Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy Lesser Dionusia, I got you a kitten. It’s a kind of “Crazy Cat Lady” starter kit…


Last evening Monsieur Moose and I had the pleasure of spending several hours in the company of a few friends for a few games of Whist, imbibe in general social intrigue and to enjoy a few bottles of Richebourg Domaine de la Romanee-Conti '78.
The importance of this vintage was matched by the atmosphere in which it was consumed. Dimly lit and slightly smoky from a thousand candles reflected in centuries old polished surfaces, the colors in the sumptuously appointed parlor being deep claret, Venetian red with a hint of burnt umber and eggplant, a room that looked like something … clotted, in need of a bandage, anyway, quiet conversations were punctuated by the occasional outburst of laughter that pierced the air like the peal of a bell and an ambient atmospheric static of the strains of a string quartet or some muted peasant rabble mumbling wafting from over the parapet or drifting in from other rooms adding subtly to the scene.
For some time the subject matter did not center so much around quipping, as it did plotting. (Isn't there a saying that goes something like, "Revenge is a dish best served with a platter of cucumber sandwiches and some delicate ladyfingers"? Maybe it was "Nipples of Venus" truffles...) The subject turned when I nonchalantly removed the jewelry from around my throat, -an 18th century Russian gold cross on one of Papa's Victorian watch chains- and tossed it onto the neck of an empty bottle in front of us. Monsieur Moose smiled and said in his arch manor, "What is it with you and those crucifixes?" Lady June added "The answer is, our deah Cornichon simply likes looking at them because he enjoys seeing a good man suffering, non?" As the room reeled with laughter, I simply smiled thinly, and removing my pince-nez, I inclined my head and glared at them down my rather equestrian nose as an answer.

We talked ad nauseum until the approach of dawn about the blatant plagiarism of the early Catholic church, and it's penchant for picking and choosing different pagan customs and beliefs to appeal to potential converts- i.e. a savior born to a virgin that will absolve our sins and all that- and although I am all for celebrating any holiday that has a "wish list", (mine includes a McLaren Roadster -in Lily Pulitzer pink and green please- with a color coordinated Les Baer 1911 to match, a real barrel of monkeys and Charlotte Bronte's Dollhouse) with the ending of the year and the winter solstice tip-toeing up from the rear I thought it would be appropriate to chat about some of the other belief systems that make up the divine le monde de Cornichon.
Some of my nearest and dearest are non Judeo-Christians, so I also thought it would be nice if I would give them a shout out- so here it is- (holla)
So, from today, a calendar of events until the first of the year...

(ASATRU is Norse/Germanic paganism and HELLENISM is Word used to express the assimilation, especially by the Jews, of Greek speech, manners, and culture, from the fourth century B.C. through the first centuries of the common era.)
8th December, Lesser Dionusia:
HELLENISM The Lesser or "Country Dionusia" is a festival of Dionysus. Although celebrated around this time, it does not hold a fixed date, instead each village choose the date as best accorded them each year. All members of society take part in this celebration, including slaves, so it was certainly a rather large event. Plutarch tells us that this was an elaborate event comprising of a procession of wine, baskets of raisins, someone leader a he-goat and a people carrying a large erect wooden phallus pole that was decorated with ivy and fillets. During these celebrations a singer would also be present who would sing the Phallikon (the Phallus Song).

9th December - Yule 9 - Day of Remembrance for Egil Skallagrimsson:
ASATRU Egil Skallagrimsson was a notable character in Norse tales. He was a fierce warrior, a healer, a poet and a sorcerer. Egil diligently worshipped Odin and indeed, he was very similar to this God of battle and magic. In his life Egil acquired a large family, great repute and amassed considerable treasure. In many ways he is revered as an example to many modern ASATRU and as such he is remembered on this day.
21th December - Yule 21 - Mother Night:
ASATRU With blot, Sumbel and High Feast, this night marks the turn of the year as Sunna returns. This is the birth of the New Year and celebrations are held in honour of Freyr and Thor, who will continued to be honoured through to the High Feast of Yule.

21st December, Yule - Winter Solstice:
CELTIC, DRUIDRY, WICCA At this time the Sun is at its lowest point, as today is the shortest day of the year. Thusly, after today the days begin to lengthen once more. At this time the Wiccan God is reborn once more and kept cradled in the arms of the Goddess. Medieval literature indicates a similar theme among the Celts in the birth of the "Child of Light" who is still called by the name Mabon. However, we are able to trace practiced that are older than this that still influence our modern customs. This time of year saw many communal activities that may well have spanned for as long as three weeks, rather than being situated on this specific date. Among these activities were sporting events, games, musical performances, divination, hunting and feasting. Perhaps the most recognizable custom though, is the burning of the Yule Log, which originated in Germanic customs, but soon found its way into many Celtic communities. However, just like in ancient times, this observance remains restricted to only a small group of Celtic practitioners.

22nd December - Yule 22 - High Feast of Yule:
ASATRU This great feast marks the start of the Runic New Year. Continuing from Mother Night, this time is held as sacred to Freyr and Thor.
24th December, Haloa:
HELLENISM Honouring the Goddess Demeter, this agriculture festival is marked by the threshing of flour. This is essentially a fertility celebration and a damned good way to close our Hellenic Calendar year. As with other rites of Demeter, it would begin by being celebrated by women only. They would attend a large feast and dance about the phallus pole and left offerings at its base. Later in the night, when the women were done, men would be admitted into the feast and a great revelry would be held, along with a large orgy that would continue for the rest of the night.
31st December - Yule 31 - Twelfth Night:
ASATRU This day brings to a close the Twelve Days of Yule, which are seen as a minature scale of the entire year. At this time oaths for the New Year are struck, either sworn on your Hammer or upon Freyr's boar. (FYI, for info on ASATRU- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%81satr%C3%BA )

And now for your consideration, a poem, courtesy of Aleister Crowley and recited at said recent salon by your own dear le Cornichon to much adulation and appreciatiative toasting thereafter...

