|Roman Greek Festival
-Double-handled storage or transport jar of clay or
bronze, especially for oil or wine.
great Olympian Goddess of Beauty, Joy, Love,
fertility, beauty and
Sex. Her wrath fell primarily upon those who failed
to show her due reverence and upon those who scorned
love. When Zeus killed his father,
Uranus, he cut off his father's genitals and cast
them into the sea. The sea foamed and boiled and
Aphrodite arose from the waters. As Aphrodite
stepped from the ocean, flowers grew wherever her
feet touched. Paphos, the place where Aphrodite
supposedly rose from the waters, was her most
important place of worship, and at Corinth she was
worshiped with sacred whores. Aphrodite is clearly
related to Ishtar and Astarte and very much loves
the company of the male gods. While married to
Hephaestus, she also dallied with Ares, Poseidon,
Adonis, and Dionysus.
of light, god of prophecy and music, god of
medicine, god of flocks and herds, the divine
archer, a pastoral god. Wise, beauteous,
all-knowing, ever just, ever young. Apollo urges
forgiveness to all offenses, even the blackest of
crimes, so long as the offender was truly penitent.
After Zeus and Athene, the greatest of the Gods.
Apollo's most important place of worship was the
famous temple at Delphi, where oracles prophesied in
his name. The Sybil at Cumae in southern Italy also
foretold the future in his honor. Paintings and
statuary show him with his bow and lyre, which were
a gift from the infant Hermes. Apollo loved young
men and young women alike, though his affairs
usually ended unhappily. Artemis is his twin sister,
and Horus is his counterpart in the Egyptian
Fertility goddess, patron of maidens, goddess of
childbirth. Identified with the moon, as her brother
Apollo is identified with the sun. The Virgin
Huntress, Mistress of Beasts, Lady of All Wild
Things, A Lion unto Women. Usually benevolent, but
stern and demanding, dangerous to cross. Artemis
lived in Arcadia with a band of nymphs subject to
her strict discipline; those who dallied with men,
as did Callisto, might be shot down with an arrow or
otherwise punished. No man or god ever gained the
love of Artemis. Artemis is virtually unbeatable in
combat. The only one of the immortals who ever
bested her was Hera, who defeated Artemis on the
battlefield at Troy, whipped her with her own bow,
and sent her fleeing in tears.
The ancient Greek aulos, often mistranslated as
"flute", was a
reed instrument. Archeological finds indicate that
it could be either single-reeded, like a clarinet,
but more usually double-reeded, like an oboe. Unlike
the lyre, which could be mastered by any aristocrat
with sufficient leisure to practice it, the aulos
was an instrument chiefly associated with
professional musicians, often slaves.
The aulos, the double
flute, was the trance instrument par excellence
among the Greeks. Entranced persons could be said to
were a fixture of Greek drinking parties, and male
and female aulos players often doubled as
The aulos accompanied a wide range of Greek
activities: it was present at sacrifices, dramas and
even wrestling matches, for the broad jump, the
discus throw, sailor's dances on triremes. Plato
associates it with the ecstatic cults of Dionysus
and the Korybantes. In his writings, Plato banned
the aulos from his Republic but reintroduced it in
Originally king, it became the title of the chief
arkhon with jurisdiction over state religious
observances. The plural is basileis.
Dionysus wears the "bassaris" or fox-skin,
symbolizing new life
bull From earliest times the bull was lunar in
Mesopotamia, its horns
representing the crescent moon. For the Greeks, the
bull was strongly linked to the Bull of Crete:
Theseus of Athens had to capture the ancient sacred
bull of Marathon (the "Marathonian bull") before he
faced the Bull-man, the Minotaur. Of all of the
animals that man has domesticated, few of them
strength, power, and virility of the
bull. Dionysos was frequently called the Horned God, and
specifically the Bull-horned God. Dionysus is invoked by his
devotees as both raging bull and a
panther, each creatures of
ferocious strength and aggressiveness. In the Bacchae of
Euripides, Pentheus comes to gloat over his captive, only to
find the beautiful stranger vanished, and in his place a
raging bull. He was also invoked as a 'thousand-headed
serpent' in the Bacchae, and was often shown with
sacred bull survives in the
Constantine 272 - 337 AD
Constantine marked out the perimeter of his new city, Constantinopleon
November 8, 324 AD not long after he had taken
control of the east, including Egypt, from his
rival. By 324 AD, Constantine ruled the whole
empire. One important step in this rise had been his
invasion of Italy from Gaul in 312 AD. In 325 AD,
Constantine the Great convened the first church
council. Here the Nicene Creed was formulated
and the Arian heresy condemned. He converted to
Christianity and established Constantinople as the
new capital of the empire. Constantine made his
councilor entrance into the Church of Hagia
Sophia, thereby establishing the tradition of
sartorial magnificence that was to earn the
Byzantine emperors such an undeserved reputation for
effeminacy in later centuries.
An intermediatory between man and a God often in the
form of a spirit. Sokrates believed a daimon acted
as a guardian and counselor during his career.
