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Primal Religious Traditions. Australian Aborigines African Traditions North American Plains Indians Mesoamerican Religion. Primal Religions. Unique forms of religions practiced since prehistoric times. Some are still practiced at present. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Text of Primal Religious Traditions

Primal Religious Traditions

Australian AboriginesAfrican TraditionsNorth American Plains IndiansMesoamerican ReligionPrimal Religious TraditionsPrimal ReligionsUnique forms of religions practiced since prehistoric times. Some are still practiced at present.Religious traditions of non literate peoples who rely on oral tradition rather than scripturesTend to be the traditions of tribal peoples, small groups that reside in villages rather than large city populations

Why investigate Primal Religious Traditions?Primal: Prehistoric, Non-literate, oral traditionProvide insight into mythic and ritual dimensions of religion that are essential sources of knowledge and power for important aspects of lifeAll religions stem from or are rooted in primal worship

Native people of AustraliaFoundationDreamingPeriod of the ANCESTORSStill remains in the symbols left behindRituals reenact the mythic eventsAncestorsSupernatural beings that gave shape to the formless worldOrganized humans into tribesAllocated landLeft symbols of their presenceSpirit of ancestors left behind

Australian AboriginesRitualSpiritual essences left behind by the ancestors in symbolsCharged with sacred powerTake the same paths originally taken by the ancestors reenacting the mythic events of the dreamingCosmology takes a key place in Aboriginal religion- mythic geographySpiritual essence in humans also. Unborn child is animated by an Ancestor when the mother makes contact with a sacred site.Totem: the natural form of the ancestor in the dreamingTotemism: a system of belief and ritual based on totemsAnimationAncestors continually nourish the natural world, sources of all kinds of lifeHuman beings associated with a particular ancestor perform rituals to cause the power to flow into the natural worldReenactment of the mythReenacting of the myth recreates the original actionMaintaining the social structure of societyTaboo: things and activities set aside for certain members and forbidden to othersGenderTrainingMaturityInitiationAwakens spiritual identityDeath of childhood- birth of adulthood

African TraditionsSeveral hundred religions among the 400,000,000 inhabitants of the second largest continent, Africa.Yoruba ReligionConsists of 10,000,000 people and has endured 1,000 years.Produced artwork that is famous and admiredResides in Western regions of central AfricaFavor city livingIfe is the center of Yoruba religionOrishna-nla began world creation here

CosmologyReality is in two separate worldsHeaven, the invisible home of the gods and ancestorsEarth, the world of normal experience, visible home of humans; also populated by a deviant form of human beings, witches and sorcerers, who can cause disastrous harm if not controlledPurpose of the religionMaintain balance between the human beings of earth and the gods and ancestors of heaven while guarding against the evil deeds of the sorcerers and witches

HeavenHome ofSupreme god- OlorunPrimary, original source of power in the universeDistant and remote- not involved in human affairsPeople do not worship Olorun; other gods serve as mediatorsOther deities- orishasLesser than Olorun but truly significantAre appeased by the rituals carried out by humansHundreds of orishas existOrisha-nla, created earthOgun, god of iron, originally a human, inhabits border between ancestors and orishasEsu, most complex, contains both good and evil properties, worshipped with all other gods- Trickster figure (can disrupt the normal course of life)ContdAncestors:Deceased humans who have acquired supernatural powersThey can help or harm the livingWorshipped through rituals at sacred shrinesEarned a good reputation, lived to an old age, worshipped only by their own familyDeified ancestors known throughout Yoruba society and worshipped by large numbers of peopleConnecting Heaven and EarthHead of a family:Worships the familys ancestors in the home at the family shrineKing or chief of a city:In charge of annual festivals and performs other religious functionsPriestsOversee the various rituals carried out at the shrines of each orishaDivinersTells the future since this is important in determining how to proceed with ones lifeMediatorBecomes a living representation of an ancestor by dancing at festivalsImitates a dead person and delivers a message from the deadImportance:Maintains a balance between heaven and earth, boundaries are thin and can be crossed over

North American Plains IndiansPeoples who inhabited the middle section of what is now the USA.Migrated from Asia over the Bering Strait and spread out over north and south AmericaStretched from Canadian Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, between Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River.More than 30 tribes, speaking different languages and forming many cultural groupsRepresentative of Native American religion in generalShared some basic beliefs such as the vision quest and the Sun Dance.LakotaInhabited Eastern Montana & Wyoming and the western part of the Dakotas and parts of NebraskaReknown for Custers defeatMassacre at Wounded kneeAbout 70,000 live on reservations in Manitoba, Montana, and the Dakotas.

