Warning: Drinking, especially in excess, can be harmful to your health and potentially fatal. The information given here is theological in nature and meant to be informative. It is not meant as a suggestion or actual ritual, especially since it is potentially fatal. The reader is urged only to drink responsibly.
Bacchus is also known as Dionysus and Iacchus. All of these names are Greek in origin and refer to the same god. Some misinformed people have spread the fact that Bacchus was the Roman god of wine who was eventually associated with the Greek god Dionysus. That’s untrue. The Roman god of wine was Liber. Bacchus is just another name that was eventually given to Dionysus.
Many people associated Bacchus as the Greek god of wine. Greek mythology does say that Bacchus both gave people the grape vine and the instructions to turn it into wine. But Bacchus was also worshipped long before the invention of wine. Many people don’t realize this, but Bacchus was a god of creation and a major deity, comparable in both perceived power and renown to Zeus.
Bacchus was not initially a Greek god, he came from the east, but he was so revered that he was eventually worshiped as one of the olympians. Initially he would have been considered at the top of a pantheon, much like Zeus was in Greek mythology, and he was often spoken of as the most powerful god. In many ways he’s in opposition with Zeus. Where as Zeus’s throne is on high on mount Olympus, Bacchus’s thrown is down low in the valleys.
Bacchus is also a god who started as a man and later ascended into godhood. Many of Bacchus’s myths speak of him as first being a man, and later becoming a god, and even having made his mortal mother into a goddess.
In addition to being a God of wine and creation, Bacchus is also a god of spring, a chthonic deity, am god of forgetfulness, a god of lost inhibitions, and a god of resurrection. In addition to his standing in Greek religion, he was also the primary deity in both the Bacchian and Orphic mysteries, Greek mystical cults which were primarily concerned with immortality.
You may have noticed that there seem to be a lot of common features between Bacchus and Jesus Christ. This has caused some to speculate that Christ may have actually been a priest of Bacchus or may have studied the Bacchian mysteries at some point.
The myth of Bacchus being a god of spring is very similar to the much better known Demeter-Persephone myth. Bacchus is the god of creation and the god of spring. He makes everything grow. Once a year he dies and everything that he made grow begins to die too. Later he is resurrected, and then the plants and flowers all bloom again.
At least in the earlier myths, Bacchus would rule the world for half the year. Then he would die and rule the underworld for half the year. Some myths have Bacchus initially dying in order to retrieve his mother so he could bring her to the heavens and make her into a goddess. His ability to resurrect himself, and others, is how he became so central to the Bacchian and Orphic mysteries.
Bacchus was also a god of forgetting, and it’s drinking from his cup which causes us to forget our past lives when we reincarnate.
Lastly Bacchus is a god of losing our inhibitions. He has always associated himself with uninhibited creatures, from the sexual nymphs and sayters to the almost feral maenads to the beast of the forests and even drunken men.
So it’s no surprise that Bacchus is the god of wine, something that brings about both forgetfulness and a loss of inhibitions. But it also does one other thing, it lets us experience resurrection. And that would be the rite of Bacchus that I’m about to explain.
The Rite of Bacchus
Properly done the rite would have some symbolic ritual added, especially praise towards Bacchus at the beginning and end. However I’m not writing an actual ritual because, as I said, actually doing this can be harmful to your health and potentially fatal. However the ritual basically consists of drinking to the point of being completely smashed, something I’m sure most of us have done at least once, and it’s best not to let it get too bogged down in silly ritual. Especially since you’re going to be too drunk to do much planned ritual work anyways.
Stage 1: Death – The first stage, death, happens when you first start to drink the wine. This is the poison you’re taking into your body, and you’re killing yourself.
Stage 2: Entering the Underworld – This stage begins when you first start to feel the alcohol working, and even a little afterwards. For most of us this is usually a slightly euphoric and happy feeling. These are the happy, tranquil, and carefree parts of the underworld. Most people drink to find this happy state. If you’re really upset or angry though, you may not get he euphoria. In fact this may even be unpleasant for you. The same is true for where you end up when you die.
Stage 3: Catharsis – This is the stage where we get drunk enough that our inhibitions start to go. This is when a guy who is normally shy around women obscenely hits on the hottest woman in the bar, and this is the point we’re that’s enough for her to sleep with him. This is when a thirty year old man will start screaming at his parents because they never loved him, and then finally come out of the closet to them. It’s the point where we lose some of our inhibitions.
I would hope that most of us are mature enough and handle our liqueur well enough that we don’t have any major incidents, even if our inhibitions do become a little loose. It’s called self-control and you can do it when drunk. Bacchus however would like us to just give into it and completely loose our inhibitions. Look at the Maenads. They ripped apart living creatures and ate the raw flesh, sometimes even unknowingly committing cannibalism. I also know of similar rituals like this where the entire group ends up stripping naked and engaging in a bisexual animalistic orgy.
