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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in ritual gestures

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
I Love the Doorposts of Your House

You're entering a sacred place. What do you do?

You can't just saunter in, doing nothing, as if it were (say) some big box store. It's a sacred place; going in means something.

So what do you do?

Some reach down and touch the ground. (If you're reading this, I probably don't need to tell you why you would do this.) In practice, this often means that you touch the threshold of the temple.

What comes next is up to you. Some people touch their hearts, some (with a kiss) their lips. Some touch their brows. I usually touch all three: In my heart, on my lips, in my thoughts.

Or some variation thereof. The deeply pious may bow down and kiss the Earth. Those of us who aren't as spry as we used to be may settle for kissing the doorposts of the temple. (I love the doorposts of your house, goes the old song.)

So much for entering. How do you leave a sacred place?

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Minoan Ecstatic Postures: Shading the Eyes

Last week I began exploring Minoan ecstatic postures, starting with the most famous and familiar one: the Minoan salute. Many modern Pagan traditions use specific poses and gestures in ritual in much the same way that some varieties of Christianity use the gesture of making the cross. These are meant to symbolize parts of the spiritual belief system and to remind us of those during the rite. Ecstatic postures look very much like ritual gestures - in fact, they can be used as ritual gestures - but ultimately they have a different purpose.

A ritual gesture is a pose or motion you make briefly during a religious ceremony. If you hold it for a few seconds or maybe a minute, it might give you a particular feeling or sense of something sacred. An ecstatic posture is a pose you hold for an extended period of time while undergoing ecstatic (shamanic) trance. If that sounds really deep and freaky, it's not. Most people can enter a light trance state simply by focusing on their breathing for a minute or two. A little drumming in the background helps to deepen the state. You don't have to take drugs or go through extended initiations in order to use these postures to expand your spiritual experience. If you've ever done a guided meditation, you've been in trance.

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How You Can Pray Your Way to a Firmer, Shapelier Butt (and a Few Other Things Besides)

You could call it the Threefold Salute.

In my head. On my lips. In my heart. (Touch brow, mouth, chest.) Or the other way: In my heart. On my lips. In my head. Up the tree or down?

It's a formal greeting. It's a ritual salute. In body language, it says: So mote it be.

When you enter a sacred space, pause at the threshold. Bend and touch the ground. (If you can't actually touch the ground from this position, at least reach for it.) As you straighten your spine, standing up, touch heart, lips, head. Then enter.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Minoan Salute

As we search out a vocabulary of gesture—articulate action—with which to embody our old-new worship, we turn both to the ways of the ancestors and to our own experience.

A gesture of reverence that occurs again and again in the glyptic art of Minoan Crete is the gesture known to scholars as the “Minoan salute.” The worshiper stands before the deity with right fist raised to brow, elbow held high. Generally the left arm is held at the side.

The gesture is clearly a formal act of reverent attention, perhaps of greeting. Sometimes the fist is held with the thumb up, sometimes with the thumb to the brow. The standard reading of the gesture is that the worshiper is shielding his or her eyes from the radiance of the deity. Try it out and see what you think of this interpretation. I do not find it personally convincing because one shades one's eyes with an open hand. This, I suspect, is something else.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    No offense taken, Steven. I'm just so used to people assuming I'm a fluffy bunny that I tend to take comments that way. Sorry I mi
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    No offense intended, Laura. If anything, my critique was directed both at myself and what I perceive as a general tendency to idea
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    So where do you draw the line between 'accurate reconstruction' and 'projecting our own visions of the ideal culture onto the past
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I find the salute increasingly natural when greeting Sun, Moon, River...even geese in flight, a tree in full, flaming color, or (s
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    I love the way you're working with this gesture. I can't say I agree with many of Nanno Marinatos' assumptions in the kingship boo

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