“Many are the wand-bearers, few are the Bacchoi” ~Plato
The first time I encountered Dionysos it was more like just passing in a hallway – an individual you’ve seen many times before without interacting, merely just nodding an acknowledgement in their direction. Eventually, however, these encounters became something more; a dialogue was created and the relationship that grew from it became a very good one.
In a short time I learnt a lot, felt a lot of things changing and began to make sense of my own personal “bigger picture”. That’s when he pulled the rug out from under me.
I hit the floor so hard, my teeth rattled. And when I tried to get up, he pinned me down and metaphorically blindfolded. I was shook up and turned over, pulled apart and left in a dark, dank corner of my own mind.
I felt alone, cut off, naked and scared. I didn’t know which way was up, or down; left or right. And quite quickly, I began not to care. Eventually I didn’t need him to keep me pinned down – I kept myself prisoner and the darkness, fear and pain became a comforting cage of solace that I didn’t want to escape from, because the real world was even more painful and scary.
That first time, I was “down there” for almost seven months. That was when I was made aware of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel and found myself being nudged towards it. Over the years I’ve been back and forth between the darkness and the light a couple of times – each time being rendered apart by Dionysos and left to pick up my own pieces.
Despite all that, I never blamed him or tried to avoid him and yet we became distant. My ritual and prayers seemed muted and unresponsive. In time I stopped actively seeking him out, but missed the union I had shared in the past. Every now and then I get a sense of him on the periphery of my consciousness but like smoke, if I grasp for it then it slips around my fingers and dissipates.
So perhaps it isn’t surprising that recently, amidst all the unsettlement and chaos going on in my personal life, that I felt the “pull” toward him again. I started reading “Dionysos: Exciter to Frenzy” by Vikki Bramshaw, there was a global rite being organised and most recently I became aware of the Thiasos of the Starry Bull and what Sannion and others are creating.
But in reading and following and playing catch up with everything, something has niggled me in the back of my head…Am I really a Dionysian?
Case in point, this post by Sannion detailing an initiatory rite. Reading it was fascinating and evocative. But when it came down to it, I stood in my own way and said “you’d never be able to do that”. And I’m probably right. Ritual nudity aside (that’s a big enough hang up for me as it is), the idea of being that “free” is something that scares and intimidates me. I don’t dance, I don’t sing, I don’t vocalise. Even when I’m drunk I’m fairly controlled.
People say there’s an edge to me. That sometimes it shimmers behind my eyes, a little predatory; a little scary. But the bolt on that door is fairly secured. It scares me. I scare myself. As far as general society goes, I’m pretty outside the “norm” and yet I’m still not outside with the true outsiders. I’m standing on the edge of the reserve, by the fence staring out into the wilds; listening to the distant shouts and laughter, the music and the singing.
Even should one of those revellers come up to the fence and invite me to join in, I know I’d politely make my excuses and shyly go home. You’re either in or you’re out. And if I can’t live it then I shouldn’t be hoping and pretending.
There’s no such thing as a reserved Dionysian.