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  • Writer's pictureCasey Giovinco

Burying The Carnival

Spring is a time when our more primal energies run wild. Whether it's caused by the fact that we're getting more sunlight, as science says, or there's some other more occult reason for this burst of energy really makes no difference. The fact remains that this time of year is bustling with power just waiting to be unleashed. Plants bloom fully here. Animals become more active, and even people are influenced by these energies in extremely weird ways. All of nature comes alive again at this time of year, and, as part of that, the sexual energies are in full force.

In Gala's public course on Gay Witchcraft, we talk about these energies at our Spring Rite, which we call Burying The Carnival. This rite is a mock funeral for the Green Man, a practice that dates all the way back to the Priests of Nemi and their killing of the Tree Spirit. For us, in Gala, we honor the death and resurrection aspects of this god of vegetation by celebrating his sacrifice and taking his growth energies into ourselves in order to augment our own vitality with the coming energies of Spring.

According to Frazer in his famous Golden Bough, there are two "kindred sets of observances in which the simulated death of a divine or supernatural being is a conspicuous feature. In one of them the being whose death is dramatically represented is a personification of the Carnival; in the other it is Death himself."

Historically, the custom of carrying out Death is performed by creating an effigy to hold all the dead energies of Winter and, as the name implies, carry it out of the village to make room for life and new growth.

Despite its name, this is actually a joyous practice, which was carried out in several places throughout Europe. (If you want a feel for this energy, imagine an Irish wake, the festival of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, or Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and you'll get the idea.)

For three days, revelry runs high, and the celebrants bedeck themselves in masks and fantastic gorgeousness as they mix the melancholy of a funeral procession with the joy and mirth of a festival. As part of the procession, an effigy is paraded around with all the pomp and circumstance of a war hero returned home victorious. On reaching the pinnacle of the procession, a burlesque funeral oration is usually pronounced over the defunct effigy, and the lights are extinguished.

Immediately all evil darts from the crowd, and the effigy is seized and fled away with it, hotly pursued by everyone present, yelling, screaming, and cheering. Once the sham corpse is rescued from the clutches of the thieves, it is laid in a grave that had been made ready for its reception or tossed in a river to carry the death out of and away from the village.

When the Gala witches bury the carnival, we pull from this time-honored tradition, and we acknowledge the dying god as the Wild Man, a version of the ancient Tree Spirit from Nemi but also an incarnation of Dionysus himself, who is Gala's public god. Our own celebrations can (and should be) just as raucous and enjoyable as any Mardi Gras event you've ever heard about. After all, we are celebrating our god's sacrifice over the winter months and how he is taking away all those death energies while he simultaneously transmutes them into the new growth and life of Spring. Join us this year in burying the carnival and celebrating the coming of Spring.


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Casey Giovinco is a public witch, Chief Elder of Gala Witchcraft, and the CEO of Gala's federally-recognized church.


Casey has worked tirelessly to empower Gay male witches to reclaim their history and restore their rightful place as magical workers. 

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