monstrous woman stepped forward,
placed an even colder hand upon his throat
to ensure he did not move,
and then sunk her sword deep into his chest.
With ferocious force she then dragged the blade down to his crotch,
easily parting muscle and bone until he was splayed open
like a half-dressed deer.
She then reached into his cavity,
pushed aside fat and organs
until she clasped his heart in her fist and drew it out.

“Please be done with that screaming, Mr. Anderson.”
The iron beneath his velvet voice made it clear
that Minos was not asking. “It will not
accomplish anything, and you are already dead,
so while this may hurt tremendously it will not kill you.”

The heart landed in the bone basket with a squelching sound
and Darnell could not help himself, and burst out laughing.

“Do you find this scenario humorous, Mr. Anderson?”
There was no amusement in Rhadamanthys’ voice.

Darnell recovered from another screaming bout,
then chuckled and said, “Yeah, a little bit.”

The woman was digging around,
blindly searching for his liver,
the seat of thumos,
so that it too could be weighed.

“I mean, I spent my whole life being judged by old White guys,
why should things be any different here?”

She found it, yanked it free,
and Darnell screamed some more.
Once he re-caught his breath, he said,
“I didn’t give a shit then,
and I’m not going to start now.”

Aiakos steepled his fingers and said, “We can be very creative.”
Darnell spat blood at him. “Do your worst, bitches.
Do you know who I am, really?
Not this ‘Mr. Anderson’ guy you keep calling me.
I got blood of the Titans in my veins,
I’m a child of Earth and motherfucking Starry Heaven.
There is no suffering alien to me,
and no joy.
I devoured them all, for I am a mailed Bakchos
of the midnight-hunting Zagreus who roars!
I have felt the thunderstrike that frees;
I have stepped from the crown and fallen into milk;
I have danced among the fire-breathing stars;
I have risen with the flowers and trees;
I have drunk the blessed wine of madness.
My name? I am Asterion, the Starry One;
and don’t you forget it.”

The Hall of Judgment
and everything in it disappeared then
and Darrell was alone
with only Dionysos in the darkness,
and his God smiled, and said,
“I was hoping you would say that.”

the dance of the stars

Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos 181–182
In a special way, again, if the moon holds the place of action, and is moving away from conjunction, together with Mercury: in Taurus, Capricornus, and Cancer, she produces soothsayers (mánteis), makers of sacrifices (thýtas), and adepts in lekanomancy; in Sagittarius and Pisces necromancers and those who can arouse daemons (daimónōn kinētikoús); in Virgo and Scorpio magicians (mágous), astrologers, prophets (apophthengoménous), those who have second sight (prognṓseis échontas); in Libra, Aries, and Leo persons inspired by the Gods, interpreters of dreams, and exorcists.

Death, for the Orphics, Was Like a Really Intense Drug Trip

Once the soul is separated from the body it wanders around in a strange and dark place – exhausted, hungry, thirsty and steadily losing its mind. It is surrounded by indistinct phantoms that ceaselessly change their shapes and faint, gibbering voices in the distance endlessly lamenting the things they suffered, the wrong choices they made. Over and over again they tell their sad stories until the beguiling words seep into the soul, ensnaring it in filth and misery – unless it has the strength of will to press on. But with each step the soul’s memories continue to decay until it is in danger of forgetting who it is entirely.

Then, within the murky gloom the soul spies a radiantly white tree with a dark stream flowing beside it.

Most souls rush right to it to appease their savage thirst, like moths drawn to a flame. For to drink from the waters of Lethe spells a second death for the soul, the eternal death of forgetfulness – and what’s worse, of being forgotten.

The soul of the initiate knows what that tree represents and so avoids it; the soul has been this way before, has drunk from the well of Memory while in the ritual frenzy of the dance.

When the soul reaches the other tree the guardian of the lake asks, “Who are you? Why are you here?”

And the soul of the initiate is reminded by these words of when it was thunderstruck with wine, when it flew from the wearying circle as a bull of stars, when the snake passed through the bosom and the twining ivy kept off the flames, the embrace in the dark and the heavenly crown.

The soul remembers who it is and knows that it lived life fearlessly and to the fullest, regardless of how things turned out.

It regrets nothing.

Smiling, the soul of the initiate says to the guardian in the tree, “Tell Persephone that Bakchios himself has set me free.”

