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The Only Miracle Jesus' Mother Asked For Was Wine

How New World Wine Resurrects Old Religion
I used to be a regular at a wine bar in San Clemente, a beach town in California where my wife and I lived when we were first married. The ‘Tuscan’ decor of the place was a little too vivid for my taste, but the wine was priced right and the owner was a great conversationalist. He would tell us stories from behind the bar about his travels to vineyards in Chile and New Zealand, and he had a charming populist streak. When people got too pretentious about the wine, he would roll his eyes and say: ‘Relax, it’s just a beverage.’ He was wrong about that, of course. Since its invention more than 8,000 years ago, wine has always been more than just a beverage.

posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 16, 2014 - 11 comments

"Avoid The Appearance Of Evil"

Thank Goodness We Don't Have To Do That Anymore: a selection of US social customs and rituals that have mercifully passed on. Spinster Etiquette! Paying Calls! Hand Kissing! Bathing Machines! Wedding Gift Displays!
posted by The Whelk on Mar 28, 2014 - 90 comments

A life in focus

Greg Marinovich is well known as a member of the Bang Bang Club, winning the Pulitzer Prize for photography for his work during the death throes of apartheid in South Africa. Less known are the unique (and often difficult to obtain) images documenting the often secret rituals amongst the diverse peoples of his homeland. As he writes in a recent column remembering Mandela, making the right choice can often be a difficult one.
Mandela's release in 1990 was a pretty surreal series of events for me. As a fledgling photographer I was thrilled when a British agency asked me to cover it. It was a great chance to make a break into the business, but I was conflicted. I had also managed to gain access to an otherwise secretive ceremony in the far north of the country, scheduled for the same day. The distance between Pollsmoor Prison, where the news crews of the world were camped out, and the mysterious stockade of the Modjadji was some two thousand kilometres. I had to choose between two competing once-in-a-lifetime shoots.
Here is a showcase of the works he has made publicly available as prints as well as collections from his close colleague, Joao Silva*. [more inside]
posted by infini on Jun 14, 2013 - 3 comments

Her hair color ....varies from blond to brunet across the collection

"Fabiola has been a beloved subject for countless painters, most of them amateurs. The portrait’s format is almost always the same: Fabiola is seen in profile facing left, her head covered by a rich red veil. Mr. Alÿs, who was born in Belgium in 1959 and moved to Mexico City in 1990, began collecting Fabiola paintings — as the genre is called — about 15 years ago, buying them at thrift shops, flea markets and antiques stores primarily in Mexico and Europe. He has previously shown his collection three times, when it was much smaller; the current presentation includes more than 300 works. Photos of the exhibition
posted by The Whelk on May 30, 2013 - 18 comments

“Rituals are the glue that holds social groups together.”

Social Evolution - The Ritual Animal "Praying, fighting, dancing, chanting — human rituals could illuminate the growth of community and the origins of civilization." [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 23, 2013 - 11 comments

In a circle, in lines, in turning

Dhikr (or Zihr) is a islamic devotional act involving the remembrance, the chanting, and repeating of the names of God. Though this often happens in silence, the Sufi tend to have ritualized group ceremonies ranging in style from the Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi to the fervid dancing of the Chechen.
posted by fizzzzzzzzzzzy on Apr 8, 2013 - 15 comments

el molé de caderas

The Goat Slaughter
When the first goat was killed, it took me by surprise. My husband Jorge and I had been invited by one of Jorge’s photojournalist friends to this nondescript compound in La Mixteca, the most impoverished region of Oaxaca, Mexico’s most impoverished state, to watch the annual slaughter of thousands of goats.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Mar 14, 2013 - 12 comments

The Kangjiashimenji Petroglyphs

The World’s Oldest Pornography. The Kangjiashimenji Petroglyphs in the Tien Shan Mountains: A Fertility Ritual Tableau.
posted by homunculus on Feb 14, 2013 - 21 comments

"From Karl Marx to Richard Dawkins in 60 seconds"

