Dionysus, also known as Bacchus in Roman mythology, is the God of winemaking, wine, and ecstasy. He is a rather boisterous God, as he is not afraid to get drunk and go wild. His teachings encouraged people to let themselves go, using drinks to show their true selves. This earned him the title of party god. But despite his wild nature, Dionysus was a well-respected god, best honored during Mabon. How can such a wild God be respected during a crucial Sabbat? Well, it’s due to his partying nature that he plays such a vital role at Mabon. Let us learn more of his lore, how he is worshipped today, and why he is prayed to during Mabon.
Dionysus’s homeland is believed to be somewhere in Thrace or modern Bulgaria. His father is Zeus, and his mother is a mortal woman named Semele. As the lore goes, Zeus had fallen in love with Semele and visited her under cover of night, so his true form stayed hidden. Semele could tell that her lover was a God, but she was not sure which God he was. Eventually, these nightly affairs ended with Semele getting pregnant. Zeus’s wife, Hera, learned of this infidelity, and she became enraged. Hera overheard Semele wondering which God was her lover and how to ask him about it. Hera took this opportunity to get her revenge. She disguised herself as a beggar woman and convinced Semele to ask Zeus to reveal his true self. On Zeus’s next visit, Semele requested one wish that he swore on the River Styx he had to make true. She asked for Zeus to show his true form, and though he didn’t want to, he revealed his true lightning form, causing Semele to burn to a crisp. Zeus was able to save the unborn Dionysus, but since he was too young to be born, Zeus cut open his thigh and stitched Dionysus into it until he was ready to be born. Since Dionysus was born from Zeus, that made him a god.
Hera was still jealous of Dionysus and planned to kill him via the Titans. They lured him away using toys and tore him to pieces. But thanks to Rhea, he was brought back to life. To keep him safe, Zeus sent him to be raised by nymphs in the mountains.
Dionysus had a goal to become one of the 12 Olympians. His goal caused an uproar amongst the Gods since the positions were already filled. A war nearly broke out, but Hestia decided to step down from her seat so Dionysus could take her seat. The Gods then accepted Dionysus, even the jealous Hera.
Once a full-fledged God, he took a mortal woman, Ariadne, as his wife and had ten children with her. When she passed, he saved her from the Underworld and made her a part of the constellation Corona.
While Dionysus was being raised by the nymphs, he discovered his ability to cultivate grapes and make wine. Some lore says this was a natural ability. Other lore says that, as a young man, he fell in love with a satyr named Ampelos, who met an early death. His body transformed into a grapevine where Dionysus made the first wine. He traveled the world, showing others how to grow grapes, make wine, and enjoy the merry drink.
Since he had been brought back to life twice, he became one of the few Gods that could travel safely to the Underworld. He used this power to bring his mother back. He bribed Persephone with a gift of myrtle to release his mother. After facing off with Death itself, he was able to bring his mother back to Mount Olympus.
Dionysus never harms anyone directly, instead triggering insanity in them, so they injure or kill themselves. He can decide to heal mental illnesses and save people from madness. But anger him, and he can make you an alcoholic, which is something he can heal should he decide to.
Dionysus, Mabon, and How to Worship Him
Since Dionysus is known as the God of wine, that means he represents both the merriment and drunk induced anger wine can cause. His balanced sides make him essential to Mabon since Mabon focuses on bringing balance as it is the middle harvest. His actions have also earned him the title as the God of drunken madness, which, odd as it seems, also fits the theme of Mabon. Witches can express themselves more during Mabon, forget the laws and rules of society, and just enjoy life. Dionysus oversees the actions of his followers and joins in on the fun or controls those who let themselves go too far. His control over his two sides is a strong model followed during Mabon and is worshipped so others can feel the same during the middle harvest. Witches can put out offerings of wine, seasonal foods, or crafts they have created to show Dionysus they respect him and his power and request that he join them in their festivities. So long as people are respectful of each other during their celebration, Dionysus will not have a reason to stop the festivities.
Dionysus allowed his followers to let loose and act upon the freedom that his wine provided. While he could bring joy one moment, he also had the power to slip into a brutal rage. He is a living embodiment of the two sides of drinking wine. Thanks to this balance of emotion, he fits perfectly in the balancing of Mabon. He doesn’t need much to be worshipped, but you should be prepared to join him in his partying ways should you call him to join you during Mabon. If you please him, then you’ll have a powerful ally on your side. Get out there and set an altar in his honor. Be prepared to enjoy his partying side so that your harvest will be as bountiful as his joy during Mabon.