A small note
For those of you
whose voices shattered in the making,
who failed to enchant
the world’s stage,
who struggled away
in church choirs …
I remember you.
It is a small thing, but I remember you.
You served that Muse
that exquisitely demanding daimon.
Though it drank your marrow
warm and new and young
you served it still –
securing its awesome edifice
for another generation.
It is worthy work,
a worthy sacrifice,
and I remember you,
The God of Sacred Monsters
A face used to masks
I see You twice over:
lounging and languid,
all smooth alabaster
and smoldering hunger,
ash and lust.
I can never look for long,
though desperately I want to,
I am too aware
of those perfect lips
and that sly smile
perhaps a little cruel—
pain is necessary after all
for such perfection—
and all it promises.
I see You, Enorches,
a wicked knot of movement
dancing a harlequinade
whispering in dulcet tones
“Everything I am
take to yourself
and my mouth,
full of honeycomb,
will pour nectar for you”*
Divine and noble
You have feasted upon Your own heart.
No one sees the strings,
unforgiving as ivy,
when You take them.
Like a paper thin stiletto between the ribs,
You slide in,
pouring Your sweet voice
through that flesh.
stained with blood.
(line adapted from “La Calisto” by N. Cavalli. Image by Δ from the cover of “Toys of Dionysos” by H. Jeremiah Lewis)
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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’m so excited this site is actually available! It contains the lore of the Starry Bull tradition all compiled in one place. So much goodness here. 🙂
I live with a Dionysian and over the years of our relationship, I’ve happily participated in rituals to Dionysos (I venerated Him before Sannion and I met), and likewise in honoring members of the Bacchic retinue.(1) Today is the feast day of one of that retinue: Jim Morrison.
It’s odd for me to be pouring out offerings to a rock singer. I never listened to rock or pop music until I was in my thirties. No, I shit y’all not. I was a ballet dancer through my twenties (professionally) and my tastes tended solely toward classical with a bit of Nordic revival like Garmarna and Hednigarna thrown in for good measure. Occasionally a friend would introduce me to a new singer (I had a housemate who loved Loreena McKennit and Tori Amos, for instance) but on my own I stuck with what I knew and that was classical.
Then my adopted mom started broadening my musical horizons. She was classically trained at the Basel Conservatory of Music, but she had different favorite composers than I. She also listened to Meatloaf, Eminem, and other modern musicians to name but a few. It was rather surreal to look through her cd collection and see it go from Mozart to Dufay to Palestrina to Swiss folk music to Eminem (she always said he had a sense of rhythm that classical musicians could envy). Then my friend Mary Ann and I went on a couple of road trips and she picked the music we listened to and I found new styles and performers to like (the Dukhs, Johnnie Cash, Devil Doll, et al); and then I married a Dionysian with an incredibly varied musical taste and he began sharing his favorites with me, musicians like Sorne, Michael Gira, and Jim Morrison.
Many modern Dionysians venerate Morrison as one of the Dionysian retinue and the singer in his own life talked about Dionysos quite a lot. Likewise, he very much embodies not just the raw creativity and sexuality of one blessed by Dionysos but the trope that ‘it’s better to burn up than fade away,’ rather like a Dionysian Achilles. I’ve seen how very present he can be both in divinatory work and in rituals. When the retinue of Dionysos is honored, he is often very present.
Today is the anniversary of this death so we’re making offerings in my house to Dionysos’ favored son. People who tear holes in the world for our Gods are important. (2) It is right they be honored. That is all. Hail the Lizard King.
1. 1. Just as he occasionally joins me in honoring the Norse Gods, or in ancestor rites.
2. 2. In many ways they matter not as individuals, not for their personal characteristics or humanity but for the legacy they leave, the doors they open, especially for the doors they open through which the Gods can work, through which They can contaminate us all. They are there for the gods to use them up and we are made better as a species for it. Like shamans, our artists and holy people are curatives to the poison of our world. They’re carriers of something so much bigger than they themselves.
Tomorrow is the anniversary of my ordination, something that in many traditions is a day to be celebrated and marked. I don’t generally do so with mine, save by making special offerings to my Gods, but it’s got me thinking: not about the ordination but about the process that, for me, preceded it: initiation. That’s one of those things that a lot of us talk about, but no one ever seems to really explain. Part of that is because it can’t be explained really—oh, I could give you a run down of every single part of the ritual, but doing so would just be discussing the scaffolding; it would do nothing to explain the transformation that initiation can and should bring.
