D is for Darkness, Diving and Descent

Quite late I know, but as I said, I’m going to participate very “freely” to the Pagan Blog Project.

I have found a marvelous article that revists the meaning of “dark” and “darkness”, giving great quotes as it goes. I thank this person for having written it. I was very astonished, because it indulges into paths that really do not correspond to my own (goddess spirituality, or at least a very sexually feminine oriented  view of things), but it still provides much food for thought. I found there hints at what my most intense experiences of the last 2 years were. I advise you to read it, because it really was my starting point, and it has an important frame of reference (feminine spirituality). The following diverges from it, and gets out of a feminine paradigm entirely.

Just a short example, this movement is what called to me :

In the book Meditation Secrets for Women, Camille Maurine writes about the idea of descent and “going down” into one’s own dark places:  “There are times in a woman’s life when the call downward is a transformative journey, a summons to the depths of the soul. People tend to think of spirituality as rising upward into the sky. In the traditional (male) teachings, enlightenment is often described as a flight from the lower centers of the body, the instinctive and sexual places, to the upper centers in the head and then out. By contrast, a woman’s spiritual quest at some point leads to a soulful sinking down into herself. Everyone fears this descent, this sinking down. Yet sinking down connects us with the earth, with our personal ground, with our foundation. There is a secret in ‘endarkenment.’” [p. 210, emphasis mine]

But I do not share the *”sexist” view which it contains (*view regarding sex). The division it evokes does not exist in my personal frame, and regarding traditions in general, I’m not sure it does too… But anyway, my point is as follows. First, I think we all emerge from the same place of darkness, and that anyone should experience this downward movement no matter what their sex/gender is (maybe it could even be a way of bringing us all together). Second, the problem she describes is even wider to me :  in our modern revival of the spiritualities, everyone is “taught” (or thinks wrongly?) that they should strive towards the spiritual, thus dropping the body and all.

So, here comes my brooding.

Darkness is not only a place of chaos and destruction. Here is another great quote from the article :

The Dark Goddess need not automatically associate or translate into “bad” or “suffering” or “negative” or “shadow side.” I think of the darkness as a cocoon. I think of the womb. I think of germination. I think of a place to rest, to wait, to be still, and to transform. Emergence. Deepness. Rich earthiness.

I have to skip goddess, dark goddess, and womb, because it does not speak to me, but it works. Darkness is the Void which contains all possibility (rather than the matrix of the womb then). It is the Void of the Norse culture, which surrounds the Worlds and Life (and Death too!), the Void where Wyrd springs from. It is the Night before Creation, where the primordial isle springs from (and here you have a part of my work with Ptah and Nefertum). It is like the darkness of the cave, where mushrooms proliferate ; the darkness of the undergrowth of the wood where mosses run wild… Where small life swarms. It is a very place of fear, because it is the ambiguous place where life and death meet. A place where life springs from the humus from death and decay and rot. She quotes a woman who puts it very nicely :

In the same book, Maurine describes the soul in very different terms than in classic Christian conceptions:  “The realm of the soul is not light and airy, but more like mud: messy, wet, and fertile. Soul processes go on down there with the moss and worms, down there with the decaying leaves, down there where death turns into life.

It is a place of generation and regeneration. That is what primal mean to me. It’s full of senses, smells, touch, colors, textures… It is full of wild life, insects, animals, … It where I met the primal Spirits and the primal Gods – where I re-discovered myself, when I get back on track with my whole being, body and soul.

This is what I meant by “diving”. I think doing what we call “shadow work” is not only the Jungian study of our repressed emotions, our fears, etc. It’s not (only) about anger and such. “Shadow work” in my own path, my UPG (maybe I should stop calling it shadow work?) is “primal work” : it’s about getting to the floor, getting to the mud. Understanding the power of creation in the widder sense. The Creation of the Cosmos, the creation of beings, birth, … Understanding the place where you came from, and how you came to be. Understanding that the power that was put to create you can be channeled, and re-created, at will. This work is about diving into the depth of your own being were your most inner mysteries unfold. Into your mud ; into your body ; your raw emotions ; your animal core ; etc.