THE ALTAR OF ARTEMIS

There, in the coppice, oak and pine
And mystic yew and elm are found,
Sweeping the skies, that grew divine
With the dark wind's despairing sound,
The wind that roars from the profound,
And smites the mountain-tops, and calls
Mute spirits to black festivals,
And feasts in valleys iron-bound,
Desolate crags, and barren ground;--
There in the strong storm-shaken grove
Swings the pale censer-fire for love.
The foursquare altar, roughly hewn,
And overlaid with beaten gold,
Stands in the gloom; the stealthy tune
Of singing maidens overbold
Desires mad mysteries untold,
With strange eyes kindling, as the fleet
Implacable untiring feet
Weave mystic figures manifold
That draw down angels to behold
The moving music, and the fire
Of their intolerable desire.
For, maddening to fiercer thought,
The fiery limbs requicken, wheel
In formless furies, subtly wrought
Of swifter melodies than steel
That flashes in the fight: the peal
Of amorous laughters choking sense,
And madness kissing violence,
Ring like dead horsemen; bodies reel
Drunken with motion; spirits feel
The strange constraint of gods that clip
From Heaven to mingle lip and lip.
The gods descend to dance; the noise
Of hungry kissings, as a swoon,
Faints for excess of its own joys,
And mystic beams assail the moon,
With flames of their infernal noon;
While the smooth incense, without breath,
Spreads like some scented flower of death,
Over the grove; the lover's boon
Of sleep shall steal upon them soon,
And lovers' lips, from lips withdrawn,
Seek dimmer bosoms till the dawn.
Yet on the central altar lies
The sacrament of kneaded bread,
With blood made one, the sacrifice
To those, the living, who are dead--
Strange gods and goddesses, that shed
Monstrous desires of secret things
Upon their worshippers, from wings
One lucent web of light, from head
One labyrinthine passion-fed
Palace of love, from breathing rife
With secrets of forbidden life.
But not the sunlight, nor the stars,
Nor any light but theirs alone,
Nor iron masteries of Mars,
Nor Saturn's misconceiving zone,
Nor any planet's may be shown,
Within the circle of the grove,
Where burn the sanctities of love:
Nor may the foot of man be known,
Nor evil eyes of mothers thrown
On maidens that desire the kiss
Only of maiden Artemis.
But horned and huntress from the skies,
She bends her lips upon the breeze,
And pure and perfect in her eyes,
Burn magical virginity's
Sweet intermittent sorceries.
When the slow wind from her sweet word
In all their conchéd ears is heard.
And like the slumber of the seas,
There murmur through the holy trees
The kisses of the goddess keen,
And sighs and laughters caught between.
For, swooning at the fervid lips
Of Artemis, the maiden kisses
Sobs and the languid body slips
Down to enamelled wildernesses.
Fallen and loose the shaken tresses;
Fallen the sandal and girdling gold,
Fallen the music manifold
Of moving limbs and strange caresses,
And deadly passion that possesses
The magic ecstasy of these
Mad maidens, tender as blue seas.
Night spreads her yearning pinions,
The baffled day sinks blind to sleep;
The evening breeze outswoons the sun's
Dead kisses to the swooning deep.
Upsoars the moon; the flashing steep
Of Heaven is fragrant for her feet;
The perfume of the grove is sweet
As slumbering women furtive creep
To bosoms where small kisses weep,
And find in fervent dreams the kiss
Most memoried of Artemis.
Impenetrable pleasure dies
Beneath the madness of new dreams;
The slow sweet breath is turned to sighs
More musical than many streams
Under the moving silver beams,
Fretted with stars, thrice woven across.
White limbs in amorous slumber toss,
Like sleeping foam, whose silver gleams
On motionless dark seas; it seems
As if some gentle spirit stirred,
Their lazy brows with some swift word.
So, in the secret of the shrine,
Night keeps them nestled, so the gloom
Laps them in waves as smooth as wine,
As glowing as the fiery womb
Of some young tigress, dark as doom,
And swift as sunrise.
Love's content Builds its own monument,
And carves above its vaulted tomb
The Phoenix on her fiery plume,
To their own souls to testify
Their kisses' immortality.

All that prose has left me parched, how about a refreshing libation -or two...
Dionusians Dangereux
1/2 oz benedictine herbal liqueur
1/3 oz Galliano herbal liqueur
2/3 oz apricot brandy
2/3 oz triple sec
1 tsp Mandarine Napoleon orange liqueur
1/2 oz Amaretto Di Saronno liqueur
1 oz double cream
1 oz orange juice
Blend briefly with three-quarters of a glassful of crushed ice. Serve in a double-cocktail glass garnished with a slice of orange speared with a cherry.

Blessed be (a bit vitriolic)
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zeitgeist, particular friend, perky libertine, animated trickster, iconoclast, rabble-rouser, object of worship, provocateur, capricious damp enchantress, idiosyncratic beloved reptile, whimsical saucy booze hound, bellwether, luminary, stoic, pensive illicit paramour, aloof, engaged, intuitive, curious, perplexing deranged mastermind, passionate, lasciviously adored offspring, amorous, sultry flamboyant charioteer, scholar, scribe, exalted thespian, voracious, considerable chieftain, impaired, cynical colleague, dreamer, procrastinator, loathsome glutton, artist, oppressed peasant, dainty heathen, narcissist, self-loathing...renaissance man