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Dionysus Ritual

Presented in July 2003 for a group of about 8 people.

Preparation:

Everyone is asked to bring an offering for Dionysus (suggestions: honey, fruit, pine cones, stones). All callings are written on index cards.

Tools and Materials:

Small altar in the bedroom with a pillar candle, a finger labyrinth, and invocations written on index cards; a main altar with candles and/or coloured lights to see by, salt and water in dishes, blindfolds; the “sense items” (a singing bowl and ringer, a bottle of essential oil of orange, a velvet scarf, a small dish of small pieces of chocolate), an offering dish, the food and drink items (a large opaque goblet, a plate of grapes, a little sealed baggie of red wine, a dark cloth, an athame, a small goblet, and a small goblet of watered down grape juice), and foods to share in the wind-down section.

Set-Up:

There are three set-up areas: the kitchen table for pre-ritual and post-ritual gathering, the bedroom for transition time, and the living room area for the ritual space.

Kitchen Table: For before the ritual, coffee, tea, and water. Dim lighting and appropriate music playing. When people arrive, they are to relax and ground together in this area while discussing pleasant things. After the ritual, food will be brought to the table and water, wine and grape juice will be shared.

Bedroom: When the ritual is almost ready to begin, each person will go to the bedroom to ground privately. There will be a candle to meditate on and a finger labyrinth on a small altar, along with the invocation cards. Before leaving, each person will take an invocation card.

Ritual Space: The main altar is set up to one side of the ritual space. It has the offering dish and the food and drink items on it. The other items (the blindfolds and items for the senses portions of the ritual) are beside or under the altar, covered with another cloth. A damp cloth may also be helpful, and so should be kept nearby.

Opening:

One person will cleanse the space with salt water before the ritual while the other participants stand silently outside of the ritual area.

Participants bring in their offerings and invocation cards and they enter the space one-by-one as they are also cleansed with a sprinkling of salt water.

Someone casts the Circle.

Circle Casting: The Circle is cast. Blessed be.

North: Earth – powers of the North – we welcome you. Smell of the soil and salt on the tongue; you bless our senses. Blessed be!

East: Air – powers of the East – we welcome you. The song of the birds on the winds; you bless our senses. Blessed be!

South: Fire – powers of the South – we welcome you. The golden sunshine in the day and the flickering flames at night; you bless our senses. Blessed be!

West: Water – powers of the West – we welcome you. Cool waves lapping over skin; you bless our senses. Blessed be!

For this ritual, only Dionysus will be invoked. Each participant reads one of these invocations from their card in turn. After each, the group says: “Be welcomed!”

Come to our Circle, Dionysus Kissokomes, ivy-crowned one, and hear our chants.

Come to our Circle, Dionysus Charidotes, giver of grace, and dance with us.

Come to our Circle, Dionysus Bromios, boisterous one, and celebrate with us.

Come to our Circle, Dionysus Lusios, liberator, and bring us freedom.

Come to our Circle, Dionysus Polygethes, bringer of many joys, and bless us with your presence.

Come to our Circle, Dionysus Hagnos, pure and holy one, and feel our pleasure.

Come to our Circle, Dionysus Staphylos, lord of the grape, and know our thanks.

Come to our Circle, Dionysus Polonomos, many named one, and receive our offerings.

Centre:

Priestess: How shall we celebrate a wild God of pleasure and intoxication? We are told that sex can be deadly, alcohol can be addictive, pot is bad for the lungs, and just about everything else is fattening. We are told that excess is dangerous.

Priest: But we can still choose pleasure. We say – everything in moderation, including moderation.

The priest and priestess walk around and blindfold everyone else.

Priestess: Pleasure and denial cannot be separated from each other. Just as the lack of one sense can heighten the others, so the denial of a pleasure for a time can sweeten it later. Dionysus is a God of indulgence, hedonism and ecstasy. But the denial of nature and bodily pleasure means His power is often misused in our Apollonian world. He becomes a God of gluttony, addiction and destruction only when we try to control everything and deny our natural urges.

