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Lecture 2

RELS 131 Lecture 2: World Religion Chapter 1

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Queen's University
Religious Studies
RELS 131
Forough Jahanbakhsh

Mackenzie Gregson [email protected] Week 1: Chapter 1 W orld Religion Stonehenge -Remains of a structure from 4,000 years ago - Long before it was used as a burial ground for more than 240 people from 3,000-2,500 BCE - The structure was believed to be used for ceremonial purposes - Orientation is towards the sun linking it to the summer solstice - Some believe it represents the living and the dead serving as a permanent dwelling place for ancestors What We Call Religion -Powerful gods, sacred places, a life after death, presence of spirits - Concepts so old and wide spread there is no way of knowing when or where they first emerged -Historically it is believed the world consists of three levels : sky, earth and Three Worlds underworld -The sky has been considered the home of great deities - it is estimated that this derives from powerful storms and apparent movement of our solar system -The movement led to the belief in heavenly bodies, entities of spirits , gods and goddesses - Monotheistic religions referred to the sky as a male deity (god/creator) - Under each earth lived spirits of servants or reptilian monsters as they are associated with dark,hidden places and imagined as evil. Sacred Places -Most sacred places are close to the sky on mountain and hill tops -the closest places to sky deities Animal Spirits - A human tendency has been to attribute spirits to animals as a guardian spirit - This is why traditional hunting animals are treated with respect - People in many cultures have attributed magical properties to objects such as bear claws, eagle feathers as perfection against evil spirits Death and Burial -From ancient times humans take care with the burial of their dead -Some bodies are placed into fetal position for rebirth in another realm -It is a widespread belief that deceased ancestors can play a guiding role in the lives of the living Why Are Humans -Religion seems to grow from human experiences , from fear of death to hope for a Religious ? good after life the uncertainty surrounding natural events -Religion has many emotional dimensions including fear, awe, love and hate -Religion also has intellectual dimensions including curiosity about cause and a sense of order in the universe which suggests creation -Religion is such an ancient aspect of human experience that it has become a part of human nature -One religious pattern includes having a ritual specialist - a priest/shaman Shamanism -The word derives from asian culture but is now generalized in many cultures - In ancient caves pictures of hunting rituals including human figures dancing (a shaman) is common Coping with Unfriendly - Spirits are associated with natural phenomena - weather, animals, mountains - Strategies for dealing with unfriendly spirits are usually based on what works with Spirits humans - Many cultures have believed wild, uninhabited areas to be guarded by resident spirits - Pain and disease were attributed to possession by malevolent spirits or demons Shaman -Shamans are still active in many cultures -Many children of shamans follow in their parents foot steps - Many have near death experiences and or revelations which lead to “psychic” abilities - Most Shamans undertake a vision quest before they can practice as a shaman - Typically a quester will acquire a guiding spirit- sometimes of an animal - The spirit then continues to serve as a guide and protector throughout the shamans life - To communicate with the spirit world, the shaman enters a trance state (often induced by rhythmic chanting or drumming) - The shaman contacts spirits in two ways -1 the shamans soul leaves his body and travels to the re
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