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into_the_mound July 31 2014, 14:42

Starwood 34


Starwood comes, and Starwood goes. The most wonderful event of my summer, every summer, has ticked by thirty-four times marking my life through my thirties, forties and fifties. Pardon me – I don’t mean to pick up that earlier post’s themes, but Starwood is a real part of my own process of living and aging.

This is our fifth Starwood at our new home, Wisteria Campground in SE Ohio, and things felt well re-rooted from the move. The staff (i.e. us) knows how to approach the grounds, our plans are arranged, our execution adequate for a gang of volunteers that really only goes to work once yearly. I must make a special mention of the Wisteria staff. The hippy-hearted combine that has kept that scene running for nearly 20 years now has had plenty of its own interpersonal drama, but when showtime comes they smile and roll it out. They have been a pleasure to work with in every way.

One bit of good news for me this year is representative of a larger trend of good news for the event. After most of a decade of managing either set-up, take-down or (shudder…) both I was officially off duty for those physically taxing jobs. Both were handled by younger folks, part of our new wave of volunteers and organizing associates.

In the past several years our central crew has recruited as many as 20 new folks, and many of those have stepped right up. Set-up, take-down, on-site registration and a couple of new departments were handled by newer organizers. I don’t mean to be technical, but organizers reading this know how much work is in those three departments alone.

The event was plainly filled with younger faces this year. At opening circle I asked how many folks present were younger than Starwood’s 34 years, and over half the folks raised hands. This is a trend that we’re so very happy to see – it will be young folks who keep the fire burning into this century.

Nellie, Gnorm, Liafal, me, Vickie, Oberon
Having relieved myself of some manual labor, this year I did considerably more program. A high point for me was the Pete Seeger Singalong. Several people came prepared, including our beloved Uncle Gnorm with lyric-sheets, and we spent an hour in music-nostalgia-land. More than that, there were a lot of kids at the show, and passing along such classics as “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” seems part of a bard’s duty. I surely learned that song at Camp Christian, where I spent a week for most of my childhood summers. This decade, dozens of kids, maybe hundreds across the country have their ‘Summer camp’ experience at places like Starwood or Pagan Spirit Gathering. My by-word on the topic: “Church camp is different for some kids…”

L. and I did a set as well, accompanied by AJ Gooch on didge and drum, and by his son Madoc on drum. Madoc will turn 18 next year, and has become one of the crew, as well as a competent drummer - more multi-generation fun. My voice was crushed early this year – my allergies combined with party-roaring and outdoor living, but I can usually sell a song in whatever condition I find myself, and the set was good, especially with help.

For some reason I committed myself to a lot of teaching this year. I planned to teach the Nineteen Working, and knew I’d be managing the ADF ritual. Doing the latter meant that we ought to do an ADF info workshop and pre-ritual briefing, so I signed myself up to do that. That meant I had program duties three days out of four, on top of singing and organizing. So, a busy year, even though I ditched the physical labor. Next year I must get ADF to send a team to do the org program…

My teaching was moderately attended, and my voice was badly wracked at the outset, but it generated some deep responses in some attendees, and produced good comments. I think I’ll be doing that work more often as a public teaching. The ADF ritual went well, thanks almost entirely to the reliable skill of our ritualists. Druids from three or five Groves came together and produced a strong rite of blessing for the land and the folk. What we can manage when we don’t even know what we’re doing is pretty cool – next year, a plan!

Personally I loved this year’s music. Starwood delivers one of the most unique and diverse line-ups on any Pagan festival stage, and this year was a wonderful combination of psychedelic world-music with modern rock. One of the big surprises to many was the metal set performed by Deadiron a Viking Metal band fronted by Starwood kid-village alumnus Alex Van Ness (who happens to be an active Troth member). The machine-tight riffs, vocal range and positive message of Deadiron’s music made them a hit among the tie-die-and-sorcery crowd. Telesma are another band that began their life through Starwood, and their blend of world-music and electronica turned the house at right angles to itself… or was that just me? We were very pleased to welcome Tuatha Dea to their first Starwood. They are a travelling family of musicians, and they brought a merchant booth and several workshops. A lot of bands are tightly scheduled – they arrive, play their set and depart. Tuatha Dea made themselves a part of the festival, (just as Telesma has always done) and this we like.

It was my personal pleasure to have Jeff “Magnus” MacBride back at Starwood after a decade’s absence. Magnus is one of the world’s great stage magicians, from his home-base in Las Vegas to the White House, China and various world capitals. He’s also been a Pagan festival attendee since the early 80s, when I met him at a Rites of Spring in New England. Magnus brings occult and magical concepts to his stage act, and the skills of a stage performer to his ritual work. His love for the drum-and-fire circle has led him to devise the Alchemical Fire, an all-night rhythm and trance experience that has been transformative for many folks. My organizer duties sent me to bed early the night he held his Fire at Starwood, but I’m told it was beautiful and powerful.

In general the atmosphere at this year’s event was sweet and cool, a rainbow ice-cream despite some summery heat. Artistic expression, naked frolicking and focused ritual all were up this year. On the latter I’ll mention the sweat-lodge prep and work, the full Druidic sacrifice and blessing, and the O.T.O.’s Gnostic Mass. A full card of women’s spirituality program and ritual was also presented at the Red Tent. Next year we’re hoping to actually get traditional Wicca back in the mix somewhere.

I came out of this year’s event refreshed and optimistic. Starwood abides. Make your plans for next summer now! If you haven’t been yet, or haven’t been in a while, this is a great time to get on the bus.

houseofvines July 31 2014, 10:48

That’s cool.



I better come clean. As much of a genius as I am, I didn’t really come up with the idea for the Bacchic Orphic blood rite on my own.

Basically all I want to do is get drunk with a bunch of people in the woods and have some communal ecstatic revelry with them and the gods and spirits of the Starry Bull tradition.

But then all of these immersive polytheists started spinning these wild conspiracy theories about how we were calling ourselves devotional polytheists to brainwash people into performing some obscure Roman rite 95% of them hadn’t heard of and the rest didn’t even think of because the word has developed a completely separate meaning over the last two thousand years …

… and it all sounded like such paranoid fun that I just had to try it out myself.

And it totally was.

Being an evil cult leader is way funner than being some dude who’s trying to get people to honor a weird group of gods and spirits and write pretty things for them. (Like the communal hymns for Apollo Soranos or Melinoë – hint, hint.)

No wonder people spend so much time immersed in intarwebz drama.

Real life is boring.

Except it isn’t. Real life is kind of cool. At the Polytheist Leadership Conference I saw a bunch of strangers get together and do a spontaneous ritual to the Moon, because it was there and they were there and they didn’t have the internet to remind them of why they should hate each other. Oh, they had plenty of differences between them. Gender, sexual orientation, politics, religious methodology – you name it, they came down on different sides of it. But one of them glanced up at the sky and said, “Wow, the moon looks cool tonight.” And another said, “Hey, I’ve got some alcohol – let’s make an offering.” And before you knew it, there was a whole group of them standing there doing shit.

And that’s cool.

Even if it’s not very evil.

Tagged: polytheism, polytheist leadership conference, thiasos of the starry bull
houseofvines July 31 2014, 10:18

How serious are you?



Now that I’ve explicitly stated my intent with the blood rite a lot of you are going to back out. Some might even be horrified enough to leave the thiasos.


It’s the ones who aren’t, the ones who are willing to spill their blood knowing full well what that means, that I’m interested in cultivating.

I’ll take the others as far as they’re willing to go and bless them on the remainder of their path, regardless of how much they spit and curse.

But it’s you guys who do more than listen, who are committed to tending the Bull and all of his associated gods and spirits, that are going to get to behold the mysteries in full.

Tagged: thiasos of the starry bull
houseofvines July 31 2014, 09:48

There’s nothing ambiguous about me



My proposal of a blood drive for the Dionysian Dead has run into a pleasantly unexpected snag – turns out a lot of thiasos folk are …

Not able to donate blood because of the antiquated rules of the Red Cross.

Damn it.

Doubly thwarted.

Firstly, as a heavily tattooed bisexual I am forbidden from giving blood myself and secondly, my plans to conduct a secret global sanguine rite to bring a group of insane and amoral hunting spirits more fully into this world just got kyboshed.

Fucking rules, man.

What, you didn’t realize that’s what we were doing?

It was right there in the title – as in devotio the Roman ritual which Wikipedia describes as follows:

In ancient Roman religion, the devotio was an extreme form of votum (an offering in fulfillment of an advance promise) in which a Roman general vowed to sacrifice his own life in battle along with the enemy to chthonic gods in exchange for a victory.

And the words I had you say:

“I shed this blood for you, O heroes of the True Vine; may my deeds help cause your presence to be felt in the world this day and every day after.”

That was to create the door to let them through and also consecrate your blood to them so that recipients of that blood would then be more easily manipulated by these spirits.

I’m sorry. I thought all of that was clear.

This is the Dionysian Dead we’re talking about. Otherwise known as the Furious Host. The ones I wrote about here.

If humans are helped by donating the blood, all the better – but the important part is the bloodletting itself.

And saying the right words.

That part is really important. There must be consent, informed or otherwise – I’m evil, not an anarchist.

Which is good news! You can still participate regardless of how fabulous you are! You just won’t get that extra use out of the blood offering. But you can always feed the trees with it.