Daimones (pl.) can be either or neither benevolent
Dionysian cult used not just wine but an
hallucinogenic brew and that the maenads were
reputed to have red eyes with dilated pupils from
the ingestion of tropanes from mandrake and related
plants. Other psychotropics have also been suggested
Dionysian ecstasy is a mass phenomenon and spreads
almost infectiously. This is expressed mythically by
the fact that the god is always surrounded by his
swarm of followers. This can also be called madness.
("having the god in us", compare enthusiasm: en="in",
thou="god", compare "theo" in theology)
("standing outside of ourselves" wherein we "lose ourselves"
in the group experience:
ekstasis combined together express the "loss of self"
when the god "enters us"-- the notion that the individual,
in Dionysiac cult and thinking, is lost to his/her
enthusiasm for the GROUP experience
Everyone who surrenders to this god must risk abandoning his
everyday identity and becoming mad: both god and follower
can be called Bacchus. Dionysus when he is "in us"
causes us to "stand outside ourselves" with the group and
enjoy the irrational side of our nature.
"The name Bacchus
for Dionysos is inseparable in Greek from a verb
meaning "to act like a Bacchant"--that is, to become
agitated, to cry out, to fall into a trance, to act
crazily. the ancient trance and excitement.
Translators have had trouble finding the worlds to
describe that frenetic madness without falling into
the vocabulary of pathology." Ginnette Paris Pagan
of Dionysos reenacted this gruesome scene by
whipping themselves into a frenzy and tearing a live
bull to pieces with their hands and teeth. These
grisly rites, accompanied by loud music and the
crashing of cymbals, were intended to propel the
revelers into a state of ecstasy, a word literally
meaning 'outside the body' to the Greeks. Through
this ecstasy, the cultists hoped to transcend their
earthly bonds and allow the soul a temporary
liberation from the body. Only in this way could the
soul achieve a condition of enthousiasmos, meaning
'inside the god,' which the worshipers believed was
a taste of what they might one day enjoy in
- The Search for the Soul
torches as they dipped and swayed in the darkness,
they climbed mountain paths with head thrown back
and eyes glazed, dancing to the beat of the drum
which stirred their blood…. In the state of ekstasis
or enqousiasmos, they abandoned themselves, dancing
wildly…. and calling 'Euoi!' At that moment of
intense rapture they became identified with the god
himself…. They became filled with his spirit and
acquired divine powers".
Peter Hoyle, Delphi (London: 1967), p. 76.
were annual initiation ceremonies based at Eleusis
near Athens in ancient Greece. Of all the mysteries
celebrated in ancient times these were held to be
the ones of greatest importance. The Mysteries were
based on the archetypal myth of death and rebirth
where Demeter's daughter, Persephone, is kidnapped
by Hades, the god of death and the underworld.
Demeter was the goddess of life, agriculture and
fertility. Demeter neglected her duties while
searching for her daughter; causing a severe drought
where the people starved. Finally Demeter was
reunited with her daughter and the earth came back
to life— the first spring. Persephone was
unfortunately unable to stay permanently in the land
of the living, because she had eaten six seeds of a
pomegranate that Hades had given her. A compromise
was worked out and Persephone stayed with Hades for
one third of the year.
After as long as 2000
years The Roman emperor Theodosius I closed the
sanctuaries by decree in CE 392 in an effort to
destroy pagan resistance to the imposition of
Christianity as a state religion
Sacred banquet. The eranos was also provided
by associations devoted to sacred meals. The plural
the ancient Greek goddess of discord, daughter of
Zeus and Hera and frequent companion of her brother
(some say twin) Ares. The Romans associated her with
their goddess Discordia… The most famous tale of
Eris ("strife") recounts her initiating the Trojan
War. The goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite had
been invited along with the rest of Olympus to the
forced wedding of Peleus and Thetis, who would
become the parents of Achilles, but Eris had been
snubbed because of her troublemaking inclinations.
She therefore tossed into the party a golden apple
inscibed "Kallisti" -- "For the most beautiful
one"-- provoking the goddesses to begin quarreling
about the appropriate recipient. The hapless Paris,
Prince of Troy, was appointed to select
the most beautiful…. each of the three
attempted to bribe Paris to choose her. Hera offered
Paris power. She offered to give him all of Asia,
and great power, Athena offered him great
wisdom, and great luck in battle. He would be
the best strategist in the world. He loved this
idea, but he waited to hear Aphrodite's offer.
Aphrodite offered him
two things. The first was his body, and the second
was the perfection of beauty, the love of the
most beautiful woman in the world, Helen., wife of
Menelaus of Sparta. Since Paris's first love was
women, he decided to pick Aphrodite's offer. Hera
and Athena vowed vengeance.
God of love both heterosexual and homosexual, though
his domain is not limited solely to sexual love and
includes love in all its broadest senses. One of the
oldest of the gods, the center of his worship was at
Thespiae. The ancient Greeks feared Eros. Eros can
cause havoc, and there is an air of maliciousness
about him. Eros can drive men and women to noble
self-sacrifice, but he can also torture them to
madness and drive them to self-destruction. Lacking
wisdom, moderns have made Eros contemptibly cute and
sweet, and somewhat prankish.
