Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Into the trees...

This is awesome in so many ways...

 Have I mentioned how excited I am for the Anthesteria?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lenaia (In snapshots)

(My apologies for the brevity and the lateness, but wanted to get this much down at least...)

A very spontaneous idea, before it all begins --

Let's shave our heads.

A devotional activity, and a sacrifice of vanity.

Down to a quarter inch.  Our heads are liberated!

We help each other weave ivy garlands for them.

My homemade Greek honey cake is cut into a phallus shape.

A night-time procession.  Bells ringing.  A brazier of incense.

Into the desert, until we are surrounded by brush and palo verdes.

A spontaneous invocation.

Awaken, Dionysos!

White wine on the dry earth smells strangely like rain.

We vibrate and intone.  DEEE-OHHH-NUUU-SOooos...

The Moon peaks through the clouds.

On the way to the club, songs on shuffle.
This song plays -- it always reminds me of my shape-shifting dreams.

The one thing that's changed about my favorite goth club is that they stopped serving wine. 
Luckily, this Dionysian brought a bottle of wine with her in the car, and carries a wine key at all times in her purse.

Intoxication.  Laughter and communion.

The music...

Oh I have missed dancing!

For You, my god...


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dream on the Full Moon of the Lenaia

Dreamed that my husband and I had just had a baby.  It was an infant girl, who didn't cry and who smiled every time I looked at her.  Her face (and the whole dream) were very vivid, and in the dream I breast-fed her twice, once from each breast.  The baby had come as a surprise - we didn't know we were going to have her until 2 weeks beforehand. (There was no memory of her actual birth in my dream, she was just there.)  My parents were there, and there was still a touch of a sense of conflict between the two of them that has dominated my dreams for the last week or two. (Even though in real life they divorced years ago.)  I was aware that we hadn't named the baby, and if anyone asked, I was going to tell them "I am going to get to know her before I name her."  But a name popped into my head, "Vintnelle", and I remember typing it into a computer to see what it meant (which is probably the only reason I remember the strange name, I remember seeing it typed on the screen exactly.) The first part of the name seemed Dionysian, and I briefly pondered looking for other Dionysian names, although it didn't seem immediately important.  The dream got stranger... I put the baby on a wooden frame/thin shadowbox and covered her with glass.  I turned the frame to someone else in the room to show them, we were all smiling.  As soon as I turned the frame/shadowbox away from me, the baby disappeared and it was as if I was showing someone a piece of art...  This all seemed very natural.
I didn't think too much of this dream at first, besides noting its strange clarity, but it stayed with me.  And after reading Dver's blog on festivals, and the subsequent article linked where she mentions using a liknon during the Lenaia, I went back and wrote the dream down.  And now, all the symbolism that I can see is kind of blowing my mind.

The gods are real and they send you dreams...

Things have been a bit hectic, but not uneventful!  First of all, my epithet project of sorts was very illuminating.  Even though it didn't quite come out to one epithet per day.  One of our cats got very sick (but pulled through, thank Bast!), not to mention that sometimes I simply felt I needed more time with one.  Even then, such a short time devoted to an epithet is by no means enough to explore all the sources, significance, aspects and nuances for each one.  I mainly trusted on the tarot card and what chanced to comes up in the resources available to me as far as what focus to take.  It was almost eerie how well some of the cards related to the epithets, even if it didn't seem that way at first glance.  I enjoyed it, and expect I'll be doing it again sometime.

