Too reserved to revel?

“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.

Dionysos Bassareus

I wrote this little poem after meditating on the lesser known aspect of Dionysos as the “Fox God”. It’s a part of Him that has always softly called to me and the fact that Fox has also been trying to get my attention the last few months especially. Once I wrote the piece, again done in my usual “trance” style with no editing I decided to make it “pretty” and found a gorgeous image of a fox, creeping beneath some ripened clusters on the vine. Perfect!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dionysos Bassareus “The Fox-God”

Oh charming vulpine Lord,

You who chases birds through the leafy overhangs

And pounces on rodents who threaten the verdant shoots of the vine.

Nibble haughtily at the fermenting fallen fruits come harvest

And grin with black lips at the noon-day sun.

Cry in the night, amidst the cool and fertile earth

Evohe! Evohe!

Fleet and quick-witted, you move unseen

Amber eyes watching from between the leaves

Secretly weaving the magic of the vine.

Protecting the harvest of your gift divine

The violaceous orbs

That draught called wine!

~Kenn Payne

New Moon Ritual

2013-07-10 23.23.33This Noumenia I carried out the newly written Covenant of Hekate New Moon Ritual. My previous night’s Deipnon had been an ad hoc affair, not least because I resigned from my job without currently having something else to move on to. A huge test of my faith as well as a big banishment – not planned, but necessary!

So with a huge sense of relief and the stress of eight years of undervalued corporate slogging firmly off my shoulders, I set about arranging my ritual space and planning for the New Moon Ritual. It is a very proactive and involved kind of ritual, written by a very talented bunch of individuals all bringing together their own experiences and thoughts to make a cohesive and rewarding ritual structure.

After completely stripping down my altar area, cleansing it with three different types of sacred well/spring water, scattering with rose petals and then anointing with Hekate oil, I placed fresh cloths in black and white and placed centrally my magnificent statue created by Georgi Mischev of Threskeia. Around the central image of Hekate I coiled a whole shed snake skin, placing a braided red, white and black cord in a circle and putting an iron key at the feet of the statue. I also used a new red candle for my ritual, which I had decorated with the CoH symbol (something I’ve wanted to do for ages!). There were two small black beeswax candles either side of the Hekate statue, a small statuette of Hermes to the left and one of Hestia to the right. Other items included were of course my red cord (used in all Covenant rituals), bread and wine offerings, a small bowl of anointing oil, a vase of roses, “jewelled” candle holders I picked up from a charity shop and my newly mounted Hekate coin pendant to be consecrated.

With the candles and incense (I used myrrh resin) lit, it was time to proceed with the ritual itself. After the initial grounding and centring and a preliminary offering of wine to Hekate, Hermes and Hestia it was time to go on the Pathworking part of the ritual. A member of the ritual team who had kindly recorded themselves reading through this and I had downloaded it as I find it easier to follow a guided meditation or pathworking without having to worry about talking myself through it.

I really liked this part, though I think personally I may move it to the end of the ritual rather than the beginning just because I feel that flows better for me. The imagery was very profound and the adventure was enjoyable and rewarding. Despite there being quite a lot of disturbances in my home and the street outside (noisy passers-by, cars, inconsiderate/noisy housemates) that hindered my journey, for the most part I had a beneficial experience and received my “token” symbol from Hermes on behalf of Hekate.

ivyleafI don’t mind sharing here with you that it was an ivy leaf. Something I am still musing on the possible meaning and connection of this. For me personally it is not the first time Hekate has visited me or shown me what I identify as Dionysian symbols but I have yet to distinguish if these are markers meaning I shouldn’t forget my sometimes floundering relationship with Him or if She is trying to tell me that I can get everything He can give from Her…or something else.

So after the pathworking, the ritual itself took place. I liked the flow, symbolism and power of the whole thing and found the energies built, especially with the beautifully written words used to praise and evoke the Gods. I also like the use of a bowl of chilled water, used to reflect the passing from Dark to New moon; it was refreshing and energising!

The interesting part of the ritual was the creation of three intents for the lunar month ahead, revolving around Hekate’s three realms of power: Heaven, Earth and Sea. I spent a long time thinking on this, feeling uncertain on what to create/say for these intents. In the end, I decided that the Heaven/Sky intent would be linked to something relating to the mind, intellect, reason, sciences, travel etc. For Earth it would be more to do with stability, order, material issues, fertility and the like. And for the Sea/Water aspect I would choose something pertaining to emotions, intuition, wisdom, clarity or healing.

Having spent quite a while thinking on what to choose, I ran out of time in making these intents anything “special” to look at ritually speaking; no fancy sigils, not a stone/shell/feather imbued with intent etc…instead I created little folds of paper, each marked on the front with the corresponding elemental symbol and then inside I wrote down my corresponding intent. Despite this, I still found this part of the ritual very rewarding. One of the ritual team had mentioned that “nature abhors a vacuum; so if you do any banishment during the dark moon, make sure to draw a corresponding number of things to you during this ritual of the new moon crescent” so I felt strongly of what my Earthly intent should be, given that both my partner and I are no currently unemployed. So I am interested to see how this all plays out during the current lunar cycle.