Tagged: magic, spirits
houseofvines July 31 2014, 07:12

A wizard of words: thoughts on Orpheus and Hermes



I like questions, and Theomai had a really good one:

I actually had a question which involves Starry Bull-esque things: is there any kind of strong connection with Orpheus and Hermes? I’m feeling out a thread there, but aside from the lyre, I can’t seem to find anything direct…

Orpheus’ connections with Hermes are not as direct as the ones he has with Apollon and Dionysos, but they are strong and persistent. To begin with, there’s the tortoise-shell lyre that the infant Hermes invents shortly after crawling out of his nymph-mother’s cave, which he then trades to Apollon in return for pebble-divination and the Thriai or bee-nymphs of Korykia. This lyre was then given to Orpheus by Apollon, who in some traditions is regarded as his father, having begotten him through the mountain-haunting nymph of prophetic verse Kalliope.

This leads into the next point of contact between them, their use of language to persuade and control:

This name ‘Hermes’ seems to me to have to do with speech; he is an interpreter (hêrmêneus) and a messenger, is wily and deceptive in speech, and is oratorical. All this activity is concerned with the power of speech. Now, as I said before, eirein denotes the use of speech; moreover, Homer often uses the word emêsato, which means ‘contrive.’ From these two words, then, the lawgiver imposes upon us the name of this god who contrived speech and the use of speech–eirein means ‘speak’–and tells us : ‘Ye human beings, he who contrived speech (eirein emêsato) ought to be called Eiremes by you.’ We, however, have beautified the name, as we imagine, and call him Hermes. Iris also seems to have got her name from eirein, because she is a messenger. (Plato, Kratylos 408a)

The invention of language was also credited to Orpheus by some; others associated his poems with the earliest written form of Greek:

And in the same manner use was made of these Pelasgic letters by Orpheus and Pronapides who was the teacher of Homer and a gifted writer of songs; and also by Thymoetes, the son of Thymoetes, the son of Laomedon, who lived at the same time as Orpheus, wandered over many regions of the inhabited world, and penetrated to the western part of Libya as far as the ocean. He also visited Nysa, where the ancient natives of the city relate that Dionysos was reared there, and, after he had learned from the Nysaeans of the deeds of this god one and all, he composed the “Phrygian poem,” as it is called, wherein he made use of the archaic manner both of speech and of letters. (Diodoros Sikeleiotes, Library of History 3.67.5)

This is important when you consider that literacy came fairly late to the Greeks who had largely been a nomadic and then pastoral people until that point. It likewise precipitated a massive cultural and technological revolution which left a deep ambivalence in the population that remained well into the Classical period, with Sokrates and others expressing concern over the written word’s effect on memory and character. These sorts of objections were specifically lobbed at Orpheus:

People are wrong to think that Orpheus did not compose a hymn that says wholesome and lawful things; for they say that he utters riddles by means of his composition, and it is impossible to state the solution to his words even though they have been spoken. But his composition is strange and riddling for human beings. Orpheus did not wish to say in it disputable riddles, but important things in riddles. For he tells a holy tale even from the first word right through to the last, as he shows even in the well-known verse: for by bidding them ‘put doors on their ears’ he is saying that he is not legislating for the many, (but is addressing) those who are pure in hearing … (Derveni Papyrus col. 7)

Those who knew how to use language well were often seen as tricksters, thieves, con-men and wizards:

Fearful shuddering and tearful pity and sorrowful longing come upon those who hear it, and the soul experiences a peculiar feeling, on account of the words, at the good and bad fortunes of other people’s affairs and bodies. But come, let me proceed from one section to another. By means of words, inspired incantations serve as bringers-on of pleasure and takers-off of pain. For the incantation’s power, communicating with the soul’s opinion, enchants and persuades and changes it, by trickery. Two distinct methods of trickery and magic are to be found: errors of soul, and deceptions of opinion. (Gorgias, Encomium of Helen)

Which is no doubt how Hermes came to become patron of all of these professions, along with commerce, travel and messengers. In some accounts this is precisely what led to the death of Orpheus:

At the base of Olympus is the city of Dium, near which lies the village of Pimpleia. Here lived Orpheus, the Ciconian, it is said — a wizard who at first collected money from his music, together with his soothsaying and his celebration of the orgies connected with the mystic initiatory rites, but soon afterwards thought himself worthy of still greater things and procured for himself a throng of followers and power. Some, of course, received him willingly, but others, since they suspected a plot and violence, combined against him and killed him. And near here, also, is Leibethra. (Strabo, Geography 7.7)

This is almost the story told of Hermes in the Homeric Hymn in miniature, except that Hermes manages to broker a truce with his enemies and integrate himself into the Olympian system instead of getting killed. Nor is this the only instance where Orpheus is called a magician – Orphic rites are frequently compared to those of the magoi, even by evident insiders:

 … prayers and sacrifices appease the souls, and the enchanting song of the magician is able to remove the daimones when they impede. Impeding daimones are revenging souls. This is why the magicians perform the sacrifice as if they were paying a penalty. On the offerings they pour water and milk, from which they make the libations, too. They sacrifice innumerable and many-knobbed cakes, because the souls, too, are innumerable. (Derveni Papyrus col. 6.1-11)

It’s worth noting that the specific domain where magicians and Orpheotelestai intersect is the dead. Although Hermes presided over all forms of magic, as a psychopomp he specialized in necromancy:

Chorus of Evocators: We, the race that lives around the lake, do honor to Hermes our ancestor … Come now, guest-friend, take up your stance on the grassy sacred enclosure of the fearful lake. Slash the gullet of the neck, and let the blood of this sacrificial victim flow into the murky depths of the reeds as a drink offering for the lifeless. Call upon primeval Earth and chthonic Hermes, escort of the dead, and ask chthonic Zeus to send up the swarm of night-wanderers from the mouth of this melancholy river, unfit for washing hands, sent up by Stygian springs. (Aischylos, Psuchahogoi fragment 273)

The ability to travel between worlds and guide the souls up to earth was another trait Hermes and Orpheus shared:

But if I had had the voice and music of Orpheus, so that, by bewitching the daughter of Demeter or her husband by my songs, I could lead you out of Hades, I would have descended, and neither the hound of Pluto, nor Charon at his oar, the transporter of souls, would have stopped me from bringing your life back to the light. (Euripides, Alcestis 357-62)

Indeed, all of the early sources – Phanocles included, who gives the name of Orpheus’ spouse as Agriope (wild-faced) or Argiope (shining-faced) not Eurydike (wide-ruling; a title belonging to Persephone and several Makedonian queens) – seem to indicate that Orpheus was successful in his task. The sudden madness and backwards glance costing him his lady love is found sporadically in the Classical period (Plato makes derisive allusion to it) and only becomes the dominant tradition with the Hellenistic poets, who always try to strike the most tragic chord possible. (One of them, Eratosthenes, is also responsible for introducing a note of tension between Dionysos and Orpheus, likely for political reasons.) In this variant tradition it is Hermes who either leads the forlorn poet out of the underworld once he has failed or imposes the taboo against looking back in the first place.

In one tradition Orpheus is actually responsible for introducing the worship of Hermes into Greece along with founding the mysteries of Dionysos – both of which he discovered during his travels in Egypt, as Diodoros Sikeliotes (Library of History 96.4-9) described:

Orpheus, for instance, brought from Egypt most of his mystic ceremonies, the orgiastic rites that accompanied his wanderings, and his fabulous account of his experiences in Hades. For the rite of Osiris is the same as that of Dionysos and that of Isis very similar to that of Demeter, the names alone having been interchanged; and the punishments in Hades of the unrighteous, the Fields of the Righteous, and the fantastic conceptions, current among the many, which are figments of the imagination — all these were introduced by Orpheus in imitation of the Egyptian funeral customs. Hermes, for instance, the Conductor of Souls, according to the ancient Egyptian custom, brings up the body of the Apis to a certain point and then gives it over to one who wears the mask of Cerberus. And after Orpheus had introduced this notion among the Greeks, Homer followed it when he wrote:

Cyllenian Hermes then did summon forth
The suitors’s souls, holding his wand in hand.

And again a little further on he says:

They passed Okeanos’ streams, the Gleaming Rock,
The Portals of the Sun, the Land of Dreams;
And now they reached the Meadow of Asphodel,
Where dwell the Souls, the shades of men outworn.

Now he calls the river “Okeanos” because in their language the Egyptians speak of the Nile as Okeanos; the “Portals of the Sun” (heliopulai) is his name for the city of Heliopolis; and “Meadows,” the mythical dwelling of the dead, is his term for the place near the lake which is called Acherousia, which is near Memphis, and around it are fairest meadows, of a marsh-land and lotus and reeds. The same explanation also serves for the statement that the dwelling of the dead is in these regions, since the most and the largest tombs of the Egyptians are situated there, the dead being ferried across both the river and Lake Acherousia and their bodies laid in the vaults situated there. The other myths about Hades, current among the Greeks, also agree with the customs which are practised even now in Egypt. For the boat which receives the bodies is called baris, and the passenger’s fee is given to the boatman, who in the Egyptian tongue is called charon. And near these regions, they say, are also the “Shades,” which is a temple of Hekate, and “portals” of Kokytos and Lethe, which are covered at intervals with bands of bronze. There are, moreover, other portals, namely, those of Truth, and near them stands a headless statue of Justice.

Despite this Hermes doesn’t figure much in the standard Orphic cosmogonies – though he does show up in a variant Italian form in the golden lamellae, something a lot of people may not realize.

A: I come from the pure, o Pure Queen of the earthly ones, Eukles, Eubouleus, and You other Immortal Gods! I too claim to be of your blessed race, but Fate and other Immortal Gods conquered me, the star-smiting thunder. And I flew out from the hard and deeply-grievous circle, and stepped onto the crown with my swift feet, and slipped into the bosom of the Mistress, the Queen of the Underworld. And I stepped out from the crown with my swift feet.
B: Happy and blessed one! You shall be a god instead of a mortal.
A: I have fallen as a kid into milk.

