The Lenaia was in early January, and while I did the write up at that time, I forgot to publish it until now. Better late than never?
A few days before the festival, I went to a large wine and liquor store near my home and wandered around for nearly half an hour, looking at wine labels, reading ingredients, fending off helpful sales people until I found two bottles of wine that sang to me as being perfect for the occasion. I just kept Dionysus and the basics of the festival in mind while I looked around. I ended up with these two:
Intrinsic, a red wine, I picked for the vibrant dancing woman who made me instantly think of the Maenads. Iter, a white wine, I picked for the spiral image because of labyrinth and underworld connections.
Day One: I started the night with a shower and clean clothes. I picked a bright green dress with flowers and vines on it because it made me think of new growth and the plants awakening after the winter. Plus, it’s a dress that always makes me think of Dionysus in general. I did the egg cleanse, and then followed that by the normal khernips cleansing method (including sprinkling the water around the ritual area). I laid out offerings of milk, honey, and cold clean water (in a small skull bottle).
I donned a mask:
I performed a ritual, something I’m still new and uncomfortable with. I prayed and called to Dionysus spontaneously (because I forgot to have anything prepared) and rang bells and drummed intermittently. Then, I played a short four song playlist I had made before hand, all with songs that had a dancing beat and lyrics that in some way made me think of Dionysus and Maenads. I danced and sang, praying and beating a small drum throughout.
Day Two: I attended a play. I went to support a friend in the cast, and the date lined up perfectly to make it a devotional activity. It was a new play from a local play write so I had no way of knowing how perfectly Dionysian the experience would be. The story was about a baker who was terrified of change. The play opens just after her assistant had died, therefore infecting the bakery with “miasma”. The baker becomes more obsessed with her fear, to the point of insanity. She’s having delusions, both of things she wants to be happening and things she doesn’t. Eventually, one of her own cakes comes to life to tempt her and convince her to embrace the madness, and embrace change. The show ends with her accepting the inevitable and leaving the bakery (a sign of her acceptance). It spoke to me a great deal and so far is the most religious experience I’ve ever had at the theater. Once I got home, I poured a large wine offering, I lit candles and incense. Again, I rang bells and called the God in song and prayer and praise.
Day Three: To be honest, I was out of ideas at this point of how to keep things going, so it was a much simpler day. I basically did a scaled down version of the first day, with the same offerings.
Overall, its the most I’ve ever done for a festival and I enjoyed it a lot. It was truly one of my first real experiences of Dionysus and something I will treasure for a long time.