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E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F
RELIGION
S E C O N D E D I T I O N


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E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F
RELIGION
S E C O N D E D I T I O N
14
TRANSCENDENTAL
LINDSAY JONES
MEDITATION
EDITOR IN CHIEF

ZWINGLI,
HULDRYCH

eorel_fm 3/2/05 8:36 AM Page iv
Encyclopedia of Religion, Second Edition
Lindsay Jones, Editor in Chief
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Encyclopedia of religion / Lindsay Jones, editor in chief.— 2nd ed.
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1. RELIGION—ENCYCLOPEDIAS. I. JONES, LINDSAY,
1954-
BL31.E46 2005
200’.3—dc22
2004017052
This title is also available as an e-book.
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E D I T O R S A N D C O N S U L T A N T S
EDITOR IN CHIEF
Program in Religious Studies,
SIGMA ANKRAVA
LINDSAY JONES
University of Wisconsin—Madison
Professor, Department of Literary and
Associate Professor, Department of
C
Cultural Studies, Faculty of Modern
HARLES H. LONG
Comparative Studies, Ohio State
Professor of History of Religions,
Languages, University of Latvia
University
Baltic Religion and Slavic Religion
Emeritus, and Former Director of
Research Center for Black Studies,

DIANE APOSTOLOS-CAPPADONA
BOARD MEMBERS
University of California, Santa Barbara
Center for Muslim–Christian
DAVÍD CARRASCO
Understanding and Liberal Studies
MARY N. MACDONALD
Neil Rudenstine Professor of Study of
Program, Georgetown University
Professor, History of Religions, Le
Latin America, Divinity School and
Art and Religion
Moyne College (Syracuse, New York)
Department of Anthropology, Harvard
DIANE BELL
DALE B. MARTIN
University
Professor of Anthropology and Women’s
Professor of Religious Studies, and
Studies, George Washington University
GIOVANNI CASADIO
Chair, Department of Religious
Australian Indigenous Religions
Professor of History of Religions,
Studies, Yale University
Dipartimento di Scienze
KEES W. BOLLE
AZIM NANJI
Professor Emeritus of History,
dell’Antichità, Università degli Studi
Professor and Director, The Institute
University of California, Los Angeles,
di Salerno
of Ismaili Studies, London
and Fellow, Netherlands Institute for
WENDY DONIGER
JACOB OLUPONA
Advanced Studies in the Humanities
Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service
Professor, African American and
and Social Sciences
Professor of the History of Religions,
African Studies Program, University
History of Religions
University of Chicago
of California, Davis
MARK CSIKSZENTMIHALYI
GARY L. EBERSOLE
MICHAEL SWARTZ
Associate Professor in the Department
Professor of History and Religious
Professor of Hebrew and Religious
of East Asian Languages and
Studies, and Director, UMKC Center
Studies, Ohio State University
Literature and the Program in
for Religious Studies, University of
Religious Studies, University of
INÉS TALAMANTEZ
Missouri—Kansas City
Wisconsin—Madison
Associate Professor, Religious Studies
Chinese Religions
JANET GYATSO
Department, University of California,
RICHARD A. GARDNER
Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies,
Santa Barbara
Faculty of Comparative Culture,
The Divinity School, Harvard
Sophia University
University
CONSULTANTS
Humor and Religion
GREGORY D. ALLES
CHARLES HALLISEY
Associate Professor of Religious Studies,
JOHN A. GRIM
Associate Professor, Department of
McDaniel College
Professor of Religion, Bucknell
Languages and Cultures of Asia and
Study of Religion
University and Co-Coordinator,
v

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vi
EDITORS AND CONSULTANTS
Harvard Forum on Religion and
TED PETERS
Religion, University of Chicago
Ecology
Professor of Systematic Theology,
Law and Religion
Ecology and Religion
Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary
TOD SWANSON
JOSEPH HARRIS
and the Center for Theology and the
Associate Professor of Religious Studies,
Francis Lee Higginson Professor of
Natural Sciences at the Graduate
and Director, Center for Latin
English Literature and Professor of
Theological Union, Berkeley,
American Studies, Arizona State
Folklore, Harvard University
California
University
Germanic Religions
Science and Religion
South American Religions
URSULA KING
FRANK E. REYNOLDS
MARY EVELYN TUCKER
Professor Emerita, Senior Research
Professor of the History of Religions
Professor of Religion, Bucknell
Fellow and Associate Member of the
and Buddhist Studies in the Divinity
University, Founder and Coordinator,
Institute for Advanced Studies,
School and the Department of South
University of Bristol, England, and
Asian Languages and Civilizations,
Harvard Forum on Religion and
Professorial Research Associate, Centre
Emeritus, University of Chicago
Ecology, Research Fellow, Harvard
for Gender and Religions Research,
History of Religions
Yenching Institute, Research Associate,
School of Oriental and African
GONZALO RUBIO
Harvard Reischauer Institute of
Studies, University of London
Assistant Professor, Department of
Japanese Studies
Gender and Religion
Classics and Ancient Mediterranean
Ecology and Religion
DAVID MORGAN
Studies and Department of History
HUGH B. URBAN
Duesenberg Professor of Christianity
and Religious Studies, Pennsylvania
Associate Professor, Department of
and the Arts, and
State University
Comparative Studies, Ohio State
Professor of Humanities and Art
Ancient Near Eastern Religions
University
History, Valparaiso University
SUSAN SERED
Politics and Religion
Color Inserts and Essays
Director of Research, Religion, Health
CATHERINE WESSINGER
JOSEPH F. NAGY
and Healing Initiative, Center for the
Professor of the History of Religions
Professor, Department of English,
Study of World Religions, Harvard
and Women’s Studies, Loyola
University of California, Los Angeles
University, and Senior Research
University New Orleans
Celtic Religion
Associate, Center for Women’s Health
New Religious Movements
M
and Human Rights, Suffolk University
ATTHEW OJO
Healing, Medicine, and Religion
R
Obafemi Awolowo University
OBERT A. YELLE
African Religions
LAWRENCE E. SULLIVAN
Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, University
of Toronto

J
Professor, Department of Theology,
UHA PENTIKÄINEN
Law and Religion
Professor of Comparative Religion, The
University of Notre Dame
History of Religions
University of Helsinki, Member of
ERIC ZIOLKOWSKI
Academia Scientiarum Fennica,
WINNIFRED FALLERS SULLIVAN
Charles A. Dana Professor of Religious
Finland
Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer
Studies, Lafayette College
Arctic Religions and Uralic Religions
in the Anthropology and Sociology of
Literature and Religion
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

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A B B R E V I A T I O N S A N D S Y M B O L S
U S E D I N T H I S W O R K
abbr. abbreviated; abbreviation
3 Bar. 3 Baruch
2 Chr. 2 Chronicles
abr. abridged; abridgment
4 Bar. 4 Baruch
Ch. Slav. Church Slavic
AD anno Domini, in the year of the
B.B. BavaD batraD
cm centimeters
(our) Lord
BBC British Broadcasting
col. column (pl., cols.)
Afrik. Afrikaans
Corporation
Col. Colossians
AH anno Hegirae, in the year of the
BC before Christ
Colo. Colorado
Hijrah
BCE before the common era
comp. compiler (pl., comps.)
Akk. Akkadian
B.D. Bachelor of Divinity
Conn. Connecticut
Ala. Alabama
Beits. Beitsah
cont. continued
Alb. Albanian
Bekh. Bekhorot
Copt. Coptic
Am. Amos
Beng. Bengali
1 Cor. 1 Corinthians
AM ante meridiem, before noon
Ber. Berakhot
2 Cor. 2 Corinthians
amend. amended; amendment
Berb. Berber
corr. corrected
annot. annotated; annotation
Bik. Bikkurim
C.S.P. Congregatio Sancti Pauli,
Ap. Apocalypse
bk. book (pl., bks.)
Congregation of Saint Paul
Apn. Apocryphon
B.M. BavaD metsiEaD
(Paulists)
app. appendix
BP before the present
d. died
Arab. Arabic
B.Q. BavaD qammaD
D Deuteronomic (source of the
EArakh. EArakhin
Bra¯h. Bra¯hman.a
Pentateuch)
Aram. Aramaic
Bret. Breton
Dan. Danish
Ariz. Arizona
B.T. Babylonian Talmud
D.B. Divinitatis Baccalaureus,
Ark. Arkansas
Bulg. Bulgarian
Bachelor of Divinity
Arm. Armenian
Burm. Burmese
D.C. District of Columbia
art. article (pl., arts.)
c. circa, about, approximately
D.D. Divinitatis Doctor, Doctor of
AS Anglo-Saxon
Calif. California
Divinity
Asm. Mos. Assumption of Moses
Can. Canaanite
Del. Delaware
Assyr. Assyrian
Catal. Catalan
Dem. DemaDi
A.S.S.R. Autonomous Soviet Socialist
CE of the common era
dim. diminutive
Republic
Celt. Celtic
diss. dissertation
Av. Avestan
cf. confer, compare
Dn. Daniel
EA.Z. EAvodah zarah
Chald. Chaldean
D.Phil. Doctor of Philosophy
b. born
chap. chapter (pl., chaps.)
Dt. Deuteronomy
Bab. Babylonian
Chin. Chinese
Du. Dutch
Ban. Bantu
C.H.M. Community of the Holy
E Elohist (source of the Pentateuch)
1 Bar. 1 Baruch
Myrrhbearers
Eccl. Ecclesiastes
2 Bar. 2 Baruch
1 Chr. 1 Chronicles
ed. editor (pl., eds.); edition; edited by
vii

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viii
ABBREVIATIONS AND SYMBOLS
EEduy. EEduyyot
Hung. Hungarian
Lith. Lithuanian
e.g. exempli gratia, for example
ibid. ibidem, in the same place (as the
Lk. Luke
Egyp. Egyptian
one immediately preceding)
LL Late Latin
1 En. 1 Enoch
Icel. Icelandic
LL.D. Legum Doctor, Doctor of Laws
2 En. 2 Enoch
i.e. id est, that is
Lv. Leviticus
3 En. 3 Enoch
IE Indo-European
m meters
Eng. English
Ill. Illinois
m. masculine
enl. enlarged
Ind. Indiana
M.A. Master of Arts
Eph. Ephesians
intro. introduction
Ma Eas. MaEaserot
EEruv. EEruvin
Ir. Gael. Irish Gaelic
Ma Eas. Sh. MaE aser sheni
1 Esd. 1 Esdras
Iran. Iranian
Mak. Makkot
2 Esd. 2 Esdras
Is. Isaiah
Makh. Makhshirin
3 Esd. 3 Esdras
Ital. Italian
Mal. Malachi
4 Esd. 4 Esdras
J Yahvist (source of the Pentateuch)
Mar. Marathi
esp. especially
Jas. James
Mass. Massachusetts
Est. Estonian
Jav. Javanese
1 Mc. 1 Maccabees
Est. Esther
Jb. Job
2 Mc. 2 Maccabees
et al. et alii, and others
Jdt. Judith
3 Mc. 3 Maccabees
etc. et cetera, and so forth
Jer. Jeremiah
4 Mc. 4 Maccabees
Eth. Ethiopic
Jgs. Judges
Md. Maryland
EV English version
Jl. Joel
M.D. Medicinae Doctor, Doctor of
Ex. Exodus
Jn. John
Medicine
exp. expanded
1 Jn. 1 John
ME Middle English
Ez. Ezekiel
2 Jn. 2 John
Meg. Megillah
Ezr. Ezra
3 Jn. 3 John
Me Eil. MeEilah
2 Ezr. 2 Ezra
Jon. Jonah
Men. Menah.ot
4 Ezr. 4 Ezra
Jos. Joshua
MHG Middle High German
f. feminine; and following (pl., ff.)
Jpn. Japanese
mi. miles
fasc. fascicle (pl., fascs.)
JPS Jewish Publication Society trans-
Mi. Micah
fig. figure (pl., figs.)
lation (1985) of the Hebrew Bible
Mich. Michigan
Finn. Finnish
J.T. Jerusalem Talmud
Mid. Middot
fl. floruit, flourished
Jub. Jubilees
Minn. Minnesota
Fla. Florida
Kans. Kansas
Miq. MiqvaDot
Fr. French
Kel. Kelim
MIran. Middle Iranian
frag. fragment
Ker. Keritot
Miss. Mississippi
ft. feet
Ket. Ketubbot
Mk. Mark
Ga. Georgia
1 Kgs. 1 Kings
Mo. Missouri
Gal. Galatians
2 Kgs. 2 Kings
MoEed Q. MoEed qat.an
Gaul. Gaulish
Khois. Khoisan
Mont. Montana
Ger. German
Kil. Kil Dayim
MPers. Middle Persian
Git.. Git.t.in
km kilometers
MS. manuscriptum, manuscript (pl.,
Gn. Genesis
Kor. Korean
MSS)
Gr. Greek
Ky. Kentucky
Mt. Matthew
H
. ag. H
. agigah
l. line (pl., ll.)
MT Masoretic text
H
. al. H
. allah
La. Louisiana
n. note
Hau. Hausa
Lam. Lamentations
Na. Nahum
Hb. Habakkuk
Lat. Latin
Nah. Nahuatl
Heb. Hebrew
Latv. Latvian
Naz. Nazir
Heb. Hebrews
L. en Th. Licencié en Théologie,
N.B. nota bene, take careful note
Hg. Haggai
Licentiate in Theology
N.C. North Carolina
Hitt. Hittite
L. ès L. Licencié ès Lettres, Licentiate
n.d. no date
Hor. Horayot
in Literature
N.Dak. North Dakota
Hos. Hosea
Let. Jer. Letter of Jeremiah
NEB New English Bible
H
. ul. H
. ullin
lit. literally
Nebr. Nebraska
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ABBREVIATIONS AND SYMBOLS
ix
Ned. Nedarim
pop. population
sp. species (pl., spp.)
Neg. Nega Eim
Port. Portuguese
Span. Spanish
Neh. Nehemiah
Prv. Proverbs
sq. square
Nev. Nevada
Ps. Psalms
S.S.R. Soviet Socialist Republic
N.H. New Hampshire
Ps. 151 Psalm 151
st. stanza (pl., ss.)
Nid. Niddah
Ps. Sol. Psalms of Solomon
S.T.M. Sacrae Theologiae Magister,
N.J. New Jersey
pt. part (pl., pts.)
Master of Sacred Theology
Nm. Numbers
1Pt. 1 Peter
Suk. Sukkah
N.Mex. New Mexico
2 Pt. 2 Peter
Sum. Sumerian
no. number (pl., nos.)
Pth. Parthian
supp. supplement; supplementary
Nor. Norwegian
Q hypothetical source of the synoptic
Sus. Susanna
n.p. no place
Gospels
s.v. sub verbo, under the word (pl.,
n.s. new series
Qid. Qiddushin
s.v.v.)
N.Y. New York
Qin. Qinnim
Swed. Swedish
Ob. Obadiah
r. reigned; ruled
Syr. Syriac
O.Cist. Ordo Cisterciencium, Order
Rab. Rabbah
Syr. Men. Syriac Menander
of Cîteaux (Cistercians)
rev. revised
TaE an. TaEanit
OCS Old Church Slavonic
R. ha-Sh. RoDsh ha-shanah
Tam. Tamil
OE Old English
R.I. Rhode Island
Tam. Tamid
O.F.M. Ordo Fratrum Minorum,
Rom. Romanian
Tb. Tobit
Order of Friars Minor
Rom. Romans
T.D. Taisho¯ shinshu¯ daizo¯kyo¯, edited
(Franciscans)
R.S.C.J. Societas Sacratissimi Cordis
by Takakusu Junjiro¯ et al.
OFr. Old French
Jesu, Religious of the Sacred Heart
(Tokyo,1922–1934)
Ohal. Ohalot
RSV Revised Standard Version of the
Tem. Temurah
OHG Old High German
Bible
Tenn. Tennessee
OIr. Old Irish
Ru. Ruth
Ter. Terumot
OIran. Old Iranian
Rus. Russian
T
. ev. Y. T
. evul yom
Okla. Oklahoma
Rv. Revelation
Tex. Texas
ON Old Norse
Rv. Ezr. Revelation of Ezra
Th.D. Theologicae Doctor, Doctor of
O.P. Ordo Praedicatorum, Order of
San. Sanhedrin
Theology
Preachers (Dominicans)
S.C. South Carolina
1 Thes. 1 Thessalonians
OPers. Old Persian
Scot. Gael. Scottish Gaelic
2 Thes. 2 Thessalonians
op. cit. opere citato, in the work cited
S.Dak. South Dakota
Thrac. Thracian
OPrus. Old Prussian
sec. section (pl., secs.)
Ti. Titus
Oreg. Oregon
Sem. Semitic
Tib. Tibetan
EOrl. EOrlah
ser. series
1 Tm. 1 Timothy
O.S.B. Ordo Sancti Benedicti, Order
sg. singular
2 Tm. 2 Timothy
of Saint Benedict (Benedictines)
Sg. Song of Songs
T. of 12 Testaments of the Twelve
p. page (pl., pp.)
Sg. of 3 Prayer of Azariah and the
Patriarchs
P Priestly (source of the Pentateuch)
Song of the Three Young Men
T
. oh. t.ohorot
Pa. Pennsylvania
Shab. Shabbat
Tong. Tongan
Pahl. Pahlavi
Shav. ShavuEot
trans. translator, translators; translated
Par. Parah
Sheq. Sheqalim
by; translation
para. paragraph (pl., paras.)
Sib. Or. Sibylline Oracles
Turk. Turkish
Pers. Persian
Sind. Sindhi
Ukr. Ukrainian
Pes. Pesahim
Sinh. Sinhala
Upan. Upanis.ad
Ph.D. Philosophiae Doctor, Doctor
Sir. Ben Sira
U.S. United States
of Philosophy
S.J. Societas Jesu, Society of Jesus
U.S.S.R. Union of Soviet Socialist
Phil. Philippians
(Jesuits)
Republics
Phlm. Philemon
Skt. Sanskrit
Uqts. Uqtsin
Phoen. Phoenician
1 Sm. 1 Samuel
v. verse (pl., vv.)
pl. plural; plate (pl., pls.)
2 Sm. 2 Samuel
Va. Virginia
PM post meridiem, after noon
Sogd. Sogdian
var. variant; variation
Pol. Polish
Sot.. Sot.ah
Viet. Vietnamese
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ABBREVIATIONS AND SYMBOLS
viz. videlicet, namely
Yad. Yadayim
* hypothetical
vol. volume (pl., vols.)
Yev. Yevamot
? uncertain; possibly; perhaps
Vt. Vermont
Yi. Yiddish
° degrees
Wash. Washington
Yor. Yoruba
+ plus
Wel. Welsh
Zav. Zavim
minus
Wis. Wisconsin
Zec. Zechariah
= equals; is equivalent to
Wis. Wisdom of Solomon
Zep. Zephaniah
× by; multiplied by
W.Va. West Virginia
Zev. Zevah.im
→ yields
Wyo. Wyoming
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

v o l u m e f o u r t e e n
o r d a n d i
w
W Om
R D a
A Ng
D e
I M A G E
In both oral and literate societies, the tendency to intermingle
word and image is irresistible. Spoken words, whether song,
chant, or prose, contain the life-force or spirit of the speaker and are commonly joined
to images by incantation and by rituals designed to charge images with power. Writ-
ten words are themselves signifiers that can be pictorialized in many different ways in
order to compound the potency of images. Word and image are imbricated or pat-
terned one on top of the other for the purpose of enhancing memory, expanding the
capacity of visual narrative, or avoiding the injunctions against visual representation
that some religions enforce. By visualizing spoken or written language in the form of
symbolic devices, image makers are able to create a hybrid form of discourse—picto-
graphs, hieroglyphs, ideograms, or characters. Finally, naming is a universal practice
in human culture. Visualizing names in graphic symbols or pictorial tableaux is often
a way of remembering or evoking the deceased or tapping
the power of the spirit by accessing its essence contained
within the name.
Many religions find ways of integrating the written
word and the image to create composite forms of rep-
resentation. In the case of Sikhism, Judaism, and Islam,
such composites are motivated by the desire to avoid com-
mitting idolatry, reducing the divine to a human inven-
tion. Influenced by Islam, Sikhism, for instance, eschews
cult imagery, but engages in intense forms of devotion to
its gurūs, the ten historical teachers who led Sikhs through
times of tribulation and martyrdom. The hymns of several
gurūs compose the eleventh and final gurū, the collection
of holy writings, known as the Gurū Granth Sāhib (Great
Reverend Teacher). Copies of this book are kept in every
gurdwara or Sikh temple, where they are ritually displayed
on throne-like altars (a) during Sikh worship and even
(a) Gurū Granth Sāhib on display during worship in a Sikh
gurdwara in Merrillville, Indiana, in 2003. [Photograph by David
Morgan]

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WORD AND IMAGE
attended by a fly whisk as if the book were the body of
one of the gurūs. This reverence for the book displaces
the role of images in worship. But Sikhism finds a place
for images, as shown by a gilded plaque at the Golden
Temple in Punjab (b), portraying the revered Gurū Nānak
with attendents. Another (unpictured) example is a deft
intermingling of sacred text with an image of Nānak. The
resulting “imagetext” strikes a higher unity that avoids
confusing image with deity. The image consists of the
opening scripture of the Sikh holy book, composed by
Nānak himself. To see his image congealing in his words
makes the gurū’s wisdom appear palpable.

Micrographs are a common Jewish counterpart to the
Sikh image described above and may have inspired it. One
example shows the prophet Jeremiah lamenting the ruins
(b) TOP. An early-seventeenth-century gilded plaque
depicting Gurū Nānak (center) with two attendants.
Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab, India. [©Michael Freeman/
Corbis]
(c) LEFT.
Jeremiah Mourning the Destruction of the Temple
in Jerusalem
, a mid-nineteenth-century lithograph by Beryl Reiss.
[Courtesy of The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary]
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WORD AND IMAGE
of the Jewish temple (c). Ironically, every aspect of the
image consists of Hebrew text from the book of Jeremiah.
If the second commandment (Dt. 5:8–9) proscribes the
worship of images, or even the creation of images, the
micrograph eludes the proscription by only writing sacred
text. A similar evasion of the injunction against imagery
informs the paper amulet reproduced here (d), a Jewish
print of symbols and objects portrayed by textual inscrip-
tions, used for protection during childbirth. Muslims
could produce comparable imagetexts, though attitudes
varied greatly among Muslims in Persia, Turkey, India,
and Africa, on the one hand, and Arabic Muslims, on the
other. Among the most familiar examples of the Muslim
imagetext is the sumptuous calligraphy and decoration of
the Qur c anic page (e). A qiblah-compass from Istanbul
(d) TOP. A late-nineteenth-century paper amulet from Jerusa-
lem, used by Jewish women for protection during childbirth.
[©Erich Lessing/Art Resource, N.Y.] (e) RIGHT. In the Name of the
Almighty, seventh-century ce calligraphy in the form of a hoo-
poe, ink on paper, Iran. [©Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz/Art
Resource, N.Y.]
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WORD AND IMAGE
(f ) shows how word and image could be combined in
order to provide an important form of information for
Muslim piety. This compass was able to find the direction
of Mecca anywhere in the world when adjusted to the
coordinates indicated on its face.

