Memorates and memory. Reevaluation of Lauri Honko’s theory.


  • Vladimír Bahna 1-Laboratory for Experimental Research or Religion, Masaryk University. 2-Institute of Ethnology, Slovak Academy of Sciences.



This paper deals with the phenomena where culture and society influence the content of personal experiences. It confronts psychological knowledge about autobiographical memory and folkloristic theories associated with the concept of memorate – a personal experience narrative which is build upon a supernatural belief. Autobiographical memory is not a vessel in which static information is deposited and later recalled; rather it is a dynamic process of repeated construction and reconstruction of memories, which is subject to many internal and external influences. Ideas and concepts, widespread in society, dreams and beliefs, stories and experiences of others, can be, and often are incorporated into autobiographical memories. Similarly folklorists found out that memorates (personal experience narratives) often consist of traditional elements. The author of this paper argues that the theory of Lauri Honko regarding the formation and transmission of memorates (1964) largely coheres with psychological knowledge about autobiographical memory. This kind of social contagion of memory suggests a possibility for a specific form of cultural transmission of beliefs and concepts related to experiences.




How to Cite

Bahna, V. (2015). Memorates and memory. Reevaluation of Lauri Honko’s theory. Temenos - Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion, 51(1), 7–23.