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Cultural Significance of Witchcraft and Sorcery…Part 1

Witchcraft and sorcery have been recognized as a cause of human misfortune for millennia and it appears that these causes are nearly, if not entirely, universal; belief spreads from America to Africa to Asia. Records of witchcraft and sorcery are evidenced in rock art and date to pre-historic times. There is also evidence that some […]

Continued Interest in the Occult in American Society

The occult plays a role in American society today that may be sorely underestimated. Horoscopes appear in daily newspapers; psychic hotlines were once the rage; tarot cards are for sale everywhere; and ouija boards are still found in many homes. Our continued interest in all things occult poses an interesting question; how are we different […]

Catholic Priest and Shaman- a Contrast of Communications

The means of association and communication with supernatural beings is hugely variable across the cultures of the world. This differentiation is readily apparent when looking at the shaman and the Catholic priest and their respective relationship with spirit.

A shaman moves through the spirit world. He can transport himself into the spirit realm, talk with spirits, […]

Culture, Religion, and Disease…Some Thoughts

The etiology and treatment of disease is controlled by culture. They reflect the belief system of a culture and are inherently tied to it. Religion and medicine are closely associated with each other in non-western cultures and disease is believed to be caused by natural or supernatural means. As science is an outgrowth of religion, […]

Who is a Shaman?

Religious specialists date to the beginnings of religion. Mediums, shaman, priests, prophets, and diviners have helped, controlled, and advanced religion for thousands of years.

The shaman is the traditional healer. From the Tungus word shaman, or haman, he moves through the world of spirit curing, divining, and chasing ghosts. He communicates directly with souls “on the […]

Two Forms of Magic

Contagious and imitative Magic are the two forms of Sympathetic magic which is based on the foundation that things, through a secret sympathy, can act upon each other at a distance. Imitative magic acts through the Law of Similarity, i.e. things that are alike are connected. Voodoo dolls are “like” their target. In modern times […]

What is a Taboo?

Taboos prohibit or restrict behaviors or actions. These revolve around sex, food, rites of passage, sacred objects, and sacred people. Taboos function to control the ecology, distinguish between social groups and control them, and to threaten violators with supernatural punishment. These proscriptions are put into place to counter threats to existence and/or social stability. The […]

Myth vs History

Myth is the narrative relation of the occurrence of events that has a sacred nature. The characters of myth are often symbols for ideals, values, or beliefs and may have never existed outside the myth itself. Myth is typically passed down from generation to generation orally. History is the recordation of events by a witness […]

History of the Evolution of “Religion”

From the belief in souls or spirits, to modern day science, the hypothesis for the root, and development, of religion is discussed. Clifford Geertz, speaking from a perspective almost 40 years old, talks of the evolution of the anthropology of religion. Lecture notes encapsulate and emphasize points that introduce us to why we have religion, […]