Rapid Rhetoric: MAZEWAY

Raphael's depiction of Plato defining the difference between true and false rhetoric This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word or phrase I came across that I have never previously used.

mazeway (MAYS-weigh) n. a system of socially constructed and learned rules for human interaction.

I stumbled upon the term mazeway in an article entitled "The Delaware Prophet Neolin: A Reappraisal" by Dr. Alfred A. Cave, a history professor at the University of Toledo (an excellent article, by the way, if you have any interest in Pontiac's War or other topics related to British-colonist-Native American interactions after the Seven Year's War).

The term was coined by anthropologist Anthony F. C. Wallace in a theory known as the mazeway resynthesis to discuss some of the ways in which religious syncretism occurs. J.S. Price offered a succinct explanation of the theory:
Wallace (1956) applied the term "mazeway resynthesis" to the change in belief system which occurs in prophets, the mazeway being to the individual what culture is to society, so that the prophet awakes to a new reality which he or she then tries to impart to followers; if successful, the prophet becomes the leader of a new religious movement; otherwise, he or she is alienated from the parent group and is likely to be labelled as mentally ill.
So there you have it, all you would-be millennial prophets reading this post: navigate well your mazeway, or you face the likelihood of being tossed in an institution.