Presentation on theme: "Primal Religious Traditions Australian Aborigines"— Presentation transcript:
1Primal Religious Traditions Australian Aborigines Chapter 2Primal Religious TraditionsAustralian Aborigines
2Myth or RitualsThe concept Myth may not be familiar to us because most people no longer hold a predominantly mythic worldview.Typically we equate myths with falsehoods but in the study of world religions, myths actually convey important truths.Myths are both nonhistorical and nonrational.Myths are sources of sacred truth and are therefore powerful, for they give meaning to life.Myths take the form of sacred stories that are passed along from one generation to the next.Many religious rituals re-enact a myth or sacred story.
3Why Study Primal Religions? We study “primal” traditions for 2 reasons:Primal religions provide insight into the mythic and ritual dimension of religionPrimal religions are the source from which all the world’s religions have sprung.Groups we will look atAustralian Aborigines, Yoruba, Plains Indians of North America, Aztecs
4What characterizes a Primal Religion? Primal religions today are generally practiced by people of oral (non-literate) cultures.Non-literate people means that they do not depend on scriptures or written teachingsWhat they lack in written texts, they make up for in oral material- myths or stories that are passed down from generation to generation
5Primal religions tend to be traditions practiced by Tribal peoples who live in villagesBUT, they are also practiced by city dwellers such asModern YorubaAncient Aztecs
7Near Wauchope North of Sydney Australia The DreamingThe foundation of Aboriginal religion is the concept of the Dreaming.The world was originally formless.Supernatural beings called Ancestors emerged and roamed about the earth.The Ancestors gave shape to the landscape and created the various forms of life, including the first human beings.The Ancestors organized humans into tribes, specified the territory each tribe was to occupy, and determined each tribe’s language, social rules and customs.Devil’s MarblesNear Wauchope North of Sydney Australia
8Great power is said to be found below the sacred places left behind by the Ancestors. Prior to a baby’s birth, the mother is to visit a sacred place so her baby will receive spiritual essence
9Totem Each Aborigine is a living representation of an Ancestor. This relationship is symbolized by a totemThe natural form in which the Ancestor appeared in the DreamingAn individual will always be identified in certain ways with the Ancestor.
10TabooTaboos dictate who can do what and when when it comes to ritual practice:A taboo usuallyorders society through its rulesDetermines who may and may not:participate in certain activitieshandle certain objectscontains punishments for those who violate these boundaries
11Taboo, Examples (other religions) Only priests may consecrate Eucharist (Christianity)Men must not touch Women during menstruation and right after childbirth (Judaism)Only priests can tell your future (Yoruba)
12Initiation RitesThe purpose of the initiation rituals awaken young people to this spiritual identity, and at the same time redefine their social identity within the tribe.
13traditionIt might be difficult for an outsider to understand the reasons for these various rituals.This difficulty illustrates the great power of myth.Aboriginal myth creates a reality that is unique to the Aborigines, a world of their own in which such initiation rituals not only make sense but are essential if life is to have meaning.The power of myth, and the performance of ritual to re-enact myth, are basic features of all primal traditions.