মুখ্য The Religions Book (Big Ideas Simply Explained)
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good book but not perfect
22 May 2019 (14:15)
good for all religions
12 September 2019 (09:25)
Made concise to understand broadly the dynamics of all religion to society and to the world. After reading this, you can devote more reading to religion-specific reference book.
10 January 2020 (10:15)
BADDEST BOOK JUST A WASTE OF INTERNET
27 July 2020 (16:28)
Puis-je avoir ce livre en français svp?
26 October 2020 (19:03)
it says all religions are equal, actually its wrong! no religion can be equal to HINDUISM AND BUDDHISM! Both are technically same. Lord Buddha is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu who, gave up on his kingdom which was there in India, travelled on his horse to Tibet and China, he shared his wisdom and knowledge there. Hinduism is not a religion, its a way of LIFE!
05 November 2020 (18:17)
Life is astonishing to me
08 November 2020 (15:19)
Nope, Harsh u are WRONG no religion can be equal to ISLAM! Allah has made this religion as easy as it could be. And women and men are treated equally and with RESPECT! ( By the way not trying to be rude though!) Please reply if u want me to explain my a little rude opinion
20 November 2020 (21:14)
Actually, could u explain a little bit more! Please! Even though I am Hindu! Because i don't understand what u meant!
Anyway Happy Diwali! ( to all those who celebrate and even those who don`t!)
Anyway Happy Diwali! ( to all those who celebrate and even those who don`t!)
20 November 2020 (21:18)
>all religions are equal
LOL! I would like to see somebody says that to muslims(aka the religion of piss)
LOL! I would like to see somebody says that to muslims(aka the religion of piss)
21 November 2020 (21:19)
ZLibrary Team (Valeria Bookos)
Kind reminder that comment sections are not for religious arguing and disrespect.
Whoever continues the argument will be IP-banned.
Whoever continues the argument will be IP-banned.
04 December 2020 (22:46)
these are main-stream/lame stream books, the secrets of the universe and thus your own spirituality will never be unveiled to the monkey masses of low level consciousness/awareness people..all religious are a result of man trying to piece everything together after the fall..so we are in essence fragmented..keep the peace..and do not fall for divide and conquer strategy...peace and love..meditate or pray or whatever and all will be well...expand into the higher consciousness..
01 January 2021 (07:57)
why do i keep getting 'network failed' on some downloads? anyone else?
01 January 2021 (08:00)
Si,,, is good fuor religions two know hwo to make teh peace,,, just in thyme fuor me, EBER FLAMENO, to bethe next EL PRESIDENTE OF TEH UNTIED STATS 2021 never two late I haver the STRAITE SHOT TO THE TOP just go to vote.org an click my name,,, subscrabe EBER fuor EL PRESIDENTE an then follow teh link in the emaile,,,then correctly fill out captcha,, tehn yuo will be asked to putt yuor phon number,,,thean recovery email,,, it's prety easy, no sweat bozo,,, ok wait than yuo have to select passw
21 January 2021 (00:52)
thank you for interesting book
27 April 2021 (19:10)
THE RELIGIONS BOOK THE RELIGIONS BOOK LONDON, NEW YORK, MELBOURNE, MUNICH, AND DELHI DK LONDON SENIOR EDITORS Gareth Jones, Georgina Palffy PROJECT ART EDITOR Katie Cavanagh US SENIOR EDITOR Rebecca Warren US EDITOR Kate Johnsen JACKET DESIGNER Laura Brim JACKET EDITOR Manisha Majithia JACKET DESIGN DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Sophia MTT MANAGING ART EDITOR Lee Grifﬁths MANAGING EDITOR Stephanie Farrow ILLUSTRATIONS James Graham PRODUCTION EDITOR Lucy Sims PRODUCTION CONTROLLER Mandy Inness original styling by STUDIO8 DESIGN produced for DK by COBALT ID ART EDITORS Darren Bland, Paul Reid EDITORS Louise Abbott, Diana Loxley, Alison Sturgeon, Sarah Tomley, Marek Walisiewicz DK DELHI MANAGING EDITOR Pakshalika Jayaprakash SENIOR EDITOR Monica Saigal EDITOR Tanya Desai MANAGING ART EDITOR Arunesh Talapatra SENIOR ART EDITOR Anis Sayyed First American Edition, 2013 Published in the United States by DK Publishing 375 Hudson Street New York, New York 10014 11 12 13 14 15 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 001 - 192329 - Aug/2013 Copyright © 2013 Dorling Kindersley Limited All rights reserved Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book. ART EDITOR Neha Wahi Published in Great Britain by Dorling Kindersley Limited. ASSISTANT ART EDITORS Astha Singh, Namita Bansal, Gazal Roongta, Ankita Mukherjee A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress. PICTURE RESEARCHER Surya Sankash Sarangi ISBN: 978-1-4654-0843-3 DTP MANAGER/CTS Balwant Singh DTP DESIGNERS Bimlesh Tiwary, Rajesh Singh Printed and bound in Hong Kong by Hung Hing Discover more at www.dk.com CONTRIBUTORS SHULAMIT AMBALU ANDREW STOBART Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu MA studied at Leo Baeck College, London, where; she was ordained in 2004 and now lectures in Pastoral Care and Rabbinic Literature. The Rev. Dr. Andrew Stobart is a Methodist minister. He studied Christian theology to the doctoral level at the London School of Theology and Durham and Aberdeen universities, and has taught and written in the areas of theology, church history, and the Bible, contributing to Dorling Kindersley’s The Illustrated Bible. MICHAEL COOGAN One of the leading biblical scholars in the United States, Michael Coogan is Director of Publications for the Harvard Semitic Museum and Lecturer on the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at Harvard Divinity School. Among his many works are The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction and The Illustrated Guide to World Religions. EVE LEVAVI FEINSTEIN Dr. Eve Levavi Feinstein is a writer, editor, and tutor in Palo Alto, California. She holds a PhD on the Hebrew Bible from Harvard University, and is the author of Sexual Pollution in the Hebrew Bible as well as articles for Jewish Ideas Daily and other publications. PAUL FREEDMAN Rabbi Paul Freedman studied Physics at Bristol University and Education at Cambridge. Following a career in teaching, he gained rabbinic ordination and an MA in Hebrew and Jewish studies at Leo Baeck College, London. NEIL PHILIP Neil Philip is the author of numerous books on mythology and folklore, including the Dorling Kindersley Companion Guide to Mythology (with Philip Wilkinson), The Great Mystery: Myths of Native America, and the Penguin Book of English Folktales. Dr. Philip studied at the universities of Oxford and London, and is currently an independent writer and scholar. MEL THOMPSON Dr. Mel Thompson BD, M.Phil, PhD, AKC was formerly a teacher, lecturer, and examiner in Religious Studies, and now writes on philosophy, religion, and ethics. Author of more than 30 books, including Understand Eastern Philosophy, he blogs on issues of religious belief, and runs the “Philosophy and Ethics” website at www.philosophyandethics.com. CHARLES TIESZEN Dr. Charles Tieszen completed his doctorate at the University of Birmingham, where he focused on medieval encounters between Muslims and Christians. He is currently a researcher and adjunct professor of Islamic studies, specializing in topics related to Islam, Christian–Muslim relations, and religious freedom. MARCUS WEEKS A writer and musician, Marcus Weeks studied philosophy and worked as a teacher before embarking on a career as an author. He has contributed to many books on the arts, popular sciences, and ideas, including the Dorling Kindersley title The Philosophy Book. CONTENTS 10 INTRODUCTION 36 Our ancestors will guide us The spirits of the dead live on FROM PREHISTORY 38 We should be good Living in harmony 20 Unseen forces are at work Making sense of the world 39 Everything is connected A lifelong bond with the gods 24 Even a rock has a spirit Animism in early societies 40 The gods desire blood Sacriﬁce and blood offerings 26 Special people can visit other worlds The power of the shaman 46 PRIMAL BELIEFS 32 Why are we here? Created for a purpose 33 Why do we die? The origin of death 34 Eternity is now The Dreaming 48 50 51 60 The triumph of good over evil depends on humankind The battle between good and evil We can build a sacred space Symbolism made real 66 Accept the way of the universe Aligning the self with the dao We are in rhythm with the universe Man and the cosmos 68 The Five Great Vows Self-denial leads to spiritual liberation 72 Virtue is not sent from heaven Wisdom lies with the superior man 78 A divine child is born The assimilation of myth 79 The oracles reveal the will of the gods Divining the future 80 The gods are just like us Beliefs that mirror society 82 Ritual links us to our past Living the Way of the Gods 86 The gods will die The end of the world as we know it We exist to serve the gods The burden of observance Our rituals sustain the world Renewing life through ritual ANCIENT AND CLASSICAL BELIEFS FROM 3000 BCE 56 58 There is a hierarchy of gods and men Beliefs for new societies The good live forever in the kingdom of Osiris Preparing for the afterlife HINDUISM BUDDHISM 92 130 Finding the Middle Way FROM 1700 BCE Through sacriﬁce we maintain the order of the universe A rational world 100 The divine has a female aspect The power of the great goddess 101 Sit up close to your guru Higher levels of teaching 102 Brahman is my self within the heart The ultimate reality 106 We learn, we live, we withdraw, we detach The four stages of life 110 It may be your duty to kill Selﬂess action FROM 6TH CENTURY BCE The enlightenment of Buddha 136 There can be an end to suffering Escape from the eternal cycle 144 Test Buddha’s words as one would the quality of gold The personal quest for truth 145 Religious discipline is necessary The purpose of monastic vows 146 Renounce killing and good will follow Let kindness and compassion rule 148 We cannot say what a 112 The practice of yoga leads person is The self as constantly changing to spiritual liberation Physical and mental discipline 152 Enlightenment has 114 We speak to the gods through daily rituals Devotion through puja 116 The world is an illusion Seeing with pure consciousness 122 So many faiths, so many paths God-consciousness 124 Nonviolence is the weapon of the strong Hinduism in the political age many faces Buddhas and bodhisattvas 158 Act out your beliefs The performance of ritual and repetition 160 Discover your Buddha nature Zen insights that go beyond words JUDAISM FROM 2000 BCE 168 I will take you as my people, and I will be your God God’s covenant with Israel 176 Beside me there is no other God From monolatry to monotheism 178 The Messiah will redeem Israel The promise of a new age 182 Religious law can be applied to daily life Writing the Oral Law 184 God is incorporeal, indivisible, and unique Deﬁning the indeﬁnable CHRISTIANITY FROM 1ST CENTURY CE 204 Jesus is the beginning of the end Jesus’s message to the world 208 God has sent us his Son Jesus’s divine identity 209 The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church Dying for the message 210 The body may die but the soul will live on Immortality in Christianity 186 God and humankind are in cosmic exile Mysticism and the kabbalah 188 The holy spark dwells in everyone Man as a manifestation of God 189 Judaism is a religion, not a nationality Faith and the state 190 Draw from the past, live in the present, work for the future Progressive Judaism 196 If you will it, it is no dream The origins of modern political Zionism 198 Where was God during the Holocaust? A challenge to the covenant 199 Women can be rabbis Gender and the covenant 212 God is three and God is one A divine trinity 220 God’s grace never fails Augustine and free will 222 In the world, but not of the world Serving God on behalf of others 224 There is no salvation outside the Church Entering into the faith 228 This is my body, this is my blood The mystery of the Eucharist 230 God’s word needs no go-betweens The Protestant Reformation 238 God is hidden in the heart Mystical experience in Christianity 239 The body needs saving as well as the soul Social holiness and evangelicalism 240 Scientiﬁc advances do not disprove the Bible The challenge of modernity 246 We can inﬂuence God Why prayer works ISLAM FROM 610 CE 252 Muhammad is God’s ﬁnal messenger The Prophet and the origins of Islam 254 The Qur’an was sent down from heaven God reveals his word and his will 262 The Five Pillars of Islam The central professions of faith 270 The imam is God’s chosen leader The emergence of Shi‘a Islam MODERN RELIGIONS 317 We have forgotten our 296 We must live as 318 Find a sinless world FROM 15TH CENTURY saint-soldiers The Sikh code of conduct 272 God guides us with shari‘a The pathway to harmonious living 276 We can think about God, but we cannot comprehend him Theological speculation in Islam 278 Jihad is our religious duty Striving in the way of God 279 The world is one stage of the journey to God The ultimate reward for the righteous 280 God is unequaled The unity of divinity is necessary 