Offending Dionysus

Offending Dionysus July 13, 2017

One of the early lessons I had as a witch was the importance of watching my words. Like most witches, I quickly learned the power behind spoken words – the ability to curse and bless myself and others with just a few simple words, almost instantly most of the time, even if I didn’t really mean what I was saying. The ability to call on gods and spirits and have them listen when I spoke also came with this power. This became so clear that I quickly learned to be extremely mindful of my words. Yet, there was a circumstance when I seemingly disregarded this for some reason. Dionysus is a god that I’ve always liked but never built a relationship with, called in ritual or really worked with. Like most young adults my age, I enjoy drinking with my friends occasionally.

Image Credit: Neven Krcmarek | CC0 License
Image Credit: Neven Krcmarek | CC0 License

I’m not sure how it began, but when my friends would get together to drink and unwind I would start by cheering “Hail Dionysus!” in a very tongue-in-cheek manner and everyone would echo it. It was essentially associating Dionysus with the act of being drunk itself and just that. There was no reverence, no gratitude, no invitation for him to join us in our drinking and most of all – no libations of wine. It was sort of a joke, perhaps I thought it was cute? I’m not sure. In retrospect, I can see how disrespectful this was.

We all quickly discovered the difference between saying these words before we began to drink and not saying these words. Regardless if we were drinking a ton of alcohol or if we were only having one bottle of wine among all of us – the difference was clear. It was as if the alcohol was cursed. The worse and most embarrassing aspects of ourselves would come out. It was as if we were possessed by our shadow selves completely. In the morning we would be filled with shame and try to each repair the damage done to our friendships and our relationships. Regardless of how much we would or wouldn’t drink – it was like we had all drank several bottles of hard alcohol each.

However, this never ever happened if we didn’t say “Hail Dionysus”. We all saw the pattern and avoided the words as an invocation of a curse before drinking. We stopped saying the words and never really had these hazardous nights when we would drink. It seems so obvious in retrospect. There’s so many myths regarding Dionysus’ wrath, particularly at being offended or someone blaspheming his name. I think sometimes it’s easy to disregard mythology as stories lost in the past without any valid warnings or messages that apply to today.

There’s also folks who say that the gods are understanding and not vengeful or angered or offended – and I think there’s a grain of truth to that to a certain degree when it comes to being understanding. I would strongly disagree that they cannot be offended. Luckily, Dionysus seems to have a sense of humor. For about two years I suddenly started receiving “Wine Spectator” magazine mailed to me. It was a mystery, as I’m very protective of my personal information and yet it kept arriving in my mailbox. Those who have my address wouldn’t waste the $60 a year to send this to me, especially when I’m not necessarily a wine snob or connoisseur. It quickly became both annoying and funny by the second year when I kept being “randomly selected for a brand new subscription renewal”.

I didn’t originally connect the magazines with Dionysus, until fairly recently. I picked up the first magazine I was sent and looked at the date. I then went back through my journals and discovered it was the same month as the first time I had said “Hail Dionysus!” I began laughing to myself and realized it was time to make amends with Dionysus. I made an offering to him and apologized. I have since never received another issue of Wine Spectator magazine. I consider myself extremely lucky in retrospect to the myths of Dionysus’ wrath and the extent of the severity that it can come in. I think it’s very important to not only be conscious of your words as a witch, but also what gods you joke about, even if they’re not the ones you work with personally. They may be listening without you even realizing it.

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