Rituals, Symbols and Mythology
Now being introduced to the enchanted world—the world of spiritual and invisible beings and forces—now we look at the means which humans and societies take to channel with it. These means, namely rituals and mythologies, are powerful phenomena that form important aspects of our lives, cultures, and societies. Communities become consolidated and transcended when engaging in collective rituals, while mythologies serve as imaginative symbols of spiritual ideas. This week, you will be exposed to the ‘magic’ of rituals, symbols, and mythology, understanding their roles in contemporary society.
READ AND THINK
Every society has beliefs of an enchanted world, and rituals are particularly crucial in transporting people to liminal states, allowing them to communicate with invisible beings and forces. Mindscapes in individuals are reshaped by ritualistic gestures, movements, and rhythms, bridging them with the spiritual forces. However, it is interesting to note that most rituals are collective, or performed as a group. This video shall explain the social dimensions of the enchanted world with examples of rituals, which play important roles in shaping the group element.
Durkheim and Magic of Ritual
Influential sociologist and anthropologist Emile Durkheim argued for the crucial role of group rituals on maintaining and strengthening human society. Could you imagine celebrating festivals like the New Year or Christmas without many people gathering? How does popularity affect the spiritual capacity of religious sites? The “collective effervescence” that Durkheim coined is the phenomenon of elevating the community to a higher state through group rituals and spiritual activity, even causing “society to worship itself.” Watch this video to learn more on the “magic of ritual” that unconsciously brings groups, families, and societies together.
Rituals as Rites of Passage
Do you still remember the “rite of passage” concept discussed weeks ago? We could apply the theoretical phases of the rite: separation, liminality, and reincorporation into the rituals we have discussed in previous videos this week. This video discusses rituals according to the “rite of passage” framework, which are widespread in contemporary society and culture.
The Power of Symbols
As one of the unique features of human beings, symbols have been widely used in human society, particularly in imagining and communicating with the spiritual world. From languages to stories, symbols represent objects of consciousness and connect with one another to build our mindscape and our relationship to the world. Watch this video to learn more about symbolism in religion and spirituality.
As one of the most symbolic aspects of human culture, religion incorporates rituals and mythology as symbols of various abstract spiritual ideas, like good and evil. Even the story of Adam and Eve could be interpreted differently as a symbolic myth. Through studying mythologies symbolically, we could work through the many conflicts in our “mental operating systems” using endless imagination. Watch this video for a deeper understanding of this prevalent element in our society—mythology.
Spiritual Journey in the Monomyth
Do you find it always quite similar in the narratives of Hollywood movies, repeating again and again, with only changes in appearance? Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, finds a single common structure underlying all stories, which he calls monomyths, referring to the basic mythological story of ‘the hero’s journey’. Almost all the Hollywood films are written based on this mythological structure, but why they are still so popular regardless the similarity? And how does this narrative structure and its popularity tell us about our spirituality? Let’s find out more from the video.