The Dance of the Puppets
represents the Crimson King's descent into madness. This is quite accurate,
because the Divine Child of the Crimson King (Zeus) is Dionysus.
"Orphism, attributed to the mythical Orpheus, is the teachings of an ancient
Greek philosophical cult which exerted great influence on Greek culture, and
later on Western mysticism and occultism. The chief teachings are of
reincarnation, a Greek version of Karma, a history of the universe which was
formed by Chronos who formed an egg and created the first king of the gods --
whom Zeus supplanted and fathered Dionysus -- the divine child. Orphism had a
great impact on alchemy.'
that Kronos would not find the divine child, either in heaven or on
earth, the goddess Amalthea placed the child in a cradle and
hung it from the branch of a tree, as the Golden Fleece was
hung from a tree in the land of Kolchis. A faint echo of that
ancient myth can still be heard in the following familiar, if
nonetheless somewhat disturbing nursery song:
in the tree top
when the wind blows
the cradle will rock
when the bough breaks
the cradle will fall
and down will come baby
cradle and all.
That bough upon which the cradle hangs is, of course, the
Golden Bough, and within that cradle lies the new king."
"He’s been called a 'second Zeus,' particularly when compared with Zagreus,
'Zeus-like.' And it was Orpheus’ contention that Dionysus was the
successor to Zeus’ throne. When he was finally admitted to heaven, he stood at
right-hand of Zeus as Jesus stood at Jehovah’s right-hand."
The Dance of the Puppets is the triumphal procession of the returning
"Triumph - A word formed from thriambos, the Dionysiac hymn.
“Some ... have assigned the origin of ... triumphal processions
to the mythic pomps of Dionysus, after his conquests in the
East, the very word triumph being ... the Dionysiac hymn.”
Pater: Marius the Epiourean, chap. xii.
"Dionysus was the ancient Greek god of fertility, ritual dance, and mysticism,
the mysterious and paradoxical
god of altered states, of ecstasy and terror, of wildness and of the most
blessed deliverance - the mad god
whose apperance sends mankind into madness. Euripedes famously called him 'most
gentle and most
The Epiphany of the God that Comes
The inner force of this dual reality is so great that he appears among men like
a storm. All tradition, all order
must be shattered. Life becomes suddenly an ecstasy - an ecstasy of
blessedness, but an ecstasy, no less, of
terror. His appearance is startling, disquieting, violent. It arouses
opposition and agitation. Right at his birth
gods arise as his enemies. Terrible disturbances are engendered in his
vicinity. And in this way, even the
revelation of the god who has become a man creates wild emotion, anger, and
opposition among mankind.
The god appeared with such wildness and demanded such unheard-of things, so
much that mocked all human
order, that he first had to over-power the hearts of men before they could do
him homage. Thus the conception
of his first arrival, the mythic image of a regular coming - became a story of
strife and conquest.
Dionysus is a dying and resurrected god of fertility, in the mold of Tammuz who
even in his genesis myths has
two, or even three, successive incarnations, firstly between Zeus and
Persephone representing heaven and the
Zeus and the Moonchild
Zeus came to
Persephone in the shape of a serpent, and he begat by his daughter that god,
Zagreus or Dionysos who, in the Orphic
stories, was to be his successor, the fifth ruler of the world. . The birth of
the son and successor to the throne
actually took place in the maternal cave. A late ivory relief shows the bed in
the cave: the bed in which the
horned child - the horns signify attributes of the heavenly bull, the waxing
and waning (lunar) son of Persephone, the moon-goddess of the underworld - had
just been born.
Dionysus' identity as "the dying and resurrected god of fertility" brings us to
another reason why the King is Crimson...
"Many of the myths of dismembership surrounding Dionysus appear to record
ancient rite in which a king was
killed and spread for the fertility of the land.
...the myth is telling of the son of a king who is given the scepter of kingship
and placed on the throne as the last 'king of all the gods of the world' for a
day and then sacrificed in the king's
stead to maintain fertility of the earth. It is likewise said the infant leaped
into the throne and held up the
thunderbolt. The tearing apart of Dionysus is itself the refertilizing of the
land with blood, just as Tammuz was
ground and Osiris was scattered. In Rome Dionysus was Pater Liber
'father freedom' who protected the crops against evil fortune. As the white
bull he is
Persephone's dying moon."
(followers of J.G. Frazer's theories), literature harks back to myths that were
originally the scripts of the key primitive ritual of regularly killing and
king in whom the god of vegetation resided, in order to ensure good crops for
the community. "The king must die" is a familiar summary line"(p. xxii From
Ritual to Romance).
