Dionysos Autumn Equinox Rite

This is the Autumn Equinox Dionysos rite done by Sassafras Grove, ADF in 2004. Please see the end for credits and works cited.

While the inspiration and overarching vision for this rite were mine, its creation was truly a collaborative effort. Dionysos gave me the charge to perform a rite in his honor, and I did the bulk of the research, decided on the theme and intent, chose the Bardic Patron and Gatekeeper, and came up with the magickal working of the Induction of Receptivity.

But the actual nuts and bolts of how this rite would happen were hammered out by the three primary planners—me, Earrach, and Rowan. The countless hours they spent listening to my ravings and their suggestions as to how to make all of this raw material into a ritual that worked were invaluable.

This rite would not have happened without them. Diana, Maria and FreyaDragon also contributed greatly to this rite. All of the ancient texts were selected by me with the exception of the Gateway closing prayer "To the Stars" which was chosen by Diana.

I. Beginning the Rite and Establishing the Groupmind

A. Ritual Briefing

B. The Consecration of Time

  1. The Nine Knells - with tambourine

C. The Consecration of Space and of Participants

  1. Purification of the Participants: Sea (wash hands), Land (put hands on labyrinth rock), Sky (incense) - Blessers On Site
  2. While purifications are taking place, D1 will talk about the season and the harvest (connecting John Barleycorn lore with Dionysos lore)
  3. Procession: (Come We Now as a People, up tempo) Congregation will process into the meeting room carrying giant thyrsus, torches, baskets of figs and grapes, ivy, etc. All will process behind the bilé and around the space once. On the next pass, the giant thyrsus will be put in place in the center of the room and the "harvesty stuff" will be placed on the regular altar.
  4. Warding of the Site / Acknowledgment of the Outsiders

D. Bardic Patron - Arion

D2:

Poet and Harper beyond compare,
Your praise of kings and prayers
To gods most high resound
As players, ivy crowned,
Whirl words to stir the heart,
Illuminating mysteries by your art.

D3:

Arion,
Pride of Corinth
Excellent in challenge
Darling of Sicily
Scholar and teacher
Entrancing, enthralling,
Hear and attend us!

D2: Arion, harper, master of melodies
D3: Give music to our dance
D2: Arion, golden voiced, honey-tongued bard
D3: Give words to our music
D2: Arion, poet, beloved of gods
D3: Give grace to our words
D2: Arion, Light of heaven, divinely inspired
D3: Hear our prayer
D2: Arion, Light of heaven, divinely inspired
D3: Heed and attend us

D2 and D3:

Arion, Light of heaven, divinely inspired
Accept the place we have prepared.

Sacrificer makes offering to Arion.

E. Earth Mother - Gaia

O mother Gaia, of Gods and men the source, endured with fertile, all-destroying force; all-parent, bounding, whose prolific powers produce a store of beauteous fruits and flowers. All-various maid, the immortal world's strong base, eternal, blessed, crowned with every grace; from whose wide womb as from an endless root, fruits many-formed, mature, and grateful shoot. Deep-bosomed, blessed, pleased with grassy plains, sweet to the smell, and with prolific rains. All-flowery Daimon, centre of the world, around thy orb the beauteous stars are hurled with rapid whirl, eternal and divine, whose frames with matchless skill and wisdom shine. Come, blessed Goddess, listen to my prayer, and make increase of fruits thy constant care; with fertile seasons in thy train draw near, and with propitious mind thy suppliants hear. (Orphic Hymn 25 to Mother Earth)

All touch or kiss the ground.

(Song: Oh Earth Mother...)

F. Matron of the Grove - Brighid

D1:

I light this candle in honor of Brighid
The Matron of Sassafras Grove
Through the years you have been midwife
To many changes and new beginnings within our grove.
You foster our hope through good times and hard,
Through challenge and victories
You are the source of all our work
The voice in our song
The strength of our arm
The hand that heals discord
The inspiration of all we create
Lady of the Hearth Fire
Lady of the Sacred Wells
Lady of our grove
Remember us as we remember you.

G. Unifying the Grove

Tree Meditation, Merge into Grove. Song: We are one...

