Accepted paper:

A spider's cures: managing emotions in the reinvention of the pizzica tarantata


Asa Trulsson

Paper short abstract:

This presentation concerns a contemporary healing ritual, inspired by representations found primarily in scholarly works. The focus is on molding individual emotional states through ritualized acts and the process of learning to sense and make sense of ecstatic and potentially healing experiences.

Paper long abstract:

Creating presence and strong emotional experiences seem inseparable from the construction of efficacy in much contemporary ritual creativity. Yet, emotional intensity does not merely follow certain actions but requires contexts and certain conventions. Ritualized acts also discipline and mold individual emotions into patterns established intersubjectively and by the ritual form itself. The aim of this presentation is to examine an emotionally charged ritual, namely the reinvention of the pizzica tarantata - a supposed ancient healing trance dance, thoroughly documented by ethnologist Ernesto de Martino in the 1950's but since largely extinct as a public phenomenon. It is argued that the rationale for ritual performance and management of emotions and potential experiences of healing, lies in the moment, most notably in intersubjective sharing, somatic modes of attention and public enactment. Further, accepting, experiencing and making sense of such healing experiences is a process that is primarily learned through the body.

panel P210
Ritual creativity, emotions and the body