On the theater of ritual and mysticism in heathenism

I was speaking with a good friend the other night, and she said that she really was missing the theater of ritual and mysticism in the heathen rituals.  While I have been to some very theatrical heathen rituals, and conducted several, when we look at the day to day practice for many its become standardized and reduced to its minimalist components.

I’ve begun to ask myself the question of why this is.   I think it stems from a number of things.

  1. Lee Stead, in Ravenbok, points out that for the vast majority of Heathens, they never touch the mystical side of the faith.   Heathenism to them is much like Protestant church.  Now the Protestant faiths do have theatrics, but they typically aren’t participatory theatrics.
  2. For most, ritual is reconstructionist in nature, and since finding evidence of the theatrical side of ritual can be difficult at best, the faithful have elected not to incorporate theatrical elements in ritual.
  3. Heathenism is a pragmatic faith.   I’ve always said part of what attracted me to heathenism as a faith was its pragmatic view of the universe.  Theatrics and mysticism often come into conflict with pragmatism.

So, the question is, how to get out of this mode of minimalistic, pragmatic, anti-mystical practice into something greater.  Something that touches on the beauty and mysteriousness of the north.

Food for thought.

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