Performing the Ancient Ones

Nikki Bado

in Negotiating Rites

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199812295
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919390 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Ritual Studies Series

Performing the Ancient Ones

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Initiation – traditionally understood as an isolated ritual moment with simple unilinear directional movement – is actually embedded in a long and complex multidirectional process of increasingly somatic practice that involves a shift in perceptual orientation as well as the formation of an intimate community. The initiation process practiced by a group of Wiccans in Ohio is a learning curve in which the initiate’s body-in-practice trains and becomes attuned to a particular mode of perception necessary for ritual work. This mode of perception is negotiated with and through the body and is made meaningful by performed ritual identification with the spirits during invocations. The body-in-practice is an achieved state that cultivates what anthropologist Thomas Csordas calls somatic modes of attention “culturally elaborated ways of attending to and with one’s body in surroundings that include the embodied presence of others.” Here “others” include not only other practitioners in the rite, but an entire range of other-than-human persons, including the four elements, spirits and Guardians of the Watchtowers, Gods and Goddesses, and Nature-as-Person. The body-in-practice illuminates the concrete reality of those who inhabit the inter-subjective and liminal field of ritual space and enables the complex and intimate dance of ritualized negotiation with these Ancient Ones.

Keywords: body-in-practice; initiation; Wiccans in Ohio; ancient Ones

Chapter.  6960 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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