BeliefsSupreme Reality- Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit or Great Mysterious16 different deities (4x4)Creation of the world and the arrival of the first human beings are explained in various myths that talk about several supernatural beingsInktomi, Lakota trickster figure, taught humans their ways and customs. His mistakes and errors of judgment are used to teach children what not to do.Death & Afterlife4 souls depart from body, one journeys on a spirit path encounters an old woman who judges it and directs it to the world of the ancestors or back to earth as a ghost. Others are reborn in unborn children or others new bodies.

RitualVision QuestCommon primal traditionTo gain access to spiritual power that will insure success in different undertakingsBoth genders can participateSupervised by a medicine man or womanBegins with purification in a sweat lodgeGoes off alone to endure the elements, lack of food and waterPerformance of certain ritualsNear the end the quester receives a vision in the form of an animal, object or force of nature. Vision gives a message.Message is interpreted by medicine man or woman, that interpretation influences the rest of the life of the quester.Occasionally the quester receives a guardian spiritRitual Sun Dance:Common to all Plains tribesBenefits the tribe rather than the individualPart of the New Year celebrationOverseen by a sacred leader (medicine man or a woman of outstanding character), both an honor and a responsibilityHeld in a lodge that is carefully constructed and prepared for the celebrationCotton tree is set upright in a chosen spot as the axis mundiConnects heaven and earth- represents the supreme beingAround the tree, 28 poles to represent the 28days of the lunar monthDancing in the direction of the sun accompanied by music and drumbeatsBody mutilation as sacrifice

Populating the AmericasCrossing at Beringia

Mesoamerican ReligionArea includes present day Mexico and extended south to Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa RicaNatives arrived about 20,000 years ago?From about 2000 BC to 1500 AD home to Olmecs, Maya, Toltec and Aztec civilizations

AztecsDefies the common or general description of primal religions- it was a highly civilized population of about 15,000,000.Urban dwellers in lieu of rural. Lived in Tenochtitlahn, now Mexico CityLike other primal religions it intertwines ritual and myth, practices of human sacrificePre dated Catholicism of 16th c. Aztec influence can be seen in some modern Mexican religious practices

Toltec FoundationToltec god Quetzalcoatl the feathered serpent presided over a golden age of brilliancePrince Topiltzin, a priest-king of the Toltecs, was the role model for Aztec authority figuresToltec myths and tradition influenced AztecsAztecs believed that Quetzalcoatl created and ordered the world. City of Teotihuancan was origin of the cosmos. Who will be the sun and bring on the dawn?

Time and SpaceThe dawn of the sun was a new age and its destruction the end of that age. The only ;way to delay this destruction was to feed the sun, nourishing it through human sacrifices.They believed that there had already been 4 suns and theirs was the last one. (center, west, north, south)Time and space were interrelated.4 quadrants with the axis mundi in center. Center connects earthly world with heavenly world.

Human RoleHuman condition linked to cosmologyHuman is a sort of axis mundiHuman sacrifice was performed about every 20 days. Self sacrifice of the warrior would allow him to enter the highest heaven at his deathTwo divine forcesHeartWas cut out of the chest on a sacrificial altarHead Was severed from the body and strung on a skull rackMany human sacrifices were captive prisoners

LanguageReligious power was conveyed through the mastery of languageSpoke Nahuatl, an expressive language with high achievements in poetry Knowers of things could communicate with the gods and make offerings rather than sacrifice.Being adept at making or solving riddles meant you came from a good family

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