Dancing and Nonduality

By Chiara Baldini

The Cult of Dyonisus & His Radically Ambiguous Followers

More than two thousand years ago, a series of cults were rapidly spreading across Greece and the whole ancient western world, mingling shamanic techniques of ecstasy of prehistoric origin with the newly born philosophic discourse. These cults, known as the Mystery Religions, brought a much-needed wave of fresh air to those who could not find any spiritual meaning in the Olympian religion, allowing for a real transformation of consciousness in the initiates. These practices, and the value-system associated to them, triggered a new religious and cultural movement able to join people from different origins, reconnect them with the ecstatic dimension of spirituality and the paradoxical nature of reality.

Chiara follows the cult of Dionysus along its evolutionary trajectory and explores the social, spiritual and political outcomes of ecstatic group rituals. Who was Dionysus, what did he represent? Which consciousness-altering techniques were used to induce a sense of being possessed by the god of ecstasy himself? How did the political authorities react to a religion that held ego-dissolution and radical ambiguity at the height of its spiritual practice?
 

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