October 7, 2015

On (Not) Finding Dionysos

At Many Gods West, there was a point where the Bakcheion members were talking about how we began to worship Dionysos. And I discovered, listening to the others, that I didn't really have a story. I have a Hekate story, which I tell sometimes. Midnight, a crossroads, an offering, and a black dog that wandered up out of nowhere. Good stuff. But there's not a story about me and Dionysos.

I started learning about and practicing Wicca in 1994, during the summer before my junior year in high school. I was acting at the time, taking drama classes at school, going to drama competitions, I was part of a youth acting troupe at a local theater, going on auditions for things. Acting was what I wanted to do. And Dionysos is the patron of theater, the god to whom it is sacred. So I bought, at my theater's gift shop, a pressed glass disk with the comedy and drama masks on it, and set that on my altar. It's been part of my altar ever since, and is still on my Dionysos altar today, hanging from the mirror. I went to college and majored in theater. I was diagnosed with a mental illness, and that was yet another connection to Dionysos. I dropped out of college, but I never stopped being mentally ill, so I was always just one of his people.

Ecstatic experiences came first during manias, and later when I had those under better control, I would learn how to reach a similar state intentionally, both in worship of Dionysos and of Hekate. I learned how and when to use it as a cleansing, how to manage my mental illness better with it, and I learned how and when to simply give myself over to it for pure joy and worship. But all of this was a gradual learning, a process. No story to it. Just something that happened over the course of a couple of decades, now. There were many small understandings and revelations, but no single big one, or even a small number of big ones.

I didn't find Dionysos. He's just always been there, right nearby, close enough to touch whenever I needed to.