- Nov 2021
Our elders say that ceremonies are the way we “remember to remember,”
The Western word "ceremony" is certainly not the best word for describing these traditions. It has too much baggage and hidden meaning with religious overtones. It's a close-enough word to convey some meaning to those who don't have the cultural background to understand the underlying orality and memory culture. It is one of those words that gets "lost in translation" because of the dramatic differences in culture and contextual collapse.
Most Western-based anthropology presumes a Western idea of "religion" and impinges it upon oral cultures. I would maintain that what we would call their "religion" is really an oral-based mnemonic tradition that creates the power of their culture through knowledge. The West mistakes this for superstitious religious practices, but primarily because we can't see (or have never been shown) the larger structures behind what is going on. Our hubris and lack of respect (the evils of the scala naturae) has prevented us from listening and gaining entrance to this knowledge.
I think that the archaeological ideas of cultish practices or ritual and religion are all more likely better viewed as oral practices of mnemonic tradition. To see this more easily compare the Western idea of the memory palace with the Australian indigenous idea of songline.
- remember to remember
- indigenous "religion"
- lost in translation
- evils of the scala naturae
- context collapse
- cultish practices
- ritual and religion