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Author Topic: Hellenic: My Encounter with (Maybe?) Dionysus  (Read 913 times)

demoiselle

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My Encounter with (Maybe?) Dionysus
« on: May 08, 2018, 02:40:52 pm »
I am sorry I didn’t get this finished yesterday as I hoped. I wanted to make sure I wrote up my memory accurately (and wanted to compare this account with the notes I made right after my experience).

CONTEXT
I am a late-30s woman who began working in theatre in her mid-teens, and dedicated herself to it with an almost single-minded intensity until my early 30s. I loved it, but also often felt taken advantage of and used for my talents by more powerful people who would often fail to credit me or even be kind to me. I finally left the field involuntarily when my academic advisor died suddenly and six years ago. It was like a door firmly shut, and in the years since I have rarely even attended theatre because my feelings are so complicated. It would not be an exaggeration to say that my entire identity shattered.

Since then, I have been working to develop myself as a well-rounded person with hobbies, a social life, a healthier mind, etc. I’ve also finally been diagnosed with a chronic illness that I’d suffered from since childhood and am getting treatment (alas no cure!). I’ve been doing a lot of work on myself in terms of meditation, exercise, therapy, soul-searching, and workbooks like The Artist’s Way. In many ways, I feel I’ve been reborn in the last year.

Because of my previous field, I’ve known a fair amount about Dionysus for years, at least in an academic fashion. Despite working in theatre, I have always been rather frightened of his seeming volatility. In recent weeks, I have been considering whether other gods might be better archetypes for me—gods of craftsmanship rather than inspiration.

A few weeks ago, I visited Athens and spent a fair amount of time in the Theatre of Dionysus and the ruins dedicated to Dionysus nearby. I felt very little, and was disappointed by that.

THE EXPERIENCE
This happened on May 3.

Recently, I had been having a nagging feeling that my relationship with the idea of Dionysus was somehow not right, that there is unresolved business there. I have been pondering seeking deities as models who have a more measured, craft/artisan type of approach and reputation, but this thought of unfinished business with Dionysus stayed with me until my evening meditation, when the thought came to me that I didn’t have to agonize over the question, I could . . . Just ask and see what happens.

I sat on my zafu, lit my meditation candle, closed my eyes, and after I got settled into a quiet place, I started mentally intoning Di-o-ny-sus, Di-o-ny-sus, Di-o-ny-sus. I got a feeling, suddenly, that I was no longer alone. Then, in my mind’s eye, I saw the silhouette of a young, slender man with a sort of staff standing before the candle in my mind. I couldn’t see any features, just a form, but I recognized that I was being visited by Dionysus (whether for real, or in my subconscious).

I couldn’t get any words out, but I could feel my emotions radiating in all directions: surprise, some fear, amazement, doubt, and even anger. Before I could formulate a question, the entity greeted me as if he and I were already bonded/related in some way.

He made me know that he was satisfied with me. In his eyes, I had served him and his art well and faithfully for half my life. He indicated that my break from theatre had not been a curse or punishment. Instead, my time dedicated to the art had ended because he had released me from my obligation.

I had a vivid image of myself in white, as if I were some sort of handmaiden or priestess who had completed a term of service and had been sent out into the larger world. I could practically see myself leaving temple grounds.

At this point, tears started to come from my eyes. I felt confused because I anticipated an angry and disappointed god, and had never considered that a deity might be satisfied or even pleased with me.

The objection rose in me, “But I’m a failure!” And Dionysus responded that my work in art had continued life, that my participation and inspiration had been vital and meaningful and they contribute to “the whole” even now. At this point, my job is to live a full and rich life.

I felt a wave of sorrow that I did not know this earlier, that I didn’t recognize that Dionysus had been with me, and now that part of my life had ended.

And then Dionysus told me that I was not forsaken, that I could still serve him should I choose to, but it doesn’t have to be in the same way I chose in childhood. I understood from him that there is a spark of creative power in me that had dimmed during my years of work and self-denial. Now that I am healing, I could rededicate myself by embracing my nature, even the mad, wild, impulsive parts of me. Inside me is a source of power that I can use.

I still had tears running down my face and I knew I needed to give a response. I didn’t want to make any long-term promises, so I thanked Dionysus for speaking to me and promised to make him an offering the next day. The shape of the god faded away and I was again in the quiet darkness of my meditation.

