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The Two Faced Gods

My Gods are gods of Madness and Sanity, of kind hearts and cruelty, of happiness and sorrow. My gods are flawless, flawless in beauty, grace and splendour and flawless in insanity, malevolence and estaticism. My gods know me, they know my inner most thoughts, the side of me that is an infinite creature of light and also and infinite creature of darkness, and instead of rejecting either side, they embrace both. They know of my kindness and my malice; and they revel in each. They drive me at times to complete madness and at others give me total clarity.  
For me these Gods manifest themselves in closest relation to the forms of Dionysus and Hekate. Both of these ancient beings, have appeared in many different cultures, in many different forms. Essentially they are the gods of the ecstatic, the bridge between life and death, the channels of spirit that are so powerful, that to understand them can only be done in a form of insanity. They are the beings that govern the very balance of life, death and all things in between. Some would call them dark gods, and in some ways they definitively are, and yet they contain within themselves the infinite light and beauty of all nature as well. For they are the forces of the balance, that axiom that keeps this plane the way that it is supposed to be. For how can we have the sweets, and yet not the sour. 

To understand why they are the gods of the Sorcerer, let us examine both in more detail. Dionysus is the lord of wine and ecstasy, of magick and the forest, of death and also rebirth, of lust and love and depravity and obscenity. As the god of wine, drunkenness, debauchery and all kinds of intoxicants it should be of no surprise that he also governs the mysteries of birth, life, death and rebirth. He is the ultimate Sorcerer, schooled in all manners of divination, shamanism, magick, theatre, music, art and yet still presides over the vast untamed wild places of the earth. Dionysus still lives in some form today, not only in the realms of Sorcery, but rather in the Mardi Gras, in the carnivals and floats, parades of masks, dancing, burlesque and of course drunken nights out are all reminiscent of the ancient rituals dedicated to his name. 

He was the last god to be added to the Greek Pantheon, and in some ways ancient peoples, didn’t accept him as a god, due to this fact. It is interesting as, Dionysus even then, operated in a space that was not a space, or a time that was not a time. Most devotees of Dionysus were women, men were certainly not exclude, however most were of homosexual or non-gender binary persuasion. This becomes very clear, as to why, later in his story. His birth and life is filled with a sense of drama, as most of the children of Zeus’s were, and as my Grandmother said, let it be great or let it be terrible, just let it be uncommon, and the story of his life is certainly that. 

Dionysus is the only god in the Greek Pantheon that was born from a mortal woman. Semele was a Theban Princess who Zeus fell madly in love with. Hera, Zeus’s wife became jealous of her and disguising herself, befriended Semele. Once Hera had befriended Semele she tricked Semele into believing that the babies father was not the God himself. Zeus had promised Semele that he would do anything for her, so to prove to herself that he was a God, Semele asked Zeus to show himself to her in all his glory, of course seeing Zeus as the King of Heaven was too much for her mortal body and She died. As she did so Zeus in his grief retrieved the almost born child and sewed him into his thigh, hence where Dionysus gets the title, “The Twice Born”.

When Dionysus was born he was given to the custody of Hermes. Hermes first took him to be raised by King Athamas and his wife Ino. Ino was an evil step mother to Athamas first children, the sons of the Goddess Nephele. When Hermes gave Dionysus to them, he said that he should be dressed as a girl, to avoid Hera’s wrath. Hera did eventually find out and sent Athamas Insane. Athamas killed one of his sons and Ino escaped from the insane king by throwing herself into the ocean. After this Dionysus was rescued by Hermes and taken to the Rain Nymphs of Nysa who cared for him through the rest of his childhood.
As Dionysus grew he discovered the Grape Vine and the method of making wine.  Hera, still jealous of him, struck him down with Madness and he wandered through the earth.  Once the Goddess Rhea discovered him, she cured him and taught him her religious rights and he then set out to teach the world about wine. It was through this that Dionysus was said to have conquered the world and returned to Greece in Triumph. 

It was also said that Dionysus was beautiful beyond belief. So much so that there were sailors that spotted a young Dionysus on the seashore and believed that he was a prince. They kidnapped him, intending on selling him into slavery in Asia. Once he was onboard they tried to tie him with ropes, but found that none would bind him. It was then that Dionysus turned into a Lion, turned the mast and oars into snakes, filled the vessel with Ivy, unleashed a bear on board the boat and killed all those that had wronged him. The sailors that leapt off the ship were turned into dolphins, the only survivor was Acoetes, the helmsman, who recognised Dionysus and tried to stop the other sailors form the beginning. 
Dionysus was also the one that granted the power to King Midas that whatever he touched would be turned to gold. He did this after the King had recognised one of his old teaches and was kind to him. He did return to his birth place Thebes in some stories where he was denied worship as a god, despite the warnings, the royal family tried to charge him for causing madness amongst the woman of Thebes – he then used his divine powers to send the king mad and have him spy on the rituals preformed by the Maenads. Once the Maenads spotted him, they attacked him with their bare hands and ripped him apart. He then transformed the rest of the royal house into snakes, sparing only one. 