In another form of image dedicated to generating a
kind of useful information, American Protestants relied
on the alphabet page of the New England Primer (g) to
teach their children to read. The page aligns the alphabet
on the left with a central column of imagery, which cor-
responds, in turn, to rhymed phrases on the right. By
embedding imagery in the semantic field of text, Ameri-
can Puritans and their theological descendents did not
mistake image for divine referent, but applied the image
as a form of graphic information to promote literacy, and
to instill in children greater knowledge of the Bible and
morality while doing so. The lesson also affirmed the
important ideology of print: that words correspond clearly
to images, and that both combine to create a uniform,
(f ) TOP. Cardboard qiblah-compass in a brass case, 1808–1809,
reliable system of representing the physical and moral
from Istanbul, Turkey. [©The Nour Foundation: Nasser D. Khalili Collec-
world. Cultural literacy was neatly enfolded in textual
tion of Islamic Art. Accession number: sc1275] (g) ABOVE. Alphabet page
literacy.
from the 1782 editon of the New England Primer, first published in
Boston in about 1690. [Courtesy American Antiquarian Society]

The continuity of word and image in Protestant the-
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WORD AND IMAGE
ology began with Martin Luther, who is shown preaching
in Wittenberg in a print by Lucas Cranach the Younger
(h). Luther preaches a dramatic sermon of propagandistic
rage against the papal party, which is glimpsed in the
smoking maw of a hellish monster, while the Lutheran
party appears below the pulpit and to the left, receiv-
ing the elements of the Eucharist (wine and bread). The
image was intended to register the fine points of doctrinal
controversy between Catholics and Lutherans. The cruci-
fied Jesus flutters above the altar in order to underscore
the Lutheran doctrine of consubstantiation (that the ele-
ments of the sacrament were joined with the substance
of Christ’s body and blood). The laity receives both wine
and bread in contrast to the Catholic practice of distrib-
uting only the bread. The balance of word and image is
tipped in favor of the word in the work of the twentieth-
century Baptist preacher and artist Howard Finster, who,
though he includes a standing figure of Jesus behind the
cross, foregrounds a cross composed of text and recast
as a graphic lesson on moral choice (i). Recalling many
popular prints before it, the subject of Finster’s work is
not the cross or figure of Christ, but, as the title signals,
The Way of Jesus and the viewer’s need to choose to follow
(h) TOP. Woodcut print (c. 1540) by Lucas Cranach the Young-
er depicting Martin Luther preaching to the true church and the
false church. [©Bettmann/Corbis] (i) RIGHT. Howard Finster, The
Way of Jesus, enamel and glitter on plywood, 1982. [Lehigh Uni-
versity Art Galleries Museum Operation]
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WORD AND IMAGE
(j) Visitors in 2002 at the
it. The top of the cross, the direction toward God, as one
Vietnam Veterans Memorial,
arrow indicates, consists of densely inscribed text, while
designed by Maya Ying Lin and
the bottom of the cross fades into a dark field of imag-
built on the National Mall in
ery. Encased in this single work is the radical Protestant
Washington, D.C., in 1982.
antagonism toward the image. Though Jesus is present,
[©2004 Landov LLC. All
he is relegated to the rear of the cross, which Finster has
rights reserved]
visualized as an obdurate block of words.

The capacity of written text to stand for objects
was exploited by Japanese painters of the Lotus Sūtra, an
important Buddhist scripture that encouraged the identi-
fication of the Buddha’s body with the stupa and its relics
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WORD AND IMAGE
and the very text of his teachings laid down in the written
sūtras. In many scroll paintings of the sūtra, artists com-
posed images of stupas from the Japanese characters of
the Buddhist text, creating a visual unity of word, image,
and the object that housed a relic of the Buddha’s body.
To see the sūtra was to see the stupa that contained the
remains of the teacher. Pilgrims to the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial (j) in Washington, D.C., gaze upon the names
of the dead and see behind the inscribed names the reflec-
tions of themselves looking at the names in this moving,
mausoleum-like memorial. The reflections encourage the
idea that there is a space behind the wall, that the wall of
names is a screen through which survivors may sense the
proximity of their lost loved ones. Image and text inter-
mingle to suggest a presence that makes remembering a
poignantly embodied rite.

Symbolic imagery can possess a suggestive power
by virtue of its appearance as a code. Tarot cards, for
example, are clusters of emblematic devices and allegori-
cal figures whose meanings are general and indeterminate
until the cards are progressively configured in a serial
reading that gradually tailors the cards to the personal
reflections of the tarot reader’s client (k). The secrecy
and mystery of the cards is revealed as a divination of
the client’s past, present, and future. Another kind of
secrecy applies to the script of the golden plates found at
Hill Cumorah by Joseph Smith, which he transcribed in
1828 in order for the text to be inspected by a Columbia
University professor of ancient languages. Written in what
the text itself called “Reformed Egyptian,” the script could
be translated only when Smith made use of mysterious
(k) The High Priestess card from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck®.
[©1971 U.S. Games Systems, Inc.]
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WORD AND IMAGE
(l) The Anthon transcript, which some Mormons believe was
interpretive devices that he called “Urim and Thummim.”
copied in 1828 by Joseph Smith from the Book of Mormon
The putative golden plates, their allegedly ancient script,
plates. [Courtesy Community of Christ, Independence, Mo.]
and the translation of the now-lost text shroud the Book
of Mormon
in a mystery that only enhances its authority
as divine revelation for believers. The tantalizing trace of
the transcript shown here (l) imbues the actual absence
of proof with an antiquarian aura. The ancient ciphers
evoke a past in which myth and history are virtually indis-
tinguishable. Religion without suggestion is very little
religion.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Avrin, Leila. Micrography as Art. Jerusalem, 1981.
Brown, Peter. “Images as a Substitute for Writing.” In East and
West: Modes of Communication, Proceedings of the First Plenary
Conference at Merida
, edited by Evangelos Chrysos and Ian
Wood, pp. 15–34. Leiden, 1999.
Givens, Terryl L. By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture
that Launched a New World Religion. New York, 2002.
Murck, Alfreda, and Wen C. Fong, eds.Words and Images: Chinese
Poetry, Calligraphy, and Painting. New York and Princeton,
1991.
Rogers, J. M. Empire of the Sultans: Ottoman Art from the Collec-
tion of Nasser D. Khalili. Alexandria, Va., and London, 2000.
Tanabe, Willa J. Paintings of the Lotus Sutra. New York, 1988.
Turner, J. F. Howard Finster: Man of Visions. New York, 1989.
David Morgan ()
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N
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C O T
N T I N U E D
TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION. Beginning as a method discovered by
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (b. 1911), Transcendental Meditation (TM) became an interna-
tional movement in 1958, when it was presented as a scientific response and practical rem-
edy to the various problems of modern life. This thrust was stressed even more when its
founder and teachers denied that the movement was a religion, or that it had been
founded as such. Instead, they argued that it was an easy technique that could be mastered
by anyone. By using this method, a person could overcome ordinary problems such as
mental and emotional stress and high blood pressure while obtaining greater relaxation,
gaining greater physical energy and mental clarity, and achieving more advanced stages
of consciousness. In spite of its many modern benefits, this new method of yoga claimed
to be part of an ancient Hindu spiritual lineage.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who was born Mahesh Prasad Varma on October 18, 1911
in Uttar Kashi, India, traced his spiritual heritage to the great Advaita Veda¯nta thinker
Sankara (c. 788–820), and beyond him to ancient Vedic literature. Maharishi studied for
fourteen years with Swami Brahmananda Saraswati (1869–1953) at the Jyotimath, a mo-
nastic community located high in the Himalayan mountain range of India, although he
was never appointed successor to his own teacher. Before his student apprenticeship, Ma-
harishi earned a college-level degree in physics and mathematics at Allahabad University
in India. His educational background partially explains his tendency to wrap his message
in scientific jargon and to stress the scientific advantages of his method. The Science of
Creative Intelligence (SCI) is, for instance, the official name of his belief system, which
is conceived as dynamic due to its ever expanding and increasing nature.
The use of scientific language to convey a religious message accomplishes at least two
objectives: (1) it gives the belief system legitimacy, and (2) it forms a cognitive connection
to the contemporary Western worldview that is dominated by science. TM operates from
the basic presupposition that there is a compatibility between Advaita Veda¯nta, the Vedas,
and Western science. Since 1988 TM has, for instance, worked intensively to demonstrate
the parallels between quantum physics and its method.
C LOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT CORNER. The Golden Pavilion, or Kinkakuji, in Kyoto, Japan. [©Dallas
and John Heaton/Corbis]; Thor’s hammer amulet, tenth century. National Museum of Iceland,
Reykjavik. [©Werner Forman/Art Resource, N.Y.]; Tenth- to twelfth-century stone carving of
Chacmool near the Temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza in Mexico. [©Kevin Schafer/
Corbis]
; Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor, Egypt. [©Dallas and John Heaton/Corbis]; Nepalese
Ta¯ra¯. [©Christie’s Images/Corbis].
9289

