15. PASSAGE AND PERSUASION
So what do we try to accomplish thru ritual?
What does ritual do?
One of the most goals of ritual most commonly claimed or assumed is to
world has its own inherent order, but also has great deal of mess, flux, chaos.
Entropy, things fall apart.
We struggle to keep things together
This is perhaps what symbolic forms and systems of all sorts do most generally: to assert
that things make sense, there is some coherence and regularity.
We have certainly seen this with other symbolic forms, esp. symbolic classifications
Ritual seems to do this a lot.
In effect, it is an esp. consistent and systematic attempt to
impose order on universe
Whatever else ritual does, it usually imposes some kind of order
Simply by repetition and regularity.
Here there seems to be a link with private rituals, which are often attempts, driven by
psychological compulsion, to impose order. Most clear with obsessive/compulsive.
Rituals also wrestle with the irregular and messy and disorderly: death, sickness, loss,
But paradoxically, some rituals impose disorder.
Turn everything upside down and
Not necessarily contradictory.
has been suggested that by giving disorder its
due, keeping it within special boundaries, that ultimately imposing order.
The other goal most often mentioned.
Building or maintaining or celebrating the unity and coherence of a group
Both local community and wider ones.
Groups of any size.
Q. What examples from your own experience?
Often this is a goal or the primary goal even of rituals that ostensibly about other things
University graduations as much about the university community as about saying goodbye
Among Kuna, ritual lasting about an hour for young girl who just had first menstruation:
supposedly for her, but she is inside a little tiny teepee, they build an enclosure around
Each man brings bundle of huge leaves to cover, do all together.
As much about the
unity of men as about girl.
For Durkheim, the solidarity of the social group was
After the short essay on classification written with Mauss, D wrote immensely long
Elementary Forms of the Religious Life
Found origin of religion in sense of awe and exaltation in social group in collective