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On Dreams of Avarice and the Orphic Mystery Cults

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  • On Dreams of Avarice and the Orphic Mystery Cults

    So...is it just me, or does Dreams of Avarice read like an Greek Orphic Mystery with an Egyptian makeover?

    For those who don't know what I'm talking about, Orpheus Mystery Cults were one of several varieties of semi-secret religious circles who saved their main body of work and rites for those who had undergone the ceremonies and ascended the ranks (hence the "mystery" part of the title, their philosophy and beliefs were deliberately hidden from the public). Orphism, as the name implies, centers around Orpheus and various other Greek personas and gods said to have descended into and returned from the Underworld. More broadly, the cult had an interest in gods and mortals who had died and been reborn. Orpheus famously was ripped apart by the Maenads after coming out of the underworld, but his head somehow continued to live and offered songs and wisdom to his worshippers.

    Do we know of any other gods who were ripped apart and returned to life? The legend of Osiris absolutely influenced these mysteries.

    But maybe that's not enough of a parallel. So how about this? "In the Cretan version of the same story, which Diodorus Siculus follows,[19] Dionysus was the son of Zeus and Persephone, the queen of the Greek underworld. Diodorus' sources equivocally identified the mother as Demeter.[20] A jealous Hera again attempted to kill the child, this time by sending Titans to rip Dionysus to pieces after luring the baby with toys. It is said that he was mocked by the Titans who gave him a thyrsus (a fennel stalk) in place of his rightful sceptre.[21] Zeus turned the Titans into dust with his thunderbolts, but only after the Titans ate everything but the heart, which was saved, variously, by Athena, Rhea, or Demeter. Zeus used the heart to recreate him in his thigh, hence he was again "the twice-born". Other versions claim that Zeus recreated him in the womb of Semele, or gave Semele the heart to eat to impregnate her."

    Thank you wikipedia. In some philosophies the dust of the titans is later transformed into the first humans, meaning both the essence of Dionysus and the sin of the Titans is a part of mankind.

    Compare all of this to the creation myths of the Dreams of Avarice. Atum, while not as powerful as Zeus in this narrative, nonetheless has a trickster child (Dionysus and Set are very much two examples of this kind of god) entrusted with his kingship. Said trickster is ripped apart by powerful entities born before the more sympathetic "next generation" of gods- the titans before the Olympians, the Judges before Anubis, Re, and Osiris. Set claims after he is ripped apart that he will "seep into every drop of Sekhem" in line with the dust carrying Dionysus' essence into humanity. And while the specifics are different you can argue that Osiris is Sutekh reborn just as the heart of Dionysus allows him to reincarnate. Arguably you have a similar theme appearing in Isis devouring Azar in order to "give birth" to him again in the underworld, athough like most things Iremite the goals are inverted- its not a return to the living world that's desired, but a descent back into the Afterlife.

    One final parallel. The supposed goal of most Orphic cults was the idea of liberation. Freeing the mind from the norms and expectation of society, awakening the divine spark of Dionysus left within, etc. This was frightening to traditional Greek culture for a number of reasons. Pragmatically a ruler cannot rule unless enough people accept his role in society, so rejection of the rules means a rejection of his power. Others interpreted the idea of liberation as freedom from reason and sanity. Hence why the Maenads and other servants of Dionysus are depicted as blood-thirsty wild things willing to rip you limb from limb. Interesting how this parallels Iremite perceptions of apotheosis, both in the fear and distrust most mummies feel towards it and the end goals of men like the Heretic in helping the Deathless ascend beyond their shackles.

    This is potentially only one example. I just happen to be familiar with Orphism because I over research this kind of shit for my games. There are probably other examples of this, especially in the Mediterrenean where so many Western societies colonized, conquered and exchanged ideas and myths one century after another. It would not surprise me if the author of Dreams was drawing from several storytelling traditions in writing that book. Just wanted to call out the research and attention that went into writing the book. The thing I admire most about Mummy is the careful attention to tone and the respect to antiquity in the writing. It goes miles in helping to play a creature from an impossible ancient era when the flavour of the text itself put you in the mindset.

    And also, if you ever wanted to have a flash back to ancient greece or a remnant of a mystery cult in a modern setting maybe this will inspire something. I just thought it was cool.
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