Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Daily Dionysian ~ Body and Blood of a God

Ancient religion is ripe with ways for practitioners and devotees to connect with the Gods, and Greek religion is no exception. Diversity is as abundant as the number of Gods, myths, temples and cults. One thing I love to put on the end of my daily rites is what I call The Dionysian, which is my name for the rite I perform. In ancient Greek religion, there's more than one God who carries the epithet of "Savior," but Dionysus, as the youngest of The Dodekatheon and the Twice-Born who rescues from the death and dismal, He is widely-known by many as "The Savior God" of Greek religion. 

In the times of old, some of His worshipers would actually attack a live bull (symbol of Dionysus) and ingest the animal just as it was, without cooking. In so doing, it was seen as consuming the God's body and blood. Wine, which Dionysus is the God of, was widely-known in the ancient Greek world as the vine's blood itself. In more ways than one, people considered themselves to be taking in the body and blood of Dionysus or at least the blood of that over which He ruled. If this sounds familiar at this point, you're right. The only thing is, the concept of ingesting communion with Deity is not originally a Christian idea or practice. It's very ancient, very Pagan, and very Polytheistic. 

There could be several reasons why His worshipers would want His Spirit and literal Being inside them, but one of which we might say today would be to bring us the Spirit and presence of the God and all the things that come with Him, such as happiness, joy, ecstasy, and life itself. In short, to bring us away from things that destroy our bodies and spirits, such as death, depression, anxiety, worry, and fear. To revel in Dionysus is to delight in the splendid bliss of life.

Of course, in our time, we're not going to be eating and drinking a raw cow. Such a communion practice was also probably historically done in a group cult setting with special instruction, but since we're not going to be doing a replica and instead a modern rite with an ancient base, there's no issue in doing it independently. We make reasonable and appropriate changes as there are better ways to do it. We also today don't have immediate or even common access to ancient Hellenic orders that the ancients themselves may have had, so if we want to adopt ancient practice, we sometimes have to make reasonable accommodations in that area. We have to do a lot of our religion individually or in the best setting we can create for ourselves and other worshipers because of the modern circumstances.

My Dionysian is not hard or complicated at all. Obviously, the drink for the rite would be either wine or grape juice. I myself don't really like wine a lot, so I often substitute with just juice of grapes themselves, which is also the juice of the vine. So it's a very appropriate substitute. When it comes to the food portion, if one wanted to perhaps use a small bite of steak from a bull to come very close to the ancient ways, that would be perfectly fine. Although, the practitioner will probably find that quite difficult and inconvenient to do on a daily basis. I use a small bite of rich chocolate, because it's a joyful ecstatic food, and therefore very relevant to a connection with Dionysus, as He is the God of Ecstasy. So, the chocolate is His Spirit and the wine or grape juice is His blood or the blood of the vine. Now, if you can find some chocolate in the shape of a bull, I applaud you. That would be great to use. 

I begin with a very simple prayer,

I now pray to Dionysus, the Twice-Born God of Everlasting Life,
to descend His blessings upon the food of joy and the drink of the vine,
to bless my mind, body and soul with His wonderful Godhood.
Spirit of Dionysus, fill me,
the blood of Dionysus, flow through me.

Then I eat and drink in a kind of meditative state, giving thanks to the God afterwards. The point of the rite for me is to not literally eat a God, but to connect my inner mind, body and soul with His amazing presence, so that I will go about my day in a state of happiness, joy and generally uplifted life. And let me say, it works wonders. I cannot begin to describe how good I feel throughout the day in the wake of the rite. I really do feel a presence within and around me that is Divine, far more than my general human state would feel alone. 

However, it should always be remembered that this is not a Christian rite. Dionysus is not a God of abstinence or One that wants us to resist our humanity. There is no "cross to bear." He is a God of life's enjoyment. We don't invite His presence to save us from our humanity, because our humanity is not evil, it's blessed. We connect with Him to raise us to the greatest of life's enjoyment, bliss and prosperity, insofar as our humanity can and should achieve it. When one asks Dionysus to enter them, they are essentially asking for the good and pleasureful things in life, because these things can and are necessary for us to live a happy and healthy existence. If we choose to live in the dismal of things and never give ourselves pleasure and happiness, it will have an impact on us that is profoundly negative. We can and will basically die in so many ways. Dionysus reminds us that it's ok to live.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Frazer G, James, The Golden Bough: The Roots of Religion and Folklore, New York, Crown Publishers INC, 1981. Print. (pp. 326).

Burkert, Walter, Greek Religion, translated by Raffan, John, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1985. Print. (pp. 164).

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