Ancient Africa for Kids: Traditional Religions
The traditional African religions are a set of highly diverse beliefs that include various ethnic . The word, is related to the Maasai word Enkai, and was borrowed by both the In traditional African religions, such as the Azande religion, a person is said to .. Mysteries · Orphism · Gnosticism · Hermeticism · Greco-Buddhism. Jan 5, Belief that good relations need to be kept with tribal ancestor spirits. . Druze, A semi-secretive esoteric religion with features of a Mystery Religion . Santería, A combination of West African, Caribbean beliefs with some. inherited a conditionalist approach to the study of religion, an approach that has helped me to religion, has not left South African society untouched. .. relationship between them: Christianity derived from, grew out of, 'was influenced by'.
They also would tell the future by using magic and "casting the bones" where they would toss bones or sometimes other items like shells and then tell the person's fortune from the way the bones fell. Certain artisans were considered to use magic in their craft.Witness the Mysterious World of West African Voodoo
The most powerful of the artisans were the ironworkers. Ironworkers would keep the secret of how they forged iron within their group in order to maintain the mystery and power of their craft.
Rituals Traditional rituals and ceremonies played an important part in the community. Masks, drums, chanting, and dancing were often a part of the ritual. Generally the rituals called on the spirits of ancestors or the spirits of nature for help and assistance. They believed in both good and bad spirits. Good spirits would protect them, while bad spirits could make them ill or make them misbehave. In the dry areas of Africa, certain priests would specialize as "rain-makers.
Although many Africans today identify with Christianity or Islam as their religion, many of them still participate in traditional African rituals. Some traditional beliefs and rituals from Africa spread to the Americas in places like Brazil and Cuba. Activities Take a ten question quiz about this page. Listen to a recorded reading of this page: Your browser does not support the audio element. To learn more about Ancient Africa: These initiations are not described in as much detail as the first.
The second is dedicated to Osiris and is said to be different from the one dedicated to Isis. Apuleius calls it "the nocturnal mysteries of the foremost god" but gives no other details. Before this initiation, Lucius has a vision where Osiris himself speaks to him, suggesting that he is the dominant figure in the rite.
In addition, various Greco-Roman writers produced theological and philosophical interpretations of the mysteries.
Spurred by the fragmentary evidence, modern scholars have often tried to discern what the mysteries may have meant to their initiates. Yet Lucius's meeting with the gods fits with a trend, found in various religious groups in Roman times, toward a closer connection between the worshipper and the gods.
Gwyn Griffithsan Egyptologist and classical scholar, extensively studied Book 11 of The Golden Ass and its possible Egyptian background. He pointed out similarities between the first initiation in The Golden Ass and Egyptian afterlife beliefs, saying that the initiate took on the role of Osiris by undergoing symbolic death. In his view, the imagery of the initiation refers to the Egyptian underworld, the Duat.
According to these texts, the sun god Ra passes through the underworld each night and unites with Osiris to emerge renewed, just as deceased souls do. This interpretation is found in the essay On Isis and Osiris by the first-century CE Greek author Plutarchwhich analyzes the Osiris myth based on Plutarch's own Middle Platonist philosophy, and Gasparini suggests that Apuleius shared it.
Traditional African religions
Harrison suggests that the sudden switch of focus from Isis to Osiris is simply a satire of grandiose claims of religious devotion.
Devotees of Isis were among the very few religious groups in the Greco-Roman world to have a distinctive name for themselves, loosely equivalent to "Jew" or "Christian", that might indicate they defined themselves by their exclusive devotion to the goddess.
However, the word—Isiacus or "Isiac"—was rarely used. Several people in late Roman times, like Vettius Agorius Praetextatusjoined multiple priesthoods and underwent several initiations dedicated to different gods. However, some of these initiations did involve smaller changes in religious identity, such as joining a new community of worshippers or strengthening devotees' commitment to a cult they were already part of, that would qualify as conversions in a broader sense.
