The Pokey Finger of God

meditations on religion and culture

The Pokey Finger of God header image 2

Fellowship: Pentafest Ritual

February 15th, 2012 · No Comments · fellowship, ritual

The Pentafest commemorates the conjunction of the Sun and Venus. As this occurs on one of the same five days each time (see Venus Mysteries), so all five days are celebrated each year. On the Pentafest date that coincides with a Sun/Venus conjunction, a special theatrical production is produced.

The Pentafest celebration is part theatrical presentation, part art exhibit, and part learning fair, wrapped up in a inter-personal, participatory ritual. Much of the material is an attempt to quickly educate the unfamiliar with the Fellowship mythology and ritual practices. At the same time, participants must be given several opportunities to connect with the spirit of the Fellowship, through participation with easily remembered phrases, and opportunities to chant or sing.

The primary story arc is presented several times, in different contexts, to participants. The dying Warrior God descends into the underworld where he transcends his fears and is reborn as the Lover God. The Lover God overcomes three obstacles through personal transformation and later, in dying, descends into the underworld. There, he transcends his anger to be reborn as the Warrior God.

In this visualization, the location of the production is the Vortex Theater. They’re very pagan friendly, and have a really nice location. This may not be where the production actually takes place: it’s just helpful to think through a production in a known location.

As participants enter into the outdoor garden, they are encouraged to wind past various statues and set scenes that illustrate various elements of the primary story arc. Near to each group of set-scenes, an interpreter is positioned, repeatedly relating the meaning of each of the set-scenes near them to participants as they arrive. Also, the actors portraying the god forms will mingle (in character) with the participants in the garden, telling stories and interacting with participants. This will familiarize the audience with the characters and basic premise of the primary story arc. (Note that, while the god forms Warrior God and Lover God are referenced herein as male, the play is written so that either gender could play either or both god forms.)

Continuing into the cafe area, presentations line the walls describing various aspects of Fellowship ritual, such as: the idea of Spirit, house rituals, community rituals, and the Spirits of place. Each presentation consists of a poster or tri-fold presentation foam board, and descriptive handouts. This will provide an opportunity to glean a better understanding of some of the activity during the play. The presentation describing the Fellowship will include signup sheets to join the e-list, to be alerted for future Fellowship activities.

Inside the auditorium, a small band plays behind a vaudeville-style series of performances, beginning at least an hour before the play begins. In turn, each performer, pair, or group performs a story, juggles, tells some jokes, or sings a song — sometimes while dancing or performing gymnastics! The context of each song or story is either some element of the primary story arc or a summary of the entire arc. Participants are encouraged to move back and forth between the cafe, garden, and auditorium during this time.

Prior to the beginning of the main ritual, an invocation of the gods is performed, during which a procession outside led by the Warrior God leads everyone from the garden and the cafe into the auditorium. Those already within the auditorium would have the perspective of having witnessed an invocation ritual physically answered. (Note: some kind of participatory chant or song would be appropriate.)

The framing narrative depicts a family recounting the primary story arc as part of a family ritual for Pentafest, interspersed with scenes of the god forms playing out the story. When the Warrior God descends into the Underworld, the ritualistic interaction is demonstrated. At the end of the cycle, when the Lover God descends into the Underworld, the participants are given the opportunity to follow, offering up the ritualized answers and taking part in the ritual of transformation.

The three obstacles overcome by the Lover God are each opportunities to demonstrate some aspect of Fellowship ritual, such that a house ritual, a family ritual, and a community ritual are needed to progress to the solution. In each case, the Lover God must also transform some element of himself in order to progress.

After the second Underworld scene, when the Warrior God returns (which should be a different actor) and the participants have had an opportunity to have their own transformation ritual, the Warrior God leads a procession out of the auditorium and into the garden. Participants are encouraged to stay and mingle with the actors (out of character) and other participants for a while.

Tags: ···