Religion 2M03- Lecture 2
Rituals – actions that transform, often very connected with sacred texts and can find important clues in
creation stories (genesis).
- start out with everything being perfect with nature and the gods often the humans make a mistake
thus you need a ritual to bring a balance back together (sacrifices done back for harmony)
- sometimes happens on a cyclical bases which can be broad and a community basis
- sacred places that are created, groves buildings, where the human and the divine can come together
- special words said, actions to do, gifts to bring
Most critical piece of creation stories is that it will often tell about a stage of development. For example
a decision made that goes wrong then you see the results to help teach people how to think forward. “If
i do this action what would be the result?”
-When poor decisions made : don’t be too full of pride and arrogant
Anticipatory Rituals come from teaching an dislike to death. Grimes says a culture wide refusal to
imagine a good death intends to assure that will we not experience one. It comes from European
middle ages take on death....
- Books on how to die well, after the black death in Europe
- The five temptations are: The lack of faith Despair Impatience Pride Arborist
- “As then the bodily death is the most fearful thing of all fearful things”
- In other words the death of the body can mean something worse than what we already think it
means. The death of the body can also have an upbringing of the soul if it is not done in a proper
- In other words dying is punishment for the guilty
Theodicy-the problem of suffering in the world in connection with the being and the divine loving
being (powerful) The idea is that if God loves us he doesn’t want us to suffer and if he is powerful he
can take care of the suffering. Suffering is said to be allowed however because it is a punishment for
sin. Secondly, it is known as a teaching tool. The problem of a teaching tool is that it doesn’t resolve
the issue of children that suffer and are not able to learn.
When Greco roman sank away it was left with personification of good and evil.
Buddhism focuses instead on the what and how. “To be alive is to experience suffering” For instance
major crises to little irritant things.
ARS “ENDING” TRADITION: Death is supposed to make us happy. Heaven is perfect so why wouldn’t
everyone want to go there? Salvation of seven deadly sins eating your soul is a ritual
At death the battle for ones soul became very public and sometimes there are very particular people
that can witness it
Eschaton,the end: instead of the focus on a worldwide judgement day, it came down to an
individual’s death. It is a Personal apocalypse at one’s death. The people around them are also
affected though so there is a discontinuity of the community when someone passes.
Pre destination means that when a person is born it is predetermined if they are going to heaven or
hell so death became the ultimate punishment to sin and gateway to glory and keeping them
balanced was tricky.
Now the business of death is heavily privatized in North American culture.
Opposition to Darwin: For a long time the primary opposition to Darwin’s theory of evolution was
the pact that was understood to be between god and humans , a person could ask for salvation (last
rights on their death bed) and whatever they have done in their life they would be forgiven for.
Darwin believed that this pact would not exist if humans come from animals because they would
have to die like all other creatures. His main point was the fear of losing immortality.
Things to NOTE
Phowa, States of Bardo
Eating, re-establishment of life that food suggests with the community.
Mythologizing of death in sacred stories. A myth is a story with a meaning.
Stories are told without a meaning of historical fact. Example two journalists write life on the town
one writes novel on people in the town and the other writes about just one person so which story is
more to life of the people in the town.
Want to always keep in mind the relationship between views of death and views of life. How our
view of death is dependent on how we see life and we have a connection with life after death.
READ ELENI – greek myth about graveyards
In many cultures grief is not to be hidden but to be cherished. Grief and death doesn’t come only at
death but during the year at certain seasons.
CONTRASTS IN DEATH PRACTICES
Grimes says what we need are funerary images not cinematic ones Video
Dying in cashie means living forever.
The great cremation ground
Catherine Bell , Rites Of Passage
“raw and the cooked” – levy strauss : how societies take the raw forms of life experiences and cook
them into rituals and ideas. For example taking raw chicken and making it curry or barbeque. Adding
flavours and rituals in order to socialize. Why do Societies do this? Theories: (1)do this in order to try to
get some control over nature. (2) to embrace the natural order of things (not easy to swallow so rituals
make it easier to swallow). Shapes our identities about life and who we and others are. Shapes the way
society is organized and tradition. Will determine what happened at death or after death for example
will determine if a spouse can marry after death.
Cooked structures usually enforce empower and control.
