I sense your absence, I curse your return. I wrote a poem five years ago about the cyclical coming and going of an uncontrollable force within that made me crazy.
The struggle is eternal and I had no idea what it was or what I was up against so I mistakenly assigned it to the darkness and thought it was something to try and control and ultimately vanquish. I locked down my mind and filtered all my thoughts. I purified myself to the point where a monastery would probably give me one of those honorary degrees if they knew about my success. And then one day I went back to the dance and I found I had only suppressed it and it was waiting for me, ready to pick up the relationship where we last left off. The force is desire. I have at least been educating myself over the last five years, both bookish and experiential, so though I could never get rid of the power, at least I discovered what it is.
When the cycle returns, which in truth it never leaves but fluctuates, trying to control the energy doesn't work. It has to flow upward and outwards or it will leave you a quaking mess. It has to be the strongest drug known to us. Desire is serpent power, it comes from the heart being an aspect of Love, and it affects us sexually, our well being, and can be used for spiritual growth. Its exclusive use in one of these areas will turn you into a human who is hard to be around. The power can also be wildly misused in terms of uncontrolled violence and aggression as well as affecting the sex drive, which leads to unfortunate consequences of unbridled passion and lust. It was through my use of the plant medicines and teachers, Ayahuasca and Huachuma, that I came face to face with this power. I didn't know what this power was at first but after getting lesson after lesson it clicked and I eventually passed the course and knew what it was. Serpent power is the life force energy that pulses through all living things. With Ayahuasca it is a requirement of most traditions that the drinker abstain from sexual behaviour a few weeks before drinking and a few weeks afterwards. If you are expressing this energy out through sexual behaviour then there will be less energy accessible for healing and spiritual work. As well, I have also experienced where the body's use of this power to heal itself of sickness can be curtailed by engaging in sexual behaviour and temporarily deplete the self of this power. There is then a need to rebuild up stores of this energy. When under the influence of Ayahuasca this has been presented to me very clearly. My body has been in a heightened state of vibratory ecstasy where I was feeling the love, and I felt this energy coursing in me and rising on up out of my body. At this point my visionary activity became inundated with sexual imagery, in particular writhing, sexually charged women. I understood this at this time to be the direct result of this serpent power and that there is always a choice to channel this energy into the sexual or the spiritual.
Now the question that needs to be asked and answered is why do I call it serpent power? The presentation of this power within plant medicine ceremonies has been accompanied by visions of serpents or an association to the snake. The first unmistakeable stirring of the energy within ceremony was the final Ayahuasca ceremony in 2015 where the Goddess appeared in her ancient Egyptian temple at Denderah in my vision. It was the ancient Egyptian goddess Hathor in her guise as the Goddess of Love dressed in a red corset and as she approached me and lay over top of my body I experienced the most erotic sensation that I have ever felt, nothing even close to this. Full body ecstasy. Among many connections in the iconography of Hathor is a connection to the serpent Wadjet who represents the power of the rising serpent. The energy undulates in a serpentine pattern and courses through the bodies of ecstatic dancers for Hathor.
dancing in ancient Egypt
It is an eternal flowing and pulsing of energy. When the presentation of this awesome power totally engulfed me it was the second time I drank Huachuma. My whole body was fluttering and I closed my eyes and witnessed the presence of two huge serpents that were flanking this magical light. The light I later learned was myself and the serpents represented this power lighting me up. A year later during a breakthrough ceremony with Ayahuasca, I had an open eyes vision of a green boa slithering along the ceremonial Maloca floor towards me and then entering into my mouth and wrapping itself around me before settling on my left shoulder and arm. I then experienced another snake enter me before I went back to my room and laid down on the bed and experienced the energy pulsing through my body in librating serpentine waves.
So what I want to explore now is this eternal return of the cyclical power using myself as the test subject. My initial speculation is it is related somehow in man to the feminine menstrual cycle and has a connection to the moon. It is intriguing to think this because ultimately the power comes from the feminine and is then activated within the masculine. I have felt an uptick in power around full moons. This of course leads into mythology and specifically the werewolf and horned creatures of the forest. Looks like I have some research to do. Preliminary thoughts regarding the mythology tie the phenomenon to the full moon, unbridled passion, frenzy, and seducing willing maidens. There is something in this myth to delve into. I'll report back soon.
