The ‘Introduction’ asks what is ritual? Is ritual useful? What are the various kinds of ritual? It suggests that to think about ritual is to reflect on human nature, sociality, and culture. It is also to explore ritual's place, power, and potential in our lives and our society. Ritual includes both religious and nonreligious rites, the traditional and the new, the prescribed and the improvised, the human and nonhuman, and rubs up against a number of other cultural domains, such as play, games, performance, and theater. If ritual is action, it is also an idea, something we think with, and our exploration will move back and forth between these two dimensions.