Friday, February 17, 2006

Orpheus, Avatar of Dionysus

The Orphic Theogony formed the basis of one of the more interesting classical mystery schools. Initiation into the Orphic mysteries set the initiate on the path to the lower world, from which one was born to new life and knowledge of one's inner deity. These were the original 'born-agains'.

I have flown out of the sorrowful, weary circle.
I have passed with swift feet to the diadem desired.
I have sunk beneath the bosom of the Mistress, the Queen of the
underworld.

And now I come a suppliant to holy Persephoneia,
That of her grace she send men to the seats of the Hallowed.
Happy and blessed one, thou shalt be god instead of mortal.

2 Comments:

Blogger The Doctor said...

“Imagine, for instance, a nocturnal ceremony, torchlit. A boy is to be initiated. He sits bravely on the throne. The Kouretes or Korybantes dance round him, round and round, noisily clashing their swords on their shields. A priestess plays endlessly on the raw-toned pipes. After a time the circle is penetrated by the ghastly white-faced figures of the Titans, man’s ancestors. They prowl about the boy, flashing a mirror before his face. He follows it as if hypnotized. The music goes on, becomes wilder, with drumming, and the uncanny braying of bull-roarers. Knives glint over there in the gloom, there are inhuman screams, hacking and wrenching of limbs. They holy casket if carried round, and everyone sees the hot, bloody heart it contains. There are smells of roasting flesh. Presently there will be meat to eat; meanwhile we all bewail the savage murder of that innocent child. By way of consolation an effigy is produced, made of or coated with gypsum. The heart is inserted into its chest. Stark, white and lifeless the thing stands there in the flickering light. Then the miracle. In a moment of blackout – or dazzling light – the place of the effigy is taken by the new initiate, himself now covered with gypsum like his former murders, and he springs up alive and well, ready to enter on his new life.”



From M. L. West, The Orphic Poems, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1983, p. 163.

7:25 PM  
Blogger The Doctor said...

[Plate from Petelia, South Italy, fourth-third century B.C.]

Thou shalt find to the left of the House of Hades a spring,

And by the side thereof standing a white cypress.

To this spring approach not near.

But thou shalt find another, from the Lake of Memory

Cold water flowing forth, and there are guardians before it.

Say, 'I am a child of Earth and starry Heaven;

But my race is of Heaven (alone). This ye know yourselves.

But I am parched with thirst and I perish. Give me quickly

The cold water flowing forth from the Lake of Memory.'

And of themselves they will give thee to drink of the holy spring-

And thereafter among the other heroes thou shalt have lordship.

[Plate from Eleuthernai in Crete, second century B.C.]

I am parched with thirst and I perish-Nay, drink of me (or, But give me to drink of)

The ever-flowing spring on the right, where the cypress is.

Who art thou?.....

Whence art thou?-I am the son of Earth and starry Heaven.

[Plate from Thurii, South Italy, fourth-third century B.C.]

But so soon as the spirit hath left the light of the sun,

Go to the right as far as one should go, being right wary in all things.

Hail, thou who hast suffered the suffering. This thou hadst never suffered before.

Thou art become god from man.

A kid thou art fallen into milk.

Hail, hail to thee journeying the right hand road

By holy meadows and groves of Persephone.

[Three more tablets from Thurii, of roughly the same date as the previous One. ]

I come from the pure, pure Queen of those below,

And Eukles and Eubuleus, and other Gods and Daemons.

For I also avow that I am of your blessed race.

And I have paid the- penalty for deeds unrighteous,

Whether it be that Fate laid me low or the gods immortal

Or . . . with star-flung thunderbolt.

I have flown out of the sorrowful, weary circle.

I have passed with swift feet to the diadem desired.

I have sunk beneath the bosom of the Mistress, the Queen of the

underworld.

And now I come a suppliant to holy Persephoneia,

That of her grace she send men to the seats of the Hallowed.

Happy and blessed one, thou shalt be god instead of mortal.

A kid I have fallen into milk.

7:27 PM  

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