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Primal Religions

Primal religions originated first


Theyaregenerallythetraditionsofnonliteratepeople
whichmeanstheydonotdependonscripturesorwritten
teachingsasdomostotherreligions.
Primalreligionstendtobethetraditionsoftribalpeoples,
organizedinsmallgroupsthatdwellinvillagesasopposedto
largecitiesexceptionsaretheYorubaofAfricaand
theAztecsofMesoamerica.

Four examples of Primal religions


theAboriginesofAustralia
theYorubaofAfrica
thePlainIndiansofNorthAmerica
theAztecs

Religions of the Australian Aborigines


ThefoundationofAboriginalreligionsistheconceptofthe
Dreaming.
Theworldwasoriginallyformless,butatacertainpoint,
supernaturalbeingscalledAncestorsemergedandroamedabout
theearth.
TheAncestorsgaveshapetothelandscapeandcreatedthe
variousformsoflife,includingthefirsthumanbeings.
Theyorganizedhumansintotribes,specifiedtheterritoryeach
tribewastooccupy,anddeterminedeachtribeslanguage,social
rulesandcustoms.
TheAncestorsleftbehindsymbolsoftheirpresence.

Symbols left behind


Thesiteatwhichthesesymbolsarefoundarethoughttobe
chargedwithsacredpower.
Onlycertainindividualsareallowedtovisitthemandthey
mustapproachthesymbolsinaspecialwayfollowingthepath
believedtohaveoriginallybeentakenbytheAncestors.
TheAboriginesbelieveinamythicgeographywhereby
everyrockformation,awateringhole,oracave,isbelievedto
havegreatreligioussignificance.

Ayers Rock

TheAyersRockisconsideredverysacredforAborigines

The Ancestors and people


AnunbornchildbecomesanimatedbyaparticularAncestor
whenthemotherofanotherrelativemakessomeformof
contactwithasacredsite.
ThisanimationinvolvesaritualthatdrawstheAncestors
spiritualessenceintotheunbornchild.
ThroughthisconnectioneachAborigineisaliving
representationofanAncestor.Thisissymbolizedbyatotem.
thenaturalforminwhichtheAncestorappearedinthe
Dreaming.
Totemsmaybeananimal,arockformationorotherfeature
ofthelandscape.

The Aboriginal Social Structure


Taboo:certainthingsandactivities,owingtotheirsacred
nature,aresetasideforspecificmembersofthegroupandare
forbiddentoothers.
Violationofthisprinciplehasbeenpunishablebydeath.
Restrictionsarebasedonmaturityandonanindividuals
degreeofreligioustraining.

Rituals
Ritualisessentialiflifeistohavemeaning.
OnlythroughritualcanthesacredpoweroftheDreamingbe
accessedandexperienced.
Aboriginesbelievethattheritualsthemselvesweretaughtto
thefirsthumansbytheAncestorsintheDreaming.
Behindeveryritualliesamyththattellsofcertainactionsof
theAncestorsduringtheDreaming.
Anexamplethecreationofthekangaroo,achieffoodsource,
spelloutexactlyhowandwheretheactofcreationtookplace.

Initiation:Symbolic death, Sacred


Rebirth.
Theseritualsawakenyoungpeopletotheirspiritualidentity
withinthetribebybringingaboutthedeathofchildhoodand
thematurityneededforadulthood.
TheDieritribeofsouthcentralAustraliahadanunusual
initiationrite:Aroundaboysninthbirthday,theinitiatestwo
lowermiddleteethwereknockedoutandburiedintheground
Atsometimeduringtheperiodofinitiation,theyoungboy
wasleftbyhimselfinthewildernessforseveralmonths.When
hereturned,hewasgreetedwithrejoicingandcelebrationandthe
youngboyhadbecomeaman.

Aboriginal Art

Oldest continuing artistic


tradition

NativeAustraliansbeganpaintingrockwallsfiftythousand
yearsago;earlyEuropeanswouldnotdecoratethecavesfor
another35thousandyears.
TraditionalAboriginalartwasimmenselyvaried.Inthe
north,groupsmadeelaborateXraypaintingsofanimal
skeletonsonbarkandrock.Inthenorthwest,theyadornedcave
wallswithimagesofWanjina,spiritualbeingswithhugeeyes
andnomouths.Thesepowerfulcreatures,itwasbelieved,
observedallthingsbutpassednojudgments.

The Dreaming
Groundpaintings,acommunaleffort,werefashioneddirectly
onthesand.
Theyweremadeduringsecretritesthatcelebratedthecreation
ancestorssupernaturalbeingswhowerethoughttohaveformed
everydetailofthelandscape,fromsandhillroriverbank.
EachAborigineinheritedresponsibilityforaparticular
Dreamingstoryandtheparceloflandonwhichittookplace.
Thistypeofpaintinginvolvedthousandsofdotsandafterthe
ceremonywasover,thepaintingwasdestroyed.