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Church Of Bacchus

To: alt.magick.tyagi
From: (High Artist Nemo)
Subject: Church Of Bacchus
Date: 19 Dec 2003 18:52:41 -0800

Church Of Bacchus

ALTHOUGH IT HAS been more than a hundred years since the evaporation
into legend of Eastford's "Church of Bacchus," time has not completely
dimmed the folk memory of this unusual "congregation" and its
eccentric founder, Ephraim Lyon. According to tradition, about the
year 1820 Lyon hit upon the idea of "organizing" into a more or less
formal association all of those citizens of Eastford who were known to
worship -- as Lyon himself obviously did -- Bacchus, the Roman god of
wine. Patrons of the grape (or "drunkards" as they were called by
believers in the temperance heresy) from such other area towns as
Ashford, Chaplin, Pomfret and Hampton were also said to have been
enlisted in the mother church by the remarkable Lyon.
Membership in the Church of Bacchus came neither by invitation of the
founding father nor even by the voluntary requests of prospective
worshippers. Rather, Ephraim Lyon took it upon himself to enter
eligible members on the church rolls, kept elaborate (but secret)
records of the congregation and proclaimed to all who would listen
that he was totally immersed in his work. He also maintained that his
own capacity for leadership could only be proved by demonstrating his
capacity for liquor, and he dedicated himself religiously to that task
as well.
Since the only qualification for membership in brother Lyon's church
was a reputation for excessive drinking, it was said that he had a
brimming bowl from which to dip new members. There were some reports
that as many as a thousand people from Eastford and surrounding towns
swelled the church rolls during its peak years. While most of the
members were said to be male, the leader of the Bacchanalians must
have been an early believer in affirmative action. They say his
aggressive searches for qualified candidates uncovered enough women to
quiet any charges of sexual discrimination against the church. Once
entered upon Lyon's church record, a member could only be removed by
going on the wagon. An excommunicated member who had been stricken
from the roll was immediately reinstated, however, if word reached the
minister that he or she had resumed the habit.
As might be expected, residents of the community were not particularly
pleased with the presence in their midst of Ephraim Lyon and his den
of inebriate communicants. Active temperance people were outraged,
ordinary non-drinkers were scandalized and those citizens inclined to
an occasional sip from the cup that cheers were fearful of having
their names added to the rolls of the Church of Bacchus. Although the
universal dislike and dread caused frequent threats on the life of
Ephraim Lyon, nothing deterred him from his purpose (whatever that
was), and for a period of some twenty years he managed to escape
assassination and dedicated himself to his priestly duties. At one
point, they say, his wife became so alarmed over the repeated threats
on her husband's life that she discovered and burned the church
records. However, the clever Lyon soon reconstructed the rolls from
memory and hid them so well that neither his wife nor anybody else
ever found them again. It is said that during the life of the church,
Lyon revealed the official records to a selected few members of an
inner circle of bonafide alcoholics. After all, even in such an
unorthodox church, something must be kept sacred!
The Church of Bacchus went out of existence when Ephraim Lyon died in
1840, but not before its founder was memorialized in appropriate
ceremonies. According to one member of the church in very good
standing who attended, the celebrants and their posterity would
probably never forget the stirring occasion. And while it is ironic
that the name of Lyon (not Ephraim but General Nathaniel) is revered
today in the town of Eastford, it is even more ironic that the town is
one of the few in Connecticut to remain steadfastly "dry."

from Legendary Connecticut
 by David E.
Philips / ISBN 1-880684-05-5 / $17.95

           High Artist Nemo

       Co Founder of The Reformed Church Of Satan

      (Where a sense of humor comes first!)

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