My Comfort Zone at the End of the Vine

Recently, I started a class put on by an initiatory Dionysian group. I was curious because there were people whose writing I deeply respect involved in the group. I was curious about this class, so I requested a reading from a diviner. Her reading indicated that the god (Dionysus) has something to teach me.


So far, it’s intriguing but I’ll openly admit that I am struggling with a connection to Dionysus.


As a queer person interested in fermentation who was a theatre major in college, one would think a connection with Dionysus would be a no-brainer. But there are roadblocks for me.


While I do drink alcohol, I drink only a small amount. It’s rare that I’ll have anything more than two drinks (generally beer). Never more than three… even this is only a couple of times in a month at best. After having received a kidney transplant, I drink only in moderation.


However…to get personal, I am very uncomfortable being around drunk people. Drunk people often lose respect for boundaries. As someone who has been raped and molested, I count on those boundaries for a feeling of safety when interacting with people.


When the Quaker intentional community that I moved into 5 years ago had a very intentional alcohol policy that provided protocols for those that were not comfortable around alcohol, I was happy.


When I got hired at my unique non-profit private hotel, I was thrilled to learn that alcohol and drunkenness were expressly not allowed on the premises. (Our establishment was founded in the mid-1800s by a temperance-promoting preacher who established it as a safe house for sailors to live and stay away from the temptations of drink.)


After having worked in the industry since 2001, I’ve dealt with my share of drunk hotel guests. I loved this.


I’ve been finding comfort in being in spaces that were either conscientious about the effects of alcohol or strictly forbade it.


Dionysus, though, is not about safety. He is NOT about comfort. Maybe this need for safety around drunk people has been a crutch? I don’t know. Maybe that’s what He has to teach me.


As Neale Donald Walsch once wrote “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”.


I need to set up a shrine but I have not done so yet because I’m still struggling with forming a personal connection with Him. I have strong feelings about drunk people. Negative feelings. Fear. Anger. Not to mention the negativity I have towards male beings.

I hope this connection with Him helps me to process that. Maybe this is just what I needed.

~ by R.M. McGrath on 07/14/2017.

9 Responses to “My Comfort Zone at the End of the Vine”

  1. FWIW, Dionysos is not all about drunkenness, especially not the type you’re talking about. An obnoxious drunk is abusing the gift, not honoring the god. Dionysos even says, in one of the plays:

    “For sensible men I prepare only three kraters: one for health (which they drink first), the second for love and pleasure, and the third for sleep. After the third one is drained, wise men go home. The fourth krater is not mine any more – it belongs to bad behaviour; the fifth is for shouting; the sixth is for rudeness and insults; the seventh is for fights; the eighth is for breaking the furniture; the ninth is for depression; the tenth is for madness and unconsciousness.”

    Also, there’s a difference between violating perfectly reasonable, healthy boundaries (a bad thing) and breaking through the kind of boundaries that hold us back – Dionysos is all about the latter. Maybe your issues with this fall into that category for some reason, but I would say that I don’t think one automatically has to embrace that sort of drunkenness to understand Dionysos. Even good drunkenness is only one of His aspects, there is also the mystery of the mask, the vegetative aspect, initiation, and the penetrating, terrifying but wonderful liberation He brings (much deeper than just the freedom of intoxication).

    I’m all for getting out of one’s comfort zone and am not trying to discourage that, only adding some food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t drink, either — coffee and caffeinated teas are the only intoxicating substances I have on a regular basis, and (arguably) chocolate, which also has psychoactive effects. Alcohol’s cognitive effects just make me anxious because I am hyper-aware of my brain slowing down, and I don’t like it. I offer incense or grape kombucha.

    I think that one of the things you’ll run into in any setting where most people are devoted to a specific god (or one of a set of gods) is that they will emphasize pieces you might not. A god can be everything to a devotee, but to someone who knows lim less well, a god won’t. 😄 As a devotee of Hermes, the Mousai, Mnemosyne, Apollon, Athene, and the Erinyes, the ways I view Dionysos are going to be very different from someone whose devotional practices are less oriented towards the gods who help stories come into being — and the ways I will come into contact with his myths are often in contexts where the gods I worship closely are major players.

    With Dionysos, I tend to think about his associations with the form of tragic poetry and the dithyramb a bit more. If you want a good read about something under Dionysos’ purview, I recommend Lattimore’s work on story-patterns in Greek tragedy. It was very eye-opening for me.

    Of course, this is the exact recommendation that someone focused on the gods I recommended above would give you, so take it with a grain of salt. 😅 There are bindings and liberations that are not tied to wine. I’d recommend connecting with the god’s epithets and estates to investigate something that draws you.


    • “exact recommendation that someone focused on the gods I DESCRIBED above”

      (Someone is still drinking her coffee. LMAO.)


    • “I offer incense or grape kombucha.”

      Just because you don’t want to drink alcohol (totally reasonable) doesn’t mean the gods should not receive Their preferred offerings. I don’t actually drink much myself due to health issues (ironically, for a Dionysian), but I still offer wine to my gods, especially to Dionysos. I’ve seen this particular approach a lot in polytheism but it doesn’t make any sense to me – not all offerings have to be shared, and our own preferences shouldn’t affect what we give to the gods.


      • I understand where you’re coming from. I’ll note that I often do try getting wine for the Anthesteria, but that depends on what the ice storms are like in February.

        One of the things that is important to me about the sponde practice is that a portion is offered, and the remaining is split among the practitioners. I find that elegant and valuable for kharis relationships. Something I didn’t mention is that wines in particular fubar my digestive system, and as someone with an autoimmune disorder, that’s really not something I should be doing — so I’m grateful in some ways that I don’t like alcohol. Kombucha is mildly alcoholic, grape kombucha contains a plant sacred to him, and it lets me do proper spondes without bringing anxiety-induced miasma into ritual.


      • I give Him grape juice, or He gets nothing at all. He’s never had a problem with it, and I don’t see why a god – Who is LITERALLY GRAPES – is going to get put out by not getting wine as an offering.

        I have nothing else to give Him, and I am wholly unable to reconcile being forced to give an offering I am not comfortable with.

        I could give Hades blood, for example, but not being comfortable with that, I won’t. Would you?

        A god that can’t respect boundaries is not a god worthy of worship, period. A devotee who is unhappy and stressed is not a pleasant devotee.

        I don’t understand your way of doing things, but I would never have the hubris to order you around about it. Do not presume to tell anyone how they practice isn’t good enough.


  3. I’m with Kaye on this one.

    I have worked with Dionysus in the past, and He actually helped with with my fear of drunkenness and alcoholism. I still have the unopened bottle of wine from that time, and I now use vodka as mouthwash (I don’t drink it, as I truly don’t like ingesting poisons knowingly). In actuality, I don’t drink at all.

    I just have a statue of Him and I try to help take care of my mom’s creepy ancient ivy plant. Thing’s older than I am! If I leave an offering, it’s grape juice.

    He was there for me, too, when I found out I was intersex.

    There’s more, but it’s private.


    • I don’t have to say this, but I will.

      The wine will only be opened at a specific time in the very far future, and it’s a tiny bottle of expensive vodka that use purely because of the agony I have been living through sith my teeth. It is part of ritual, worship of self and progress, to give to a god would be pissing on the point.


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