The next day, I put together an offering bowl with a flower, cranberries, home-made bread, and some sherry. I lit a candle and sat before it with the intention of honoring and appreciating Dionysus. I have since then added a pine cone and another wildflower that I found on a walk. I’ve taken it out every time I’ve meditated since then.

FALLOUT

I’ve spent the last couple days alternately excited and confused. On the one hand, I felt a god connected and communicated with me. On the other, I’m actually an agnostic/atheist (though curious about pagan faiths) and part of my mind says that I just have a vivid imagination and my mind told me what it wanted to hear.

A third part of me wonders if the difference between the two is meaningful, if the encounter has had a real impact on me.

Right now, I’m not sure what to do next. The offering felt right to me, but where do I go from here? Especially if I am not sure what, exactly, Dionysus wants from me?







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Re: My Encounter with (Maybe?) Dionysus
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2018, 09:11:14 am »
While Dionysus is not a particular deity I work with regularly, I have some comments on some other aspects of your questions that I hope might be helpful. (Even just for the 'you're not alone in this thing'.)

It was like a door firmly shut, and in the years since I have rarely even attended theatre because my feelings are so complicated. It would not be an exaggeration to say that my entire identity shattered.

I did the same thing with music - was a very active musician up until I burned out hard during a particularly badly managed conducting class my senior spring in college. It's taken me a long time to come back, but I have. (Engaging with music that was outside my academic focus was helpful, as was finding different ways to engage with it as an art form.)

Which is to say, you're not alone in that kind of struggle, and I'm glad to talk more about it in detail.

Quote
A few weeks ago, I visited Athens and spent a fair amount of time in the Theatre of Dionysus and the ruins dedicated to Dionysus nearby. I felt very little, and was disappointed by that.

You are also not alone in this - I haven't been in Athens since I was 8, but I had very much the same experience. It is a technically fascinating space, but I didn't have much sense of deity presence there, compared to other places (my father was a specialist in Ancient Greek theatre, and doing photography for a then-upcoming-project so we went to a bunch of different places: Mycenae, Delphi, and Knossos made much bigger energetic impressions, even though I wouldn't have put it that way at the time.)

I had more of a sense of Dionysus up on the hillside near the Acropolis (I'm not even sure if you can get there, these days: this was 30+ years ago). I got more of a sense of it when my father (classically trained actor) proclaimed from the stage, and you could hear the sound, rather than just being in the place: the activation energy mattered a lot.

Quote
I’ve spent the last couple days alternately excited and confused. On the one hand, I felt a god connected and communicated with me. On the other, I’m actually an agnostic/atheist (though curious about pagan faiths) and part of my mind says that I just have a vivid imagination and my mind told me what it wanted to hear.

A third part of me wonders if the difference between the two is meaningful, if the encounter has had a real impact on me.

Right now, I’m not sure what to do next. The offering felt right to me, but where do I go from here? Especially if I am not sure what, exactly, Dionysus wants from me?

One way to handle this is to do practices that you feel are worthwhile (whether that's because you like the practice, or because you feel it's helping the connection, or whatever) and see how that goes for a while. You may or may not get further direct instructions. If you do, great! If you don't, then you still have a practice that is meaningful for you.

When someone's starting out, I think it's often good to explore different kinds of practices, because some may work better than others for you, or have different kinds of experiences - so a simple devotional practice, a meditation practice, a practice of offerings, maybe simple rituals, other ideas you might get by reading here or other places.

One good thing to consider is this question: what advice are you getting? Does it help you improve your life? Feel better? Move forward in ways you care about? If so, there's a certain amount of 'does it matter if it's a god or your subconscious' involved - the point is that it's helpful to you.

You might consider not labelling the experiences for a bit, and instead seeing what information you're getting and the experiences you're having, and how they make you feel or help you move forward or grow. (A journalling practice is good for this one.)

And taking this last one out of sequence...
Quote
Recently, I had been having a nagging feeling that my relationship with the idea of Dionysus was somehow not right, that there is unresolved business there. I have been pondering seeking deities as models who have a more measured, craft/artisan type of approach and reputation, but this thought of unfinished business with Dionysus stayed with me..

