Friday, December 7, 2012

Dionysian Art

I stumbled across a Bulgarian artist named Peter Velikov.  His art is mostly etchings, and he has some unique takes on classical themes and figures.  He has two pieces of Ariadne and Dionysos.  The first, my favorite, is called "Bacchus and Ariana":

And the second is "Bacchus and Ariadne":

The other Dionysian art I wanted to pass along is actually a film, called Holy Motors, which I had the privilege of seeing at our favorite local independent movie theater/bar.  (Great combination!)   It's a French film that premiered at this year's Cannes Film Festival.  I'm afraid no synopsis of the movie is going to do it justice, but it is weird and beautiful and we were talking about it for a long time after seeing it.  What about it is Dionysian?  Masks, drama, performance, life, the dissolution of boundaries -- all bleeding together, and a lot of other details which I'll leave you to discover.  The (very talented) actor who plays the main character has no less than 11 personas in the film.  Kylie Minogue also has a role.  I will definitely be buying it when it comes out on DVD, as I already want to see it again.  If anyone reading this ends up seeing it, definitely let me know what you think!  Here is the trailer:

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Happy 'Through the Looking Glass' Day!

As fans of Lewis Carroll may already know, today is the day that Alice went through the looking glass.  (To mirror the day she went down the rabbit hole, which was May 4th.)  I have some plans for today, but for now I shall simply leave you with a Jabberwocky...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Speaking of madness, and music...

Don't Worry About the Sugar Planter!  (He's out of his mind.)

These guys are one of my favorite bands, and they have a kickstarter campaign at the moment too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ivy-Clad Tuesday

Sannion posed two questions last week. 
1) Who are you?
2) What role does art play in your worship? 
I haven't read anyone else's responses yet, but these questions really get to the heart of some things I'm working through at the moment.  I almost don't even want to talk about it.  So I will. 
I feel some resistance towards defining myself by the "masks" I could wear, although in the past I would have said they were part of my identity.  Things like writing poetry and playing music for example.  These were my passions, and they've fallen by the wayside, big-time, over the past couple years.  To the point where I'm not entirely sure if they are still passions.  Or if they are, where my blocks are coming from.  I feel these blocks as far as my spiritual pursuits are concerned as well, although my devotion for the gods motivates me to make more of an effort there than with the others.  
But why, for example, haven't I ever taken my violin to my Dionysos shrine and just played?  
I only now just thought of that question, but it stings and troubles.  Is Dionysos not a god of releasing fears, of breaking through?  Am I not a Dionysian? 
Nothing by accident.  I seem to remember mentioning in another blog of mine that I felt as if I was in the process of stripping away and building myself back up.  Perhaps it's a matter of repeating the question, "What are you, if not this?" and seeing what is left.
But I do know, and this is a fairly recent revelation, that I am a mystic.  I feel that word describes the longing I have and have always had at my core.  Something that feels both restless and peaceful at the same time, that could not be without the gods.  I also know that something that is essentially "me" persists beyond death, and can be recognized by my love in another life. 
Art is worship and worship is an art.  I need to integrate this truth more deeply.  And I need to go dancing again.  And maybe paint a sloppy watercolor of Dionysos while drinking absinthe.  In other words, do the art I know, and do art that I don't know.  And not worry about the outcome.  That last, that's important.  With art as well as worship, shouldn't it be the experience and not necessarily the outcome that is most rewarding?
That's more of a rambling confession than a straight answer, but there it is.  (Is every Dionysian in a constant state of wondering Who They Are?)  
You can call me Aridela Pantherina, and I'm certainly a Dionysian.  

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Dreaming of Trees

In a little over a month, if all goes according to plan, my husband and I will be taking a road trip up to the redwood forest in honor of our first anniversary!!
Combine my growing craving for green and forests with a general fascination with redwoods (especially fired up since reading The Wild Trees by Richard Preston), and you have a very excited panther.  We're going to be camping for several nights in the northernmost national redwoods park in California.  I've been totally geeking out by researching everything I can, about the redwood trees themselves, the parks, hikes, you name it.
We're also going to be spending a day and night at the Joshua Tree National Park, a place I've always wanted to visit but never have, in spite of its much closer proximity.  I love joshua trees, they are adorable and quirky. 
Things we've talked about seeing on the way include The Lucky Mojo Curio shop in Forestville, and jaunting up to the Oregon mystery vortex, perhaps stopping at a winery or two.  I'm trying to sedate my inner planner from going to crazy though. Must leave room for spontaneity. 
By the way, if you assumed my favorite tree was a redwood or a joshua tree, you'd be wrong.  It's a boojum tree.  Which looks like a tree that got stuck in a vortex, incidentally. 
And of course, the best part is that I get to experience this whole trip with the one person I can never get enough of.  I'm even just excited at the prospect of the hours of driving in the car together. 

So this is the stuff I've been daydreaming (and sometimes nightdreaming) about and no doubt will be for the next month.  I feel like whatever I can imagine is guaranteed to be trumped by the experience itself.  I've been pondering things like, what are the nymph spirits there like?  What sort of faces of Dionysos might I see in such a forest?  What sort of mushrooms might we find?  Ha!  Can't wait!

