If This Isnt Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young

psychoanalytic psychotherapist | clinical supervisor | couples therapist The Dark Night of the Soul is the title given to a poem by 16th-century Spanish poet and What insights might we take away from this familiar, nearly ubiquitous metaphor of dying .. Darkness and turmoil stimulate the imagination in a certain way.

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Taking an evolutionary approach to spirituality, he proposed that human belief progressed through three stages: primitive magic, which was displaced by religion, which in turn was replaced by science. Imitative magic also known as Similarity Magic Is a form of magic in which an object, act, etc.

This is a religious cult practiced in the Caribbean and Southern USA mostly by afro-americans, immigrants and descendants , combining elements of Roman Catholic rituals with traditional African magical and religious rites, and characterized by sorcery and spirit possession..

Voodoo, an example of similarity magic, has a negative connotation because of the misconception that it is associated with evil. In this practice, the Voodoo doll is used as a symbolic representation of another person. A person that practices Voodoo magic may stick pins into a doll in order to inflict harm or put a curse on another individual; it is thought that by harming the Voodoo doll, one can manipulate the physical or emotional state of the person that the doll is meant to represent.

However, the use of Voodoo is not purely negative. Voodoo is often used to heal relationships or other personal issues. Brown studies the priestesses daily practices, and finds that Mama Lola uses imitative magic to help people's lives. In one instance, she helps a young women's relationship with her husband. The husband is cheating on his wife, so Moma Lola tells her to write his name on a piece of paper, tear it up, and speak his name. By doing this, he will hear her and come back to her. Contagious magic is often associated with witchcraft and sorcery.

Witchcraft uses magic by casting spells, sometimes affiliated with spirits. Despite the stereotypes of European American witchcraft, most witchcraft is quite tame and does not involve the hurting of others. Many people still use puppets much like voodoo dolls or make symbolic offerings images, money, candles and representations of babies or body part or a myriad of other public displays of devotion the supplicants to the which are made with someone's personal possessions in order to draw positive energy into that person's life. The ability that a Navajo Witch has to cause you physical pain because they have a piece of your hair is an example of contagious magic.

Sacrament of Communion

Religion and its purpose varies depending on who you ask, but in a general sense, religions are societal groups of individuals with like-minded values and beliefs about the world. Most use religion as a way to achieve and ensure salvation in the afterlife, or to receive assurance of the purpose of their own lives. Spirituality often provides its followers with moral standards or expectations of how they should live and treat others. A religious group can bring people together, but religion also has a violent history as the driving force behind acts of genocide and oppression.

For example, the Crusades were some of the most famous instances of the use of religion to justify violence, the Holocaust being another example. Both are historically significant, and while these are drastic examples, we still see prejudice today with attacks on Muslims based solely on religious ignorance. Anthropologically, religion has many purposes in society and its study can tell much about a culture that is not otherwise understood. There are many different ways cultures conceptualize their spiritual beings. Animatism is the belief in a supernatural power that is able to be something other than a person or animal.

In this sense, it is the belief that the supernatural is all around you and could be anything. Individuals that hold these beliefs explain a powerful unseen force that can potentially be found all around us; in people, animals, plants and features of nature such as volcanoes and the ocean, for example, Mother Earth believing in the non-living.

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Esoteric Christianity or The Lesser Mysteries by Annie Besant

The belief of animatism doesn't assign a spiritual identity but instead believes in a single unified power that can manifest itself into objects or be acquired by and controlled by certain individuals. The term was coined by the British Anthropologist Robert Ranulph Marett as "a belief in a generalized, impersonal power over which people have some measure of control" Animatism is the cause of consciousness and personality to natural phenomena such as thunderstorms and earthquakes and to objects such as plants and stones.

Inanimate objects, forces, and plants have personalities and wills, but not souls. These forces are inanimate and impersonal, This is not true for those beliefs relating to animism. In the South Pacific Polynesian cultures, the power of animatism is commonly referred to as "Mana". For them, it is a force that is inherent in all objects, plants, and animals including people to different degrees.


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Some things or people have more of it than others and are therefore, potentially dangerous. Often a chief must have some with him at all times. Dangerous places, such as volcanoes, were considered to have concentrated amounts of mana. Mana is a spiritual quality considered to have supernatural origin — a sacred impersonal force existing in the universe. Therefore to have mana is to have influence and authority, and efficacy — the power to perform in a given situation.

