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"I was also fascinated by ritual and semiotics in religious practice long before I knew the significance of it for human decision and meaning-making"

— Dave Snowden[1]

Since 2008, when Rory O'Connor highlighted the potential use of ritual to change the way we think or perceive the world, considerations around ritual have taken an ever more prominent position in relation to decision support.[2] Ritual transition rites have started to figure prominently as potentially valuable catalysts for such changes in perspective, especially where they can generate a sense of liminality: of being between no longer here and not yet there.

Name and History

"Awareness that you have crossed a boundary allows you to behave differently and ritual reinforces that, as a Catholic entering a church the act of crossing yourself with Holy Water triggers an attitudinal shift to take one example. Boundaries create awareness of difference while gradients can catch us out."

— Dave Snowden[3]

Link to Transitions and Liminality

Western scholarship on ritual in relation to transition builds primarily upon the work of folklorist Arnold van Gennep, who was particularly noted for his work around three types of rites:

  • preliminal rites (or rites of separation)
  • liminal rites (or transition rites)
  • postliminal rites (or rites of incorporation).

Anthropologist Victor Turner built upon upon van Gennep's work and remains critical because of his work linking ritual to Liminality.

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Blog posts

  1. https://www.cognitive-edge.com/twelvetide-2006-narrative-appreciated/ , Dave Snowden, Twelvetide 20:06 Narrative appreciated, Cognitive Edge blog (December 30, 2020)
  2. https://www.cognitive-edge.com/the-use-of-ritual/
  3. https://www.cognitive-edge.com/keep-the-faith-when-to-constrain/ Dave Snowden, Keeping the faith?, Cognitive Edge blog (November 7, 2020)