We have a camping trip next week as well, to a favorite spot along the Mogollon Rim.  It's funny how much I've turned into a camping person.  I didn't used to be!  But now I find I get a soul-craving for it if I've been away from nature too long.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

To Dionysos

My god,
I hope you know
that I could never not be devoted to you.
Though I know I've seen only a fraction,
walked little of this labyrinth,
and still question my intuition,
you are the grand hologram,
the lightning strike that cannot be unseen
even when I didn't know I had the eyes for it.
If you never spoke a word to me,
never stroked my skin to gooseflesh
or caught me as I danced recklessly in your name,
it is all only to remember the truth,
(which is eternal)
that you are in my blood, my tears, my breath,
my love and longing,
for this life (Life!)
filling me to the brim.
And even when i pass away this body
whose limbs have swayed and lept, knelt and walked,
wrought and ached, for you.
Still, you will be there.
I know and I remember.

Faraway Lightning

This song makes me think of Dionysos...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Festival of Ariadne

When the sun goes down, we start preparing things... molding snakes out of clay, making beeswax candles, readying the feast food... and all the small details that goes into setting up the ritual space.

It's already late when we begin.

A creosote branch dipped in saltwater cleanses the space, each other, and makes the small room smell like rain.

We vibrate our chakras, using Greek god names.*  Our energies align, our senses open.

In the North, the bull.  In the South, the snake.  In the East, the vine.  In the West, the ivy.
We call you, Dionysos!  Bull-faced Lord of the Labyrinth.  Gentle and kind-hearted God, who wed the fair Ariadne and gifted her with stars for jewels.  Shape-changer, initiator, god of life. Come to us, like the roar of the ocean’s waves.  Embrace us like the ivy, O Lord.  We welcome you, Beloved God.

We call you, Ariadne!  Lady of the Labyrinth, who holds the mysteries of the Underground and the ecstasies of the heavens. Daughter of the Moon, whose brothers are full of secrets - honeyed Glaucus and two-natured Asterion. Wife and lover of Dionysos, the most wild and ecstatic god. You lead the maenads in their dance. Bearer of serpents, you have known madness, grief and death, and have reclaimed your divinity. Your crown shines in the summer sky. Come to us, riding a panther and carrying your sacred thread, the color of blood.  Priestess of the Bull, most holy and pure Ariadne, we celebrate your ascent to the heavens. We honor you, light in the darkness, You who holds the key. Come to us, with the grace of a swarm of bees, with the wide-eyed knowing of the owl. We feast for you, we dance for you, we would behold you, Beloved Goddess.

White wine from Crete is poured in offering.  And honey is offered as well.

To All the Gods, honey. To the Mistress of the labyrinth, honey.

We meditate in silence to prepare.  Incense smoke of dittany and bay fill the room.  I feel Ariadne's presence like I have not before. She seems pleased, and is wordlessly bidding me prepare for what She has in store.

Then the drums begin, and we take the pose of the Minoan Snake Goddess.**

Arms raised aloft, the posture becomes strenuous in stages.  Part of me feels sad that I do not sense Her anymore.  But this feels like an initiation, so perhaps that is the point...  I sweat and endure, in and out of trance.  There is a vastness around me.  My husband tells me later that he knew right away the posture was not for him, and was bid to be the bull, to dance for the Lady of the Labyrinth, instead.  Snakes and bull.  Snakes and bull.  That is as much as can be put into words...

As we end that portion of the ritual, I feel invigorated. With a bottle of mead in one hand and a ball of red yarn in the other, we begin our walk to the labyrinth.  The night is warm but not uncomfortable.

After walking a little over a mile, we are there.  We spend some time looking at stars, pointing out constellations.

I walk first.  I don't think of much particular, but I am calm and at peace.  When I get to the center, I remember other labyrinths I have walked.  How my shadow looked at sunrise the first time I walked a labyrinth, on my birthday, many years ago.  The labyrinth I walked in Sedona when I made a life-altering decision.  I feel the thread that ties me to those times, those selves.  I face outward and notice how wide the night sky seems, and how in-the-middle-of-everything-
mundane this particular labyrinth is.  By a city street, between office buildings and a church.  And yet wherever a labyrinth is, it creates a feeling of center.  It reminds us that the center is not exclusively on a sacred mountaintop somewhere, but it is wherever we are when we become aware of our place in the universe.

While my husband walks, I lay down on a bench and look at the stars.  I lift up my ball of yarn and eclipse the moon. I pull out the string and imagine I'm connect it to various stars.  As I bring my arms back together and let the yarn fall slack, it twists into the shape of a noose dangling towards my face.  I smile.

On the walk back, my shoe breaks and I walk barefoot part of the way, but this doesn't bother me.

Exquisitely hungry and exhausted, once we get home we shower and feast before ceremoniously passing out.

