Category Archives: Bacchic Things
There is nothing better than mornings spent with the Gods, whether in devotion to Them or fruitful discussion of Them. Today was one such morning. My friend Markos posted this awesome quote by Walter Otto on his facebook this morning:
“No single Greek god even approaches Dionysus in the horror of his epithets, which near witness to a savagery that is absolutely without mercy… He is called the “render of men”, “the eater of raw flesh”, “who delights in the sword and bloodshed”. We hear not only of human sacrifice in his cult, but also of the ghastly ritual in which a man is torn to pieces. Where does this put us? Surely there can be no further doubt that this puts us into death’s sphere. The terrors of destruction, which make all if life tremble, belong also, as horrible desire, to the kingdom of Dionysus. The monster whose supernatural duality speaks to us from the mask has one side of his nature turned toward eternal night.”
~Walter F. Otto, Dionysus: Myth and Cult
We both love Dionysos dearly (and if I’m not mistaken, Markos actually belongs to Dionysos whereas while I love this God, I pay cultus from the fringes). This quote encapsulates some core elements of His nature. He is a terrible God, in the old sense of the word, as One Who brings terror.
Another friend Paul C. mentioned that He is also “nice,” and I have to agree: He can be immensely nice and gentle (and we agreed that sometimes that is more shattering than any cruelty He could bring to bear on the transformation of our souls). Paul said:
“I’ll say that when I first started with Dionysus I didn’t expect him to be nice.
It was the niceness of him that was almost hard for me to handle at first. Due to my background of abuse and other unfortunate things I have a lot of self-confidence and self-esteem issues. His acceptance and love was unexpected and clearly not coming from myself. It was hard because of the whole host of new ideas and perspectives that I had to confront As your husband (Sannion) explained it and I think he’s right that was the God’s own way of molding and helping me.
So niceness isn’t always painless like you think it would be. Sometimes it’s more painful than cruelty when it runs counterbalance to what is in one’s head.” — Paul C. (quoted with permission)
Still, as I pointed out, it’s never the “nice” that people try to elide from their Gods. It’s the Power. I was asked to explain and the conversation that followed was meaty enough that I wanted to share highlights of it here.
People will go to any lengths to make their Gods sweet, nice, and unthreatening, to insist that their Gods aren’t savage or vicious, violent or bold. We want our Gods civilized and ‘modern.’ We want Gods we can control, or at least Gods that don’t challenge us, that don’t drag us down into the morass of our own shit and force us to look at it, and deal with it. We as a culture want Gods Who won’t interfere with our lives and the priorities we set for ourselves. We want Gods of peace so that we never have to stand naked, afraid, trembling, and possibly bleeding and snot faced before Them. We want characters in a storybook. Just look at any of our communities.
Of course positioning a Deity as any one thing alone is always problematic. A God, any God is never just savage or nice. They *are*. They are in a fullness and complexity of Being that I don’t really think we as human beings quite have the capacity to comprehend at all. We may catch glimpses, but the totality is too immense for us to do more than gnaw upon. Think about the story of Dionysos’ Mother Semele. When She was tricked into forcing Zeus to reveal Himself in the fullness of His power it burned Her to ash. A human being, as we are now, simply does not have the capacity to behold the Gods in Their fullness. The masks They wear are necessary but every so often, oh every so often we get a glimpse of some of the roaring Power that lies beneath.
So yes, Dionysos is nice. I can also attest He’s been incredibly nice and gentle with me. but …that’s not the part the average person is going to erase in their minds, I think. We know He’s nice. That’s not the part most people want to forget.
I saw this over the years with Odin. Any mention of Odin’s darker sides — and oh, He is a terribly savage God. Anyone who thinks His veneer of civilization and culture is anything more than a carefully calculated mask is deluding themselves.—His penchant for ordeal, His violence, His savagery inevitably led to claims that I was making this God into a sadist. “That’s not my Odin.” (#notallOdins) No, buttercup, but it is Odin. Maybe it’s not what He’s showing you, but it is absolutely His nature. The best of us learn to revel in it. Those who can’t? Well, there’s always British TV, fanfiction, and pop culture.
There’s a movie that several people in the conversation brought up, one that has strong Dionysian overtones: “The Witch.” In this movie, the Devil in the shape of a black goat drives a rather neurotic Puritan family to ruin. Well, they drive themselves to ruin, and the goat just does what demonic goats do. (#goatlivesmatter). In the end, the goat transforms into a man and asks the surviving daughter: “Do you wish to live deliciously?”
We agreed that this is Dionysos.
This is the Liberator. I have my suspicions that many of the medieval images of Witches’ sabbats were cultural memories of Bacchanalian frenzies with all the potential savagery that might entail. (#livedeliciously).
