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Syncretism and Separation: Ritual Change in an Afro-Caribbean Faith Author(s): Stephen D.

Glazier Reviewed work(s): Source: The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 98, No. 387 (Jan. - Mar., 1985), pp. 49-62 Published by: American Folklore Society Stable URL: . Accessed: 12/04/2012 20:19
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Syncretismand Separation Faith Ritual Changein an Afro-Caribbean


Herskovits (1941) and Metraux (1959), the

study of Africanreligions in the New World has been dominatedby the concept of syncretism.This concept has taken variousforms in the literature,but by far the most thorough discussionof Afro-Americanreligious syncretismis contained in the late Roger Bastide's monumental The AfricanReligionsin Brazil (1978). In this book Bastide contends that many formerly separate religious traditionsareblending in the New World. Eachdistinctivetradition, whether from Europe, Africa, or Asia, is undergoing a transformationthat will result in a new religious "coagulation" (Bastide 1978:279). In recent years, this process has been noted in Haitian vodunand various other New World faiths.1 I encountereda number of problemswith Bastide's model of ritual change when appliedto local Trinidadchurches. Bastide's model relatesprimarilyto his discussionsof the Brazilianclass system and the distinction he makes between religiousand magicalthought processes.2 is unclearfrom his presentaIt tion whether cult members actually make distinctions between religious and magicalthought and exactly what types of evidencehe has for the existence of two distinct thought processes;I assumethat it is an etic ratherthan an emic distinction. In addition, I found that ritual change in Trinidad was better understoodin terms of rationaldecision making by individualchurchleaders.3 Trinidadian leaders decide, often for pragmatic reasons, to make specific changes in the order of worship, to add embellishments,or to borrow from other religious traditions. While broader processes of syncretism or interpenetrationmay occur, individuallyplannedchange has by far the greatest advocatedby Bastideinvites secondary impact. This suggests that the approach elaborationand contextual emendation. Ritual Blending Ritual Separation and Whenever two or more religious traditions exist in proximity, there is a tendencyfor these traditionsto merge. There is also a countervailingtendency
Copyright ? Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 98, No. 387, 1985 1985 by the American Folklore Society 0021-8715/85/3870049-14$1.90/1



for each religious tradition to remain separate. Social scientists have often devoted their attention to the former process at the expense of the latter. While there is evidencefor a blending of religious traditionsin the Caribbean during the first half of this century (see Mischel 1958; Simpson 1978), evidence for separationalso exists. My fieldwork suggests that separationhas become the dominant form of ritual change. Many rituals once carriedout in close proximity (such as opening prayersand Shango rites) are now carriedout in different religious centers and, if possible, in different villages. In my studies of Afro-Americanreligious groups in Trinidad, I discovered considerableevidence for a blending of religious traditions but found considerable evidencefor religious separation well. Terms such as "syncretism" as or "coagulation," I found, did not provide the best possible descriptionof what seemed to be occurring at the local level. By concentratingon religious change in 30 congregations from 1976 to 1982, I have formulated what I believe to be a much clearerpicture of the processof Afro-Americanreligious religious change. Such a picturemay be of value in the study of Afro-American change in other settings. All 30 churches I examined are part of a loosely organized Trinidadian religious group-the SpiritualBaptists. I also studieda closely related,Africanderivedreligion known as Shango, but the bulk of my researchfocusedon the in Baptists. I found that many SpiritualBaptistsare active participants Shango ritual and vice versa. confuse SpiritualBaptist and Shango ritual. Membersof Many Trinidadians these faiths, however, do not share this confusion, and a large number of SpiritualBaptists condemn Shango ritual as "heathen worship." Shangoists, on the other hand, claim that SpiritualBaptistscopy their ideasand try to steal their power. On more than one occasion, Baptistleadershave picketedShango centers on the afternoonsprior to the Shango ceremonies(Glazier 1982:17). In examining the relations between SpiritualBaptist churches and Shango centers, I have discernedfour distinct types of organizations:(1) SpiritualBaptist churcheswith no Shango connections; (2) SpiritualBaptist churcheswith Shango connections; (3) Shangocenterswith no SpiritualBaptistconnections; and (4) Shango centers with SpiritualBaptist connections. These distinctions reflect ways in which members of these religions think of themselves. Are they, for example, Baptists who also "do" Shango or Shangoists who also "do" Baptist work? While outsiders may lump Shango centers and Baptist churches under the rubric "Shango Baptists," believers work very hard to maintain the above distinctions, with varying degrees of success (Glazier 1983). Trinidad'sSpiritualBaptistsare part of an internationalreligiousbody with congregations in Grenada, St. Vincent, Guyana, Venezuela, and parts of North America. Since 1972, local Trinidadiancongregations have sponsored journeys to New York City and Toronto and have met with some missionary successin their missionaryendeavors.A majorityof Baptistsarelower middlepersons class blacks; however, a large number of East Indiansand upper-class have joined the church more recently.



