Posts Tagged ‘Dionysus’

The Cave of Being

October 2, 2010

Humans begin their lives in a watery cave, the womb. That is where the individual’s consciousness is initially formed. In some ways that consciousness is lost as the daylight world begins its play, makes its demands, and tricks the mind into literal interpretations of the stories that a person lives.

Many cultures believe that carefully designed initiations are necessary for a soul to remember what it knew before entering this earthly play of light and shadow, form and spirit. From prehistoric records in cave drawings to the Greek, Dionysian, Eleusynian mysteries and the rites of Orpheus, to practices of shamanic and indigenous initiations all over the globe, the importance of these rituals are a ubiquitous part of human history.

In my own life I have been drawn to study many of these cultures and their rituals. And I have observed that the psyche so needs these rites that even if they are not provided, as modern cultures generally fail to do, Nature herself, working on behalf of the psyche, will create them for the soul that wishes for initiation.

Caves are an important location for many of the rites of passage. They provide a withdrawal into seclusion, into the subterranean worlds, into the world inside the world, and into the darkness beyond solar limits. As Rilke says, “You darkness of whom I am born, I love you more than the flame that limits the world to the circle it illumines and excludes all the rest.”

I submit that Nature can and will create cave initiations without the need for a physical cave. It can submerge the spirit into a cave-like dwelling where light does not penetrate. There is a cave inside our being, the deep memory of the time inside the womb and what came before that, and the awareness of spaces where light does not reach that inform the soul of the truth of its being. I get drawn into these caves and find it hard to emerge. The events occur as part of an illness, a struggle with depression and PTSD, but they are part of  the fulfillment of my soul’s wishes too. There is a huge tension to hold in this.  The facility to pass between these worlds gracefully is my quest now and I believe it is coming. I am grateful for what I am learning.

Dionysus and Death

May 31, 2010

On Memorial Day I have often visited the graves of those I have loved, and, while living in Los Angeles, walked the Labyrinth at Forest Lawn, a large and exquisitely landscaped cemetery located over the hills of Los Angeles. Here in North Carolina I don’t have graves to visit that are personal to me, so my observances have mostly been in the home with prayers and altars dedicated to ancestors of mine and of those I am grateful to.

Tonight a friend in Asheville had a party that felt like a Dionysian ritual – an abundant banquet, with bottles of beautiful wine she provided, beauty and nature surrounding the location, and a friend brought CDs of really fun music so that after eating and drinking the wild spirit of abandonment to dance and play took over.

Driving home I remembered the sweet story told to me by a friend of my sister who lives in Austria. After one of their colleagues died, when visiting her grave they would take her favorite drink and imbibe it there to commune with her. Another friend of mine here in the mountains told me a similar story of sitting around the grave of a friend who had just died. His buddies took some beers and sat and drank them together with and in honor of him.

Dionysus is the god of wine and celebration, as well as a god who communes between the living and the dead. Tonight our Dionysian ritual seemed timely and appropriate to the occasion of Memorial Day. As I returned home I felt the spirits and the ancestors happy and well fed. I pour wine into the ground to honor their lives here on earth and the life they live wherever they are now.