282 Arab, water pot, and angels are all ourselves Suﬁsm and the mystic tradition 284 The latter days have brought forth a new prophet The origins of Ahmadiyya 286 Islam must shed the inﬂuence of the West The rise of Islamic revivalism 291 Islam can be a modern religion The compatibility of faith 302 All may enter our gateway to God Class systems and faith 304 Messages to and from home The African roots of Santeria 306 Ask yourself: “What would Jesus do?” Following the example of Christ 308 We shall know him through his messengers The revelation of Baha’i 310 Brush away the dust of sin Tenrikyo and the Joyous Life 311 These gifts must be true nature Clearing the mind with Scientology through marriage Purging sin in the Uniﬁcation Church 319 Spirits rest between lives in Summerland Wicca and the Otherworld 320 Negative thoughts are just raindrops in an ocean of bliss Finding inner peace through meditation 321 What’s true for me is the truth A faith open to all beliefs 322 Chanting Hare Krishna cleanses the heart Devotion to the Sweet Lord 323 Through qigong we access cosmic energy Life-energy cultivation in Falun Dafa meant for us Cargo cults of the Paciﬁc islands 312 The end of the world is nigh Awaiting the Day of Judgment 314 The lion of Judah has arisen Ras Tafari is our savior 316 All religions are equal Cao Ðài aims to unify all faiths 324 DIRECTORY 340 GLOSSARY 344 INDEX 351 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS INTRODU CTION 12 INTRODUCTION T here is no simple deﬁnition of the concept of religion that fully articulates all its dimensions. Encompassing spiritual, personal, and social elements, this phenomenon is however, ubiquitous, appearing in every culture from prehistory to the modern day—as evidenced in the cave paintings and elaborate burial customs of our distant ancestors and the continuing quest for a spiritual goal to life. For Palaeolithic people—and indeed for much of human history —religion provided a way of understanding and inﬂuencing powerful natural phenomena. Weather and the seasons, creation, life, death and the afterlife, and the structure of the cosmos were all subject to religious explanations that invoked controlling gods, or a realm outside the visible inhabited by deities and mythical creatures. Religion provided a means to communicate with these gods, through ritual and prayer, and these practices—when shared by members of a community—helped to cement social groups, enforce hierarchies, and provide a deep sense of collective identity. As societies became more complex, their belief systems grew with them and religion was increasingly deployed as a political tool. Military conquests were often followed by the assimilation of the pantheon of the defeated people by the victors; and kingdoms and empires were often supported by their deities and priestly classes. A personal god Religion met many of the needs of early people and provided templates by which they could organize their lives—through rites, rituals, and taboos. It also gave them a means by which they could visualize their place in the cosmos. Could religion therefore be explained as a purely social artifact? Many would argue that it is much more. Over the centuries, people have deﬁed opposition to their faiths, suffering persecution or death to defend their right to worship their God or gods. And even today, when the world is arguably more materialistic than ever before, more than threequarters of its population consider themselves to hold some form of religious belief. Religion would seem to be a necessary part of human existence, as important to life as the ability to use language. Whether it is a matter of intense personal experience—an inner awareness of the divine—or a way of ﬁnding signiﬁcance and meaning, and providing a starting point for all of life’s endeavors, it appears to be fundamental at a personal as well as a social level. Beginnings We know about the religions of the earliest societies from the relics they left behind and from the stories of later civilizations. In addition, isolated tribes in remote places, such as the Amazonian forest in South America, the Indonesian islands, and parts of Africa, still practice religions that are thought to have remained largely unchanged for millennia. These primal religions often feature a belief in a unity between nature and the spirit, linking people inextricably with the environment. All men have need of the gods. Homer INTRODUCTION 13 As the early religions evolved, their ceremonies and cosmologies became increasingly sophisticated. Primal religions of the nomadic and seminomadic peoples of prehistory gave way to the religions of the ancient and, in turn, of the classical civilizations. Their beliefs are now often dismissed as mythology, but many elements of these ancient narrative traditions persist in today’s faiths. Religions continued to adapt, old beliefs were absorbed into the religions of the society that succeeded them, and new faiths emerged with different observances and rituals. Ancient to modern It is hard to pinpoint the time when many religions began, not least because their roots lie in prehistory and the sources that describe their origins may date from a much later time. However, it is thought that the oldest surviving religion today is Hinduism, which has its roots in the folk religions of the Indian subcontinent, brought together in the writing of the Vedas as early as the 13th century BCE. From this Vedic tradition came not only the pluralistic religion we now know as Hinduism, but also Jainism, Buddhism, and, later, Sikhism, which emerged in the 15th century. Other belief systems were developing in the east. From the 17th century BCE, the Chinese dynasties established their nation states and empires. There emerged traditional folk religions and ancestor worship that were later incorporated into the more philosophical belief systems of Daoism and Confucianism. In the eastern Mediterranean, ancient Egyptian and Babylonian religions were still being practiced when the emerging city-states of Greece and Rome developed their own mythologies and pantheons of gods. Further east, Zoroastrianism—the ﬁrst major known monotheistic religion—had already been established in Persia, and Judaism had emerged as the ﬁrst of the Abrahamic religions, followed by Christianity and Islam. Many religions recognized the particular signiﬁcance of one or more individuals as founders of the faith: they may have been embodiments of god, such as Jesus or Krishna, or recipients of special divine revelation, such as Moses and Muhammad. The religions of the modern world continued to evolve with advances in society, sometimes reluctantly, and often by dividing into branches. Some apparently new religions began to appear, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries, but these invariably bore the traces of the faiths that had come before. Elements of religion Human history has seen the rise and fall of countless religions, each with its own distinct beliefs, rituals, and mythology. Although some are similar and considered to be branches of a larger tradition, there are many contrasting and contradictory belief systems. Some religions, for example, have a number of gods, while others, especially the more modern major faiths, are monotheistic; There is no use disguising the fact, our religious needs are the deepest. There is no peace until they are satisﬁed and contented. Isaac Hecker, Roman Catholic priest 14 INTRODUCTION and there are major differences of opinion between religions on such matters as the afterlife. We can, however, identify certain elements common to almost all religions in order to examine the similarities and differences between them. These aspects—the ways in which the beliefs and practices of a religion are manifested—are what the British writer and philosopher of religion Ninian Smart called the “dimensions of religion.” Perhaps the most obvious elements we can use to identify and compare religions are the observances of a faith. These includes such activities as prayer, pilgrimage, meditation, feasting and fasting, dress, and of course ceremonies and rituals. Also evident are the physical aspects of a religion: the artifacts, relics, places of worship, and holy places. Less apparent is the subjective element of the religion—its mystical and emotional aspects, and how a believer experiences the religion in achieving ecstasy, enlightenment, or inner peace, for example, or establishing a personal relationship with the divine. Another aspect of most religions is the mythology, or narrative, that accompanies it. This can be a simple oral tradition of stories, or a more sophisticated set of scriptures, but often includes a creation story and a history of the gods, saints, or prophets, with parables that illustrate and reinforce the beliefs of the religion. Every existing faith has a collection of sacred texts that articulates its central ideals and narrates the history of the tradition. These texts, which in many cases are considered to be have been passed directly from the deity, are used in worship and education. In many religions, alongside this narrative, is a more sophisticated and systematic element, which explains the philosophy and doctrine of the religion, and lays out its distinctive theology. Some of these What religion a man shall have is a historical accident, quite as much as what language he shall speak. George Santayana, Spanish philosopher ancillary texts have themselves acquired canonical status. There is also often an ethical element, with rules of conduct and taboos, and a social element that deﬁnes the institutions of the religion and of the society it is associated with. Such rules are typically concise— the Ten Commandments of Judaism and Christianity, or the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism, for example. Religion and morality The idea of good and evil is also fundamental to many faiths, and religion often has a function of offering moral guidance to society. The major religions differ in their deﬁnitions of what constitutes a good life—and the line between moral philosophy and religion is far from clear in belief systems such as Confucianism and Buddhism— but certain basic moral codes have emerged that are almost universal. Religious taboos, commandments and so on not only ensure that the will of the God or gods is obeyed, but also form a framework for society and its laws to enable people to live peaceably together. The spiritual leadership that in many religions was given by prophets with divine guidance was passed on to a priesthood. This became an INTRODUCTION 15 essential part of many communities, and in some religions has wielded considerable political power. Death and the afterlife Most religions address the central human concern of death with the promise of some kind of continued existence, or afterlife. In eastern traditions, such as Hinduism, the soul is believed to be reincarnated after death in a new physical form, while other faiths hold that the soul is judged after death and resides in a nonphysical heaven or hell. The goal of achieving freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth, or achieving immortality encourages believers to follow the rules of their faith. Conﬂict and history Just as religions have created cohesion within societies, they have often been the source—or the banner—of conﬂict between them. Although all the major traditions hold peace as an essential virtue, they may also make provision for the use of force in certain circumstances, for example, to defend their faith or to extend their reach. Religion has provided an excuse for hostility between powers throughout history. While tolerance is also considered a virtue, heretics and inﬁdels have often been persecuted for their beliefs, and religion has been the pretext for attempted genocides such as the Holocaust. Challenges to faith All religions, arts, and sciences are branches of the same tree. Albert Einstein Faced with the negative aspects of religious belief and equipped with the tools of humanist philosophy and science, a number of thinkers have questioned the very validity of religion. There were, they argued, logical and consistent cosmologies based on reason rather than faith— in effect, religions had become irrelevant in the modern world. New philosophies, such as Marxism-Leninism considered religions to be a negative force on human development, and as a result there arose communist states that were explicitly atheistic and antireligious. New directions Responding to societal change and scientiﬁc advances, some of the older religions have adapted or divided into several branches. Others have steadfastly rejected what they see as a heretical progress in an increasingly rational, materialistic, and godless world; fundamentalist movements in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have gained many followers who reject the liberal values of the modern world. At the same time, many people recognize a lack of spirituality in modern society, and have