“The medicine man enters the outer vestibule of the sacred healing chamber. He dons the ceremonial vestments and performs the ritual ablutions, purifying himself for the healing ritual that is about to commence. Putting on identical masks, he and his acolytes enter the chamber, to which all others are forbidden entrance. The man they are healing is ready, having been ushered into a deep trance by another shaman using a magical elixir. Within the chamber are the ritual implements, which have themselves been purified, and which none but the initiated are allowed to touch. The medicine man calls for each implement in turn, handed to him by an acolyte. He uses these in a ritual scarification procedure that removes a small part of the ill man’s body. When he awakens from the trance, the man is magically healed, though some further ceremonies are required before he is able to leave the grounds of the temple of healing.
To even be allowed to perform this complex healing ritual, the medicine man must go through many years of training that include numerous tests, initiation ordeals, and the mastery of a special esoteric language. Upon completing his training, he is welcomed into the brotherhood of adepts, and his name is altered with a symbolic suffix. He swears a sacred oath and is given a piece of paper inscribed with mystical symbols in an archaic script. Thenceforth, he is treated with honor by his people and accorded all the perquisites of status.
I have just described surgery, as performed by licensed physicians in a modern hospital. All of the elements of ritual are present, yet we do not typically see what goes on as a ritual. “
This introduction is intriguing. I will read the rest of the (rather long) article tomorrow. I am curious now. Thanks to Ninthfiddle for sending this.