The patriarchal nature of Euramerican society is expressed in its Judeo-Christian theology, in which a supreme male deity gives life to the first man, as depicted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
Only later is the first woman created from the first man.
Deeper belief - the body consists of two entities: the flesh and the soul
Associated with unilineal descent systems
Ancestors are worshiped - thought to bring good or poor fortune and play active role in lives of the living
Belief that nature is animated (energized) by distinct personalized spirit beings separate from bodies
Probably first form of religion
These spirit beings are concerned with human activities and are closer to humans than gods and goddesses
Typical of peoples who see themselves as part of nature rather than superior to it
Belief the world is animated by impersonal supernatural powers
Not to be confused with animism
Form of power does not take a particular shape, emotion, etc.
Often found in similar cultures where animism is found
Worship of places in the natural world
Sites for religious pilgrimages
Usually where an important event took place
Example: Mecca of the Islamic faith
Sacred Places: Mt. Kailash, Tibet
Rising 22,000 feet, this mountain has been held sacred for thousands of years by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and followers of Bön.
Year after year pilgrims follow the ancient tradition of circling the mountain on foot, a holy ritual they believe will remove sin and bring good fortune.
Guide and supplement religious practices of others
Hold specific rights to contact and influence supernatural beings and manipulate supernatural forces
Have special training and may display certain distinctive personality traits
Priests and Priestesses
Socially initiated, ceremonially inducted member of a religious organization
Examples: priest, minister, imam, lama, rabbi, etc.
* Part-time specialist
* Enters altered state of consciousness to contact and manipulate supernatural beings and powers while in trance
* Provides a focal point of attention for society and can help maintain social control
* Benefits for the shaman are prestige, wealth, and an outlet for artistic self-expression
Ju' hoansi Shamans and Healing
When Ju’/hoansi healers enter a trance, they are assisted by trance dancers.
About half of the older men and a third of the older women are healers.
They possess the powerful healing force called n/um, the Ju/’hoansi equivalent of mana.
Shamans Around the World
Traditional Shaman in Mongolia
The traditional Mongolian shaman’s drum is made from a tree struck by lightning and covered with leather made from a female deer.
It is believed that when a shaman goes into a trance, her drum transforms into a steed that carries her into the dark sky of her ancestors.
Rites of Purification
Culturally prescribed rules about what members of a society can or cannot eat or drink, touch, or talk about
Taboos if not observed lead to punishment inflicted by magic, spiritual force, or religion (negative sanction)
Rites of Passage
Found among all human groups
Ritual stages mark important periods in one’s life such as birth, marriage, and death
Men and women may have differing rites of passages
Stages in Rites of Passage
Separation- ritual removal of individual from society
Transition- isolation following separation
Incorporation- reintroduction into society with new status
Rites of Intensification
Religious rituals enacted during times of crisis
Mass ceremonies unite people in common effort so fear and confusion yield to collective action and degree of optimism
Balance in relations of community restored to normal and group’s values celebrated and affirmed
Belief that supernatural powers can be compelled to act in certain ways for good or evil purposes by utilizing certain specified formulas
Believed to be possible way to gain control over uncontrollable situations (e.g., weather, love, fertility, animals, and illness)
Like produces like; also called sympathetic magic (e.g., use of voodoo dolls)
Things or persons once in contact can influence each other after the contact is broken (e.g., saints’ relics, celebrity memorabilia)
Explanation of events based on belief that certain individuals possess inherent psychic power capable of causing harm, including sickness and death
Found worldwide but used to varying degrees
Divination--magical procedure for determining cause of particular event (e.g., illness) or foretelling the future
Witchcraft - Wicca
In North America, interest in and practice of witchcraft have grown significantly over the past four decades, with the rise of Wicca among highly educated segments of society. Contrary to popular belief, witchcraft is
not concerned exclusively, or even primarily, with working evil.
Functions of Witchcraft
Explains events that cannot otherwise be explained by logic of group
Effective way for people to explain away personal misfortune without having to shoulder blame
Outlet for feelings of hostility and frustration without disturbing norms of larger group
Functions of Religion
* Sets guidelines (education) for acceptable behavior by deliberately raising people’s feelings of guilt and anxiety about their actions
* Helps keep people in line (social control and group solidarity)
* Lifts burden of responsibility off individuals and lies instead with gods or spirit forces
* Can also reduce anxiety by explaining unknown and offer comfort in times of crisis
Revitalization Movements 1
Religions change, just as cultures change
Social religious movements, with purpose of totally reforming society
Revitalization Movements 2
Often radical in nature, response to society’s stress, disruption and despair
Can drastically change religion and culture (e.g., Mormonism)
Ultimately, revitalization movements are root of all known religions (i.e., Judaism, Christianity, Islam)
Revitalization movement in reaction to disruptive contact with Western capitalism
Promise of resurrection of deceased relatives, destruction or enslavement of white foreigners, and magical coming of utopian riches
Common to societies (e.g., island cultures in southwest Pacific Ocean) where explanations of western (white) power not easily understood
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