Life, Travels, and Books

Well, its been over a month since I’ve written in this blog. Fear not, dear readers (all 3 of you), I have not perished or met some other cruel fate. Life has been especially hectic of late. At first it was mostly school and preparing for and then recuperating from finals that kept me, but life just continued to be somewhat messy. Part of it is my own fault. I do struggle with procrastination at times.

I have not be completely inactive during my absence. I’ve continued to have rituals at my place twice a month (although we will only do one this month because I will be out of town for quite a while. More on that later.) And I’ve been doing a lot of reading.

One of my favorite of my recent book acquisitions is Ecstatic by H. Jeremiah Lewis. Lewis is an especially prolific Greco-Egyptian Pagan author devoted to the Greek God Dionysos. I almost wrote, “the Greek God of wine and ecstasy, Dionysos”, but if there in one thing this book gets across its that Dionysos is so, so much more than that. Lewis has outdone himself with this work. A hefty volume totaling nearly 600 pages, it looks a little intimating at first. But Lewis writes in his usual assessable and often humorous tone, and I often had to stop myself from devouring it in one sitting. I enjoy Lewis’ writing so much that I wanted to really savor it. I’m close to finishing it now, and I’m actually kinda regretting that there will be no more to read! No matter what mood I am in, there is something here to satisfy it. There is a great deal of beautiful devotional poetry, well-thought out scholarly pieces, accounts of personal experiences, instructions for divinatory methods and techniques, and more. It is an excellent edition to the library of any student of religions, and an absolutely necessary tome for Dionysians.

On a personal note, I was gratified that when speaking of methods of trance, Lewis makes the point that “Not everyone can do it. Some people’s psyche’s aren’t elastic enough, they’re too grounded in the material world or something in the past caused them so much trauma that they aren’t able to relinquish their control. That doesn’t mean that they love Dionysos any less, that they lack devotion in the performance of their religious duties or that they fully integrated the Dionysian philosophy into their lives. It simply means that they can’t trance.”

Although I occasionally perform some types of spirit-work, trancing is very difficult for me. It does not come easily or often, but the few times it has happened have been life-changing. I am not one of Dionysos’ special children. I am not a Maenad or even a Dionysian. But I love Him just the same. Dionysos, that great and powerful God of passion and release, offers something invaluable to people like me – that chance to run off with Him to the woods for a day, a week, a month, to be wild and free and revel my primal nature. But when this short time ends, I then return my scholar’s life, the quiet study and reflection of the library and the university. My Lady Athena is not a Goddess known for high passion or ecstasy, but She recognizes that She cannot be all for me, or anyone. It was She Who lead me to worship Her sister Artemis, and introduced me to the rest of the Greek pantheon. No God is the be-all and end-all.

I believe that in a Pagan system human beings need more then one Deity in their lives in order to be psychologically healthy. (Isis might be a exception to this, but even in Her case one is often led to worship Her Husband and Son, both of Whom are very much a part of Her). Focusing just on Athena to the exclusion of all Others could possibly lead one to become a dry and boring academic, someone who cannot relate to another person on anything but an intellectual level. Imagine a person who lives entirely in their head. The professor who never has his shoes tied or his socks matched or hair brushed, who has spent all of his life studying instead of living (I fit this stereotype at times, I have to be careful to guard against it and sometimes to allow myself to live more in my body). Dionysos provides a break, so to speak, from too much school, too much logic and thinking. Dionysos brings you into your body, and keeps you from becoming trapped in the ivory tower made from your own schoolwork. These two Deities, Athena and Dionysos, are the closest to my heart. Worshiping both of Them, instead of just focusing on one or the other, helps me to live a more balanced, holistic life. In a polytheist consciousness, there is a place for all Gods, all experiences. I can count on one hand the ecstatic experiences I have had with Dionysos, but they are greatly treasured in my memory. Despite the rareness of these experiences, or perhaps because of them.

Another book I’m reading is Anointed: A Devotional for the Deities of the Near and Middle East. Disclaimer: I have something like 8 or 9 poems published in this anthology. I am immensely enjoying this primer. There is so little information on pre-Islamic Middle-East Paganism, and it is both interesting and satisfying to see that people today still worship these Gods. I myself have had very little contact with these Gods. I wrote my poetry for them was done as an intellectual exercise, to stretch my writing skills to write for Gods I have never personally experienced. I found it interesting, challenging, and fulfilling in different ways. The rest of the book is very informative and engaging.

Anywho, I am now preparing to fly to Arizona to visit my father and brother. I have not seen them in almost two years, since they moved 2000 miles away to Tucson AZ. I’m very excited to see them. I’m leaving Wednesday and I will not be back home until the day before fall classes start (cutting it close, I know) on the 22nd. I will probably not be blogging until I get back. Next on my reading list is Crowned with Nine Rays by Lykeia, about the God Apollo. I’m planning to take this one with me to read on the plane. I’ll try to write a review of it when I get back.

  4 comments for “Life, Travels, and Books

  1. Stephen Glaser
    August 9, 2011 at 6:04 am

    Very good post there. About Athena, isn’t She a warrior goddess as well? Focusing on Her wouldn’t to my mind make someone a dry academic, unless one already had those tendencies. Have you been able to experience Her warrior side?

    • August 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm

      That’s true, She is a warrior Goddess. You make a good point. I focus on Her as the Goddess of wisdom, patron of scholars, so I suppose I do have the tendency already. I have experienced Her warrior side, and I see Her as the Goddess of volunteer work and advocacy, something that I see as coming from both Her fierce warrior side and Her role as protective Goddess of the city. But to me I always come back to Goddess of Wisdom. Perhaps that’s just my nature, my way of relating to Her.

  2. August 9, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Sometimes the relationships we establish with certain deities need to incorporate other gods along to get us going 🙂 For instance I was such an extreme feminist as a child and teen that I think only Artemis could have been accepted. She was a great influence on my spiritual environment to prepare me for my relationship with Apollon, and only then after I established this relationship and got out of my extreme behaviors did he introduce me to “the rest of the team” so to speak 😉 Some of us just a bit of a hand LOL. Athena is a great goddess however, and if you have read her relationships that she has had with those that she is fond of she always has their backs, so I am certain you have a wonderful relationship with her.. there are the academics yes but also the strength that she brings. I hope you enjoy Crowned with Nine Rays, I am in the process of converting the chapters into something updatable on my webpage (because I am always finding new information) all the same it has quite a bit of stuff in it for a good start 🙂 Have a safe and wonderful trip to Arizona and back!

  3. August 9, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    I’m so glad that you’re enjoying Ecstatic – and that’s precisely why I put it together, to show people that there is more to Dionysos and our possible relationships with him then we may imagine.

    I’ve also heard lots of good things about Anointed – very tempting!

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