On Saturday, 16 May, at 17:00 EDT, we’ll be having a Skype chat about two festivals coming up next week in the Starry Bull tradition: the Purification Festival, and the Mask Festival.
Both of these festivals are moveable-date festivals, which means the date on which they are to be celebrated is divined every year. This year, they happen to fall in the same week, bridging the transition from the month of Agreuión (”He Who Hunts”) and Melanaigión (”He of the Black Goat-Skin”).
The Purification Festival falls on Monday, 18 May, an interesting date–in the lunar calendar, the daylight hours form the last day of the old lunar month, which are sacred to the Dead and the Khthonioi (Underworld Gods), but sundown marks the transition to the new lunar month; definitely a good time to cleanse oneself of the old and welcome the new!
The Mask Festival falls on Thursday, 21 May, right at the beginning of the month of Melanaigión. This month is named for an epithet of Dionysos associated with katharsis/ritual purification and theater–definitely an appropriate time for masks.
These festivals’ names are intentionally vague. Followers of the Starry Bull tradition can make these rituals as simple or as complex as they wish. Come join us to talk about the importance of purification in the Starry Bull tradition, various ways of purifying oneself, the significance of masks and theater, and ideas for how to celebrate these festivals. We hope to see you there!
While we have a definite list of Deities, Daimones, Spirits, and Deified Mortals making up the Starry Bull Pantheon, it’s pretty natural to feel drawn to Deities outside this Pantheon as well. In fact, the Starry Bull tradition does not necessarily have to be one’s exclusive practice. We have adherents who are Hellenic polytheists, Magna Graecian polytheists, initiated Wiccans, members of the ADF, and some folks orbiting the Thiasos are various stripes of Heathen.
So, let’s talk about blending the Bull with other traditions. Let’s talk about syncretism within our tradition. Let’s talk about Deities who are tangentially part of this tradition, and about how to tell if Deities are interested in taking part.
Join us in Skype on Tuesday, 12 May at 20:30 EDT; and on Thursday, 14 May, at 21:30 EDT for this chat. PM us if you haven’t joined a chat yet and are interested in doing so.
And for those interested, you can find a list of Deities and Daimones we’ve already identified as being tangentially involved in the Starry Bull pantheon (without being a confirmed member of it) at the bottom of the Pantheon portion of this blog.
The labyrinth, represented on our logo as the classic “Minoan” seven-circuit labyrinth, is one of our key symbols in the Thiasos of the Starry Bull. Dense with symbolism, it stands as a shorthand for many of our tenets and beliefs, including (but not limited to):
- The cyclical nature of self-development and liberation;
- The circuitous and inscrutable paths we walk during the course of our lifetime (or lifetimes, if you believe in reincarnation);
- The twisting, turning, confusing ways our souls walk the Underworld after death;
- The cycle of birth, death, and rebirth;
- The labyrinth of Krete, home of Asterios the Minotaur (brother to Ariadne); and
- The various initiatory paths first trod by Dionysos.
There is a lot of fertile ground (hah!) to cover here, ranging from an intro-level discussion of why the Labyrinth is related to our path, up through musings on the connection between the Underworld, real life, dreams, and the hodgepodge of other planes/realms commonly called the “astral.”
Come an join us for a Skype chat on Tuesday at 20:30 EDT, and on Thursday at 21:30 EDT, about this deceptively simple symbol. You must be a legal adult in your area of residence to participate in the Starry Bull Skype chats.
And if you want some extra food for thought, check out a modern Bacchic Orphic take on the Labyrinth’s story.
And speaking of things to check out, check out some Dionysian swag! These t-shirts, white on black backgrounds, are up for sale for a pretty good price. Each t-shirt sold not only gets YOU an awesome piece of clothing suitable for ritual use OR everyday wear, but also helps fund travel to Many Gods West for participants in a Dionysian ritual!
Hello, readers! Just making a quick announcement about our upcoming Saturday Chat. We will be meeting at 16:00 EDT in Skype to discuss an upcoming festival in the Starry Bull calendar–the Maiuma.
The Maiuma is a festival celebrating the union of Dionysos and Aphrodite. While Aphrodite was not a wife of Dionysos–that position is Ariadne’s–there is a good bit of overlap between Aphrodite and Ariadne in ancient cultus, and medieval tradition mentions Bacchus and Venus as important figures in the world of the Fair Folk.
