Over the past few years the inane stupidity surrounding “Black Friday” sales has become increasing violent. Just today, I noticed the following headlines: “Man dies shopping on Black Friday;” “Woman pepper sprays other Black Friday shoppers 'to gain upper hand;'” “Grandfather smashed to ground as he tried to protect grandson from crowd...” These bizarre scenes are taking on a more ritualistic aspect every year. They immediately remind me of the frenzied ceremonies surrounding the Phyrgian Earth Goddess Cybele. Her cult was imported to Rome during the chaos of the Punic Wars. Her devotees were initiated into a mystery religion that promised pleasures here on Earth. You can see this same type of possessed spirit in the cooky-eyed behavior of Black Friday shoppers. Grab on to that sweater and achieve happiness. It's a faith for a faith-less age.
What is also incredibly alarming are the deaths that are taking place at these discount store orgies. They likewise have a strange ritualistic tone, but not one of self-gratification, but of human sacrifice. Praying to the Black Friday Gods often requires blood. And people are willing to hurt others, even kill for their fix. Leading up to the sacrifice, shoppers often reenact ritual purification ceremonies: including all night vigils outside of stores, rites of physical endurance which often include withstanding exposure to the elements. When the high-priests open the doors, the blood-letting can begin. These sort of ritual killings are often signs of a decaying culture; I’m reminded of the satanic slaying of Sharon Tate and her friends at the end of the hedonistic 1960s.
The other feature of Black Friday I find interesting is the cult-ish aspect. The “pepper spray incident” brings to mind the Sarin gas attack in Tokyo by the Aum Shinrikyo cult back in 1995. But just the pushing and shoving seems to go beyond a lapse of common etiquette and manners into the realm of idolatry; think of the manic teenage fans of rock-stars; trying to reach out and tear a piece of clothing from their god. The same cult mentality that infects fans, circulates through the masses of shoppers who obey a mob instinct for instant delight through the power of the purchase. But with all cult fads the satisfaction is instantaneous, but fleeting. Further ventures into the same realm is always required. The only thing you are left with is emptiness.