The center of the primal ritual is the enactment of the death and rebirth of the
god of vegetation, for human survival depends on vegetation and the revival of
The annual death and revival of vegetation is a conception which
readily presents itself to men in every stage of savagery and
civilization; and the vastness of the scale on which the ever-recurring
decay and regeneration takes place, together with man's intimate
dependence on it for subsistence, combine to render it the most
impressive annual occurrences in nature, at least within the temperate
zones...Hence it is natural that in the magical dramas designed to
dispel winter and bring back spring the emphasis should be laid on
vegetation, and that trees and plants should figure in them more
prominently than beasts and birds. (p. 392,378 The Golden Bough)
This age old practice can be traced back to ancient tradition found in tribes in
Africa, Europe, and Asia. This ritual is seen today in the Easter enactments of
passion play and was widely present in the past. In Babylon an annual ritual of
mock slaying of the fair youth Adonis and his raising from the dead symbolized a
continued renewal of the earth. The concept stems from the most primitive
nature of man:
"For they believe...that the king's life or spirit is so sympathetically
bound up with the prosperity of the whole country, that if he fell ill or
grew senile the cattle would sicken and cease to multiply, the crops
would rot in their fields, and men would perish of widespread disease.
Hence, in their opinion, the only way of averting these calamities is to
put the king to death while he is still hale and hearty, in order that the
divine spirit which he has inherited from his predecessors may be
transmitted in turn to him to his successor while it is still in full vigor
and has not yet been impaired by weakness of disease and old age.
(p. 312 The Golden Bough)"
"Greek tragedy and the history of Western art grew out of the ritual recital of
epic poems that took place during the Dionysian festivals of ancient Greece.
Specifically, Nietzsche attributes the birth of tragedy to the mimetic
experience of the chorus.
Mimesis was "the primary dramatic phenomenon: projecting oneself outside
oneself and then acting as though one had really entered another body, another
character." (Nietzsche) When the bard chanted his poem he became the character
portrayed. The situation became 'real' for the poet and the chorus. "The
dithyrambic chorus ... is a chorus of the transformed, who have forgotten their
civil past and social rank, who have become timeless servants of their god and
live outside all social spheres." (Nietzsche)
"The actual birth of tragedy, as Nietzsche argues, is explained as coming from
the music and dances of the Dionysian cult as a triumph of the Apollonian form.
He envisions "the sublime as the artistic conquest of the horrible."
"Dionysus is identified with ecstatic possession, wine, mountains, wild
animals, frenzied women, frenzied dancing, fertility and, especially, the
coincidence of opposites.
Victor Turner and others would speak of Dionysus and Kataragama in terms of
'liminality', of being on the margin, in an in-between geographical or
psychological space "where fluidity challenges stability, where fusion replaces
boundary--here too normal relations and normal inhibitions are suspended in a
quasi-magical interlude characterized by joyful play, imaginative exuberance
and free energy.
As spirits of antithesis and paradox, both Murukan and Dionysus are
characterized by the juxtaposition of pandemonium and silence."
A striking characterisitic of the first king Crimson album: the pandemonium of
Twenty First Century Schizoid Man
juxtaposed with the silence of
I Talk to The Wind.
"...another coincidence of opposites.
Not only in myth, but also in cultic practice, their epiphanies are celebrated
with colorful noisy processions and frenzied dancing by torchlight--and yet,
during the procession at Kataragama, ritual participants do not utter a single
As in the melancholy silence of
The Dream The Illusion
In the cult of Dionysus, too, melancholy silence was the sign of women
possessed by the god. Modern scholars--who are devotees by profession of
Apollo--regard with disdain the secrecy and paradoxical, double-edged logic
common to Dionysus and Kataragama and abhor what they regard as cult excesses.
Charles Segal observes, "As Apollo imposes limits and reinforces boundaries,
Dionysus, his opposite and complement, dissolves them."
"Dionysian ecstasy is a mass phenomenon and spreads almost infectiously. This
is expressed mythically by the fact that the god is always surrounded by his
swarm of followers. Everyone who surrenders to this god must risk abandoning
his everyday identity and becoming mad: both god and follower can be called
Dionysus brings to the fore (when he is "in us" and causes us to "stand outside
ourselves" with the group) the irrational side of our nature, unlike Apollo who
stands aloof as a symbol of the higher, refined cultivation to which we mere
mortals can only aspire
But what is essential, and quintessentially Greek, is that these two sides --
both the Rational and the Irrational, the Apollonian and the Dionysian -- are
not something that defines now one person, now another: rather they BOTH exist
within us all."
"As the soothsaying god presiding over the Delphic oracle, Apollo "the shining
one" is also the god of appearance, fantasy, dream, artifice, and "blissful
deception" (Nietzsche 14-15, 102). Thus, whereas it might seem that Apollo is
the "sane" god, Nietzsche describes him in words we typically associate with
some of those in our "down" list above ("unconscious," "depraved"). Allan
Megill explains how Nietzsche capitalizes on ambiguities in the German word
schein, which means not only "light," but also "semblance" or "illusion" (39).
Apollo is the healing and helping force in sleep and dreams, wrapping humanity
in the veil of maya that protects us from the realities of our harsh existence
which, if faced too directly, would not allow us to go on living.