* This is a strange mix of systems, I realize, but it works for me.  I vibrate the following god-names to correspond to the chakras: Root - Dionysos / Sacral - Aphrodite / Solar Plexus - Apollon / Heart - Ariadne / Throat - Hermes / Third Eye - Persephone / Crown - Dionysos

** Using the postures of ancient figures and statues as "keys" to specific types of trance or spirit journeying was researched by anthropologist Felicitas Goodman.  Her theory was that these poses are not arbitrary, but are encoded information from that culture about how they interacted with the spirit world.  Her research found that the posture being held for about 15 minutes while listening to drumming or rattling at 210 bpm (beats per minute) would allow for trance experiences specific to that posture -- some postures were found to be divinatory, healing, metamorphic, or conducive to traveling to the upper or lower world.  A few were also found to be initiatory or simply celebratory in nature.  The Minoan Snake Goddess posture was NOT one researched by Goodman or other authors of books teaching her methods (to my knowledge), but I believe from my own experience that it is an initiatory posture.  I've been planning a more extensive blog post about my experiences with ecstatic trance postures, which I started experimenting with nearly 4 years ago.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Devotions to Ariadne

I've been a bit negligent on observing devotional days and I've been trying to change that this month.  I realized that part of my problem is that I feel as if I should be able to devote a whole *day* to each one, and so when that seemed impossible, I would try to move it around, but inevitably other obstacles, and you know, life, gets in the way.  So I'm telling myself that "the day is the day is the day".  Whole days set aside for festivals are wonderful, but there's no need to be separating the spiritual from the mundane completely all the time, and in fact probably a lot of arguments FOR blending them.  I've revised my lists of possible activities for each devotional day, to include small activities as well as more time consuming ones.  And most importantly, just keeping the god/dess in mind during the day, and being present, paying attention... which doesn't take any time, simply effort!  This small change in perspective seems to be working well for me this month.

When I first started observing devotional days, the 4th was for Aphrodite.  I had a small shrine for Her as well.  Though I never had any direct experiences with Her, I felt like I couldn't NOT honor the blessings of love in my life somehow.  Aphrodite is a grand and complex goddess, with plenty of association with Dionysos.  And while I didn't feel like my offerings and prayers fell flat exactly, something just didn't click. 

Something had stuck with me that I had read in Otto's Dionysos: Myth and Cult, which was that on Cyprus Ariadne was worshipped as Ariadne Aphrodite (which to me brings to mind Ariadne as deified by Dionysos).  So with this in mind, I made some changes to my shrine intending to focus on this syncretized aspect.  I used red and black cloths, I added a snake goddess statue I'd acquired many years ago, and a round mirror for Ariadne's lunar aspects.  Admittedly now I've just come to think of it as "Ariadne's shrine", for I feel she's more complex than this particular aspect  (and likely was a Minoan deity in her own right). So I hope Aphrodite takes no offense... But it feels less as if I'm "changing deities" than that I am adjusting my practice to reflect the goddess that my heart was already resonating with, if that makes sense.  I'm not sure why I was hesitant to do this in the first place... but my experience with Ariadne has been a bit like the labyrinth itself.  She actually led me to Dionysos to begin with, in Her roundabout way, and since then I danced around Her for a quite a while before getting to this point.

I wasn't sure at first where to place a devotional day for Her... The full moon seemed appropriate considering Her lunar aspects, although it falls awful close to Dionysos', so I settled on keeping it on the 4th for now.  I realized when the day came that this is when the waxing moon looks very much like bull horns!

All that being said!  I spent some time communing with Ariadne on Her devotional day.  Offered up milk and honey, and some white wine, as well as some lotus-scented incense.  I put on some music, and sat down with pen and paper hoping to gel together some of my haphazard ideas for an Ariadne festival into something more concrete and organized.  And indeed, I wrote out a very long invocation for her and everything fell into place for the festival, which is both encouraging and exciting.  I've feel that this will be one of two yearly festivals for her.  (This one in midsummer, the second in the fall.)  But since this is my first attempt at creating a new festival, we shall see how it all turns out!  At the time of posting this, the festival is actually tomorrow! Or today after I've slept, however you wish to look at it.)

One last thing to note -- dreams have been something I've been thinking about off and on lately (including dream incubation, lucid dream states, how one might induce oracular dreams, that sort of thing).  It was not something I was thinking about while I was brainstorming for Ariadne's festival, but nevertheless, the message came through suddenly that She could be a dream guide.  And I thought, Lady of the Labyrinth, holder of the thread... well that makes sense!  I'll blog more about this as it develops.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Art, Ariadne and the Cretan Bull Cycle

I wanted to take a moment to highlight the extraordinary talents of a couple of friends of mine, Moco and Maize, who together create art under the name Mandem.  If you're familiar with the darkwave or steampunk scene at all, you may have already seen their work.  Their art has been on the covers and in the liners of many of The Cruxshadows' albums, as well as the Airship Pirates RPG book by the steampunk band Abney Park.  They describe their style as Mythpunk Art Noir, which I think describes it very well!  
All of their work is wonderful, but some personal favorites of mine are the ones of Ariadne.  They are beautiful and haunting.  I plan to buy some prints soon to put on my Ariadne shrine.