The term "entheogen" was coined in 1979 by a group
of ethnobotanists and scholars of mythology as
a replacement for the term "hallucinogen" In its
strictest sense the term refers to a psychoactive
substance (most often some plant matter) that
occasions enlightening spiritual or mystical
experience, within the parameters of a cult. That
certain drugs can facilitate the experience of
states of consciousness that are then described by
the experiencing subjects in words that are
indistinguishable from many reports of religious
experiences without drugs remains a controversial
subject. Many scholars believe the Greeks who mixed
many ingredients into their
kantharos before imbibing
at symposiums used entheogens.
EVOCATION - The calling forth of daimons into
visible and sometimes tactile presence.
GENDER POLITICS: MALES RULE
The Roman state wanted fertility among
mothers. Widows were not allowed to remarry. Husbands went out of their
way to keep
their own wives locked up like slaves. They deprived their wives of a
life outside the home. It was forbidden for wives to
possess money. The legal age for marriage in Ancient Rome for a woman
was age 12, whether she had reached puberty or not.
Virginity upon marriage was valued. Roman men were allowed to engage in
adultery, but their wives were not. Female sexuality
was entirely defined in their patriarchical value: sex with wives for
legitimate children and procreation of a man's children
and prostitutes, concubines and slaves for a man's sexual leisure, rape
for power over any woman.
"Mother of all things." The Earth itself, mother of
the Titans, the old gods. Usually represented as a
giant woman. Before anything else existed, there was
only Chaos (the Void, the Nothingness, the
Emptiness) and the Earth. Gaia nurses the ill and
watches over marriages. Gaia is an oracle as well,
and the temple at Delphi was hers before it was
Apollo's. The Greeks had no tales about Gaia,
because she belonged to the distant past.
"The Unseen," "the
Rich." God of wealth and the underworld. Hades is
stern but perfectly just, and rejects all pleas for
mercy, but he is in no sense evil or destructive.
His realm is not a place of flames and torment, as
is the Christian hell. Most dead souls dwell on the
plain of Asphodel, where they wander aimlessly as
mere shadows of their earthly selves. The blessed go
to the Elysian Fields, a place of great joy and
beauty, while the abominably wicked go to the dismal
plain of Tartarus. You're born, you live, you die,
you go to Hades.
The history of the ancient world is used to refer to
the shift from a culture dominated by ethnic Greeks,
however scattered geographically, to a culture
dominated by Greek-speakers of whatever ethnicity,
and from the political dominance of the city-state
to that of larger monarchies. In this period the
traditional Greek culture is changed by strong
Eastern, especially Persian, influences, in aspects
of religion, attitudes towards a monarch and other
areas. Cultural centers shifted away from mainland
Greece, to Pergamon, Rhodes, Antioch and Alexandria.
Modern historians see the death of Alexander the
Great in 323 BC as the beginning of the Hellenistic
period. Alexander and the Macedonians conquered the
eastern Mediterranean, Mesopotamia, and the Iranian
plateau, and invaded India; his successors held on
to the territory west of the Tigris for some time
and controlled the eastern Mediterranean until the
Roman Republic took control in the 2nd and 1st
centuries BC. Most of the east was eventually
overrun by the Parthians, but Hellenistic culture
held on in distant locations like Bactria or the
Following Alexander's death, there was a struggle
for the succession, known as the wars of the
Diadochi (Greek, "successors"). These ended in 281
BC with the establishment of three large territorial
- the Ptolemaic
dynasty in Egypt based at Alexandria
- the Seleucid
dynasty in Syria based at Antioch
- the Antigonid
dynasty in Macedonia and the mainland of Greece
HERA; to the Romans, JUNO
Wife of Zeus, queen of the gods. Zeus is quite a
randy god, and Hera's domestic life with him is
always stormy. Zeus and Hera were on opposite sides
during the Trojan War, and they squabble all the way
through the Iliad. At first a sky goddess, Hera
later became the embodiment of womanliness. Like
Dionysus, Hera is a pre-Olympian deity whose cult
was so strong that it had to be adopted by the
Dorian Greeks. Hera was worshiped in high places,
and her temples were built on mountain peaks. Her
festival, held at Argos and called the Heraia,
involved athletic contests.
HERMES; to the Romans, MERCURY
The messenger of
the gods, the god of eloquence, the god of luck. God
of travelers, merchants and athletes. Originally a
pastoral and fertility god in Arcadia, in his oldest
monuments Hermes is represented simply as a phallus.
Easygoing, kind and obliging, Hermes is quite
helpful to both gods and men, though he appears in
some stories as a trickster. Hermes invented the
lyre, which he gave to Apollo to get out of a mess
he'd made by stealing Apollo's cattle. Hermes' image
was often found at crossroads and junctions, and he
is shown with winged sandals and a winged helmet.
Hermes was quite popular.
HERO - A
mortal divinized after stasis, to whom sacrifices
and honours are paid. In Hesiodos the heroes are an
intermediate generation between gods and mortals (demi-god).
In Greece, ritual sex was referred to as the Hieros Gamos; Hints from various ancient sources indicate
that a Hieros Gamos may have been part of the
Clearly the rites of
sacred marriage were central to ancient paganism.
