Indigenous II—A (short audio)
2:53PM Sep 13, 2019
I can talk about African religious traditions. And we can do that very fairly succinctly. But if somebody would keep me on time, by the time we get to 1115, I want to transition over and talk a little bit about the paper. Because as as it shows on your schedule, I want to talk about what's coming in terms of what's going to be done. And I have a document that's available for you, that you can, you can reference and I'll reference it in this class as well. Or reference it in this 15 minutes. But it'll be a backup for you. So I kind of want to give you a glimpse of that. So as we start getting closer and closer to assignments, you won't feel disoriented and confused and nervous being that kind of stuff. Does that make sense? So Yeah, please do, albeit delicately, right, so at about 1115, I think I can get us there. So let's see if we can backtrack just a little bit from where we've been from the beginning of class, I kind of want to recap everything, and it's this. I want you to think of religious practice. As an organism, I want you to think of it as a society, I want you to see it as a whole, and how every element within the whole depends on every other element within the whole. It's funny because what you're doing, I hear you all talking about scientific things, right? Like chemistry and biology, class and anatomy, and all the other kind of stuff. It's we're not really that far off the humanities in the sciences are not so strange, as one might think we're talking about things as systems and organisms. And you realise very quickly, within scientific study that if one part of the cell is corrupted, It's going to have drastic effects for the other parts of the cell, and the life of the entire organism. Well, the same thing is the case, obviously, with everything I've been trying to say about religion. So What did we do, we looked at some of the ancient traditions, because the older we look, the easier it is to see the pieces, right. Because the more familiar you are with something, whether that's the Judeo Christian tradition, whether that's Islam, whether that means you come from a far eastern tradition, like a Hindu and Buddhist tradition, If it's any of those sorts of things, they're still so relatively common that it's sometimes hard to see the distinctive. So My goal was to get back to the old world. So you can see some of these pieces, you can see cosmologists, you can see anthropologists, they become a lot more visible. So that's what I've been focusing on the past bit. Now. I started with stone age, then I moved to that I moved to the ancient Near Eastern world or Mesopotamian world, and then we looked at a little bit of the Americas and they didn't matter American tradition. And now I'm going to move over to the African continent talking about a similar thing. When it comes to the African traditions. It's much like the Native American traditions are so many different tribes, so many different storeys, I can't keep up with everything. Now, I did mention about the book The other day, right about buying a digital book that I mentioned that okay, I would suggest it Did I tell you that also the numbers that are on the screen of the page numbers, Okay, that's for reference. Also, when it comes to examinations, that I'm saying this on record, I have no policy about using books or not using books, I don't care, whatever you want to do? Fine. Right? The goal about the examination is not to like test you and ratchet you up towards points. That's foolish, right? That doesn't do anybody any good. The goal is to engage you in the conversation about religious practice. The reason I give you an examination is one because I had to satisfy my overlords who want grades. Okay. The other reason I do it is a way to push you into talking about it or thinking about it. And that's also the reason I do the paper. So in some ways, both of them are elements are trying to push you into the religious conversation. So let's talk about African traditions really quickly. Now, some of the pronunciations that I might use might be an error. But you know what, it's not that big of a deal. What we need to understand or what are the some of the systemic features of the African traditions everybody gets so far. All right, I'm trying to press him. So let's talk about a couple of them. This is a little hard to see. And I apologise, I don't know if I can turn off half the lights or not, I don't think that I can.