turned to charismatic denominations of the major religions, or to the many new religious movements that have appeared in the past 200 years. Others, inﬂuenced by the New Age movement of the late 20th century, have rediscovered ancient beliefs, or sought the exoticism of traditional religions with no connection to the modern world. Nevertheless, the major religions of the world continue to grow and even today very few countries in the world can be seen as truly secular societies. PRIMAL BELIEFS FROM PREHISTORY 18 INTRODUCTION Primal religions—so-called because they came ﬁrst—were practiced by people throughout the world and are key to the development of all modern religions. Some are still active today. By building miniature versions of the cosmos, the Pawnee created sacred places. Through their bond with the gods, the Warao believe that everything is connected. Rituals to renew life and sustain the world were a central part of the religion of the Hupa. The Aztecs and Mayans offered human sacriﬁces to satisfy their gods’ desire for blood. O ur early hunter-gatherer ancestors considered the natural world to have a supernatural quality. For some, this was expressed in a belief that animals, plants, objects, and forces of nature possess a spirit, in the same way that people do. In this animistic view of the world, humans are seen as a part of nature, not separate from it, and to live in harmony with it, must show respect to the spirits. Many early peoples sought to explain the world in terms of deities associated with particular natural The Quechua and Aymara believed the spirits of their dead ancestors lived on to guide them. For the Dogon people, every thing contains the universe in microcosm. phenomena. The rising of the sun each day, for example, might be seen as a release from the darkness of the night, controlled by a sun god; similarly, natural cycles such as the phases of the moon and the seasons—vital to these people’s way of life—were assigned their own deities. As well as creating a cosmology to account for the workings of the universe, most cultures also incorporated some form of creation story into their belief system. Often this was in the form of an analogy with human reproduction, in which a mother goddess gave birth to the world, which was in some cases fathered by another god. Sometimes these parental deities were personiﬁed as animals, or natural feature, such as rivers or the sea, or in the form of mother earth and father sky. Rites and rituals The belief systems of most primal religions incorporated some form of afterlife, one that was typically related to the existence of a realm separate from the physical world —a place of gods and mythical creatures—to which the spirits PRIMAL BELIEFS 19 The Sami people believed their shamans had the power to visit other worlds. According to the Baiga, the gods created us to act as guardians of the earth. For the Ainu, everything, even a rock, has a spirit. The Maori and Polynesian people explain the origin of death. The Chewong believe that our purpose is to lead good lives and live in harmony. The natural and supernatural worlds are intertwined in the religion of the San bushmen. of the dead would travel. In some religions, it was thought possible to communicate with this other realm and contact the ancestral spirits for guidance. A particular class of holy person—the shaman or medicine man—was able to journey there and derive mystical healing powers from contact with, and sometimes possession by, the spirits. Early peoples also marked life’s rites of passage; these, along with the changing of the seasons, developed into rituals associated with the spirits and the deities. The idea of pleasing the gods to In the Dreaming, Aboriginal Australians see the creation as ever-present. ensure good fortune in hunting or farming inspired rituals of worship, and, in some cultures, sacriﬁces to offer life to the gods in return for the life they had given to humans. Symbolism also played a key role in the religious practices of early cultures. Masks, charms, idols, and amulets were used in ceremonies, and spirits were believed to occupy them. Certain areas were thought to have religious signiﬁcance, and some communities set aside holy places and sacred burial grounds, while others made buildings or villages In the ritual Work of the Gods, the Tikopians fulﬁlled their obligation to serve the gods. in the image of the cosmos. A few of these primal religions survive to the present day among dwindling numbers of tribespeople around the world untouched by Western civilization. Some attempts have been made to revive them by indigenous peoples who are trying to reestablish lost cultures. Although their belief systems may seem at ﬁrst glance to be primitive to modern eyes, traces of them can still be seen in the major religions that have evolved in the modern world, or in the New Age search for spirituality. ■ 20 UNSEEN FORCES ARE AT WORK MAKING SENSE OF THE WORLD IN CONTEXT KEY BELIEVERS /Xam San WHEN AND WHERE From prehistory, sub-Saharan Africa AFTER 44,000 BCE Tools almost identical to those used by modern San are abandoned in a cave in KwaZulu–Natal. 19th century German linguist Wilhelm Bleek sets down many of the ancestral stories of the San. 20th century Governmentsponsored programs are set up to encourage San peoples to switch from huntergathering to settled farming. 1994 San leader and healer Dawid Kruiper takes the growing campaign for San rights and land claims to the United Nations. T he question of why human beings ﬁrst develop the idea of a world beyond the visible one in which we live is complex. Motivated by an urge to make sense of the world around them—particularly the dangers and misfortunes they faced, and how the necessities of life were provided—people in early societies sought explanations in a realm that was invisible to them, but had an inﬂuence over their lives. The idea of a spirit world is also associated with notions of sleep and death, and the interface between these and consciousness, which can be likened to the natural phenomenon of night and day. PRIMAL BELIEFS 21 See also: Animism in early societies 24–25 ■ The power of the shaman 26–31 ■ Living the Way of the Gods 82–85 ■ A rational world 92–99 In this twilight zone between sleep and waking, life and death, light and dark, lie the dreams, hallucinations, and states of altered consciousness that suggest that the visible, tangible world is not the only one, and that another, supernatural world also exists— and has a connection with our own. It is easy to imagine how the inhabitants of this other world were thought to inﬂuence not only our own minds and actions, but also to inhabit the bodies of animals and even inanimate objects, and to cause the natural phenomena affecting our lives. A meeting of worlds The ﬁgures of humans, animals, and human-animal hybrids in Palaeolithic cave paintings are often decorated with patterns that are now thought to represent the involuntary back-of-the-retina patterns known as entoptic phenomena—visual effects such as dots, grids, zigzags, and wavy lines, which appear between waking and sleep, or between vision and hallucination. The paintings ■ Created for a purpose 32 themselves represent a permeable veil between the physical and the spirit worlds. It is impossible to ask the Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers of Europe about the beliefs and rituals that lie behind their cave paintings, but in the 19th century it was still possible to record the cultural and religious beliefs of the /Xam of southern Africa, a now-extinct clan of San hunter-gatherers who made cave paintings reminiscent of those of the Stone Age, for similar reasons. The spiritual life of the /Xam San offered a living parallel to the religious ideas archaeologists have attributed to early modern humans. Even the clicks of the /Xam San language (represented ❯❯ Since prehistoric times, the San have renewed their rock paintings, transmitting the stories and ideas they depict down the generations. Natural phenomena such as the weather and the seasons are out of our control. There is danger around us that causes sickness and death. Unseen forces are at work. The Storm Bird blows his wind into the chests of man and beast, and without this wind we would not be able to breathe. African fable Spirits seem to appear to us in the sky, the earth, the animals, or the ﬁre. Our food supply, the plants and animals, is sometimes plentiful, sometimes scarce. 22 MAKING SENSE OF THE WORLD by marks such as /, indicating a dental click rather like a tut of disapproval), are thought to survive from humankind’s earliest speech. shape, transform, and create. The /Xam believed that these beings were the ﬁrst to inhabit the earth. Elemental forces Levels of the cosmos The mythology of all San peoples is modeled closely on their local environment and on the idea that there are both natural and supernatural realms that are deeply intertwined. In their three-tiered world, spirit realms lie both above and below the middle, or natural, world in which humans live; each is accessible to the other, and whatever happens in one directly affects what happens in the other. Humans with special powers could visit the upper or sky realm, and travel underwater and underground in the lower spirit realm. For the /Xam San, the world above was inhabited by the creator and trickster deity /Kaggen (also known as Mantis) and his family. They shared this world with an abundance of game animals, and with the spirits of the dead, including the spirits of the Early Race—a community of hybrid animal-humans, with powers to In /Xam myth, elements of the natural environment were given supernatural signiﬁcance or personiﬁed as spirits. Supernatural ﬁgures could take the form of the animals they shared their lands with, such as the eland (a type of antelope), the meerkat, and the praying mantis. The creator /Kaggen, who dreamed the world into being, usually took human form but could transform into almost anything, most often a praying mantis or an eland. While he was the protector of game animals, he would sometimes transform himself into one in order to be killed and feed the people. The people of the Early Race were regarded with awe and respect, but not worshipped. Not even /Kaggen the Mantis was prayed to, although a San shaman such as //Kabbo (see box, facing page) might hope to intercede with /Kaggen to ensure a successful hunt. Because /Kaggen is a My mother told me that the girl [of the Early Race] put her hands in the wood ash and threw it into the sky, to become the Milky Way. African fable trickster, many of the myths surrounding him and his family are comic rather than reverent; even the key myth of the creation of the ﬁrst eland includes a scene in which an ineffectual /Kaggen is beaten up by a family of meerkats. Important elemental forces and celestial bodies also became characters in stories that explained how they came to be, and why they behave in the way that they do. The children of the Early Race, for example, threw the sleeping sun up into the sky, so that the light that shone from his armpit would illuminate the world. It was a girl from the Early Race who made the stars by throwing the ashes of a ﬁre into the sky of the Milky Way. Rain was not thought of as a natural phenomenon, but as a large animal. A ﬁerce thunderstorm was a rain-bull, and a gentle rain was a rain-cow. Special people who had the power to summon the rain, such as //Kabbo, would make a supernatural journey to a full Natural phenomena such as eclipses, possibly never before seen by any living member of the San, might be explained through tales passed down in their rich oral tradition. PRIMAL BELIEFS 23 A long time ago, the baboons were little men just like us, but more mischievous and quarrelsome. African fable waterhole to summon a rain-cow, and then bring it back through the sky to the place in need of water. There he would kill the rain-cow so that its blood and milk fell down as rain on the earth. Rain was a vital necessity in the arid desert landscape in which the /Xam lived. It was essential to replenish the widely scattered waterholes that they moved between, and which were linked to each other by a complex web of story and myth, known as kukummi and similar to the Dreamings of the Australian Aborigines (pp.34–35). Entering other worlds Many aspects of the natural world described in /Xam stories feature the interaction of the supernatural beings with humans—how they have an interest in this world, and how humans can, in turn, act to inﬂuence and please them. All San peoples believe that the spirit realms are accessible, in altered states of consciousness, to those who have a supernatural potency, known as !gi, imparted to humans and animals by their creator. The trance dance is the key religious ritual in which the San can use this power to access the spirit world, via trance, and launch their essential selves up through the top of their heads and into the spirit world. There, they may plead for the lives of the