A bellow rings out across the road, in the darkness. A perfect white bull, without blemish, in the moonlight.
Rough music itself, of which the shivaree is a subset, goes back to the 1700's: Somebody who has violated the standards of the community is scapegoated, and they bring the pots and pans to his or her house, keep her up all night, rattling bones and cleavers, blowing bull's horns. It's extreme social sanction, in this form; like any scapegoating ceremony, it's an acknowledgement of the wrongdoer's place in the community as much as it is about her behavior.
It's not a shunning, or banishment: It's the opposite. Any time Dionysus comes to visit, that's rough music: It's never about making it go away, it's never about killing the little black-eyed girl. It's about celebrating her. Giving her a little time, a little slice of night, before she goes away again. If we are all the same amount of dirty, there is no shame, because we are all the same amount of clean.
It's about sex and reproduction and domestic issues, usually: any time a woman gets out of hand. Sometimes they put her on a pole or a donkey, or act out her crimes, and call her hideous names. Nobody really gets hurt; the masters of the ceremony are the young men, whom have been given temporary rule. The carnival boy-kings, with their chainsaws and their handguns.
Zeus came to Io in the form of a perfect white bull; Poseidon sent a perfect white bull to Minos for his sacrifice, but he was so beautiful -- so divine -- that Minos kept him for himself, and Poseidon cursed the king's wife with an unearthly passion for him. The white skin against the black night, shining like the moon. Maryann's mad claws become bloody fingers, hands, and she raises them lovingly. "My Lord? My husband. Oh, you've come," she says, stepping closer. "I am here, my love."
I can see it from your angle -- that it's funny, or silly, or crazy, that she's been acting crazy and this is just more crazy -- but these are the stories we grow up with. Gods become bulls, women become Goddesses, people live forever. When was the last time you laughed at the absurdity of vampires? I've got a myth for you: There's people just like us, but powerfully beautiful, that live on blood and have snake's teeth, and only come to you in the night. If I can believe in that shit, I can believe in the bull husband in the night, the ancient bride, the transvestite priest, the Fates. I can believe that for one night Jane Bodehouse and Tara Thornton and Arlene Fowler became the Goddess, and blessed the bride of God with all the power of their immaculate trinity: Fingerless and alcoholic, post-traumatic and negligent, raging and lovely. Especially watching Him under the moon and the streetlights, with this power and grace. His slow hoofbeats shake and crack the earth.