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Negotiating Rites$
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Ute Husken and Frank Neubert

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199812295

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812295.001.0001

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Performing the Ancient Ones

Performing the Ancient Ones

The Body-In-Practice as The Ground of Ritualized Negotiation

Chapter:
(p.119) 6 Performing the Ancient Ones
Source:
Negotiating Rites
Author(s):

Nikki Bado

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812295.003.0006

Initiation – traditionally understood as an isolated ritual moment with simple unilinear directional movement – is actually embedded in a long and complex multidirectional process of increasingly somatic practice that involves a shift in perceptual orientation as well as the formation of an intimate community. The initiation process practiced by a group of Wiccans in Ohio is a learning curve in which the initiate’s body-in-practice trains and becomes attuned to a particular mode of perception necessary for ritual work. This mode of perception is negotiated with and through the body and is made meaningful by performed ritual identification with the spirits during invocations. The body-in-practice is an achieved state that cultivates what anthropologist Thomas Csordas calls somatic modes of attention “culturally elaborated ways of attending to and with one’s body in surroundings that include the embodied presence of others.” Here “others” include not only other practitioners in the rite, but an entire range of other-than-human persons, including the four elements, spirits and Guardians of the Watchtowers, Gods and Goddesses, and Nature-as-Person. The body-in-practice illuminates the concrete reality of those who inhabit the inter-subjective and liminal field of ritual space and enables the complex and intimate dance of ritualized negotiation with these Ancient Ones.

Keywords:   body-in-practice, initiation, Wiccans in Ohio, ancient Ones

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