Presentation on theme: "Primal Religious Traditions Australian Aborigines."— Presentation transcript:
Primal Religious Traditions Australian Aborigines
The 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.
Why Study Primal Religions? We study “primal” traditions for 2 reasons: 1. Primal religions provide insight into the mythic and ritual dimension of religion 2. Primal religions are the source from which all the world’s religions have sprung. Groups we will look at Australian Aborigines, Yoruba, Plains Indians of North America, Aztecs
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 teachings What they lack in written texts, they make up for in oral material- myths or stories that are passed down from generation to generation
Primal religions tend to be traditions practiced by Tribal peoples who live in villages BUT, they are also practiced by city dwellers such as Modern Yoruba Ancient Aztecs
The Dreaming The 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 Marbles Near Wauchope North of Sydney Australia
Great 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
Each Aborigine is a living representation of an Ancestor. This relationship is symbolized by a totem The natural form in which the Ancestor appeared in the Dreaming An individual will always be identified in certain ways with the Ancestor.
Taboos dictate who can do what and when when it comes to ritual practice: A taboo usually orders society through its rules Determines who may and may not: participate in certain activities handle certain objects contains punishments for those who violate these boundaries
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)
The purpose of the initiation rituals awaken young people to this spiritual identity, and at the same time redefine their social identity within the tribe.
It 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.