And then you are bid to drink, refreshing yourself for the arduous journey that remains.

You don’t think you go to the halls of feasting straight from the tree, do you?

No.

The Orphic gold lamellae allude to much that happens after – but it’s the interrogation scene that they’re all so careful to lay out for you, o thrice-blessed dead person. Once you have remembered who you are, what made you and what led you here – well, then you get to act out your very own fairy tale.

Will you make it to the castle at the heart of the labyrinth?

Try!

For they have all the best parties there, and wine that flows forever.

A Bacchic Orphic soul-parts system

Before my hiatus I mentioned that I was working on a system of Bacchic Orphic soul-parts which would serve as the basis for a number of healing and magical techniques within the Starry Bull tradition.

I think it’s finished.

Soul part: Arche – ἀρχή (ancestral inheritance)
Body part: Bones
Overseen by: Astragaloi (Knucklebones)
Number: Monad
Powers: Luck, gifts that run in the family, communication with the dead
Challenges: Inherited disorders, ancestral trauma, scrupulosity
Element: Water (ὕδωρ) + Fire (πῦρ)
Incense: Myrrh
Entheogen: Silene capensis

Soul part: Thumos – θυμός (seat of passions)
Body part: Heart
Overseen by: Rhombos (Bull-Roarer)
Number: Dyad
Powers: Accelerated strength, endurance and healing
Challenges: Wildly fluctuating mood, penchant for violence
Element: Fire (πῦρ) + Earth (γῆ)
Incense: Dragonsblood
Entheogen: Henbane

Soul part: Zoe – ζωή (life-force)
Body part: Genitals
Overseen by: Mela (Apple)
Number: Triad
Powers: Growth, fertility, creativity, attractiveness
Challenges: Sexual voraciousness, compulsive need to be outdoors
Element: Earth (γῆ)
Incense: Cinnamon
Entheogen: Damiana

Soul part: Nous – νοῦς (intellect)
Body part: Limbs
Overseen by: Paignia Kampesiguia (Puppet)
Number: Tetrad
Powers: Reason, persuasion, mimicry, possessory work
Challenges: Schizophrenia, apophenia
Element: Air (ἀήρ) + Aither (αἰθήρ)
Incense: Sandalwood
Entheogen: Salvia divinorum

Soul part: Aisthesis – αἴσθησις (sense perception)
Body part: Flesh
Overseen by: Strobilos (Whip Top)
Number: Pentad
Powers: Heightened senses, empathy, synaesthesia, ability to turn chaos into harmony
Challenges: Attraction to dangerous and damaging things, self-harm, confusion, disorientation
Element: Earth (γῆ) + Water (ὕδωρ)
Incense: Rose
Entheogen: Amanita muscaria

Soul part: Ego – ἐγώ (constructed self)
Body part: Head
Overseen by: Sphaira (Ball)
Number: Hexad
Powers: Dominance, seduction, cleverness, turning situations to one’s benefit
Challenges: Assorted personality disorders
Element: Fire (πῦρ)
Incense: Jasmine
Entheogen: St. John’s wort

Soul part: Pneuma – πνεῦμα (animating breath)
Body part: Mouth & Tongue
Overseen by: Krotala (Rattle)
Number: Heptad
Powers: Storytelling, vocal magic, ability to calm others down
Challenges: Compulsive lying, dementia, agitation
Element: Air (ἀήρ)
Incense: Frankincense
Entheogen: Marijuana

Soul part: Mneme – μνήμη (memory)
Body part: Intestines & Internal organs
Overseen by: Trochos (Wheel)
Number: Octad
Powers: Exceptional instincts, ability to find the way out, access to memories (including somatic)
Challenges: Paranoia, anxiety from not being able to let things go, alzheimers
Element: Water (ὕδωρ)
Incense: Lavender
Entheogen: Calamus

Soul part: Psyche – ψυχή (disembodied consciousness)
Body part: Hair
Overseen by: Pokos (Tuft of wool)
Number: Ennead
Powers: Spirit-journeying, shapeshifting, ability to manipulate the threads of reality and fate
Challenges: Fragmentation and dissociative identity disorder, psychic wounds
Element: Fire (πῦρ) + Air (ἀήρ)
Incense: Cedar
Entheogen: Syrian rue