H. Declaration of Intention and Historical Precedent

D2:

As we prepare to enter the dark time of the year, the time when everything's dying around us, life still endures. And Dionysos, like Persephone whom we encountered in last year's Autumn Equinox rite, is a symbol of that. I think a lot of people need to be reminded of that as the days get shorter and they start to despair because it's dark when they get out of work and it seems like the cold will never end.

In honoring Dionysos, the very embodiment of "zoë," the life-force itself, and experiencing his blessings in the rite, we are actively preparing to face the dark. We are reminded that life does indeed endure, even in the darkest days. Instead of resenting the dark time of the year, we embrace it.

In a literal harvest, we are gathering in the food that will sustain us through the winter. In this rite, we are experiencing the power of Dionysos, taking that into ourselves to sustain us through the dark time of the year. By becoming one with the god, we experience his divine essence, the life force itself. We will call him to the rite, present him with offerings of praise, and ask for his blessings. We will receive those blessings through music and dance. As we dance, we take on the personas of the maenads and the satyrs, Dionysos's mythological companions, as we break down the barriers between human and divine.

Dance is a way of connecting with the god, of becoming one with his power, of feeling the pure, undifferentiated life force flowing through us. In the second phase of the celebration, the post-rite sacred drinking party, we will engage in his gift of wine, literally taking the god into ourselves to achieve a similar state. By learning about Dionysos and what he represents, we know on an intellectual level that life endures. And by experiencing the mystery of the rite, we know it in our hearts as well.

II. Recreating the Cosmos and Preliminary Power Raising

A. Creating the Vertical Axis

1. Evoking the Spirits of Fire and of Water

The Sacred Fire

i. Lighting, evoking and venerating the Sacred Fire, as Sacrificer lights the sacred fire:

Fire of the Sun and Stars;
Fire of our hearts and minds;
Fire of the Gods and Goddesses!
Fiery radiance of the Upper Worlds
and Animating Spark, burning within all that lives...
Let this flame ignite as the most holy and SACRED FIRE...
and let its light and heat sanctify this place, these people and these proceedings.

ii. Salutation of the Fire, gesture to the Sacred Fire exclaiming:

Behold! The Sacred Fire!
Sacred Fire: Burn Within Us!

(All repeat)

The Waters of Life

i. Decanting & Descriptive Invocation of the Waters, as Sacrificer makes offering to the well and fills the Grail:

Waters of Life's Origin;
Waters of our sustenance;
Waters of the Cauldron of Rebirth!
Around us, below us, and within us,
the Waters flow from the Well
at the foot of the Great Tree...
Let this Vessel, as the Grail of our rite
receive, contain and convey to us
the Sacred Waters of the Blessed Ones.

ii. Salutation of the Waters, gesture to the Sacred Waters exclaiming:

Behold! The Waters of Life!
Sacred Waters: Flow Within Us!

(All repeat)

2. The Creation Myth - D1:

WHO ARE WE? FROM WHENCE DO WE COME?
WHAT IS THE STORY OF OUR PEOPLE? Not hard... A great misty cloud had gathered together in the void Swirling and spiraling; spiraling and swirling Drawing ever-in upon itself. At its center a radiance shone forth And drove outward the surrounding cloud gathering the waters together here below. And so it was that the stuff of creation drew apart To form the Fire Above And the Waters Below. The Solar Fire warmed the Cauldron of Creation And stroked upon its waters with thunderbolts And begat upon it Life. And the Life begat the Creatures And the Creatures begat the Ancestors And the Ancestors begat Us, the Living People. Upright, like you, Great Tree We bear upon us the mark of Creation Then, now, and for all time. Rooted in the ancestral waters of the World Below, Spanning this Middle-World of form And reaching ever-upward to embrace the Fire Above.

3. Honoring the Great Tree /Axis Mundi ("Bilé")

Sacrificer Asperges and Censes the Tree

Salutation of the Tree

Sacred Tree, Grow Within Us!

(All repeat.)

The Well, the Fire, the Sacred Tree
Flow and flame and grow in me!

(All repeat.)