Rites of Passage Pattern
1) Separation: the person is separated from what they were before. Adolescent ritual- separated
from what they used to be from a child.
2) Liminality: place in between. Isn’t what you used to be but not yet what you are going to be.
3) Reincorporation: incorporated into the new group with a new social identity. Ex Big Ally Bride
who becomes her husband’s other half. She loses her own self and no separate sense of self.
We want to look at connections of all three. Funerary traditions are going to move a living person to
being a dead person. Connections between danger and security are also to be noted. Usually rituals
take place at a time when you have to transition or else it could be dangerous. It has to be done
correctly or you will need protection.
Many signs of reincorporation:
New Clothes (robe)
Cleaning or cleansing
In some cultures body identification
Access to new knowledge (sacred texts)
Danger or taboos often associated with events that change structure. Birth, death and sex are a part
of these taboos. In many cultures menstrual blood is seen as power because it can give you life, in
some culture it has to be buried and disposed carefully.
Life long rituals: from birth to adulthood, celibacy to ____. May not happen in Sannnyasi is when a person legally kills themselves. Perform there own funerals (mostly males),
remake ties. All these examples are contrast from what we know as a lack of formal ritual in Canada.
Lack of Ritual Problem
Lack of ritual and community: lack of ritual produces alienation and alienation produces increased
violence. Maybe not with those close to you but as a culture.
If there are no set rituals to acknowledge a status as an adult that means that the young people are
continuously pressured to show that they are an adult. There is a continuous questionability of
being an adult.
Not all rituals are good and positive. Some rituals confine people to various levels or categories of
society. Initiation rights and hazing rights are an example.
*note comments on how societies construct masculine and feminine identities by BELLE. She is
talking about gender expectations. More pressure to conform socially.
Van Gennep, “Territorial Passage and the Classification of Rites”
Pivoting of the sacred : something that is sacred is known to be set apart but pivoting of the sacred
means who are what is sacred can change with the context. A person or place can be sacred in one
time and not another.
Territorial Passage: rights of entering and leaving. Involves countries, houses, times, anything at all.
Sometimes the neutral zone would be as large as a country. It can be large as a lake. Can shrink
down to an exact line. It doesn’t have to be physical.
Doorframes would be decorated in many cultures. Main door is used for specific entrances
compared to side door. Corpses removed through the back door. Those lower on the social scale has
to use certain entrances. Women are usually assigned to a specific door.
New members that are brought in are lead in or carried over the threshold
Connection between territorial rights of passage and transition
Want to know what preparations are made for the preliminal stage. Who is separated from the
process and how does it occur? Who instigates this separation? And what does the ritual separate
the person from exactly?
Liminal/transition stage is a stage where we want to know what happens exactly and how long does
this middle stage last?
During incorporation are there shared items such as food or clothes? In some cultures it is rude to
speak the name of the dead while in others it is an honor. Are there unusual activities that only take place around the death. Any distinctive marks or decorations? Is it a one step or several year type of
Those in luminal stages usually possess less or nothing. Liminal stages will look a lot like other
luminal stages (similar dress codes/style) The behaviour is normally passive (they are there to
receive) Expected to obey there instructors.
Dialectic of the development Cycle: if we look closely enough at our environment it is a situation
that all of us at any given moment are transition from and to states of liminality. Recognition that
if we are always perfectly honest with ourselves we are transferring from a luminal stage or to a
you notice that there is separation . Moving the deceased from the living to how they could be
buried. He was a chelo player in an orchestra to going into the funeral industry. Ritualistic features
with second scene of the orchestra social conventions, introductions, rows and orderly.
Climb over the chain in a scene.
Boy acts in a funeral corporate video as a dead person. And has a bath and gets shaved with caution
and care and gets cut and bleeds ,
Goes again on the job to meet his first body which is an old woman that has been dead for two
weeks. Has to hold her feet and throws up.
Has a very cleansing bath after dealing with the body
Ran into friends before and said he was a great man because he plays the chelo and they think it is
the job he still has
Class distinction with orchestra job compared to his new job that has a dead smelly scent.
Distinction between good death and bad death. The woman that was by herself had a bad death.