I highly recommend you check out their website as well as their Etsy store
And last but not least, here's a link (posted with their permission) to Maize's undergraduate honors thesis, entitled "The Cretan Cycle: Sex, Sacrifice and the Sacred Beast." 
Back in 2007 when I first read it, I was at a point where I was starting to actively explore my attraction to Dionysos more seriously.  The myth of Ariadne, Theseus and the Minotaur had always been a favorite.  But the thesis really blew me away, and I remember that several points in the thesis confirmed things I had felt intuitively but hadn't had any references for.  If you're at all interested in Greek myth it's definitely worth reading.  The thesis includes some of their art and part of an unfinished graphic novel that I really hope they finish someday!  I'm told they may expand upon and publish this whole work eventually. 
I meant to post a blog about their work much earlier than this. I was planning to reread the thesis more carefully and go into detail about how awesome it is.  But I think it speaks for itself much better than I could - so check it out!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Kerenyi and other random thoughts...

I've read more than half of Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life by Kerenyi. Unfortunately, because I got it on inter-library loan I wasn't able to keep it long enough to finish it.  But I plan to buy a copy as it certainly seems to be one I'd like to have in my personal library.  I had many "aha" moments with this book as well as a general broadening of knowledge. Things that really grabbed me included pretty much all the information on Ariadne.  He pointed out evidence that she has an underworld aspect... which is something I've felt intuitively but don't remember coming across anywhere else.  Also, many interesting things about Erigone, the Aiora, and the Anthesteria... things that I'm filing away for next year's festivals. 
Kerenyi has an approach which seems, dare I say, scholarly but reckless?  But maybe it's less reckless than I think, not being overly scholarly myself.  His knowledge certainly seems extremely broad.  But he would say things like, "From the absence of any depiction of such and such, we can assume..." (pardon my vagueness since I no longer have the book with me) or draw conclusions that I was surprised at but at the same time appreciative of, even if they occasionally seem a stretch, at least based on the information presented.  He doesn't have the same loving, almost mystical approach as Otto, but the book is invaluable nonetheless... especially with the generous amount of photographs of relevant art in the back of the book.
Another thing I'm still contemplating, and will be until I get my own copy of the book and can finish this section (and probably long after), is Dionysos Trieterikos, Dionysos of the two-year period.  He describes that Dionysos was in some places worshipped in the context of a two-year period, where He was absent for 12 months (or in the underworld), and then present for the next 12 months.  This is hard for me to wrap my head around, on one hand, and on the other... well, it ALMOST make sense.  I'll try to explain my train of thought... It's probably not surprising, since I come from a Wiccan background, that I've attempted to think of Dionysos seasonally, especially when it comes to the possibility of creating other festivals for him, or even putting his known festivals into a context of a sort of Wheel of the Year.  But that's never quite seemed RIGHT.  Is He born on the Lenaia?  Earlier in the winter?  Later during the Anthesteria, when the flowers blossom?  All three since He was born two or three times?  But the Anthesteria also has associations with marriage and death.  If you're following me at all, it becomes obvious that Dionysos is too many-formed to fit neatly into a seasonal year.  He's constantly dying and being reborn in some way.  The ivy fruits in the spring and the vine in the fall.  He is a god of both light and dark.  So that some people thought you'd need two years to fit around his complex, dual nature.... well I could kind of see that.  
I'm not sure what that means for me yet, if anything.  I'd be curious if any other modern worshipers of Dionysos ever think of him in this way... or notice a shift of any kind from one year to the next.

What else?  I'm currently reading Dver's book Dwelling on the Threshold.  I will review it more appropriately when I'm done, but so far, even though most of it I've read before, I'm very glad I bought it -- I've been flipping to sections that are very synchronous to things that have been on my mind lately. 

I've been feeling like the next step on my path is to cultivate some more disciplined trance techniques.  I am a mystic at heart... ever since I started on my path, I've had that part of me that wants to run away and join a pagan temple and devote myself completely, fully, every day to the gods, if such a thing existed.  But in spite of that inclination, trance has always been difficult for me.  Letting go is difficult for me.  I'm a stubborn beast.  I don't mean to be!
I did a tarot reading for myself recently (using the Voyager Tarot).  It was a spontaneous layout.  It included my Self, my Guide, and my Lesson in the present... and my Self, my Guide, my Lesson in the future.  And in between those cards were 3 more cards connecting them, which I named Keys/Pathways.  These keys included:  Actor (Man of Wands), Fear (7 of Cups), and Delusion (10 of Crystals).  The present Self was Equilibrium (2 of Cups) and the future self was Passion (10 of Cups).  What I took from this, among other things, was that the to get from a place where I'm just sustaining and keeping things in balance to a place where I feel truly passionate and complete, I need to release the masks I identify with, the fears that are holding me back, to get to a place where that's possible.  Seeing these cards didn't worry me... it seemed like a natural progression.  I think I can handle this (she says now before the breakdown!) 

