Discussion 8

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Discussion 8 by Mind Map: Discussion 8

1. Pages 29-33

1.1. Taboo: The Basis of Aboriginal Social Structure

1.1.1. Certain people can participate in certain events and rituals.

1.1.2. Punishment for breaking this taboo is either banishment or death.

1.1.3. The sites and rituals that deal with ancestors were for men only.

1.1.4. The most important rituals were only for those with the most experience which was usually the elders.

1.1.5. Young people achieved religious maturity and training in part through the elaborate initiation rituals.

1.2. Initiation: Symbolic Death, Spiritual Rebirth

1.2.1. Even before birth each aborigine possessed a spiritual essence of his or her totemic ancestor.

1.2.2. Initiation rituals awaken young people to adulthood by redefining their social standing in the tribe.

1.2.3. Throughout the rituals the young people learn about the myths of the Dreaming

1.2.4. The first Ritual for the boys starts at the age of nine and last for months. It ends with their two front teeth being knocked out and buried to symbolize death. Another ritual for boys is a ritual of circumcision.

1.2.5. Bull-roarer is an instrument made of a piece of wood attached to a long string of human hair and is meant to recreate the sound of the deities. (It was taboo for women)

1.2.6. The boy then lives in the wilderness away from the tribe until his wounds have healed and the dried blood wears off.

1.3. The Yoruba and Their Universe

1.3.1. Lived in the western region of Africa (Nigeria, Togo, Benin)

1.3.2. United with their common culture and language

1.3.3. Always have lived in cities (Ife, Oyo, and Ijebu)

1.3.4. Cities were independent from one another and Ife was the center of the Yoruba

1.3.5. Yoruba believed that Ife was where the god Orishania first created the world.

1.3.6. Yoruba Cosmology shows a heaven and earth with the gods and ancestors in heaven and the humans, sorcerers, and witches live on earth.

1.3.7. Olorun - supreme god, distance and remote, created everything and then left

1.3.8. Orishas - lesser gods that are mediators to earth from Olorun (day to day gods)

1.3.9. The Yoruba worshipped the Orishas daily and almost never Olorun

2. The Golden Chain

2.1. Olorun lived in the sky, and with Olorun were many orishas. There were both male and female orishas, but Olorun transcended male and female and was the all-powerful supreme being.

2.2. Around the baobab tree the orishas found everything they needed for their lives, and in fact they wore beautiful clothes and gold jewelry. Olorun told them that all the vast sky was theirs to explore. All the orishas save one, however, were content to stay near the baobab tree.

2.3. Obatala was the curious orisha who wasn’t content to live blissfully by the baobab tree.

2.4. Obatala went to Olorun and asked Olorun to let him make something solid in the waters below. That way there could be beings that Obatala and the orishas could help with their powers.

2.5. Olorun agreed to send Obatala to the watery world below. Obatala then asked Orunmila, the orisha who knows the future, what he should do to prepare for his mission. Orunmila brought out a sacred tray and sprinkled the powder of baobab roots on it.

2.6. Finally he told Obatala to prepare a chain of gold, and to gather sand, palm nuts, and maize. He also told Obatala to get the sacred egg carrying the personalities of all the orishas

2.7. Obatala went to his fellow orishas to ask for their gold, and they all gave him all the gold they had. He took this to the goldsmith, who melted all the jewelry to make the links of the golden chain.

2.8. When Obatala realized that the goldsmith had made all the gold into links, he had the goldsmith melt a few of them back down to make a hook for the end of the chain.

2.9. Obatala gathered all the sand in the sky and put it in an empty snail shell, and in with it he added a little baobab powder. He put that in his pack, along with palm nuts, maize, and other seeds that he found around the baobab tree. He wrapped the egg in his shirt, close to his chest so that it would be warm during his journey.

2.10. Obatala hooked the chain into the sky, and he began to climb down the chain. For seven days he went down and down, until finally he reached the end of the chain.

