Still-Practiced Pagan Ritual Costumes
These are not your average Halloween costumes. For two years, French photographer Charles Fréger has been traveling throughout European countries, trying to capture the spirit of what he calls “tribal Europe” in his Wilder Mann series. What he found was a huge array of pagan rituals, mainly related to the winter solstice and spring renewal, focusing on the common myth of the “wild man.”
It appears that the tradition of men dressing up as wild animals and monsters, which dates back to neolithic times and shamanism, is still very alive. The mythological figure of a “wild man” represents the complicated relationship humans have with nature and life and death cycles. His series explores the different interpretations of such figures – while some cultures depict him as covered in flowers or straws, others possess the features of bears, goats, or horned and hairy beasts.
THIS IS AWESOME.
Though not unexpected, at least if you’re me :D The “straw bear” sequence in my first novel, Nameless, was based directly on European Pagan rituals, some of which have fallen by the wayside but many of which still exist in some form today.
I’d managed to lose sight of everyone, which is no mean feat even in the dark, when I heard a bird-cry off to my left. It was followed by what I thought was the rustle of wings, and instinctively I turned to look for the source of the noise. There was no sudden flight against the sky, however, no fluttering feathers – instead I came face to face with a wide sheath of plaited straw, behind which a pair of eyes flashed and darted wildly.
I suppose if we were less serious, if it really were a children’s game like we pretended, Charles would have winked and lifted his mask. Hello Christopher, where’s the rest? Run along and don’t tell. I hope I look all right. I might have winked back and told him he was terribly fearsome and said Good luck scaring the children, but I didn’t. Because it wasn’t a game, really, not in Low Ferry.
Instead the figure growled and raised his arms, surrounding me in the musty-sweet smell of dry grass and the shifting shadows of his braided costume. Fear rose in my throat, real terror, and I yelled in answer to his low groan.
"Straw Bear! Straw Bear!"
From all around me came the immediate sound of crashing as would-be rescuers ran through the undergrowth. I shied back from the figure and shouted “Straw Bear!” even as I fell on my elbows, staring up at him. Two women arrived on the heels of my shouting and batted at the upraised arms of the bear with their sticks, driving him off. He howled and shambled away while they gave chase.