B. Opening the Ways

1. Calling the Gatekeeper: Ariadne Aphrodite, Holy of Holies,
Queen of the Cretan Labyrinth

Cave-dwelling Ariadne
She who rules the darkest passages
Ariadne Holy One, Show us the Way!

Sacrificer lights the candle.

All: Ariadne Holy One, Show us the Way!

Light-bearing Ariadne
She who guides our souls through the Labyrinth
Ariadne Holy One, Show us the Way!

Sacrificer unspindles the thread.

All: Ariadne Holy One, Show us the Way!

Thread-giving Ariadne
She whose mysteries are as sweet as the priestesses who bear them
Ariadne Holy One, Show us the Way!

Sacrificer offers honey to the Melissa bowl.

All: Ariadne Holy One, Show us the Way!

Honey-tongued Ariadne
She who bestows the dance of life, death and life again
Ariadne Holy One, Show us the Way!

Sacrificer bangs a frame drum 9 times.

All: Ariadne Holy One, Show us the Way!

Sacred-dancing Ariadne
She who rises by Her love of the wine-dark god
Ariadne Holy One,
Show us the Way!

Sacrificer strews red roses/rose petals.

All: Ariadne Holy One, Show us the Way!

2. Opening the Gate: D2 picks up the red thread and takes it around the periphery of the hallows and spins it into a spiral/labyrinth shape. When completed, she announces:

Ariadne, Most Holy of Holies!
She has shown us the Way!
The Gateway is open!

C. Filling Out The Cosmic Picture: The Kindred Invocation Triad

D1: We remember and invite in the Dwellers of the Three Worlds.

(Sacrificer makes offering to each Kindred during the invocation.)

1. Nature Spirits

NATURE SPIRITS, WORLDLY SPIRITS! SPIRITS OF PLACE!
WE BEG YOUR ATTENTION AND PRESENCE HERE!
YOU: who swim in the Waters!
YOU: who creep upon the Land!
YOU: who fly in the Skies! ... be with us here!
YOU: who dwell with one foot in this world!
YOU: of the "Shee"; the "Fey-Folk"!
YOU: of those who dwell Under-the-Hill! ... be with us here!
YOU: of mountain, plain or valley!
YOU: of bubbling spring or flowing river!
YOU: Genius Locii; Spirits of Place! ... be with us here!

Song: Fur and Feather

2. Ancestors

Ancestors, we, your sons and daughters, grandchildren, students and new souls-call to you and ask your witness. To the north, and south, and east, and west we invite you. Hear our voice and feel our welcome. To all who once walked this plane, who have stood along side of us, and watched from your sacred realms, whispering inspiring wisdom, and guidance. We are the branches extending out from your trunk and the solid roots that keep us forever connected. Hear our voice and bless us with your presence this night, and in humble honor we uphold our sacred promise that 'you will not be forgotten.' Ancestors, across the ages we call to you!

Song: From Far Beyond this Mortal Plane

3. Shining Ones

Friend, use it to good fortune.
Learn now, Mousaios, a rite mystic and most holy,
A prayer which surely excels all others.
Kind Zeus and Gaia, heavenly and pure flames of the Sun,
sacred light of the Moon, and all the Stars;
Poseidon, too, dark-maned holder of the earth,
Pure Persephone and Demeter of the splendid fruit,
Artemis, the arrow-pouring maiden, and you kindly Phoebus,
Who dwell on the sacred ground of Delphi. And Dionysos,
The dancer whose honors among the blessed gods are the highest.
Strong-spirited Ares, holy and mighty Hephaistos,
And the goddess foam-born to whose lot fell sublime gifts,
And you, divinity excellent, who are king of the Underworld.
I call upon Hebe, and Eileithyia, and the noble ardor of Heracles,
The great blessings of justice and piety,
The glorious nymphs and Pan the greatest,
And upon Hera, buxom wife of Aegis-bearing Zeus.
I also call upon lovely Mnemosyne and the holy Muses,
All nine, as well as upon the Graces, the Seasons, the Year,
Fair-tressed Leto, divine and revered Dione,
The armed Kouretes, the Korybantes, the Kabeiroi,
Great Saviors, Zeus's ageless scions,
The Indaian gods, and upon Hermes, messenger and herald
Of those in heaven; upon Themis, too, diviner of men I call
and upon Night, oldest of all, and Light-bringing Day;
Then upon Faith, Dike, blameless Thesmodoteira,
Rhea, Kronos, dark-veiled Tethys,
The great Ocean together with his daughters,
The might preeminent of Atlas and Aion,
Chronos the ever-flowing, the splendid water of the Styx,
All these gentle gods, and also Pronoia,
And the holy Daimon as well as the one baneful to mortals;
Then upon divinities dwelling in heaven, air, water,
On earth, under the earth, and in the fiery element.
Ino, Leukothe, Palaimon giver of bliss,
Sweet speaking Nike, queenly Adresteia,
The great king Asklepios who grants soothing,
The battle-stirring maiden Pallas, all the Winds,
Thunder and the parts of the four-pillared Cosmos.
And I invoke the Mother of the immortals, Attis and Men,
And the goddess Ouranie, immortal and holy Adonis,
Beginning and End too, which to all is most important,
And ask them to come in a spirit of joyous mercy
To this holy rite and libation of reverence.
("Orpheus to Mousaios")

