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The Finer Points of Ritual

Subject: The Finer Points of Ritual

                         A Comparative Approach to
                  Liturgical History, Theology and Design

                               [goldbar.jpg]
                 A Heartland Pagan Festival Keynote Address

                               [goldbar.jpg]
                              by Mike Nichols

                              August 29, 2000

                                   PART 2

     [NOTE: This transcription was made from an audio tape dub of a
     videorecording of the event. Although the original transcript of
     this event contained audience comments, it was necessary to delete
     them from this version, since the question of ownership of
     intellectual property is naturally raised. Such omissions will be
     noted in the text, and it is usually easy to guess the content from
     the context anyway.]

     Sounds good! Okay, let's move on into the area of liturgical
     theology. What we've been talking about so far is liturgical
     history, the development of liturgical rites, and how I believe we
     must focus more attention on that historical development. But now
     let's take a look at liturgical theology, where we can start
     splitting theological hairs -- which is always so much fun!

     There are so many questions that have plagued Pagans for a long
     time, and I was *delighted* to find that some of these same
     questions had plagued the Christians down through the years. And it
     was fascinating to see what they had to say about it. Some of the
     greatest minds of the Catholic Church from St. Augustan to Thomas
     Aquinas, whatever other horrible things they may have done along
     the way, had some fascinating things to say about these issues.

     For example, why are some rituals done only once, like a seining,
     whereas other rituals are repeated over and over again? Take the
     Magic Circle itself, there doesn't seem to be any limit on how many
     times you can do it. Let's look at one possible answer. (But again,
     I'm gonna throw out more questions than answers here.) But one
     possible answer is that certain rituals, if properly done (whatever
     *that* means, and we'll get to that in a minute), have a
     *permanent* effect on the person who undergoes them. A permanent
     effect, an "indelible mark" as the old catechism says, that cannot
     be erased.

     Now, the question of how a ritual is to be done. How do you know if
     a ritual has been done properly? For example, does a ritual have an
     effect if there are no outwardly observable signs? Any of you who
     have ever performed an initiation rite, I think this has occurred
     to you. What happens if the initiation is all done, and the person
     sits there saying "I don't feel any different. Am I supposed to?
     Has anything happened to me?" And you will occasionally find people
     who have been High Priests and High Priestesses for quite a few
     years, who will perhaps talk more freely about it than others, and
     among themselves they will talk about whether an initiation "took".
     Did it "take"? Some of them will say that after an initiation has
     been completed, the rite was performed, the energies are set in
     motion, but it may not "take" until after another month, and so
     forth. That it may eventually take, but not right when the
     initiation was done. But the energies are there.

     Would you believe the same questions have been wrestled with by the
     Catholic Church? Especially in the early days of Christianity when
     the rite of Baptism was an adult rite, and it meant that the person
     was supposed to entirely change their outward behavior, totally
     give up certain things, and start believing certain things. What if
     a person went through a Baptism, which is supposedly a magical
     rite-- In those days, Baptism and Confirmation were virtually the
     same rite, and could only be done once because it was supposed to
     be effective the first time. Remember the whole question of the
     "heresy" of the Re-Baptists was on this precise point. If a person
     was baptized, that supposedly made them a Christian, which would
     supposedly end their career of "sin", in the eyes of the Catholic
     Church. But what if they went out and sinned again? What if they
     murdered someone? Should they get re-baptized?

     The Catholic Church said no, they should not be re-baptized because
     one Baptism is sufficient. The energies are already in place, but
     it didn't "take". But only one per customer for the rite itself.
     Now, it may be that the person was not "spiritually disposed" to
     receive the energies generated by the sacramental rite. There was
     some blockage, something stopping them from being receptive. We
     don't know what this is. That is perhaps one of the reasons the
     ritual of Penance developed the way it did. Because what do you do
     with a person who has sinned and yet wants to come back into the
     body of the Church? (By the way, certain people like the Donatists
     thought once they've sinned, they're *out*. We *don't* allow them
     back in.)

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     Yes, it is a variation. When the Protestant Reformation occurred,
     one of the things that was most held up to scrutiny, in fact, was
     the way the Catholic Church approached the whole question of
     sacramental rites. One of the chief questions (which we'll get to
     in a minute) is whether or not the "worthiness" of the minister is
     an effective variable in the rite itself. Does a priest in a state
     of sin-- What if a priest has gone out and murdered somebody? He is
     in a state of mortal sin, supposedly cut off from God and the
     Church. What if he then baptizes somebody? Is that Baptism sacred?
     Is it valid? Or, as a Pagan may put it, is the power in the person
     doing the ritual, or is the power in the ritual? I think all of us
     have wondered this, right?