Although Baptistsdo adopt elementsfrom other religious traditions(for example, Shango, Hinduism, and Islam), they attempt to provideeach borrowed element with its own spatialand/or temporalcontext so as to avoid confusion or possible blending of religious traditions. Each religious practice is said to have its greatest efficacy within its own context of origin. Thus, African rituals are most powerful in African ceremonies, and Hindu rites are most powerful in Hindu ceremonies.Any other context, such as a SpiritualBaptist service, is believed to result in a lessening of efficacy. Rituals are added frequently, and processesof accretion appearto follow closely what Bastidehas termedthe "principleofjuxtaposition." Injuxtaposition, rituals from diverse traditions may be performed within the same religious service,but these ritualsmust be separated spatiallyand/or temporalfrom one another. The resultsof juxtaposition in Baptist worship are a virly tual mosaic of African, Hindu, Islamic, Protestant, Catholic, and Pentecostal rites within a single service. Bastide claims that juxtaposition is a comparativelyrare form of ritual change since most belief systems accumulaterites in orderto fortify and enrich themselves. In most cases, he contends, rites from varioustraditionsaremixed or coagulatedto "make each rite more efficacious"(Bastide1978:279). This is not the case in Baptistworship. Baptistsdo not assertthat an accumulated rite is as strong in the Baptist context as it was in its original context. Leadersare very conscientious in their borrowing so as to maintain rituals as they are believedto have been beforebeing adoptedinto Baptistworship. In the words of one leader, Baptists attempt to be "more Hindu than them Indians, more Africanthan them Africans,and more Pentecostalthan them Pentecostals"in their performanceof rites. In fact, Baptist leadersare so conservativein this respect that they often maintain selected rites long after the model religious groups have abandonedthem. Maintenance Ritual and Spatial of Juxtaposition Juxtapositiongreatly influencesthe structureand durationof Baptistrituals. Becausemore items are addedthan are droppedfrom ceremonies,servicestend to be lengthened to accommodateritual change. Also, becausean independent context must be establishedfor each addedritual, Baptistworship servicesmay sometimes appearsegmented or compartmentalized both. or Evidence for juxtaposition may be noted in the physical layouts of church compounds. Most churchesconsist of at least three separateritual areas, and some Curepechurcheshave as many as six separatestructureson their property, including shrines. For those Baptistswho are also involved in Shango, additional buildings arenecessary becauseShangois never held on the grounds of a Baptist church, and most Curepe churchesmaintain separateShangopalais (ceremonial centers) in neighboring San Juan or Tunapuna. San Juan and Tunapunachurches, in turn, often maintain their Shango palaisin Curepe. The main buildings of prosperouschurchesare often no largerthan those of poorer churches. A major differenceis that prosperouschurches have more



