Deity of wine, mirth, and madness, Dionysus is an agricultural god with power over fertility of both land and creatures, but his portfolio is limited to vines, wine, and wine's influence on mortals. Dionysus is called Women-Maddener because of his ability to inspire frenzy in his worshipers (particularly women). His Roman name was Bacchus.
Clerics devoted to Dionysus are always members of the Orphic Mysteries (see below). They lead the ecstatic rites celebrating Dionysus, which usually involve heavy drinking and feasting. Rites in the Orphic Mysteries often include tearing a bull's flesh apart and eating it raw, in imitation of Zagreus's demise at the hands of the Titans. Dionysus's temples are often built in caves, because the infant Zagreus was born in a cave.
VestmentsPriests wear burgundy or purple garments.
The Orphic MysteriesDionysus's mystery cult teaches a secret myth about the deity's origin. In short, Zagreus was born of a tryst between Zeus and Persephone. Hera, in a jealous rage, sent some titans to kill the child. Zagreus attempted to flee, changing form several times, but was caught and killed while in the form of a bull. Zeus appeared and incinerated the titans with bolts of lightning, rescuing Zagreus's heart and forming humanity from the ashes of the Titans. Because the Titans had consumed Zagreus, some of his divine nature remained in their ashes, forming a "divine spark" deep inside human nature. Zeus then gave Zagreus's heart to the human female Semele. Some legends say that she ate the heart, while others say Zeus used it to make a potion that impregnated her. In any event, Dionysus was born as a result. Thus, Dionysus's origin remains true to the common mythology that calls him a son of Zeus and Semele, but it also makes him a reincarnation of Zagreus.
Semele also died as a result of Hera's jealousy. Hera tricked Semele into persuading Zeus to reveal his divine splendor to her, but her mortal frame could not withstand his glory and she disintegrated into ash. The child in her womb, being half divine, survived, and a vine grew from her ashes to shield the infant Dionysus. Zeus took the child and sewed him into his own thigh where he finished his gestation. As a result of this remarkable birth, Dionysus is known as the twice-born.
The Orphic Mysteries of Dionysus, like Demeter's mystery cult, allow initiates to reenact this complicated mythic history, becoming participants in Dionysus-Zagreus's life, death, and rebirth. As in the cult of Demeter, initiates in the mysteries believe they meet Dionysus or his avatar firsthand, in a ritual in which they symbolically die to their old lives and rise again to new lives. After their initiation, they enjoy a life of carefree celebration and orgiastic frenzy, and they look forward to life with Dionysus-Zagreus in Olympus after their death.
ADVERTISING - PLEASE SUPPORT THIS SITE
A life of whimsy and abandon, free from any fetters of custom, law, inhibition, or morality. Freedom is a cardinal virtue of our faith and a higher principle than good or evil. And while drunken revelry may turn into drunken savagery - Dionysus condemns neither. Drink wine, and pour out a little in his honor.
Dionysus was a handsome young man with impressive hair (usually tresses falling below his shoulders) and a wreath of ivy on his head. In his hand he was holding a "thyrsos", which was a light staff wrapped with leaves of ivy and a pine cone on its top.
Dionysus was a son of Zeus, the King of the Gods and the beautiful princess Semele. Because of his mortal mother, his birthplace Thebes refused to acknowledge him as an immortal at first. He's had relationships with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and Nyx, the goddess of the night. His wife is Ariadne, the princess of Crete. His famous children include Priapus, Phthonus, Deianira.