He is one of the only Olympians that has the power to remove to souls of the dead from the underworld and restore them to life. He descended into the underworld to rescue his mother Semele with the aid of a Shepard boy. The Shepards request was to be lover of Dionysus and even though he died before the request could be fulfilled, it was after he returned Semele to Mount Olympus that he fulfilled his praise via the use of a wooden phallus.  Dionysus was also the student of Chiron, the beloved centaur, from who he learnt of dances, initiations and ecstaticism. 
Hekate is the female version of the balance of the two faced gods. She is the goddess of the crossroads, witchcraft, sorcery, storms, the moon, poisonous plants, necromancy and protection. She was called the Queen of the night, and was the first goddess that was understood as the embodiment of the triple goddess. She was worshiped in Athenian households as she was said to be the one that bestowed prosperity and daily blessing onto the household. She is regarding in having control over the Earth, Sea and the Sky and is known as the mother of Angels and the Cosmic World Soul. She like Dionysus exists in a time that is not a time, or a place that is not a place – as her actual origins are somewhat lost, in the Oxford Classic Dictionary she is described as, “more at home on the fringes than in the centre of Greek Polytheism. Intrinsically ambivalent and polymorphous, she straddles conventional boundaries and eludes definition.”

She was the only child of the Titans Perses and Asteria, whom from she received her power over the earth, sea and sky. She is often depicted with a flaming torch, its through this torches light that she lead Demeter through the underworld to find her daughter Persephone. After this was done, she was Persephone’s companion in Hades. She was one of the only titans still given worship after the revenge of the younger gods. Zeus was still said to honour her greatly and gave her dominion over the Earth, Sea and Sky – equalling his own power over those domains. She was described as a virgin goddess, much like Artemis, however in other sources she is described as the consort of Hermes in his underworld guise. She was never married to him, rather, she would consort with him on her own terms. She was said to have helped Medea, with the knowledge of herbs and poisons, to aid Jason to get the golden fleece. 

As Hekate is a pre-Olympic goddess, there is some debate as to how old she is. Due to her primary geographical location of Thrace, it could link her to the ancient Goddess worship of middle Europe or Asia Minor around 3 BCE. It is thought that Hekate was melded into the classical Greek pantheon, as was common at the time. Due to the fact of her nature been quite mysterious, later writings describe Hekate as the daughter of Zeus and Hera, diminishing her power to only that of the underworld and the waning moon. However anyone that has worked with Hekate, will tell you how fundamentally flawed this theory is.  

All wild animals are sacred to Hekate, but especially those of the dog, snake, lion, horse and the bear. The dog has always been one of Hekate’s closely linked animals, some say that she even takes care of Cerebus, the three headed dog of Hades. Her symbols are the flaming torch, which comes from the story of Persephone, the keys, through which it is said that she can open all manners of gateways and the rope, which is more symbolically linked to the cord that ties the spirit between physical life and death. It is said that Hekate’s appearance will always be heralded by the sound of howling dogs.  

She can bestow visions, can give the gift of Magick and is also able to regenerate that which has been lost. In her capacity as a Queen of Hades she is noted to be a formidable deity, she was known to send demons and terrible phantoms, she was said to have had a terrible appearance to some, where she would have a body with three heads, one of a horse, a dog and a serpent. It is also noted by some ancient writers that she was the mother of Scylla, a terrifying water monster. It is said that Scylla’s mother was Crataesis, which was also another name for Hekate. 
Personally I honour both of these Great Gods each month. I give special thanks to Dionysus on the 13th as the 13th day of the month is said to be sacred to him; Likewise I give special thanks and offerings to Hekate on the 29th as this was said to be her special day. Dionysus loves offerings of wine, grapes, blood, sex and dancing. Hekate loves offerings of Honey, garlic, herbs (Particularly poisonous ones), blood and bones. Through doing this I have found a wonderful and deep connection to my gods.

The Gods of the Sorcerers are certainly not ones for everyone to follow, by their very nature they tend to hang on the fringes of society, helping those who wish to cross into different realms. They inspire their followers to madness, but give them grace, prosperity and protection in abundance.