Of Poison and Ivy: A Forest Path to Dionysos

Early last week, I decided to commune with Dionysos during my nightly dream time. So, just before bed, I anointed myself with the Oil of Yggdrasil (since renamed Oil of the World Tree) from Forest Grove Botanica, cast a circle using the method common in my coven’s tradition, invoked Dionysos, and slipped into trance (long before sleep could take hold). As the trance state befell me, I found myself on a deep forest path lined on either side with tall, wide trees covered in deep green moss. Around and between the trees were large vibrant plants in all shades of green. I noted the shapes and rich color but above all, their size. These plants were clearly larger than they would be in the waking world.

As I walk the path before me and my trance deepens, the diverse green plants begin to glow with a pale gold-white aura and their intoxicating smell arrests my attention. I become more and more giddy with each step past a plant, with each curve in the winding path. My heartbeat slows. My coordination starts to fade and I realize that I am intoxicated. This is the poison path, where deadly plants dwell and where it leads I do not know. I inhale deeply. I touch the plants, look at them closely, and become giddier still. It’s harder to walk now but I do not stop to rest. I push through the urge to lie among the plants. Ahead I notice a rock at the base of one of the mighty trees and near it a plant that I wish to breathe in. I walk toward it and as I bend down, a snake sinks its fangs into my skin. Doubly poisoned. I do not recoil because there is no need, the snake has already released me and slipped into the forest away from the path.

The pain is short lived and soon all I feel again is a strange giddiness that will not be undone. Periodically laughter somersaults from the core of me and tumbles from my lips into the forest soundscape. Slowly but happily I amble ’round another bend in the path and notice a patch of Amanita to my left and dark space between two trees to my right with vines and leaves arched between to form a kind of gateway. For reasons unknown to me, I stuff one of the Amanita mushrooms into my mouth and pass through the door in the forest. On the other side I find a beautiful circular clearing surrounded by the same sorts of trees that marked the path. One of the trees to my right is partially hollowed out with enough space for a person to stand in. I wander in and look up and down and around with a huge smile on my face. Then, Dionysos, crowned in ivy and barely clothed holds high a kantharos filled with blood red wine and invites me to drink deeply. While slowly raising the kantharos to my lips, poisoned, giddy, and confused, I ask him:

Where is the mountain? Where are the maenads and satyrs? The drummers and chorus?

As I begin to drink deeply, he whispers:

That comes later.

Lowering the wine cup from my lips, my giddy state waxes anew and I realize: I am thrice poisoned.


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