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The Spiritual QuestTranscendence  in Myth, Religion, and Science$
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Robert Torrance

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780520081321

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520081321.001.0001

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Mobility and Its Limits in Communal Ritual and Myth

Mobility and Its Limits in Communal Ritual and Myth

(p.94) Chapter Seven Mobility and Its Limits in Communal Ritual and Myth
The Spiritual Quest

Robert M. Torrance

University of California Press

Rituals express conflict as well as conformity; and rites of passage, by confronting their celebrants with a socially uncontrollable Wild, provide a paradigm for the mythical explorations of questing heroes such as Maui and the Navajo twins—a paradigm of radical separation from the known, perilous sojourn in an alien yet alluring liminal realm, and transformative re-incorporation into a world defamiliarized and reoriented by the heroes' triumphant return. Just as the stake of the dead in continuity of their living descendants gives ancestor worship a “future orientation,” so the seemingly static ceremonies of the ritualized Maori or Navajo actually open toward a future initiated by the heroes of old but still—like the myths that tell of their exploits and even the slowly changing rites which enact them—in the process of formation.

Keywords:   rituals, conflict, conformity, rites, passage, Maui, Navajo, myths

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