Ritual outline for Kybernesia

The centerpiece of the shrine is a boat or cornucopia into which participants may place offerings of local fruit and vegetables. Also on the shrine should be a mask, beeswax candles, plates for other offerings and a bowl for libations. The shrine should be set up on a red cloth to represent the “wine-dark sea.” Feel free to add other nautical imagery.

Once the shrine is set up the participants should file outside to play the Dolphin Game in order to determine who will fulfil the roles of “Dionysos” and “Akoites.” For this game you’ll need three to thirteen participants and a wide, open space to run around in.

Using lots, one member of the group is chosen to be Dionysos and the remainder are Tyrrhenian Pirates. Dionysos will count to 27 while the Pirates scatter and, if possible, hide themselves – then he will give chase.

If a Pirate is tagged by Dionysos they must stop and remain in place, imitating a Dolphin – unless he tags them a second time, at which point they are transformed into Bears and may tag other players, turning them into Dolphins. (A Bear, however, cannot make another Bear!)

The last Pirate remaining is designated Akoites, and it will be that person’s primary responsibility to go around and make sure that everyone’s cup stays full throughout the evening.

Dionysos enters before the others and collects the flower-crowns.

Note: have more than enough flower-crowns on hand in case something happens. If you don’t already have them prepared have members make them while you wait for everyone to arrive.

Before leading everyone inside, Akoites goes over the following chant with them a couple times:

Come on your bull’s foot
Come on your panther’s paw
Come on your snake’s belly
Dionysos, come!
Come Dithyrambos
Come to us Bakcheios
Come to us Lusios
Dionysos, come!

And then everyone processes inside chanting it as Dionysos crowns them and they stand or take their seats around the shrine.

Paper cups on which Dionysian epithets have been inscribed are handed out, with Akoites following close behind and filling them with wine. The epithet one receives is important, indicating a particular aspect of the God one should work with over the coming months.

Dionysos then leads the group in a call and response chant:

mad hunter
bond breaker
bridge burner
Opener of the Door!
Opener of the Door!
Opener of the Door!

He speaks the epithets while the group responds “bull-roarer” until the last line where everyone shouts “Opener of the Door” together. (Participants should take a drink of wine before calling out each line.)

Then Dionysos pours a bottle of wine in the libation bowl, while Akoites shouts “He is come! He is among us! Drink to him! Drink to feel him!” or words to that effect.

Dionysos and Akoites may or may not do the Recitation at this time.

When everyone’s ready the participants take turns hailing the God and telling the story of how they first met him.

Next the group hails Dionysos and shares a time when the God pleasantly surprised them.

Finally, participants may choose to speak something before the group, whether an affirmation, accomplishment or oath they want to undertake.

At this point the ritual transitions to freeform ecstatic celebration and revelry with Akoites and the Spirits of the Retinue until things wind down.

It’s a good time to play with Rhombos or Esoptron.

It is also an auspicious time for divination or direct trance-possession oracles.

One comment

  1. Great ritual for “Kybemesia!” Thank you for all the additional information about this remembrance.


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