The Lord of the Vine

Dear Friends,

I am kind of shortchanging you, dear readers, with this entry.  I am striving to complete this series of posts that I started a long time back…. but I am also not ready to fully unpack either my experiences of Dionysus, nor my complex familly history of alcoholism and dysfunction, nor the long strange journey I’ve taken to something resembling adulthood… so here are a few notes that I may or may not fill in more details on later.

We come to the most problematic, and currently most neglected, of the Gods in my life… Dionysus.  In some ways The Bull Roarer has lurked in the background within my life.

I am the son of an Alcoholic, well technically the alcoholism was probably more of a symptom of chronic Depression on mom’s part… but we really didn’t realize that until years after she had passed on.  Hindsight and all…

So my first prayer to Him was actually done years before I started my deeper explorations of Polytheism…  I uttered a prayer to Dionysus and Apollo, shortly before trying out for the Renaissance fair in Anchorage years ago.   I do remember suddenly feeling deeply calm after my prayer, and I went in and auditioned in front of the majority of the active members of the University Theater department and Ren Faire board with my chosen audition piece.   The Saint Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V.

Whatever else I did that day, I got a part in the Ren Faire.  (I later had to bow out for reasons of work and life, but that’s another story…)

I remember a certain fascination for Dionysus, and indeed when I first started digging deeper into Paganism and Polytheism one of the first works of history I read was a translation of Dionysus Myth and Cult by Walter F Otto.   Pretty much one of THE works on ancient religion and Him in particular.   There were other references and stories relating to Him that were a part of my library over the years, and from very early on in my interest in The Bull Roarer I knew that He was much more complicated and complex than the divine frat boy that some fiction would have you believe.

So a few years ago when I though I was transitioning to Hellenic Polytheism, I made a place for him in my heart and life alongside Hecate as my patrons.  It was only later as I was reading and re-reading about The Theoi, that I realized I had decided for my Hellenic Patrons a Goddess of Witchcraft and a Horned God (Dionysus is one of those too…)

I looked right up at the sky and said,

“Am I sensing a theme here?!”

So I spent some time pouring libations and offering Incense to Him…

One night, having drunk more than a few toasts to him I had some very sensual and personal visions of Him… they felt much more than mere fantasizing and

But largely the last few years, I have not reached out or offered unto Him… nor have I had a sense of His calling to me.  I don’t get the impression I am done with Him or He with me, but… have this sense that I am not in a place where I need/should be involved with him?

In Polytheism our relationships with the Holy Powers is sometimes strikingly similar to our relationships with our fellow mortals… there are fallow periods and times when contact and communication ebbs and flows, in and out like the tide…

I have this sense that an offering or two near June and August, the 1st and 2nd local wine Harvests might be in order….

Peace,

Pax / Geoffrey

PS – This post is part of a series…

Intro

Libertas (whilst written before this series was conceived of, it fits a little too perfectly into the theme to be ignored…)

The Witches Goddess

The WitchFather

The Morrigan

Hecate

Dionysus (this post)

The Honored and Beloved Dead

Spirits of the World Around Us

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Harvey Milk Day musings…

St. Harvey The Liberator

Dear Friends,

Today was Harvey Milk Day.  I was roughly 6 years old when Harvey Milk was assassinated.  I would have been 7 or 8 when the news of the trial of his assassin got out and “The Twinkie Defense” made the world news… I can remember being confused as to why that would justify murder if too much sugar wasn’t enough justification for an 8 year old to misbehave….

I am realizing today, that on some level, I grew up knowing on a bone deep level, that it was considered generally ok to kill people like me for no damn reason.

That’s kind of a heavy subtext to grow up with.

I am trying to take inspiration from Harvey’s life and politics and work.

He is one of the Ancestors on my mind today.

Peace,

Pax / Geoffrey

(Image found here…..)

Giving up on the Too Small Gods and Understanding our Idols

Dear Friends,

I sometimes poke around the Patheos channels for inspiration and ideas and leadings from Spirit; much in the same way that I will sometimes click on random links from my ridiculously long blogs listing.  Seeking inspiration and guidance and wisdom and leading for my journey.  I will go through the Pagan and Hindu and Buddhist and Spirituality sections, I will also look in the Progressive Christian channel.

I look there, because as a Pagan who is also a Unitarian Universalist, one of the Traditions I belong to (while it is no-longer exclusively Christian) has deep roots within the Christian and Abrahamic Traditions.  I look there, because in my own journey I have recently come to terms with the fact that despite often speaking out against anti-Christian prejudice in the Pagan community, I have carried such prejudices in my heart.  I look there because I wish to be challenged and inspired and forced to think and question my ideas and understandings of the Divine and the Deities, in my own spiritual journey.

So in looking around at Patheos I came across the article Giving Up a Too-Small God by Christine Valters Paintner in the Progressive Christian channel.  In it she discusses the idea and the rewards (from a monotheistic perspective)  of letting go of ones preconceptions and ideas of God and not engaging in idolatry…

“The via negativa or apophatic way in Christian tradition, which means the way of unknowing, demands that we talk about God only in terms of negatives, or what God is not. It helps to cleanse us of our idols. Alan Jones, in his book Soul-Making, writes, “We can only say that God is both unknowable and inexhaustible.” Humility is required. We are so attached to our ideas of who God is and how God works in the world. Ultimately, what the desert journey demands is that we let go of even this false idol and open ourselves to the God who is far more expansive than we can behold or imagine.”

