Why it is Beneficial for a Devotee of Apollon to Participate in Dionysian Mysteries

I have said this many times, that for years I have had a difficult time really getting close to Dionysos. I have had some inspiration moments related to him, but it seemed connections with him have always been fluid and have had their difficulties. And this has nothing to do with the Nietzchian Apollonian/Dionysian Dichotomy that is so popular…because I do not agree with it at all. But rather, I was often unsure of where I really related personally to the mysteries of Dionysos as a devotee and servant of Apollon.

Now when I was participating in an Orphic ritual in Hellas, I was given a small lamp to hold during ritual and was told that this is part of what those who belong to Apollon do. We are lightbearers (such as the leaders of the initiates, the mystagogs). For some time I have identified Apollon with Iakkhos in this understanding of Apollon who interacts with the mysteries of Dionysos and Persephone in multiple levels of being. He is the father of the Korybantes on one hand, the son of the Cretan Kourete Korybas. Thus he is associated with the actions of the Korybantes as they did for Dionysos what the Kouretes did for Zeus (and as Ephesian told it, the Kouretes played the same role for the birth of Artemis and Apollon at their Ortygian grove). The mystic dance of initiation, the protector and devourer of the god. Apollon’s domain in which he is associated in general to the rearing of the young to maturity (after which comes the slaughter and harvest as we see during his summer festivals) is intrinsic to his nature and is very much inseparable from his relationship with Dionysos. He is at once the god who is protector/rear and slayer of Dionysos while at the same time being the son of Persephone (or Demeter) and Dionysos. He is bound to Dionysos. Just as Dionysos tends to be linked to the passage of the sun through the heavens, Apollon is the passage of the heavens through time…he directs the movement of the heavens and all bodies within the heavens (including the son). That Apollon was later confused with the sun I think confused matters considerably, but I think just as Dionysos is symbolically related to the sun, so is Apollon’s relation to it on a symbolic level.  Anciently it was said that Dionysos is the sun at night and Apollon is the sun at day. This seems to just be a figurative way of showing that Apollon is the illuminator of the mysteries (which the sun is present in the heavens! that is the important key point), while Dionysos is the mysteries.

This means that for one who fully wishes to devote their lives and service to Apollon that it cannot be done by keeping things on a separate Dionysian/Apollonian level. This doesn’t seem to be the case for devotees of Dionysos, who get along just fine without engaging in Apollon (although I have known some who have undertaken certain activities on behalf of Apollon). But for someone who belongs to Apollon this is a different matter, and trying to understand our place in it. For Apollon is the nurturer of the young, the preserver…how does this play out with Dionysos? Apollon is the destroyer….that one is a bit easier understood I think through the Thyiades who alternately honored Apollon but raved in the winter for Dionysos and were said to slay the god with their hands. And then Apollon is the god of the burial, he would buries Dionysos slain by the titans. So how exactly am I meant to Work in relation to the Dionysian mysteries? Especially given my relationship is strongest with Apollon Karneios who seems to have a more blatant relationship with Dionysos.


One thought on “Why it is Beneficial for a Devotee of Apollon to Participate in Dionysian Mysteries

  1. There´s definetly a relation between Apollo and Dionysos, and that´s where theology comes into play. I haven´t got there yet, and maybe never will, but who knows?

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