The Sacred Divided: Understanding Contemporary Ambivalence Towards Ritual

Garfinkel, Craig (2006) The Sacred Divided: Understanding Contemporary Ambivalence Towards Ritual. Doctoral thesis, Meridian University.

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This study examines adults’ experience of ritual ambivalence. The study’s Research Problem was: What are the imaginal structures associated with the contemporary ambivalence toward ritual? The hypothesis stated that contemporary ambivalence toward ritual is a symptom of the dissociation between the Mother principle and the Father principle, and arises out of cultural and archetypal taboos associated with ritual. The Literature Review addresses Ritual, Psychological Perspectives on the Sacred, Ambivalence, and Creative Play. This review reveals a connection between ritual and ambivalence, and a paucity of literature regarding ambivalence which arises at the threshold of ritualizing. This study utilized the methodology of Imaginal Inquiry. Data was collected with 10 adults, focusing on experiences of desiring and resisting ritual, which involved participants sharing previous ritual experiences and engaging together in ritual. Six learnings emerged: First, ambivalence toward ritual involves early negative experiences and childhood wounding in conventional religion. Second, under the influence of sibling culture, contemporary ambivalence toward ritual involves an absence of recognition of verticality, uncertainty about how ordinary space becomes converted v into sacred space, confusion between rituals of routine and transformative rituals, and trivializing of differences between superficial and sacred rituals. Third, approaching ritual evokes ambivalence around the Mother principle, associated with the desire for safety and connection, in tension with the fear of merging and enmeshment. Fourth, approaching ritual evokes ambivalence around the Father principle, associated with the desire for supportive structure, in tension with fear of rigid and oppressive authority. Fifth, ambivalence that arises at the threshold of ritualizing is characterized by assessment of the relationship between the Mother and Father principles, in which the desire for acceptance and protection in the play space is in tension with the fear of a lack of safety. Sixth, the exploration of ambivalence, culminating in the determination of a safe-enough play space, catalyzes ritual trust, temporarily suspending fear and allowing fulfillment of the desire to participate in ritual, characterized by collaboration between the Mother and the Father Principles. Contextualized within the Jacob and Esau myth, the learnings are applicable to developing strategies for catalyzing effective participation in ritual.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Psychology > Critical Theory
Depositing User: Craig Garfinkel
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2017 22:35
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2017 22:35

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