Personal Definition of Religion
Scholars during the ancient and contemporary times have affirmed the difficulty in providing religion with an exact and fitting definition. Many a time the definitions from certain scholars have been dismissed as narrow, other haven been found to be partial, yet others rejected as been vague too inclusive. Definitions vary throughout the world to an extent that providing a non-vague yet inclusive definition has been a problem over the years.
Personally, the definition of religion should assume an impartial tone that represents religions practiced throughout the world. Hence, this definition qualifies as a personal endeavor to give the concept a fitting account. Therefore, religion can be defined as a concept that originated in the attempt to characterize and organized feelings, actions, beliefs, and imaginings that come up in reaction to a direct experience of the spiritual and the sacred. As the attempt extends in its elaboration and formulation, religion becomes a system that develops meaning into itself and then sustains the foundation in the form of the origin of experiences and own continuous reactions.
From the definition above, the organization of beliefs, actions, feelings, and imaginings, imply that religion is a socially acquired feature of human life. Further, the definition of religion includes the term experience, which implies that it is learned through time. The reactions are that the individual or a group individual conforms to the initial experience is that begins the development of interaction between a community and the religion. There are difficult but imaginable cases where a religion existed and was lost, and unknown to all, but to the original practitioners, and this is because their reactions going inward had never developed an interaction with other people in the community. Alternatively, the religion, which is the reaction to the initial experience so rapidly and entirely, absorbed it into the traditions and culture of the community to an extent that the original religion did not assume an independent identity. Every recognizable religion must lie between the two extremes, and hence assume an identity through people that people recognize them.
Two key Patterns in Indigenous Religions
The three key patterns identified in the books are a human relationship with nature, the respect for gods, ancestors, and origins, and finally the framing of sacred time and space. Out of the three patterns mentioned above, and this paper will expound on the two last patterns mentioned above and demonstrate how beliefs are practiced and expressed in the ceremonies, and rituals.
Sacred Time and Space
To every other individual time normally moves and gradually second by second into the future. However, there is the concept of sacred time, which incidentally means the time of eternity. Different people give it different meanings, and in certain religions, it is known as the distant time when gods worked and lived while others call it a Dreamtime. The sacred time is mostly cyclical and goes back to the germinal period to be renewed. Through recollecting and ritually appreciating the actions of the ancestors and gods, people travel into the sacred time that they occupy. Indigenous religions provide a form to daily lives that people live, and structure them to be in accord with mythical events that have occurred during such sacred time, and this helps in creating a sense of spiritual completeness in the daily lives of those who adhere to the religion. The sacred space is the place that the world of gods and ancestors thrive, although they can contact those on the physical earth when they are needed. Different religions associate different places on earth and atmosphere to be the sacred space, and in these spaces, the belief is that the power of the gods and ancestors is strongest in those places (Cox, 2013). Mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, large and old trees and amongst other items in the natural world have served as the sacred spaces for praying to the gods and ancestors. The Kikuyu of Kenya is fond of playing and performing sacred rituals either to a fig tree or Mount Kenya (Harvey, 2000).
Respect for Origins, Gods, and Ancestors
Indigenous religions based their origins from celestial accounts of their germinal roots, and these are often recited and practiced through rituals. The origins of the religion are often marred with that of the origin of a tribe. The book cites the case of Acoma Pueblo, whose origin came from two sisters who lived underground. The Maasai of Tanzania’s believes that they the ancestors came from the skies and their gods bequeathed to them cattle (Bahr, 2009). Indigenous religions recognize a supreme deity who is more powerful compared to the other lesser ones. The lesser gods are generally in charge of nature such as rainfall, and human characteristics such as beauty and amongst others. The people on the Island of Hawaii are known to revere Pelle a female of the goddess of Volcano to this day. Ancestors are perhaps the single most important element is almost every other indigenous religions, and this is because they are associated with death, a revered topic throughout the globe.
Bahr, A. M. B. (2009). Indigenous religions. Infobase Publishing.
Cox, J. L. (Ed.). (2013). Critical reflections on indigenous religions. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
Harvey, G. (Ed.). (2000). Indigenous religions: a companion. A&C Black.