It helps to have a husband and soul-mate, who sees me, TRULY sees me.  Knowing this, I feel like I can peel back the layers and masks without fear of getting lost, because his love and Sight will ground my true self even if I myself am not entirely sure who that is yet.

Anyhow, I'm glad it's June.  It seems like May is always difficult for me.  Is it because it's the fifth month and fives mean conflict? 

I found out there's a labyrinth just a mile away from my home... thanks, World-wide Labyrinth Locator

Also, I just finished a bottle of wine and caught up on about 200 posts from ginandjack's tumblr.  I'm happy to report I'm feeling pleasantly less sane than before and ready for sleep...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Midnight Shopping List of a Modern Maenad

___ wine
___ chocolate
___ cat toys
___ black eyeliner
___ 2 different kinds of batteries

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Someone I know went crazy yesterday.  Like out of his head, take off all his clothes, run down the street naked kind of crazy...


An intoxicant was involved, and perhaps more than the one we know about, or even in combination with some mental health problems or breakdown.  But what we do know does not explain the severity of it or the duration.  It doesn't add up. 

I wasn't there, but I happened to hear of it when it first happened.  I said some prayers for his safety, focused on sigils of protection and finding.  In my concern, I prayed to Dionysos, thinking of him as a god of madness, and even protector of the mad.  (Thinking of the madness of the maenads, or the protection I've felt when I've felt mad with grief or intoxication.) 

But later I realized, in addition to that, he is also a god who strikes with madness, as a punishment or consequence of hubris, denial or wrong-doing.  The person in question, I'm afraid, was guilty of all three.  And although he suffered no serious injury, he did not escape the consequences.  He was found, arrested, and (to sum up) a whole lot of shit, all of his own making and responsibility, caught up with him.  Am I saying that he was divinely punished?  I don't know.  You could also chalk it up to karma, entropy or inevitability, I suppose.  I have no problem with holding all possibilities, even conflicting ones, as equally true.

So even though in compassion I tried to reach out with prayers and magick, it was way out of my hands.  I spent a lot of time today comforting my friend who is really close to him. But it all hit so close to home that I feel nearly shell-shocked with the strangeness and implication of it, how sudden and inexplicable it was, how one's life and plans can turn on a dime, and especially... how much worse it could have been, for him, or for the people around him.

It's a sobering reminder (pun intended) to check yourself, your true intentions, and your weaknesses and limitations.  


Dionysos incense

2 parts myrhh
1 part frankincense
1 part dittany of crete
1 part patchouli leaf
pinch each of 3 sacred herbs
a dry ivy leaf
few drops of wine and a couple drops of pine oil

I change this up a little bit each time I make it.  Thinking of creating a different kind later this year that includes pine resin.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Current Reading List

I’ve really been digging not only my library’s interlibrary loan system (especially now that the requests are all online instead of in writing), but also their digital library system.  I love listening to audiobooks when I’m cooking or doing chores.

Recently, I was listening to the audiobook of The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan, and was pleasantly surprised at how often he brought up Dionysos.  He makes a rather good argument for Johnny Appleseed being an American Dionysos.  Did you know that apples from trees planted by seed are pretty much inedible, but they were great for making alcoholic cider?  That was NOT in the Disney cartoon I saw when I was a kid.  There is more to it than that, including his being an outsider, a wanderer, very close to nature, and having some pretty radical spiritual views for the time, but I recommend reading the whole chapter at least - but the whole book is excellent.  He also discusses Dionysian vs Apollonian principles in his discussion of our human ideals of beauty on the chapter on the tulip, and unsurprisingly, Dionysos comes up again on the chapter about Cannabis and intoxication.

I recently tracked down a science fiction short story written in the 70’s called The Feast of St Dionysus.  In the story, a man who is having trouble dealing with traumatic memories of his mission to Mars, goes off into the desert of Earth to be alone (and one senses, possibly to end his life).  Instead of the solitude and starkness he was hoping for, he finds a cult community in the middle of the desert that worships Dionysus, somewhat as a saint and somewhat as an equivalent to Jesus.  The main character then gets convinced to join the community and participate in the mysterious festival they have planned.  It was worth tracking down, I enjoyed it.

It’s worth mentioning that I found a reference to the above short story in The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants, one of the first books I got through interlibrary loan . (And really didn’t want to give back.  One day, I’ll buy a copy.)  The encylopedia mentions Dionysos in connection with the fly agaric mushroom, which seems to be speculation, although it’s something to think about. I think it’s interesting that both Dionysos and fly agaric mushrooms share an association with pine trees.

I’m also rereading The Science of the Craft, which is very thought provoking as far as seeing mystical and magickal phenomenon in a framework of quantum physics.  I’ve been pondering the concept of our consciousness as being a metapattern in the quantum sea (or Zero Point Field) and the idea of gods as also being intelligent metapatterns (though presumably greater or more complex). It gives a new perspective to the idea of invoking or evoking gods.  Is it simply a matter of aligning yourself with a particular god-pattern?