mourning outbuildings. The wealthiest churchin Curepemaintainsa separate chamberabout 100 feet from the main building, a latrine, a small guesthouse for overnight visitors, four shrines(one large enough to accommodate20 people), and an office for the paramountleader. Poorer Curepe churches, unable to afforda separatechamberfor mourning or separateshrines, erect partitions to separatevarious ritual functions within the main building. All churches have separateoffices for their leaders.When a church is unable to provideits leader with an office on church grounds, the leader is expected to conduct churchbusinessfrom his home. Under no conditions arebusinessand worship supposed to mix. One church, lacking money for a separatemourning chamberand separate shrines, constructedits mourning room behind the altarand placed shrinesin small cubicles in the back of the church. Another church built a large lean-to structure to accommodate mourners and maintains three open-air shrines. Leadersof both the above churchesplan to construct additionaloutbuildings. Shrines,whether enclosedor not, may be dedicatedto any deity. Even those churchesopposed to Shango will permit some Africanshrinesas long as these are outside the main building. Catholic saints are accordedstatus similar to Africangods. Saints' shrinesoften take the form of brightly colored statuettes that are never allowed in the main churchbuilding. CurepeBaptistsdo not appear to favor any particularsaint. In 1977, Saint Francis, Saint Barbara,and in SaintJude were represented the community. There were also two shrinesto the Virgin Mary. Shrines to saints and Shango deities are constructed and maintained, for the most part, by individuals. Many Baptists keep shrinesin their homes and also construct a shrine at the church to share with other members of the congregation whatever benefits they feel they have received from the saints. The most recent outbuilding to appearas part of the church complex is a separatebuilding for Pentecostal-typeexorcism. This building, usually opposite the mourning chamber,replicatesin miniaturethe Pentecostalchurchin Curepe, complete with sound system, vestments, and other paraphernalia. Although the building for exorcism is used only once or twice a month, Bapfrom one ritual setting to another. tists do not transferritual paraphernalia in this case, maintaintwo sound systemsand two altars.In the eyes Churches, over the expense takesprecedence of Baptistleaders,maintenanceof separation of duplication. There is considerablespatial separationwithin the Baptist sanctuaryitself (see Fig. 1). Christian ritual paraphernalia, including crosses, of chromolithographs Jesus, the chariot wheel, and vestments, are on a raised are platformin the front of the churchwhile Hindu and Islamicparaphernalia both relegated to the back of the church. Where leaders have incorporated Hindu and Catholic rituals, saints' shrines may be placed at the rear of the church, and chromolithographsof the Hindu deities are confined to the left wall. Some Baptists spatiallyseparateAfricandeities, Catholic saints, and the Bi-








^ r





Figure 1. Church layout: Mt. Tabor SpiritualBaptist Church. ble in their own homes by dedicating a separateroom to each. Given the cramped quarters of many Baptist dwellings, a full room devoted to each religious traditionis sometimes out of the question. Some memberstherefore place room dividersbetween various household shrines. One example of spatialjuxtaposition is the SpiritualBaptist altar (see Fig. 2). Baptistaltarsareextremelycluttered, and all churchesdo not own the same ritual items. Initially, Baptist altarsappearedto be haphazardly arranged,but of such is not the case:a great deal of careis given to the arrangement altarimwhile all churchesin Trinidaddo not possessthe sameritual plements. Indeed, items, ritual items are consistentlyplacedon altarsthroughout the island. For example, not all churches possess Hindu implements, but if a church does possess some, they will be confined to the back left cornerof a single-tieraltar or to the middle level of a multitier altar. A plain Christian cross is always placed at the highest level, and water for Africandeities is always kept at the lowest level-usually at the foot of the altar platform. There is, as noted, tremendousvariation in Baptist altars. Some are very simple (a table covered with a white cloth) and others are quite elaborate.All Baptist altars maintain spatial separation on two axes: back/front, and up/down. Never do Baptistleadersknowingly mix implementsfrom different traditionsalthough mistakesdo occur. In the courseof my research,however, I have noted that such "mistakes" are usuallycorrectedover time.4 The prin-



Figure 2.

