"There is a spiritual power in masks that transports one into realms unseen and gives voice to things unspoken. Within the context of ritual, putting on a mask places the wearer at the intersection between the present and the past, the living and the dead, this world and the Otherworld. Masks make it possible to activate ancient archetypes, with the mask wearer reanimating or personifying an ancestral presence or spirit, a deity or power, an animal or a being of the eldritch world.
In this illustrated study, Nigel Pennick explores the magical and spiritual aspects of mask wearing from ancient times to the present. He examines the many mask traditions around Europe and shows how mask rituals are similar to shamanic journeying and near-death experiences and can induce ecstatic states that allow the power signified by the mask to take possession of the individual wearing it. He also looks at the practice of dressing up as sacred animals and mask wearing as it relates to ostenta, events that occur suddenly and without warning that are considered a token or sign from the Otherworld.
Unveiling the sacred power of masks, the author shows how masks allow us to transport into realms unseen, embody ancestors and otherworldly entities, and connect with traditions that stretch back to time immemorial.
• Explores ancient mask customs, rituals, and traditions throughout Europe, from Scandinavia and England to Germany and France to Greece and Rome
• Reveals how mask rituals are akin to shamanic journeying and allow the mask wearer to personify an ancestral presence, spirit, deity, or power
• Examines animal guising and shows how mask customs are tied to creation myths and the ancestral founders of a people, tribe, city, or nation
• Looks at morris dancers and mummers in the UK, Krampuslauf and Perchtenlauf in Germanic areas, the Gorgon myths of Greece, Norse Berserker rituals, and the annual Black Forest rite to awaken ensouled masks every spring"