Currently on loan:  Kerenyi’s Dionysos.  (Finally!! Been meaning to read this for a long time.)  And an interesting find from a used bookstore:  Healing Dream and Ritual: Ancient Incubation and Modern Psychotherapy by C.A. Meier.  Not quite sure what to expect from it, but I’ve been feeling drawn to creating a dream incubation ritual focused on Dionysos, since that’s how he’s often communicated with me, so I’m hoping it will give me some inspiration for that.

Top 9 Dionysian perfumes from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

I admit it, I'm an addict of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab perfumes.  I love their gothic, literary, and mythological themes, and the way they can evoke those themes with scents is amazing.  Besides just being lovely, they are also wonderful tools.  Scent is incredibly powerful - it can change your mood in an instant or recall a memory that you had forgotten.  You can also use them magically for their inherent properties, or for a trigger that you've developed, such as only wearing a certain scent while going into a trance or working with a certain god.  Here's my list so far of Dionysian themed scents.

Notes:  Although I list some scents as more feminine/masculine, it's only an attempt to be more descriptive for people that might be looking for one or the other.  Also, most of these have grape notes.  If you are worried about smelling like grape candy (and I certainly was), I recommend giving them a chance anyway. I've been pleasantly surprised with the complexity of the wine/grape notes and at least in all the ones listed below they are blended very well.  

LE = Limited edition   GC = General Catalogue   CD = Carnivale Diabolique

Now onwards and upwards, in reverse order!

9. Haloa (LE) - Wine grapes, pomegranate, myrrh, frankincense and olive leaf, and the warm scent of offertory cakes.  This scent is dedicated to the winter festival for Dionysos and Demeter.  This scent is dominated by the "cakes" and is a sweet foody scent.  I found the myrrh and frankincense to be nigh indetectable, alhough there is a pretty white grape note.  I'm not a fan of "foody" scents, so although I have to give it points for the Dionysian theme and the description, it's lowest on my list. 

8. Maenad (GC) - Orgiastic mayhem in the extreme: sweet strawberry and orange blossom distorted by carnation, black poppy and hibiscus.  My first thought on smelling this one is that it's a surprisingly light scent for a maenad.  This is one which I don't necessarily "agree" that the scent matches the concept/title.  Strawberry incense is a good description.  And you could say it's like a good-girl version of Dionysia, with a floral twist instead of the heavier wood/patchouli notes.  Definitely feminine (or even girly), and it's non-assuming enough for everyday wear. 

7. Harvest Moon (LE) - This Harvest lunacy combines the autumnal scents of dry leaves, mulling spices, balsam fir, cedar, juniper berry, clove, saffron, damson plum, sage, yarrow, and lily twined with Dionysus' sacred grapes and ivy, a bounty of apple and pumpkin, and the amaranth and lingum aloes of Janus, all touched by a gentle breath of festival woodsmoke and sweet wine.  I had such high hopes for this one, but for me the downfall was the dominant apple note, which is a big turn off for me. But if you like apple and autumn smells, then you will probably enjoy this one.  A friend of mine who is also a fan of all things Dionysian adores this one.

6. The Forest Reverie (GC)  A sunlit ancient forest, dotted with wild roses, grape vine, and queenly lilies, clothed in swirls of opium smoke. Although not a direct Dionysian reference, this one is very evocative of the god, in my opinion!  It's startlingly vibrant. I think the most unique aspect of this scent compared to some of the others on this list is the rose note, but its subtle after its applied.  This is woodsy and smoky with hints of floral. Nicely androgynous.

5. Horreur Sympathique (GC)  The perfume of a hellbound soul, gleefully lost to iniquity: blood musk, golden honey, thick black wine, champagne grapes, tobacco flower, plum blossom, tonka bean, oakmoss, carnation, benzoin, opoponax, and sugar cane.  Like Forest Reverie, this one is evocative if not explicitly Dionysian. This says to me, "Sweet, sweet excess..." And I mean sweet, literally. But it's not the cloying kind of sweet -- it's the kind of sweet the touches on the back of your throat and says "craving" and "intoxication".  It's a really beautiful perfume, and one of the first BPAL scents I fell in love with. I get a lot of complements when I wear this one.

4. Minotaur (LE)  The Bull of Minos, guardian of the Labyrinth in Knossos. A deep, swarthy black musk dusted by a dark, resinous blend of sacred bisabol myrrh, atramentous benzoin, tsori, balsam, and galbanum.  Oh, Minotaur!  If you adore resins like I do, this is resin heaven.  If it were a color it would be golden but seen from the shadows.  Equally (and very) sexy on both men and women.  Naturally, most scents I'd consider Dionysian have some sort of grape or wine note, but this one does not have fruit or florals at all if you're looking for something different.  

