It’s funny how reality is bending itself to our festival calendar.
The next one – Agrionia – is all about an eruption of collective insanity caused by being cooped up too long during a city-devastating epidemic. Which, in fairness, is the aition for a bunch of Dionysian festivals. This is the one that features Melampos, the second prophet of our tradition.
This is Nancy Harris’ painting of a Blackfoot medicine man, not Melampos but I can see how one could make that mistake.
Melampos was a religious specialist who used drugs and dance to effect cures, and created a strain of Bacchic mysteries involving puppets and giant penises whilst visiting Egypt, which he (re)introduced throughout large swaths of archaic Greece upon his return. Like Orpheus he was a king, though he won his dominion through trickery rather than blood. You can learn more about him here.
As I was saying, by the time May 20th rolls around a lot of folks are going to have a newfound sympathy for Jack Torrance. We’ll also be adjusting to life in a post-Constitutional America during a global economic crisis, with earthquakes, hurricanes and intermittent rioting and looting in the streets.
Which will make it the perfect time to honor the God of freedom and wildness, our savage Dionysos.
You see, by embracing his small madness we inoculate ourselves against the great madness that is soon to be sweeping through the land.
What is this madness of his?
It is life and wholeness, truth and joy surpassing all description.
Products of our culture, conditioning and times this can only seem frighteningly insane to us. A complete inversion that will utterly destroy our carefully crafted illusions, uproot and disorient our tame lives in ways we cannot even conceive.
And it does. It so fucking does.
But it’s worth it. Whatever he asks, however he challenges you.
To feel even the smallest bit of him, for the briefest of moments – it’s worth it.
Dionysos is better than any drug, and I should know as I’ve tried a lot of drugs!
Dancing with him is like facing down a cyclone or riding a bucking bull.