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Shouldn't this entry begin with a definition of Ritual. The way it begins doesn't seem right to me.Bao Pu (talk) 23:05, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

What the eff is going on with the chaos majick implying some kind of neuroscientific association with ritual. Surely there is one, but is it at all related to chaos majick?

A ritual is a prescribed form of *performing divine service* in a particular *church or communion.*

"performing divine service" this is too.... vague. Or at least its loaded terminology, and as such belongs further down in the article.

I think staying general and maybe even generic is whats called for in a substantive text.

Also, what does a church have to do with ritual - yes, churches come with rituals, but rituals dont necessarily come with churches.

- Original 'author' Stevertigo

Why do so many cultures around the world rely on ritua;? It is a fundamental part of many relgions and many unreligious daily practices. Why are rituals so important to us?


The use of the term "symbolic" in this entry may be misleading at times, especially when applied to a dichotemy between "real" and "symbolic". There are many ways in which ritual actions can be seen as symbolic, yet in the history of ritual practice it is inaccurate to understand ritual actors as themselves mostly believing that they are performing merely "symbolic" gestures. One problem here is the theoretical vantage point of ritual theorists and social scientists which often stresses the symbolic nature of ritual action from an analytical point of view (but as such an explicitly analytical point of view and not the articulated "native point of view"). The first sentence in the entry even implies that ritual actors not only see their actions as symbolic, but perform them for symbolic ends, and that is rarely true. What can be done about this given how much "symbolic" factors into the language of the entry?PelleSmith 14:23, 22 August 2006 (UTC)


Removed the non-sequitur definition of anthropology from the entry. Not necessary for a specific article on ritual, I would think. I'll think about ways of making this article better reflect the (extremely extensive) academic literature on the topic. At the moment it doesn't seem to reflect much current thinking... Col pogo 17:18, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

Where does this information come from?[edit]

Where does it say that a ritual is just the words? Every dictionary I've seen says that a ritual is a set of actions. Where are the sources for this article?-- 02:45, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

an essential feature?[edit] essential feature of a ritual is that the actions and their symbolism are not arbitrarily chosen by the performers, nor dictated by logic or necessity, but either are prescribed and imposed upon the performers by some external source or are inherited unconsciously from social traditions.

According to whom? Are invented rituals not rituals? Is there a source for this? Dlabtot (talk) 21:26, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

Classification of Rituals?[edit]

Shouldn't the article say something about the various kinds of rituals? For example, there are Rites of Passage of individuals at important points in their life. Birth, Adulthood, Marriage and Death are common, near universal, times for rituals. There are also Rituals of Group Solidarity. These are usually periodic, typically annual. They may celebrate the beginning of a New Year or the Planting Season or the Harvest Season. They may be patriotic, celebrating important events in the country's history. There may be other types of rituals. The article could be expanded and made more explicit. Alexselkirk1704 (talk) 14:23, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

Religious rituals[edit]

As far as I know, the word ritual is generally used in a religious context (in non-European languages as well) but unfortunately it is not mentioned enough in the article. Even the main picture is about a military ceremony. There is a tendency in Wikipedia to emphasize the more interesting or not-widely-known meanings of words.--Abuk SABUK (talk) 09:25, 26 March 2012 (UTC)

I think your belief that "the word ritual is generally used in a religious context" is simply wrong. Dlabtot (talk) 16:08, 26 March 2012 (UTC)

Buddhism has no rituals?[edit]

The stuff about Buddhism being the only religion that rejects rituals and rites seems very wrong, and there are no citations. Meditation is a form of ritual - actually there are several aspects of the Buddhist religion that would qualify as a ritual. Why is that there?Jasonnewyork (talk) 15:52, 30 May 2012 (UTC)


First I'd like to thank you for your recent work on this article. It's nice to see someone devoting a bit of time to it. I'd also like to commend you for including page numbers in your citations!