First, I want to note as strongly as possible that A) initiation does not necessarily lead to ordination. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with that. I’ve undergone many initiations at the hands of my Gods and Their people and that the very first one was a predecessor to ordination was simply a reflection of the way that tradition was structured. It is not necessarily the norm; and B). initiation isn’t a matter of one and done. One can undergo more than one type of initiation. It all depends on the tradition, the Gods, and the individual.
This is not a new concept. Polytheisms have always had their mystery cultus and have always, as far as I can tell, had rites of initiation. Sometimes these were ceremonies marking life transitions, such as moving from childhood to adulthood. That is not the type of initiatory ritual that I am talking about here. No, when I talk about initiation, I’m not talking about anything that binds or marks one’s place in the continuum of generational human experiences. I’m talking about those things that bring us, sometimes kicking and screaming, sometimes awe struck and weeping into communion with our Gods, those rites that change forever our world both inner and out. There is no going back from an initiation of this sort. It is a type of death, rebirth, and transformation and the person who exits the ritual space at the end of such a rite is not at all the same person who entered it.
Pretty words and I’m sure that some of you reading this think that I’m speaking metaphorically. I’m not. Initiation can fuck you up. A true initiation is not a pretty ritual after which you can go on your way feeling good about yourself. This is a terrifying rite that can strip you bear, open you up, and throw you face down before your Gods. It can open up fractures in your emotional matrix and your psyche, dredging up scars and issues and pain that you may have thought long ago put to rest. It can create internal chaos because it is the Gods effecting a change spiritually, energetically, emotionally, psychologically. It can bring taboos and obligations. It can damage you physically – not because of anything those shepherding the initiate through whatever the rite may entail do, but because of the internal process itself, and the energies in play.
Of course it may also fill you with ecstasy and joy, transform you in such a way that you are in closer, ongoing communion with your Gods, transform your afterlife, mark you as being one of the cultus of a particular God energetically and many other things and usually it is a glorious and joyful transformative experience. Sometimes though, it’s not and there’s no way to tell. I sometimes think the Gods must consider the initiate much as a master jeweler considers a rough stone. How to polish, how to facet? How much pressure to apply and at what angle? It’s such a delicate procedure and only the Gods have a hope of making such a thing work. This is why it’s so very important that They be at the beginning, center, and end of it all. An initiation isn’t something to seek out for one’s own purposes. It should be at the behest of one’s Gods. Divination should be done – thorough and extensive—to make certain that it is the right time (the Gods fix the time), and that the initiate is ready. Divination –thorough and extensive—should be done to figure out what offerings need to be made, what the rite should consist of (even in traditions where there is a strict process, this should still be done. There is always the possibility of the Gods wanting something special), how it should unfold, if there are any taboos or obligations to be kept before, during, or after, and so many more things. Most of all: is this initiate ready for this initiation into this tradition done by these elders? This is all the more important as we are restoring our traditions. Unlike religions like Lukumi or Ifa, our initiatory rites have largely been lost. We don’t have the inter-generational structure. We are restoring it now slowly but surely but so much of that is a matter of finding one’s way, inching nervously forward, and it must be admitted, making terrible mistakes. Initiation is not a place where mistakes can afford to be made. It is dangerous enough all on its own.
This is why it’s so crucial to have competent and trusted elders, and a community that can support and guide the initiate not only before, not only through but after the initiation and by after I mean for weeks, months, and possibly years.
I’m going to tell you a story of an initiation gone bad. I’m going to gloss over many parts of this story because parts of it are not mine to tell. Yes, I have changed personal details. I saw a young man undergo an initiation. I was witness to it. The initiation was done perfectly. The elder in question did everything right. The initiate in question was well-prepared and very devout. The witnesses, including myself were experienced, well-prepared, and devout. All the divination, from several diviners, gave clear and strong go ahead. When the ceremony, lasting several days, was done, there was joy, the overwhelming joy of such a process. There were blessings. Everything looked perfect. I brought my concerns to the elder and was told that perhaps I was over-reacting. That surely I was misreading. I celebrated with the rest and then over the next year watched this young man ,a good friend of mine, destroy his life.
Remember I said sometimes initiation brings up past wounds so that the initiate can address them and move forward into healing, stronger and healthier? Well that was what was happening. He began to spiral down into a very bad psychological place: hoarding, self-harm, cutting off ties to all friends, ceased working on getting clear of a damaging family relationship, became extremely paranoid, lashed out at everyone in the religion, began to encourage others to back away from devotion and throw themselves into mundane life, began to have outbursts of rage, and worse. I believe my friend gave himself over to the Filter rather than continue his spiritual work—work that would have required facing so much pain. He has been lost to us, though still he lives and more than that I cannot say. It is a painful subject…and this is an initiation where everything was done right.
