Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Doggy Shrines

Why do people engage in actions based on superstition like throwing coins in fountains, salt over shoulders etc.?

Why does superstition persist even in places that have experienced 2000 years of Christianity?

Why do some atheists do things like touch wood - 'just in case'?

Why do all religions, including Christianity have some form of ritual actions? Do ritual actions meet some fundamental human need? Whether those actions are based on superstition or religion or apparent absence of either? To cope with what we fear? To acknowledge something greater than ourselves? To express joy, sorrow, regret, hope etc.?

I'm a Christian. I like to think I'm free of the need of superstitious actions, (though I find some Christian rituals helpful). Then I remembered what I did when our dog Holly died. We'd asked the vet who'd hastened Holly's death to remove her body for a doggy cremation. He did. Home bereft of dog. No body to bury in the garden.

After family hugs, I had an overwhelming urge to do something. I got permission from my very understanding line manager for a few hours compassionate leave. Then I washed the dog's bedding and disinfected her plastic bed. Then I picked a lot of daffodils from the garden (it was March) and filled Holly's bed and feeding bowls with them. I found a photo.

I looked at what I'd done. I'd made a shrine! For a labrador dog! I maintained it for a week. Superstition? A basic human need? A help to grieve?

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