9290
TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION
MISSION TO THE WEST. Before making his mission to the
called TM-Sidhi with the purpose of teaching students to
West, Maharishi began his spiritual mission beyond India in
achieve yogic powers, such as the ability to fly or levitate.
April 1958 with a trip to Rangoon, Burma. He then traveled
There was a public demonstration before 120 journalists in
to Bangkok, Thailand; the island of Penang; Kuala Lumpur,
Washington, D.C., on July 9, 1986 that did not correspond
Malaysia; Singapore; Hong Kong; Hawai’i; and finally the
with the media hype for the event and resulted in media ridi-
U.S. mainland. On a subsequent journey in 1960 to Germa-
cule of the movement. The members of the media were
ny he opened nine yoga centers, and later that year he trav-
amused at the sham performance of students jumping on
eled to the Scandinavian countries, beginning with Norway,
mats imitating acts of levitation.
before going to Italy, Greece, and Nairobi, Kenya. Later trips
were made to South America, which made his movement a
MEDITATIVE TECHNIQUE AND MESSAGE. The meditative
truly global enterprise.
technique of Maharishi is grounded in a Neo-Veda¯nta meta-
physical philosophy in which an unchanging reality is op-
Maharishi’s introduction of his spiritual discovery to the
posed to an ever-changing phenomenal world. Maharishi’s
West was preceded by the efforts of Swami Vivekananda
book Science of Being and Art of Living: Transcendental Medi-
(1863–1902) and Yogananda (1893–1952). Vivekananada
tation (1963) expresses his basic philosophical position. The
traveled to America to attend the World Parliament of Reli-
unchanging reality is equated with Being, which represents
gions in 1893 and launched the Vedanta Societies, whereas
a state of pure existence that is omnipresent, unmanifested,
Yogananda traveled to America to attend the International
and transcendental. Not only is Being beyond time, space,
Congress of Religious Liberals, organized by the Unitarian
causation, and ever-changing phenomena, it remains unrec-
Church in Boston in 1920, and established the Self-
ognized by human beings because their minds do not realize
Realization Fellowship with more than 150 centers through-
their essential identity with Being, since minds are captive
out the world. Following in their footsteps, Maharishi ar-
to the outward-projecting senses. The essential nature of
rived in America in 1959 and lectured on yoga in San Fran-
Being is further identified with absolute blissful conscious-
cisco, with additional trips to Los Angeles, New York,
ness, which radiates from Being. Maharishi compares Being
London, and Germany. His movement was initially called
to the ocean, upon which there are many waves. These waves
the Spiritual Regeneration Movement, which later became
are like the field of continually changing phenomena. What
the name of the adult branch of the movement. The other
is really important for Maharishi is for human beings to real-
wing of the movement was named the Students International
ize Being, because without this realization a person’s life is
Meditation Society (SIMS), established in 1964 in Germany.
without foundation, meaningless, and fruitless. This realiza-
An early emphasis of the movement was its mission to college
tion is within the capabilities of everyone by means of TM.
campuses, which was given a huge impetus in the mid-1960s
when the British rock group the Beatles studied with the Ma-
This form of meditation is intimately connected to a
harishi in India. This event generated worldwide publicity
person’s breath (Pra¯n:a), which is an expression of Being in
for his movement. After his estrangement from the Beatles,
the sense that it represents a tendency of the unmanifested
the Maharishi initiated, instructed, and toured with the
to reveal itself. The breath represents the latent power of
Beach Boys. Maharishi used his celebrity status with icons
Being within a person. As the nature of Being, breath plays
of popular culture to endear himself with the youth culture.
a role as the motivating force of creation and evolution. The
By the 1970s, student centers could be found at over one
breath can be harnessed and used to help the mind of a per-
thousand campuses. By the beginning of the 1980s the
son realize Being directly. This is accomplished by Transcen-
movement estimated that 1.5 million people had practiced
dental Meditation, which enables a person to extricate one-
Transcendental Meditation with a teacher. The college-
self from a state of relative experience, transcend ordinary
campus focus of the movement culminated with the estab-
thinking, and gain the permanent state of Being. This means
lishment of Maharishi International University in Fairfield,
that a particular mind loses its individuality. It becomes in-
Iowa, in 1974 on the campus of the bankrupted Parsons
stead a cosmic mind that is omnipresent, pure, and eternal.
College.
Before achieving this cosmic state of mind, the human
Pushing the margins of science, Maharishi established
mind is like a seed that produces a tree. What this analogy
the Maharishi European Research University in 1975 at two
attempts to show is the interdependent nature of the mind
lakeside hotels on Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. The purpose
and karma (action). It is impossible for action to occur with-
of the university was to research the effects of Transcendental
out a mind. In turn, it is karma that produces the mind,
Meditation and to determine the existence of higher states
which in turn creates more karma. This suggests that karma
of consciousness. During the following year Maharishi envi-
owes its existence to the mind, and in turn creates the mind.
sioned his own world government with the ancient Indian
By means of karma, the original, pure consciousness of Being
Vedas as the basis of its constitution. He appointed ministers
is transformed into conscious mind. If karma represents what
to various positions with titles like the Development of Con-
is temporary and perishable, Being is its exact opposite be-
sciousness, Prosperity, and Fulfillment and Health and Im-
cause it represents eternal unity. Karma creates diversity
mortality. During the 1980s Maharishi began a program
within the unity of Being.
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TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION
9291
Within the context of this metaphysical edifice, the
MILLENNIAL EXPECTATIONS. When Maharishi initially ar-
technique of Transcendental Meditation involves saturating
rived in the United States, he stated at a press conference his
the mind with Being by harnessing one’s breath and making
rationale for coming to America. He confessed that he had
it harmonious with the rhythm of nature and cosmic life.
learned a secret, swift, deep form of meditation that he was
Maharishi emphasizes the naturalness of his technique.
now motivated to share with the world for the spiritual re-
Moreover, the technique is a simple, easy, and direct way to
generation of its inhabitants. A few years later, he established
development one’s mental capabilities and latent potentiali-
the Spiritual Regeneration Movement of Great Britain, lo-
ties. In contrast to ancient ascetic traditions of India, in TM
cated in northern London. In 1975 Maharishi announced
it is not necessary to renounce the world or withdraw from
the Dawn of the Age of Enlightenment. His bold and opti-
one’s family. That is an ascetic practice which can be per-
mistic pronouncement suggested the commencement of a
formed within the context of the ordinary activities of the
period during which humans can reach their fullest potential
world.
and that will be characterized by boundless happiness, har-
Instruction in the technique of meditation stresses that
mony, peace, and personal fulfillment. This new dawn will
it is an easy and natural process. Students are instructed to
also represent a period when science will verify and validate
devote twenty minutes each day to practice, ideally in the
the teachings of the Maharishi. Moreover, even those who
morning and early evening. At the beginning stage, a student
did not meditate would enjoy the benefits of this new age.
does not have to be convinced that the method will work.
The Maharishi took this message on tour to various coun-
What is important is the correct practice. If a student per-
tries. The impetus for such millennial hope continued in De-
forms the technique properly, positive results will follow au-
cember 1983–January 1984, when he created the Taste of
tomatically. The proper technique involves seven steps. The
Utopia Assembly, which was staged at Maharishi Interna-
initial step involves attending a introductory lecture that is
tional University. The purpose of this gathering was to unite
intended to prepare a person for what is to follow. In the sec-
Vedic wisdom and the practice of the TM-Sidhi program.
ond step, the theory of Transcendental Meditation is pres-
Their fusion would usher into existence a utopian age of
ented through a preparatory talk. The third step involves an
peace and prosperity. This vision represented a fuller expres-
interview with the teacher, at which time a student is given
sion of a utopian hope embodied within the movement from
a sacred mantra (repetitive formula) that is personally fitted
its earliest moments.
to a person, who is not to reveal it to others. By focusing on
As Transcendental Meditation grew in the awareness of
the mantra, persons are able to concentrate their attention
ordinary citizens, many tended to associate it with New Age
on it. The final steps involve periodic verification and valida-
religion. During the 1960s and 1970s, people were experi-
tion of a person’s experiences by returning to and checking
menting with drugs like LSD to induce altered states of con-
with a teacher.
sciousness and bliss. Within the context of the drug culture
Maharishi identifies seven levels of consciousness, with
and New Age religion, TM appeared to ordinary people to
the final one culminating in a state of unity. The fifth state
be offering similar results. Thus, numerous practitioners of
represents a cosmic consciousness that represents an aware-
various forms of New Age religion and former drug experi-
ness of Being even after the cessation of meditation, whereas
menters were attracted to the TM movement because of its
the fourth stage stands for the transcendental state, which is
apparent kinship with these other forms of spiritual experi-
a state of pure consciousness described as beyond the previ-
mentation. Besides such perceived forms of kinship among
ous state of waking, dream, and deep-sleep consciousness.
TM, drug culture, and New Age spirituality, Transcendental
The fifth stage is an expansion of the pure consciousness
Meditation shared with New Age spirituality a holistic view
achieved on the fourth level from an individual to a wider
of life. This was a form of thinking and living that attempted
cosmic dimension. The sixth state is called God conscious-
to extricate itself from all forms of dualism, such as the di-
ness. Traditional yogic postures are unnecessary—in TM a
chotomy between body and mind. The Transcendental
person can simply sit upright and comfortably on a chair
Meditation movement also intersected with New Age spiri-
with eyes closed. The movement tends to stress that anyone
tualities with respect to organic and vegetarian dietary prac-
can learn this simple, effortless, and easy mental technique.
tices and alternative forms of medicine. In 1985, for in-
From the perspective of Maharishi, this yogic technique
stance, Maharishi launched the World Plan for Perfect
and Neo-Veda¯nta metaphysical edifice are not a form of
Health along with a medical institution, the World Center
Hinduism. In fact, Transcendental Meditation is not a reli-
for Ayurveda, in India.
gion at all. By de-emphasizing its Hindu roots, stressing its
The Transcendental Meditation movement promised a
nonreligious nature, and focusing on the scientifically de-
transformation of both the individual and society by means
monstrable value of the technique, TM created a successful
of an expansion of consciousness to unimagined states. In
message that was embraced by many spiritual seekers and a
short, TM aimed to create a perfect society inhabited by per-
scientifically minded audience. The movement used scientif-
fect individuals. The movement offered a realized eschatolo-
ic means to demonstrate how the technique calmed the
gy for a transformed mode of living in the present moment
mind, increased awareness, relaxed the body, and lowered
that promised a horizon of economic well-being, psychologi-
metabolism.
cal and somatic healing, peace, and mental comfort.
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9292
TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: AN OVERVIEW
The Transcendental Meditation movement has attract-
culture from the coming together of indigenous, Spanish,
ed disenfranchised, disaffected, and disenchanted seekers
and African populations. (Ortiz gave prominence to the term
looking for spiritual experience, healing, community, a gen-
in two chapters of his book Tobacco and Sugar, 1947: chapter
eral sense of well-being, and happiness because of the decline
two is entitled “The Social Phenomenon of Transculturation
of community, the rise of impersonal organizations, alien-
and Its Importance,” and chapter seven has the title, “The
ation, fragmentation of life, secularism, competing multicul-
Transculturation of Tobacco.”) In his studies, Ortiz shows
tural messages, and religious pluralism. With the promise of
how these groups interrelated, adopted, and adapted them-
a perfect society, TM offered a personal and private form of
selves in modes of language, music, art, and agricultural pro-
spirituality for many disenchanted seekers.
duction. The contemporary usage of the term owes its aca-
demic parlance to the work of Mary Louise Pratt, who, in
SEE ALSO Millenarianism; New Age Movement; New Reli-
her book Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation
gious Movements; Veda¯nta; Vivekananda; Yogananda.
(1992), following Ortiz, tells us that processes of this kind
occur within “contact zones,” “zones where cultures meet,
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Eck, Diana L. A New Religious America: How a “Christian Coun-
clash, and grapple.” These zones, according to Pratt, express
try” Has Now Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Na-
the improvisational dimensions of colonial encounters in the
tion. New York, 2001. A look at the impact of Eastern reli-
modern period. The contact zones show that the encounters
gions on America based on research for the Pluralism Project
between colonizers and colonized, while characterized by the
at Harvard University.
domination of the colonizers, did not simply define separate-
Ellwood, Robert S., Jr. Religious and Spiritual Groups in Modern
ness but many complex interlocking relations. Within this
America. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1973. A useful reference
overall context of domination, Pratt foregrounds the copre-
work on new religions and New Age cults that is dated in
sence, interaction, and improvisational dimensions of the
some places.
contact zones (p. 7).
Mahesh Yogi, Maharishi. Science of Being and Art of Living: Tran-
Pratt and others who make use of the term use it primar-
scendental Meditation. New York, 1963; reprint, New York,
ily to describe the contact of Western culture with other cul-
2001. This book sets forth his basic philosophy, yogic meth-
tures over the last five hundred years. These contacts have
od, and its connection to science.
taken on several overlapping forms—conquest, domination,
Mahesh Yogi, Maharishi. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad-
reciprocity, adaptation, amalgamation, and so on. The phe-
Gita: A New Translation and Commentary: Chapters 1–6.
nomenon of the contact of cultures is not peculiar to the
London, 1967. Maharishi’s incomplete commentary on this
modern period, however. Given the human capacity for lo-
important text from his own perspective.
comotion, different and diverse groups of people have been
Rothstein, Mikael. Belief Transformations: Some Aspects of the Rela-
“in contact” since human beings have been on earth; cultural
tion between Science and Religion in Transcendental Medita-
contacts have taken place throughout the history of human-
tion (TM) and the International Society for Krishna Conscious-
kind. Prior to the Neolithic period, when humans domesti-
ness (ISKCON). Aarhus, Denmark, Aarhus University Press,
cated animals and began to practice agriculture, small trans-
1996. A comparative study of TM and the International So-
humance bands of humans were in constant movement over
ciety for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). The author ex-
plores the former movements embrace of the scientific
designated parts of their regions. With the beginnings of
world-view and the latter movements reject of it.
early citied existence in China, Mesopotamia, and then in
regions all over the world, the sedentary and centered human
Russell, Peter. The TM Technique. London, 1976. A study of the
mode of being gained prestige. Though cities represented the
method and levels of consciousness by a member of the
movement who studied with Maharishi.
human mode as sedentary and centered, movement, travel,
and meetings and encounters with human groups outside the
CARL OLSON (2005)
city centers increased rather than diminished.
Mary Helms’s Ulysses’ Sail (1988) examines the mean-
TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION
ing of geographical distance and foreign places in premodern
This entry consists of the following articles:
periods in several cultures of the world. Just as the vertical
AN OVERVIEW
distance between the heavens and the earth expressed the
RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN CANADA
spaces and loci for cosmological and theological speculation,
RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF THE MODERN
the horizontal traversal of space revealed structures of power
CARIBBEAN
and knowledge. Long-distance spaces were traversed by long-
RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN JAPAN
RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN INDIA
distance travelers who were either themselves elite or repre-
RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN OCEANIA
sented the elite orders of society. Helms does not deny that
trade went on through this travel but her emphasis is upon
TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: AN
the creation of the symbolic spaces made through geographi-
OVERVIEW
cal travel.
The term transculturation was first used by the Cuban sociol-
Various kinds of knowledge, including literacy, naviga-
ogist Fernando Ortiz to describe the formation of Cuban
tion, the forging of metals, and astronomy, attended those
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who made these journeys, thus enhancing their power and
Obviously, theological formulations were given for the
prestige. The symbolic power also accrued from the knowl-
liturgical meaning of pilgrimage; equal theological attention
edge of “outside phenomena.” Thus, in Helms’s study,
was paid to curiosity. It was pointed out that curiosity—
boundaries are equal or even more important than zones.
wanting to know on one’s own—was the original source of
Long-distance travel involved going outside boundaries and
human sin. It was human curiosity in the Garden of Eden
thus the knowledge gained was understood to have the power
that led to the first disobedience to God. Curiosity represent-
of transformation. Helms’s study “rest[s] upon the assump-
ed the human will to know apart from God’s command, and
tion that the significance of interchanges of people and mate-
thus in this independent mode of knowing, humans trans-
rial goods across geographical distances can better be under-
gressed the meaning and roles of proper knowledge. These
stood if we know something of the qualities attributed to
summary statements by Zacher show the marked difference
space and distance in various situations” (p. 10).
between the two modes: “the temptation to curiositas referred
P
to any morally excessive and suspect interest in observing the
ILGRIMAGES. One aspect of the kind of long-distance travel
discussed by Mary Helms has taken the form of pilgrimages
world, seeking novel experience, or acquiring knowledge for
in various cultures throughout the world. While Helms has
its own sake” (p. 4). Regarding the liturgical meaning of pil-
pointed to long-distance travelers as people who went be-
grimage, Zacher states the contrast: “As a form of religious
yond, even transgressed, boundaries in their search for
worship, pilgrimage allowed men to journey through this
knowledge and power, the pilgrimage, though still emphasiz-
present world visiting sacral landscapes as long as they kept
ing travel, specifies a definite destination and purpose for the
their gaze permanently fixed on the invisible world beyond”
traveler. It is this form of long-distance travel that is the pre-
(p. 4). Pilgrimage as a movement through space expressed an
cursor of the long-distance travels of Western peoples begin-
inner and outer process of spiritual meanings.
ning in the fifteenth century of the Common Era.
Two major changes took place that began to transform
The contact of Western cultures from the fifteenth cen-
the pilgrimage from a liturgical ritual of travel into a more
tury with the cultures of the world should be seen against the
purposeful and pragmatic endeavor. The first occurred when
practice, rhetoric, and literature of pilgrimage. Pilgrimage
Pope Urban II in 1095 called for a pilgrimage from the
has a long tradition in European cultures. By the fourteenth
armed knights of Christendom to free the Holy Land from
century one can discern two major meanings arising out of
the Muslims and by so doing reconstitute the meaning of the
the pilgrimage: pilgrimage as a soteriological act or pilgrim-
sacred center of Christendom. This action allowed armed
age as an act of grace. The archetypal pilgrimage was the
knights to undertake a ritual act while still part of a military
Christian pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Jerusalem for the Chris-
order (Elsner and Rubiés, 1999, p. 24). The other change
tian defined the symbolic and geographical center of the
took place when monks and priests from the eleventh centu-
world; this space was saturated with the life and meaning of
ry on began to undertake missionary movements to other
the Christian savior and thus was the most powerful and
lands to convert nonbelievers to the true faith of Christianity.
prestigious place in all Christendom. The pilgrimage to Jeru-
Missions took on a more rationalistic ideological bent that
salem defined a penitential journey, where believers under-
led to rationalistic narratives. Missions and crusades were al-
took a kind of ascesis en route that prepared them for the
lied during the late medieval period and this pattern was
receptive beneficence of being in the Holy Land.
adopted by explorers of Africa and the Atlantic in the fif-
teenth century.
Following Helms, the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and in
like manner all other Christian pilgrimages, was based upon
Though liturgical ritual pilgrimages were undertaken
the vertical meaning of space, with the heaven above, the
for soteriological purposes, it is clear that a great deal of curi-
human as sinner in the middle, and the earth below. In the
osity was always expressed through them. This curiosity had
pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the penitent was congruent with the
to do with the empirical observations of other lands and hab-
fundamental orders of divine power. At this center, the peni-
its. Victor Turner in his anthropological analysis of pilgrim-
tent could experience the most potent meanings of grace and
age suggests that a kind of tacit curiosity is part of the very
redemption. The pilgrim nevertheless had to travel through
structure of pilgrimage itself.
space to arrive at Jerusalem, and in so doing, the old specter
described by Helms in the horizontal traversal of the earth
The language and style of the pilgrimage structure per-
came back into play. The change of places and spaces
vaded the travel narratives and discourses of Europeans com-
through the journey of the pilgrimage piqued the curiosity
mencing with the voyages of Columbus in the fifteenth cen-
of the traveler. Christian Zacher in Curiosity and Pilgrimage
tury. The pilgrimage model from this time on entered into
(1976) describes the tension between the soteriological and
the travel stylistics and rhetoric of all long-distance travels of
liturgical meaning of pilgrimage and the meaning of the pil-
Europeans. Thus, from the earliest pilgrimage traditions of
grimage as a journey of curiosity. The growing emphasis with
the church to the pilgrimage voyages of the Reformation Pu-
curiosity as a major aspect of pilgrimage came to constitute
ritans to the New World, the pilgrimage model served as
another and often separate motivation for undertaking a pil-
both umbrella and reservoir for the meanings of travel, dis-
grimage.
covery, conquest, and even scientific curiosity.
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TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: AN OVERVIEW
Henri Baudet has noted that the languages of travel and
as formative and necessary for the West, nevertheless exor-
discovery embodied a duality that found expression in two
cised all the mystical and theological meanings from this
relations of Europeans to the non-Europeans they “dis-
temporal process, thus equating and identifying the time of
covered.”
Western culture with the meaning, structure, and order for
a normative understanding of all human time.
One is in the realm of political life—in the concrete re-
lations with concrete non-European countries, peoples
It is a generally accepted notion in the Western social
and worlds. . .The other relationship is an expression
sciences that the history of humankind can be divided into
of the domain of the imagination, of all sorts of images
four stages of development: the hunting-gathering, the pas-
of non-western people not derived from observation,
toral, the agricultural, and the commercial. These stages did
experience or perceptible reality, but from a psychologi-
not arise from empirical observation but as a result of a kind
cal urge—an urge that creates its own reality which may
be different from the realities of the first category. (Bau-
of conjectural history. Ronald L. Meek in Social Science and
det, 1988, p. 6)
the Ignoble Savage (1976) traces this conjectural history as it
emerges from several thinkers during the eighteenth century.
Long-distance travel, the salvation of souls, and military
One prominent element in the development of the theory
missions coalesced into an amalgam of ideology and practice
grew from various theories put forth to account for America,
that became the basic structure of Western explorations, dis-
the lands across the Atlantic. America was seen as the first
coveries, and conquests over the last five hundred years. This
stage of some kind of development of human culture. Meek
ideological orientation led Daniel Defert to make the follow-
tells us that the decisive influence in the general adoption of
ing remark concerning Western expansion:
the four-stage theory of cultural evolution and development
The early Europeans were pilgrims, prudentia pereg-
was the Scottish moral philosophers, the most influential
randi. They were taught languages as languae pereginae,
being Adam Smith. In his lectures on jurisprudence in 1762
that is not languages of a given territory but language
and 1763, Smith used the four-stage theory as the underpin-
necessary for the activity of traveling. . .This vast uni-
ning for explaining the nature and meaning of property with-
verse, known only to a few people, absent from the sa-
in several types of societies. With the growing acceptance of
cred texts and of which Antiquity knew nothing could
the theory, several scholars and literary authors undertook re-
have provided a field of endless invention and exaggera-
search and wrote texts that presupposed these stages as the
tion. But the writer’s obligation to the truth was the re-
“natural” evolution of human cultures. For the popular cul-
sult of a hierarchal network of competition and con-
tures of Europe, the four-stage theory could be turned into
frontation. No doubt the voyage of discovery should be
the binary of primitive/civilized. This theory and its short-
situated historically between medieval crusades which
it miniaturizes and the organization of a laboratory.
hand became a convenient taxonomy for the classification of
(1982, p. 12)
the cultures that Europeans encountered in various parts of
the world.
NORMATIVE MODES OF WESTERN TIME. From the time of
Constantine through the medieval period the West was
While several events, technologies, and ideas contribut-
dominated by a Christian conception of the temporal pro-
ed to the notion of a purely secular temporal process, the sus-
cess. Following the missionary commandment from the Gos-
tained treatment of this conception can be found in eigh-
pels to preach and baptize all humanity, notions of time and
teenth- and nineteenth-century German philosophy, most
space were made to conform to this injunction. Geographical
especially in G. W. F. Hegel and those influenced by him.
space and the temporal process were believed to aid and abet
Karl Löwith’s From Hegel to Nietzsche: The Revolution in
this dictum. While other temporal modes among other peo-
Nineteenth-Century Thought (1964) traces the way in which
ples and cultures were acknowledged, they were understood
these thinkers undertook a critical analysis of the meaning
as stages of preparation for the reception of the true time of
of time within Western culture. Their philosophies were not
Christian faith and practice. It was this conception and un-
a simple rejection of a religious or Christian notion of time.
derstanding of time based on a biblical paradigm that accom-
While Christian notions of time and history were subjected
panied both the Roman Catholic missionary orders and
to critique, they also attempted to show that for a certain pe-
Protestants in their explorations, discoveries, and conquests
riod of Western history, Christianity was the bearer of what
in various parts of the globe at least until the sixteenth
was objectively real in human time. This objective reality of
century.
history has in the modern period moved from the framework
of the Christian faith and is now embodied within the secular
Following certain developments stemming from the
structures of Western culture. While Hegel was the progeni-
