Bob Dylan and the Mother Goddess

by Larry Fyffe

Adonis is born of mortals and dies, but with the help of the gods, he comes back from the Underworld in the form of anemone flowers which spring up in summertime; Dionysus, whose mother is mortal, but fathered by a god he is, returns to the Upperworld world as himself in the summertime with the help of the gods. Apollo is a full-blooded god. Like his fellow gods on Mount Olympus, the son of Zeus may be injured, even imprisoned for a time, but cannot be put to death.

So too the angels who rebelled against the Judeo-Christian God:

.... God spared not the angels that sinned
But cast them down to hell
And delivered them into chains of darkness
To be reserved unto judgment

(Peter II: 2:4)

According to the New Testament, Jesus is mothered by a mortal, and fathered by God. Manifested therefrom, somehat akin to Dionysus, Christ is considered by Christians to be immortal; the “Son of God” awaits in Heaven for now,  but will return to Earth sometime in the future:

And we know that the Son of God is come
And hath given us an understanding
That we may know Him that is true
And we are in Him that is true
Even in His Son Jesus Christ
This is the true God, and eternal life

(I John ,5:20)

Jesus is referred to as the ” Son of Man” elsewhere in the New Testament. Singer/songwriter Bob Dylan takes a middle-of-the road approach ~ Christ lives on through the spirit that lies behind his teachings – teachings that need to be revived in today’s decadent society.

Double-edged and cheeky, Dylan’s songs often be. In the printed lyrics below, Dylan takes on the persona of Jesus Christ. There’s a bit of wordplay going on in the spoken lyrics; Dylan could be Apollo. In mythology, the musician Apollo is the god of the rising and setting “Sun”; in the New Testament, at least according to John, Jesus is the “Son” of God;

Go ahead, say I'm dead and gone
You will see that you were wrong
Go ahead, try to hide the Son
But the day will come
When you'll see I'm the one
(Bob Dylan: Rise Again)

One could even make the case that Zeus, the god of Thunder, is the historical forerunner of the vengeful God of the Old Testament; Apollo, of the compassionate God of the New Testament. There’s hope. The times they are a-changing. Things are going to get better.

Or are they? Is it, figuratively speaking, wintertime, and Dionysus is sleeping?; Is the new god the same as the old god; Is the band playing on while the Titanic is sinking?

In the dark illumination
He remembered bygone years
He read the Book of Revelation
And he filled his cup with tears

(Bob Dylan: Tempest)

Says the Holy Book, the Dragon, like Jesus and Dionysus, can go missing, but cannot die for he too is eternal:

And  the devil that deceived them
Was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone
Where the beast and the false prophets are
And shall be tormented day and night forever and ever

(Revelation 20:10)

On the personal level one’s own boat is sinking for sure albeit there’s a promise of an “afterlife”:

I was born here, and I’ll die here against my will

I know it looks like I'm moving, but I'm standing still
Every nerve in my body is vacant and numb
I can't even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don't even hear a murmur of a prayer
It's not dark yet,  but it's getting there

(Bob Dylan: Not Dark Yet )

No wonder that in some other songs Bob Dylan grasps tightly the tiny spider web (spun by the gnostic-like Romantic Nature poets) that’s attached to a manifestation of the great White Mother Goddess of birth, love, and death:

If not for you
My sky would fall
Rain would gather too
Without your love
I'd be nowhere at all
If not for you

(Bob Dylan: If Not For You)

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  1. As both Dionysus and Christ might say:

    ‘Cause I’ll rise again
    Ain’t no power on Earth can tie me down
    Yes, I’ll rise again
    Death can’t keep me buried in the ground
    (Bob Dylan: Rise Again)

  2. The Romantic-leaning Frederick Nietzsche considers the spirit of the rational Apollo to be entangled with that of the emotional Dionysus while Modernist/PostModernist writers tend to fragment them into opposites (order vs chaos) that oppose one another.

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