ANTB66H3 Study Guide - Final Guide: Mircea Eliade, Vritra, Axis Mundi
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Final Exam Review
Part 1 – Short Answers
• Chaos: the center of the creation of myths, that rules a realm of confusion on the edges of hell. It is a frightening
place, where deities contend for power.
- (Ethnographic Example): In Hinduism, Vritra symbolizes chaos as a serpent that seized all the water to
himself in the mountains, leaving the world in a drought, until Indra killed him. Vritra tried to prevent the
world from being made, he represents chaos that existed before Creation.
• Cosmogony: the creation of the world, theories that explain the origin of the world. It is referred to as the navel
of the universe; places that gave embryonic birth, associated with temples, mountain tops, etc.
- (Ethnographic Example): Golgotha is known as paradise, the place where Adam was created from clay and
the place where he had died, Paradise is at the center of the cosmos.
• Sacred Centers is one of Mircea Eliade’s most emphasized concepts. The sacred center can be defined as center
of the world- axis mundi, it is where all 3 cosmic regions meet; heaven, earth, and hell, and every temple, sacred
city is an extension of the sacred mountain, thus becoming a Center.
- (Ethnographic Example): Regarding Iranian beliefs, the mountain Elburz is placed at the center of the earth
and connects with heaven.
• Obligation (with regards to pilgrimage): an individual’s moral duty or a vow made for their kin or family,
significant others, to go on pilgrimage.
• Voluntariness or Voluntary Pilgrimage: an individual makes a choice for themselves to go on pilgrimage for their
- (Ethnographic Example): Everyone goes through rites of passage as to reinforce social order, but in
pilgrimage there is distinction between obligation and voluntariness. Obligation is stressed across several
religions. According to A.J. Wensinck, in Islam, the pilgrimage to the hajj “is a journey obligatory on every
Muslim, man or woman, who has reached the age of puberty and is of sound of mind, at least once in his or
her life provided that they have the means to do so.” However, the obligation of going on pilgrimage should
be regarded as desirable. Going on pilgrimage is a personal act followed by personal decisions, resulting in
significant personal experiences.
• Archaic societies/Feudal Societies: (Archaic) refers to kin-based societies previously known as primitive
societies. (Feudal Societies) refers to medieval societies; people lived in small communities, (agricultural
societies), there is a liege lord that protects people, and maintains social order. These people pay back for their
protection by growing crops on lord's land or providing him with some service.
- (Ethnographic Example): [Archaic societies] – Ancient Egypt, Babylonia, pre-Christian Europe. [Feudal
societies] – Medieval Europe
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• Romany and myth of Saint Sara: (Definition and Ethnographic Example) The Romanies are non-locals; Romanies
from Central Europe, Sinti from Western European, Spanish Romanies from North Africa, etc. These groups of
people are not integrated with the locals or gadje practices like the regular parish structure of the Church, and
so they’re described as dangerous, dirty, and a threat to public health as they’re believed to carry germs and
- Saint Sara: (Definition and Ethnographic Example) To the Romanies, Saint Sarah embodies powerful male
and female energies that are symbolized with respect to Christ and Mary Magdalene as their daughter. It
was hypothesized that the Romanies have an attraction to Sara because of her dark skin which resembles
their own skin. Sara is believed to have Indian origins to Romany nation through her connection of the Hindu
goddess Durga who is also called Kali, as a consort of Shiva. There are some similarities between the rituals
of Durga in Hinduism and St. Sara in the procession at Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.
• Kenotic Communities (Self-emptying-sacrifice and salvation): ‘Kenosis’ refers to the theological concept that is
concerned with incarnation and the nature of God’s self-sacrifice for the redemption and salvation of humanity
(the kenosis of the son of god). Kenotic communities therefore, centered around a holy place and guided by a
belief in God’s suffering for humanity and His sacrificial death on the cross.
- (Ethnographic Example) While traveling to a holy place, the pilgrims resemble by performing a smaller
pilgrimage for Communion. By limiting their wills and desires through fasting, walking long distances, and
voluntarily working in monasteries, pilgrims follow the example of Christ, who "poured Himself out" to the
world and "made Himself nothing." If a person is viewed as made in the image or "likeness of God," then
meeting up with people can also serve as a means of encountering the Holy, in a broader social context.
• Icons: connect with the kenosis notion, of attaching spiritual significance through physical medium that is
believed to be linked with God.
- (Ethnographic Example) These ‘travelling icons’ are mostly venerated by women, most of them elderly. The
‘Kenosis’ practice occurs as the Icon leaves the Church and is taken out into the secular city. So, while
carrying the Icon, you're taking the religion and sharing it with everyone, and for such a long time the
Church was not allowed to do these things.
• Spiritual Magnetism: a force that brings people out from their everyday habitual lives to journey to a
pilgrimage site. There is a mysterious, powerful force that attracts people to a sacred site.
- (Ethnographic Example) Holy relics call out to pilgrims, as they embody the flesh of the ideals which
the shrine represents. However, the relics never fully manifest the holy ideal, just a trace of them.
The dust from the rock of the Buddhas footprints generates a powerful magnetism that attracts
pilgrims towards it. The active participation of pilgrims helps convert the trace into the ideal it
stands for, holding great spiritual significance.
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