Song: Hail All the Golds

III. Top Tier: Invocation to Dionysos, Praise Offerings and Omen

A. Dionysos Invocation

Three Priestesses (D2, D3 & D4) are placed around the space, D2 in the back, D3 on the right and D4 on the left. They will each bang their tambourine three times in unison, D2 leading. The first line is said in place, and then they begin to prowl as they begin their individual lines, weaving in and out between the bilé, giant thyrsus, and congregation. They end up standing in front of hallows, facing away from the congregation, by their last individual lines.

Three Priestesses: Dionysos we call, Divine and Thunderous, God of Ecstasy!

D2: Primeval, two-natured, thrice born, Bacchic Lord!
D3: Savage, ineffable, primal, obscure; two-horned and two-shaped
D4: Bull-faced and martial, Bearer of the vine
D2: Ivy-crowned, triennial, howling and pure
D3: Whom the leaves of the vine adorn, of the Underworld's Queen divinely born
D4: Reared with the Nymphs, the Mother.s bright bloom
D2: Frenzied and howling through the high holy places
D3: Basaarian God, mighty and universal
D4: Delighting in swords and bloody sacred rage
D2: In heaven rejoicing, mad-resounding god
D3: Furious inspiration, armed with the thrysis
D4: Beloved of men and all the Deathless Gods

Pause. D2 and D4 crouch down and pick up the basket (linknon) from the hallows and hand it to D3. All turn and face the congregation. D3 raises the basket over her head and D2 and D4 place their hands on the basket.

Three Priestesses: Immortal Dionysos, hear the voice of thy supplicants! Blessed God of Abandon, come to these rites in holy jubilation!

The spirit of the god is called into the mask which is hidden inside the basket. D3 holds the basket while D2 and D4 draw the mask out by ribbons attached to either side. They hang the mask on the giant thyrsus, signifying the god's presence in the rite. D3 comes forward and sprinkles the mask with water and blessing oil in an act of sanctification.

B. Group Praise Offering

Orphic Hymn 49 to Lysius Lenaeus - Dionysos.

All:

Hear us, Son of Two Mothers, Blessed Dionysus, God of Wine,
Lysian, Evion Bacchus, Many-named, secret and holy, fertile and nourishing,
Who brings the spark of life and makes the fruits to flourish and increase,

Pause, bring offerings of wine from the hallows to the altar around the giant thyrus

All:

Resounding, Magnanimous Power, Many-Formed God of Health, Holy Flower,
Mortals find repose from labor in Your magic, and You are desired by all.
Fair, Bromian, Joyful God who bears the vined wand

Pause, bring offerings of ivy from the hallows to decorate the giant thyrus

All:

Incline to these rites, Whether You favor Gods or mortals,
Be welcome and listen as Your mystics pray,
And come rejoicing, bearing abundant fruits.

Pause, bring offerings of figs, grapes, etc. from the hallows to the altar around the giant thyrus. Drummers play quietly during each pause to maintain energy.

