Intermediate Deity (Synaisthima)
God of Wine, God of the Vine, God of the Theater
Symbol: Kantharos (a drinking cup with big handles)
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Portfolio: Debauchery, devolution, insanity, theater, wine
Domains: Chaos, Luck, Madness, Music, Trickery
True Form: Dionysus appears as a virile, young man with wild, curly black hair and a think beard. He wears a white tunic often cloaked with long robe made from exotic animal furs. He alternately crowns himself with wreaths of ivy or grape leaves. He is rarely if ever, encountered without his kantharos and his staff, Thyrsus.
Perceived Form: Same as true form or as a bull-faced man with horns.
Avatar Form: As either of his perceived forms
Other Manifestations: Wild beasts,
Allies: Hephaestus, Zeus, fey creatures, drunks
Foes: Hera, politicians
Sacred Items: Wine, kantharos cup, the phallus, theater
Sacred Animals: Snakes, leopards
Sacred Plants: Grape vines, ivy, rye
Sacred Minerals: Jasper, pyrite, silver
Divine Artifact: Thyrsus (staff tipped with a pine cone and twined ivy)
Mythology: God of wine and ecstasy, Dionysus is the son of Zeus and the mortal Semele. While Semele was still pregnant, she was killed when Zeus was forced to reveal his divine presence to her, blasting her to ashes. However, Zeus was able to save the unborn infant by sewing him into his thigh until the baby was ready to be born. After the birth of Dionysus, Zeus hid him from Hera, who wanted the youth dead. When Dionysus grew into a young man, Hera recognized him, and immediately inflicted him with madness. Dionysus wandered the world, going as far as India. When he came upon the river Tigris, Zeus sent a tiger, upon whose back he crossed the river. As he traveled, he taught people how to cultivate the vine and to make wine. Satyrs and nymphs often accompanied and reveled with him in his journeys.
Dionysus often punishes those who resist his worship by causing a madness in which those afflicted fall into some sort of drunken revelry and orgy for several days. As always, some bards tell other tales that differ from the norm. When pirates captured Dionysus, they wanted to sell him into slavery. Only the helmsman recognized Dionysus as a god when the pirates could not bind him with ropes. They ridiculed the helmsman when he tried to warn them about offending a god. The pirates witnessed his divine powers as vines appeared out of nowhere and grew all over the ship, the deck awash with streams of wine. Dionysus inflicted madness upon the pirates, making them hallucinate and see wild beasts surrounding them. All the pirates save the spared helmsman jumped overboard to escape from the phantom creatures, and Dionysus changed them into dolphins.
Main Tenets of Faith: Dionysus is he who is the fair-faced child of madness and revelry. He souses us with wine and wisdom, with the clarity of drunkenness, song and forgetfulness. Patron of theater and festivity, his is the house of all rejoicing. He is the incarnate celebration, the joy and abandonment of shame and regret, the unabashed and nakedness of the soul. He is the giver of freedom from pain and self-consciousness; the sweet elixirs, the tonics of emancipation. His is the power of candor and mirth, of liveliness, of pretending and charade. His joyous cry is thunderous, he is the furious inspirer, bearer of rods and unbridled virility. He is the enigma of blissful life.
Location of Faith: Dionysus’ temples are usually small structures with several hidden rooms and passages or connected underground caverns. Most cities limit his temples and clergy. Public theater is almost exclusively run by his clergy, therefore wherever theater exists, it is assured that his followers have a foothold within the culture. His theaters are most popular in cultured cities such as Athens, Thebes, and Argos, while Sparta and other more aggressive cities appreciate his more base aspects.
Sects: One of Dionysus’ most fervent sects call themselves the maenads. The maenads are an all female sect that worship in open-air ceremonies held deep in the woods. Maenads consume a mystical wine potion that temporarily drives them into wild frenzies. What follows is an anarchic ceremony whereby the women race through the woods in self-induced madness, tearing apart any animals crossing their path. In this state the maenads cannot deduce animal from human and males who have tried to spy on their rituals are often torn apart, mistaken for wild beasts.
Responsibilities of the Clergy: The clergy of Dionysus is responsible for hosting annual theater competitions, blessing wine fields, and wine making. They have additional recipes for particularly maddening and hallucinogenic wines, which are restricted to clergy use only.
Rights of the Clergy: Clerics of Dionysus are permitted to behave drunkenly in public and to speak their minds freely as an indication of their madness without suffering penalty or stigma.
Restrictions of the Clergy: The clergy is banned from inviting the public to partake in their most sacred festivals of revelry and drunkenness, and must restrict all such acts to their clergy. At one time, all could partake, but the results created such chaos that they have since been limited.
Rituals: Dionysus’ most holy rituals are performed in absolute secrecy, however they involve extreme drunkenness to achieve the wisdom of madness. Rituals were once more public, but they became infamous for turning into chaotic and violent orgies that resulted in the occasional deaths of both priests and participants. His public celebrations are annual theater contests, which involve hours of plays, boisterous audience participation, and feasting and drinking. His festivals are held during the eighth month. Some cities still permit the priesthood to celebrate the Feast of Torches, whereby the god’s sanctuary is lit with torches throughout the night, and bowls of wine are set throughout city. Clerics of Dionysus choose their own time to pray for their spells, however they always do so over a glass of wine.
Vestments: Clerics of Dionysus dress in white tunics, usually with one or two wine stains, and like their god tend to carry drinking cups. Over the tunic, they tie cloaks made from the skins of leopards. They favor large gaudy women’s jewelry, particularly stuff that is cheap and tacky. They wear their hair and beards long and often appear unkempt. They are also infamous for not wearing undergarments.