Bullfighting and Mysticism: A Few Notes Towards the Transmutation of the Soul


The paper portrays relations between religion, spirituality, and mysticism existent in bullfighting. Principally, it focuses on the Spanish bullfighter Antonio Ferrera and takes into consideration last six years of his career in which he has revealed interest in spirituality not only through paintings and embroideries of his capes and costumes (the use colours and symbols decorating them), but more importantly in his way of performing a ritual ceremony during which he completely abandons himself with the goal of becoming the receptor of the bull’s power and divinity. The ritual is divided into several stages: a) physical and mental preparation before the bullfight; b) withdrawal when the bullfighter is dressing up; c) his entrance into the bullring when his face reflects uncertainty and bravery; d) the first part of the fight in which the bull manifests his power and totemic qualities, while the bullfighter looks for the point of connection with him; e) the second part, or the liminal point when the powers of the bull and the bullfighter become equalised; f) the last part, when the bull progressively loses his totemic and divine qualities, while the bullfighter obtains them and transmits them to the audience; g) ecstasy during the death of the bull. To understand psychological processes taking place in the bullfighter’s subconsciousness, we draw on the 16th-century alchemical treatise Rosarium Philosophorum (1550), which helps us to analyse the transmutation of the soul that the bullfighter experiences while he is performing the ritual.


Jiri Mesic
Assistant Professor, Departament of English and German Philology, University of Granada, Granada, Spain


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


2024 Special Focus—Spaces, Movement, Time: Religions at Rest and in Movement


Bullfight, Corrida De Toros, Alchemy, Religion, Mysticism, Spirituality, Ritual

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