Gods & Spirits• Polytheistic, usually believing that one supreme deity created the world, then left it for lesser gods to squabble over• Ultimately came to feel that the high God was too distant. Spirits became important• Earth, sky, seas, and natural events, are believed to contain spiritual life or force similar to that of humans and are often worshiped.• When water is used for worship rituals, it must be living water from streams, lakes, etc. The water cannot come from a well or be boiled
Ancestors• Believe ancestors exist in a spiritual world, but still have interest in the affairs of living persons, often interfering in the lives of the living• Veneration of ancestors is a potent part of the religions. They are feared more than the gods• They cause droughts, floods, famines, earthquakes, and childlessness• Sacrifices are frequent, including animal blood sacrifices• Ancestors are believed to communicate with the living
Communication with Ancestors – Communicate mostly through dreams – Some messages are clear, others are unclear – When unclear, a diviner is sought out – Often the message is believed to be given directly through circumstances or other incidentsSacrifice• Daily libations: pouring a bit of drink or tossing a bit of food – are most common• Dogs, birds, sheep, goats, and cattle are oftensacrificed, and their blood poured over an altar. This is prior to battle or when there is drought or illness• Rarely is human sacrifice practiced.
Rites of Passage Birth Births are important and celebrated The birth of twins is often considered an evil omen Twins indicate that the wife has been unfaithful to the husband and that the children have two fathers Often one or both of the babies are killed In some tribes children are not named until after their first week of life, due to the high infant mortality rate After the child is born it is shown to the moon Children are instructed in their societal roles At puberty this instruction becomes more rigorous
Rites of PassageBirth (cont.) Children are taught tribal myths and rituals Older boys may undergo whippings and harsh trials For boys, circumcision is often practiced For girls, some form of genital mutilation is often undergoneDeath Surrounded by much ritual to assure that the dead do not return to haunt – no judgment Women are concerned that husbands do notreturn to seal the womb
Religious Leaders• Priests are not needed except at special times• Witch doctors are relied upon – This doctor to “the bewitched” has as his primary responsibility the discovery of the cause of evil fortune