Rites Of Separation The Pre Liminal Phase Theology Religion

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Through this essay, I will analyze Van Gennep and Turner ‘s account of “ Rites de transition ” in their earlier plants severally and Fiona Bowie ‘s account on their work and how it applies to my grandma ‘s funeral rites from the Anglican faith position point.

Rites of Separation – The pre-liminal stage

First ‘Rites of separation ‘ as explained by Van Gennep ( 1960 ) is the stage when one single moves from one phase to another in his/her life where the demand for accommodation is inevitable. As in my instance I can state that both my grandma and the people she left behind went through the pre-liminal stage, where she passed on from life to decease ( the hereafter ) and we ( the household ) had to set in footings of accepting her passing. In order to understand and analyze the symbolic nature of this stage, we foremost need to understand what Anglicanism is. Harmonizing to St. Luke ‘s Chapel ( 2013 ) “ Anglicanism is the Catholic religion as expressed through the Church of England, it is a loanblend between the Catholic and Protestant religions ” .

In the Anglican religion, when an person is on the threshold of decease, a priest or reverent is notified so that they can execute the ‘last rites ‘ for the individual. These rites include a supplication that ask ‘God ‘ to forgive and fire away the deceasing person ‘s wickednesss and to accept him or her into Eden, it moreover asks that the person ‘s passing is made easy and every bit painless as possible, as I have witnessed with my grandma in the instance of unwellnesss or fatal hurts. Then in conclusion the individual is anointed or blessed with oil or sanctum H2O ( H2O that have been blessed ) in the signifier a cross on the brow that symbolises Jesus ‘ decease on the cross and that they will go forth this universe and unto His attention. The remainder of the household members either repeated the same supplication with the reverent or said single supplications mutely to ‘God ‘ .

When the individual dies, the reverent will state another supplication over the dead organic structure to guarantee that the asleep discoveries their manner to heaven and that ‘God ‘ will demo them the way. This falls in the context with Van Gennep ( 1960:152 -161 ) where he explains why ‘funeral rites ‘ are preformed ; that the individual will go forth this universe and move on the following one harmonizing to the assorted civilizations. As Van Gennep explains they are done so that the person wo n’t be trapped here with us to endure their ageless being roving among the life, every bit good as non going what he describes as the “ unsafe dead ” , violently seeking to reincorporate themselves into the universe of the life. This is what I came to understand as ownership where these ‘demons ‘ as in the Anglican religion seek to re-enter our universe through force.

Therefore these ‘rites of separation ‘ are symbolic in that they helped my grandma leave this universe safely and be incorporated into Eden and giving us ( the life ) the peace of head that she is in a better topographic point, holding received this ageless life ( as the people of the Christian religion and bible readers explain ) and felicity without the torture and agony of our universe ( The Bible, 1 Corinthians 15:51 – 54 ) . Then in conclusion the cadaver is transported to the funeral place where it will be prepared either by the funeral services themselves or by the girls if it be the female parent or the boies if it be the male parent for the funeral ceremonial. The same gender of the asleep fixing the organic structure is done out of pure regard.

Rites of Transition – The Liminal stage

Harmonizing to the Oxford English Dictionary ‘liminal ‘ agencies: “ Of or refering to the threshold or initial phase of a procedure ” and as Turner ( 1969:95 ) explains from Van Gennep ‘s work that it is neither here nor at that place, that it is what he refers to as “ betwixt and between ” which I understand as non being to the full something nor the other and neither governed by the regulations, norms and beliefs of society. In footings of my grandma ‘s decease and funeral I believe it would be the phase where she is neither decease nor alive, that she is in a topographic point beyond physical being but non yet accepted into Eden ( as harmonizing to Christianity, a signifier of purgatory were the psyche is cleansed and prepared for Judgement twenty-four hours ) or reached it. As for us ( the household ) this stage would be coming to footings with her decease but non yet the credence thereof, where we mourned her loss and what we separately perceived and believed to what we have been taught that was go oning to her in this ‘existence ‘ before she reached her concluding resting topographic point.