sick, and return with healing power so that they can drive out the arrows of disease ﬁred by the dead from the other world. The /Xam offered prayers to the moon and stars to give them access to spiritual power, as well as good luck in hunting. When /Xam people entered a state of altered consciousness, it was believed that they were temporarily dead, and that their hearts had become stars. Humans and the stars were so intimately linked that when a person actually died, “the star feels that our heart falls over [and] the star falls down on account of it. For the stars know the time at which we die.” After death, the links in /Xam belief between the worlds of human experience, of spirits, and of natural phenomena become even more apparent. The hair of a deceased person was believed to transform into clouds, which then shelter Kabbo’s dream-life Much of the information we have about /Xam San beliefs comes from a man named //Kabbo, who in the 1870s was one of several /Xam San released from prison into the custody of Dr. Wilhelm Bleek, who wished to learn their language and study their culture. They had been jailed for crimes such as stealing a sheep to feed their starving families. //Kabbo spoke of his waterholes, between which his family would move in the arid desert of the central Cape Colony, camping Ascribing human traits to animals —for example, the inquisitiveness of the meerkat—is a mainstay of early myth, around which stories are woven about how the world came to be as it is. humans from the heat of the sun. Death was described in elemental terms: the wind that exists inside every human being was said to blow away their footprints when they died, making the transition between the world of the living and the world of the dead a decisive one. If the footprints remained, “it would seem as if we still lived.” ■ some way from the water so as not to frighten off the animals that came to drink the brackish water. Wilhelm Bleek said of him: “This gentle old soul appeared lost in a dream life of his own,” and in fact the name //Kabbo means “dream.” The god /Kaggen was said to have dreamed the world into being, and //Kabbo had a special relationship with him; as a /Kaggen-ka !kwi, a “mantis’s man” he was able to enter a dream state to exercise powers such as rainmaking, healing, and hunting magic. 24 EVEN A ROCK HAS A SPIRIT ANIMISM IN EARLY SOCIETIES IN CONTEXT KEY BELIEVERS Ainu WHERE Hokkaido, Japan BEFORE 10,000–300 BCE Neolithic Jomon people—remote ancestors of the Ainu— live in Hokkaido, probably worshipping clan deities. 600–1000 CE Okhotsk huntergatherer people occupy coastal Hokkaido. Some of their ritual practices, such as bear worship, are seen later in the Ainu. Everything in the world has a spirit. Even human beings are simply containers for a spirit. Spirits are immortal. The most important spirits are the gods. 700–1200 Okhotsk culture blends with that of the Satsumon to create the Ainu. AFTER 1899–1997 The Ainu are forced to assimilate into Japanese culture; many Ainu religious practices are banned. 2008 The Ainu are ofﬁcially recognized as an indigenous people with a distinct culture. Ceremonies, songs, and offerings give the gods status in the other world. If we treat the gods well, they will provide us with food. T he word Ainu means “human being,” and refers to the indigenous population of Japan, now living mainly on the island of Hokkaido. The Ainu have close cultural ties with other inhabitants of the north Paciﬁc Rim—Siberian peoples (such as the Chukchi, Koryak, and Yupik) and the Inuit of Canada and Alaska. These peoples share, in particular, an animistic view of the world, in which every being and object that exists has a spirit that can act, speak, and walk by itself. They also believe that the spiritual and physical worlds are separated by only a thin, permeable membrane. The Ainu consider the body to be simply a container for the spirit; after death, the spirit passes out of the mouth and nostrils, and arrives in the next world to be reborn as a kamuy, a word meaning both god and spirit. When the kamuy dies in the next world, it is reborn in this one. It will always reincarnate in the same species and gender—a man will always be a man, for example. Kamuy can be animals, plants, minerals, geographical or natural phenomena, or even tools and utensils produced by humans. Because all spirits, even those of PRIMAL BELIEFS 25 See also: Living the Way of the Gods 82–85 ■ Devotion through puja 114–15 An Ainu chief performs a ceremony to honor the spirit of a slaughtered bear as it returns to the divine world, in a photograph taken in 1946. inanimate objects, are considered immortal, after death a person’s house may be burned to ensure that his or her kamuy will have a home in the other world; their tools and implements may also be broken (to release the spirits inside) and buried with the body, for use again in the next world. The power of words Some kamuy have roles in both the supernatural and human worlds. Kotan-kor-kamuy, for example, is the creator god, but he is also the god of the village, and may manifest himself on earth as a long-eared owl. Humans and kamuy have a close relationship—so close that kamuy have been described as “gods you can argue with.” The kamuy can be prayed to, using special carved prayer sticks, but the ritual relationship is based more on mutual respect and correct behavior than on worship. If someone has angered a god by I also continue forever to hover behind the humans and always watch over the land of the humans. Song of the Owl God carelessness or disrespect, they must conduct a ceremony to express their remorse. If, however, a person has treated a god with due respect and performed all the appropriate rituals, yet still receives bad luck, the Ainu can ask the ﬁre goddess, Fuchi, to compel that god to apologize and make recompense. In Ainu belief, even words are spirits, and the use of words is one of the gifts that humans have that gods and things do not. Words can be used to make bargains with both gods and things, and also to give pleasure to the gods. For example, the Ainu epic songs known as kamuy yukar, or “songs of the gods,” are sung in the ﬁrst person, from the perspective of kamuy rather than humans, and it is said the kamuy take delight in watching humans dance and sing the songs of the gods. ■ Spirit-sending rituals god Kimun-kamuy—was entertained with food, wine, dance, and song. Arrows were ﬁred into the air to aid Kimunkamuy’s return to the divine world, where he would invite other gods to share the gifts of sake, salmon, and sacred carved willow sticks with which he had been honored on earth. An iwakte spirit-sending ceremony was also held for broken tools and objects that had come to the end of their use. Hunting rituals were central to traditional Ainu life and were used to appease the gods who visited earth disguised as animals. In return for offerings and rituals, the gods left behind the gift of their animal bodies. After killing and eating a bear, the Ainu would perform the iyomante spirit-sending ritual. The spirit of the bear— revered as the mountain bear SPECIAL PEOPLE CAN VISIT OTHER WORLDS THE POWER OF THE SHAMAN 28 THE POWER OF THE SHAMAN IN CONTEXT KEY BELIEVERS Sami WHEN AND WHERE From prehistory, Sápmi (formerly Lapland) AFTER 10,000 BCE Ancestors of the Sami make rock carvings in the European Arctic. c.98 CE The Roman historian Tacitus makes the ﬁrst record of the Sami (as the Fenni). 13th century CE Catholic missionaries introduce Christianity, but traditional shamanism persists. c.1720 CE Thomas von Westen, Apostle of the Sami, forcefully converts Sami to Christianity, destroying shamanic drums and sacred sites. 21st century Most Sami follow the Christian faith, but recent times have seen a revival of Sami shamanism. S hamanism describes one of humankind’s oldest and most widespread religious practices, based on a belief in spirits who can be inﬂuenced by shamans. These shamans, men or women, are believed to be special people who possess great power and knowledge. After entering an altered state of consciousness, or trance, they are able to travel to other worlds and interact with the spirits who live there. Bargaining with the powerful spirits who control these other worlds is often a key aspect of the shaman’s activities. For example, the shaman often requests the release of game animals (essential in some traditional societies) from the spirit world into this world, to gain insight into the future, or for remedies to cure the sick. In return, the spirits may ask humans (via the shaman, who acts as an intermediary) to make offerings to them or to observe certain rules and codes of conduct. Shamans play an important role as healers of the sick; this role emphasizes that their journeys are not simply personal and private, but are undertaken primarily to We believe in dreams, and we believe that people can live a life apart from real life, a life they can go through in their sleep. Nâlungiaq, a Netsilik woman alleviate suffering and hardship in the community. This function is reﬂected in some of the (now largely obsolete) terms that have been used to describe shamans, such as witchdoctors in subSaharan Africa and medicine men in North America. In Europe, shamanism was a dominant feature of many societies from around 45,000 years ago up until the modern era. The Vikings, practiced a form of shamanic divination known as seiðr between In worlds we cannot see, powerful supernatural beings control the supply of game and the weather. These other worlds are full of spirits, too, as both humans and animals have undying souls. These people can enlist the help of the spirits to ask for game or good weather for us, or cure us when we are ill. There are some special people who can visit the worlds in which these spirits live. PRIMAL BELIEFS 29 See also: Making sense of the world 20–23 ■ Animism in early societies 24–25 ■ Divining the future 79 the 8th and 11th centuries; and shamanic elements appear in the medieval myths of the Norse god Odin, who hanged himself in an initiation sacriﬁce on the World Tree (“the axis of the universe”). In the 16th and 17th centuries, shamanic traces were evident in the Benandanti spirit-battlers (an agrarian fertility cult) of Friuli, Italy, and in the night-ﬂying seely wights (fairylike nature spirits) of Scotland. In more recent times, the mazzeri dream-hunters of Corsica show clear shamanic inﬂuence. Sami shamans The longest recorded history of shamanism in Europe, however, is in northern Scandinavia, in the area now known as Sápmi (formerly Lapland). Here the Sami people, semi-nomadic reindeer herders and coastal ﬁshers, maintained a fully shamanic religion into the early 18th century, which has been partially revived in recent decades. Their religion can be reconstructed from historical sources as well as Mankind does not end its existence because sickness or some other accident kills its animal spirit down here on earth. We live on. Nâlungiaq, a Netsilik woman from close comparison with related cultures in North Asia and the American Arctic. Sami shamans, or noaidi, could inherit their calling or be chosen directly by the spirits. In some other cultures, those chosen to be shamans often experienced a period of intense illness and stress, as well as visionary episodes in which they might be killed and then brought back to life. Sami shamans had helping spirits in the form of animals, such as wolves, bears, reindeer, or ﬁsh, whom they imitated when entering a trance. Shamans are often said to become the animal they imitate; this occurs through a process of interior transformation rather than by visible, exterior change. Three things helped the Sami shaman enter a trance. The ﬁrst was intense physical deprivation, often achieved by working naked in the freezing Arctic temperatures. The second was the rhythmic beat of the sacred rune drum (among similar peoples, such as the Yakut and Buryat, the drum is called The Sami shaman’s drum was used to make contact with the spirit world. Some of these drums survive, although many were burned by Christian missionaries. the shaman’s horse); the drum was decorated with images of the world of the gods above, the world of the dead below, and the world inhabited by humans (the earth)— the three realms connected by the World Tree. The third way the shaman was helped to enter a trance was through the ingestion of the psychotropic (mind-altering) ﬂy agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria). After taking the mushroom, the shaman would fall into a trance and become rigid and immobile, as if dead. During this process, male Sami guarded the shaman, while the women sang songs about the tasks to be performed in the upper or lower realms, and songs to help the shaman ﬁnd his or her way home. Stories are told of Sami shamans who never returned from the other world, often ❯❯ 30 THE POWER OF THE SHAMAN In some Arctic cultures, animals are believed to have spirit guardians who protect them and ensure their well-being. Shamans have the power