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A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to set sequence.


  • There is perfection in the presence of the lady. Lagac thrives in abundance in the presence of Nance. She chose the cennu in her holy heart and seated Ur-Nance, the beloved lord of Lagac, on the throne. She gave the lofty sceptre to the shepherd. She adorned Gudea with all her precious divine powers. The shepherd chosen by her in her holy heart, Gudea, the ruler of Lagac, placed the lyre Cow-of-Abundance among the tigi drums and placed the holy balaj drum at its side. While sacred songs and harmonious songs were performed before her, the kintur instrument praised the temple. The chief musician played the ibex horn for her: the song 'The house has been granted powers from the abzu', the sacred song of the house of Sirara about the princely powers was performed.
  • Ritual provides coherence and significance to traditional narrative as it does to traditional life. Ritual can be defined as a procedure whose purpose is to transform someone or something from one condition or state to another. While most rituals are related in some way to communitas, not all have social relationship and communication as their purpose. Their communitarian aspect derives simply from the nature of the tribal community, which is assumed to be intact as long as the ritual or sacred center of the community is intact. [...] It is not so much an idea of community as it is a tangible object seen as possessing nonrational powers to unite or bind diverse elements into a community, a psychic and spiritual whole. Thus a healing ritual changes a person from an isolated (diseased) state to one of incorporation (health); a solstice ritual turns the sun’s path from a northerly direction to a southerly one or vice versa; a hunting ritual turns the hunted animal’s thoughts away from the individual consciousness of physical life to total immersion in collective consciousness. In tribal traditions beings such as certain people and beasts, the sun, the earth, and sacred plants like corn are in a constant state of transformation, and that transformative process engenders the ritual cycle of dying, birth, growth, ripening, dying, and rebirth. In the transformation from one state to another, the prior state or condition must cease to exist. It must die.
  • Ritual-based cultures are founded on the primary assumption that the universe is alive and that it is supernaturally ordered. That is, they do not perceive economic, social, or political elements as central; rather, they organize their lives around a sacred, metaphysical principle. If they see a cause-and-effect relationship between events, they would ascribe the cause to the operation of nonmaterial energies or forces. They perceive the universe not as blind or mechanical, but as aware and organic. Thus ritual—organized activity that strives to manipulate or direct nonmaterial energies toward some larger goal—forms the foundation of tribal culture. It is also the basis of cultural artifacts such as crafts, agriculture, hunting, architecture, art, music, and literature. These all take shape and authority from the ritual tradition. Literature, which includes ceremony, myth, tale, and song, is the primary mode of the ritual tradition. The tribal rituals necessarily include a verbal element, and contemporary novelists draw from that verbal aspect in their work.
  • Ritual and ceremony in their due times kept the world under the sky and the stars in their courses. It was astonishing what ritual and ceremony could do.
  • The far-from-original point I will try to make now should seem obvious: There is an unsettling similarity between the rituals of the obsessive-compulsive and the rituals of the observantly religious.
    • Robert Sapolsky, The Trouble With Testosterone: And Other Essays on the Biology of the Human Predicament (New York: A Touchstone Book, Simon & Schuster, 1998), p. 263.

See also

  • Encyclopedic article on Ritual on Wikipedia
  • The dictionary definition of ritual on Wiktionary
  • Media related to Rituals on Wikimedia Commons