Showing posts with label Dionysus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dionysus. Show all posts

Sunday, March 3, 2024

The Forest Screams - Could It Be Dionysos?

Channels and videos dealing with everything from the paranormal to simple hiking adventures are filled with what we commonly know as "unidentified, non-human sounds or screams" coming from the forests of the world. And I just love myself a good mystery, a good intrigue, something unknown to investigate, so let's take some time today to explore these happenings. 

Take a moment to visit this link to hear one of the videos people have made of unexplained screams and yells in the forest. Then come back to my blog post. Of course, there are scores of other videos and reels that have been made by various individuals, recording many kinds of screams and ravings in the woods. All you have to do is search for the topic on youtube.

In ancient times, Dionysos, the God of wine, revelry, joy, life and rebirth, was known for His loud celebrations in the forests. In fact, His worshipers would gather in these remote areas, such as the female devotees of the God called Maenads, whose name means "to rave" or "raving ones." A specific natural forest location of theirs was in Nysa, where a temple of Dionysos stood.

In the Orphic Hymn to Dionysos, He is called, "loud-roaring, reveling, and howling." In the video posted above of the unknown screams and ravings in the woods, people in ancient times may have very well concluded that it was Dionysos or His Maenads, especially if it was near a known worship center. In the times of old, things we consider paranormal or supernatural were simply daily life and commonplace.

In the forests, away from the civilization and the common ailments of human life, it's easy to see how someone could release, and why they might enjoy the ability to leave their old world behind as much as possible for a time. Dionysos lifts us to life, brings us to life, breaks us free of death. 

I myself grew up in the middle of a forest, down in a small, remote valley in central North Carolina, and especially during my childhood, the depths of the woodland provided me with a much needed retreat on a regular basis. In fact, anything could happen in them. Nothing was impossible, meaning was everywhere, adventure lured at every turn, and everything was beautiful. There is something about the haunts of the forest that make them otherworldly.

The importance of Dionysos to Hellenic life is, like all the Gods, vastly important and crucial, but like all Gods as well, Dionysos also retains His own uniqueness. As the God of life, the youngest of The Dodekatheon, and Twice Born, He is known as the "Savior God" of Greek religion, although He is certainly not the only God who carries the Savior Epithet.

Dionysos is salvation from death, depression, sadness, and anything else that hinders life and its enjoyment. I developed my own temple rite to the God in this respect. There is historical record of some of His worshipers in ancient times eating a live bull in a ritualistic setting (the bull being a symbol of Dionysos), and in so doing, they believed they were taking the God into themselves. Wine is also known as the blood of the vine just as far back.

If this sounds familiar, you're right, but the concept of ingesting communion with a God was not originally Christian; it's very ancient and very polytheistic. In my own rite, I include a drink of wine or grape juice and a small bite of rich chocolate (should I ever find chocolate in the shape of a bull, that'll be spectacular). The chocolate, being an ecstatic food, is the body of the God, while His wine is, of course, His blood.

Before consuming, I recite this simple prayer, I pray to Dionysos, 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 Dionysos dwell within me, blood of Dionysos flow through me."

If there has been no general offering to Him in return, some of the wine or chocolate can be given. But it's also important to remember the objective and reality of Dionysos and this rite. It is not Christian. He is not a God of abstinence or one who teaches us to resist and hate our humanity. There is no "cross to bear." You don't invite Him to save you from your humanity because your humanity is not evil or damned. It is blessed. Therefore, Dionysos blesses us with all it takes to live a happy and joyful life, and drives out whatever threatens that. Dionysos reminds us that it's okay to live.

What are the screams and ravings that people keep hearing deep in the forests of the world? Dionysos? The ghosts of His Maenads? New worshipers? Or maybe all of the above? The ancients most certainly knew of these same kinds of sounds. They wrote about them in their hymns to the God and stories about those who followed Him throughout their lives. Perhaps there is always that natural calling out there, reminding us that there is freedom from the dismal things that may plague us.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Learning From The Greek Gods: Dionysus

I'm proud to continue my long-time series Learning From The Greek Gods by today talking about Dionysus, spelled Dionysos in Greek transliteration. He is a fascinating God to say the least, and the youngest of The Dodekatheon, or the Twelve Olympians. Dodekatheon simply means "Twelve Gods," referring to those who rule Olympus. Some Hellenists still retain the belief that it is Hestia, not Dionysus, who sits upon the 12th throne. While not denying the vast importance of the God, they do not accept the belief that Hestia vacated Her throne to Him and came down to live more closely to mortals. However, most of the Hellenic community views the contrary; that Dionysus occupies Her former throne. In fact, in Walter Burkert's book, when he lists the 12 Gods, is it Dionysus he includes in the section, not Hestia.

Many know Dionysus is the God of Wine, and broadly, the God of the Vine itself. He is also extremely tied to the natural world and is considered an Earth God. But many people in the mainstream, and perhaps even some in the general Pagan community, do not know that He is the God of Life who brings joy, happiness, revelry, and a rescue from death. Because of the goodness He can bring through His presence and gifts, He is called a Saviour in addition. He's also considered to be a Sun God. All of these reasons are why He is included centrally in my weekly addresses through my Temple, during which time we pray and drink wine or grape juice to the God, asking for His blessing of life. But the deeper question is, how did Dionysus become such a God? 

There is more than one version to His death and rebirth story, but the one I enjoy and believe the most is the Cretan version, which says that as a child, Dionysus was attacked and ripped apart by some of the Titans (presumably those who hated Olympus). All that remained was His heart, which Zeus placed in the womb of His mortal Mother Semele, and through Her, Dionysus was reborn, which is why He retains the title of "Twice-Born." Literally, death was not able to overcome Him. He returned to life in defiance of it, which is why He's the God of Life, and so we can look to Him as a rescue and a salvation from all things that hinder or destroy our lives and the happiness and joy within them.

What to learn from Dionysus is that life is meant to be loved and enjoyed. If you're living in sadness, depression or any form of self-loathing, you are not enjoying your existence, and Dionysus wishes for you to do the opposite. He is the embodiment of a happy and joyous life and time. He is a Saviour because He literally saves us from ourselves and all the things that take our life away. To learn from and connect with Him is to know that death in any form cannot and will not hold rule over you when you are supposed to be living. From us, He drives away death, destruction, depression, destitution, sorrow, loathing, and brings to us life, prosperity, happiness, joy, wonder, and love, both for ourselves and others.

In the Goodness of the Gods,