Dionysus Devotional Art I


I’ve been working on this off-and-on for a few months.  I finished coloring it Thursday as a part of my Dionysia.

His beauty is a major point of iconography in Euripides Bacchae, and his purple robe is similarly emphasized in the first of the Homeric Hymns.  The horns are in recognition of his title as Bull-god (and the attendant associations with unfettered lust, especially masculine).  The significance of the thyrsus and wine should be obvious.

Devotional Musings: Dionysus I

This post has already taken me too long to compose.  I started it almost as soon as I first posted about the Urban Dionysia.  The fact is, I find it difficult to write about my personal experiences with the gods.  Some of those experiences have been very, very strange—to the point where, even after a decade and a half of living a magical life and talking or reading about other people’s magical lives, I don’t have an adequate cultural framework through which to process them.  Other experiences, which may seem downright pedestrian when I reduce them to words or which I may know full well parallel the experiences of many, many others, have simply affected me so deeply that I cannot bear to subject them to public scrutiny.  (The events which comprise my previous post include some of both) And, inevitably, part of it is that I spent so much of my life being angry at the very idea of gods that I still feel like something of a chump, sometimes, for honoring them.  I’ve alluded to this last point before, and it is from there that I will begin.

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Sometimes you have to need to provide context before you can tell a story.  Sometimes, it’s best to tell a story first and dig into the context afterward.  This is the story of how I came to perform my re-Dedication as a part of my Beltane festivities in 2009 … I’ll get to the context in a little bit.

It was my second Beltane after my failed life in St. Louis, the first with Aradia.  It may almost go without saying tat we were at Camp Gaea, with my massive tent set up in Dava Wood.  I had big plans for the weekend, aimed at jump-starting my magical career* in preparation for the re-Dedication I intended to perform at some point over the summer, and we were partying with the KU Cauldron.  It’s tempting to break this into three different stories which coincidentally took place over the course of a single evening, but … I’m not so sure that they’re unrelated.

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Manic March

April showers bring May flowers.  That’s what they taught me as a child, anyway.  It’s a gross oversimplification of course, but still …


I took this picture two weeks ago, just before harvesting a few flowers for my Ostara Altar.  The flowers—star magnolia, Ginko tells me—have finished blooming and fallen to the ground and  been replaced by leaves.  Although the middle of last week was seasonably cool—there was even a threat of frost Monday night—the fact is that Spring has come a solid six weeks early.

We’re into April, now, but … I have been bouncing off the fucking walls for a solid month.  Fuck, it’s 2.30am as I type this, and I should have been asleep hours ago.

Partly this is just me pinging from stress. I always get frantic in the Spring Semester.

Part of this is the unseasonable warmth, and the off-and-on thunderstorm.  A good, solid rain helps me sleep.   But this … the tension in the air has me buzzing

A lot of it is the very nature of witchcraft—one of the major purposes of the rituals we do is to attune ourselves to the natural cycles of the land, and part of it may an unanticipated side effect of some of the magic I did to establish myself here in Indiana: I made a point of putting down roots, binding myself to the land. 

The land is alive and awake.

And I am alive and awake.

A lot of the time it’s awesome.  Right now, though, it kind of sucks.

Urban Dionysia

The Facebook group Prayers to the Gods of Hellas informs me that the Urban Dionysia began at sundown last night, and will continue for the next eight days .  The Attic title was Διονύσια τὰ ἐν Ἄστει (Dionusia ta en Astei: lit. “The In City Dionusia”) or Διονύσια τὰ Μεγάλα (Dionusia ta Megala: lit. “Dionusia the Big”).  The Wikipedia article can be found here.

It is both interesting and appropriate that Sannafrid and I (unknowingly) chose to spend last night smoking and drinking, while I read aloud from my copy of the Homeric Hymns.  First the Hymns to Aphrodite, as we had been discussing goddesses of fucking, and then the Hymns to Dionysus.  As the evening went on, I colored an iconographic image of the god I have been working on off-and-on for some time.  This afternoon, shortly before penning this post, I poured a libation of mead before the idol on my altar.

It is further interesting that, although we are shifting from Greek drama to Roman in my Greek and Roman Drama class, I have spent the afternoon reading* Euripides Hippolytus in anticipation of reading Phaedra, Seneca’s version of the story, next week.  Hippolytus was first performed in 428 BCE, and—like all the Attic dramas which have survived—was a winner of the theatre competitions which were a major part of the festival.

Unfortunately, I do not have the liberty to take eight days off in honor of Dionysos—or even to get ploughed for the next seven nights in his name (and “sacrifice my liver”, as Sannafrid put it).  Besides, the original was a state-sponsored festival which (to a casual but cynical reader, at least) looks like it was intended to duplicate, tame, and profit off of the older, Rural, Dionysia … and the Cults of the Olympians are not state-sponsored religion anymore.

What I can do is make a point of taking an hour or two out of each of the next seven days to meditating on the Bacchic One and upon my relationship with him, finishing the one devotional image I have so far, finishing reading Written in Wine (the devotional anthology Aradia gave me so long ago), and working on translating the Homeric hymn I never got to over Spring Break because the Hymn to Phanes took me so long.  Hopefully, between these various things, I may develop some sense of how I might celebrate this festival (and the Rural, in the winter) within my own cultural frame work and (still infantile) devotional practice.


* I have read Hippolytus before, of course, for last semester’s mythology class.  The roles of the goddesses Aphrodite and Artemis are too prominent to pass up.  I could write a whole post about that play alone.  Possibly several: one tackling the theme of hubris and failure to treat the altars of the gods; one dealing with Euripides treatment of women in general, and another on the misogyny of Hippolytus in particular.  But those are rants for another day.