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Mardi   Gras

Dionysia   Bacchanalia   Lupercalia

CARN          as in          Carnal  
          VALe   Leave Levitate
MAR     Mars Martial
         DI   Divine Diva
         DIEM   Day Deity
                   GRAS   Greasy Unctuous
LUPERCALIA     Roman feast
LUPUS     Wolf  
LUPA     Prostitute  
BACCHANALIA     Greek feast
Dancing releases spirits.  Many Bacchanalia during Carnival arise from combining release from reason facilitated by alcoholic inhibition of inhibitions.

The links to explanatory notes given in the left column relate to three overviews concerned with ancient "spring love celebrations" and the "rebirth of life" or spring (blooms and buds) celebrated on February 14. The ancients called the celebrations "Dionysia" or "Lupercalia". What Christianity could not erase, it shaped into Saint Valentine's Day and the related Carnivorous Carnal Carnival which ends in Mardi Gras.

Modern Carnival or Mardi Gras is a melange, mezcla or mix of world-old legends that endure because they can INFlame and INFect the imagination.  In this sense, Carnival is of interest because it provides an anesthetic from reason, perhaps the reason why Sigmund Freud was interested in this and other aspects of mythology. Carnival offers an escape or liCENSE for people to act "foolishly" and even to liCENTiously "fool around". In any case, for the ancients, Dionysia was in honor of Dionysus who stood for "the nature of natural man".

As an infant, Bacchus already was captivating. (Bellini)   Captivating Bacchus is (Velazquez)

Carnival, when celebrated by modern BACCHANTS, often ends in a BACCHanalia to the delight of some BACCHIC BACHelors and BACHelorettes. Perhaps LAUREates should realize that BACCA, the fruit of the LAUREL tree, relates to LUPERcalia or Carnival. It is noted that Apollo or LUKHeious (from LUPA or wolf slayer) was the emblem of masculine perfection, a fact that did not prevent Daphne from rejecting his love. Undeterred and in her honor, Apollo declared that the LAUREL tree and its fruit or BACCA was to be the emblem to grace the crowns of BACCA-LAUREATES. Those who earn a Batchelor degree perhaps should pledge to love knowledge as much as Apollo loved Daphne.

Formerly we honored Bacchus but now we seek help from Freudian Psychoanalysis. (Roberts)

DIONYSIA was also known as OMOPHAGIA which underscores a less poetic facet of such celebrations. At times, celebrants engaged in tearing animals and eating their raw flesh. OMOPHAGIA became rooted in ancient Zoroastrian and Orphic rituals and represented a quest for immortality. Its evolution into rituals of  tearing bread mixed with wine as an emblem of flesh and blood survive in the tradition of the Eucharist of Christians.


Christians failed to obliterate Carnal Carnivals. (Bosch)

LUPERCALIA may also derive from LUPERCUS, another name for PAN. As LUPERCUS, PAN was worshiped as the protector of flocks from LUPINE attacks. PAN also stood for someone who was to please ALL Olympic Gods. The PAN-THEO-nic PAN-orama associated with PAN also includes his desire to engender human PAN-acea. In any case, when we wish for all our desires to materialize, we hope our wishes will "PAN out".

Pan sought to please and sought pleasures. (Hoet)


Pan scared Syrinx and mortals got a Syringe. (Jordaens)

PAN had a particular VENERation for VENUS and both are fostered during CARNival by CARNal pursuits which may end in flesh tearing VENEReal diseases. Such risks are greater if CARNIVAL's CARNAL pleasures stem from a voLUPTuos LUPA working in a LUPAnar (house of prostitution). LUPUS erythematosus is another flesh tearing disease but it is not of VENEReal nature. Patients should not PANic but rely on modern medical regimes including those that protect their PANcreas.
 Masks foster Masquerades and Masquerading. (Tiepolo)  The carnality of Carnaval stimulates Foolish behaviors and "Fooling" around. (Tiepolo)

Near the temple to Dionysus or BACCHUS, the Athenians held dramatic contests called Greater Dionysia and on the frieze of the Pantheon, the Greeks depicted the PANathenaea, a procession honoring Dionysus. In 405 B.C., Euripides won the first prize for his trilogy of plays including one called BACCHAE, considered to be one of the greatest dramas ever written. The drama is about Agave (a name now used for Pulque or Century Plant which contains hallucinogenic agents). In this play, Agave, in an orgiastic fury, dismembered her son Pentheus. After regaining her senses, the enormity of her crime led Agave to insanity and suicide, a fate shared by many modern abusers of hallucinogenic drugs. This drama starts with the return of Dionysus after a long absence in India. To his disappointment he noted that most Greeks did not remember that he was the son of Zeus and therefore a DIVO or DIVInity. The only worshipers of his were women we call BACCAE or MAENeads. These women resorted to hallucinogens to induce ecstasy and engaged in ORGIAstic and FRENetic MANIC MADdening devotions as the result of their MEANdering minds. In revenge for his neglect by the Greeks, Dionysus chose to intoxicate an unbeliever, Agave, the mother Queen of Thebes, a daughter of HARMonia - she was to HARM her own son and her own mind.

The French, known for their penchant for good food and joyful living refer to CARNival as MARDI GRAS or "FAT" TUESDAY which points to culinary deBAUCHEry. In fact, deBAUCHEry points to mouth as in BOUCHE, BUCCA, BOCA and to BOCADO or morsel in Spanish. 

Christians like to "demonize" Bacchus and often show him as being obest. (Heemskerck)

MARDI GRAS is followed by LENT or 40 days that pass with LENTitude, in part because believers must abstain from consuming CARNes or flesh and some even avoid other CARNal pleasures.

Dance Invigorates Festivities (Goya)

Euripides, 2400 years before Freud did, understood that CARNal desires not only can tear our flesh but also our mind. Young people are immature ORGanisms and even if capable of reaching an ORGasm may not be ready to contend with love. True love relies on a healthy and mature Psyche.

ORGiastic ORGies cause disORGanized imPULSEs as do BACCHAnalia and CARNIval. Young people should pay heed to the story by  Apuleius about Cupid and Psyche, where he stressed that the only LIBeration from LIBido or carnal desire is true love.
Desire Temptation War
 The price Adam and Eve paid for "eating" or assimilating knowledge was to become "framed" between wild desire and aggressive warfare. (Altdorfer)


- Compiled by W. Wertelecki, M.D.

Related Overview: Bacchus
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