INDIGENOUS_RELIGIONS

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PRE-AXIAL RELIGIONS
INDIDIGENOUS RELIGIONS
AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION
AN EXAMPLE
AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION
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OVERARCHING COSMOLOGY
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The world is peopled by beings both spiritual and physical which exert pressure on each other.
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There is a unifying life force in the universe that is age related. Older are more powerful.
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Central values are Life, Harmony, Fertility and Prosperity
HIERARCHY OF SPIRITUAL BEINGS
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God
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Creator – creates and then becomes remote
– All knowing; righteous God who is distant from day to day life.
– Ancestor par excellence
Myths of the origins of life
– Rope to Heaven and reincarnation
» Hyena and sparrow relate to cattle and millet
» Young woman and marriage giving birth
» Conclusion is that individuals die but the group will continue on
Myths of trickster intermediaries human and the gods and demons
– Eshu is an intermediary god who controls the other gods and demons relationship to humans
» If not properly acknowledged he can cause confusion and conflict by trickery among humans
» Two colored hat and the arguments of humans
» He is seen as an mtundu
» Explains the confusion of life and presence of suffering.
Myths of Divination and ritual
– Orunmila had 8 sons
– Youngest refuses to honor him as is traditon of son to father
– Father breaks the staff of the son and leaves for heaven never to return
» Results are disaster: pregnant women don’t deliver, barren women remain barren, sick remained sick, rivers dried
up, men became sterile.
– Children beg him to return but instead of returning he grants them the ritual palm nuts used in divination that can bring
prosperity and fertility.
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Spirits (gods and demons)
• Nature spirits
– Spirits of the air
» More powerful
» Source of possession
» Unseen and most feared
– Spirits of the earth
» Reside in objects of nature: mountains, oceans, rocks or trees etc.
• Human spirits
– Long dead
» Good - the founders of the clan who originated the clan or ethnic group and are seen as having given its names
» Ghosts - who are the long dead who have been forgotten, spirits of children who passed away without initiation,
without children of their own or those who died and did not receive proper burial.
– Living dead (Ancestors)
» They are linked together with one another and to the elders presently living with the group.
» Protectors of Society and therefore its most feared critics
» Maintain the social norms
» Remembered
» Prayed to through invocations and sacrifice including household shrines
 Sacrifice involves eating with them
» Nourished
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CENTRALITY OF DEATH IN WORLD OF PROSPERITY, FERTILITY AND HARMONY
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Death came about by accident
No one just dies
Elaborate rituals of burial
Centrality of Ancestors
Normal four generation life cycle.
Cycle of life
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Birth and naming (partial reincarnation)
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Puberty and rites of passage
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Between Families bound by brides wealth
Fulfilled with birth of child
Elderhood
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Period of training and separation
Circumcision
Age set
Marriage, regeneration and adulthood
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Absolutely essential (mokamona tradition)
Govern the clan
Imbued with power
Ritual life of clan
Ancestral life.
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remembered
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Religious Practitioners and Practices
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Practitioners:
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Diviners
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Physical and psychological problems
Ultimate cause versus proximate cause
Process of “seeing”
Removal of the source by, cutting, sucking etc.
Herbalists
Prophets
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Act on own initiatives to divine call
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Often lead religious movements and religious change
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Majimaji revolt 75000 died
Elders
Practices
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Animal Sacrifice
Healing rituals
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Reconciliation rituals
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Examination of life
Identify and confess their bad feelings and misdeeds
Sacrifice for forgiveness
Involves families
Sacrifice as payment for the wronged
A sign of peace
Daily prayers
amulets
Shrines
• Evil and Witchcraft
– Suffering caused by Ancestors or gods is temporary and meant as a
corrective.
– Suffering caused by evil forces
• maims or kills their victims
• undeserved and socially destructive
• jealousy as primary source
– Witch
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Anti-social person
Someone who is morose or disagreeable
Shifty-eyed or staring person
Potentially anyone could be a witch
Work at night
Can change themselves into animals, hyenas, owls, or fly unseen