Time, Myth and Rituals in Religion | Srivatsan Manivannan - propagacni.info
The intimate connection between the cosmos and time is religious in nature: the . But since ritual recitation of the cosmogonic myth implies reactualization of. What I intend to investigate are myths, legends, symbols, and rituals and the .. Eliade is interested in "sacredness," and the relation of myth to history and time. Myth and ritual are two central components of religious practice. Although myth and ritual are commonly united as parts of religion, the exact relationship .. But, again, for Eliade myth and ritual are not coextensive: the same return to the.
William Robertson Smith[ edit ] This view was asserted for the first time by the bible scholar William Robertson Smith. In contrast, the myths that justified those rituals could change. In fact, according to Smith, many of the myths that have come down to us arose "after the original, nonmythic reason [ Worshipers mourned Adonis's mythical death in a ritual that coincided with the annual withering of the vegetation. According to Smith, the ritual mourning originally had a nonmythical explanation: Hocart points out that the myth is used aetiologically to explain the nature of the island, but did not originate in that attempt.
The adventures of Mberewalaki originated, like all mythology, in ritual performance, and most of the lore of Hocart's Fijian informants consisted of such ritual myths. When they get interested in the topology of the island or are asked about it, Hocart argues, they do precisely what we would do, which is ransack their lore for an answer. If true, the etiological interpretation would make myth older than, or at least independent of, ritual—as E.
Tylor believes it is. But Hyman argues that people use myth for etiological purposes only after myth is already in place: Further, Hyman argues, myth originated from ritual performance. Thus, ritual came before myth, and myth depends on ritual for its existence until it gains an independent status as an etiological story.
James Frazer[ edit ] The famous anthropologist Sir James George Frazer claimed that myth emerges from ritual during the natural process of religious evolution. Many of his ideas were inspired by those of Robertson Smith.
Man starts out with a reflexive belief in a natural law. Let us think, by comparison, of agricultural work in a desacralized society. Here, it has become a profane act, justified by the economic profit that it brings. The ground is tilled to be exploited; the end pursued is profit and food. Emptied of religious symbolism, agricultural work becomes at once opaque and exhausting; it reveals no meaning, it makes possible no opening toward the universal, toward the world of spirit.
No god, no culture hero ever revealed a profane act. Everything that the gods or the ancestors did, hence everything that the myths have to tell about their creative activity, belongs to the sphere of the sacred and therefore participates in being.
In contrast, what men do on their own initiative, what they do without. The more religious man is, the more paradigmatic models does he possess to guide his attitudes and actions.
In other words, the more religious he is, the more does he enter into the real and the less is he in danger of becoming lost in actions that, being nonparadigmatic, "subjective," are, finally, aberrant. This is the aspect of myth that demands particular emphasis here. The myth reveals absolute sacrality, because it relates the creative activity of the gods, unveils the sacredness of their work.
In other words, the myth describes the various and sometimes dramatic irruptions of the sacred into the world. This is why, among many primitives, myths cannot be recited without regard for time or place, but only during the seasons that are ritually richest autumn, winter or in the course of religious ceremonies--in short, during a sacred period of time. It is the irruption of the sacred into the world, an irruption narrated in the myths, that establishes the world as a reality.
Every myth shows how a reality came into existence, whether it be the total reality, the cosmos, or only a fragment--an island, a species of plant, a human institution. To tell how things came into existence is to explain them and at the same time indirectly to answer another question: Why did they come into existence?
Eternal return (Eliade) - Wikipedia
The why is always implied in the how--for the simple reason that to tell how a thing was born is to reveal an irruption of the sacred into the world, and the sacred is the ultimate cause of all real existence. Moreover, since every creation is a divine work and hence an irruption of the sacred, it at the same time represents an irruption of creative energy into the world. Every creation springs from an abundance. The gods create out of an excess of power, an overflow of energy.
Creation is accomplished by a surplus of ontological substance. This is why the myth, which narrates this sacred ontophany, this victorious manifestation of a plenitude of being, becomes the paradigmatic model for all human activities. For it alone reveals the real, the superabundant, the effectual. Hence the supreme function of the myth is to "fix" the paradigmatic models for all rites and all significant human activities--eating, sexuality, work, education, and so on.
Acting as a fully responsible human being, man imitates the paradigmatic gestures of the gods, repeats their actions, whether in the case of a simple physiological function such as eating or of a social, economic, cultural, military, or other activity.
In New Guinea a great many myths tell of long sea voyages, thus providing "exemplars for the modern voyagers," as well as for all other activities, "whether of love, or war, or rain-making, or fishing, or whatever else The narrative gives precedents for the stages of construction, the tabu on sexual intercourse, etc. He dances on the platform and extends his arms like Aori's wings A man told me that when he went fish shooting with bow and arrow he pretended to be Kivavia himself. This symbolism of mythical precedents is also found in other primitive cultures.