     I'll be talking about what some of the various Church Councils have
     ruled on matters of liturgical theology in a minute. But in this
     particular instance, the Catholic Church decided that the power was
     in the rite, in the ritual itself. It didn't matter whether or not
     the person conducting the ritual was in a state of grace or a state
     of sin. This is one of the things that Martin Luther took exception
     to. He felt that the spiritual "health", if you will, of the person
     performing the ceremony was a variable in how effective the
     ceremony was. And I'll show you in a minute why the Catholic
     position disagreed with that.

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     Let me ask you a question based on that. If a person undergoes a
     rite of Baptism and doesn't experience this influx of whatever,
     Holy Spirit, then is it assumed that they were not baptized?

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     Ah! Okay, very good. The reason this ran into problems in the
     Catholic Church was because of the many priests who were declared
     to be heretical, in the Albigensens movement, the Cathari movement,
     etc. What happens if a priest, an *excommunicant* priest, performs
     a Baptism? Is that Baptism valid?

     The Catholic Church said yes, for a number of reasons. First of
     all, they developed two concepts: validity as opposed to legality.
     The sacrament, or the rite itself, was considered VALID in that it
     produced the desired effect on the person. Even if a person came
     from a heretical sect into the Church, they were not re-baptized.
     The Baptism only needed to occur once. It left an indelible mark on
     that person's spirit or soul. It didn't have to be re-done, right?
     However, that Baptism was ILLEGAL from the point of view of Canon
     Law. The Canon lawyers, the people who codified the ritual
     structure of the Catholic Church, would say that this was a VALID
     but ILLEGAL (or illicit) rite. The priest had no legal right to
     perform that ceremony.

     By the way, in the Catholic Church, under certain special
     conditions, anybody can baptize, including (are you ready for
     this?) a non-Christian! In cases of emergency.

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     Which raises some interesting questions for Pagans. You know,
     Whitley Streiber recently told that wonderful story about how he
     was taken by this group of people to perform some sort of
     "witchcraft" ceremony, and it turned out these people were
     Fundamentalists in disguise who did something horrible to a goat,
     sacrificed it or something, and went through this whole thing...
     Let's say, for some reason, that some Fundie took it upon herself
     to portray the role of a Pagan priestess and took somebody through
     a Pagan initiation. Is it valid? What if they copied the rites
     exactly out of whoever, Starhawk, Adler, Farrar, Gardner, whoever?

     What if the person who undergoes the rite has a wonderful
     experience? Let me suggest to you how the Catholic Church responded
     to that. It is valid for the same reason that a Baptism performed
     even by a non-Christian is valid because the person who confers the
     effects of the rite is not the minister, but God! So in this case,
     we could say it is the Goddess, or Whoever, who bestows that
     feeling on the initiate of having been initiated. And the
     minister's part was negligible.

     But that leads us into other problems, doesn't it? That's saying
     that the rite itself, not the minister performing the rite, is what
     gets it done. In the case of the Catholic Church, this concept was
     legally defined by the Latin phrase "ex opere operato", "by the
     work worked". In other words, it is the rite itself, the power was
     in the ritual, not in the person who performed the ritual. Yes?

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     I think you're right. And I think the whole focus of this is to
     start people thinking on questions about validity, and legality if
     it comes to that, in terms of Pagan rites. I am not for a moment
     suggesting we follow the Christian precedent in these matters. But
     they can indicate questions we need to think about in terms of what
     *our* response to that, as Pagans, should be.

     Here's another example. If the rite *itself* is effective... I bet
     any of you have gone through this. You have a student and you're
     teaching the student to do a ritual, right? How to cast a Circle
     for the first time. (Where's the sun? Okay...) Start in the North,
     start with your Sword, and say "Okay, student, now *do this*! 'Oh
     thou Circle, be thou a meeting place--' And you walk the thing out
     for them. You come back around to where you were and you say "Okay,
     did you see that? That's how you cast a Circle." And then you go
     "Wait a minute! Did I just cast a Circle?" We've all thought about
     that.

