Dionysus (dì´e-nì´ses, -nê´-)
Greek & Roman Mythology.
The god of wine and of an orgiastic religion celebrating the power and fertility of nature. Also called Bacchus.
[Latin Dionýsus, from Greek Dionusos.]
Dionysus, in Greek mythology,
god of wine and vegetation. He was a son of the god Zeus. Dionysus was
characterized as a deity whose mysteries inspired ecstatic,
orgiastic worship. He was good to those who honored him, but he
brought madness on those who spurned him.
According to tradition, Dionysus died each winter and was reborn in the spring. The yearly rites in honor of his resurrection gradually evolved into the structured form of the Greek drama, and important festivals, featuring dramatic competitions, were held in his honor. By the 5th century BC, Dionysus was also known to the Greeks as Bacchus. The Dionysiac mysteries, which were frenetic celebrations, probably originated in spring nature festivals; they became popular in the 2nd century BC in Roman Italy, where they were called the Bacchanalia.
drunkenness: Bacchus, Dionysus
Olympian deity: Dionysus, Bacchus
Dionysian (dì´e-nîsh´en, -nîzh´en, -nîs´ê-en) adjective
1.Greek Mythology. a. Of or relating to Dionysus. b. Of or devoted to the worship of Dionysus.
2.Often dionysian . Of an ecstatic, orgiastic, or irrational nature; frenzied or undisciplined: "remained the nearest to the instinctual, the irrational in music, and thus to the Dionysian spirit in art" (Musco Carner).
3.Often dionysian . In the philosophy of Nietzsche, of or displaying creative-intuitive power as opposed to critical-rational power.
[From Latin Dionýsius, from Greek Dionusios, from Dionusos, Dionysus.]
-nîzh´ê-e, -nîs´ê-e) plural noun
Ancient Greek festivals held seasonally, chiefly at Athens, in honor of Dionysus, especially those held in the fall and connected with the development of early Greek drama.
[Latin Dionýsia, from Greek (ta) Dionusia (hiera), (festivities) of Dionysus, neuter pl. of Dionusios. See Dionysian.]
Though Dionysus is popularly associated with wild revels induced by wine intoxication, Robert Graves has argued that the original Dionysian rites were only partially wine-inspired. He has insisted, through his combination of sound scholarship and poetic insight, that the worship of Dionysus once also involved the ingestion of the hallucinogenic fly-agaric mushroom, Amanita muscaria.
As befits a psychedelic god, Dionysus was given to a bewildering series of mutations and transformations. Again echoing shamanism, with its traditions of shape-shifting, Dionysus variously appeared as a girl, a man, a woman, a lion, a bull, and a panther. He was also an occasional cross-dresser, and was the god of the theatre, masks and illusion. Use of psychedelics inevitably reveals the role-playing nature of identity, and the story of Dionysus shows that we may take advantage of this shifting quality of the masks we wear to the world. The metamorphic god persistently used his transformations to conquer foes and work his way out of difficult situations.
It's an interesting note that
the word "rave" in fact comes from ancient Greek texts describing the
behavior of intoxicated dancers and followers of Dionysus. One such
group, the Maenads (a female cult in Thebes closely resembling the
more extremist hippies) were often mentioned as "raving" or in a state
of "wild ecstasy." Dionysus himself, although commonly known as the
God of Wine or drunkenness, was also referred to often as the "God of
Ecstasy" or the "Ecstatic God." He brought the dualistic nature of
wine and intoxication to mortals. Both the ecstatic side and the
destructive rage. Perhaps the roots of our scene go back further than
you have ever imagined. As far back as time goes, there was rhythm and
there were mind-altered states. Whether
natural psychedelics were involved or merely a passion of faith,
people have been "raving" for thousands
"...this time however I come as the victorious Dionysus, who will turn the world into a holiday...Not that I have much time..." - Nietzsche (from his last "insane" letter to Cosima Wagner)