dionysus

Noblemen Of God

November, 2011

GOD OF THE VINE Dionysus


If your mother was killed and descended to the underworld would you go down and save her?  Greek God Dionysus did exactly just that.  When his mother Semele, a mortal, was impregnated by Zeus, she wanted more than anything to see this truly divine presence.  Hera came to Semele in disguise, and told her that she must see Zeus and everything that he was.  So the next time Zeus came to Semele, she made him promise to show himself to her.  Zeus, being madly in love with her, quickly agreed and presented himself in front of her.  Instantly shocked and overwhelmed, Semele was burned to a crisp my Zeus’s goriness.  When that happened, Zeus immediately realized that Dionysus was in her, so he removed Dionysus and stitched him onto his leg for safe keeping until he was ready to be born.  Because Dionysus was born from Zeus, this made him immortal like the rest of the Gods.
As Dionysus grew older he began to grow upset with Hera for causing hid mother to get herself killed.  So one day, while fully equipped with anger and courage, Dionysus went down into the underworld to find and retrieve is mother Semele.  Once he found her, he was able to bring her back to Mount Olympus with him.

On a lighter note, Dionysus is also the god of wine and fertility.  His worshipers would go into the forest to drink wine, and act like savages.  Some say that Dionysus was the inventor of wine itself.

CONNECTING WITH DIONYSUS
Dionysus reminds us of the drive within us all to sacrifice anything in order to save our family..even if it means going down into the underworld.  Although, Dionysus’s journey can symbolize a variety of things for people.  All in all it has to do with going to great depths to get what we want, and not stopping.
The most obvious thing to do would be to go to a wine vineyard and do some tasting.  This is a fun activity to do with friends and just have a good time.  Or prepare sangrias with apples for a Samhain treat!

SYMBOLS AND THINGS TO PUT ON YOUR ALTER

Wine, gold, vines, pleasures, red, pine,

The Grove

December, 2009

You know the type, or think you do.

Hot-headed young thing… thinks he knows it all… is pretty sure he’s seen everything… speeds around in a flashy car pumping out

tunes. What could someone like that possibly have to offer?

Quite a lot, actually.

With chill fingers Winter spreads its shroud over all. The start of the season sees the days shrink, growing increasingly shorter & at

last culminating in a point here the shortest day meets the longest night at around the 21st of December. Winter Solstice marks a turning point, both seasonally & otherwise. Soon after the days begin to lengthen again. Yule brings about the rebirth of the Sun & awakening of its divine children.

You might be more inclined to think of jolly fat men in red suits or babies that got kicked out of the Bethlehem Hilton & forced to shack up in a manger somewhere at this time. Its pagan counterpart might tend to get overshadowed by the mainstream Christian holiday these days, but in its own way Christmas also acknowledges the birth of the ‘sun’ & in this way celebrates the rebirth of the Divine Male in all his forms.

Consider golden-haired Apollo. The son of Zeus & Leto, & twin brother of the virgin huntress emis for that matter, takes the hot-headed thing quite literally. After all, he is the quintessential solar deity. There’s more to him than just his role as god of the sun,

though. He’s an all-around bright guy, in every sense. He governs the realms of prophecy, foresight, archery, healing ( & ironically, the plague ), music, & poetry.

Aside from driving his sun-chariot across the heavens each day, Apollo is best known for establishing the oracle at Delphi. Forget anything you might’ve read about, say, Mel & Oksana. The lives of the Olympians easily put such tabloid fodder to shame Zeus has always had an eye for the ladies. This time he managed to get his plaything of the moment pregnant. Perhaps understandably wifey didn’t take the news too well. One version of myth has Hera once sending a creature known as the Python, serpent-like & carrying with it stench & the spread of mischief, to harass Apollo’s mum. She couldn’t find a safe haven to give birth anywhere thanks to this. Soon after his birth, Apollo took revenge & killed the beastie. Afterwards he buried its corpse under Mount Parnassus & on its surface built his temple.

