UNIVERSAL CHARACTERISTICS OF RELIGION
BELIEF IN THE SUPERNATURAL
SUPER-above, NATURAL-of the world
The word Supernatural in and of itself is kind of
two categories of the belief in the SUPERNATURAL:
1. ANIMISM: the belief in supernatural beings. ie GODS
SPIRITS GHOSTS ETC.
2. ANIMATISM: the belief in supernatural forces ie
KARMA MANA LUCK. Often includes TABOOS, rules
forbidding contact with sacred things.
- most societies have belief in both. very few don't
have animism but they all have animatism
EXPLAINS ELEMENTS OF HISTORY, CULTURE, AND ORIGINS
CAN NOT BE PROVEN OR DISPROVEN
● central that the myth cannot be verified. "a long
time ago" "far far away"
● finish usually with "and that's why it is this way
/ we do it this way"
2 kinds: 1. NATURAL SETTINGS - inaccessible places or things
with supernatural qualities (waterfalls)
2. TEMPLES - once people began to migrate and their
sacred places were far away, their beliefs would
falter or diminish, so they built their own man
made sacred places.
CRISIS RITUALS - PERFORMED WHENEVER NEEDED, someone is
CALENDRICAL RITUALS - performed at specific times of
the day/year/month. some based on solar calendar, some
based on lunar calendar
*not all religions have calendrical but all have crisis
Easter - first sunday after first full moon after
FUNCTIONS OF RITUAL:
TO UNITE A COMMUNITY EMOTIONALLY (COMMUNITAS)
TO PORTRAY OR REENACT IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF MYTHS OR
● certain cultures reenact the creation of the world
every year in belief that if they do not, the world
will end. this is a good way to force the
generations that follow you to learn their
TO INFLUENCE THE SPIRITUAL WORLD (SORCERY, CURING
● praying for healing or forgiveness ● this is not universal. some believe the
communication only goes one way. you can say thank
you but you never ask for anything.
TO INSPIRE FEELINGS OF AWE OR DREAD
● good to inspire fear cause fear is a good way to
control people's behaviours.
● we are having all these problems and it is because
we are not adhering closely enough to our religion
MAGIC & RELIGION
magic can generally be defined as THE USE OF RITUALS TO
MANIPULATE THE SUPERNATURAL
- you don't have to ask for things, you can force the
supernatural to do what you want
- different types of magic:
● DIVINATION: foreseeing the future. Tarot cards,
tea leaves, horoscope. The belief in divination has
much more importantce in other cultures than ours:
they would use it before dangerous events: going to
war, hunting etc. If oracles or whatever are
consulted and say we are going