In Threskeia after the Goddess we honor Her divine son, which we call Dionysus and who has two manifestations – one during the day and another during the night. The God during the day reveals himself as Sabazios, the one who is the freedom of the blue skies, master of thunders and ruler of the heavenly fire and the Sun, which as well symbolizes him. During the night Dionysus reveals in his other manifestation, for whose name we accept Zagreus, the great hunter, the nightly flame, the mighty bull of the fertile earth. At the same time the solar and the chthonic traits are interweaving in both forms, because they generate the two hemispheres of the Cosmos and the wholeness of the divinity itself. The tradition of honoring Dionysus has deep roots on the territory of our country and it is connected with the Thracian tribes as well as with the Macedonians and the Phrygians.
In Threskeia Dionysus Sabazios is a manifestation of the God, of Dionysus in his diurnal appearance, he is the power of the sun, the stone and he is the liberation. The very name Σαβαδιος, Σαβαζιος means “liberated”, as in Rome Dionysus is called Liber. That is why in Old Bulgarian (known also as Old Church Slavonic) the word for freedom is свободь, from the indo European *swobhodhio-s.
THE SERPENT is an inseparable attribute or manifestation of Sabazios. Diodorus (Diod. IV.4,1) reveals Sabazios as the sibling of a serpent’s wedding and much older than Dionysus. Demosthenes (Dem. XVIII, 259-260) while describing the mysteries held in Athena in honor of the God, tells us about serpents, participating in the ritual. We also learn from him, that parts of the ritual finery are the wreaths from dill and white poplar.
According to Theophrastus (Teoph. Charact. XVI, 4, Diels) the superstitious person (the one that takes into consideration all of his obligations to celebrations and gods) when seeing a snake always calls out the name of Sabazios, because the god himself appears to him in the form of the snake and by calling His name the person puts himself in His protection. In that case the serpent is a symbol of the Sun – when the sun is strong during the summer so is the serpent, and during the winter the serpent is sleeping, and so is the sun. That serpent, as a solar symbol of Sabazios is depicted as an “S”. Though the serpent is apprehended more like a mischievous creature, for which the Christian religion has contributed, there are still preserved folk tales and songs in which the snake is in the position of the virtue. The good snake, protector of the home is known from antiquity – forerunning the rain, guarding the fertility of the village and the crops from hail. They also play the role of mediator between the heavens ant the earth.
In Threskeia Dionysus Zagreus is a manifestation of the God, of Dionysus in his nocturnal appearance; he is the power of the night and the ecstasy, hunter of the souls and giver of delight. He is the Great hunter who hunts himself. He is the mighty Horned God, wearing the majestic horns of a bull, giving fertility and watching over the souls.
The BULL is a symbol of the God. Ancient evidence for that gives us the sacred images of a bull in Çatal Höyük from 8th millennium BC. The bull’s horns placed on images of the god, symbolize the Crescent Moon and also the eternal cycle of birth and death. That manifestation of the God is the one that has his authority during the winter, when all of the nature is lifeless. The myth tells us that Zagreus is the son of Zeus – the Lord of the Heavens, and Persephone – the Mistress of the Underworld. In the Orphic myths, the maiden goddess Persephone was seduced by Zeus in the guise of a serpent. She bore him a son, the godling Zagreus, who, when Zeus placed him upon the throne of heaven, was attacked and dismembered by the Titans. They painted their faces with gypsum, waited until his guardians the Kouretes fell asleep, and they allured Zagreus with different toys. When he came to them, they attacked him. The God, in His fear, took a number of different shapes. Finally, in the shape of a bull, he was dismembered and eaten by the Titans. Zagreus shapeshifting during the chase symbolizes the rebirth of the souls in different bodies. The Titans dismembering and eating the God is a reflection of the subordination of the soul to the “passionate”, “ecstatic” state, symbol of which are the Titans. According to the myth the heart of Zagreus is preserved by Athena – in the same way the initiated in the Dionysus mysteries, must save his heart, i.e. his inner spirituality, from the material, “titanic” world which can dismember it. Zagreus, the great hunter, the hunter of the souls is for us in the guise of a godling, he is the one ruler of the lower hemisphere, the one god after the one Great Mother Goddess.