Women and Indigenous Religions

Women and Indigenous Religions

Women and Indigenous Religions

Women and Indigenous Religions

Synopsis

At the core of most indigenous religions is a deep respect for the earth expressed in rituals and practices that foster sustainability. Nature is often regarded as a sacred entity that comprises all the people of the earth. The endeavor of maintaining and transmitting these rituals and practices is commonly entrusted to female spiritual and intellectual leaders.

Excerpt

The field of indigenous religions is commanding increased attention from scholars of religion in a variety of cultural contexts. It is of great significance that increasingly serious efforts are being made to understand indigenous religions as valid expressions of belief. In fact, such a turning point has become an ethical imperative. For centuries, indigenous religions have indeed been reduced to the “primitive,” “primal,” “native,” and “animistic” (not to mention the terms “heathen,” “superstitious,” and “irrational”). An initial step toward recognizing other worldviews in their own terms and acknowledging the epistemic specificities of indigenous religious beliefs was reached in the work of some scholars such as Ninian Smart. According to Jonathan Z. Smith such categories as “primitive,” “native,” or “animistic” are part of the “history” of the study of religions. The first methodological problem in the study of indigenous religions is the construction of the category of religion itself by historians of religion, still under debate among scholars.

Not all religions function in the same way. Indigenous religions are indeed quite complex, vary from society to society, and have been affected considerably by change. Since naming, defining, and conceptualizing these traditions is and will remain problematic, it is better to regard any definition . . .

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