Thursday, September 11, 2014

Madness begins in Exile

Since we just observed the Melinoeia, it seems appropriate to post this.  It's one of my favorite poems that I've written.  I wrote it in a particular state of madness, several years ago.  In fact, as you might notice from the title, I'm pretty sure it preceded and spawned the "in Exile" concept of my blog's title.

Isadora in Exile

hair raises
skin crawls
the ghost within is writhing
and she’s wanting nothing  (not)
more                                  (true)
than a drink, or a few
and the sweet sharp symmetry
of skin, broken for ink
(I do)

it well/s (up), it’s fine
she counts on state of mind
Oh, Isadora! you’ve lied
while you lived and
you burn when you hide –
he replied, “In deed.  And in sanity.”
yes, the soul may divide

it self hope full and hope less,
while it’s daydreams for breakfast
(they taste bitter in the un-
where peace battles numbness
it is, it is this
and it’s
and it’s this and it’s

night again, so we meet
where saltwater creeps
and she’s chanting (chant-chant-chanting)
for sleep
      (for a sign)
begging Stars
     to align
she knows, contemplating constellations
is the only (sure) explanation
to keep her (name) from changing

or raging and/orating, and poetry-making
so she can House herself
between liminal
unreliable sunrises
    (and regards)
            little else
she wants nothing more
than her blue, bruised eyes
to be kissed,
one at a time/to be kissed
one, at a time
she wants nothing more
she, Isadora,
(excepting your) wants (is)
(any) more

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

On the Melinoeia...

I dressed in black and white.  Silver and black eyeliner.  Fake pearls around my neck, twined with my wedding rings.  I read aloud some hymns and poetry to Melinoe, burned myrrh and peppermint, and offered a plate of foods that were a mix of dark and sweet, pungent and aromatic.  Dates, concord grapes, ginger preserves, dark chocolate, sprigs of fresh herbs, raw cheese, red wine mixed with cardamom syrup.

I also asked Melinoe if there was a devotional activity she would have of me, and drew from my Pithos.  “Write a hymn or poem to today’s spirit”.  Made sense.  Melinoe is one of only two of the Thiasos’ deities/spirits that I have not contributed to the communal hymns for.  (The other being Apollo, because he still escapes my understanding for now.)  With Melinoe, though she is arguably enigmatic, it was more because I was hesitant. I have been through grief-caused madness a couple times, and the worst and most recent felt too fresh, and I wasn’t sure how approaching Melinoe would provoke the sort of rocky equilibrium I currently have.  In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have been worried.

On the way to go dancing, I stopped spontaneously at a grocery store to buy a pomegranate, which I felt would come in handy later.

Once at the club, I used some of The Witch of Forest Grove’s Toad flying ointment and drank pomegranate flavored liquor.

There were some amazing moments on the dance-floor.  Although, I remember little of them now, which is typical.  Such memories are sacrifices to ekstasis.  I do remember actively manipulating energy and dancing in doorways for the dead (like on the Hekatesia). I remember feeling an emotional madness overtake me into a particular frenzy where I was manically pulling on my own hair. How crazy I must have looked?  Not crazy enough that I wasn’t approached towards the end of the night by two women on the dance floor, asking me questions.  They might have been flirting with me, but I’m a little immune to that sort of thing.  But I did have an inkling earlier in the night that if anyone approached me tonight they were going to have some repercussions of what I was doing — so when it happened, I just smiled.  If that smile had words it would have been saying “So you need some of this transformative stuff, do you?  I am somewhat sorry, but then I am just a vessel…”

I can’t recall what prompted it exactly, but one of them said to me, not without playfulness, “Anyone who comes to a club by themselves has issues.”  I smiled even more wickedly and replied “Oh, I’ve got issues- of a whole other variety.”  You have no idea.