I'm pretty sure other people have the citations on this more readily to hand than I do, but there's an increasing understanding of Dioynsus and Apollo doing this kind of balancing dance - there's evidence from Delphi, for example, of inclusion of Dioynsus. So if you are looking for some balance, that might be a particular direction to explore. It's not necessarily an antagonistic process: Greek practice for individuals often focused on a small number of deities (depending on where you lived, what you did, and what your particular concerns were) but that number was also generally larger than one.

(If no one comes along with more useful references, feel free to remind me, and I'll do some digging.)
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Re: My Encounter with (Maybe?) Dionysus
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2018, 10:43:26 am »
I’ve spent the last couple days alternately excited and confused. On the one hand, I felt a god connected and communicated with me. On the other, I’m actually an agnostic/atheist (though curious about pagan faiths) and part of my mind says that I just have a vivid imagination and my mind told me what it wanted to hear.

A third part of me wonders if the difference between the two is meaningful, if the encounter has had a real impact on me.

When I read this part, I immediately thought, 'Hey, we have a resource thread for that!' - hopefully you will find the discussion therein useful for coming to terms with the (false, IMO) dilemma of 'real or in my head?' (There is, I believe, a Harry Potter quote for that, from Dumbledore, something along the lines of, 'Of course it's all in your head, Harry. But whyever should that mean it's not real?')

I'm pretty agnostic by nature, myself; it doesn't have to be a barrier or obstacle in mysticism - one just has to get used to asking, not, 'Is this objectively factually accurate?' (which really isn't a meaningful question regarding the personally experiential) but, 'Is this useful?'

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Re: My Encounter with (Maybe?) Dionysus
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2018, 12:17:09 pm »
When I read this part, I immediately thought, 'Hey, we have a resource thread for that!' - hopefully you will find the discussion therein useful for coming to terms with the (false, IMO) dilemma of 'real or in my head?' (There is, I believe, a Harry Potter quote for that, from Dumbledore, something along the lines of, 'Of course it's all in your head, Harry. But whyever should that mean it's not real?')

I'm pretty agnostic by nature, myself; it doesn't have to be a barrier or obstacle in mysticism - one just has to get used to asking, not, 'Is this objectively factually accurate?' (which really isn't a meaningful question regarding the personally experiential) but, 'Is this useful?'

Thank you for that link. I am reading it now and will almost certainly return to it later, too.

One of the things that surprised me was how kind the entity I experienced was—almost like a benevolent much older brother who knows me better than I know him. It was a healing and gentle encounter, and not what I associate with Dionysus. That said, no sparkly promises were made, just an invitation to work with him in a new way.

Maybe this is an aspect of the god that I have forgotten. I will have to review my mythology. I tend to get sidetracked by the madness, Agave ripping her son’s head off, etc.

He is also a deity of rebirth, having been born twice and reconstituted after being ripped to pieces...

You have given me a lot to think about. And maybe I should take Dumbledore’s words to heart...

demoiselle

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Re: My Encounter with (Maybe?) Dionysus
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2018, 12:37:24 pm »
I did the same thing with music - was a very active musician up until I burned out hard during a particularly badly managed conducting class my senior spring in college. It's taken me a long time to come back, but I have. (Engaging with music that was outside my academic focus was helpful, as was finding different ways to engage with it as an art form.)

Which is to say, you're not alone in that kind of struggle, and I'm glad to talk more about it in detail.

Thank you. I have felt kind of alone in my experience.

Quote
You are also not alone in this - I haven't been in Athens since I was 8, but I had very much the same experience. It is a technically fascinating space, but I didn't have much sense of deity presence there, compared to other places (my father was a specialist in Ancient Greek theatre, and doing photography for a then-upcoming-project so we went to a bunch of different places: Mycenae, Delphi, and Knossos made much bigger energetic impressions, even though I wouldn't have put it that way at the time.)

I had more of a sense of Dionysus up on the hillside near the Acropolis (I'm not even sure if you can get there, these days: this was 30+ years ago). I got more of a sense of it when my father (classically trained actor) proclaimed from the stage, and you could hear the sound, rather than just being in the place: the activation energy mattered a lot.

Delphi had a profound impact on me, even in terms of Dionysus—the theatre there felt spiritually alive.

Quote
One way to handle this is to do practices that you feel are worthwhile (whether that's because you like the practice, or because you feel it's helping the connection, or whatever) and see how that goes for a while.