From an image of sacred fertility, to an image of
sacred kingship, to an image of initiation, they
worked on many levels, perhaps as far back as the
Neolithic on all three at once.The Sumerians
performed the Sacred Marriage, a union between a
priestess of their goddess, Inanna, with a
priest-king, as a means of obtaining the favor of
this goddess for their cities.and
evidence indicates that it was also practiced by the
Egyptians in the cult of Isis up until the Roman
"The 'heiros gamos,' the sacred prostitute was the
votary chosen to embody the goddess. She was the
goddess' fertile womb, her passion and her erotic
nature. In the union with the god, embodied by the
reigning monarch, she assured the fertility and
well-being of the land and the people. . . she did
not make love in order to obtain admiration or
devotion from the man who came to her, for often she
remained veiled and anonymous; her raison d'ętre was
to worship the goddess in lovemaking, thereby
bringing the goddess love into the human sphere. In
this union -- the union of masculine and feminine,
spiritual and physical -- the personal was
transcended and the divine entered in. As the
embodiment of the goddess in the mystical union of
the sacred marriage, the sacred prostitute aroused
the male and was the receptacle for his passion . .
. . The sacred prostitute was the holy vessel
wherein chthonic and spiritual forces united."
Nancy Qualls-Corbett, The Sacred Prostitute: Eternal
Aspect of the Feminine (Toronto: Inner City Books,
1988), pp. 39-40.
The contrast between Roman and Greek homosexuality
is most striking in how the two societies tried to
regulate the sexual relations of adult citizens and
freeborn boys. In Athens, ideally, both parties were
freeborn and social equals; the tie between them was
consensual; and (in some instances) educational as
well as sexual.
At Rome, the typical same-sex relationship was
between a citizen (active) and his adolescent slave
(passive). For free-born Romans, the slave had no
rights, while the rights of the master included
unrestricted sexual access to the slave's body. What
mattered more was role, age, and status. The
freeborn adult Roman who liked to copulate with
males penetrated slave boys, eunuchs, and male
prostitutes with as little reproach as he penetrated
his female slaves, his female concubine, or female
prostitutes. Most Romans thought it self-evident law
of nature that attractive adolescent males, before
they grew up and began to be desired by women,
should be desired by men.
The origin of initiation is as old as the earliest
civilizations. In ancient times, the word mystery
did not mean "strange" or "weird". Rather, it
referred to a unique gnosis - knowledge which was to
be revealed to the candidate for initiation. In
fact, in ancient Rome the mysteries were called
initia. The initiates were called mystae. The Latin
word initiare meant "to Inspire".
A person who has undergone, or is about to undergo,
the primary rite of entry into a ancient religion or
Daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia who nursed the
infant Dionysus after Semele's death. When Hera
drove her mad, she threw herself into the sea and
was transformed into Leucothea, the white goddess of
sea foam, a friend to sailors.
"Florence Dupont (Daily Life in Ancient Rome) writes that it was for
reasons of ritual that the Romans washed frequently. And she adds that
". . . even in very ancient times and even in the depth of the country,
Romans, including women and slaves, would wash every day and would have
a thorough bath on every feast day if not more often. At Rome itself,
baths were taken daily.
in the Roman World was available to the rich and anyone who could afford the public baths or thermaes.
Running water from lead pipes connected to the aqueducts was available
in many homes. If you were not so rich folks relieved themselves in pots
or commodes which were emptied into vats located under staircases and
these emptied into cesspools throughout the city. At Pompeii, for instance, all houses except the poorest had
water pipes fitted with taps, and the waste water was piped away into
sewer or trench.
Ivy Dionysos and
his Maenads are often pictured wearing the ivy
crown, Dionysos was called Kissos, "the Ivy", and with the vine, it
is his most common symbol. Ivy is a plant that, like
Dionysos, has two births. The first birth is when it sends
out its shade-seeking shoots, with their distinctive leaves.
I am raised up and I will not reject the
O ruler of my mind. Look, he stirs me up,
Euoi, the ivy now whirls me round in Bacchic
But after the dormant months of winter, when the God himself
is reborn, it sends out another shoot, one that grows
upright and towards the light, thus honoring the return of
the vibrant God
kantharos was a special drinking cup, said to be invented by
the God himself. Unlike the skyphos, which was round, with
small handles, the kantharos had a high base and projecting
handles that stretched from the rim to the foot of the cup.
Kraters used to mix water and wine. In Greek
Art the frolicking of Maenads and Dionysus is often
a theme depicted on Greek kraters. At a Greek
symposium, kraters were placed in the center of the
room. They were quite large, so they were not easily
portable when filled. Thus, the wine-water mixture
would be withdrawn from the Krater with other
vessels. Since kraters could be seen into, they were
glazed on the interior for aesthetic reasons.
Robert Graves has argued that the original
Dionysian rites were only partially wine-inspired.
He has insisted, through his combination of sound
scholarship and poetic insight, that the worship of
Dionysus once also involved the ingestion of the
hallucinogenic fly-agaric mushroom, Amanita muscaria.
As befits a psychedelic god, Dionysus was given to a
bewildering series of mutations and transformations.