We should be careful what we do to our Gods. One thing I’ve learned venerating the Norse Gods is this: if we insist on allowing Them only one avenue of manifestation, only one mask, They’ll take it but it won’t be the best outcome for us. We will get the Gods we deserve. When we deny Them the fullness of Their being, we start denying ourselves too and as that movie so beautifully showed, repression never leads anywhere good. (#lokiwivesoftumblr).
So maybe let us live deliciously.
Especially where our Gods are concerned.
I want to give folks an update on how the Mother’s Prayer Card project is going. (I could just title this: Grace Palmer is awesome. She’s been whipping these cards out and they’re gorgeous).
So far, we have cards completed for
Leto, Mother of Apollo and Artemis
Semele, Mother of Dionysos
Maia, Mother of Hermes (I think this one is my favorite 🙂 There’s just something about little. baby. Hermes).
Metis, Mother of Athena
Thetis, Mother of Achilles
The next card currently in progress is Leda, Mother of Helen and the Dioskouroi. If anyone would like to donate to this card, please contact me at krasskova at gmail.com (usual perks apply).
Once the cards are all finished, I’ll offer them A) as a complete set; B) as a complete set with a signed copy of the novena book; and C) individually.
Cards still to be done include Alcmene, Danae, Penelopeia, and Pasiphae.
There is a gate
at which the hero waits.
Quietly, sizing his chances,
flexing his thoughts,
until the dawn of movement
and the sun of a new day.
He tilts his hat at its coming,
tightens his grip
on an ever-present staff,
and then boldly steps forward.
There is a gate,
and from it the hero goes forth.
(by Agi Samothrax)
Messenger, storyteller, and dreamer
Protector of home, bringer of fortune
Clever and sarcastic god,
Guide us in dreams and over roads,
You, the giver of grace and of the lyre:
salve for sorrow and despair
Inspiring love, joy, and sleep
Son of Zeus and Maia,
grandson of Atlas who bears the world
Beautiful brother and loyal friend to Apollo,
far shooting lord of the silver bow
Lord of all birds of good omen, all flocks and all herds, and of the lion – wild and free
Sly thief with beguiling charm,
Be remembered, and remember us, too.
Accept this gift, my prayer in song.
A Song for Hermes
Clever and sarcastic
Guide over roads and through dreams
Athletic and fantastic
Protector of home, Lord of schemes
Wherever we roam
We call you
Save us from harm
Help us pass through
Keeper of flocks
Please count us
Among your own
Trickster and Deceiver,
With your wit, guide us through
You are heart delighting
and Giver of Joy
Bringer of luck and of grace
We glory in your embrace
Hear our song and join us
It is you, Busy One
It is you that we praise
with this song.
I’m running another give away on Goodreads. Head on over and friend me there, and put in for this free book. It’s free. Free is awesome. lol. (I don’t choose the winner. For those wondering, when the give away is over, goodreads chooses the winner by some technological miracle and notifies me, after which i send out the book). This time I’m offering my newest devotional ‘Honoring the Mothers.” You can also pick up a copy (not for free 😉 ) here.
Happy New Year, folks. I’ve finally flopped down on my sofa after doing my New Year’s Eve ritual — ancestors, Asynjur, then the Roman Deities that I typically honor on this night, so three rituals in all plus setting out offerings to all the vaettir– and I very much hope that 2017 brings health, joy, and wealth to us all. Let it be a year of happiness and success. I pray that the good, immortal Gods block misfortune and malintent from entering our homes and our lives this year. May They bless us with all good things throughout the year, even in the midst of our challenges.
I want to start this year with something creative, fun, and that emphasizes the love and devotion we have for our Gods. As I was making offerings tonight to Pietas and Pudicitia, I kept thinking that if i could pick a keyword to govern my 2017, I’d choose devotion a thousand times over.
Anyway, each month I want to run a mini-Agon. I’ll choose a God or Goddess and offer a ‘prize,’ inviting you, my readers to submit prayers, poems, or art. On the last day of the month, I’ll choose a winner via divination. Everyone who submits may have a prayer card (just let me know which one you want when you submit), and the winner will get a card plus a small gift. I’ll alternate between Greco-Roman Deities and Norse-Germanic Deities since that’s the nexus at which I work.
January’s Deity of choice for me is Hermes. 🙂 He’s awesome and I think it fitting to start the year with a Hermes agon. So those of you who are interested, submit your art (photos of), prayers/poems to krasskova at gmail.com. Make sure to put “Hermes Agon January 2017” in the subject header and to let me know what card you want. The winner will get a card and a signed copy of my Hermes novena book, plus a small surprise gift.