When someone's starting out, I think it's often good to explore different kinds of practices, because some may work better than others for you, or have different kinds of experiences - so a simple devotional practice, a meditation practice, a practice of offerings, maybe simple rituals, other ideas you might get by reading here or other places.

I’ve been doing a lot of spiritual work (meditation twice a day, free-writing/automatic writing, etc), but adding a little to my current work sounds doable. I could also keep a log/journal of the results (it is often in the free writing but that isn’t meant to be reread). At this point, writing what I believe might be powerful for me.

Quote
One good thing to consider is this question: what advice are you getting? Does it help you improve your life? Feel better? Move forward in ways you care about? If so, there's a certain amount of 'does it matter if it's a god or your subconscious' involved - the point is that it's helpful to you.

I’ve been pondering this for days. There are a lot of things Dionysus can offer to help me grow—if I can find balance and stamina, too.

Quote
And taking this last one out of sequence...
I'm pretty sure other people have the citations on this more readily to hand than I do, but there's an increasing understanding of Dioynsus and Apollo doing this kind of balancing dance - there's evidence from Delphi, for example, of inclusion of Dioynsus. So if you are looking for some balance, that might be a particular direction to explore.

I know that concept from The Birth of Tragedy, but haven’t really explored that polarity except as an academic theory. I’d be interested in learning more.

I have also considered Hephaestus and Minerva/Athena as balancing gods.

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Re: My Encounter with (Maybe?) Dionysus
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2018, 02:26:22 pm »
Because of my previous field, I’ve known a fair amount about Dionysus for years, at least in an academic fashion. Despite working in theatre, I have always been rather frightened of his seeming volatility. In recent weeks, I have been considering whether other gods might be better archetypes for me—gods of craftsmanship rather than inspiration.

Based on my experiences, you're not wrong that Dionysos can be intense, dramatic, and volatile. But as you learned, he has other sides as well. He's a god of duality and liminality, and he can wear many masks.

Quote from: demoiselle
Recently, I had been having a nagging feeling that my relationship with the idea of Dionysus was somehow not right, that there is unresolved business there. I have been pondering seeking deities as models who have a more measured, craft/artisan type of approach and reputation, but this thought of unfinished business with Dionysus stayed with me until my evening meditation, when the thought came to me that I didn’t have to agonize over the question, I could . . . Just ask and see what happens.

I sat on my zafu, lit my meditation candle, closed my eyes, and after I got settled into a quiet place, I started mentally intoning Di-o-ny-sus, Di-o-ny-sus, Di-o-ny-sus. I got a feeling, suddenly, that I was no longer alone. Then, in my mind’s eye, I saw the silhouette of a young, slender man with a sort of staff standing before the candle in my mind. I couldn’t see any features, just a form, but I recognized that I was being visited by Dionysus (whether for real, or in my subconscious).

You probably know this, but the staff makes sense given his association with the thyrsos, or fennel stalk.

Quote from: demoiselle
And then Dionysus told me that I was not forsaken, that I could still serve him should I choose to, but it doesn’t have to be in the same way I chose in childhood. I understood from him that there is a spark of creative power in me that had dimmed during my years of work and self-denial. Now that I am healing, I could rededicate myself by embracing my nature, even the mad, wild, impulsive parts of me. Inside me is a source of power that I can use.

This aligns pretty well with the messages and ideas I get from Dionysos and related Powers. They're very focused on the "spark of creative power" and helping us nurture, grow, and use it.

Quote from: demoiselle
I’ve spent the last couple days alternately excited and confused. On the one hand, I felt a god connected and communicated with me. On the other, I’m actually an agnostic/atheist (though curious about pagan faiths) and part of my mind says that I just have a vivid imagination and my mind told me what it wanted to hear.

A third part of me wonders if the difference between the two is meaningful, if the encounter has had a real impact on me.

I would say your Third Thoughts are on the right track there. I know from experience that it's wildly exciting to go from stubborn agnosticism through, "Holy crap, I just had a divine and/or magical experience!" to belief, but ultimately it's not particularly relevant. Defining things clearly as "real" or "not real" tends not to help much when it comes to mysticism and gods. It's better to evaluate whether a communication from deity is helpful than to worry over whether it was real.

Quote from: demoiselle
Right now, I’m not sure what to do next. The offering felt right to me, but where do I go from here? Especially if I am not sure what, exactly, Dionysus wants from me?

