Thursday, April 22, 2010
April 21, Shaker Meeting House
We went to Pleasant Hill Shaker Village today and these photos are of the meeting house. Men entered in one door and sat on that side of the building. Women entered and sat on the other side. Services started with nice little songs that progressed into wilder songs, dancing, speaking in tongues, and even rolling on the floor. This elevated level of activity was known as "promiscuous dancing." The center line could be crossed during the dancing, but no touching allowed. Celibacy was the law which explains why the number of Shakers left today can be counted on one hand. Guests were allowed to sit on benches around the edge of the room and watch but could not participate. What did the ministers do? There were two male and two female ministers who lived on the second floor on their own sides of the building, of course. During the service it was their job to watch the guests from the little windows way up in the corner and then swoop down on any guest who appeared interested in becoming a Shaker. Outside of the Sunday service everyone lived by very rigid rules, i.e. - hands had to be folded with the right thumb on top, no hat bands were allowed on men's hats in the summer, etc. There were over 400 of these laws.