Howard Gayton on an Esoteric Pilgrimage to the COP-26 Summit

   (Living Esoteric Cultures Series Interview 6)

A modern pilgrimage was undertaken by some British folks concerned about man-made climate change, from Henley-on-Thames up to the COP-26 Climate Summit in Glasgow, performing ceremonies along the way. Esoteric earth mysteries, ritual practice, and the art of sacred fooling meet political direct action.

We discuss the pilgrimage with Howard Gayton, who was there. Among other topics, we discuss what a pilgrimage is, what the differences are between performance, theatre, and ceremony, and whether the ritual pilgrimage worked or not.

Download Howard Gayton on the COP-26 Pilgrimage here

Howard as the Dottore of traditional Commedia dell’Arte

Interview Bio:

Howard Gayton has worked for over thirty years as a theatre director, performer, scholar and teacher specialising in Commedia dell’Arte, fooling, clowning and puppetry. He was the co-founder of Ophaboom, a Commedia company which toured across Europe for twenty years; he now runs Columbina Theatre with playwright Peter Oswald, devoted to new works of Metaphysical Theatre. Having studied the History of Western Esotericism as a postgraduate student, he is currently working on a Practice Research PhD on the Esoteric Art of the Fool at the University of Exeter.

Stuff Cited in this Episode:

Recommended Reading:

  • Bates, B., 1983. The Way of the Wyrd. Hay House.
  • Biltcliffe, G., & Hoare, C., 2012. The Spine of Albion. Sacred Lands Publishing.
  • Csikszentmihalyi, M., 1990. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Harper Perennial.
  • Emigh, J., 1996. Masked Performance: The Play of Self and Other in Ritual and Theatre. University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Forbes, B., 2009. Make Merry in Step and Song: A Seasonal Treasury of Music, Mummer’s Plays & Celebrations in the English Folk Traditions. Llewellyn Publications.
  • Hyde, L., 1998. Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth and Art. North Point Press.
  • Lerner, R., 2009. Playing the Fool: Subversive Laughter in Troubled Times. The University of Chicago Press.
  • MacFarlane, R., 2013. The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot. Penguin.
  • Prentki, T., 2012. The Fool in European Theatre: Stages of Folly. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Turner, V., 1982. From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play. Performing Arts Journal Publications.
  • Winnicott, D.W., 1991. Playing and Reality. Routledge.
  • Wright, B., 2004. Clowns of the Hopi: Tradition Keepers and Delight Makers. Kiva Publishing.


Poster from one of the Ophaboom Commedia troop’s more esoteric performances.