Chapter

4. Ritual and transformation

Barry Stephenson

in Ritual

Published in print January 2015 | ISBN: 9780199943524
Published online February 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780199394432 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/actrade/9780199943524.003.0005

Series: Very Short Introductions

4. Ritual and transformation

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There are many rites that traffic in symbols and processes of transformation: healing rites, funerary rites, magic, sacrifice, rites of inversion, and rites of passage. Ritual theorists approach ritual as not merely decorous or expressive, but of real consequence and practical efficacy. If ritual is efficacious, just how does it accomplish its work? Is ritual really capable of effecting transformation? ‘Ritual and transformation’ explores these questions by focussing on two categories of ritual commonly associated with change and transformation—initiation and magic. It also considers ritual criticism as developed by Ronald Grimes and others to qualitatively measure and ethically evaluate the kinds of changes taking place in and through ritual.

Keywords: birth; initiation; liminality; magic; religion; rites of passage; sacrifice

Chapter.  4866 words. 

Subjects: Sociology and Anthropology of Religion ; Customs and Traditions ; Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology ; Social and Cultural Anthropology

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