K.McGee-Aubrey_Week 3_Description of a Ritual

A baptism is the religious rite of sprinkling water onto a person’s forehead or of immersion in water, symbolizing purification or regeneration and admission to the Christian Church. In many denominations, baptism is performed on young children and is accompanied by name-giving. The baptism that I observed was held in the church at around 6:00 the church was full of people and they were all quietly chatting before the service began. The baptism pool was located behind the choir stand so the congregation didn’t really have much of a view from where they were sitting. Inside of the pool was the pastor and a deacon would assist the pastor and two other deacons were on either side outside of the pool, one to guide people in and the other to assist those who have been newly baptized. There were about 9 people getting baptized, young and old. They all stepped into the baptism pool one by one. The pastor of the church was the one doing the baptisms, while getting some assistance from some deacons of the church. As each person walked into the baptism pool the people who were there to support them such as family and friends would step up to the side of the pool in the choir stand to watch the moment and sometimes capture it with a picture. The first person to go was a young girl who looked a bit scared while being reassured of her safety by everyone surrounding her. The pastor guided the child down the steps and into the water while the musicians played a familiar song. Once the pastor began to speak the musicians stopped playing the pastor recited a scripture while he placed the little girl’s hands crisscross over her chest and ended with saying “I baptize you in the name of the father, of the son, and of the Holy Ghost”. After saying these words he placed his hand over her face and his other hand behind her back and lowered her in to the water. After she came up from under the water a deacon the pastored guided her towards the deacon who helped her out of the baptism pool to someone who guided her to the back to change her clothes. After the child was baptized the people in the church including the pastor and the deacons began to sing a song called take me two the water this process was repeated for each of the eight other people to come after the little girl.

I would say that this ritual would fall under the classification of, Instrumental Rites which is mostly associated with sacred or religious rites where a person or persons attempt to gain the help or communicate with whatever power or deity they believe in. The idea of “magical” incantations would fall into this type. Like I stated in the beginning of this post, a baptism is the religious rite of sprinkling water onto a person’s forehead or of immersion in water, symbolizing purification or regeneration and admission to the Christian Church. In many denominations, baptism is performed on young children and is accompanied by name-giving. Many other people think of a baptism as the moment in when the person truly understands and wants to build a relationship with the higher power whom they believe in, for themselves and not as a tradition of the family, where a child has to go to church services because this is what the head of the house hold says is right.

3 thoughts on “K.McGee-Aubrey_Week 3_Description of a Ritual

  1. I have heard of this kind of Baptism but I have personally never seen one of these performed on anyone older than a 3-month old baby. As you mentioned at the end, about a baptism being a tradition of the family, that is how it is in our family. For us, as Orthodox Christians, it is a rite of passage since birth. Of course, there are people who convert into our religion or have been going to one of our churches for years and have just never been baptized into our religion, but it is very rare. When a baby gets baptized into our church, there is an hour and a half long prayer, followed a huge party held for the baby. These are usually held on a Saturday and for one baby at a time, unless it is for twins. Otherwise, the baptisms in our church are special for each baby and thus need their own day ad party to celebrate the baby be reborn with God in them.

  2. I agree that baptism would fall into the magical incantations category of rituals. In the baptisms I have witnessed, there are words and prayers repeated as a group and this helps visual a central image. In “The Magic of Secrecy”, by T.M. Lurhman, they describe visualizations of magical rituals as, “The central image usually represents the goal of the ritual, and the working assumption is that the group concentration on the image makes the goal more likely to be realized” (132). So when you say that baptism helps people understand there is a higher power, this pairs well with what Lurham was saying. Baptism is usually a large parish event where their concentration and repetition of words is suppose to help the person being baptized have a stronger relationship with a higher being. Also, the description of the church members singing all together at the end is another sort of incantation that fits the description of the magical sort.

  3. The weddings at our place also take place almost the same way. The brides mostly wear white gowns while bride grooms can choose a color for their clothes. The wedding either takes place in the church where the bride groom worships or if it takes place outside the church a clergy from the church conducts the marriage. They have brides’ men and women who are there and support the couple in making their day a success. Parents of the bride walk her down the aisle while the bride groom stands in the church where he waits for her to exchange vows guided by a member of the clergy. After saying the vows and exchanging rings, the best man and woman also sign as witnesses. The rings are a symbol of marriage contract. People wear fancy outfits and are all in a good mood. They engage in merry making activities to celebrate the new union. The wedding can take place in a church or an open place

Leave a Reply