Religious rites play a key role in most religions and spiritual traditions of the world. For researchers of religion they offer an especially prolific source of knowledge and data due to their empirical character – most rituals are acted out in one way or the other and can thus be observed. Ethnographic research from different contexts can, furthermore, be compared in a scholarly way, thus opening up greater possibilities for cumulative research.

Historical perspectives on rituals are presented in articles on ancient Greek and Roman cults as well as Germanic prehistoric customs and Norse mythology included in this volume. Theoretical perspectives are offered from psychological and methodological points of view and several contemporary practices from Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Shamanic contexts are analysed. By coining the term ritualistics, the volume also seeks to introduce a new paradigm for the study of rituals.

Published: 1993-01-01