I myself underwent an initiation that was necessary, but done in such a way that I was left partially crippled by pain for months. It was only when the scars to my energetic body, and the blockages were cleared by an elder that I began to heal. I do not mean that my spiritual life was impinged, I mean I would wake up screaming in pain so severe that my husband on more than one occasion nearly took me to the ER. I was lucky. I was able to heal from this damage and the issues that caused it were not mine, but rather a matter, as I found out later, of the one doing the initiation lacking the requisite qualifications. The transfer of energy—in part what an initiation is—could not happen cleanly. The initiation was legitimate, but damn near killed me.
I want to emphasize for those of you who may be wondering that in the above examples neither ritual involved any measure of what we term ordeal work. Both were done within the structure of the respective traditions. In the first case, well, sometimes initiation is a crap shoot and sometimes there is a terrible attrition rate. In the second, a corner was cut that shouldn’t have been and the price was pure agony and ongoing damage. I want to note again: no one laid a hand on me (save to touch my head in blessing). There was no ordeal. There was simply the initiation ritual and the transfer of power. These are horror stories and they’re not the norm. Most initiations leave the initiate feeling liberated and transformed and filled with wonder and joy and a new sense of connection to their Gods. But…even the best of them can go wrong and there’s often no way to tell until well after the ritual how the initiate is going to cope with the changes spiritually wrought. It’s not a game. They’re not words or pretty rites. This can fuck a person up in this life, and it can change the nature of the initiate’s afterlife too. An initiate becomes a carrier of a tradition. (One initiates generally not just to a Deity but within a particular tradition, after all). The changes wrought are often those which allow the initiate to become a container of the Mysteries of their God. It’s a powerful process.
No one, by the way, is owed initiation. That’s also something that I want to put out on the table. These things have real world consequences. I, for instance, am forbidden to initiate into the Mysteries of Dionysos. I love Him dearly. I’ve worked for years helping to build His cultus. I have nearly a decade of ongoing venerative practice to Him and I maintain a household shrine to Him. Hell, I even married a Dionysian! Still, extensive divination showed that I cannot receive His mysteries via initiation. I can honor Him – He is delighted for me to do so. He has helped me and I have had powerful devotional experiences with Him. This is one of the Gods that I deeply love but I will never become a bearer of His mysteries. I cannot, no matter how much I may want to do so. Why? Because undergoing Dionysian initiation can both change where you will go in the afterlife (part of the deal Dionysos made with Hades to liberate His people from the Hades’ control when they’re dead) and change one so that one is wired specifically for Dionysian energies. I belong to Odin. Where I go when I’m dead, the energies I’m wired to carry and receive when alive are His. It is specifically because I am Odin’s and patterned for this God that I cannot receive the mysteries of Dionysos. It doesn’t matter that sometimes I feel left out when Dionysos’ folk gather. It doesn’t matter that I may love Him dearly. It wouldn’t matter if I wanted initiation. I can’t have it and trying to force the act not only would be a deeply impious act, but also a damned stupid and dangerous one. There are consequences for the things we do and the Gods we carry.
This is one of the reasons why it is so important to have and to respect our competent elders. They carry the weight of their Gods’ tradition on their backs. They are guardians of that tradition just as we become when we take up certain burdens. They are the ones who help navigate these waters. It’s also why it’s so absolutely crucial to have supportive and cohesive community. The community is the container for all of this. When a community gathers to welcome a new initiate back into human/mundane space after that person has been transformed via initiation that is a tremendously holy and sacred act. That is what roots both the initiate and the energies of the rite and the tradition in the here and now. The community is the rootbase of the great tree of whatever tradition they are carrying. They are necessary and it’s the interplay of elders, community, Gods, initiate that gives everyone the best chance for initiations to occur safely and well. We need our initiations. We need all the various levels of interaction with our Gods, all the various rungs on the sacred ladder of our traditions and cultus.
I understand the enthusiasm of wanting to honor the Gods this way and go deeper into devotion but it’s important to follow the necessary protocol. There is a right way to do these things and a right time.
In the fall, several people contacted me about doing another round of online classes. At the time, I couldn’t do it. My academic teaching load was just too heavy (very writing intensive, and hence, grading intensive) for me to add anything more to my schedule but now that school is out for the summer, I’ve decided to offer a couple of classes.
These classes will be interactive: we will meet one day a week for an hour and a half via interactive video-conference for six weeks. There will also be an email list where we can communicate and discuss the material throughout the week.