Again echoing shamanism, with its traditions of
(kuh-TAB-uh-sis): The literature of
descent (from the Greek verb for ‘going down’,
Journey of the Dead made by a living person in the
flesh who returns to our world to tell the tale’
A technical term for a
trip to the underworld
The first instance in Western
literature of katabasis is that of Odysseus
descending to Hades. He meets many souls there,
including his mother and
Teiresias, the blind prophet. Book 11 of The
Odyssey, which relates the tale, is referred to
as "The Nekuia." Orpheus, Dionysus,Hercules, Theseus,
Aeneus, Vergil, and Dante are also all said to have
made such a trip.
and techniques of dreaming, trance, near death and
even actual death itself were amongst the ways
considered to be ways of entering the underworld.
- Purification or cleansing of oneself through
undergoing an overwhelming emotional experience.
Originated from Aristoteles' description of tragic
drama, "a katharsis of pity and terror".
Eleusinian family from which priests of the
mysteries were chosen. Kerykes means "Heralds" in
- "public worker". Wealthy citizen who finances a
public event or possession (play, library, etc.)
highly decorated flasks containing exotic oils used
both for offerings and for grave goods.
A portion of drink or food given to a deity,
ancestor, or daimon during a ritual.
is the ancient stringed musical instrument similar
to a guitar. The mythical stories of the Ancient
Greeks were accompanied by it. Said to have been
invented by the young trickster god Hermes from the
body of a large tortoise shell (khelus) which he
covered with animal hide and antelope horns. Lyres
were associated with Apollonian virtues of
moderation and equilibrium contrasting the Dionysian
pipes which represented ecstasy and celebration.
The art of causing change in the manifest world
through the Unmanifest, sometimes refered to as
magik. Magik is neither positive or negative. It is
the use of the power that determines the path it
- A name given to an initiate, or chosen by the one
who is self-initiated, to signify the passing of the
old life and the birth into the magikal life.
masks Masks were used in the rituals of Dionysos,
both those that led to the creation of drama, and after.
Sometimes individuals would don masks of the God or of his
satyr companions, and would either act out parts, or become
possessed by the God or spirit.
nebrex Like shamans
the world over, the ecstatic female worshippers of Dionysos
had a special animal skin cloak that they put on when
reveling in his honor. It was made out of fawnskin and was
called a nebrix. With the ivy crown and thyrsos it comprised
the "outfit" of the Maenad. Saffron robes were also worn by
|ORACLE - A
place where Goddesses or Gods can be consulted for
advice or prophesy. The most famous oracle in
ancient Hellas was the one found in Delphoi.
- A nocturnal ceremony of the Dionysic women.
Oreibasia literally means "mountain-treading".
General term for sacred rites, often with special
reference to secret rites.
Egyptian guide and judge of the dead, brother and
husband of Isis, and (posthumously) father of Horus.
He underwent sparagmos, resurrection, and
deification, which suggested to the Greeks that he
was an African manifestation of Dionysus.
"A puritanical streak runs through the Levantine
(Christianity, Islam, Judaism) religions which
inevitably suggests a lesser valuing of the temporal
world compared with, if not humanity, at least with,
divine spirit. In paganism, the world or nature is
itself divine - and as divine as either humanity or
the numinal or both.
"So in answer to the
question how does the contemporary Western pagan
recognize that Chinese folk religion, Confucianism,
Shinto, Siberian shamanism, Kahuna, Australian
aboriginal religion, Amerindianism, the
Afro-Atlantic practices of Santeria, Macumba and
Voodoo, various tribalisms of sub-Saharan Africa,
and so forth are pagan is because they are pagan.
They all share in an essential this-worldliness.
Earth is sacred, the sacred source or mother of
existence. The material is understood as the matrix
in which and from which the world, the human and the
gods have their being, though not necessarily their
end. In each of these religions we have the implicit
pantheism, animism and polytheism that Margot Adler
recognized as the constituent features of paganism.
I would also add humanism and naturism. There is
neither the denial of phenomenal reality as we have
in Hinduism and Buddhism, nor the exclusion of
humanity from godhead as we have in Judaism,
Christianity and Islam.
paganism can be understood as both a behavior and a
religion. As a behavior it is to be seen in the
spontaneous and auto-reflexive quality as well as
venerational ritual of cultic expression. The cultic
is the passionate, and while all passion may not be
cultic, all cult is something which is emotionally
intense. The very term itself derives from cultus,
the Latin past participle of a verb meaning "to till
the earth, to cultivate, to pray or worship." In
other words, the origins of pagan cultivation and
worship are directly connected with the earth and
assisting its growth and produce. Cultic behavior
and pagan behavior are in origin one and the same.
Paganism by Michael York
Dionysus in Neopaganism
Modern Neopagans view Dionysus in
different lights, depending largely on
the individual sects and the other gods
worshipped by a sect. Dionysus is often
seen as the god of Earthly Delights and
is thought to play a role in euphoria.
In the United States, some Hellenistic
Neopagan sects forbid the worship of
Dionysus, because Dionysus worship is
associated with hedonism.
Sects which worship Hera and Themis in
particular may forbid Dionysus worship.
However, there are sects that make
Dionysus a central figure of their
faiths. Many sects may include both the
worship of Themis and Dionysus, holding
that moderation is key to virtue and
that earthly delights are virtuous when
maintaining responsibility and
moderation. Depending on individual
sects, and the other gods within the
sect, worship of Dionysus can take many
forms. Sects that include worship of
Themis and Hera for instance may allow
the drinking of wine and various
festivities, but actively discourage
"decadence" and promiscuity.
