LOCAL RELIGIONS

Local religions are unique to tribal or cultural groups living apart from modern societies. They are not taught through texts, but through story-telling, art, songs, and RITUALS. Many honor their ancestors as well as gods or natural spirits.

TOTEM POLE

Totem poles are mainly found among the tribal peoples of the northwest coast of North America. The carvings represent the different clans (symbolized by animal spirits) to which the owner belongs.

WHY ARE SOME PLACES SACRED?

Sacred places always have a special importance to the life of the tribe. They may be a source of water, a gathering point, a site of ancestor activities, or a border with another group’s territory. Sometimes they are used as burial grounds for the dead.

WHO WORSHIPS ANCESTORS?

Offering gifts and prayers to dead ancestors is a common feature of local religious ritual throughout the world, especially in Asia. The dead are believed to help their living relatives, and to intervene with the gods on their behalf.

WHAT IS A FETISH FOR?

Fetishes are portable, carved, and customized objects that are believed to be the home for a spirit or magical powers. The owner of the fetish may use it to borrow the powers of that spirit or simply as protection against bad luck or bad health.

RITUALS

Like all world religions, local religions have rituals—special performances of words and actions that help to bind the community together in a common identity. Rituals may mark a rite of passage, such as marriage, or be a call for help from the spirit world.

ARE SHAMANS MAGICIANS?

Most local religions have a shaman, or “medicine man,” who possesses secret knowledge and uses spells, rituals, and traditional knowledge of medicinal plants or animals to help those who need healing or spiritual help.

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley