Not every practitioner is into the use of a mask. In fact, there is often, at least these days, the thought that if you wear a mask then you are trying to hide something about yourself. I even experienced this thought form way back when I first grew a beard. How ridiculous. This thought system is simply based upon people’s inner fears. The unknown is something that terrifies them. When it comes to a beard, well, needless to say, that is nobody’s business but one’s own. We don’t have to live in society like we are applying for the military academy. So beard up as much as your little soul desires! Play with it. Decorate it with beads if you so desire. Sculpt it and shape it to enhance the look of your beautiful face. Whatever works is completely okay.
When it comes to masks, people need to know this. Masks have been used for thousands of years in ceremony and ritual. They are not something that was ever intended to be used only for Halloween or bank heists. Masks can indicate the presence of a particular Spirit in attendance for the ceremony. There are many Spirits who have masks to honor them. Many traditions equals many Spirits.
Some of the Spirits that are honored are in animal and bird form, such as the deer, buffalo, raven and eagle. These Spirits are powerful and meaningful to those who connect with them. Some masks represent particular deities, such as Cernnunos, Pan, Siva, Kokopelli and so on. And some masks indicate a connection to the other side of the veil, such as skull masks. I have had the honor to participating in mask making workshops, cofacilitating them with my dear friend, Katherine Dempsey, over the years. In these workshops participants make their own plaster mask of their own face, but decorate and adorn it with meaningful objects, fabrics and colors. I have three of these masks that I have made myself. One represents the fire within (my passion), another represents my connection to all things mystical, and the third is my connection to the essence of the Green Man. Each one is deeply sacred to me. And yes, sometimes in ceremony I will wear one of them. But this is more a personal thing than it is something that is shared in general. I would never wear them simply to gain attention. That would be ridiculous. That is part of why I tend to reserve them for private ceremony, because they are vibrant enough and powerful enough that they cannot help but gain attention from onlookers. But that is not their purpose. Their purpose is to honor particular aspects of myself that I want to allow myself to bring forth easily in a ceremony or ritual. That is all. The masks in the photo are wall masks that I made, depicting a connection to all of Nature and to the Otherworlds, as well as a mask that was gifted to me by a dear friend, in honour of my ability to dream walk.
In ceremony and ritual, it is often very helpful to have someone represent a particular Spirit. In that moment they are considered to be the physical embodiment of that Spirit. As such, they have to take on the essence of that Spirit and act accordingly. Thus you will not find them speaking very often at all. They will simply be the Presence. And they will not break character until the ceremony or ritual is complete. This is not simply role play. It is a sacred representation of that Spirit, so it must be taken seriously. That is a great responsibility for the person wearing the mask.
I should mention that, once a mask is created in honor of a particular Spirit, that Spirit, or at least a part of it, resides within that mask at all times. So it is not something that just gets packed away in a box somewhere in between uses. No. It is hung on a wall in a place of honor. Yes, it may be veiled in between uses, but never hidden away. And it is NOT to be played with. I know someone who was silly enough to allow her grandchildren to play with a sacred mask. It did not go well for her. Reparations had to be made to that Spirit and a completely different attitude toward what is and is not sacred had to be integrated. Masks are not just for fun and games. Yes, there are some that are created for that, and that is fine. But when a mask is created for sacred purposes, then it is important to make sure that this is the only way in which it is utilized. The consciousness of the mask will always know if it is being honoured or disrespected. So honour it and reap the rewards.