Basically, with within the Native American tradition, you remember that there was this emphasis on a sort of whole ism, or harmony between all things, right? That if you had this great spirit, or great wind or holy when it was sort of distributed amongst the totality of the world. And so there was always this spiritual dimension to everything, whether it was building a teepee, or whether it was doing a rain dance, or Sundance, there's always this second layer, right of this divine underpinning or this other dimension. With the African traditions, you have a high view of spiritual ism as well. But you also have this radical focus on what the immediate circumstances are. The African tribal is tradition is very concerned about like, where we're getting water today, where it's growing here, and how we relate with what's going on around us. So there's spiritualism a lot like the Native Americans is very, very close to current life. Now for you, You often when you experience death, and effect in the family experience that that ancestor is somebody you might reconvene with at a much later date, or a much different dimension, Right? Whether that means you go off and meet them in a dream, or that means you go off and meet them in your own death, it's elsewhere. Whereas in the African tradition, these sort of spirits and ancestors are drastically present. Now Do you know what the word animism means? So animism, it's not up here, but it's a fruitful word. animism animism, it means like, the fetishization of an object with a spiritual power Remember to fetishize something is to give it some sort of spiritual force. So It's the idea of taking a stick, or a piece of wood, for example, and one of the African funerary traditions, which means give a burial. If one of the answers one of the elders dies, the youngest or the young male in the group is carrying like a log. And then he tends to that log, you know, sort of pets it and dresses it and takes care of it because it's supposed to symbolise well symbolises a bad word here. It's supposed to be at some level, the very thing that contains the spirit or references the spirit of the ancestor, Does that make sense? So the relationship of the spirit and the material things are very close. Right? That's Why I think symbol is a bad word. Usually, when you mean something is symbolic. You're what you're saying is we're pretending that it's this, but the reality of it is somewhere else. Right. But not for animism. The reality of it is right there next to us as a high view of immediacy. Everybody good on that so far. And don't just nod your heads at me and ignore me because you want me to get to 1115 I still want to engage you. Yeah, it's not 1115 yet, so I'm good. Without mediation, present here now amongst us. So, you know what I mean, when I say mediation, Like if, if Mr. Stevens and I are having an argument, we get a mediator, right? Something stands in between us. So to be immediate, would be without the mediator. Right. Sorry. So you backed away a little bit? You needed a little bit of space? Yeah. Okay. It would be to be immediate. We, how do you expect us to go have a beer if we're not going to be able to have that kind of communion? Okay, you just need to adjust. All right, you need to adjust to that. Right. Okay. There you are. All right. Yeah, I mean, it could be worse. We could be with that group back there on a hike. Yeah. You're right. Yeah. That was what it was. It was the stench I forgot. Okay, so it's, it's just kind of an immediacy, the spirits are present, right. So, ironically, though, Also, in conjunction with that, in African traditions, you see a high view of a transcendent deity. All right. So one of the things I want to communicate to you all the way through this is that you can have religion without a god. Right? Without a divine figure. That's kind of what we have a Native American traditions. It's kind of what we have in the Stone Age stuff that at least we know about. That's not unusual. So when you get to Egypt, and you get places like that, and have a very definitive identity to that deity that's unique. But you also see that in the African traditions, as well, there's a few there is a kind of High God or transcendental reality. And when I say transcendent, you know what us into means right? To go up. So transcendent would be like up here as an umbrella over everything else, whatever that transcendental reality is. But here's what's unique with the Africans is is and maybe not unique entirely, but is distinctive for them. Is that that High, God doesn't necessarily interact with the people. So now we have a problem, right? And The problem is, I just said, Oh, they believe that the Spirit, the spiritual world is present. But they also believe in a transcendent god that's not present, which would suggest that whatever this middle group of people are, these lesser deities, or the spirits of the ancestors are the things that are doing the administrative work of the upper God. Does that make sense? If there is an upper God, some of them don't have that some of them do. But this administrative middle is the key. So Think of it this way. Think of it politically, you have the governor, but the
governor ain't coming to your house and telling you what to eat. Right. But the legal figures around you and the police force, and the City Council, they're affecting things. So that middle layer of political figures have much more effect in your day to day life. So that's the same way it is for the African my day to day life is drastically affected by the spirit of the ancestors and all this middle ground stuff. But we do believe that there is an overarching authority to that. Does that make sense? Okay. So there is a transitional phenomenon, but it's not necessarily present. A good example of this is in the queue of people in for them. You have two layers of ancestors, okay? You have the old old and the recently departed.
Okay, so let's say, Miss Davis, for example,
let's say she has granddaddy is, is still living. But granddaddy can remember great, great granddaddy. Right. And So long as a living member, remembers that upper crust of the of the departure of the deceased, then that Ancestral Spirit is still present to the family. Right. And they live amongst the family. The idea is they are here and they're concerned with our day to day administrative affairs. So we need to keep them happy not piss them off. If we piss them off, it makes things worse for us. Now, you know this, right? If granny literally lives with you, Right, She gets on your nerves, you want to keep recording, but to keep recording to do you have to give her some kind of like yarn, or some kind of food and say get in that room make yourself happy? Well, in some ways, you're treating the ancestor. Similarly, you don't want them to get in your way. But you want them to be a part of things. So as long as a living relative can remember the deceased person, they're still present to it. The second that that last living person dies, which remembers that ancestor, that ancestor sort of goes on to the next layer. Does this makes sense? So my, So for an Ancestry com thing, it's like the 300 year old ancestors, they're like not affecting daily life. But the ones that at least have some living memory in the people who are alive are still present. Does that make sense? So those are the ones we need to be concerned with. So If you remember, granddaddy, the granddaddy dies, so
long as you're alive, granddaddy still around.
