Interrituality as a Means to Perform the Art of Building New Rituals

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Abstract

If we do not consider religious rituals as given to us from the gods, but designed by humans at certain times and in certain contexts we might also track the art of designing and performing the human practice of rituals. Even if we agree that all rituals are taught and learned, they are not meant to be perceived as products of human imagination. The concept “ritual invention” could thus be seen as an oxymoron. My purpose with this article is to analyse how it is possible to simultaneously invent rituals and refer to them as “tradition”. In order to discuss ritual invention I will make use of Rappaport’s definition of rituals as “the performance of more or less invariant sequences of formal acts and utterances, not entirely encoded by the performers.” By introducing the concept of inter-rituality I will show how a skilful ritual leader manages to avoid confusion by recycling ritual acts that structure the performance into a “true event,” in this case the performance of a Kekunit, a god-parent ritual in a Mi’kmaq reserve in Nova Scotia, Canada. The ritual master’s skill in ritual creativity and design is important, and by using a well-known ritual “bank” to collect acts or performances from, he/she turns the performance into a less risky business.

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  • Social Anthropology

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Original languageSwedish
Pages (from-to)17-27
JournalJournal of Ritual Studies
Volume31
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes