Religious Specialists. Small-scale societies: These men/women usually have other roles/jobs within the society. Their skills are called upon when necessary.
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Our (etic) way of trying to categorize/classify in order to study our world. Our brains process info with the help of associations and categories, so in order to share knowledge, we must agree on the meaning of terms.
Yet terms are tricky and a singular concrete definition is often elusive. The Anthropological Study of Religion is fairly new compared to other disciplines and so terms are not as stable.
From this chapter, the terms Shaman, Priest, Diviner and Healer are all good examples.
Rule of thumb when first delving into a certain field: Use the definition of a term as it is most commonly/popularly used within the discipline. Once a broader understanding of the field is gained, then can branch out to alternative definitions of a term/create a new version.
Chosen by supernatural entity through dreams/vision/sickness/by another Shaman, or by the behavior of a child with regard to sacred objects.
Ex: Dalai Lama
Each Dalai Lama is said to be the reincarnation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, beginning with Gendon Drup (1391-1474). The Dalai Lama is seen as the patron deity of Tibet, is the embodiment of ideal values and a cornerstone of identity and culture.
The Dalai Lama is chosen based on familiarity with possessions/values of the previous Dalai Lama.
May deliberately seek a call to Shamanism (Inducing Altered States of Consciousness) if…
Becoming a Shaman = social authority
May not want to become a Shaman if…
Role in society is marginalized or not highly appreciated. May undergo unpleasant, sometimes near-death Rite of Passage Rituals.
Often involves learning from an older Shaman
Main purpose is to learn how to make contact with and manipulate the supernatural for some specific end.
Involves learning how to voluntarily enter and control an Altered State of Consciousness.
May acquire a spirit familiar that helps Shaman to connect to the Supernatural World.
Ex: Inuit Shaman life story (14:27). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kxdqjn1sFM8
Excerpt originally taken from www.isuma.tv a great free website for indigenous film makers.
Chosen by signs, with the involvement of another Shaman. Socially marginalized as a potential Shaman until he experiences an Altered State in the form of a vision. Acquires spirit helpers. Inuit worldview?Origin Myth presented?
Yakut (Shka) Shamanism (northeastern Siberia). 1931 Soviet government began a program to wipe out native religions. Ethnic Russians moved in, Christianity spread, traditional people were integrated, Shamanism was persecuted. After break-up of Soviet Union, the ban on Shamanism was lifted and native religion was once again taught in schools.
But how much had changed? Are there any true Shamans left?
Akimel O’odham (Pima) Shamanism
Healers From southern Arizona and northern Mexico. Chosen by animal spirits that appear in their dreams. Cure mostly “staying sickness” that is caused when an individual fails to obey cultural laws set down at the time of creation (such as killing an eagle or using firewood from a tree that has been struck by lightning).
Today, most are women. Called upon to guide the dead to the underworld, to cure illness, for divination and to ensure good fortune. Shamans are chosen by spirits who are attracted to those whose maǔm or soul has been hurt by some sort of illness. The individual will become possessed until she accepts the call of the spirits and becomes a Shaman. Shamans in Korean society are sometimes seen as social deviants, so this may be a role not willingly taken.
Full-time religious specialists associated with formalized religious institutions
Ex: Buddhist monks in Luang Pra Bong (Laos): http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/player/places/regions-places/asia-southern/laos_luangprobang.html
A link between the community and a deity/deities.
Responsible for performing Rites of Passage, Prescribed, Periodic and Crisis rituals.
Priest’s skill comes from his/her ability to recite sacred narratives, learning of ritual knowledge and performing rituals for the community.
Rituals can deal with anything from social rights of intensification to establishing the community’s ethical code, legitimizing a child as a member of the community.
Rituals usually occur in specially designed, sacred buildings or locations.
Are “ideal people” in the eyes of a society. Held to higher moral standards. Why is this?
Why so much more shocking of Pedophilia amongst Catholic Church clergy than of other members of the public?
Like Shamans, a priest may get a “call” in the form of a dream/vision/trance, or as the result of an illness. Also, may have no choice in the matter if entering the Priesthood is a matter of inheritance or necessity.
Ex: Some agricultural societies, third son was destined for a life of devotion.
Ex: 19th century Europe: if not upper class, only way to a good education was through the Priesthood.
High rank in society. Main role was to ensure the survival of the sun by offering human sacrifices.
Priests would fast and make food, cloth and incense offerings before the ritual.
Ritual “sacrificees” called in ixiptla in teteo or deity impersonators. Upon sacrifice, it was believed the deceased was to transform into a god. The heart was offered to the sun as nourishment.
Can read about all the fun gory details in the book. Anybody see Apocalypto?
Pueblo Native Americans (American SW culture area).
Kiva: Unlike the Tewa Pueblo group we met in Ch. 3, the Zuni kiva is above ground and forms a ceremonial group into which young priests are inducted.
Main role of the priests is the correct performance of rituals, including ritual objects and the recitation of prayers.
World is occupied by supernatural beings called kami. Pleasing the kami through rituals avoids misfortune and encourages blessings.
Kaminchu do very little during rituals. They are analogous to and represent the kami, so they emit good spiritual energy. There presence is often requested at weddings, housewarmings, etc.
Yuta: the Shamans. These individuals mediate between the community and the supernatural. They practice divination and healing. The Yuta communicates with the kami while the kaminchu are supposed to be the kami.