Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Making a Dionysos altar as a poor-ass motherfucker.*

From the earliest times man has experienced in the face with the penetrating eyes the truest manifestation of anthropomorphic or theriomorphic beings. This manifestation is sustained by the mask, which is that much more effective because it is nothing but surface. Because of this, it acts as the strongest symbol of presence. Its eyes, which stare straight ahead, cannot be avoided; its face, with its inexorable immobility, is quite different from other images which seem ready to move, to turn, to step back. Here there is nothing but encounter, from which there is no withdrawal – and immovable, spell-binding antipode. This must be our point of departure for understanding that the mask, which was always a sacred object, could be also put over a human face to depict the god or spirit who appears.

And yet this explains the significance of only half the phenomenon of the mask. The mask is pure confrontation – an antipode, and nothing else. It has no reverse side - “Spirits have no back,” the people say. It has nothing which might transcend this mighty moment of confrontation. It has, in other words, no complete existence either. It is the symbol and the manifestation of that which is simultaneously there and not there: that which is excruciating near, that which is completely absent – both in one reality...”
- Walter F. Otto, Dionysus: Myth and Cult.

1. Either purchase - or if that falls outside your monetary capacity, make - a mask. Understand: the mask is now The God. (So inscribing “Dionysos” on it isn’t a bad idea, add titles if you want.)

2. Place mask on flat surface (a table if possible; but a bookshelf, or any other surface will work). If you can find, or grow grapes, place graveleaves and ivy beneath it.

3. Add a bowl, into which you can pour libations. If getting wine is too hard, cool water will work. Additionally, honey makes a fantastic offering. It is easy and cheap to obtain.

4. Fumigate if possible - frankincense, myrrh, storax and a number of other incenses will work.

5. Pray. Alternatively: “Dance as prayer” works here, if you are able. Hold the hymn in your mind as you perform the dance, or recite it beforehand or afterward. If you are unable, poetry is an acceptable offering of devotion. So is writing stories, etc, etc, etc. Like, you aren’t precisely LIMITED in your means of devotion and devotional work.

6. Profit. (Prophet?)

- Since the mask is the primary altar piece and not heavy, it can be transported beyond the home. This means that if you can't do anything at home, you can take it elsewhere and do your devotional work in that great beyond known as the outside world.
- In fact, the altar can be completely innocuous when maintained in the house. It's really just a mask, and a bowl put aside for libations. I grow plants behind mine, to keep my altarspace "alive." For some reasons, spiders really love setting up shop around it.
- This isn't really an in and out for devotional work at altars, but just the most basic setup I've come up with - and the cheapest - in my own spiritual work.

* Keep in mind that I've lived in varying degrees of poverty (bastards aren't exactly going to end up with trust funds when they grow up), and "poor-ass motherfucker" is used more in the spirit of brotherly love from someone who has been there... Rather than as an insult directed at those with less than myself.


runeworker said...

any mask?

Jack Faust said...

Pretty much any mask can work. But I guess some might work *aesthetically* better than others?

Robert said...

I have just obtained the book quoted here.

John Wolf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Wolf said...

Do you have some idea of the ceremonial mask you want?

gargarean said...

(I always feel weird commenting on an older post, but anyway)
Most art and craft shops have paper mache masks for cheap (My local store has them for $3.00) Get some cheap poster paint and brushes and whatever else and you can make a nice mask for less than $10.00