One author summarizes primitive religion, claiming that it is "a name given to the religious beliefs and practices of those traditional, often isolated, preliterate cultures which have not developed urban and technologically sophisticated forms of society.The term is misleading in suggesting that the religions of those peoples are somehow less complex than the religions of 'advanced' societies," when, "In fact, research carried out among the indigenous peoples of Oceania, the Americas, and sub Saharan Africa have revealed rich and very complex religions, which organize the smallest details of the people's lives" (Anonymous Primitive Religion primitiv. htm). The author continues by defining primitive religion as housing the following practices or beliefs: rituals, divine beings, and sacred personages.In relationship to sacred personages, this can often be referred to as ancestor worship as well, in particular cultures where those sacred beings are those who went before.
Steadman et al. claim that "Ancestor worship, broadly construed as belief in interaction or communication between the dead and the living, is a universal aspect of religion" (63). They illustrate that one study misinterpreted findings, assuming that only approximately half of the cultures studied had an active belief in ancestor activity.It was later iscovered that "evidence is found for claims of interaction with ancestors in all 24 of those cultures, suggesting that ancestor worship is universal" (Steadman et al. 63). One of the confusing aspects of ancestor worship involves actual communication or experience with the dead in a very spiritual manner.
This is not all there is to ancestor worship, however. It can involve the simple story telling aspects of ancestor worship, or the simple reality of remembering and respecting the dead ancestors, understanding their existence to have meant something powerful and influential.Clearly, there is much more to primitive religion than has been illustrated thus far. But suffice it to say, we know that primitive religion often involves a simple kind of worship, or adoration, for things not necessarily understood or truly perceived. It involves rituals. And, it often involves some form of ancestor worship or remembrance.
If we take away all organized religion in our country, or in our world, don't we see elements of each of these in humanity in general?Don't we all have some rituals that have nothing to do with organized religion, even if those rituals are subtle and dismissed as pointless? For example, don't we all have some form of dinner ritual, to one extent or another? Don't we all have some rituals, such as BBQ's, that have nothing to do with organized religion or any other rationalized religious concern, but yet they make us feel connected? They may make us feel connected to our family, to friends, to our lives, or to any other element, whether we truly examine it or not.We may not have the culture where we all follow the same rituals, such as a small tribe may have. But, we all look for some rituals in our lives, trying to find some foundation and balance that allows us to feel secure and stable in an ever-changing world. This is the essential argument for rituals as they exist in "primitive" societies and it is something inherently within mankind.
In another examination of primitive religion, don't we all, to some extent, worship or remember or ancestors?Don't we somehow love stories of our ancestors and what they did, clinging to the most heroic or interesting elements? Even those of us who are not necessarily proud of our heritage are prone to find something to be proud of, that being our ancestor's homeland ("I am Irish") or something our father may have done ("He was a fighter pilot in WWII). We cling to one element or another in terms of our ancestors, and it gives many of us some meaning and purpose in life, however small, allowing us to feel it may not all be pointless.We know we came from somewhere and that is important, as any adopted person may tell you. In final examination, this writer provides an example, which may well not apply to all people by any stretch, but it illustrates that even in this technologically civilized age we all somehow find an element of primitive thought or religion that makes sense to us. This writer, during a major bout of finding the world pointless and one's life unimportant, looked to genealogy which had always been an interest.
Through researching and examining the lives of those ancestors in the past this writer was shown that we all do follow some path. And, what truly struck this individual as important was the fact that all of these people throughout time had essentially come together to make this one individual. Those ancestors had fought through the plague, through wars, and numerous other realities, surviving and producing, thus far, this individual writer.There is a serious connection between ancestors and ourselves which is very important. Many believe in inherited DNA, which essentially claims that we all carry some part of our ancestors, be it knowledge, understanding, or characteristics.
This points to ancestor worship that may well be inherent, giving us one last examination of how primitive we may well be, despite our knowledge and understanding of the world. ?