Mystery Rites of Dionysus, The Serpent/Bull

A Dragon Mystery School of the Left Hand Path, the Dragon Mysteries of Dionysus

Another Greek cult which co-existed with the Eleusinian Mysteries and also incorporated the consumption of hallucinogenic sacraments was that of the cult of Dionysus, the serpent Son of Zeus, the Spirit.

In ancient Greece, Dionysus was the god of wine, fertility, and theater. These attributes made him a symbol of hedonistic pleasure, which may explain his great appeal to Greeks in all layers of society. Dionysus was usually depicted as a handsome nude man with a bunch of grapes or a fennel staff called the thyrsus.

The earliest Dionysian ceremonies took place in a theater, led by a chorus; indeed, these religous ceremonies would ultimately produce staged drama and the birth of our modern theater. As the patron god of grapes that must be crushed to produce a new substance, in the form of wine, Dionysus became associated with the cycle of life, from birth to death, and passage to the afterlife. But because wine induces intoxication, the worship of Dionysus also gained an important spiritual dimension; ancient Greeks believed that to be inebriated meant to be possessed by god’s spirit.The oustanding feature of the Dionysian mysteries that unites it with the Vamacara rites of India and Left hand path traditions is that they were designed to take a person out of social consciousness and their normal comfort zones of behaviour in order to experience their unfettered and spontaneous selves. Under the influence of illicit rites involving the ingestion of hallucinogenic and inebriating substances a person could truly let go of all parts of their selves, including their egos, and concepts, and even moralistic considerations that normally kept them limited and without true joy. When they were ready the intuitive guidance of their Higher Self as Dionysus would speak within and inspire them to do things they would never normally dream of doing in order to fully forget their lower selves and unite with Him, the personification of their Higher Self.

Many of the Dionysian rites began on Crete, where Dionysus was Zagreus, the “Hunter.” During his Cretan rites a Dionysian initiate would seek to unite with Zagreus through strong wine and other consciousness-expanding exercises and substances. When the initiate he or she would set out into the forest to capture and devour wild animals with only their hands and teeth just as their beloved deity was averred to do. At other times they sought to unite with Zagreus in his bull form through a holy communion meal of red wine and bull meat symbolizing his blood and body. This was one of the very first Holy Communions practiced among the Left hand Path votaries in the west that is historically documented.

Dionysus was a composite god synthesized from the Cretan Zan and the Egyptian Osiris to produce a resurrected serpent/bull Son. He was patron of both his own cult as well as the Eleusinian Mysteries and known by the esoteric name of Iakos, a title derived from Iao and the hard K sound, both of which are ancient sound signatures of the Primal Serpent.

On the European mainland the rites of Dionysus were observed as early as 4000 BCE in Thrace. Here the Dionysian revelers began to meet during full moon nights in order to throw off the fetters of existence and experience ecstatic communion with Dionysus. Everyone was invited to join the party as long as they were ready to go beyond their social biases and become one with all the participants. Those that could let go embraced the vision of Dionysus as the Green Man, whose body was all of nature, as well as a snake or dragon. And those who were ready to achieve an eternal union with the Christed Son could undergo an initiation that could involve the activation of the inner Kundalini through letting a live snake move around their loosely fitting clothing and/or by having a Thrysus, which symbolized the spine and Third Eye, placed against the back. Certain entheogens, such as hallucinogenic mushrooms might also be administered to help trigger an activation of the evolutionary Dragon Force.

The rites of the Dionysian cult were enacted during high energy periods, such as full moon nights, on top of secluded mountains or within isolated forest glens. After secretly meeting on a pre-arranged night, the participants of a Dionysian ritual would seek to unite with the Son of God by first altering their awareness with strong wine, hallucinogenic mushrooms, or other potent mind-altering sacraments. Then, while meditating upon their beloved deity, they would proceeed to sing and dance in the tradition of the legendary followers of Dionysus, the god-intoxicated Maenads. One group of female participants of the rites so completely identified themselves with the legendary Maenads that they even referred to themselves as the “Maenads”. In time, however, the spiritual connotation of the Dionysian cult was superseded by a greater emphasis on hedonistic pleasure, of being liberated by the constraints and duties of social life. The Dionysian mysteries This led to the rise of the Dionysian procession, in which an effigy of the god (or impersonating him) was followed by the Maenads, a wild and unruly group of inebriated women, acccompanied by lustful satyrs, all whipped into a frenzy by drums and flutes. During some of the coldest nights in November and December these intrepid women would climb to the frosty summit of the 8000 foot Mount Parnassus while dancing along the course of its knee-deep, snow covered trails. The reward for their efforts was ecstatic union with the transcendental aspect of the Son of God.

