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...