I guess what they would do is they would they would do things like you would have seen in the Stone Age do things to like, satisfy them. That's what a lot of times while they do tokenize things like animalistic practices, like sacrifice, or that's what they do things like mediation where they let the ancestor take over their body, they will always want to sort of keep them in proper communion with the group.
Correct. Because there's a high view of the tribe, there's a high view of the clan, the clan doesn't just go this way. It goes in through history, too. And what you're going to see in a minute is that that is the case not only with death, but with birth. So in some tribal traditions, if the baby is born, one of the practices is to take the placenta and throw it into the nearby river, because it symbolises the separation from the mother and the introduction into the clan. You don't belong to the mama anymore. Whatever linkage you had with the mama is gone. The mama shaves her head and she reboots into the community to It's because that person belongs to the group raised by the ankles raised by the tribe not raised by the mom, it's not property, we still retain some of this idea, right? When we say things like, Hey, man, you need to get off the umbilical cord and separate Ba ba ba mama's boy, right, we use the same kind of phrasing to describe that separation. So they would have done the same. So when you're coming into the clan, It's the group the tribe is, is important. When you're departing the life, you're still a part of this organisation, whatever it is, And I use the word clan tribe interchangeably. Okay, so let's look at one a couple of examples of so these spirits are still in the key here, people used to have these spirits very much present still part of daily administration. This is one storey that comes out of I can't remember what the name of the group is the size different, but the new most storey is, is useful. So in this one right here, these first two, right, The Yama is this whole over arching transcendent deity, right. And I want to say this as a dog and storey. But The overarching deity lives on the earth for a little while with the people and decides that he doesn't belong here. So he leaves behind or goes away. And he actually, copulated had sex with the earth and gave birth to twins, This new Mo, right. And these twins, then do sort of the administrative bidding on the earth. So I want you to follow the pattern here. The transcendent deity is separated from the earth, but has kids that do some of the administrative duty down here in between. And Have you noticed, by the way, the emphasis on twins and ancient religious practice, It's really dominating, right? Whether you have the Judeo Christian tradition of the Jacob and Esau, or where they have the Cain and Abel, or whether you have sacred twins of the changing woman, what are the cupola, you have all these different storeys, whether it's Native American, whether it's each of the two, right, And there could be a bunch of reasons for that. But perhaps one of the most dominant reasons is that indicates like the totality of things, this and that here in their Eastern west, north and south good, evil, whatever. It's kind of a unity it ability of sorts, a Tunis, which is important. But so the new mo are the twins, that sort of rule on the earth. But interestingly enough, sometimes the high deity is not necessarily a singular figure. In the case of the sky, there's actually storeys where the sky is, the upper deity is a family as a group, which makes sense with a group of people who down here really value group dynamics, The ruling transcendent deities would be like a pocket or a collection of people a Pantheon. Do you know what I mean by Pantheon, right, a group of Gods as it were. So I wanted to put that in there for you as well. Again, there's another the older more a storey is one about spirits and intermediaries, you have a God who has children, the Trello, Risa, and these are like profits, and they rule and there's one of them name ocean, who is not treated fairly, She's a goddess, and then she ends up rising to power, and she's a hair breaker. And So she's supposed to make everything beautiful and nice. And she ends up being very, very important. The point that I bring up here not to belabour it is that you have intermediate spiritual entities who are ruling the administrative affairs of day to day life. Also, as I mentioned, with the Tunis with the new Mo, with the twins, you have this emphasis on the double on the on the connected nature of two things, in African traditions to you, much like Native American, you have this possibility that someone could have two spirits. So someone who might be what we would now call transgendered in their world would be somebody who was very significant and very powerful because they possess within them these multiple pieces, Right. And that's important. In some cases, you can have a spiritual presence, not just as to like I have male and female, but you can have a spiritual presence for your foot, your knee, your arm, your hand, like things can be controlled and independent ways by independent spiritual forces. And so you have that notion in African world that some some singular thing can have a multiplicity to it. And that's not a bad thing. Now in our world, that's a bad thing. Right? We call it multiple personality, dissociative behaviour, we call it schizophrenia, We treat it in the opposite
