Department

Psychology Department

First Advisor

Dr. Quincy Newell

Description

This presentation argues that the liminal space of Wiccan ritual modifies practitioners’ gender roles by inscribing both masculine and feminine roles upon the individual to create balance. Under Victor Turner’s theory of liminality ritual becomes a function of society that helps fulfill a social need to be outside normal social processes, including gender roles. Ritual is a way of stepping outside of normal time and space to create and live the ideal, if only for a moment, that is nearly impossible to realize in everyday life. Every aspect of Wiccan ritual is aimed towards enacting and embodying balance and unity, even the altar and the circle itself. As the priest and priestess enact the divine coupling in order to instruct and guide the other participants, the solitary practitioner enacts this coupling of masculine and feminine within himself to create a gender role that is outside of the normal understanding of gender, one that is divine. The modified gender role that comes out of the liminal space as it meets with the concept of balance is a representation of unity, of wholeness, which is so pervasive in Wicca.

Comments

Oral Presentation, UW Honors Program

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A Balancing Act: A Discussion of Gender Roles within Wiccan Ritual

This presentation argues that the liminal space of Wiccan ritual modifies practitioners’ gender roles by inscribing both masculine and feminine roles upon the individual to create balance. Under Victor Turner’s theory of liminality ritual becomes a function of society that helps fulfill a social need to be outside normal social processes, including gender roles. Ritual is a way of stepping outside of normal time and space to create and live the ideal, if only for a moment, that is nearly impossible to realize in everyday life. Every aspect of Wiccan ritual is aimed towards enacting and embodying balance and unity, even the altar and the circle itself. As the priest and priestess enact the divine coupling in order to instruct and guide the other participants, the solitary practitioner enacts this coupling of masculine and feminine within himself to create a gender role that is outside of the normal understanding of gender, one that is divine. The modified gender role that comes out of the liminal space as it meets with the concept of balance is a representation of unity, of wholeness, which is so pervasive in Wicca.