Monday, January 23, 2012

Dionysos Lampteros

Dionysos Lampteros (Torch-bearer/ Shining)

Tarot card drawn: 8 of Swords reversed


I think this snake has been stuck
in my throat for ages.
the dark weighs in, with sharp edges
of whispers and steel,
and phantoms in
the hundreds (if I could see)
I’m sure.
I am lost.

The shadows, too, are yours.
(and the madness)

I summon the syllables,
and a memory of another life,
of laughter and lights and
the wild careening of women in the mountains...
my god!
it may as well be myth.

Somehow, my voice the weakest of sounds,
but still, your name

(and the madness)

your name

the flicker of a torch
in strange periphery!

With the barest glimmer, you have
exploded my world outwards,
like a star reborn.
If I have form,
if I have distance...
the light beckons
I release my breath like a prayer, and

take off the blindfold.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dionysos Arsenothelys

Dionysos Arsenothelys (Man-womanly)

I direct you to Sannion’s blog about the “queerness” of the god for a marvelous discussion on this aspect of Dionysos , including his unconventional relationships with men and women and his mercurial personas (both feminine and masculine and in-between).  I particularly like his conclusion that Dionysos shows us that our gender, and especially gender-roles, are simply masks.

From a very young age I have been drawn to men who were feminine or androgynous. Particularly men who are obviously male/have masculine qualities, yet who also have a feminine grace, style and/or prettiness.  I suppose I just see a hell of a lot more strength in a man who can wear makeup than a man who has a lot of muscle.  It’s more complex than that, but I’ll just say, It’s one of the many things that I can point to and say, no wonder I love Dionysos.

I think it’s significant to consider, too, that shamans in many cultures have some aspect of androgyny or gender-bending.

Tarot Card drawn:  The Knight of Cups

Seems appropriate!  Combines the passion and energy of the knight with the sensitivity and creativity of the cups.  

There’s a wide range of different definitions one can find for this card, all basically focused on what constitutes and what it means to be a person who is “emotionally intense”. Usually it’s read as a weakness or a liability. Some will say he’s too passive, a non-commited lover, others say too self-absorbed or too intense, another says he’s obviously an “emo” teenager prone to depression and substance abuse.  But I disagree that being an emotional person automatically means being a weak person.  True, the knights are by definition not as stable or established as the King or Queen, but is there not some power also in being mercurial, being able to shift from one moment to the next?  (Note the winged helmet in the Rider-Waite card.)  In being passionate, in having a cause?  You hear the archetype of the person who “loves too much”, but is there such a thing?   In Rachel Pollack’s 78 Degrees of Wisdom, she paints a pretty harsh picture of this knight, but ends by pointing out his similarity to the Death card, indicating that if his energy is properly directed he can be a very transformative figure.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dionysos Bromios

Dionysos Bromios (Noisy/Thunderer/Loud-roarer)

He is called “the roarer”, Bromios, a surname which appeared early, all by itself, as the name of the god. [...]  Bellowing, shrill sounding instruments accompany him; we often see them pictured in sculptures. - Otto (Dionysos: Myth & Cult)

The pandemonium in which Dionysos, himself, and his divine entourage make their entry--that pandemonium which the human horde, struck by his spirit, unleashes--is a genuine symbol of religious ecstasy. With the horror which is at the same time bewitchment, with the ecstasy which is like paralysis, overpowering all natural and habitual sense perceptions, The Dreadful suddenly springs into being. And at its greatest intensity, it is as if the insane din were in reality the profoundest of silences. - Otto (Dioysos: Myth & Cult)

Tarot Card Drawn:  2 of Wands

The traditional tarot meaning of this card doesn’t make a lot of sense here, but the symbols do jump out in untraditional, Dionysian ways.  Some sources say that Bromios refers to being born from the thigh of Zeus, who is himself a thunder god.  This is a card of fire and it is a 2, a reminder his mother Semele was burned by Zeus’ divine form, and that Dionysos is twice-born.  Another meaning for the 2 is the duality of din and silence that Otto describes above.

Notes:  My husband and I had a conversation a couple weeks ago about sound--how we take it for granted, but when you think about it, it is a pretty magical ability.  Sound is just vibration, waves of energy that we have organs developed to sense. Those energy waves are an invisible phenomenon that has shaped our language, music, and survival.

And at its greatest intensity, it is as if the insane din were in reality the profoundest of silences.  Otto says this well, and it is certainly true, as well as the opposite -- that real silence can be deafening.  At the end of any extreme, you will find the other.  Or the Other.

He is the god who comes, and if you’re listening you’ll hear him coming!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wine Whine

During my boisterous traversing of the interwebs, I stumbled across a website for the Dithyramb Winery, located in Colorado.  They have a red blend called Bromios, a Satyr's Blood Rosé, a variety of honey wines/meads, and one of their upcoming wines is called "Maenad's Kiss".  My only question is



Dionysos Agrios

Dionysos Agrios (The Wild One)

My Notes:  It seems that agrios can refer to wild as it pertains to nature, as in untamed or undomesticated, as well as “raging”.  

There was a festival called the Agrionia (or a variation of), the most precise summary I’ve found of it is hereHere, again, as seen with Dionysos Melanaigis and in many other of his myths, is the theme of people suffering his wrath after they have denied or explicitly offended him.

Tarot Card Drawn: 7 of Cups

There is an overabundance of cups is this card, filled with different symbols, appearing to overwhelm the figure beholding them.  Traditionally, this is the card of fantasy and daydreams. There are warnings about losing oneself in unrealistic or scattered fantasies or escapism in drugs or alcohol.  This is a card about creativity run wild.  But since the cups (and creativity) are foremost about emotions, I can see this also as emotions run wild.  The power of this state is in its energy and potential.  Not everything in this card is hallucination, at least one of the symbols (cloaked figure) seem to refer to one’s higher self, and another (the snake), to one’s earthly connection.  

This epithet was a little more difficult.  And I’m still pondering the sporadic details available about the Agrionia. But can one wrap one’s head around wildness anyway?  

Coincidentally, 7 cups of wine is probably my limit, if I don’t want to wake up naked in the wild somewhere.  


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dionysos Melanaigis

Dionysos Melanaigis (Dionysos of the black goat-skin)

The cult of Dionysos as Melanaigis was founded by the daughters of Eleuther, whose number is not indicated. Like Semachos and Ikarios, Eleuther was seen as the founding hero of a settlement and a double of the god. In this instance Dionysos comes to the daughters as an apparition, a phasma, dressed in a black goatskin. They do not want the god in that form: they revile him. Thereupon he makes them raving mad. In order to be cured, they are obliged to worship Melanaigis, that is, the dark Dionysos in league with the spirits of the dead. It was in this quality that he was later, in Athens, to delight in tragedy. - Kerenyi, Dionysos

My Notes: Before finding the above passage, I was meditating on this epithet, imagining the god in a black goatskin, and the association with death came to mind - but not only death, but the shadow aspects of nature that we fear (and by extension, the shadow aspects of oneself).  I see that symbolism in the above passages, especially when one considers the meaning of Eleuther, which is "free".  Dionysos Melanaigis is telling us we must embrace those aspects that we revile. Not only because they are a part of us, or say something about us, but because they ARE.  There is reason behind everything in nature. If you would change something about yourself, if indeed it needs changing, you must first understand it.  But, like a god draped in black goatskins standing before you, it cannot just be ignored. At best, we will never be free.  At worst, we will go mad.

Tarot Card drawn:  Queen of Pentacles...  This seemed like a strange card to go with this epithet at first.  The Mythic Tarot, which I was using, shows a woman holding a bunch of grapes.  The Rider-Waite deck shows a woman sitting in a black and grey throne with goat heads on the arms!  Okay, so obviously there is something here...  One of the tarot books I have says that she represents a “love for and unity with the world” more than any other minor card, and is “intensely aware of the magic in nature and the strength she derives from it.”  Another tarot book points out the goats as a symbol of sexuality and adding a “trickster” element to the queen.  Knowledge of natural cycles, death and rebirth, come to mind.  Another key word for this queen is self-awareness.  In considering this card with the epithet, the words “receptivity” and “otherness” also come to mind.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dionysia in the Desert postponed

The Dionysia in the Desert Festival in Tucson that I blogged about before, which had been planned for December of 2011, appears to have been postponed until May 1st, although the date still seems tentative.  I will definitely try to attend, work schedule permitting!

Dionysos Kissokomes

Dionysos Kissokomes (Ivy Crowned)

“The myth says that the ivy appeared simultaneously with the birth of Dionysos in order to protect the little boy from the flames of lightning that consumed his mother." - Otto, Dionysos: Myth & Cult

"Its coolness had the power, so one said, of extinguishing the heat of the wine, and for this reason Dionysos was said to have told his fellow celebrants to wreath themselves with it."  - Otto, Dionysos: Myth & Cult

“Ivy is carried by women for good luck in general, and is worn by brides for this same reason. Where ivy grows or is strewn, it guards against negativity and disaster.  Ivy is also used in fidelity and love charms.” - Scott Cunningham, Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs

Tarot Card drawn: The Two of Cups - A card of love, union, or the beginning of a relationship.  The creative integration of masculine and feminine aspects. In the Rider-Waite deck, the woman has a crown of ivy, and both the man and woman hold a cup. There is a caduceus behind them which is reminiscent of a of the thyrsus wound by ivy.  (And it seems that much of the symbolism behind the ivy is in the way that it resembles snakes.)

My Notes:  It seems the ivy was said to cause intoxication or cure intoxication. It also has a strong association with death.  And yet, it is an evergreen and therefore symbolizes immortality.  And perhaps this is why we also see it as being associated with love.  (I also see references to the heart shaped leaves as another reason for this.)  

What does it mean for Dionysos to be *crowned* with ivy?  Is he cooling his head, keeping his mind clear while he drinks and revels?  Does this crown symbolize kingship?  The type of kingship and sovereignty, perhaps, that is eternal because it comes from the ever-renewing power of nature itself, and not any other god or source? 

