I wrote this for a friend of mine who was working with Dionysos in the Underworld. With their permission, I’m sharing it here, in case anyone else has a need for it.
The ritual year for Thiasos Bakkheios starts with the Winter Solstice. The calendar of Attica (which many Hellenic reconstructionists use to set their ritual year) begins with the first new moon after the Summer Solstice, but I’ve found that scheduling with modern folks works better if the calendar starts closer to the secular new year.
After our last Dionysos devotional, Ember and I were talking about the kinds of devotionals we’ve hosted. So far, we’ve had the ecstatic ritual, with drinking and dancing and drumming, and the feast, with minimal ritual but much food and fellowship.
The thought we hand was that we should alternated between these and another kind, something more geared toward sharing lore and inspiration with one another. This kind of devotional would, I hope, better serve those of us who find inspiration in stories and conversation, and give us a more diverse set of approaches to Dionysos and his kin.
The Dionysian Artist presents three family trees for Dionysos, which are not entirely contradictory to one another, even if they don’t all fit perfectly. Things like this are among the reasons I don’t take myths literally.
But, hey, everybody’s family is at least a little messed up, right?
I hope it does not come as a shock that Dionysos has a complex and often confusing family tree. I’ve divided this into three tales:
Standard myth: has him the son of Zeus and Semele, daughter of the founder of Thebes, Cadmus (his grandfather) and Harmonia (his grandmother). If we look back through Cadmus’ family tree Zeus is something like Dionysos’ great, great, great, great grandfather via Io. Zeus is also his great grandfather on Dionysos’ grandmother’s family side. And as a technicality Zeus is his father and mother… is your mind twisted yet?
If we regard Orphic mythology: the Olympian Dionysos is a second incarnation. His first incarnation is known as Zagreus-Dionysos, the son of Persephone and Zeus.
Zagreus is a supreme deity that Zeus concedes the throne to his son, thus giving Zagreus the universe as a mere babe. As is typical in myth: Hera is jealous, and employs…
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Update from Thiasos Bakkheios:
We recently had another chanting and drumming and (some) dancing devotional. I’m going to report on it as best I can. Only some of these are my personal recollections; certain gaps in my memory had to be filled in with information supplied by “dude, you were so wasted” stories people told about me the day after.
The plan was to sacrifice food and drink to Dionysos and His friends and relations, to build up the energy and the ecstasy with chanting and drumming, and to ask the god if He’d be so kind as to send us some sign in our dreams as to how we can best make our individual relationships with him stronger. Continue reading