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Flashcards in Religious Authorities Deck (19)
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1

Max Weber's 3 types of religious authorities

1) charismatic
- a persons charisma and ability to motivate
- ex: the pope, cult leaders, prophets (Jesus)

2) traditional
- authority that is tied to tradition and custom
- ex: Kings, Muslim Khalif's

3) legal-rational
- based on formalized rules, regulations, and laws
- ex: imams

2

what are religious specialists

- religious specialists have the ability to communicate with the supernatural world (they mediate between our world and the supernatural world)

- multiple terms to describe religious specialists (cannot generalize functions of religious specialists)

- 2 major categories: shaman and priests
(not mutually exclusive categories, can share qualities - on a spectrum)

3

what is shamanism

- refers to techniques used by specific kinds of religious specialists

- can be found in a variety of cultures and religions

- the term shaman originates from the Tungus language of Central Siberia (there, shamans use handheld drums and spirit helpers to heal the sick, divination, and hunting)

4

Common features of shaman

- communicate with supernatural through trance or ASC
- use of spirit helpers
- use culturally specific symbols and paraphernalia in rituals

5

characteristics of shaman

- mainly part time religious specialists
- mainly operates in small scale societies
- they are chosen by the spirit world (receive their calling through a dream, trance, illness)
- they receive their power and abilities directly from the spirt world (communication with the supernatural world may be conducted through trance or other ASC)

6

roles and rituals of shaman

ritual for supernatural communication: establishing and maintaining contact with their "spirit familiar" or "spirit helpers" including animal spirits
- success lies in their ability to 1) successfully establish contact and 2) maintain control over the experience - not in the ritual itself

ability to enter and remain in control of ASC
- in this state, with the assistance of spirt helpers, a shaman is able to manipulate the natural world, treat illness or cause illness, and divine the future
- in this case where the illness is caused by "soul loss" shaman recaptures the patients soul

7

becoming a shaman

- selected: chosen by the spirits
- hear a calling: receive the call in a dream, trance, or an induced altered state of consciousness (the call usually happens during periods of stress or illness)
- tested: candidate is tested by the spirits, and in a sense, must die before they can be reborn a shaman (death, transformation, rebirth)
- training: they will train with an older shaman, learning knowledge and how to use their gifts (learn to enter in an ASC and control their experience to manipulate the supernatural)

8

roles and rituals of shaman

shamanic rituals can be public or private
- many use theatrical techniques (drumming, singing, dancing, costumes, ventriloquism, sleight of hand)

shamans travel to the spirit world through ASC by ay of axis mundi
- Axis Mundi: central axis linking our world with the higher and lower realms
- in art and ritual, depicted as a tree, ladder, or a pole

this journey is linker to the shaman ability to transform
- into animals, other beings, other genders a

9

Pentecostal healers

- like shaman they, they enter ASC to heal participants (achieved through rhythmic speech and music)
- participants are encouraged to dance, shout, cry, run up and down the aisles as part of the healing ritual
- healing rituals is known as "laying on of hands"
- Holy Spirit is believed to possess both the preacher and the participant (convulsion or speaking in tongues - Glossolalia)
- Pentecostal Preachers report hearing "the call" similar to shamans

10

priests

- full time religious specialists that are often associated with a religious institution
- found in larger, complex, industrialized societies
- they represent a particular ideology and moral authority
- held to high standards

11

priests: roles and rituals

represent their community in their dealings with supernatural authorities

responsible for performing rituals
- must have knowledge of how to perform rituals and why they are important
- this is more important that achieving/controlling ASC
- periodic rituals, rites of passage, crisis rituals, occasional rituals

rituals are usually performed in a space that is considered sacred
- often a community space

priests reinforce existing belief systems
- social rites of intensification
- birth, death, marriage, sabbath etc

12

characteristics of priests

- increases focus on memorization and knowledge of sacred narratives
- formal training - high degree of specialization
- priesthood may be an inherited right/responsibility
(priestly lineages such as the Levites of Hebrew Bible of the Brahmins caste in Hinduism)
- other elect to become a priest for many reasons
(sense of purpose, divine calling, means to an end, escaping marriage)
- becoming a priest or priestess is seen as a rite of passage - Ordination
(new role with responsibilities)
- Hierarchies

13

Okinawan Priestesses

- Okinawa, Japan
- religion influenced by Shinto, Buddhism, and Taoism
- only known society in which women lead a mainstream, official, publicly funded religion
- Kami as spiritual leaders

14

Kaminchu (priestesses)

- chief position inherited from mother (duty)
- undergoes minor illness or bodily rupture
- embodies a particular Kami associated with the clan

15

Yuta (shaman)

- reluctant to take on role as Yuta
- undergoes serious psychological, physical, or social dysfunction
- after becoming a social outcast, they heal themselves and now able to heal others

16

other religious specialists

on the priest and shaman spectrum:
1) herbalists
2) diviners
3) prophets

17

herbalists

specialists that use plant and other materials to heal and cure

18

diviners

- someone who specializes in divination
- divination: supernatural techniques for obtaining information about things known, including future events
- card readers, tea leaf readers, ASC

19

prophets

- mouthpiece of God(s)
- obligated to communicate divine messages to the common people
- can have special shaman like abilities
- divination, healing, manipulation of nature