Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy Irish Heritage Day

Argh, I want to post 10 other things right now, but instead I'm going to say what I've said every year for the past 2 decades:

Unless you're going to pitch as much of a fit over this day as the one in October, please STFU and let us Italians have a day of Pride in our heritage too. At least we don't get shit-faced at our parades. And the food is better. Rename them "Irish Heritage Day" and in October "Italian Heritage Day" and everyone can be happy. There, my rant is done.

Speaking of getting shit-faced, here is another entry in my ongoing series of saintly veneers put over Pagan celebrations: This week is the Bacchinalia, the festival of Bacchus! Time to drink and dance. No wonder it's a tradition to get drunk at this time of year! After this long-ass Winter I'm ready to tie one on for the start of Spring too!

The Bacchanalia were wild and mystic festivals of the Roman god Bacchus. Introduced into Rome from lower Italy by way of Etruria (c. 200 BC), the bacchanalia were originally held in secret and attended by women only. The festivals occurred on three days of the year in the grove of Simila near the Aventine Hill, on March 16 and March 17.

Wiki has a lengthy article on this which is actually worth reading. It touches on Crete as a wine source, and a center of the mysteries. Here is where Ariadne enters the picture. Funny, I just started following another blog that discusses Crete, Ariadne and the labyrinth (I found it while looking for Minoan labyrinth and Ariadne resources). So thanks to Debra for sharing more of Ariadne's story. I happen to agree that much of Greek mythology is the patriarchalization of earlier mysteries. Did I just make up a word? Awesome!

What was involved in a Bacchinalia? Did True Blood get it right? Wine and drugs and sex (and shape shifter sacrifice and a gigantic egg)? Sounds like a rave. Bacchinalias were the first raves! \o/ lol I don't drink, so I don't know why this appeals to me. Perhaps because my name is of Thracian origin and so are these mysteries? There is also a record of trance dancing and possession by Deity.

Dionysus/Bacchus absorbed many other deities including Liber and Zagreus. Absorbed or are they different aspects thereof? Anyway, a bit about Ariadne: Her name means "Most Holy" in both Greek and Latin. Quoth Wiki: Ariadne (Etruscan Areatha) is paired with Dionysus (Etruscan Fufluns) on engraved bronze Etruscan bronze mirrorbacks, where the Athenian culture-hero Theseus is absent, and Semele (Etruscan Semla), as mother of Dionysus, may accompany the pair, lending a particularly Etruscan air of family authority.

An inscription from Knossos (home of Ariadne, the infamous labyrinth and Minotaur) says: "to all the gods, honey... to the mistress of the labyrinth honey" Ariadne as Priestess of Knossos? Mistress of the Labyrinth? There are stories associating Dionysus and Proserpina. Is Ariadne another name for her? Certainly, if the labyrinth is the decent into and return from the Underworld, the labyrinth is her domain. Are the two Goddesses the same? Different names from different lands? Is Ariadne the Minoan Snake Goddess Herself? There are also myths involving Dionysus descending into the Underworld to retrieve Ariadne as well as his mother, Semele (Proserpina and Ceres?) It was spoofed in ancient times, by Aristophanes in his comedy, The Frogs. Instead of going to the underworld to get the women back, he complains about a lack of good writers and goes to bring back the best one. There is a contest where he decides. Stephen Sondheim updated the concept in a musical.

Note the last picture from the Villa of the Mysteries. Is this the Bacchic Cult Rites? Is it the Eleusinian Mysteries? Were they combined in Greece? Are Proserpina and Ariadne alternate names for the same Goddess? Mmmm food for thought, tastes great, less filling.

Dionysus & Ariadne at a tragedy play | Greek vase, Athenian red figure volute krater
Note the Leopards in this Waterhouse painting. They are associated with Dionysus

Dionysus with Semele or Ariadne?


1 comment:

  1. I like your idea very much of renaming these holidays as "Irish Heritage Day" and "Italian Heritage Day" -- puts the emphasis where it should be -- on culture, not individuals or specific historical events.