and the Drug Propaganda: Orpheus
"The shedding of plant and animal form marks of course the complete
close of anything like totemistic thinking and feeling. It is in many
ways pure loss....There are few things uglier than a lack of reverence
for animals. The well-born, well-bred little Athenian girls who danced
as Bears to Artemis of Brauronia, the Bear-Goddess, could not but think
reverently of the great might of the Bear. Among the Apaches to-day,
Bourke states, 'only ill-bred Americans, or Europeans who have never
had any "raising," would think of speaking of the Bear or indeed of
the snake, the lightning or the mule, without employing the reverential
prefix "Ostin,"meaning "old man,"and equivalent to the Roman title "Senator."
Olympian Greece turned Apollo Lykegenes, 'born of the she wolf,' into
Apollo Lykoktonos, 'the one who slew the wolf.' "All the canonical
denizens of the underworld are heroic or divine figures of the older
stratum of the population....Tityos and Salmoneus are beings of
this order. Once locally the rivals of Zeus, they paled before him,
and as vanquished rivals become typical aggressors, punished for ever
as a warning to the faithful."
"Pandora ['All-Giver'] is in ritual and matriarchal theology the earth
as Kore, but in the patriarchal mythology of Hesiod her great figure
is strangely changed and minished. She is no longer Earth-born, but
the creature, the handiwork of Olympian Zeus....there gleams the ugly
malice of theological animus. Zeus the Father will have no great Earth-goddess
Mother and Maid in one, in his man-fashioned Olympos, but her figure
is from the beginning, so he remakes it; woman, who was the inspirer,
becomes the temptress; she who made all things, gods and mortals alike,
is become their plaything, their slave, dowered only with physical beauty,
and with a slave's tricks and blandishments. To Zeus, the archpatriarchal
bourgeois, the birth of the first woman is but a huge Olympian jest:
'He spake and the Sire of men and of gods immortal laughed.'"
Hesiod: "But the noble son of Iapetos outwitted him and stole the far-seen
gleam of unwearying fire in a hollow fennel stalk. And Zeus who thunders
on high was stung in spirit, and his dear heart was angered when he
saw amongst men the far-seen ray of fire. Forthwith he made an evil
thing for men as the price of fire; for the very famous limping god
formed of earth the likeness of a shy maiden as the son of Cronos willed.
And the goddess bright-eyed Athene girded and clothed her with silvery
raiment, and down from her head she spread with her hands a broidered
veil, a wonder to see; and she, Pallas Athene, put about her head lovely
garlands, flowers of new-grown herbs. Also she put on her head a crown
of gold which the very famous Limping God made himself and worked with
his own hands as a favour to Zeus his father. On it was much curious
work, wonderful to see; for of the many creatures which the land and
sea rear up, he put most upon it, wonderful things, like living beings
with voices: and great beauty shone out from it. But when he had made
the beautiful evil to be the price for the blessing, he brought her
out, delighting in the finery which the bright-eyed daughter of a mighty
father had given her, to the place where the other gods and men were.
And wonder took hold of the deathless gods and mortal men when they
saw that which was sheer guile, not to be withstood by men."
The mythological devolution from inspirer to temptress, from shamanic
ecstacy to sexual excitement, is an infantilizing step down the psychological
ladder, equivalent to replacing spontaneous ecstatic singing with masturbation.
It's a circus trick for the laoi, 'the laity,' as the bowl below,
by Makron, c.490 BC, seems to suggest.
The pharmakon, Dionysos, was the herb eaten, sacrificed, to
satisfy the soul. The pharmakos, Pentheus, the herb's mythic double,
atavistically, psychologically, identified with the herb, became the
scapegoat sacrificed to satisfy the community, once the pharmakon was
prohibited, once the community was convinced that healing and rebirth
were second hand, not entheogenic, not sacramental, but sacrificial,
political. The psychological transition was simultaneously political,
religious and medical - none of the elements can be separated from one
The eidolon became the focus of the lost group emotion and identity,
the pharmakon athanasias, the 'medicine of immortality' to use
Ignatius'phrase. The pharmakos, the official scapegoat identified
with the pharmakon - the Slave, the Judas, the Witch, the Nigger
(a perfect pharmakos, embodying, historically, a close connection
to tribal culture), the Hippie - became the living example of what happens
to practitioners of the now prohibited shamanism. The emotive meaning,
the archetypal apprehension of the originary shamanistic imagery is
intentionally used against itself by the fascist high priesthood, the
industrial state. Much of the unconscious hostility of racism and misogyny
can be understood in terms of neurotic hostility to shamanism, that
is, to nonconformity to the official cult, emotionally misunderstood,
as intended, as a betrayal of the sacred.
"When we realize that the liknon is, as it were, a cornucopia that
for human fruit becomes a cradle, we naturally expect that, in its mystical
sense, it will be a symbol of new birth, that Liknites will be connected
with a doctrine of palingenesia, a sort of spiritual resurrection. The
Orphics had their doctrine of palingenesia, but the symbolism of the
liknon was to them mainly of purification, to which they added that
of rebirth.... It is remarkable that the liknon in this representation,
unlike those previously discussed, contains no fruits. This can scarcely,
I think, be accidental. When the artist wishes to show fruits in a sacred
vessel, he is quite able to do so, as is seen in the dish of poppy heads
held by the priest [above]..., where perspective is violated to make
the content clear. The absence of the fruits is best, I think, explained
on the supposition that the liknon is by this time mysticized. It is
regarded as the winnowing fan, the 'mystic fan of Iacchos,' rather than
as the basket of earth's fruits. It is held empty over the candidate's
head merely as a symbol of purification."
"The shift of Maenad to Muse is like the change of Bacchic rites to
Orphic; it is the informing of savage rites with the spirit of music,
order and peace....Orpheus, it has been established in the mouth of
many witnesses, modified, ordered, 'rearranged' Bacchic rites....Did
this man...in whose saintly and ascetic figure the early Church saw
the prototype of her Christ, effect nothing more vital than modification?....
In the course of the excavations on the west slope of the Acropolis....was
discovered an inscription giving in great detail the rules of a thiasos
of Iobacchoi in the time of Hadrian [117-138 CE]....and thoroughly Orphic
rather than Dionysiac are the regulations as to the peace and order
to be observed. 'Within the place of sacrifice no one is to make a noise,
or clap his hands, or sing, but each man is to say his part and do it
in all quietness and order as the priest and the Archibacchos direct.'
...if any member is riotous an official appointed by the priest shall
set against him who is disorderly or violent the thyrsos of the god.
The member against whom the thyrsos is set up, must...leave the banquet
hall....The thyrsos of the god had become in truly Orphic fashion the
sign not of revel and license, but of a worship fair and orderly."
A worship, that is, acceptable to Hadrian. As power shifted from Greece
to Rome, the Greek mysterion was replaced by its Roman synonym, sacramentum,
and the meaning changed from participatory mystery to legal oath, "solemn
engagement, caution-money deposited in a suit, military oath."(Oxford)
Thus was the thyrsos turned into a billyclub, the fennel stalk into
a crooked shepherd's crook , and the sacraments into confused symbols
not for consumption.