to negotiate with these guardians, on behalf of human beings, for the release of animals from the spirit world into the human world for hunting and ﬁshing. beliefs to the Sami. As well as subduing storms and acting as healers, they also mediated between the human world and the spirits of the earth, air, and sea. A shamanic seance was always held in subdued light, in a snow hut or a tent. The shaman would summon his helping spirits by singing special songs. After falling into a trance, he would speak in a voice that was not his own—most often in a deep, resonant bass, but sometimes in a shrill falsetto. While in this trance state, the shaman could send his soul up into the sky to visit Tatqiq, the moon man, who was thought to bring fertility to women and good luck in hunting. If he was pleased with the offerings the shamans made to him, he would reward them with animals. When the moon was not visible in the sky, the Netsilik believed that he had gone hunting for animals to feed the dead. Into the sky, under the sea because those responsible for waking them with a spell had forgotten the magic words. One shaman was said to have been lost for three years, until the person acting as his guardian remembered that his soul needed to be recalled from “the coil of the pike’s intestine, in the third dark corner.” When the relevant words were spoken, the shaman’s legs trembled, and he awoke, cursing his guardian. Communicating with the spirits Sami shamans were believed to ﬂy to a mountain at the center of the world (the cosmic axis) before entering the spirit world, either above or below the mountain. They might typically ride on a ﬁsh spirit, be guided by a bird spirit, and protected by a reindeer spirit. A journey to the upper world of Saivo would be undertaken in order to plead for game or for help of some other kind; a journey to the underworld of Jabmeaymo would be made to fetch back the soul of a sick person. This could only be done after the mistress of the underworld had been placated with offerings. The shamans were able to communicate with the spirits in the upper and lower worlds because their shamanic training involved learning the secret language of the spirits. The Netsilingmiut (Netsilik Inuit) shamans—an Arctic culture, from present-day Canada (west of Hudson Bay)—had similar religious According to one Netsilik account, one day the great shaman Kukiaq was trying to catch seals from a breathing hole in the ice. He gazed Everything comes from Nuliayuk—food and clothes, hunger and bad hunting, abundance or lack of caribou, seals, meat, and blubber. Nâlungiaq, a Netsilik woman PRIMAL BELIEFS 31 Au’s mysterious shamanic illumination Some Inuit in Gojahaven, northern Canada, have maintained a belief in shamans, who are thought to have a special relationship with the landscape and with the spirits who control it. upward and realized that the moon was gradually moving toward him. It hovered above his head and transformed into a whalebone sledge. The driver, Tatqiq, gestured to Kukiaq to join him, and whisked him off to his house in the sky. The entrance of the house moved like a chewing mouth, and in one of the rooms the sun was nursing a baby. Although the moon asked Kukiaq to stay, he was anxious he would not be able to ﬁnd his way home. So he slid back to earth on a moonbeam, landing safely at the very same breathing hole he had left from. Sometimes, however, the Netsilik shamans would send their souls down to visit Nuliayuk (also known as Sedna), the mistress of sea and land animals, at the bottom of the ocean. Nuliayuk possessed the power to either withhold or release the seals on which the Netsilik depended for food and clothing. She therefore had great inﬂuence over them. When the Netsilik broke any of her strict taboos, she would imprison the seals. However, if the shamans ventured down to her watery underworld to braid her hair, she was usually appeased and would release the seals into the open sea. The shamanic tradition of the Netsiliks lasted into the 1930s and 1940s. Within the Netsilik community, only the shamans (or angatkut)—who were protected by their own guardian spirits— were unafraid of the dangerous and malevolent spirits that ﬁlled the world. A Netsilik shaman might have several helping spirits. For example, the spirits of the shaman Unarâluk were his dead mother and father, the sun, a dog, and a sea scorpion. These spirits informed Unarâluk about what existed on, and beneath, the earth, and in the sea and sky. ■ The following account of shamanic illumination was given to the Danish explorer Knud Rasmussen by Au, an Iglulik Inuit shaman. Au recalled a period in his life when he sought solitude, was deeply melancholic, and would sometimes weep uncontrollably. Then, one day, a feeling of immense, inexplicable joy overcame him. He explained that in the middle of this ﬁt of pure delight, “I became a shaman, not knowing myself how it came about. But I was a shaman.” Thereafter, Au could see and hear in a completely different way: “I had gained my quamaneq, my enlightenment...it was not only I who could see through the darkness of life, but the same light also shone out from me, imperceptible to human beings, but visible to all the spirits of earth and sky and sea, and these now came to me and became my helping spirits.” Knud Rasmussen (1879–1933) spent many years documenting the culture of Arctic peoples during his journeys of exploration. 32 WHY ARE WE HERE? CREATED FOR A PURPOSE IN CONTEXT KEY BELIEVERS Baiga WHEN AND WHERE From 3000 BCE, Mandla Hills, southeastern Madhya Pradesh, central India BEFORE From prehistory The Baiga are thought to share a common ancestry with the Australian Aborigines. AFTER Mid-19th century British forest ofﬁcials restrict sacred bewar agriculture. Food shortages follow; the Baigas say that the Kali Yuga, the age of darkness, has begun. 1890 A reserve that surrounds eight Baiga villages is demarcated where bewar is permitted. 1978 A Baiga development agency is established. 1990s More than 300,000 Baiga live in central India. T he Baiga are one of the indigenous tribal peoples of central India, collectively known as the Adivasis. The Baigas, who call themselves the sons and daughters of Dharti Mata, Mother Earth, believe that they were created to be the guardians of the forest—a task they have carried out since the beginning of time. In their belief, Bhagavan, the creator, spread the world out ﬂat like a chapati, but it ﬂapped about and would not stay still. The ﬁrst You are made of the earth and are lord of the earth, and shall never forsake it. You must guard the earth. Bhagavan the Creator man, Nanga Baiga, and the ﬁrst woman, Nanga Baigin, who were born in the forest from Mother Earth, took four great nails and drove them into the four corners of the earth to steady it. Bhagavan told them that they should take care of the earth to keep the nails in place, promising them a simple but contented life in return. The Baiga followed the example of Nanga Baiga, hunting freely in the forest and considering themselves lords of the animals. Believing it wrong to tear the body of Mother Earth with a plow, they practiced a form of slash-andburn agriculture known as bewar (although always leaving the stump of a saj tree for the gods to dwell in), moving every three years to a new patch of forest. However, 19th-century British ofﬁcials opposed the Baiga’s methods, forcing them to abandon their traditional axe-and-hoe cultivation and take up the hated plow. They were permitted to practice bewar only in the reservation of Baiga Chak in the Mandla Hills. ■ See also: The Dreaming 34–35 ■ A lifelong bond with the gods 39 ■ Renewing life through ritual 51 PRIMAL BELIEFS 33 WHY DO WE DIE? THE ORIGIN OF DEATH A 1840 The Treaty of Waitangi formalizes relations between whites and Maori. ccording to Maori belief, death did not exist at the beginning of the world but was brought into being following an act of incest. In one version of the Maori myth, the forest god Tane grew up between and separated his parents—Rangi, the sky god, and Papa, the earth goddess—because they forced him to live in darkness. He then asked his mother to marry him, but when Papa explained that this could not be, Tane shaped a woman from mud and mated with her. The result of this union was a beautiful child—Hine-titama. She became Tane’s wife, unaware that he was also her father. One day, however, she discovered the terrible truth, and descended in shame to the darkness of Po, the underworld; it was from this moment that humankind’s descent to the realm of death began. When Tane visited his wife, she told him, “Stay in the world of light, and foster our offspring. Let me stay in the world of darkness, and drag our offspring down.” She then Today Around 620,000 Maori are resident in New Zealand. See also: Preparing for the afterlife 58–59 Gods 82–85 IN CONTEXT KEY BELIEVERS Maori WHEN AND WHERE From prehistory, New Zealand BEFORE 2nd and 3rd millennia BCE Ancestors of the Polynesian people spread across the Paciﬁc Ocean, possibly from origins in Asia. Their ritual practices and mythology develop independently but retain parallels across this vast region. Before 1300 CE The Maori people settle in New Zealand. AFTER Early 19th century European settlement begins. Some Maori convert to Christianity. The trees, plants, and creatures of the forest were believed by the Maori to be offspring of Tane, the forest god. Before felling a tree they therefore made an offering to the spirits. became known as Hine-nui-te-po, the goddess of darkness and death. In an attempt to overturn the course of events and regain immortality on behalf of human beings, the trickster hero Maui raped Hine-nui-te-po as she slept, believing that after this act she would die, and that death would also cease to exist. But Hine-nuite-po awoke during the attack and squeezed Maui to death with her thighs, thereby ensuring that mortality would remain in the world forever. ■ ■ Living the Way of the 34 ETERNITY IS NOW THE DREAMING IN CONTEXT In the Dreaming, the ancestral beings shaped the land. KEY BELIEVERS Australian Aborigines WHEN AND WHERE From prehistory, Australia They embedded their spiritual power within the land. AFTER 8000 BCE The date ascribed to certain changes to the Australian landscape in Aboriginal oral tradition; this has been supported by geological evidence. The land is alive with this power. The power of the Dreaming is eternal and ever-present. 4000–2000 BCE Aboriginal rock art depicts the ancestral beings of the Dreaming; some experts estimate the earliest portrayals of the Rainbow Serpent to be even older, dating them to some 8,000 years ago. 1872 Uluru is ﬁrst seen by a non-Aborigine, Ernest Giles, who called it “the remarkable pebble.” European settlers give it the name Ayers Rock in 1873. 1985 The ownership of Uluru is returned to the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara peoples. We can access that power and enter the eternal Now. I n the Australian Aboriginal tradition, the time of the creation was once called the Dreamtime, but is now referred to as the Dreaming. This term better captures the crucial element of Aboriginal faith—that the creation is continuous and ongoing, existing in the real, eternal present, as opposed to the remote past. It also accords with the Aboriginal belief that the Dreaming can be accessed through acts of ritual, song, dance, and storytelling, and through physical things such as sacred objects, or paintings on sand, rock, bark, the human body, and even canvas. Myths of the Dreaming, called Dreamings, tell of the ancestral beings, who are known as the PRIMAL BELIEFS 35 See also: Making sense of the world 20–23 ■ Living the Way of the Gods 82–85 ■ Created for a purpose 32 ■ The spirits of the dead live on 36–37 Uluru holds great spiritual power, according to Aboriginal tradition. It is said to be the heart of the ancestral beings’ Songlines, whose signs may still be seen in the great rock’s features. and forth from animal to human forms. Finally they transform themselves into features of the environment including stars, rocks, watering holes, and trees. First People or “the eternal ones of the dream,” and their role in creation. Aboriginal tradition tells how these beings awake in a primal world that is still malleable and in a state of becoming. They journey across the land, leaving sacred paths known as Songlines, or Dreaming tracks, in their wake. As they go, they shape human beings, animals, plants, and the landscape, establishing rituals, deﬁning the relationships between things, and changing shape back The living land We say djang… That secret place… Dreaming there. Gagudju elder Big Bill Neidjie Dreamings are thus intimately tied to natural features such as hills, rocks, and creeks, as well as the Songlines themselves. Aboriginal peoples revere the topography of Australia as sacred because it offers evidence both of their spiritual ancestors’ wanderings, and of their bodies. The Gunwinggu tribe describes the land as being infused with the ancestral beings’ djang (spiritual power): it is this that gives it its life and its holy power. This sacred topography converges on Uluru, a sandstone rock formation in the Northern Territory, the center from which all the Songlines are said to radiate. Uluru is venerated as a great storehouse of djang, the navel of the living body of Australia. Aborigines consider the land to be both their inheritance and responsibility, and so they nurture it, and the Dreamings accordingly. While they may be mortal, the djang of their ancestral beings lives forever, and is forever in the now. ■ The origin of Uluru According to one legend, before the Uluru rock existed, the Kunia, or carpet-snake people, lived there. To the west lived the Windulka, or mulgaseed men, who invited the Kunia to a ceremony. The Kunia men set out, but, after stopping at the Uluru waterhole, they met some Metalungana, or sleepy-lizard women, and forgot about the invitation. The Windulka sent the bell bird Panpanpalana to ﬁnd the Kunia. The Kunia men told the bird they could no longer attend since they had just gotten married. Affronted, the Windulka asked their friends the Liru, the poisonous-snake people, to attack the Kunia. During a furious battle, the Liru overcame the Kunia, who surrounded their dying leader, Ungata, and sang themselves to death. During the battle, Uluru was formed. Three rock holes high on Uluru mark the place Ungata bled to death, and the water that spills from them is Ungata’s blood. It ﬂows down to ﬁll the pool of the Rainbow Serpent, Wanambi. 