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Author Topic: Ritual as Performance Art? Or How Not to do Ritual?  (Read 2309 times)

Lokabrenna

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Ritual as Performance Art? Or How Not to do Ritual?
« on: December 07, 2012, 12:36:02 am »
This article was posted to The Wild Hunt today:

http://wildhunt.org/2012/12/ritual-magick-as-performance-art.html#comments

I admit, I don't make a habit of paying attention to anything involving Crowley, so I don't know that much about the specifics of the Western Magical Traditions, but does this ritual seem just a little cheesy, or is it just me?

As a piece of performance art, this was (not gonna' lie) painful to watch. Seriously, how flat can the Magus's voice get? At least if he hammed it up, it might have been entertaining.

I don't know, it just seems like a bad attempt at ritual AND art.

Opinions?

Emerald

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Re: Ritual as Performance Art? Or How Not to do Ritual?
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2012, 02:49:27 am »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;83743
This article was posted to The Wild Hunt today:

http://wildhunt.org/2012/12/ritual-magick-as-performance-art.html#comments

 
I saw that earlier today. It had me cringing at how stupid it was. Crappy performance and excuse for art. Isn't the whole summoning demons thing getting old by now? *facepalm*

Faemon

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Re: Ritual as Performance Art? Or How Not to do Ritual?
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2012, 03:19:18 am »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;83743
Opinions?


One reason I lost interest in ceremonial magick, was best articulated by Penczak. It went along the lines of, "Spells aren't scientific formulas, where you get the right ingredients together and it always produces the same mix every time. Instead, it takes a connection to the universe for magic to work." The concern in the article that "despite the act of invoking and drawing a magical circle, at the end of the ritual, there was no closing or banishing" ...presumes there was a summoning.

Sure, they recited the words, but whether the performers had that connection to the universe to summon in the first place is between them and their G-d.

I talked about a magic spell that I cast before, where I thought the name of a god was just a way to access an essence in some part of my own psyche and my own spiritual energy. It turned into an unpleasant UPG about offended Mesopotamian deities, even though the actual spell I cast wasn't reconstructive or anything-- the actual ritual was, by all angles, fluffy as fluff. So, I think it can happen that, on the metaphysical plane, you don't express something with that specific intention but it gets taken the wrong way anyway.

But, on the other hand, the line isn't clearly drawn. I just believe that I wobbled while toeing the line, and crossed it, once. There are many times that I played hopscotch with no ill effects: the LBRP never called over any angels. None of the dream catchers I ever collected, alleviated my nightmares. Performing the Sun Salutation yoga routine didn't get me divinely thwapped (Isn't there another thread out there, about how some parents are making a fuss about yoga being taught in schools because touching your toes invites Satan to possess you?)

So, why would Bartzabel check in on every bad poetry reading with cool costumes that mentions Him by name?

Quote
Seriously, how flat can the Magus's voice get? At least if he hammed it up, it might have been entertaining.


Maybe they did it on purpose, by not "vibrating" the incantation they don't knock against the ether? I don't know.

I doubt that just any thespian/psychic reads for Lady Macbeth's letter scene and promptly attracted nasty astral critters. Or that any soprano singing for The Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte then accidentally curses her co-actress or daughter. The only one I recall from Medea is her sleeping potion, but maybe somebody better-versed in Greek theater would be able to say how the troupe kept verisimilitude instead of veris-that's-totally-what's-actually-really-happening-for-real-dude.
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RandallS

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Re: Ritual as Performance Art? Or How Not to do Ritual?
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2012, 08:30:31 am »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;83743
I don't know, it just seems like a bad attempt at ritual AND art.

Definitely bad art (I'd give it an "F"). As for ritual, just so-so (I'd give it a "C"). Magical ritual is not meant to be exciting or even impressive to onlookers but rather to produce a magical effect in the world.
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Shine

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Re: Ritual as Performance Art? Or How Not to do Ritual?
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2012, 06:42:20 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;83766
Definitely bad art (I'd give it an "F"). As for ritual, just so-so (I'd give it a "C"). Magical ritual is not meant to be exciting or even impressive to onlookers but rather to produce a magical effect in the world.

