For a while now I’ve been referring obliquely to the Starry Bear tradition. Having made the big reveal – Dionysos is Óðr – I think it’s appropriate to say a bit more about what this term entails.
It was conceived as an offshoot of the Starry Bull tradition around 2014-15, largely in response to a number of encounters with Norse divinities I and several of my Bacchic associates began having. We came up with the name on a lark well before we had any inkling of the full extent of what was happening to and around us – it obviously had to be Ursa Major to complement the constellation Taurus! (How little I understood at the time the appropriateness of this half-joking coinage in a midnight Slack chat; later I would uncover some very interesting myths and cult practices which had collected around these stars from the early Neolithic on and in widely divergent locales throughout Eurasia and the Americas.)
Along with visitations by Freyja, Óðinn, Loki and an increasing assortment of Germanic and Slavic divinities (each of whom seemed to have history and clandestine arrangements with Dionysos) a constellation of concepts, practices, symbols, folkways, etc. began to emerge and cohere into the rudiments of a tradition. At first it was like I was given a string of keywords to explore: bear cultus, fairies, wild hunts and witches’ revels, warbands, lycanthropy, fairy tale figures, fertility rites and dances, smithcraft, singing, mumming, the distaff, etc. Each was a rabbit hole, leading to deeper and deeper interconnected mysteries. Some of these I am permitted to write openly about; some I have experienced but may not speak of; some I have had but glimpses of and others are completely closed to me. That has made the process of codification … complicated, to say the least.
However, guided by dreams, visions, ecstatic trips, divination and channeled oracles, as well as conversations with colleagues, collaborators and fellow-travelers (whom I hope will be inspired to share their own recollections and personal takes; I am a notoriously unreliable narrator, especially when it comes to my personal history) and marathon research sessions, the contours of the tradition and its patchwork mythology has grown clearer and easier to articulate over the years. By continuously circling back to certain geographical zones – roughly encompassing Northern Italy, the South of France, the Black Forest, the Black Sea to Siberia, and Dracula’s homeland – areas for further fruitful study have suggested themselves, as well as unexpected intersections and echoes.
Taking all of this disparate source material and synthesizing it into something comprehendible and useful for others is both a daunting labor and a fool’s errand. Heathenry, through a Bacchic Orphic lens. Oh, I can just imagine what the purists will make of that! (Especially considering the prominent role played by Loki in our emerging tradition.)
I realize I haven’t actually explained what Starry Bear is. That will unfold gradually over the course of these writings, as I take you on a spiritual journey to the ends of the earth – and beyond.
Bring your coat – the winds can be rather biting.