Religious Developments in Ancient India

Hinduism stood for a wide variety of related religious traditions native to India. Introduction For well over 1,000 years, sacred stories and heroic epics have made up the mythology of Hinduism. Nothing in these complex yet colourful legends is fixed and firm. Pulsing with creation, destruction, love, and war, it shifts and changes. Most myths occur in several different[…]

The Initiation of Religions in Ancient India

The Upanishads are the philosophical account deemed to be the earliest source of Hindu religion. Introduction The religious practices of the early Indo-Aryans, known as the Vedic  religion (1500 BCE to 500 BCE) were written down and later redacted into the Samhitas, four canonical collections of hymns or mantras, called the Veda, in archaic Sanskrit. The Late Vedic age[…]

The Origins and Growth of Yazidism since the Ancient World

For thousands of years, Yazidism incorporated elements of Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Gnosticism, Christianity, and Islam. By Seth EislundStudentCarleton College Introduction Yazidism is a syncretic, monotheistic religion practiced by the Yazidis, an ethnoreligious group which resides primarily in northern Iraq, northern Syria, and southeastern Turkey. Yazidism is considered by its adherents to be the oldest religion in[…]

Jewish Cosmology in its Ancient Near Eastern Context

Considering the spread of Judaism from the viewpoint of other cultures in the Ancient Near East. Introduction The cosmology of the Hebrew Bible is basic not only to Judaism but also to Christianity, and its central features are accordingly well known to all of us. Our familiarity with the subject has a drawback, however. It necessarily makes us[…]

Global Monotheism: The Contribution of the Israelite Prophets

Examining the transitions from “selective polytheism” to henotheism and subsequently, from henotheism to global monotheism. Introduction In his recent book, The Post-American World (2008), Fareed Zakaria explains that after the end of the Cold War there was a brief “American interlude,” when the United States enjoyed a uni-polar status of unrivaled dominance, but that this phase has[…]

From Ancient Rome to Hollywood: Witches as Figures of Fun

How Romans overcame their fear of witches by finding them funny. Introduction For centuries, when people thought of witches, they were evil or possessed by evil demons: think of the Salem witch trials or the 16th and 17th-century woodcuts depicting sinister women conjuring demons or flying on broomsticks. These were the sort of women who morphed in[…]

Divine Reverie: Revelation, Dream Interpretation, and Teeth in Antiquity

You might say the Roman emperor Septimius Severus was a dreamer, but he wasn’t the only one. You might say the Roman emperor Septimius Severus was a dreamer, but he wasn’t the only one. The ancient tabloid known as the Historia Augusta records that not long after coming to Rome, a young Severus made the mistake of[…]

The Bacchanalia: A Greek Dionysian Mystery Cult in Ancient Rome

The Bacchanalia were Roman festivals of Bacchus based on various ecstatic elements of the Greek Dionysia. Introduction The Bacchanalia seem to have been popular and well-organised throughout the central and southern Italian peninsula. They were almost certainly associated with Rome’s native cult of Liber, and probably arrived in Rome itself around 200 BC. However, like[…]

The Religion of the Ancient Canaanites

Canaanite religion was polytheistic, and in some cases monolatristic. Introduction Canaanite religion refers to the group of ancient Semitic religions practiced by the Canaanites living in the ancient Levant from at least the early Bronze Age through the first centuries of the Common Era. Beliefs Deities A great number of deities in a four tier hierarchy headed[…]

‘The Marduk Prophecy’: A Traveling Statue in Ancient Assyria

The author would have constructed the narrative to place the events in the past in order to allow for a ‘prophetic vision’. Introduction The Marduk Prophecy is an Assyrian document dating to between 713-612 BCE found in a building known as The House of the Exorcist adjacent to a temple in the city of Ashur. It relates the travels of the statue of[…]

Where Be Monsters? The Daedalus Sea Serpent and the War for Credibility

Just what was it that the crew of the HMS Daedalus saw? By Matthew Willis On 6 August 1848, Midshipman Sartoris of the Royal Navy corvette HMS Daedalus alerted the officers on the ship’s quarterdeck to an unusual sight. The captain, first lieutenant, and sailing master were all present to see the approach of a large creature[…]

Warriors of the Rainbow: The Birth of an Environmental Mythology

How did Greenpeace develop this affinity with Native Americans? The German branch of Greenpeace announced itself to the world in June 1981 when two activists climbed a smokestack in Hamburg and festooned it with a banner which read: Erst wenn der letzte Baum gefällt, der letzte Fluss vergiftet und der letzte Fisch gefangen ist, werdet[…]

The Most Popular Gods and Goddesses of Ancient China

There were over 200 gods and goddesses worshipped throughout ancient China, but if one were to count every deity or spirit, the number would be over 1,000. By Emily MarkHistorian Introduction There were over 200 gods and goddesses worshipped throughout ancient China, but if one were to count every deity or spirit, the number would be[…]

A Psychological Perspective on the Source and Function of Religion

Exploring the dominant influence of religious notions in people’s worldview, providing meaning and powerfully influencing their cognitions, emotions and behaviour. By Dr. Karen van der MerweSchool of Psychosocial Behavioural SciencesNorth West University South Africa Abstract This article explored psychological perspectives on the following: the reasons for humans’ religiousness, the influence of religion on people’s perspective[…]

Ritual and Religion in Cultural Anthropology

Not all religions follow the same practices but there are some similarities between most, if not all, religions. Introduction Religion changes across the globe. Different parts of the world have different beliefs and rules that maintain their religion. Not all religions follow the same practices but there are some similarities between most, if not all,[…]

Exorcism Has Been Part of Christianity for Centuries

Forty-five years ago, ‘The Exorcist’ terrified viewers with its portrayal of a practice that goes back several centuries and continues today in Christianity. “The Exorcist,” a horror film released 45 years ago, is a terrifying depiction of supernatural evil. The film tells the story of a young American girl who is possessed by a demon and eventually exorcised by a[…]

An Overview of the History of Mythology Involving Virgin Mothers and Miracle Babies

Virgin birth was not a new story in the ancient world. At the centre of the annual Christian festival of Christmas, particularly among those of the Catholic faith, is the sacred narrative of the Virgin Birth. In the New Testament Gospels of Matthew (1:18-25) and Luke (1:26-38), Mary, The Mother of God, is described as[…]

The Surprising Historical Significance of Fortune-Telling

The possible futures predicted by fortune-telling happen just often enough to tantalize, preying on our deepest aspirations of catching a “big break.” By Cody Delistraty / 10.26.2016 In 1786, 14-year-old Marie Anne Lenormand ran away from the convent school where she was raised. Lenormand set off to Paris on her own, where she learned the[…]

The Origin and Development of the Dragon in Ancient Chinese Mythology

Unlike the Western dragon of Europe that is representative of evil, the many eastern versions of the dragon are powerful spiritual symbol. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 12.07.2018Public HistorianBrewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction The Chinese dragon (spelled Long,Loong, or Lung in transliteration), is a Chinese mythical creature that also appears in other East Asian cultures, and thus is also sometimes called the Oriental (or Eastern)[…]