 
I agree with you.

Though I do wonder if there is an intersection where art and ritual can collide, where something can be accomplished, and onlookers can enjoy a proverbial show. Not being well-versed in ritual or magic (a bit of heka's my limit), I can't say where that intersection is. I've always thought that an execration ritual could be pretty entertaining, given the right script.

But a summoning? Eh, that seems kind of like a bad idea in terms of art. If I were doing a ritual for entertainment value, I'd probably leave out the summoning of entities. XD Especially those that are called demons.
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RandallS

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Re: Ritual as Performance Art? Or How Not to do Ritual?
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2012, 06:49:31 pm »
Quote from: shine;83819
but a summoning? Eh, that seems kind of like a bad idea in terms of art. If i were doing a ritual for entertainment value, i'd probably leave out the summoning of entities. Xd especially those that are called demons.

definitely.
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Sharysa

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Re: Ritual as Performance Art? Or How Not to do Ritual?
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2012, 07:35:02 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;83766




I have no experience with the magical part of it, but whoever is reading the invocation is suffering a BAAAAAD case of "Reading for English class." And the acoustics of the room don't help AT ALL.

Quote from: triple_entendre;83756
Maybe they did it on purpose, by not "vibrating" the incantation they don't knock against the ether? I don't know.


UPG: Ogma has mentioned that a lot of my favorite music tends to fall into "Strains," and that's why I'm always getting songs stuck in my head. There are the Joy, Sorrow/Bitter, and Sleep/Soothing(?) Strains that have been mentioned in Irish lore. Ogma says there's also the Anger/Satire strain, and the Children's strain(s?) for lullabies and kid's games.

The songs don't fall into these categories because the performers are actively trying to work magic (or even aware of it, for the most part). It's because the music itself is so energetically resonant, it puts everyone on the same wavelength and has potential to attract attention on its own.

So it would make sense that if the video's subjects are "only" trying to perform something, then they'd just phone things in to avoid drawing attention. But really, if you're not trying to attract attention from deities, then why should you expect people to watch it?

Quote
So, why would Bartzabel check in on every bad poetry reading with cool costumes that mentions Him by name?


Personally? If I were a deity/spirit, I would SMACK someone at the least for messing up my invocation. The first thirty seconds feel like FOREVER because 1) there's a lot of repetition, which is hard to pull off, and 2) he's just reading the lines off the page.

More UPG: I've noticed that good performances (and "sincere, focused effort" usually counts as "good") tend to attract positive attention from beings, even if they're not intended as magical rituals. All the energy put into making them good seems to attract attention on its own. So it stands to reason that badly-done or incorrect rituals would get 1) no reaction, or 2) a REALLY bad reaction due to offending the being in question.

I'm working tech on a show for my theater's dance department, and two pieces got unexpected spiritual attention. The West-African piece had my ancestors going "WHOO, IT'S LIKE A DRUM CIRCLE!", and a solo set to a spoken-word piece had Ogma go "Niiiiiiice" because the poem was great on its own, and both reader and dancer did awesome jobs interpreting it.

So performance art can definitely qualify as a ritual on its own, but if you want to make a ritual into performance art, then you'd need to know what makes a good performance and how to adjust your ritual accordingly.

In my opinion, performances and rituals are nearly the same thing--they're just geared towards different audiences. If you do a performance well, you get a response from people. If you do a ritual well, you get a response from Deity.
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MadZealot

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Re: Ritual as Performance Art? Or How Not to do Ritual?
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2012, 09:13:59 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;83766
Definitely bad art (I'd give it an "F"). As for ritual, just so-so (I'd give it a "C").

I'd grade 'em both with an F.  If the ritual, even a well written one, sounds like you're reading bad poetry from a book, you're doing it wrong.  The "reading for English class" comment is spot on.  I've also seen/been in rituals where Shatner-esque over-acting was the performers' idea of skill; equally bad.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2012, 09:15:21 pm by MadZealot »
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Fausta

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Re: Ritual as Performance Art? Or How Not to do Ritual?
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2012, 09:09:09 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;83743
This article was posted to The Wild Hunt today:

http://wildhunt.org/2012/12/ritual-magick-as-performance-art.html#comments

I admit, I don't make a habit of paying attention to anything involving Crowley, so I don't know that much about the specifics of the Western Magical Traditions, but does this ritual seem just a little cheesy, or is it just me?

