Dionysus Son of Zeus

I often sense that a culture in the throes of death wants only to save itself. We live in those times, I think, where there is much emphasis on saving ourselves. We are so enamored with heroics. But do they not keep us from where we are right now? What about the nature of disintegration? Could we learn more about our present situation from Dionysus? I think so. Here is a wonderful piece by Barb Turner on Dionysus.

barb turner artist

The following is an excerpt from my dissertation on Dionysus, trauma, and initiation. It is out of the section exploring Zeus as the male womb. I put it here for my peeps interested in archetypal psychology.

Dionysus Son of Zeus

Persona, Flexibility, and God of the Mask

Dionysus is not the God behind the mask. He is the mask. . . . He is concerned with the constant metamorphosis of identity and opposed to any fixed identification with a role. (Paris, 2003, p. 49, original italics)

Dionysus, child of Zeus, birthed of his father’s thigh, is also the God of Theater and of the Mask. As the child of the thigh, his dismemberment is a given, for wounding and loss are intrinsic to the transformation of thigh into womb. He is thrice-born, once of his mother, once of his father, and a third time as an outcome of the…

View original post 1,061 more words

4 thoughts on “Dionysus Son of Zeus

  1. I really enjoyed that piece and the many observations about Dionysus. For me reading pieces like that is akin to walking through an art museum, intrigued by a whole new world. The last line jumped out at me, “The epiphany of Dionysian initiation allows consciousness to traverse the multiple perspectives of which one is composed.”

    But I am curious about your questions as well. Is our culture in the throes of death? What does that mean? What are the signs? And is this death perhaps a disintegration of a fixed view of reality, as you have written about, a means of encountering the pluracy of meanings and perspectives that flow through all of it. Such a death would be a shattering of rigidity, a means of recovering our collective fluidity. Sounds lovely…



    1. Hi Michael,

      The idea that our current culture is disintegrating, breaking up into pieces, sure does put us on shaky ground. And although renewal is ever-present, I think that a bigger change is in play right now. Technology is dissolving borders, politically, religiously, spiritually and geographically.

      The notions of country, race, ethnicity, church, family, ancestry are all becoming blurred, harder to see and definitely harder to assume and hold onto as meaningful identities to live one’s life by.

      I think falling into pieces of centuries-old cultures is deeply mirrored in our subjective sense of who we are. For some, this fluidity is a welcome release, that will come whether we want it to or not. Lovely for those of us who, for whatever the reasons, welcome the changes. For many though, it is either very threatening, or harmful in that it displaces people from their land and their ability to survive, and also causes those who seek power and control to scramble to force the pieces to land in such a manner that they can control an emerging paradigm.

      Dionysus offers us a way to be in a disintegrative world and self without the constancy of a heroic mind which tends to see things through oppositional thinking, which either spends far too much energy trying to unite, either by force, such as wars, or by isolation, which is no longer possible.

      There is at least a third way beyond the opposites which is seen when we are finally disenchanted with oppositional heroic thinking. Dionysus is one of the god images that can offer us a third way.

      Thank you for asking! You really help me to dig in to these ideas and make clearer the vision.



      1. Thanks, Debra. I see what you mean, and I can see it is a disintegration that may be welcomed by some and resisted mightily by others. I love where you wrote “at least” a third way. It seems to me sometimes that if we could just crack the door open enough to see just one alternative to the oppositional thinking, to see the oppositional thinking is not necessary, is not what is- that it is simply a choice amongst choices- then we could start rattling them off one after another. And they’d all be okay, somehow, because they’d all be freer…



Your comments welcome here:

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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.