The name Euklui Paterei is found in a number of Samnite inscriptions; Hesychius describes him as a cross between Mercury and Dis Pater (Hesychius s.v. Eukolos). It’s interesting that he’s partnered with Eubouleos (the Good Counselor) who is either, in Eleusinian sources, the swineherd that got swallowed up along with his pigs when Aidoneus abducted Kore and was thereafter venerated as a hero or, in Orphic sources, a chthonic Dionysos who mediates between the living, the dead and the underworld powers and brings soothing release to them through his words.

Although the mainstream Hellenic tradition represented Hermes as the elder brother of Dionysos who shelters and safely conducts the infant god to the nymphs and satyrs who raise him on Mount Nysa after his foster-parents Ino and Athamas are driven insane and massacre their children, the private religious association in 1st or 2nd century Anatolia which wrote the corpus of texts we now call the Orphic Hymns knew a different tradition, whereby the chthonic Hermes was the son of Dionysos and Aphrodite:

You dwell in the compelling road of no return by Kokytos.
You guide the souls of mortals to the nether gloom.
Hermes, off-spring of Dionysos who revels in dance,
And Aphrodite, the Paphian maiden of the fluttering eyelids,
You frequent the sacred house of Persephone,
As guide throughout the earth of ill-fated souls,
Which you bring to their haven when their time has come,
Charming them with your sacred wand and giving them sleep,
From which you rouse them again.
To you indeed Persephone gave the office, throughout wide Tartaros,
To lead the way for the eternal souls of men.
But, O blessed one, grant a good end for the initiate’s wok.

This is in distinction to the earlier Hymn to Hermes which gives his traditional parentage:

Hear me, Hermes, messenger of Zeus, son of Maia.
Almighty is your heart, O lord of the deceased and judge of contests.
Gentle and clever, O Argeiphontes, you are a guide whose sandals fly,
And a man-loving prophet to mortals.
You are vigorous and you delight in exercise and in deceit.
Interpreter of all, you are a profiteer who frees us of cares,
And who holds in his hands the blameless tool of peace.
Lord of Korykos, blessed,
helpful and skilled in words, you assist in work,
You are a friend of mortals in need,
And you wield the dreaded and respected weapon of speech.
Hear my prayer and grant a good end to a life of industry,
gracious talk and mindfulness.

A different group of Orphics in Olbia (modern-day Ukraine) honored Hermes and Aphrodite as romantic partners – in fact one of these Orpheotelestai, who seems to have been engaged in a magical duel with a colleague, described himself as a prophet of Hermes and worked out of a joint temple of the two deities. Interestingly we find this same pairing in Lokroi Epizephyrii, whose mysteries of Persephone strongly influenced Orphism in Magna Graecia. (This is not as random as it may seem – the two locales actually had strong trade relations in antiquity.)

Although there are many other points of connection between Hermes and Orpheus – such as Saint Paul – I’d be remiss if I did not mention the Golden Chain:

In the subjects belonging to theology the six great theologians join together: the first is Zoroaster, chief of Magi, the second Mercurius Trismegistus, the prince of Egyptian priests. Orpheus was successor to Mercurius; Aglaophamus was introduced into the sanctuaries by Orpheus. Pythagoras followed Aglaophamus in theology; Aglaophamus’ successor was Plato, who, in his works, summarized, improved and illustrated the wisdom of these men. They all veiled divine Mysteries with poetical shadows, so that they should not be communicated to the profane people. But it happened that their successors communicated the mysteries and everybody interpreted them in his own way. (Marcilio Facino, Theologia Platonica 17.1)

Particularly since Jack Faust has written a brilliant two-part article on the topic over at The Boukoleon, which you can find here and here.

So, what else do you guys want to know about Bacchic Orphism?

Tagged: aphrodite, apollon, dionysos, egypt, gods, greece, haides, hermes, italy, orpheus, persephone, spirits
chas_clifton July 31 2014, 00:09

A Horned God in Oklahoma?


An interesting story — a year old, but I just ran across it — about “deer men” in the 59,000-acre  Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma.

“We moved to another observation site to the northeast at the base of Mount Scott, the highest point out there,” Heying said. “We did a U-turn in the parking area and as I made the turn my headlights lighted up a human figure with a head I can not easily describe.”

The creature didn’t look human. “It was as though it had the head of a buffalo or an elk, while standing upright with two legs and two arms that were human,” he said. But the eyes were what terrified him. “The eyes were a dark red.”

Read the rest — you will have to scroll down past the so-called UFO sighting.

Various explanations are offered in the comments, of course. Land wights, a god, or just a good campfire story?

houseofvines July 30 2014, 20:32

Wednesday is going to get wyrd with two Odin’s folk on the air




A while back we had one of our guests help us do a special episode of Wyrd Ways Radio where individuals who had suffered sexual abuse were given space to tell their stories, since many had been forced to keep silent by their local pagan communities.

Well, now that guest is back to do the show we originally had him scheduled for:

Sarenth Odinsson is a Northern Tradition shaman, and priest of Odin and Anubis. He has written as well as edited articles for RendingtheVeil.com, an occult ezine, and has been published in Witches and Pagans magazine. His passions include writing, reading, drawing, martial arts, spirituality, and sustainable living. He holds an Associate’s in Graphic Communication and has a BS in Psychology through Eastern Michigan University. He has edited the anthology Calling to Our Ancestors which is being released through Asphodel Press and can be contacted through his blog at sarenth.wordpress.com.

Tune in tonight at 10:00pm EDT to hear Sarenth discuss:

* Ancestor Work
* The Runes
* What being a shaman/spiritworker/religious and/or spiritual specialist means
* How he balances priestly obligations to both Odin and Anubis

If you’d like to call in with questions the number is 347-308-8222.

Tagged: anubis, heathenry, odin, wiccan pedo gate, wyrd ways radio
givewell July 30 2014, 17:57

Our ongoing review of ICCIDD



The International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders Global Network (ICCIDD) advocates for and assists programs that fortify salt with iodine. Our preliminary work (writeup forthcoming) implies that even moderate iodine deficiency can lead to impaired cognitive development.

ICCIDD tracks iodine deficiency around the world and encourages countries with iodine deficient populations to pass laws requiring iodization for all salt produced in and imported to the country. ICCIDD also provides – and helps countries find – general support and assistance for their iodization programs.

In February, we wrote that we were considering ICCIDD for a 2014 GiveWell top charity recommendation. We’ve now spent a considerable amount of time talking to and analyzing ICCIDD. This post shares what we’ve learned so far and what questions we’re planning to focus on throughout the rest of our investigation. (For more detail, see our detailed interim review.)

ICCIDD has successfully completed the first phase of our investigation process and we view it as a contender for a recommendation this year. We now plan (a) to make a $100,000 grant to ICCIDD (as part of our “top charity participation grants,” funded by Good Ventures) and (b) continue our analysis to determine whether or not we should recommend ICCIDD to donors at the end of the year.

Reasons we prioritized ICCIDD

We prioritized ICCIDD because of our impression that iodization has strong evidence of effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and room for more funding.

The evidence of effectiveness for salt iodization is not fully straightforward – we plan to publish an intervention report with details before the end of the year – but multiple randomized controlled trials imply that reducing iodine deficiency in children leads to moderate (~3-4 points) gains in IQ.

We have yet to find well-documented assessments of the cost of iodization, but the estimates we have seen most commonly estimate approximately $0.10 per person reached.

Although iodization rates have increased dramatically over the past 20 years, significant deficiency still exists. ICCIDD publishes a scorecard showing countries’ iodine status; many fall significantly below the benchmark of 100 µg of iodine per liter of urine.

Questions we hope to answer in our ongoing analysis

What would have happened to iodization programs in ICCIDD’s absence?

Because ICCIDD is an advocacy/technical assistance organization (it does not directly implement iodization programs but advocates that others do so), it is difficult to assess its impact.

ICCIDD has provided us with several examples of countries in which it believes it played an essential role (some of which we discuss briefly in our interim review page), but we have not yet investigated these cases sufficiently to form a confident view about what role ICCIDD played and how crucial its contributions were to the program.

What role does ICCIDD play relative to other organizations that work on iodization?

A number of organizations support government and private-sector salt iodization programs, especially UNICEF, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and the Micronutrient Initiative.

We hope to better understand the roles each organization plays so that we can formulate a view about where donated funds are likely to have the greatest impact. (We’re considering the possibility that funds donated to any should be thought of as “supporting the international effort to support iodization” and that the important question is assessing the combined costs and impacts of all 4 organizations.)

We are also considering GAIN for a 2014 GiveWell recommendation. We do not expect our decision about GAIN to affect the likelihood of ICCIDD receiving a recommendation.

Program monitoring

Surveys to assess iodine consumption and status are completed more than once a decade in most countries, and are usually conducted by country governments or UNICEF. We have yet to analyze these surveys carefully enough to know whether or not they provide a reliable assessment of the track record of iodization programs: i.e., do iodization programs lead to a reduction in iodine deficiency?

Room for more funding

We have seen strong evidence that ICCIDD is funding constrained. It told us that its staff members have, over the past few years, consistently submitted requests for funds that are significantly higher than it is able to allocate. Additionally, ICCIDD lost what had been its largest funder in 2012. It has also shared an overall budget with us requesting significantly more funding than it has received in the past.