Why now understand why before he lived an unremarkable life. Can see his new identity
LECTURE 4 MAY 9th:
- Head hunting appears to be common in south Asia
- By the turn of the 20 century it was done by small ethno groups
- 5 interpretive frame works
o Colonial View: colonial powers from fifteen to eighteen hundreds were not used to the
violence of head hunting and understood very little about it. Accepted face to face
combat which was seen as the manly way. Based on European ignorance, the south east Asians were perceived as blood thirsty savages (people of the forest). European
colonists believed that they were in dire need of civilized influences. Headhunting was a
form of surprise attack and was thought to relieve the person of anxiety. Headhunting
was not limited to any one person (equality and randomness). In contrast, patriarchal
military men saw women and children as an acception. Another difference were the way
in which the decapitative heads appeared in public.
o Religious View: The cosmology amoung south east asian groups had a lot to do with
head hunting. So to display the head and treating it they could recruit the soul of an
enemy into an ally. The spirit of this ally could then become a part of their own spiritual
group. The afterlife was commonly known as the sky world.
o Structural cosmological view: Robert Mckinnonly did a study on regional synthesis. He
acknowledged the prior interpretations mentioned. The first point is that while killing
ones enemies, if you could acquire the heads ______. The ritual ceremonies were key to
transferring the souls. Head hunting wasn’t about violence per se but a strategical
approach. Head hunting had a particular connection to indigenous cosmology. It was
oriented towards an upstream and downstream geography that fit where they lived
along the river. Sky world with the spirits and gods, this world village settlements, then
an underworld with trickster figure. The god and goddesses can move between these
realms. The mythic figures will often cross rivers. Journeys to remote areas that have
beings that look human but are not necessarily. Rituals of head hunting according to
this analysis helps resolve issues. If you can take the head back to one owns village then
you can incorporate the enemy or semi human spirit into their own community and gain
the new mythical powers. Give the head a new name and treat it friendly so the spirit
joins the community. It is the head because it contains the face and is the most overt
assembled part of an individual
o Emotions and the life cycle view: Michelle Rosaldo did research that the ELEN? God
continued to head hunt. Nine months into their fieldwork they realized that 65 of the 70
adult men in their community had taken at least one head. So they were surprised that
the head hunting was still that recent. Michelle tried to find out how a friendly group of
people enganged in this act. She did not find any support for any explainations of head
hunting that we have already mentioned (to recruit enemy souls or to turn enemies into
friends) They did say that it was a part of an emotional feeling and that they did it when
they had a heavy heart or felt pressure. The young men said that head hunting gave
them the right to gain the spirit of the beheaded victim and once they did that they
could wear hornbill earrings. Taking another individuals head quiets their spirit and
allows their maturity to grow. Raises a person respectability in the community though.
o Ideological View: wooden head instead is used as many places now outlaw head
hunting. Northern kankanini – ritual done every ten years with a substitute head done
to reassure the fertility of the rice crop? In west samba headhunting was an act of
revenge between equals. East samba it is a symbol as the history and past. West samba
expresses desires for degree of autonomy. Both take a political aspect of it. Renalto Solado: Grief and Rage
- Man cycle that headhunting plays the biggest role. The person that they always headhunt is not
Subjects positioning means whoever dies makes a difference. If they are close vs not so close to you
MOVIE : DEATH A PERSONAL UNDERSTANDING
FOR THE POST
"If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a
new character…Would you slow down? Or speed up?"
"Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting."
MAY 14 2012
Chinese Beliefs in Premodern China
- Failure to observe these rituals brings on the wrath of your ancestors
- Ancestral wrath would take three primary forms
o Family disharmony
o Economic ruin
o Sickness or illness- not just about the individual but there is something wrong with the
community conditions that has allowed for illness
- Ancestral souls that no one cared about were hungry ghosts
- It could attack not just family but anyone in the community
- A lot of peer pressure to take care of your ancestors or it could threaten other people
- Ex: royal ancestors were understood to be especially powerful: worship or adoration of the
ancestors would be the special responsibility of whoever the emporer was. It could then aid or
harm people a part of the empire.
