RITUAL RELIGION AND MYTH DEFINITION OF RITUAL v
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RITUAL, RELIGION AND MYTH
DEFINITION OF RITUAL v A ritual must fit into four categories. These four categories are that it must be a repetitive social practice, it must be set off from the routines of day to day life, it must follow some sort of ritual schema, and it must be encoded in myth. Ritual often has its roots in myth and religion, tying itself to ancient practices between the divine and humans. However, a ritual does not have to be religious in nature; graduation ceremonies and birthday parties are rituals as well
EXAMPLES OF RITUALS Religions have different rituals and practices that accompany and highlight religious experience. Familiar examples in the United States include attending church, praying, baptism and other rituals that have become very ingrained in Western culture as part of the Christian religion. For example American Christians pray before a meal, in time of grief and guidance, for a friend or family member and before and after waking up. However these rituals are only a very small part of the vast diversity of practices that religions from around the world use.
v In the Sierra Madre Occidentals, where the Huichol Indians live, there is a sacred place called Wirikuta. The Huichol Indians make a pilgrimage to this sacred land to collect the peyote cactus. The sacred peyote cactus, which can induce hallucinogenic visions, is eaten by the Huichol as a way to connect their three key symbols of life. These symbols are maize, deer and peyote. Religious practice varies greatly among cultures.
SICILY v An example of an old ritual that is encoded in myth and religious symbolism can be found in the catacombs of Sicily where over 2, 000 dead bodies are kept. Most of these bodies have been embalmed or mummified and dressed in the attire that suited their profession, many of them being nobles, professionals, and merchants. The oldest body dates from 1599, while the freshest have been dated to the 19 th century. The truth of the reasons for mummifying of some of Sicily’s most important people is still surrounded by myth. Aside from the myths, many used to go down to the crypts and “pray for the souls of dead relatives” to the mummified clergymen. This type of worship can be seen in many shamanistic cultures.
SINHALESE BUDDHISTS v Another great example of Ritual can be seen in the Sinhalese Buddhists of Sri Lanka. To cure people of illness the Sinhalese perform an elaborate exorcism ritual that involves all night dancing, singing, and role playing. The ceremony traditionally lasts from Midnight until 6 AM. At Midnight, costumed actors appear to portray the afflicting demons. As time passes, these figures are turned into comedic figures of ridicule. At 3 AM actors dressed as Sinhalese gods appear and reassert their dominance. The final performance, done around 6 AM, the absurdity of the demons if confirmed and the ritual ends. It is important to note that the ritual involves several crucial and distinctly separate phases. 
CHRISTIANITY v There also many rituals in traditional American and European culture. For instance, rituals play an integral part in Christianity the predominant religion in Europe, America and increasingly in China and many other parts of the world. There are many denominations of the Christian church and they differ in the applications of some rituals, but some common ones are worshiping and praying as a community, baptism, confession, and communion, or the use of bread and wine to symbolize the blood and body of Christ and the power of his salvation.
ISLAM v Participants of Islam, if possible make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lives and must pray five times (beginning at five A. M. ) every day at specific times in the direction of Mecca, which is located in Saudi Arabia.
JUDAISM v In Judaism, rituals include lighting the menorah, celebrating Hanukkah, abstaining from the consumption of dairy and pork, and eating unleavened bread during Passover
HINDUISM v Hinduism involves regularly attending temples to burn incense and offerings including bread and flowers to each God and Goddess’s alter.
NATIVE AMERICAN v Rituals in the southwest region of the United States are also very common, especially among the Native American pueblos. In Sandia Pueblo, a pueblo in New Mexico near Albuquerque, the annual Buffalo Festival takes place. Early in the morning the males go into the Sandia mountains and re-enact a hunting party that they're ancestors once participated in. Once they return the dancing ceremonies begin. The people of the pueblo who are a certain age begin to participate in the dancing, which is an especially big deal to the children who have finally come of age and have their first dance. After the first dance, a family will invite others into their home to eat a large feast usually consisting of buffalo. After this feast another dance takes place followed by a different families invitation to feast at their home. In their community it is considered rude to say no and refuse food so its safe to say that nobody goes hungry. This cycle of dancing and feasting continues until dusk when the Throw occurs. The Throw is when the family of the children who get to have their first dance go onto the roofs of houses in the main square and throw off practical household items, such as spatulas and spoons. This gut-stuffing ritual has taken place for many years and will certainly continue for many more.