Writing on the Karuk Indians of California, J. The Ikxareyavs were the people who were in America before the Indians came. Modern Karuks, in a quandary now to render the word, volunteer such translations as 'the princes,' 'the chiefs,' 'the angels.
Men's religious behavior contributes to maintaining the sanctity of the world. He does not consider himself to be truly man except in so far as he imitates the gods, the culture heroes, or the mythical ancestors. This is as much as to say that religious man wishes to be other than he is on the plane of his profane experience. Religious man is not given; he makes himself, by approaching the divine models.
Hence religious man too regards himself as made by history, just as profane man does; but the only history that concerns him is the sacred history revealed by the myths--that is, the history of the gods; whereas profane man insists that he is constituted only by human history, hence by the sum of the very acts that, for religious man, are of no importance because they have no divine models.
Myth, Ritual, and Festival
The point to be emphasized is that, from the beginning, religious man sets the model he is to attain on the transhuman plane, the plane revealed by his myths. One becomes truly a man only by conforming to the teaching of the myths, that is, by imitating the gods. Man repeats this blood sacrifice--sometimes even with human victims--when he has to build a village, a temple, or simply a house. This first murder basically changed the mode of being of human life.
Eternal return (Eliade)
The immolation of the divine being inaugurated not only the need to eat but also the doom of death and, in consequence, sexuality, the only way to ensure the continuity of life. The body of the immolated divinity was changed into food; its soul descended underground, where it established the Land of the Dead. Their whole religious life is a commemoration, a remembering.
The true sin is forgetting. The girl who at her first menstruation spends three days in a dark hut without speaking to anyone does so because the murdered maiden, having become the moon, remains three days in darkness; if the menstruating girl breaks the tabu of silence and speaks, she is guilty of forgetting a primordial event.
Personal memory is not involved; what matters is to remember the mythical event, the only event worth considering because the only creative event.
It falls to the primordial myth to preserve true history, the history of the human condition; it is in the myth that the principles and paradigms for all conduct must be sought and recovered. It is at this stage of culture that we encounter ritual cannibalism.
The cannibal's chief concern would seem to be essentially metaphysical; he must not forget what happened in illo tempore. Volhardt and Jensen have shown this very clearly; the killing and devouring of sows at festivals, eating the first fruits when tubers are harvested, are an eating of the divine body, exactly as it is eaten at cannibal feasts.
Sacrifice of sows, headhunting, cannibalism are symbolically the same as harvesting tubers or coconuts. It is Volhardt's accomplishment to have demonstrated the religious meaning of anthropophagy and at the same time the human responsibility assumed by the cannibal. Headhunting, human sacrifices, cannibalism were all accepted by man to ensure the life of plants. Volhardt's insistence on this point is fully justified. The cannibal assumes his responsibility in the world; cannibalism is not a "natural" behavior in primitive man moreover, it is not found on the oldest levels of culture ; it is cultural behavior, based on a religious vision of life.
For the vegetable world to continue, man must kill and be killed; in addition, he must assume sexuality to its extreme limit--the orgy. An Abyssinian song declares this: Before passing judgment on cannibalism, we must always remember that it was instituted by divine beings. But they instituted it to give human beings the opportunity to assume a responsibility in the cosmos, to enable them to provide for the continuity of vegetable life.
The responsibility, then, is religious in nature. The Uito cannibals affirm it: In judging a "savage" society, we must not lose sight of the fact that even the most barbarous act and the most aberrant behavior have divine, transhuman models.
To inquire why and in consequence of what degradations and misunderstandings certain religious activities deteriorate and become aberrant is an entirely different problem, into which we shall not enter here. For our purpose, what demands emphasis is the fact that religious man sought to imitate, and believed that he was imitating, his gods even when he allowed himself to be led into acts that verged on madness, depravity, and crime.
Religious man experiences two kinds of time--profane and sacred. The one is an evanescent duration, the other a "succession of eternities," periodically recoverable during the festivals that made up the sacred calendar.
The liturgical time of the calendar flows in a closed circle; it is the cosmic time of the year, sanctified by the works of the gods. And since the most stupendous divine work was the creation of the world, commemoration of the cosmogony plays an important part in many religions. The New Year coincides with the first day of Creation. The year is the temporal dimension of the cosmos.
At each New Year the cosmogony is reiterated, the world re-created, and to do this is also to create time--that is, to regenerate it by beginning it anew. This is why the cosmogonic myth serves as paradigmatic model for every creation or construction; it is even used as a ritual means of healing.
By symbolically becoming contemporary with the Creation, one reintegrates the primordial plenitude. The sick man becomes well because he begins his life again with its sum of energy intact. The religious festival is the reactualization of a primordial event, of a sacred history in which the actors are the gods or semidivine beings.
