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The heART of Ritual


Ancestralizing the Dead, by Malidoma Patrice Somé

Dagara people’s main job is to look the dead in the face, to treat their bodies not as remains but as temples of grace and beauty continuing from this world to the other. People grieve the passing of loved ones, though in this grief they stress beauty and community and continuity. The handing over of the loved one to the realm of the ancestors is what we call ancestralization. It allows for a sense of completion in the vast array of duties following the passing of a person. We address this issue of fulfilling our duties toward the dead in the interest of transforming restlessness into rest, discontinuity into continuity and homelessness into homecoming.

By Malidoma Patrice Somé


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