3. Dionysia (CD) - Wild plum, pomegranate, raspberry, Siamese benzoin, plum blossom, patchouli, frankincense, and mahogany.   This is my special occasion favorite; I like to wear it when I go dancing especially.  It's very fruity but just "dirty" enough with the wood and incense notes to balance it out.  It's heady and in-your-face sensual, and lasts a long time. More feminine than masculine.  This is part of the Carnivale Diabolique line that will be available again soon (at least that's what they promise!)

2. The Blood Garden (CD) - Blood accord, bitter clove, English ivy, Tempranillo grape, red currant, oak, leather, blackberry leaf, and ginger lily. Another Carnivale Diabolique scent, it took me some time to track this one down while the Carnivale is on hiatus.  I was very interested in this one because it had both ivy and grape.  It's BEAUTIFUL Dionysian heaven.  The fruit notes balance perfectly with the heavier notes, in one of those BPAL alchemical miracles where it all blends into something seamless, with no one note dominating the others.  I'm pretty sure the blood accord is dragon's blood which gives it a mysterious kick right out of the bottle, but then fades a bit after a while.  I can see where some might say this is more masculine, but I'm going to say it's androgynous - as a woman I have no reserves about wearing this one..  Lasts a long time, good throw, you don't need to apply much at all.

1. Bacchanalia (Discontinued in 2004, very rare)  A boisterous, belligerent, festive blend that lends to mad revelry, overindulgence and excess. Perfect for a weekend bender. Earthy musks combined with a beastial civet bouquet, a hint of sweet grape and orange blossom.  This is what Maenad SHOULD be, in my opinion.  But like the description suggests, this isn't an "every day" perfume. The musk and civet (faux civet of course) make it very animalistic and "other". I imagine the god himself might smell like this if you happened upon him in the woods.  A lot of people don't like civet or say it doesn't work with their body chemistry, but I really enjoy this one and plan on reserving it mainly for rituals and festivals.  (If you're bummed about this one being hard to find, you might try Satyr in the GC for a substitute in the meantime, as I've heard it also has a civet note, although Satyr won't have the grape.)

And here's a few Dionysian scents I have not tried yet:

Anthesteria (LE) - Dénthis wine and Bibline grape, with honey and a touch of thyme and oregano.

Panther Moon (LE - very rare and in high demand) - Gleaming black musk, mandrake, labdanum, black ginger, benzoin, champaca, ambergris accord, myrrh, and star anise.

Athens (GC) - A reformulation and modernization of a true Classical Greek perfume, myrrhine: voluptuous myrrh, golden honey, red wine, and sweet flowers.

Satyr (GC) - Unleash the bawdy, unrestrained passion of the satyr! A ferociously masculine scent: sexual, vigorous, and truly wild. 
*Any GC scents you can get straight from, but if you're going to track down a discontinued or LE, then I recommend either Ebay or the forums at  In order to keep up to date with the newest LE scents (as they are often seasonal and old ones may return) and to find out when the Carnivale scents go live again, I recommend following their official blog at Lastly, I am not affiliated with the lab at all, just a fan.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

At the shrine of Ariadne

If you would be balanced, and fully open to Dionysos,
you must know She who is half of the story, His polarity--
Ariadne, most holy.

She will show you how to open your heart to Him,
how to trust,
how to follow the thread
how to stand strong in the face of madness
how to grasp snakes like torches and jump over bulls like a dance...

She cradles his wildness between the vastness of the stars
and the darkness of the underground.

You may see her with wild hair, quiet grace,
and eyes that remind you who you are.

Dionysos rescued Ariadne, yes,
but She also rescued him...

Monday, March 19, 2012

St Patrick's Day, Liberalia and the rains after

We had my husband's daughter over for St Patrick's day, and I made a big feast of Irish food.  Corned beef with cabbage and carrots, garlic mashed potatoes, cornbread and a Guinness gingerbread cake.  We adults also had Guinness and pear cider.  They humored me by watching Darby O'Gill and the Little People, an old Disney favorite in my childhood. 

I actually didn't realize it was also the Liberalia until a couple days later.  But I was feeling very festive that day.  I've never had a problem with St Patrick's Day. I like many things about the Irish culture, and any holiday that celebrates drinking is fine by me...

I stayed up late that night, reading most of Terence McKenna's True Hallucinations (a synchronous selection that drew my hand to it at the library, not knowing what it was) while the wind blustered outside. I nodded off to strange dreams as the rains finally started.

The next day was a rare and beautiful day... the weather had dropped at least 20 degrees, and the sky seemed closer than ever -- an unusual, vibrant mix of huge white clouds, thunderheads and bright blue sky.  More strangely, some parts of the city saw a good deal of hail, though I didn't see any myself.

AND our morning glory seeds had all sprouted, all 8 little pots of them! 

I felt moved to give offerings and commune with Dionysos at my shrine.  I poured out wine, lit incense, hung up the mask I had made on the Anthesteria, and said a few quiet things.  Though before long, I simply walked outside in the rain and sought him there, putting a glass of wine out in the rain to gather rainwater, and feeling that inexplicable gratitude and wonder that comes from being truly present.  I took a sip of the wine and rainwater, then poured it out in small increments into our ivy, cacti and morning glory plants.

