The Cosmic Mass and Malidoma Somé, continued

Yesterday I shared how Malidoma Somé, the shaman and ritual teacher who became an ancestor last week, was very supportive of the movement known in Sheffield England as NOS, in which young people reinvented liturgy by way of rave.  From that movement was born in America the Techno-Cosmic Mass (TCM), and later simply The Cosmic Mass.

A flyer from an early Techno-Cosmic Mass in Oakland, CA.

A little more about the origins of the TCM here.  When I finished writing my book, The Reinvention of Work, a dream instructed me that I had another chapter to write, that on Ritual.  In that chapter, among other things, I laid out six principles for Ritual:

  • Reset all of worship in a cosmological context.
  • Bring the body back.
  • Bring play back.
  • Make room for the via negativa—darkness, silence, suffering, grief.
  • Awaken and nurture the prophet
  • Bring participation back.

After completing this new chapter, I sent it off to the publishers and traveled to Seattle for a conference I was leading on Creation Spirituality.  To my surprise, five young people from Sheffield were in attendance and took me aside, telling me of their NOS project including lots of press clippings about it.  I studied their documentation and later flew to Sheffield to see their community ritual in action, the “Planetary Mass” as they called it. 

Flyer for a 2006 Oakland Cosmic Mass, “Time to Hona’ the Black Madonna.”

I was deeply impressed and asked them how I could help and they said if I became an Episcopal priest I could run interference because they were already using my theology of the Cosmic Christ, but few priests understood what they were doing. 

I prayed about it. The Pope had already fired me, so I was not needed there, but here was a visionary group of young people truly reinventing ritual—as Malidoma Somé said, one of the most important movements on the planet.

I went to the Episcopal bishop of Northern California, Bishop Swing, and told him I was considering becoming an Episcopal priest for one reason: To work with young people to reinvent forms of Liturgy.  He gave me a green light, saying “the church is not doing anything for young people.”  I knew that the Roman Catholic Church was even further away from inviting young people to bring post-modern art forms to liturgy.

Matthew Fox speaks at a 2014 Cosmic Mass on “Art and Spirit.” Video by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

We have, over the past 25 years, celebrated over 100 Cosmic Masses in North America, including at the last three gatherings of the World Parliament of Religions.  In the Toronto WP, about 500 people participated, including several Buddhist monks, and responses were very deep indeed.  One 42 year old woman said it was the “most powerful religious experience of her life” and many others said it was the “high point” of the 12 day conference.

Gratitude to Malidoma Somé for his inspiration and encouragement is due.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work, pp. 249-295. 

See also, Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Postdenominational Priest, pp. 6-16, 363-390.

For more information on the Cosmic Mass, see

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Participants form a double spiral dance in a Cosmic Mass at the National Cathedral, Washington, D.C. Photo by Katy Gaughan.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you think these six principles for reawakening ritual in the West are still relevant (after COVID passes)?  Have you had experiences of them yourself either in Western liturgies or indigenous ceremonies?  Do they work for you?

Recommended Reading

The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood For Our Time

Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”
“Fox approaches the level of poetry in describing the reciprocity that must be present between one’s inner and outer work…[A]n important road map to social change.” ~~ National Catholic Reporter

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6 thoughts on “The Cosmic Mass and Malidoma Somé, continued”

  1. Avatar

    Link to this is broken
    Please fix so I may attend? Thanks

    Join Matthew Fox & others Saturday, 12/18, for Music, Wisdom, Meditation, Comedy & Connection– #GlobalPeaceTribe’s Inspirational Virtual Variety Show “Saturday Night Alive” Matthew Fox speaks on “Great Spiritual Teachers of the Past & Present” 6-8 pm PT (GMT/UTC-7). Click HERE for info.

    1. Phila Hoopes

      Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for checking in!

      The link is correct – the site appears to be having issues. Wait a little while and try again…I’m sorry, that’s all I can suggest…

      Phila Hoopes
      Blog Coordinator

  2. Avatar

    Throughout my spiritual journey, inparticular within my 10 year apprenticeship in Indigenious Spirituality, I have had the blessing and privilege of participating in alot of ritual and ceremony. I was attracted to all of this because of the six principals of ritual that Mathew has mentioned in today’s DM, amongst other things as well. Ritual and ceremony that engages one’s entire being and all of ones senses in creative new ways, is I believe what people are hungering and thirsting for. This expression of ritual and ceremony is not only relevant today, as it has been throughout generations in the past, but is also deeply needed more than ever.

    I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to encounter and experience the living essence and presence of Spirit in so many creatively expressive and diverse forms of ritual and ceremony, from a variety of spiritual paths; for they have been not only transformational, but also deeply healing for myself and others in so many ways. When you surrender in trust to the leadings and promptings, the movements of the Holy Spirit within, you’ll be pleasantly surprised where She’ll take you and the many blessings that you will encounter and experience along the way.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, You speak of the totally engaging quality of ritual and ceremony, and Malidoma was a master of ritual-making, but I must say, my experience of the Techno Cosmic Mass was of something amazing to behold and to immerse oneself in. When I went to Matthew’s school I even took a class in how to put on Cosmic Masses taught by a teacher named Jill Martin, and for our final project in that class we put one on!

  3. Avatar

    As always, Iam deeply moved by Matthew’s honesty and integrity. Today’s meditation has encouraged me once again .My experience of different cultures and rituals did include sweat lodge and vision quest. I did dances, I did not know how to name them but realized now they have paved the path to be open to cosmic mass. Thank you for your wisdom and leadership. Please stay with us to continue to teach. Much love. Patricia Ferrari

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