Notes Week 1
Three Major Characteristics of Primal Religious World Views Related to:
Duality of the universe
Duality of the person
The social function of religion
Some non-physical causes of sickness and death in primal religions are:
Intrusion of a disease spirit
Violation of taboos
Soul Characteristics in Primal Religions:
Mobile and Material
Not necessarily eternal
Characteristics of Primal Religions
Human beings and their world have two aspects, the visible and invisible.
The visible is our ordinary, familiar life of the senses. The invisible is the spirit
dimension of the universe and of the person. Power emanates from the
invisible aspect of the person (the soul) and of the world (the spirit world or
land of the dead).
Shaman - the ritual specialist who is capable of accessing the spirit power of
the invisible world and mediating between that world and this
In these systems the purpose of healing is to nurture and heal the soul -
physical health and longevity are side effects not the focus of healing.
Disease has its origin and gains its meaning from the spirit world. All
sickness is soul sickness, and so if the sickness is not merely a bodily
concern, then the person will not be whole and well until the spirit-power
returns to the person.
In these systems the word “soul” indicates the invisible spirit dimension of the
Multiple souls are associated with an individual: e.g. the life-force soul, loss
of which means loss of life, the dream soul which wanders about in dream
The soul can also be understood to take a mobile, quasi-materialistic form.
Some kinds haunt the graveyards in ghostly form, others reincarnate in the
new-born children of the clan, still other aspects of the spirit dimension of a person joins the ancestors. Some groups speak of as many as 7 or 8 souls.
illness, death, misfortune can all be und