A mild, wet spring in the desert?  A blessing indeed!  May the rains keep coming...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Anthesteria 2012

Here is my account and pictures of this year's Anthesteria.  I realize this is over a month late, but I'm posting it anyway mostly for my own record of things. 

Day 1: Pithoigia.  Our Anthesteria altar was even more lovely this year than it was last year.

And we had a lot of wonderful wine (though not quite enough, she notes for next year). Among them were 3 Greek wines.  Hermes Naoussa Red Dry Wine 2006, Agiorgitiko Erasmios Red Dry Wine 2007, and Dionysos Merlot 2009.  The others were ones I thought looked good, including a shiraz (Misterio 2010) that had a mask on the label.

After doing a simple ceremony to begin our Anthesteria celebration, we took a walk along the river wash, bringing with us wine and water.  Although it had been getting warmer in the prior weeks, the weather turned suddenly cold this particular day, as if winter was having one last hurrah.  Of course, "cold" is subjective for us desert-rats. It means a beautiful day where we could wear an extra layer outside.

There is something about taking a walk with an intent or spiritual purpose in mind.  It sharpens your senses and makes everything just a little bit shinier.  Or is that the wine?  Nahhh...  But I was amazed at just how much our little edge of the desert had changed - bursting into bloom and color - seemingly overnight!  Logically, I know this was not the case, I had just not been there recently to witness it, but it still seemed that way.  It was the epitome of spring in our little corner of the world.  Here are some pictures:

I could smell the orange blossoms, which is one of my favorite scents synonymous with spring.  We explored a creosote "grove" nearby, and were startled with the size of some of them.  Some of them are big Grandmother creosote, reaching over 12 feet high.  (Creosote or chaparral is a favorite plant of ours.  The scent of the resin of its leaves is what, to a person who lives in the desert, smells exactly like a rainy day.  It blooms tiny yellow flowers in spring, and Native Americans used it for its detoxifying properties.  The branches are distinctively light colored, like moonlight, and the wood is extremely hardy.)  It was from one of the Grandmother creosote that my husband found a very large, partially fallen branch to make a stang.  We collected a lot of wildflowers as well.  And we were extremely surprised to stumble across (and recognize) a sacred datura plant, with it's big white trumpet flowers!

Later, we had a large feast and watched The Doors movie (my first time seeing it, believe it or not, but I loved it.) 

Day 2: Khoes.  We observed silence during the day.  My husband finished shaving the bark from his creosote stang, and I made a Dionysos mask that I'm very happy with.  The mask face is very feminine in structure, but I painted it dark green and glued ivy, grapes and moss to it... the whole effect seems powerful and androgynous.  We listened to music, drank wine, celebrated our own creativity and each other.

Next year I plan to do a few things differently particularly with Khoes.  Set aside time for solo ritual and devotion.  Ideally, use an entheogen other than or in addition to wine.  Also, let people know that I will be unavailable in advance.  A family member wanting to reach you by phone to tell you something when you're observing a day of silence is problematic, if unavoidable at times.  My suspicions on what this news was was confirmed the next day -- my grandmother who has had cancer had taken a turn for the worse.  (And at the time of me posting this, has since passed on.)  

Day 3: Khutroi.  I made a very simple panspermia from pearl barley, goats milk and local honey.  We left some out on our patio for the wandering spirits and took some with us to leave at the cemetery.  

At the cemetery, we brought a digital recorder and did an EVP session.  Which might sound silly to some, but with the associations of the day it seemed to us to be appropriate.  Why not give the spirits a chance to speak?  And even if they choose not to, then we have still given them our respectful attention and acknowledgement.  My husband also said an impromptu prayer to Hermes that was lovely, and I am glad we have that recorded as well.  (To date, we still haven't listened to the session, but we will.)  It was strange and sobering being at the cemetery knowing that I would be returning soon, in a matter of days, to bury a family member, even though I am not close to her.  

After the sun went down, we tracked down a park with swings.  This was one big thing we did differently this year, doing the swinging on Khutroi instead of Khoes.   (Can't say I have a preference yet.)  The swings we found were in terrible need of being oiled, and they screeched horribly when we tried to swing on them.  But we found that if we swung sideways or in circles, that we could avoid the worst of it.  That turned out to be more fun and appropriate-seeming anyhow, as we made large circles sometimes almost colliding with each other and sometimes making figure eights.  We often looked up at the stars as we swung and I told my husband the story of Erigone, and spoke aloud for the first time my intent to create a festival for Ariadne.  After we finished we walked the perimeter of the park and swung our yarn dolls up into the branches of a tree.

Later, at home, we banished the keres by smudging and sweeping.  I also replaced our old creosote sprigs that had been hung over the doors from last Anthesteria with new ones.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Way Down Hadestown...

Water to the Dead...

The Hanging Garden...

The End.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Eumenides... "This is for madmen only"


The Intimate Stranger...  "We must come together"

I Raise My Cup to Him... "The one who blooms in the bitter snow"