dionysus, drinking, growth, pagan, Pagan Blog Project, spirituality, wine, witchcraft
One of the blogs that I follow, Tending the Hearth of the Gods, is taking part in the Pagan Blog Project, 2012. It started a few weeks ago, but I figured I would jump in any how and join in on the fun! This week is week #2 of “D”, and I figured that was as good a time as any for a new worshipper of Dionysus to start on this project!
So, here we go…
‘D’ is for … Drinking & Dionysus!
This is a post I have had in the back of my mind for some time now. It may seem a bit matter-of-course for a Dionysian to talk about drinking, but I think I may be bringing something new here, and let me tell you why:
I don’t drink. Or, well, I suppose I should say ‘didn’t drink’. You see, I was raised a very good catholic boy, and was raised with plenty of good morals, and the regular quota of guilt. Add onto that a few of my first boyfriends having minor drug problems, and you’ve got the makings of, you guessed it, one straight-edge kid!
I was a raver, most of my friends were punks, and I went to an arts high school. Drug culture, drinking and the like were nothing foreign to me, but I made the decision from the very beginning to keep myself out of all of it. I have never done drugs, and my self-imposed rule was a limit of one alcoholic drink when I went to bars or clubs. It became a huge part of my identity. While I wasn’t preachy and let my friends do as they pleased with their bodies and brains, I never gave in to peer pressure and kept myself ‘clean’. It earned me a lot of confused looks, and a lot of futile assertions of “Oh, I’m gonna get you soooo drunk”, but more than anything it garnered a lot of respect from people. It allowed me to be reliable, trustworthy, and to keep my friends safe. It made me feel strong and, to be honest, special.
Now, how can someone who is self-identified as straight-edge venerate the god of wine and ecstasy? Well, I suppose they can’t, really.
But now we come to the reason for my clarification earlier on in this post; “I didn’t drink.”
Dionysus has been a part of my life now for about 8 or 9 months. He came to me in his role of barrier-breaker and catalyst for change; in other words… he got me fired. He got me fired from a job I hated, that was making me into a person I didn’t like. He pushed me out of a ‘safe’ place and has since been helping me discover new things about myself. To me, Dionysus represents fierce and necessary change. He represents creation and the end of stagnation. He is growth; he is the growth of flowers and grain and vines and animals, but he is also personal growth. He represents a fearless approach to change and experiencing the ecstasy of possibility.
So, now we come back to the ‘D is for drinking’ subject of my post.
For a long time I clung ardently to that straight-edge part of me, keeping entirely away from drugs and still limiting my alcohol consumption to a drink or two (and usually only when I was at home, alone with my fiance). But Dionysus has forced me to revaluate my stance on the matter. Why was I holding so tightly onto that piece of me? In the beginning it was to protect myself; from others and from myself. I didn’t want to be one of those ravers/teenagers/gay boys who lost control and lost someone’s respect. I was a good boy, and feared the unknown….and I was having plenty of fun while I was sober, too. But now, well, I am surrounded by people I trust, and my knowledge of self is much stronger than it was then, so what have I got to be afraid of? Nothing.
Now, as Dionysus pushed me over the edge of that cliff and into the cold and cleansing water below, I am given the opportunity to wash away the old parts of me that were holding me back, holding me in the past and causing me to stagnate. While allowing myself to indulge in a few glasses of wine with dinner may seem trivial for some, for me it represents a huge step forward for myself; it represents leaving an outdated piece of myself behind, it represents a level of trust in myself and those people around me that I’ve never had before, and it also represents a confident relinquishment of control, to ecstasy.
Certainly I still need to get used to the feeling of really relinquishing control, but I trust in where He is guiding me, and I trust those around me to keep me safe and to ensure I am having a good time (and I’m not just talking about control and drinking. I am talking about my minor but destructive control issues in general).
So, with that said, let’s raise a glass! To Dionysus! To growth! To trust! To Ecstasy! And to the letter ‘D’!
Raising a glass with you! Your words made me consider the way I try to exert control over myself and my life. I remember an ex-boyfriend once had me eat a cupcake with my hands tied behind my back as a way to explore the unknown, relinquish control and express myself in an alternate way…obviously the exercise had an impact on me as I still remember it…maybe it’s time to do it again!!! Thanks for sharing!
A Changing Altar said:
As much as I laughed out loud to that (it kind of sounds like a weird art-house film, doesn’t it?) that exercise is brilliant!
I think I’ll make my friends do it at my next dinner party!
Thanks so much for commenting, Caroline!
I agree Dionysos can be a catalyst for drastic changes. He never stops pushing and breaking down. I hope you find the middleway.
Mostly though I just wanted to say “hello” to another Dionysian raver. Happy travels with Dionysos.
A Changing Altar said:
I haven’t been a “raver” in quite a few years, as much as I miss it. Obviously I consider going back often, because if there is anything Bacchic left in this world, it’s going to be a rave!
I giggled when I saw the title of your PBP ‘D’ post. I even pointed it out to someone on the main Blog Project page who was having a hard time finding subjects to go with the weekly letters. I told him “Look, don’t stress, you have “D is for Dress” and even “D is for Douche-baggery”, obviously you don’t have to get too deep and esoteric for these things! Just have fun!”
I’m at work right now, but I’ll be sure to give yours a read once I get home!
Thanks so much for the comment!
Haha… I admit I haven’t been to a real rave in a long time – but it was my Dionysian ritual while the good times lasted.
I can totally relate to your background, with some differences. I grew up in a family of winos, some of my best friends were hard drinkers and users, and that’s glossing over all of the more dangerous “stuff”.
I decided one day it was all poisonous, cut tons of people from my life, and practiced abstinence from sex and intoxicants for three years. I was able to learn so much about the two seemingly seperate people I am. I won’t go into too much more detail, but will say that I can relate to you quite a bit, and am always an ear should you need one!
A Changing Altar said:
I think that one thing I am thankful for in all of this is that I am experiencing this as a ‘development’, rather than a ‘rending’.
I am being faced with some really meaningful opportunities for self-reflection, but rather than looking in the mirror and seeing two people and saying “Who are these two people I am/have become? How can I reconcile them?”, I am looking in that proverbial mirror and seeing that I no longer look like I used to; I am seeing the new person I am and having to deal with the fact that it is not the same face I had yesterday. For me this seems like the easier way. Maybe even the happier way. I feel a sense of pride in my development, rather than a sense of conflict or disassociation.
Mind you, as with anyone who looks in the mirror and sees new wrinkles, or a different haircut, or an extra 10 pounds, I am having -some- conflict, but it is something I can deal with in my own time.
I really appreciate your commenting here. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one with this particular conflict that can be rather….counter-intuitive? Thanks so much, really.
Anytime! And for the record, I don’t see myself as two persons, rather one person who has worn many masks in his life, oft conflicting, and sometimes one on top another.
I find the topic of excess comes up A LOT with Big D. And every time it does, it leads to a new answer.
To reiterate, always hear to lend an ear or share a story. I’ve got some good ones!
Susan Forsythe said:
This is quite possibly the most poignant, real and thought-provoking post I’ve read [anywhere] in a long long time. Your honesty, both with your readers and yourself, is commendable. You speak from the soul and that is a very rare thing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. Your writing never fails to move me. Thank you, Ryan.
A Changing Altar said:
You are more than welcome.
And, like I said on Facebook, thank you so much for always supporting my work and being my blog’s #1 fan.
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