The Nacirema Tribe Rituals:Magic in Primitive Society Liam GriffinSO 201 CIntroduction The Nacirema society is a collection of people who have very strict and could be considered crazy by some. They have strong beliefs in magic, and the general belief that the human figure is ugly and flawed due to the tendency to disease (Horace Miner, 1956). This can only be avoided through ritual and ceremonies. This culture is a good insight to civilization and social structures based on belief. That who we are and how we communicate is a product of our society.
This can teach us all great lessons on society and how we all function with each other in relation to our surroundings. The SocietyThe Nacirema tribe follows strict guidelines and holds their fate in “medicine men” and “holy-mouth-men” (Horace Miner, 1956). They use their services multiple times a year, in hopes that it will keep them healthy and alive. The medicine men give the people herbs and other healing ingredients in return for substantial gifts. They keep these in a chest in their shine room to protect them from death.
The fear of death encourages these people to give hefty gifts in exchange for these plants and herbs; many do not remember what they are for, but are too afraid to dispose of them. The holy-mouth-men fill holes in people’s teeth with powders to help ensure dental health. If a person does not have holes in their teeth, the holy-mouth-men will scrape and scratch at the teeth. They do this ritual because, “they believe that their teeth would fall out, their gums bleed, their jaws shrink, their friends desert them, and their lovers reject them” (Horace Miner,1956).
These healers control the people of this society through fear of death and religious beliefs; this has been seen throughout time, but it becomes more apparent when looking at it from a modern perspective. Many things can be learned from these people, about society, structures, and the norms of a certain group. The LessonThese people are a good insight on social structure; not due to a religious ritual, but by repetition and social norms. The people of this tribe show that every society has practices that can deviate from other societies norms. That seeing a group under a different light can show the impractical traditions that most are accustomed to. What we perceive as normal may seem strange to others, that we all live in our own tribes, with our own social rules. That what we consider right and wrong are just the lessons we were taught and what we were told was right and wrong.
We are a product of our society, we function the way we do, because you are expected to do so. This means that in all societies, what they do is not strange, but simply is different than what we are accustomed to. They are following their own social rules and norms, and preserve us as the strange ones. We all live in our own tribes, loving the flaws that others scrutinize.Conclusion The Nacirema tribe is one that you may know, you may even live in this tribe.
Social norms vary depending on where you travel. Everywhere you go, there will be a different ritual of daily function. What you perceive as normal may be taboo to someone else, that depending on where you are from will dictate the rules. Nacirema is a description of American life, depicted fairly accurately, and shows that even the most “normal” routines can be perceived as taboo and strange. That we overlook our day to day lives and focus on the strange things that others do. People need to take a step back and look at society in a different light, in the end, we are all strange.ResourcesMiner, H.
(n.d.). “Body Ritual among the Nacirema”. Retrieved September 6, 2017, from https://msu.edu/~jdowell/miner.
htmlGiddens, A., Duneier, M., Appelbaum, R. P., & Carr, D. (2016).
Introduction to sociology. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.westminster.edu/staff/brennie/wpgroup4/brotn.html