So last night we went to a Gnostic Mass. And it rocked both our socks.
There's a very good, somewhat annotated script for the Mass here. It's very, very balanced and sexy. Every motion in one direction is followed by one in the complementary direction. The shrine has alternating black and white tile steps and supporting pillars. It's kept dark but with well-placed candles to bring in light.
The best part of the Mass' symbolism is the masculine and feminine. There are five players (besides the congregation as a group): the Priest, the Priestess, the Deacon, and two Children (female and male). The Children act as attendents, like altar boys combined with sacrament bearers in a Catholic/Anglican service. The Deacon leads the congregation, like conducting a symphony, and reads from the Holy Book of Whatever. They support the drama of the Priest and Priestess.
The Priest and Priestess are not intermediaries between anyone and the divine. The divine is everywhere and everyone has perfect access to it constantly, so there's no point to having someone in that position. Their role is to draw everyone else into feeling the divine, to embody it as an ideal and show the rest of us how it's done. Our Priest and Priestess are dating, which helps get the right open, hot, sultry, directive, glorious force of energy whooshing around like cognac swirled in a glass.
If you read over the Mass, you'll notice the Priestess empowers the Priest, who re-empowers the Priestess. She comes in doing sacred dance, and dances the Priest out of his little sacred cubby-hole in the western end of the temple. She invests him with his ceremonial robes and symbol of power (a big phallic spear). And then he leads her to the other end of the temple, installs her on the shrine itself as a living goddess, and worships her as she continues to worship him. After her installation, nearly all of the ritual is done with the two of them facing each other, eyes locked. The Priest conducts most of the ritual movements and vocalizations, all in reverence to the Priestess, who remains silent but communicates a world of magic and wonder and pleasure and mutilation with her eyes and body. If my description of this scene doesn't make it sound hot, then either my prose skills are deficient or you're not letting yourself feel it. If you doubt me, find a Mass near you and prove me wrong.
The Mass ends with communion, and the five players remain in the temple after the congregation files out. They finished their duties, and then everybody grabbed a glass and we finished off the sacramental wine. And then went for more. And then more. For eleven of us. Of what I remember, there were two bottles of merlot (possibly three), one of pinot grigio, three of champagne, and some really excellent Jack's Pumpkin Spice beer, which unfortunately I was too smashed by then to drink much of. They had an Egyptian-style hookah with cinnamon-flavored tobacco, which tasted great, although I still can't smoke that shit without coughing like a noob. The Priestess really liked us -- partly because I was the only woman in the congregation that night, and she often has to do the women's parts in the call-and-response section because no one else is there carrying a vagina and/or uterus to do them. It was a hell of a lot of fun. I have never been so drunk on sacred grounds. Because we were doing all that in the temple, and it fucking rocked. With all the energy already going around, it was like being a little high or stoned even before the booze. And she gave us roses! Very, very cool. I have never had an actual spiritual experience in a religious ceremony before. I'm hooked. Years from now when I'm selling matches on the street to pay my initiation fees into new cults, you can look back to this event as the start of it all.