The beliefs of a great deal of ancient cultures seem to have similar myths of the dying and resurrected god man that when studied we see in them the connection to the grain cycle. The book 'The Golden Bough' by anthropologist James Frazer in the 19th century is one of the first and more popular books describing this phenomenon. As well the typical scholar of religion and mythology tends to relate these nature myths to the development of agricultural societies. Some of the gods and goddesses we put into a neat scholarly box are Osiris in ancient Egypt, the mysteries of Dionysos and Persephone in ancient Greece, and Attis in Phrygia. Jesus Christ of Christianity, though not a typical grain god, incorporated this ability into his all encompassing lordship and gave hope to all believers in a life after death. The impetus for the disappearance and reappearance cycle of these gods is as I have stated serpent power. It's an eternal cycle that comes and goes and riding the wave allows for an eternal return. In researching these gods, the grasping of the connection to the omnipresent agricultural cycle seems to lead to a confidence in decoding the myth and therefore a probing deeper into the real mystery stops. Dionysos is a prime example as there is his unmistakeable connection to the grape and wine but the agricultural cycle is just one example and an aspect of how the power works; serpent power in actuality is everything! Sit with yourself or record how you feel over the course of a few weeks and you’ll discover everything is shaped by this mysterious and rhythmic power. There are these cycles of hunger, sleepiness, and desire to give a few examples that come and go repeatedly. Oh lusty desire is pretty special and it can make you horny, just like all the randy horned gods of antiquity. Dionysos is a madman, a charmer, and a seducer. He breaks down societal mores and expectations of chaste behaviour. Our modern, hidden, and latent Victorian attitudes makes us a little put off by the sexuality of these gods like Dionysos as well as his crazy followers - the maenads and satyrs, and the depictions of these fertility gods being fully erect is a mental block that prevents us from exploring the mysterious power further.
Sure we all feel it but where does it come from and why does it go away and then return, always knocking on the door once again? How about when the power returns you start to channel it into healing or a passion for something else besides sexual activity? Like Love. It is the eternal returning power and it forever comes and goes. You can't control it, but you can definitely recognize it, and then channel the power instead of wasting it. This is unchartered territory for a modern; I have no template for this but I know the power and when it returns and so I can do something with it. And I know it is the answer. It’s the holy grail. It's indestructible life. I feel like I'm on the game show Jeopardy where you are given the answer and you have to formulate the proper question.
I convinced myself at some point on the start on this mystical journey while researching and figuring out the origin of beliefs that the observation of nature and the heavens was the impetus behind myths and gods and why cultures believed in concepts like the resurrection, the underworld, and the drama and battles taking place in the heavens. I deduced the ancient seers then projected these concepts onto their own lives and I guess the human condition being what it is, they found solace in beliefs that allowed for the continuance of some form of life post mortem. However let's look at this another way: perhaps instead of this approach, they were first in touch with the awesome power that flows through their very core and developed an advanced understanding of this power ebbing and flowing. They sensed it was indestructible and always returned. Understanding this gave them a sense of being eternal and the fear of annihilation upon physical death was assuaged to the point where human sacrifice could be thought of as a noble endeavour as opposed to the horror we think it is. From this core belief and understanding they would then observe the environment and discover this power at work in everything. When you really feel this power within it is like the waves on the ocean, it is the the undulating movement of the serpent, it is the cycle of the moon waxing, becoming full, and waning. You start to witness it everywhere. And now today from the loss of the ability to feel this, we stand on the precipice of history as a blind man ignorant in regards to the fundamental core of who we are, our indestructibleness, and the eternal return all the while creating an impressive world based on the wonders and marvels of technology.