The love association is what jumps out at me most at this time, since I drew the Two of Cups with this epithet.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dionysos Nyktipolos

Dionysos Nyktipolos (Night-prowler, night-wanderer, night-stalker)
Tarot Card drawn:  Ace of Wands - primal energy, strength, vitality, passion, beginning of a journey or creative venture, a single torch, light in the dark?
My notes:  Mystery, darkness, hidden things, hunter. Immediately this epithet brings to mind Dionysos' association with the panther.  The panther was one of the earliest symbols of his to come to me --- mainly in dreams.  I've had several dreams of shape-shifting into a panther, and even a dream of being a panther and falling in love with a lion.  (My now-husband is a Leo, and that was long before we ever met.)  Oddly, large cats were in my dreams last night!
The first half of my dreams last night were of Dionysos in some way.  He Himself didn't appear, but my mind was busy and full of him, or preparing for him, perhaps.  In the dream just before I woke, there was the sense of being in a time of a post society collapse.  My husband and I were trespassing on someone's property, taking things occasionally since no one was there to stop us, and raising large cats.  There were lions, panthers and leopards.  We had other animals as well, sheep and iguanas.  It felt as if this had just happened this way, and wasn't exactly something we intended.  The owner of the property returned and was angry about our presence.  I calmly told him we would move on soon, though privately I was concerned about how we might accomplish that with such an entourage.  In the dream, leaving them behind or giving them up was literally not something I considered in spite of the circumstances.  In the dream it was bright day-time, in a desert.
Other than the night and panther associations, could this also be a reference to the night-wanderers of the heavens, the stars?  Or a particular star or constellation? 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dionysos Limnaios

Some sources I've found say that the Rural Dionysia is the last half of Poseideon.  Whether or not that would more accurately apply to Poseideon 1 or 2, now still seems like a good time for a devotional project of sorts.  I wrote and cut out epithets of Dionysos on small scraps of paper, with the intention of drawing one each day until the noumenia.  And each epithet I'll focus on, research if possible, and draw a tarot card to supplement it.  So here goes.  Here is yesterday's.

Dionysos Limnaois (Dionysos of the marshes)

The sanctuary in the swamps was regarded in Athens not only as the oldest but also the most sacred temple of Dionysos. - Kerenyi, p 293

In Athens the festival (Anthesteria) was also referred to as the Older Dionysia, in contrast to the Great Dionysia, which was introduced only in the sixth century. A small sanctuary of Dionysos in the marches, en limnais, was opened only once a year especially for this festival on the 12th day of Anthesterion - the day, according to the sacral reckoning, lasts, of course, from sunset to sunset. No marsh or swamp was to be found within the city bounds of Athens, and so the name must have arrived as a cult name along with this Dionysos. - Burkert (Greek Religion: Archaic and classical)

To the sanctuary in the marshes belong foutenn women called simply the Venerable Ones, gerairai; they are installed by the 'king' and are subject to the 'queen', the wife of the archon basileus. She administers the oath to the Venerable Ones, and then a much more spectacular role falls to her lot: she is given as wife to the god himself. Their union takes place in the Boukolion, the ox-herd's house in the Agora.  - Burkert (Greek Religion: Archaic and classical)

Dionysos in the Marshes is the god of the Anthesteria.

According to Thukydides, the temple of Dionysos Limnaois was situated to the south of the Akropolis and was one of the city's oldest sanctuaries. The nature of the "swamps" is indicated by representations on certain choes showing a rock and by Phanodemos' statement that the wine was there mixed with spring water. The place must have been a geological formation characteristic of Greece, the best known example of which is the swamp of Lerna: water pours abundantly from under the rocks, yet despite its purity forms a "swamp". Dionysos entered into the underworld and returned from it near Lerna; it was a gateway to Hades. The limnai of Dionysos must have had the same significance for the Athenians. That is why in Aristophanes the song of the frogs of this swamp accompanied Dionysos on his journey to the underworld, and why at the end of the all-souls-feast of the Anthesteria the people returned once again to this sanctuary of Dionysos. - Kerenyi (Dionysos)

My notes: Dionysos of the Marshes. Marshes combines water and earth. Emotions with physicality/stability.  Liquid and solidity.  Polarity in union. An in-between place. Such an environment supports a large variety of plant and animal life. Possible underworld associations if one considers the water springing up from the underworld.  I didn’t recall the association with Anthesteria when I first drew this one, but coincidentally Anthesteria has been much on my mind lately. (As in I’m already getting excited for it.)

Tarot card drawn: King of Cups - as far as elemental associations are concerned, this card is considered “earth of water”!  Makes even more sense when one considers the association of Dionysos Limnaios with Anthesteria. They mixed water with wine (earth). And the names of the days of Anthesteria are all associated with vessels and libations.  Dionysos of the Marshes is associated particularly with Khoes, which is when the ‘queen’ was wed to Dionysos.