revel: v. 1. to take great pleasure or delight 2. to make merry; indulge in boisterous festivities.
My heart is beating hard in my chest, but nothing is hard. Nothing is efforted. Everything is a continuum that drives itself along on a wave of bliss. My cheeks are flushed as I press myself back against a wall to take a breath and let it all in. My skin in moist, and, even in the dark night…I glow…
While that could be describing a moment of sexual euphoria, it is actually how I feel at a really, really good dance party. All around me, as I rest against the wall, heart still pounding, are happy faces. Smiling, beaming faces. We all look like children, only happier I think…freer.
And there is something else it reminds me of, of course…the most ancient form of worship. The times when parties were church…but much more. The time when life was an eager, breathless celebration and all we wanted to do most of the time was share it. I’m talking about revelry. I’m speaking of a place so far back in our collective memory that we didn’t revel just to remind ourselves of what mattered (which is an amazing reason to do it…) we reveled because we couldn’t help it. There was nothing we had forgotten that we needed to remember. We were just in love…with everything.
Enter the Nymphs, fully enlightened and orgiastic magical creatures…and, more specifically today, enter the Maenads. While thought of as synonymous with Baccantes and worshipers of Bacchus/Dionysus, they were originally Nymphs, completely aligned with their animal selves. And it is our animal selves that we have cultured out of ourselves and most of the planet, but that will turn everything around in this world. Our animal selves will show us how to return to our bodies, and to the earth. They have every healing balm we need, and know every lost secret.
I know, most parties are not full of true revelry anymore. They are full of people looking to fill an emptiness without success. My local tavern only on a special rare night embodies anything even close to the radical healing and beauty of the Sumerian Goddess Innana’s “Holy Tavern” where parishioners would go to drink her “Sacred Beer”. The Priestesses and Nymphs who embodied the wisdom and led the revelry are no more. Well…only in one way…and only for now…
Because we are the Nymphs, the Priestesses and the Magical Beings. And we are remembering who we are. And once we do there will be no stopping us…
If you aren’t into parties, or don’t have any fabulous ones in your life, please don’t think for a moment that you are left out of the revelry. The revelry happens within…always. Sharing it with others can be a great joy, but it is optional, and still rare to truly find in the world (though I feel that this is changing and there will be more and more true chances to revel together.) You see, revelry is the return to your true animal self, and feeling and knowing it. True revelry is a return to knowing your own appetites, and whetting them, and satiating them…unapologetically, unashamedly, and then having more of them. It’s about not fearing them anymore, and trusting that if we really feel them, rather than being driven by their repression, we will be led home. (It is acting from their repression that leads us to do things that don’t truly feed us, and that we don’t feel aligned with deeply.)
Okay, now I am going to make it real. Let’s use a brownie. Why not. Usually we eat a brownie (or substitute something you love to eat) like we eat most things…on the run, nervously thinking about what we have to do later, or chatting to someone and feeling subtly or obviously guilty about eating it. If you reveled in it instead you might warm it up first, dreaming about it’s moist explosion of heady bliss in your mouth before it happens. You would have bought your favorite kind, and as you bring the first bite to your mouth you would salivate without being able to help it, and feel the burst of pleasure rip right through you with fierce gentleness and pure delight. You would relish every bite with that joy and some of the melted chocolate chunks would smear on your fingers and you would lick it off. When you were done you would feel proud of yourself…and nourished. (Replace this with a peach if you want something so natural and sensual and delicious it’s hard to bear.)
And, as a reveler, if the brownie wasn’t good, you wouldn’t eat it. If the peach was mealy or unripe you’d go for another one. You would never force yourself to try to revel when it didn’t rise up naturally from deep inside you. But since we so often have muted ourselves, our emotions and sensations, feeling pleasure (or other emotions/sensations) at all is a triumph, so to feel reveling…revelation…rise up in us of it’s own accord…to welcome it and let it grow and take us over…that’s a whole different ballgame we’ve totally forgotten how to play. Unless we still have somewhere we can really dance, or play music, or laugh around a fire, or eat a brownie or do whatever it is we love with total and complete abandon.
But abandon requires safety. Risk requires having a solid foundation. And we’ve lost these things too along with revelry. But we will get them back.
You begin where you feel safe already. Where it’s safe to lose yourself in the magnificent beauty and scent of your first summer rose. There is a place where I live that I can walk by a row of rose bushes that have blossomed every summer since I was a little girl. And the smell…it’s the kind of smell that makes you know there’s a god. And certainly, that there is a Goddess. It’s the kind of smell that could restore your faith in the universe, no matter what you’ve been through. It’s the kind of smell that could bring tears to your eyes. Those roses are indomitable, and so are we. We have never truly lost our reveling hearts. And we don’t need to push ourselves back into it. We can just see what flirts with us in life…what, if we pay attention to it, we can’t even resist. What finally breaks down our defenses, what it takes so much energy to pull ourselves away from or reason ourselves out of that we just can’t do it anymore.
Maybe, to use something everyday again, it’s just the difference between always grabbing your latte on the go, annoyed at the long line, rushing to the next item on your to do list and barely tasting it…and making some time to go for a drive. A drive to nowhere in particular, or somewhere you love that you haven’t visited in ages. Play music in the car that you love, wear your favorite sunglasses and if you can, roll down the window and let the wind play with your hair. Forget about everything else.
How you think about your life will change.
If you start answering to the animal within. Your body.
You will find, whatever your gender may be, your inner Maenad…wild woman. Free creature. Dancing in the wilderness of her own being. Sharing unreservedly and teetering on the edge between bliss and oblivion…and loving it. So in love with life, it hurts. It hurts so good.
I know you know how to revel. And I know you may feel broken. Beyond repair. It’s one little step at a time. And then the cracks become the path…of opening. Start where it’s safe. Then you will spread your wings without even trying, and risk won’t even exist finally…because there won’t be anything to lose.
And even if there isn’t a perfect party that reminds you of ancient orgiastic bliss for now, you will still find sunshine moments. And I will be doing it over here in my life…living as a modern Nymph…redefining ancient ways, listening to my inner animal. Letting my Maenad-self guide me even through pain, and certainly through pleasure.
Revel with me.
Learn more about the Nymphs in Jennifer’s writings and courses about them (including the special nymph course packages,) here…
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