Sunday, December 04, 2011

Weird Worship

Nationally & locally there's been some shake ups in the rituals of the Catholic Church. English translations led to the humorous Fishwrap headline about Mass Confusion and a local priest hammering down on the blasphemy of holding hands while praying seem kinda odd to a guy raised Presbo. But I do remember attending services at Catholic churches and the local Temple and, especially because they weren't all conducted in English, I was frantically playing catch up as people stood, sat, kneeled at seemingly inexplicable times.
Serendipitously, I received a DVD from Shlockbluster, The Rites of Magick.
While I thought I was going to sit down to watch The Rite with Anthony Hopkins, I was actually sitting down to watch The Rites of Magick with Poke Runyon. Not a special effects laden horror melodrama but a documentary / sales pitch from the Order of the Temple of Astarte located in sunny Pasaadena, CA. While initially impressed that Hollywood was quoting Hermes Trismegistus I quicly realized I had the wrong movie.
The movie shows some of the rites & rituals of a neo-Pagan group that follows Phoenician religion & the magickal traditions of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn as well as some Indian stuff previously pioneered by "Uncle" Al Crowley.
It shows a Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, an Enochian Watchtower Opening, a Solstice ceremony & a service that bypasses those pesky language translation issues by having no words. I was aware of all this kinda stuff but had never seen the rituals performed, especially with large groups of people. While these small groups don't have the hierarchy & orthodoxy of large religious groups so how "authentic" their rituals are is surely up to debate. Still, it gives one an idea of what those people do & dispels a lot of hysterical misunderstandings. Dunno about the glittery masks, tho…..
The solstice ceremony particularly interested me as it was a re-enactment in the round of seasonal changes with the seasons portrayed by people & the narrative in English. I hate the rhymy verse stuff but I guess it makes the words easier to remember, whatever. The thing is we have seen, at least through National Geographic, the same type of ritual performed by American Indians & primitive African groups where we cannot understand the language, the dress is totally foreign & the mythology is a complete mystery. In this case, it's a bunch of white anglo-saxon Americans speaking English and it's all pretty clear - the symbolism & mythology all being European in origin. I don't know why we quit this practice in our western civilized world. Maybe Pat knows.
Anyhoo, for a different perspective, here is a humorous review of the movie by a guy who also thought he was going to sit down to a horror movie.

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