SpiritualBaptist altar in Las Lomas, Trinidad.

ciple of juxtaposition seems to exert a homogenizing influenceon the arrangement of SpiritualBaptist altar implements. While spatial to mode of ritual separajuxtaposition appears be the preferred tion, Baptists attempt to separateritual elements temporallyas well. In some churchesdrumming, usually associatedwith Shango rites, may be performed before rites of purificationhave begun. At this time, it is also permissible,but not desirable, for individualsto become possessedby Shango deities. In the context of regular Baptist worship, however, such behavior is deemed a serious breach of etiquette. Some Baptists, especiallythose with Shango involvement, practice animal sacrifice.These rites areneverperformedon churchgrounds and to be most effective should not be performed on the same day as Baptist ceremonies. Sacrificial rites utilizing chickensor goats tend to occur in remote areaslike the waterfallat Maracas,MaracasBay, Manzanilla,or the National Forest (Simpson 1970:146). Participantsare sworn to secrecy, and some Baptists suggest that sacrificemay be illegal. There are, however, no records of any leader's ever having been arrestedon that charge.



In some church-sponsored journeys I attended, memberscarriedlive chickens with themon the bus. Thosewho carried chickens wereoftenleft off at Manzanilla Maracas or continued another while otherchurchmembers to I destination. believethat those who left the bus performed rites of animal sacrifice. While I have neverpersonally attended animalsacrifice, have an I noted that the aforementioned chickenswere not presenton the return leaders wereunwillingto confirm suspicion sacrifice that journey.Baptist my hadtakenplace.However,several leaders remark if one participates did that in animalsacrifice, or she shouldnot participate Baptistworshipon the he in sameday. Two or threetimes a yearsome Baptistleaders communal meals. sponsor Thesemealsareconsidered be a partof the Protestant to tradition-borrowed, I was told, fromMethodist Presbyterian and churchsuppers-andnot in any relatedto the Catholicmass.Mealsgenerally follow the regular service way at of and although timestheymaybe heldindependently service on otherdays of the week. Nearlyeveryone who attendsBaptistworshipis invitedto the communalmeal afterward. addition,some individuals In who do not parin worship a regular on basisarealsoinvited.Landlords politicians and ticipate arefrequent guests. The menu usuallyconsistsof roti(an Indianpancake stuffedwith curried meatandpotato), rice andmeatcasserole cooked overa charcoal (a peleau fire), cassava and smallbananas known locallyas bread, yams, edoes, breadfruit, Trinidadian and "figs." Thesearestandard partyfoods,both easyto prepare Each participant the feast is expectedto bring in relativelyinexpensive. something,andmost participants bringmuchmorefood thantheypersonally areableto consume. Food is neverservedimmediately a followingservice.Thereis sometimes breakof an houranda halfbetweenthe closeof service the beginning and of the meal. Memberswho live close to the churchgo home, changetheir clothes,andreturnlaterfor the feast.Thoseliving somedistance awayvisit areasnackbars,known locallyas "parlours," a quicksnack. for While therearesomereligious overtones communal to meals,the mealsare understood be primarily to secular socialoccasions. and DevoutBaptists pray beforeeating, but other forms of religiousexpression not encouraged. are Communal mealsareoften considered appropriate an contextfor the discussion of churchbusiness. Two othertypesof communal mealsaresponsored someBaptist in circles. involved Shangosponsor in feastsknownas "Feeding Children" the Baptists deities.Baptists who maintain saint's (Simpson 1970:45),in honorof African shrinessponsorfeastsknown as "Thanksgivings." Both types of feast are heldin the sponsor's home.A tableis covered with a white cloth, and usually various on a objectsareplaced the table.The inventory mightinclude vaseof flowers,a glassof water, a bottle eachof milk, rum, andolive oil, a jar of honey, candles,bread,cookies (importedfrom the United States),roasted corn, oranges,plums, bananas,figs, candy, and soda. After prayer,Bible and to attention is readings, hymns,foodis distributed allworshippers. Special



