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These mythological features extend even to the highest regions of man’s spiritual development.
If we consider, for example, the daemonic features exhibited by Yahweh in the Old Testament, we shall find in them not a few reminders of the unpredictable behaviour of the trickster, of his senseless orgies of destruction and his self· imposed sufferings, together with the same gradual development into a saviour and his simultaneous humanization.
“In the very midst of divine service masqueraders with grotesque faces, disguised as women, lions, and mummers, performed their dances, sang indecent songs in the choir, ate their greasy food from a corner of the altar near the priest celebrating mass, got out their games of dice, burned a stinking incense made of old shoe leather, and ran and hopped about all over the church.”In certain localities even the priests seem to have adhered to the “libertas decembrica,” as the Fools’ Holiday was called, in spite (or perhaps because?
) of the fact that the older level of consciousness could let itself rip on this happy occasion with all the wildness, wantonness, and irresponsibility of paganism.4 These ceremonies, which still reveal the spirit of the trickster in his original form, seem to have died out by the beginning of the sixteenth century.
It is just this transformation of thl:’ meaningless into the meaningful that reveals the trickster’s compensatory relation to the “saint.” In the early Middle Ages, this led to some strange ecclesiastical customs based on memories of the ancient saturnalia.
Besides that, the shamanistic techniques in themselves often cause the medicine-man a good deal of discomfort, if not actual pain.At any rate, the various conciliar decrees issued from 1581 to 1585 forbade only the festum puerorum and the election of an episcopus puerorum.