Pagans and Make-Up, Roles and Rituals
Far into the ancient past before the birth of Christ and all that his life brought upon the earth, there were people who attempted to live in harmony. These people later became known as Pagans. They worshiped the earth and believed in the Mother of All Things. They were mostly peaceful and studied the movement of the stars and the movements of the earth.
These people also did something that might surprise you. They regularly used make-up. This is not to say that they used make-up in the same way that we might use it today. They were not putting on lip gloss or attempting to get rid of any crow’s feet, but they were using paints and other adornments to change their physical appearance.
This is true for ancient civilizations all over the world. There are traces and evidence of ritual make-up use in Mesopotamia, Egypt, England, Europe, South America, North America, Asia, and all over Africa and the Middle East. Why did all of these separate civilizations do a very similar activity? What can make-up show us about ancient Paganism? Well the answer is really very simple.
Just like modern day make-up is used to change, or enhance, a person’s physical appearance. In modern times cosmetic make-up is mainly used by women to highlight features they want to show off and diminish features they want to hide. But there is another modern use. Stage and screen use make-up to completely altar a person. With make-up you can literally turn someone into another creature, vampire, monster, angel, animal, etc. You name it, make-up can do it. This is more in line with what the ancients were after.
A large part of Pagan worship is connected to the spirits of nature and the Gods. One way to worship in this way is by becoming one of these creatures. By taking on the look, sound, and nature of an earth creature you could more easily commune with the world around you. When you are able to shift your perspective you can really change the way your body feels and the way others react to you. Ask any actor how they feel once they are in their costume and make-up. Most likely they will tell you that they feel like the character they are playing. They are no longer themselves, but the part in the show. This was likely true for the ancients and their make-up usage.