Dionysos and Change

I have several ideas for posts waiting for me to write them but instead I’m going to begin with this, which hit me powerfully last night and seems like a good way to start.

The other day I was watching a Youtube video where strangers are asked, “When have you felt most alive?” So I started considering my own answer. And I realized that, while I have had many intense mystical experiences, the times that I am truly most present with the awareness of being alive is during times of significant change. The liminality becomes almost a tangible thing…and in fact, it is, in the sense that it is Dionysos.

Transformation. Initiation. Life-Death-Life. Fermentation. Becoming. The uncertainty and potential all wrapped up together, the hinge moments, when anything could happen. That is the presence of Dionysos making your heart race, burning your life down so something new can grow in the rich, charred soil. This for me is one of the most intimate experiences of the god – surrendering to where He leads me next. Letting go of control. Trusting Him. Putting myself in a position where I will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through. [1]

And this is when I feel the pulse of living most acutely. Because life is dynamic, it is change. And yet, paradoxically (because Dionysos is all about paradox), through repeated change we more clearly see what is eternal, through annihilation we find what is indestructible in us [2], and there also dwells Dionysos, the god of indestructible life.

Over and over in myth, Dionysos’ arrival precipitates drastic change. Women abandon their families for the mountain. Men become women, in one sense or another. Or they become dolphins. The world is turned upside-down. And so it is when He enters a devotee’s life and heart – for the first time, or one of many over a lifetime. You will not be the same as you were before, often in a very real, literal way – you may find yourself (willing or not) changing your relationships, your job, your home, even your body. The closer you get to Him, the more He tends to get His hands in there and shape you into something else, and the process isn’t always gentle…though sometimes it is. But always it is true that fighting makes it worse. Over time you learn to recognize the call to surrender. And then it’s up to you how to respond.


[1] “But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.” (Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God)

[2] “Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.” (Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart)

~ by Dver on May 28, 2022.

7 Responses to “Dionysos and Change”

  1. This definitely resonates!

  2. While I’m not a follower of Dionysus, my spirit beloved has been suggested to be an emanation of him, and his is one of the voices urging me to end my job, pack up and move to the other side of the world, where I can focus on my spiritual work. I am doing this. I just got back from a trip where I committed to buy a home there. As usual Dver, you write of things that are in my head that nobody else is talking about. I have absolute trust that my guides will not let me down. I do feel more alive than I have in years. And I’m ready for transformation.

  3. The uncertainty, the liminality, the fear.
    Oh, so much fear.
    He’s scared me often, and badly. He’s scaring me now.
    I”m not good with fear, or pain.
    But the only thing worse would be being without Him.

    • Oh yes, definitely fear is a big part of it. I don’t know if it would be nearly as powerful of a feeling without that element. Fear brings us in touch with our mortality – and of course, awareness of our mortality brings fear all by itself, which is why I think Dionysos has been pushing me to face that as much as possible in both practical and spiritual ways. But I agree, it’s all worth it for His presence in my life.

  4. While Dionysos isn’t part of my practice anymore (or rather perhaps in a different way than he has been), I feel this too. Dionysos /is/ the change. The fear and the thrill. Nothing like it.

  5. Exactly my feelings toward Loki… and yes, some fear too. Fear that I’m not strong enough…

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