89 Chapters
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Chapter 6. The Horticulturists

Felicitas D. Goodman Indiana University Press ePub

The history of horticulturalist settlements varies greatly according to geographic location. Judging from the archeological record, it flourished only briefly in Central Europe, and disappeared from the scene well over five thousand years ago. Traces of it can still be found in fairy tales and legends, but the absence of a historical memory of this cultural form contributed to the tragedy of native populations that got in the way of European conquest: It was not agriculture, and therefore it was despised as ignorant and savage. Only around the Mediterranean did some of the central concepts of its religion, especially that of metamorphosis, survive into the time of classical antiquity, as we know from ancient Greece and Egypt. But the ability of humans to change shape and become animals or plants was no longer generally accepted and became the attribute of deities in Greece. Zeus changes into a bull or a swan in order to further his amorous pursuits and seduce beautiful girls. And in Egypt, where many deities appear in a combined human and animal form, the entire metamorphosis complex apparently became part of the esoteric knowledge of the priestly caste. Japanese Shinto, the “Way of the Spirits,” is the only example of a large, modern industrial society retaining a horticultural religion. Horticulturalism as a way of life survived into the present in New Guinea, in parts of Southeast Asia, in Africa, and among Amerindian societies in both North and South America.

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Chapter 7: The Ghosts that Kill

Felicitas D. Goodman Indiana University Press ePub

While the multiple personality disorder is rarely interpreted as a condition of demonic possession (although in some instances, as we saw, that would certainly be appropriate), in other contexts the term is bandied about with considerable bravado. In the opening speeches at a newly founded Christian Center for Information about the Occult in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1985, everything popularly subsumed under New Age, such as astrology, aura balancing, crystal healing, plus anything having to do with Spiritualism, was classified as demonic possession. The speakers at this center were fundamentalist Protestants, but when it comes to indicting Satan for the supposed ills of the age, Catholic popular writers do not lag far behind. A Viennese author writing in 19761 includes all the above, while adding also black magic, satanic cults, divination, and spirit journeys to the list. In a 1985 television interview, a Pentecostal minister advocated exorcism for gays, which thus by implication is also classified as possession by an evil spirit. It seems that even in this supposedly rational and scientific modern age, there is no dearth of those who will summarily accuse people of being possessed by abominable spirits if they succumb to the allure of anything culturally decried or censured at the time. But the spirits called up under such circumstances seem rather anemic as devils go. Upon closer examination, they turn out to be no more than flimsy masks used to give an aura of authority to a parochial, dogmatically informed judgment: “In a manner of speaking,” if I see a certain behavior, such as people wearing a crystal on a necklace or paying for an astrological chart, I should warn them in Christian charity that Satan is close by, tempting them to commit an act that within our doctrine, which represents the only Truth, is a Sin. The Evil One, in fact, may have already taken possession of them, and poor benighted ones, they do not even realize it.

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3 The Path of Water

Foundation, Anasazi Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

I escaped the land of winding cliffs to the south.
And when I did so, I changed course from where
I initially had planned to go.

From that day, I no longer ran from my people
but merely persisted in staying away from them.

Days passed into months and months into years.

I grew into manhood without the companionship of
my father and without the worrying comfort of my mother.

The hills and the valleys raised me.

Then, as well as now, in my daily walking, I have sought
the answer to one question above all others:

Where will I find water?

Think about water for a moment.

Have you ever considered all it does for us?

I have learned to walk near water, for beside it the earth
springs forth to provide shade and refreshment.

I try to rest near water,
for I need it for nourishment and strength.

I bathe in water, for it cleanses and invigorates my skin.

My final destination at the end of each day has been
a pool of pure water.

And when traveling in dry places, each morning
I have set off with as much of that pool as I could carry.

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Chapter 3: Healing in Umbanda

Felicitas D. Goodman Indiana University Press ePub

Continuing with our review of positive spirit possession, we want to treat Umbanda next. This Brazilian religion has a complex history, with its roots reaching back into Africa, Europe, and Indian America. The sugar plantations in the northeastern part of Brazil employed African slaves in the sixteenth century. They brought with them their own religious observances from Dahomey, the Congo, and Angola. They also carried along the Yoruba tradition, a syncretic form of which evolved into Haitian vodun, which we touched on in chapter 1. Gradually, beliefs concerning the Catholic saints of the plantation owners and the African gods began to overlap; they became syncretized. When in 1888 the slaves were emancipated in Brazil, they began moving south, into the cities that offered jobs in their developing industries. Once there, the Afro-Brazilians started cult centers for the practice of their various religions. These were already syncretic, some even incorporating American Indian traits. But they varied according to which of the African traditions was predominant.

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Medium 9780253000958

The Inheritance of Tools

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

At just about the hour when my father died, soon after dawn one February morning when ice coated the windows like cataracts, I banged my thumb with a hammer. Naturally I swore at the hammer, the reckless thing, and in the moment of swearing I thought of what my father would say: “If you’d try hitting the nail it would go in a whole lot faster. Don’t you know your thumb’s not as hard as that hammer?” We both were doing carpentry that day, but far apart. He was building cupboards at my brother’s place in Oklahoma; I was at home in Indiana putting up a wall in the basement to make a bedroom for my daughter. By the time my mother called with news of his death—the long-distance wires whittling her voice until it seemed too thin to bear the weight of what she had to say—my thumb was swollen. A week or so later a white scar in the shape of a crescent moon began to show above the cuticle, and month by month it rose across the pink sky of my thumbnail. It took the better part of a year for the scar to disappear, and every time I noticed it I thought of my father.

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