Six Famous Thought Experiments, Animated in 60 Seconds Each; One-Minute Animated Primers on Major Theories of Religion
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 13, 2012 - 17 comments

The Soundscapes of Ancient Cultures

Historically, archaeologists have largely ignored acoustical science as a tool for archaeological discovery. This is changing with the advent of acoustic archaeology. “Could the Maya have intentionally coded the sound of their sacred bird into the pyramid architecture? I think it is possible.Hear it for yourself in this video. While this is a pretty astounding feat of architectural engineering, it’s by no means the only example of archaeoacoustics that can be found at Chichen Itza, amongst the mayan people, or throughout the many other cultures who’ve built structures that integrate unique auditory phenomenon to stimulate the senses. [previously]/[previously] [more inside]
posted by nTeleKy on Nov 29, 2012 - 23 comments

Photographs will always depict connections, a mirrored image of life through his/her lens.

Christina Garcia Rodero was the first female Spanish photographer to join Magnum. She mainly specializes in projects involving Ritual.
Whether Maria Lionza in Venezuela.
Catholic Spain - The Sacred and the Profane.
Ritual in Haiti. or Burning Man (slideshow).
Here is a short video of stills of her project Espana Oculta and another (9mins) and a further project Between Heaven and Earth with Video.
Interviews in Spanish and English 1; 2
( Some NSFW some repeats).
posted by adamvasco on Aug 15, 2012 - 6 comments

A living doll

The Decorated Bride - "In Lubinje, a small, picturesque village of 3500 inhabitants, a few hours from Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo, members of the Trebesh community live in colorful houses. They also have a colorful custom - or rite - of beautifying brides on their wedding day."
posted by madamjujujive on Nov 18, 2011 - 46 comments

"I felt like I'd been catapulted from one end of the universe to the other"

This weekend marks the time of the Hajj, a core pillar of Islam in which great tides of humanity venture to the ancient city of Mecca to honor God. Predating Mohammed's birth by centuries, the pilgrimage comprises several days of rites, from congregation like snow on Mount Arafat and the ritual stoning of Shaitan to the circling of the sacred Kaaba (the shrouded cubical monolith Muslims pray toward daily) and kissing the Black Stone (colored by the absorption of myriad sins, and believed by some to be a fallen meteorite). While the city has modernized to handle this largest of annual gatherings -- building highway-scale ramps, gaudy skyscrapers for the ultra-rich, and tent cities the size of Seattle -- it remains mysterious, as unbelievers are forbidden from entering its borders. Richard Francis Burton became famous for touring the city in disguise to write a rare travelogue, but contemporary viewers have a more immediate guide: Vice Magazine journalist Suroosh Alvi, who smuggled a minicam into the city to record The Mecca Diaries [alt], a 14-minute documentary of his own Hajj journey. Browse the manual to see what goes into a Hajj trip, or watch the YouTube livestream to see the Grand Mosque crowds in real time.
posted by Rhaomi on Nov 4, 2011 - 31 comments

30 Mosques. 30 States. 30 Days.

30 Mosques in 30 Days, 2011 [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 7, 2011 - 22 comments

Labyrinthine

Labyrinths – not to be confused with mazes – are being rediscovered as tools for contemplation, meditation, reflection, and community well-being, as well as inspiration for architecture, music, dance, ritual, business, and visual art. [more inside]
posted by velvet winter on Dec 20, 2010 - 19 comments

Short Snorters

Short Snorters: "A short snorter is a banknote inscribed by people traveling together on an aircraft. The tradition was started by Alaskan Bush flyers in the 1920s and spread through the military and commercial aviation...When the short snorter was signed, the collector would have to produce it upon request, if not, they are bounded to give the signer a drink." Some examples: Flickr, A Hawaiian one dollar bill, A bill with some real WWII history, Scrolling Multinational Short Snorters, and a British ten-shilling note.
posted by srboisvert on Oct 27, 2010 - 24 comments

They call him the "Rabbah Rouser"

“There’s a tremendous amount of anxiety among religious traditionalists that when you take one step toward egalitarianism, the floodgates are open and everything that seemed self-evident will no longer be. Men go to work, and women raise children. If you undermine that, you have lost your whole universe.”

The Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements of Judaism have been ordaining women as rabbis for decades, but the religion's most traditional sect, the Orthodox, remains a lone, minority holdout against egalitarianism. Last year, Orthodox Rabbi Avraham "Avi" Weiss (political activist and founder of the controversial, liberal, "Open Orthodox" Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Yeshiva in New York) tried to shake things up by ordaining the first female American Orthodox rabbi. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 31, 2010 - 35 comments

The Hidden World of Girls

Hidden World of Girls: Girls and the Women they Become is NPR's collaborative year-long, ongoing series between The Kitchen Sisters, NPR and listener submissions. The series explores "stories of coming of age, rituals and rites of passage, secet identities—of women who crossed a line, blazed a trail, changed the tide." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 2, 2010 - 16 comments

Music and the Brain

Music and the Brain The Library of Congress' Music and the Brain podcasts offer lectures and conversations about new research at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience and music. Sufi rituals, Wednesday is Indigo Blue (synaesthesia), Your Brain on Jazz, The Music of Language and the Language of Music, and more.
posted by carter on Feb 15, 2010 - 13 comments

Hands Across the Dugout

New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana has an individual handshake ritual for every player on his team.
posted by SpiffyRob on Apr 8, 2009 - 40 comments

Halloween and the Black Cat: Superstition as Urban Legend?

Were black cats ever in danger during Halloween? For the past decade or more, animal shelters have been holding back their black cats at Halloween, for fears of obsessed youths sacrificing them in ritualistic slaughter (or other cruelties, some involving duct tape). Some experts say it's a myth, or an urban legend with no basis in fact. The origins of the idea are often cited as ancient influence.
posted by Brian B. on Oct 19, 2008 - 46 comments

Ritual and Witchcraft in Cornwall

Witches of Cornwall. "Macabre evidence of age-old spells surfaces in an archaeologist's front yard." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Oct 11, 2008 - 44 comments

The Ethnosphere

"Cultures at the far edge of the world" (YT) and "The worldwide web of belief and ritual" (YT). Two TED talks by anthropologist and explorer Wade Davis (previously) on the diversity of the world's indigenous cultures and their beliefs, and the richness of the "Ethnosphere," which he describes as "the sum total of all thoughts and dreams, myths, ideas, inspirations, intuitions brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness." [Via Mind Hacks]
posted by homunculus on Jun 21, 2008 - 12 comments

Ethnographic materials from the Himalayan region

Apa Tani bleeding tubes filmed by Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf and Paro, Bhutan in 1936 from Frederick Williamson, are just two of the extraordinary offerings from the Digital Himalaya Project.
posted by tellurian on Apr 3, 2008 - 8 comments

The Soul of France

Flirting with the Forbidden, for centuries, Romans and French have enjoyed the pleasures of a unique songbird. Once caught, this tiny bunting is kept in a small cage, where its eyes are poked out. It is then force fed oats, millet, and figs until it's plumped up to four times its size. It is subsequently drowned alive in cognac, roasted at high heat, then served as an exquisite - and illegal - meal. Traditionally the diner enjoys this delicacy - approximately the size of a human thumb - underneath an embroidered napkin. The head is bitten off, the entire body eaten in one crunchy bite. Said to embody the "soul of France," it was, reportedly, the last meal of Francois Mitterrand. Writer Michael Paterniti recreates the experience of dining on l'ortolan, superbly told in an episode of "This American Life."
posted by Dr. Zira on Feb 20, 2008 - 141 comments

