Author Bill Bishop has suggested, “It used to be that people were born as part of a community, and had to find their place as individuals. Now people are born as individuals, and have to find their community.”
More than 100 years ago, French sociologist Emile Dirkheim coined the term “collective effervescence” to indicate how communal gatherings intensify, electrify, and enlarge religious experience. It’s a term I’ve used to describe why “the more digital we get, the more ritual we need.”
This phenomenon describes festivals like Burning Man, where people gather for a common purpose and, miraculously, their sense of ego separation often begins to melt, and, simultaneously, a communal joy overcomes them. J.D. Salinger wrote, “Happiness is a solid, and joy is a liquid.” It’s this liquidy bubbly-ness, like a champagne bottle magically popping open inside of you, that embodies this joyful experience. Often, it’s the feeling our compadres have over the course of their week at the Modern Elder Academy, with the crescendo arriving on graduation night.
Collective effervescence is good for your soul. And, we will have quite a pent-up demand for it when we’re on the other side of this pandemic. I believe it’s easier to feel it in the digital URL world with people you’ve already experienced it with in the IRL world (In Real Life).
A few years ago, I created a website, Fest300 (merged with Everfest), dedicated to profiling the 300 best festivals in the world each year and wrote more than 100 articles about my adventures going to 36 festivals in 20 countries in one year. At a time when we’re not going to festivals, I thought you might enjoy reading about Maha Kumbh Mela (the largest festival in the world), Il Palio in Siena, Italy, Dia de los Muertos, the Mevlana Whirling Dervish Festival in Konya, Turkey, and many others.
When was the last time you felt that communal joy inside of you?