Charles University, Prague, Department of Religious Studies
Hungary: Tacit trust – reflections on the relational implications of the Covid-19 pandemic in contemporary Pagan revival
Persons engaged in contemporary Pagan renewal in Hungary coped with the restrictions implemented during the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic (March-June 2020, October 2020-February 2021) mostly by virtue of electronic means. Complying with government decrees, during the first and second waves, the collective rituals held by shamanic leaders and the large historical reenactment festival Kurultaj they take part in were considerably restricted. While shamanic gatherings were mostly replaced by weekly live streams of drumming and singing on social media, the 2020 Kurultaj festival was limited to a “fire ritual” involving selected participants later broadcasted on social media as well.
However, while the third wave proved to be deadlier than the previous ones, some leaders seemed much less worried with the protective measures. They resumed their usual ritual activities (sweat lodges, healing ceremonies, offline shamanic teachings, etc.), which obviously require proximity in often reduced spaces, without masks or social distancing they in some way suspended the pandemic. In the same vein, although the Kurultaj festival was cancelled because of the impossibility of safely organizing large public events even outdoors, the footage of the private celebration clearly shows that participants deliberately disregarded protective measures.
Drawing on the analysis of the relational dynamics of Neopagan rituals, this presentation will explore how the dismissal of safety rules may contribute to ritual effectiveness, i.e. to the experience of belonging to a united and solidary national community.