Protestant Reformation and various technologies in the
tor of these notions, Löwith points to Johann Friedrich
West, new notions regarding the temporal process emerged
Overbeck as the seminal thinker in the Hegelian school who
from the Western Enlightenment. Both had to do with the
summarized the theory of the ultimate reality of modern his-
secularization of time. One conception offered a critique and
torical temporality.
alternative to the biblical structure of time from creation, to
the passion and resurrection of Christ, to the last days; the
When Europeans made contact with non-European cul-
other, while accepting the basic Christian ordering of time
tures in various parts of the world, they were armed with
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ideological cultural notions not simply regarding what was
Biddick refers to this kind of time as temporalities—ones not
normative for them but, in addition, their norms were un-
about divisions between then and now, but about passages,
derstood to be normative for all humankind. While they
gaps, intervals, in betweeness. “These unhistorical temporali-
were more often than not bearers of superior military, navi-
ties that do not use time as a utilitarian resource to ground
gational, and other forms of technology, it was their norma-
identity are temporalities that can never be one” (p. 2).
tive understandings of time and space that they desired to
Temporalities within contact zones are very complex.
enforce upon those whom they met. The encounter with
The time of the pre-Western contact is no longer normative,
others must perforce create a “contact zone,” a zone of time/
though dimensions of it may inhere within the language; in-
space that must be adjudicated regardless of the dominating
habitants are forced to accept the official historical time of
power. Conquerors had to learn from the conquered if they
their conquerors, and those oppressed within these spaces
were to maintain their authority and the conquered had to
must express a temporality of their own “lived time,” which
adjust, adapt, and respond to those who came from afar. It
is neither the precontact time of their traditional cultures nor
is clear that since the fifteenth century, the entire globe has
the official time of the conquest.
become the site of hundreds of contact zones. These zones
From the fifteenth century to the present several differ-
were the loci of new forms of language and knowledge, new
ent Western empires have dominated various cultural areas
understandings of the nature of human relations, and the
of the world. While dominance and conquest were common
creation and production of new forms of human communi-
traits, all empires did not undertake these modes of control
ty. These meanings have for the most part been ignored due
in the same manner. Neither did all the cultures within the
to the manner in which the West, in an uncritical manner,
dominated areas respond or adapt in the same manner. The
absolutized its meaning of itself as the norm for all human-
processes and dynamics of these interactions define the vary-
kind.
ing meanings from within the contact zones.
EXCHANGES: LANGUAGES, RATIONALITIES, AND MATERIALI-
These contact zones had an effect upon the literary pro-
TIES. The model of pilgrimage was always caught within a
ductions of Europeans, indicating how the Europeans were
tension between curiosity, on the one hand, and the liturgical
responding and the impact of these non-European cultures
ritual meaning of a soteriology, on the other. It is equally the
upon European sensibilities. Peter Hulme in his Colonial En-
case that much travel was motivated by desire for the form
counters: Europe and the Native Caribbean, 1492–1797
of knowledge that came from visits to distant places. The
(1986) shows how Europeans styled the encounters in liter-
narratives, discourses, and practices hardly revealed the kind
ary form. For example, the encounters of Columbus and
of contingency and descriptions that would open these jour-
other Europeans in the New World are expressed in the dra-
neys to a full portrayal of the wide variety of exchange rela-
mas of Prospero and Caliban, John Smith and Pocahontas,
tions that were attendant to these travels.
Robinson Crusoe and Friday, and Inkle and Yarico; these
Kathleen Biddick in The Typological Imaginary (2003)
dramas are attempts to express these encounters in ways that
traces the origins of the stylization of the kind of “absolute-
would fit within the orders of European cultures (p. xiii).
ness” that became the favored narrative structure. In her re-
Hulme makes it clear that there is much more going on than
search she shows that this stylization of the absoluteness of
simply literary production. These literary forms, he says,
time and space can be traced back to what she calls the
should be seen as colonial discourses. By this he means,
“Christian typological imagination.” This form of historical
an ensemble of linguistically based practices unified by
thinking grows out of the way in which Christianity worked
their common deployment in the management of colo-
out its relationship to the history of Judaism and the Jews.
nial relationship, an ensemble that could combine the
The history of the Jews was subsumed into the Christian
most formulaic and bureaucratic of official docu-
canon through their creation of the Christian Old Testa-
ments. . .underlying colonial discourse, in other
ment. From this perspective, the history of the Jews ended
words, is the presumption that large parts of the non-
or should have ended with the coming of Jesus Christ.
European world were produced for Europe through a
Though the history of Judaism continued and continues to
discourse that imbricated sets of questions and assump-
this day, because of the canonization of the Christian Bible
tions, methods, of procedure and analysis, and kinds of
writing and imagery. (1986, p. 2)
and the ensuing cultural power of Christianity, the Jews and
Judaism were destined to always be seen as a people and tra-
These literary productions taken on face value enabled Euro-
dition who were relegated to a temporal past, Christian time
peans to create stereotypical images of the non-Europeans
becoming the normative meaning of temporality as history.
encountered in colonial and imperial projects. These images
As Biddick put it, “They believed that the Christian new
enhanced the images of the exotic, the oriental, and the noble
time—as ‘this is now’—superseded a ‘that was then’ of Israel”
savage as products of the distances from the center of Euro-
(p. 1). She makes it clear that Western secular time took over
pean metropolises. They fed into the stadial theories of the
this meaning of supercession from the Christians. Now given
historical development of humankind, congealing this differ-
the fact that Western historical time in either its mundane
ence into cultural categories of the West.
or philosophical modes carries this sense, modes of time in
The conjectural theory of history that formed the base
transcultural contact zones are often seen as “unhistorical.”
upon which the stadial theory was erected was correlated
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with a cultural theory of human intelligence. Thus, various
authentic exchanges that took place in the Atlantic encoun-
stages were expressions of forms of intelligence. This led to
ters, and creating a form of matter that would not bear the
notions of “how natives think,” or “prelogical mentality,”
weight of any human meaning of tradition or origination.
and the like. Such theoretical postulations were based upon
The fetish in Pietz’s description fits perfectly the kind of sig-
the normative structure and meanings of Western thought.
nifications that arise from transcultural contact zones.
Seldom were these issues of thought asked from within the
contact zones, where oppressive administrative colonial
Another phenomenon of such spaces is the cargo cult.
structures, Europeans, and non-Europeans carried on their
The term cargo cult was coined in 1923 in The Vailala Mad-
lives.
ness and the Destruction of Native Ceremonies in the Gulf Divi-
sion,
a report by government anthropologist F. E. Williams,
Thus, cultural, literary, philosophical, and scientific lan-
to describe what he considered to be strange ritual phenome-
guages and discourses employing this supercessionary and
na among the population in Papua New Guinea. These ritu-
absolute language of temporality normalized a Western un-
als involved an interpretation of matter from within the con-
derstanding of the nature of the encounters with non-
tact zone. Although Westerners brought a wide variety of
Western peoples. Interwoven and concealed within these lin-
material products to Melanesia during the colonial period,
guistic productions were the actual and authentic relation-
their notion of matter was under the sign of inanimate prod-
ships that were taking place in the contact zones. Two
ucts whose value lay only in their potential for exchange. The
instances of the meaning of contact as it relates to the ex-
natives of Papua New Guinea understood matter and ex-
change of material products can be seen in the events and
change in very different ways. In addition, Westerners were
discourses surrounding the meaning of fetish and fetishism
accompanied by Christian missionaries, who preached a gos-
and the phenomena referred to as cargo cults.
pel of the inherent value of each human soul as the basis for
salvation. The natives of this area quickly perceived that
The fetish and fetishism became popular in European
though Christians preached a message of the salvation of
discourses of the eighteenth century as a definition of the ear-
human souls, they acted in terms of a soteriology based upon
liest form of religion. This definition and its usage was part
the accumulation and distribution of material goods. From
and parcel of a stadial evolutionary variation of supercession-
this perspective they were able to understand the strange and
ary history. The etymological origin of the word fetish is the
almost magical characteristics between money as a mode of
Portuguese feitico, which means “manufactured” or “fabri-
exchange, the inanimate nature of material products, and the
cated.” William Pietz, who has recently undertaken the most
hidden relationship obtaining between these items. Their re-
extensive research into the history of this term and its various
sponse to this conundrum was in the form of rituals involv-
usages in modern times, traces its beginning with the Portu-
ing Western made products, the cargo, and millenarian
guese to its usage by the Dutchmen Pieter de Marees and
hopes.
Bosman through a succession of other European writers, fi-
nally appearing in the work of the first historian of religions,
All forms of human expression, including language,
Friedrich Max Müller. It later becomes an important term
took on different forms within the contact zones. There were
in the writings on political economy of Karl Marx and in the
several languages: the language of the official colonizing cul-
theories of sexuality of Sigmund Freud. Given such a wide
ture, the original or indigenous languages, and languages that
range of significations and connotations, Pietz notes that,
were mixtures of the official and indigenous languages. These
mixed, creole, or pidgin languages were not simply deriva-
fetish has never been a component in a discursive for-
tives from the mixture but equally a system of communica-
mation. Fetish rather describes not societies, institu-
tion that was uniquely suited to render adequately the experi-
tions, or cultures but cross-cultural spaces. From this
ences of those who lived outside and underneath the official
standpoint, the fetish must be viewed as proper to no
historical field other than that of the history of the word
legitimated orders of officialdom.
itself, and to no discrete society or culture, but to a
Exchanges were not limited to languages, products, and
cross-cultural situation formed by the on-going en-
services; there were exchanges of sexualities as well. Ex-
counter of value codes of radically different social or-
changes of sexualities produced offspring of the mixtures in
ders. (1985, p. 11)
the contact zones. Every situation of contact included classes
At one level the fetish is about a new conception of matter
of persons resulting from the union of Westerners and non-
and materiality as these notions undergo transformations
Westerners. These “illegitimate” offspring became in turn
within the Atlantic world of exchanges and discourses. While
complex aspects of the communication systems of the other
the religious world of Christianity was predicated upon the
exchanges between dimensions of work, products, and sexu-
creation of all matter by God, a form of matter was necessary
alities. For example, Magali Carrera (2003) has demonstrat-
in the Atlantic that carried only an exchange and not an in-
ed how the complex mixtures of Spaniards, Indians, and Af-
herent value. The notion of the fetish, as originating in the
ricans in Mexico led to taxonomies of cultural valuation that
Atlantic encounters with radically different cultural notions
were expressed and normalized in a genre of casta paintings.
of the value of matter, developed into the language of the fe-
Exchanges were not limited to human expressions; in the
tish, which performed the dual roles of hiding the true and
United States human beings as enslaved persons were legally
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defined as chattel and exchanged as property. This mode of
One might identify transculturation and contact zones
exchange created almost imponderable issues regarding defi-
as corollaries of a creole or a creolization process. The term
nitions and meanings of human freedom in a democratic so-
creole, from the Spanish criollo, was initially used to identify
ciety. One can see how various forms of fetishism enter into
persons born in the Americas but who claimed white Euro-
and serve to hide the true situation, often making it impossi-
pean ancestry. From this point of view, all of the “Founding
ble for the official linguistic traditions to deal with the mean-
Fathers” of the United States could be called creoles. The
ings and expressions that lie hidden within their legal and
term took on other connotations from within the situations
civil pronouncements.
of transculturation and the many “contact zones” through-
out the world. More often than not, it now refers to the pro-
Karen Fields’s Revival and Rebellion in Colonial Central
cesses and dynamics of the fluid improvisational meanings
Africa (1985) shows in a precise manner “how natives think.”
of cultures that express the survival, critique, and creativity
The “natives” were very capable of not only “living in,” but
of those who occupy these situations and sites.
also “thinking about” and reflecting upon their situation. As
over against an anthropological wisdom that Africans had no
The Martinican intellectual Edouard Glissant has pro-
objective knowledge of the forces determining their behav-
posed the term creolization to describe a more general philo-
ior, she shows that they not only possessed such knowledge
sophical stance of transculturation and contact zones. Such
but were capable of making creative, critical, and intelligent
a stance undertakes a critique of the official histories and the
use of it. Her book also enables us to see that within the con-
implicit notions of time and space embedded within them.
Glissant calls for a “creolization process” of relationship and
tact zone the cultural categories of the West are taken up and
relativity. In the introduction to Glissant’s Caribbean Dis-
reinterpreted in ways that give them a freshness and novelty.
courses, J. Michael Dash characterizes one of his positions:
In the search and desire for another source of power that is
“But the world can no longer be shaped into a system. Too
no longer derivative of traditional resources, nor simply ac-
many Others and Elsewheres disturb the placid sur-
quiescent to colonial authorities, the native in question, Sha-
face. . .Glissant is a natural deconstructionist who cele-
drack, saw the God of the Watch Tower Society as the foun-
brates latency, opacity, infinite metamorphosis” (Glissant,
dation for a critical and revolutionary meaning within the
1989, p. xii).
contact zone.
These works and several others of this genre are the re-
Another example of reason and intelligence from the
sult of serious questions asked from within contact zones
contact zone can be seen in Margaret J. Wiener’s Visible and
rather than from the ideologically normative positions of
Invisible Realms: Power, Magic, and Colonial Conquest in Bali
Western categories. While the term globalization is used to
(1995), which demonstrates the persistence of the meaning
refer to the various aspects of a worldwide capitalistic mar-
of the “other” and the invisible world of value and orienta-
ket-consumer system, the term might equally specify the
tion in the midst of contemporary life. She also makes clear
myriad contact zones throughout the world where Western
that Klungkung, the Balinese kingdom, did not anticipate
cultures and non-Western cultures have encountered each
the entrance into Western civilization as a heralded event.
other. In these in-between spaces inhabited by both, ex-
changes, violent and reciprocal, have taken place. From
John D. Kelly (1991) studied the meaning of virtue as
places such as these a more authentic sense of humankind’s
a value within the structures of imported indentured workers
place in the world might be forged.
from India on the island of Fiji in the early part of the twenti-
eth century. His discussion raises issues regarding the nature
of virtue when one wishes to be modern and at the same time
BIBLIOGRAPHY
appreciates the authentic limits placed upon one by tradi-
In On the Social Phenomenon of “Transculturation” and its Impor-
tance in Cuba, Fernando Ortiz opened the door to the signif-
tion. These issues bear upon the nature of work, sexuality,
icance of cultural contact through his studies of the forma-
kinship systems, and anti-colonialist organization and agita-
tion of the Afro-Cuban dimensions of Cuban culture. His
tion. This study from within a contact zone adds much to
publication, Tobacco and Sugar, translated from the Spanish
the range of the meaning of virtue. Michael Taussig’s The
by Harriet de Onis (New York, 1947) marks the first scholar-
Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America (1980), fol-
ly usage of the term “transculturation.” The contemporary
lowing a neo-Marxist methodology, is able to show a new
study of cultural contact within an orientation of transcul-
valorization of the meaning of the devil from within the con-
turation as both a description and critique of colonialism and
texts of several contact zones in South America. Fernando
imperialism was initiated by Mary Louise Pratt’s Imperial
Cervantes’s The Devil in the New World: The Impact of Diab-
Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London, 1992).
olism in New Spain (1994) shows how this same figure of the
Pratt’s work served as a catalyst for other works published be-
fore and subsequent to her work, including Fredi Chiapelli,
devil brought by the Spanish missionaries developed in op-
ed., First Images of America: The Impact of the New World on
position, on the one hand, and in parallel, on the other hand,
the Old, 2 vols. (Berkeley, 1976). Henri Baudet’s Paradise on
to the understandings of the Aztecs. Cervantes’s thorough
Earth: Some Thoughts on European Images of Non-European
study lays the grounds for a mature notion of evil emerging
Man, translated by Elizabeth Wentholt (New Haven, 1965;
from the realities of the contact zone.
reprints, Westport, Conn., 1976, and Middletown, Conn.,
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TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: AN OVERVIEW
1988), shows how travel leads to images of non-European
ford, 1967), is a good discussion of social time; it should be
peoples, even though these images are not based upon obser-
read along with Fabian’s work, cited above. Kathleen Bidd-
vation or perceptions. See also Nicholas Thomas’s Entangled
ick’s The Typological Imaginary: Circumcision, Technology,
Objects: Exchange, Material Culture, and Colonialism in the
History (Philadelphia, 2003) demonstrates how medieval
Pacific (Cambridge, Mass., 1991). Charles H. Long devoted
Christian time, later inherited by secular time, was based
a section of his Significations: Signs, Symbols, and Images in
upon the placement of Jews and Judaism in time and space;
the Interpretation of Religion, 2d ed. (Aurora, Colo., 1995),
this work should be seen as a counter to the kind of conjec-
to an understanding of cultural contact and religion. Arjun
tural history that produced a stadial theory of cultural devel-
Appadurai, ed., The Social Life of Things: Commodities in
opment as discussed in Ronald L. Meek’s Social Science and
Cultural Perspective (Cambridge, U.K., 1986), extends the
the Ignoble Savage (Cambridge, U.K., 1976). The relation-
meaning of transculturation to the nature and meaning of ob-
ship of time, travel, and literary images is explored in Peter
jects. The display and meaning that objects take in this pro-
Hulme’s Colonial Encounters: Europe and the Native Caribbe-
cess were enhanced by the “world fairs” that became interna-
an, 1492–1797 (London and New York, 1986; reprint,
tional exhibits for exotic and esoteric objects. Two important
1992). The philosophical justification and amalgam of
works discuss this aspect, Paul Greenhalgh’s Ephemeral Vis-
Christian time with secular time is the task of Karl Löwith’s
tas: The Expositions Universelles, Great Exhibitions, and World
From Hegel to Nietzsche: The Revolution in Nineteenth Centu-
Fairs, 1851–1939 (Manchester, U.K., 1988), and John Bur-
ry Thought, translated by David E. Green (New York, 1964;
ris’s Exhibiting Religion: Colonialism and Spectacle at Interna-
reprint, 1991).
tional Expositions, 1851–1893 (Charlottesville, Va., 2001).
One of the earliest reports of a contact site in a transcultural situa-
The impact of studies of cultural contact on the discipline
tion is F. E. William’s classic statement in The Vailala Mad-
of anthropology can be seen in Johannes Fabian’s Time and
ness and the Destruction of Native Ceremonies in the Gulf Divi-
the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object (New York,
sion (Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 1923). This report,
1983) and Nicholas B. Dirks, ed., Colonialism and Culture
which led to the notion of “cargo cults,” was followed by sev-
(Ann Arbor, Mich., 1992).
eral works, the most notable being Peter Lawrence’s Road Be-
The literature on travel as pilgrimage is extensive. Mary Helms’s
long Cargo: A Study of the Cargo Movement in the Southern
study of travel in Ulysses’ Sail: An Ethnographic Odyssey of
Madang District, New Guinea (Manchester, U.K., 1964) and
Power, Knowledge, and Geographical Distance (Princeton,
the following works by Kenelm O. Burridge: Mambu: A Mel-
1988) adds a new dimension to the meaning of travel and
anesian Millennium (London, 1960; reprint, Princeton,
the nature and quality of knowledge. Victor Turner’s analysis
1995) and Tangu Traditions: A Study of the Way of Life, My-
of Christian pilgrimage in Image and Pilgrimage in Christian
thology, and Developing Experience of a New Guinea People
Culture: Anthropological Perspectives (New York, 1978) speci-
(Oxford, 1969). A comprehensive study of this area is found
fies the ritual elements and processes within the structure of
in G. W. Trompf, Payback: The Logic of Retribution in Mela-
Christian pilgrimages. For discussion of medieval European
nesian Religions (Cambridge, U.K., 1994).
pilgrimages see, Christian Zacher, Curiosity and Pilgrimage:
Examples of historical empirical studies of contact zones include:
The Literature of Discovery in Fourteenth-Century England
for Africa, Karen E. Fields, Revival and Rebellion in Colonial
(Baltimore and London, 1976); Lionel Rothkrug’s several
Central Africa (Princeton, 1985); for Fiji, John D. Kelly, A
studies include “Popular Religion and Holy Shrines: Their
Politics of Virtue: Hinduism, Sexuality, and Countercolonial
Influence on the Origins of the German Reformation and
Discourse in Fiji (Chicago and London, 1991); and for Bali,
Their Role in German Cultural Development,” in Religion
Margaret J. Wiener, Visible and Invisible Realms: Power,
and the People, 800–1700, edited by Jim Obelkevich (Chapel
Magic, and Colonial Conquest in Bali (Chicago and London,
Hill, 1979); and Religious Practices and Collective Perceptions:
1995), which shows in stark relief how religious powers and
Hidden Homologies in the Renaissance and Reformation (Wa-
resources of an “invisible world” emerge and come to play
terloo, Ont., 1980).
decisive roles in the Dutch conquest of Bali. Magali Carrera’s
Two edited works on pilgrimage contain excellent articles with ex-
Imagining Identity in New Spain: Race, Lineage, and the Colo-
tensive bibliographies: Implicit Understandings: Observing,
nial Body in Portraiture and Casta Paintings (Austin, Tex.,
Reporting, and Reflecting on the Encounters Between Europeans
2003) demonstrates not only how the complex issue of race,
and Other Peoples in the Early Modern Era (Cambridge, U.K.,
class, and gender were managed but equally how they were
1994), edited by Stuart B. Schwartz; and Voyages and Visions:
normalized in domestic portraiture in the Mexican colonial
Towards a Cultural History of Travel, edited by Ja´s Elsner and
family. John Cowley’s Carnival, Canboulay, and Calypso:
Joan-Pau Rubiés (London, 1999)—see in particular Elsner
Traditions in the Making (Cambridge, U.K., 1996) describes
and Rubiés’s introduction: “Travel and the Problem of Mo-
how the carnival tradition becomes the container, expression,
dernity.” Daniel Defert’s “The Collection of the World: Ac-
and critique of an ongoing tradition in the Caribbean. Final-
counts of Voyages from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Cen-
ly, Fernando Cervantes’s The Devil in the New World: The
turies,” Dialectical Anthropology 7 (1982): 11–20, presages
Impact of Diabolism in New Spain (New Haven, 1994) and
the world fairs mentioned above in the works of Greenhalgh
Michael Taussig’s, The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in
and Burris. For a discussion of the tension in liturgical time
South America (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1980) present, on the one
that ensued in medieval societies under the impact of tech-
hand, theological ramifications of this Christian symbol in
nology and trade, see Harald Kleinschmidt, Understanding
a contact zone, and, on the other, the popular manifestations
the Middle Ages: The Transformations of Ideas and Attitudes
of this meaning as related to work and the economic system.
in the Medieval World (Woodbridge, U.K., 2000). Norbert
No discussion of transculturation or contacts zones can proceed
Elias’s Time: An Essay, translated by Edmund Jephcott (Ox-
very far without dealing with the issue of the fetish or what
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TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN CANADA
9299
is implied in the modern discourse about fetishism. The
commissioned by Henry VII in the late fifteenth century to
most profound researches on the fetish are those of William
seek out spices. By the end of the sixteenth century French
Pietz, whose essays have been published in several issues of
fishers and aboriginal peoples had established a lucrative
the journal RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics. These include:
trade in furs, laying the foundation for a staple trade that
“The Problem of the Fetish I,” RES 9 (1985): 5–18; “The
would continue to bring the French to the northern part of
Problem of the Fetish II: The Origin of the Fetish,” RES 13
the continent. The first permanent French settlements were
(1987): 23–41; and “The Problem of the Fetish, IIIa: Bos-
man’s Guinea and the Enlightenment Theory of Fetishism,”
established in Acadia in 1604 and Quebec in 1608. At the
RES 16 (1988): 105–124. The importance of Pietz’s research
time of their founding, France was undergoing a period of
is shown by the fact that it is made use of by Biddick (cited
religious revitalization. The counter-reformation had engen-
above) and constitutes a significant part of the discussion of
dered a firm association between an increasingly missionary
another important text dealing with issues related to contact
Catholic Church and the state, and all colonial ventures were
zones, Anne McClintock’s Imperial Leather: Race, Gender,
consequently required to carry Catholicism with them and
and Sexuality in the Colonial Context (New York and Lon-
to missionize among native peoples. Aside from a few itiner-
don, 1995).
ant priests among the Mi’kmaq of Acadia from 1604 to
Almost all of the above works state explicitly or imply theoretical
1613, active evangelization in North America was un-
or methodological positions. However, a few texts directly
dertaken by religious orders, beginning with the Récollets
set forth theoretical and methodological positions based
who arrived at Quebec in 1615, and then the Society of Jesus
upon transculturation and the contact zones. These include
(Jesuits) in 1625. French/aboriginal relations were relatively
Ashis Nandy’s The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self
amicable during this period, due to the fact that French set-
Under Colonialism (Delhi, 1983). Another text containing an
tlements were tied primarily to the trade in furs, an enterprise
unique interpretation and extension of thought is Vinay Lal’s
Dissenting Knowledges, Open Futures: The Multiple Selves and
that did not give rise to large-scale colonization and required
Strange Destinations of Ashis Nandy (New Delhi, 2000). Edo-
a level of cordiality among interested parties. Additionally,
uard Glissant’s Caribbean Discourse: Selected Essays, translat-
the French fostered alliances through the extension of trad-
ed by J. Michael Dash (Charlottesville, Va., 1989), comes
ing privileges to baptized aboriginals.
from a completely different experience of the contact zone,
and expresses many of the same meanings and styles as does
In 1627, the French crown transferred control of the
Nandy.
colony to the Company of New France, whose charter re-
quired the importation of four thousand French settlers with
CHARLES H. LONG (2005)
the services of priests, who would also evangelize among the
native population. Baptized aboriginals were to be afforded
the same rights as French citizens. Over the next quarter cen-
tury the Jesuits established missions among the Algonquin,
TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION:
RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN

Montagnais, Abenaki, and to a lesser degree, Mohawk. The
CANADA
order assumed a prominent role in New France, due primari-
ly to the fact that it was the principle purveyor of education,
The history of modern Canada has been characterized by a
health care, and social assistance. Over time, much of this
concurrence of dichotomies typified by the ongoing discord
work would be undertaken by French and Canadian reli-
between French and English Canadians. This dichotomy,
gious orders of women, such as the Ursulines, who arrived
however, has been only one of a number of defining antithe-
at Quebec in 1639 and established a boarding school for
ses involving ethnicity, religion, and regionalism. Historians
French and native girls.
have long recognized the preeminent role of religion in the
formation of the nation, and the relationship of religion—
By 1700, France controlled most of North America,
particularly the churches—to the growth of the specific di-
aside from some parts of Newfoundland and the thirteen col-
chotomies that define the Canadian Confederation. The
onies. New France, however, was not isolated from the En-
churches, and religion more broadly, have been thoroughly
glish colonies; indeed, conflict between them began in 1613,
bound to the political, social, and cultural development of
when Samuel Argall sailed from Virginia and destroyed the
this nation whose designation of “dominion,” and motto,
French trading post on Mount Desert Island (in present-day
“from sea to sea,” are both taken from the seventy-second
Maine). In 1627, the Kirk brothers took Quebec, and main-
Psalm.
tained control of the colony until 1633; and in 1690, Wil-
THE CHURCHES. The relationship between churches and
liam Phips unsuccessfully attacked Quebec. French control
state in Canada was inaugurated in 1534, when Jacques Car-
began to wane with the conquest of Acadia by seven hundred
tier erected a cross at the Gaspé Peninsula around which he
New England soldiers in 1710. By the Treaty of Utrecht
and his companions knelt to pray. Cartier had sailed from
(ending the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713), France
Saint Malo, a French seaport connected with the transatlan-
surrendered Hudson Bay, Newfoundland, and Acadia (Nova
tic fishery that had emerged in the wake of the discovery of
Scotia); while maintaining control of the Saint Lawrence col-
cod stocks off the coast of Newfoundland by Giovanni Ca-
onies, Ile Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island), and Ile Royale
boto (John Cabot) and his son Sebastian, who had been
(Cape Breton). The Treaty established two separate legal
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TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN CANADA
structures for the French Acadians and the Mi’kmaq popula-
tion balance. Between 1750 and 1800, English immigrants
tion in the region, and guaranteed freedom of religion to the
attempted to establish the Church of England, an effort that
Acadians in return for oaths of allegiance, which they refused
failed in Quebec, but succeeded to varying degrees in Nova
to take. The legal separation of ethnic groups was unstable,
Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and what
given that trade, intermarriage, and missionization had creat-
would become Ontario. In 1758, for instance, the Nova Sco-
ed an Acadian community that lacked such distinctions. The
tia legislature instituted the Church of England, allowed free-
situation was epitomized by the request by the Acadians for
dom to Protestant dissenters, and prohibited Catholic priests
a ruling on whether a 1744 order placing bounties on
from ministering in the province. In 1769, Prince Edward
Mi’kmaq scalps applied to mixed-blood peoples. Frustrated
Island limited the rights of Roman Catholics, and by the
with resistance from an allied Acadian and Mi’kmaq popula-
turn of the century established the Church of England.
tion, the English began forcibly deporting the Acadians in
Following the American Revolution, seven thousand
1755.
loyalists claimed land in Quebec, where there were ninety
The Seven Years’ War (1756–1763) marked the end of
thousand French Catholics. Loyalist demand for constitu-
French control in North America, but colonial animosities
tional amendments resulted in the Constitutional Act of
had reached a pitch before the end of the war. On September
1791, which divided Quebec into two provinces: Upper and
13, 1759, the Canadians surrendered Quebec, following a
Lower Canada. The Act implemented elected assemblies, set
confrontation with the New Englanders on the Plains of
aside one-seventh of the land as clergy reserves for the sup-
Abraham. A year later, Montreal followed suit. Until the end
port of the Anglican Church, and stipulated that only Angli-
of the Seven Years’ War, the two cities were occupied by the
can ministers could perform marriages. Ultimately, however,
British. The treaty ending the war was signed in 1763; within
it effectively gave power in each of the Canadas to a leader-
a year, the colony was renamed the Province of Quebec and
ship that could override legislation passed by their assem-
the Royal Proclamation of 1763 established the administra-
blies. Upper Canada’s political elite, the Family Compact,
tion of the country. England had no clear policy toward the
was firmly allied with the Anglican Church, despite the fact
colony in the decade following the fall of Quebec. The Proc-
that Anglicans constituted a minority of Protestants in the
lamation was vague, apparently presuming that English im-
province (by 1800 there were, among others, Presbyterians,
migration would define the colony’s political, economic, and
Methodists, Quakers, Congregationalists, Lutherans, and
religious temperament; but a consistent policy was not artic-
Mennonites); and the Compact’s counterpart in Lower Can-
ulated during the 1760s due to the fact that England was po-
ada, the Chateau Clique, was controlled by the English and
litically unstable, with six administrations in the span of a
their French supporters. Popular rebellions were crushed in
decade. This haphazard mode of control was ended by the
both provinces in 1837 and 1838, and Lord Durham was
need to counter revolutionary rumblings in the thirteen colo-
dispatched from England to report on the causes of the un-
nies, and the result was the Quebec Act of 1774, the first
rest. His recommendations, which included the granting of
constitution created by a parliamentary statute for a British
responsible government, the union of the two provinces, and
colony. The Act inaugurated England’s “second empire,” a
the systematic assimilation of the French, resulted in the Act
period during which parliament became chiefly responsible
of Union of 1841. The Union created an inevitable tension
for imperial affairs. The Quebec Act guaranteed freedom of
between French Catholics demanding protection for their
religion to French Catholics in return for an oath of alle-
national distinctiveness, and English Protestants who began
giance that was modified to exclude potentially offensive ref-
to lobby for denominational equality in a definitively Protes-
erences to religion. The Coutume de Paris remained the civil
tant society (the secularization of clergy reserves in 1854, for
law of Quebec, while English law applied in criminal cases.
instance, was an offshoot of these efforts). Evangelicalism
There was no habeas corpus. The Act made no provision for
within both groups became prominent after 1840, as each
an elected legislature, and left the Canadians comparatively
sought to influence the fabric of Canadian institutions and
free of taxation. Many in the thirteen colonies regarded the
laws. Catholic energies were focused on French Canada,
Act as an assault, objecting to the creation of nonrepresenta-
while Protestants concentrated on the nation as a whole.
tive government, the “establishment” of Roman Catholicism
in the colony, and the prerogative assumed by the British
By the British North America Act of 1867, Ontario,
Parliament in its enactment. It is consequently cited as one
Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia were united into
of the causes of the American Revolution. More critically for
a Confederation: the Dominion of Canada. Newfoundland,
Canada, it was the first British statute that conceded the pres-
Prince Edward Island, and British Columbia were identified
ence of multiple ethnic groups in a colony.
as “colonies or provinces” that could join the Confederation
by means of a joint action of their legislatures and the federal
At the time of the conquest of Quebec, French Catho-
parliament. A year later, the Imperial Parliament enacted the
lics represented 95 percent of the province’s non-aboriginal
Rupert’s Land Act, providing for the surrender of Hudson’s
population. Although a few thousand European immigrants
Bay Company land to England (Charles II had granted the
arrived after 1750, the influx of American loyalists instigated
entire territory surrounding Hudson Bay to his cousin Prince
by the Revolutionary War dramatically altered the popula-
Rupert and seventeen associates in 1670), and the subse-
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TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN CANADA
9301
quent transfer of the territory to the Canadian government.
come prominent by the late nineteenth century, a movement
No provision was made for the territory’s admittance into
motivated by the belief that social reforms would establish
the Confederation; it was regarded as a colony of a colony,
God’s kingdom, and that capitalism must be tempered by
a foundation that would perpetually cause western resent-
cooperation between business, workers, and consumers. The
ment toward central Canada.
United Church of Canada institutionalized the vision of the
Social Gospellers, and is acknowledged as having contributed
In one respect, the Dominion was the project of politi-
significantly to the development of the Canadian welfare
cians and advocates for a transcontinental railroad; and in
state.
this sense, the nation had a secular foundation. Still, Confed-
eration provided for substantial provincial autonomy in mat-
While Protestants generally pressed for the development
ters of religion, language, and education, provisions that ac-
of an English-Protestant nation, the Catholic Church was
knowledged the failure of the attempt, by means of the
engendering its own forms of social action. Catholic social
Union of 1840, to submerge French Catholic nationalism
action emerged in Nova Scotia in the 1930s in cooperative
within a dominant English political structure. The British
organizations like the Antigonish Movement that involved
North America Act addressed more fully the constitutional
fishers and farmers. In the late 1920s, Action Catholique be-
rights of religious minorities, than those of ethnic groups;
came prominent in Quebec, contributing to a general
yet, although the Act confirmed the rights of French Canadi-
growth of social and political awareness in the province.
ans, the Confederation itself did not mitigate their fear of
Many of its young members eventually assumed prominent
cultural eclipse within a prevailing English national culture.
roles in academia and the media in Quebec during what was
As early as 1871, for instance, the New Brunswick legislature
called the Quiet Revolution. Quebec underwent a dramatic
prohibited the teaching of religion and the use of the French
transformation during the 1960s, whereby a social order that
language in state-supported schools. During the same period,
had functioned relatively uninterrupted since the Union of
rival Protestant factions were creating coalitions that ex-
1841 was overturned. The Quiet Revolution profoundly al-
pressed a desire for the newly formed nation to assume an
tered the province’s social structure, where an Anglophone
Anglo-Protestant character. The move toward Protestant
elite had for over a century controlled the economy, and the
unification was widespread in Anglo-Saxon nations during
Catholic Church had assumed responsibility for protecting
the nineteenth century; but Canadian churches generally ac-
Francophone culture through education and social welfare.
complished the move earlier than others. Nineteenth-
In 1960, the Quebec government began nationalizing major
century intradenominational unions established a model that
industries, providing for the rise of trade unions, and assum-
was expanded following Confederation, and that ultimately
ing control of health, social welfare, and education. As the
resulted in the creation of the United Church of Canada in
Catholic Church lost control of these institutions, church at-
1925 (bringing together Methodists, Congregationalists, and
tendance plummeted.
many Presbyterians).
Declining church attendance ultimately affected not
The acquisition of the west aroused in many evangelical
only the Catholic Church in Quebec. Prior to 1950, two-
Protestant churches a millennial desire to extend “His” do-
thirds of Canadians attended a church on a regular basis; by
minion from one ocean to another, by assimilating immi-
1980, only one-third did so. Scholars have noted that evan-
grants into a dominant Protestant national culture. Compe-
gelical Protestantism and Catholicism, which had been as-
tition among denominations quickly became economically
sertive forces for more than a century, had ceased to inspire
unfeasible, and the need for a united response to the task lent
Canadians. In addition to the Quiet Revolution, an obvious
urgency to the movement for union. Interest in a national
reason for this decline was the fact that Canada’s ethnic com-
church was fueled also, in part, by the desire to influence leg-
position no longer lent itself to the traditional cultural duali-
islation, and by Anglo concern over increasing Roman Cath-
ty of English/French: by the early 1960s, over one third of
olic influence in politics, especially in Quebec. By 1902, a
the nation’s population did not identity with either group.
number of anti-Catholic associations were already in exis-
For Protestants in particular, any aspiration for a monolithic
tence whose aim it was to curb the expansion of Catholic in-
Protestant nation was simply anachronistic. Additionally, a
fluence. Unionists believed that a single Protestant church
transformation of higher education during the period may
would foster an Anglo-Protestant form of national unity, a
have contributed to the decline. Until the 1960s, most Cana-
sentiment that was expressed in the preamble to the United
dian universities and colleges were owned and managed by
Church’s 1908 Basis of Union, which described “a national
churches, but increased costs forced the churches to turn to
church with a national mission.”
government for subsidization, and provincial legislatures re-
Although no formal agreement was reached until 1925,
fused to support church-controlled institutions. Some
local Protestant churches in Ontario, the Maritime Prov-
closed, while others secularized. The trend toward seculariza-
inces, and the west began to initiate their own unions in
tion has continued, with the result that churches no longer
1908. The unions coincided with a general wave of social ac-
exercise direct influence over the public sphere. Many be-
tion in Canada within which churches were deeply implicat-
lieve, consequently, that religion has become a private phe-
ed. Among Protestants generally, the Social Gospel had be-
nomenon for Canadians, involving such things as belief in
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TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN CANADA
the supernatural, the questioning of life’s meaning, and insti-
1885. Riel was born at Red River (in what would become
tutional memory that draws them back to the churches for
the province of Manitoba) in 1844. He was Métis—a mem-
selective events (Bibby, 2002). The public role of religion,
ber of a community created by the Canadian fur trade, the
as typified by the churches, has been all but eliminated.
descendants predominantly of French Catholic men and ab-
original women. The Métis, and in particular, the Métis buf-
BETWEEN THE DICHOTOMIES. The churches have indelibly
falo hunt, were integral components of the society of the
marked the development of modern Canada. In this respect,
nineteenth century north-West until the transfer of the terri-
religion has played a key role in the creation of the nation
tory from the Hudson’s Bay Company to the Dominion.
but, since the 1960s, has ceased to pervasively define the
The transfer was badly managed, with the Canadian govern-
public sphere, nor to influence Canadians’ collective sense
ment initiating land surveys before the territory had been
of national identity. This aspect of religion in Canada has
formally transferred to the Dominion. Residents of the area
essentially revolved around a series of dichotomies: English/
around Red River (a large number of whom were Métis)
French, Catholic/Protestant, native/white, east/west (me-
were led to believe that existing land titles would not be
tropolis/hinterland). Within this framework of dichotomies,
acknowledged, and under the leadership of Riel formed a
another modality of religion has expressed itself from the
margins of the dominant culture and its various national vi-
provisional government to oppose the transfer without legiti-
sions. The impact of this religious mode upon the formation
mate attention to their grievances. Central to the negotia-
of modern Canada is not immediately discernable in tradi-
tions between Canada and Riel’s provisional government was
tional narratives of the nation’s religious history, but it has
the assurance of representative government and recognition
been, in many instances, profound. Although examples of
of land claims. The result was the Manitoba Act, which cre-
this form of religion are numerous (Grant, 1980), one of the
ated the province of Manitoba in 1870. Among other assur-
most significant instances is the religiously inspired leader-
ances, the Act guaranteed that land grants would be made
ship of Louis Riel in the North-West Rebellion of 1885. Riel
to all mixed-blood residents of the territory. In the immedi-
provides a vantage point from which to explore another rela-
ate wake of the creation of the province, Riel, the Métis, and
tionship between religion and the formation of Canada, one
the region’s aboriginal population found themselves very
that may well continue to have an effect on the nation during
much enmeshed in the Acadian pattern outlined above. Riel
its so-called secular period.
had expected to be a central figure in the transition of the
territory to a province, but instead, a warrant for his arrest
This relationship is imbedded in an abiding historical
was issued (pertaining to an execution that had occurred in
pattern foreshadowed by events in Acadia at the turn of the
the course of the Métis resistance), and the Ontario legisla-
seventeenth century. In 1610 a secular priest in Acadia, Jessé
ture subsequently placed a $5000 bounty on him. He was
Fléché, baptized the Mi’kmaq chief Membertou and twenty
a fugitive until 1875, when the federal government imposed
members of his family. Given that Fléché could speak no
a five year banishment. The Métis and aboriginals fared little
Mi’kmaq (and Membertou appears to have been under the
better. The Métis land base did not materialize, and they
impression that he was entering into a trading alliance),
were forced to migrate north and west as immigrants from
the legitimacy of these baptisms was called into question by
central Canada inundated the province. Meanwhile, Canadi-
the Church and by Jesuits who arrived in Acadia a year later.
an and American hunters were decimating the buffalo, which
To redress the problem, the Jesuit Enemond Massé availed
had been the foundation of both Métis and aboriginal life.
himself of the hospitality of the Mi’kmaq, choosing to live
The disappearance of the buffalo, in addition to epidemic
within the community and learn their language, a move
disease, and insufficient assistance to native peoples who had
made possible by a half century of previous goodwill between
signed treaties extinguishing land rights in return for re-
aboriginals and French fishers in Acadia, and that would de-
serves, led to starvation. Cree leaders petitioned the Canadi-
fine the nature of Jesuit/native relations in North America.
an government and Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, but
His residence among the Mi’kmaq was short-lived. In 1613,
received no replies.
the New Englander, Samuel Argall captured Acadia. During
the battle for control of the region, Gilbert Du Thet was shot
During his exile Riel began receiving visions, beginning
fatally, making him the first Jesuit to die in New France. Du
at Washington Cathedral in Washington, D.C., in 1875,
Thet was killed while manning a canon. The events of 1610
where the Holy Spirit anointed him “Prophet of the New
to 1613 to a great degree established a pattern within which
World.” His visions would ultimately map out a different
much of Canada’s subsequent history can be situated. The
kind of Canada. From his position between the dichotomy
pattern involves at least three distinct aspects: (1) a French/
of ethnicity, Riel perceived a creative space within which a
aboriginal foundation based on trade and Catholicism; (2)
new orientation emerged with the potential for a different
a violent English overlay that results in a French/English di-
kind of unified national body. This nation was defined be-
chotomy that takes precedence over the aboriginal founda-
tween the various Canadian dichotomies of ethnicity (En-
tion; and (3) the implication of religion in this dichotomy.
glish/French, native/white), religion (Catholic/Protestant),
and metropolis/hinterland. In respect to ethnicity, he envi-
This Acadian configuration is an especially apt model
sioned massive immigration of Italians, Poles, Belgians,
in respect to Louis Riel and the North-West Rebellion of
Scandinavians, converted Jews, and Germans who together
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with the aboriginal population, the French, the Métis, and
have been prompted by news of successful Métis action, this
the “great Anglo-Saxon race” would each inhabit equal shares
resistance was in no way executed under the leadership of
of the nation’s territory, creating hybrid ethnicities. The Ger-
Riel. Nonetheless, contemporary authorities melded the re-
mans would, for instance, “make a new German-Indian
sistances, going so far as to accuse Riel at his trial of “arousing
world” (Morton, 1974, pp. 355, 366). Religion, too, was to
the Indians” and letting “loose the flood-gates of rapine and
undergo a radical transformation through which the dichot-
bloodshed” (Morton, 1974, p. 371). In the year following
omy of Catholic/Protestant would be subsumed by a new
the events of 1885, aboriginal peoples were increasingly mar-
universal Catholicism. “I wish to leave Rome aside,” he said,
ginalized from mainstream society. The Department of Indi-
an Affairs began to assume greater control over their lives,
Inasmuch as it is the cause of division between Catho-
a trend that continued for almost a century, and resulted in
lics and Protestants. . . . If I have any influence in the
wide-ranging regulation from education to the writing of
new world it is to help in that way and even if it takes
200 years to become practical. . .then my children’s
wills. An aboriginal pass system was introduced, effectively
children will shake hands with the Protestants of the
restricting native peoples to their reserves. This was justified
new world in a friendly manner. I do not wish these
by the contention that participation in the rebellion consti-
evils that exist in Europe to be. . .repeated in America.
tuted a violation of treaty agreements. Later “pass laws”
(Morton, 1974, p. 319)
adopted by the South African apartheid regime were pat-
terned on this Canadian model.
Finally, the dichotomy of metropolis/hinterland was recast
with Canada as the center of a new world. It was obvious to
As for the Métis generally (who were not afforded status
Riel that the territories, the hinterland of central Canada,
by the Canadian government until 1982), the community
would be the fulcrum of this new order: “although the Prov-
became virtually invisible to the dominant culture. Many
ince of Ontario is great it is not as great as the North-West”
changed their names, others immigrated to the United
(Morton, 1974, p. 321). The north-West was also to be the
States, some moved onto native reserves, while others moved
seat of a new Roman Catholic church, with Saint Boniface
northward. It seems that Riel’s religiously-inspired rebellion
(present-day Winnipeg) as the new Rome, the Métis as the
did not immediately inform the creation of modern Canada,
new “sacerdotal people,” and A. A. Taché, archbishop of
except insofar as it solidified a basic Canadian pattern that
Saint Boniface, the new pontiff. The removal of the papacy
would inform the nation’s next century.
from Rome was warranted by the simple fact that “Rome did
THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY. Turning to Canada a centu-
not pay attention to us” (Morton, 1974, p. 322). Ultimately
ry after the hanging of Riel, a number of dramatic alterations
it was clear to Riel that with all these transformations, Cana-
in this pattern have occurred. First, as church historians have
da was to “become one of the most prosperous centres of the
noted, the nation has become secularized, and increasingly
world, thanks to God” (Flanagan, 1974, p. 26).
Canadians no longer associate themselves with the churches
Driven by this vision of a new Canada in which existing
that informed so much of the nation’s development. Addi-
dichotomies would be rendered meaningless, Riel led a sec-
tionally, the delicate antagonism between English and
ond Métis rebellion against the Dominion in present-day
French entered into a new phase in the final decades of the
Saskatchewan in 1885. It coincided with similar uprisings
century, through which their ongoing dichotomous relation-
from the region’s aboriginal population, and both resistances
ship could well be dissolved. On October 16, 1970, the fed-
were crushed by Dominion forces. Riel was tried and found
eral government declared the War Measures Act (a presump-
guilty of high treason, and was hanged on November 16,
tion of virtually unlimited power) in response to the
1885. Riel’s religiously inspired resistance to central Canada
kidnapping of British senior trade commissioner, James
seemed to have little effect on the formation of the nation,
Cross, and Pierre Laporte, a Quebec cabinet minister. The
beyond apparently intensifying an existing historical pattern
kidnappings and subsequent murder of Laporte were attri-
of an English Protestant/French Catholic dichotomy and an
buted to the Front de Liberation du Québec. Although the
increasingly marginalized aboriginal and Métis community.
events of October 1970 did not initiate further efforts to se-
The hanging of Riel fueled the French press and leadership,
cure an independent Quebec through violence, the question
who found common cause with Riel’s French ancestry, and
of separation remained a serious political issue, culminating
accused the English of ethnic prejudice and religious fanati-
in the election in Quebec of the separatist Parti Québecois
cism. Reaction among English Canadians quickly turned to
in 1976, and two narrowly rejected referendums on sover-
an anti-Quebec sentiment, and amplified calls for national
eignty in 1980 and 1995. Additionally, constitutional
unity based on Anglo-Protestant patriotism. The execution
changes have created a context for the assertion of aboriginal
has been linked to subsequent attacks on French Catholic ed-
and Métis land claims, which are only beginning to be felt.
ucation, resistance to the creation of French divisions in the
The Constitutional Act of 1982 (through which Canada
world wars, and opposition to the institution of official bilin-
gained its own constitution) vaguely recognized “existing”
gualism after 1960.
aboriginal and treaty rights, and recognized the Métis as ab-
original peoples. Land claims recognition has been slow but
In 1885 aboriginal grievances were not the same as those
profound. In the mid-1990s, for instance, Donald Marshall
of the Métis, and although at least two native actions may
was found guilty in the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal of fish-
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TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF THE MODERN CARIBBEAN
ing eels illegally. A team of lawyers (four of whom were
for the continued role of religion in the formation of a twen-
Mi’kmaq) took the case to the Supreme Court of Canada,
ty-first century Confederation.
and in 1999 the Court upheld Marshall’s right to catch and
sell fish in accordance with treaties ratified in 1760 and
BIBLIOGRAPHY
1761. The same year that the constitution was patriated, the
Bibby, Reginald W. Restless Gods: The Renaissance of Religion in
Constitutional Alliance of the Northwest Territories was
Canada. Toronto, 2002.
formed to press for the division of the Northwest Territories
Campeau, Lucien. La mission des jésuites chez les Hurons 1634–
into two distinct territories. The subject had been discussed
1650. Montreal, 1987.
for a number of decades, and on April 1, 1999, the central
Choquette, Robert. Canada’s Religions. Ottawa, 2003.
and eastern part of the territories (a region constituting near-
Dickason, Olive Patricia. Canada’s First Nations: A History of
ly one-fifth of Canada’s land mass) was established as the ter-
Founding Peoples from Earliest Times. Toronto, 1992.
ritory of Nunavut, marking the largest aboriginal land claim
Flanagan, Thomas. “Louis Riel’s Religious Beliefs: A Letter to
settlement in Canadian history. The creation of Nunavut ef-
Bishop Taché.” Saskatchewan History 27, no. 1 (1974):
fectively gave the population (85% Inuit) control over edu-
15–28.
cation, health and social services, and the management of
Flanagan, Thomas. Louis “David” Riel: Prophet of the New World.
natural resources. In September 2003, the Supreme Court
Rev. ed. Toronto, 1996.
overturned an earlier conviction of Métis Steve Powley for
hunting illegally. In the landmark ruling, the court declared
Grant, John Webster. “Missionaries and Messiahs in the North-
west.” Sciences Religieuse/Studies in Religion 9, no. 2 (1980):
that Powley could exercise the right to hunt without a license
125–136.
on the basis of the definition of the Métis as “aboriginal” in
the Constitution of 1982 (council for Powley included law-
Grant, John Webster. Moon of Wintertime: Missionaries and the
Indians of Canada in Encounter since 1534. Toronto, 1984.
yer Jean Teillet, great-great-grandniece of Louis Riel).
Miller, J. R. Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens: A History of Indian-
As Canada entered the twenty-first century many as-
White Relations in Canada. Rev. ed. Toronto, 1991.
pects of the national pattern of English overlay on an aborigi-
Moir, John S. Church and State in Canada, 1627–1867. Toronto,
nal/French foundation were disintegrating, while longstand-
1967.
ing dichotomies were reshaping the national landscape.
Moir, John S. The Church in the British Era. Toronto, 1972.
What might now be said of Louis Riel, who was religiously
inspired to conceive of the nation in a radically different way,
Mol, Hans. Faith and Fragility: Religion and Identity in Canada.
but whose life seemed to have accomplished little beyond the
Burlington, Ont., 1985.
reification of the established order? This man was situated
Morton, Desmond. The Queen v Louis Riel. Toronto, 1974; re-
in the space between the dichotomies of ethnicity, was called
print, New York, 1992.
by God to break with Rome and refashion a new universal
Murphy, Terrence, and Roberto Perin. A Concise History of Chris-
Catholicism, envisioned the geographical center of Canada
tianity in Canada. Toronto, 1996.
as the defining center of the nation, and was tried and exe-
Rawlyk, George A. The Canadian Protestant Experience, 1760 to
cuted as a Canadian traitor. Yet, a statue of Riel now graces
1990. Burlington, Ont., 1990.
