Friday, September 05, 2008

Review: Written in Wine

Dionysos, writes Sannion of the Library of Neos Alexandria, "is a maddeningly complex god to figure out." And so he gets an anthology: poetry, fiction, hymns, essays, ritual from a group of Hellenic revivalist Pagans: Written in Wine: A Devotional Anthology for Dionysos

I like that approach for several reasons.

For one, contemporary Pagans must remember that our model of clergy is different from those of the monotheists. We start with service to deity, which is not the same as "pastoring" (herding sheep).

For another, we are drawn (or chosen) by different deities at different times. Sometimes, as Wiccan writer Judy Harrow says of herself, we are "serial henotheists."

Harrow herself produced an excellent book in 2003, Devoted To You: Honoring Deity in Wiccan Practice — the title is a slight misnomer, since two of four contributors, Alexei Kondratiev and Maureen Reddington-Wilde, are reconstructionist Pagans.

I once said that we needed poets, not theologians, and much of the poetry in Written in Wine is good stuff. Theokleia's "Come Dionysus" needs to be chanted by drunken, torch-lit devotees, while the collection also includes new translations of some ancient hymns to Dionysos as well.

The book includes stories and essays as well: I was impressed by Sarah Kate Istra Winter's "What It Means to be a Maenad" and, somewhat parallel to it, Tim Ward's "Dionysos on Skyros" with its questions of how a man moving toward middle age might still manifest the god.

I mentioned Ginette Paris, known for three excellent works of polytheistic psychology: Wisdom of the Psyche: Depth Psychology after Neuroscience, Pagan Meditations: The Worlds of Aphrodite, Artemis, and Hestia, and Pagan Grace: Dionysus, Hermes, and Goddess Memory in Daily Life.

Those books can help you see how divine energies penetrate the psyche and also manifest unexpectedly in everyday life, but Written in Wine is for the times when you want to call them forth—now!

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Blogger Peg said...

That looks wonderful.

Now we need them for Pan! Aphrodite! Pomona! Demeter!

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Chas S. Clifton said...

I saw somewhere that a book devoted to Artemis was in the works.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Deborah said...

Publishers tend to want that word Wicca or Wiccan in the title NO. MATTER. WHAT.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Taith (Journey) said...

Alexei Kondratiev is also a Wiccan. You can confirm via google, but here is one link:

6:58 AM  

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