     Well, the same question arose in the Catholic Church, and the
     answer is remarkably similar. It came up this way. If a priest was
     teaching a novice priest how to say Mass, how to perform the
     Eucharist, and he actually pronounces the words of consecration,
     and unbeknownst to him there is a small crumb of bread on the table
     in front of him, is that now a holy crumb? Because the Catholic
     Church had by now decided, remember, that the power was in the
     ritual itself rather than in the person. So if the ritual is done
     correctly, the proper words are said (and we'll get into that in a
     minute, too: What are the proper words? What are the proper
     gestures?), that crumb now is "the body and blood of Christ", isn't
     it?

     Again, this took a lot of quibbling, but before it was all over the
     Catholic Church decided no, that crumb would NOT be the body of
     Christ because of one little thing that was left out. One thing
     that the minister does have to supply: "intentionality". Intent!
     The person performing the rite has to have the intent to be
     performing this sacred, magical rite. This was also true, by the
     way, of that non-Christian who was baptizing somebody. If the
     non-Christian was doing it as a joke, it would not be considered
     valid. However, if a non-Christian sincerely wanted to baptize
     somebody else as a Christian, and had that intent, and did the rite
     with all of its elements properly, that person was, in the eyes of
     the Catholic Church, baptized.

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     (laughing) What you are doing, and what we're all doing here, is
     beginning to develop questions about Pagan liturgical theology. We
     are breaking new ground here, is what I think. Well, I hope the
     word structure, if it has to be used at all, is used very
     advisedly. I think Otter has already suggested one possible Pagan
     response to this question, and that is that the validity depends to
     some extent on the person upon whom the rite is performed. That's
     one possibility. But what are all the ramifications of this
     response, this theological stance? Okay, there was somebody over
     here, yes?

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     Good. This whole things raises a very important question just from
     the psychological point of view for most Pagans. Do we *need* an
     un-Christening rite?

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     Let me comment on that point. One of the big educational
     experiences I've had recently-- One of my dear friends here in
     Kansas City is someone you've all seen here in the last few days,
     Rhiannon, the one who stood on the chair-- She's a High Priestess
     that I respect with all my heart and love very much as a good
     friend, but we had never actually worked together until relatively
     recently. And I was astounded at the difference in our approach.
     She, coming from a very Protestant background, encourages you at
     every point in the ritual to speak from your heart, practically
     never do anything the same way twice. You know, you go to the
     Watchtower and invoke it using words that come into your head at
     that moment, etc. Me, with my stolidly Roman Catholic background,
     doing the same rituals and the same repetitive patterns almost
     mantra-like time after time and expecting the same results.

     We'll get into, if we have time, the pros and cons of these two
     approaches. Obviously, both of them valid approaches, right? Both
     of them seem to work for each of us. Vastly different. And
     obviously conditioned by our original religious upbringing. Yes?

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     Or perhaps a better analogy, like the schismatic bishops who split
     away from the Church and continue to ordain new priests. Are those
     valid priests?

     You know, in all of this discussion, I am working from the premise
     that we are at too early a stage to formulate answers. But I think
     it's high time we started articulating the questions.

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     I hope that somebody chronicles those changes as they go. They're
     going to be fascinating. Let me throw out another important
     question of liturgical theology. Is there a way to *botch* a Pagan
     ritual so that it is non-valid or non- effective, so that it
     doesn't work or *worse*, causes some kind of magical boomerang
     effect that causes some sort of detriment?

     For example, what if you teach somebody how to invoke the
     Watchtowers, and you only tell them about three of them? What's
     gonna happen in the Circle when they only invoke three? Is
     anything? Does it matter? Does anything matter? (LAUGHTER) I mean,
     does it, are there certain things that have to be there? Are there
     certain elements?

     From the perspective of the Catholic Church, for example, a Baptism
     had to have certain specific components to be valid. A certain set
     of materials had to be present: the water, the salt to put on the
     baby's tongue, etc.; a certain set of words had to be present; the
     minister who performed it had to be a valid minister (which, in the
     case of Baptism, could be anyone), and so forth.

