Building a World for a Novel – Part 24
New to this project: Start with Part 1
Part 24: Rituals
As I continue to push for aliens with a lot of humanity in them, let me addrituals to the mix. Our daily lives are filled with rituals, many of which we do not recognize as such. For example which sock or shoe you put on first or what you habitually eat for a particular meal, like breakfast or a certain holiday is a ritual. Saying “hello” when you answer the phone, how you approach a horse, or channel-hopping on television are all ritualistic habits.
Formal procedures like praying a certain way, taking wedding vows, swearing an oath in court are more recognizable to us as ritual, but you can, perhaps see, that ritual is all around us, all the time.
What will the rituals be like on your new world? Will your farmers sing to their crops to enhance productivity? Will children hurl rocks in the sky to keep it from raining? Will the suitor traditionally run to or from his intended?
Devising the habits and rituals of your new people can be especially fun and rewarding. Behavior is easier to deal with than language or physiology. An alien psychology, the product of the people’s history, wants and needs, traumas and joys from times past, traditions passed down over the years, is fertile ground for the writer.
A list of possible behaviors or actions that might lend themselves to ritual:
- Weddings (assuming marriage is a part of your new world culture.
- The “sanctifying” of an agreement
- Curses placed upon enemies
- Preparation for battle
- Propitiation to the powers in the sky after a battle
An important note: it always seems that a people’s actions, foibles and such are, to themselves, only habits. But the foreign person’s rituals are superstitions. Keep this in mind, especially if you plan on multiple sentient races, or different tribes or nations on your world.
Continued on Part 25