Just finished reading Barbara Ehrenreich's fascinating study of the history of collective joy, Dancing in the Streets. The occurrences she describes are so like our biggest and best Pagan rites. Here's one of many quotes I could excerpt. This one has relevance to interfaith dialogue.
...[C]ompared to the danced religions of the past, today's "faiths" are often pallid affairs--if only by virtue of the very fact that they are "faiths," dependent on, and requiring, belief as opposed to direct knowledge. The prehistoric ritual dancer, the maenad or practitioner of Vodou, did not believe in her god or gods; she knew them, because, at the height of group ecstasy, they filled her with their presence. Modern Christians may have similar experiences, but the primary requirement of their religion is belief, meaning an effort of the imagination. Dionysus, in contrast, did not ask his followers for their belief or faith; he called on them to apprehend him directly, to let him enter, in all his madness and glory, their bodies and their minds.
Photograph of "Dancing Maenad"
by Dimitrios Constantin, Greek,
1865, from the Getty Museum,
I might add that Dionysus is the original Christos, or the god who is apprehended by the worshipper's consumption of his essence. In the case of Dionysus, wine. In the case of the Christian eucharist, the body/bread and blood/wine of Jesus the Christ. The Christos is an entheogen ("becoming divine within").