Monday, August 18, 2014

Review: Dionysos – Exciter to Frenzy by Vikki Bramshaw

Review: Dionysos – Exciter to Frenzy by Vikki Bramshaw

This past winter I took a short online class that focused on how to build a devotional relationship with Dionysus.  It was a pretty good class, facilitated by a pretty well-known Dionysian, Sannion from the House of Vines.  While taking the class I read a lot of books I had on Dionysus that I had been meaning to get to for years.

When I first downloaded the book, I actually hadn’t been too excited about Dionysos: Exciter to Frenzy.  I had been pretty convinced that the book had been self-published and I’ve read some really ridiculous self-published books (the one I’m reading now, Spirituality from the Stars, is a doozy).  But I found out later that Exciter to Frenzy is published through Avalonia books, an independent publisher that looks like it has a few cool titles.  

from Dionysos: Exciter to Frenzy
And I'm sorry if it's mean but some of the sketches that are included in Exciter to Frenzy are a bit goofy looking.  I was really expecting a shitty book that was full of UPGs and shenanigans.  But Exciter to Frenzy had recently been published (December 2013) and it was generating some buzz in some of my on-line stomping grounds, so I figured I’d give it a chance. 

I wasn’t too impressed with the introduction.  I didn’t want to read a book about someone’s experience with Dionysus when there are five billion blogs out there I already follow who all talk about the same thing.  But as I got into the book, I was so glad that I had given it a chance!  All of my initial misgivings were unfounded, and Dionysos: Exciter to Frenzy, ended up being the perfect book to compliment my other Dionysus studies and round out my knowledge of the God.

from Dionysos: Exciter to Frenzy
Vikki Bramshaw tells a thorough story of Dionysus, including his ancient origins, animal and food associations, cults, myths, names, birth, life, death, family, and even calendar and holidays.  Each chapter includes a wealth of quotes and information from ancient source materials, and her bibliography is quite extensive and impressive.  She pretty much does a huge survey of Dionysus in Ancient Greece, and she manages to present the wealth of information in a useful linear narrative. 

This book took me a while to get through, probably because it was so dense.  But it was easy to read a chapter here and there, which extended my time with the book but really gave time for me to sit with the material.  I hadn’t been looking for something to drastically change my devotional practices, and this book gave me exactly what I wanted without me even realizing that sit was exactly what I needed.  I know so much more about Dionysus and the people who worshiped him.  I have a much better idea about the ways that he was worshiped.  I understand his names and associations so much better than I did before, and most of all, I really appreciate Bramshaw’s use of source materials for this book.
So, overall, this book was excellent and useful, and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to deeper their knowledge and understanding of this enigmatic deity  Vikki Bramshaw is a true scholar who pays attention to detail but still approaches Deity with respect and reverence.  I can't wait to check out some of her other books, especially her piece on Hecate!

Be sure to check out my other Dionysus-themed book reviews!

The Story of Bacchus by Andrew Dalby

No comments:

Post a Comment