Devotional activities for the month of Thyrsos

Go to a theater

As fun as it is to experiment with personality, it’s even more fun to watch the professionals do it. The dramatic arts arose out of the early agrarian worship of Dionysos and actors have remained sacred to him ever since, even when the roles they performed were no longer a reenactment of his joys and sufferings or even about the mythological figures associated with him. But the stories are still important and the actor’s ability to transform himself into something else is a wonder to behold. Though you can watch plays on video in the comfort of your home, absolutely nothing compares to seeing them live and in person, surrounded by a crowd. Indeed the communal aspect is perhaps the most important part, for Dionysian worship has always had a strong collective aspect to it. As part of the crowd you can be swept up in the moment, feel the contagious emotion, the diverse reactions of those around you. Sometimes the audience is far more entertaining than the show put on for its amusement. There is also something primitive and magical about being part of a crowd huddled in the dark, watching a grand spectacle. You lose your sense of self as an individual and take on a corporate identity – or no sense of self at all, save as a spectator of what is transpiring on stage before you. In the same vein you should also attend operas, concerts, movies, protests, sporting events and similar large gatherings with an eye towards perceiving the world through an orgiastic lens.

Watch movies

Watching a movie in your own home, alone or with a small group of family and friends can be a wonderful devotional activity all on its own or as part of a festival observance. I consider this entirely distinct from going to a movie theater or taking in a play, which is why I’ve given it its own section here. It’s much more intimate and inwardly-focused, since you don’t have the crowd and their barrage of stimuli. The performance is also forever the same, no matter how many times you watch the movie, whereas an actor on the stage is always going to play his part slightly differently. Even so, multiple viewings of a film can reveal a depth of things one might initially have missed. Because all you’ve got to focus on is the screen it’s easier for your mind to wander, leading to interesting new insights that may or may not have anything to do with what transpires in the movie. I’ve watched some of my favorite Dionysian films a dozen times or more and I always come away with new things I hadn’t noticed before or come away inspired with new thoughts and understandings. What makes a movie “Dionysian”? That can be difficult to pin down at times. Sometimes it’s the atmosphere, a particular scene or piece of dialogue, the themes it explores or even the expressions on an actor’s face or the memory of what was going on in one’s life when the movie was first viewed. Although I encourage my readers to come up with their own list of Dionysian movies, I figured I’d share some of my own in the hopes that it might get the ball rolling for you.

  • American Beauty dir. Sam Mendes
  • The Ballad of Jack and Rose dir. Rebecca Miller
  • Baskin dir. Can Evrenol
  • Cat People dir. Paul Schrader
  • The Cell dir. Tarsem Singh
  • Cleopatra dir. Franc Roddam
  • Dangerous Beauty dir. Marshall Herskovitz
  • Dead Poets Society dir. Peter Weir
  • The Doors dir. Oliver Stone
  • Fellini’s Satyricon dir. Federico Fellini
  • Fight Club dir. David Fincher
  • Gothic dir. Ken Russell
  • Hellbound: Hellraiser II dir. Tony Randel
  • Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Orpheus and Eurydice dir. Tony Smith
  • Jacob’s Ladder dir. Adrian Lyne
  • Labyrinth dir. Jim Henson
  • The Lair of the White Worm dir. Ken Russell
  • The Last Circus dir. Álex de la Iglesia
  • The Last Shift dir. Anthony DiBlasi
  • Legend dir. Ridley Scott
  • The Libertine dir. Laurence Dunmore
  • Lickerish Quartet dir. Radley Metzger
  • Lovely Bones dir. Peter Jackson
  • Manôushe: A Gypsy Love Story dir. Luis Begazo
  • Perfume: The Story of a Murderer dir. Tom Tykwer
  • Stage Beauty dir. Richard Eyre
  • V for Vendetta dir. James McTeigue
  • Wicker Man dir. Robin Hardy
  • The Witches of Eastwick dir. George Miller

And of course the numerous movies about ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, especially adaptations of classical plays.

Four television series with strong Starry Bull themes are:

  • Hannibal 
  • The OA 
  • Legion 
  • Westworld 

Honor the Dionysian Artists

Each day during the month spend some time reflecting on and honoring the Dionysian Artists, those whose creativity contributed greatly to the Bacchic Orphic tradition and kept it alive during the long centuries of Christian dominion under the guise of art.