Okay so back to trying to observe this power and how it manifests. I was at a Trevor Hall concert in late July and I noticed a few things. I haven’t been to a concert in a while and back when I used to go I obviously didn’t know what I know now. First of all I noticed the women and how they move. About one in ten women get lost in the rhythms of the music and enter into trance. Their movements become very serpent like. Another half of them present feel the beat way more than their masculine counterparts and are compelled to dance and move. The other thing I really noticed was how this generation of people are really connected to a different paradigm of sensing spirit and the earth mother. Part of it is probably because of the popularity of North American practices of Yoga as well as an adoption of hippy culture and an acceptance of marijuana over a strictly alcohol based modality as a culturally sanctioned activity for altering consciousness. The reason I suggest this is Trevor Hall’s songs and stories are very spirit based and reference the great earth mother which always drew a reaction from the crowd. I also sense in this generation the struggle to break free of the older generation's insistence on Christianity and perhaps its prevailing counterpoint which is the atheistic response to that Christianity. It’s almost like they are waiting for permission to completely throw off the chains that these two modalities have upon society and return to an earthy and feminine type of reverence and within this is the room for the masculine as the protector of the sacred feminine as the knight in shining armour. The last thing I really noticed was this aura that surrounded Trevor on stage. It was especially present when the use of stage lighting enveloped him in a purple light; this purple light being very representative of the Goddess. He truly radiates love, light, and peace.
The second time I drank Ayahuasca I had the most dreadful experience though in retrospect I wouldn't trade it for the world; it was a necessary part of this journey. So in my descent into this hell, when I reached the bottom this very shadowy character appeared; he was sitting in a floating lotus position and his eyes were droopy like I had disturbed his nap or awoken a demon. To my left I was being audibly addressed in a sinister tone as 'Apollo' repeatedly. I cannot remember in my lifetime where I was more frightened than I was at that point. Fight or flight took over and I ran from this nightmare. This all led to profound self discoveries, an awesome fearlessness, and I came to embrace the moniker Apollo. I also started to sense the split in myself; there's a part of me that is brilliant and wants to be intellectually challenged and there is a part of me that wants to find deep connection within this world. Apollo is going to figure out the great mystery. Dionysos wants to Love, delve into the passions, and experience life.
Dionysos from the Royal Ontario Museum
Dionysos is born under the cover of darkness, forever coming forth after being torn apart; this alluding to patriarchal societies that are always suppressing manifestations of Dionysos. Greek reason rose on the back of Apollo after the influence of Dionysos was repressed. The scant mention of Dionysos and mystery cult in Homeric epics is a testament to the suppression of his influence. He gets a mention in the Iliad as being scared off and fleeing into the sea a coward after a confrontation with the Thracian king Lykourgos. The lack of Dionysos' presence in Homeric epics led scholars to speculate Dionysos was a later addition to the Olympic pantheon and was probably of foreign derivation. This speculation was all refuted with the discovery of commerce tablets from matriarchal Bronze Age Greece and Crete written in a proto-Greek language called Linear B that contain the name Dionysos. The conclusion is the Homeric epics are patriarchal propaganda; it is the ideology of the ruling class, though very good reads. Dionysos however is the eternal return and not even the literary giant Homer could suppress and crush him forever. When you crush the grape it comes back stronger as wine. The major Greek mystery cults conducted at the sites of Eleusis and Delphi both contained elements of the mystery of Dionysos. In Roman society, the mystery cult of Dionysos was sometimes tolerated but mostly suppressed. The Bacchanalia, as it was called, was for the most part comparable to today's after hours club or the 'speakeasy' of prohibition times. Dionysos ultimately represents a return to the left hand path of the feminine. To sensuality. To transgressing society's morals and repression. To unity. He appears androgynous, he cross dresses, he encourages drink and drugs, and flaunts his sex appeal. It's this orgy of Love Dionysos ever returns to remind us of because he's indestructible.
The most liberating act in my lifetime is the discovery of this guy Dionysos. I too, like Homer, have sent him away repeatedly, shamed him, belittled him, and tried to vanquish him but he is indestructible and always returns. He harangues Apollo and causes him no end of frustration. I see now the many times Dionysos took control and steered my desires towards fulfillment; he still does because I haven't integrated this dichotomy into a wholeness. It's out in the open now so I can at least laugh. I was going to say study it but that's Apollo talking again hoping to get one up on this guy. There is this capitulation on the part of Apollo in deference to Dionysos. An acceptance of the need to form a partnership instead of trying to get one up. To let go of the identity of self as Apollo that excludes Dionysos. In our modern culture Dionysos has been reduced to the Greek god of wine and licentious behaviour. Fair enough I suppose because he epitomizes the lust for life. Dionysos is the elixir that powers up and makes the world go round and round. He is our base desires; the id. We kind of recognize this and attempt to trivialize it which leads to psychological outbursts and fulfillment of this suppressed power.
