Letter to Nova magazine

Nova’s current issue has the theme, “ceremony”. It does not cover the subject well at all, which is no surpise. I am probably barking up the wrong tree here, but the unconscious anti-Christian and anti-western bias does get me at times. So a letter…

“Thank you for the December Nova, focusing on ceremony. Many of the feature articles however, despite the by-line, did not focus on ceremony. Those that did had scant information and seemed to be struggling to accommodate the theme. I also found it strange that in an issue on ceremony there was no exploration of our own western tradition of ceremony found within the sacramental churches, synagogues and Masonic traditions.

Instead we heard about ceremonies from several other cultures including a ‘Buddhist cult’ and the Lakota people. Chandrika Gibson briefly mentions cultures of both ‘east and west’ as having a sacred space but explores only eastern or indigenous examples. Western ‘ceremonial’ is examined within a secular context, during Helen Patrice’s article on motherhood where her descriptions of four ‘rituals’ are not actually rituals at all apart, perhaps, from ‘opening gifts’.

I think the articles themselves point to both our cultural paucity of ceremonial knowledge and our lack of recognition of the wisdom and gifts right in front of us within our churches and lodges. For your next issue on ritual or ceremony can I suggest you simply ask a priest or elder (Co)Mason? They will be able to inspire your readers greatly and with much beauty as their traditions have literally thousands of years of ceremonial wisdom. We don’t need to look anywhere else.”



  1. Suecae · December 14, 2009

    Strange as it may seem, exoticism may give the readers a sense that the rituals are more detached from their everyday life, hence opening them up more to their esoteric value. It may be that the writers unconsciously use a similar way of thinking. But I agree, I always think that the local forms of spirituality should at least be given a heads up when push comes to shove.

  2. Peregrin · December 15, 2009

    Hi – yes, good point. Thanks. That, amongst many other things, is behind some criticisms of Vatican II’s changes to have the Mass said in the vernacular, not Latin. The Latin expression, and other actions makes the ritual far more, as you say ‘detached’ from our everyday life.

  3. David · December 16, 2009

    Though, the Latin gives a sense of history and tradition, making the person feel like they are belonging to something almost eternal, rather than everyday.

  4. Samuel · December 23, 2009

    Good points Peregrin. This sort of attitude as given in Nova magazine also is heavy in anthropology and psychology disciplines in the various universities (at least here in the States, and I presume throughout the western world).

    In many ways, perhaps the Western Mystery Tradition egregore is quietly still protecting and hiding those that are open within the West of following the Mystery Traditions of the West? Perhaps Thoth-Hermes works in mysterious ways to keep what is not meant for the masses from the masses?

    I wholeheartedly agree that it is sad that so many in academia are not in touch with their own culture’s Mystery Traditions, whether those are Hermetic or Christian or any other of the various rich traditions that are encompassed by the Western Mystery Tradition.

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