Friday, October 30, 2009

Revel and Ritual in the Post-Prosperity Age (UPDATE)

In America, one of the lingering legacies of our Puritan roots is a simultaneous mistrust and economic exploitation of holidays and festivals. It really wasn't until the late 19th Century that holidays like Christmas and Halloween became popular- or even tolerated in some quarters. But there's still a strange sense of impropriety about it all, as if we should feel guilty about the act of celebration.

In addition, our holidays have become a minefield of commercial exploitation, which -surprise, surprise - only feeds into our alienation. Christmas has all but been destroyed by commercialism and sectarianism. It needs a major makeover and will probably get one if the economy continues to tank. Given the current political climate, it would probably need to be some kind of generic Winter Solstice festival, but that's where most of the familiar Christmas trappings- the cool ones, at least- originally come from anyhow.

At their roots all of our holidays are keyed into the rhythms of nature, which we have almost completely divorced ourselves from in our denatured existence. But there are signs of change. A lot of this is bleedover from the gay community, a lot of is coming from the neopagan and goth communities. You also have the equivalent of holidays-slash-pilgrimages with the convention circuit in different fan communities as well.

When you think about how we go through the workaday week, you realize it's these kind of holidays that give structure to our day to day life. It may be counterintuitive, but I don't see why Christmas and Easter (read: Ishtar) can't be celebrated by everybody, since they are in fact impossibly ancient holidays that were Christianized solely for political reasons.

I'm very encouraged by the Halloween revival and all of the Burning Man offshoots out there. The Super Bowl, Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras, St. Paddy's, Easter, Cinco De Mayo, Summer Solstice, Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve- hell, bring it on. Get together and dress up and celebrate and drink and screw and eat and laugh and puke. It may end up being the closest thing to a social glue we have.

Meanwhile, I'll just sit in my space capsule here and try to parse the meaning of it all. And one meaning I've parsed is that not only are these festivals increasingly independent of belief systems, they may actually be better off without them. The meaning is the act of the celebration itself. But again, at their core these festivals are based in those rhythms of nature that religious narratives were later imposed on.

The corporatization of our culture breeds alienation and isolation, and the result of that is paranoia. The cure for that debilitating disease is community, gathering, interaction, networking. And this new model of holiday gives these processes a compelling structure. The gay community has traditionally used festival and celebration as a way to deal with alienation and isolation, as have marginalized immigrant communities.

Now that we are all made to feel alien and expendable, it's only natural for this process to spread into the mainstream.

In their purest form, holidays give us an opportunity to reconnect with symbol and with ritual, which can't help but feed the Dreaming Mind. But only if these rituals are taken back from the pimps and ripoff artists who've been controlling them for the past hundred years.

UPDATE: This is interesting. Cheers to Astronut.

Please tell me this is a joke:

Earlier this week the Catholic Church in Spain also condemned the growing popularity of Halloween, saying it threatened to overshadow the Christian festival of All Saints' Day.

The Bishop of Siguenza-Guadalajara, Jose Sanchez, said there was a risk that Halloween could "replace Christian customs like devotion to saints and praying for the dead."

Uh, excuse me, your holiness but don't you have it the wrong way round?


  1. I don't think religious narratives were imposed upon the seasonal festivals so much as they grew from the increasingly elaborate rituals of those festivals. Good post Mr. Knowles.

  2. Great essay!
    Here's a poem.
    'On behalf of the flickering shadow - a prayer for the office worker' :

  3. Great post. Siouxsie always reminds me of Halloween.

    Word Verification: preci (?)

  4. Chris,

    You had a quote on your site that was unattributed.

    It read:

    "Coincidence is the Hidden Architecture of Reality"

    I'd love to use that in a paper I'm writing for my philosophy class. Can you please tell me who said that?

    Thank you,


  5. Wow! Can I use it in my paper?


  6. After watching the Halloween documentary that you posted, Chris, I am on a crusade to find one decent, moving Wiccan hymn.

    Because I've never heard one, and now I've got that tippity-tappy "web of life" chant stuck in my head. Woe is me.

    I mean that in the nicest way!

  7. Please do, C!

    Decent Wiccan hymn, eh?- can't help you!

    Finishing up the new book- I'll catch you guys later....

  8. I like the claim that the reason we use our current calendar is to keep man off his game and unable to grasp cycles and feel connected, less w-holy.
    A 13 month, 28 day calendar would be 364 days. New years day would be a zero day not part of any month, leap year 2 zero days. Also you would know what day of the week every day of the year was, years past and future all the same.
    Not new, many past cultures used this calendar

  9. Thanks, Chris.

    Is this your book you're writing, Chris or another book you're reading?

  10. The Christmas thing is so corrupted by the hideous marketing and consumerism, that - each year - I'm left waiting for it to be over.

    Dec 25th is the first day that the sun begins to perceivably rise earlier and set later, three days after the winter solstice.

    The winter solstice (and thus christmas) is the darkest time of the year, and this coincides with the highest reported time of seasonal depression - and thusly suicide. Approximately 6% of the population north of the equator suffer from some form of Seasonal Affected Disorder, the farther north, the more common the disorder.

    I can't help thinking that the iconic imagery of the snow covered house with Christmas lights (and Christmas music) is somehow a reaction to a very real malady. An attempt to sugar coat a collective mood disorder.

  11. Chris, have you heard of the U.K band Florence and the Machine, whose singer Florence is being aclaimed as the new Siouxsie/Kate Bush. This is their single, 'Dog days', with a video seemingly based around a pagan summer solstice festival/bachanalian rites! Seriously wierd and fun!

  12. Thanks Ck for the Ween vids. I wish Siouxe and the Ban shees could play the six strings. The other vid was milk toast but cool. A great ween party happens in Ashland Oregon every year. Discordia is in every one, it is shuned aside by most, only to come full circle. Hail Isis, Dennis

  13. Damn good post Chris, and a personal synch for me. I was having just this very same discussion touching on many of the same areas as you here last night and earlier today.

    The code I hat to type in here to enter my comment was "mityrees." Kind of reminiscnet of Mithras to my mind right now...

  14. Very interesting post Chris, glad to hear the book is making its way through the process of completion.

    I think personal celebration in ones own perceptions joining with others with their own is healthy, but it also can be drearily assigned as an agrarian mud puddle jumping distraction when you have mass corporate influence creating a demand for people to get together and "enjoy it".

    And we all know corporate-influenced hedonism is all the rage lately, so buyer beware. The traditional kind will be far more discriminating in nature as a result of actual personal values.

    Theres certainly nothing wrong or too abnormal with the seasonal and holiday parties, although I find the abnormal somewhat refreshing and love skipping holiday enforced activities especially when my personal life is improving fine without them.

    The main exception to all this "celebration" is finding oneself entering into social contract which retains heavy elements of corporate influence, that is unless it is purely family and community oriented which allows for enough spiritual leeway for the participants to enjoy themselves.

    Eventually we'll all find a new celebratory way as the economic structures lose their obsessive stranglehold on and people are forced to expose their own energies, not just in secondary creative "fleeting glimpses", but in newly sown growth that require a steady, first order creative interaction of the self-actualizing life potential variety to be sustained.

    Then the true celebration will hold the essence of peoples coming together to mix a higher form of values.

  15. Hi Chris,

    Interesting topic. I don't follow and religion or the holidays much. I don't mind the holidays but they are designed to deceive you. Yes, I do partake in family holidays as families do. But I don't express my true feelings about them because most people, friends and relatives alike, would think I'm nuts. Well, that's actually is not to far from being crazy. :)

    Let's see if I can explain my feelings a little here. The following passages are from my friend Bryan Kemila, who has writen the IlluminatiMatrix document. It's an excellent and endarkening source of knowledge. many believe that we come from light....we are light and we actually come from darkness, just the opposite. Remember, Lucifer is the light bringer, that's not necessarily a good thing...why would we want to praise him?

    Here is some information on subliminals:

    Subliminal messages are coming at us continually. Through pictures, books, movies, music and the like. Here is one more fantastic subliminal manipulation that tells a nasty tale. The Smashing Pumpkins music group have known an immense amount of success over the years. The reason any group or individual attains such success is because they are willing to be used to further the Trance State. For the most part, they do this unwittingly, however, that does not make the hypnosis any less potent.

    Consider their album – Zeitgeist (Translated as Time Goes in German).

    This was to be released on July 7, 2007 or 07/07/07. Have a look at the symbolic image of their album cover, then immediately below, read the lyrics to the song called Doomsday Clock.

    Now for the lyrics and the obvious suggestions made throughout this song that are meant to help mold the illusory reality humanity should have, along with the accompanying devastation.

    Doomsday Clock
    “is everyone afraid?
    is everyone ashamed?
    they’re running towards their holes, to find out
    apocalyptic means are lost among our dead
    a message to our friends to get out

    there’s wages on this fear
    oh so clear
    depends on what you’ll pay to hear

    they’re bound to kill us all
    in whitewashed halls
    their jackals lick their paws”

    “i’m certain of the end
    it’s the means that has me spooked
    it takes an unknown truth to get out

    i’m guessing i’m born free, silly me
    i was meant to beg from my knees”

    “we gotta dig in, gas masks on
    wait in the sunshine, all bug-eyed
    if this is living?
    sakes alive!
    well then they can’t win
    no one survives”

    “apocalyptic screams
    mean nothing to the dead
    kissing that ‘ol sun
    to know all there is
    come on, last call
    you should want it all”

    to be continued...

    Sorry this is so long. I need part 2 to finish it. take care.


  16. part 2...continued from above;

    The suggestions here are obviously very intense. The lyrics have been inspired by the luciferian entity to further establish the previous examples of hypnotic suggestion, with the same sort of message, thereby creating our reality. According to the lyrics in this song, a massive devastation is going to be unleashed. This simply reinforces all previous trance inducing scenarios and this is now our reality. Without coming out of the TRANCE STATE, these events will certainly occur and the anguish of these events will be devastating. Yet, coming out of the TRANCE STATE, and losing all EMOTIONAL CONNECTION to the 3 dimensional illusion will reconnect our state of being with REALITY, and our ORIGINAL PARADISE STATE of WISDOM through AWARENESS of what’s transpiring, thereby making little difference what might come to pass within the TRANCE STATE. To all who read these words, … its ALL IN THE MIND. We’ve been imprisoned by manipulation of what we believe to be our mind, and our thoughts, and our choices. Freedom from the devastation and luciferian ‘hoped for cataclysm’ is achieved by rejecting the notion that our mind actually is OUR MIND. These are not our minds and these are not our thoughts. Nothing could be further from the truth and reality.

    Take care all.


  17. Call me square, but the most "decent Wiccan hymn" I can possibly think of is "Stairway To Heaven." We've all heard it so many times that we're not really hearing it anymore, but if you stop and really listen to it (in a Zen kinda way... don't worry so much about the lyrics if you can help it, but it's okay if you do, too) as if you've never heard it before... I think it's as Wiccan as it gets. Not to mention the concert performances which were as close to pagan ritual as suburban America ever gets... (hats off, Mr. Knowles!)