Chapter 16.docx

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10 Apr 2012
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Chapter 16
Religion
Animism
- The belief that humans share the world with a population of extraordinary, mostly invisible
beings
- Members of every society believe that inside the ordinary, visible, tangible body of a human or
other life form, there is a normally invisible, normally intangible being, the soul
- Originated from the experience of dreaming in which a phantom version appearssleep,
fainting, madness and death all lead to the notion of a world of spirits who enter and leave
human bodies at will
- If a belief recurred again and again in virtually all times and places, it could not be a product of
mere fantasy
- Ancient Egyptians had two and so do many West African cultures (souls) one from the mothers
ancestors and one from the fathers
- J`varo of Ecuador have three souls: the first is the mekas and gives life to the body, the second is
the arutam and has to be captured through a drug-induced visionary experience at a scared
waterfall, it confers bravery in battle to the possessor, and the third soul, the musiak, forms
inside the head of a dying warrior and attempts to avenge his death
- The Dahomey say that women have three souls and men have fourboth sexes have an
ancestor soul, a personal soul and a mawn soul (god), the extra man soul guides men to
positions of leadership
- The Fang of Gabon have seven: a brain soul, heart soul, name soul, life force soul, body soul,
shadow soul and ghost soul
- Some find animism too narrow
Animatism and Mana
- Animatism is the belief in diffuse impersonal power that people can control under certain
circumstances
- Mana is the possession of a concentrated animatistic force that gives certain objects, animals,
and people extraordinary powers independent of the power derived from souls and gods
- Most cultures do not distinguish between natural and supernatural realms
- Religion refers to beliefs and actions that are based on the assumption that the world is under
the control of supernatural forces that humans must please
Magic and Religion
- Magic refers to a practice intended to manipulate supernatural forces to achieve a specific
resultmagic is less spiritual and less ethical than religion
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