Not only was it the home to oracles, Delphi was also known as the centre of the world. Zeus proved it when he released two large eagles from opposite ends of the earth, & where they met in the middle was Delphi. Dionysus, the god of wine, had perhaps grown a bit comfortable there. Apollo allowed him to stay for three months of the year whilst he was off visiting the Hyperboreans up north of Thrace. Dionysus represents the allure of madness & the wild freedom of ecstasy, where Apollo stands for orderly structure & a rational mind. Consider how they share this sacred site. Apollo’s gift to us is balance. He reminds us that too much of one or the other ultimately won’t work. Both are valid in the right amount & the proper season.

At this time of year the coldest part of the season is yet to come. However, don’t forget that this is a time of rejoicing. Remember

Apollo’s promise. He will return, no matter how dark the days might seem to get, bringing with him new light & warmth to renew us. His ultimate lesson is one of faith. Have faith that the seasons… literal, emotional, or otherwise… will inevitably turn.  He is the

light of all light. Let him guide you. Do you have any habits or issues that are holding you back? Now is the time to let them go. Be

reborn with the sun & step free of winter.

The Grove

August, 2009

How do you reason with a drunken, toga-wearing party guy?

You can ignore him, but he’ll only make more noise to get your attention.

You can yell at him, but it will only get him excited.

The only thing you can do, it seems, is to take a deep breath & invite him in. See where it takes you.

So it is with Dionysus.

Logically it would’ve been more appropriate to explore another god now. Grapes abound in autumn. It would make sense to honour the fruit of the vine & its associated deities at, say, Mabon instead. Dionysus announced his presence not with a bang but with a rather nice bottle of merlot I was given by my partner. I was enjoying a glass when it occurred to me I should take a look at Dionysus. Not now, my rational mind snapped. The more I tried to fight against it, the more I’d encounter him. In chance encounters browsing the shelves at my local bookshop.  In random snippets of conversation. I could go on, but you get the idea. When I gave in & agreed to embrace him, all this stopped.

So what is it about him, anyway? Isn’t it all just sex, drugs, & rock & roll?

Well, yes. Sort of.

You think your family is dysfunctional? Spare a thought for Dionysus. A jealous Hera struck him down with madness & caused him to become a wanderer. The goddess Rhea rescued him from his affliction & taught him her craft. Here he found his true calling, to spread the culture of the vine. He’s often called the Liberator. His blessing frees us from ourselves. Think about what happens when you drink. Your inhibitions drop. You become honest to a fault. Temporarily at least, you’re freed from worry & the restraint of normal behaviour.

His retinue was comprised of mostly satyrs & maenads, half-goat men known for their lewd habits & raving madwomen just as likely to rip you to shreds as give you a good time. The cults that sprang up around him destroyed social norms & blasted boundaries, the better to bring on a state of spiritual ecstasy & bring followers closer to their god.

There is more to Dionysus than meets the eye, though. If you don’t bother to look past his scarier habits, it sells him short.

1st & foremost, remember that he chose to give man the gift of the vine. The intoxicating powers of wine are obvious, as are the inherent dangers that come along with it. There are benefits as well. It’s the great social lubricator. Even today a glass of red might take the edge off a nervous party guest or ease a business deal into being.

Perhaps you wouldn’t expect it out of a dedicated raver, but Dionysus is actually a devout family guy. Twice he gave of himself & descended to the Underworld to restore those he loved. In one story he went below to rescue his mum Semele. Beneath the rough exterior lies a sense of honour.  The shepherd Prosymnus asked to become the god’s lover as a price for guiding him down but died before he could receive his reward. It would’ve been easy to simply dismiss the whole thing, but Dionysus kept his word. The god left a phallus made from an olive branch on his tomb in payment. The 2nd time he descended was to restore his wife Ariadne & fashion a constellation of stars from her crown.

Consider the truth gift of the god. Dionysus is an in-your-face type of deity. He comes at us roaring, challenging us to get out of our comfort zones. Fears, doubts, & rigid behaviour patterns have no place in his worship. His message is to let go of these & embrace wild joy.  His nature is one of extremes, though. Both ends of the spectrum are equally unhealthy. The key to embracing Dionysus lies in learning to balance divine madness with the day-to-day. You can take a sip from his wine cup without draining the whole thing dry.