A friend in Poland sent a link to this music video, adding that it looks a lot like the Midsummer celebration in his village but needs the volunteer firefighters, more kielbasa, and more vodka, except, “Our river’s a fair bit wider, too.” He describes the St. Nicholas Orchestra as “Pagan-friendly,” and into the “anti-clerical stratum” of Polish folk culture. Note the procession!
My post from the 18th, “What Is Wrong With Large-Scale Ritual,” got a lot of responses (thanks!) here and on Facebook, but I noticed that the responses could be sorted into several categories without too much hammering and shoving.
- Lots of large-scale rituals are boring, and it’s time someone said so.
- #1 might be correct, but we do them right.
- Yes, let’s forget Wiccanesque circles and do processions instead, which is my current position. It’s about religion, not magical self-transformation.
Jim Dickinson argues that worship and magic(k) are not incompatible at large rituals:
Relative to the other commenter’s statement that we ‘should emphasize worship over magic-working’…I believe ritual should be both worship and magick, as often as possible. Magick is the tool that is used to create a space in which the likelihood of spiritual experience is increased. Magick, religion and spirituality are equal parts of the process. Magick helps creates spaces (physical, mental , energetic…etc.) in which spiritual experiences are fostered (against all the anti-spiritual energies in our modern worlds) and religion is the negotiated language we use to try to communicate (albeit imperfectly) to one another the essence of those mystery/spirit experiences. The synergy of religion and magick is what humans use to try to foster those mystery, spiritual experience for one another. All three are needed for a community to advance together. And a huge part of large-scale ritual, IMHO, should be providing a community bonding component.
But there is a reason that I posted the music video above. It’s about community too. And in any community you have the 80/20 rule, meaning that eighty percent of the people are not magical specialists and don’t want to be. They just want a little “juice” in their lives now and then, as well as a blessing on their important life moments.1)When they are “hatched, matched, and dispatched,” as the Anglican vicar says.
In the 1980s when American Pagan festivals were newish and still somewhat small, almost everyone participated in group ritual. As the attendance grew, so did a tendency that I have noticed at big festivals for people to camp in groups, decorate their camps . . . and then just stay there. Do you want to get them out of their lawn chairs and into the (temporary autonomous) community?
There is a circle again—it is hard to say how big it is or how long the circle ritual lasted. Children are involved, and there is movement, which are good signs.
Notes [ + ]
|1.||↑||When they are “hatched, matched, and dispatched,” as the Anglican vicar says.|