C. Individual Praise Offerings

D. Conclusionary sacrifice

(Women rip apart paper bull.)

E. Taking of the Omen (scrying)

IV. Receiving and Using the Returned Blessings/Power

A. Stirring up the frenzy

Once the omen is good...

D1: The god he is pleased by our outpouring of praise.
And now, by his will, may we come to know his blessings of ecstasy and joy.
Let the life-force sing within us!
Evohe!

All: Evohe!

D2: Dionysos! Dionysos!
He is sweet upon the mountains.
He drops to the earth from the running packs.
He wears the holy-fawn-skin.
He hunts the wild goat and kills it.
He delights in the raw flesh.
He runs to the mountains of Phrygia, to the mountains of Lydia he runs!
He is Bromios who leads us!
Evohe!

All: Evohe!

D3: With milk the earth flows!
It flows with wine!
It runs with the nectar of bees!
Like frankincense in its fragrance is the blaze of the torch he bears.
Flames float out from his trailing wand
as he runs, as he dances,
kindling the stragglers,
spurring with cries,
and his long curls stream to the wind!
And he cries as they cry:
Evohe!

All: Evohe!

D1: Blessed, blessed are those who know the mysteries of the god.
Blessed is he who hallows his life in the worship of the god.
Blessed is he whom the spirit of the god possesses,
who is one with those who belong to the holy body of the god.

Blessed are the dancers and those who are purified,
who dance on the hill in the holy dance of the god.
Blessed are they who keep the rite of Kybele the Mother.
Blessed are the thrysus-bearers,
those who wield in their hands the holy wand of the god.
Blessed are those who wear the crown of the ivy of the god.

Blessed, blessed are they: Dionysos is their god!

All: Dionysos is our god!

D4: On Bacchae, on you Bacchae,
Crown your hair with ivy!
Grow green with bryony!
Redden with berries!
Come dance the dance of the god!
Fringe your skins of dappled fawn with tufts of twisted wool!
Handle with holy care the violent wand of the god!
And let the dance begin!

All: Let the dance begin!

B. Begin the Chant and the Dance

All: It's with tambourine and drum
With our god, make way we come
It's to life and death and life we sing our song.
It's with tambourine and drum
With our god, make way we come
Dionysos, vine and grape the whole night long

All dance with thyrsus and/or percussion instruments, dancing, singing and playing in order to commune with Dionysos and take his power into themselves.

C. Regrounding

Once the dance has run its course, D2 will do a brief regrounding and centering.

D. Final Blessing

D2 will sprinkle the grapes with the waters from the Grail, infused with the energy of the dance and then go around and feed a grape to everyone present (continuing to ground).

E. Call for Unfinished Work

V. Unwinding and Ending the Ceremony

A. Thanksgivings to Entities Invited

(in reverse order of arrival)

1. Dionysos: All three will come forward, D3 with the basket. D2 and D4 will remove the mask from the pole and place it back in basket, asking Dionysos to come with us to next phase of the rite.

2. The Triad of the Kindred - Deities, Ancestors, Nature Spirits.

3. Bardic Patron

B. Thanking the Gatekeeper and Closing the Threshold

As D3 winds up the thread:

With awed reverence, I call upon the pure and sacred Stars,
The spirits of Celestial Realms, and daughters of Night.
In whirling circles of eternal fires, the source of life,
You have poured your light out upon the darkness,
To make a path the Fates have shown unto the Wise,
In Seven kingdoms run you with wandering flames, unwearied diamond
truth forever piercing the Stygian veil,
Hail joyful, dazzling, and ever wakeful fires,
And on my desires shine with high regard,
These sacred rites attend, and end our works devoted to your praise.
(Orphic Hymn VI "To The Stars")

C. Affirmation of Past/Future Continuity and Success

D1:

As it has been done in the past...
As we have done it now...
and as it likewise will be done in the future...
we have again forged a link in the sacred chain of Tradition...
LONG LIVE THE TRADITION!

All: Long Live the Tradition!