Nevertheless, we have two major questions about room for more funding:

  1. Given iodization’s cost-effectiveness and track record, why haven’t others closed the funding gap? We have been told that the lack of funds may be due to “donor fatigue” (i.e., donors have supported iodization in the past and iodized a large proportion of the countries in need, so they no longer view it as a priority), but we have yet to investigate this question sufficiently to feel comfortable with our understanding.
  2. Will ICCIDD’s future activities be as cost-effective as past attempts to increase iodization rates? One possible explanation for the lack of donor funds is that the countries that remain iodine deficient are particularly problematic. Were this true, it might be the case that donors are acting rationally because future efforts to iodize could be significantly more costly than past efforts.

Note that previously the Gates Foundation made a $40 million grant to support universal salt iodization (USI) in 16 countries over seven years. That grant ends in March of 2015 and no extension of the grant has yet been scheduled.

houseofvines July 29 2014, 20:45

Search term poetry



maiden in white comforts her knight
will you give everything for what you love?

what did the greeks burn for offerings?
what are the god anubis’s associations with the sea?
is the cave in caesaeria philippi bottomless?

what was the name of the god that sat on a tripod amid fumes?
a stranger from a far land
unusual masked deity
heart broken to let the light in

worship the cock god
cock worship for everybody
john the baptist with hooves
aghoris smoke hashish and eat human flesh
meditating with the sacred phallus
joker smile why so serious
stop letting fear rule your life

the monster is fucking someone’s wife
in the grove of the starry splendor
muttering words from the god at the temple of Delphi

achilles was still in full pursuit of hector, as a hound chasing a fawn

mysteries of love and death
sad girl in a swing
sexy cum faced young girl
holding a severed head
the spider is in the palace of kings

woman wrapped up by vines
open vision and pouring honey into the mouth followed by bitumen
this is how man creates his gods

we must all wear a scary nietzsche mask

a man hold a giant cockerel
blood splatters everywhere
you sacrifice for what you want
hellenismos and babies
how to get more likes on Facebook

what was your name before you had a face
orphic egg
phallic hieroglyphs
neoplatonic masturbation

work hard until you no longer have to introduce yourself

into_the_mound July 29 2014, 17:09

Spear of Lugh - Tredara Tornado Drill #1


 Lughnasadh was exciting.
                Now it had been an exciting week leading up to the last weekend of July. After years of hemming and hawing we had finally called the county storm-water managers, and arranged to have the old drainage ditch re-dug. This turned out to be a Giant Project, and all week long we were semi-supervising the county crew as they tore through our woods to cut the ditch. The final result will be a new road through the woods, connecting the old half of the property with the new, along with vastly improved drainage, woods no longer turning to swamp, etc. It still feels a lot like we summoned a crew of moderate-sized demons to help us build out new temple…
                Fortunately the new barn cleans up easily, and actual prep for the gathering went smoothly. Saturday was moderately attended, but the evening musical sets were very nice, and the fireworks and laser (yes, my kin, laser) show in our backyard was a real treat. As a side bonus we met more of our neighbors, and found them to be young, open and unconcerned about our brand either of fun or of religion. On we go toward that scary moment when we hang up a shingle on our road.

Two contestants strive at Staff-wrestling

To review, our Lughnasadh customs include a five-game competition, the winner standing as the Champion of the Grove for the coming year. The new Champion and the old face off in the rite, in a dance of spear and bread-loaf commemorating Lugh’s defeat of the Old Giant. The five games are 
• Rock-Toss: as titled, thrown for distance
• Loggets: a lawn-bowling game in which an irregular stone is thrown at an irregular stand of logs, across an irregular lawn. A combination of skill and luck…
• Board-game: varies from year to year. We’ve done Morris games, Othello, Brandubh, and this year another variant of fidchel, or the tafl games.
• Staff-wrestling: Opponents stand in a narrow court, each holding one end of a staff. Goal is to move the opponent out of the court, or make them release the staff. As close as we get to grappling.
• Poetry: Contestants must write nine lines of poetry in any style, on a topic chosen at the moment, in nine minutes, then read them to be judged by a panel.
                The exciting part, for me, is that I won! Well, I split the win in a tie with one of our newer folks, so I’m co-champion for the year. I’ll admit, after whining about feeling old, that I’m pleased. I placed first in Loggets, first in the Stick, and third (damn their eyes) in poetry, so a nice well-rounded skill-set to finish my boast.
The Spear and Loaf dance from a previous year.
               The other end of the excitement began when the radar and local forecasts made it plain that we were about to get hit with a wave of severe weather, just in time for Sunday’s ritual. I can count the number of times we’ve been rained into the barn for ritual on one hand, even now, but this was one of them. There may be an occult angle to that as well.
                We are working to move our spiritual work on this land from the small nemeton that has served us for some twenty years into a new glade with new structures up the hill. Since before Solstice we have been building, making offerings and doing divinations. While public omens have previously been lovely I’ve had a couple of private concerns that I have attempted to mitigate by offerings.
                Arriving at Sunday, we had decided to make-do in the admittedly unfinished new nemeton, hallowing it as part of the Lughnasadh rite. This was not to be. Driving rain sent us under roof. Fortunately we have a nice fire, well and tree available in the outer room of the barn, and we had a cozy and well-seated rite. The omen, drawn in the ogham letters, was
Ceirt, Fearn, and Huath.
                ADF druids may wonder why we didn’t call that an ill omen and call for more offerings, as is our custom in such situations. First, I don’t consider Ceirt particularly ill. Second, the ‘terror’ of Huath, in my opinion, is in some ways the experience of meeting the Other Crowd. Having these two centered by the protection and strength of Fearn was reassuring. Also specific to our case is that the apple-meadow at Tredara is in one corner, while the Hawthorn-hedge property line is in the other. One very local way of reading that omen is that Fearn protects, from apple to hawthorn. Thus the seer and I looked at each other, and decided to accept the omen as a blessing. Some blessings, as we teach, include lessons.
Generic lightning, but it
was like this...

                The company was feasting in peace, rain heavy but not frightening, when cell-phones lit up with a tornado warning for our small county. Now, until recently, a warning meant that a funnel had been sighted, so folks began to get worried. Recent tech advances means they issue the warning (as opposed to a watch) if radar sees clouds even beginning to form certain patterns, so it isn’t quite as dire…
                Then the area tornado sirens went off. Once again, this generally only happens if the status is ‘imminent threat’. I’ll admit that the combination of the networked warnings and local siren scared the crap outta me – that ‘terror’ promised by the Huath blessing, I might say. We had a barn full of friends and their kids. The only real shelter choice if a funnel had marched in to that very meadow would have been the nice new ditch now filling with water. After a moment’s pause to calm ourselves, and a sky-watch that revealed no immediate threat we made the dash to our back porch, where access to our basement would provide at least provisional shelter. It also provided access to radar on TV and real-time local coverage, which revealed that our neighborhood wasn’t in line for the 80+mph wind events that were hitting a few areas, and that no funnels were in the air. We brought everyone into the house and Thexalon (the retiring Champ) told a story to calm and center the kids. Twenty minutes later the active warning was over, and radar showed the storms moving out.
                Despite our terror (which, to our credit, never turned to panic) the worst that our patch saw was heavy, straight-down, pounding rain, and lots of it. We might say, in fact, that we were protected from south to north, as our omen-reading suggested, as no damage was sustained. However, it is plain that the new nemeton was not ready – the hard rain washed away some of the support of the new eastern porch, causing a small section to collapse. Plainly we were premature and Those watching over the process schooled us to that effect. We will proceed, more deliberately.
                I have occasionally allowed myself to think I know what I’m doing in terms of such things as establishing a new nemeton. Yeah, well…

                However it generally was a lovely weekend with tribal peace, revelry, cheerful striving and bardic delight. The Spear of Lugh was over us in every sense, and may his blessing be upon you all in this season, dear readers, if not quite so literally.
chas_clifton July 29 2014, 14:21

Rethinking Bog People


In college I had a work-study job in the library, and my favorite part was shelving books, because I worked alone, deep in the stacks, and if I found something interesting, I could skim it quickly and either check it out or come back for it.bogpeople_thumb[2]

One day I rolled my cart up to the rows of books awaiting reshelving, and there was one whose spine read The Bog People — Glob.

Was this for real?  BogGlobBog?

It turned out to be serious anthropology: Here is an American Anthropologist review (PDF) from 1969, when it was published. Pagan sacrifices? Medieval murders? I think I learned the word liripipe from reading The Bog People, rather than by joining the Society for Creative Anachronism.

The bog mummies are so fascinating because of their state of preservation. They are not just bones – you can see them as individuals, often wearing the clothing in which they died.

People create stories about them, such as Lindow Man, the so-called Druid prince. Did he suffer a ritualistic Robert Graves-ish triple death — clubbing, throat-cutting, and strangulation?

Others, such as Ronald Hutton, offer a simpler explanation: the so-called throat-cutting was the accidental slash of the peat-cutter’s spade, the ligature merely a cord holding an amulet or piece of jewelry, and the cause of death was a straightforward bludgeoning — why, no one knows.

Archaeologists debate whether the bog bodies were simple crime victims or ritual-murder victims. Were they locals or outsiders? Ordinary people or celebrities?

Because some bear horrific wounds, such as slashed throats, and were buried instead of cremated like most others in their communities, scientists have suggested the bodies had been sacrificed as criminals, slaves, or simply commoners. The Roman historian Tacitus started this idea in the first century A.D. by suggesting they were deserters and criminals. . . .

Niels Lynnerup, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Copenhagen who has studied bog bodies, believes that they were sacrificed—but the enigma, he said, revolves around why.

You look at their faces, and you wonder how they ended up tossed into a pool in a bog.


houseofvines July 29 2014, 08:30

Taking off the mask for a moment



I made this post not only out of a strong desire to see polytheists coming together to do good works in their local communities and for some of that work to be done in the name of the dead who are dear to Dionysos …

There was something more, something initially left unsaid.

