Guest Post: Why does Marriage Bring Miasma?

I’ve never ever understood this one (though it always amused me) so I’m very grateful for the insight of the Dionysian Artist for clarifying. I”m posting here with his permission. 

“A note on miasma and marriage. Within the discussion of miasma people are expressing puzzlement at why being involved / witnessing a marriage causes miasma. This is really an issue with our current culture. Our view on death are extremely limited. A marriage was synonymous with a funeral, likewise was initiatory mystery tradition. Marriage, funeral and initiation were all linked. It was an act of killing off one identity and creating a new one, especially for the bride. These traditions still continue today, it’s just we forget their meaning. But they usually include name changing (in fact if we examine every traditional aspect of the modern marriage ceremony it has direct parallels with The Eleusinian Mysteries.) The Eleusinian Mysteries was itself a ‘re-enactment’ of the marriage of Kore to Haides – the death of Kore and rebirth of her as Persephone.  That is why marriage causes miasma. We are witnessing the death of the maiden to become a woman.”

Thank you, Markos!

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Posted on August 10, 2016, in Bacchic Things, hellenic things, Polytheism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Great points…and, interestingly, relevant to some of the stuff going on at present, too, in ways few will realize. 😉

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    • That makes two of us who find the timing of this post ‘Wyrd’. Thank you for sharing. This speaks directly to things I’m experiencing as well.

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  2. I find myself wondering in what measure this applies to same-sex marriages… Which don’t feature a maiden becoming a women, or alternatively feature two of them. The taking of the husband’s name is also not straightforward. Then again here in Belgium it’s been common practice for a long time that the wife retains her own family name.

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  3. So, while this helps me have a clearer understanding of the Eleusinian Mysteries, it doesn’t help me understand how this contributes to miasma, which seems to imply a distraction from spiritual attunement, as witnessing these mysteries sound like they are all about attuning one spiritually. I’d like to better understand; thanks.

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  4. Questions thus far,
    J. Martinios Agathokles:
    Name changing is an example only. In general however marriage is a recognition of a union in terms of social, civic and religion- (though the latter is subject to the folk involved.)
    The process, regardless of sex, is a transition of identity. On top of this, we actually have evidence of same sex marriage-like situations from the Dorians!

    My viewpoint of miasmia, though not limited to, is transition in life. What we would regard as rot, or bios. When we move from one state to another we generate miasma.

    Erin Lund Johnson:
    This is a really beautiful question and one that requires thought on the process of what we do to express our devotion. When we die we enter a state of miasma and express that to those exposed and affected by our death. But by the love of those around us, and the proper respect we expect, we elevate in death and become something else. This expression is therefore dirty, but the end result is pure. I suppose how it becomes pure is a result of the participants involved (or at least an aspect of it), anyway each participant take on and deal with miasma in and on their own terms.
    Regarding the mysteries, people engaged in these mysteries are exposed to the miasma of the ceremony, but given they too are undergoing a transition they are expressing it as well. They, like Kore, die and are reborn. A person, uninitiated, would be exposed to serious miasma if they saw this process, which why its a secret.
    I hope that helps.

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    • That’s a really interesting point, and one I’d not thought about previously, Markos (all the worse because I am a mystagogos!), i.e. that there is miasma involved in initiations, and thus non-initiates have to be protected from it. If it is kept secret from them, then they’re protected; but if they know it, and don’t also know the particulars of how to purify from that miasma and integrate that knowledge (which usually comes from the tradition itself), then it is dangerous. Hmm. The implications of that are quite fascinating, to say the least. And, I feel very dumb for not having realized that specific dimension of mystery cult’s protective secrecy before! 😉

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      • ganglerisgrove

        PSVL i didn’t realize it either. and I should have given the traditions in which i work.

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      • Well yes. And even if non-initiate is unaware but witnesses it there should be counter balanced. This is observed in the theatre when a tragic play would perform, afterwards, as an intermission, a comedic play would follow. This would “balance” out any miasma state, aka comedy was used as a catharsis of the previous play and allow the audience to have a “fresh” mind for the next.
        The mysteries are more extreme, but theatre is a instance of public exposure of mystery. Even in the lesser degree.
        This subject is very fascinating when we move away from greater Greece and see how outsiders viewed these topics, i.e. in some instances, comedy had an equal role as tragedy when dealing with death.

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    • ganglerisgrove

      Markos, thank you so much for jumping in here to answer! this is such an important conversation.

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