(redirected from Rites)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronyms, Idioms, Wikipedia.
Related to Rites: last rites


1. a formal act or procedure prescribed or customary in religious ceremonies
2. a particular body of such acts or procedures, esp of a particular Christian Church
3. a Christian Church
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005

Rite; Ritual

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The form of a religious or magical ceremony, usually following a traditional structure. Isaac Bonewits states that "the word `ritual' comes from the Latin root related to `number' or `counting,' the way things are to be done (that is, `one after another'). . . . In all rituals the crucial point is to do things in the proper order in the proper way, usually as prescribed by custom or tradition." Ritual is made up of "things said" (legomena) and "things done" (dromena).

Van Gennep divides ritual into three parts: separation, transition, and incorporation. The first involves withdrawal from the world. In transition, one is "between the worlds" (a term used by Wiccans to describe being in the consecrated Circle). In the final stage, incorporation, change is integrated into life. This can be seen on a broader scale in the many parts comprising the initiation process in most primitive societies. The beginning of such an initiation involves complete separation from what, to that point, has been normal life. This often requires the initiate to go to a separate living area, overseen by the initiator. In Voodoo, this period can last as long as nine days. The actual ceremony of initiation marks the transition to a new level of being. Finally, the initiate returns, with newfound knowledge and experience, to his or her family and everyday life. As Van Gennep has observed, this entire process takes place, in compressed form, in any act of ritual. Ritual is a means of bringing undivided attention to vital issues of such a ceremony.

Rosemary Ellen Guiley argues that the most effective rituals engage the senses, alter consciousness, and open the gateway to visionary thinking. Most effective rituals incorporate such elements as special dress, altar and paraphernalia (candles, incense, and sacred figures), chants, prayers, mystery dramas, dance, and song. These adhere to a prescribed formula, determined by the purpose of the ritual. Sir James Frazer suggests that in primitive ritual, the rites are generally magical rather than propitiatory.

Wiccan rituals are usually led by a priest and/or priestess, who may or may not have an entourage of aides. Wiccan rituals include celebratory rituals for the seasons, such as the eight sabbats of Witchcraft; rituals for births, marriages, or deaths; rituals for healing; and rituals for divination. Rituals may be performed by individuals or by groups such as covens.


The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Talking about his work he added, "I try to involve people in conducting the last rites, we don't need people as spectators but we need them to bring a change.
Though there are many issues that continue to separate the Eastern Orthodox Church from the various Western confessions, issues that in themselves have received more attention because of their status as long-standing grievances between the two sides, one potential problem yet unconsidered by those engaged in ecumenical dialogue is the role of Western Rite Orthodoxy.
Micropassages, seuils, multiplications des passages symboliques, eclatement des grands passages : le paradigme du passage oblige a une relecture des rites qui le soulignent (La Soudiere 2000), mais aussi un reperage des nouveaux rites qui se presentent comme tels.
Truscott has written a very important tome, vital for anyone interested in Holy Baptism and related rites. The book deserves wide readership.
All of the Eastern Rite Catholic churches conduct this service, with the possible exception of the Assyrian Rite in Iraq.
In Part Two, "Rites: The Spectrum of Ritual Activities," Bell moves from explanatory "perspectives" to descriptive "dimensions," presenting her own typological framework of the "basic genres of ritual action" (passage, calendrical/commemorative, exchange and communion, affliction, feast/fast/festival, and political) as well as the "characteristics of ritual-like activities" (formalism, traditionalism, disciplined invariance, rule-governance, sacred symbols, and performance).
An attempt by the bishops to call for the preparation of rites was defeated 85-63, with four abstentions.
Team captains, for the most part well-intentioned, continue initiation rites they experienced as underclassmen because they associate these rites with cooperation, bonding, and team spirit.
Hutton has established himself as the premier historian of British popular rites. His depth of knowledge of particular practices is impressive, but so is his historical reach, which extends from the late middle ages to the present.
She describes what she calls the "crisis we are living through" in millennial terms, as "deeper than anything since the beginning of our era, the beginning of Christianity." She continues, "We need to come as close as possible to the crisis, to accompany it and produce individual works because that is the predicament we are in, in a kind of pulverisation and solitude."(2) One way of thinking about "Rites of Passage," then, would be as a show about catastrophe, about disaster both private and public, personal and social.