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RLGA01H3 World Religions I.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Henry Shiu

RLGA01H3 World Religions I Notes on pages 4-25 of the textbook  Stonehenge was used as a burial ground before the structures were erected  It is believed that the actual structure was used for rituals and the layout was used for astronomical observation  During the summer solstice, the rising sun hits just left of the heel stone which would’ve been used for some kind of ceremony with a priest or chief.  The sun will travel south of the heel stone until the winter solstice where it will once again travel back north of the heel stone.  The winter solstice was celebrated as the rebirth of the sun, which Romans would call Saturnalia.  The Christians also chose this day to celebrate the birth of Christ.  Christmas is the combination of the Saturnalia festival and the celebration of Christ.  There are some concepts that are shared between almost all of the past and present civilization: powerful gods, sacred places, afterlife, spirits being able to interact with humans Three Worlds  Humans have always thought that there were 3 parts to the world: sky, Earth, underworld  The sky has been thought to be the realm of deities/ gods  This was probably thought because of the power of storms as well as the obvious movement of the sun, stars, and planets which they would take as individual people controlling  The highest part of the sky, above the clouds and stars, was thought to have been the home of the supreme deity, which is always described as a male.  The underworld was thought have been full of snakes and reptilian monsters which was probably due to them being associated with dark and hidden places and therefore evil. Sacred Places  Around the world there are places where humans tend to feel they are in the presence of supernatural power or energy, and they are treated with special respect  Some of these places are hilltops and mountains, where they are the closest places to the sky-dwelling deities  In the Middle East, worship is conducted in these higher places where they offer food, drink, praise, and prayer  Large rivers and waterfalls are also looked at as sacred. In Japan, they believed every feature of the landscape was animated by its own god or spirit Animal Spirits  Another similar concept was to attribute spirits to animals, either individually or as members of a family with a kind of collective guardian spirit  For this reason, hunters were to kill the animals with respect else its species will be frightened and refuse to be caught  Body parts of strong animals were used as items to help contact the spirits of those animals.  Some people even associate these items as magical and wear them as amulets or hang them at the doorway for protection from evil spirits Death and Burial  The dead were well taken care of in both position and with afterlife goods. Their bodies were positioned in different ways, sometimes facing east where the sun rises, or in the Fetal position hoping for rebirth. The goods buried with them were sometimes rare, costly items, replicated rare items, or items they had owned when they were alive. The living were willing to sacrifice those important objects to help them due to them believing the dead would help guide the living members of the family.  Many cultures believe that souls of the dead would come visit once a year to share a meal with the living  Religion seems to grow out of fear and having some sort of control in life: fear of death, wanting a good afterlife, fear of
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