Here are some links you may find useful:
- One of the original posts on Aphrodite’s role in the Starry Bull tradition.
- Another post from Sannion on Aphrodite’s more frightening side (believe it or not, the original version of this essay showed up on his blog in 2012).
- A collection of primary sources referencing the ancient Maiuma.
- One of theheadlesshashasheen‘s posts that alludes to the vast network of connections between Aphrodite, Venus, medieval Fair Folk lore, and the Sibyl (an ancient prophetess who lived at Cumae, very close in proximity to one of the biggest centers of Dionysian worship in southern Italy).
- A divination system you can create and dedicate to Aphrodite!
Hello, folks! We will be holding our regular Skype chats this week on Tuesday, 21 April, at 20:30 EDT and Thursday, 23 April, at 21:30 EDT. If you have not joined us before and wish to do so, send us a message over Facebook or here on tumblr and we can get you in to the chat.
This week, we will be talking about syncretism. The Starry Bull tradition is itself syncretic, as it relates strongly to the traditions of Magna Graecia–the regions of southern Italy and Sicily colonized by settlers from Hellas. Sicily in particular was a major crossroads of the ancient Mediterranean, and contained religious elements from Italy, Hellas, Carthage and the Levant Coast, Egypt, Thrace, Asia Minor, and a host of other places, and our brand of Bacchic Orphism has strong roots in Thrake and Italy in particular.
That said, the Starry Bull tradition does not wish to claim exclusivity on anyone’s religious practice–we have followers who are Hellenic Polytheists, Orphic Goetes, initiated Wiccans, devotees of Shiva, and I’ve even heard rumors of a few Kemetics (though they have not been vocal). Dionysos being who He is, He’s ensured that this tradition can blend pretty seamlessly into the religious life of anyone who wishes to walk the Labyrinth.
If you’d like to know more, here are a few sites you can check out:
- Light[Ning] Illuminates: a blog run by a Dionysian who follows a Tantric Yogic approach. (You can read one of the author’s posts about this pathhere on the Thiasos of the Starry Bull’s WordPress, too.)
- Sannion’s post on Shadrapa, a Phoenician Deity syncretized with Dionysos.
- Lykeia’s page on the syncretism of Dionysos and Vishnu.
- A sample of the historical syncretism between Dionysos and Sabazios.
- P. Sufenas Virius Lupus’ column about syncretism at Polytheist.com.
- One of Sannion’s posts on the links between John the Baptist and Orphic traditions.
- A post from Galina Krasskova, a friend of the Thiasos and devotee of Odin, who also includes Dionysos in her religious practice.
- One of theheadlesshashasheen‘s posts about the complex web of history and syncretism linking Hellenic polytheism, the Religio Romana, indigenous European faery traditions, and medieval Christianity.
What flower was Persephone picking when she was taken down into the underworld? What, exactly, does asphodel look like? Why does Demeter say that it is “unlawful” for Her to drink wine? Why might Haides enjoy libations of spearmint tea?
We’ll be talking this week about plants associated with the Underworld and Underworld Gods (appropriate, given this week’s upcoming Dark Moon, a time the Hellenes associated with the dead). You may want to look into some of the plants that grow in your area–maybe you have some underworld-friendly plants where you live, or maybe you’ll find plants to include into your regional cultus of the Khthonioi!
Join the Thiasos of the Starry Bull for a Skype chat Tuesday, 14 April, at 20:30 EDT (that’s 8:30 pm EDT for those of you who don’t speak military time). If you haven’t joined a chat before and want to be added in (or if you lost the channel, which happens to me sometimes), PM me with your Skype username or the email you used to sign up for Skype. I’ll add you as a contact, and afterwards I can invite you to the list.
In the meantime, have some relevant links:
- Plants Associated with Mourning. (Connotations are modern, but may be a good jumping-off point in research for local cultus.)
- Theoi.com’s list of Important Plants in Greek Mythology, Part 1 (of special interest: Aconite, Asphodel, Crocus, Iris, Lily) and Part 2 (look for Mint, Narcissus, Pomegranate, Poplar, Violet, Willow, Yew).