Chapter

Myth and the Journey beyond the Self

Robert M. Torrance

in The Spiritual Quest

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 1994 | ISBN: 9780520081321
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520920163 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520081321.003.0006
Myth and the Journey beyond the Self

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Ritual is by no means, then, merely a mechanism for denial of change. On the contrary, by incorporating forces potentially disruptive of social order, it can be a potent instrument of communal transformation. When one turns from ritual act to mythic word, the movement toward openness—the realm of the quest—is still more pronounced. Ritual changes only gradually, except in times of crisis, since it finds validation in a timeless past viewed as a pattern for subsequent ages. Variation does in fact continually occur, but invariance is commonly held to be indispensable to its effect. Verbal interpretation of ritual symbolism finds its most significant expression, among many tribal peoples, in myth. Not that myth is reducible to mere commentary on ritual.

Keywords: ritual; change; quest; social order; variation; symbolism; myth

Chapter.  5328 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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