who consume most of the cookies,candy,fruit,corn, and given to children, soda.As eachchildleaves,he or sheis givena smallsackof foodto takehome. mealin which moreex"Feedingthe children"is followedby a communal "exotic" foods are servedto the adultspresent.One suchmealinpensive cludedcanned tunafish, Kellogg'scornflakes,andimported Danishcheeses. In addition, eachparticipant givena pieceof goatmeat,anapple,andrice. was Communal mealssuchas "Thanksgivings" "Feeding Children" the and differ fromotherBaptistrituals thatrelations in with the gods in thesecontexts than is generally are much more manipulative commonin Baptistrituals. devotees thattheymake'susu5-credit African Shango say relationships-with or members makebargains promises with the while in "Thanksgivings" gods deitiesandCatholic saintsareexpected honortheircontracts to saints.African a If gods do not honorrequests, will not receive feastthe with devotees. they followingyear. is Within the Baptistserviceitself, temporalseparation very prevalent. various in Breaks the service,somelastingup to 15 minutes,serveto separate ritualforms borrowed are to Thesebreaks believed preserve ritualtraditions. feel that traditions Baptists areclose often separate intact.The longestbreaks and for to to one another be confused; example,Protestant Catholic enough break are versionsof the Lord'sPrayer separated a two- or three-minute by churchbuilding. leavethe actually duringwhich someBaptists In analyzingtapesof Baptistrites, I have detectedconsiderable temporal as breaksappear lulls in the tapebetweenvariousworship Many separation. 40 segments.In approximately hours of tapes, I have identifiedover 400 For breaks.Somebreaksoccurin rapidsuccession. example,in one separate and break betweena New Testament church,aftera seven-minute reading an from the Koran, Old Testamentreading,someonerecitedseveralpassages break.Most leaderstry to space anotherfour-minute therebynecessitating service. the breaksevenlythroughout three-to-six-hour tribal with African Ritualsat the centerpole-associatedin somechurches followedby a breakbeforeworshipmaycontinueat the religion-are always with Christian altar,which is associated worship.Thereareritesof touching Whenever and of at the conclusion illumination prayer. worshipis transferred from the centerpole to the altar,theserites areextended. is occurs when a member seizedby an AfriThe longestbreak,15 minutes, If this occurswithina "hot" (a canspiritin the midstof a Baptist ceremony. to is of of highemotional worship brought portion the service, intensity) period arenot supposed and a completestop. Glossolalia possession African gods by to mix, and confusionis thought to be dangerous,polluting, and "an to to abomination the Lord." One Curepeleaderattempted cope with this ritesof purification, intensive situation sendingeveryone away,repeating by felt two hourslater.Manymembers thatthiswas service andbeginning again and measure thathe shouldhavesentonly thepossessed anextreme away,perwithin the hour. and service formedritesof purification, resumed and to Prayers Godthe Son, Godthe Father, Godthe Holy Ghostaretem-