Following the concert, I had this dream about licentious behaviour and here is my interpretation of the early morning dream of Tuesday September 4th. It’s been a few months since I first asked Dionysos for help. I imagine he correctly deduced I wasn’t ready for his help. Actually that’s pretty much the truth. I had to get a bunch of unquenched desires in order before embarking on this journey. I settled up last week and prepared myself in earnest. A week later it begins.
Major characters present in this dream were Eddie, Jimmy, and my mother in law. I was at a party. Due to the age of people attending, the party was winding down around 11pm. Jimmy was off somewhere with his Asian friends and invited me out with them, with the promises of lasciviousness. I then tried to figure out how I'd get there, oblivious it seems to the time and effort it would take to get to this place out of the way, not to mention the late hour. The alternative was Eddie and his bong which he had just brought out and was firing up. My mother in law, who was at the party, seemed okay with the bong which was strange. She represents the judging aspect in my dreams. She has appeared before in other dreams to represent disapproval of my actions. The dream didn't progress beyond the bong as I woke up. There's a Dionysian aspect of this dream and since I have asked him for help it isn't surprising. I have consciously entered a phase of work where I am trying to move my passions into the heart. I know Jimmy represents going all in for pleasure and Eddie is just a fun loving sort who used to be a Jimmy but has become tamer in his maturing. But thinking about it they do both represent the untamed Dionysian aspects and they never disappoint in that they were always fun to be around. Subconsciously I need to access that power once again and there is the element of the judging world that prevents you from doing that openly. Our Dionysian impulse in this society has to be kept under wraps. So my mother in law, representing the judge within, which is the psychological superego, was present for the beginnings of the movement of this power and it seems it was given the stamp of approval or at least a recognition that Dionysian power is under the watch of the judge in our western culture.
The Dionysian impulse when activated causes a tendency in most to either bury or to keep it under wraps, occasionally letting it out under cover of virtual darkness. This keeps your non approved behaviour away from the prying eyes of others who would judge that behaviour, thus causing a degree of shame in your life, and also they would claim a touch of control over you. This is the first lesson from Dionysos. He’s making me rethink my attitude towards him. My request of him is to move the passion of this madman into the heart and he is telling me that it is not going to work if you hide away your heart. You have to be open hearted and you have to embrace your passions and desires. Plus he is reminding me to have fun.
A big part of Dionysian revelry is drama and the theatre. The development of theatre in Western Civilization comes from the ritual performance of mystery cult. Initiates would take on the roles of the supernatural and act the part along with singing and dancing as an element of the ritual. The mask, representing the ability to change persona, is a reminder we are playing a role on the grandest stage of all.
mask of Dionysos
Dionysos is the master player; he creates pathos, tragedy, and the triumphant return.
Through the unity of opposites Dionysos is trying to teach us to find balance in the centre. The power of Dionysos unmixed will destroy you. It is too much. Add some rational Apollo and you find harmony. Dilute the power of Dionysos, much like in ancient Greece no one would drink unmixed wine. Dilute the power of Apollo so he doesn't judge and condemn. Once the masculine is harmonized with all his parts he is then ready for the sacred marriage to the feminine. This spans many lifetimes acquiring wisdom along the journey. When ready she will appear. That's why she is here and she is different things to different people or not even registering with most. There's the danger, or not really danger, but a good chance others will wonder what it is you are talking about. When ready the teacher appears. When ready to be reunited with the Goddess in a sacred marriage, the Hieros Gamos, she appears. Then there is this the performance of this enchanting music and someone comes along playing a sacred drum. When you are ready to go home you will know. It's very mystical. This is supremely unable to be quantified because if you are at a different points on your path or a different path you will manifest different experiences. And then I will think you are nuts. And they will think I'm nuts. I'm dancing with Dionysos along the mountain ledge of the eternal return contemplating going home. For now day breaks and Apollo returns.