►Greek Mythology: “Dionysian Mysteries”:
Dionysus is best known in Greek mythology as the god of wine, but he has also been associated with peace, agriculture, law, civilization, and most especially, the theatre. In Thrace he was known as Eleutherios, “the Liberator,” or Liber Pater, “the Free One,” because he freed people through drunken ectasy
The place of origin of the Hellenic Dionysian Mysteries is unknown, but they almost certainly first came to Greece with the importation of wine, which is widely believed to have originated, in the West, around 6000 BC in one of two places, either in the Zagros Mountains (the borderlands of Mesopotamia and Persia, both with their own rich wine culture since then) or from the ancient wild vines on the mountain slopes of Libya / North Africa (the source of early Egyptian wine from around 2500 BC, and home of many ecstatic rites), quite probably from both
Wine probably also entered Greece over land from Asia Minor. But it was most likely in Minoan Crete that the eclectic ‘wine cult’, that would become the Dionysian Mysteries, first emerged
The basic principle beneath the original initiations, other than the seasonal death-rebirth theme supposedly common to all vegetation cults (such as the Osirian, which closely parallels the Dionysian), was one of spirit possession and atavism. This in turn was closely associated with the effects of the wine. The spirit possession involved the invocation of spirits by means of the bull roarer, followed by communal dancing to drum and pipe, with characteristic movements (such as the backward head flick) found in all trance inducing cults.
Unlike many trance cults however, the Dionysian rites were primarily atavistic, that is the participant was possessed by animal spirits and bestial entities, rather than intelligible divinities, and may even “transform into animals”. A practise preserved by the riteof the “goat and panther men” of the “heretical” Aissaoua Sufi cult of North Africa, and remembered in the satyrs and sileni of the Dionysian procession, and perhaps even the “bull man”, or Minotaur, of the chthonic Minoan labyrinth.
The purpose of this atavism is controversial, some see it simply as a Greek saturnalian catharsis, a ritualised release of repressed elements of civilised psychology, and temporary inversion, in order to preserve it, others see it as a return to the “chaotic” sources of being and essentially a reaction against civilisation, while yet others regard it as a magical connection with chthonic powers
In the late 1800s A.D., the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche elaborated the dichotomy Apollonian- Dionysian in his book “The Birth of Tragedy”, arguing that the Apollonian principal corresponded to the principium individuationis, the principal of individualization, a concept coined by German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. This is because rational thought defines and thus compartmentalizes forms into different structures.
Nietzsche rather identified with the Dionysian principal that corresponded to Schopenhauer’s conception of Will, the principal of submerging oneself into a greater whole. Music, drunkenness, dancing, and madness were considered Dionysian characteristics because they apply to the instinctive, chaotic, and ecstatic side of the human mind.
►”Dyonisiac Frieze, Villa of Mysteries, Pompeii” (In English):
►”Pompeii: Villa dei Misteri” (In Italian):
•Further Information: “The Villa of the Mysteries” or “Villa dei Misteri” is a well preserved ruin of a Roman Villa which lies some 400 metres northwest of Pompeii, southern Italy.
The Villa is named for the paintings in one room of the residence. This space is decorated with very fine frescoes, dated 79 B.C. Although the actual subject of the frescoes is hotly debated, the most common interpretation of the images is scenes of the initiation of a woman into a special cult of Dionysus, mystery cult hat required specific rites and rituals to become a member.
►Gallery: “Dionysian Mysteries”: