Rustic Dionysia


The Gathering


The People should gather with the Sacra necessary for the ritual. The Barley, the Knife, the Fire, the Cup, the Water, the Wine, the Incense, and the Food. Also a Book or Scroll, if necessary.

For this Festival, in addition to the above we should have: A separate jar of wine, a vine, a he-goat, a basket of raisins, and a phallos. People should wears masks and very festive clothing. As the fresh flowers will all have faded by this time, this is the appropriate season for winter crowns, i.e., made of dried or artificial flowers.

As most people these days don't have a he-goat in their yards to trim the brush, a simulacrum will do: anything from a cuddly toy goat to a pinata in the he-goat shape. The same goes for other hard to find items, like the 'vine,' which is understood to be a cutting of grape vine stock: wreathes made of grape vines can be had at crafts stores, undecorated.

The Sacral Feast should, for this ritual, feature goat, but, unlike the Anthesteria, where goat is necessary, one may substitute some other meat: unless you are a Vegetarian: but do the best you can.


The Pompe, or Procession


The Incense is lit, then, in the order dictated by the order of the Sacra, as listed above, the People are lead by the Priest to the Temenos, or Sacred Precinct, containing the altar of sacrifice. At the entrance to the Temenos, each person performs the khernips, or hand-washing, then moves in a counterclockwise direction to form a circle around the bomos, or altar. 

After the khernips, everyone remains silent until the Priest cries out: 


"Hekas, o hekas, este bebeloi!"


The People Reply:


"Let All That Is Profane Be Far From Here!"


The Lighting


The Priest cries out:


"Paresmen time, sonta tas theas kai tous theous."


The People Reply:


"We Are Here To Honor the Gods and Goddesses."


The Priest or Priestess then lights the fire on the altar, which should have been laid out beforehand. Most properly this would be done with a pure flame brought from the altar of Hestia, but this may not always be practical; and there are specific rituals in which the fire should be lit otherwise.


The Scattering


The Barley is passed counterclockwise and each person takes some and tosses it upon the altar. The remaining barley is placed nearbye.



The Mixing


The Libation bearers move to either side of the Priest and the Wine and Water is mixed.

 The Priest says:


"Theasthe ta hudata biou."


The People Reply:


"Behold the Waters of Life!"


The First Libation


The Priest says:


"Hestia, Thine is always the first and the last."


Some of the mixture in the cup is poured out on the altar, then the cup is passed around counterclockwise, each person taking a sip in offering to Hestia, or touching a drop to his or her forehead in offering, and repeating the above formula of offering to Hestia. The Priest takes a last sip, and the remaining part is poured out on the altar.




The Priest cries out:

"Koimeson stoma!" 

The People Reply:

"We will stop up our mouthes!" 

(The People then maintain silence through the Hymnodia)


The Priest says:


"Hear, Oh Dionysos, Loud Crying, Wild Dancing, Hard Drinking, Eiraphiotes, Woman-Maddening Bringer of Ecstasy, Thrice Born, Ivy-Crowned God of the Theater, Thyrsis bearer: We call upon You with whatever name it pleases You to be called; For You can release the bonds of the rational, Free us from our self-control, Drain away our dark cares with purifying katharsis, Lift us up to experience the light of a divine existence, Grant us that Little Madness that preserves us from the Greater Madness, Oh Bacchos, O Iakchos! If ever we have made offering to You, or honored You in word or deed, grant us Your blessings is this season!"


The Second Libation


The Libation Bearers again mix water and wine. The Priest offers up the cup and says:


"Dionysos, this Libation is for You, in the hope that You will join us here today."


The Priest pours some of the mixture on the altar, then passes the cup counterclockwise. When the libation returns to the Priest he takes a last sip, and the remaining part is poured out on the altar.


The Sacrifice.


For this ritual there is one particular action that begins the Sacrifice.

 An unblemished virgin, possibly the youngest responsible female, brings a special loaf or cake before the altar and kneels, offering it up. The priest then pours unmixed wine over it. This loaf or cake takes the place of the usual bread. It is placed on or near the altar and the virgin retires into the assembly

The Sacred Victims (To Hierion) are brought forward. The Priest or Priestess touches each thing to be offered with the sacrificial knife.

 Each one who is making an offering may say, as it is offered:


"Lambane kai heydou anathema mou,"


or simply:


"Accept and Delight in my Offering."


Each one may also add any particulars he or she feels necessary, such as requests or thanksgivings. 

When all offerings have been made, the Priest or Priestess says:


"Lambane kai heydou anathemata heymown."


Response: "Accept and Delight in Our Offerings."


