Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Chaos of a Spring Festival

In the province of South Tyrol, Northern Italy, there remains a chaotic, topsy turvey festival, filled with remnants of gender bending shamanism, in the form of a man dressed as a woman acting as the wife of the spirit of spring. This is fairly typical in Eurasian Shamanism, in Japan and most other places spring festivals featured a man or boy dressed as a woman. This is because it was believed that they were being possessed by a female spirit, (a goddess, fairy queen, nymph, etc.) Men were the ones most likely to be possessed by these spirits, because this turned them into liminal figures. That is it pushed them away from human society and into the other world. Further, possession of this type was often likened to a form of marriage and so it made sense for a female spirit to possess a male person, and for a male spirit to possess a female. Though as with all things about shamanism nothing was certain. You can learn more about European Shamanism here.

In addition there are wild men representing the spirits of winter that must be killed by hunters, and monsters known as Schnappviecher (cattle snappers)