Ritual processions: between allegory and the dissolution of self
For centuries, the act of walking has formed part of rituals, whose purpose is to carry us to a timeless place.
For humans, walking has been a reason for gathering and communion. Sometimes, the point of walking haphazardly is the encounter of people with a shared destination, or at least partially shared. Since the times of Aristotle, walking has been an endeavor in which humans have inquired together if the spirit has nine or 12 categories, if the world ends in our perception or if things exist beyond their meaning. As in The Canterbury Tales, walking is, in some form, heading toward the encounter of a portion of destiny.
Due to elements such as rhythm or repetition, the nature of walking is also the nature of rituals. In practices such as religious pilgrimages or brief and circular strolls which involved certain rites of passage, the movement of walking is erected as a means to conjure a collective intention.
In pilgrimages, at least three distinct moments of time coincide: the past, when other pilgrimages occurred; the present—the current pilgrimage; and that timeless rite in which the pilgrimage is ending at the church or temple. The shared destination is always there (perhaps because it is really the trajectory itself). The magic of that convergence is only possible in the mystical anonymity that arises and is nurtured by the steps that gradually carry us to our ritual destination.
Processions are common rites in many cultures. They are a rhythmic collaboration that involves the merging, through movement, in the same trajectory that condenses time and space. Whether this involves an rite of passage, or of it’s character is celebratory, artistic or devotional, a procession always means an allegorical journey, with each step being more than just a step and a dynamic communion, where the “I,” or self, is diluted in favor of its collective version.