Those sects who worship Dionysus
exclusively, or in more common cases
Dionysus and Aphrodite, are sometimes
known to conduct orgiastic rituals and
use numerous intoxicants in attempts to
reach earthly gratification and euphoria
(Such sects are often considered cults
even by Neopagan standards). Most sects
agree that it is unwise to trade future
well being for a moment's pleasure.
However, some followers of Dionysus
believe that they are inspired to relish
in earthly delights, ignoring any
panther All wild
animals are connected to Dionysos, but none more so than the
lion or panther. The supple, feline elegance of its body,
the ferocious and easily provoked temper, the boundless
appetite, and uncanny intelligence of the creature make it
uniquely and inevitably linked to the Dionysiac sphere - and
indeed, the wild cat is frequently depicted in the company
of the wild God.
- Athenaion national festival of Athena. A Great
Panathenaia was held one year in four.
PERSEPHONE, also KORE
Daughter of Demeter, wife of Hades. Hades kidnapped
Persephone and took her to the underworld to be his
queen. When Demeter heard, she wandered the earth in
mourning, abandoning her responsibilities, and the
earth grew gray and barren. The growing famine
forced Zeus to demand that Hades return Persephone
to the surface world. But Persephone had eaten part
of a pomegranate, and eating of the food of the dead
bound her to their world. Zeus and Hades struck a
bargain -- Persephone would spend seven months a
year in the world of the living and five in the
world of the dead. When Persephone is in the world,
her mother Demeter is content, and the world blooms
and lives. When she is in the underworld, Demeter
mourns, the world languishes, and we have winter.
large phallic pillar outside Dionysus
shrine, one of two
Delos. Credits: Barbara McManus, 1980
was ubiquitous in connection with Dionysos as a symbol of
the source of life, and is a symbol of virility, courage,
and power.- it was carried in processions, herms and other
phallic monuments were erected in his honor.
"the phallus served
as a kind of axis mundi, a locus for the
ideals of Greek civilization, it also
served, in a Hermetic context, to mark
the periphery, that edge beyond which
one dare not go. Yet going beyond all
edges is precisely what Dionysos does,
in myth and in cult; he is a god of
extremes and a breaker of boundaries.
The phallic in a Dionysian context, far
from guarding a boundary, marks the
dramatic penetration of barriers, a
forceful intrusion of the wild, chaotic
and mysterious god into the rational,
restrained confines of the Greek psyche.
The Dionysian phallus is therefore a
threat to, rather than a reinforcement
of, the established social order."
The Ivied Rod: Gender and
the Phallus in Dionysian Religion by
Priapus This god is mainly known for his huge virile member,
and the size of it is so enormous that it has been
called "column", "twelve-inch pole", "cypress",
"spear", "pyramid", and many other names of the same
kind referring to the dimensions of his penis.
With Aphrodite, Dionysos had a son, Priapus, a hideous
being whose penis was
so large that he had to support it by means of a pulley and
strings. Representations of Priapus were installed in
gardens, both to encourage fertility and the growth of their
fruit, but also to protect the garden from thieves. Those
who were caught trespassing were punished by being placed on
the Garden God's erect member. Priapus warned, "si fur
veneris, impudicus exis" ("In a thief and out a faggot."
Deity responsible for guiding the souls of the
departed to their appointed places. The "Guide of
Souls". Hermes is a pyschopomp
Religion - Etruscan pre-Roman
The Etruscans believed in predestination. Although a postponement is
sometimes possible by means of prayer and sacrifice, the end is certain.
According to the libri fatales as described by Censorinus, Man had
allocated to him a cycle of seven times twelve years. Anyone who lived
beyond these years, lost the ability to understand the signs of the
The Etruscans also believed the existence of their people was also
limited by a timescale fixed by the gods. According to the doctrine, ten
saecula were allotted to the Etruscan name. This proved very accurate,
and it is often said that the Etruscan people predicted their own
Gods were not personified, unlike in Ancient Greece. Romans also
believed that every person, place or thing had their own genius such as
say family guardian spirits).
As contact with the Greeks increased, the old Roman gods became
associated with Greek gods.
Just as the sun was Lord of the Heavens so the Roman Emperor was Lord of
the Earth. As long as everyone could accept this, imperial temporal
authority was strengthened, but everyone could continue to revere their
own celestial or spiritual god. Most did! The notable exceptions were
Jews and Christians.
The Romans were tolerant of religious differences partly because they
were indifferent to blasphemy. To a Roman it was absurd for a mortal to
take up cudgels to defend a god. Romans sincerely believed that the gods
were sensitive, petulant, and ready to intervene in the lives of
mortals. If a god were offended by a mortal then the poor fellow had
better watch out—at the very least he'd find his luck was out. Romans
thought Christians courted disaster by deriding Pagan gods as devils but
they did not take personal offence. What did worry them was that
vengeful gods might not be too discriminating, and innocent bystanders
might suffer. It was this generalized fear of divine anger rather than
intolerance of blasphemy that invited Roman displeasure.