This is hard. I don’t like sharing too much personal stuff. I’ve put a lot of effort into building up the image of Sannion as a maddened, drunken, anarchic reprobate, damn it! I’m an empty, evil but sexy as fuck shell – I don’t care and I don’t feel anything and fuck all of you! Where’s my weed, man?

The Dionysian dead aren’t the only dead I’m doing this for. Before my mom finally made her journey West she had a lot of medical problems, including a couple surgeries that required transfusions. The blood that strangers gave kept her alive long enough for me to make it out there to Washington and say my goodbyes. I’ve never been able to thank them or express how much that gift meant to me. You could help me do that, though, by giving a little of yourself this August in the name of the Furious Host.

Tagged: dionysos, heroes, spirits
houseofvines July 29 2014, 08:29





As a way of tying these two threads together (the Feast of the Dionysian Kings and August as polytheist outreach month, in case you’re curious which threads I meant) your archiboukolos would like to make a personal request.

I want to start a blood drive for the Dionysian Dead.

At some point during the month of August, if you are able and willing, please give blood to a local blood bank saying while you do so, “I shed this blood for you, O heroes of the True Vine; may my deeds help cause your presence to be felt in the world this day and every day after.”

It’s not just draculas who believe that blood is the life. As the Red Cross website says:

• Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
• More than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day.
• A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
• The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
• The blood type most often requested by hospitals is Type O.
• The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
• Sickle cell disease affects more than 70,000 people in the U.S. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
• More than 1.6 million people were diagnosed with cancer last year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
• A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.

You can find a donation center near you through that site as well.

And finally you do not need to be a member of the thiasos of the Starry Bull to participate. The more the merrier in fact!

Tagged: dionysos, heroes, magic, spirits, thiasos of the starry bull
houseofvines July 29 2014, 06:52

What are your suggestions and what are you going to do?



Reading Galina’s declaration that August is Polytheist Community Outreach Month:

Ancient polytheisms promoted civic virtues and involvement in one’s local community. We have a lot of tremendously talented people in polytheism today and I think we could really make a difference if we started reaching out. I know a lot of us do things already all the time and we don’t draw attention to it. Maybe we should, not to brag, but to inspire each other to go out and make a difference. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problems we face as a community, as a human community and to feel that nothing we do, no effort will ever make any difference at all. That’s not true though and when we give in to those feelings of hopelessness, we’re denying ourselves a chance to make a good, solid change. We can poke the Filter in the eye! I saw a quote by Bruce Barton recently (no idea who he was but it’s a damned good quote): “Some­times when I con­sider what tremen­dous con­se­quences come from lit­tle things, I am tempted to think there are no lit­tle things.” I think he was absolutely right. People are fed up with these online arguments that never, ever go anywhere. Imagine what we could do if we took the energy we put into that and channelled it into our local communities.

As well as Christine Kraemer’s call to action:

And, knowing we cannot free ourselves from our economic bondage alone, we need to join forces with relatively like-minded people and – horror of horrors – learn to compromise, forgive, and be patient with each other. Our –isms and our desire that our groups or traditions be ideologically perfect will not serve us now. Our efforts must be both intrafaith and interfaith, and we must focus on what we can concretely achieve, not on how we theoretically differ. Whether we are ready to face it or not, we are in a life or death situation. It is time to embrace our imperfect allies, because that is all we have, and all we are.

I felt hope stir in my nether regions and an exhilarating rush of optimism for what we all could accomplish working together. Each of us have a part to play in creating the communities we want to belong to. And as the story of Galestes reminds us, you don’t have to be a great king to make a world of difference. You just have to care and be willing to act. Remember as well the meaning of the fasceswe are stronger when we act together.


No child should go without,
not when there are polytheists in the community.

Tagged: polytheism
houseofvines July 28 2014, 23:16

Some background for the festival



Assorted epithets related to Kingship
Adôneus = “Ruler” Ausonius, Epigrams 29.6
Aisumnêtês = “Ruler over all” Pausanias, 7.19
Anaktes – “the Lords” Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3.53
Anax = “Lord” Archilochos, Frag. 77
Eleuthereus = “He who frees” Pausanias 1.20.2
Eubouleus = “He of good counsel” Orphic Hymn 71.3
Kurios = “King” – Augustine, The City of God 7.21
Luaios = “He who frees from care”  Vergil, Georgics 2.229
Lusios = “The Deliverer” Orphic Hymn 49.2
Sôtêr = “The Savior” Lycophron 206

A selection of quotes on Dionysian kingship
“Like that of some flawless king, who, god-fearing, ruling a numerous and doughty people, upholds justice so that the dark earth brings forth wheat and barley, and the trees are heavy with fruit, and the sheep and goats give birth without fail, and the sea provides fish from his good leadership, and the people flourish under him.” – Homer, Odyssey 19.109-14


“But the rulers who give straight judgements to strangers and to the men of the land, and go not aside from what is just, their city flourishes, and the people prosper in it: Peace, the nurse of children, is abroad in their land, and all-seeing Zeus never decrees cruel war against them. Neither famine nor disaster ever haunt men who do true justice; but light-heartedly they tend the fields which are all their care. The earth bears them victual in plenty, and on the mountains the oak bears acorns upon the top and bees in the midst. Their woolly sheep are laden with fleeces; their women bear children like their parents. They flourish continually with good things, and do not travel on ships, for the grain-giving earth bears them fruit.” – Hesiod, Works and Days 225-237


“Why is the so-called rex sacrorum, that is to say ‘king of the sacred rites,’ forbidden to hold office or to address the people? Is it because in early times the kings performed the greater part of the most important rites, and themselves offered the sacrifices with the assistance of the priests? But when they did not practice moderation, but were arrogant and oppressive, most of the Greek states took away their authority, and left to them only the offering of sacrifice to the gods; but the Romans expelled their kings altogether, and to offer the sacrifices they appointed another, whom they did not allow to hold office or to address the people, so that in their sacred rites only they might seem to be subject to a king, and to tolerate a kingship only on the gods’ account. At any rate, there is a sacrifice traditionally performed in the forum at the place called Comitium, and, when the rex has performed this, he flees from the forum as fast as he can.” – Plutarch, Roman Questions 63


“Let them look at the standing crops already flourishing with waving heads in the broad fields, and at the meadows glittering with plants and flowers, in response to abundant rains and the restored mildness and softness of the atmosphere. Finally, let all rejoice that the might of the most powerful and terrible Mars has been propitiated by our piety, our sacrifices, and our veneration; and let them on this account enjoy firm and tranquil peace and quiet; and let as many as have wholly abandoned that blind error and delusion and have returned to a right and sound mind rejoice the more, as those who have been rescued from an unexpected storm or severe disease and are to reap the fruits of pleasure for the rest of their life.” – Rescript of Maximinus Daia, quoted in Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesastical History6.7.10-11


“A king should be one who is most just; and he will be most just who most closely attends to the laws. Without justice it is impossible to be a king; and without law there can be no justice. For justice is such only through law, justice’s effective cause. A king is either animated law, or a legal ruler, whence he will be just, and observant of the laws. There are however three peculiar employments of a king: leading an army, administering justice, and worshipping the gods. He will be able to lead an army properly only if he knows how to carry on war properly. He will be skilled in administering justice and in governing all his subjects only if he has well learned the nature of justice and law. He will worship the gods in a pious and holy manner only if he has diligently considered the nurture and virtue of god….. a good king must necessarily be a good general, judge and priest; which things are inseparable from the goodness and virtue of a king. It is the pilot’s business to preserve the ship; the charioteer to preserve the chariot; and the physician’s to save the sick, but it is a king’s or a general’s business to save those who are in danger in battle. For a leader must also be a provident inspector, and preserver. While judicial affairs are in general every body’s interest, this is the special work of the king; who, like a god, is a world-leader and protector. While the whole state should be generally organized in a unitary manner, under unitary leadership, individual parts should be submissive to the supreme domination. Besides though the king should oblige and benefit his subjects, this should not be in contempt of justice and law. The third characteristic of a king’s dignity is the worship of the gods. The most excellent should be worshipped by the most excellent; and the leader and ruler by that which leads and rules. Of naturally most honorable things, god is the best; but of things on the earth, and human, a king is the supreme. As god is to the world, so is a king to his kingdom; and as a city is to the world, so is a king to god. For a city, indeed, being organized from things many and various, imitates the organization of the world; and its harmony; but a king whose rule is beneficent, and who himself is animated law, to men outlines the divinity. It is hence necessary that a king should not be overcome by pleasure, but that he should overcome it; that he should not resemble, but excel the multitude; and that he should not conceive his proper employment to consist in the pursuit of pleasure, but rather in the achievement of character. Likewise he who rules others should be able first to govern his own passions.” – Diotogenes, On Kingship


“The Egyptian kings, according unto their law, used to swear their judges that they should not obey the king when he commanded them to give an unjust sentence.” – Plutarch, Sayings of the Kings and Commanders 174c


“As Alexander was sacrificing to the gods liberally, and often offered frankincense, Leonidas his tutor standing by said, ‘O son, thus generously will you sacrifice, when you have conquered the country that bears frankincense.’ And when he had conquered it, he sent him this letter: ‘I have sent you an hundred talents of frankincense and cassia, that hereafter you may not be niggardly towards the Gods, who have rewarded my piety with rulership over the country in which perfumes grow.’” – Plutarch, Sayings of the Kings and Commanders 179e


“Ptolemy, the son of Lagos, frequently supped with his friends and lay at their houses; and if at any time he invited them to supper, he made use of their furniture, sending for vessels, carpets, and tables; for he himself had only things that were of constant use about him, saying it was more becoming a king to make others rich than to be rich himself.” – Plutarch, Sayings of the Kings and Commanders 181f