More research and more talking with people sounds like a good first step. But like Jenett says, finding some simple practices that feel right for you and doing them regularly also helps a lot--it may strengthen your bond with Dionysos, or it may find you other Powers, but either way it's a good way to develop your spirituality.
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Re: My Encounter with (Maybe?) Dionysus
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2018, 02:40:09 pm »
One of the things that surprised me was how kind the entity I experienced was—almost like a benevolent much older brother who knows me better than I know him. It was a healing and gentle encounter, and not what I associate with Dionysus. That said, no sparkly promises were made, just an invitation to work with him in a new way.

Maybe this is an aspect of the god that I have forgotten. I will have to review my mythology. I tend to get sidetracked by the madness, Agave ripping her son’s head off, etc.

The various forms of Bacchic frenzy are certainly a thing associated with Dionysos, but there's other things too. It's worth remembering that when Euripides wrote and performed The Bacchae around 500 BCE, Dionysos already had an extensive mythos and history of worship (his name shows up as a theonym in Greece as early as 1400 BCE), and the new play would shift perceptions of it for thousands of years to come. But that was just one man's take on the god and his stories.

The madness has a flip side, too--deities with negative or dangerous aspects were usually called on to protect worshippers from those things. Hence Apollo, associated with health and medicine, actually shares some roots with Mesopotamian plague gods, and Dionysos, so strongly associated with madness and frenzy, can be addressed as Dionysos Soterios, Savior-from-Madness.

Quote from: demoiselle
He is also a deity of rebirth, having been born twice and reconstituted after being ripped to pieces...

My initial encounter with Dionysos featured him identifying himself as "the dismembered god." So I'd say this is a major aspect of his nature.
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Re: My Encounter with (Maybe?) Dionysus
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2018, 03:06:32 pm »
I'm pretty sure other people have the citations on this more readily to hand than I do, but there's an increasing understanding of Dioynsus and Apollo doing this kind of balancing dance - there's evidence from Delphi, for example, of inclusion of Dioynsus.

One of my favorite texts on Dionysos, Kerenyi's Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life, goes into this a bit. There is evidence for a "tomb" of Dionysos at Delphi, where Apollo was said to have taken his dismembered body and healed him. Additionally, they share a number of domains: music, prophecy, and associations with solar power. Apollo is associated with the sun; Dionysos is variously associated with either the earth or the sun.

I don't really have a clear rigorously-attested explanation for all this, but I do know that in my personal set of Powers, Apollo and Dionysos share a very close relationship in which Apollo functions as the celestial other half of Dionysos. I haven't figured out all the details of that yet, though.
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Re: My Encounter with (Maybe?) Dionysus
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2018, 10:50:10 pm »
Quote
Because of my previous field, I’ve known a fair amount about Dionysus for years, at least in an academic fashion. Despite working in theatre, I have always been rather frightened of his seeming volatility. In recent weeks, I have been considering whether other gods might be better archetypes for me—gods of craftsmanship rather than inspiration.

Dionysos is a duality god who is a syncretization (I'm probably not using/spelling the correct word, but I'm falling asleep as I type) of several other gods, notably Zagreus and Bromios/Bakcheus. The former is used as an epithet to describe Dionysos - as Dionysos Zagreus - as the Mild one who is in charge of the underworld, the fermentation or resting of alcoholic drinks. The frenzy and ecstatic Dionysos is Dionysos Bromios/Bakcheus, who is more seen as the God of enjoying wine and alcoholic drinks. From Vikki Bramshaw's Dionysos: Exciter to Frenzy the former is in charge of the winter (3 months of the year) while the latter is in charge the other 9.

There's a lot of other epithets Dionysos has, but those two are the ones I remember right now. I'll add more later.

I sat on my zafu, lit my meditation candle, closed my eyes, and after I got settled into a quiet place, I started mentally intoning Di-o-ny-sus, Di-o-ny-sus, Di-o-ny-sus. I got a feeling, suddenly, that I was no longer alone. Then, in my mind’s eye, I saw the silhouette of a young, slender man with a sort of staff standing before the candle in my mind. I couldn’t see any features, just a form, but I recognized that I was being visited by Dionysus (whether for real, or in my subconscious).

I couldn’t get any words out, but I could feel my emotions radiating in all directions: surprise, some fear, amazement, doubt, and even anger. Before I could formulate a question, the entity greeted me as if he and I were already bonded/related in some way.