As a piece of performance art, this was (not gonna' lie) painful to watch. Seriously, how flat can the Magus's voice get? At least if he hammed it up, it might have been entertaining.

I don't know, it just seems like a bad attempt at ritual AND art.

When it comes to Western Magical Traditions, ritual as a public performance is nothing new. Crowley & co did it with Rites of Eleusis already in 1910. :)

When it comes to this particular ritual, it isn't just you, it's  bad.

As a performance, it reminded me of a mandatory school play, where the principal has appointed roles to all kids, putting a relative's kid in lead role, and made the gym teacher be the director ('cause playing is playing, right?). The stage isn't taken in any way by none of the participants. The "Magus" performs as flatly as the paper he reads from. The possessee / chaneller at least tries to act but is at odds with everything around him and the rest are just... there. Bad acting, bad performance, poor performance art and I'm not that foreign to performance art.

It could work as a "satirical look on the prevalent pompousness inherent in the  ritual stucture of Western Magickal Tradition" (I'll just shorten it to "WMT" from hereon), but I doubt that was the intention. Furthermore, for that approach to work on stage, the audience would have to be familiar with what the ritual structure of WMT is.

As a ritual, the performance simply didn't work and had it been done private with the same people, it wouldn't have worked there either, I'd say.

Ceremonies and rituals should - in my view - be geared towards whoever they are built to revere or contact, be it gods or spirits. The performance of a ritual or ceremony should be convincing. It could be pompous, it could be ecstatic, it could be meditative, but if the component of being convincing is missing, the risk of failure goes sky high. This particular performance didn't approach the ritual with anything related to being convincing in mind, but I fail to see just exactly what their approach is. OK, being convincing might have been a driving factor, but the group definitely failed in showing it. Not only are you supposed to convince who- or whatever you are connecting that you are willing, able and in command, you need to be able to convince yourself of your temporary omnipotence, so to speak. In my view, the biggest obstacle in between yourself and a successful working is yourself.

To me, a successful working within WMT says in it's realization: "This is what I say and what I say WILL happen, because there simply is no other option available in this reality I'm creating with my working."

To me, this performance said: "I'm just saying these words here, don't mind me, I'm really really really hoping nothing will happen because we have no idea what we would do if who we are pretending to summon was really to appear." There's no Intention involved, nor Will. And that's what makes the performance's value as an actual ritual next to nothing.

Now, I don't have any kind of problem of taking a ritual and going on stage with it. It would be hypocritical of me to think so. After all, I have gone on stage doing a ritual (as Haeretici 7o74, duo of me and my husband) where our ritual was with sound only. There were people in the audience who got it and loved it, there were people who realized we did a ritual and loved it, there were people who realized there was a ritual going on and were uneasy with it, some people didn't get the ritual part and loved it and there were people who simply didn't like our music. As this duo we've structured gigs around a ritual cycle with the gig in itself not being a ritual, but a dramatized telling of it. Going solo, I've incorporated pieces in my music that were a part of a ritual working with the audience giving an extra boost to it.

(As a side note: I'd say every performer in any field of performing art does a bit of magick, unwitting or not, while using and directing energies emerging from the audience in and towards their performance. Those who know what they are doing can direct it better. There's also a bunch of people who know about audiences and energies released by them and go to see performances with the intention of using the extra energies of the audience to use in their workings, but that's beside the point.)

Furthermore, there are plenty of musicians I personally know and whose gigs I've gone to see, have thoroughly enjoyed and felt as part of a ritual, to whom a gig IS a ritual. We've also had numerous wonderful discussions on the subject. In spite my approach stemming from WTM (and sometimes Chaote framework) and theirs more from Shamanistic and other not-WTM approaches, when it comes to the ritual-in/as-performance actually working and being able to be very enjoyable for a member of the audience, we agree on.