“Demetrius Phalereus persuaded King Ptolemy to get and study such books as treated of government and conduct; for those things are written in books which the friends of kings dare not advise.” – Plutarch, Sayings of the Kings and Commanders 189d


“For Alexander did not follow Aristotle’s advice to treat the Greeks as if he were their leader, and other peoples as if he were their master; to have regard for the Greeks as for friends and kindred, but to conduct himself toward other peoples as though they were plants or animals; for to do so would have been to cumber his leadership with numerous battles and banishments and festering seditions. But, as he believed that he came as a heaven-sent governor to all, and as a mediator for the whole world, those whom he could not persuade to unite with him, he conquered by force of arms, and he brought together into one body all men everywhere, uniting and mixing in one great loving-cup, as it were, men’s lives, their characters, their marriages, their very habits of life. He bade them all consider as their fatherland the whole inhabited earth, as their stronghold and protection his camp, as akin to them all good men, and as foreigners only the wicked; they should not distinguish between Greek and foreigner by Greek cloak and targe, or scimitar and jacket; but the distinguishing mark of the Greek should be seen in virtue, and that of the foreigner in iniquity; clothing and food, marriage and manner of life they should regard as common to all, being blended into one by ties of blood and children.” – Plutarch, On the Fortune of Alexander 329c-d


“Wherefore greatness lies not in the possession of good things, but in our use of them, since even infant children inherit their fathers’ kingdoms and dominions.” – Plutarch, On the Fortune of Alexander 337d


“But the ability to sustain and administer great authority when one has received it, and not to be crushed or turned from one’s purpose by the weight and the magnitude of one’s activities, is the mark of a man who possesses virtue, sense, and intelligence. This virtue Alexander possessed, whom some accuse of drunkenness and a passion for wine! But he was truly a great man, for in his conduct of affairs he was sober, nor was he made drunk nor led to revelling by authority and power; but others, when they get but a small portion, or even a taste, of power are unable to control themselves.” – Plutarch, On the Fortune of Alexander 337f


“Who, then, shall rule the ruler? The Law, the king of all, both mortals and immortals, as Pindar says – not law written outside him in books or on wooden tablets or the like, but reason endowed with life within him, always abiding with him and watching over him and never leaving his soul without its leadership.” – Plutarch, Ad Principem Ineruditum 780c


“One might justly say that rulers serve god for the care and preservation of men, in order that of the glorious gifts which the gods give to men they may distribute some and safeguard others. The sky sends down the beginnings of the appropriate seeds, and the earth causes them to sprout up; some are made to grow by showers and some by winds, and some by the warmth of stars and moon; but it is the sun which adorns all things and mingles in all things what men call the ‘love charm’ which is derived from himself. But these gifts and blessings, so excellent and great, which the gods bestow cannot be rightly enjoyed nor used without law and justice and a ruler. Now justice is the aim and end of law, but law is the work of the ruler, and the ruler is the image of god who orders all things.” – Plutarch, Ad Principem Ineruditum 780d-e


“Such a ruler needs no Pheidias nor Polycleitus nor Myron to model him, but by his virtue he forms himself in the likeness of God and thus creates a statue most delightful of all to behold and most worthy of divinity. Now just as in the heavens god has established as a most beautiful image of himself the sun and the moon, so in states a ruler ‘who in god’s likeness righteous decisions upholds,’ that is to say, one who, possessing god’s wisdom, establishes, as his likeness and luminary, intelligence in place of sceptre or thunderbolt or trident, with which attributes some rulers represent themselves in sculpture and painting, thus causing their folly to arouse hostile feelings, because they claim what they cannot attain. For god visits his wrath upon those who imitate his thunders, lightnings, and sunbeams, but with those who emulate his virtue and make themselves like unto his goodness and mercy he is well pleased and therefore causes them to prosper and gives them a share of his own equity, justice, truth, and gentleness, than which nothing is more divine; nor fire, nor light, nor the course of the sun, nor the risings and settings of the stars, nor eternity and immortality.” – Plutarch, Ad Principem Ineruditum 780f-781a


“The kings were appointed from the priests or from the military class, since the military class had eminence and honour because of valour, and the priests because of wisdom. But he who was appointed from the military class was at once made one of the priests and a participant in their philosophy, cwhich, for the most part, is veiled in myths and in words containing dim reflexions and adumbrations of the truth, as they themselves intimate beyond question by appropriately placing sphinxes40 before their shrines to indicate that their religious teaching has in it an enigmatical sort of wisdom.” – Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris 354c


“One of the first acts related of Osiris in his reign was to deliver the Egyptians from their destitute and brutish manner of living. This he did by showing them the fruits of cultivation, by giving them laws, and by teaching them to honour the gods. Later he travelled over the whole earth civilizing it without the slightest need of arms, but most of the peoples he won over to his way by the charm of his persuasive discourse combined with song and all manner of music. Hence the Greeks came to identify him with Dionysos.” – Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris 356e


“A king is, in the first place, mindful of the gods and holds the divine in honour. For it is impossible that the just and good man should repose greater confidence in any other being than in the supremely just and good — the gods. He, however, who, being wicked, imagines that he at any time pleases the gods, in that very assumption lacks piety, for he has assumed that the deity is either foolish or evil. Next after the gods the good king has regard for his fellow-men; he honours and loves the good, yet extends his care to all. Now who takes better care of a herd of cattle than does the herdsman? Who is more helpful and better to flocks of sheep than a shepherd? Who is a truer lover of horses than he who controls the greatest number of horses and derives the greatest benefit from horses? And so who is presumably as great a lover of his fellow-man as he who exercises authority over the greatest number of men and enjoys the highest admiration of men? For it would be strange if men governing beasts, wild and of another blood than theirs, prove more kindly to these their dependants than a monarch to civilized men who are of the same flesh and blood as himself.” – Dio Chrysostom, First Discourse on Kingship 15-18


“The good king also believes it to be due to his position to have the larger portion, not of wealth or of pleasures, but of painstaking care and anxieties; hence he is actually more fond of toil than many others are of pleasure or of wealth. For he knows that pleasure, in addition to the general harm it does to those who constantly indulge therein, also quickly renders them incapable of pleasure, whereas toil, besides conferring other benefits, continually increases a man’s capacity for toil. He alone, therefore, may call his soldiers ‘fellow-soldiers’ and his associates ‘friends’ without making mockery of the word friendship; and not only may he be called by the title ‘Father’ of his people and his subjects, but he may justify the title by his deeds. In the title ‘master,’ however, he can take no delight, nay, not even in relation to his slaves, much less to his free subjects; for he looks upon himself as being king, not for the sake of his individual self, but for the sake of all men.” – Dio Chrysostom, First Discourse on Kingship 21-23


“For wealth, his would outweigh the wealth of all the princes of the earth together, – so much comes into his rich habitation both day by day and from every quarter. And as for his peoples, they occupy their business without let or hindrance, seeing that no foeman hath crossed afoot that river of monsters to set up a cry in alien townships, nor none leapt from swift ship upon that beach all mailed to make havoc of the Egyptian kine, – of such noble sort is the flaxen-haired prince that is throne in these level plains, a prince who not only hath cunning to wield a spear, but, as a good king should, makes it his chiefest care both to keep all that he hath of his father and to add somewhat for himself. But not to no purpose doth his gold lie, like so much riches of the still-toiling emmet, in his opulent house; much of it – for never makes he offerings of firstfruits but gold is one – is spent upon the splendid dwellings of the gods, and much of it again is given in presents to cities, to stalwart kings, or to the good friends that bear him company. Nay, no cunning singer of tuneful song that hath sought part in Dionysos’ holy contests but hath received of him a gift to he full worth of his skill.” – Theokritos, Idyll 17.95-114


“Ptolemy was a blood-relation, and some believed him to be a son of Philip; at any rate it was known for certain that he was the offspring of one of that king’s concubines. He was also a member of Alexander’s bodyguard and a most valiant warrior, and even greater and more distinguished in the arts of peace than in those of war; modest and affable in his manner of life, particularly generous and easy of access, he had assumed none of the haughtiness of royal origin. Because of these qualities it could be doubted whether he was dearer to the king or to the people; at all events, it was at that time that he first realized the affection of his countrymen; which was so great that in that time of his peril the Macedonians seemed to have presaged the rank to which he afterwards rose.” – Quintus Curtius 9.8.21-24


“Ptolemy Philadelphos’ father, while yet alive, proclaimed him king; he won battles that did not cost a tear, made merry all his days in processions and theatres, and because of good fortune grew old upon the throne.” – Plutarch, On the Fortune of Alexander 341a


“In all the qualities which make a good ruler, Ptolemy Philadelphos excelled not only his contemporaries, but all who have arise in the past and even til today, after so many generations, his praises are sung for the many evidences and monuments of his greatness of mind which he left behind him in different cities and countries, so that, even now, acts of more than ordinary munificence or buildings on a specially great scale are proverbially called Philadelphian after him. … To put it shortly, as the house of the Ptolemies was highly distinguished, compared with other dynasties, so was Philadelphos among the Ptolemies. The creditable achievements of this one man almost outnumbered those of all the others put together, and, as the head takes the highest place in the living body, so he may be said to head the kings.” – Philo, Life of Moses 2.29-30


