A History Of Ecstasy

Nowadays,
we throw the
expression ‘ecstasy’
around pretty easily….

You see it in
movie posters,
comic books,
advertising,
social media, etc,
like it’s really not that
much of a big deal.

But in the ancient world,
— they took that dealmaenid
very seriously, indeed.

This lady ,

featured in a photograph
from 1903,

… represented a prime
example of how our
Edwardian age great-grandfathers thought
that the classical
predecessors had
defined it.

If you invited one
or two of these ladies
for an evening of fun,
you were liable to in
for more than you
might have bargained for.

But, I guess it depends
on your idea of fun, though.

She’s what they
called a “Maenad” —

— and her idea of a good time
makes anything the average
college kid on Spring Break
does look like a church picnic
with bingo following.

Actually,
it sort of was a
church picnic of sorts:

Followers of the Greek god Dionysus
(the Romans called him ‘Bacchus’) —mae

— ladies like these would
drink, dance, sing, rave
and generally carouse
to their hearts content —

during a religious rite that
has come to be called a “Bacchanalia”.

Today, when you hear that term,
you might think ‘Mardi Gras’ —

Or you might think ‘Orgy’.

And neither of those terms
would really live up to
a Maenad’s standards–

Even their name tells you something —

“Maenad” means “women in ecstasy”.

They liked to conduct their activities in the nude,
— or clothed in only
a fawn skin —

And according to Euripides,
they’d carry on like this
for days on end.

But before you start
recruiting Maenads
for your next kicky weekend,

I guess I’d better
warn you, brother —

There were NO MEN allowed.uhoh

Their rituals were open to women only.

And any man who happened
to try and crash their party was dealt with,

well, rather severely.

As in ,
— torn apart, shredded,
and eaten.

I guess when these girls
said ‘no trespassing’,
brother, they meant it.

Frazer, in the Golden Bough,
thought that the Maenads
were not only drinking heavily
at their ceremonial soirees,

— but under the influence of a powerful drug.

In all probability, that drug would have been basidiomycete —

— derived from what we today
call psychotropic mushrooms,
like the ‘Fly Amanita’.

The plant causes intensemaenad
euphoria, hallucinations,
and delirium–

very similar to the descriptions
of the Maenad’s conduct
in ancient texts, is known
to grow in that part of the world.

– and could very well
also been the mythical ‘Soma’ referenced in other materials
about ancient ceremonial drugs,
and in the Indian Rig-Vedas.

Now, of course,

I like my mythology maenad_
with more than a
smattering of smart-ass
and sex mixed in,

— but if you’re really
serious about reading
up on Greek Mythology,

I’d recommend you start
with my friend
Aquileana’s site.

.

HOY !!

.

 

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Alice Louise Jones says:

french

I bathe in the lush of the moon;
Of her shadows I weave
From my breast to my knees
a whole garment to tantalize Pan!
My mouth has the red of the adder
With sharp teeth that sting
As they close on the mouth of another.
My breasts are like great pointed bubbles
Which the hands of some wood-god have fashioned.
I wait for the beat of Pan’s hoofs
As he leaps pushing great hairy fingers to crumble the shoots
Of the vines and bushes that hide me:
Then
Spring I erect
Tossing glad swaying hands and bright shoulders,
A moment,
And then,
Fleet of foot, with wild laughter
I whirl and am gone.

A Musing

a1I’m dragging my feet tonight, I will so admit it.

( leg day, again )

Still, the blog must go on,

so I just started writing,

in the hopes that some stroke of genius will suddenly over-take me,

and I’ll end up with that ‘ all the great works of literature ‘ thing,

you know–
the one that an infinite number monkeys are supposedly capable of producing..

(hey —
I know what you’re thinking —
that we already HAVE monkeys working on this thing….. )

My mailbox is empty —
even after the weekend,
so no inspiration’s to be found there.

Oh, rats.visit

What I really need is for some beautiful Muse to appear right now outta nowhere,

…. and give me something really fun to write home about.

Yeah —
she’ll do —>

A Muse
Boy, I could use one of them right about now…

….. especially if she’s a redhead wearing a see-through-toga.

If that don’t make a man rise to the occasion,
well, I dunno what would.

Maybe I’ll spare y’all some of the more salacious details,
— when I do get back to writing, of course.

Ahem.

Muses are an interesting concept —

They were believed to have the ability to inspire one with a proficiency in a specific art or science,

—- since they themselves personified an individual discipline.

muchaThe Muses were a favorite subject of Alphonse Mucha,

and other artists of the ‘Art Nouveau’ movement,

—– so, don’t be surprised if there’s some of that on this post.

The idea of a muse is very old —

It goes back to the ancient Greeks,

who described them as the daughters of Zeus:
(the chief deity in the Greek pantheon),

and Mnemosyne
( she was the embodiment of ‘memory’).

They thought that there were nine muses altogether —

Clio was the goddess of history, inspiring visions of heroic deeds and legendary adventure — her emblem was the scroll.

Urania represented astronomy– her role was to arouse awareness of man’s place in the celestial environment, and encourage the study of the heavens. She was often represented symbolically by a globe and compasses.

aThalia was the muse of humor and natural verse–
she was thought to bring mirth and joy —
and her symbol was a comedic mask.

( She’d definitely be one of the sisters I’d invite to any wild weekend soiree I ever got to have out on the veranda at Mt. Olympus — )

…. along with Erato, the goddess of erotic writing,

(whose symbol was a stringed instrument similar to a zither) …..

And, Euterpe — the ‘giver of delight’ ,

who happened to be able to play two flutes at one time– her emblem.

There’s some dirty reference I can make, there, I’m pretty sure,

…. although the double-flute thing would be totally wasted on me…..

muse1But, in the end,

any good party has to have some music, ya know.

And where there’s music,
— there’s dance —

That’s why we’d invite their sister Terpsichore,

who always brought along her emblem, a lyre.

Despite the fact that the Greeks didn’t wear a lot to begin with,

they still appreciated a good striptease, and I’m thin…..

Ummm…

Sorry, I drifted off there, for a sec.

The great writer of such works as the Iliad and the Odyssey, Homer, was thought to have been influenced by the muse of epic poetry, Calliope– and who is usually represented by a writing tablet in pottery from the era.

museMelpomene kindled the love of pathos and tragedy in literature and plays,

(her emblem was a tragic mask)

And, Polyhymnia, whose symbol was the veil, would encourage those interested in sacred poetry and prayer.

Taken together,

dancethe 9 Muses represented all the forms of arts, literature, and science of every day Greek life.

The Romans,
who considered themselves the ‘efficiency experts’ of the ancient world,

( and like all efficiency experts–
—took all the fun and joy outta the whole thing… )

boiled the number of Muses down to three:

Melete
(muse of practice )

Mneme (memory )

and Aoide (song) .

Man, those Roman guys could ruin a co-ed communal bath.

antiqueAnyway,

you probably already realized that the word ‘museum’ is derived from the Muses,

— as is ‘amuse’

and most importantly of all, MUSIC.

So the next time you’re bored,

you might want to call upon one of the muses to inspire you

You never know where one of those wild sisters could take you.

rome

.

.

I hope you enjoyed this post —

…if you did ,
please let me know in comments or drop me an email.

HOY !!!

.

newmuses