Nature of the Ancestors (Conceptions of the SOUL)
Yin and yang are different sides of interplay. The idea that any relationship has interplay this has to
do with finding balance within ourselves, relationships, wherever we happen to be with the physical
and natural world. It is not good and evil. There is always a bit of yang in yin and a bit of yin in
yangness. You have to have both or there is imbalance so the goal is to always have both. Yin and yang and soul theory
- yin soul (po) is more material
-Yang soul (hun) more ethereal
- there may be multiple hun and po souls (3 hun and 7 po is ideal?)
- a belief in multiple souls
Main focus is to comfort ancestors rather than to stir up anger or frustration
Massive amounts to detail of how the rituals should be performed but the actual nature is left
undefined. (afterlife for example is uknown)
Orthopraxy vs Orthodoxy
- Performance over belief
- All religions have a combo of what is right practice and right belief but they tend to emphasize
one over the other.
- Emphasis on orthopraxy in Chinese tradition so strongcriteria to what made a person Chinese
- Can’t be sure that a person will act in a particular way just because they believe something
Key points of WATSON
Ritual is about transformation and change and funerary rituals change a person from being among
the living to being apart of the dead. Rituals don’t always have to happen at the time of physical
death. What changes exactly in any given culture is often up for grabs. The meaning of the ritual
alters according to who’s doing the telling. Want to always know whos interpreting it and ritual can
Idealogical domain is what provides the meaning for the funerary actions. This includes relationship
constructions, gender constructions, marriages that take place after death. The relationship
between the living and the dead can change as well so it is important to note how that relationship
should be cared for.
In Chinese tradition there is an emphasis on the right ways on how to perform the ritual not how to
interpret it. No centralized hierarchy to dispense the truth. On the other hand there was a
recognition that a person’s response to death has to do with the relationship they have with the
deceased. Left to interpret it to be fit for your own relationship.
Performative domain: Watson makes the point that its the standardized ritual funerals of a marker
of who is Chinese and who are not. Ethical Chinese (the hun). Nine elements of these standardized
- family gives public notification of the death
- family wears all white : similar to dowas traditions (black equals life because it comes from
- ritual bath the corpse
- make food offerings and transfers to the dead by burning it - ancestral tablet at the home alter ( in Chinese tradition the soul isn’t seen in a picture but a
written name due to the emphasis of the lasting of writing)
-pay money to ritual specialists so they spirit can be expelled properly
- music accompanies the movement of the corpse
- sealed in an airtight coffin (MOST IMPORTANT FEATURE) – IDENTIFY THIS IN YOUR PROJECT FOR
YOUR OWN FUNERAL
- PO soul is most dangerous because it is connected to the soul
Buddhism has the custom of cremation
Communist party took a real stance against superstitious behaviour- a ritual should be as limited
and short as possible and not elaborate.
Corpse and especially the bones have a particular emphasis or importance. Bones represented
powers beyond the dead.
Feng Shui is being popular again for burials. Grave site ritual has to do with the Po soul and the rest
away from the grave site have to do with the Hun soul and more complex with customs.
Customs that are important are based on how close you are to the deceased . the more
personalized the offer is the better it is. About ongoing relationships with the deceased.
Generic ancestral rituals: take place at new year or harvest festivals. Whether its at the time of the
actual death or these festivals, the ones who do it the right way they are the ones labelled as
May 16 th
4 NOBLE TRUTHS
- Based on confusions from people themselves, this is the cause of distress
- The stress in life can be relieved if you clear away all these confusions
- We have only have a very settle sense of things being constant through time and therefore we
think that is secure
- Buddhism says this is wrong and mistaken, in reality everything is always changing
- Existence=change (forever in flux)
What does this mean for a Buddhist to understand death?
- Death is a journey, transition
- The journey is a trip through one owns consciousness Journey Through the Bardo
- Chikhai bardo: the sensation of dying
- Sensation of pressure and you feel like earth sinking into water. Then a clammy coldness that
emerges into heatwater sinking into firefire sinking into air
- The actual death process feels like these steps
- When the fire is blown out it is said that the consousness is free and there is a clear light
- Clear light of reality: leads to the second Bardo
- Chonyid Bardo: when the body has unlimited motion. This is thought to last for 2 weeks
- Sidpa Bardo: place of judgement . Thought to be associated with shamanic initiation. This is
where there is dismemberment (taking apart so it can come back together) and this is why it
lasts for a long period of time depending on one’s karma