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Cultural Anthropology: The Human Challenge > CH 13 Review > Flashcards

Flashcards in CH 13 Review Deck (32)
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Religion is an organized system of ideas about the spiritual sphere or the supernatural, and it is a key part of every culture’s worldview.

Like religion, spirituality is concerned with sacred matters, but it is often individual rather than collective and does not require a distinctive format or traditional organization.


Among food-foraging peoples, religion is intertwined with everyday life.

As societies become more complex, it may be restricted to particular occasions.


Spiritual and religious beliefs and practices fulfill numerous psychological and emotional needs, such as

Reducing anxiety by providing an orderly view of the universe and answering existential questions.


Myths are narratives that explain the fundamentals of human existence

Where we and everything in our world came from, why we are here, and where we are going.


A traditional religion reinforces group norms and provides moral sanctions for individual conduct. Its narratives and rituals confirm the existing social order, but it may also provide vehicles for challenging that order.

People often turn to religion or spirituality in the hope of reaching a specific goal such as restoring health.


Religion is characterized by a belief in supernatural beings and forces that can be appealed to for aid through prayer, sacrifice, and other rituals.

Supernatural beings include major deities (gods and goddesses), ancestral spirits, and other sorts of spirit beings.


Gods and goddesses are great but remote beings that control the universe.

Whether people recognize gods, goddesses, or both has to do with how men and women relate to each other in everyday life.


Monotheism holds that there is one supreme divinity

Polytheism acknowledges more than one deity.


Belief in ancestral spirits is based on the dualistic idea that human beings consist of a body and

A soul or vital spirit that continues to participate in human affairs after death.


Animism, the belief that nature is enlivened by distinct personalized spirit beings separable from bodies

Is common among peoples who see themselves as part of nature rather than superior to it.


Animatism, often found alongside animism, is a belief that nature is enlivened by an impersonal spiritual force

Which may make itself manifest in any special place, thing, or living creature.


Priests and priestesses are full-time religious specialists authorized to perform sacred rituals and

Mediate with supernatural powers on behalf of others.


Priests and priestesses typically hold their position by way of spiritual lineage in which

Divine authority is passed down from a spiritual founder to a chain of successors.


There are four major forms of spiritual lineage: Biological Descent, Training.

Appointment by religious leaders, Election, and Recognition of a reincarnated saint.


Shamans are individuals skilled at entering an altered state of consciousness to contact and utilize an ordinarily hidden reality

In order to acquire knowledge and supernatural power to help other people.


A religious ritual is a culturally symbolic act or procedure designed to guide members of a community in an orderly way through personal and collective transitions.

It is religion in action—the means through which people relate to the supernatural.


Rites of purification are rituals performed to establish or

Restore purity when someone has violated a taboo or is otherwise unclean.


Rites of passage are rituals marking an important stage in an individual’s life cycle, such as birth, marriage, and death.

They feature three phases: separation, transition, and incorporation.


Rites of intensification are rituals that ease anxiety and bind people together when they face a collective crisis or change.

Such rituals may also be staged to mark seasonal changes and subsistence cycles.


People in many cultures believe in magic

The idea that supernatural powers can be compelled to act in certain ways for good or evil purposes through specified formulas.


Divination is a magical procedure or spiritual ritual designed to find out what is not knowable by ordinary means

Particularly through signs foretelling fate or destiny.


Witchcraft—magical ritual intended to cause misfortune or inflict harm and often referred to as sorcery

Is believed to be practiced by people who embody evil spirit power or collaborate with malevolent supernatural beings.


Belief in witchcraft is widespread, takes many forms

Is especially common during periods of uncertainty.


Sacred sites may be places where ordinary people experienced something extraordinary or places associated with a holy person

Or they may be exceptional natural places, especially mountaintops.


A pilgrimage is a devotion in motion—a journey, often on foot, to a sacred site by individuals reaching for enlightenment, proving devotion, and/or hoping to experience a miracle.

Among the largest pilgrimages is the hajj made by 1.8 million Muslims traveling to Mecca in Saudi Arabia each year from all around the world.


Many pilgrimages center on cults of the Virgin Mary. These include Black Madonnas—dark-colored statues or painted images representing the virgin mother

Such as the Virgin of Guadalupe whose shrine in Mexico City draws 6 million pilgrims a year.


Sacred sites are potential targets of desecration

Ideological violation of a sacred site aimed at harming, if only symbolically, people judged to have impure, false, or evil beliefs and ritual practices.


Revitalization movements arise when people seek radical cultural reform in response to

Widespread social disruption and collective feelings of anxiety and despair.


Revitalization examples include Mormonism in the United States, ecospiritualism in many Western nations

Such as the rise of Druidry in England, and the revival of traditional American Indian ceremonies.


Syncretism, the creative blending of indigenous and foreign beliefs and practices into new cultural forms, can be found worldwide.

It includes the practice of Vodou among former slaves in Haiti, which features elements of Roman Catholicism and traditional African beliefs such as spirit possession.