direction, we treat it as problematic in their world that might have been seen as fundamentally beneficial, because it would suggest that that person is in tune with more of the spiritual administrators who are ruling. Does that make sense? So very much flipped. Which another thing, by the way, this will be a good moment to think about the paper. So in the paper, if I'm asking you about religiosity in the digital, Think about what I just said, this is how I want you to be able to brainstorm instantaneously right is to think, okay, multiple personalities in the modern world, Ancient World, multiple souls or spirits inhabiting the body. What Does that suggest about online identity? At 18, different emails, 14 different login IDs, presentations that I give on Facebook versus what I give on Twitter. We actually now are in a stage where we celebrate the diversity of spiritual nature, even in ourselves, even if we're not transgender. Because I'm one thing here one thing here and we think I'm Co The cohesive reality is me I can be all of these things, which has echoes of an ancient tribal way of thinking about a polymorphous spirituality, You see what I'm saying? I'm not saying that is the case. I'm just saying, if that's where your brain goes, run with it. Those are the kinds of questions we need to be asking is the modern digital world bringing back some of these old conceptual phenomena or they destroying it? Now I told you I don't know if you remember this with the Ghost Dance with the Native American world is that it when they with Native Americans, that Ghost Dance was a way of bringing back your ancestors in order to revolt against white people? Well, the mochi mochi revolt is a similar thing. It just has to do with water. It's a storey about an ancestor who was able to go and have access to these buckets of water. And it's representative of resistance. And people do these, these sort of rituals where they take these buckets of water to a particular location, as if to serve this particular ancestor because this ancestor is going to lead a revolt against white colonists. The point here is, again, many of the rituals and traditions that we see in religious practice are related to whatever the political landscape is like everybody good. All right. So let's take a look at a couple other ones. Did I just tell you the storey about corn woman in the Cherokee, right, you drag around corn goes everywhere. Ironically, it was precisely slave distribution that spread African traditions all over the place. So instead of it's it's weird, on the one hand, it's terrible. you suppress and destroy localise religious expression through colonisation. But the inverse is, you take the people, you scatter them all over the world, and they take those traditions with them, which is why we see a lot of this animalistic stuff pop up in other religious practices. And in other locations. For example, Cuban Santeria, or New Orleans Voodoo. The reason you are Haitian Voodoo, you have this because you have redistributed African traditions into these places. And what's really fascinating, for better or worse, I don't know, that's up for you, to you decide, is that they get folded into other religious practices. So when you have a strong Roman Catholic presence in South America, In the southern part of the United States, This idea of spirits gets folded in. Right? And now you have a more strong demon ology. Or perspective on demons and spirits and evil things. I get that question all the time from people in religion class, what do you think about names like dinosaurs and demons, or I'll give a damn about So but it folds in. That's What I mean by syncretism is that because the African peoples are redistributed? A lot of their unique perspectives on religious practice are stitched into other traditions, which is it's an interesting question. The question here is, can a religious organism Be splintered and go viral? Because that's what a virus does, enters the cell replicates, boom, bursts it, right? This is how the virus works. It's why we use the same phrasing when it comes to the digital world. So I've been telling you all along, but the religion is all dependent on whether these organs, this organism can keep everything together. And then if the land changes, it's going to change the rest of it. In this case, it literally is splintered into a million pieces. And does it go and live in other places? Can that religion survive? does it become drastically deformed? Does the nature of identity that comes with that religious practice change as well you all fall and what I'm asking here now, Okay. All right. Let me get through two more here. And then we're almost done. The last one that you can't see says passage. And it says passage in purity, and it says shaving and river placenta. I've already mentioned those. Right. And It's page 79.
Okay, sorry about that. I never can remember where that board is passage and purity. And it says shaving and river placenta. The one right above it are rituals that you typically associate with tribal religious practice, things like sacrifice. Things like divination, and becoming mediums are and being possessed. And like I said, in the African world, these are good things. You want to perform sacrifices for ancestors, you want to practice divination, divination, is getting access to these spirits that will tell you a little bit more about the future. Medium being a medium is quite literally allowing yourself to be open and available to the spirits of that they will come in and possess you. And then you can communicate more about what's going on, through the perspective of the spiritual, That makes sense, These are good things, whereas they've been converted into Now one could make the argument that the Catholic suppression of spirits is itself
maybe a racist response.
