“From a merely functional perspective, ritual objects serve symbolic and/or sacred purposes. Such codified objects have regularly played a crucial part in the evolution of religions: (1) they give a sense of direction and meaning on the level of ceremonies, rites and rituals; (2) they provide individuals, groups and the state with collective symbols. Some of those objects have been so closely associated with the divine, the sacred, and the sublime that they are considered either symbolic manifestations of a deity or actual manifestations of that deity itself. Objects used in cults, rituals and sacred ceremonies are also of a utilitarian nature: not only are they material things, they are also devices. As mediatory devices they are employed as a means for empowering communication channels between the realms of the sacred and the profane. In worship, veneration and meditation such objects are given a symbolic meaning that transcends their immediate materiality and practical purposes. They may mark off the sacred setting, invoke the deities, furnish the site with meaningful symbols, protect the enactments taking place there, ensure their effectiveness, and afterwards enable the symbolic order to live on in the bodies and minds of the faithful…”
More information can be found in http://www.mdpi.com/journal/religions/special_issues/Ritual
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