ORIGINS OF RELIGION
THE GOLDEN BOUGH v James Frazer's ethnology of religion entitled The Golden Bough, published in 1890 and again in 1922, offered a thorough review of the cross cultural variation in ideas related to magic, myth and religion that were known to Europeans at the time. Taking an evolutionary approach he proposed that human belief progressed through three stages: primitive magic, which was displaced by religion, which in turn was replaced by science.
v Anthropologists have suggested that religion was created out of a failure of magic to give a satisfying answer to the 'big questions' inherent across human civilization. Initially, the term religion was used to describe a domain of western culture and belief in the supernatural. The definition of religion has been disputed among anthropologists because some would define the 'supernatural' as something that does not exist, and some define it as something that is simply 'beyond sensed'. Recently, evolutionary biologist and psychologists have begun to look at religion in terms of it being a natural evolution of human culture over time. Much like the idea of culture itself, they believe that religion was replicated, adapted and evolved from generation to generation in much the same way that human genes do.
MAGIC v Magic is defined as a set of beliefs and practices designed to control the visible or invisible world for specific purposes. Magic often offers ways to explain the world, very similar to Religion and Sciences. In fact, religion and science evolved out of the inability of magic to explain the natural world. It is used as an attempt to create change in the natural world through supernatural means. Depending on the culture, magic can be used by humans or can originate from some higher power. In many cultures those who are suspected of using magic are feared and hated, but in other cultures they are respected leaders. In the past, religion has been said to have developed as a result of magic failing to explain everything. (Frazer) In the United States, for example, people who didn't fit cultural norms, mostly elderly women, they were prosecuted for witchcraft on the assumption that they were practitioners of magic in a society where magic is straight from the devil. There are two types of magic, imitative and contagious.
IMITATIVE MAGIC Imitative magic attempts to control the universe through the mimicking of a desired event (e. g. a rain dance to bring rain to dry crops). A Voodoo doll is an example of imitative magic. The Voodoo doll is used as a symbolic representation of another person. A person that practices Voodoo magic may stick pins into a doll in order to inflict harm or put a curse on another individual. It is thought that by harming the Voodoo doll, one can manipulate the physical or emotional state of the person that the doll is meant to represent.
In the Babar Archipelago, when a woman wants a child, she invites a man from the village who has a large family to pray to Upulero, the spirit of the sun. A doll out of red cloth is made and held to the woman's breast as if it was suckling. The man who was invited over grabs a chicken by the leg and holds it over the woman's head saying "O Upulero, make use of this fowl; let fall, let descend a child, I beseech you, I entreat you, let a child fall and descend into my hands and onto my lap. " He then asks the women if the baby has come and she says "Yes, it's already suckling". The man then holds the fowl over the husbands' head with a another prayer recited, and the chicken is killed and laid out for sacrifice. This ceremony blends together the ideas of imitative magic and religion. (Frazer, 2003)
CONTAGIOUS MAGIC v Contagious magic involves the use of physical objects that have been in contact with the person who the magic is to affect, like a toenail. Contagious magic is often associated with witchcraft, a basic concept, one that shapes their experience of adversity, in which all deaths are due to witchcraft and must be avenged by magic (p. 216 Schultz & Lavenda). Despite the stereotypes of European American witchcraft - old hags dressed in black, riding on broomsticks, casting spells, causing milk to sour or people to sicken - some witchcrafts are quite tame and do not involve the hurting of others.  Contemporary Wicca is often associated with witchcraft, and it is disputed among the Wicca community whether they should self identify as witches.
WICCANS v Most Wiccans use what is known as "white magic. " White magic is often used for healing, focusing the individual (or group, depending on circumstances), speaking to deity, meditation, and cleansing a space or object. Generally, first the priest or priestess will cast a circle (everyone does it a little differently) and call the God and Goddess to watch over the work of the day, whether it be to raise energy for a sick friend or to cleanse a new apartment. The four elements (air, earth, fire, and water) are usually represented in various ways, and they help make the circle complete. The work is performed within the created "sacred space" of the circle, and then broken down when the work is complete. A meal is often served after circle, to rejuvenate the participants.
v Nonetheless, contagious magic is still practiced today within the U. S, usually for beneficial and positive outcomes. For example, many people still use poppets (much like voodoo dolls) which are made with someone's personal possessions in order to draw positive energy into that person's life.  As a harmful example, the ability that a Navajo witch has to cause you physical pain because they have a piece of your hair is an example of Contagious magic.