“Demetrios is present, joyful and beautiful, as a god ought to be, with smiling face showering his blessings round. How noble does he look! his friends around, himself the center. His friends resemble the bright lesser stars, himself is the sun. Hail, ever-mighty Poseidon’s mightier son; hail, son of Aphrodite. For other gods do at a distance keep, or have no ears, or no existence; and they heed us not – but you are present, not made of wood or stone, a genuine god. We pray to you. First of all give us peace, O dearest god – for you are lord of peace – and crush for us yourself, for you’ve the power, this odious Sphinx; which now destroys not Thebes alone, but Greece – the whole of Greece.” – Athenaios 6.253d-e


“The Athenians had a war on against the Boiotians over Kelainai, which was a place in their borderlands. Xanthios, a Boiotian, challenged the Athenian king, Thymoites to a fight. When he did not accept, Melanthos, an expatriate Messenian from the stock of Periklymenos the son of Neleus, stood up to fight for the kingdom. While they were engaged in single combat, someone wearing a black goat-skin oraigis appeared to Melanthos from behind Xanthios. (It was later said to be the god.) So Melanthos said that it was not right to come two against one. Xanthios turned round. Melanthos smote him and killed him. And from this was generated both the festival Apatouria and ‘of the Black Aigis’ as an epithet of Dionysos.” – Suidas s.v. Apatouria


“Note that the ancients used the word phlyein (to luxuriate) of an abundant yield of fruit. So they called Dionysos Phleon (the luxuriant), Protrygaios (the first at the vintage), Staphylites (the god of the grape), Omphakites (the god of the unripe grape), and various other epithets.” – Aelian, Historical Miscellany 3.41


“Now you, Bacchus, will I sing, and with you the forest saplings, and the offspring of the slow-growing olive. Hither Lenaean sire! Here all is full of your bounties; for you blossoms the field teeming with the harvest of the vine, and the vintage foams in the brimming vats. Come hither, Lenaean sire, strip off your buskins and with me plunge your naked legs in the new must.” – Virgil, Georgics 2.1


“I imitate Herakles, and emulate Perseus, and follow in the footsteps of Dionysos, the divine author and progenitor of my family, and desire that victorious Greeks should dance again in India and revive the memory of the Bacchic revels among the savage mountain tribes beyond the Kaucasos.” – Plutarch, On the Fortune of Alexander 1.332A


“At the proper time Zeus loosened the stitches and gave birth to Dionysos, whom he entrusted to Hermes. Hermes took him to Ino and Athamas, and persuaded them to bring him up as a girl. Incensed, Hera inflicted madness on them, that Athamas stalked and slew his elder son Learkhos on the conviction that he was a dear, while Ino threw Melikertes into a basin of boiling water, and then, carrying both the basin and the corpse of the boy, she jumped to the bottom of the sea. Now she is called Leukothea, and her son is Palaimon: these names they receive from those who sail, for they help sailors beset by storms. Also, the Isthmian games were established by Sisyphos in honor of Melikertes.” – Apollodorus, 3.26-29


“Lykourgos the powerful once drove the nurses of rapturous Dionysos headlong down the sacred Nyseian hill, and all of them shed and scattered their wands on the ground, stricken with an ox-goad by murderous Lykourgos, while the infant Dionysos in terror dived into the salt surf, and Thetis took him to her bosom, frightened, with the strong shivers upon him at the man’s blustering.” – Homer, Iliad 6.129

“Dionysos crossed Thrake and came to Thebes, where he compelled the women to leave their homes and cavort in a frenzy on Kithairon. Now Pentheus, Ekhion’s son by Agave and current lord of the land after Kadmos, tried to prevent these goings-on. He went up on Kithairon to spy on the Bakkhai, but was torn to pieces by his mother Agave, for in her madness she thought he was a wild animal. After Dionysos had demonstrated to the Thebans that he was a god, he went to Argos.” – Apollodorus, 2.36-37


“The tomb in the city of Argos they call that of the Mainas Khorea, saying that she was one of the women who joined Dionysos in his expedition against Argos, and that Perseus, being victorious in the battle, put most of the women to the sword. To the rest they gave a common grave, but to Khorea they gave burial apart because of her high rank. They say that the god, having made war on Perseus, afterwards laid aside his enmity, and received great honors at the hands of the Argives, including this precinct set specially apart for himself. It was afterwards called the precinct of Kres or the Kretan, because, when Ariadne died, Dionysos buried her here. But Lykeas says that when the new temple of Dionysos was being rebuilt an earthenware coffin was found, and that it was Ariadne’s. He also said that both he himself and other Argives had seen it.” – Pausanias, 2.20.4-2.23-7-8


“After Hera inflicted madness upon him, he wandered over Egypt and Syria. The Egyptian king Proteus first welcomed him.” – Apollodorus, 2.29


“Midas, the Mygdonian king, was said to be a son of the Mother goddess from Timolus. At the time when Father Liber was leading his army into India, Silenus wandered away; Midas entertained him generously, and gave him a guide to conduct him to Liber’s company. Because of this favour, Father Liber gave Midas the privilege of asking him for whatever he wanted. Midas asked that whatever he touched should become gold. When he had been granted the wish, and came to his palace, whatever he touched became gold. When now he was being tortured with hunger, he begged Liber to take away the splendid gift. Liber bade him bathe in the River Pactolus, and when his body touched the water it became a golden colour. The river in Lydia is now called Chrysorrhoas.” – Hyginus, Fabulae 191


“When Liber had come as a guest to Oeneus, son of Parthaon, he fell in love with Althaea, daughter of Thestius and wife of Oeneus. When Oeneus realized this, he voluntarily left the city and pretended to be performing sacred rites. But Liber lay with Althaea, who became mother of Deianeira. To Oeneus, because of his generous hospitality, he gave the vine as a gift, and showed him how to plant it, and decreed that its fruit should be called ‘oinos’ from the name of his host.” – Hyginus, Fabulae 129


“Lycus, the King of Thebes, married Dirce. She, suspecting that her husband had secretly lain with Antiopa, ordered her servants to keep her bound in darkness.When the sons of Antiope, Amphion and Zethos found out who their mother was, they put Dirce to death by binding her to an untamed bull; by the kindness of Liber, whose votary she was, on Mount Cithaeron a spring was formed from her body, which was called Dirce.” – Hyginus, Fabulae 7


“Pandion became King of Athens. It was during his reign that Demeter and Dionysos came to Attika. Keleus welcomed Demeter to Eleusis, and Ikarios received Dionysos, who gave him a vine-cutting and taught him the art of making wine. Ikarios was eager to share the god’s kindness with mankind, so he went to some shepherds, who, when they had tasted the drink and then delightedly and recklessly gulped it down undiluted, thought they had been poisoned and slew Ikarios. But in the daylight they regained their senses and buried him. As his daughter was looking for him, a dog named Maira, who had been Ikarios’ faithful companion, unearthed the corpse; and Erigone, in the act of mourning her father, hanged herself.” – Apollodorus, 2.191-192


“After the precinct of Apollo is a building that contains earthen ware images, Amphiktyon, king of Athens, feasting Dionysus and other gods. Here also is Pegasus of Eleutherae, who introduced the god to the Athenians. Herein he was helped by the oracle at Delphi, which called to mind that the god once dwelt in Athens in the days of Ikarios.” – Pausanias 1.2.5


“Philokhoros has this: Amphiktyon, king of Athens, learned from Dionysos the art of mixing wine, and was the first to mix it. So it was that men came to stand upright, drinking wine mixed, whereas before they were bent double by the use of unmixed. Hence he founded an altar of Dionysos Orthos (Upright) in the shrine of the Horai (Seasons); for these make ripe the fruit of the vine. Near it he also built an altar to the Nymphai to remind devotees of the mixing; for the Nymphai are said to be the nurses of Dionysos. He also instituted the cutom of taking just a sip of unmixed wine after meat, as a proof of the power of the Good God, but after that he might drink mixed wine, as much as each man chose. They were also to repeat over this cup the name of Zeus Soter as a warning and reminder to drinkers that only when they drank in this fashion would they surely be safe.” – Athenaios 2.38c-d


“To Dionysos alone did Kyanippos, a Syrakousan, omit to sacrifice. The god was angry and cast upon him a fit of drunkenness, in which he violated his daughter Kyane in a dark place. She took off his ring and gave it to her nurse to be a mark of recognition. When the Syrakousans were oppressed by a plague, and the Pythian god pronounced that they should sacrifice the impious man to the Averting Deities, the rest had no understanding of the oracle; but Kyane knew, and seized her father by the hair and dragged him forth; and when she had herself cut her father’s throat, she killed herself upon his body in the same manner. So says Dositheüs in the third book of his Sicilian History.” – Plutarch, Greek & Roman Parallel Stories 19


“Aristaios received especial honour as a god, in particular by those who harvested the fruit of the olive-tree. And finally, as the myths relate, he visited Dionysos in Thrake and was initiated into his secret rites, and during his stay in the company of the god he learned from him much useful knowledge. And after dwelling some time in the neighbourhood of Mount Haimos he never was seen again of men, and became the recipient of immortal honours not only among the barbarians of that region but among the Greeks as well.” – Diodoros Sikeliotes, Library of History 4.81.1


