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Aboriginal Spirituality & Oral Religions. What's Behind The MASK?. Indigenous peoples of the Americas have produced a wide variety of sacred images, such as this stone figure of the Aztec moon goddess. Coyolxauhqui (Moon Goddess), 15th century-1521 .

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coyolxauhqui moon goddess 15th century 1521
Indigenous peoples of the Americas have produced a wide variety of sacred images, such as this stone figure of the Aztec moon goddess.Coyolxauhqui (Moon Goddess), 15th century-1521
black punu lumbu mask
Black Punu masks are linked to a judiciary process such as searching for witches, an enquiry into a crime, or a trial by poison.According to Louis Perrois, the category "masks with black faces" make up about 8% of the corpus of the Punu masks.

The black-faced masks represent angry spirits, and it is therefore considered potentially dangerous to handle them.

According to Perrois (1979: 235) the black patina on Punu masks is presumably an index of its more serious or darker role in judiciary services, potentially condemning the living.

Refrences – “The White Masks of South Gabon" - Louis Perrois and Charlotte Grand-Dufay

Black Punu - Lumbu mask
punu mask from gabon
This White-Faced Mask is part of the a ritual stilt dance associated with funeral ceremonies of the BaPunu and Ashira peoples of Africa

Punu masks layered in white kaolin are used in celebrations and funerary ceremonies, where the white surface marked them as ushers of the other world.

As with the black-faced masks they are found in different forms: hairstyles with double shells, rounded central shells or flattened transverse shells and are found with linear or dotted scarification.

Punu Mask from Gabon
aboriginal creation stories
Aboriginal Creation Stories
  • Aborigines from central Australia: believed that their ancestors slept beneath the Earth, with the Sun, the Moon and the stars. Eventually the ancestors woke up and wandered about the earth in the shapes of humans, animals and plants, shaping the landscape.
  • The creation mythology of the Aborigines is called “Dreamtime”
native americans
Native Americans
  • Native Americans – or First Nation People were the first people to live in North America – they walked from Asia around 15,000 yrs. ago when the two continents were linked.
  • They settled in many different tribes, with each having its own myths and legends.
  • These stories were passed down through oracy from generation to generation
general native beliefs
General Native Beliefs
  • When the world was created humans and animals lived together. (similar belief to the garden of Eden)
  • Some tribes believe that all creation is ruled over by a supreme spirit (deity) – The Great Spirit
  • Most tribes believe that everything is part of one harmonious creation. Harming anything upsets the balance of the world. (prayers for thanks and forgiveness are offered to an animal for example in order for a tribe to eat.)
totem poles
Some indigenous peoples of western Canada and the United States have erected totem poles to honour an ancestor. Images on the totem pole are related to the ancestor’s life story.

Totems are also used to tell a specific spiritual event or historic tale.

Totem Poles
creation stories
Creation Stories
  • Algonquian:
    • The earth was created by Michabo the Great Hare, from a grain of sand from the bottom of the ocean
  • Navajo:
    • Believed that the first man and woman were created when four gods ordered the winds to blow life into two ears of corn.
  • Maidu:
    • The gods Kodoyanpe and Coyote floated on the surface of the vast expanse of water and one day decided to create the world.
aboriginal and oral religions vocabulary
Aboriginal and Oral Religions: Vocabulary
  • Aboriginal – Native ancestry, inhabiting or existing in a land before the colonists
  • Indigenous - Originating naturally in a region, belonging naturally to an environment
  • Oracy – The ability to express oneself fluently in speech – to understand a spoken language
  • Shaman – Medicine Man or spiritual Leader
  • Shamanism – Trance, Magic, Attempt to manipulate the power of spirits for a tribe or group.
  • Calumet – A long stemmed sacred pipe used by Native North Americans. Smoked as a peace token. Often referred to by Europeans as a 'peace pipe'.
  • Peyote – Cactus, (southwest, U.S. / Mexico) induces a trance state. Similar to coca, cannabis, Opium, Mushroom (amanita, Muslania)
  • Libation – The act of pouring a liquid as an offering to God or gods.
  • Totem – An animal that is considered to be related by blood to a family or clan and is it's guardian symbol.
  • Taboo – Rule that forbids specific behaviour with regard to certain objects, people, animals, - strong social prohibition.
  • Holistic – Organic, a culture whose various elements (art, music, social behaviour) may all have religious meaning
south america the incas
Most South American myths that have been examined are from the Ancient Incas – who built a great empire in Peru 2500 B.C.

“Inca” – Means ‘the children of the sun’

A pre-Inca Tiachuanaco Myth tells that in the beginning a god called Con TicciViracocha emerged out of nothingness and created everything.

South America – The Incas
A costal tribe of Peru believed in a creator god called Coniraya. They believed he had filled the sea with fish and taught them how to farm the land. (Relates to theory that man came from the sea)

The Canaris Tribe – believed they were descended from an ancient parrot or macaw, who had bred with few survivors of a terrible flood

mayan sacred text
The Mayan creation story is written in an ancient document known as the Popol Vuh

The Maya believed that in the beginning there was nothing but darkness, with the sky above and the sea below.

Myths say that a group of gods together shaped the landscape and formed animals and birds.

The Popol Vuh says that women were created after men, as in the Christian creation story in the Bible.

Mayan Sacred Text
ancient polynesians
Polynesians are the peoples who live on the many islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, from Hawaiito Easter Island and New Zealand

Over 10,000 islands many may have been 1st settled 40,000 years ago

Easter Islanders created strange stone statues called “moais”, carved with stone tools because they had no metal.

There are about 600 huge stone moai statues on E.I.

Ancient Polynesians
worship of the divine feminine

Worship of theDivine Feminine

In several of the world’s influential religions female imagery and control was once the dominate form of the deity – today male influence has created an imbalance

Divine power is seen as mostly male

honouring the sacred feminine
Honouring the Sacred Feminine
  • In the religions of the world the concept of the “Sacred Feminine” is often:
    • seen through the recognition of the female aspect of divinity.
    • viewed as energy which provides strength (life) for the male conception of divine power, therefore creating a balance in the universe. Male/Female Yin /Yang, etc. Dualism
    • associated with nature, and the miracle of fertility and birth