Author: thehouseofvines


Hmm. I just realized something that sets us apart from pretty much all other forms of Heathenry – and possibly makes us unique among contemporary polytheisms.

And it’s not the mixing of Greek with Norse, Slavic, Baltic and related elements. 

You see, our pantheon doesn’t exist yet. 

It is a consequence of Ragnarök and what comes after. Specifically our pantheon constitutes the collective of Gods and Spirits who band together under the rule of Dionysos when the present world-order collapses. Now, most of these relationships were forged in the remote past, when he went by the name Óðr and wandered through the Hyperborean lands, but some of them – and indeed the Gods and Spirits themselves – will be profoundly altered by the coming ekpýrōsis. I’m particularly thinking about the ones who won’t be around post-battle, or who will be reborn into different forms and functions.

So, that begs the question: do we honor the Gods as they are or as they will be? Especially since the future is like a river, constantly shifting its shape and course. What we glimpse may never come to be. 

Fuck, that sounds crazy even to me.

And yet the notion that Dionysos will one day be the Successor of Zeus is straight out of the Rhapsodic Theogony, according to Otto Kern’s Orphicorum Fragmenta, which you can find bits of here.

This line in particular stands out:

Proklos. Zeus the Father ruled all things, but Bakchos ruled after him.


Dionysos and the Jews

I’d comment on the increasing tide of Black-on-Jew violence but I don’t really discuss other acts of terrorism when they occur so it’d be kind of weird, ya know? Almost as weird as the silence of certain segments of the community who do frequently pipe up – at least when such villainy can be traced back to Trump and white supremacists. Guess these daily atrocities don’t fit their narrative.

Personally, I think antisemitism is wrong regardless of the skin color and religion of the perpetrator.

And I suspect Dionysos feels similarly.

His people and the Jews suffered together under the Christians until Emperor Valens was raised to the purple:

At Antioch Valens spent considerable time, and gave complete license to all who under cover of the Christian name, Pagans, Jews, and the rest preached doctrines contrary to those of the Gospel. The slaves of this error even went so far as to perform Pagan rites, and thus the deceitful fire which after Julian had been quenched by Jovian, was now rekindled by permission of Valens. The rites of the Jews, of Dionysos and Demeter were no longer performed in a corner as they would have been in a pious reign, but by revellers running wild in the forum. Valens was a foe to none but to them that held the apostolic doctrine. Against the champions of the apostolic decrees alone he persisted in waging war. Accordingly, during the whole period of his reign the altar fire was lit, libations and sacrifices were offered to idols, public feasts were celebrated in the forum, and votaries initiated in the orgies of Dionysos ran about in goatskins, mangling dogs in Bacchic frenzy. (Theodoret, Ecclesiastical History 4.21; 5.20)

Plutarch of Chaeronea actually argued that the Jews were Dionysos’ people:

First the time and character of the greatest, most sacred holiday of the Jews clearly befit Dionysos. When they celebrate their so-called Fast, at the height of the vintage, they set out tables of all sorts of fruit under tents and huts plaited for the most part of vines and ivy. They call the first of the two days Tabernacles. A few days later they celebrate another festival, this time identified with Bacchos not through obscure hints but plainly called by his name, a festival that is a sort of ‘Procession of Branches’ or ‘Thyrsos Procession’ in which they enter the Temple each carrying a thyrsos. What they do after entering we do not know, but it is probable that the rite is a Bacchic revelry, for in fact they use little trumpets to invoke their God as do the Argives at their Dionysia. Others of them advance playing harps; these players are called in their language Levites, either from ‘Lysios’ or better, from ‘Euois.’

I believe that even the feast of the Sabbath is not completely unrelated to Dionysos. Many even now call the Bacchantes ‘Saboi’ and utter the cry when celebrating the God. Testimony of this can be found in Demosthenes and Menander. The Jews themselves testify to a connection with Dionysos when they keep the Sabbath by inviting each other to drink and enjoy wine; when more important business interferes with this custom, they regularly take at least a sip of neat wine. Now thus far one might call the argument only probable; but the oppposition is quite demolished, in the first place by the High Priest, who leads the procession at their festival wearing a miter and clad in a gold-embroidered fawnskin, a robe reaching to the ankles, and buskins, with many bells attached to his clothes and ringing below him as he walks. All this corresponds to our custom. In the second place, they also have noise as an element in their nocturnal festivals, and call the nurses of the God ‘bronze rattlers.’ The carved thyrsos in the relief on the pediment of the Temple and the drums provide other parallels. All this surely befits no divinity but Dionysos.” (Quaestiones Convivales 4.6.1-2)

Macrobius cites the authority of no less than Orpheus and the Oracle of Klarian Apollon when syncretizing Dionysos with Iao (among other Gods) in Saturnalia 1.18-23:

Orpheus manifestly declares that Liber is the sun, and the meaning here is certainly quite clear; but the following line from the same poet is more difficult:

One Zeus, one Hades, one Sun, one Dionysus.