“When Troy was captured, and the Greeks divided the spoils, Eurypylos the son of Euaimon got a chest. In it was an image of Dionysos, the work, so they say, of Hephaistos, and given as a gift by Zeus to Dardanos. But there are two other accounts of it. One is that this chest was left by Aeneas when he fled; the other that it was thrown away by Kassandra to be a curse to the Greek who found it. Be this as it may, Eurypylos opened the chest, saw the image of Dionysos, and forthwith on seeing it went mad. He continued to be insane for the greater part of the time, with rare lucid intervals. Being in this condition he did not proceed on his voyage to Thessalia, but made for the town and gulf of Kirrha. Going up to Delphoi he inquired of the oracle about his illness. They say that the oracle given him was to the effect that where he should come across a people offering a strange sacrifice, there he was to set down the chest and make his home. Now the ships of Eurypylos were carried down by the wind to the sea off Aroe. On landing he came across a youth and a maiden who had been brought to the altar of Artemis Triklaria. So Eurypylos found it easy to understand about the sacrifice, while the people of the place remembered their oracle seeing a king whom they had never seen before, they also suspected that the chest had some god inside it. And so the malady of Eurypylos and the sacrifice of these people came to an end, and the river was given its present name Meilikhos (Soothing). Certain writers have said that the events I have related happened not to the Thessalian Eurypylos, but to Eurypylos the son of Dexamenos who was king in Olenos, holding that this man joined Herakles in his campaign against Troy and received the chest from Herakles. The rest of their story is the same as mine. But I cannot bring myself to believe that Herakles did not know the facts about the chest, if they were as described, nor, if he were aware of them, do I think that he would ever have given it to an ally as a gift. Further, the people of Patrai have no tradition of a Eurypylos save the son of Euaimon, and to him every year they sacrifice as to a hero, when they celebrate the festival in honor of Dionysos. The surname of the god inside the chest is Aisymnetes (Dictator), and his chief attendants are nine men, elected by the people from all the citizens for their reputation, and women equal in number to the men. On one night of the festival the priest carries the chest outside. Now this is a privilege that this night has received, and there go down to the river Meilikhos a certain number of the native children, wearing on their heads garlands of corn-ears. It was in this way that they used to array of old those whom they led to be sacrificed to Artemis.” – Pausanias, 7.19.6-20.1


“I will tell of Dionysus, the son of glorious Semele, how he appeared on a jutting headland by the shore of the fruitless sea, seeming like a stripling in the first flush of manhood: his rich, dark hair was waving about him, and on his strong shoulders he wore a purple robe. Presently there came swiftly over the sparkling sea Tyrsenian pirates on a well-decked ship – a miserable doom led them on. When they saw him they made signs to one another and sprang out quickly, and seizing him straightway, put him on board their ship exultingly; for they thought him the son of heaven-nurtured kings.” – Homeric Hymn to Dionysos 7


“God of the many names, golden child of Semele and Olympian thunder, Italy’s lord.” – Sophokles, Choral Ode of Antigone


“Now the Hellenes disagree with the Indians, and the Indians among themselves, concerning this Dionysos. For we declare that the Theban Dionysos made an expedition to India in the role of soldier and reveller, and we base our arguments, among other things, on the offering at Delphoi, which is preserved in the treasuries there. And it is a disc of Indian silver bearing the inscription: ‘Dionysos the son of Semele and of Zeus, from the men of India to the Apollon of Delphoi.’” – Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 2.6-10


“Dionysos fell in love with Ariadne, and kidnapped her from Naxos, taking her off to Lemnos where he had sex with her, and begat Thoas, Staphylos, Oinopion, and Peparethos.” – Apollodorus, E1.9


“One of the Argonauts was King Phliasus, the son of Father Liber and Ariadne, daughter of Minos, from the city Phlius, which is in the Peloponnese. Others call him a Theban.” – Hyginus, Fabulae 14


“Physkoa they say came to Olympia from Elis in the Hollow, and the name of the parish where she lived was Orthia. She mated, they say, with Dionysos, and bore him a son called Narkaios. When he grew up he made war against the neighboring folk, and rose to great power, setting up moreover a sanctuary of Athena surnamed Narkaia. They say too that Narkaios and Physkoa were the first to pay worship to Dionysos in Elis.” – Pausanias, 5.16.7


“The Khians were the first to learn how to plant and tend vines from Oinopion, son of Dionysos, who also was the founder of that island-state.” – Athenaios, 1.26b-c


“Who gave birth to you, dear child? Was it the Bacchanalian god dwelling on the mountain tops who took you as a new-born joy from maiden nymphs of Helikon with whom he often romps and plays?” – Sophokles, Oedipus the King 1105-9

Tagged: dionysos
chas_clifton July 28 2014, 23:14

Passing of Margot Adler—Will NPR Admit She was Wiccan?


For those of you not on Facebook, this was the announcement of Margot Adler’s passing, posted by her son, Alex.

Old friends, long time fans, today at 4am Margot breathed easily for the first time in two weeks. Later today, at 10:30am she was pronounced deceased.

Her condition had been getting much worse over the weeks and months and the brain radiation (which she had a treatment of scheduled today, tomorrow, and wednesday) was thought to help her double vision, since it was the cause.

Well, Margot and John both won’t be seeing double anymore, but they will be seeing each other for the rest of time.

With much love and difficulty do I write this,

Her son, Alex

I told M. about it as she was listening to National Public Radio’s  “All Things Considered,” and her first question was why NPR had not mentioned it, given Margot’s many years as a reporter there.  Maybe they cannot move that fast. When they do, do you think that they will mention that she was composing hymns to the Olympian deities as a teenager, let alone that she was a Gardnerian Witch?

I suspect that they will be more comfortable with her politics and status as a “Red-diaper Baby” than with her religious views. Link to the Facebook tribute page.

UPDATE: At least the NPR blog mentioned it, but putting it after the facts that she was Alfred Adler’s grand-daughter (though she never met him) and that she wrote about vampires: “Margot had a long-standing interest in the occult.”

Ah, “the occult.”

UPDATE 2: You will find more updates on news media treatments of Margot’s passing in the comments.

houseofvines July 28 2014, 22:45

The Feast of the Dionysian Kings




The Feast of the Dionysian Kings is coming up, so I figured I’d talk a little about that and how folks can celebrate at home.

The term “Dionysian King” refers to a specific category of the dead we honor, some of whom blur the line between hero and demigod. The one thing that they’ve all got in common is that they were originally royal humans who had a special relationship with Dionysos – though they can be separated into two groups depending on the nature of that relationship. On the one hand there are those figures who honored the god and may have even incorporated elements of his story and iconography into their kingship, as well as the royal houses of legend who graciously received Dionysos during his travels. These include Pandion, Oeneus, Demetrios Poliokertes, certain members of the Argead, Ptolemaic and Attalid dynasties, Julius Caesar, Nero, Valens, the Borgias and so forth. Then there’s the other group, the Neoi Dionysoi, who embodied Dionysian traits in a far more extreme and intimate way, to the point that some not only acted out his myths on the world stage but were either possessed by him or mortal incarnations. These include Skyles, Alexander the Great, several members of the Ptolemaic and Attalid dynasties, Marcus Antonius, Jesus Christ and the Emperor Hadrian. The category of Neoi Dionysoi is not entirely limited to royalty as Akoites, Friedrich Nietzsche and Jim Morrison are also counted as members (though it’s interesting to note that Morrison claimed the title of Lizard King as part of his stage persona.)

There is uncertainty about the place of Orpheus in this category. In some traditions Orpheus is described as a king of one of the Thracian tribes and his life followed a Dionysian model, particularly in his role as culture-bringer, the frenzied effect he had on people, his descent into the underworld to save a loved one and one of the deaths ascribed to him was being torn apart by a group of mainades. However he differs in some important ways from other members of this category and is already honored as the founder of our tradition and a member of the Dionysian Prophets, so his inclusion is not necessary.

Now the reason that we honor the Dionysian Kings on August 1st is because this is the date on which Marcus Antonius ended his life and Octavian proclaimed victory over Kleopatra Philopator, the last of the Ptolemies to rule the Hellenistic kingdom of Egypt that had been carved out of the remnants of Alexander’s great empire. In one foul swoop several royal Dionysian lines and their ambitions are brought to an end – indeed though others after would take up the purple mantle and Bacchic diadem none would do so with such grandiosity.

So this is a time to reflect on the lives of these figures, why Dionysos has such a persistent connection to royalty, what Dionysian kingship entails (particularly the cardinal virtues of tryphê, philanthropia, eleutheria, and harmonia) and why all who walk this path seem to come to a tragic end. There’s much to ponder with this last one: what are the common weaknesses of these great men that contribute so strongly to their downfall? Is their greatness in spite of our because of this? Is it unavoidable, an ingrained part of the role they perform as the New Dionysos, just as the legendary kings of the stage all bring about self-destruction through their own fatal flaw? Are both the literal and figurative kings raised up just to fall in some savage agrarian rite – and is it necessarily a good thing if one is clever enough to avoid the pattern?

In addition to this I would recommend setting a feast fit for kings, with plentiful wine and spirits. Dine in their presence and hail Dionysos through them, the masks he wore on the stage and in the world. Read their stories and remember them. If you’re able, open yourself up to them so they can experience the pleasures of material existence through you. Listen to music, sing, dance, dress like a king, write poetry in their honor. And watch thematically appropriate movies or plays.

Tagged: alexander the great, dionysos, festivals, heroes, jim morrison, marcus antonius, orpheus, ptolemies, thiasos of the starry bull
houseofvines July 28 2014, 21:15

A chatty bunch



This Thursday at 9:30pm EDT we’ll be having a discussion about our upcoming festivals in the thiasos of the Starry Bull and also getting used to the new location and format, as we’re moving our weekly chats from Zoho to Skype. If you don’t have an account set up comment on the Facebook thread or contact Emily, our chat hostess.

Tagged: festivals, thiasos of the starry bull
chas_clifton July 28 2014, 16:31

By Lugh, I Think They’ve Got It


llamasReading the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper in a coffee house on Sunday morning, I turned to the weather/almanac page and learned something new.

The coming weekend marks the ancient Celtic [sic] solar festival of Llamas.

That was a divinely inspired typo.

Given the prevalence of the subspecies dramaticus in the Pagan community, I think we should run with this. Hurray, hurray, it’s Llamas Day.

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