In Ancient Times we are told that at "The Blow," that is, when the sacrificial knife stuck the victim, the women ululated. It is appropriate in our own times for the women to do so after this last response, this having the effect of a kind of cheer.

 As many more these days follow the vegetarian Way of Pythagoras, it may be noted that The Blow can be delivered by plunging the sacrifical knife into a loaf of bread as readily as it can be used to take the life of an animal. In this case, the ululation comes at the same point, the act itself. One may readily offer seasonal foods from the vegetable kingdom to a God with as much expectation that they will be accepted as the tradtional animal. In other words, if it was good enough for Pythagoras, it is likely good enough for any Vegetarian.

 Carnivores, on the other hand, should do their best to provide flesh for the fire.

 It is always a question of giving back a portion of what you have.


The Ritual Reply


Here should be recited or sung the Second Homeric Hymn to Dionysos, (#26 in Athanassakis Translation).

 Or it may be that the God will make some reply of His Own.


The Agon


This is the part of the ritual where the most variables occur. In Ancient Times this would be the place for the Sacrificial Dances, such dances filling the time while the priests cut up the sacrificial animal and put the appropriate choice parts upon the sacrificial fire; the Blow itself was the sacral moment.

 Music and Dancing, immediately following the ritual response, are most appropriate. So are Sacred Games. This is also the place where one might question the Pythoness, perform a Healing, perform a Marriage, conduct a funeral, or any number of other activities. Making the Eirisione, enacting a mystery; any number of 'exercises or contests' are here appropriate.

 As this ritual honors, in our nomos, the birth of Dionysos, this is the appropriate time to 'call on the God,' with cries of:


"Euhoi! Iakch' o Iakche!"


Music and dancing should begin immediately, and when people are warmed up, games can follow.

For this ritual, with it's party atmosphere, the Sacral Feast begins during the Agon, so that both are combined; at the end of the dancing would be a good time to set the food out, so that people can eat during the games. 'Games,' in this case can include the whole gamut of what we humans think of in the term. If you can enact a full pentathlon, that's fine. But it can also mean a rubber of Bridge or a session of Dungeons & Dragons, so long as it is understood that these activities occur in ritual space and are dedicated to the God.

 Traditional activities of our Cultural Ancestors included reenactment of scenes from plays that were popular during the year, especially Satyr Plays, and the Bag Dance, in which the young men competed by dancing on one foot atop oiled and inflated skins, to see who could last longest. 

This is a good time for plays for the children of the tribe. They can either perform the plays for the adults, or the adults can perform the plays for the children; or they can perform together. Once the kids are worn out it will be easier for the adults to 'let go' and 'go with the God.' Needless to say, Mythological Subjects are the most appropriate. The tales of Heracles are a natural subject for children's theater.


The Sacral Feast


There was a time when Men and Gods supped together. In making Sacrifice and in the exercises of the Agon we have called upon the Deity to join us. The important thing to remember is that this is a communion not only between mortal and Deity but between the mortals who share the feast as well. We are all joined in communion, in koinonia, by the sharing of the Sacral Feast.

Everybody eats!

 NOTE: This ritual often goes late into the night, sometimes until the next morning. If anyone has to leave early it is important that he or she make a final libation before leaving ritual space. For this reason, a krater with the mixed wine and water should be left available to this purpose. Not 'libating out' has left people with problems in the past. Fair Warning!

 It should be a simple, but double, libation. One sip to Dionysos, one to Hestia, to close one's participation.


The Libation of Thanks


The Libation Bearers mix wine and water again. The Priest or Priestess leads the people in giving thanks to the God, letting individuals speak at will. Then the Priest or Priestess offers up the cup, saying:


"Dionysos, Kharin echomen soi."


Some of the mixture in the cup is poured out on the altar, then the cup is passed around counterclockwise, each person taking a sip in offering to Dionysos, or touching a drop to his or her forehead in offering, and saying:

 "Dionysos, Hilathi!"

(Dionysos Be Propitious!)


"Dionysos, Sponde!"

(Dionysos, a Libation!)

or simply

"Dionysos, we thank You."


The Priest takes a last sip, and the remaining part is poured out on the altar.


The Final Libation


The Libation Bearers mix wine and water one final time.

The Final Libation is offered to Hestia, with the words:


"Hestia, Thine is always the first and the last."


It is offered in the same manner as the first, but when the Priest pours out the last of it upon the altar, he cries out:


"Houtos heksoi!"


The Response is:


"Houtos heksoi!"


or simply: "So Be It!"


This is the End of the Ritual.




5 December 1998

Th.O.C. 9

Revised Very Slightly

8 January 2002

Thiasos Olympikos 12


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