Do you see where I'm going with that? Like,
if you're Catholic, and you don't want demons around, in some ways, you're suppressing the introduction of African ideologies into your religious practice, and they may go together. Now somebody could, you know, quickly say, I know there are books and storeys that go back beyond African slave trade. But it's an interesting question to ask, these are the kinds of things
sociologists of religion
are asking, like, why is this part of this religious practices have anything to do with the fact that that these white Catholic people wanted to suppress those religious tradition? Those good questions are open everybody good so far. So let's talk about a couple of quick storeys. I'm just going to mention a few. And then we're going to stop because I see that it's 1114.
Africans also have
a very high anthropology. Ironically, a lot of the storeys that are in the African tradition or the practice of the African tradition are focused on what people right now we're doing. And so the high view of people, It's not like the martech storey from the Acadian world, where you know, people are just made to be slaves, These storeys that the humans are really, really important. The ancestors are concerned, the answer the spirits are concerned that the human life works properly. And so there are old storeys like in the chocolate tradition about a spider we, the spider connects the heavens in the earth through a web or through its lineaments. You know, there's this idea that the, that the spiritual and the terrestrial are connected.
And that's a good thing.
There's another storey I don't think it's up here yet. It's The think, yeah, this new air, It's the last one on there. It's this new air rope. This in this storey, when the gods create or when the upper world, the God, the divine, the transcendent, whatever you want to say, creates the world they maintain a rope, the heavens maintain a rope with the earth, so that when you get old on the earth,
right, and you need to be rebooted,
You just climb up the rope, and you refresh, and you come back down. Right. But What ends up happening is I think a hyena and some other animal wants to go up and kind of be restored. So they go up to the heavens and the gods up, they're like, No, you don't belong here, you're trouble. So and they say you, you know, you can't, you can't make trouble on earth. And they go back down the rope and then they cut the rope so that the humans can't go back up anymore. So if the storey was the human should be able to reboot and refresh, you can see why ancestors become important. Right? You if you can't relive all the time, then your ancestors are kind of like the previous generation in the previous generation and keeps that connection open. So kind of way to bypass the rope. That's a new Arab storey. There are other storeys and African traditions like the one from the Dinka that try to remind people to get along with the gods and not be too over eager and let the God let the spirit world help you. It's a storey about a God who comes to the stink a woman and he's giving her green who's coming to this man and woman has given them grain to teach them how to plant things. And she gets so excited and exhilarated to make food that she accidentally she's swinging the whole back and hits the garden head and gets pissed and he runs off. And the storey is there to just remind you, you know it'll be patient everybody's on your side. Don't screw it up. Don't be airing and all that kind of stuff. I've already talked about the doggone storey the saga spider, I wouldn't go into this you read this stuff. This this Oh, doing a recent ocean is the one that was with the older Mr. A old Mr. A storeys. But I wanted to talk about this other figure here. Oh, but tala. tala is one of the lesser deities, or I was one of the deities, the middle level deities in the Europa tradition. And this is cool. This is shows that the Africans have a concern for human life is that Obama is making humans right. And he gets drunk. And so he starts to screw up. And he's making bad humans. And that's how they account for the disabled. Right? Is that oh patella was screwed up and messed up. And therefore Oh, patella requires that the that the clan take care of them, that the tribe is supposed to take care of them, because the gods sort of malformed because he was fooling around and doing stupid stuff. Again, it's because of the view that these people this clan, this land, we've got to keep the sort of administrative continuity in order to keep our world going. Is that making sense? So let's talk about some of the key things, key themes here are the following, but
can we go for that I get a dog on it.
key themes are they are highly anthropological and highly highly anthropogenic. If I say anthropogenic, you know what I mean? What does it mean? If cosmology means how the world works, and cosmology means how it's made, The anthropology should be with the humans do an anthropology should be what how they are made, right. So we see some anthropology nice here a little bit
more. And the average
Asian hive you on ancestry high view on clannishness, tribal behaviours, so on and so forth. There's a real consequence of blending what I've called syncretism, these African rituals and ideas have sort of permeated all other kinds of religious practices around the globe, it's it's really hard to like nail them down. It's really hard to come deny where this starts and where this ends. And there's a high view of spiritual presence in things, whether that's dances, whether that sacrifices so on and so forth. Well,
I'll Leave it.
Everybody good. All right. Let me talk about paper real quick.
I'm going to reboot the recording here so that you can be