Anthropology Answers Essay Sample
Human culture is quite diverse and distinct. Indeed, the question of origin and development of cultures has been of primary concern to people of all cultures. Interestingly, each culture has its beliefs on their inception. This paper examines these myths in light of various theories. In addition, it considers different aspects of culture.
Question One: Myth as a sacred history.
How myths help human beings relate to deity
Myths play a fundamental role in every society of people. Indeed, they help people relate to the deity. Eliade posits that myths define the structures of worship and determine the modes of worship among its subscribers (Eliade 63). Thus, myths help to develop the practical orders of worship and personal relationship to the deity.
Ways in which myths represent the worldview and the ethos of a religion.
Myths describe the worldview and ethics of its owners in numerous ways. For instance, myths instill the belief that there is a continuous cosmic war between evil and good, between the gods and the devils. Thus, it makes the people determine social behaviors and practices that align them with the side they ascribe (Eliade 69).
Question Two: How cultural-reflective, psychoanalytical, andstructural perspectives can analyze myths
The cultural-reflective model pays particular attention to the beliefs, values, norms, and lifestyle of the people. The psychoanalytical view considers the innate behavioral aspects of the members of a culture. Thus, it assesses people’s tendencies. The structural perspective considers the components, which make a culture such as the reward system and goals.
“In the Beginning” from Australian Aborigines
Certainly, these models can help in studying the Australian Aborigine Myths. For example, the cultural-reflective approach can help explain the belief system and worship rituals of the myth. According to Parker et al., the Australian Aborigines firmly believe in the close relation between the social and physical aspects of their world (Parker, 382). The myth documents that the Aborigines believe that the ancestors created the world and determined the rules governing it. Subsequently their descendants submitted to the norms set by the ancestors. A psychoanalytic aspect of their myth helps explain their rituals. For instance, according to Parker, the Aborigines participate in the Dreaming mythology through participation in their rituals and ceremonies (Parker 382).
The Dogon are a people in Mali, West Africa. Incidentally, they are believed to have come from Egypt. Incidentally, their myths date back to 3200BC. According to their understanding, they emerged from the stars. Thus, they have a firm belief in the cosmological world. The Dogon believe that a people called the Nommos appeared to them in a space ship and educated them on the solar system. Thus, a significant portion of their myths centers on the solar system and star constellations. A structural analysis of this culture shows a firm attachment to the galactic system (Kystek n.p).
“Creation of the World” - Delaware Indians
The Delaware Indians have more than 30 collections of oral traditions and numerous folklores that help to explain their origin. The Creation of the World is one of the myths explaining their origin. From a cultural-reflective viewpoint, it is evident that the myths are of fundamental scope to their lives. The kinfolk and neighboring Native Americans have continued to tell and retell the folklores in various ways (Native Languages of the Americas).
Question Three: Rituals:
Stein provides an interesting approach to the understanding of ritual. Indeed, he considers ritual as the acting out of the script. Apparently, the script, in this case, is the myths. There are various types of rituals in the world. Indeed, they are as numerous and distinct as humanity.
Types of rituals
For instance, the Polynesians have three important rituals regarding children. They believe that the world started in the primordial waters, which plunged into the cosmic darkness. Apparently, the gods got tired of staying in the use waters, this emerged, and begun to call the creations. The first ritual is planting of the child in a barren womb. Secondly, there are the rituals for enlightening the mind and the body. The third ritual involves the subjects of death, war, recitations of genealogy among other aspects (Eliade 82).
The Rite of Passage:
A rite of passage refers to the rituals or activities that a member of a particular culture must go through in order to ascend to a higher status in society. Apparently, it ascribes higher social status and recognition to those who have undergone the rite. Certainly, every society and community has its set means of bringing this transition. Indeed, they involve severe and arduous activities such as circumcision and removal of teeth. Examples of status include wife, teacher, husband, father, and mother.
Its significance to one’s life
Rites of passage promote a person from one status to another. Indeed, they fulfill self-esteem needs of an individual and help define the boundaries of association and reference among the community members. For instance, according to Eliade, some cultures believe that a successful candidate who undergoes the prescribed rituals can transition from humanity to divinity and death to life (Eliade 18)
How a rite of passage transfers a person from one status to another
The rite of passage moves a person from one status to another. According to Stein, anthropologists have identified three main steps in a rite of passage. Namely, the first is the separation stage, followed by the transition stage and the incorporation phase. Separation involves the removal of the subject from their immediate social or physical environment. The transition involves particular activities performed to enforce the change. Finally, the incorporation involves transfer and acceptance into the new social or physical environment.
Question Four: The relevance of symbols in ritualsSymbols are an important aspect of the rites of passage rituals. They serve as physical manifestations changes of one’s status. Thus, they are marks that define a new life among members of the society. For instance, the wedding ring represents a marriage in most western cultures.
How symbols change from a sacrifice to the re-affirmation of memory
Symbols change from sacrifice to the puberty rituals as well as the public rituals of the historical identities. For instance, according to Stein, some rituals involve physical alterations of the body in their various stages. For example, cicarization involves the engraving of particular marks on the members’ bodies. Apparently, it is interrelated to tattooing (Stein Ritual 96. pdf doc).
Therefore, myths play a vital role in understanding the culture of a particular people. As such, the study of myths provides a safe avenue for appreciating the diversity and uniqueness of a culture.
Eliade, M. The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History. Vol. 46. Princeton University Press, 2005. Print.
Kystek, L. 1998. The Dogon, the Nommos and Sirius B. The Museum Of unnatural mystery. Web. 31 March 2015.
Native Languages of the Americas. 1998-2015 .Native Languages of the Americas: Lenape/Delaware Indian Legends and Stories. Web. 31 March 2015
Parker, Janet, Alice Mills, and Julie Stanton. Mythology: Myths, Legends, and Fantasies. Struik, 2007.
Stein, B. A history of India. Vol. 10. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2010. Print
Stein. Ritual. n.d. Print
Turner, V. W. Religious Specialists. n.d. Print.