But sacred history is recounted in the myths. Hence the participants in the festival become contemporaries of the gods and the semidivine beings.
They live in the primordial time that is sanctified by the presence and activity of the gods. The sacred calendar periodically regenerates time, because it makes it coincide with the time of origin, the strong, pure time. The religious experience of the festival--that is, participation in the sacred--enables man periodically to live in the presence of the gods.
In so far as he imitates his gods, religious man lives in the time of origin, the time of the myths. In other words, he emerges from profane duration to recover an unmoving time, eternity. Since, for religious man of the primitive societies, myths constitute his sacred history, he must not forget them; by reactualizing the myths, he approaches his gods and participates in sanctity.
But there are also tragic divine histories, and man assumes a great responsibility toward himself and toward nature by periodically reactualizing them. Ritual cannibalism, for example, is the consequence of a tragic religious conception. In short, through the reactualization of his myths, religious man attempts to approach the gods and to participate in being; the imitation of paradigmatic divine models expresses at once his desire for sanctity and his ontological nostalgia. The sacred calendar annually repeats the same festivals, that is, the commemoration of the same mythical events.
The festal calendar everywhere constitutes a periodical return of the same primordial situations and hence a reactualization of the same sacred time. For religious man, reactualization of the same mythical events constitutes his greatest hope; for with each reactualization he again has the opportunity to transfigure his existence, to make it like its divine model. In short, for religious man of the primitive and archaic societies, the eternal repetition of paradigmatic gestures and the eternal recovery of the same mythical time of origin, sanctified by the gods, in no sense implies a pessimistic vision of life.
On the contrary, for him it is by virtue of this eternal return to the sources of the sacred and the real that human existence appears to be saved from nothingness and death. The perspective changes completely when the sense of the religiousness of the cosmos becomes lost. This is what occurs when, in certain more highly evolved societies, the intellectual elites progressively detach themselves from the patterns of the traditional religion.
The periodical sanctification of cosmic time then proves useless and without meaning. The gods are no longer accessible through the cosmic rhythms. The religious meaning of the repetition of paradigmatic gestures is forgotten.
But repetition emptied of its religious content necessarily leads to a pessimistic vision of existence. When it is no longer a vehicle for reintegrating a primordial situation, and hence for recovering the mysterious presence of the gods, that is, when it is desacralized, cyclic time becomes terrifying; it is seen as a circle forever turning on itself, repeating itself to infinity.
This is what happened in India, where the doctrine of cosmic cycles yugas was elaborately developed. A complete cycle, a mahayuga, comprises 12, years. It ends with a dissolution, a pralaya, which is repeated more drastically mahapralaya, the Great Dissolution at the end of the thousandth cycle.
For the paradigmatic schema "creation-destruction-creation-etc. The 12, years of a mahayuga were regarded as divine years, each with a duration of years, which gives a total of 4, years for a single cosmic cycle. A thousand such mahayugas make up a kalpa form ; 14 kalpas make up a manvantara so named because each manvantara is supposed to he ruled by Manu, the mythical Ancestor-King. A kalpa is equivalent to a day in the life of Brahma; a second kalpa to a night. One hundred of these "years" of Brahma, in other wordsmilliards of human years, constitute the life of Brahma.
But even this duration of the god's life does not exhaust time, for the gods are not eternal and the cosmic creations and destructions succeed one another forever. In short, it is the primitive conception of the Year-Cosmos, but emptied of its religious content. It is here that the analysis of the frameworks of correlation between myth, time and ritual in religions can begin. The Indian example that Eliade takes, effectively ties together ritual, myth and time in religion, where altar erection is representative of a cosmogony.
The cosmogonic myth is the establishing element of the origin of the cosmos, where the ritual reactualizes this myth and places man with relation to the sacred. Thus two features are highlighted by Eliade, namely a the regeneration of time annually by ritual where there is a repetition and rebeginning of time as sacred time, and b the ritual participation of people in the enacting of the end of the world and its re-creation, and thus the rebirth of man and the stepping into the sacred from the profane Eliade, Thus it is of a relation between space and time within the ambit of the practices and beliefs of the religious man.
For communities, such as the Polynesians, it is stated to be the archetypal model for all creations of biological, psychological and spiritual places Eliade, Carl Jung is brought into conversation with the study of mythology in the fact that myth is studied in a manner similar to linguistic analysis, where myth itself is seen as language.
Thus, with the different frameworks that correlate time, myth and rituals in religion, one sees that there exists an alternative imagination of the cosmology and cosmogony of the world by the participants of the religion. With this analysis it is realized that without such an understanding of an interplay between myth, ritual and time, there cannot be a true conception of religion at all.
Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice. A Biogenetic Structural Analysis. Sacred Time and Myths. In The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion pp.
Myth and ritual
Speeches to its Cultural Despisers. The World's Mythology in Colour. The Structural Study of Myth.