After the closing of the ritual, I decided to do something I have not really considered or done before. I took the bread, wine, 3 roses and my statements of intent to the end of the road, which is a 4-way crossroads. There, there is a small field on the corner, enclosed by trees near to a small river. In the dark, I walked to a hawthorn tree in the middle of the field, placed the offerings of bread and roses at the foot and poured the wine over them. Then I took the Earth intent, folded it up and pushed it into the earth by the tree’s roots. For the Sky/Air intent, I set fire to it and let the ashes flutter away on the night air and for the Water Intent I folded it into a small bundle and tossed it into the river to be carried away.

This aspect of the ritual was totally instantaneous and not previously planned, but felt right and good at that time.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the contributors who helped write this ritual and I look forward to doing it again at future New Moons as well as seeing how it develops and evolves into my own personal practice.

2013-07-10 23.22.34

Catching Up!

So it was mid-March since I last posted a blog entry, so I guess I should do a quick round up of everything that’s been going on…

The end of March marked not only my 30th birthday, but also the birthday of my boyfriend and our six month anniversary. To mark this, we went away to London for the weekend. For me it was my first, proper visit to the capital and we had great fun (despite the weather) taking in the sights. One of my highlights (not including the sexy barmen in Soho bars) was standing next to a statue of Dionysos in the British Museum and seeing a gorgeous jug depicting Hekate.

Image

Image

 

April brought about my 30th Birthday Party! It was a riot and I thoroughly enjoyed myself and was so happy to be surrounded by good friends and loved ones. I partied into the small hours, playing silly games, drinking and eating and taking plenty of pictures so that I have lots of fond memories. Huge thanks to my friend Rob too for his awesome catering skills – everyone commented on the buffet! At the end of April the boyfriend and I went to a Summerween Party, in fancy dress, where I got my satyr on!

Image

Image

And so now we are well on our way into May (where does the time go!?) The weather is turning for the better, the days are getting longer. Beltane saw me get crafty and create my own, mini-Maypole decoration which turned out really well. My boyfriend has now moved in and we are all lovey-dovey and sickeningly happy, lol. I have just finished editing and published the latest issue of Askei Kataskei (available for free pdf download) and fast approaching is the fourth annual Rite of Her Sacred Fires!

And tonight marks Hekate’s Deipnon, which I shall be quietly celebrating this evening after I finish work. But I would like to share the following, beautiful image from Mandragora Magika of our Saffron-Robed Lady of Hounds. Hail Hekate!

Image

The Pagan Blog Project: A is for Altar

Well it’s taken me a little longer than anticipated to get the first few posts caught up with but before any more time elapses I thought I should at least get the first one posted and then I’ll attempt to finish off the second A-post this evening, following on with the primary B-post [hopefully] the day after – if not sooner.

So to get the ball rolling I just thought I’d ‘showcase’ some of my altars and shrines past and present and talk about them  a little. In the years since I started on my Path I’ve had a number of different altars, some general and some specific. Mostly these days I have at least two specific deity related and one general (though currently I have four deity related).

Dionysos has been the mainstay throughout recent years. From humble beginnings on a simple wooden shelf, to more elaborate set-ups to help me connect further with His energies and to give me a place to go to for regular worship, offerings and devotion. In the current set-up I have two statues, one of which was sold as a garden ornament that I painted. There’s also a framed printed by the awesomely talented Jeff Cullen, the Fool card from the Mythic Tarot (which depicts the youthful Dionysos-Zagreus). I have a couple of candles, a fake bunch of grapes, a piece of amethyst, my bull’s head pendant (which I wear during worship and ritual) and I’ve wreathed the whole thing with a faux ivy garland which I think really looks the part!

My first small altar/shrine to Dionysos.

Dionysos today!

Next we have Hekate who in the last few years has been a HUGE presence which just seems to keep growing in size and potency. Again from humble beginnings, my altars and shrines to Hekate have grown exponentially. My most recent incarnation features some of my most treasured Hekate-related finds aand purchases most notable of which is my skull effigy which has such presence. Some of the objects change position from month to month but can include my jar candle, my Hekate journal, some of my other statues, my handmade Hekate’s Wheel plaque, my wand, chalice, athame, incense burner and key pendant . This is the largest and most central of my altars and is the one I use most often.

One of the earlier incarnations of my altar to Hekate.

Altar to Hekate to celebrate the Rite of Her Sacred Fires 2011

Most recent set-up featuring my Hekatean skull effigy.

