In a conversation today, transformative experiences (and the psychology research and philosophy behind them) came up. I mentioned Damascius and some of the stuff he says about Dionysos. (Even though I have not actually read Damascius’ full discussion of the Phaedo, I’ve gleaned enough by now to have seen what people say about it and thus be dangerous in public.)
Learning about Dionysos in the context of Platonism was, to be honest, transformative for me. (See this tweet series by Edward Butler and this academic article by Graeme Miles.) I’m not sure I would go so far as to call it a transformative experience, definitely not in comparison to May 2019, but acquiring this bit of knowledge contextualized things and taught me to look at aspects of my religious practice that I could be doing better — a nudge, if one may call it that, out of error and towards correct understanding.
I continued thinking about this off and on, and on the bus ride home — and again over the slippery sidewalks — I started to synthesize things together.
Fragments of poetry. Things about time and space. Things fleeting and permanent.
I thought about supernovae and Type O stars, about how the light we can see visibly from them is dark in comparison to the peak of their curve (in the blue and ultraviolet), and the claustrophobic visual sensation of going from high lighting to low lighting where nothing feels visible even when one can see. Saturnalia. Heliogenna. The dark, restless time of the year. How all of the complex things we see — for the most part — were generated in violent early supernovae, and the stars that gave birth to our matter are husks or black holes. I thought about early Earth and the primordial sea, of lightning and Zeus of the bright bolt, of horned Persephonê, of the first spark of life and the first things alive to draw down breath.
A symbol came to mind. Lightning, sphere — the new moon, the sun in eclipse, the black hole remnants of the ones responsible for our bodies, the midnight Sun of the Mysteries — and the tetractys, which had to be yellow like a honeycomb. Lightning, in honor of Zeus and of horned Persephonê, which — as I tried not to fall on ice in the half-darkness of city streets — I realized admittedly looked like the Taurus symbol, which evoked Dionysos.
I got home and made it in PowerPoint, which (in my humble opinion) is the new Paint. And I’m nearly certain someone else must have made something like this, but a cursory Internet search does not turn up anything, so there we go.
I also don’t know if it looks better with the symbol flush or centered, and I’m not sure I’m a fan of the blue lightning bolts even if the color blue evokes hot stars.
I also don’t know what purpose it serves beyond being a useful visual mnemonic for things I’m reading in Platonism and how such things pull from and touch on myths, Orphic and otherwise, and Pythagorean things. It definitely has something to do with embodiment or return.
But enjoy, and tell me what you think in the comments. 😅