In class we discussed symbols and rituals and how they relate to who gets to share what meaning.The relationships are, in my opinion, quite complicated, but in general, I would say that symbols and rituals help us share meaning. Sometimes words aren’t enough to express the feelings, emotions, struggles, knowledge, etc. that we share, but perhaps we are able to relate to each other more through symbols and rituals. In reading my other classmates’ blogs, I have discovered that many sports teams have symbols or rituals that they perform before games that maybe they can’t necessarily describe through words, but the meaning they share through these symbolic acts are very powerful. However, it is my belief that symbols and rituals also exclude people, in sometimes quite profound ways. Whereas (almost) everyone has access to published works and speeches and whatnot, specific rituals are usually reserved just for the specific group involved. Along the same lines, symbols may also be exclusive, or have different meanings for different people. They are ambiguous. Even in different cultures, gestures (like the thumbs up sign) have entirely different meanings.
The poem “The Black Mother” made me think about my mom and the rituals we share. One is what we do every Christmas Eve. We always bake chocolate chip cookies together to leave out for Santa. Although my dad and sister are also home, this is just something that my mom and I share together. She also reads “Twas the night before Christmas” to me…yes still…at age 21. I’m not sure exactly what “meaning” we share through these acts, but they allow us to connect and share a special ritual together.
In general, I think sometimes symbols allow more inclusiveness and invite others to share in their particular meanings, while at other times I find symbols to be quite exclusive and somewhat secretive.