Ritualism

Tantra Kriya Yoga utilizes sacred acts from ancient times to heighten our awareness and make it a sacred space to unfold.


POTENTIAL AND EFFECTIVE MEANING IN THERAPEUTIC RITUAL

ABSTRACT. Anthropologists who accept the functionalist dogma that everything in a culture is related to everything else can easily demonstrate from their own point of view that any ritual is richly meaningful. If, then, the healing power of therapeutic ritual depends on making illness meaningful, any ritual, if seen from this perspective, should be efficacious. We must distinguish, however, between potential and effective meaning, i.e. what a ritual might mean and what it does mean to participants in it who generally lack an anthropologist’s global view of their culture. Effective meaning can be assessed by examining a ritual’s relevance to the situation in which it occurs and factors which facilitate or hinder communication of what it might mean to particular persons.

The proposition that ritual relieves distress by making illness meaningful is by now a commonplace in studies of therapeutic ritual. We are told repeatedly that ritual links illness to a culture’s basic assumptions about the world, makes it understandable, and directs emotionally satisfying responses to it. Ritual thus provides relief from anxiety both for sick individuals themselves and for others concerned with their welfare. It may even, when illness is psychological or psychosomatic, play a major role in the healing process (Frank 1961; Kiev 1964).

However, therapeutic rituals and the situations in which they occur areextremely diverse. The effective meaning of any particular ritual depends not only on the character of the ritual itself but also on the perspective from which it is viewed. Typically rituals are ambiguous; they mean different things to different people. A ritual which is deeply moving to one individual may have only a superficial impact on another, while to still another it may be nonsensical or a mask for deceit.

~ JOHN L. McCREERY

From: Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 3 (1979) 53-72. 0165-005X/79/0031-0053502.00. Copyright © 1979 by D. Reidel Publishing Co., Dordreeht, Holland, and Boston, U.S.A. (link)