Now circulating the funeral and analyzing its symbols, I will first reference that the ceremonial ( non a service because a ceremonial involves a set of rites or a signifier of tradition, which services in its natural context does n’t ) took topographic point in a Church. This is symbolic in its nature as a ‘House of God ‘ and the idyllic presence. The remainder of the funeral emanation happens precisely if non indistinguishable like any other funeral ceremonial known of and it would be cliche to explicate it in item, therefore I will merely foreground certain facets that fall into symbolisms with the liminal stage experienced here.

First a simple service ( what I would mention to as instead more of a ritual ) may be held at the place of the asleep or in the church before the funeral takes topographic point and is lead by a curate. This falls in to context once more with the ‘rites of separation ‘ where the organic structure is prepared once more to come in the sacred topographic point and where the household could state there last adieus to the deceased. This is done under the premise that as with my grandma that she would be able to hear our last words as her psyche is still tethered to her organic structure before she eventually ascends. The curate so ends the ‘service ‘ with Psalm 42:1-7 specifically as it emphasizes how the psyche yearns to be with ‘God ‘ and eventually concludes with a corporate supplication from the ‘Anglican Prayer Book, Page 532 ‘ .

The chief organic structure of the funeral commences as ordinary while the Eucharist ( as harmonizing to Christianity the receiving of Holy Communion which symbolises Christ ‘s Last Supper ) takes topographic point for the people present and who are willing to accept the life ( staff of life ) and blood ( vino that has been watered down ) of Christ. Then a taper is lit on the casket that symbolises Christ ‘s ageless visible radiation that burns bright in our psyches, and how we will ever happen Him. The service so ends with the Grace ( a approval as which God would give ) given by the curate and the casket is taken out of the Church either to be cremated as permitted by the Anglican religion or buried on consecrated land ( the commitment ) . In the state of affairs where the land is unconsecrated the curate will utilize another supplication from the supplication book as mentioned antecedently to bless the land and do it acceptable in ‘God ‘s ‘ eyes.

The lone other symbolism here that I want to underscore is the cremation that Anglican ‘s seem to prefer as bash I but non ever. It ‘s that it symbolises the whole “ ashes to ashes and dust to Dust ” Bible ( The Bible, Genesis 3:19 & A ; Ecclesiastics 12:7 ) .


Turner ( 1969:96 ) explains Communitas as the “ transeunt personal experience of togetherness ” which is brought on by the rites of transition. I agree with his statement of Communitas to a certain extent as it brought the household and friends together on a religious degree at my grandma ‘s funeral. We all had the chance to mourn her loss in integrity during the ceremonial but every bit good as observing the life she has led, therefore making this Communitas Turner writes about.

Where I disagree with his statement, is that he fails to recognize state of affairss where Communitas does non go on. It might non ever be the instance but, as with my state of affairs, the after effects of the decease of the materfamilias and the patriarch of a household, can fall back into pandemonium as people try to claim what they view as truly theirs in “ the Last Will and Testament ‘ . And when they do non have what they believe they are due, this as I have notice and experienced from my ain and others, brought frontward a nothingness in the household and “ the Communitas ” is non encountered.


I believe it is true as Van Gennep and Turner wrote approximately, that people do undergo the three stages of rites of transition but that they fail to recognize, analyse and research the psychological facets of what people undergo during the credence of alteration and decease and that Turner fails to advert what happens in my sentiment when Communitas so does non happen in these state of affairss.

What I find interesting and would wish to inquire is what psychological processes a individual goes through in accepting their deceases as all these point of views are what the ‘living ‘ believe happens when a individual dies and what awaits in the hereafter harmonizing to their believes.

In Loving Memory Johanna Catherine ( Janet ) Paulse

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