[19] The warrant for this last line rests on an oracle of Apollo of Claros, wherein yet another name is given to the sun; which is called, within the space of the same sacred verses by several names, including that of Iao. For when Apollo of Claros was asked who ‘among the gods was to be regarded as the god called Iao, he replied:

[20] Those who have learned the mysteries should hide the unsearchable secrets, but, if the understanding is small and the mind weak, then ponder this: that lao is the supreme god of all gods; in winter, Hades; at spring’s beginning, Zeus; the Sun in summer; and in autumn, the splendid Iao.

[21] For the meaning of this oracle and for the explanation, of the deity and his name, which identifies Iao with Liber Pater and the sun, our authority is Cornelius Labeo in his book entitled On the Oracle of Apollo of Claros.

[22] Again, Orpheus, pointing out that Liber and the sun are one and the same god, writes as follows of the ornaments and vestments worn by Liber at the ceremonies performed in his honor:

Let the worshiper first throw around him a crimson robe,
like flowing rays resembling fire.
Moreover from above the broad all-variegated skin of a wild fawn
thickly spotted should hang down from the right shoulder,
a representation of the wondrously-wrought stars and of the vault of heaven.
And then over the fawn-skin a golden belt should be thrown,
all-gleaming to wear around the breast a mighty sign
that immediately from the end of the earth the Beaming-one springing up
darts his golden rays on the flowing of ocean.

Tacitus, however, said that Liber had been the principle God of Jerusalem in former times, but the Jews had swapped him out for a different God, much to their detriment. (Annals 660)

Assuming he was correct, many Jews remained faithful to Dionysos. We find them participating in the theatrical arts and other Dionysiac contests (2 Maccabbees 6:7), receiving initiation into his mysteries complete with the ivy-leaf tattoo to show for it (3 Maccabbees 2:29) and even Philo the Jew, who is usually quite disdainful when it comes to Hellenic and Egyptian polytheism speaks favorably of the Bacchic devotees, and employs technical language drawn from the mysteries in numerous places. Jews even wrote Orphic pseudoepigraphica, and Bacchic imagery shows up in domestic settings of observant Jews, as well as in synagogues and bath-houses, particularly in Judaean cities like Sepphoris and Beth-She’an, the latter of which was said to have actually been founded by Dionysos.  

The respect was mutual, for the Dionysian king Ptolemy Soter appointed his Jewish subjects to important military and governmental positions and even gave them a whole quarter of the city of Alexandria (right next to the Royal District) so that they could live according to their own customs, including the extraordinary prerogative of having their own legal system and law courts. His son Ptolemy II Philadelphos (who excelled his father in Dionysian devotion and pageantry) continued these policies, going so far as to have the books of Moses translated into Greek where they could be included in the Great Library of the Mouseion along with other Jewish and Samaritan works where they were often studied and debated. A later member of the Dynasty even converted an abandoned House of Bast into a temple of Yahweh which came to rival the prestige of the Solomonic temple in Jerusalem. 

I could go on – and have in my book The Balance of the Two Lands: Writings on Greco-Egyptian Polytheism – but hopefully you get the point: Jew-hatred is wrong and un-Dionysian and I denounce anyone who engages in it, regardless of what identity-group they belong to.  

It seems suitable to point out

One reason that I favor a mixed capitalist economy is because Dionysos does. Hell, he invented the system:

It seems suitable to point out the various discoveries of different persons. Father Liber instituted buying and selling, and also invented the emblem of royalty, the crown, and the triumphal procession. (Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7. 191)

bacchus kitty

Keep them coming

You guys have asked some really good questions. The ones on the role of Hermes, Loki and Mani within the Starry Bear pantheon are going to require some further research unless you just want my UPGs and what’s come through in poetry thus far. (I’ve particularly been interested in Loki’s backstory since discovering that he made his way to Northern Italy with the Langobards.) The question on where to start will likely lead to a couple series, the first of which will be dealing with our blended cosmology – the World Tree alone getting its own post. I’ll happily accept more; it may take me a while to get through them all, but it’ll also give my writing some much needed focus.