coromandal


rites performed in the forest at night
August 25, 2009, 1:21 am
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , , ,

Here is a list of the many incarnations of the god Dionysus who presided over “rites performed in the forest at night,” as described by Barbara Ehrenreich in her book Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy.  She describes the particular allure of this god for women who leave their children and duties and husbands to take up the ritualized dance.

In the description below, Shiva, the Indian Dionysus, is an outsider in extremis:  he steals our women, tramples our codes, engages the outcast, communes with the dead, he is obscene.

From Dancing in the Streets —

Dionysus was no respecter of ethnic boundaries.  According to the archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, the worship of gods resembling Dionysus ranged over five thousand miles, from Portugal through North Africa to India, with the god appearing under various names, including “Bakkhos, Pan, Eleuthereus, Minotaur, Sabazios, Inuus, Faunus, Priapus, Liber, Ammon, Osiris, Shiva, Cerenunnus,” and, we might add, the delightfully named Etruscan analog of Dionysus:  Fufluns.  In his brilliant rendition of the Indian epics, for example, Roberto Calasso describes the Hindu god Shiva as “this stranger, this woman-stealer, this enemy of our rules and ties, this wanderer who loves the ashes of the dead, who speaks of things divine to the lowest of the low, this man who sometimes seems crazy, who has something obscene about him, who grows his hair long as a girl’s.”  Like Dionysus, Shiva bore an association with wine, his cult being “particularly widespread in the mountains where the vine is cultivated,” according to a Greek who lived in India in the fourth century BCE.

Advertisements

Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: