Presentation on theme: "Spirituality, Religion & the Supernatural. Chapter Preview What is the supernatural? What Are Religion and Spirituality? What Are the Identifying Features."— Presentation transcript:
Chapter Preview What is the supernatural? What Are Religion and Spirituality? What Are the Identifying Features of Religion and Spirituality? What Functions Do Religion and Spirituality Serve? http://anthro.palomar.edu/religion/Default.htm
Religion, Spirituality, & Supernatural Religion is an organized system of ideas about spiritual reality, or the supernatural, along with associated beliefs and ceremonial practices. Supernatural beliefs are universal. There has been no group studied on the earth who, at any time over the past 100,000 years, has been without some manifestation of spirituality or religion. Spirituality, which also concerns the supernatural, involves less formalized spiritual beliefs and practices and is often individual rather than collective.
What are the Functions of Religion? All religions serve a number of important functions: –They reduce anxiety by explaining the unknown and offer comfort in times of crisis. –They provide notions of right and wrong, setting precedents for acceptable behavior. –Through ritual, religion may be used to enhance the learning of oral traditions. Adultery is a sin. Ritual of marriage
Supernatural Beings Major deities (gods and goddesses) Ancestral spirits Animism Animatism Other sorts of spirit beings White Tara: Buddest Goddess of longevity Kachina dolls (katsinas) are considered deified ancestral spirits by the Hopi and other Pueblo Native Americans. They are given to children to teach them about their religion. Leprechauns, gnomes, goblins, & Fairies
Animism Animism is the belief that nonhuman entities, such as plants, animals, and even rocks can have a soul. These spirit beings are closer to humans than gods and goddesses and are concerned with human activities. Animism typically is concerned with minor, local deities, whereas polytheism (the worship of multiple gods) is the worship of major deities. Hunter-gathering societies typically have a world-view that puts them on roughly equal footing with other animals, plants, and natural forces, thus, it was morally imperative to treat these agents with respect and considered themselves a part of nature rather than superior to or separate from it.
Animatisms (Mana) Animatism: A belief that nature is energized by an impersonal spiritual power (that lacks individual form) or supernatural potency. –Mana an impersonal force (not a soul) or quality that resides in people, animals, and inanimate objects. –The stuff of which ‘magic’ is formed. –“the Force” in Star Wars. This member of the Iban tribe of Malaysia believes that the skull held here possesses mana.
Animism & Animatism in the Modern World Lucky rabbits foot, horseshoes & numbers Toast of glasses to ward off evil spirits A Coaches refusal to cross baseball bats in a bat rack Find a penny pick it up – all day long you’ll have good luck Rainbows Lucky number 7 4-leaf clover A wishing well Wishbone Falling Star Acorns (Oak trees) – acorns & oak trees bring good fortune 50 million American believe in astrology
Question Which of the following is an example of animism? A.Princess Leia B.the goddess Athena in Greek mythology C.the god Zeus D.an ancestral spirit E.the malevolent spirit inside your baseball who jumps erratically through the air just as you think you're about to hit a home run
Answer: E The malevolent spirit inside your baseball who jumps erratically through the air just as you think you're about to hit a home run is an example of animism.
Religious Specialists All human societies include individuals who guide and supplement the religious practices of others. Such individuals are seen to be highly skilled at contacting and influencing supernatural beings and manipulating supernatural forces. They may have undergone special training and may display certain distinctive personality traits that make them particularly well suited to perform these tasks. Traditional Shaman Pope John Paul II
Religious Specialists - Shamans What is a Shaman? “A man or woman who enters an altered state of consciousness –at will- to contact and utilize an ordinary hidden reality in order to acquire knowledge, power and to help other persons or the community.” - Michael Harner, U.S. Anthropologist Koryaks and Even (or Evensk) Shaman Shaman collecting plants http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbxT2-jAQzE
Origins of the word Shaman? Shaman comes from an Evensk (a nomadic Siberian tribal language) word from the Tungus region of Siberia.
The Shaman Methodology (Ritual) 1.Use a drum beat (or other methods) to instigate an ecstatic (ecstasy) altered state of consciousness. 2.Enter alternative realities 3.Journey or travel to other worlds (underworld, middleworld, skyworld). 4.Interact with spirit beings, including guardian animal spirits. 5.Bring back information, souls, or powers.
Shamans serve the community 1.Healing or assisting in community decision making. 2.Healing individuals suffering from spiritually induced illness. 3.Helping souls of the dead travel to their proper resting spot (act as psychopomps). 4.Defending the community against antagonistic sorcerers. 5.Bargaining or mediating with threatening spirits. 6.Finding information to help the community. Ju/’hoansi healers entering a trance.
How do you become a Shaman? 1.Heredity (the gift is passed down) 2.Spontaneous selection or “call” or “election” 3.Personal choice & Quest 1.Ecstatic training (dreams, trances, etc…) 2.Traditional Techniques (names & functions of spirits, mythology & geneology of clan, secret language, etc….)
Flying reindeer, Santa & Shamanism Amanita Muscaria Mushrooms: http://animamrecro.wordpress.com/2006/12/30/hallucinogenic- mushrooms-and-santa-claus/ many of the symbols and icons we associate with Christmas celebrations are actually derived from the shamanistic traditions of the tribal peoples of pre-Christian northern Europe.
Rites of Passage – Developmental Spirituality Rights of passage are rituals that mark important stages in an individual’s life cycle. They typically mark transitions between places or stages of life: –Native America vision quests –Bar & bat mitzvahs –Retirement party Liminality is the in-between phase of a passage rite where individuals occupy ambiguous social positions. Rumspringa – Amish –Communitas is a word that describes collective liminality (Turner, 1967).
Magic The belief that supernatural powers can be compelled to act in certain ways for good or evil purposes by recourse to certain specified formulas. Many societies have magical rituals to ensure good crops, the replenishment of game, the fertility of domestic animals, and the avoidance or healing of illness in humans. A 100 year old carved wooden figure from the Congo believed to have magical powers. During a special ritual, iron nails were driven into this traditional African fetish with the motive of causing pain, disease, or death to someone feared or detested.
Magic Imitative (sympathetic) magic –Magic based on the principle that like produces like. Sometimes called sympathetic magic. Contagious magic –Magic based on the principle that things once in contact can influence one another after separation. Armenian spell box used to hid their cut hair, nails & extracted teeth. Imitative magic..
Witchcraft An explanation of events based on the belief that certain individuals possess an innate psychic power capable of causing harm, including sickness and death. Divination –A magical procedure for determining the cause of a particular event, such as illness, or foretelling the future. In North America, interest in and practice of witchcraft have grown over the past thirty years, often among highly educated segments of society. Contrary to popular belief, witchcraft is not concerned exclusively, or even primarily, with working evil. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrzMhU_4m-g
Syncretisms Syncretisms: Cultural, especially religious, mixes, emerging from acculturation. Example: The fully evolved figure of Satan is a classic example of syncretism: a fusion of the Hebrew concept of Lucifer, the "fallen angel," and the Zoroastrian figure Angra Mainyu (Ahriman), who is the evil opponent of Ahura Mazda (Ormazd), the "wise lord" and the embodiment of light, truth, and goodness. + = LuciferAhriman Satin http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Syncretism.aspx