I have a small altar-shrine to Pan which hasn’t really changed all that much in the time that I have had it. A few little tweaks here and there but the overall look and composition hasn’t changed and I like it. Going before it I can find my focus taken in completely and it’s almost like I’m transported to a dense woodland or an isolated mountain pass where I can quiet my mind and tackle my fears in the presence of Lord Pan.  Features are my statues of Pan, a set of panpipes, a large pine cone, a small bunch of faux grapes, a leaf shaped offering dish and a vase to put in cut foliage.

My altar to Pan of the Wild Woods.

Before I moved house mid-last year I used to have an altar to Aphrodite. Since moving this hadn’t got reassembled due to space issues. A few weeks back though I decided it needed a place in the new home and although it is smaller and simpler than in the past, I now have a place to go to give thanks for Aphrodite’s Blessing on my life.  I place a lot of rose quartz on the altar and I anoint the candles in myrtle oil. My central statue is another special find on the internet which I love for its unique portrayal of the Foam-Born Lady.

My humble shrine to Aphrodite.

I also have an altar to the Twelve Gods which features my set of Olympian statuettes on a double shelf (I’m in the process of looking for a single item to place next to each statue; I have a peacock feather next to Hera, a piece of wheat next to Demeter, a miniature boat next to Poseidon – things like that). Beneath the shelf I have a chiminea candle holder to represent Hestia and a vase for flowers and a bowl for libations. I’ve been trying to get into the habit of making the lower portion ‘themed’ for a specific God each month in keeping with the monthly libations I [try] to adhere to.

Altar to the Twelve Gods

2012 House of Learning Creative Agon – Voting!

Over at the House of Vines, Sannion is host to a wonderful Agon! All the entries (6 poetic and 2 prose) focus on the theme ‘Celebrating Dionysos’.

I knew when I first heard about it that I wanted to contribute – anything to pay homage and praise to My Lord.  As often happens, it wasn’t until the last minute when I connected with my muse and what it is about Dionysos that I wanted to celebrate.

The moment I started writing however, I went into the usual ‘blank’ state where I’m not really aware of what I’m doing and then when I come to my senses there’s a piece of creative writing in front of me. I read through it – like reading it for the first time, like I hadn’t written it – and found I couldn’t ‘feel’ anything to change. Then I just submitted it.

Now obviously it wouldn’t be fair to point out which entry is mine, especially as there are so many other passionate and heart-felt pieces. I wish everyone the best of luck and encourage you to pop over and read the pieces and cast your votes!

Flaming Thyrsos Tattoo

My new, conceptualised Flaming Thyrsos tattoo

I am once again basking in the post-needle glow of a new tattoo. Wednesday morning I spent three hours getting the latest addition to my body art collection, an image of the Flaming Thyrsos designed by my local – and preferred – tattooist, Donna Finney of Infinite Ink.

Originally, I went in with a straight forward request for the design: a central thyrsos, wrapped with vines and a serpent, the pinecone wreathed in fire and a Hekate’s Wheel ‘propped’ up at the base or ‘attached’ midway up the thyrsos’ shaft. It was this original concept that I believed I would eventually get tattooed.

When the time came to go and see the final design, I wasn’t expecting to see anything other than a more finely tuned, cleaner drawing of what I’d originally gone in with. However, what I was presented with actually took me by surprise.

The image in front of me contain all of the elements of the original concept I’d seen in my vision and yet it was not at all how I’d thought/felt/seen it. Going away from seeing it (even though I still booked my appointment) I mulled over what I had seen. It wasn’t my thyrsos…it didn’t look right, wasn’t how I’d imagined and seen it. Part of me began to wonder if perhaps it was the right thing to consider for my next tattoo, that perhaps I hadn’t yet realised something about the symbol and it’s use/purpose.

After about a week of doubts, something about the design suddenly made sense. It contained all the elements of the Flaming Thyrsos in my vision but it was flowing, in flux, less tangible and interpretable – it was the raw essence of a powerful, spiritual tool. Here I could access the symbols and power of one or more or all of the components, linking them to each other and to the Deities with which I have come to link this symbol – Hekate, Dionysos and Prometheus.

After having made this sudden distinction, it all made sense. By making the tattoo more obscure it was becoming more personal, more unique, more powerful. By the time Wednesday came around, I was more than excited to once again get back under the needle.

Once the transfer was applied I decided to purposefully not look at the tattoo coming to live until it was finished – even when I needed a quick toilet break I didn’t sneak a peek. During I listened to a number of tracks by Daemonia Nymphe on my iPhone and at one point I was on the verge of falling asleep (something that’s happened during my other tattoos too).

After 3hrs, I finally got to see the end result and I just couldn’t get over the vibrancy. I knew that it was right. It was now a part of me. I had a new outlook on the use of the Flaming Thyrsos as my personal, spiritual tool.

Next on my tattoo plan of action is to move ahead with getting  full, left arm sleeve with the Twelve Olympian Gods and Pegasus!

I am made by Prometheus.

I am liberated by Dionysos.

I am guided by Hekate.