Of course most of us have moral and ethical reasons, not to mention the legal ramifications, for not completely loosing all of our inhibitions. Often times a ritual like this may be done in a group where all members are participating and aware of what might happen so that no one is intentionally hurt and everyone is willing to accept whatever might happen.
Still losing ones inhibitions isn’t just about primal orgies and cannibalism. If that’s what happens whenever you lose your inhibitions, you probably have some serious issues and should see a mental health care professional about those.
Losing your inhibitions can be something as simple and sweet as telling someone that you’ve had a crush on for the last year how you really feel about them. It can be breaking down and crying because of something horrible that once happened to you. It can be getting angry and yelling and screaming. It can be calling your parents on the phone and, in a drunken stupor, telling them the reason why you aren’t married yet is because you’re gay. It can be sleeping with a random stranger just because you’re lonely and you want someone to touch you right now.
The point of this stage is to get beyond whatever has been holding back your growth and hurting you. It can be these negative emotions bottled up inside of you. It can be telling someone how you really feel about them. It can be doing something you’ve always really wanted to do, or being the person you’ve always really wanted to be, but never had the courage to.
If you were truly dead, you wouldn’t want to be dead forever. And if you were going to reincarnate, you would eventually have to get over all those things that plagued you in life that you never managed to get over in life. This is essentially you getting rid of your baggage so that you can reincarnate with a fresh slate. Granted this is a rite of resurrection, but we’re still going through the entire death process. We’re essentially cheating, getting all of the benefits of death without having to die.
And if you’ll notice those who have resurrected, like Bacchus, Christ, Orpheus, and Herakles, all went on to become gods at some point afterwards. They were able to do this at least partly because the death and resurrection spiritually cleaned them. It took the poison that had built up over a lifetime out of their souls and let them come back clean and pure.
Is that to say that you’ll be a few steps from divinity after a bender? No. For one it’s a symbolic resurrection and you didn’t actually come back from the dead. Even if you did though, you still might not be a few steps from divinity. A lot of people even reincarnate only partially cleansed. A lot of people are still dealing with psychological issues and unfinished business from past lives.
So what’s the point of this ritual then? If you were actually resurrected, and you did it right, you would be completely cleaned of all those things you would hang on to, whether it’s something that’s hurting your soul or an obstacle that is preventing your personal growth. This ritual is not powerful enough to do all of that. But it can do some of it. It can most definitely do one thing. It might even do several things. And I’m not even saying you’ll be able to pick what those things are. But it’s something that makes you a little bit better and a little bit stronger. And you get to feel what a resurrection feels like.
Stage 4: The Journey Back To Life – This is the point where you get really drunk. When your memory gets foggy and you start to have some black outs. When you’re barely able to walk and move and control yourself. This is usually the point where you have to stop drinking, if for no other reason than you lack the motor skills to get the wine in your mouth.
There’s really not too much to say about this stage. It’s symbolic of getting to the stream of life, the place where reincarnation happens, which also tends to make a person get forgetful about things.
Stage 5: The Resurrection – When you wake up sick, with your head pounding, your throat completely dry, your stomach turned every which way, all your muscles sore, your body covered in mysterious cuts and bruises, and maybe even lying in a pile of vomit, congratulations you’ve been resurrected.
It may not feel exactly like this, but this is a good representation of what a resurrection feels like. Most people think you come back to life in some perfect state. No. You’re brought back to an inch of your life, right before you died. Not only that, but your body’s been decaying for some length of time too, which can’t be all that good.
Bacchus doesn’t come back to life in the middle of spring when everything is alive and growing. He comes back to life during the Winter Solstice, when everything is still in a state of death and decay, and he has to rejuvenate himself. Even Christ came back to life with all of his wounds from the crucifixion (which is how he proved to Thomas that he was truly resurrected).
During this stage you’re also going to start to rejuvenate yourself. Slowly you will get better bit by bit and the hang-over will go away. I don’t have anything else to say about this stage, except that resurrections are painful.
Stage 6: Rejuvenation and Realization – This is the stage when the hang-over is finally gone and you feel 100% again. You are now back to your normal, regular self having died and come back to life.
Except you aren’t your normal regular self, at least the normal regular you that you were. Back in stage 3, you hard a catharsis. You got something out of your system and did something you’ve always wanted to do. You’ve changed. You’re different, you’re better, you’re purer. You’ve gotten beyond some obstacle that held you back. And that’s really the main point of the ritual.
If you’re really lucky though, you may have an Epiphany too. After everything you experienced last night, you may come to some realization about things or some better understanding. It’s great if it happens, but it won’t always happen.