Rediscovering Dionysus: Gender, Nature and Politics in Ancient Ecstatic Rituals
The practice of altered states of consciousness has accompanied and inspired the evolution of human culture since time immemorial. In Europe for thousands of years the ingestion of psychotropic plants, trance dancing to the sound of the frame drum and ritual sexuality were the preferred means to enter into a state of deep connection with nature and channel its wisdom. In this presentation we will explore how these primordial shamanic practices survived into the historical period to spread and flourish in the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. In particular we will look at how the rituals of Dionysus offered the possibility to construct alternative gender roles and the reactions of the ruling classes both in ancient Greece and Rome.
Chiara Baldini is an independent researcher from Florence (Italy), passionate about exploring how consciousness altering practices were used in the course of European history, particularly in ancient Greece and Rome. She wrote “Dionysus Returns: Contemporary Tuscan Trancers and Euripides’ The Bacchae” featured in The Local Scenes and Global Culture of Psytrance (Routledge, 2010) and she co-authored with Graham St. John “Dancing at the Crossroads of Consciousness: Techno-Mysticism, Visionary Arts and Portugal’s Boom Festival” for the Brill’s Handbook of New Religions and Cultural Production (2012). From 2010 to 2014 she has been part of the Boom Festival team in Portugal, co-producing Boom’s cultural area “Liminal Village”. In 2015 she inaugurated and co-curated the program of “ConTent”, the new cultural area in Fusion Festival (Germany). She currently lives in Portugal and is co-curating an anthology on the feminine and altered states of consciousness.