The theme of death in the mythological consciousness
In a sense, mythological thinking as a kind of integrity can be interpreted as a constant and sustained denial of the phenomenon of death - by the very affirmation of the indestructible unity and continuity of life, myth rejects death. "Primitive religion is, perhaps, the most consistent, vivid and decisive affirmation of life in all human culture," writes E. Cassirer.
In describing the ancient texts of the Egyptian pyramids, James Breasted noted that the main, dominant and cross-cutting thought in them is a persistent, even passionate protest against death. "They could be considered the extreme point of the earliest human rebellion against darkness and silence, of which there is no return. The word & quot; death & quot; always has a negative meaning in the texts of the pyramids or refers to the enemy. Again and again we hear the stubborn assertion that the dead is alive. "
Individual and social feelings of primitive man are permeated with this certainty. His life has no clear boundaries in space and time: it extends not only to the whole of nature, but also to the whole of human history. The well-known English thinker Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) advanced the thesis that the cult of ancestors should be regarded as the primary source and the source of religion. In any case, it is one of the most common religious motives. According to E. Cassirer, in the world, probably, there are almost no peoples who would not have in one form or another a cult of the dead. This reservation of the Austrian philosopher is untenable: modern ethnology not only recognizes the universal prevalence of the cult of the dead, but also quite consistently rationalistically explains its origin.
VS Solovyov refers to the same topic, who writes about the theory of G. Spencer. The English philosopher from the veneration of the dead ancestors brought out the whole religion. In the opinion of the Russian philosopher, although this theory is not a complete truth, however, according to him, it is much more accurate and more meaningful than the theories of the original fetishism and those that reduce everything to the deification of the sun, thunderstorms or other manifestations of nature. The subject of religion has always been active humanoid beings or spirits. It can hardly be doubted that the souls of the dead ancestors were the prototype of spirits, VS Solovyev believes.
& quot; Metamorphoses & quot; Ovid, in his opinion, mostly borrowed from the popular beliefs of the Greeks and Romans, are full of examples of the transition of dead or dying people into spontaneous, zoomorphic and phytomorphic (vegetable) deities and spirits. The most common form of fetishism - the worship of stones - is in undoubted dependence on the cult of the dead. Lappers, Buryats and other peoples sometimes retain the proper names of those grandfathers and sorcerers who, after death, turned into sacred stones. This transformation can not be understood in the sense that the spirit of the deceased has become a stone; soulless thing; on the contrary, he preserves - and even to a greater extent - the power that he had during his lifetime. Thus, in the lobes the petrified sorcerers predict and send storms and storms to the entire district. Here the stone is only the visible seat of the spirit or the instrument of its action. In the Semites, the sacred stones were called Betels or Betils, i.e. houses of God. The same should be said about sacred trees.
One of the first religious duties of a descendant after the death of a parent is to provide him with food and all the necessary things that he may need in a new position. Veneration of ancestors is a universal sign that characterizes and determines both the religious and the social role. In China, the worship of ancestors, which became the state religion, is, in fact, the only people's religion. This means, notes J. Groot in his description of the Chinese religion, "that the family's ties with the dead are inseparable: the deceased continue to enjoy authority and patronize the family." They are the natural divine defenders of the Chinese people, their domestic gods, protecting from ghosts and granting happiness ... it is the cult of ancestors that provides the protection of a deceased member of his family, gives him wealth and prosperity. Hence, his property actually belongs to the deceased, who continue to live among the living; the laws of parental and paternal authority required parents to own all the property of children ... We, therefore, should consider the cult of parents and ancestors to be the true center of the religious and social life of the Chinese people. "
China is a classical country of ancestors' cult, on the basis of which it is possible to study all the main manifestations of this cult. However, according to VS Soloviev, the general religious motives underlying this cult do not depend on individual cultural or social conditions. We find this phenomenon in completely different cultural environments. In classical Antiquity, for example, the same motifs are found in Roman life. In the famous book "Antique City"
Fustel de Coulanges gave a description of the Roman religion, in which he tried to show that the entire social and political life of the Romans bore the imprint of a cult of manas (mana - deified ancestors). The cult of ancestors has always remained one of the main and predominant features of the Roman religion.
On the other hand, one of the most notable features of the American Indian religion inherent in many tribes from Alaska to Patagonia was their belief in life after death, based on the same general belief in the possibility of communication between people and the spirits of the deceased. According to E. Cassirer, all this clearly and indisputably shows that we are facing a truly universal, unremovable and essential characteristic of primitive culture2. But it is impossible to understand the true meaning of this element, if we proceed from the premise that all religions are generated by fear.
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