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This article deals with the peculiarities of transformation of the ritualistics of Russian mystical sectarianism in the second half of the 19th century. Religious psycho-practices in the community of the Mechetinskaya village are a vivid example of the local transformation of ecstatic ritual at the intersection of many traditions. On the one hand, religious psycho-practice in the community could include the Khlyst's rejoicing. The interrogation of the sectarians confirms this. However, ritualistic repertoire of the sectarians included other practices. One of the rituals was described in the documents of the judicial investigation. It lasted for several days and symbolically reproduced the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The light and motor deprivation of Stepan Sidelnikov, who played the part of Christ, led to the altered state of consciousness. The author suggests that the religious experience could include specific experiences visions of the Passions, Death and Resurrection of Christ. This experience the vision of images of archetypal figures and culture, as well as identification with them fits perfectly into the contest of religious psycho-practitioners of mystical sectarianism. It was the reason of the extraordinary behavior of the Mechetinskaya’s visionist. Sidelnikov claimed that he was Jesus Christ and showed a state of extreme excitement. However, his experience was short-lived and stopped shortly after the ritual. It is also possible that the content of Sidelnikov's experiences could be provoked by the influence of the Dukhobor doctrine of Christ resurrecting in the heart of every believer. This doctrine gained a very peculiar interpretation in the community of the Mechetinskaya village. In general, such experiences are specific to group ecstatic practices aimed at achieving trance obsession.

Key words: mystical sectarianism, Khristovshchina, South Russian sectarianism, ecstatic practices, psychotechnics, altered states of consciousness, content of religious experience, transformation of ritual.

DOI: 10.22250/2072-8662.2017.4.56-61

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About the author


Andrey S. Dedov – Postgraduate student at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies,

Russian Christian Academy For the Humanities;

15 Fontanka emb., St. Petersburg, Russia, 191011; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.