Something to tide you over for a day or so. Everyone down here with a cold, sore throat etc. Seems the season -sigh- Just keep taking those pills, drink that tea and carry on!
Victor n Kim stopped by for a couple of hours, nice to see them. 8o)
Rowan came home from camp last night, slept for 14 hours.
So ever onward, here is todays’ entry!
What’s On The Menu:
The Drug War Song
Gabriel Rosenstock Poetry: Maenads…
Art: Classical Illustrations of Maenads (Seems to be the theme today)
Also, Please Check out Radio Free Earthrites! I am sure you’ll like the new music on there now.
I hope you enjoy, more on the way, so stay tuned!
The Drug War Song….
“I became aware, more vividly than I had ever been, that the secret of life consists in sharing the madness of God, I mean the power of rousing a peculiar exultation in yourself as you confront the Inanimate, an exultation which is really a cosmic eroticism.” – John Cowper Powys
I begin writing this with some trepidation. Publicly, I tend towards silence on the topic of religious ecstasy of any kind. States of mind are so subjective, the topic is so broad, and beyond that I just feel that some things should be talked of sparingly. I do not wish to detract from the power of ritual experience by discussing it in too much detail; dry examination does not befit it. However, I do think that something can be gained from a brief foray into this strange and often frightening realm.
Socrates said “our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness,” but qualified this with “provided the madness is given to us by divine gift.” This is an important distinction. I am not advocating random insanity with no goal and no guidance; that is rarely productive. Rather, I am thinking of the many traditions which embrace altered states of consciousness, within a magical and/or religious context, for the benefits they bring. Socrates recognized four types of such ecstasy: Prophetic madness, which comes from Apollo; Ritual madness, from Dionysos; Poetic madness from the Muses; and Erotic madness, from Aphrodite. Since my god has always been Dionysos, I will focus on the second form, that madness which comes from direct contact with the gods and other powers through ritualistic and initiatory experience. (Anthropologists generally refer to this whole range of experiences by the term “possession-trance,” though they acknowledge that the activities covered by this term vary greatly, from a Vodoun priest being ridden by his god, to a Siberian shaman traveling to the otherworlds in a trance state.)
Dionysos is a god of extremes, the “god of ecstasy and terror, of wildness and of the most blessed deliverance” (Walter Otto). Thus he is reached through extreme actions – in the myths, these include wild dancing, excessive drinking, and the tearing apart and eating of live animals. Many people might cringe at these accounts, but there is no middle road for the wary, there is no way to tiptoe up to Dionysos and nudge him on the shoulder. Nor should there be. There is a place for such madness, it serves a function, both for society and for the individual.
Concerning the former: Euripides has Dionysos creating havoc in a town, calling the women out of their homes and up to the mountains, implying licentious behavior. When the maenads are imprisoned, he shakes down the walls and releases them (just as he releases man through the tonic of wine). He defies convention by dressing effeminately, and convinces Pentheus to dress as a woman too despite his reservations; though Pentheus’ fate is to be torn apart by his own frenzied mother. Many read The Bacchae as a warning, and believe that Euripides was against the cult of Dionysos. But I believe that he was simply presenting a situation where change was needed, and was affected through drastic means. In ancient times the cult of Dionysos was always on the perimeter, never completely accepted in Greek society, yet never completely rejected either. Its resultant madness was tolerated, perhaps to prevent a greater and more destructive outburst.
On a personal level, divine madness can bring life-changing results. But it can also bring ruin, sending a person over the edge, which is why this is not for everyone. We don’t have a system in this culture to prepare us for such experiences, we think only in terms of “sane” and “insane”, which is why going over to the other side can easily destroy the sensibilities of anyone. But for those who wish to go Beyond, to see the outer realms, to touch the gods, which is an incredibly dangerous but exhilarating path, there is no choice but to surrender part of oneself, which becomes a sacrifice of sorts. It cannot be done lightly, nor without purpose. However, although you may work within a ritual context, and act responsibly and carefully, you can never truly control what happens. If you choose to open yourself to the “madness of God” you must accept the consequences, for good or ill.
The benefits to ritual madness are many and great, but they generally fall into the categories of arrheton, the ancient Greek word denoting something beyond description, unable to be spoken of, as well as aporrheton, a secret not to be shared with others. However, I will say that (in my experience) it can bring communion with the god, of a quality and intensity that usually cannot be reached through other religious actions, as important as those actions, such as prayer and sacrifice, may be. (Although such actions can often be the path into madness.) It also opens the famous doors of perception – “knowledge that lies outside the range of understanding can only be gained in a state that also lies outside this range” (Philipp Vandenberg). And it frees you, as Dionysos freed the maenads, Dionysos the Liberator, the Looser of Bonds. It releases you into a state both outside yourself and extraordinarily within yourself, where you can catch a glimpse of your own soul, and the soul of the world.