When the night was over, I went home and took my pomegranate outside.  It seemed obvious what to do with it.  I tore it into little pieces, with my hands and some with my teeth.  I had no particular grief in mind when I did this, just thought of Melinoe and started tearing it apart – but as soon as I began the tears suddenly came — a real deep almost angry weeping.  My mind was completely blank.  I don’t even know what I needed to cry about, something unnamed or something residual perhaps.  But I didn’t feel the need to name it, I just threw the last bits of seeds and red flesh with particular vehemence as the juice dripped down my arm.  (I noticed later with curiosity that the juice dried in the shape of veins down my forearm to my elbow.)

I paced a little and breathed through it, but the emotion seemed to clear and then disappear completely once I splashed some water on my face.  I tried to watch an episode of my favorite ghost show, but I passed out almost immediately.  I had dreams within dreams.  One of a spider crawling on me while I slept.

I remember you, Melinoe.
You are the violence between Earth and Sky,
your lightning-scream so bright
that the resulting silence is as profound as negative space.
Melinoe, phantom queen, tear down the veil between
what the mind has lost and what the heart cannot forget,
so we may be pure of spirit.

[Cross-posted at the Boukoleon]

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Dionysian Dead - Blood and Other Gifts

I did my second blood offering to the Dionysian Dead.

The first time was a bit clumsy, this time was a little less clumsy.  So I’m not an expert here by any means, just sharing my experience since it seems that others might be a bit hesitant to do this.  Forgive the lack of poetry, but I am anxious to get this down.

Background:  I have done some basic ancestor work in the last year, and have honored the dead at appropriate festivals (Samhain, Anthesteria) but other than this, no special experience in working with the dead.  But my husband died unexpectedly last May, so that experience, both coping with the grief and conceptualizing the afterlife, has brought me close to the edge, so to speak.  And even the Anthesteria before he died there were signs that I should start focusing more on the dead.  I wouldn’t do intense work with just any wandering dead, because that’s more than I’m prepared to deal with, but I feel that when it comes to the Dionysian dead in particular, that Dionysos is going to be the the mediating presence.  I trust him.

What I gathered: paper, pencil, single blade razor, isopropyl alcohol, paper towels, bandaid, pine resin salve, a vessel for burning (like a small cauldron), other usual ritual accoutrements, tobacco and whiskey for offerings, music

Practical side: Cutting yourself on purpose is harder than you think it’s going to be. It just is.  And probably not for everyone for a variety of reasons.  But I feel like for me it’s doable and just something I’m trying to figure out the best method for. A knife was too clumsy and hard to control, and the single razor I used was difficult to get a decent depth of cut with, so I’m not wed to a particular method yet, although the razor was better.  Obviously, be careful and smart about it.  I especially like the idea of using pine resin salve afterwards, though, if you can get or make some.  It’s a good healer and pine is associated with Dionysos, so it’s protective in a spiritual AND antimicrobial way.

I called upon Dionysos first, and asked him to bring his blessed dead and be the intermediary.  Then I called upon the Dionysian dead themselves, praised them and asked them to be present, to dance with me and receive my offerings.


For anyone in the Thiasos of the Starry Bull that read and discussed Philostratus’ On Heroes a little while back, you might remember this bit:

To be cleansed of the body is the beginning of life for divine and thus blessed souls. For the gods, whose attendants they are, they then know, not by worshipping statues and conjectures, but by gaining visible association with them. And free from the body and its diseases, souls observe the affairs of mortals, both when souls are filled with prophetic skill and when the oracular power sends Bacchic frenzy upon them.

The last sentence in particular jumped out at me.  What this says to me is that not only must we be in an altered or frenzied state to interact with the spirits of the dead, but the dead and/or the heroes must be brought into a frenzy as well in order to interact with us.  There is a meeting in between, perhaps.  In other words, we must do some work to alter or raise their spiritual vibrations and our own to similar frequencies.  What does this mean?  From what I can guess… Give them energy, and specifically, energy that is reciprocal and flows between the realms — offerings of food or drink, music, and things that bring you into altered states of consciousness (dance, wine, chanting, etc.) used with intention.  The blood offering itself no doubt does this as well, but since I wanted the blood to be a gift and not the tool (if there’s a difference), I chose to play music and dance first.

