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a203-11f-24-ReligionWitchcraftMagic - Introduction to...

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Introduction to Cultural Anthropology: Class 24 Religion, Witchcraft, and Magic Copyright Bruce Owen 2011 - religion : “belief and ritual concerned with supernatural beings, powers, and forces” - generally focuses on explaining the world and how one should live in it - with reference to the supernatural - supernatural : “the extraordinary realm beyond, but (believed to impinge on) the observable world” - nonempirical - must be accepted on faith - some of this belief is often expressed as myths - myth : a story… - often one that explains something about the world - that is usually understood to be not literally true in the physical world - but to have a more profound truth - often set in an ambiguous time and place - usually with supernatural characters - Edward Tylor developed an evolutionary scheme for religions - the idea that religions evolved or progressed from earlier forms to more developed forms is no longer accepted, - but the categories that Tylor used are still useful - they are: - animism : belief in spiritual beings, particularly that many or all things have a spirit, life, consciousness, and/or soul - things are animate (alive/active/conscious) - Tylor imagined that this began with the notion of a soul or consciousness in humans, and was generalized to all things - Shinto (Japan) - traditional highland Peru - polytheism : belief in multiple gods - Classical Greek and Roman religions - Hinduism - Christianity, from some points of view - if Christ, saints, angels, etc. are considered deities - or if one considers the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be three deities, rather than one - monotheism : belief in a single, all-powerful god - Christianity (if Christ, saints, etc. are not considered dieties) - Judaism - Islam (“There is no God but Allah, and Mohammad is his messenger”) - Tylor and most anthro texts stop with these, but we should probably add - non-theism : religious belief that involves no god - Buddhism
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Intro to Cultural Anthro F 2011 / Owen: Religion, witchcraft, and magic p. 2 - atheism : technically means belief in no god, but in general use means belief in no religion at all - agnostic : a position of uncertainty or doubt about the existence of god(s), leaving the question open - mana : an impersonal force that can reside in people, animals, plants, or objects - the term comes from Melanesia, but the concept is widespread - “power”, “energy”, “the force…” - mana could bring about luck or good fortune, but could also be dangerous - in Melansia, you could work to gain mana - in Polynesia, you had to be born into it, along with high rank - fetish : an object that contains supernatural power (such as mana) - which can bring good fortune, success, effectiveness, power, etc. - lucky rabbit’s foot - St. Christopher medal: Catholic patron saint of travelers - taboo : a prohibition for supernatural reasons - contact between Polynesian chiefs and commoners was taboo, forbidden - in some French wine producing regions, it is taboo for women to participate in the crushing of the grapes - don’t walk under a ladder… any others?
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