fromone another In induringceremonies. somechurches porallyseparated dividuals of locations prayto the threemembers the Trinityfrom different behindthe altar.This is not followedrigidlyin all congregations connor where it is practiced.Gapsbetween prayersto sistentlyin congregations of members the Trinityare often less than a minute.They are followedby of Psalm recitation theTwenty-third for ("TheLordis my Shepherd") Godthe of for of Father,a recitation the Lord'sPrayer God the Son, or a recitation for Matthew18 (the feastof the Pentecost) Godthe Holy Ghost.Recitations serveto "prepare way for worship." the God the Father,God the Son, and God the Holy Baptistsalso separate The Ghostin ritesof purification. threemembers the Trinityaresignified of bells("the voiceof Godthe Father"),strewing flowers("Godthe by ringing andburning incense the Holy Ghost").Eachritualis followed Son"), ("God break are by a two-to-three-minute whilepreparations madefor the nextphase When enoughqualified of purification. leaders be found,thesethreerites can aresometimes by performed threeindividuals. Aftereachrite has beencompleted, associated with that rite paraphernalia areplacedin different sections the church.Bellsarekeptby the altaror at of the center for theduration worship,flowersareplaced therear the of at of pole andincenseis removed fromthe church Reasonsfor the sanctuary, building. latterplacement havea practical rather thana theological rationale. Most may churches a pungentbalsam use incensebelievedto be noxiousto orisha (evil also for spirits),and, not incidentally, noxiousto humans.Members present bow theirheadstowardthe groundin an attemptto escape efthe fumigation fectsof the smoke.Once leaders satisfied are that the churchhas been suffiis incense removed a smallelectric if available, used and is fan, cientlycleansed, to dissipate smoke.Members the to enterworshipafterfumigenerally prefer gationhasbeencompleted. The orderof worshipvariesgreatlyamongCurepe churches. Someleaders with followed sprinkling water beginritesof purification incense by perfumed and ringingbells while other leaders to begin purification with bellprefer to Several leaders claimed that the orderof ringingandprogress fumigation. ritualis not as important the separation rites;for example,someleaders as of all that or complete threeritesanddetermine another fumigation bell-ringing is necessary. Variousritualsmay be performed or nine times beforea eight leaderis satisfied. of ritualhavemuchin AmongmanyBaptistleaders, conceptions religious commonwith Malinowski's of (1935) description Trobriand gardenmagic. Likethe Trobrianders, believe magical that and Baptists efficacy contextareinlinked.If a mistake madein the performance a ritualor an inis of extricably sufficient contextcreated, ritesmust be repeated from theirbeginnings. One advantage compartmentalization segmentation Baptistworof and in the if is shipis thatit lessens amountof ritualthatmustbe repeated a mistake made.Because rituals conducted are frommemory, mistakes are Baptist largely often madein the recitalof Biblical and passages, hymns,the Lord'sPrayer,



the like. When a mistakeis made, leadersmay elect to repeatthe entire rite or they may let things slide. If rites are to be repeated,they must be repeatedin their entirety. Compartmentalizationkeeps servicesfrom becoming unwieldy and allows leadersgreaterdiscretionin performance nonperformance rites. It is more or of than a matter of convenience,however, and sometimesit reflectsa leader'sexperiencein the faith. Baptistsbelieve that magicalpower rests in two quarters: (1) the magical power of ritual itself and (2) the magicalpower of the practitioner. Experiencedleaderswho arein control of their churchesdo not need to be as carefulin their performance ritualsas do newer leadersin the faith. Inof experiencedleadersperformrites exactly as they have been taught to perform them. Meticulous attention is given to every detail of worship. Experienced leaders,on the other hand, aremuch more relaxedin their performances. They may skip segments of worship, forget variouslines of a prayer,or misquote a Biblical passage without resorting to repetition. For example, Leader C., a paramountleaderof the Mt. W. churchfor over 40 years, rarelydevotes much time to rites of purification. His rites are not elaborate-in one instance, he only scatteredwater in all four corners of the church-but no one has ever in been troubled by unwanted orishas his services. On the other hand, Leader A., who assumed leadershipduties in 1976, performs rituals of purification severaltimes before the beginning of each service. Correctperformance,in his case, does not seem to be enough, for many of his parishionersare still troubled by orishas during his ceremonies. It is tempting to suggest that younger and inexperiencedleaderssometimes attempt to make up, through scrupulousadherenceto traditionalforms, what or they may lack in terms of credentials legitimacy. This may offer a partialexfor the conservatismobserved among new leadersin the faith. planation Leacock and Leacock noted in their study of the Batuque cult that "all leaders do innovate to some extent, but only after they have establisheda reputationfor knowing the traditionalway of doing things" (1972:246). The same statementcould be made for SpiritualBaptistleaders.It is also noted that senior Baptist leadersadopt new ritualfrom other traditionsmore readilythan do their younger counterpartsand it is the old and not the young who are most concernedwith innovation. Becausethe locus of magical power resides both within the rite itself and with the practitioner,experiencedleadersmay capture the efficacyof a borrowed rite without duplicatingit perfectly. This option is not availableto inexperiencedleaders,who must rely on efficacyinherent in the rite itself. Forjunior leadersthe demandsof ritualborrowing are must reachthe highest standards extremely rigorousbecausetheir performance of perfection. Since this would involve much time and effort, the immediate advantagesof ritual borrowing are less apparentto them. Discussion One of the most importantimplicationsof this study is thatjuxtaposition is not as rare a form of ritual change in Afro-Americanreligions as Bastide



