It was always you, Helen.


Having kind of a “duh” moment.

Although I had connected Dionysos with the Black Sun well before I experienced the dream wherein he gave me his controversial spoked symbol it took me a while to realize that this title had been hiding in plain sight all along:

After the precinct of Zeus, there is a temple of Dionysos Nyktelios, a sanctuary built to Aphrodite Epistrophia and an oracle said to belong to Nyx. (Pausanias, Description of Greece 1.40.6)

Most scholars translate Νυκτελιος as “Nocturnal” or “of the Night” which makes sense for a number of reasons: Dionysian rituals (especially of the orgiastic variety) often take place in the dark; the close proximity of this temple in Megara to that of Nyx, Goddess of the Night; and the important role Nyx plays in Orphic cosmologies where she is daughter, wife and successor of Phanes, the primordial Dionysos. 

However we get a better sense of what this title meant to his devotees from Plutarch’s On the E at Delphi:

As for his passage and distribution into waves and water, and earth, and stars, and nascent plants and animals, they hint at the actual change undergone as a rending and dismemberment, but name the God himself Dionysos or Zagreus or Nyktelios or Isodaites. Deaths too and vanishings do they construct, passages out of life and new births, all riddles and tales to match the changes mentioned. So they sing to Dionysos dithyrambic strains, charged with sufferings and a change wherein are wanderings and dismemberment.

Plutarch goes on to both equate and contrast Dionysos with Apollon in a manner similar to what we find in Eratosthenes and Macrobius, a tradition which hearkens back to primitive Thracian Orphic beliefs wherein Apollon is a manifestation of Helios above the Earth, while Dionysos is Helios in the Underworld, much as the Egyptian solar deity Rē fuses with Osiris in the Duat. 

Nyktelios can certainly be parsed as “Nocturnal” but if you break it down a different way – Νυκτ- “Night-dark” and έλιος “the Sun” you get … Black Sun.  


5 thoughts on “It was always you, Helen.

  1. That actually works pretty well. Especially when you go with the idea that the Sun is in the Underworld at night. So a nocturnal Dionysos literally would be of the Black Sun since that is the time when the Black Sun would literally be active

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    1. You mean through dreams, visions, hallucinations, etc? A few, though most haven’t really been notable. Mostly it just shows up emblazoned on things, there’s an eclipse, there’s a weird, distorted light like a fluorescent purple, and Dionysos appears so dark he shines or with swaths of gold and black. One time there was a dream involving dragons and green lions. That’s about it. Even the initial dream was kind of anticlimactic:

      However I consider myself still very much in the early phases.


  2. I mean have you literally seen the image of the black sun from the 16th century alchemical book Splendor Solis. There are a bunch of images dealing with alchemical processes, and the planets, and the sun. Alchemy was mentioned in that post, so I would guess that you have seen it. If not, it is another data-point. I do think it is kind of strange that it would be associated with Dionysus, the idea had never occurred to me. Dragons and green lions though, more imagery associated with alchemy.

    I don’t keep up with controversies and petty fights too much, but it looks like you have gotten a lot of flak over the black sun. I have seen something similar. Someone freaked out once when I showed them a book of archaic Greek pottery. It had some images of artifacts with swastikas on them. Never mind the fact that those were about 3000 years old. I was eventually able to convince them that early Iron Age Aegean peoples were not literal Nazis. I didn’t want to tell them how prominent it is on other artifacts from all over the place.


    1. Ah, yes! I have. Though I’m only just starting to get into the alchemical aspects beyond a Wikipedia level.

      That’s a great story.

      And yeah, there’s been an extraordinary amount of controversy, with the most recent flare-up running from the end of November to mid-December. I had signed this anti-xenophobia statement for Hellenic polytheists and others who honor the Greek Gods. When I discovered that a popular elder who happened to be a known pedophile had also signed I complained and gave them a bunch of evidence I’d collected; shortly thereafter I was declared a Nazi and White supremacist and kicked off because someone showed them a pic of me wearing a sonnenrad necklace and a Roman SPQR t-shirt. (Never mind it was from a post where I was denouncing racism, sexism, homo- and transphobia, etc.) I tried defending myself by explaining the historical and esoteric significance of the symbol and in particular what it means in my own Starry Bull tradition and they just kept repeating that I’m a Nazi. (And disregarded my warnings that they had a second known sexual predator on the list.) Oh well, it’s a fucking weird world we live in.


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