• Paul M. Wood

2. Origins of Synthesis in Ancient Religious Ceremonial Rituals

The two halves of the synthesis action are direction and participation.

Harmony is reached through this dynamic in synthesis that becomes the very definition and origin of ecstatic transformation through creation.

In the moment of expression.

And at the moment of interaction.

No big surprise that the origins of the synthesis urge and nature can be traced back to ancient days of primal religious ceremony and ritual. At that evolutionary start point, synthesis signified a service realized in a mass ritual based in the expression and articulation of faith.

And that faith was usually expressed by storytelling experiences.

This is relevant to our current definitions of synthesis because this desire has remained as an act of transformation to achieve redemption through artistic expression and participation.

As primitive societies required collective synthesis events to unity the community to ensure survival and inspiration, six core steps took shape in a flow that cumulated in synthesis.

These are the cornerstone activities of a Total Work of Art that we will continue to explore as realized in artistic traditions, experiments, revelations, and evolving rules for what defines artistic experience.

1. Pilgrimage. The act of taking the journey to the location/setting of ritual. A trek toward the origin and articulation of faith. Buddhists to Lumbini, Christians to Holy Lands, Hindus to Kumbh, and Muslim to Mecca. And these preparation steps ease into the state of being to ascend out from everyday concerns and release worldly possessions and concerns.

2. Ceremony. The opening entranceway and activation of the experience. Initiation rites, setting the stage, and a unifying gesture to connect the audience. The ceremony provides introduction to the synthesis platforms and modes: music, dance, language, drama, the visual arts (regalia, masks, artifacts, body ornamentation, etc.), and the chemical arts (such as materials that are smelled or consumed).

3. Storytelling. Spiritual and mythological themes with messaging embedded in drama, characters, situations, and incidents.


4. Rituals. Rhythm, tone, movement, singing, dancing, and drumming all trigger endorphin release. The ecstatic transformation grows and progresses from before to after, stimulating neuropeptide systems for euphoric effects.


5. Aftermath. The cycle continues as resurrection and reincarnation.

In the next blog, we’ll dig deep into the works and legacy of composer Richard Wagner and Gesamtkunstwerk that Wagner popularized as Total Work of Art synthesis of the arts, and manifested his own very personal and ego-centric vision.

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