Chad Myers photograph

Dionysus Reincarta

Dionysus was the god of feeling, internal feeling, a god of spontaneity, the dance, the music. Dionysus enters the body through the ears, through music, through primitive rhythms, and Jim Morrison was Dionysus personified. The man on-stage was an absolute genius, a human theatricon; from one performance to the next, you never knew what he was gonna be. Sometimes a devil, sometimes a saint, the Banshee himself," (Tobler 44). There are many other examples of people who saw Dionysus in Jim Morrison, as well as allusions to Jim and Dionysus in music, movies, books, etc. The idea behind this article is to prove that Jim Morrison is a modern day Dionysus by comparing their childhood, beliefs, rituals, women, physical appearance, and finally their crossing over of worlds. Whether or not it is proven in your minds, the audience is up to you. This is just one man's opinion.

Jim Morrison and Dionysus had different childhoods, which has a lot to do with them being from vastly different periods in our world history. There were no gods or goddesses in the consciousness of Jim's time. There are some similarities though and they are worth noting. Dionysus was the son of the god Zeus and a common mother (Ovid 60). To protect him from Hera, Dionysus was raised by Nymphs. Jim was not born of any god, but his father was well respected as a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy (Tobler 6). Him, his brother and sister were mostly raised by their common housewife mom and sometimes grandmother (Tobler 9) This probably had a lot to do with the need for women in both their lives to take care of them, that is Morrison and Dionysus. Also as a child, Jim recalls as his most important moment of his life being the time his family came accross a truckload of bloodied Indians lying in the street. "One or two of the souls were just floating around and one of them jumped into mine," (Tobler 9). This can be compared to the "double birth" of Dionysus out of Zeus's thigh, as the legend holds (Ovid 60). Being the son of a career military man, the Morrison family moved all the time reaching across the country from Florida to California (Tobler 6). Another one of Jim's journeys came when he was in his college years. He started off his college life by attending Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL. After his sophomore year he transferred to UCLA clear across the country in California (Hopkins). Dionysus's journeys, in his lifetime, took him across Asia Minor, and then back to Greece (Ovid). It was during these journeys in both their lives that their beliefs started to show themselves.

Jim was going to UCLA to make movies, this is Dionysus as God of Theater . During adolescence Dionysus discovered wine and was driven mad by the Goddess Hera . He is sometimes even referred to as the patron saint of drinkers (Paris) At this time in Morrison's life, he was becoming much more interested in drugs, especially acid, and started the heavy drinking that would be with him for the rest of his life (Tobler 12). "Alcohol and psycotropic drugs, also under patronage of Dionysus can loosen tongues and open up the doors of perception,"(Paris 6). This is, in fact, what Morrison's musical group, The Doors, are named after. From the quote from William Blake, "If the doors of perception were cleansed, man could see things as they truly are, infinite," (Tobler 16). Another similarity at this point in both their life's is the help that was bestowed on both of them by women in their life. It is said that their was always a female of some sort coming to Dionysus's rescue (Paris 18). The same can be said for Jim who always was being given places to stay, food, clothing, and anything else he needed. No matter how mean Jim was to them, they just could not resist him (Hopkins). During these times in Jim's life is when Jim and Ray Manzarak got together and formed the band, The Doors(Tobler 16).

The Doors was Jim's chance to be followed and adored. Ray was quoted as saying, "We saw music as a vehicle to, in a sense, become proselytizers of a new religion, a religion of self, of each man as God," (Tobler 16). In fact, the other band members even went so far as to say the first time they all played together was a "magical moment" (Tobler 20). Many people referred to a Doors concert as a ritual, with Jim as the leader (Tobler 36). "My energy had been totally spent, and I felt cleansed of any evil and darkness. We walked out of a concert feeling absolutely in touch with the universe." That was the message of Jim Morrison. "Get in touch with yourself, then you'll be in touch with God," was how Ray described a Doors concert (Tobler 45). Jim would dance around and sing as the crowd would go crazy. Much the same as a Dionysus ritual, everyone would take some form of drug, sing and dance around. Dionysus had his own religion and followers, and in a sense, Jim did too. The Dionysus celebration is associated with wine, dancing, music and mad women dancing naked (Paris 10). This could also serve to describe a Doors concert almost exactly, with thousands of drunks dancing around, listening to music with mad women stripping their cloths and tearing at the stage to get a piece of their "Rock God," Jim Morrison (Hopkins). Some reviewers called Morrison's songs "Dionysian word drama" and viewed Jim as "a gift from the gods" (Tobler 36). To the casual observer, Jim "dispensed polished gems in every song he concocted," (Tobler 32). Every young girl across America fell in love with him, and every man either hated him or wanted to be him. Jim Morrison became the God of rock and cock (Tobler 36). Dionysus and Jim Morrison both made the woman go mad with sexual energy.

