Ways of Worship: Dionysus
Helenic Witch/Wiccan Worship of Dionysus
Dionysus is the God of religious ecstasy, winemaking, wine, ritual madness, grape harvest, fertility, and theatre. His parents are Zeus and Semele, the Princess of Thebes. His wife is Ariadne, the daughter of King Midas. The two met on the island of Naxos after Theseus left her stranded there. Dionysus' Roman form is Bacchus. He is one of the 12 Olympians and the last God to be added. It's said that Hestia was originally an Olympian, but stepped down when Dionysus came to Olympus to keep the peace between the other Olympians and her family.
In the lore of his birth, Dionysus's mother Semele became pregnant by Zeus. Enraged, Hera tricked Semele into demanding Zeus to reveal his true form. Semele was the mortal princess of Thebes and it has long been known that mortals die, often said to turn to dust, if they see a Gods true form. Perhaps that's why most of the Gods decide to appear as animals to have sex with mortals. Zeus relented and showed her, killing her instantly. Zeus took the unborn child and sewed him into his thigh until he was ready to be born.
When Dionysus was born, Zeus took him to Silenus and the rain nymphs of Mount Nysa where he was raised away from Hera's wrath. As he grew, Dionysus discovered his ability to cultivate grapes and make wine. Silenus was like a satyr, but much older and his features resembled that of a horse rather than a goat—not to be confused with a centaur. He stayed a loyal companion of Dionysus and was commonly seen drunk and merry on wine. The two traveled what is thought to be Asia before coming to Greece and showing up on Mount Olympus.
Dionysus was seen as an outsider and not widely welcomed among the other Gods, especially since he was a demigod. As said in the first paragraph, Dionysus decided he wanted to be one of the 12 Olympians. This caused an uproar among the already full council of Gods and looked as if it would be an all-out war split 50-50. To keep the peace, Hestia stepped down to allow Dionysus to take her seat. For this, Zeus gave her the job of tending to his hearth by where the other 12 sat.
Altar, Offerings, and Symbols
- General Symbols: Thyrsus, leopard skin, revelry, madness, tragedy and comedy masks, flute
- Animals: Leopard, panther, lions, cheetah, bull, snakes, goats
- Plants: Grapes, grapevines, ivy, fig tree, walnut tree
- Gemstones/Metals: Gold
- Color: Purple
- Scents: Grape, wine, rain
Things to Pray For:
- Good wine
- Good harvest
- Good performance
- Everything running smoothly in theater
- Protection while drinking
- A religious ecstasy experience
Dionysos, God whose arrival is swift
and certain, enduring friend of women and men
whose welcome is warm, bringer of light, we see you
in shadows. Dionysos, granter of great blessings,
your presence is a heady wine. Kind-hearted god,
to each you give as is fitting, each vessel you fill
only as we can bear, and yet with even a sip
we are drunk upon you, and our faith is affirmed.
Awesome god, by our own will we drink deeply,
with you we become lost, we wander, we are found.
I call to Dionysos,
great god of the vine,
son of thundering Zeus and headstrong Semele,
loving husband of warm-hearted Ariadne.
From the East you came,
old before the ancients,
throughout the elder world were you beloved;
in Naxos and Boitia were you celebrated,
in temples and in the savage wilderness,
the fleet-footed maenads running in your wake.
The sweetest, strongest wine is ever your drink;
the mind’s release, the body’s loosening, your gift.
O Dionysos; thyrsus-shaker,
we see you in the shadows,
we see you on the edges,
we see you in the haze of ecstasy,
where we know the truth of passion,
where we find the essence of our being.
Dionysos, I call to you!