However, when it comes to this videoed performance and the choice of ritual - no. This simply didn't work. Choosing a summoning may sound like a great idea because of the capability of it being SHOWY, but come on. If it was done true and nonscipted for the person to be summoned, neither the option of nothing happening and something happening is good: If nothing happens, it's just boring to wath. If something happens, the Magus really needs to know his business, or things could turn ugly.

Now, they seemingly went with the idea of "nothing will happen anyway" (hence the script for the one playing the part of chaneller) enhanced with the intention-less performance of the magus, which did absolutely nothing to general appreciation and understanding of WTM in any way or form. What came out of this performance was: "There's a bunch of people who dress funny, talk funny, act funny and think they can actually summon spirits with it. What a bunch of loonies."
« Last Edit: December 14, 2012, 09:10:25 pm by Fausta »

Fausta

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Re: Ritual as Performance Art? Or How Not to do Ritual?
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2012, 09:48:02 pm »
Quote from: triple_entendre;83756
One reason I lost interest in ceremonial magick, was best articulated by Penczak. It went along the lines of, "Spells aren't scientific formulas, where you get the right ingredients together and it always produces the same mix every time. Instead, it takes a connection to the universe for magic to work."


The very same idea can be seen in books and other writings on folk magic, wiccish magic, new agey magic and so forth. It isn't restricted to Ceremonial Magick at all, and when it comes to CM, I see that idea more as a front to be seen beyond, as what it actually is.  Granted, my point of view is different from yours.

Quote
The concern in the article that "despite the act of invoking and drawing a magical circle, at the end of the ritual, there was no closing or banishing" ...presumes there was a summoning.


This. :p

Quote
I talked about a magic spell that I cast before, where I thought the name of a god was just a way to access an essence in some part of my own psyche and my own spiritual energy. It turned into an unpleasant UPG about offended Mesopotamian deities, even though the actual spell I cast wasn't reconstructive or anything-- the actual ritual was, by all angles, fluffy as fluff. So, I think it can happen that, on the metaphysical plane, you don't express something with that specific intention but it gets taken the wrong way anyway.


Yeah, that can happen. It can also happen that one is just seen as yet another piece of cosmic entertainment and left at that. :D:

Quote
There are many times that I played hopscotch with no ill effects: the LBRP never called over any angels.


Are you sure? ;) That is, generally the LBRP isn't done in order to call over angels, but as a basic (basic as in "what forms the base, the foundation", not as "most simple") banishing.

Quote
So, why would Bartzabel check in on every bad poetry reading with cool costumes that mentions Him by name?


Exactly. Just like hitting your toe and crying out "Perkele" (common Finnish swear word) does't bring out Perkunas, even though there's much more emotion in the latter incident.

Faemon

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Re: Ritual as Performance Art? Or How Not to do Ritual?
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2012, 04:00:43 am »
Quote from: Fausta;84823
Yeah, that can happen. It can also happen that one is just seen as yet another piece of cosmic entertainment and left at that. :D:


Well, I should hope someone was cosmically entertained! That ritual wasn't even performed like "so bad that it's good."

Quote
Are you sure? ;) That is, generally the LBRP isn't done in order to call over angels, but as a basic (basic as in "what forms the base, the foundation", not as "most simple") banishing.


True, I don't know how to make sure. I suppose my understanding of / relationship with ceremonial cosmology(?) might have been enough of an obstacle to actually executing it :ange::ange::ange::ange:
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Fausta

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Re: Ritual as Performance Art? Or How Not to do Ritual?
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2012, 06:10:02 am »
Quote from: triple_entendre;85178
Well, I should hope someone was cosmically entertained! That ritual wasn't even performed like "so bad that it's good."


Yeah, it was just bad-bad.

Quote
True, I don't know how to make sure. I suppose my understanding of / relationship with ceremonial cosmology(?) might have been enough of an obstacle to actually executing it :ange::ange::ange::ange:

 
With LBRP it takes time and practice to go from "I'm telling myself I can feel the angels" to "hey! I CAN feel the angels" and I'm not sure I've at the actual angels part. :D: (Well, for me Star Ruby is more of the ritual of choice, but anyway, lol.)

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