Some moonlit rites of the Dionysian cult, which were attended by both women and men, resembled an assembly of the “Lunatic Yogis” of the Hindu tradition. In order to completely transcend the dualistic consciousness of good and evil, right and wrong, the participants of these aberrant nocturnal rites reprised the more savage actions of the mythological Maenads. Many scurried into the bushes and returned with the carcasses of wild animals between their teeth, while others performed perverse sexual acts. Such savage actions were, however, often punctuated by solemn initiations into the Order of the Bacchuses, a Greek Branch of the Sons and Daughters of the God/Goddess. During these initiations, a pine branch shaped like a caduceus and called a Thyrsus was placed upon the backs of candidates by a priest or priestess of Dionysus. This sacred implement had the effect of stimulating the electromagnetic field of the candidates while sympathetically awakening the inner transformative fire serpent.

The Rites of Dionysos were very similar to those of Bacchus, and by many these two gods are considered as one. Statues of Dionysos were carried in the Eleusinian Mysteries, especially the lesser degrees. Bacchus, representing the soul of the mundane sphere, was capable of an infinite multiplicity of form and designations. Dionysos apparently was his solar aspect.

When the Dionysian rites were spread to Rome they became the rites of Bacchus, which was the Latin name for Dionysus. As the lord of the grape and wine making, Bacchus was immediately accepted by most of the wine-drinking populace, except for the most conservative, upright and law-abiding citizens. Once it became known that a full on Bacchus ceremony known as a Bacchanalia required the participants to drink an extreme amount of wine or consume an inordinate amount of some other inebriating substance, Bacchus quickly became known as Eleutherios, the “Liberator,” the one who takes a person beyond their self and society imposed limitations.

The Bacchic Rite centers around the allegory of the youthful Bacchus (Dionysos or Zagreus) being torn to pieces by the Titans. These giants accomplished the destruction of Bacchus by causing him to become fascinated by his own image in a mirror. After dismembering him, the Titans first boiled the pieces in water and afterwards roasted them. Pallas rescued the heart of the murdered god, and by this precaution Bacchus (Dionysos) was enabled to spring forth again in all his former glory. Jupiter, the Demiurgus, beholding the crime of the Titans, hurled his thunderbolts and slew them, burning their bodies to ashes with heavenly fire. Out of the ashes of the Titans–which also contained a portion of the flesh of Bacchus, whose body they had partly devoured–the human race was created. Thus the mundane life of every man was said to contain a portion of the Bacchic life.

For this reason the Greek Mysteries warned against suicide. He who attempts to destroy himself raises his hand against the nature of Bacchus within him, since man’s body is indirectly the tomb of this god and consequently must be preserved with the greatest care.

Bacchus (Dionysos) represents the rational soul of the inferior world. He is the chief of the Titans–the artificers of the mundane spheres. The Pythagoreans called him the Titanic monad. Thus Bacchus is the all-inclusive idea of the Titanic sphere and the Titans–or gods of the fragments–the active agencies by means of which universal substance is fashioned into the pattern of this idea. The Bacchic state signifies the unity of the rational soul in a state of self-knowledge, and the Titanic state the diversity of the rational soul which, being scattered throughout creation, loses the consciousness of its own essential one-ness. The mirror into which Bacchus gazes and which is the cause of his fall is the great sea of illusion–the lower world fashioned by the Titans. Bacchus (the mundane rational soul), seeing his image before him, accepts the image as a likeness of himself and ensouls the likeness; that is, the rational idea ensouls its reflection–the irrational universe. By ensouling the irrational image it implants in it the urge to become like its source, the rational image. Therefore the ancients said that man does not know the gods by logic or by reason but rather by realizing the presence of the gods within himself.

After Bacchus gazed into the mirror and followed his own reflection into matter, the rational soul of the world was broken up and distributed by the Titans throughout the mundane sphere of which it is the essential nature, but the heart, or source, of it they could not: scatter. The Titans took the dismembered body of Bacchus and boiled it in water–symbol of immersion in the material universe–which represents the incorporation of the Bacchic principle in form. The pieces were afterwards roasted to signify the subsequent ascension of the spiritual nature out of form.

When Jupiter, the father of Bacchus and the Demiurgus of the universe, saw that the Titans were hopelessly involving the rational or divine idea by scattering its members through the constituent parts of the lower world, he slew the Titans in order that the divine idea might not be entirely lost. From the ashes of the Titans he formed mankind, whose purpose of existence was to preserve and eventually to release the Bacchic idea, or rational soul, from the Titanic fabrication. Jupiter, being the Demiurgus and fabricator of the material universe, is the third person of the Creative Triad, consequently the Lord of Death, for death exists only in the lower sphere of being over which he presides. Disintegration takes place so that reintegration may follow upon a higher level of form or intelligence. The thunderbolts of Jupiter are emblematic of his disintegrative power; they reveal the purpose of death, which is to rescue the rational soul from the devouring power of the irrational nature.

Man is a composite creature, his lower nature consisting of the fragments of the Titans and his higher nature the sacred, immortal flesh (life) of Bacchus. Therefore man is capable of either a Titanic (irrational) or a Bacchic (rational) existence. The Titans of Hesiod, who were twelve in number, are probably analogous to the celestial zodiac, whereas the Titans who murdered and dismembered Bacchus represent the zodiacal powers distorted by their involvement in the material world. Thus Bacchus represents the sun who is dismembered by the signs of the zodiac and from whose body the universe is formed. When the terrestrial forms were created from the various parts of his body the sense of wholeness was lost and the sense of separateness established. The heart of Bacchus, which was saved by Pallas, or Minerva, was lifted out of the four elements symbolized by his dismembered body and placed in the ether. The heart of Bacchus is the immortal center of the rational soul.

After the rational soul had been distributed throughout creation and the nature of man, the Bacchic Mysteries were instituted for the purpose of disentangling it from the irrational Titanic nature. This disentanglement was the process of lifting the soul out of the state of separateness into that of unity. The various parts and members of Bacchus were collected from the different corners of the earth. When all the rational parts are gathered Bacchus is resurrected.

The thrysus of Dionysus/Bacchus is a representation of the ascent of the Kundalini up the spinal cord. The wand or staff of giant fennel represents the spinal cord. The ivy vines and leaves with grapes or berries represents the kundalini The pine cone at the top represents the PINEal gland which is the third eye, which is the seat of dragon wisdom.

The Bacchanalias quickly degenerated into mass orgies and the spiritual incentive to unite with Bacchus was replaced with the ambition to fully indulge one’s physical desires. When this evolution of the Bacchanalia reached a crescendo of indulgence, the wild behavior of the participants became purely animalistic, self-serving and even destructive. Many of the participants died so that others could realize their most hedonistic,
perverted and grotesque fantasies. One of the priestesses, Hispala Faeceaia, decided things had gone to far and reported the insanity that was occurring in the Bacchanalias to the Roman Senate. Soldiers were quickly dispatched and 7000 Bacchas were arrested, tortured and executed.

Other secret initiation rites of the Bacchuses were administered within the cult of Sabazios, a branch of the Dionysian cult in Thrace. During these rites union with Dionysus was precipitated by a live snake which was painted gold and allowed to slither around in the shirt of a candidate, thereby presumably stimulating the movement and ascent of the Kundalini. As the fruit of these rites, the participant was blessed by the Son of God in his serpentine form while uniting with his transcendent aspect.

The degeneration of the Bacchus movement inspired many of the remaining revelers to turn to the practices of the Orphics, just as their Greek cousins had done. The legendary Orpheus had been the great reformer of the Dionysus-Bacchus movement. He offered the revelers an opportunity to not just have occasional communion with the Christed Son, but to ongoingly experience that union within themselves. He thus introduced the same alchemical practices observed by other Left Hand
Path sects like the Hindu Vamacarins that promised a full and permanent unification the transcendental Self. These disciplines included the practices of yoga and meditation, along with a vegetarian diet and abstention from all consciousness altering substances, in-cluding strong wine. Orpheus’s reformation was a great success, and the Order
of the Orphics spread rapidly throughout the Aegean and Mediterranean regions.

The Dionysiac Architects constituted an ancient secret society, in principles and doctrines much like the modern Freemasonic Order. They were an organization of builders bound together by their secret knowledge of the relationship between the earthly and the divine sciences of architectonics. They were supposedly employed by King Solomon in the building of his Temple, although they were not Jews, nor did they worship the God of the Jews, being followers of Bacchus and Dionysos. The Dionysiac Architects erected many of the great monuments of antiquity. They possessed a secret language and a system of marking their stones. They had annual convocations and sacred feasts. The exact nature of their doctrines is unknown. It is believed that CHiram Abiff was an initiate of this society.

The processional of the Bacchic Rites. From Ovid’s Metamorphis.

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