By Peter Case, Heather Höpfl, Hugo Letiche (eds.)

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1973, p. 114) ‘Somehow’, he says – therein lies all our perplexity. How? First let us recognize that rituals are not practices derived from the representations of spiritual forces and conceptions in the myths. Instead rituals generate the myths. Anthropologist Michael Taussig (1997) has shown, in The Magic of the State, how the rituals that came to be performed on Cerro de María Lionza in Venezuela, especially after 1950, progressively came to name and invoke, and then link together into narratives a certain María Lionza, depicted riding a tapir, whose deeds are differently described and indeed whose very name varies in different narratives, and long-forgotten pre-Columbian deities depicted as North American Plains Indians, Christian saints and political figures, Belief 21 especially Simon Bolivar.

It does not take place in some decision of the mind but in the ritualistic initiation into the ways of philosophers or in the ritualistic repetition of dance steps or medical procedures, which engender moods and motivations. I am a working-class woman, and I determined to be a mother – not out of conformism, but out of a deep inner recognition of my powers, my strengths, my reliability, my generosity. But the child that was born to me has cystic fibrosis, and is doomed to die, most likely in infancy.

It is in ritual … that this conviction that religious conceptions are veridical and that religious directives are sound is somehow generated. (1973, p. 114) ‘Somehow’, he says – therein lies all our perplexity. How? First let us recognize that rituals are not practices derived from the representations of spiritual forces and conceptions in the myths. Instead rituals generate the myths. Anthropologist Michael Taussig (1997) has shown, in The Magic of the State, how the rituals that came to be performed on Cerro de María Lionza in Venezuela, especially after 1950, progressively came to name and invoke, and then link together into narratives a certain María Lionza, depicted riding a tapir, whose deeds are differently described and indeed whose very name varies in different narratives, and long-forgotten pre-Columbian deities depicted as North American Plains Indians, Christian saints and political figures, Belief 21 especially Simon Bolivar.

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