Like Eastling said, the staff makes sense - the thyrsus is one of his symbols. The last bit I emphasized for a reason - it's very similar to how I felt when I first met Dionysos. I too felt surprise and amazement, doubt and skepticism, but I told myself before going into my meditation to go with the flow, and ask questions later. I will state that I also felt a great sense of love from him - affection, kindness, and maybe eros (he french-kissed me). But it felt like we've met before.

FALLOUT

I’ve spent the last couple days alternately excited and confused. On the one hand, I felt a god connected and communicated with me. On the other, I’m actually an agnostic/atheist (though curious about pagan faiths) and part of my mind says that I just have a vivid imagination and my mind told me what it wanted to hear.

A third part of me wonders if the difference between the two is meaningful, if the encounter has had a real impact on me.

Go with the third part: who cares where it came from? Why waste energy on that? Focus on the meaning of the vision, and what had happened. I emphasize this because I went through something similar where I was trying to analyze everything within a dream or vision - when I should have been analyzing how it was meaningful and helpful to me. For example, while searching for some posts about Dionysos and previous things I wrote, I came across my dream analysis (one of my earlier threads on the Cauldron), and I'm now realizing that I missed a few questions to ask myself about it.

Quote
Right now, I’m not sure what to do next. The offering felt right to me, but where do I go from here? Especially if I am not sure what, exactly, Dionysus wants from me?

Go with the flow. Continue your spiritual practices, and simply honor Dionysos when you can/want to. You mentioned before that you are doing a lot of self-healing now. I feel that Dionysos Zagreus may be playing a role in that and it may be something you can explore, as well as Apollo or Hermes. The important thing is this: Dionysos is okay with you continuing to honor him, and he's okay with you moving on. It's up to you to decide which you want to do. Like Eastling said, maybe you want to continue your spiritual practices and talk with DIonysos to see where he can point you to. For example, I've recently done some meditation and day dreaming, and for some reason Apollo keeps coming up in my thoughts. Do I see this as me abandoning Dionysos? Nope. I see it as Dionysos telling me to resting, and taking care of myself once this crazy nonsense at work is over (and I will be forever grateful when that happens).
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Re: My Encounter with (Maybe?) Dionysus
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2018, 11:47:38 pm »
I'm pretty agnostic by nature, myself; it doesn't have to be a barrier or obstacle in mysticism - one just has to get used to asking, not, 'Is this objectively factually accurate?' (which really isn't a meaningful question regarding the personally experiential) but, 'Is this useful?'

Hmm. Sage advice. I can speak as someone who spent several years as a proclaimed atheist that this question, and the accompanying answer of 'yes' is precisely what brought me back to religion. That doesn't mean that everyone will get the answer 'yes', mind you, or that everyone should be religious. It was totally right for me, so it might be right for other people as well.

I still consider myself agnostic, but only in a philosophical sense. I don't ever question whether or not I should be religious, or if religion is right for me. I know the answer to those questions is 'yes'. I do still admit, quite often, that it might be a placebo and that I have no logical reason for certainty in my beliefs. I'm an agnostic theist, and that's exactly what works best for me.

To the OP, I would say; if it works for you, and improves your life, keep doing it. Religious practice turned my life around, and it might do the same for you. OTOH, if it doesn't work, don't keep doing it! That's how I wound up as an athiest in the first place, I was frustrated with the ineffectiveness and emptiness of my birth religion.
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Re: My Encounter with (Maybe?) Dionysus
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2018, 11:53:48 am »
The various forms of Bacchic frenzy are certainly a thing associated with Dionysos, but there's other things too. It's worth remembering that when Euripides wrote and performed The Bacchae around 500 BCE, Dionysos already had an extensive mythos and history of worship (his name shows up as a theonym in Greece as early as 1400 BCE), and the new play would shift perceptions of it for thousands of years to come. But that was just one man's take on the god and his stories.

Besides the fact that Euripides did this sort of thing as a routine form of playwriting (take story, half way through, flip it on its head), I think the other thing to think about is where the stories of the more dangerous or negative things show up.

In a lot of the Dionysus myths (and certainly in Euripides, for that matter!) you get the divine madness or risk or danger showing up when someone has insisted on denying Dionysus. (And not just, y'know, casual messing up, but holding a nasty line about it even when given a chance.)

