Playing Games with Death
Reflections on the Irish Wake
Keywords:Irish wakes, rituals, meaning, new order
AbstractThe symbolism of chaos which emerges from the “amusements” around which traditional Irish funerals were organized brings home an essential truth about corporate rituals: that they serve to focus our awareness of a global truth embodied within an articulated gesture of human meaning. In the act which signifies a specific dying, a message about all human life is encapsulated. The funeral is seen as a communication about survival. Examples of this are given, and it is argued that the structure of such ceremonies reveals the underlying function of ritual itself. Corporate rites present us with a paradigm of the use of chaos to clear a way for new kinds of order. In their three-fold configuration, rites of passage reveal the need for genuine beginnings to be preceded by actual endings.
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How to Cite
Grainger, R. (2011). Playing Games with Death: Reflections on the Irish Wake. Implicit Religion, 14(1), 93–98. https://doi.org/10.1558/imre.v14i1.93