Thursday, August 23, 2012

Weber on Ecstasy

"Ecstasy as an instrument of salvation or self-deification, our exclusive interest here, may have the essential character of an acute mental aberration or possession, or else the character of a chronically heightened idiosyncratic religious mood, tending either toward greater intensity of life or toward alienation from life. This escalated, intensified religious mood can be either of a more contemplative or a more active type. It should go without saying that a planned methodology of sanctification was not the means used to produce the state of acute ecstasy. The various methods for breaking down organic inhibitions were of primary importance in producing ecstasy. Organic inhibitions were broken down by the production of acute toxic states induced by alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs which have intoxicating effects; by music and dance; by sexuality; or by a combination of all three - in short by orgies. Ecstasy was also produced by the provocation of of hysterical or epileptoid seizures among those with predispositions toward such paroxysms, which in turn produced orgiastic states in others. However, these acute ecstasies are transitory in their nature and apt to leave but few positive traces on everyday behavior Moreover, they lack the meaningful content revealed by prophetic religion.

"It would appear that a much more enduring possession of the charismatic condition is promised by those milder forms of euphoria which may be experienced as either a dreamlike mystical illumination or a more active and ethical conversion. furthermore, they produce a meaninful relationship to the world, and they correspond in quality to the evaluations of an eternal order or an ethical god such as are proclaimed by prophecy. We have already seen that magic is acquainted with a systematic procedure of sanctification for the purpose of evoking charismatic qualities, in addition to its last resort of the acute orgy. For professional magicians and warriors need permanent states of charisma as well as acute ecstasies." (Sociology of Religion, tr. Fischoff, London, 1963, p. 157-58)

stolen from borbor_chan on LJ

No comments:

Post a Comment