My blog was established in conjunction with my participation in FOLK-F121 "World's Arts and Cultures" at Indiana University, Fall 2007.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Rituals through Initiation

Rituals have always been a difficult thing for me to understand. I could never distinguish the difference between ritual, custom, and tradition. I always thought that they were three different words meaning basically the same thing. In order to view a ritual from my own life, I needed to fully understand what ritual really was. Chapter four defines ritual as a particular type of tradition that many folklorists study as a distinct category of folklore. It continues to say that rituals are performances that are repeated, patterned, and frequently include ceremonial actions that incorporate symbols, action, repetition, and have a frame that indicates when the ritual begins and ends (Sims and Stephens p. #95).

Initiation is used as an example of ritual numerous times throughout chapter four. While looking back on my experience with rituals, I decided that my initiation into the thespian club at my high school was a ritual that truly meant something to me. The book mentions that initiation rituals may include reciting promises or pledges, performing embarrassing acts to prove ones willingness to be in the group, or being presented with ceremonial artifacts or clothing that shows others one is a member (Sims and Stephens p. #119). All of these were incorporated in my initiation into my high school’s thespian club. At the initiation I had to memorize and recite the thespian pledge, perform 3 embarrassing tasks given to my by the council members, and received a thespian pin to show my membership in the club.

Initiation rituals are used to create a cense of unique, shared experience with a particular group, setting them apart from others who haven’t had that experience (Sims and Stephens p. #120). This holds true for my initiation into the thespian club. It made our group closer, knowing that we had all been through the same experience that we could share with each other.

This blog entry is my response to Reflection Questions for Chapter 4.Sims, Martha C., and Martine Stephens. Living Folklore An Introduction to the Study of People and Their Traditions. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2005