Once I felt good about the energy raised, I sat down to do the blood offering.  I took a small piece of paper and wrote a spontaneous prayer to the Dionysian dead.  I read it aloud.  And I took the razor and made a couple cuts on my left thumb.  I pressed the blood into the paper.  I hand-rolled a cigarette of organic tobacco and blew tobacco smoke onto it.  And then I burned the paper. Sprinkled some alcohol into the flames.  Blood and breath, earth and fire and spirit.

IMG114 IMG118

And then I danced some more.  I had this mix of music that went from Hellblinki to the Doors.  After I settled down, I decided to use the Oracle of the Doors to see how my offering was received.  Which is where things got interesting.  The first response I got was:

You’re lost little girl.

Um, okay. That could be negative.  Am I totally on the wrong track?  But then, that particular Doors lyrics just played so maybe it’s a playful acknowledgement.  To further clarify:

Don’t worry, the operation won’t take long and you’ll feel much better in the morning.

Hmmm, enigmatic, but positive hints toward the future and possibly the operation being the blood offering itself.  One more:
Go out and buy a brand new pair of shoes.

Okay, this one REALLY got my attention. Bizarrely, I had been shoe shopping all day, trying to find a pair of shoes to go with a particular dress, and did not have any luck.  In fact, just before I did this ritual I had a long rant to my mom about how I couldn’t find the right shoes and didn’t even know what the right shoes would even look like, because my qualifications and the dress itself are so particular.  So are they saying they were with me, watching me, while I was shopping today….?
Being tipsy and feeling like I was being played with, I said “No, really!  How was my offering received?”  And got:

it’s how it has to be

Okay.  I could deal with that.

The next day, I went to an appointment and then found myself with some free time before I had to get ready for dinner with a friend.  So I hit a Goodwill and looked for shoes again, bought a pair that pinched my toes but probably wouldn’t look awful.  I gave up and started to head home.  On my way, I missed a turn I would have taken if I’d been paying more attention, but then the next turn I took I saw another Goodwill where I didn’t know there had been one.  Well, why not?  It wasn’t until that moment where I had pretty much given up again that I saw them.  THE PERFECT PAIR OF SHOES.  Even just seeing them on the shelf I’m sure I said, “No way!” under my breath and then, “But I bet they don’t have the sort of heel I want.”  But, they did.  The particular shade of brown, the pattern on the shoes that would offset the pattern on the dress, it was so fucking unlikely that my heart was pounding when I checked the size and tried them on.  Just a tad too big, but that would be a piece of cake to deal with!

Shoes may seem like a really silly thing to get excited about, there is more to it… The dress that they needed to go with?  Belonged to my husband.  (And yes, he looked really great in it.)  And I have been planning for months to wear it in remembrance of him, to the concert of a musician we both love, whom he never got a chance to see.  So even in this girly, silly detail was this really special significance to me, and to the dead.  There is no doubt in my mind that they were an unexpected gift to acknowledge my gift.  I am overwhelmed at this, and the immediacy and reality of it.
I don’t think pictures do them justice, but here it is…


[Cross-posted at the Boukoleon]

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Some beautiful words from my eternal lover...

My path is forever just beginning, and my feet are always soft and sensitive to
the earth's new caress, this Moon is always my first cycle, and this sunrise always
my first communion. Speak to me, and you speak not to my flesh, but to my spirit,
whom I have set at the feet [of] a great soul, a god of friendship and epiphanies, a
parlay with Myth itself and one who peeks in Destiny's mirror, and sees not himself,
but his brothers and sisters.
I dream for who we are, and I dream for who we are not, for in between is truly
what we shall become.

-- from one of my husband's many journals