Rituals and Relationships

Susan Starr Sered

in Priestess, Mother, Sacred Sister

Published in print December 1996 | ISBN: 9780195104677
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853267 | DOI:
Rituals and Relationships

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There are several women's religions that could essentially be described as constellations of rituals: these religions lack a standardized belief system, formal membership procedures, rules and regulations, and recognized leaders. The clearest example of this model is Spiritualism in the United States. An emphasis on ritual, however, does not mean that women's religions are simplistic. If we abandon a dichotomy between ritual (magical, superstitious, ignorant) and theology (philosophical, abstract, unselfish, moral), we begin to see that rituals may express very complex belief systems. Spiritualist seances, for example, explicate and reinforce the notion that material reality is not the only reality; that all living creatures are eternally connected with one another; that what one person does affects everyone and everything forever; that people are not specks of dust, disappearing into nothingness when they die; that love has meaning; that human relationships are sacred. This chapter examines rituals and interpersonal relationships in women's religions in the contexts of initiation, mourning, and food rituals.

Keywords: United States; Spiritualism; women; religions; rituals; interpersonal relationships; initiation; mourning; food rituals; belief systems

Chapter.  13093 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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