Now, as a Contemporary Pagan I have no problem relating to a God or Spirit through the communications tool of a Cult Image or of a Religious Image, after all Idolatry is only problematic for other faiths….. and yet, and yet…

I remember once reading of the Celtic invasions of Greece in the 3rd Century BCE, and the story that when they saw the statues of the Gods in the Greek Temples the Celts simply laughed, amazed and amused at the idea that the Greeks thought an image could be captured of their Gods.

I can certainly get behind the idea of not committing the hubris of thinking that the image we have in our hearts and minds of a Diety is ALL that that Diety is, or is capable of being.  I think it is sometimes easy to take the most widely known stories of various Gods, and the most widely known ideas about and imagery of Them and think to our selves that ~this~ is what they are and nothing else…

An Idol is a tool, a sacred image of a Diety meant to provide a focus for our worship and honoring of that Diety.   We do not worship the idol, as much as we use it as a focus through which we may reach out to the Diety wherever They and Their attention may be at the moment.

I think that sometimes, partly as a result of Contemporary Paganism’s continuing emergence in a society enmeshed in Monotheism, that we tend to have limited views of the Gods.  We pigeon hole them into a God of Love or a Goddess of War or this or that, and many times knowing only a few of the many and complex stories of Them we lose sight of Their complexity.

While I do not have any problem with my Agnostic or Atheistic Pagan brethren who deal with the Gods as Ideas and Archetypes, I think the sometimes seemingly prevalent idea of the Gods as ~only~ Ideas and Archetypes can limit our experience of Them… even in experiencing them as Ideas and Archetypes.

Whatever we conceive of the natures of The Gods, They are not just to be thought of, but experienced… and I think sometimes a lot of the worship and some of the discussions I have encountered relating to The Gods,  sometimes they seem to put that experiencing of the Mysterium Tremens and Mysterium Fascinans at some sort of ‘safe’ distance…

What do you think?

It’s On Witches!! (and Pagans and Poltheists of all sorts…)

Dear Friends,

Posted the event announcement, and created the Facebook page for the 2012 Pagan Values Blogging and Podcasting Event.

For those not in the know, I created an annual event in 2009 to encourage writing and discussion of the Values and Virtues and Ethics of Contemporary Paganism.  It happens each June and can sometimes eat up a bunch of my free time in the month of June as I try to create an archival page that lists all the links to posts and episodes contributed to the event.

Peace,

Pax / Geoffrey

To Life, To Life With My Beloved, To Life Well Lived…

Dear Friends,

Walpurgistide and Beltainetide are upon us, from April 30, The Calendrical Beltaine Eve, through Saturday May 6th, the Astronomical Cross Quarter between the Equinox and Solstice; Saturday is also a Full Moon.   Lots of power and magick afoot this year on this Festival of Reconnecting with the Spirit World and of Celebrating Life.

I spent a good part of the night listening to  my Pandora Radio Station: Flying Off To Brocken.   Offerings of incense burned upon the altar and the light of candles flickered.  Offerings to placate unfriendly spirits and Holy Fire to warn them off.  I slept a while on the Secondhand Couch of Love, dreaming strange dreams.

I awoke in the small hours of the night, and spent some time surfing around the internet looking at the many Beltaine offerings already up on the Pagan strands of the Internet.  I found a couple of appropriate poems from Mr. Bishop and from Ms. Coyle, a completely inappropriate and NSFW video from Veles, and a good basic intro about Beltane from dear Mr. Pitzl-Waters at The Wild Hunt.  I also discovered the photo at the bottom of this post by Danny Williams, from the Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh Scotland.   (Note: The Beltane Fire Society is just plain awesome…)

Later in the morning, after sunrise and a quick shower, several sticks of Lavender Incense were lit in offering at altar and in the  planters on the balcony that the Gods and Spirits might be pleased, that I may remember Them and my relationship with Them.

I lit candles, that Beltaine Fires may light the way through the worlds.  I tasted salt, sipped water, passed my hand above the flames, and listened to the ringing of a bell.  I kissed the side of the top shelf of Spirit and began the Offerings.

“Spirits of this place, this hearth, this home, this apartment of Greyhaven, thank you for your blessings and blessings unto you.  I offer Wine mixed with Water that you may never thirst on this blessed day of Beltaine.  To Life, To Life with my Beloved, To Life Well Lived.”

A different bell from the one for Air was rung and unmixed wine, dark and red was poured…

“I make an offering of Harvest Wine unto the Ancestors.  I give greetings and Honor to the Beloved and Honored Dead.  To Those to whom I am tied by the red threads of blood, the silver threads of Witchcraft, and the Pink threads of Queerdom, I give thanks.  Thank you for Life, for it’s lessons, for your teaching and guidance and inspiration and your many blessings upon me and mine.  Be welcome in my life and heart on this holy day as you are every day.  May you never thirst.  To Life, To Life with my Beloved, To Life Well Lived.”

Similar offerings of the Beaujolais Nouveau were made to the Triple Goddess and to Herne, and a separate offering of the last of the Wine mixed with Water was made for Hecate.  While Beltaine may not be one of Her Holy Days it still felt right and proper to Honor Her.  I also poured some Wine for Ganesha, and lit several candles around his statue, again not one of His festivals, but on a festival it feels right to honor ALL the Holy Powers I have truck and relationships with.

On the whole a fairly simple, Beltaine, light on formality heavy on feeling.

We have rent to pay and some things to take care of today, perhaps a celebratory meal later in the week…

How did you celebrate the Holy Day?  How are you observing the Holy Tide?

Peace and Many Blessings to you and yours,

Pax