Dionysos was the first to lead me there. He was very efficient, and guided me through very painful soul fragment reintegrations. He may have been very happy too, because he passed me to the hands of other primal Gods, like Jormungandr, who made me dive even deeper. The Descent is not always to Hell, diving into the Dark maybe diving into the unknown, but in fact it is known for it is ourselves, our cores, that we just refuse to acknowledge. The “know thyself” I took in this sense. Diving into your darkness and the darkness of Creation. But as a fellow literary student said to me very bluntly (I just love my literature seminar!) : the Dionysian paradigm is two-folded ; it takes you back to the body, to very earthy thing ; but only for a time, because it then transforms them, and makes them unearthly. And that doesn’t only means weird, that means literally not from the earth, but transcended. It is diving into the bottom of the sea, and tapping to get back to the surface and beyond.

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Ariadne’s Madness

“Imagine having a monster as your brother and loving him anyway. Imagine watching, year in and year out, as your family leads young men and women to the slaughter … straight to your brother’s mouth. Imagine hardening your heart against the sacrifice, every year. (…)”

via Ariadne’s Madness.

You have to read this excellent, sensitive article about the Great Ariadne. Moved my heart, resonated with my experiences.

Dionysos, Revealer

Hail Dionysos
The Love of Gods
Revealer of Light

There are no chains
But those I accept to submit to
The truth is that we are absolutely free

There is no obstacle to who I am
But the limitations I set
The truth is that I can be

Hail to You
Love of Gods
Dionysos the Great

Valiel

Hail Dionysos !

I heard you !

For now I know. After… let me see, six or seven months, I now got a flash of light. I understand why he’s here ! And I know that he definitely is here, I only wasn’t able to see. Things are suddenly all so clear, and it looks weird than even two months before I hadn’t got any clue ! If I try to make short my overwhelming thoughts of the moment, here it goes :

Why Dionysos came

First, the most evident thing I couldn’t see, is that Dionysos is the changing and multiple God by excellence – they all are in a way, except for Gods of constancy and stability, but he’s the very incarnation and principle.  And so he is the God of the unexpected : unexpected words, situations, events… and places. He seems to have this disturbing quality of being constantly where and what you wouldn’t expect. And indeed, I didn’t expect his coming at all, not even talking about a lasting presence and his help !

I had some intuitions about the second reason but was totally unable to formulate it in my consciousness until I caught a clue thanks to someone following Sannion’s blog. I read a piece this person wrote for either the introduction or the appendix of Sannion’s new coming book, and I found this idea : Dionysos as a liminal God, and a God of transition and passage. And Hell yes he is!  I thought it was more relevant to Hermes, and yet I found it particularly enlightening, illustrating perfectly my own experience. It has to do with one’s personal crisis and in-between states. If you go out of your way, it seems that Dionysos will definitely be there, to help you through the passage toward the next stage. He will give you insights, very intense revelations, to foster the transition. At least he was for me, and he keeps being just beside my path, following me, being my “garde-fou” : if I lose myself, he’s there and he guides me with overwhelming accuracy. He helped me dealing with many of my deepest issues of the moment : spiritual duties, the dead, transe & shamanism, music…. and I even think he’s also there to help me in my very personal life, the development of my self, personality, and potential : being able to accept what others can’t, stepping up for my self, healing my self and voice…

The third reason that came, and which is the most amazing to me, is that he seems to correspond exactly to my ‘medicine’, my very personal essential spiritual ‘quality’ (and duties). It has to do with what I experienced myself as I said, empowerment and personality, but also with the Dead, which I’m going to develop just after.

Because that’s my second part, the most striking revelation of these days :

Dionysos is Morrigan’s cousin, that’s why he came and helped me in my relationship with her

It’s so obvious now, they are so alike (not the same, but alike).

First, the most arguable part, my very personal feeling is the following : I experienced a face of Dionysos which is exactly like that of Morrigan (and which surprised me compared to his wild “reputation”) : he has a very intense character, which is very calm, quiet (silence) and direct. He is a “piercing” God, not speaking much, but telling things bluntly and showing them with an almost painful lucidity, as is Morrigan (Goddess of prophecy and truth). I never thought I could have such a calm relationship to him, he was totally placid & lucid, everything was too obvious. He is a bringer of light in darkness, of intense revelation, which is exactly what Morrigan is. And yet, like her, he is absolutely remote, distant in his relatioship (to me at least).

But let’s see the deepest connexions, the resemblances. Morrigan and Dionysos are both apart from the rest of the World and Gods for me. They share this quality that all chthonian Gods have, Gods of the World Below (like Hel, Hades, Persephone etc). They are not like other Gods and living creatures, and so they do not live in the same places. They have specific places like the lower world(s), and the liminal places (as told).  On the one hand, as being Gods of the Great Below, they “rule” over life and death, the principle of life even when it’s hidden, and over the dead people. It never struck me before, it was really out my mind’s possibilities, but since the beginning Dionysos presented himself to me as a dark God (dark energy and literaly dark face). I think it was the mask of the Lord of the Dead (and repressed impulses), and that’s why I didn’t recognised him at first since I wasn’t aware of this aspect. – So it is that it’s precisely what I have to work on both for my polytheist and shamanic path. – On the other hand, if they are Gods of the Great Below, set apart, it’s because they embody all the impulses that are judged to be dark and/or scary, and thus rejected. Morrigan is more on the side of the inconscious, what we don’t see, where Dionysos is more along the line of what we deliberately reject (the non-normal, the marginal etc). That’s what we can put under his label “god of the wild“. So both are set apart because related to what we don’t want to see and deal with (either consciously or not). And along with the cycle of life and death, the underworld, it grants them a very profond quality of mystery, both in the common and literal sense (spiritual mystery, initiation). Furthermore (!) they have the same link to masks and illusions. They both appeared to me as masked Gods : Morrigan with the faceless Goddess with a hole face, a blank face, so a masked face (to conceive either the emptiness or her true face) ; Dionysos as the dark-faced God, God of the wild and mystery. He truly appeared as a God of Shadow and Earth, in its really material aspect, the soil, the dirt. For which aspect I tend to call him “the God of unease” (exactly like the essence of Morrigan).

So he was not just here for a month or two. I guess he’s concerned by a long-term transition, and even more : for all that I have mentioned, I think he’s a long-term guide. He corresponds to many of my deepest interest fields (my medicine), and so he’ll be precisely what I’ll need along the way.

I hope it will be clear for others, since it really is the object of my currently reflexions. It’s huge for me, I wonder if anybody worked on such aspects before. As usual, feel free to share with anybody you know who could be interested.

the God of the unexpected.

Dionysos & I, a weird relationship

This was originally the piece I wrote for Sannion’s coming book on Dionysos Ecstatic.

Distant respect

I feel weird, deeply humble by the attention that Dionysos has developed for me for the past 6 months. I did not look for him, I did not worship him regularly, and yet he came – insistently. I was a little scared at the beginning because he showed me his dark and savage face, a huge shadow for a God of the Wild – maybe it was his Lord of the Forest look. Needless to say, I was highly impressed. But then, it appeared that he had some things to say to me. So I struggled to find what, and finally I found Sannion’s blog; two week later I learned that he was delivering oracles for Dionysos himself. It was too huge a sign! I wrote down an email. And the mystery began to grow.

For indeed, the God, even if I knew him since my adolescence, was a stranger to me; I never really approached him since I became a polytheist. So why would he take an interest in me? Why now? Why would he help? I’ve not found all the answers yet, but it is true nevertheless that he stays along my spiritual path, as a kind of watcher. He seems to feel like putting me back on track when I’m lost, even if I don’t ask anything. I doubted, as anyone would have I guess. I was skeptical, I didn’t want to project my will on him. So I just observed, and didn’t draw conclusions about his presence. But I couldn’t help being disturbed, all the more so since the oracles I got from him (thanks to Sannion’s intermediary) were mind blowing. No, I mean, really, really, mind blowing. It was so accurate, deep, long term, very precise about what kind of person I am, and what life is ahead of me. I can’t give the details here, but Sannion can confirm the depth of his “prophecies”. Since September 2010, omens have been plenty to highlight what he wanted to tell; about my personal evolution, and about my path as a mystic pagan. It appeared that he showed me that my visions since adolescence were true, and all that I felt about many gods and spirits was true too. He helped me in the harsh process of lifting (up?) my fears I had been struggling with, helped me too grasping my personal self and potential, and, what was truly amazing, he helped me in my relationship with my Matron Goddess, Morrigan. The piling up was really awe-inspiring.

