from Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry
by Albert Pike
DIONUSOS was the Nature-God of the Greeks, as AMUN was of the Egyptians. In the popular legend, Dionusos, as well as Hercules, was a Theban Hero, born of a mortal mother. But in Hercules the God is subordinate to the Hero; while Dionusos, even in poetry, retains his divine character, and is identical with Iacchus, the presiding genius of the Mysteries. Personification of the Sun in Taurus, as his ox-hoofs showed, he delivered earth from the harsh dominion of Winter, conducted the mighty chorus of the Stars, and the celestial revolution of the year, changed with the seasons, and underwent their periodical decay. He was the Sun as invoked by the Eleans, PurigenhV, ushered into the world amidst lightning and thunder, the Mighty Hunter of the Zodiac, Zagreus the Golden or ruddy-faced. The Mysteries taught the doctrine of Divine Unity; and that Power whose Oneness is a seeming mystery, but really a truism, was Dionusos, the God of Nature, or of that moisture, which is the life of Nature, who prepares in darkness, in Hades or Iasion, the return of life and vegetation, or is himself the light and change evolving their varieties. In the Egean Islands he was Butes, Dardanus, Himeros or Imbros; in Crete he appears as Iasius or even Zeus, whose orgiastic worship, remaining unveiled by the usual forms of mystery, betrayed to profane curiosity the symbols which, if irreverently contemplated, were sure to be misunderstood.
He was the same with the dismembered Zagreus, the son of Persephone, an Ancient Subterranean Dionysos, the horned progeny of Zeus in the Constellation of the Serpent, entrusted by his father with the thunderbolt, and encircled with the protecting dance of the Curetes. Through the envious artifices of Here, the Titans eluded the vigilance of his guardians and tore him to pieces; but Pallas restored the still palpitating heart to his father, who commanded Apollo to bury the dismembered remains upon Parnassus.
Dionusos, as well as Apollo, was leader of the Muses; the tomb of one accompanied the worship of the other; they were the same, yet different, contrasted, yet only as filling separate parts in the same drama; and the mystic and heroic personifications, the God of Nature and of Art, seem, at some remote period, to have proceeded from a common source. Their separation was one of form rather than of substance: and from the time when Hercules obtained initiation from Triptolemus, or Pythagoras received Orphic tenets, the two conceptions were tending to re-combine. It was said that Dionusos or Poseidon had preceded Apollo in the Oracular office; and Dionusos continued to be esteemed in Greek Theology as Healer and Saviour, Author of Life and Immortality. The dispersed Pythagoreans, "Sons of Apollo," immediately betook themselves to the Orphic Service of Dionusos, and there are indications that there was always something Dionysiac in the worship of Apollo.
Dionusos is the Sun, that liberator of the elements; and his spiritual meditation was suggested by the same imagery which made the Zodiac the supposed path of the Spirits in their descent and their return. His second birth, as offspring of the highest, is a type of the spiritual regeneration of man. He, as well as Apollo, was precentor of the muses and source of inspiration. His rule prescribed no unnatural mortification: its yoke was easy, and its mirthful choruses, combining the gay with the severer, did but commemorate that golden age when earth enjoyed eternal spring, and when fountains of honey, milk, and wine burst forth out of its bosom at the touch of the thyrsus. He is the "Liberator." Like Osiris, he frees the soul, and guides it in its migrations beyond the grave, preserving it from the risk of again falling under the slavery of matter or of some inferior animal form. All soul is part of the Universal Soul, whose totality is Dionusos; and he leads back the vagrant spirit to its home, and accompanies it through the purifying processes, both real and symbolical, of its earthly transit. He died and descended to the Shades; and his suffering was the great secret of the Mysteries, as death is the grand mystery of existence. He is the immortal suitor of Psyche (the Soul), the Divine influence which physically called the world into being, and which, awakening the soul from its Stygian trance, restores it from earth to Heaven.
Notes by T Polyphilus
1Actually, the celestial path of the spirits was supposed to be represented by the Milky Way.
2As Liber, he was freedom itself, particularly in the sense of freedom of growth and development in living things.