D. Draining Off the Excess Power - The Restoration of the Ordinary

E. Clear-cut Ending: De-consecration of Time and Space

1. Final Benediction - D1

2. Announcement of End - D1

3. Musical Signal - Nine knells (D3), Song: Walk With Wisdom.

Credits

I. D. Bardic Invocation to Arion: Stoy, Maria. 2004.

I.E. Earth Mother Invocation: "Orphic Hymn 25 to the Earth Mother." Taylor, Thomas, trans. and ed. The Hymns of Orpheus. London, 1792. Hare, John B., ed. Internet Sacred Text Archive 16 Dec. 2004. (Also available in paperback)

I.F. Brighid Prayer: Stoy, Maria. 2004.

I.H. Statement of Intent: Bronowicz, Diane Lynn "Emerald." 2004.

II. A. Creating the Vertical Axis: Earrach of Pittsburgh. Sassafras Grove Liturgy.

II. B. 1 & 2 Opening the Ways and Gatekeeper Invocation: Paar, Diana. 2004.

II.C.1. Nature Spirits Invocation: Earrach of Pittsburgh. Sassafras Grove Liturgy.

II.C.2. Ancestor Invocation: FreyaDragon. 2004.

II.C.3. Deities Invocation: "Orpheus to Mousaios." Athanassakis, Apostolos N., trans. Meyer, Marvin W., ed. The Ancient Mysteries: A Sourcebook: Sacred Texts of the Mystery Religions of the Ancient World. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987.

III.A. Dionysos Invocation: " Orphic Hymn 30 to Dionysos," "Orphic Hymn 46 to Liknitus- Dionysus," "Orphic Hymn 45 to Trieterieus - Dionysos." Adapted by Emerald from translations by Athanassakis and Stewart-Avalon, M.Ed., Virginia. Trans. Website of the Sibyline Order of Wicca. Trinity, ed. 16 Dec. 2004. http://www.sibyllineorder.org/sacred_texts/oh_dionysus.htm, http://www.sibyllineorder.org/sacred_texts/oh_dionysus3.htm, http://www.sibyllineorder.org/sacred_texts/oh_trieterieus.htm >.

III.B. Group Praise Offering: "Orphic Hymn 49 to Lysius Lenaeus - Dionysos." Stewart-Avalon, Virginia. Trans. http://www.sibyllineorder.org/sacred_texts/oh_lysius.htm >.

IV. A. Stirring up the Frenzy: Euripides. The Bacchae. Arrowsmith, William. Trans. Meyer, Marvin W. ed. The Ancient Mysteries: A Sourcebook: Sacred Texts of the Mystery Religions of the Ancient World. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987. Adapted by Emerald.

IV. B. Chant: "It's with Tambourine and Drum." Cleerdawn, Rowan. 2004.

V. B. Thanking the Gatekeeper and Closing the Threshold: "Orphic Hymn 6 To The Stars." Stewart-Avalon, M.Ed., Virginia. Trans. Website of the Sibyline Order of Wicca. Trinity, ed. 16 Dec. 2004. http://www.sibyllineorder.org/sacred_texts/oh_stars.htm >.

Bibliography

Burkert, Walter. Greek Religion. Trans. J. Raffan. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1985.

Kerenyi, Karl. Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life. Trans. Ralph Manheim. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1976.

Lonsdale, Steven H. Dance and Ritual Play in Greek Religion. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1993.

Meyer, Marvin W., ed. The Ancient Mysteries: A Sourcebook: Sacred Texts of the Mystery Religions of the Ancient World. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987.

Otto, Walter. Dionysos: Myth and Cult. Trans. Robert B. Palmer. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1965.

Shinoda Bolem, Jean. Gods in Every Man: A New Psychology of Men's Lives and Loves. New York: Harper & Row, 1989.

Theoi Project: A Guide to Greek Gods, Spirits and Monsters. Atsma, Aaron, ed. 27 Jan. 2005. http://www.theoi.com/

Thiasos Dionysos. 27 Jan. 2005. http://www.thiasosdionysos.org/ (link broken)

Website of the Sibylline Order of Wicca. Trinity, ed. 16 Dec. 2004. http://www.sibyllineorder.org/order/

Author Information

Diane Bronowicz Egelhoff (Emerald)

Articles by Diane Bronowicz Egelhoff (Emerald)

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