Day I. To Dionysos Nyktelios
Join this prayerful circle, O Dionysos who loves nights
when the mad-women, the monsters, the magicians,
priestesses of the winepress and initiates in infernal mystery-rites
all roam the streets howling ithyphallic hymns
beneath a sleepless Moon.
You are old,
your countenance is cold,
and you cast a pale radiance
like the cheek of an untouched maiden,
an idol of unpainted marble,
shell of an uncracked egg,
or the horn of an unblemished bull.
You stand in the myrtled prow of your ghostly ship
sailing down the milky river of remembrance,
with bones in your braids and ash covering your face,
O fearless Hunter and Slayer of the rampaging boar,
triumphant Dionysos, long may you be hailed!
Accept our offering of smoke and words,
and in return breathe on us in a spirit of perfect kindness.
Day II. To Dionysos Choroplekes
Hear me, Dionysos who weaves the war-dance
like a net for the capture of ensouled creatures,
savage and pure, roaring bull-horned Zagreus
who leads his hosts in battle, frenzied,
beastial and thirsting for bloody carnage,
my beautiful, mad God.
Turn tail and run you brave-hearted phalanxes
when you hear the ash-spears of the Bacchants
begin to pound the earth in time to the tympanum
and trumpet, ivy-twined feet stomping, stamping,
thundering, beating out a staccato rhythm of martial menace
as every throat shrieks, “Io Bakchos!”
Run now, O sons of pitying fathers when you hear that,
for once the dance is done they will descend upon you.
Above the din and tumult, hear me, O Dionysos
with the red face, double of Thracian Ares, for this I pray;
strengthen my body, make my will resolute,
drive from me all uncertainty, fear and weakness
and remind me what things are worth passionately fighting for.
Ever shall I stand with you, my Lord,
in defense of the things you cherish
and those who adore you.
Day III. To Dionysos Eubouleus
May my honeyed speech prove pleasing to you
Dionysos whose counsel is good, wise, and true;
whose winged words are capable of getting through
any defense the heart or mind may contrive.
You know what we would prefer remain secret,
and how to draw it out of us
so it can no longer rend, poison or control us.
You do this so gently
we do not even realize
what it is you’re doing
until you have us fully,
completely under your spell.
The stories you tell
heal generational trauma,
mend what is broken,
free from care,
loosen the load,
stir the waters of memory,
make us dream a better world
and believe once more
in impossible things.
Your Hermetic song is a red thread
leading us out
of the Labyrinth’s twists and turns,
and our feet instinctively know your tune;
with every joyful dancing leap we draw closer
to you, our great and gracious God Dionysos.
Day IV. To Dionysos Kataibates
Descend, Dionysos in the fury of the storm,
reveal yourself in the thunder that shakes the earth
and sends the heavens spiraling in a fiery wheel;
lash the branches with your rain, and manifest yourself
in the carcass of a lightning-struck calf.
The measured stamp of your danceweaving feet
turns the foundations liquid and looses chaos
and confusion upon the land. There is no snare
that can keep you from fulfilling your will,
no wall you cannot simply leap over.
Behold the man who would oppose you,
the former king who mocked, reviled and mistreated you
– now unmanned and out of his mind,
wandering in the rubble of his ancestors,
an object of shame and reproach, a deep-suffering scapegoat.
All this, my glorious Dionysos, you wrought
and so I shout to the high heavens,
there is nothing the wonder-working son
of black-haired Zeus and dusky Semele
Day V. To Dionysos Charidotes
Join us in this pious dwelling,
O Dionysos who brings the gift of grace,
boundless joy and effortless abundance,
juice-swollen fruit from the branch
carried by prancing, pirouetting, pratfalling lads,
and unfading flowers
good for braiding into crowns
for white-gowned girls to wear
when they dance the nuptials
of the strange, handsome youth who comes
from far across the wine-dark sea
with the charm of foam-born Aphrodite
in his laughter-loving and limb-loosening eyes
to mate with the pure and perfect wife of the King
in the ancient ox-shed
so the pulse might quicken,
and animal heat spread
like a rutting pandemic,
the tight bud unfurl,
the fertile drops fall
in well-furrowed fields,
heads tossed carelessly back in all-consuming ecstasy
as fire and ice unite
making the world new again.
Potent Lord of Life we cry to you
and to your fair-girdled, lovely-tressed paramour,
bless this place and those who worship you here
in the time-honored and local fashion.
Day VI. To Dionysos Morychos
O grandson of Kronos, darksome Dionysos
who rules below, somber Prince surrounded
by masked revelers and gay feasting
in a grove of white cypress and ivy
nourished by the cool streams of Mnemosyne.
To this fair isle the blessed come
after successfully completing
a cycle of tests and toil
in the lands of death and dreaming,
thereby earning their place in the barony
of peace, plenty, and pleasure.
You permit your faithful subjects to indulge
every fantasy and desire a heart could hunger after,
and over all you watch, Dionysos,
O you who sit upon the ivory peacock throne.
Once you sat upon another throne,
clutching thunder in your little palm
until the creatures with cracked clay faces
and beguiling toys crept up on you.
Later you made war upon the Titans
and after utterly conquering them
you did not enact your righteous vengeance
but instead freed them with a libation,
giving them back their lives
so they might fight with you
as your loyal War-band when the day comes
that brings the world-ending conflagration.
But until that day let us rejoice, relax and rejuvenate
in the presence of our sweet Lord,
and always try to bring a laughing smile
to his saturnine face.
Day VII. To Dionysos Lampter
I call upon the Dionysos who shines
out of the vast gloom of the underworld,
torch-bearing, flame-haired wild redeemer
who wears the fawnskin spangled with stars,
dancing through the long Night
until greeted by Dawn’s rosy light,
he who spends the Day rushing through fields
of golden wheat and leaping over the highest cliffs
like a falcon with wide-stretched wings
or a long-maned lion who loves the hunt.
Uniter of opposites, dissolver of boundaries,
swirling polarity and equal measure Helios and Haides;
show yourself to us, you who were born again in the fire
Dionysos the Black Sun, God who creates through destruction.