Upcoming classes are as follows:
Class: Homer’s Iliad
Date and Time: Class begins Friday June 17 from 7pm-8:30pm and meets each Friday for six weeks (June 17, 24, July 1, 8, 15, 22)
Class: Euripides’ Bacchae
Date and Time: Class begins Thursday June 16 from 7pm -8:30pm and meets each Thursday for six weeks (June 16, 23, 30, July 7, 14, 21).
There are seven spots still available in the “Iliad” class and six spots in “Bacchae.”
Future classes will include Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days, Vergil’s Aeneid, Homer’s Odyssey and Ovid’s Metamorphoses with a little Catullus thrown in for good measure.
Each course will offer an intensive introduction to the mythic tales – our sacred stories in many respects – of ancient Greece and Rome as presented in epic poetry and, in the case of Euripides, tragedy. We’ll focus on ideas of heroism and fate, how the cosmology is reflected in each of these works, and what these works show us about the cultures in which they were written. We’ll talk about hero cultus, ancestor cultus in the ancient world, syncretism, miasma, and the development of ritual and how we can engage with these stories to deepen our understanding and engagement with the Gods in our practice today. We’ll focus on violent transformation: through war, through initiation, through the workings of Gods and Fate and explore what these stories can teach us about our traditions and our faith today.
These were essential, foundational stories for ancient Greek and Roman polytheists (and for many of our own ancestors up until about 1950! Every school child would have learned them). They defined their community’s identity and understanding of the world. They helped our ancestors better comprehend how the Gods could act in our world. These stories were their own language, a lens that shaped everything and through which people learned to face the dangers, fears, and exigencies of their own life and fate.
I’ve taught for six years as a teaching assistant and then senior teaching fellow in the Classics department at Fordham U. I’ve spent the last year exploring these works with my academic classes and I’m delighted to be able to offer them to our communities too.
If you’re interested in taking either of these classes that I’m offering now, please contact me at Krasskova at gmail.com.
Written by request, my take on the story of Dionysos, Acoetes, and the pirates. This is probably my favorite story (after the “Bacchae”) in which Dionysos takes part.
The old priest shifted, drawing the cloak closer around himself and his aching joints. He looked at the young petitioner who’d come to hear of the Mysteries of a God, sure that there was nothing to be demanded of him that he wouldn’t readily give, sure that he could buy his way into and out of any obligations this God might demand. An oracle had sent him so here he was. Without understanding. The old man shook his head. “I will tell you of the last man to appear at my door and what he taught me of the gods” he coughed and spat. “and maybe you won’t be so quick to think you can bargain your way out of devotion with pretty trinkets.” He pointed his chin at the gold cup and bracelet the youth, obviously wealthy, had placed on the Mad One’s shrine. “A man just a little older than you turned up here one night, a night grown silent with his passage. Not even the frogs were croaking their come ons to each other when that ragged, mad thing sought my threshold.” His eyes, sharp as razors despite his age pinned the petitioner like a dagger.
This is what the man told me, when he collapsed, raving, shaking mad before the shrine: “I have been blessed by a God.” It was days though before he was able to tell the tale, days of seeing the terror and bliss crowd sanity out of him, days of hearing him screaming each time he tried to sleep. Days of seeing his body convulsing to rhythms and sounds only he could hear.
“We were on the beach.” He finally began, one night as we were seated around the fire, bones like sentinels reaching up from beneath the skin of his cheeks as he spoke, gleaming like sentries at his wrists as his shaking hands grasped the bowl of food I offered. “me and the men….he came and he was beautiful, parting the space around him as he walked with the sinewy tread of a panther. The air itself seemed to hunger for him, and I ached when I saw the way he moved but then I couldn’t breathe and I told them… he is not human. I looked at him you see, and I saw his eyes. They were not a man’s eyes, not a man’s.” he sat the bowl down; his own hands were shaking too badly to hold it. He doubled over holding himself. ‘once, when I was small I looked into the eyes of a great cat. I’d followed my father when he and his brother went hunting. I saw a tiger leap for the kill, saw its eyes before my father’s spear found its mark, saw its eyes and it saw me and I knew I was the real prey and I couldn’t move, couldn’t run, couldn’t even pray.” He shook his head back and forth, matted locks hiding the hollowness of his cheeks and his words were a sob. “He was like that. His eyes…were the eyes of a predator. There was nothing human there.” He laughed, high pitched and ragged. “there had never been anything human there but the others did not see. They mocked me and pushed me aside. I warned them to let this one go but our take had been meager this trip and they said he’d make a fine slave. They said he was pretty enough to fetch a goodly price and he looked at them and smiled and my bowels nearly released because it was not the smile of a man.” He was rocking back and forth at a more frenzied pace now.