I was sharing this story with a friend tonight who suggested I share it with my readers so here goes.
The winter before last I was doing a lot of work with Hermes. I tend to honor Him regularly (Hermes is awesome) but for some reason throughout that winter He was getting a lot of offerings, more than usual. It may have been around the time that I had expanded His shrine, I don’t recall. What I do remember is that I had promised Him an offering of steak.
The day that I was supposed to give Him the steak came and so did a nasty snowstorm. I am a careful driver in the best of times but I really didn’t feel comfortable going out in those weather conditions. Being from the south, I’m a bit skittish about driving in snow and ice. I went to the shrine, lit candles, offered a prayer and explained the situation to Hermes promising that I would go as soon as I could the next day after the roads were properly ploughed. About five minutes later my doorbell rang.
Wondering who the hell out would be out in a bad snowstorm, I answered it to find a young man selling…steaks.
This guy had a truck full of steak that he was selling door to door and before heading home he hoped to make one more sale. I got the point – Hermes wanted His steak— bought a couple of boxes, thanked the man profusely and made the offering I had promised the God.
Sometimes you go to the offering, sometimes apparently it comes to you.
The Hermes devotional is available here. It will be up on amazon in a few days. Like Eir and Asklepios, this is another pocket size devotional, a novena book for the God of travelers.
I have six on their way to me that I will sell for $10 plus $2 shipping and handling. These will be signed, personalized, and sold with a prayer card. If anyone would like to reserve a copy, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This one has been a labor of love, folks. I started it last year but it just would not come together until I decided to turn it into a novena book. I”m really liking this format too. Anyway, read on!
EDIT: the signed copies are sold out, but the book itself is available on amazon and createspace now.
I have two things of note to share and one upcoming project.
Firstly, the Eir novena booklet is done and has been passed on for formatting and design. It should be available in perhaps two weeks. I’ll keep you posted.
Secondly, the Hermes devotional that I have long been working on is also finished. It has, however, gone through a number of changes. Instead of a 31 day devotional, I have turned it also into a novena book (I’m really quite taken with this format). Because of that, I was not able to use the bulk of the prayers that people contributed. My apologies and please know you will each get a copy of the finished devotional. My decision had absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the prayers contributed — all of which were wonderful– and everything to do with my decision to do a novena book instead of a book of hours. I want to thank everyone who contributed and with permission, I’ll hold onto those prayers for a future project, perhaps a collection of prayers for the Gods. (Of course, feel free to post and use elsewhere in the meantime).
Finally, I’m going to be working on a novena booklet to Freya. Stay tuned. That is all for now.
Here is a sneak peak at the Semele prayer card image. This is not the best image — i need to get a better photo in better light which I”ll do this weekend– but you can see what the card will look like.
Today my husband held a rite to honor Athena, specifically as Protector of the dead. I didn’t know about this aspect of Her cultus until we were prepping for this rite, but I think the ritual was quite powerful. I had never honored Athena before this, being Heathen, but I am immensely moved by this soldier’s Goddess.
We had a full house: nine people attending. It was difficult to get good photos of the altar that we set up and then later of Her shrine, mostly because we didn’t think about it at the time, and the angles and space required for a good, full-on shot were problematic. Still, I thought some of you might like to see what we did. Several people sent in prayers or requests prior to the rite and I made those prayers/requests as promised before the ritual ended.
Here is the altar with all the offerings laid out before it. Some are really obscured in this photo. For instance, in the lower left wrapped in a grey cloth are two loaves of home made bread. the cloth is just visible here. The papers in the lower right are prayers that others who could not attend asked me to say. There had been more offerings, including two bottles of olive oil on the altar itself, but we poured them into the bowls and the empty bottles are outside of the shot. There is a spear, which now graces Her shrine laid in front of the woven mat, and more offering bowls that I just couldn’t get into the shot.
Here is Athena’s shrine after I put Her images back after deconstructing the ritual altar, several hours after the ritual.
You can see the little yarn dolls to represent the dead that were made as part of the ritual. Again, a ton of food offerings are on the ground in front of the flowers but i couldn’t get a decent shot because I couldn’t back up far enough.
Here is a playlist Sannion made to get one in the proper headspace for honoring Athena. I’m fascinated by play lists. I don’t relate Gods to music that way (I wish I did!) so this is like some strange, fascinating, and shiny thing for me. I don’t quite get it for myself, but I know it’ll be useful to others and think it very cool, so I’m sharing that here too.
I also did a new prayer card for Athena in honor of this ritual. I want Her to have nice things, as I want all our Gods to have nice things, images, and devotion.