When citing an article it is not always sufficient to add a single citation at the end of a paragraph to cover everything in it. See Wikipedia:Citing sources It is often necessary to cite individual satements. The reason is that, unless you are copying verbatim from the source, some of what you say in the paragraph will be your own words. Also it is not clear that all the information came from the source at the end of the paragraph. For example. In the section on Formalism you have started the paragraph off with "Ritual utilizes a limited and rigidly organized set of expressions which anthropologists call a "restricted code" (in opposition to a more open "elaborated code")." and you then go on to say "Maurice Bloch has argued that ritual obliges participants to use this formal oratorical style, which is limited in intonation, syntax, vocabulary, loudness, and fixity of order." It is not clear whose idea the first sentence is. This is further complicated by the fact that the paragraph doesn't cite Bloch at all, but another author, who I surmise, is writing about Bloch. If you only want to cite at the end of the paragraph then I suggest it would be clearer if you were to start the paragraph off by saying that it will be mentioning the work of Bloch as written about by the author you cite. I personally prefer to cite the actual author whose theory I am describing.

I'd also like to suggest that you make it clearer that this whole new section you are adding is about one particular approach to ritual, as it is presently coming across as if this is a generally accepted conceptualisation of ritual, where in fact it is one approach among many. This would make it easier when adding differing approaches to the article.

I would like to ask you to try to make one single edit rather than a whole series of very small ones as this makes it much easier to see what you have done.

Once again thanks for your work. :) Morgan Leigh | Talk 00:40, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Hello, I appreciate your concerns on citations: the more - and from a variety of sources - the better. However, to start with your last point, this major re-write has to be done in incremental stages because this is an existing article and the contributions of others need to be preserved. Figuring out how to do that, while layering in new material, takes some time, especially if you are trying to preserve a readable article in the interim. Like you, I prefer to cite original authors; but have had my knuckles rapped by other editors for doing so using the same rationale as you (the fear the result is in my, not their words). Given copyright restrictions, we are never going to "copy verbatim" from the source. So each needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis for author bias. The manual of style does allow for "bundled citations" including a single note at the end of a paragraph, which, for now, I've adopted. There is something to be said for following the general outline of a respected academic theorist who has similar concerns, in her book, to address multiple points of view. The theory section below, however, is the one in most need of work and where those individual voices need to be heard. I'd love to quote Maurice first hand and at length, but the article needs a succinct overview for a general audience first before being bogged down in academic debate.Schrauwers (talk) 11:57, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
Despite the rappings of other editors I'd like to encourage citing original authors. The point of academic writing is indeed to write things in your own words - but to cite the source - I have not suggested you should do otherwise. If other editors have suggested such a thing then they are mistaken. The point I am trying to make is to make sure it is clear whose ideas they are by the use of citations. The way to do this is to do exactly as you have done where you write "Catherine Bell argues that rituals can be characterized by formalism, traditionalism, invariance, rule-governance, sacral symbolism and performance." The article as it is at the moment could certainly benefit from a lot more of this. For example, "Ritual is also invariant, implying careful choreography.", really needs to be, "Bell argues that ritual is also invariant, implying careful choreography." with an appropriate citation. Otherwise it comes off as if this is an absolute statement that all writers on ritual agree with.
Keep up the good work. I will try to help by adding citations where I can. Morgan Leigh | Talk 03:03, 3 June 2013 (UTC)


I don't see what either one of you is getting at with this subhead. Whatever it is, it's as if each is trying to describe an entirely different approach/concept. Cynwolfe (talk) 19:01, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

What I was writing was theory, not historiography. Asad's approach draws on Michel Foucault's work "Discipline and Punish."Schrauwers (talk) 19:03, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
OK, that's what I thought. How about a subhead parallel to the one that precedes it: "Ritual as a form of discipline". "Discipline" always has that double sense of "discipline from within" or self-discipline", expressed in the extreme as ascetism, and "discipline from without" or punishment. Cynwolfe (talk) 20:39, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
I just didn't want it to read like it was about bondage porn. On a quick scan my change seemed appropriate - the article is getting pretty heavy & specialized btw. Johnbod (talk) 20:47, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
I'm usually the one who goes for the lewdest possible reading, so thank you for allowing me to maintain the illusion of decorum by stating it thus for me. I agree that it's challenging to write an article about something so abstract as "ritual" while sailing between the Scylla of NAD and the Charybdis of Derrida. I would propose giving Schrauwers some room to play out the outline, with the possibility of a spinoff article Theory of ritual or Ritual theory. Cynwolfe (talk) 21:16, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
being pure of thought (this is an article on ritual after all ;) the porn aspect hadn't occurred to me. Definitely potential for a spinoff there. But the order of the headings in this section is meant to chronologically follow the debate on ritual from functionalism, structural-functionalism, structuralism, symbolic, semiotic, practice theory then Asad. Since ritual is a major topic, and not a simple one, I'd like to keep this all together for now. It's important to see the alternate perspectives on the subject, as Morgan notes above. Schrauwers (talk) 23:18, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

experimental research[edit]

