The Scarlet Letter
Volume I, Number 4 | May 1994
From the Camel's Back
by Sr. Continuity, Camp Master
At least, I think so. The rituals alive, in flux, moving, breathing, growing, and (was it ever thus) changing.
Now, some rituals are caught like a fly in amber, or a moment in time. Not a word can we change of the O.T.O. initiation rituals—they are indeed mystery plays and they stand frozen, their power growing with each unchanged exact repetition. It is the duty of those who enact these plays to extrapolate and present the essence of the meaning of the symbols—and communicate it (in the truest sense of the word) so that it is received in kind by the initiate.
So too with the Gnostic Mass—except in the Mass there is a little room here and a little room there to let the seams out—sort of a spiritual accommodation of the idea of natural expansion—a largening without basic change of shape (we read you, Soror Chen).
Over here at Scarlet Woman Camp, we are experimenting with ways to enhance the glorious garment of the Gnostic Mass without ripping it to shreds or rendering it unrecognizable. To begin with, there is the matter of the anthem. I know that some people, including some whose opinion on this matter I value in no small way love the anthem. (You know who you are, Frater.) Personally, I have always disliked it. It probably has something to do with that "waiting womb" reference. It irks me, jangling the same nerve irritated by Liber AL (III:45) "...then will I breed from her a child...". (Why not create a child with me, O fiery snake of the Aeon, instead of taking one from me?) Since there is so much material that lends itself to anthem use, we have been playing with it, at the discretion of each individual mass team. In the last quarter, we tried using Aether 9 from The Vision and the Voice. It has seven sections read by the priest, each one followed by a four line refrain from the congregation. The general consensus was that it was too long and somewhat ponderous.
Then we tried the "pick your own adoration" method. Each of the 169 Adorations of God from Liber 963 were printed on slips of paper and placed in a jar for individual selection by each lucky congregant—who got to emote their adoration followed by a lusty refrain from the priest. This was actually a lot of fun but it was slightly chaotic (slips of paper hard to see let alone sing in cadence in the dark of night). It has been suggested that a group reading of Liber 963 could well stand alone as a ritual. We personally recommend setting it to drums.
In other mass variation news, we have added Annie Sprinkle (re: Ellen Steinberg; more recently, Anya) to SWC's list of female Gnostic Saints, due to her courageous and beautiful contribution to the Great Work. She is traveling around the world, enacting the "myth of the sacred prostitute" before audiences who arrive expecting only an evening of provocative theater by a titillating subject.
I had the opportunity to witness her performance ritual three times in January. She does it as the final act of her show "Post Post-Porn Modernist." She (very cleverly) included the audience in the ritual structure by a) including them in the circle she cast and, b) giving each audience member a rattle to play throughout the ritual, which includes the casting of the circle, the stating of intention, the raising of the energy, and the release of the arrow of intent— read: one big giant 20 minute orgasm. After that people continued to sit and shake their rattles, chant, throw flowers, and stare adoringly. Some went outside for a cigarette, but most lingered for up to 45 minutes after the performance was officially concluded.
My conclusion: they definitely felt something and it changed things for them in that moment.
She is a woman generating a powerful current, she is manifesting, and she is magick. To me personally, she exemplifies the Great Work in action. Check her out!
To sum up, we're trying to perform the rituals with joy and beauty down here, and if you're not feeling too particularly doctrinaire, come sit by us.