What motivates men to ritual?
There’s the participant in the ritual, the initiate who embodies the ritual, who lives and breathes it, who’s body is marked, constrained, freed, transcended via the ritual. The motivation of the participant is clear: ritual is primordial to our beginnings, it’s a tribal thing. The original Moon Goddess, those monthly fertility rites (who’s genetic archeology is present within language, hidden in scripture, marked upon the menstrual cycles of our otherwise civilised ladies): this was the cult that made aman of the primate. And ritual, of any religion, is an echo (possibly reactionary) of that original, formative religion.
But what motivates the man – the singular prophet, from Muhammed to Joseph Smith – to bring a new ritual, one that renders previous rituals obsolete?
We could say, God. But who’s God, that is providing this physical revelation?
We make some observations:
1) New rituals, like new revelation, always have a lineage back to their predecessors. In the case of a strong ritual, the lineage is Freudian: the members of the new religion must shun the actions of the predecessors. But there are always common actions, from dua of the Muslim and Christian to weaker Masonic lineage in the Mormon rites.
2) There is the temptation to intellectualize the ritual by those who do not belong to the religion. But its real meaning, its real power, lies in a gambit to control and harness the hidden transitive lineage, the full genetic trace, back to our ancestors’ fertility rites.
3) Harnessing is the key word in ritual innovation. But by harnessing we do not imply conscious intension, we mean shaping to context, unconscious shaping. Religious ritual, its primordial power, is mutated by the innovator’s context. Because new religions are defined in new times, times succeeding the death of the Moon goddess. One prophet is a military leader, so ritual is infused with a martial character. Another prophet is concerned with fantasies of lost/secret primordiality and the new world, so draws upon that new world secret, Masonry, and this grounds his ritual.
Harnessing doesn’t have a point: it’s not about conscious control of people. It’s about filtering the primordial shamanic spirit through the prism of today’s prophet. It’s instinctive on the part of Prophecy, harnessing of the primordial to Prophecy’s incarnated, current, character.
Because the role of the shaman takes many forms, shamanism is forced upon the shaman, it is not a career choice. And what motivates the modern shaman is physical instinct, his unconscious = their dream, projected onto a thousand willing, pliant primates, desiring transformation into humanity.