Dionysos is an American God

Last week, Sannion wrote this piece about America as a Dionysian country. Essentially, he looks to an ideal of (or an idealized imagining of) certain aspects of the land and culture of the United States, and sees a clear pattern of Dionysian spirit in our art, politics, and history.

The essay is not unproblematic, and the bits folks might find distasteful start with the word “recolonize” in the title. The piece does not look critically at American culture, does not address how the Native people might have seen the patterns the author highlights, and does not acknowledge the history of appropriation or oppression that went into some of the things Sannion praises as Dionysian aspects of America.

Still, I think Sannion would be disappointed if readers were to assume that he is ignorant (or insensitive) to these problems just because he doesn’t call them out in this essay. The man can be downright misanthropic at times, and does not disguise a sarcastic disdain for mixing religion and politics, but he’s not a fool. Well, not a secular fool, at least.

At any rate, my take-away is this: Dionysos is an American god; not in his birth, but in that this land was ready to welcome him as an immigrant, and easily takes a place in the long story of the God who comes out of the east with a train of outcasts dancing behind him. Now, whether or not American Dionysos is the same entity as Greek Dionysos will require more pondering of syncretism on my behalf, but I suspect the answer is “Yes, but/and.”

Field Trip to Cat’s Cradle

Last week, Thiasos Bakkheios and a friend took a field trip to Cat’s Cradle, a shrine in the redwood forest above the UC Santa Cruz campus. The idea was to get our hands dirty with some practical, physical work for the spirits and powers. Continue reading

Seeress: Nan Edwards Boyster

Nan is Good People, and a talented spirit worker. Keep her in mind, if you need to find someone to help you get information from the other side.

EmberVoices: Listening for the Vanir

This is my friend and sometimes-teacher Nan Edwards Boyster.

Nan Edwards Boyster Nan Edwards Boyster – A good friend and diviner!

Nan is, simply put, Good People. She’s also one of the small handful of readers I go to  when I need outside divination, confirmation or clarification on my own work, or just plain help figuring my shit out.

More specifically, she’s one of the few readers I go to from whom you, too, can get a reading!

She’s both talented and well-trained in Welsh and Heathen traditions. She’s a Seidkona and a witch, and works with the Fae and the Vanir. Whereas I do readings in offline batches once a week, Nan can often schedule live phone readings within a day of the querent’s request!

The Seeress is IN Nan preparing for Oracular Seidh

$50 (payments via PayPal) gets you a standard 45 minute reading. Her style is much like mine, with a combination of cartomancy…

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Thiasos Bakkheios

I’ve started, together with half a dozen friends, a Dionysian devotional group I’m calling Thiasos Bakkheios. It means, roughly, “Folks who come together to perform rituals to Bakkhos.” I am no expert in any form of Greek, so if someone reading this can confirm that I’m using the words correctly, that would be great. Better, if I’m wrong, correct me.

The name was originally invented to fill in the “group name” blank when submitting a Dionysia for Pantheacon. As I’ve been missing regular, intense, small-group devotions in my life, I decided to open up my personal practice to friends and like-minded polytheists.

So far we’ve had two meetings, and are planning a field trip for later this month. We’ve gathered and opened by pouring libations and offering food to Hestia, to the spirits of the local land, to the ancestors, to the gods and spirits important in the life of Dionysos, and finally to Dionysos himself. Drumming and chanting and passing a cup of wine follows, and after that…

Well, it’s been interesting. The first meeting, we followed the ritual with a feast, where we drank and ate and drank and talked about what we wanted from the group and drank and got to know one another and drank… You get the picture. The session was most productive. Four bottles died in the enactment of our rites, and we made the best of their sacrifice.

The second meeting was an experiment in letting the energy go where it would. The opening invocations were much the same, but after we started talking about what kinds of ecstatic methods we’d like to explore. The group quickly lost any central focus, separating into a talking corner and a drumming/chanting corner and corner of enthusiastic cuddling. People had mixed experiences with this, and felt varying levels of comfort and inclusion.

There’s room in Dionysian worship for both intensely focused ritual and ritualized partying. But, being mortals with limits, I think that in future we need to be more mindful about which we’re engaging in. Given that the particular face of Dionysos to whom I most relate is Himself as the Host of the Revelry, there’s a strong emphasis on hospitality and taking care of my guests. As priest, I need to provide some sort of common focus, or make sure that everyone knows and understands ahead of time that lack of focus is the point of that evening.

I must admit to a certain reluctance here, though. Part of me wants to be The Guru, and I’m very wary of that bit of ego. So much so that I have, perhaps, erred too far in the other direction. I don’t like telling everyone what to do. Hell, I hope to help folks become skilled and comfortable leading these rites so that I can be one of the ones letting go. Still, someone has to point in a direction and poke everyone to go that way, and I suppose it should be me, at least at first.

That in mind, I do have a few goals for this group: First and foremost, I want to create a space wherein folks can deepen their relationships with Dionysos, where they can come together with like-minded folk and worship together. Beyond that, I’d like to have a solid team of devotees who are interested in putting on public rituals dedicated to Dionysos. Some years back, I was given in a dream a mystery initiation to share with others, and I hope that some of those who join us at the Thiasos will want to experience that.

If you’re interested in joining us, you can contact me through the comments or at lonsarver@gmail.com

Call for Papers for Trans Pagan: Life at the Intersection of Faith and Gender

This may be relevant to some of your interests. Gods know we need this sort of thing out there.

The Blog Of Immanion Press & Megalithica Books

Trans Pagan: Life at the Intersection of Faith and Gender

Email for inquiries and submissions: dee@paganfm.com

Megalithica Books, an imprint of Immanion Press (Stafford, U.K./Portland, OR, U.S.A) is seeking submissions for Trans Pagan: Life at the Intersection of Faith and Gender

This anthology examines the interesectionality of transgender lives and Pagan faith. It will explore such questions as:

  • What does it mean to be transgender?
  • Why are transgender individuals drawn to a Pagan spiritual path?
  • What are the implications for male-female duality in covens and groups that accept transgender members?
  • How can the Pagan community support our Transgender brothers and sisters?
  • What can the Pagan community learn about themselves from transgender individuals?
  • How can we dispel fear and speak to intolerance in the Pagan community and beyond?
  • What unique perspectives can transgender individuals bring to Pagan groups that permit all of us to better understand ourselves and the divine?
  • What…

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Live, My Strange Children

live to spite them

For Orlando

Awake, you ancestors and mighty dead!
Awake, throw open the doors to your halls!

New souls come to join you
Souls who died in lead and blood
There are new ancestors among you

Awake, you ancestors and mighty dead!
Awake, throw open the doors to your halls!

Light your hearth-fires
Light your lanterns
Show the new ancestors the way home

Awake, you ancestors and mighty dead!
Awake, throw open the doors to your halls!

Send out the banshees, the black dogs
Send out the skeleton horses and the reapers
Do not let them be lost in the dark

Awake, you ancestors and mighty dead!
Awake, throw open the doors to your halls!
There are new ancestors among you
Make them welcome
Bring them home

Remember the names of the dead.

The Dionysian Artist

Δ, Τέχνη, Λόγος, Λέξις


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