(1978:279) suggested. It may, at various times and places, become the dominant mode of ritual change. I believe that Bastidemay have passedover some evidencefor juxtaposition in his own fieldwork. For example, while he does provide instancesof spatial separation, he has not considered the possibility of temporal separation. I suspect that temporalseparationmay have been presentin the Braziliansituation and in many other Afro-Americanfaiths as well. There is evidence for temporaljuxtaposition in the rites of Haitian vodun(Desmangles 1977). Bastideimplies that syncretismand separationare inevitablewhenever two ritual traditions come into contact. He recognizes only two possibilities: religious traditionscan persist as separateentities, or they can mix. Juxtaposition, however, providesa third alternative.By the principleof juxtaposition, rituals simultaneouslymix and persist. More importantly, there is nothing inwere the only modes of evitableabout the process. If syncretismand separation would eitherbe ritualchange, Africanand Christianreligionsin the Caribbean blended or separatedby now. Such is not the case. thoroughly In many respects, Bastide's interpretations may reflect his units of analysis. Since he is attempting to deal, as the subtitleof his book suggests, with the inof terpenetration entire civilizations, he pays scant attention to the roles of individualsin religious change. He sometimes ignores the fact that in even the most sweeping of religious changes we are, in the words of Franz Cumont (1956:27), "always face to face with a series of individual conversions." Becausereligiouschange is ultimatelya result of countlessindividualdecisions, the outcomes are never predictable.I found, for example, that Africanritual observedin Trinidadin 1976 is much differentfrom ritualsobservedearlierin this century (Simpson 1970; Mischel 1958) because so many Trinidadian religious leaders have traveled to Africa in order to make their ceremonies more "authentic." In fact, rituals performedearlierwere much closer to the old 18th-centuryAfrican rites (which had been forgotten in Africa but were preservedin Trinidad). The study of ritualchange in the Caribbean been complicatedby the fact has that Christianity itself is a syncretic religion and by the degree to which Africanreligions in the New World must be seen as mixtures of tribal traditions.6 As Mintz and Price (1976:23-24) note:
We can probably date the beginnings of any new Afro-Americanreligion from the moment that one person in need received ritual assistancefrom another who belonged to a different cultural group. Once such people had "exchanged" ritual assistancein this fashion, there would alreadyexist a micro-community with a nascent religion that was, in a real sense, its own. We may speculate,for example, that one of the first slavesbrought to a particularplantation in a new colony gives birth to twins. It is clear to all that something must be done, but our hypotheticalmother of twins has no specialexpertise herself, nor does anyone of her own ethnic backgroundon that plantation. However, another woman, one of whose relativesmay have been a priestessof a twin cult in anothergroup, takes charge of the situation, performing the rites as best she can remember them.