Would anyone mind if I add some references to new research? Is there some specific section where this should be put.. or perhaps even make a new section?-- (talk) 09:41, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

more references[edit]

Of the about 70 citations to literature, about 80% or more seem to refer to two books (Bell and Turner). I wonder if this means that the subject is not discussed in a very broad manner, then? Or is the study of ritual very non-existent? 2001:708:110:201:D548:D059:787D:C550 (talk) 09:40, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

"Ritualistics" is a scholarly topic, but my guess is that there may be a limited number of scholars who produce work on theory of ritual in general. Most probably study the ritual of specific religions. Cynwolfe (talk) 17:01, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
The answer to that question might be both. Many anthropologists have lamented about the fact that even as ritual is considered to be a central research are in anthropology, there appears to be no real theory of ritual. I recall that at least Roy Rappaport, Jack Goody, Frederik Barth, have stated something along these lines. But eve given that, I think this article is fairly narrow. Not only is the theory discussed based on essentially only two works, it also is historically biased in that it categorically leaves out new research (say from the last 25 years). This is probably not intentional, it's just that it has mostly been written by people that are not themselves involved in ritual studies. (talk) 18:52, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
You know, one could argue that as this is a general encyclopedic article and not a literature review, there is no need for a broader scientific handling of the subject. But when you look at the actual article, how "general encyclopedic" does it seem? It seems to go into quite small detail about some specific theoretical schools... (talk) 18:52, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

Ṛtú or Ṛta[edit]

Ṛtú or Ṛta?

“The word ‘ritual’ comes from ‘rtu,’ sanskrit for menses. The earliest rituals were connected to the woman’s monthly bleeding. The blood from the womb that nourished the unborn child was believed to have mana, magical power. Women’s periodic bleeding was a cosmic event, like the cycles of the moon and the waxing and waning of the tides. We have forgotten that women were the conduit to the sacred mystery of life and death.” — Elinor Gadon WILD WOMAN -- (talk) 01:18, 12 December 2016 (UTC)

Sacrifice section[edit]

This seems improperly written, almost nothing in this section is about sacrifice per se, mostly a long winded quote about flags (How does this relate to ritual?). If anything this should be put in a criticism section about nationalism or something. Doesn't belong here in my oppinion. I'll leave it as is for now but may do some editing in the near future, I'll need to find some articles about actual sacrifice in ritual first however. See if anyone else has something to say on the topic in the meantime. (talk) 19:27, 1 March 2017 (UTC)

Scientific symposia[edit]

When I dice scientific symposia with my super-duper Vennomatic, much falls under functional form, convention, and social grace. Hardly anything is confined to ritual's solitary crescent.

The one exception I would make here is the discourse structure of the MC introducing the session's speaker and guest of honour. Much of this is devoted to blowing formulaic smoke up the academic status culture's wazoo, which is why only about 1/3 of most introductions are bearable to listen to (it is nice to learn a few key details about the speaker and his or her accomplishments).

And maybe the disdain for one's superiors over beers afterward has a some ritualistic elements. But beyond that, I don't think ritual per se is thick on the ground here, unlike how the lead presently portrays this.

"I'd like to thank the people who gave me the money." Ritual, street smarts, or social grace?

Note also that genre is regarded as convention, not ritual, though reading Poe out loud on Halloween probably crosses the boundary. — MaxEnt 18:36, 11 June 2017 (UTC)

Also, for me, any panel banter in which the university's football team is mentioned (or any revied rivals) is ritualistic to the hilt. But that's hardly universal fare at most symposia. — MaxEnt 18:41, 11 June 2017 (UTC)


The introduction says "common actions like hand-shaking". With the novel coronavirus everywhere, I don't think hand-shaking is common anymore.

Mdnahas (talk) 23:17, 22 June 2020 (UTC)