EXAMPLES v An example of contagious magic among Australian tribes is a custom of removing a young male's front tooth in an initiation ceremony. In some of the tribes in New South Wales the tooth was placed under the bark of a tree; if the bark grew over the tooth or the tooth fell out then the boy would have good health, but if the tooth was exposed he would have diseases of the mouth. The tooth was out into the care of an influential man in the tribe and passed from man to man, the tooth was to be passed by hand. The tooth was never to touch any magical substance because it would seep into the tooth and harm the boy/man that it came from.
EXAMPLES v Using the afterbirth or placenta is another form of contagious magic. The belief that the afterbirth can affect the rest of an individual’s life is believed around the world in vastly differing contemporary societies. While it is rich in nutrients, the afterbirth isn't only eaten; there are many different rituals around the placenta. For example, the Lom on the island of Bangka in Indonesia, clean the placenta immediately after birth, "regardless of its subsequent treatment. " They believe this prevents the baby's abdomen from bloating.  Common beliefs are that the afterbirth will influence the character and career of the person, making him, if it is a man, a nimble climber, a strong swimmer, a skillful hunter, or a brave soldier, and making her, if it is a woman, a cunning seamstress, and a good baker. Even though the afterbirth is not thought of as much more than another part of the birthing process, midwives in the United States to this day, still ask the family if they would like to have the afterbirth for any ritual purposes.
FUNCTIONS OF RELIGION
From an anthropological standpoint, religion serves many functions in society. First, it is believed that religion serves to explain the physical world. In this sense, religion offers to answer questions like: “How was the Universe created? How were the Earth and Sun created? How did plants and animals come to be? ” Furthermore, religion attempts to answer (or to help cope with) the “big questions” in life. Such questions may range anywhere from: “Who am I? " and "Why am I here? " to "What is my purpose in life? " and "What happens when I die? ” Although religion does not directly answer all of these “big questions, ” religion helps individuals cope with such daunting thoughts, making the lives of followers of arguably all religions more cohesive. It allows individuals to concentrate their efforts on their day to day life, rather than worrying about unanswerable questions. Religion creates a foundation in life to build upon, as well as for cultures to come together.
Religion also attempts to control or reduce uncertainty. This concept ties into the idea that religion serves to answer the “big questions” of life. By attempting to offer answers to such large questions, religion fulfils an individuals “need to know, ” and thus offers some relief to an individual’s uncertainty about life. However, it is important to note that this concept of believing in the answers religion offers is called faith, in which an individual believes in something regardless of whethere is physical proof or not. Through the centuries there has been much debate over whether faith in a religion is positive or is a detriment to mankind. While the fourteenth century Italian poet and philosopher Dante wrote about the virtues or religion, the nineteenth century German philosopher Nietzsche argued that accepting a dogmatic moral code on faith alone is not only illogical but fundamentally limits human potential.
French sociologist Émile Durkheim claims that in addition, religion attempts to offer a singular answer to life, and thus allows for the social cohesion of a society through its shared beliefs. So, in a sense, religion serves to unite a society under a system of belief (religion), which leads to the group’s ability to successfully interact within itself and allows for social control. Religion can also potentially divide people, as we see with religious wars in the past or in the present, for example the Sunni and Shiite are in constant turbulence and war <ref: http: //hnn. us/articles/934. html>. Religion serves to define groups of people, who identify intimately with the beliefs encompassed by their religion, which leads to a shared worldview.
Finally, according to Clifford James Geertz, an American anthropologist, religion attempts to offer a structure of meaning to life. Geertz believed that religion served as a model for how life should exist. Therefore religion demonstrates how individuals should conduct themselves in everyday life. An example of this is the Christian catchphrase, “What Would Jesus Do? (WWJD)”. By asking this question, Christians attempt to live their everyday lives by Jesus’ example and directives, such as the concept of loving one’s neighbor as yourself, which can be found in Matthew, chapter 19, verse 16 in the Christian Holy Bible.