2.11. Finally he heard Orunmila, the seer, calling to him to use the sand. He took the shell from his pack and poured out the sand into the water below.

2.12. Still unsure what to do, Obatala hung from the end of the chain until his heart pounded so much that the egg cracked. From it flew Sankofa, the bird bearing the sprits of all the orishas. Like a storm, they blew the sand to make dunes and hills and lowlands, giving it character just as the orishas themselves have character.

2.13. Finally Obatala let go of the chain and dropped to this new land, which he called “Ife”, the place that divides the waters. Soon he began to explore this land, and as he did so he scattered the seeds from his pack, and as he walked the seeds began to grow behind him, so that the land turned green in his wake.

2.14. By then he was even thirstier than before, and he took juice from the newly-grown palm trees and it fermented into palm wine. He drank this, and drank some more, and soon he was intoxicated. He returned to his work of making more forms from the edge of the pond, but now he wasn’t careful and made some without eyes or some with misshapen limbs.

2.15. Gathering gasses from the space beyond the sky, Olorun sparked the gasses into an explosion that he shaped into a fireball. He sent that fireball to Ife, where it dried the lands that were still wet and began to bake the clay figures that Obatala had made. The fireball even set the earth to spinning, as it still does today. Olorun then blew his breath across Ife, and Obatala’s figures slowly came to life as the first people of Ife.

3. The Divination of the Yoruba

3.1. Yoruba have lived in modern day Nigeria and Benin for centuries

3.2. The cosmos are two halves of a sphere: the upper orun and the lower ase.

3.3. Olorun has no cults, shrines, or special worshippers but is the god of destiny and the creator.

3.4. Ifa allows for communication between orun and ase, and Ifa figures don't need to be part of Ifa divination.

3.5. Esu is a messenger between humanity and the deities and can both show great wrath and helpfulness as a trickster figure.

3.6. Ifa divination is a system of memorized verses and 16 numerical figures that can be made into 256 figures, called odus.

3.7. Method one of divination requires a diviner holding 16 palm nuts in his left hand and grab them with his right hand.

3.8. Method two of divination requires a diviner toss a diving chain of eight seed shells and counts them face up or down.

3.9. Ifa diviners, called babalawo, memorize over 2,000 verses that relate the 256 odus to an issue a client may have.

3.10. William Bascom believes the clients spoke to objects the babalawo handled instead of them directly, preventing manipulation of odus.

3.11. John Neimark believes the babalawo used psychological and spiritual help to guide the client as a counselor.

3.12. Either way, the Yoruba believed in balance of the cosmos, where if we are out of balance we suffer for it.

3.13. Divination: casting to determine the situation, then adimu is to be decided, verses are spoken, and sacrifices determined.

3.14. Casts are good and evil. Good = long life, money, marriage, victory, children; evil = death, sickness, fighting, greed, and loss.

3.15. Babalawo determine necessary sacrifices for good or evil fortune and their main income comes from said sacrifices.

3.16. New node

3.17. Sacrifices can be: money, domestic animals, wild animals, food, implements, weapons, clothing, or much more.

3.18. Babalawo are also skilled herbalists and can call for the preparation of medicines called ayajo.

3.19. Training can happen through a father or apprenticeship and studying continues for life.

3.20. Babalawo also perform rituals and rites for followers of Ifa, including Itefa, a ritual of young boys finding their identity.

3.21. Determining a child's ancestral soul is also important, sacrifices are required annually, and it can determine the taboos to follow.

3.22. Souls have a set date to return to heaven and Olorun where they may make a request for the next life.

3.23. Suicide prevents reentry to heaven and premature deaths create ghosts until the proper date arrives.

3.24. The deities of Olorun, Ifa, and Esu determine a person's destiny and can decide fate, and Ifa divination is a way to communicate with them.

3.25. The goal of a babalawo is not to know the most verses, but to help a client solve a problem and communicate with Olorun.