Ritual and Myth. They are interrelated and form the basis of religious practicesA Ritual may derive its methods and directives from Myth. A ritual can reenact mythology, therefore bringing the sacred to the present for participants.Ex: Heb Sed ritual Myths provide the basis for a society's moral
1. Ritual Patterned, recurring sequence of events
Morning, bedtime, workout, TV, Homework rituals.
These ritual activities are secular (non-religious) Religious Rituals
Involves religious paraphernalia/symbols like prayers, offerings, sacred literature recitations, etc.
2. Ritual and Myth They are interrelated and form the basis of religious practices
A Ritual may derive its methods and directives from Myth. A ritual can reenact mythology, therefore bringing the sacred to the present for participants.
Ex: Heb Sed ritual
Myths provide the basis for a society’s morals and values. Rituals are the vehicle with which these values are imparted to the group.
Myth: Egyptian creation story: Egypt = balance
Ritual: Pharaoh creates/maintains balance.
3. General Classifications of Ritual Perscriptive vs. Situational/Crisis Rituals
Perscriptive Ritual: Required to be performed either by a religious text, a deity/religious authority or dictated by tradition
Ex: Prayers/recitations/communion in Catholic Mass
Ex: Yom Habikkurim (Shavuot) the “Day of the First Fruits” to celebrate the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses at Mount Sinai. Also marks beginning of wheat harvest.
Ex: Offering to spirit of ancestors, ancient Egypt
Situational/Crisis Rituals: Arise “as needed,” usually in times of crisis
Ex: Sept. 11th, Jessica Stephens
4. General Classifications of Ritual cont. Periodic vs. Occasional Rituals
Periodic (also called Calendrical) rituals are performed on a regular basis as part of a religious calendar
Ex: Daily prayers of Islam: One of the 5 pillars of faith mentioned earlier in connection with the Pentacle. Prayers must be performed at dawn, midday, midafternoon, sunset and nightfall as commanded by the prophet Mohammad.
Ex: Diwali Hindu festival of lights. Performed on the darkest night of the month of Kartik. A reenactment of Myth in which Rama, Sita and Lakshmana return to their kingdom of Ayodhya after a 14-year exile. The lights represent a celebration of the return and cleansing of spiritual darkness. May also relate to the harvest season.
Many Periodic Rituals are associated with the Agricultural Calendar (i.e. when crops are planted/harvested)
Ex: Samhain (Loreena McKennitt’s All Souls Night)
Means “November” in Gaelic. Marks the end of the Harvest season and regarded as the traditional Irish New Year. A time to gather and take inventory of crops, animals and supplies for Winter. Large, central bonfire created to bring community together. Divination used to foresee future spouse, children, agricultural success. Related to Catholic All Souls Night/Day (remembrance of the faithfully departed), Dia De Los Muertos and our Halloween.
Occasional Rituals performed when a particular need arises as in marriage and death or to bring about change, or to ensure survival:
Ex: Ghost Dance
5. More Specific Ritual Classification Technological Rituals
Hunting & Gathering Rites of Intensification
Ethnobotany, Anti-Therapy Rituals
Rites of Passage
Alterations of the Human Body
Tattooing and Piercing
The Huichol Pilgrimage
6. Technological Rituals Rituals that attempt to influence/control nature Hunting and Gathering Rites of Intensification: goal is to influence nature in the quest for food. Includes hunting, gathering, fishing, herding, farming.
Ex: Inuit seal hunt
Placing fresh water into the mouth of the deceased seal would mollify its spirit and might encourage its return (reincarnation), thereby providing additional resources. Seals have souls and are part of a creation myth involving the Mother of the Sea (Sedna).
Protective Rituals: Performed in anticipation of dangerous activities or in response to threats.
Ex: Making boats seaworthy
7. Therapy Rituals Meant to cure/rehabilitate upon accident/illness
Ex: Traditional, plant-derived medicines and ethnobotany: Anthropologically based study of plants, especially in healing.
Ex: Sekhmet and the destruction of Humanity
Offerings to Sekhmet if hurt/sick (a type of Crisis/Situational Ritual)
8. Anti-Therapy Rituals Meant to bring about harm
Ex: The Fore (from Ch. 1)
Cause of Kuru – Sorcery ritual.
Steal something of the victim’s, mix with leaves/bark/stones, bind into a package. Recite a harmful spell, bury into the cold, muddy ground. Victim then develops uncontrollable shaking of Kuru.
Ex: Australian Aboriginee Cursing Ritual “Bone Pointing”
9. Ideological Rituals Meant to maintain social order, norms, values, morals. Assist community in times of change and crisis, reasserting social order.
Ex: “Ghost Dance” mentioned previously under the major classification of “Occasional Ritual”
Associated with the Massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890 where 153 Lakota Sioux were killed during its performance. Started by Wovoka, a Paiute Native American who received a message from God that if this dance was performed, impending doom from the “Manifest Destiny” of settlers could be avoided, and harmony and peace would prevail.
Can also be a Social Rite of Intensification: Same definition as above, but usually a Prescribed and Periodic ritual.
Ex: Sunday morning church/Jewish Sabbath/Islamic daily prayers/Major annual religious festivals and holidays.
10. Ideological Rituals cont. Rite of Passage: purpose is to change the status of an individual within a community and to imprint this new status to collective memory.
Status: refers to social position (i.e. brother, mother, husband, Instructor, student, policeman) not to rank
Rank: Hierarchical placement of an individual within society (i.e. Employee, Supervisor, Middle Manager, Vice President, President, CEO)
Ex: Chimpanzee politics in relation to human social groups.
Rite of Passage stages:
Separation: an individual is separated from previous status
Transition: undergoes rituals (can involve initiation and/or pain ceremonies)
Often a time of mystery and metamorphosis. An individual is in a state of
Liminality: ambiguous social marginality occurring in this transition phase.
Incorporation: Individual reenters society w/ new status