36 OUR ANCESTORS WILL GUIDE US THE SPIRITS OF THE DEAD LIVE ON IN CONTEXT KEY BELIEVERS Quechua Indians We inherited the land from our ancestors. The spirits of the ancestors are enshrined in the land. If we do this, the land will feed us and the ancestors will guide us. Both the ancestors and the land must be fed with blood and fat. WHEN AND WHERE From prehistory, central Andes, South America AFTER From 6000 BCE Ayllu, or extended communities, develop in the Andes. 3800 BCE Corpses are mummiﬁed and revered as sacred objects. c.1200 CE The Inca Empire is established. 1438 The Inca Empire expands across the central Andes, reaching its peak in 1532. 1534 The Empire collapses after the Spanish Conquest. 21st century Catholicism has been institutionalized across this region since the colonial era; however, most present-day Quechua blend elements of Christianity with their traditional beliefs. T he religion of the Andean highlands can be said to be, in essence, a cult of the dead. This tradition of reverence for the ancestors stretches back to long before the short-lived empire of the Incas—the culture for which the region is best known—and has lasted to the present day. Just one of many Quechuaspeaking Andean peoples, the Incas rose to dominate much of modern-day Peru, Ecuador, and Chile, and parts of Bolivia and Argentina in the 13th century. As they extended their empire, they imposed a culture that in many ways resembled that of the Aztecs of Mesoamerica (pp.40–45), who were their contemporaries. It revolved around worship of their own supreme deity, the sun god. However, beyond the Inca capital of Cuzco, with its priests, rituals, and golden artifacts, the common people, whom the Incas called the Hatun Runa, persisted with a cult of ancestor worship and earth worship that dated back to prehistoric times. This survived the mighty Inca Empire when, in the 16th century, it was utterly destroyed by Spanish conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro. PRIMAL BELIEFS 37 See also: Making sense of the world 20–23 through puja 114–15 People of the mountains Since before recorded time, Andean peoples have organized themselves into ayllus, extended family groups or clans, each attached to a speciﬁc territory. Within these groups, they worked the land, shared resources, and worshipped at their huacas, or animistic earth shrines. The focus of worship was to pray to the earth to feed them—vital assistance in a mountainous region where farming was a harsh and laborious process. Running parallel to their entreaties to the earth was a belief that, just as the land had nurtured their ancestors, it would, with the intercession of those departed spirits, continue to nourish them. Each ayllu mummiﬁed and worshipped the bodies of its dead, believing that the ancestors would help maintain the cosmic order and ensure the fertility of the land and the animals. The bodies were wrapped in weavings and placed in rock mummy shrines (chullpa machulas) facing the mountaintop. Once desiccated by the freezing, dry air, the mummies would be ■ Created for a purpose 32 ■ Sacriﬁce and blood offerings 40–45 Devotion paraded around the ﬁelds during rituals to make the crops grow. Meanwhile, priests or diviners at the huacas and grave shrines offered up coca leaves, blood, and fat, believing that if the spirits of the land and the ancestors were fed, they would in turn feed the people. An enduring power In the 17th century, Christian missionaries burned many Andean mummies to quash what they saw as pagan beliefs. However, some mummies have survived, and the modern Quechua believe them to be the ﬁrst beings or ancient ones. The chullpa machulas, now just niches in the rocks, remain sacred shrines at which contemporary diviners still sprinkle blood and fat, believing this to infuse the sites with life and energy. Some groups, such as the Qollahuayos Indians (see box, below) may burn coca leaves there, wrapped in bundles of llama wool. The graves are believed to retain their power, even without the mummies that once occupied them. The Feast of the Dead, on A mountain and a god The dead visit us and assist us in our work. They provide many blessings. Marcelino, Kaatan elder ■ The Kaata of modern Bolivia, who live northeast of Lake Titicaca, form one of nine ayllus of the Qollahuayas Indians. The Kaata have a historic reputation as fortune-telling soothsayers; in the 15th century, Kaatan diviners carried the chair of the Inca emperor, an honored task. The power of these Qollahuaya ritualists was thought to derive from the graves of their ancestors on Mount Kaata. In addition to An Inca mummy of a girl who died ﬁve hundred years ago is still preserved; the ancestors are revered and have a central role among Andean peoples. November 2—marking the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rains, when crops can be planted—remains a focus of the Andean year, when the dead are ritually invited to revisit the living, and to take a share of the harvest. ■ the ancestral graves on the mountain, Mount Kaata itself is venerated as if it were a human being—a kind of superancestor—and is also ascribed physical human attributes. The highlands are regarded as the head, with grasses as hair, a cave for a mouth, and lakes for eyes; the middle region is the torso, with heart and bowels identiﬁed; and a pair of ridges on the lowest reaches are the legs. The mountain is a living being that gives the Kaata both sustenance and guidance. 38 WE SHOULD BE GOOD LIVING IN HARMONY IN CONTEXT KEY BELIEVERS Chewong WHEN AND WHERE From 3000 BCE, Peninsular Malaysia BEFORE From prehistory The Chewong are one of the 18 indigenous tribes of Peninsular Malaysia collectively known as the Orang Asli—the “original people”. Each tribe has its own language and culture. AFTER 1930s Europeans ﬁrst encounter the Chewong; contact with Chinese and other Malay ethnic groups is also very restricted until this time because of the tribe’s remote forest location. From 1950s Chewong come under pressure to assimilate themselves into mainstream Malay society and convert to Islam; many choose to retain their traditional practices. M ost societies have developed a system of morality based on an appeal to notions of human goodness, reinforced by sanctions from religious and social authorites. Very few cultures have existed where ideas such as crime and warfare are unknown, but the few that have been found have been tribal peoples eking out a huntergatherer existence in the rainforest. One such tribe is the Chewong of Peninsular Malaysia, whose ﬁrst contact with Europeans was in the 1930s. They now number around 350 people. The Chewong are nonviolent and noncompetitive; their language has no words for war, ﬁght, crime, or punishment. They believe the ﬁrst human beings were taught the right way to live by their culture hero Yinlugen Bud —a forest spirit who existed before the ﬁrst humans. Yinlugen Bud gave the Chewong their most important rule, maro, which speciﬁes that food must always be shared. To eat alone is regarded See also: Created for a purpose 32 ■ The Five Great Vows 68–71 ■ as both dangerous and wrong. Only by looking after the entire population in a spirit of fairness and sharing can the group hope to survive. The Chewong believe that violation of their moral code— by not sharing food, by showing anger at misfortune, by expressing anticipation of pleasure, or by nursing ungratiﬁed desires—will have supernatural repercussions such as illness, or physical or psychic attack, either by a tiger, snake, or poisonous millipede, or the ruwai or soul of the animal. ■ Human beings should never eat alone. You must always share with others. Yinlugen Bud The burden of observance 50 PRIMAL BELIEFS 39 EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED A LIFELONG BOND WITH THE GODS IN CONTEXT KEY BELIEVERS Warao WHEN AND WHERE From 6000 BCE, the Orinoco Delta, Venezuela BEFORE From prehistory The Warao are one of the largest indigenous groups in the Latin American lowland. AFTER 16th century Europeans ﬁrst encounter the Warao and compare their settlements with similar structures in Venice, giving Venezuela (“little Venice” in Spanish) its name. From 1960s Environmental degredation in the region affects local ﬁsheries and displaces tribespeople to the cities; some are converted to Catholicism. 2001 More than 36,000 Warao people are registered as living in the Orinoco Delta area. L iving in the environment of the Orinoco Delta, where the land is divided into countless islands by a network of waterways, the Warao tribe see the world as ﬂat—the earth is just a narrow crust between water and sky. They believe that Hahuba, the Snake of Being—the grandmother of all living things—is coiled around the earth, and that her breathing is the motion of the tides. Their various gods, known as the Ancient Ones, live on sacred mountains at the four corners of the earth, with the Warao living at its very center. In villages under the particular protection of one of the gods, the temple hut also contains a sacred rock in which the god dwells. Divine dependence The Warao gods depend on humans to nourish them with offerings, especially tobacco smoke; in return, the Warao depend on the gods for health and life. This lifelong bond with the gods is established as soon as a baby is born. The child’s In Warao myth, the Bird of Beautiful Plumage is believed to provide supernatural protection to children. A child that dies is said to be claimed as food by spirits of the underworld. ﬁrst cry is said to carry across the world to the mountain of Ariawara, the God of Origin, in the east; in return, the god sends back a cry of welcome. Soon after a baby is born, Hahuba, the Snake of Being, sends a balmy breeze to the village, to embrace the new arrival. From that point on, the baby becomes part of the complex balance between natural and supernatural that forms the web of Warao daily life. ■ See also: The Dreaming 34–35 ■ The spirits of the dead live on 36–37 ■ Symbolism made real 46–47 ■ Man and the cosmos 48–49 THE GODS DESIRE BLOOD SACRIFICE AND BLOOD OFFERINGS 42 SACRIFICE AND BLOOD OFFERINGS IN CONTEXT KEY BELIEVERS Aztec, Mayan, and other Mesoamerican peoples WHEN AND WHERE 3rd–15th century CE, Mexico BEFORE From 1000 BCE The Mayan civilization begins its slow rise, reaching its peak—the Classic Mayan period—between the 3rd and 10th century CE. From 12th century CE The Aztec empire is established. AFTER 1519 CE The Aztecs, whose population numbers 20–25 million, are overthrown by Spanish forces under the conquistador Hernán Cortés. 