Pre-modern home security

Apotropaios contains much fascinating information about the (here, mainly British and Irish) folk magic practice of concealing objects in buildings for ritual protection purposes. Yes, mummified Ceiling Cat is averting your evil. One aspect of the practice, the deliberate concealment of garments, has provided us with insight into ordinary costume of bygone days.
posted by Abiezer on Jan 27, 2008 - 26 comments

Mizuko Kuyo

Mizuko Kuyo, meaning "water-child memorial service" is a memorial service held by or for those who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion, and has become widespread in Japan since the 1970's. (Wikipedia definition). Peggy Orenstein relates her experience with miscarriage and this ritual in Mourning My Miscarriage - In Japan, I Find a Culture Willing to Acknowledge My Loss. [more inside]
posted by agregoli on Dec 4, 2007 - 28 comments

I've stolen all my wives

Wife thief - the Wodaabe of Nigeria are one of the world's few remaining Nomadic peoples, retaining age-old customs and ways. Physical beauty and charm are highly prized, qualities much in evidence at the annual Gerewol ceremonies. After donning elaborate makeup and clothing, men engage in stylized dance and preening to win the favor of a desired woman - often one who is already married. [more inside]
posted by madamjujujive on Nov 26, 2007 - 20 comments

En Garde!

The marine flatworm Pseudobiceros hancockanus engages in penis fencing [video]. SFW, I guess, unless your boss is a super uptight nudibranch or something.
posted by dersins on Aug 15, 2007 - 26 comments

Jumping spiders are awesome.

Jumping spiders use their legs to communicate courtship interests to potential mates. The minuscule impacts of spider legs tapping against the ground surface are detected by nearby spiders. This "drumming" cadence signals the spider's reproductive interests. The female detects the low frequency vibrations through her legs. She responds by allowing the male to mount her. Absolutely amazing video here. The sound is the best part, so make sure it's on.
posted by lazaruslong on Jul 27, 2007 - 53 comments

"Tonight we will venture to the stages where the zombies have created an elaborate charade to lure the living."

Rude at Bonnaroo --eventblogging as mock ethnographic survey of sorts, in the proud tradition of Margaret Mead -- and Body Ritual Among the Nacirema. (from the ever Rude Pundit, who's also performing there) ; >
posted by amberglow on Jun 16, 2007 - 9 comments

Whipping and chasing and drinking and praying

A strange ritual is played out in Choupic, Louisiana on Mardi Gras day. Something similar happens in Prague on Easter Monday too. [via]
posted by tellurian on Mar 2, 2006 - 13 comments

The same procedure as last year

A German New Year's ritual entirely in Enligsh. Enlighs. English.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen on Jan 1, 2006 - 32 comments

Wonderfully bizarre nail fetish figures

The nkondi are the most powerful of the nkisi. They were used to identify and hunt down unknown wrongdoers such as thieves, and people who were believed to cause sickness or death by occult means. They were also used to punish people who swore false oaths and villages which broke treaties. To inspire the nkondi to action, it was both invoked and provoked. Invocations, in bloodthirsty language, encouraged it to punish the guilty party. It would also be provoked by having gunpowder exploded in front of it, and having nails hammered into it. These fantastic Congo nail fetish figures are just one small, wonderful part of the impressive collection of images you can view at the content-rich, gratifyingly obsessive Rand African Art, a site stuffed with nice large photos, lots of lovely, lovely links, and all sorts of intriguing nooks and crannies inviting exploration.
posted by taz on Nov 13, 2005 - 14 comments

theyyam

Theyyam, a corrupt form of daivum (god), is a popular ritual dance of North Kerala, India. As a living cult with centuries old traditions, ritual and custom, it embraces almost all castes and classes of the Hindu religion in this region. A performance (mpg) of a particular deity continues for 12 to 24 hours with intervals. The costumes differ based on the character (mpg) of the theyyam.
posted by dhruva on Dec 23, 2004 - 13 comments

Thapusam

Thaipusam. "The Hindu people are intense about their religion, and take some extraordinary measures to display their devotion. A good example is the Thaipusam festival." Warning - images may be disturbing to some people! (more inside)
posted by Joey Michaels on Nov 25, 2003 - 14 comments