“They invited him to join us and I was silent, wanting only to not be seen or to be seen and taken by him in all the ways a man can be taken. For him I would happily have played the woman” he coughed and it turned into a keening laugh. “when they thought he least expected it they pummeled him and bound him and we were on our ship and he kept watching me, a half smile at his lips. And I could almost taste those lips but why would a man destined to be sold as a slave smile?” he laughed again but there was no humor in it.” I begged my comrades to let him go and when I insisted they beat me and would have locked me in the hold but the world stopped.” He looked up at me and his eyes were tortured but there was more than a hint of ecstasy there too. “the world stopped and He stood up and there was a horrible sound. The captain was yelling, the men were yelling. The ship wouldn’t move and the stranger….he just smiled and walked forward and he wasn’t bound anymore and he wasn’t human. He had never been human. I told them he wasn’t why didn’t they listen?” he rocked and began to sob but just for a moment. Then his face became calm, and I shuddered. Now it was this stranger who was marked with the inhuman. He threw his head back and his voice changed and I could see him taken up by the God’s ecstasy…just a little, just a little but enough.
“The timbers of the ship shrieked and cracked and there were vines everywhere. The ship wouldn’t move, and there was ivy twining around the mast, looping over the bow, pushing back the men and the stranger kept smiling. He looked at me –those eyes—and winked and I forgot to breath at all and then he wasn’t shaped like a man anymore. There was a feral tiger on board, all rich sinew and hard muscle and there was screaming and blood and he lunged at the men, tearing their human flesh. I couldn’t move. I sat where I’d been thrown by the captain watching in horror – they should have let him go—the men died screaming and some of them threw themselves overboard to escape, only they didn’t. Escape that is. The stranger became a man shape once more and threw back his head and laughed and he gestured across the water and they turned into animals, dolphins. It hurt them as their flesh transformed. I keep hearing their bones breaking and cracking and their voices screaming until they couldn’t anymore and their eyes…they kept the eyes of men…as the Stranger gave them their lives –to live as the beasts they were in their hearts I realized later.
“Me, He spared.” He laughed again standing, head arched back, arms clawing at the sky. “because I’d sought to spare Him. He took me to Thebes, made me His…men do not know all the ways a man can serve another” he whispered, voice cracking, wild, insane eyes looking up me suddenly as he threw himself to his knees clasping mine. “He was inside of me so deep” he whispered, laughing and shaking and each laugh a ragged sob. “and I did things for Him” he bowed his head down low between my knees and what could I do but put a soothing hand on his ragged head.
He would not be soothed though. He will never be soothed again. I looked at the callow fool who stood before me now and nodded again with my chin to the statue of the God that adorned the shrine. It was colored in odd places with rusty brown streaks. “All the gold you could possibly bring won’t equal those marks of devotion.” I remembered that other young man tearing himself open as he danced before the shrine, pressing his bleeding arms against the statue in homage head thrown back in ecstasies at which I could only guess. I remembered what he looked like when he finally took his leave…having healed as much as he was going to, having learned the paltry pieties I was able to teach. I had seen Dionysos snatch him up again and again, a vessel. There would never be a ‘going home’ for that young man, never again. The mountains were his home now. I exhaled slowly, knowing myself privileged to have helped him, to have tended a body used by a God as his had been. I realized what was so off putting and wrong with the newcomer that stood before me now, with all his finery and eager hunger: he had never known fear. “stay the night” I told him. “you have much to learn.”
copyright 2016 Galina Krasskova.
My latest book is now available on amazon. This is a pocket devotional to Dionysos. Unlike the special, limited edition version that I was offering last month, this one has no illustrations, nor does it come signed and with prayer cards and other treats. 🙂 It does however contain the full text of the limited edition, all the prayers, poems, and essays. Check it out if you’re interested.
My special edition of “Sacramentum: A Devotional to Dionysos” has arrived. If you have a copy on order but have not yet paid, please contact me at krasskova at gmail.com to arrange payment. This edition will be signed and will include color plates of various images of Dionysos.
An edition of this book will be released in general distribution but it will lack all illustration. There are only a handful of the illustrated version available (I have to check, but I think i have six left) and I am selling them for $25 (this includes shipping and handling, a prayer card, and a little something extra). Each book will be signed and personalized.
My colleague Ellen graciously allowed me to post this. I love how it captures something of Dionysos’ presence.
If you guys are brave ;), write one for your Gods and post here in the comments.
(grace-full…i.e. full of grace, not graceful. Poet’s prerogative to play with language).