I’ve been doing some research into the history of California wine, as it seemed relevant to honoring local manifestations of Dionysos. After all, the coming of Dionysos to America could be understood as parallel to the introduction and spread of European viticulture here.
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If we choose to see myths as more than literal stories–that is, as being about more than simply the surface events they depict–then we can see one way in which they are stories that live thousands of years and miles outside of their original context.
As the Dionysian Artist suggests, the stories of heroes and monsters don’t have to be only old adventure stories. They’ve survived so long because they are about more than just a series of events, they’re also about transformation and actualization. Monsters can be seen as the shadow, the chaos in the world, which are integrated by the hero’s triumph into something more.
(This was originally published on polytheist.com December 2014. As mentioned in previous posts I’m compiling all my writing here for posterity and for future reference.)
When we think of Greek mythology images of fantastic monsters and heroes often comes to mind. The stories are filled with hybrid beasts that haunt the lands as challengers to would be champions. We see these monsters as just that: monsters. An opposition, a narrative piece to add some excitement to tales of heroes. But what if monsters hold a greater significance? What do we gain by understanding their role in the heroes journey? Why do I feel a sympathy and even a reverence to monsters?
There is always a degree of kitsch when discussing Greek mythology. Many of us were introduced to the myths as children. Growing up in the 90’s I would watch the ultimate of camp: Hercules and Xena…
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Once upon a time, I had dreams of being a rock star. Not a touring musician (no one deserves to suffer that), but a rock star in the sense of someone locally famous for Doing Things in the community. More, I wanted to be a Dionysian rock star. I wanted to hear
folks say things like,”hey, isn’t that the guy who does the really cool Dionysian rituals?” as I walked by, to have people email me out of the blue asking about polytheism or Dionysos, to have the kind of blog that gets re-posted and hosts long, interesting discussions. And, dare I dream, maybe I’d found a tradition of reverence that would outlive me.
But, as it happens, I’m not a rock star. As much as I might dream of it, I just don’t have the kind of extroverted drive that it takes, or the kind of life where I can take my traveling Mad God Show on what passes for the Pagan event circuit.
And this sort of thinking is why I have a shrine to Melek Ta’us among my gods & powers.
I am the bird and snake braided in Being. I am the Lord of the Painted Fan. My talons clutch the bottom of the abyss of the seven hells as the eyes of my tail feathers fan throughout the seven heavens.
I am Evolution, the striving for integrity amidst the tension of myriad worlds and drives. I am the demand of adaptation, creative transformation. I desire your proud autonomy, not your shame-filled supplication.
My mirror reveals the truth: you are the image of God Hirself, ensouled with Hir divine essence, formed of earth with no greater obligation than to express your most sacred breadth, depth, and height. You are God knowing Hirself, bringing Hir to greater completion.
All queer people are beloved unto me. Every variation of form, body, and spirit is a holy mutation come to further the collective growth and liberation of humanity. To braid and synthesize the…
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Over on riverdecvora.com, River writes beautifully about those who keep the hearth (literal or metaphorical) burning, and gives me words for many things I’ve been thinking about myself and my relationship with my powers. I try to be a hearth-keeper for my gods, giving mortal folks a place to meet them. I try to be a hearth-keeper for my mortal friends and family. Awareness of the spiritual dimension of this is important, and worth cultivating.
That, and “Hearth-Keeper” sounds so much better than “Hufflepuff” in Serious Polytheist Discussion.
We are living in terrible times. Every passing day brings more violent racist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-Semitic, xenophobic and classist attacks and incidents at every level of society, from local street violence to “Alt-Right” rallies to State and Federal governmental attempts to (and occasional successes in) passing oppressive legislation to the stripping away of protections for vulnerable communities. The regime we are currently living under is one that attempts to strip us of both individual and group identity, shames us for interdependence, and seeks to destroy our connection to ancestors and descendants, and to the land upon which we live (as complex as these relationships can be). The dominant paradigm is one that endorses survival of the most privileged, at the expense of nondominant communities and vulnerable people. And we are handed the lie that we can rise above the oppression of our people by disavowing ourselves of our cultures, that…
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I’ve been studying the Toys of Dionysos. For various reasons, I had to take several weeks off from the work, but I’ve taken it back up again. This has had more than a few strange effects in my life.
From the Dionysian Artist: A note on sacred art, unique expressions of deity, and the inappropriateness of harassing folks whose images of the gods you don’t like.
I try to conduct myself with a general rule of “don’t piss on someone else’s joy.” The world it hard enough without flamewars over someone having fun wrong.
This is even more true with spirituality. It is not up to us to dictate to the gods how they enter the lives of others, in what forms or by what means. It follows that it’s not up to us to sit in judgement on whether or not someone else is doing it wrong. We’re perfectly free to not worship with folks whose ideas and methods we don’t like. We’re perfectly free to engage in debate with willing folks as to whose methods are better by some standard.
But threats against artists who have a different vision of the gods than one has? That’s right out.