Overall, it is important to note from an anthropological point of view, religion does not serve a singular purpose, but in fact serves many purposes in society. While religions unite a society, they also offer answers to those in need, while giving a society rules of conduct in which adherents should live by. Most importantly religions add to and define cultures. Therefore, by studying a culture’s religion, the culture itself can be better understood
CONCEPTS OF SUPERNATURAL BEINGS
ANIMATISM Animatism is the belief in a supernatural power that is not necessarily a supernatural being or animal. In this sense it is the belief A Polynesian carving, spirits are said to be able to manifest themselves in any object. Mana is conveyed trough tiki statues in Polynesian culture that the supernatural is all around you and could be anything.
ANIMATISM v Individuals that hold these beliefs explain a powerful unseen force that can potentially be found all around us in people, animals, plants and features of nature such as volcanoes and the ocean, for example, Mother Earth (believing in the nonliving). The belief of animatism doesn't assign a spiritual identity, but instead believes in a single unified power that can manifest itself into objects or be acquired by and controlled by certain individuals. The term was coined by the British Anthropologist Robert Marett as "a belief in a generalized, impersonal power over which people have some measure of control "Animatism is the cause of consciousness and personality to natural phenomena such as thunderstorms and earthquakes and to objects such as plants and stones. Inanimate objects, forces and plants have personalities and wills, but not souls. These forces are inanimate and impersonal, This is not true for those beliefs relating to animism.
EXAMPLES v In the South Pacific Polynesian cultures the power of animatism is commonly referred to as "Mana". For them it is a force that is inherent in all objects, plants, and animals (including people) to different degrees. Some things or people have more of it than others and are, therefore, potentially dangerous. Often a chief must have some with him at all times. Dangerous places such as volcanoes were considered to have concentrated amounts of mana. This impersonal power is much like the Force described in the popular Star Wars movies. Mana is a spiritual quality considered to have supernatural origin – a sacred impersonal force existing in the universe. Therefore to have mana is to have influence and authority, and efficacy – the power to perform in a given situation. Mana, Marett states, is a concentrated form of animatistic force found within any of these objects that confer power, strength, and success. For example, the Polynesians, believe in mana as a force inherent in all objects. This essential quality of mana is not limited to persons – folks, governments, places and inanimate objects can possess mana.
EUHEMERISM v Euhemerism is a rationalizing method of interpretation that was named after the Greek mythographer (compiler of myths) Euhemerus. Euhemerism is the idea that a real person can become a deity or a supernatural immortal being through the constant telling and re-telling of their stories that leads to the distortion of the actual story. For example, many people believe that Hercules was a real person but was deified through the stories of his life and after some time the embellished story became the accepted story. Therefore, Hercules was remembered as a deity. Euhemerism is the worship and belief in an ancestor or historical being who is thought to have supernatural power.
ANIMISM v Animism is the belief that natural objects, natural phenomena, and the universe all possess individual souls. Deriving from the Latin word anima, meaning a breath or soul, it is one of man’s oldest beliefs dating back to the Paleolithic Age associated with and is primitive greatly peoples, those without a written tradition.
In terms of practices, many animistic cultures worshiped plant life, including trees and plants, because of their beauty, strength, and life. It is thought that all beings, including plants, have a soul. This is why in many Native American cultures totem poles are major symbolic structures, and the main focus of many rituals. Centuries ago the Coast Salish Indian Tribe was well known for its belief in spiritual transmutation between humans and animals, a trait of animistic culture. Living in Cowichan Valley, on Vancouver Island they created hundreds of totem poles in order to showcase the spirits believed to be living in the animals portrayed upon the totems, and the trees the totems themselves were made out of.
NEW ANIMISM v As mentioned, animism is greatly associated with more primitive cultures. However, “new animism” a more symbolic and less literal form of animism is still found in many different cultures worldwide^. This form of the religion is focused on the different types of souls in different types of people from all different cultures. It is more acutely understood as the teaching of how to have respectful relationships with human beings, as well as the natural world. It is also to be understood, that not all things have a truly human soul, including humans, and part of animism is distinguishing what/who is truly human, and what/who is not. The basic idea is that life is always lived in relationship with other soul-ridden beings, and showing the utmost respect for these relationships is vital to survival
DUALISM v Dualism in the sense of theology is a belief in two supernatural god like figures. Bitheism/Ditheism are two forms that both involve the two gods. Bitheism implies that the gods live in peace and ditheism implies that there is opposition. This means that a ditheism system would have one good and one evil god or one god that listened and helped and one that ignored. A god of life and one of death is another example. An example of a Bitheism system would be something like one god is of the sky and one of the wind. It is not always easy to distinguish between the two, like a sky god who brings storms and rain and an earth god who brings fertility and tremors. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato also had a hand in dualism, but more in the sense of body and soul. In a moral sense Christianity is a dualism religion with the opposition of God and Satan.