     Let me give you a quick example. It's been quite a few years ago,
     but in my own Coven we were training somebody who was new as a
     priestess. She had actually been instructed correctly in invoking
     all four of the Watchtowers but, as it happened, when she took the
     four elements around, things were confused that night. It was her
     first ritual. And, somehow, something got left out. And a little
     bit later, during the Circle, we were doing some divinatory work,
     with a Ouija board. And please! In my tradition, we use a Ouija
     board for divinatory work. At any rate, halfway through the ritual,
     there was some kind of manifestation which at least a good portion
     of us saw. It looked like a kind of cloudy, dark hand had reached
     over the planchette. (I hate to be telling a bad Ouija board story
     because they're maligned enough!) (LAUGHTER)

     But this kind of cloudy-looking hand reached in over the Ouija
     board. And everybody sort of jumped back like they were shocked.
     And I think most people there were thinking, "What the heck is
     that?" But my first thought (again, maybe because of my religious
     upbringing) was "How did that thing get into a carefully warded
     Circle?" There should not *be* any extra energy or entity in here
     that we didn't call ourselves, or want! And I started going back
     over the procedure and realized that (in our system, it is the
     incense that represents the element of Air) this particular
     priestess had not taken the incense around the Circle at the time
     of the consecration of the Circle. So, from a purely legalistic
     point or whatever, the Circle had not been consecrated by the
     element Air. Which theoretically would allow some sort of sylph or
     air-related entity to get through. You know, it wasn't properly
     warded by all four elements.

     Can you screw up a rite? I mean, what things *have* to be present
     in order for there to *be* a Circle? And what things can be left
     out? What things can you change? What things can you *not* change?

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     I think a very *common* experience of this sort, which most of us
     probably have experienced in the course of our magical training at
     one time or another, is how it feels to be psychically kicked in
     the head when power is not correctly grounded. (EXCLAMATIONS OF
     AGREEMENT) Right? How many can relate to that?

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     There are actually instructions like that in some popular book on
     the Craft. Is it the Farrars? It actually says in it that it
     doesn't matter where the directions are as long as everyone agrees
     upon them.

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     Yes, yes! Okay, but see, all of these questions all bear on the
     same point: What is really necessary for that ritual to be done
     effectively (and *safely*, in many cases)? What things about a
     ritual can you change without hurting the nature of that ritual?
     What things can't you change? Morwen?

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     I might argue with that, based on their stone circles and such. But
     on the other hand, I'd be willing to bet that the way quarter
     points got into modern Wicca was through ceremonial magick. I don't
     think there's any doubt about that.

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     The basic question we're raising here is, can somebody just create
     their own ritual system from scratch? Or does it have to link up to
     the real world around us?

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     Let me bring this back to something here... As far as the final
     determination of the Catholic Church as to what consists of a valid
     sacrament, they came up with these things. And it might be
     interesting to at least note them, to see what we would have to say
     about them from a Pagan perspective. But to be a valid sacramental
     rite -- And again, this is magic in the views of the Ca-- I mean,
     they don't call it magic, but a sacrament to the Catholic Church is
     an "effective" ritual, meaning that it has an actual objective
     effect. Magic, in other words.

     So, a rite had to have what was called the proper "matter" and
     "form", first of all. "Matter" pertains to the materials used, as
     well as the gestures used. The "form" had to do with the words that
     were spoken. In magical contexts, you might think of this as the
     incantation, that part of the spell which is spoken. It had to be
     performed by the proper minister. Now, this could vary depending on
     the particular rite. Only a bishop could ordain a priest, but
     anyone could perform a Baptism, even non-Christians. And finally,
     it had to have intentionality on the part of the performing
     minister. So, in the view of the Catholic Church, it is impossible
     to accidentally, or inadvertently, perform a sacramental rite. That
     is not possible, from the point of view of Canon law.

     Now, I'm not suggesting that Paganism take this same approach. I'm
     just suggesting that we in the Pagan movement think about it. Canon
     lawyers were then assigned the task of codifying which things were
     needed for a particular rite. Think of the way rites were
     elaborated. You know, a Baptismal rite, in terms of Canon law,
     consisted of a very few things. Actually, it didn't even include
     the salt. Just the pouring of the water, and the speaking of the
     words, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the
     Holy Spirit." That was sufficient for the rite. Now, if you've ever
     actually gone to a Church Baptism, you know that it is elaborated
     endlessly. This thing can be carried out for hours if the minister
     wants to. But the only thing that's really *necessary*, the bare
     minimum requirements for a valid right, are just those words, and
     those elements, performed by the right minister, with proper
     intention.

     Interestingly enough, when the Catholic Church started doing this,
     it led to a kind of minimalist approach in terms of rituals. The
     priests had been taught that the power of the rite was in the rite
     itself. It only needed to have A, B, and C in order to be effective
     or valid. Therefore, they only did A, B, and C. And it didn't
     matter what kind of state of grace the minister was in. So they
     started rushing them through pretty quickly. This is one of the
     main things that Martin Luther took exception to, and it gave birth
     to the Protestant Reformation. Because priests had been performing
     these ceremonies almost by rote, with the bare minimum standards in
     terms of Canon law as to what was required for an effective or
     valid sacrament.

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     I know that certainly it can diminish the psychological dimension
     of a rite. I've seen so many examples where, say, you're doing an
     initiation tonight. Now that means, to me, the whole thing should
     focus on this person's initiation. It is *their* night. But
     somebody else over here has another spell they want to do, and
     somebody over here has something they want to do, and by the time
     the whole thing is done, it's this incredible mish-mash with no
     central focus whatsoever. To me, very bad in terms of liturgical
     design.

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     Right. I meant to conclude this whole workshop (or whatever the
     heck it is) with a section on liturgical design or aesthetics,
     which we're just beginning to touch on. It's obvious that we won't
     be able to get into that too much, but I think it's good that we
     bring up at least some points about aesthetics. Yes?

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     Yes. Good intentions is not a valid excuse for poor ritual.
     Absolutely. To me, well, I've often used a communications model for
     rituals. To me, like language, rituals have a certain grammar, a
     certain syntax that it needs to follow, a certain order. For
     example, let's say you're doing a Circle and it's a high holiday,
     so you're doing a typical holiday celebration but, as a part of
     that, you're also doing an initiation. When does the initiation
     come? Well, to me, it seems obvious that the initiation should come
     during the early part of the evening ceremonies so that, once that
     person is initiated, they may now participate fully in the seasonal
     celebration. Right? Rather that leaving them out for it, and doing
     their initiation at the end.

     So, it seems to me that there is sort of a logic of rituals, a
     grammar, a syntax, for doing ritual. Now, just because you learn
     the rules of that grammar (and I suspect there are some very
     definite rules that we could get into if I had the time), but just
     because you know the rules of grammar doesn't make you a great
     writer.

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     I find the same problem in combining elements from different
     traditions. That's a problem for me. Now, theologically, I might
     agree that all the names of the Goddess are merely different
     aspects of the same Goddess. Fine. But I still have a problem
     thinking, how is the goddess Demetre going to get along with the
     goddess Arianrhod or Cerridwen? (LAUGHTER) They're very different
     forms, and to me, well, another analogy I sometimes use is, let's
     say you're in a new home and you want one room of this home to be a
     library. You know you want certain things to be in that library, to
     make it a library. You're gonna want shelves for the books. You're
     gonna want the books. You're gonna want a comfy chair to sit in and
     read. You're gonna want a reading lamp near it. You're gonna want a
     library table, perhaps, or a writing desk. And so forth.

     But let's say you go out and you buy early American bookshelves.
     You buy an Edwardian writing desk. You buy Victorian chairs. You
     buy modern chrome and glass lighting fixtures. What you have is a
     library, granted, because all of the elements are there. But
     nothing fits aesthetically. It's like a ritual smorgasbord. To me,
     the elements have to fit together aesthetically in order to work
     right.

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     I would-- Please! Don't start asking me what's valid! (LAUGHTER)
     See, there's a danger in even discussing this because there's
     always a danger of falling into that trap.

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     Scott Cunningham has a book coming out geared to Solitary Craft
     work. Let me answer the first part of your question first. I think
     it is possible to be eclectic and yet to avoid eclecticism within
     one particular ritual. Do tonight's ritual as a Celtic ritual, and
     next month's ritual as an Egyptian ritual if you want to, but don't
     mix Celtic and Egyptian in the same ritual. That's at least my
     point of view, my bias. I'm not saying that's some sort of dogma or
     rule about liturgics. It's my aesthetic, and I think aesthetics are
     important to ritual.

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     Yes, I understand that completely. As a matter of fact, one of the
     forms I most love that I learned from the Roman Catholic tradition
     is that called a litany, a reading of a long list of petitions or
     names of Goddesses and Gods. And that is so effective in a Pagan
     ritual, especially if its done as a responsorial. That can build
     power like you just wouldn't believe! I use that quite a lot in my
     own rites.

     Let me jump to another subject which was raised earlier: the
     tension which exists between those things which are spontaneous in
     a ritual, where you just think up something to say on the spur of
     the moment, as the spirit moves you, as it were; or those people
     who follow rites that are very patterned, very repetitious, very
     rhythmic, if you will. Now, I was certainly brought up in that
     school of thought. And one thing that I've read recently, which I
     found to be a fascinating argument in favor of that tradition --
     not invalidating the other, but in support of the repetitious
     tradition -- is that recent studies of the left hemisphere / right
     hemisphere brain split have shown something very interesting.

