|An Epiphany of Dionysios, who is called Dithyrambos|
Joseph Campbell, in his enormously popular proposal of the so-called monomyth, makes much of initiation as one of the stages in the universal meta-story of the hero. "The traditional idea of initiation combines an introduction of the candidate into the techniques, duties, and prerogatives of his vocation with a radical readjustment of his emotional relationship to parental images... Ideally, the invested one has been divested of his mere humanity and is representative of an impersonal cosmic force. He is the twice-born: he has himself become the father." (136-137). This passage nicely sums up Campbell's view, and also evinces some of its weaknesses.
|(cc) NID chick|
As I've mentioned before, our knowledge of the Dionysiac rituals are minimal and subject to a good deal of uncertain speculation. For the images of the villa in Pompeii, see this website. One must always be cautious in making broad statements about phenomena across the religions, but this much seems safe: To be initiated means to mark a milestone in one's personal development, to join a particular group, to become the keeper of a special doctrines and a special story that one previously had limited access to, responsibilities for, or privileges in, and to partake of the realm of the unseen, of numinous power, in a new and inward way. These empower one to undertake new actions or a new way of life.
One must imagine waiting in the dark, being led by others in unseen paths, and then emerging into a secret world--like a womb--lit for the passing of hidden knowledge...where one sees what can be revealed only to those who belong on the other side.*
* For more information, you may see this article, which will also suggest alternatives to the theory that I think is plainly correct.