I mentioned Charles Fréger’s book Wilder Mann: The Image Of The Savage three years ago, but here is a magazine article with a selection of the photos.
The article’s author writes,
As it happens, I’ve attended pagan rituals myself, in rural Austria, and I’ve met men who work on their intricate, large, wooden Krampus masks all year long in preparation for the fantastical Krampus “performance” in early December. I mention this as a prelude to explaining that (in my opinion) telling the difference between some authentic pagan belief and just people partaking in a fun pastime isn’t a straightforward proposition. It isn’t that such people are necessarily undertaking such rituals in order appease the earth goddess Erda and improve next year’s crop yield or anything like that, but at the same time I think that participants and spectators alike would agree that everyone is getting something necessary out of it, something communal, something emotional.
Well no, we would not want to think that it was actually religious, would we? On the other hand, indigenous religions don’t require creeds. Some people go to the ceremony for the “something emotional” only, and that’s all right.
4 thoughts on “Wild Men of Europe”
FYI, Charles Freger has a new book out about similar customs in Japan: Yokainoshima, Island of Monsters. Haven’t bought it yet, but looking forward to it!
We could call it: Not-so-Pagan moving to Ever-so-Pagan altered states of Cosplay. For some costumed revelers it’s just dress up. For others, sustaing a character. For still others, all out trance possession by powers, guardians, or deities.
Talk about trance possession. I once went to Philadelphia’s Black Community’s Odunde Festival held in early June. (Absolutely one of the best communal pagan festivals ever held!) It celebrates the west African “new year” (which is what Odunde means: Happy New Year, in what language I have no idea). They had a ritual to Oshun which the priests & priestesses of the local West African religions officiated. Everyone paraded down to the bridge overlooking the Schuykill River where the ritual took place. It was absolutely magical! Despite the Schuykill expressway being underneath us and many houses around us, absolute *silence* descended during the main part of the ritual. It was eerie. There were no birds singing, you couldn’t hear the highway or noise from the surrounding streets and there was no wind. The hair on the back of my arms and neck was standing up. The very second the ritual ended, the noise came back. You could hear the cars, the birds, the wind the people in the houses. On the way back, the drummers from Babatunde Olatunji’s drum and dance troupe (that alone was worth attending to hear them! A real treat!) were playing and there was one woman who was so wound up that she (in my opinion) was either possessed momentarily or was overcome by the effects of the ritual.
Personally, I have attended neo-pagan events in other contexts, but I have Never felt the power of Spirit in those events like I did at that one. Great memories.
Oh yes, I threw my yellow rose offering I had brought into the river and, despite my asking for money (Oshun oversees wealth as well as sex), I got a lot of male “admirers” showing up at my door a few weeks later! 🙂
I know that bridge, so it must have been quite a powerful event.
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