Indigenous Religions of the World
What is an ‘indigenous’ religion or belief system? When we hear the term ‘indigenous religion’, what comes to our minds? How do we react internally when those words are mentioned? How do adherents of indigenous religions feel about those outside of their social and cultural circles, who know very little of their beliefs and who understand them even less. And how did the term ‘indigenous’ become associated with various belief systems that, in many cases, preceded most modern religions being practiced today?
The term ‘indigenous’ means originating or occurring naturally in a country, region, etc. Indigenous religions do not constitute a “world religion” in the same way as, Buddhism, Islam or
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Memorizing an entire history can be tedious, as some oral traditions are complex and extremely long. The importance of these storytellers should not be understated. For example, present-day tribes, who dwell deep within the rainforest, would heavily rely on their ancestral storytelling, for clues or instructions on how to survive and hunt in their surroundings. This information must be passed down in most circumstances, or how else would the people know what to do or what is expected of them within their tribes? In some cultures, spiritual specialists are called ‘shamans’ or ‘medicine men’ and are generally viewed as being divinely guided in healing matters but of spiritual and psychological issues as well. Although the various roles may vary from belief to belief, there is a strong, united understanding that these ‘specialist’ do not operate, cure or heal themselves, but rather through the spirit that is working within them. Most view shamans or medicine men/women as divinely selected and that the spirit enters whomever it ‘chooses’. Great emphasis is placed in the spiritual training of potential intermediaries, whereas, if the spirits do not find them acceptable, then that person is unable to carry the role or title as shaman/medicine person.
Great importance is placed on group observances within the indigenous religious structure. The concept of ‘community’ is common place among most other