myth Oral or written stories (narratives) about the actions and deeds of supernatural powers and cultural heros.
Myths help to form a people's worldview: their conceptions of reality and the interpretations of events that happen in society and the natural world.
ritual In the context of religion, the organized performance of behaviours intended to influence spiritual powers.
Rituals are stereotyped, have symbolic aspects, anthropologists define ritual as symbolic behaviour.
practitioner with specialized knowledge
"belief in spiritual beings"
E.B. Tylor - all religions include beliefs that some kind of spiritual or supernatural powers exist.
Polynesians believe in mana, a diffuse, incorporeal power that permeated certain people and things. Mana lent supernatural potency to objects. The gods gave mana to certain people. Specific pieces of land were infused with mana.
symbolism in ritual
classification of rituals
calendrical rituals regularly held rituals that occur seasonally, annually daily, monthly. Like weekly church services, or annual religious holidays.
crisis ritual organized and performed rituals whenever some individual or group needs, wants, or asks for them. for purposes of curing, ensuring good hunting or fishing, burying or honoring the dead or accompanying other events that happen sporadically or unpredictably.
approaches to the study of religious systems
intellectual/cognitive assume humans seek explainations for the world around them.
Origin myths explain things like creation of the sky, land and water; where animals and plants come from; where people get their language, tools, rituals, and other customs and beliefs.
Frazer and Guthrie Sir James Frazer - influential scholar who influenced the intellectual approach. Human thinking progressed through three stages that he called magic, religion and science. Thought science was replacing magical and religious beliefs.
Stewart Guthrie - views religion in cognitive terms. Essence of religion is the belief that natural phenomena have humanlike properties. People see the world anthropomorphically. attributing human motives, purposes, feelings, senses and other characteristics to living and nonliving things that are not human.