The Dance of the Mystai – A Modern Mystery Tradition. Tinnekke Bebout; Pagan Writers Press, Houston, Texas. 3441 pages (digital).
Part introduction to the modern mystery tradition of the Mystai, part journey of feminist self-discovery, and another part personal narrative, The Dance of the Mystai is an inspiring book which points to the very heart of Goddess spirituality, then offers secretly to give more; rendering this reader’s heart as overflowing with longing of spiritual Sisterhood. Touching on the universal themes of Patriarchy and the need for Goddess religion in women’s lives, it was nothing I have not read already; but it was interesting to read the personal narratives and how they shaped the author, Tinnekke Bebout, into the Priestess she is today.
It was the Mystai’s work with Hekate and the emphasis on training, creating a modern tradition in Her service, and the acceptance of personal gnosis which made me interested in this book firstly. The face of Goddess spirituality is changing and with it the new Aeon is ushering in a time which does not attempt to re-create a movement but to pick up where our mothers and grandmothers left off and continue the work. And it IS work… as Bebout points out very clearly. The book hits the ground running to explain what the Mystai is and is not: an emphasis on personal work and reclaiming mysteries without influence of ‘group think’. Bebout points out the privileged and comfy place we are all used to coming from, and why we are also not getting the results we long for; the deep spiritual connection that comes from recognizing our own innate abilities.
“I know from experience and simply from being a modern American woman that we are not used to heat, exertion, and other adverse conditions and certainly don’t look to experience these things on what may be in our minds a vacation. That is the first change we need to make: the Mysteries are not a vacation. They are not a Goddess Festival where various paid speakers will pass on ideas or skills while everyone sits in relative comfort and has meals prepared for them. They are not a convention where people sleep in hotel beds and wander from event to event… the Mysteries are a spiritual journey to the inner world of the Goddess. They are simple and profound” (pp.510-511).
The first sections of the book go straight into the structure and working theology of the Mystai, including the liturgical calendar (lunar based), offices and lyceum curriculum. The second major section deals with the basics of trance, magickal theory and application, and devotional workings, all which are not necessarily from a beginner’s perspective. Including in the bulk of the work is several devotional poems and hymns, narratives and personal confessions as Bebout includes works created by Mystai sisters; sharing and baring the soul of sisterhood.
Bebout and the ladies of the Mystai are creating a modern tradition which speaks on a soul level with women everywhere. Much like the Fellowship of Isis, the Mystai’s ideology rests in the universality of the Goddess and that “we are the Daughters of the Goddesses in all Their myriad and wonderful manifestations” (p.191). Several Goddesses of the Mystai tradition include Hekate of course, Aphrodite, Athene, Gaia, Inanna, Isis, Kwan Yin, Lilith, and Sophia. In my own workings with Hekate as my matron, She acts as a guide or ‘agent’ in the Otherworlds… perhaps this is the same reason why so many Goddesses are interested in the Mystai. The work they are doing resonates with my desire and need for a focused priestess training in the service of Hekate, without telling me what is right and wrong, trusting in the validations I receive from no other higher authority than my Goddess. The Mystai have re-confirmed for me that the way of gnosis and revelations CAN be shared in a nurturing, supportive community. I have found my way and look forward to my training.