The decade of the 850s BCE transformed into years of great agricultural harvests, the warm summers that always brought the good rains in the end. Some empires were on the move during this time too, such as the powerful Olmec city states, the Zhou Chinese feudal kingdoms, the military advances of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, and the growing naval power of the Phoenician city states along the Mediterranean.
Another city was growing too. They called themselves, Thebes, and many of the original warrior-nobles descended from some of the great pharaohs of Egypt, such as Ramses, and the great king of the rich city of Mycenae, called Midas. At least, those elites said this was true. The city also had strong fortified walls and had a high and central place on a thin strip of southern Hellas, or Greece. Its aristocrats possessed good reputations for fierce fighting – since many of them were also sexually involved with each other.
This city was also well-known for its peculiar sacraments in honor of its patron god, called Dionysus, or in the Roman name, Bacchus. The ceremonies for this god were not the typical devotions for the Greek gods, such as Apollo, Athena, Zeus, Ares-Mars and Hermes-Mercury. The supposed solemn religious services of Dionysus-Bacchus often transcended into furies of wild drinking, erotic dancing, rough eating and other sensual explorations.
His festival was during the late summer recollection of the wine fruit, the grapes, and their magical transformations into fermented joy. Men and women of public dignity could transcend into crazy barbarians. And they didn’t seem to care if these sensual transformations took place among the darkened frenzies.
Alcohol represents the most powerful and fastest working drug for personal transformation. This very strong fermented concoction contains the power to let go of mind shackles, which can lead into simple and beautiful joyousness. Alcohol’s peculiar pharmacological power explains its might and cultural influence in all world cultures and throughout world history, and even in world cultures that supposedly hate it, such as the Amerikan empire, Evangelical Christianity and Islamic fundamentalism.
But like any drug, it has its very own shackles and snares. The drug of alcohol must go with three important spirits in order for the drinker to reach his or her personal transformations towards letting go and simple joy. Alcohol has to coincide with the wonderful company of family and friends, the practices of celebration and carnival, and always have some good food to soak up the toxins that coexist with the tangy tastes of fermentation.
Around the year 405 BCE, a famous Greek tragedian, or playwright, wrote a piece called ‘The Bacchae.’ The work tells the story of King Pentheus of Thebes that tried to confront the God Dionysus who had visited his city and initiated the crazy worship dedicated to the sweet wine of excess. Pentheus tried to ban, repress, control and survey the decadence of alcohol, yet he ended up getting killed by his own mother, (while he was dressed in a woman’s costume), during the sacred rituals of overindulgence, violence and sensuality. Other ancient Greek rulers tried to ban Bacchus and his holy rites of alcohol drinking, such as King Perseus of Argos and King Lycurgus of Thracia. Like Pentheus, they all failed miserably trying to prohibit the sacred rituals associated with magical wine.
The moral of the theatrical story was clear: leave Bacchus alone, let the people enjoy themselves, don’t try to control and destroy the party – for partying represented a celebration of life, a celebration of the Dionysian spirit that has existed inside all of us.
The Roman Empire would also learn this hard historical lesson. Around the year 186 BCE, the Roman Senate, representing the Roman Republic, had enough of the night-time ceremonies, the secret initiates of drinking societies, and the excessive wildness of the Bacchanalia rites. Bacchus was one of the major Roman gods and there were statues and temples of him everywhere – but the rituals went too far.
Roman slaves acted like military commanders, and Roman women took on the roles of Roman dignitaries. The alcohol consumed during the festival flew beyond indulgence. The secretive initiation rites in order to enter the drinking societies possessed suspicious motivations. The sexual indiscretions after some hot dancing were often quite notorious. The ecstatic music of pipes and drums often brought young women into frenzies of lust and screaming. Every Bacchic celebratory season, there were always violent deaths and other nefarious acts reported. There even existed worshippers, called Bacchants, which only served Bacchus – and they even they dedicated their lives to the god through living in continual drunkenness and dissolution.
Eventually, the Senate had the Roman army exterminate the hard cores that fully lived their existences in Bacchic ecstasies. Bacchus represented an imported god from Greece, and supposedly had its origins from the Egyptians anyway. The Roman Republic destroyed some temples lest some Bacchanalia fanatics try to hide inside them under the protection of the god. New Roman laws prohibited the annual night-time conclaves of secret societies meeting outside of the city.
The Romans did value pragmatism, so they eventually allowed the annual Bacchic celebrations, but they had to support the normal rituals for the gods: sacred oblations and ceremonies in public view at the temple doors, while the rituals and music were open to the full community. The priests and musicians performed the rites both during the day and at night. About fifty years later however, the Roman Republic would disintegrate through its own orgies of violence called the Civil Wars.
And to this very actual day, world ideologies, world religions and world empires have waged a most horrible war against Bacchus. Evangelical Christianity, Psychobabble, Mormon Christianity and fundamentalist Islam still rail against the demonic drink.
But more ominously, since the beginning of the 20th century, the early 1900s, the Amerikan empire has continually waged a holy war against Bacchus and his magical fruits. Some of the more notorious examples have included, a National Prohibition Amendment against alcohol, (1920-1933), state liquor stores and liquor control boards, alcohol sin taxes, dry counties, bar closing hours, Sunday bans on selling beverages, maximum alcohol content laws for beer, banning the importation of Absinthe or the domestic production of corn liquor, raising the minimum wage to imbibe alcohol from 18 to 21, the restrictive Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, or the infamous ATF, and Surgeon Generals that continually fulminate against the drug. Finally, there is the maximum police action against alcohol, or supposedly against drunk drivers, called Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or really, the nation-wide police prohibition action against any drivers that happen to have any alcohol in their blood streams.
Millions of American citizens have lost their lives, both socially and physically, through such state institutional violence. During Prohibition, both the US and state governments purposefully poisoned sections of the ‘illegal’ alcohol supply in order to destroy lives and murder ‘disobedient and degenerate drinkers.’ The US government and state government’s war on DUIs has only helped extort great quantities of citizens’ personal finances and increase the bloated prison population, which is now the largest in the world in both real numbers and in percentage of prisoners to the general population.
Yet it is still quite dangerous to drive on the roads, and deadly accidents still happen regularly in the States. Like Pentheus and the Roman Senate of ancient history, the twisted state cycles versus alcohol are still flexing their muscles of control and legalized violence. But the six truths of history never change, so the same historical cycle has fallen upon the Amerikan empire. Violence is now endemic in American society. A few crazies even prefer the public acts of willful mass murder to any partying whatsoever.
One extreme often follows its opposite extreme. This historical truth has generally explained the attraction of some Communists for suddenly changing over to Fascist movements.
Millions of unfortunate people around the world have taken that other extreme with alcohol. They regularly drink the sacred and fermented juices into the private realms of slow and painful deaths. They drink when they rise, when bored, when they use the toilet, the shower, during work, watching TV, and even before they go to bed. Alcohol helps them pass through their pathetic lives that they truly hate. If they only were dead; instead they exist as alcoholics. Bacchus has given up on them too.
The joyful and liberating spirits of alcohol only flourish under the marvelous company of family and friends, the sensual delights of festivities and carnival, and the delightful tastes of good food. All three of these wonders of life taken together, will transform the Bacchic liquefied gift.
Alcohol opens doors into treasure lands of mental wonder and sensual adventure, and yet when easily overindulged, it is also an intoxication breathing poison, all of which drowns the mind of awareness.