In this hypotheticalexample syncretismoccurs, but like currentritual change in Trinidad, it is individuallymotivated. Bastideprovides much detail concerning the variousforms of ritual change but offers few explanationsas to why ritual change takesplaceor why it takes a particularform in a particularsituation. For example, he suggests that the major reason for juxtaposition of ritual objects is that materialobjects cannot merge (Bastide 1978:273). This does not, of course, explainjuxtaposition in nonmaterialaspectsof ritual. I believe that the Baptist explanation-that juxtapositions preserveritual efficacy-may serve as the cognitive rationale for variousforms of ritual change observedin Trinidadand possibly for aspectsof ritual change in Brazil and elsewhere. Finally, in my studies of Afro-Americanreligions in Trinidad, I found that the term "syncretism" was potentially misleadingin discussionsof religious because, as the Leacocks change. In many respects, the term is unsatisfactory have noted, it "fails to do justice to the creativeprocessinvolved (1972:320) since it suggests a rather mechanicalbringing together of disparateideas." Ritual change in the Caribbeanis anything but mechanical.Rather, it is as as carefullyorchestrated a symphonywith the religiousleaderas its conductor. Conclusions In the foregoing discussion, I have attempted to demonstratethat the concept of juxtaposition best accounts for much ritual change. I have suggested that juxtaposition is the dominant mode of ritual change among Trinidad's Spiritual Baptists and, by implication, in other Afro-Caribbeanreligions as well. In one respectmy focus offers some advanceover that of Bastide. Bastide concentratedon the howsof ritualchangebut offeredvery little in terms of the whys. The Baptist model offers at least a partial (emic) explanation for the various forms of ritual change in Afro-Americaand simultaneouslyallows for individual choice. It accounts for both variation and flexibility within these traditions. There is also evidence for ritualjuxtaposition in African (Fernandez1982; Jules-Rosette 1975) and Asian religions. A most strikingexampleofjuxtaposition in an African context is provided by Kiernan (1982:171) in his study of Zulu Zionist churches. Kiernanfound that Zulu Zionists divide their services into two distinct parts, with a temporalbreakbetween them. The first part of the serviceis devoted to prayersand Bible readings,while the secondpart consists of a traditionalhealing ritual. Each segment, he concludes, is designedto producedifferentforms of religious experienceand thereforerequirestemporal separation. I suspect that ritual juxtaposition is also present among AfroAmericanreligious groups in the United States.7I believe that furtheranalysis of spatialand temporal juxtaposition in these and other religious traditionswill be well rewarded. Notes
Research in Trinidad was sponsoredby grants from the University of Connecticut Research Foundation. Earlierversions of this paperwere presentedat the Connecticut College Religion Forum and at the



1983 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association. I thank Seth Leacock,John Burton, Sally Price, Eugene Gallagher, Jim Peacock, and George Eaton Simpson for their helpful comments on earlier drafts. 1 Desmangles (1977) has provided an excellent study of the relationship of Catholicism and vodJi in Haiti, and Horowitz and Klass (1961) have studied the interpenetrationof Christianity and Hinduism in Martinique. 2 In The AfricanReligionsin Brazil, Bastide advocates a Marxist analysisof Brazilianreligious groups. and Unfortunately, his concept of superstructure substructureis somewhat mechanicaland does not allow the flexibility that characterizeslater French Marxist analysesof ideology and religion (see Feuchtwang 1975). Religions such as Candomble, Macumba, and Umbanda do, as Althusser might suggest, interpolate individuals as subjects and help them identify themselves in terms of a Greater Subject (Althusser 1972). 3 An example of the decision-makingapproachis Barth (1959). For a discussionof the usefulnessof this approach, see Bee (1974:196-222). 4 Heterodoxy is characteristicof the Spiritual Baptist faith (Glazier 1983:23-24). Many Baptists are unaware of the proper placement of ritual objects, and most Baptists cannot provide a reason for a particular placement other than claiming that such placement is more effective. However, as in any established religious tradition, there are experts in altararrangement,and their opinions tend to dominate over time. I am in agreement with Munro Edmonson's (1960:192) assertion that "syncretism may be characteristicof a system whether or not those who participatein it are aware of the history of their institution." Ritual traditions are maintainedeven by those who do not understandthe reasons for maintaining them. 5 'Susuin Trinidad may have had its origins among the Yoruba of Nigeria and is also practicedon other West Indian islands and in the Bahamas(see Crowley 1953:80). It makes it possible for a person to carry on a systematic program of savings but only if each person in the 'susukeeps his part in the bargain. 6 Deborah Winslow (1980:621) in her study of ritualsof first menstruationin Sri Lankahas introduced a further complication that may have relevance for the study of Afro-American ritual. She notes that similaritiesof ritual form may be misleading and that what appearsto be a common ceremony may be revealed to be several different ceremonies. Ritual meaning is not confined to ritual action and objects. 7 One area in which this might be attempted is in the study of religious music. Alan Lomax has dealt with breaks in musical performancebut did not deal specificallywith juxtapositions. Also, see Marks (1982).

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