Baby Jumping Festival & Rites of Passage

Jumping over babies - on June 22 in Burgos, Spain, parents will dress newborn babies in finery and lay them in the street so that a man dressed as the devil can leap over them. It's an age-old ritual. Many cultures have colorful ceremonial rites of passage marked by festivals - have you come upon any in your travels?
posted by madamjujujive on Jun 21, 2003 - 20 comments

Greek Temple Architecture and Linkeriffica of Antiquity

Greek Temple Architecture: They were houses--houses for cult statues, storehouses of treasures given to the gods--they were not churches. Worship consisted, by and large, of sacrificial ritual--animal sacrifice: killing animals and eating them, for the most part--and, hence, it was done out of doors. The Internet Ancient History Sourcebook's Accounts of Hellenic Religious Beliefs and Accounts of Personal Religion give additional flavor and context. Greek religious architecture evolved from wooden structures and was tradition bound--they built in stone as they had in wood according to variations on a traditional canon called the orders, first and foremost, the Doric Order , the Ionic Order and the Corinthian Order. Here are some restorations. I love restorations, on paper or models rather than at the actual sites. The first in a series.
posted by y2karl on Jun 19, 2003 - 15 comments

S&M Easter - whips, nails, but no bunnies

So how will you spend Easter? Are your plans just a tad pedestrian? If egg hunts leave you cold, perhaps you need a bit more edge. For many, things begin this week. In Czechoslovakia, men carry woven willow sticks and whip girls on the legs, but in Taxco, Mexico, it's all about self-flagellation. In the U.S., many go theatrical with a living last supper; in the Philippines they favor more authenticity - every year about 20 people re-enact the crucifixion, nails & all. If that's too real, you could order supplies to build a backyard corpus shrine for next year. - more -
posted by madamjujujive on Apr 14, 2003 - 23 comments

African Ceremonies

African Ceremonies - Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher have been recording African tribal rituals and customs in stunning photography for the last three decades. Beckwith, a U.S. native, is an expert on the Massai and also spent three years living among the fascinating desert nomads, the Wodaabe. Fisher, an Australian native, spent nearly a decade and a half studying and recording jewelry and body adornment. For at least the last decade, they've been collaborating with spectacular results.
posted by madamjujujive on Nov 5, 2002 - 9 comments

105 unconscious children temporarily buried alive in the name of religion.

105 unconscious children temporarily buried alive in the name of religion. In a horrible ritual witnessed by an Indian government official, who quit his position shortly afterward, children were worked until exhausted, wrapped in cloth, and then buried for one entire minute. Sometimes it feels like that we will never shake off the need for ancient tradition, myth, and groundless faith, but there is a bright side. There are more non-religious people now than ever. As the information age expands, education becomes more accessible and may be the most important factor in determining how religious one is. Unsurprisingly, a follow-up article on the mass-burial quotes, "Inquiries also revealed that no educational programme had been introduced anywhere near Perayur in the last six years."
posted by skallas on Sep 6, 2002 - 93 comments

US Woman Killed in Malaysia

US Woman Killed in Malaysia "Police believe an American woman whose remains were recently unearthed in Malaysia was used as a human sacrifice in a ritual to obtain lottery numbers from the spirits..." The article didn't say if they won. Not that it matters.
posted by mcsweetie on Jun 26, 2001 - 8 comments

"THE HANGMAN EQUALS DEATH!
THE DEVIL EQUALS DEATH!
DEATH EQUALS DEATH!"

"THE HANGMAN EQUALS DEATH!
THE DEVIL EQUALS DEATH!
DEATH EQUALS DEATH!"
The New York Observer goes undercover at Yale to reveal the secret Skull and Bones initiation ritual. So, these are the people who will be running our lives for the next few decades?

"Take that plunger out of my ass!"
posted by Dirjy on Apr 19, 2001 - 4 comments

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