1600 CE Forced conversion to Catholicism and exposure to European diseases destroy the Aztec civilization and reduce the population to around one million. To create us, the gods shed their blood. T he sacriﬁce of animals and humans has been a feature of many religious traditions around the world, but the idea of ritual sacriﬁce was particularly important to societies in the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica, notably the Mayans and the Aztecs. The Mesoamerican peoples inhabited the area from presentday central Mexico through to Nicaragua. The Mayan civilization (which peaked c.250 CE–900 CE) preceded and then coincided with the Aztec civilization, which reached its height around 1300 –1400 CE. Aztec culture drew on the Mayan tradition, and the two peoples had several deities in common; they went by different names but shared characteristics. A reciprocal gift of blood The Mesoamerican cultures believed that blood sacriﬁce to their gods was essential to ensure the survival of their worlds, in a tradition of ritual bloodletting that dated back to the ﬁrst major civilization in Mexico—that of the Olmecs, which ﬂourished between 1500 and 400 BCE. In To create the sun, the gods sacriﬁced their hearts. The gods call out for blood. If we give it to them, they will not allow this world to be destroyed. legends, the gods themselves had made tremendous sacriﬁces in forming the world, which included shedding their own blood to create humankind; therefore they desired similar sacriﬁces of blood from humanity in return. Sacriﬁce and creation The power of blood and the necessity of sacriﬁce are central to the Aztec creation myth. The Aztecs believed that the gods had created and destroyed four earlier eras, or suns, and that after the destruction of the fourth sun by ﬂood, the god of the wind, Quetzalcoatl, and his trickster brother, Tezcatlipoca, tore the goddess (or god in some versions) Tlaltecuhtli in half to make a new heaven and earth. From her body grew everything necessary for the life of humankind—trees, ﬂowers, grass, fountains, wells, valleys, and mountains. All this caused the goddess terrible agony, and she howled through the night demanding the sacriﬁce of human hearts to sustain her. Further cosmic acts of creation followed, all requiring sacriﬁce or blood offerings. One relief shows Without blood and sun there can be no life. We owe the gods a debt of blood. PRIMAL BELIEFS 43 See also: Created for a purpose 32 ■ A lifelong bond with the gods 39 ■ Renewing life through ritual 51 ■ Beliefs for new societies 56–57 ■ The burden of observance 50 You have yet to take care of bleeding your ears and passing a cord through your elbows. You must worship. This is your way of giving thanks before your god. Tohil, Maya god Victims of Aztec human sacriﬁce were typically prisoners of war, and, when in combat, Aztec warriors sought to capture rather than kill in order to ensure plentiful offerings for the gods. the ﬁrst stars being born from blood ﬂowing from Quetzalcoatl’s tongue after he had pierced it. Most notably, the creation of the ﬁfth sun required one of the gods to cast himself into a funeral pyre. Two gods, Tecuciztecatl and Nanahuatzin, vied for the honor, both immolating themselves; Nanahuatzin became the sun and Tecuciztecatl the moon. The other gods then offered their hearts in order to make the new sun move across the sky (the offering of hearts is a recurring theme in Mesoamerican myth and ritual). Humanity’s gruesome debt Both the Mayans and the Aztecs were bound to their gods by a blood debt from these acts of creation that could never be repaid. After Quetzalcoatl descended to the underworld and retrieved the bones of former humans (remains from the four previous eras), the gods ground them into a ﬁne meal ﬂour. They let their own blood drip onto the ﬂour to animate it and created a new race of people—people whose hearts could in turn satisfy the gods’ own need for blood. In Mesoamerican myth, each period of 52 years was seen as a cycle, the end of which could spell the end of the world. Human sacriﬁce could be used to appease the gods and persuade them not to bring an end to the present age—that of the ﬁfth sun. The Mayans believed that blood sacriﬁce was necessary for the sun to rise in the sky every morning. The Aztecs’ sun god, Huitzilopochtli, was locked in an ongoing struggle with darkness and needed to be fortiﬁed by blood in order for the sun to continue in its cycle. Thus the continued existence of the Mesoamerican world was seen as extremely tenuous, and in need of constant support through acts of sacriﬁce. Bloodletting for the gods took two forms: autosacriﬁce (self-inﬂicted bloodletting) and human sacriﬁce. Both Mayans and Aztecs took part in autosacriﬁce. Mesoamerican nobles had what was seen as the privilege and responsibility to shed their own blood for the gods. This involved piercing their ﬂesh with stingray spines, obsidian knives, and, most often, with the sharp spines of the maguey (agave) plant. Blood was drawn from the ear, shin, knee, elbow, tongue, or foreskin. Autosacriﬁce ❯❯ 44 SACRIFICE AND BLOOD OFFERINGS smoke from incense and tobacco, and with food and precious objects, blood was what they really craved. Rituals and the calendar And this goddess cried many times in the night desiring the hearts of men to eat. Saying of Aztec goddess Tlaltecuhtli And when his festival was celebrated, captives were slain, washed slaves were slain. Aztec hymn to Huitzilopochtli dates back to the Olmec people and continued after the Spanish Conquest of Mexico in 1519. Both men and women of the Mayan nobility took part—the men drawing blood from their foreskins, women from their tongues. They collected their offerings on strips of bark paper, which were then burned; through the smoke from these offerings, they communicated with their ancestors and the gods. the body was rolled down the stairs of the pyramid-shaped temple to the stone terrace at the base. The victim’s head was removed and the arms and legs might also be cut off. Skulls were displayed on a skull rack. Depending on the particular god being honored in the sacriﬁce, victims might be slain in ritual combat, drowned, shot with arrows, or ﬂayed. The scale of sacriﬁce sometimes reached immense proportions: for example, at the rededication of the Aztec temple of Huitzilopochtli, at Tenochtitlan, in 1487, around 80,400 victims were said to have been sacriﬁced to the god, their clotted blood forming great pools in the temple precinct. Even if a more modest estimate of 20,000 victims is accepted, this was still slaughter on a vast scale. The Aztec ritual year was marked by sacriﬁces to various gods and goddesses. Although the gods could also be propitiated with Sacriﬁcial rites Human sacriﬁce was far more common among the Aztec than the Mayans, who performed it only in special circumstances, such as the consecration of a new temple. Aztec sacriﬁce usually involved cutting the victim’s heart from his body. The heart was believed to be a fragment of the sun’s energy—so removing the heart was a means of returning the energy to its source. The victim was typically held by four priests over a stone slab in the temple, while a ﬁfth cut the heart from the body with an obsidian knife, and offered it, still beating, to the gods in a vessel called a cuauhxicalli, an eagle gourd. After the removal of the heart, Descendants of the Mayans, the Tzotzil people were put to work on the Spanish colonists’ estates, and fused their own beliefs with Christian forms of worship in a syncretic religion. The Mesoamerican year lasted 260 days, a calendar observed by both the Mayans and the Aztecs. At the end of each year in Aztec society, a man representing Mictlantecuhtli, the god of the underworld, was sacriﬁced in the temple named Tlalxicco, “the navel of the world.” It is thought that the victim was then eaten by the priests. Just as human ﬂesh sustained the gods, so by consuming a god (embodied in the sacriﬁcial victim) a form of communion could be enacted. Less high-ranking celebrants ate ﬁgures made from dough, into which sacriﬁcial blood was mixed. To break apart and consume these dough ﬁgures, known as tzoalli, was also to commune with the gods. Such reenactment of the myths of the gods was a feature of Aztec belief and of annual rituals. During the main festival of Xipe PRIMAL BELIEFS 45 Tzotzil souls Totec, the ﬂayed deity, a priest impersonating the god donned the ﬂayed skin of a sacriﬁced captive. As the skin tightened and tore away, the impersonator emerged like a fresh shoot growing from the rotting husk of a seed, representing growth and renewal. Other Aztec sacriﬁces honor the importance of corn, their staple food. Every year, a young girl representing Chicomecoatl, the maize goddess, was sacriﬁced at harvest time. She was decapitated, her blood poured over a statue of the goddess, and her skin worn by a priest. Conquest and absorption When Spanish invader Hernán Cortés and his conquistadors landed in Mexico in 1519, the Aztecs are believed to have mistaken him for the returning god Quetzalcoatl, partly because Cortés’ hat resembled the god’s distinctive headgear. They sent the Spaniard corn cakes soaked in human blood, but their offering failed to appease the “god,” and the Aztec civilization, just four centuries old when Cortés landed, was destroyed by the Spanish. This Aztec stone sun calendar places a depiction of the sun within a ring of glyphs representing measures of time, reﬂecting the Aztec preoccupation with the sun. In contrast, the Mayan culture did not suffer the same annihilation, possibly because the Mayans were more widely dispersed. In southern Mexico, even today the Tzotzil people, descendants of the Mayans, retain many elements of the old culture and religion, including the 260-day calendar. The Tzotzil religion is a blend of Catholicism and traditional Mayan beliefs. The people’s homeland, in the highlands of Chiapas in southern Mexico, is dotted with wooden crosses. These do not just reference the Christian cruciﬁx, but are thought to be channels of communication with Yajval Balamil, the lord of the earth, a powerful god who must be placated before any work can be done on the land. In their adaptation of the ancient beliefs, the Tzotzil people associate the sun with the Christian God and the moon with the Virgin Mary, and also worship carvings of Christian saints. ■ The Tzotzil religion blends Catholicism with some non-Christian beliefs. The Tzotzil people maintain that everyone has two souls, a wayjel and a ch’ulel. The ch’ulel is an inner soul that is situated in the heart and blood. It is placed in the unborn embryo by the gods. At death, this soul travels to Katibak, the land of the dead at the center of the earth. It stays in Katibak for as long as the deceased person had lived; but it lives its life in reverse, gradually returning to infancy, until it can be assigned to a new baby of the opposite sex. The second soul, the wayjel, is an animal spirit companion that is shared with a wild animal, or chanul, and kept in an enclosure by the ancestral Tzotzil gods. The human and the animal spirit have a shared fate—so whatever befalls the human is replicated in the animal spirit and vice-versa. The animal spirits include jaguars, ocelots, coyotes, squirrels, and opossums. At this feast [to Xipe Totec] they killed all the prisoners, men, women, and children. Bernadino de Sahagún, General History of the Things of New Spain 46 WE CAN BUILD A SACRED SPACE SYMBOLISM MADE REAL IN CONTEXT KEY BELIEVERS Pawnee WHEN AND WHERE From c.1250 CE, Great Plains, US The world and we ourselves were created by Tirawahat, the expanse of the heavens. He told us the earth is our mother, the sky is our father. AFTER 1875 The Pawnee are relocated from their lands in Nebraska to a new reservation in Oklahoma. 1891–92 Many Pawnee adopt the new Ghost Dance religion, which promises resurrection for their ancestors. 1900 The US census records a Pawnee population of just 633; over the next four decades, traditional Pawnee religious practices dwindle and die out. 20th century The Pawnee Nation is mainly Christian, its people belonging to the Indian Methodist, Indian Baptist, or Full Gospel Church. Some Pawnee are members of the Native American Church. If we make our lodges to encircle the earth and encompass the sky, we invite our mother and father to live with us. If we open our lodges to the east, Tirawahat can enter with the dawning sun. Our lodges are a miniature version of the cosmos. T he ﬁrst sacred spaces of early religions were naturally occurring ones— groves, springs, and caves. However, as worship became more ritualized, the need to deﬁne holy places arose, and buildings designed for worship encoded the essential features of each religion. On the other hand, buildings used for everyday activities often took on cosmic signiﬁcance in cultures in which religious and daily life were intertwined. This was true of the earth lodges, or ceremonial centers, of the Pawnee, one of the Native American nations of the Great Plains. The Pawnee earth lodge had a sacred architecture, making each lodge a miniature cosmos as Tirawahat, the creator god and chief of all the gods, had prescribed at the beginning of time, after he had made the heavens and earth and brought the ﬁrst humans into being (see box, facing page). Four posts held up each earth lodge, one at each corner. These represented four gods, the Stars of the Four Directions, who hold up the heavens in the northeast, northwest, southwest, and southeast. The Pawnee believed that stars had PRIMAL BELIEFS 47 See also: Making sense of the world 20–23 ■ Man and the cosmos 48–49 ■ Living the Way of the Gods 82–85 The earth lodge was a mini-cosmos in the Pawnee tradition, and was constructed accordingly. This Pawnee family stands at an earth lodge entrance at Loup, Nebraska in 1873. helped Tirawahat create them, and that at the world’s end, the Pawnee would become stars. The entrance to the earth lodge would be in the east, allowing the light of the dawn to enter. A hearth would be positioned in the center of the lodge, and a small altar of mounded earth in the back (the west). A buffalo skull would be displayed on the altar, which the spirit of Tirawahat was said to occupy when the ﬁrst rays of sun shone on it in the morning. Through this skull, Tirawahat was said to live and communicate with the people. Sacred star bundles containing objects used for rituals, such as charts of the night sky, hung from a rafter above the skull. These were said to give each village its identity and power. A world within a world In winter, a domed sweat lodge would often be constructed inside the earth lodge, creating a second mini-cosmos. These sweat lodges, or steam huts, used for spiritual and healing purposes, were also sacred spaces. The heated stones used inside them were said to be ancestral “grandfathers,” and were treated with great reverence. The hot stones were doused in water, and the steam produced was believed to be the breath of the grandfathers. The ﬁrst sweat lodge was, according to legend, made by the son of a bundle-keeper, as part of a ritual taught to him by guardian animals. As he performed the ritual he said, “Now we are sitting in darkness as did Tirawahat when he created all things and placed meteors in the heavens for our beneﬁt. The poles that shelter us represent them… When I blow this root upon them, you will see a blue ﬂame rise from the stones. This will be a signal for us to pray to Tirawahat and the grandfathers.” ■ The legend of Tirawahat In Pawnee myth, after the creator god, Tirawahat, had made the sun, moon, stars, heavens, earth, and all things on earth, he spoke. At the sound of his voice a woman appeared. Tirawahat created a man and sent him to the woman. Then he said: “I give you the earth. You shall call the earth ‘mother.’ The heavens you shall call ‘father’… I will now show you how to build a lodge, so that you will not be cold or get wet from the rain.” After a time Tirawahat spoke again and asked the man if he knew what the lodge represented. The man did not know. Tirawahat said: “I told you to call the earth ‘mother.’ The lodge represents her breast. The smoke that escapes from the opening is like the milk that ﬂows from her breast… When you eat the things that are cooked [in the ﬁreplace], it is like sucking a breast, because you eat and grow strong.” Our people were made by the stars. When the time comes for all things to end, our people will turn into small stars. Young Bull 48 WE ARE IN RHYTHM WITH THE UNIVERSE MAN AND THE COSMOS IN CONTEXT KEY BELIEVERS Dogon WHEN AND WHERE From 15th century CE, Mali, West Africa BEFORE From 1500 BCE Similarities in oral myths and knowledge of astronomy suggest that the Dogon’s ancestral tribes may have originated in ancient Egypt before migrating to the region of present-day Libya, then Burkina Faso or Guinea. From 10th century CE Dogon identity evolves in West Africa from a mixture of peoples of earlier tribes, many of whom have ﬂed Islamic persecution. AFTER Today The Dogon people number between 400,000 and 800,000. The majority still practice their traditional religion, but signiﬁcant minorities have converted to Islam and Christianity. T he Dogon people live in the Bandiagara plateau in Mali, West Africa, where they practice a traditional animist religion: for them, all things are endowed with spiritual power. Fundamental to Dogon religious belief is that humankind is the seed of the universe, and that the human form echoes both the ﬁrst moment of creation and the entire created universe. Every Dogon village is therefore laid out in the shape of a human body, and is regarded as a living person. as two lines of storerooms, the chest as two jars of water, and the penis as the entrance passage. The building reﬂects the creative power of the male–female twin ancestral beings, the Nommo (see facing page). The hut of the hogon, the Dogon’s spiritual leader, is a model of the universe. Every element of the hut’s Sacred and symbolic space A Dogon village is arranged lying north to south, with the blacksmith, or forge, at its head and shrines at its feet. This layout reﬂects the belief that the creator god, Amma, made the world from clay in the form of a woman lying in this position. Everything in the village has an anthropomorphic, or human, equivalent. The women’s menstrual huts, to the east and west, are the hands. The family homesteads are the chest. Each of these big homesteads is, in turn, laid out in the plan of a male body, with the kitchen as the head, the large central room as the belly, the arms Masked dancers perform the dama, or funeral ritual. This traditional Dogon religious ceremony is designed to guide the souls of the deceased safely into the afterlife. PRIMAL BELIEFS 49 See also: Symbolism made real 46–47 ■ The ultimate reality 102–105 The whole universe was originally contained in an egg or seed. Everything that exists began as a vibration in this egg. The form of man was preﬁgured in the egg, and is also echoed in the form of the universe. Everything, from the smallest seed to the expanse of the cosmos, reﬂects and expresses everything. A village, or a homestead, or a hat, or a seed, can contain the whole universe. decoration and furnishing is laden with symbolism. The hogon’s movements are attuned to the rhythms of the universe. At dawn he sits facing east, toward the rising sun; he then walks through the homestead following the order of the four cardinal points; and ﬁnally at dusk he sits facing west. His pouch is described as “the pouch of the world”; his staff is “the axis of the world.” Cosmic meaning Even the hogon’s clothing represents the world in miniature. His cylindrical headdress, for example, is a woven image of the seven spiral vibrations that shook the cosmic “egg of the world” (see right). During a crisis, the chiefs gather around the headdress; the hogon speaks into it and upends it on the ground, as if the world itself has been turned upside down, ready to be restored to order by the god Amma. The complex cosmic symbolism of the Dogon reﬂects outward from the cosmos, and then back in again to the headdress of the hogon, the shell of the world egg. Religion, society, cosmology, mythology, cultivation, daily life—all are intermeshed in every detail, and reﬂected in every action. ■ The Nommo The Nommo are ancestral beings worshipped by the Dogon. They are often described as amphibious, hermaphroditic, ﬁshlike creatures who, acccording to myth, were fathered by the god Amma, when he created the cosmic egg. This egg was said to resemble both the smallest seed cultivated by the Dogon, and the sister star to Sirius—the brightest star in the night sky. Within the egg lay the germ of all things. In one version of the myth, two sets of male–female twins, the Nommo, were inside the egg waiting to be born so that they could bring order to the world. But the egg was shaken by a vibration and one of the male twins, Yurugu, broke out of it prematurely, creating the earth from his placenta. So Amma sent the three remaining Nommo down to earth, and they established the institutions and rituals necessary for the renewal and continuation of life. But because of Yurugu’s premature actions, the world was tainted right from the beginning. For [the Dogon], social life represents the workings of the universe. Marcel Griaule, anthropologist 50 WE EXIST TO SERVE THE GODS THE BURDEN OF OBSERVANCE IN CONTEXT KEY BELIEVERS Tikopians WHEN AND WHERE From c.1000 BCE, Tikopia, Solomon Islands, Paciﬁc Ocean AFTER 1606 European explorers ﬁrst land on Tikopia. 1859 The Anglican Melanesian Mission makes contact with Tikopia. 1928–29 Tikopian culture is studied by anthropologist Raymond Firth; the population is divided into four clans. 1955 The Work of the Gods is abandoned after an epidemic; the remaining pagan chiefs convert to Christianity. 2002 Tikopia is devastated by Cyclone Zoë, but islanders take shelter and survive. 2012 The population of Tikopia numbers about 1,200. U ntil Christianity arrived in Tikopia in the 1950s, all the residents of this small Paciﬁc island devoted themselves to ritual for two weeks twice a year, as they undertook the Work of the Gods. At these times, they perfomed duties to propitiate the atua, spirits or gods, believing that they, in turn, would ensure plentiful harvests. The Work of the Gods was a form of worship expressed as a system of trade between human and spirit beings. The Tikopians performed the rituals, and the gods granted the people the necessities of life. Moreover, the religion was structured so that many of the activities undertaken to please the gods—such as repairing canoes, planting and harvesting, and the ritual production of turmeric—were of economic value to the Tikopians. Offerings of food and kava (an intoxicating drink) made to the gods were consumed only in essence—leaving the actual food available for human consumption. Taking part in the Work of the Gods brought status to individuals, and was perceived as a privilege. The rituals involved in this religion also underpinned key social and economic structures, and held Tikopian society together. ■ A Tikopian man performs a dance with a canoe paddle: ritual dancing and drumming on canoes were part of the Work of the Gods. See also: Making sense of the world 20–23 ■ A lifelong bond with the gods 39 ■ Sacriﬁce and blood offerings 40–45 ■ Devotion through puja 114–15 PRIMAL BELIEFS 51 OUR RITUALS SUSTAIN THE WORLD RENEWING LIFE THROUGH RITUAL IN CONTEXT KEY BELIEVERS Hupa WHEN AND WHERE c.1000 CE, northwestern California BEFORE c.900–1100 CE Ancestors of the Hupa arrive in northwestern California from subarctic regions to the north. AFTER 1828 The ﬁrst contact is made with American trappers; around 1,000 Hupa live in the Hoopa Valley at this time, and trade furs until the beginning of the Gold Rush in 1848. By 1900 The Hupa population is reduced to about 500 as a result of disease. 1911 The ﬁrst modern Hupa Tribal Council is formed. Today More than 2,000 Hupa live as a self-governing people on their traditional lands. T hrough their ritual songs and dances, the Hupa tribe of northwestern California believed they could renew the world, or “ﬁrm the earth,” and revitalize the land to ensure sufﬁcient resources for the coming year. One of their most important world renewal dances, held every autumn, was the White Deerskin Dance. The purpose of the dance was to re-create the actions of the the Kixunai, or First People, the Hupa’s mythical predecessors. By replaying the sacred narrative of the Kixunai, the Hupa hoped to tap into the powers of creation in order to safeguard the health of the people and guarantee abundant stocks of game and ﬁsh for the hunting season. During the dance, which lasted ten days, the elaborately decorated hide of an albino deer—a symbol of great wealth and status—was displayed. Participants paddled along the river in dugout canoes every morning and danced every afternoon and evening, holding deer efﬁgies aloft on poles. [The Kixunai] painted themselves and danced there one night. The next morning they danced again. Hupa myth The First People The Kixunai were believed by the Hupa to be human in form but extraordinary in character. Whatever the Kixunai did became the predestined custom of the unborn Hupa race. So every detail of Hupa daily life was mapped out by the activities of the First People. According to Hupa belief, the Kixunai later scattered across the ocean, leaving only the mythical being Yimantuwinyai to assist people in their life on earth. ■ See also: The spirits of the dead live on 36–37 ■ Beliefs that mirror society 80–81 ANCIENT CLASSIC BELIEFS FROM 3000 BCE AND AL 54 INTRODUCTION Ancient Egypt is uniﬁed and the Early Dynastic period begins. A cult of a divine Pharaoh is established. Tomb inscriptions known as the Pyramid Texts, the oldest known religious writings, suggest an Ancient Egyptian belief in an afterlife. The pantheon of Greek mythology evolves in the Minoan culture of Crete. The probable date of the foundation of Zoroastrianism in Persia, although this may have been as early as the 18th century BCE. C.3000 BCE 25TH–24TH CENTURIES 1700–1400 BCE C.1200 BCE T C.3000 BCE 20TH–16TH CENTURIES C.1600 BCE 8TH CENTURY BCE Celtic clans spread across much of Europe, each tribe having its own local deities. In the First Babylonian Dynasty in Mesopotamia, a complex mythology is recorded in the Enuma Elish. Scandinavian peoples begin to make ﬁgures of their gods and goddesses, and develop a recognizable Norse mythology. According to legend, Romulus usurps his twin brother Remus to found the city of Rome. he earliest civilizations emerged when scattered nomadic tribes began to settle in order to raise crops. Previously localized religious beliefs and practices evolved, and the beliefs of different tribes amalgamated around common deities and mythologies. Complex pantheons emerged, and an often sophisticated body of myths arose from the various strands that had come together, describing