Roadside Shrines: What Lies Behind the Roadside Shrines Created in our Times?
As recently as thirty years ago, impromptu roadside shrines of the type we see so commonly now were virtually non-existent in Canada and the U.S. Now nearly each time a road accident claims a young life, an ad hoc shrine springs up at the place where that life was lost. This paper explores, from various points of view, some of the possible motivations for these memorial shrines. As we struggle to come to terms with the changing zeitgeist at the beginning of the new millennium, we may try to understand phenomena by viewing them through various lenses. Thus, in this work, reference is made to material from ritual theory, morphic field theory, and post-modern thought. Ultimately, life is unfathomable. Accordingly, we are still naturally as fascinated by the mystery of what happens when the body "gives up the ghost" as any of the "moderately intelligent primitives" referred to by Dudley Young in Origins of the Sacred. In the midst of today's rationalism and consumerism, these ritual shrines have a jarring otherness about them, suggesting that people of our time are once again inviting mystery into the centre of their hurried lives.
Keywords: Ritual Shrines at the Roadside
Ms. Carol Tulpar
Recent graduate of Master of Arts Liberal Studies, Graduate Liberal Studies, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C.