the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature, and an accompany-
Reeves, Ted. Claiming the Social Passion: The Role of the United
ing plaque reads: “In 1992, the Parliament of Canada and
Church of Canada in Creating a Culture of Social Well-Being
the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba formally recognized
in Canadian Society. Etobicoke, Ont., 1999.
Riel’s contribution to the development of the Canadian
Riel, Louis. The Collected Writings of Louis Riel/Les écrits complets
Confederation and his role, and that of the Métis, as found-
de Louis Riel. 5 vols. Edited by George F. G. Stanley. Ed-
ers of Manitoba.” Riel is the hero of over twenty plays, an
monton, Alberta, 1985.
opera, radio and television dramas, novels, poetry, music,
Voisine, Nive, ed. Histoire du catholicisme québécois. Vol. 2: Les
cartoons, and a comic book. He is the only Canadian public
XVIIIe et XIXe siècles; and Vol. 3: Le XXe siècle. Montreal,
figure whose writings have been published in their entirety
1984–1991.
(Riel, 1985), a project undertaken jointly by the federal gov-
Westfall, William. Two Worlds: The Protestant Culture of Nine-
ernment and a number of universities to mark the one hun-
teenth-Century Ontario. Kingston, Ont., and Montreal,
dredth anniversary of Riel’s execution; in recent years, he has
1989.
emerged as a national hero, especially, among English-
JENNIFER I. M. REID (2005)
speaking writers. Riel has been called a mythic figure, a mad
messiah, a prophet, a savior, a mystic, a visionary, a Canadian
Joan of Arc, a saint, and a martyr. Such frankly religious lan-
guage is not accidental. As scholars announced the triumph
TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION:
of secularization and the privatization of religion in Canada
RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF THE
at the end of the twentieth century, Riel was simultaneously
MODERN CARIBBEAN
emerging as a religious figure implicated in the meaning of
Ciboney, Arawak-speaking Taíno, and Carib Amerindians
a changing nation. As such, he may well constitute a resource
crisscrossed the islands of the Caribbean archipelago for a
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millennium prior to the arrival of Europeans. Columbus
through the modern exodus to globalized cities such as New
learned from the Lucaya, a subgroup of the Taíno, that the
York; and in Brazil, the forging of a new religion in the con-
island in the Bahamas where he first alighted was named
tact zone out of the cross-fertilization of religious ideas from
Guanahani. He nevertheless christened (and Christianized)
Africa and Europe. All four cases address the issue of recep-
it as San Salvador before taking six Lucaya back to Spain as
tion and change—how ideas, objects, and people produced
exotica to present at court in 1492—the first transcultura-
in one place take on new meaning when displaced, circulat-
tion between Europe and the Caribbean. In 1493 the second
ed, and rerooted in new soil in new ground.
voyage carried sugar cane from Europe to Hispaniola (Isla
The entry does not give an exhaustive account of the re-
Española), and the Taíno gave Europe tobacco in return—a
gion but rather illuminates key processes through select ex-
further and consequential moment of transculturation. By
amples. As the inclusion of Brazil indicates, this essay is on
1501 Nicolás de Ovando, governor of Hispaniola, ordered
the “big Caribbean,” defined not only by territorial contigu-
the delivery of the first Africans (Spanish-speaking Ladinos
ity but also by shared social history.
already enslaved in Iberia) to the New World. The Africans
replaced dying Amerindians in the gold mines in a third mo-
TRANSCULTURATION AS A CARIBBEAN PRODUCT. The term
ment of transculturation, in which the powers guiding all fu-
transculturation is itself an intellectual product of the Carib-
ture exchange became transparent.
bean, appearing in Fernando Ortiz’s Contrapunteo cubano del
Thus began the recurrent economic and social pattern
tabaco y el azúcar (Cuban counterpoint: Tobacco and sugar),
that created the Caribbean, built from its florid exploitation
first published in 1940. Ortiz proposed that the new word
and from the regular resistance to it. Already in 1511 the
was superior to acculturation (a term especially associated
Taíno had rebelled against the new order on Puerto Rico,
with Melville Herskovits) because it did not imply a unilineal
and Africans on Hispaniola revolted not long after in 1521.
process of adopting a new culture—the idea that the former
slate is completely erased before the new one is written. Rath-
Three centuries later, following the abolition of slavery
er, it suggested the nuances of culture loss or deracination;
in the British holdings of Jamaica and Trinidad in 1834, East
as such, losses and the responses to them continue to inform
Indians and Chinese were imported en masse as indentured
the experience of the new situation. It also connoted the only
workers to labor next to or as overseers of Africans. Here was
partial and fragmentary assimilation of a new culture as well
yet another moment of transculturation, bringing new rites
as the completely novel creations that were bound to arise
and new gods: Ka¯l¯ı, Hanuma¯n, Laks:m¯ı, and Ra¯ma. Indian
in what Ortiz called “neo-culturation.”
deities were now ritualized in the same zones as African or-
ishas,
and the signs and symbols of European Masonic secret
More important than this semantic dexterity was the
societies shared the same space as those of Afro-Cuban cabil-
way Ortiz wrote about culture in the history of Cuba, as the
dos.
process of human interaction with and thinking through the
material resources at hand. Tobacco and sugar in Ortiz’s
During the intervening centuries, a solid social template
hands became nothing less than a total semiotic system of
emerged from between the same grinding continental plates
contrasts through which the world was humanly experi-
that had thrust up Caribbean volcanoes. Europeans ruled
enced. For example, whereas tobacco recalls magic and is im-
over slaves whose labor produced sugar, the source of wealth
mutably dark, sugar connotes the commodification of a
that built the palaces of Antwerp and Versailles and foment-
product born brown, then standardized to become white. In
ed the Industrial Revolution of England. Yet if the lands of
Ortiz’s view, the material products of the island provided the
the Caribbean took on a shared economic form in the first
lens through which issues of race and religion were perceived,
global economy, they also developed unique religious pat-
contemplated, worked, and transformed.
terns in accord with the particular objects, ideas, migrants,
and languages that arrived at each place. Even when those
If tobacco and sugar could be detached from their status
objects, ideas, and peoples were similar, they were adopted
as mere agricultural products to be recirculated as a symbolic
by different means and with varying effects as they were re-
system of meanings applied to every domain of experience,
ceived and made to signify in relation to specific landscapes,
no less are the deracinated people of the Caribbean transcul-
needs, histories, and contexts of implementation.
tured through their interactions with each other and with the
products through which they know and make themselves.
This essay proceeds by first examining the term transcul-
turation as itself a product of the Caribbean. It then considers
CUBA: MATERIAL NICHES OF REMEMBRANCE IN THE CON-
four cases of religious transculturation: Cuba, Jamaica, Saint
TACT ZONE. Most prominent among distinctively Cuban re-
Vincent, and Brazil. For each case, a different issue of trans-
ligions is Santería. The name of Santería, implying the devo-
culturation is interpreted: in Cuba, the material and tempo-
tion to saints by santeros, was an innovation of the 1930s
ral niches in which old religions were received, remade, or
initiated by the Afro-Cuban scholar Romulo Lachatañeré.
lost; in Jamaica (and Rastafarians), the problem of indigeniz-
The new moniker was intended to counter state witch hunts
ing English, the colonial idiom, to make it able to “speak”
levied against what was popularly called witchcraft (brujería)
religiously; in Saint Vincent, the phenomenon of physical
by granting the religion a more legitimate, Catholic reso-
emigration and the shifts in Garifuna religion that occur
nance. Hence the very naming of the religion, which has real
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effects on religious practice, stands as testimony to the inter-
banners and chromolithographs depicting a lightning strike
action between religion and political power.
(in Catholic hagiography Barbara’s father was struck by
lightning) provided a semiotic set into which Changó, a deity
Whether called Santería or La Regla de Ocha (The Rule
of lighting whose colors are red and white, could visually be
of the Orisha), the religion derived from the quest of African
integrated. Therefore devotees of Changó were able to cere-
slaves to reconstruct a shared religion out of disparate African
monialize and cognitively retain his memory. Many of the
traditions, which had been lumped together in the new terri-
gods found no such fit, no material or calendrical niches of
tory. The great majority of African slaves disembarked in
remembrance, and these gods died with those who last car-
Cuba were set to work on giant sugar plantations, especially
ried and incorporated them.
after the Haitian revolutions that began in 1791 and left
Cuba the dominant world supplier of sugar. In the cities,
Condensation was one process, and aesthetic innovation
however, especially Havana and Matanzas, a thriving free
was another. The aesthetics of African royal power had to be
black society grew up in the niches of the slave economy.
transferred to the idiom of European finery adopted from the
Out of these came black Catholic cabildos and cofradías, the
Spanish colonial court. Santería initiates undergoing the day
councils and brotherhoods that, under the mantle of their
of enthronement and public display were (and are) dressed
devotion of Catholic saints, offered sites of mutual aid. By
in long gowns of fine silk brocades and lace that emulated
1800 there were cabildos of fourteen different African “na-
Spanish royalty but also served as memory bridges to recall
tions,” each with its own king and queen, flag, and house.
African royalism. Likewise, the containers (sopera) of sacred
These were veritable rebuilt African monarchies, albeit with
stones that served as indexes of the sacred union between ini-
few temporal powers, in which the devotion to African gods
tiated persons and the orisha, were in many cases of fine por-
could be remembered and recreated. Preeminent among the
celain, another European import applied to ritually sustain-
nations were the Yoruba, who were brought in great numbers
ing the memory of Africa.
after 1790 and carried with them a mythically rich, colorful,
The importance of such transcultured ritual objects is
compelling pantheon of gods called orisha (Yoruba ori-se, lit-
revealed by the periodic persecutions that were suffered by
erally “head-source”). Also prominent were the Kongo peo-
practitioners of Santería, in which invasions of cult houses
ples, who comprised by far the largest group of slaves
focused on the confiscation of objects such as drums, cloth-
brought during the trade’s first three centuries. These created
ing, scepters, and the vases and porcelain bowls that held the
another distinct Afro-Cuban religious lineage, Palo Monte.
iconic seats of the saints. Similarly transcultured material
Palo invoked spirits of central West Africa, called minkisi,
niches were also created in the Kongo legacy of Palo Monte.
and contracted them to the living ritualizer through “bind-
The palos (sticks) assembled in a cauldron signify a contract
ing” and “enclosing” their symbols in cauldrons, bottles, or
of power between a practitioner and an ancestral spirit, but
bundles.
they also contain a specific Cuban history within them. They
In every case, the religion had to be reconstructed out
recall the palisades (defenses built of sharpened sticks) run-
of the available materials and within the limited available
away slave communities erected for their protection from
spatial and temporal niches presented by colonial Cuba.
slave hunters. Those palisades have now been transcultured
West African religious were based above all in ritual practices
to serve the purpose of protecting their users in contempo-
choreographed out of a vast and complex set of iconic, culi-
rary urban centers.
nary, musical, sartorial, and spatial cues. The gods were pres-
JAMAICA: TRANSCULTURING SPEECH IN THE CONTACT
ent only insofar as they could be rendered present through
ZONE. Named from the Arawak word Xayaca (Land of
ritual work correctly executed to produce spirit possession.
Wood and Water), Jamaica has loaned its soil to manifold
This meant that the gods that did not fit the niches presented
ethnic groups. Arawak and then Carib Amerindian societies
were eventually lost, forgotten, or rendered superfluous. For
were followed by Spaniards, Africans, the British, and then
example, the African gods related to agriculture remained
Asians. Africans were brought and set to labor by 1513, and
important in Haiti because the religion of vodou emerged
during the late 1600s Jamaica’s sugar production was the
in a peasant farming society of small landholders after the
most advanced in the Caribbean. Following emancipation in
revolution. Yet the analogous deities became largely inconse-
1834, Great Britain tapped another of its colonies for thirty
quential in Cuba and Brazil, because Santería and Candom-
thousand East Indians who were imported as laborers. Hence
blé took shape in and around cities where agriculture was not
diverse religious expressions converged and combined: Myal
a pressing concern of everyday experience.
and Obeah (the latter derived from the West African Ashanti
word obeye, meaning sorcerer); central African-derived
A progressive condensation and canonization of a rela-
Pukumina; the indigenized Christianity of Zion Revivalism;
tively fixed set of orishas took shape. The Afro-Cuban Catho-
and during the twentieth century, Rastafarianism.
lic confradías celebrated these orishas in the temporal and ma-
terial niches available under slave law. For example, Changó,
In its simplest form, Rastafarianism viewed the crown-
the orisha of kingship, lightning, and male seductive power
ing of the new Ethiopian emperor, Haile Selassie (1892–
was (and is) celebrated on December 4, the day of the Catho-
1975), as the arrival of a new messiah, a Black Christ who
lic calendar devoted to Santa Barbara. Her red and white
would lead black Jamaicans back to Africa. Indeed, this
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projected return was to be the salvation of the people. Rasta-
Rastafarianism is practiced in a variant of English is precisely
farianism presented a fusion of diverse factors: revival mille-
that which aided and abetted its global dissemination as a
narianism; Marcus Garvey’s (1887–1940) back-to-Africa
Pan-African symbol. This was accomplished above all
movement; Jamaican urbanization, industrialization, and the
through reggae, disseminated during the 1970s by Bob Mar-
creation of an urban underclass; an Ethiopianism inspired by
ley, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, and others as well as through
Garvey applied to a selective reading of the Hebrew Bible;
the aesthetic codes rendered fashionable through the popu-
the timely ascent of Haile Selassie—or Ras (Prince) Tafari—
larity of that music. At the beginning of the twenty-first cen-
as emperor of Ethiopia in 1930; and the inversion of key
tury African identity is commonly expressed in Bahia, Brazil,
markers like dreadlocks and ganja (marijuana) use from out-
Bronx, New York, and Port of Spain, Trinidad, through the
cast symbols to expressions of defiant power.
colors, flags, clothes, music, and hairstyles of Rastafarianism.
In this sense, the English language as a transcultured linguis-
Any of these elements moreover can be further divided
tic object cuts in two ways: dissented from, it also allows for
into more complex transculturations. Garvey’s message was
that dissent to travel and be heard.
a product not only of his Jamaican birth but also of his trajec-
tory passing through Central America, Europe, Africa, and
THE GARIFUNA: TRANSMIGRATION AND THE MULTIPLYING
most important, the Pan-African centers of Harlem and
OF CONTACT ZONES. The Garifuna stand as the finest exem-
Paris. The adoption of dreadlocks in the late 1940s may have
plars of the simplest cause of transculturation: human migra-
imitated one or all of several influences: Kenya’s anticolonial
tion. An ethnic group born on the island of Saint Vincent
Mau Mau revolt against the British in the 1950s, the emula-
in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries through the ex-
tion of the styles of East Indian ascetics, or the Youth Black
change between African and Carib groups, they were initially
Faith movement of the 1940s that was indigenous to Jamai-
known as the Black Carib. They were deported en masse by
ca. Similarly, ganja arrived with East Indian laborers before
the British in 1797 to the coast of Central America. In addi-
being adopted by revival millenarianism and later Rastafari-
tion to their own Arawak-derived language, many also spoke
anism as a key component of its “reasoning” rituals, in which
French and English, a repertoire to which they rapidly added
it was used to inspire impassioned exchanges of religiopoliti-
Spanish. Garifuna religion reflected these transmigrations,
cal speech.
including elements of African, Amerindian, and Roman
Catholic Christian belief and practice. During the nine-
It is such idiosyncratic speech that is the key transcul-
teenth century, the Garifuna emigrated up and down the
tured marker of Rastafarianism. Because standard English is
Central American coast of the Caribbean by canoe as dedi-
regarded as a colonial and compromised tongue and yet is
cated traders and travelers and in the process settled in some
the sole language of most Jamaicans, Rastafarian practition-
forty villages from Nicaragua to Belize.
ers developed a means of at once distancing themselves from
that language even as they worked through it by communi-
That relative territorial stability changed dramatically in
cating in the dialect of “dread-talk.” This occurs through
the twentieth century, during which time a third of Garifuna
multiple linguistic innovations. In the first, terms of standard
emigrated abroad, especially to the United States. The phe-
English are varied or endowed with new meanings (e.g., rea-
nomenon of frequent migration and returns, related to con-
son, for ritually inspired discourses; chalice, for the pipe used
temporary labor patterns, had two dramatic effects on the re-
to inhale the smoke of the herb; and bald-tail, for shorn, un-
ligious life of the Garifuna and by extension of the Caribbean
enlightened non-Rastas). A second innovation is playing
region in general. One effect is the burgeoning Protestant
with standard words, which are altered in relation to phono-
neo-Pentecostal affiliations. Employing high-tech sound sys-
logical implications, such as politricks (politics), live-icate (as
tems, formal dress codes, and dramatic preaching styles,
opposed to dedicate), or jollification (enjoyment). The most
these neo-Pentecostal groups emulate—and are often funded
important revision of standard English occurs in the creation
by—U.S. denominational patrons. The second effect is the
of I-words: Ital (natural), Irie (truth), I-ration (creation), I-
revivalist acceleration of discourses and practices of tradition-
thiopia (Ethiopia), plus the reference to oneself and others
al ritual events, whose meanings are transformed in the pro-
as “I and I.” Explanations for the invocation of “I and I” in
cess of being revived. For the Garifuna, traditional ancestor
dread-talk include: (1) the refusal to make a subject of anoth-
rituals that were once simply considered indigenous to them-
er person, hence the use of only first person address; (2) the
selves are increasingly understood as African in origin. As
verbal expression of the idea that one is never utterly separate
Garifuna migrants to U.S. cities have been exposed to the re-
from God (Jah) or from other persons, hence always “I and
ligions of their neighbors, such as Cuban Santería, Haitian
I”; and (3) the rejection of the term me, which connotes slave
vodou, Trinidadian orisha, and Puerto Rican Santerismo,
speech and subservience compared with I, a term of agency
they begun to view their religion in relation to that set and
and choice.
to perceive themselves as members of the religious African
diaspora.
Whereas English was the language given to members of
the urban underclass in Kingston, the Rastafarian communi-
The two new directions of Garifuna religious change—
ty transcultured it to signify distinction from rather than in-
toward Pentecostal modernity and reformed tradition—are
clusion in the British linguistic legacy. Yet the fact that
not socially bifurcated but rather work in tandem, because
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TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF THE MODERN CARIBBEAN
they signify over and against and in rivalry with each other.
In the contact zone, religious identities take on force
Both proffer membership in global networks rather than
through boundary work, that is, the marking and parsing of
local, village-based ones, and both are reliant on modern
differences and similarities between a given religion and its
technologies of semiotic reproduction (e.g., videos, compact
neighbors. So Candomblé also began to be defined by its re-
discs, books, and magazines) as they compete for adherents
lation to, resistance against, and adaptation from other popu-
in the marketplace of identities and for recognition from
lar Brazilian religious expressions, such as French-descended
state and international authorities. The Garífuna, like practi-
spiritism.
tioners of other religions in the Caribbean region, are in the
Spiritism arrived in Brazil in the late nineteenth century
process of mastering and transculturing new objects of mo-
via the teachings of Allan Kardec, also known as Hippolyte
dernity to make them their own: communication systems,
Léon Denizard Rivail. Its popularity derived from its healing
recording devices, legal documents, and other devices of
techniques, enacted through mediums in ways as emotional-
“making history” in rationalized forms that can be used for
ly compelling as they seemed scientific. For spiritists, medi-
pedagogy and legal defense. For the Garifuna, as elsewhere
ums became effective healers when possessed by more an-
in the Caribbean, there exists a growing sense that local reli-
cient, enlightened souls. In the twenty-first century the
gion must be given global range—witnessed to, recorded,
mediums dress in white or blue medical clothing to offer pas-
publicized, discursively defended, and disseminated—to ac-
sos (passes) over the bodies of their subjects, moving their
quire exchange value in the marketplace of religions. Other-
hands over the skin to attract negative vibrations to their own
wise, they risk losing their place.
hands and cast them into the air. The healing spirits come
Through migrations of the last generation, some Carib-
from members of civilizations considered to be evolved—
bean religions of the region like Santería have already become
doctors or healers from Europe, ancient Egypt, or the Aztec
sophisticated transnational religions with a solid footing in
Empire. Sickness is regarded as obsession, and the ritual in-
legal and academic settings. Others, like practitioners of the
tervention is a disobsession wherein one medium incorpo-
ancestor religion of the Garifuna, remain ambivalent in rela-
rates the obsessing spirit, while other mediums use their
tion to such processes of deliberate transculturation and what
evolved entities to advocate for their client’s release. Meet-
hidden risks they may hold.
ings reflect a high degree of rational bureaucratic organ-
BRAZIL: MAKING NEW RELIGIONS IN THE CONTACT ZONE.
ization.
Like Cuban Santería, the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candom-
The Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé and French-
blé traces its origins to one of the city-states of the Yoruba,
derived Spiritism transcultured each other. Spiritist groups
Dahomean, or Kongolese peoples of West and West Central
were inspired by the African deities of Candomblé, and Can-
Africa. It was forcibly brought to Brazil during the Portu-
domblé groups were rationalized in similar ways to spiritism.
guese slave trade over four centuries. As in Santería, Can-
Adopting elements of both, Umbanda is the result of the
domblé reconstructs a link to Africa through the reverence
convergence of these two groups into a new, national reli-
of deities (orixás) to generate power, or axé, for human use
gion. Umbanda was born in the industrializing south of Bra-
in its most worldly forms—luck, fertility, wealth, prestige,
zil in the 1920s. It shared aspects with Candomblé (such as
and health.
possession, specific drumming patterns that call the spirits
Axé can imply transformative capacity, charisma, fecun-
and orixás as heads of spirit divisions) and with spiritism
dity, success, or physical force like electricity. As a quality of
(such as the manifestation of spirits of the dead for the pur-
a house or a drum, however, it connotes tradition, lineage,
pose of consultation and healing and a rigid hierarchy of
and legitimate foundations. Producing axé entails a series of
more and less evolved spirits).
material practices that contain, enclose, and bind the elusive
Umbanda spirits are organized hierarchically in a com-
axé into loci (e.g., altars, vases, heads) from which its force
plex system of seven lineages, called phalanxes, each headed
can be received and redistributed. The techniques and tools
by an orixá or saint. One kind of spirit of light is the caboclo,
of condensing and containing axé are known as the founda-
the spirit of the indigenous Brazilian Indian. Another is the
tional secrets (fundamentos) of the religion. One gains access
preto-velho, the spirit of the old African slave, who manifests
to this secret knowledge or, more properly, to the places and
humility, kindliness, comfort, and sympathy. The erês or cri-
practice of secrecy by performing progressive initiations into
anças are spirits of children who are playful and innocent. Fi-
increasingly important functions in the house (terreiro). The
nally, the exús, derived from the Yoruba trickster-messenger
import of religious secrecy was augmented, however, by the
Eshu, are considered evil and must be rigorously controlled.
new terrain from which Candomblé grew during the 1800s.
Secrecy was transcultured and began to signify doubly: first
Although these are the most characteristic, traditional
in relation to West African ideals of contained, “cool” power
spirit roles in Umbanda, there is enormous flexibility for new
and second as resistance to the police forces of the national
spiritual entities to emerge, such as manifestations of home-
context in which the rituals were practiced. Yoruba ideals of
less street children or the folkloric, hard-drinking bandits
religious secrecy were overlapped with the Afro-Brazilian no-
(cangaçeiros) of the arid northeast. Embedded in the spirits
tion of fundamentos, deep knowledge based in practices hid-
of Umbanda and the material processes through which they
den from the gaze of potential noninitiate encroachers.
are incorporated is the ongoing transculturation of Brazilian
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TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN JAPAN
9309
history as it continually reworks the national mythology of
Mintz, Sidney W. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Mod-
the “three races”—Amerindian, African, white European—
ern History. New York, 1985.
for a new time.
Mintz, Sidney W., and Richard Price. The Birth of African Ameri-
can Culture. Boston, 1992.
SEE ALSO Caribbean Religions, article on Afro-Caribbean
Murphy, Joseph M. Santería: An African Religion in America. Bos-
Religions; Garvey, Marcus; Rastafarianism; Santería.
ton, 1988.
B
Murphy, Joseph M. Working the Spirit: Ceremonies of the African
IBLIOGRAPHY
Bastide, Roger. The African Religions of Brazil: Towards a Sociology
Diaspora. Boston, 1993.
of the Interpenetration of Civilizations. Translated by Helen
Murrell, Nathaniel Samuel, William David Spencer, and Adrian
Sebba. Baltimore, 1978.
Anthony McFarlane, eds. Chanting Down Babylon: The
Benítez-Rojo, Antonio. The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and
Rastafari Reader. Philadelphia, 1998.
the Postmodern Perspective. Translated by James E. Maraniss.
Olmos, Margarite Fernández, and Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert.
2d ed. Durham, N.C., 1996.
Creole Religions of the Caribbean: An Introduction from Vodou
Blier, Suzanne. African Vodun: Art, Psychology, and Power. Chica-
and Santería to Obeah and Espiritismo. New York, 2003.
go, 1994.
Ortiz, Fernando. Cuban Counterpoint: Tobacco and Sugar. Trans-
Brandon, George. Santeria from Africa to the New World: The
lated by Harriet de Onís. Durham, N.C., 1995.
Dead Sell Memories. Bloomington, Ind., 1993.
Palmié, Stephan. Wizards and Scientists: Explorations in Afro-
Brown, David. Santería Enthroned: Art, Ritual, and Innovation in
Cuban Modernity and Tradition. Durham, N.C., 2002.
an Afro-Cuban Religion. Chicago, 2003.
Pollard, Velma. Dread Talk: The Language of Rastafari. Kingston,
Brown, Diane D. Umbanda and Politics in Urban Brazil. Ann
West Indies, 1994.
Arbor, Mich., 1986.
Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transcul-
Brown, Karen McCarthy. Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brook-
turation. London, 1992.
lyn. Berkeley, Calif., 1991.
Thompson, Robert Farris. Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-
Cabrera, Lydia. Reglas de Congo. Palo Monte. Mayombe. Miami,
American Art and Philosophy. New York, 1983.
1979.
Voeks, Robert A. Sacred Leaves of Candomblé: African Magic, Med-
Chevannes, Barry. Rastafari: Roots and Ideology. Syracuse, N.Y.,
icine, and Religion in Brazil. Austin, Tex., 1997.
1994.
Wafer, Jim. The Taste of Blood: Spirit Possession in Brazilian Can-
Coronil, Fernando. “Introduction to the Duke University Press
domblé. Philadelphia, 1991.
Edition: Transculturation and the Politics of Theory: Coun-
PAUL CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON (2005)
tering the Center, Cuban Counterpoint.” In Cuban Counter-
point: Tobacco and Sugar
, by Fernando Ortiz, pp. ix–lvi.
Durham, N.C., 1995.
Cosentino, Donald J., ed. Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou. Los Ange-
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les, 1995.
RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN
Edmonds, Ennis Barrington. Rastafari: From Outcasts to Culture
JAPAN
Bearers. New York, 2003.
Japan began forming a modern culture when it came into
Gonzalez, Nancie L. Sojourners of the Caribbean: Ethnogenesis and
contact with the West. Then the Portuguese brought match-
Ethnohistory of the Garifuna. Urbana, Ill., 1988.
locks to Japan, and Francis Xavier brought Christianity. In
Harding, Rachel. A Refuge in Thunder: Candomblé and Alternative
the nineteenth century, Japan underwent crucial develop-
Spaces of Blackness. Bloomington, Ind., 2000.
ment as a result of exchanges with the West, and this devel-
Herskovits, Melville. Acculuration: The Study of Culture Contact.
opment has continued to the present with ongoing cultural
Locust Valley, N.Y., 1938.
contacts.
Hess, David J. Spirits and Scientists: Ideology, Spiritism, and Brazil-
This was not the first time that Japan borrowed from
ian Culture. University Park, Pa., 1991.
other cultures. Yet Japanese borrowing in the modern period
Houk, James T. Spirits, Blood, and Drums: The Orisha Religion in
was much different from Japanese contacts with Chinese and
Trinidad. Philadelphia, 1995.
Korean civilizations between the fifth and thirteenth centu-
Johnson, Paul Christopher. “Migrating Bodies, Circulating Signs:
