The Ivy Wreath

The Ivy Wreath

Ivy covers things over. It smothers other plants and trees. It tears up mortar and, slowly, pulls down buildings and town.

Even when cultivated, it cannot be tamed; it grows where it will, no matter how often it is cut back.

It was with ivy that Dionysos covered his mother’s tomb and the ship of the pirates who would have sold him into slavery.

Ivy twines the thrusting thyrsos, both weapon and instrument.

Ivy is toxic, its leaves and fruit causing delirium, convulsions, hallucinations. It only harms, while the grape vine’s leaves and fruit are edible and good for us, and the intoxication wine brings is liberating, when drunk correctly.

Ivy is the Other Vine, the reminder that Dionysos destroys as well as creates, that covering over and pulling down is liberating in another way.

Ivy marks the death in life of Dionysos, while the vine marks the life in death.

Ivy has always been worn by celebrants of Dionysos.

Rebecca, the MadGastronomer, is the Klodone of the thiasos. She spins, weaves, and makes things. She’s over here doing her own thing. You can read more by her at Ariadne’s Thread and Arachne’s Tapestry.

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One comment

  1. I love ivy! It is also protective–it’s cooling nature serves as a balance to the heat of the vine, and even to drunkenness itself. There are myths about it protecting the infant Dionysos either when Semele was destroyed by Zeus or afterwards when the nymphs used it to hide him from Hera. It is an evergreen, so it also symbolizes immortality. It purportedly has some medicinal uses but I am not too familiar with those yet. But I think of its cooling nature in particular, and the way it can transform whatever it takes over, the way the god transforms us. I think of a building or old ruins and how the ivy “re-wilds” them. Maybe that’s what it does to us too, when we place the ivy crown on our head!

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