So Imperial policy was that, subject to the requirement to honour the
Genius of the Emperor, Romans could worship whoever or whatever they
liked and how they liked as long as they respected and did not interfere
with others and the ceremonies were respectable. However clandestine
meetings were not allowed since they could be a cover for subversive
plots. The priests and priestesses of the gods of the Empire were
generally celibate and even Bacchanialian "orgies", by the
intertestamental period, were merely drunken, not licentious.
The transference of the anthropomorphic qualities to Roman Gods, and the
prevalence of Greek philosophy among well-educated Romans, brought about
an increasing neglect of the old rites, and in the 1st century BC the
religious importance of the old priestly offices declined rapidly,
though their civic importance and political influence remained. Roman
religion in the empire tended more and more to center on the imperial
house, and several emperors were deified after their deaths.
Spread of Eastern Religions
Under the empire, numerous foreign cults grew popular, such as the
worship of the Egyptian Isis and the Persian Mithras. Despite
persecutions, Christianity steadily gained converts. It became an
officially supported religion in the Roman state under Constantine I.
All cults save Christianity were prohibited in AD 391 by an edict of
Emperor Theodosius I.
Spread of Christianity
Christians acknowledged that Dionysus (his Greek
name) / Bacchus (his Latin name) came before Jesus.
when the Christian Father Justin Martyr, writing in
the 100s AD, wrote that the Devil reading the Old
Testament prophesies of the Messiah sent Bacchus
early, to trick men about Jesus: "The devils,
accordingly, when they heard these prophetic words,
said that Bacchus was the son of Jupiter, and
...having been torn in pieces, he ascended into
heaven." [Justin Martyr, First Apology, 54]
Despite desultory persecutions, usually at times of
civic tensions beginning with Nero, and more throrough
persecutions beginning under Diocletian, Christianity steadily
gained converts. It became an officially supported religion in
the Roman state under Constantine I, who ruled as sole emperor
from AD 324 to 337. All cults save Christianity were prohibited
in AD 391 by an edict of Emperor Theodosius I. Destruction of
temples and desecration of the fanes began immediately, with the
sacking of the Serapeum in Alexandria as an encouraging example.
After the Fall
After the fall of the city of Rome and the Western Empire the state
continued its existence as the Byzantine Empire, which is conventionally
treated as a separate entity in history books. Also the Holy Roman
Empire and Russia have claimed the "Roman" legacy after the fall of
RITUAL - A
formalized series of actions both mental and
physical by which magikal potency is released and
directed toward the fulfillment of a specific
SHRINE - An
altar or niche dedicated to a particular Goddess or
God and held to be sacred.
SISTRUM - A
musical instrument and sacred symbol of Kybele,
Dionysos, Ishtar, Isis, and Hathor which consists of
a handle attached to a frame of rigid metal which
runs through perforated metal rods or disks. The
rods and disks are shaken to create a percussive
[SEM-uh-lee] Daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia, sister
of Agave, and mother (by Zeus) of Dionysus, she was
consumed in Zeus's lightning when she demanded to
see him in his true form. Dionysus later rescued her
from Hades and escorted her to heaven.
Because a snake sheds
its skin and comes forth from the
lifeless husk glistening and fresh,
it is a universal symbol of
"renewal", and the regeneration that
may lead to
immortality. Serpent is
a word of Latin origin (serpens,
serpentis) that is normally
substituted for "snake" in a
specifically mythic or religious
context, in order to distinguish
such creatures from the field of
biology. The archetype of the
serpent, exemplifies the death of
the self and a transcendent rebirth.
A snake coils about the secret
basket of the mysteries.
We need to repair our metaphors of
‘what the Sun is’, as a species.
Not with science, or a new system or
expert — with experiential
- The process of merging various religious or
philosophical beliefs into a single school of
thought to reconcile possible differing or
All the theatres however which were
constructed in Greece were probably built after the
model of that of Athens, and with slight deviations
and modifications they all resembled one another in
the main points, as is seen in the numerous ruins of
theatres in various parts of Greece, Asia Minor, and
Sicily. Some of them were of prodigious dimensions.
The great number of ruins of theatres tell us the
Greeks preferred magnificent buildings with gigantic
dimensions. The ruins of the theatre at Argos
enclose a space of 450 feet in diameter; the theatre
of Ephesus is even 660 feet in diameter. The Attic
theatre was, like all the Greek theatres, placed in
such a manner that the place for the spectators
formed the upper or north-western, and the stage
with all that belonged to it the south-eastern part,
and between these two parts lay the orchestra.
THIASOS - A group with
whom you feel an association of oneness.
explains that the individual to whom divinity
is promised in Dionysian mysteries can only expect
to experience it in the thiasos collectively
An association for
religious purposes. The plural is thiasoi.
was a founder-hero, like
Perseus, Cadmus or Heracles, all of whom battled and
overcame foes that were identified with an
archaic religious and social order. As Heracles was
the Dorian hero, Theseus was the Ionian founding
hero, considered by Athenians as their own great
reformer. His name comes from the same root as
θεσμoς ("thesmos"), Greek for institution. In The
Frogs Aristophanes credited him with inventing many
everyday Athenian traditions.
In the mid-second millennium BCE, Athens was
required to pay a horrible tax to Crete, the
controlling power in the region: each year, seven
young men and seven young women were to be sent to
Crete as sacrifices to the Minotaur, a
monster in the Labyrinth constructed by Daedalus.
