What is the Flaming Thyrsos?

Welcome to the Flaming Thyrsos, my new blog. To begin, I thought I’d explain a little on the background and origins of the symbol and what I hope to achieve with this blog…

Since about mid-March, I have been envisioning the symbol of a flaming/burning thyrsos. For those who don’t know, the thyrsos is the pinecone-tipped, ivy-wreathed, fennel-stalked staff carried by Dionysos and his followers, the Maenads and Satyrs.

Dionysos has always been one of the big players diety-wise in my personal beliefs but I will admit to have let our relationship slide a little recently with my involvement with Hekate. Though in no way intentional I have found my thoughts and ritual focus becoming more Hekatean and as a result, a part of me began to worry and fret about my ongoing relationship with Dionysos.

So at first, the image of a thyrsos afire was a little disconcerting but in retrospect I realised that the fire was not consuming and was more focused around the pinecone tip, like a torch. The image continued to float around in my mind, day and night and I spent much time mulling it over and attempting to decipher the full meaning behind it.

When my thoughts started to go round in circles, I decided to glean some answers through divination. After some thought, I decided to pick a single card from four of my various Tarot/Oracle decks with the intention of each one gleaning some detail into the meaning behind what I was perceiving to be a powerful, spiritual symbol.

Firstly, I drew from the Mythic Tarot selecting the Hanged Man. From this I felt transition, sacrifice, spiritual transformation, what lies within, expansion of consciousness. Interestingly, the card depicted the Titan, Prometheus who gave fire to mankind in a stalk of fennel – the shaft of the thyrsos! I also felt that this was symbolic of the fire of the thyrsos itself.

Next I used the Mythic Oracle and drew the card of Rhea – Protection. This card gave the messages of what is right for ourselves, natural instinct/intuition, following inner rules, love/protection of what is truly sacred in our lives, duty to the self. Interestingly, the next card in sequence of this deck was also depicted by Prometheus – Sacrifice. Rhea is also an Earth goddess who in Phrygia became identified with Kybele, who is said to have purified Dionysos, and to have taught Him the mysteries. Interestingly, the Thracians conceived the chief divinity of the Samothracian and Lemnian mysteries as Rhea-Hekate.

The next card I drew, I took from the Olympos deck. Now generally I don’t have much luck with this deck as I find it quite complicated to interpret. Sure enough the card I drew – the Four Winds – was an outsider of sorts. An “indicator” card, it stands for movement, transition, adaptability, the onset of an active phase and mental activity. On reflection though this card did begin to link into the ongoing theme of my interpretation and also added the element of Air to the mix. Oh and the card previous in this deck? Prometheus again!

Beginning to see the meaning of the symbol developing, I drew the last card from one of my new decks: the Shaman’s Oracle. This is a beautiful deck, rich in ancient symbology. I hadn’t used it before, so was sure to give it a good shuffle and when it felt “right”, drew the card. The Spirit of Initiation card was all about open doors between realities, spirit guides, awareness, strength, enlightenment, inner wisdom, the path of transcendence, transformation. From both the meaning and symbology of the card it also brought the Elements of both Water and Aether.

I suddenly realised I had complete Elemental balance in these cards – pointing to the same balance in the flaming thyrsos itself! The components of the thyrsos also largely reflected this balance; ivy, pine, fennel and the fire. From this, my instant reaction was that this symbol was a spiritual tool of sorts.

For the next few days, I felt more attuned to what the Flaming Thyrsos meant to me but I realised I still wasn’t sure as to how to utilise this new tool. And so the nature of my musings shifted from what the Thyrsos meant, to what it was for.

And so I found myself looking for help with that answer and asked for a reading from a wonderful man named Sannion, who carries out Dionysian Oracles once a month. I have asked his aid on a few occasions in the past and always been blown away by the potent meaning in the simplest of responses from Dionysos through him. This time was no exception.

And so I asked the question: “What is there to be learned from the image of the Flaming Thyrsos I have been envisioning?” What Dionysos said in response through Sannion was mind-blowing and spine-tingling stuff. I have debated about posting the oracle here in full but I’m not 100% sure if that’s right. I have shared the Oracle with a few close people but let it just be said that I am now fully aware of the use of my new spiritual tool, I just need to start using it to bring about a balance in myself and in my devotion to both Dionysos and Hekate – and also the Promethean energies which have been increasing during my exploration of meaning behind the symbol.

Which brings me to this writing project; I have attempted blogging in the past but either set myself too many initial limitations, berated myself for not being active, or thought certain things not worth writing about.

The Flaming Thyrsos is my renewed attempt to reflect, find balance and explore my spirituality whilst sharing my insights, experiences and thoughts with those people who wish to know more. It will encompass all my relationships with various deities, the celebration of festivals and other acts of worship, poetry and other acts of creative devotion and whatever else I can think of or get up to.

Thank you for joining me on this journey!
Yours in the Gods,

~Kenn

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One comment on “What is the Flaming Thyrsos?

  1. Columbine says:

    I’d just wanted to say that I’ve enjoyed your blog very much. You’ve done an excellent job 🙂

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