It is his dark counterpart, the ivy-covered Dionysus, who strips away the veil
of our fragmented individualism, exposing "the womb of the sole true reality"
in all its awful glory (Nietzsche 16, 106), and challenging the carefully
guarded "sanity" of those who ignore him (17). When we lose our way among the
cognitive forms of appearance-when reason fails-nature itself "rises up from
man's innermost core," and we are intoxicated with both dread and ecstasy,
completely forgetting our selves. Undoing Apollo's careful numbering of each
individual thing, Dionysus prefers unity to order, seeking to dissolve the many
into the One. What is illusion and what reality? This seems to depend on one's
point of view; the beautiful forms of Apollo are lifeless illusions viewed from
the underworld abyss, while the chaotic flux of Dionysus is deranged from the
altitude of Olympus."
Dionysian dancing was also a phenomenon present during the reign of Frederick
"As early as the eleventh century we find clear accounts of diabolical
possession taking the form of epidemics of raving, jumping, dancing, and
convulsions, the greater number of the sufferers being women and children. In a
time so rude, accounts of these manifestations would rarely receive permanent
record; but it is very significant that even at the beginning of the eleventh
century we hear of them at the extremes of Europe--in northern Germany and in
southern Italy. At various times during that century we get additional glimpses
of these exhibitions, but it is not until the beginning of the thirteenth
century that we have a renewal of them on a large scale. In 1237, at Erfurt, a
jumping disease and dancing mania afflicted a hundred children, many of whom
died in consequence; it spread through the whole region, and fifty years later
we hear of it in Holland.
But it was the last quarter of the fourteenth century that saw its greatest
manifestations. There was abundant cause for them. It was a time of oppression,
famine, and pestilence: the crusading spirit, having run its course, had been
succeeded by a wild, mystical fanaticism; the most frightful plague in human
history--the Black Death--was depopulating whole regions--reducing cities to
villages, and filling Europe with that strange mixture of devotion and
dissipation which we always note during the prevalence of deadly epidemics on a
It was in this ferment of religious, moral, and social disease that there broke
out in 1374, in the lower Rhine region, the greatest, perhaps, of all
"possession"--an epidemic of dancing, jumping, and wild raving. The cures
resorted to seemed on the whole to intensify the disease: the afflicted
continued dancing for hours, until they fell in utter exhaustion. Some declared
that they felt as if bathed in blood, some saw visions, some prophesied.
Into this mass of "possession" there was also clearly poured a current of
scoundrelism which increased the disorder.
The immediate source of these manifestations seems to have been the wild revels
of St. John's Day. In those revels sundry old heathen ceremonies had been
perpetuated, but under a nominally Christian form: wild Bacchanalian dances had
thus become a semi-religious ceremonial."
"Regarding the Pied Piper, it is not at all far-fetched that such a person
lured the youths (already in a
trance due to their dancing mania) out of town and enslaved them through his
demoniacal power of
suggestion. The Cologne Chronicle reports that, in 1374, the St. John's dancers
soon became victims of much
"fraud and knavery," and that more than 1000 women and virgins in Cologne
became pregnant during the
Those of us who have read the sources documenting the history of the medieval
and have recognized the horror felt by writers of the time of the elemental
force of mass hysteria
can have no doubt concerning the true background of the catastrophe that
occurred in Hamelin
on St. John's Day in 1284."
But there were other Dionysian outbursts during the time of Frederick II,
manifestations which actually effected the course of Empire.
"In this time of crisis and confusion, tortured with the throes of a new birth,
all spiritual and other forces were tense and at fever heat, and men fell an
eager prey to any miracle that promised easier and better things. In the midst
of all this the preachers appeared everywhere simultaneously, calling to
penance, and coupling their terrifying words with the message of peace they
stung the people to raving and madness. The epidemic spread like wildfire. 'All
were drunk with heavenly love, for they had quaffed of the wine of the spirit
of God after testing which all flesh begins to rave.' The peace and penance
mania of the year 1233 is known as the "Great Halleluja !" because the penance
preachers over-ran the country with this cry in praise of the great
Three-in-One. In Parma a preacher appeared playing on a little copper trumpet
from which he drew now sweet now terrifying sounds. He lured the people,
especially children, after him like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. They followed
with boughs and burning tapers through streets and market-places, joining
loudly in the brother's Halleluja. On his arrival all enmities were suddenly
forgotten, all battles abandoned : 'A time of happiness and joy began ; knights
and people, burghers and peasants struck up hymns and songs in praise of God ;
people fell on each others necks, there was no wrath, no strife, no confusion :
only Love and Peace.'
Almost the whole of Italy fell under the spell of the Halleluja.
The service of penance of 1233 was only a forestaste of the much wilder and
more savage outbursts of the Flagellants in 1260 after Frederick's death,
fanatic figures who are not far removed from the cycle of legend that centres
The Halleluja came to an abrupt conclusion. At the last great feast of peace in
Paquera 400,000 North Italians, it was computed, assembled round Brother John
of Vicenza. Solemnly a pact of eternal peace was sworn. Four days later the war
of the towns broke out again. All flew at each other's throats and Brother
John, "Duke" of Verona sat in the dungeon of one of his innumerable foes.
The balance between Emperor and Pope was gradually restored when the Romans had
sobered again after their orgy of peace."