IndigenousReligionsLectureNotes

IndigenousReligionsLectureNotes - Chapter 3 Indigenous...

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28 C hapter 3 Indigenous Religions: An Almost Universal Tradition Indigenous religions are different than the other religions we will be studying because they do not emphasize the preservation of tradition through writing. For this reason they are sometimes referred to as pre-literature religion. Other names include “basic religions” and “natural religion” (to contrast them with revealed religion). However, this may give the impression that such religions disappeared with the advent of writing, and this would be false. Indigenous religions continue to be present in many attitudes and practices of peoples around the world. Indeed, although indigenous religions may never have talked with others practicing this worldview, they are found on almost every continent in very similar forms. These features are: 1. Animism and totems. There is the common belief that animals, plants, and other features of the natural world (forests, lakes, mountains) are inhabited or identified with spirits. These spirits can be contacted and influenced, or appeased and cajoled. There is can even be an identification by an individual or group with specific animals (totem). Often one must either be in a spiritual consciousness induced through strain on the body or be a shaman to have contact with these spirits. 2. Magic. Magical rituals are attempts to influence a force that is in nature. This is not the same as influencing personal spirits which must be convinced rather than manipulated like an impersonal force. The specific rituals are based on intuition and the common sense of the group rather than on observation, experimentation, and repetition. Thus, it may seem intuitive to a group that by killing an animal rain will result. If this fails it is not taken as proof that this ritual does not work, but instead blame is placed on the person
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