ANTHROPOMORPHISM v Anthropomorphism is the concept of attributing human characteristics or behaviors to a non-human being. This can mean animals, plants, and almost anything else taking on the personality of a human. Different religions have different interpretations of anthropomorphism, but in general it is to show their God as something or someone else.
EXAMPLES OF ANTHROPOMORPHISM v For Catholics the purpose of drawings and other forms of anthropomorphism is to reach our philosophic knowledge of God. v In Greek mythology anthropomorphic animals are representations of their Gods. The Greeks show that the gods are different from us by attributing them to the features of being ‘immortal and ageless. ’
EXAMPLES v In the anthropology of religion the primary use of anthropomorphism is to embody the supernatural in human form. An example that is most defined in Western culture is in Judaism and Christianity, God has given human feelings of anger and jealousy or compassion and forgiveness. All human qualities that have been given to God in human settings that surround humanity, where these feelings are all emotions that humans have observed and none that we haven't. A functional analysis of anthropomorphism proposes that when the supernatural takes human form, it may be easier for people to relate to the concepts promoted by religion.
NONRELIGIOUS EXAMPLES v Another use of anthropomorphism is the blending of human traits with other beings. “John Tenniel's depiction of an anthropomorphic rabbit was featured in the first chapter of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. ” This is an example of anthropomorphism in the form of a children story. Another example in Western culture is Goldilocks and The Three Bears. All the bears talk and walk around like humans do. Both of these stories bring us closer to animals because they seem more like us, they seem friendly like someone a child would want to be friends with. This is a longstanding culture tradition in Western culture and many other cultures in fables and myths. Though many people do not like being compared to animals, especially primates, because they want to be seen as separate from animals.
ZOOMORPHIC v Zoomorphism is the attribution of animal qualities or characteristics to a God. It is the act of attributing animal qualities to things that are not animals. Many times it is mistaken for anthropomorphism, which attributes human characteristics or qualities to things that are not human. Zoomorphic supernaturals can be found in many religions, such as Hinduism with the deity Ganesha. Other examples include images of male deities with antlers that appeared in prehistoric art in countries as far apart as France, Australia, Canada and China.
EXAMPLES OF ZOOMORPHIC v An example of zoomorphism can also be found Egyptian mythology with the god Anubis. In Egyptian mythology Anubis was the god that protected the dead and brought them to the after life until Osiris took over the position and then Anubis became the gate keeper of the dead.  v In Egyptian Mythology death was not seen as the last stage of life it was seen as the stage of life where a person was at rest while they waited for the rebirth of their soul. The burial process of the Egyptians was very elaborate and complex because it was meant to protect the spirits from the different levels of good and evil.  v Anubis had the duties of watching over the mummification process, conduct the souls through the underworld, and placing the hearts of the souls on the Scales of Justice during the Judging of the Heart, and feeds the souls of the wicked people to Ammit.  v Anubis has the head of a jackal with the body of a human. His head is the color black because black is the color associated with death and the rotting color of flesh and the black soil of the Nile valley. The head of a jackal is significant because in ancient times jackals would hunt at the edges of deserts near the necropolis and cemeteries and ravage the desert graves throughout Egypt. 
TOTEMISM v Totemism is a religious practice in which a family is seen to have a close kinship with a particular spiritual being, such as an animal or plant. The entity, or totem, is thought to interact with a given kin group or an individual and to serve as their emblem or symbol. [] Each spirit can be associated with an animal of some kind as a symbol of power or any other type of attribute. Masks are sometimes used as well to recreate the spirit or being. Usually seen through the use of Totem poles with Native American families in traditional societies. Though this is usually seen in Native American traditional societies, this is something that is practiced all over the world, and it is not exclusively associated with those groups of people. The term totem is derived from the Ojibwa word ototeman, meaning “one’s brother-sister kin. ” The grammatical root, ote, signifies a blood relationship between brothers and sisters who have the same mother and who may not marry each other.