Theseus, determined to end this horror, volunteered
to be one of the sacrifices, and the fourteen chosen
sailed off to Crete on a ship with black sails, for
In Plutarch's version of this story, soon after the
Athenians arrived in Crete, King Minos raped one of
the young women. Theseus protested and boasted of
his parentage, as a son of Poseidon. Minos demanded
he prove his claim by bringing up a golden ring he
threw into the ocean, and in this Theseus was more
than successful in that he not only recovered the
ring, but also brought up a crown of Thetis that
Ariadne was to wear.
Ariadne was a consort of Dionysus.
However, she betrayed the old order when she fell in
love with Theseus and gave him a magic sword with
which to kill the Minotaur, and a spool of thread.
Theseus unwound the thread as he made his way to the
center of the Labyrinth searching for the Minotaur,
so that he could find his way out of the maze again.
Theseus after killing the Minotaur with the magic
sword, Theseus married and fled Crete with Ariadne,
but then abandoned her, at Athena's demand, on the
island of Naxos.
He is always shown as a youth and usually as a
traveller, with a broad-brimmed cap (petasos), often
supported by Athena. His story was developed to
rival that of Herakles, by devising for him a series
of adventures he is said to have had on his way to
Athens from his birthplace at Troezen: see Sinis,
Skiron, Procrustes. In Athens he is recognized by
his father Aigeus, and encounters Medea who tries to
poison him. Later with his companion Peirithoos he
abducts Helen, the Amazon Antiope and attempts
Persephone; he also fights beside Peirithoos when
the latter's wedding is disrupted by Centaurs. For
this they are imprisoned in Hades, whence only
Theseus is rescued by Herakles.
Thyrsos a (thyrsus)
was a giant fennel staff covered with ivy vines
and leaves and
topped with a pine cone. The thyrsus is a composite symbol
of the forest (pine cone) and the farm (fennel).
Dionysus (or Bacchus) and his followers, the Satyrs and
Maenads carried this symbolic staff. Sometimes the thyrsus
was displayed in conjunction with a wine cup, forming a
male-and-female combination like that of the royal scepter
and orb. The thyrsus has been interpreted as a
phallic symbol. The maenads,
followers of Dionysos, pound the ground with the
thyrsus, which drips honey and causes milk and wine
to gush up from the earth.
toga virilis On
March 17, during the Roman festival of Liberalia, held in
honor of Liber (Dionysos), Libera (Ariadne or Persephone),
and Ceres (Demeter) the toga virilis or toga libera was
donned. This was a white toga symbolizing that the boy
(usually around 14-17) had passed from childhood and was now iuvenis,
a young man. It was customary to select the
date for the coming of age ceremony according to the
birthday that came nearest to March 17, the
Liberalia (the festival of Liber).
A boy's coming-of-age
ceremony began when the boy laid his bulla and
bordered toga before the lares of the house in the
early morning The purple-edged toga praetexta of
childhood was put away and sacrifices were offered to
Juventas, Goddess of childhood, in the temple of Jupiter
Optimus Maximus. The boy then dressed himself in a white
tunic, adjusted by his father. Over this was
draped the toga virilis (toga of the grown man).
When the boy was ready, the procession to the Forum
began. The father had gathered his slaves, freedmen,
clients, relatives and friends, using all his
influence to make his son's escort numerous and
imposing. Here the boy's name was added to the list
of citizens, and formal congratulations were
extended. Then the family climbed up to the temple
of Liber on the Capitoline Hill, where an offering
was made to the god. Finally they all returned to
the house, where the day ended with a dinner party
given by the father in honour of the new Roman
Ovid says that Dionysos is associated with
the toga virilis either because he is depicted as a young
man, midway between childhood and adulthood, or because he
is a father, and it is into his care that fathers place
While no special
marked a Roman girl's passing into womanhood,
Pompeii's Villa of Mysteries shows that the story of
Dionysus and Ariadne
a cloak worn by men in
ancient Greece and Rome;
a woolen tunic worn by men and women in ancient
tympanon The tympanon is a
hand-drum used especially in the rites of Dionysos and the Magna Mater Kybele. The monotonous rhythm
of the drumming - along with the sound of the flute,
singing, dancing, the fire and darkness, and wine -
contributed to an overpowering situation that we would call
an altered state of consciousness, but which the Greeks
themselves called ekstasis or "stepping out of one's self"
and enthusiasmos or "a God is within me". While in these
states, people would experience visions, prophecy, and
undergo communion with or possession by the Gods
- The practice of imagining a place, person, thing,
or event with unusual clarity and intensity. Often
it is done in a ritual context and reinforced by
The Greeks called wine a
terrible conqueror, and said that even other Gods and the
kentaurs fell victim to its baneful effects. Hence,
moderation was suggested, even by the Dionysus himself, who
time and again taught people to mix his gift with water to
dilute its power.
Horace, in addressing the God, says: "You move with soft
compulsion the mind that is often so dull, you restore hope
to hearts distressed, give strength and horns to the poor
man. Filled with you he trembles not as the truculence of
kings or the soldiers' weapons."
Main Page: Carnaval.com