ries. In the case of these earlier contacts, because seafaring
Brazilian Candomblé, the Garífuna of the Caribbean, and
voyages were full of danger, the oceans surrounding the Japa-
the Category of ‘Indigenous Religions.’” History of Religions
nese archipelago provided a buffer zone. Moreover, the cul-
41, no. 4 (2002): 301–328.
tures and civilizations of China and Korea, imbued with
Johnson, Paul Christopher. Secrets, Gossip, and Gods: The Trans-
Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist philosophies, were not as
formation of Brazilian Candomblé. New York, 2003.
aggressive as modern Western powers, armed with steam
Kerns, Virginia. Women and the Ancestors: Black Carib Kinship and
ships, modern military forces, modern capitalism, and impe-
Ritual. 2d ed. Urbana, Ill., 1997.
rialist tendencies. As a result, Japanese assimilation of Chi-
McAlister, Elizabeth. Rara! Vodou, Power, and Performance in
nese and Korean civilization was more gradual, gentler, and
Haiti and Its Diaspora. Berkeley, Calif., 2002.
more deeply penetrating.
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TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN JAPAN
GUNS AND CHRISTIANITY. As mentioned, Japan’s contact
trade with the Dutch, who did not engage in any missionary
with the West began around the time when Portuguese mer-
activity, at the port of Nagasaki, from then on the only port
chants drifted ashore a southern island of the Japanese archi-
officially open for international trade and exchanges. The
pelago in 1543. The matchlocks they brought with them
Tokugawa feudal regime thus started the policy of seclusion,
were mastered quickly, reproduced in large quantities by na-
which was to last for 260 years.
tive craftsmen, and spread quickly and widely throughout
PROSPERITY AMIDST SECLUSION. Several external factors
the country. These guns not only changed military tactics
made possible the long, peaceful seclusion of Japan. Vast
but also transformed the structure of castles and other fortifi-
oceans lay between Europe and Japan. At the time the center
cations. Eventually, Oda Nobunaga (1534–1582), Toyo-
of political and economic power in Europe was shifting from
tomi Hideyoshi (1538–1598), and Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542–
Spain and Portugal to England and Holland, and this affect-
1616), successive unifiers of the country, used such guns
ed the ability of these counties to develop colonial empires.
quite successfully in battles to unify the country.
Also, the industrial revolution had not yet taken hold in Eu-
The Catholic Church began missionary activities in
rope. Later, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when
Japan when Francis Xavier and other Jesuit priests arrived in
steam ships and the accelerating industrial revolution en-
1549 on Kagoshima to evangelize in western Japan. In the
abled Western countries to project power all over the world,
beginning, Christianity was well received by warlords and
Japan was revisited, this time by the fleets of various Western
later the Tokugawa shogunate. Portuguese merchants began
nations to force open its doors. The vast oceans were no lon-
international trade with Japan, followed by the Spanish in
ger a barrier to Western civilization. The oceanic space was
1580, the Dutch in 1609, and the British in 1613. Japanese
becoming domesticated more and more by the power of cap-
mercantile ships, which had trading abroad since the middle
italism, colonialism and imperialism as well as the science
of fourteenth century, continued trade with China, Korea,
and technology of the West.
Formosa, the Philippines, Java, Vietnam, Malaysia, and
Domestically, the Tokugawa regime carried out an apt
Thailand. Japanese leaders were interested in new informa-
set of policies to order society and stabilize the country. It
tion about Europe and the outside world, and in new scien-
established a rigid social hierarchy consisting of four main
tific and technical knowledge, including knowledge about
social classes—warriors, farmers, artisans, and merchants—
imported European firearms. Since Catholic missionary ac-
and prohibited upward mobility. In another important poli-
tivities and the merchant trade were intimately connected,
cy it confiscated weapons, allowing only hunters to use fire-
many warlords interested in the profits of trade readily con-
arms and only warriors to use swords. And it rigidly regulated
verted to Christianity.
Buddhist temples and Shinto¯ shrines. On Buddhist temples
In 1587 Hideyoshi banished the missionaries and pro-
it imposed the temple parish system (jidan seido). This policy
hibited the Christian faith among the warlords. But only a
required individuals to be certified by their local Buddhist
few missionaries left Japan, and those who remained success-
temples not to be a member of the “evil religion” Chris-
fully propagated Christianity among the masses, gaining as
tianity.
many as 700,000 devotees by the early seventeenth century,
Neo-Confucian philosophy provided the Tokugawa re-
more than two times the population of the capital city of
gime with a powerful political ideology, with distinctions of
Kyoto at that time. Later the Tokugawa shogunate, perceiv-
rank and status, for ruling feudal society. As a result, Confu-
ing the colonialist interests of foreign powers and fearing up-
cian studies prospered under the patronage of the shogunate
risings among the masses, started to ban the Christian faith
and many daimyo. The regime used neo-Confucian philoso-
by issuing successive ordinances in 1614, 1616, and 1623.
phy to regulate all Buddhist temples and Shinto¯ shrines and
During this time the government destroyed churches, de-
suppress underground Christians. The Bureau of Buddhist
ported missionaries, and tortured and executed defiant
Temples and Shinto¯ Shrines organized Buddhist temples, in
Christians. All the Christian warlords but a few famous con-
sectarian divisions, into a hierarchy of a central temple on
verts renounced their faith.
top and more local temples further down. Temples thus
functioned as a bureaucracy to control the spiritual life of the
Some Christians went underground and maintained
people. The government also banned new doctrines and in-
their faith for generations until the reopening of the country
terpretations in Buddhist and Shinto¯ communities. Though
in the nineteenth century. Underground Christianity, sepa-
the Tokugawa government recognized Buddhist sects as offi-
rated from the Catholic orders, became indigenized and syn-
cial religions, Buddhist priests thus lost their religious free-
cretized with folk Buddhism for outward appearances. The
dom and spontaneity. Young novices trained as priests at
virgin Mary was amalgamated with Kannon (Avalokite´s-
head temples, upon completing their training, went back to
vara), Buddhist goddess of mercy, and called “Maria Kan-
local temples to teach children Confucian ethics and the An-
non.”
alects. The official schools of the clans (hanko¯) and the many
After the Shimabara uprising of Christians, in which
private temple schools (terakoya) greatly contributed to the
forty thousand people fought on the Christian side, the
prevalence of literacy among the populace in Tokugawa peri-
Tokugawa government, in 1639, took the extreme measure
od (1603–1867). With its power to proscribe sects, the re-
of closing Japan to all foreign trade. The only exception was
gime controlled the scope of activities of the temples.
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9311
The Tokugawa government, by establishing the peace
intervening Chinese influences and by living it as the Way
and making life secure, encouraged the growth of industry
of the Gods. Motoori deciphered and interpreted the Kojiki
and commerce, as well as the development of a transporta-
as sacred. Motoori’s scholarship came to be accepted by
tion system centered around the waterways of sea, rivers, and
Shinto¯ theologians as the foundation of Shinto¯ theology and,
canals. Within the feudal social-class system there developed
together with the scholarship of Hirata Atsutane, one of
a mercantile economy with currency and credit, and this en-
Motoori’s posthumous disciples, laid the foundation for later
couraged the production of various agricultural and industri-
nationalist Shinto¯ movements during the Meiji period
al commodities within the country. People were already con-
(1868–1912).
suming such commercial products as cotton, sugar, silk, and
Dutch Learning (Rangaku) was primarily the learning
tea, all of which had a foreign origin. These commodities be-
of Dutch medicine. Dutch Learning produced such positiv-
came important trade goods when Japan resumed trading
istic spirits as Yamawaki To¯yo¯, who studied the internal or-
with Western nations: Japanese imported cotton products
gans of the dissected body, and Maeno Ryo¯taku and Sugita
and sugar and exported silk and tea.
Genpaku, who not only examined the anatomized body but
JAPANESE THOUGHT. The neo-Confucian school not only
also translated a Dutch book on anatomy as Kaitai shinsho
synthesized the concept of li (reason, principle) with the
(New anatomy).
Great Ultimate, material forces (qi), human nature, and the
mind; in Japan it also later equated li with the Way of the
A positivist attitude can also be observed in the social
Gods (the literal meaning of “Shinto¯”). Joseph Kitagawa
reformer Ando¯ Sho¯eki (d. 1762), who criticized traditional
points out that since warrior-administrators translated philo-
Confucian and Buddhist thinking as artificial and asserted
sophical ideas into practical measures for governing the
the importance of learning directly from nature. For Ando¯,
country, the Tokugawa regime tended to be free from Chi-
everyone must return to the Way of Nature (or the Life of
nese models. Since neo-Confucianism provided the ideologi-
Nature) by partaking in production, that is, agriculture. Na-
cal foundation of the regime, this school produced many fa-
ture is not an object of observation or contemplation, but
mous scholars.
what life partakes in. “By human participation, the True
Way of Life reveals itself as the Truly Wondrous Way of
Equally important was the Wang Yangming school,
Life.” “Farmers cultivate land, weave cloths, eat simple food,
which interpreted li as identical with the mind and viewed
wear simple cloths, selflessly and self-containedly. They are
each individual mind as the manifestation of the Universal
the direct children of Nature” (Shizen Shin-ei-do, vol. 4,
Mind. Though the regime did not support the Wang Yang-
pp. 57-69). Ando¯ repudiated the feudalistic social hierarchy
ming school, the idea of moral cultivation based on the Uni-
of Tokugawa society as artificial and to be avoided.
versal Mind appealed to many Japanese and gave rise to
many important social reformers. Mind Learning (Shin-
These schools of learning sought to return to the old,
gaku), a popular version of Confucianism with Shinto¯ and
that is, to go back to origins in classical texts or back to origi-
Buddhist elements, taught commoners the importance of
nal paradigms, and realize them here and now, or they
disciplining the mind with simple, easy-to-understand lan-
sought to prove texts in a positivist spirit. These traditions
guage.
later became the basis for responses to Western civilization,
whether the response be to introduce a new approach, to ap-
Besides these three schools of Confucianism, a variety
propriate critically, or to oppose.
of other schools of learning thrived during the Tokugawa pe-
riod. Ancient Learning (Kogaku) advocated directly studying
The Tokugawa period also witnessed the development
the texts of Confucius and Mencius. This gesture of return-
of popular arts, such as painting, woodblock prints, poetry,
ing to origins by reading the classical texts was a radical criti-
Kabuki theater, and puppet theater (Ningyo¯ Jo¯ruri). Each of
cism of the neo-Confucian and Wang Yangming schools as
these genres responded to the imaginary needs of the people
later departures from the original Way.
in highly creative ways. These arts were sustained by wealthy
merchants living in urban centers and later spread to local
National Learning (Kokugaku) was born as the antithe-
villages.
sis of Chinese Learning, specifically the school of Ancient
THE RISE OF RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS. The Tokugawa re-
Learning, which advocated returning to classical Chinese
gime rigidly controlled and manipulated the Buddhist sects
texts. The school of National Learning created a tradition of
and Shinto¯ shrines as official religions. Institutional forms of
textual criticism for the interpretation of Japanese classical
religion, when they emerged, were suppressed and went un-
texts that did away with all Chinese influences on the inter-
derground during the Tokugawa period. Having lost free-
pretation of Japanese texts. The most outstanding scholar of
dom and mobility within the feudal parish system, Bud-
National Learning was Motoori Norinaga (1730–1801),
dhism and Shinto¯, as institutions, lost their religiosity and
who studied the Kojiki (Records of ancient matters), which
degenerated into funeral services and administrators of an-
is written in manyo¯gana (Chinese characters used phonetical-
cestor veneration, respectively.
ly). As is often pointed out, he tried to return to the world
of meaning revealed by the ancient text itself, to grasp the
But various important folk religious movements
meaning of the text by directly participating in it without any
emerged spontaneously from the lower strata of society. One
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TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN JAPAN
such movement was large scale pilgrimages, which often un-
academies. Then, in 1853, the four “black ships” led by
dercut feudal space boundaries. There were mass pilgrimages
Commodore Matthew Perry, with their powerful cannons,
to the Grand Shrine of Ise, repeated every sixty years, which
appeared off the shore of Japan and asked for the opening
developed into the Anything-Goes Dance (Eejanaika Odori),
of Japanese ports.
in which the masses, dancing and singing, went toward Ise.
The regime was forced to make treaties with the United
Other pilgrimages were the Pilgrimage to the Eighty-Eight
States, Holland, England, France, and Russia on unequal
Sacred Places of Shikoku (Shikoku Henro) and the Pilgrim-
terms, granting extraterritorial rights and giving up the right
age to the Thirty-Three Sacred Places of Kannon in Western
to levy tariffs. To avoid colonization and attain equilibrium
Japan (Saigoku Junrei). All of these pilgrimages expressed a
with the Western powers, leaders felt the need to plan for
yearning for a worldly paradise apart from the realities of the
enriching the nation and building up defenses. The whole
contemporary world.
country was divided into two factions: one for the shogunate
Three religions—Kurozumikyo¯, Tenrikyo¯, and Kon-
and the other for the emperor, one for opening the country
ko¯kyo¯—emerged from the villages toward the end of the
to foreigners and the other for excluding foreigners. The
Tokugawa period. These popular religions became the pro-
peaceful country, suddenly surrounded by the powerful mili-
totypes of new religions in modern Japan. Each of these reli-
tary powers of the West, was thrown into an unprecedented
gions was based upon the religious experience of its founder
crisis. Thus began a new cycle of contact with the West. It
and sustained people with simple but universal teachings.
was the beginning of the perpetual fast changes in life and
R
society that have continued into the twenty-first century.
ESPONSES TO FOREIGN CIVILIZATIONS. In Japanese con-
tacts with the Chinese and Korean civilizations in the fifth
Out of the crisis, people searched for a new unity and
to ninth centuries, Kitagawa finds a threefold response: a
new order for the nation and ultimately chose to reinvigorate
welcome introduction, integration and assimilation, and re-
the country by reverting to the ancient ideal of an emperor-
jection or transformation. This threefold process greatly en-
centered religious, political, and national polity. The design
riched indigenous culture and tradition through the assimila-
of the Meiji imperial regime was to construct a modern na-
tion and integration of Buddhism, Confucianism, and
tion-state by negating the recent past (the feudal Tokugawa
Daoism. These contacts even stimulated the native religious
tradition) and restoring the monarchical rule of the eighth
tradition to develop Shinto¯ and gave birth to many new reli-
century, centered on the traditional Japanese notion of a sa-
gions, including indigenous forms of Buddhism. By this con-
cred emperor at the top of all hierarchies. This was another
tact, Japanese culture and society was greatly enriched.
phase of traditional Japanese “immanent theocracy,” to use
Kitagawa’s term. Meiji leaders followed the ancient model
Prior to direct contact with modern Western powers,
of unity of religion and state (saisei itchi). In this new regime,
various aspects of Tokugawa feudal society were becoming
the former social hierarchy of warrior, farmer, artisan, and
modern. But the need to modernize took on a whole new
merchant was eliminated, and all the people were now treat-
meaning and urgency after Japanese contact with the West.
ed equally as the subjects of the semidivine emperor.
When Portuguese traders and Jesuit Catholicism arrived in
Japan, in the initial phases they were welcome. Later on in
WESTERNIZATION. The modernization of Japan was not im-
the historical process, however, Western culture could not
posed on the Japanese people from the outside by colonial-
be assimilated or integrated well because the Catholic
ism. Rather, it was what the Japanese were determined to ac-
Church demanded wholehearted allegiance and the Western
complish to overcome the disequilibrium of Western and
powers had aggressive colonial interests. Thus, in a natural
Japanese power. A basic strategy of the regime was to use the
response, the Tokugawa regime rejected Western culture and
Japanese spirit and Western knowledge (wakon-yo¯sai). Learn-
Christianity except for Dutch trade, although many frag-
ing the knowledge of the West was the secret to equalization
mental influences from Western culture remained.
and rectification of the power imbalance.
The second cycle of contact with Western civilizations
Recognizing that the Western powers would not revise
began in the late eighteenth century. Since 1792 Russians re-
the unequal treaties, Japanese leaders adopted various ele-
peatedly sent diplomatic missions and battleships to Japan
ments of European jurisprudence in the French, German,
asking for the opening of trade. In 1808 England sent a bat-
and English codes. This produced contradictions, since
tleship to Nagasaki to take over the Dutch trading base there.
French codes were progressive and the German codes were
And when a team of administrators representing various
conservative. Eto¯ Shinpei (1834–1874), one of the chief de-
clans visited Shanghai at the time of the Opium War (1840–
signers of the modern state in the early stage of its formation,
1842) to investigate, they observed China succumbing to
highly appreciated the French civil code, especially on the
British military power and discovered that most of the East
rights of the people, and incorporated aspects of the French
Asian coastal regions except Manchuria, Korea, and Japan
code into the Meiji civil code. The Meiji code also had to
had been colonized. Fearing Western colonialism, they felt
embrace incoherences due to differences of culture and
the need to build up power to protect Japan. Many Dutch
society.
schools of medicine and schools of the feudal clans were soon
Japan started modernizing not only in jurisprudence but
transformed into naval strategy research institutes and naval
also in many other areas of culture and society. Japan adopt-
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TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN JAPAN
9313
ed many Western institutions, such as government offices,
ern values against each other before accepting Western orien-
a solar calendar, police, an army, a navy, railways, gaslight,
tations and integrating them into Japanese culture. Japanese
a postal system, electricity, compulsory education, banks, a
culture had to adjust itself to these new concepts and ideas.
parliament, and a constitution.
How to adapt Japanese culture was always open to criticism.
These measures for Westernizing Japan were accompa-
One such critic was Okakura Tenshin (1862–1913), an
nied by a policy of enlightenment and civilization (bunmei
art critic and leader in modern Japanese art circles. Before
kaika), which promoted Western culture and civilization in
the Russo-Japanese War, Okakura criticized Western colo-
all aspects of life and society, from modern Western sciences
nialism and imperialism, saying that Asia is one. In the year
and rationalism to people’s hairstyles and Western-style
after the war (1906), he also criticized “moderns” who
clothes. Japanese intellectuals translated many works of
judged the Japanese victory in bloody battles over Russia as
Western philosophers and scientists, starting with Darwin,
“civilized” and who regarded such peaceful pastimes as the
Mill, Huxley, and Spencer and following with Voltaire,
tea ceremony and other aesthetic activities as “barbarian.”
Rousseau, Descartes, Kant, Shopenhauer, Hegel, Spinoza,
Okakura’s critiques were published in English in London;
Locke, Hume, Nietzsche, W. James, Dewey, Bergson, Sartre,
the former was written in India, and the latter in Boston. He
and Heidegger. They also translated many novelists and
knew the problems of the East and the West, of Japanese cul-
poets, such as Shakespeare, Goethe, Maupassant, Tolstoy,
ture and Western culture, because he lived in and knew both
Ibsen, Dostoevskii, Hemmingway, Kafka, Zola, Heine, and
worlds.
Baudelaire. Many of these works were accepted as new para-
digms in their genres.
Another critic was Minakata Kumakusu (1867–1941),
a folklorist and natural historian. Minakata protested against
As for policies toward religion, the Meiji government,
the government’s policy of consolidating Shinto¯ shrines
like the Tokugawa regime, required religious registration.
throughout the country to clear virgin forests belonging to
However, in place of Buddhist temples, the Meiji govern-
the shrines. The government undertook this measure to
ment required every Japanese subject to register at the local
create land for increased farm production and further indus-
Shinto¯ shrine. The architects of the Meiji government took
trialization. This measure, begun in 1906, met vehement
the Western model of Christianity as the unifying force of
criticism from Minakata, who had returned to Japan after a
the nation-state and modified it so that the Shinto¯ pantheon
long sojourn of research in the United States and England.
of spirits (kami) served as the religious foundation of Japan,
The policy was abandoned in 1915.
and they attempted to make Shinto¯ the state religion in
Japan. After encountering criticism and resistance from vari-
Though individuals raised severe criticisms of the direc-
ous sectors, other religious groups in Japan, and international
tion of modernization at critical junctures in modern Japa-
societies, the government relaxed this religious policy.
nese history, Japanese commoners often meekly accepted
policies for Westernizing the nation. The Japanese tended to
During the formation of modern Japan, Japanese intel-
embrace recklessly the ideals of modern Western civiliza-
lectuals absorbed Western ideals, rationalism, technology,
tions—rationalism, industrialization, capitalism, progress,
and economic systems. Many young students and bureau-
and development—even when such ideals were incompatible
crats were dispatched to Western countries to study Western
with traditional Japanese values.
laws, institutions, sciences, and technologies. The Japanese
government invited and employed many foreign advisors,
THE IMPACT OF MODERNIZATION ON RELIGION. During
professors, technocrats, and specialists to establish and devel-
the past 150 years, Japanese society has undergone many rad-
op a modern nation-state with industrial capacity and mili-
ical cultural and social changes involving all aspects of life.
tary strength.
Included here are such great transformations as the over-
CULTURAL VALUES AND CRITICISM. To say the least, West-
throw of the feudal Tokugawa regime; the establishment of
ern notions of science, which were based on the diversifica-
the modern Meiji imperial state; the rapid introduction of
tion of knowledge into various branches, had a strong impact
policies to modernize in the fields of government, law, edu-
on the minds of Japanese scholars, who had been accustomed
cation, technology, and culture; the development of capital-
to a holistic approach to learning. Within the Western sci-
ism; colonialist and militaristic involvement in Asia; the
ences, for instance, religion was separated from all other
Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895); the Russo-Japanese War
branches of knowledge, such as politics, economy, culture,
(1904–1905); the further development of industry and capi-
society, philosophy, mathematics, and physics. In the holistic
talism; greater economic and military involvement in Asia;
orientation of the Japanese tradition, in contrast, Chinese
the Second World War (which ended in Japan’s defeat); the
Learning, National Learning, and Dutch Learning did not
U.S. occupation; postwar modernization and democratiza-
have clear divisions of knowledge. Therefore, for Japanese,
tion; and phenomenal economic growth. These rapid
being educated in the new tradition of Western sciences
changes in society brought forth serious existential crises, in-
often meant exposure to an entirely new cultural and episte-
cluding the disintegration of traditional communities and
mological orientation based on a different set of values. This
values, along with new types of human alienation and identi-
orientation required Japanese to evaluate Japanese and West-
ty crises.
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9314
TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN JAPAN
Modern Western concepts and views of religion were
and remained aloof from the religious needs of the common
introduced in the early Meiji period into Japanese universi-
people, new religious movements emerged spontaneously
ties, which in themselves were modeled after Western univer-
from the lower strata of society. The established religions
sities. The Japanese word shu¯kyo¯ was coined to translate the
tended to accept government policies, but there were signs
Western notion of religion, and when the word was applied
of resistance among many of the new religions. But as soon
to Japanese religionlike institutions, it often created prob-
as these new religions were more or less established within
lems. Buddhists, for instance, were uncomfortable with the
society, other new religions would emerge from lower strata
theistic connotations of the word. Followers of other Japa-
of society or from the fringes of established new religions.
nese religions found their own problems. Because of its
The emergence of new religions has followed this general his-
amorphous conception of the sacred, the Japanese indige-
torical pattern up until the explosion of new religions in the
nous religion Shinto¯ does not fit well into the category of re-
1990s, including Aum Shinrikyo¯, which in 1995 released
ligion. Moreover, many studies of Japanese religion com-
Sarin gas in Tokyo subways during the morning rush hour.
pletely ignore the whole folk-religious tradition, a strong
Under the religious policy of the Meiji government,
undercurrent of Japanese religious culture, because none of
Shinto¯ shrines were elevated to the status of the official state
these folk religions had coherent, systematically articulated
religion. After Buddhist, Christian, and liberal scholars re-
doctrines comparable to the Western ideal, Protestant Chris-
sisted and criticized this move, the government eventually
tianity.
designated Shinto¯ as a national cult rather than as a religion.
Japanese religions responded to the changed intellectual
By this move, all Shinto¯ shrines were transformed from
climate. Shinto¯ was now a state religion and took on all the
places of veneration to nonreligious places of national rituals.
trappings of state ideology. The elite Buddhist sects busily
Buddhism lost its status as the state religion, which it had
readjusted themselves to Western influences and the new po-
enjoyed during the Tokugawa period, but it remained an es-
litical and social situations surrounding them. The True
tablished religion supported by hereditary parishioners. Dur-
Pure-Land Sect was foremost in these attempts. It sent young
ing the Meiji period, three newly formed religions and some
students to study at Oxford University (where Max Müller
syncretic folk-religious associations were officially recognized
was) and at other European institutions even before the Meiji
as Shinto¯ sects. Within the framework of Meiji imperial
Restoration in 1868. This sect drafted a constitution and ex-
Shinto¯, all religious groups were officially recognized and tol-
perimented with a parliament even before the governmental
erated.
did. It appropriated ideas of Western philosophy to develop
By the policy of enlightenment, various age-old folk-
its doctrines. The Zen Sect also actively developed its schol-
religious practices, including yin-yang divination calendars,
arship. In the process, elite Buddhist sects rediscovered the
magico-religious practices, and symbolism, were suppressed
importance of the doctrines of their founders in the Kamaku-
as superstition, evil religion, and even licentious worship. All
ra period (1185–1333). Yet these sects were still bound to
religions—Buddhism, Christianity, and the new religions—
the powerful remnants of their hereditary parishes, inherited
compromised with the ideology of a sacred emperor to sur-
from the Tokugawa period. Thus these established religions,
vive in the framework of Meiji policy toward religion.
Shinto¯ and Buddhism, developed doctrinally but remained
aloof from the religious needs of the people. Christian sects,
One of the most far-reaching influences of the enlight-
which were treated as an “evil religion” during the Tokugawa
enment policy of the Meiji was that religion disappeared
period, became tolerated and resumed their activities, but
from the public domain. Religion became a private matter
never became as potent a force as before.
within a secular, modern state, although a sacred and inviola-
ble emperor ruled over it. Politicians did not confess their
NEW RELIGIONS. Western civilization thrust itself upon
faith, and schools and universities did not teach religion as
Japan in an age of imperialism. To survive, Japan absorbed
a core subject.
Western ideals, rationality, technology, and economic sys-
tems. Thus did the Japanese elite seek to emulate and over-
Many students and scholars went abroad to study West-
come the West. And yet they also sought to distinguish Japan
ern sciences and philosophy. After returning to Japan, many
from the West. This is important to note, because Japan, de-
became leading intellectuals, civil servants, and political lead-
spite all the evidence to the contrary, is still presented as a
ers. As Uchimura Kanzo¯ states, the Japanese accepted Chris-
homogeneous culture with little or no individuality. This no-
tian civilization but not Christianity itself (Questions and An-
tion of a homogeneous culture owes much to sudden contact
swers on Christianity). Soon intellectuals found themselves in
with the West and to the Meiji effort to create a modern state
an intellectual climate in which they could not be persuasive
to rival Western powers by forming a new political center
unless they could skillfully manipulate modern Western sci-
consisting of a people united under an emperor.
entific concepts. Even Buddhist scholars (figures such as Ki-
yosawa Manshi, Kimura Taiken, and Nishida Kitaro¯) had to
The political myths created by the Japanese elite not-
use Western philosophical and scientific concepts to articu-
