Dionysos, you cared about me

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Dionysos, you cared about me, Dion, when I was alive; both when I danced with the boys and carried the nectar of Bromios at the symposia. But now I set you up beside my tomb, so that even when I am dead and in my future existence, even then I might see you. (SEG:Ecit. 34.1266)

But which one?

These articles are relevant to one of the theories I mentioned earlier. 

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What I do when I can’t do much

Each night I set aside some time to just sit and reflect on my Gods and Spirits. I push all other thoughts and concerns out of my mind to give them space in my head to do with as they please. It’s not prayer or meditation or an attempt to connect and communicate with them, though it can sometimes lead to those things. Most often I’m just thinking about them. How they have appeared to me in the past, the symbols and other things associated with them, myths and scholarly theories, songs and mantras and memorable bits of literature and poetry concerning them; all this I go over and get lost in. This is usually when I make my random connections and intuitive leaps which I later blog about. It’s just one of the devotional practices I have in my arsenal, and doesn’t take the place of the others – but it is something I can do to sustain my connection to them even through the fog of pain and illness when offerings, formal prayers and my ecstatic practices are a little harder to manage.

Les-dieux

White Gold

A couple months back I wrote:

Ever since the first of January we have been in the White Season, where Dionysos acts out the role of the Magician come from a strange and distant land, bringing wonders and radical transformation in his wake. He knows the songs and ceremonies to awaken and release, and he is followed by a triumphant procession of Nymphs and Satyrs whose ecstatic revelry chases off barrenness, stagnation and malignant or at least mischievous Spirits from the land and his people.

Come April first we’ll be transitioning into the Gold Season, a time of fruitfulness and abundance when Dionysos wears a Kingly face as he revels with the Fairies and Goblins of his Retinue.

When they first started showing up in ritual it was a little confusing; they felt very different from the Mediterranean and local land-Spirits I was used to dealing with. Conversely much of the traditional Fairy lore (especially from Celtic countries) didn’t seem to apply. I was starting to get really confused until I turned up a bunch of references to them in post-Classical Bacchic literature, some of which I’ve collected here. While this was reassuring since it suggested others had encountered them too, it didn’t do much to clear up the questions I had regarding who they were, why they were so different and how they’d come to be part of Dionysos’ circle.

Of course, the whole Óðr thing suggests some interesting solutions and I’m hoping over this next Season to get a better handle on them through ritual, divination and poetic frenzy. I’d share my preliminary theories (which differ somewhat from the stories I posted here and here) but there’s time enough to get into that during our Golden Months, especially since we only have two festivals during that period on our calendar, Ἀγριώνια in Kantharos and Ἀλέτιδεια in Prosopon. 

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horrifying

Speaking of vaginas, I just read something utterly horrifying.

According to Strabo “the Egyptians were noted for raising all their children and for circumcising the males and for performing excision (ektemein) on the females, as is the custom among the Jews” (Geographika 17.2.5)

That’s not the horrifying part. The Christian physician Aëtius (Sixteen Books on Medicine 16.115) gives a vivid description of a clitoridectomy:

The so-called “bride” (kleitoris) is like a muscular or fleshy structure located near the upper closure of the lips of the vagina, in the place where the urethra is located. In some women it becomes enlarged, increasing the female organs in size, and causes inappropriate behavior and disgrace. Also when it is rubbed continuously beneath the clothes it arouses the woman, and encourages her to engage in sexual intercourse. Accordingly, the Egyptians thought it best to remove it completely, at the time when young women were about to be married.

The surgery is accomplished as follows. Let the young woman be seated on a stool. Have a strong young man stand behind her and place his hands on her thighs, so that he can control her legs and her whole body. Have the surgeon stand opposite and let him draw out the clitoris with his left hand by grasping it with a wide-mouthed forceps; have him cut the clitoris off with his right hand at the tip of the forceps. It is appropriate to retain a portion of the cut-off organ, so that only the excess is removed. I have said that the excision takes place at the tip of the forceps, because the clitoris is fleshy at that point and can be stretched as far as possible, and so that a hemorrhage will not occur, as in the case of the more extensive excision used to remove a tumor.

After the surgery one should use wine or cold water to stop the wound from bleeding, and wipe the wound off with a sponge and sprinkle powder on it, and moisten a compress with vinegar and apply it, and put a sponge moistened with vinegar on top of it. After the seventh day sprinkle the lightest camomile on it, along with rose petals, or genital medicine dried with pumice stone {?}. And this also is good: burn the stones of date palms and grind them and sprinkle on the dust, and do this also for wounds in the genitals.

After providing the above translation, Mary R. Lefkowitz includes an interview with Aisha Abdel Majid, a Sudanese teacher who recounts her own operation at age 6, to help put things in perspective. 

soul searching

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Is there anything better than reading a bunch of scholars arguing about whether the word ψυχή, generally translated “soul” – actually means vagina?

Possibly, but that’s still pretty high up there on the list.

Or maybe I’m just easily entertained.

decent

For those who may not be familiar here’s a pretty decent overview of what’s known of Tarvos Trigaranos, which draws parallels with Óðinn and Mithras (who happen to be compared in this article by Olof Sundqvist.)

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