Friday, April 23, 2010

You might be a Pagan if .... (Part Deux)

Let's take another look at the 11 criteria (as discussed previously) used by Pew Forum social scientists who wanted to determine the extent to which Traditional African Religions are still alive and well in Sub-Saharan Africa:

Beliefs 1.0:
1. the protective power of certain spiritual people
2. the power of sacred objects and shrines
3. the evil eye
4. witchcraft
5. evil spirits
6. the protective power of sacrificial offerings to ancestors and other spirits
7. reincarnation

Practices 1.0:

1. visiting traditional healers
2. possession of sacred objects
3. participation in ceremonies to honor ancestors
4. participation in puberty ceremonies

Here is a more generalized and expanded set of 15 criteria:

Beliefs 2.0:
1. polytheism
2. pantheism
3. immanence
4. interconnectedness
5. panpsychism
6. reincarnation/karma/metempsychosis
7. emphasis on positive values of the physical, including especially the human body and sexuality

Practices 2.0:

1. overt individual acts of polytheistic worship, praise or other forms of acknowledgement of the Goddesses and Gods
2. working with a spiritual teacher or leader or healer
3. use of sacred objects for religious purposes
4. visiting sacred places for religious purposes
5. regular participation in private, individual spiritual practice
6. participation in group rituals
7. rituals to honor or to help those who have died
8. mediumship, divination, prophecy

Those silly people at Pew left some stuff out. Like Goddesses and Gods, for example. That is of course a direct result (and quite revealingly so) of the narrow Christian bias of the supposedly objective "researchers" at the Pew Religion Forum. Christians like to believe that they have a monopoly on the Divine, and that one can only encounter the Divine through Christianity. "No one comes to the Father, except through me." Bah.

Other posts on Traditional African Religions:
You might be a Pagan if .... (part one of this post)
Every picture tells a story
Traditional African Religions Continue To Thrive
More On Traditional African Religions

Fela Kuti and Traditional African Religion
Secret Knowledge, Sacred Knowledge (on Candomble)