The Unity of Purpose: Blót (What is Ritual VIII)

Before we look at the different types of rituals in the context of what they emphasize and deemphasize according to the concept of the ritual plane, I think it will behoove us to look at the single ritual where all elements (cosmogenic, commugenic, giving, and receiving) are in perfect harmony.…

What is Ritual VII: The Gift of Food

Last week, I laid out an argument for understanding ritual as the interplay of two axes of ritual purpose, between the commugenic, or community generating, and cosmogenic, or cosmos generating, purposes, and then the Gift giving / receiving axis. Along this plane, any all ritual actions occur. Depending on the purpose,…

What is Ritual VI: (Re-)Introducing the Ritual Plane

Up until now, we have largely approached the question of Ritualism from the outside looking in. I gave the briefest of examinations of the different approaches to ritual behavior, from expressing and negotiating power dynamics, to establishing, renewing, and enforcing communal order, and providing a sense of cultural identity and…

What is Ritual V: Communication

We have thus far explored the different ways in which scholars have attempted to explain the ritual phenomenon, looking at ritual through the filters of Power, Order, and Meaning. I’d like to spend some time today talking about Communication. It was briefly discussed when we began this series, but…

What is Ritual IV: Meaning

We began by discussing what ritual is by claiming it is a form of communication. We presented a brief introduction to a model of ritual that seeks to synthesize several different theories of ritual into a single cohesive whole. This process is necessary, in that in order to understand the…

What is Ritual III: Power

Ritual is the thing itself. It is power; it acts and it actuates. --Catherine Bell, Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice[1] We have seen how the focus of ritual is communication, and how it can be used to promote and implement social order. Within that communication, within that order, lies the…

What is Ritual II: Order

There is an interesting side effect to the fact that many of the 19th Century Ethnographers were in many cases Christian Missionaries. The Missionaries were faced with evidence that the peoples they were evangelizing to already had religious systems in place, religious systems that were foreign and alien, but also…

What is Ritual? Part I

There are a number of ways of approaching a system. One can look to look at the thing from a distance, and then seek to understand its component parts, say with how one reverse engineers as a motor or some other mechanical device. This is possible because when one reverse…

Some Word Vomit on Reality

The last three weeks saw us look at the fundamental metaphysical engine of heathen thought, Wyrd. I would now claim to be moving on to the next series, but that would only be disingenuous. As I will demonstrate over the course of this project, everything we do springs out of,…