In the midst of that devotional project, something else significant happened.
Somewhere between Dionysos Agrios and Dionysos Bromios, my husband and I were talking of gods, tricksters, archetypes, god consciousness... At the same time, he's drawing tarot cards as I work on blogging about epithets.  He draws the 7 of Cups as I'm trying to research it, so we share thoughts about it.  He mentions being an incidental Dionysian, which makes me smile.  The topic changes and meanders.
That night we both woke up at the same time from dreams that seemed very significant, and became all the more significant when we shared the similarities later that morning.  In mine, I was in a dry creek bed at night.  There was a lot of foliage, and the sense that we were staying there, my husband and I.  We were planning and preparing for a Dionysian ritual.  But when I tried to speak to him, there was an emotional distance between us, the kind that I was uncertain how to breach.  A group of women charged through the foliage, to join us perhaps.  I remember thinking I would rather it would be just the two of us.
In his dream, I was putting on and starring in a Dionysian play.  He was there with me the whole time, but not a part of the play itself, and felt distant and sad that he was not included... yet he wasn't sure how to ask since it was my "thing".  Dionysos himself was present as the play was going on, weaving among and watching the performers.
After thinking about the two dreams, I asked, hesitantly, "Do you think its a message that we should be doing things together, spiritually, as far as Dionysos goes?"
This question was even hard for me to say.  I'm not sure why, exactly.  I think part of it is that I feel so damn lucky to have this person who I love so much, who loves me in return, share a spiritual belief system with me, that I would never presume that he would want to worship the same god.  It is such a personal thing, after all.  Which is another reason, I suppose... It is so close to my heart, that I'm a bit self-conscious about it sometimes.  (Not for any good reason, just stupidly so.)  
But when I asked, he agreed, and admitted that he has wanted to but did not wish to intrude.
So it seems we got a couple gentle smacks upside the head from the god for something we have both wanted but were afraid to ask each other.
The idea is still so novel, though, that I still feel baffled.  I told my husband, I really don't know what I'm doing most of the time, so I'm not sure where to start trying to cultivate a concurrent practice...
And a deep part of me is still scared, even when all evidence points to the contrary, that he is just doing this for my benefit.  Although I don't know why that's so frightening, because that isn't a BAD thing, even though it isn't something I'd want or expect.  It's really hit me, consciously anyway, that my relationship to Dionysos feels intimate.  Talking about him, specifically how I feel about him, or my experiences with him is as difficult (if not more difficult) than talking about how I orgasm or what I like during sex.  Intimacy equals vulnerability.  Which follows that my deepest, irrational fear is that if I let someone in to those experiences, then they can, hypothetically, try to discredit what is meaningful to me.
I have a specific memory of the first time I opened Otto's book, Dionysos: Myth and Cult.  I was intrepidly, shyly beginning to explore Dionysos and my attraction to him.  The prospect was new and a little scary, and my life was not quite ready for it (which is to say it needed it.)  I mentioned a section in the book to the person I was with at the time, now my ex, wanting to share something that intrigued me, that seemed mysterious and promising, to see if we could have a discussion about it.  But instead, he said something critical and dismissive.  (Though that was often his way of "discussing", he loved to argue for the sake of argument.  He was also a very cerebral couch-pagan, who occasionally practiced, seemingly for my sake.)  But I just shut down and moved on.  For whatever reasons at the time, I put down the book and didn't pick it up again for a couple years.
My husband has only ever been sensitive, interested, open-minded, and on the same page as me regarding the spiritual and mystical.  So my hang-ups are all my own.  And to some extent, it's also just hard to speak of what's hard to put into words.  But I must work on unsticking my tongue, releasing old fears, and opening myself up to whatever the god and the future has in store for us.  It's not an entirely new concept - he celebrated Anthesteria with me last year and the occasional devotional day - but now it feels as if it will be more together, hand in hand.
For the Haloa, we did a simple feast in honor of Demeter and Dionysos.  We got local produce and locally made foods from a nearby farmer's market, as well as a bottle of sparkling blackberry mead and a bottle of "Dionysos" wine.  The beverages were from Total Wine - the Dionysos wine was even from Greece.  It was very good!  I expect to be getting it again for devotional activities. (The same label also has a "Hermes" wine that I want to try.)  The food was all wonderful, although the carrot and acorn squash soup I made was a little spicy!  We shared the food with the gods on a temporary altar... Dionysos was represented with the statue usually on my shrine, Demeter with some sheafs of wheat.  We played a variety of music, including some of the early (especially otherworldly) songs by múm, and selections from Stereolab's Not Music and Wisp's We Miss You .  It was quite lovely.
I have so more to blog about, including a devotional day to Dionysos we had last week, the dream I had last night, the Lenaia that we're celebrating tomorrow... not to mention other things I've been meaning to talk about, including ecstatic postures and Ariadne.  Things are buzzing... 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Devotional Day Trip (with salt and pepper)

On our last devotional day to Dionysos, we took a day trip up north.  I had been feeling an itch to get out of the city, so we decided to go to the Tonto Natural Bridge.  My husband had been there before but I had not.  

We woke up later in the morning than we intended, but started up anyway.  The day was beautiful, and we took a different route than usual, which was actually even more scenic than I thought it would be.   We were delighted to see patches of snow still on the ground the farther north we got.  (Snow delights me when it's non-threatening in this way.)
On the way there we were waylaid by a mutual weakness, one that has cut hours out of many a road trip that we have taken...  

Antique store!

Here you can see our favorite find of the day that made the detour worth it.  They are salt and pepper shakers in the shape of and decorated with fly agaric mushrooms (although yellow instead of the traditional red):

My husband had tried to describe the land bridge to me, but it's understandably hard to describe.  Needless to say, it exceeded my expectations.   The drive there takes you steeply down into a canyon, and you can't see the bridge until you hike a little bit, and then suddenly it's THERE.  Much bigger than I anticipated - it looks like a huge cave at first, until you're in front of it and close enough to see through the other side.  Water trickles down steadily from the top down into the creek that cuts through it, down onto bright blue water and green moss.  On the interior walls underneath it, there's small ledges and caves.  We imagined what it might be like, being one of the first people to stumble upon and discover it in the late 1800's!

(The first pic is from the outside, the second from under the bridge looking out towards the other side.)

We did the full hike down into the bridge, through it, and went up the ravine on the opposite side.  Although it wasn't long, it was a very rocky hike, sometimes necessitating using your hands to climb and balance.  This was the first strenuous hike I've done since breaking my foot last year, and although I had some achey metatarsals towards the end, I held up pretty well.

Our waking up late and getting distracted by knick knacks meant that we only had a couple hours to spend there.  Which means we'll have to make another trip back soon!
Since the park closed we couldn't picnic there like we planned, so we drove further north trying to find an out of the way place in the forested area where we could stop.  We had to settle for a place just a little off the road.  There was plenty of snow on the ground and with the temperature dropping with the sunset, we settled on having a car picnic in the backseat.  It was a lovely feast with homemade bread, olive tapenade, falafel and hummus, oranges and wine.  Most of the wine was poured out onto the damp earth at the foot of the largest pine tree nearby.  While looking into the trees, we saw what looked like a wolf (but was more likely a large coyote with a healthy winter coat) loping through the trees surprisingly close by!

I'm very much looking forward to the warmer weather allowing us to go camping again - I've missed it.