Mana, Marett states, is a concentrated form of animatistic force found within any of these objects that confer power, strength, and success. For example, the Polynesians, believe in mana as a force inherent in all objects. This essential quality of mana is not limited to persons — folks, governments, places and inanimate objects can possess mana. Animism is one of the oldest beliefs, dating back to the Paleolithic age a prehistoric period distinguished by the earliest known primitive tools about 2.

Animism believes that natural objects, natural phenomena, and the universe all possess individual souls. It is derived from the Latin word anima, meaning a breath or soul. Tylor posted that animism was birthed by primitive cultures mistaking their dreams for reality. In classical animism, it is said that spirits are a separate entity from the body, and cause life in humans by passing through bodies and other inanimate objects.

He believed that the earliest animists based their religion on inanimate objects acting strangely, or uniquely giving them the illusion of life alike to humans, trees blowing in the wind for instance. In terms of practices, many animistic cultures worshiped plant life, including trees and plants, because of their beauty, strength, and life. It is thought that all beings, including plants, have a soul. This is why in many Native American cultures totem poles are a major symbolic structure, and the main focus of many rituals. Centuries ago the Coast Salish Indian Tribe was well known for its belief in spiritual transmutation between humans and animals, a trait of animistic culture.

Living in Cowichan Valley, on Vancouver Island they created hundreds of totem poles in order to showcase the spirits believed to be living in the animals portrayed upon the totems, and the trees the totems themselves were made out of. As mentioned, animism is greatly associated with more primitive cultures. This form of the religion is focused on the different types of souls in different types of people from all different cultures. It is more acutely understood as the teaching of how to have respectful relationships with human beings, as well as the natural world.

The basic idea is that showing respect for relationships is vital to survival. Anthropomorphism is the concept of attributing human characteristics or behaviors to a non-human being. This can mean animals, plants, and almost anything else taking on the personality of a human. It can mean that any object can be given human traits by a person, such as a dog feeling guilty for stealing food, or the gurgling of a stream sounding happy.

Different religions have different interpretations of anthropomorphism, but in general, it is to show their God as something or someone else. In Greek mythology anthropomorphic animals are representations of their Gods. In the anthropology of religion, the primary use of anthropomorphism is to embody the supernatural in human form. An example that is most defined in Western culture is in Judaism and Christianity, God has given human feelings of anger and jealousy or compassion and forgiveness.

All human qualities that have been given to God in human settings that surround humanity, where these feelings are all emotions that humans have observed and none that we haven't. A functional analysis of anthropomorphism proposes that when the supernatural takes human form, it may be easier for people to relate to the concepts promoted by religion.

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The term dualism was originally coined to denote co-eternal binary opposition. A meaning that is preserved in metaphysical and philosophical duality discourse but has been more generalized in other usages to indicate a system which contains two essential parts. Bitheism implies that the gods live in peace and Ditheism implies that their in opposition. This means that a Ditheism system would have one good and one evil god or one god that listened and helped and one that ignored. A god of life and one of death is another example.

An example of a Bitheism system would be something like one god is of the sky and one of the wind. It is not always easy to distinguish between the two, like a sky god who brings storms and rain and an earth god who brings fertility and tremors. In a moral sense Christianity is a dualism religion with the opposition of God and Satan. Euhemerism is a rationalizing method of interpretation that was named after the Greek mythographer compiler of myths Euhemerus. Euhemerism is the idea that a real person can become a deity or a supernatural immortal being through the constant telling and re-telling of their stories that leads to the distortion of the actual story.

For example, many people believe that Hercules was a real person but was deified through the stories of his life and after some time the embellished story became the accepted story.

Cultural Anthropology/Ritual and Religion

Therefore, Hercules was remembered as a deity. Euhemerism is the worship and belief in an ancestor or historical being who is thought to have supernatural power. Euhemerus believed that every Greek god was someone that actually lived long ago and was immortalized in myth through their actions in life. Totemism is a religious practice in which a family is seen to have a close kinship with a particular spiritual being, such as an animal or plant. The entity, or totem, is thought to interact with a given kin group or an individual and to serve as their emblem or symbol.

Masks are sometimes used as well to recreate the spirit or being. Usually seen through the use of Totem poles. Though this is usually seen in Native American traditional societies, this is something that is practiced all over the world. Zoomorphism is the attribution of animal qualities or characteristics to a God. Many times it is mistaken for anthropomorphism, which attributes human characteristics or qualities to things that are not human. Zoomorphic supernaturals can be found in many religions, such as Hinduism with the deity Ganesha.


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Other examples include images of male deities with antlers that appeared in prehistoric art in countries as far apart as France, Australia, Canada, and China.