The Gods are supposed to be perfection, so I shouldn’t have been surprised by the clarity and deep truth he held about my life. And yet, coming from his mouth, a God that was not close to me, it was disturbing. And seeing that he had close relationship to some deities of my Celtic and Gaulish pantheon left me very puzzled, I would never have thought such inter-pantheon understanding was possible. Or maybe I wondered about the possibility, but it was far more intense to experience it than just assume. Such clarity and acuteness, about everything, was bewildering. He offered me such a right perception of Morrigan (and others), and knew our relationship so well from the outside, it was very humbling. And I still don’t know why he came, why he cares.

However, since then I have added him to my working pantheon, and from time to time I do offerings to him. It’s strange that we are not close and yet have a deep bond, sharing thoughts about my path. There’s a very powerful respect on both sides, but we look at each other from a distance. Despite these strange facts, it’s one of the most authentic and direct relationship I have to a God.

Valiel, French polytheist.

January 2011

Dionysos’ welcoming rite

I could not find any other name for such a ritual. I guess the simpler, the better ! And indeed, that’s nothing more.

As Dionysos appeared in my spiritual life in a much insistant way than before, and since I asked for his guidance, I felt obliged to Him. I felt I had to DO something to mark my intentions. And so I did, I performed a rite which I named the “welcoming rite”. When I talk of my pantheon, I mean “working pantheon”. Since I’m a hard polytheist, I believe in every God, and I could perform an act of devotion to any of them. So my pantheon is the pantheon of Deities with whom I “work” : perform rituals, meet during transes, do particular things, …. the ones with whom I have a peculiar relationships (or the ones I chose)  – But let’s get back to Dionysos. I then chose to put him in my pantheon (in the explained sense)  and I felt the need to declare to him by a ritual.

The rite itself was very simple. In the afternoon I went to the wood the relax myself, and I found savage berries : brambles (blackberry) and dogwood’s berries. I first thougth it was for myself and my altar, but I then realised “hey, wasn’t looking for proper offerings to Dionysos?” And indeed, it was it. I waited for the night to come and be real dark and I performed around midnight. I went to my altar and used my body to create the sacred space (to draw the sacred energies), then put the candle of Sannion on the corner and the 4 elements (my artisanal bowl for water, a feather for the air, candle for fire, and chesnuts for earth). I spoke to open the ritual, presenting my “request” : I was here thanks to his Devotee Sannion (white candle). I lit an extremely red candle for the God, red like wine, for the God of passion and extremes. Then I presented in the air my cauldron with offerings of fresh leaves and the dogwood’s berries. I spoke a lot actually, talking with Dionysos as I rarely do with Gods. Presenting the elements, the fire, speaking of me, of the oracle I received from him… And then I explained that I was now aware of his presence and willing to listen to whatever He says, to work with Him if He wanted, giving him a “real” place in my pantheon. And as a mark of this “partnership” I dedicated the blackberries (bramble) and eat them as a sign of communion. I made a time for silence, praying or so, letting the energies flow. And then I went away from the altar, but I let the candles on : it was for me a sign that the God is welcome.

Dionysos’ oracle

A deep bafflement… I’m disturbed since I read it.

– Because of the content, about my “path” : I wondered about being a “prietess” or something similar for two years, and then I abruptly changed my mind because I feel unable, or full of pride. But here comes the God, talking about leadership in spirituality… I’m so stunned.

– Because of the allusion to “The Mothers”. Who are they ? Something makes me think I know, deep under the surface, but still, I can’t figure.

This night I made a dream about Him, about the oracle. The perspective was given to me, revealing the angle to access the meaning and I remember the “AAAAAAAhhhhhhhhh ok, that’s it”. But it was during a very deep period of sleep and I can’t remember a damn’ thing since I woke up ! Why the Hell ? How to find back the vision ?