Mobility and Its Limits in Communal Ritual and Myth

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:
Mobility and Its Limits in Communal Ritual and Myth

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Rituals express conflict as well as conformity; and rites of passage, by confronting their celebrants with a socially uncontrollable Wild, provide a paradigm for the mythical explorations of questing heroes such as Maui and the Navajo twins—a paradigm of radical separation from the known, perilous sojourn in an alien yet alluring liminal realm, and transformative re-incorporation into a world defamiliarized and reoriented by the heroes' triumphant return. Just as the stake of the dead in continuity of their living descendants gives ancestor worship a “future orientation,” so the seemingly static ceremonies of the ritualized Maori or Navajo actually open toward a future initiated by the heroes of old but still—like the myths that tell of their exploits and even the slowly changing rites which enact them—in the process of formation.

Keywords: rituals; conflict; conformity; rites; passage; Maui; Navajo; myths

Chapter.  2614 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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