How do you enter into this madness? I cannot recommend any specific methods, for many are dangerous and/or illegal. With Dionysos, the way must usually begin with his gift, the vine. For other gods, or other paths, it will be different. Traditional cultures have used everything from psychotropic plants to drumming to invocation to sensory deprivation. If you are committed to the task, you will find a way. And you will never be prepared for what will come, and you will never exhaust the possibilities. But it will change you. Surrendering to madness even once leaves a mark. Gripped by Dionysos, you may find yourself suddenly attracted to the smell of the hunt, and the cries of the maenads will be music, as it is music to his ears. If you think you are ready for this, then he is waiting for you.
“and to Thebes they came all blood-bedabbled, bringing from the hill not Pentheus but tribulation. / I care not. And let not another care for an enemy of Dionysos.” – Theocritus
Gabriel Rosenstock Poetry: Maenads…
I OPEN MY POEM
I open my poem to bright things
here come oranges, dandelions,
take a seat
Ill be right with you
into my poem
comes a lovely cuckoo snow in its beak
oceans of sunshine
I open my poem to all that is
that will be that was
that could be
an old cat
a pigeons leg in its mouth
sit yourself down
mind the cuckoo
its got snow in its mouth
make room for yourself
the oranges and the dandelions
where are you from your catself?
wheres the rest of the pigeon?
I open my poem to all the elements
alive and dead and
some ivy comes in trailing
its own wall
the wall falls on the cat
this poem is a tragedy
somewhere in the world
a wall is falling on a cat
on a child
I open my poem again to bright things
but theres nothing left
In her womb she bears the constant sound of bees
That will be silenced only when a wave
Surges to her waist
She stands in the sea
In her almond-shaped eyes
Salt foam soon will sting
Her swollen vulva and she will cry out
The waves will shrink from her fury
Lemons and oranges will rain down
Rainbows of fish will arc from the water
And there will be one great humming
Stars will appear from the silence
As if nothing had happened
As if this were the first of creation
She will clamp jellyfish between her thighs
LIKE AN OWL
The streamlined feathers of the owl
ensure the silence of its approach,
a silent glide between
one unknown and another
and the woodland mice and insects
are filled with terror
before this beak, this claw of the night.
Like an owl you come to me
tearing at me
I waken, abruptly
and there is nothing
nothing at all staring at me
only the confused memory
of a kiss
gliding into obscurity
on the wind.
Knowledge flowed between us.
I am Cuirithir.
God goes halves in me
is sterile, lifeless,
boils me alive
We lay together among oaks
it was like a nut being shelled
and placed in my mouth
by a creamy, invisible hand
She said nothing at all
but when she closed her eyes
she could see the sap
rising in trees,
hear the old fulfilment of branches
When she hides from me
I see her everywhere
I follow the deers shadow
and the hawks
her absence flits among the oaks
When she wakes in the morning
I look deep into her eyes
She is a well
that reflects me
I drink of myself
She is all winds,
the middle of all seas –
Everything that moves
and does not
She is a change in season,
all the months of the year
She is day and night,
night and day
Sleep now, sleep! Sleep, Liadhain,
on your mossy pillow, sleep easy
If I could, I would dive far into your sleep,
to be forever, bright one, part of your dream.
In the middle of the forest, the boar is restless,
but sleep now, easy in yourself
Look! Liadhain in the pool,
swimming on her back
mirabile visu –
she is moon,
a star-filled storm
Christ, do not approach me.
Virgin Mary, avert your eye
on the tip of my tongue
Her shape in the clouds,
her laugh between showers,
her souls colours
My beloved is dazzling.
Im like a hedgehog
waking too early on a spring morning
light hurts my eyes
A waterfall thunders far off
theres no relief
from the way things are
my words are foam
Liadhain! Liadhain! murmurs the dark river,
Liadhain! calls the cuckoo in the valley
the plump salmon shouts out Liadhain!
Liadhain! Liadhain! cries the slender doe
Breezes comb her dewy hair.
I am envious of elements
But an icy blast rose,
uprooting the oaks
the blackbirds whistle froze in its beak
all the waves of Ireland wailed
My own self I had lost,
lost Liadhain and her merrymaking
Christ bared his wounds –
for me, also, He was crucified
On this, my slab of supplication, Liadhain will perish,
and I in unknown territories
Dear God! Bring us together again
Couple us – I beg you – for just one night
in the splendid Paradise of saints