MYTHICAL BEINGS

 


Bacchus
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Bacchus

The notion of the soul freed from the body was a core belief of a cult devoted to the worship of Dionysos, the Greek god of wine.

"Known as the personification of the sheer exhilaration produced by wine, Dionysos, according to one legend, once briefly assumed the throne of his father, Zeus, the supreme god of the ancient Greeks. After his ascent, he was attacked by jealous Titans...Changing shape in order to escape his foes, Dionysos took flight in the successive forms of a lion, a horse, and a serpent. When he transformed himself into a bull, however, the god was overcome by his enemies and, like Osiris before him, was brutally dismembered."
- The Search for the Soul

"Early worshippers of Dionysos reenacted this gruesome scene by whipping themselves into a frenzy and tearing a live bull to pieces with their hands and teeth. These grisly rites, accompanied by loud music and the crashing of cymbals, were intended to propel the revelers into a state of ecstasy, a word literally meaning 'outside the body' to the Greeks. Through this ecstasy, the cultists hoped to transcend their earthly bonds and allow the soul a temporary liberation from the body. Only in this way could the soul achieve a condition of enthousiasmos, meaning 'inside the god,' which the worshipers believed was a taste of what they might one day enjoy in eternity."

"They wore wreaths of ivy, oak or fir, and skins of animals, and carried the thyrsos... In their ecstasy they would range through the mountains in dizzying dances, and tear some animal apart with their bare hands and eat it raw. This was a communion in the god's body and blood; The inspiration of the god was believed to confer miraculous power. We hear of them caught in a snowstorm so that their clothes were frozen stiff, but rescued unharmed, or falling asleep from sheer exhaustion in an enemy village during wartime, and being protect for their holiness."
- John Ferguson, An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Mysticism and the Mystery Religions

http://www.mystae.com/restricted/streams/gnosis/dionysos.html


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