Soul part: Daimon – δαίμων (Divine Power)
Body part: Eyes
Overseen by: Esoptron (Mirror)
Number: Decad
Powers: True sight and visions, communion with the divine, ability to reflect things back
Challenges: Obsession, delusion, megalomania, narcissism
Element: Aither (αἰθήρ)
Incense: Copal
Entheogen: Psilocybin

Adorations

I adore you Opener of the Door.
I adore you Wine.
I adore you Bringer of many blessings.
I adore you Dancer.
I adore you Loud Shouter.
I adore you Fair One.
I adore you Liberator.
I adore you most fertile One.
I adore you of the many masks.
I adore you whose hands are stained red.
I adore you brilliant in the night.
I adore you crowned with ivy.
I adore you Worthy Bull.
I adore you loosener of cares.
I adore you son of heavenly Zeus.
I adore you of luxuriant foliage.
I adore you Womanly One.
I adore you Madness.
I adore you Savior.
I adore you with black skin.
I adore you speaker of true oracles.
I adore you born in fire.
I adore you full of mysteries.
I adore you who runs through the forest.
I adore you clothed in the skin of beasts.
I adore you who calls the women from their homes.
I adore you who loves the spider.
I adore you who is aroused.
I adore you who breaks all bonds.
I adore you friend of Hermes.
I adore you snake-kissed.
I adore you eater of raw flesh.
I adore you who awakens Ariadne.
I adore you who lives in every tree.
I adore you who purifies through tears.
I adore you father of Kings.
I adore you in your boat of blessings.
I adore you Gentle and Sweet one.
I adore you Buffalo-faced.
I adore you who sleeps at Delphi.
I adore you with hair unshorn.
I adore you Life.
I adore you Confuser.
I adore you Leader of the Furious Host.
I adore you of the plump grape.
I adore you innocent evil.
I adore you who dwells on the periphery.
I adore you who strokes the pussy.
I adore you who rules in Egypt.
I adore you who gives wings to the soul.
I adore you savage-hearted.
I adore you Flowing One.
I adore you who devours all.
I adore you who stands upright.
I adore you smiter of Lykourgos.
I adore you Ardent One.
I adore you barren branch in winter.
I adore you of the fan-shaped basket full of secrets.
I adore you who stirs everything up.
I adore you who moves in streams of lava.
I adore you who presses heavily.
I adore you surrounded by Nymphs.
I adore you triumphant in India.
I adore you who is sewn in.
I adore you of fragrant smoke.
I adore you whose daughter has green hair.
I adore you primordial Love.
I adore you Observer of the tragedy.
I adore you of the ripe fig.
I adore you Sensual One.
I adore you Prince of the Underworld.
I adore you Dissolver.
I adore you rainmaker.
I adore you Wild Hunter.
I adore you who causes to stumble.
I adore you end of everything.
I adore you who delights in phallic displays.
I adore you Stranger.
I adore you Master of the sacrifice.
I adore you Lord of the Labyrinth.
I adore you still and Quiet One.
I adore you manifest in music.
I adore you who were torn apart.
I adore you Many-horned One.
I adore you who comes from afar.
I adore you who Remembers.
I adore you served by Satyrs.
I adore you Missionary.
I adore you who hides in the sea.
I adore you whose table is never empty.
I adore you who made your mother a Goddess.
I adore you Intoxicating One.
I adore you who climbs the mountain.
I adore you who leads the Stars in their dance.
I adore you who causes growth.
I adore you slayer of the goat.
I adore you who blends all together.
I adore you lover of laughter.
I adore you my God.

mathematical malevolence 

I just finished all the calculations, etc. for the Year 4 (2022 e.v.) Bakcheion calendar and will be sending it off to the printers later in the month. If you’re interested in following along and would like your own copy, shoot me an email at sannion@gmail.com and I’ll add you to the list. In addition to the Bakcheion festival-cycle the dark and full moons, solstices and equinoxes, lunisolar months and Dionysian seasons are all included making this a valuable resource regardless of your religious framework. Something to keep in mind with Brumalia, Saturnalia, Heliogenia, Óski’s Day, Yule, Ḥanukkāh, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Kalends, Epiphany, etc. fast approaching. I’m going to put a price tag of $20 ($15 + $5 to cover printing and shipping fees) on these things. Here’s hoping Year 4 will be better than 3 in every way you can think of and every way you can’t.