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Dancing with the Gods: Essays in Ga Ritual explores cosmological concepts and ritual actions of the Ga people of southeastern Ghana through case studies of calendrical agricultural rites, social status transition rites, and redressive rites. Based on fieldwork in the 1960s, the essays present descriptive analyses of verbal and non-verbal ritual action. While verbal ritual actions specify ideas pertinent to a particular rite, non-verbal ritual actions express more general concepts. Kilson's analyses show how the same motifs of non-verbal ritual action recur in sacred and secular Ga rites. Whenever and wherever such motifs occur, they convey the same basic underlying Ga concepts, thereby creating a unified conceptual network of belief that is the foundation of the Ga ritual system. The essays in this collection previously appeared in Anthropos, Journal of African Studies, Journal of Religion in Africa, Parabola, and Sextant.
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Table of Contents

Preface Chapter 1. Libation in Ga Ritual Chapter 2. Taxonomy and Form in Ga Ritual Chapter 3. The Structure of Ga Prayer Chapter 4. "I Call You for Life" Chapter 5. Prayer and Song in Ga Ritual Chapter 6. Ritual Portrait of a Ga Medium Chapter 7. Ambivalence and Power: Mediums in Ga Religion Chapter 8. Homowo: Celebrating Community in Ga Culture Chapter 9. Bushcows in the Sky Chapter 10. Twin Beliefs and Ceremony in Ga Culture Chapter 11. The Ga Naming Rite Chapter 12. Antelopes and Stools: Ga Ceremonial Kingship Concluding Note Bibliography

About the Author

Marion Kilson received her Ph.D. in social anthropology from Harvard University in 1967 and retired as dean of the Graduate School at Salem State University in 2001. Her previous books on Ga culture and society are Kpele Lala: Ga Religious Songs and Symbols and African Urban Kinsmen: the Ga of Central Accra.

Reviews

In Dancing with the Gods: Essays in Ga Ritual, Professor Marion Kilson expertly probes the verbal and non-verbal ritual behaviors of the Ga to provide us with a thoughtful understanding of the meaning of Ga beliefs and practices. Through her exposition we hear the voices of the people as they perform rites related to the fundamental necessities of living. Verbal ritual acts establish the contracts between spirits and objects, which the non-verbal component enacts. The two are thus inseparable in apprehending the complexities of Ga cosmology. Dr. Kilson's approach is highly systematic. She lays out the properties by which the Ga order classes of beings and their existential values. Human beings are positioned in the middle between the Supreme Being and divine beings on one side and animals and plants on the other. This configuration provides the context of ritual and secular action, and to understand its meaning as a religious paradigm, Kilson draws upon major scholars within the sociology of religion. She demonstrates the power of the analytic tradition of the L'Annee Sociologique and its utility in understanding cosmologies. She has successfully undertaken the difficult task of providing us with an understanding of the meaning of a people's ritual life. -- George C. Bond, William F. Russell Professor of Anthropology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University

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