Origins The first traces of human society indicate that early people everywhere worshiped consciously and deliberately Some believe they ‘came out of this ground’ (origins are beyond record) Worship and religion seem to have emerged with the ability to recognize forces that could not be understood or mastered. Anthropologists recognize that religions existed in the Neanderthal nomadic tribes Arranged stones and boulders were positioned in ways that suggest they were possibly used for worship Inside graves and shelters for the dead are bones, tools, ornaments and evidence of food offerings Paintings and sculptures were located deeply in caves for the purpose of rituals
The after life was a great concern Early humans would smooth sand around graves in order to detect footprints Frequently, the dead were re-buried—just in case Rituals were held for health, offspring, good crops, and fertility. Archaeological evidence supports theory that aboriginal peoples migrated from Asia to North and South America by crossing a land bridge over the Bering Strait (about 35 000 years ago)
Around the World Approximately 300 million Aboriginal people in the world today At the time of Columbus about 100 million indigenous peoples inhabited the Americas (about 1/5 of the human race) Currently over 800 000 Aboriginal people What makes one Aboriginal? - one of the original or earliest known inhabitants of a country or region. - having existed in a region from the beginning
Sacred Time and Sacred Space Nature is inhabited with spirit beings that can guide humans. These spirit beings are called spirit guides. It is important to get in touch with one’s personal spirit guide, and this is done through a vision quest. During this time, a person would stay in a remote area and fast and pray Sweat Lodges- sauna like structures. The goal of a sweat lodge is to seek a vision of a guardian spirit Some people also induce visions using peyote. This drug creates hallucinogenic visions that put them in touch with their spirit guide.
Sun Dance is a ritual that induces changes in consciousness through pain. They hang from poles attached to pegs driven through skin in their chest. To the aboriginal person, the sacred is all around; in the animals, forest, lakes, etc.
Sweat Lodge Traditional way of healing Dome shaped structure Constructed of saplings, covered with canvas, hides, or blankets Pit in the middle of the floor where heated rocks are placed Stones sprinkled with tobacco, Eucalyptus oil is poured over the stones and water Steam produces sweat which purifies the body Physical cleansing becomes spiritual cleansing
Vision Quest Part of a coming of age ceremony A boy (or a girl) on the threshold of adulthood would spend time alone in a place where contact with the spirit world was possible Through fasting and prayer, seekers of the vision quest hoped to make contact with the spiritual realm They want to share its power and gain a vision by which to direct his or her life
Sacred Stories Creation Myth : explains the origins of earth and individual aspects of nature. Trickster Myth: explains how suffering and misery came to be. Hero Myth: idealizes the image of the good, brave person Divine Myth: describes how gods came to be Cultural Myth: explains how rituals and customs came to be
Beliefs Every part of the earth is sacred The air is precious; it shares it’s spirit with all life The earth is the mother. What hurts the earth hurts the children of the earth All things are connected like the blood that unites us all The earth is precious to the gods; to harm the earth is to hate the creator The Fours: directions, elements, seasons, ages, tribes (yellow, brown, red, white)
Beliefs continued The natural and supernatural are not separated Aboriginals believe in animism- all things (human and non-human) have spirits or souls Natural elements, such as rocks, trees, lakes and so on can take on mystic significance and have spiritual power All things possess a life force and are equal, interrelated and interdependent There is a supreme creator or Great Spirit called something different depending on the tribe
Beliefs continued Native hunters would often apologize or offer thanks to the animals they needed to kill, a way of paying homage This belief of connection to animals include the totem animal This totem is usually an animal that is part of the tribe’s daily experience and has a special kinship with it Ceremonies are used to identify with the animal powers and keep a strong connection to the natural world
Community of Faith Shaman (religious leader)Chief (political leader) Elders (make the decisions) Tribe (followers)
Shamans A shaman is a magic specialist or a witch doctor/medicine man Shamans could control spirits. Shaman talked to spirits, spirits talked through the shaman to the community Shamans went into deep trances through drum beating, dancing, self-hypnosis, chanting and drugs—spirits could travel through them in this state
Sense of Ethics Concern for the common good of the group Co-operation, generosity between people and respect for the wisdom of children and the elders because they are closest to the Great Mystery