Standards: We have them!

Standards: We have them!
by Sannion

I created the Bacchic Underground as a place where Dionysians from different backgrounds (and particularly those with an interest in the Starry Bull tradition) could gather to learn, share, fellowship and create community, both on and off the web.

Although I encourage participation and critical feedback, I am the host here and it is my responsibility to enforce a code of conduct consistent with the principles of xenia or hospitality which was the heart of ancient Magna Graecian religiosity. I prefer a laid-back environment where folks are given as much freedom as they can handle, but there are a few rules which I expect everyone, as my guests, to follow without question. Failure to do so will result in your immediate expulsion from the group. When you made the request to join the Bacchic Underground you forfeited your right to unfettered free speech and absolute autonomy of action for the duration of your time here with us. No one has a right to be here; it is a privilege and if such conditions are unacceptable to you, well, don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.

My rules are pretty simple:

This is polytheist space; other theological perspectives are irrelevant and unwelcome here. You may question the nature of the Gods and Spirits, but not their existence or their right to receive the cultus they desire – and even then there are lines of inquiry that will not be tolerated. We are here primarily for fellowship and worship; there are other forums better suited to debating political theology and philosophizing if that’s your thing. Let it be known that we do not take kindly to aggressive evangelisation, especially when it comes from monotheists, atheists, neopagans, cultural marxists and such irreputable and ill-mannered ilk.

This is sacred space; leave worldly things at the door. I allow a lot of leeway since the different spheres of a person’s life may intersect with and inform one another, but if I determine that a conversation has strayed too far out of bounds I expect it to be dropped. For instance, I may permit discussion on pop culture representations of the Gods but this is not the place to gossip about celebrities or prattle on about your favorite fandom or internet fad. We talk about political issues that have a religious underpinning such as environmental concerns or attacks on personal freedoms within the overculture – but the religious component should be forefront, and I won’t tolerate stumping for specific parties or causes. Again, if I say it has crossed a line that’s it, all conversation stops. This is a radically inclusive group meaning that there are folks with divergent backgrounds, beliefs and ideological stances. We get along by focusing on what unites not what divides us. As long as everyone is respectful of the other members and reverent towards the Gods and Spirits, they are welcome. You have the entire rest of the internet to argue contentious matters; that’s not what this place is for.

This is Dionysian space; we not only talk about Dionysos, his Retinue of Gods and Spirits, but all of the concepts, symbols and practices associated with them. Know what you’re getting into before you join; some of this can get really dark and unsettling, especially when we touch on the core themes of the Starry Bull tradition. If you find violence, madness, drugs, sex, death, spiders and clowns or conversations about them distasteful or triggering, this is not the place for you. Likewise we often analyze variant interpretations of myth and share the different traditions, religious methodologies and spiritual tech that we employ, as well as talk candidly about the visions, dreams, messages, personal encounters and other experiences we have with our Gods and Spirits. No one has a monopoly on truth; as long as someone isn’t being a prick show respect towards them. That doesn’t mean you have to accept everything uncritically and never question what another member says – heaven forfend! what a dull and boring environ that would create – you just have to follow the proper etiquette of civilized discourse while doing so. If you feel what another is advocating is potentially harmful to them or those around them, speak up; if there’s no resulting harm and it just comes down to a difference of opinion, keep the critical remarks to a minimum. Always debate ideas and practices, not people. Don’t go personal, or below the belt. Don’t say or do anything you can’t live with the consequences of. Above all don’t mock anything that can be even peripherally connected to Dionysos – especially the drunken, the mad, the suffering, the strange, the marginal and outcast, all of whom he draws into his circle – unless you have damn good cause to. Expect to make a compelling case or be booted out on your ass for disrespecting our Lord.

This is Starry Bull space; although we are welcoming towards those from different traditions, backgrounds, practices and perspectives as I am running the place a lot of the conversation is going to center on my tradition. That’s not because I want to privilege Starry Bull above other ways of Dionysian devotion; on the contrary, it’s a recognition that those who are most involved and talkative get to set the agenda and I tend to be both. (Like, a lot.) The only people who can speak authoritatively on the Starry Bull tradition are myself and those who have received initiation. Others may speculate, but that’s all that it amounts to unless you’re an initiate. If we are in disagreement we will take it to divination, as Dionysos and the Gods and Spirits around him are the ultimate authorities and arbiters of this tradition. The opinions of outsiders are irrelevant as far as the Starry Bull tradition is concerned. Don’t like that, find your own way of being Dionysian and your own community.

Hospitality trumps all; I take personal responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of each of you here, emphasis on personal. That means I will step in when conversations get too heated, I am more likely to side against people who are bellicose and rude, and I take you at your word. If you threaten another member, even in jest, it is as good as if you did the deed. Because of the transgressive nature of a lot of the work we do, particularly within the Starry Bull tradition, and the difficult things that can dredge up people need to feel safe here, especially safe to share. Primarily this means respect one another’s boundaries and don’t persist when asked to stop. Don’t be a prick and especially don’t make racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, misogynist, misandrist, ableist or otherwise insulting or threatening remarks. If you slip it will not necessarily result in automatic censure; there needs to be space for humor – that transgressive, cathartic, healing and empowering force so sacred to Dionysos – and sometimes humor strays into uncomfortable territory. Also, sometimes we just get carried away and say stupid shit. If I feel it’s inching there unnecessarily I’ll tell you to find a better way of expressing yourself. If someone takes offense I will either stop the conversation altogether, or if I deem some useful resolution may come of letting it proceed I will allow it, but only under my supervision and mediation which will involve counseling both parties, together and separately. If this approach stops being productive I will shelve the conversation. If this becomes a persistent problem I will remove members.

The Bacchic Underground was not founded on democratic principles. I call the shots, the buck stops with me and I expect my rulings to be adhered to – swiftly. I will most likely explain my reasoning but I am under no obligation to. In fact I can arbitrarily change the rules and enforce them – or not – as I see fit.

Because I am not a complete tyrant – I’m about 65% tyrant – if I make a decision that you feel is in error you may challenge me before the members of the Bacchic Underground. Both sides will be given the opportunity to argue their case and then the members will cast their vote. If the majority are in favor of overturning the decision, we will then bring the matter before the Gods. Three diviners will cast and collectively determine 1) if the Gods and Spirits want the decision overturned and 2) what they want instituted in its place. All will agree to abide by the results, myself included. A detailed and accurate record of the decision, as well as the process by which it was arrived at, will be made and displayed publicly on the Bakcheion website.

If I am ever deemed unfit to lead the Bacchic Underground the same procedure detailed above will be followed. I will not go against the combined will of the people and our Gods and Spirits; I will execute the duties of my office with enthusiasm, piety, integrity and fidelity, steadfastly defending the tradition and all that belongs to my Lord Dionysos, the Starry Bull.

Leader of the Bacchic Underground,
Founder of the Starry Bull tradition,
Poet and servant of Dionysos.

From the heart of the Hudson Valley,
September, 6th 2016,
effective retroactively.