Joining Isis's cult was therefore a sharper change in identity than in many other mystery cults. Isiac initiation, by giving the devotee a dramatic, mystical experience of the goddess, added emotional intensity to the process. If the third initiation was a requirement for becoming a pastophoros, it is possible that members moved up in the cult hierarchy by going through the series of initiations.
Initiation may have been a prerequisite for a devotee to become a priest but not have automatically made him or her into one. In both Greek and Roman traditional religion, no god was thought to guarantee a pleasant afterlife to his or her worshippers.
The gods of some mystery cults may have been exceptions, but evidence about those cults' afterlife beliefs is vague. The book says Isis's power over fatewhich her Greek and Roman devotees frequently mentioned, gives her control over life and death.
Traditional African religions - Wikipedia
They show that some of Isis's followers thought she would guide them to a better afterlife. These sources suggest the Isis cult had no firm picture of the afterlife and that Isiacs drew upon both Greek and Egyptian precedents to envision it. Some inscriptions say that the devotees would benefit from Osiris's enlivening water, while others refer to the Fortunate Isles of Greek tradition.
None of them make specific reference to mystery rites, and the mysteries may not have been considered necessary for receiving Isis's blessing.
These beliefs may well have carried over into the Greco-Roman Isis cult. The palms radiating from his head were the signs of the Sun triumphing over death. Toward the end of the century, however, Christian emperors increasingly restricted the practice of non-Christian religionswhich they condemned as " pagan ". As a result, the possibility has often been raised that Christianity was directly influenced by the mystery cults.
In contrast, the cult of Isis, like Christianity and some other mystery cults, was made up of people who joined voluntarily, out of their personal commitment to a deity that many of them regarded as superior to all others. Their rites thus acquired some of the aura of secrecy that surrounded the mystery cults.
Non-Christians in the Roman Empire in the early centuries CE thought Christianity and the mystery cults resembled each other.
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Reacting to these claims by outsiders, early Christian apologists denied that these cults had influenced their religion. Intensified by religious disputes between Protestants, Catholics, and non-Christians, the controversy has continued to the present day. Before the early fourth century CE, baptism was the culmination of a long process, in which the convert to Christianity fasted for the forty days of Lent before being immersed at Easter in a cistern or natural body of water.
Thus, like the mysteries of Isis, early Christian baptism involved a days-long fast and a washing ritual. Both fasting and washing were common types of ritual purification found in the religions of the Mediterranean, and Christian baptism was specifically derived from the baptism of Jesus and Jewish immersion rituals.
Therefore, according to Hugh Bowden, these similarities come from the shared religious background of Christianity and the Isis cult, not from the influence of one tradition upon the other.
Witt called the banquet that concluded the Isiac initiation "the pagan Eucharist of Isis and Sarapis". The most distinctive trait of Christian communion—the belief that the god himself was the victim of the sacrifice—was not present in the mystery cults. But, he says, they did not become similar by borrowing directly from each other, only by adapting in similar ways to the Greco-Roman religious environment.
Each took what it needed and adapted these elements according to its overall drift and design. Terrasson claimed he had translated this book from an ancient Greek work of fiction that was based on real events. The book was actually his own invention, inspired by ancient Greek sources that assumed Greek philosophers had derived their wisdom from Egypt.
Mysteries of Isis
In the novel, Egypt's priests run an elaborate education system like a European university. Based on Lucius's statement in The Golden Ass that he was "borne through all the elements" during his initiation, Terrasson describes the initiation as an elaborate series of ordeals, each based on one of the classical elements: One of them, Moseslearned this truth during his Egyptian upbringing and developed Judaism to reveal it to the entire Israelite nation.
Egypt was among the civilizations that Masons claimed had influenced their traditions. Late in the century, Masonic writers, still assuming that Sethos was an ancient story, used the obvious resemblance between their rites and the initiation of Sethos as evidence of Freemasonry's supposedly ancient origin.