After the priestess says each of the following lines, the priest goes to each participant in turn with the item mentioned:

Priestess: We have five senses through which we can experience the world. Focus on each sense in turn as an offering to your own body. We hear…

The priest rings the singing bowl gently over each participant’s third eye.

Priestess: We smell…

Priest brings an open bottle of orange oil under each person’s nose.

Priestess: We feel…

Priest brushes a velvet scarf gently over each person’s face.

Priestess: We taste…

Priest gives each person a small piece of chocolate.

Priestess: We see…

Priest takes away each person’s blindfold to see the priestess holding a candle.

Priest: Dionysus, we offer You our pleasure in this ritual along with our gifts and our chants. Please accept our offerings, freely given.

Priestess places the offering dish in the centre of the Circle. She and the priest step into the ring of participants. In turn, each person puts their offering into the offering dish.

The priest sets a rhythm for everyone to follow by clapping his hands. He begins a call and response chant to the tune of “Strong Like the Ocean”:

Lord of the ivy
Lord of the vine
Singing One and dancing One
Bright like the sun

After the energy has peaked, the priestess puts the offering dish on the altar.

Food and Drink:

The priestess holds up a large, brightly decorated, empty goblet.

Priestess: Dionysus is a God of many blessings. Among these, He brings to us the mysteries of wine.

She takes a grape from the dish on the altar and holds it up.

Priestess: The humble grape is plucked from the vine…

She mashes the grape between her fingers.

Priestess: It is crushed…

She drops the crushed grape into the goblet.

Priestess: But it is only juice.

The priest covers the goblet with a dark cloth. The cloth conceals the baggie of red wine which is dropped into the goblet.

Priest: It is in the dark that it ages and transforms and becomes something more then it was.

He removes the cloth, while the priestess is careful to hold the goblet where the other participants cannot see the baggie inside. The priest takes up his athame.

Priest: Dionysus, we ask you to bless us with wine, symbol of the pleasure You give and the transformations You cause.

He inserts the athame into the goblet, piercing the baggie. The priest picks up the smaller, empty goblet. The priestess carefully pours some of the wine from her goblet into his, being careful that the baggie stays in place.

Priest and Priestess: This wine is blessed, and we are blessed by it.

A bit of wine is poured into the offering dish.

The drink is passed clockwise with “may you never thirst” as the person holds the chalice for the recipient to drink from. Then the recipient says “blessed be” and takes the chalice. Grape juice can be drunk instead of the wine.

Someone picks up the plate of grapes and blesses it.

Food Blessing: Through food, we take in earth and water, fire and air. By the elements, this food is blessed. By consuming it, may we be blessed.

A grape is placed in the offering dish.

The food is passed clockwise with “may you never hunger” as the person feeds the next in the circle, then the recipient says “blessed be”.

A group grounding meditation will go here if needed.

Blessing:

The priestess picks up the goblet of red wine.

Priestess: Be always drunken. On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as you wish. But be drunken!

She then blesses the person to her left while lightly anointing their forehead with the wine.

Priestess: May you be blessed with passion and inspiration.

This blessing is passed clockwise around the circle along with the wine.

Closing:

Priestess: Oh bright and blessed Dionysus, You of many names and aspects, we thank You for entering our Circle. Thank You, ivy-crowned lord of the grape, for Your inspiration. May we know Your freedom when we dance, when we sing, when we make love. Thank You, and blessed be!

West: Water – powers of the West – we thank you. For your cooling, sensual blessings, we honour you. Blessed be!

South: Fire – powers of the South – we thank you. For your beautiful displays, we honour you. Blessed be!

East: Air – powers of the East – we thank you. For your unique songs, we honour you. Blessed be!

North: Earth – powers of the North – we thank you. For flavours and scents, we honour you. Blessed be!

The person who cast the Circle takes it back down.

Circle Opening: The Circle is open, but unbroken. Merry meet, merry part and merry meet again!

Wind-Down:

Everyone will return to the kitchen table where there will be a slow, sensual sharing of foods such as chocolate, walnuts, grapes, pomegranates, and goat cheese. There will be water, wine, and grape juice available too.

Creative Commons Licence
Dionysus Ritual by Melissa Hope is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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