That's a different thing than someone (or a deity) having outbursts of horrible for no apparent reason.

A lot of Greek myth works like that: if you do X, Y is a not unreasonable result. If you avoid X, you probably also avoid Y. Yay!
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Re: My Encounter with (Maybe?) Dionysus
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2018, 12:56:06 pm »
Go with the flow. Continue your spiritual practices, and simply honor Dionysos when you can/want to. You mentioned before that you are doing a lot of self-healing now. I feel that Dionysos Zagreus may be playing a role in that and it may be something you can explore, as well as Apollo or Hermes. The important thing is this: Dionysos is okay with you continuing to honor him, and he's okay with you moving on. It's up to you to decide which you want to do. Like Eastling said, maybe you want to continue your spiritual practices and talk with DIonysos to see where he can point you to. For example, I've recently done some meditation and day dreaming, and for some reason Apollo keeps coming up in my thoughts. Do I see this as me abandoning Dionysos? Nope. I see it as Dionysos telling me to resting, and taking care of myself once this crazy nonsense at work is over (and I will be forever grateful when that happens).

Thank you for the pointers & suggestions. I think you are right. I should continue my spiritual practices (which are clearly bearing fruit), honor Dionysus when I am moved to (I kept the pinecone on my meditation altar after giving the bread and cranberries back to nature, and I'll keep reading.

I'll try to get a better rounded picture of Dionysus and what I can learn by working with him. I suspect there is a lot--some of the aspects that "scare" me are things I may actually want for myself. As for the madness, I fear that as someone who has had anxiety and is prone to spells of intense dedication and subsequent sagging.

Are there any other books you or others would suggest? Alas, all I have on my shelf is Edith Hamilton and Robert Graves.

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Re: My Encounter with (Maybe?) Dionysus
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2018, 02:33:10 pm »
Are there any other books you or others would suggest? Alas, all I have on my shelf is Edith Hamilton and Robert Graves.

Like I mentioned above, I've found Carl Kerényi's work a useful resource on Dionysos--particularly his book Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life. His writing is somewhat dated (he mostly worked in the '50s through '60s), and I don't always agree with his conclusions, but I feel that he has a good grasp on some of the nature of the god. He also discusses his sources a great deal, which makes it easy to figure out where his conclusions are coming from and draw your own if necessary.

For more recent works, Richard Seaford published a study on Dionysos a few years ago; it's a pretty good overview. If you want a more Wiccish approach with a clearly-laid-out calendar, Vikki Bramshaw's Dionysos: Exciter to Frenzy might be good, although I find she tends to oversell her conclusions in order to make Dionysos fit into neat boxes comfortable to modern neopagans. I would also suggest reading a translation of the Orphic Hymns, as Orphism drew heavily from the Dionysiac mythos.
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Re: My Encounter with (Maybe?) Dionysus
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2018, 05:48:59 pm »
One of the things that surprised me was how kind the entity I experienced was—almost like a benevolent much older brother who knows me better than I know him. It was a healing and gentle encounter, and not what I associate with Dionysus. That said, no sparkly promises were made, just an invitation to work with him in a new way.

Maybe this is an aspect of the god that I have forgotten. I will have to review my mythology. I tend to get sidetracked by the madness, Agave ripping her son’s head off, etc.

In my own line of thinking, it's not at all unexpected for the real personality to be quite different from the rumors and legend. I've experienced it first hand with my own God.
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Re: My Encounter with (Maybe?) Dionysus
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2018, 07:04:01 pm »
Besides the fact that Euripides did this sort of thing as a routine form of playwriting (take story, half way through, flip it on its head), I think the other thing to think about is where the stories of the more dangerous or negative things show up.

In a lot of the Dionysus myths (and certainly in Euripides, for that matter!) you get the divine madness or risk or danger showing up when someone has insisted on denying Dionysus. (And not just, y'know, casual messing up, but holding a nasty line about it even when given a chance.)

That's a different thing than someone (or a deity) having outbursts of horrible for no apparent reason.

A lot of Greek myth works like that: if you do X, Y is a not unreasonable result. If you avoid X, you probably also avoid Y. Yay!

Dionysus did give Pentheus signs and chances, so that was generous.

I actually don't remember how or if Euripides' version of the story showed up in the myths. Hm.

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