     Language, as you know, is a very linear system. And typically, that
     is a left hemisphere brain function. Anytime you are composing a
     sentence -- what I'm doing up here right now -- is very left
     hemisphere. Whenever someone is confronted with making up the
     invocation at each Watchtower, they are virtually working entirely
     left hemisphere. Whenever you are working with language, I was
     originally taught, you are working with left hemisphere.

     There is an interesting exception. Those things that are words that
     are commonly repetitious. When you sing a Christmas carol year
     after year after year, to the point you don't even have to think
     about the words as you sing it, your right brain hemisphere is
     operating just about on a par with the left, according to studies.

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     Right! It's sort of like a mantra. You know, for people from
     Protestant backgrounds, it sometimes comes off like, well, those
     Catholics just say their prayers by rote.
     "HailMaryfullofgracetheLordiswiththee." They can toss those off in
     no time at all. There's no power in it, there's no feeling in it,
     there's no spirit in it. The other point of view, however, is that
     the actual words themselves sort of take a back seat to the
     meaning, which is superimposed on top of those. And I can tell you
     from doing rituals in my life in the highly repetitive way, I feel
     like you, that it has freed my mind to go to perhaps deeper levels
     than if I had to do it differently every time.

     And by the way, notice how that's true in group rituals, too. If
     the High Priestess -- and I see a lot of this today -- she will not
     do the same ritual twice! And consequently, the entire Coven is
     sort of sitting back watching the High Priestess, saying, "Okay,
     what's she gonna do *this* time?" Never allowing them to really get
     into the ritual in a psychological way. When you're already
     familiar with something, like that Christmas carol, it enables
     everybody to participate fully, because they know what's going to
     happen, they know what to expect. They're not looking for changes
     in the script.

     Another thing that's interesting about that kind of repetitive work
     is that, when you do throw in a change, for a particular seasonal
     variation or something, it stands out. It stands out in contrast to
     the way you've always done it before. At a Handfasting, when you
     invoke the blessing of the Lord and Lady, instead of "onto ALL who
     stand before Thee", you say "onto TWO who stand before Thee", the
     changing of the words immediately focuses on the couple becoming
     handfasted. You hear that change; it registers.

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     Yeah, but it sorta does put everyone else in the position of
     spectator. It becomes a spectator sport nine times out of ten. Or
     else, you are actively, consciously, left- hemispherically being
     involved in the production of this dramatic play. You're not
     getting to relax and simply experience the *known*, and the
     comfortable. And that's what I think we need to have more of.

     By the way, whenever you have repetition, you also have rhythm. And
     this brings in a whole different dimension. The drumming, the
     chanting, and everything else that goes with repetition. I think
     good ritual pacing has a rhythm of its own.

     Something else that we totally ignore these days in liturgical
     design is the use of silence, which can be VERY powerful. You know
     how something happens which is really meaningful and everyone's
     wowed by it, and somebody else just goes right into the next thing.
     Doesn't let you have the chance to absorb that at all. I'm not
     talking about that kind of deadly silence where nothing is
     happening and no one knows what to do. No. I'm talking about those
     quiet moments that really empower what you've just experienced.

     [AUDIENCE COMMENT]

     I think a great deal of the blame there has to do with the fact
     that as children, you were indoctrinated into this before the time
     you were ready to think about it. You didn't understand the rite.
     Nobody had explained it to you. You were simply going through the
     motions. To me, that's not magic, that's superstition. When you
     just go through the motions. It's just mumbo-jumbo.

     I don't want to run overtime, and we already are a minute or two.
     Let me just conclude by saying that what I feel we've been doing
     here is ground-breaking work. I was *delighted* to have a group of
     people already so involved and so experienced, to have made such
     wonderful contributions. I'd like to welcome you all as being, I
     think, some of the first Pagan liturgical theologians around.
     (LAUGHTER) And I hope you'll continue working on it. Thank you!
     (APPLAUSE)

                               [goldbar.jpg]

     Document Copyright  1988, 2000 by Mike Nichols
     Html coding by: Mike Nichols  2000

     This and all related documents can be re-published only as long as
     no information is changed, credit is given to the author, and is
     provided or used without cost to others.

     Other uses of this document must be approved in writing by Mike
     Nichols.

     Revised: Wednesday, April 30, 1997

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