The main woman in Dionysus's life, Ariadne, was called by one author "the archetypical groupie." This is due to the fact that she was picked up on a shore by Dionysus and taken to Mount Olympus to be his wife (Paris 41). The same can be said for Jim's longtime girlfriend and companion Pamela Courson. The first time they met was right before the explosion of The Doors. Before Jim became the Rock God, and she rode with him all the way to the top (Hopkins). By no means were these the only two woman in the lives of these two. As stated before, both drove women mad in their rituals, dancing naked and having orgies. Any woman that Dionysus, or for that matter Jim Morrison, came across was instantly captivated by them. The woman that followed Dionysus, the Bacchus, along with dancing naked, getting drunk and having orgies also caught and devoured the flesh of animals raw (Paris 6). This brings up yet another connection to Jim Morrison. Jim had met and began staying with a journalist and fan, Patricia Kennelly on and off, along with staying with Pamela. Patricia was at the time a practicing member of a New York coven of witches. Jim and Patricia were married in a Wicca wedding, and even drank human blood as part of the ceremony (Tobler 76).

The allusions to Dionysus are everywhere in Jim's life. Many of the books written about him have references to Jim and his "Dionysian tendencies," (Tobler). The members of the band felt it as well, feeling they had the power of a Dionysus ritual when they played live. In the movie, The Doors, by Oliver Stone, there are three separate references to Dionysus. The first was by Jim on the beach with Ray Manzarak, the second by Patricia Kennelly, and the third at the end of the movie by Robbie Krieger when he said, "as far as I'm concerned, I made music with Dionysus," (The Doors, Oliver Stone). These references not only had to do with the rituals and music of Jim Morrison, but also with his physical appearance.

When found by Acoetes and his shipmates, Dionysus was described as being "a boy prettier than any girl," (Ovid 68). When Jim was a young man he had a smooth face, long hair and a very thin, wavy shape to his body and his walk. Jim was very sexy and Manley, but he also had a feminine sensual side to his look and walk. As he grew older, the alcohol and drug abuse throughout his life took their toll on his young body. From pictures Jim could be described as having a beer belly and a jolly look to him. He wanted to become a fat, blues singing poet with long hair and fair skin (Hopkins). The Christian description of Dionysus in his later years is also that of a plump, soft belly, long hair and fair skin (Paris 35). This is the way that both of these "gods" left this world, as plump, jolly looking men with long hair and fair skin.

In 1970, America lost two of the biggest rock stars in history, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, to drug overdoses (Tobler 80). Both died at the age of 27. On July 3rd, 1971 America lost number 3, James Douglas Morrison at the age of 27. The fact that all three were of the age 27 is an interesting fact, but that is another writing at another time. What that does do is add to the mystery of how he died. All he left us is a sealed coffin(only Pamela and the Dr. In Paris saw the body), and a signed death certificate (Tobler 43). The doctors report was that he died of a "heart attack induced by respiratory problems," (Tobler 93). Many people do not believe this is how it happened. Nobody really knows for sure, but many believe he died of a heroine overdose (Hopkins). Whatever the cause, he died in his prime. Perhaps he was taken away to Mount Olympus to be with the other gods.

Jim Morrison was a great performer and an inspired artist. He is one of the most influential figures of this decade. His legacy has lived on over thirty years after his death in movies, books, songs, poems, and the songs and performances of many of todays artists. He was right when he told Ray Manzarak,

"I see myself...as a huge fiery comet,
a shooting star. Everyone stops, points
up and gasps 'Oh look at that!' Then-
whoosh and I'm gone.. And they'll never
See anything like it ever again...and
they won't be able to forget me-ever"
(Tobler 124).

Jim Morrison is forever immortalized, he is the God of Rock. The music of The Doors and the legend of Jim Morrison will continue to live on for years to come. Jim wanted to get in touch with the gods through his music, but it may in fact have made him a god. He may have even been a rebirth of the god Dionysus. That will be argued and studied for years to come. If he is not Dionysus, even though the proof is right in front of us, he was smiled on by the gods. He is eternally rewarded with immortality through his legend. Maybe the great god Dionysus will visit us again. In another form. Perhaps this time he will lead us to a better world.

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