withstanding, Japanese commoners displayed their individu-
late their doctrines and ideas. For this reason, various sci-
ality in new religions. While the established religions and
ences, including folklore and the study of religion, have had
their leaders were busily trying to adjust to ongoing changes
to follow modern Western models devoutly until into the
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TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN JAPAN
9315
twenty-first century. Despite this tendency, some thinkers
from Western philosophers and novelists, they attempted to
also developed profound and articulate critiques of the West,
go back to their own tradition, but when they tried to redis-
as can be seen in the work of Okakura Tenshin, D. T.
cover it, they also became aware that their own tradition had
Suzuki, Nishida Kitaro¯, Nishitani Keiji, and Yanagita Kunio.
already partially broken down. To overcome this crisis,
Except for Nishida, all of these men were directly exposed
Nishitani thinks, “the Japanese have to overcome a double
to modern Western civilization, and all were aware of the
nihilism, for one aspect of the problem is a Western crisis,
need to straddle the two worlds.
and the other aspect is a Japanese crisis.”
The intellectual climate for novelists was similar to that
THE POSTWAR PERIOD. Japan’s defeat in the Second World
for philosophers. Both Natsume So¯seki (1867–1916) and
War and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Mori O
¯ gai (1862–1922) were well versed not only in Chi-
terminated Japan’s colonialist and imperialist ambitions.
nese and Japanese literature, but also in Western languages
During its occupation of Japan, the United States imposed
and literatures. So¯seki expressed concern about the impossi-
on Japan a new constitution instituting democratic reforms,
ble task of synthesizing the enlightenment spirit of the exter-
disarming the nation, separating church and state, radically
nally imposed (the Western) and the spontaneous spirit of
revising the civil codes, giving the emperor the status of sym-
the indigenous. For him, “An enlightenment that was trig-
bol of the nation.
gered from the outside was unknown until recent times. We
must catch up with the West. But by incorporating the exter-
Thus began another phase of the radical transformation
nal, we become anxious and fret over it.” Mori wrote, “The
of Japan due to contact with the West. Japan started to re-
new Japan is in the midst of a whirlpool in which Eastern
build its country as a modern democratic, secular state by
culture and Western culture are coming together. There are
further Westernizing and rationalizing its institutions, but
some scholars who stand in the Eastern, and others who
since the new structure of the state was imposed by an exter-
stand in the Western; both stand on a single leg. This age
nal force, many problems arose. In postwar Japan, many new
calls for scholars who stand firmly on two legs.”
religions again spontaneously emerged. Almost all of these
T
new religions emphasized the veneration of ancestors by fo-
HE TAISHO
¯ INTELLECTUAL CLIMATE. The internal con-
flicts and agonies observed in novelists and philosophers of
cusing on the form of the family altar, the proper way to hold
the Meiji period became weaker among intellectuals in the
services, the meaning of ancestor spirits, and so on. The
post-Meiji period, that is, after the Russo-Japanese War. In
United States sponsored a reform of the civil code along lib-
that war Japan struggled to defend itself against Russia’s
eral Western lines that ensured the rights of every individual
powerful military expansion with colonial intent. Japanese
in the family at the risk of the continuity of the family. In
victory meant that it succeeded at building a strong nation
reaction to this drastic change in the structure of the family,
by Westernizing, and that Japan was now a player in the
these new religions attempted to ensure the continuity of the
power game among the world powers over East Asia. Al-
family and family ties.
though Japan had succeeded in its struggle for treaties ending
MISHIMA YUKIO. An outstanding postwar critique of Japan’s
extraterritoriality and allowing it to impose tariffs, it now had
Westernization is found in the life and work of the novelist
to contest with the world powers in a struggle for survival.
Mishima Yukio (1925–1970). Mishima wrote many creative
After the Russian revolution in 1917, the First World War
novels in the literary style of twentieth-century Western liter-
ended.
ature. He also wrote many important essays before he com-
Intellectually, instead of agonies over how to maintain
mitted suicide in the traditional samurai style of slitting his
Japanese identity in the face of the Western onslaught, Japa-
bowels. He wrote, “A characteristic of contemporary culture
nese now faced the influences of Marxism, nihilism, and vi-
is probably that many different illusions—including ideals,
talist philosophy. This new intellectual climate, stemming
norms, and ideologies—that had inspired people toward life
from the thought of Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and
have broken down. The idea of the absolute was lost, and
Henri Bergson, reflected contemporary Western social and
people are forced to face naked life as materialistic and natu-
political crises. Also swirling about in the atmosphere of the
ralistic, deprived of all designs. This is the cause of the irre-
Taisho¯ period (1912–1926) were liberalism and democratic
deemable nihilism of today.” When any community is erod-
thought, which helped give rise to movements for people’s
ed by other culture, its rules and customs break down, and
rights and socialism.
the community gradually falls apart morally and spiritually.
In such circumstances, life destroys itself, whatever efforts
Soon, social, political, and economic crises visited
may be tried to fulfill life.
Japan, and the newspapers frequently carried news about so-
cialist movements. The novels of Akutagawa Ryu¯nosuke,
Mishima was desperately warning against the tendency
who committed suicide by taking poison, represented a con-
of life to destroy itself in Japan’s headlong effort to Western-
temporary Japanese world reflecting the apocalyptic vision
ize and modernize. When he criticized the Japanese emperor
of the Western world. Nishitani Keiji, a leading philosopher
for proclaiming that he was a human being, not a living
of religion in twentieth-century Japan, stated that when Jap-
kami, he also pointed out the contradiction of modern con-
anese intellectuals became aware of the crises of the West
stitutional emperorship. For Mishima, it is impossible to
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9316
TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN INDIA
Westernize the sacred; the sacred cannot be embodied within
pers, journals, and books printed in English and the vernacu-
the framework of a Western secular nation-state.
lar languages of India. Calcutta boasted a modern public li-
brary. Perhaps most significantly, the metropolis contained
SEE ALSO Buddhism, article on Buddhism in Japan; Bud-
native intelligentsia, whose members were familiar with hap-
dhism, Schools of, article on Japanese Buddhism; Domestic
penings in contemporary Europe, fully cognizant of their
Observances, article on Japanese Practices; Fiction, article
country’s own historical legacy, and, as a renaissance elite,
on Japanese Fiction and Religion; Folk Religion, article on
hopeful about its future as a culture in the modern world.
Folk Buddhism; Japanese Religions, article on Popular Reli-
gion and article on The Study of Myths; New Religious
The agents of Western colonial rule who sympathetical-
Movements, article on New Religious Movements in Japan;
ly supported these endeavors were “acculturated” civil, mili-
Politics and Religion, article on Politics and Japanese Reli-
tary, and judicial officials of the British East India Company
gions; Shinto¯.
(as well as some missionaries) referred to as Orientalists,
largely because of the cultural policy that was followed by the
BIBLIOGRAPHY
government. Most of these so-called Orientalists did not har-
Ando Shoeki. Ando Shoeki Zenshu. 21 vols. Tokyo, 1983.
bor nationalistic or imperialistic ambitions, nor did they sup-
Anesaki Masaharu. Nihon shukyo shi. Tokyo, 1998.
port the increasingly bureaucratic mentality that developed
Kawakatsu Heita. Nihon Bunmei to Kindaiseiyo. (Japanese civiliza-
after 1870. On the contrary, the Orientalists had been
tion and the modern West). Tokyo, 1991.
shaped by the eighteenth-century world of the Enlighten-
Kitagawa, Joseph M. Religion in Japanese History. New York,
ment, with its open-minded curiosity about other civiliza-
1966.
tions. Orientalists were encouraged by official policy to mas-
ter at least one Indian language and to use that language
Kitagawa, Joseph M. On Understanding Japanese Religion. Prince-
ton, 1987.
fruitfully for scholarly research. It was no accident that the
Asiatic Society of Bengal, established in Calcutta in 1784 as
Murakami Shigeyoshi. Japanese Religion in the Modern Century.
the first modern organization of its type to study Asian civili-
New York, 1980.
zations in all their aspects, was a direct result of a British East
Natsume Soseki, “Gendai Nihon no Kaika” (Enlightenment of
India Company cultural policy. Orientalists such as William
today’s Japan). In Natsume Soseki Bumnmei-ronshu. Tokyo,
Jones, William Carey, James Prinsep, H. T. Colebrooke, and
1986.
H. H. Wilson made important discoveries in such fields as
Thomas, Nicholas. Entangled Objects: Exchange, Material Culture,
pre-Muslim Indian history, religion, and archaeology. Re-
and Colonialism in the Pacific. Bambridge, 1991.
search into the kinship of Indo-European languages and the
Uchimura Kanzo. Kirisuto-kyo Mondo (Questions and answers on
rediscoveries of the historic Buddha, A´soka, and the Maury-
Christianity). Tokyo, 1981.
an Empire were some of the lasting achievements of this co-
MICHIO ARAKI (2005)
terie of devoted civil servants. There is no evidence that they
ensconced themselves in clubs, as did the later bureaucrats,
nor did they construct a barrier of racial privilege between
themselves and their “subject races.” Instead, the Orientalists
TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION:
reached out to the Bengali intelligentsia, forming relation-
RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN
ships with them, serving as sources of knowledge about con-
INDIA
temporary Britain and, above all, working together on proj-
To put into historical perspective the multifaceted pattern
ects designed to promote social and cultural change in
of Hindu socioreligious modernism, scholars have chroni-
Calcutta.
cled the origins of British Orientalism and the Bengal Re-
naissance. Similar to the European Renaissance, which oc-
The Bengal Renaissance arose from interaction between
curred prior to the Reformation, nineteenth-century India
the Bengali intelligentsia and the British Orientalists. Be-
also underwent a period of cultural renaissance followed by
tween 1800 and 1830, in Calcutta, the Bengali intelligentsia
an era of religious reformation.
consisted of uncertain but hopeful people who were adopting
alien values and ideas to reform indigenous traditions. They
BRITISH ORIENTALISM AND THE BENGAL RENAISSANCE.
established relationships with the British, both for material
The Bengal Renaissance occurred in eastern Gangetic
gain and to use them as windows to the West. Fortunately
India—specifically, in the colonial metropolis of Calcutta—
for them, the distance between London and Calcutta was
from the year 1773, when Warren Hastings designated the
vast, and the Orientalists with whom they associated had al-
city as the future capital of British India, until 1828, when
ready become sufficiently “Indianized.” The Bengali’s favor-
Governor-General Lord Bentinck challenged Orientalist cul-
able view of the West during this sympathetic Orientalist pe-
tural policy. During this period, Calcutta operated schools
riod helped to maintain good rapport and goodwill between
using European textbooks and teaching methods. In addi-
the representatives of the two civilizations.
tion, the newly created Hindu middle class had founded
Hindu College, the only Western-style institution of higher
RAMMOHUN ROY, FATHER OF MODERN INDIA. Of all the
learning in South Asia. The government supported newspa-
Bengalis in the Orientalist period, none was more influential
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TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN INDIA
9317
in creating a legacy of Hindu socioreligious reform than
Christians in America and Britain who were highly dissatis-
Rammohun Roy (1772–1833). Long before Vivekananda
fied with the same dubious beliefs and practices that troubled
laid the foundation of his Ramakrishna Mission, before
Rammohun and many of his cohorts in Calcutta. It is no co-
Nehru wrote his monumental Discovery of India in a British
incidence that Rammohun established a Calcutta Unitarian
prison, and before Gandhi built his nationalist ideology on
Society in Calcutta in 1823, or that he died while visiting
the bedrock of Hindu and Buddhist morality, Rammohun
the home of the Reverend Lant Carpenter, a prominent Uni-
had already utilized the Orientalist rediscovery of the ancient
tarian in Bristol, and that, had he lived, Rammohun would
tradition, which the progressive intelligentsia readily accept-
have traveled across the ocean to Boston and met with Wil-
ed in their quest for a new identity in the modern world.
liam Ellery Channing, the leading spokesman of liberal Uni-
Rammohun had studied Asian religions from primary
tarianism in the United States. Though Unitarianism was
sources and met countless Europeans in Calcutta who im-
never a mass movement, like-minded sentiments regarding
parted to him their thoughts on Western civilization in the
religion and society brought East and West together, with
nineteenth century. Missionaries at the Danish enclave of
important consequences for socioreligious reform in India.
Serampore had tried unsuccessfully to convert Rammohun
Three simple but highly controversial ideas for the time
to their Baptist form of Protestant Christianity. Some other
(1815–1835) provided the link between the renaissance in-
members of the intelligentsia who were xenophiles did be-
telligentsia in Calcutta and the enlightened, liberal-minded
come Christians, deciding that their salvation lay in copying
elite in England and the United States.
the West or in accepting that modernization equated to
Westernization. But Rammohun, supported by the scholarly
First, a national faith would replace the predominant re-
evidence of Orientalist research into Hindu antiquity, con-
ligions of the world, believed to be restricting the freedom
trasted the age he lived in—with its kulin polygamy, sati
of human beings by enslaving them to performing mechani-
practices, caste rigidity, idolatry, and the abuse of women—
cal rites and rituals, listening to irresponsible anecdotes that
to the classical age, which was free of dark-age excrescences.
served no moral purpose, and holding meaningless supersti-
For Rammohun, he and his fellow Indians did not need to
tions and otherworldly beliefs that served no useful purpose
surrender themselves to an alien way of life in order to accept
in improving the lot of the human race. Second, social re-
modernistic values. Ancient Hindus were mathematical and
form would emancipate the exploited classes such as workers,
scientific sophisticates; Brahma of the Upanis:ads was as su-
peasants, and women through education and the extension
perior a notion of the godhead as anything produced in the
of civil rights, allowing all to benefit equally from modern
Middle East; ancient India overflowed with philosophic di-
civilization. Finally, universal theistic progress would occur;
versity; and ancient art, literature, and medicine flourished
human perfectibility could not be confined to a particular
among Indians in classical times. Moreover, evidence existed
race or ethnicity but could happen worldwide.
that women were considered equal to men.
Mindful of these three objectives, Rammohun Roy
From 1815, when Rammohun settled in Calcutta, until
helped establish the Bra¯hmo Sabha¯, precursor of the Brahmo
1833, when he traveled to England to meet with Unitarians
Samaj, on January 23, 1830. He then left for Europe to meet
(he died there later that same year), he labored intensely,
with persons who shared his beliefs. Though he never re-
keeping up with Orientalist scholarship, translating ancient
turned to India, he did leave behind the outline of a program
scriptures, organizing meetings of the Calcutta Unitarian So-
for Hindu reformation.
ciety and Bra¯hmo Sabha¯ (society of God), and becoming in-
volved in journalistic ventures and debates. As he sought to
THE BRA¯HMO SAMA¯J AND THE HINDU REFORMATION. The
recreate the Vedantic tradition, he was often attacked by mis-
work of developing the Bra¯hmo Sama¯j after Rammohun’s
sionaries and other Christians, who ridiculed his efforts. In
death was taken up by Debendranath Tagore (1817–1903),
1823, for example, he defended the Veda¯nta as containing
son of Rammohun’s close friend, Dwarkanath Tagore. Like
a rational exposition on the unity of God without the super-
Rammohun, Debendranath identified true Hinduism with
stitious verbiage that he claimed was so common in many
the Vedantic tradition; he also fought Christian missionaries’
Christian sources. Unlike the Bible, Rammohun argued, the
attempts at converting members of the new educated Bengali
Vedanta did not attempt to categorize the attributes of the
elite. In this endeavor, Debendranath received assistance,
Almighty, a gesture he found anthropomorphic and futile.
often against his better judgment, from an American Unitar-
He also contended that, whereas Christianity required a
ian missionary, Charles Dall, who came to Calcutta in 1855
blood sacrifice to expatiate the sins of humanity, the Veda¯nta
hoping (but failing) to find Rammohun’s philosophical con-
taught that the only means necessary to overcome sin is sin-
victions in Debendranath’s leadership. Unlike his father and
cere repentance and solemn meditation. He asked whether
Rammohun, who both voluntarily traveled to England, De-
popular Christianity was any better than popular Hinduism.
bendranath remained suspicious of Westerners most of his
How could the crucifixes, the saints, miracles, trinity, and
life. Dall had to wait until 1866, when a more radical Brah-
holy water be justified?
mo named Keshub Chandra Sen rebelled against Tagore’s
Ultimately, Rammohun chose to reform Hinduism
conservatism and founded his own Bra¯hmo Sama¯j. Dall con-
against the backdrop of a liberal faith emanating from former
sidered Keshub to be Rammohun’s true successor.
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Debendranath’s significant contribution to the Hindu
In 1880 Keshub started conducting his pilgrimages to
Reformation was his intellectual preoccupation with formu-
the saints. These were elaborate devotional seminars de-
lating the principles of a new middle-class ethic for Brahmos
signed to trace the history of human crises and the role of
and their counterparts throughout India. Debendranath had
ethical and religious reformers as saviors seeking to arrest the
begun a process that was similar to Christian reformers of
chaos. One of the saints was Socrates, who offered a practical
earlier centuries, transforming the religion to become more
morality and an exemplary life, in contrast to the corruption
puritanical so as to serve the needs of the new European Prot-
of his age. Before staging the seminar on Buddha, Keshub
estant middle class. Bra¯hmo missionaries translated his book,
went to Bodh Gaya and meditated under the bodhi tree. His
published in 1855 as Brahmo Dharma (Bra¯hmo ethic), into
seminar on Jesus taught Keshub that Christ equated the love
the languages of other Indian peoples as they traveled
of man with the will of God. And as for Muh:ammad,
throughout South Asia spreading the gospel of Hindu re-
Keshub learned that the way to achieve the brotherhood of
form. Debendranath redefined dharma, which in ancient
man was through practicing a rigid monotheistic faith.
times had meant caste duty, as a modernized set of precepts
Keshub’s eclecticism—especially when studying Indian
for the true Hindu. Debendranath offered the emancipated
reformers throughout history—gave him a very different per-
Hindu guidance and edification in everything from family
spective on Hindu classical and postclassical developments.
responsibilities to behavior in the workplace to being a devo-
Unlike Rammohun and most other Brahmos up to his time,
tee of the one true God.
Keshub did not identify with one classical tradition, such as
the Vedantic. Rather, Keshub viewed the Hindu faith as a
Debendranath never claimed to be creating something
pluralistic phenomenon in which various traditions emerged
new, however. He began by stressing the duties that each
in their authentically pristine forms at different times to meet
member of the household owed to one another. He empha-
a pressing spiritual need, but they became distorted later
sized the social good from which a family can profit if its
through internal institutional decay or by the effects of dis-
members practice sincerity, devotion, purity, forgiveness,
ruptive foreign influences.
and gentleness. In the workplace, Debendranath advocated
the good Hindu to rely on one’s self, persevere always, and
One illustration was Keshub’s positive influence on
work hard continually. He believed that poverty could be
Swami Dayananda Saraswati (1824–1883), who proved to
overcome by laboring in the path of righteousness. He ad-
be the earliest modern reformer of the Vedic tradition. Most
vised doing one’s own work rather than being dependent on
nineteenth-century Hindu reformers were ambivalent about
others, and against choosing to beg.
the Vedic tradition because they associated it with caste ri-
gidity, the subjection of women, idolatry, and worse. Daya-
In 1866 one of Debendranath’s followers, Keshub
nanda repudiated these charges and spent his mature life de-
Chandra Sen (1839–1884), led the militant wing of the
nouncing what he called the evils of post-Vedic Hinduism.
movement to form a separate Bra¯hmo organization, dedicat-
Because he argued that the true Vedas rejected idol worship,
ed to what they believed to be Rammohun Roy’s ideological
untouchability, child marriage, and the rest of the evils attri-
path. Keshub accused Debendranath of doing nothing as a
buted to them, Dayananda’s followers called him the “Lu-
social reformer, especially with regard to female emancipa-
ther of India.”
tion. Furthermore, the activists saw Debendranath as a hypo-
Keshub also encouraged other Brahmos to research the
crite because he attacked caste privilege but continued to
roots of Indian sectarian faiths. Bijoy Krishna Goswami (b.
wear the sacred thread as a Brahman. They also criticized De-
1841), a radical modernist, translated early Vaisnava songs
bendranath’s suspicion of foreigners, such as Charles Dall,
which declared equal rights for men and women and the re-
whom Keshub and his militant supporters viewed as a
pudiation of caste privilege. Aghore Nath Gupta (d. 1881)
spokesman for liberal religion throughout the Western
conducted Keshub’s seminar on the Buddha, in which he de-
world. Keshub also felt that the Bra¯hmo mission to reach out
clared that the great reformer was not an atheist but a com-
to like-minded Hindus in Maharashtra, Gujarat, the Punjab,
passionate humanist who taught us how to live in a world
Tamilnadu, and elsewhere needed a more radical approach
that was false and full of illusion. Keshub also influenced
to a wide variety of issues, many of which Debendranath
Dharmapala, a neo-Buddhist from Sri Lanka, to start the
avoided.
Maha Bodhi Society.
Keshub’s greatest influence on the course of Hindu ref-
Narendra Nath Dutt, better known as Vivekananda
ormation, outside of promoting female education, was prob-
(1863–1902), joined Keshub’s coterie in 1880. Scholars have
ably his remarkable eclecticism. In this sense, he was very
difficulty assessing Vivekananda’s contribution to the Hindu
much like Rammohun, who had studied all the world’s
Reformation because, though he owed much to Keshub’s
major religions, including Islam. But Keshub went much
teaching, and though his view of the Vedantic tradition came
further than his predecessor, both in his quest for knowledge
largely from Brahmo sources, he chose as the name of his
of comparative religion and in his attempts to understand the
own organization or mission that of a Kamakrishna, a con-
patterns of change and continuity in the history of South
temporary mystic saint from Calcutta. Vivekananda was the
Asian religions.
earliest non-Brahmo to be accepted by religious liberals in
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TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN INDIA
9319
the West. In fact, his talk at the Parliament of Religion in
Gangadhar Tilak (1856–1920), the Maharashtran ultra-
1893, which was organized by American Unitarians, was
nationalist, totally rejected what he called the Pax Britannica.
considered to be among the best of the conference.
He believed that the establishment of English schools and
British administrative and legal institutions were an imperi-
Vivekananda has erroneously been considered a Hindu
alist deception secretly designed to exploit the country.
nationalist because scholars believe he defended such things
Though Tilak did not urge violent methods to win freedom,
as caste and icons. However, a close study of his ideological
others did, and several British officials were assassinated as
development reveals that he neither defended the negative as-
a result. Some scholars assert that had Mahatma Gandhi
pects of caste nor promotes the external worship of images.
(1869–1948) not assumed the leadership of the Congress
For Vivekananda, there was nothing wrong with hierarchical
Party after World War I, with his message of nonviolence,
structures, since every society on earth had one. What was
the Indian nationalist struggle would have become a move-
wrong—as happened in India—was the corruption of the
ment drenched in blood. Gandhi admired Vivekananda’s ap-
system, which then would become oppressive. Rather than
proach to Hindu reform.
abolish caste, he wanted to democratize it. As Vivekananda
would argue, if you teach the fisherman the Vedanta, he will
The Orientalist legacy of the Bengal Renaissance and
say “I am as good a man as you are.” As for images in the
the Bra¯hmo legacy of Hindu Reformation were kept viv-
service of religion, Vivekananda refused to assume a rigidly
idly alive throughout the first half of the twentieth century
iconoclastic position, such as those of Islam or Protestantism.
by India’s greatest writer, Rabindranath Tagore (1861–
He did not understand why worshipping a God without
1941), who in 1914 became the first Asian to win the Nobel
form was necessarily more spiritually uplifting than creating
Prize in Literature. As the grandson of Dwarkanath Tagore,
an image by which to convey the same message.
who had started the Calcutta Unitarian Committee and
Brahmo Sabha with Rammohun Roy in the 1820s, and as
THE HINDU RENAISSANCE AND REFORMATION CHAL-
the son of Debendranath Tagore, who revitalized the Brah-
LENGED. In the final decades of British Indian rule, the re-
mo Samaj in the 1840s following Rammohun’s death, Ra-
naissance and reformation movements were very much chal-
bindranath struggled for decades to protect renaissance
lenged by forces in every direction. Orientalism, with its
and reformation against the inroads of imperialism and
profound interest in all facets of civilization in India, had
nationalism.
long since disappeared by the turn of the twentieth century.
It had ceased to be the cultural policy of the British East
In a manuscript compiled during World War I entitled
India Company in 1835, when it was replaced by the liberal
Nationalism, Rabindranath saw the conflict as a crucial stage
Anglicized cultural policy advocated by Thomas Babington
in the breakdown of all that was hopeful and positive in the
Macaulay during the famous Anglicist-Orientalist controver-
progress of civilization. To him, the war’s genocide in the
sy. Macaulay, who never learned an Indian language while
trenches represented the butchery of nations feeding upon
he served in Calcutta, challenged the Orientalist belief that
other nations. The Russian ideologue Karl Marx is reputed
modernism among South Asians could be achieved by culti-
to have said that religion was the opiate of the people; for
vating their languages and by identifying with a classical tra-
Tagore, nationalism had become the opiate of the people.
dition. Macaulay argued that if Indians wanted a progressive
His opposition to nationalism did not mean that Tagore
future for themselves, they ought to anglicize their lives, be-
supported British imperialism. On the contrary, he attacked
coming proficient in the English language and choosing
it vigorously, perhaps with more candor and understanding
Western careers and professional ethics. But the successful
than any other thinker before him. Tagore dramatically sur-
expansion of the British Empire after 1870 led to another
rendered his knighthood following the Jallianwala Bagh mas-
shift in cultural policy. Both liberal-minded Orientalism and
sacre on May 30, 1919.
Anglicism gave way to cultural imperialism, or the excesses
of ethnocentric self-glorification. This policy held that, ex-
In July 1921, Rabindranath inaugurated Visva Bharati
cept for military prowess, East was East and West was West,
University in Santineketan, hoping the institution would
and never the two shall meet. The grandeur of the British
embody the ideals of Brahmo universalism. Three years earli-
Empire seemed to testify to the superiority of the British
er, on December 22, 1918, he had declared that Visva Bhara-
race, while the subjected state of India at that time appeared
ti would carry on the efforts of scholars such as Keshub
to confrm the inferiority of the Indian race.
Chandra Sen, who had sought to understand the religions
of India and the world by studying primary sources.
On the Indian side, renaissance and reformation were
challenged by a more radical generation of freedom fighters,
SEE ALSO Bra¯hmo Sama¯j; Veda¯nta; Vivekananda.
who surrendered their moderate politics for an extremist
form of nationalist agitation. When the British imperialists
BIBLIOGRAPHY
denied human equality between citizens of India and the
Basham, A.L. The Wonder That Was India. New York, 1963.
West, a xenophobia swept over the English-educated Indian
intelligentsia, which led to increased cultural apologetics
Bose, Nirmal Kumar. Studies in Gandhism. Calcutta, 1962.
about everything Indian, including popular religion. Bal
Cannon, Garland. Oriental Jones. London, 1964.
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9320
TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN OCEANIA
Cannon, Garland, and Kevin Brine, eds. Objects of Enquiry: The
companied by frightful, perhaps monstrous dangers. For ex-
Life, Contributions and Influences of Sir William Jones. New
ample, the world’s largest gold and copper mine at Freeport,
York, 1995.
on the south coast of Irian Jaya, coexists with tourists’ com-
Erickson, Eric. Gandhi’s Truth. New York, 1969.
mon anxiety about law-and-order issues, especially in nearby
Gordon, Leonard. Bengal: The Nationalist Movement, 1876–1940.
Papua New Guinea and the Solomons. Significantly, the
New York, 1973.
European explorers who discovered Micronesian and Poly-
nesian (sometimes referred to as “Austronesian”) peoples
Isherwood, Christopher. Ramakrishna and His Disciples. New
viewed their lighter skins, more “welcoming” approach, and
York, 1965.
“recognizable” social structures (even kingship) as corre-
Joader, Safruddin, and David Kopf, eds. Reflections on the Bengal
sponding to the Enlightenment’s (1780s–1840s) popular
Renaissance. Rajshahi, Bangladesh, 1977.
notions of “the noble savage.” Conversely, the Europeans
Joshi, V. C., ed. Rammohun Roy and the Process of Modernization
placed the “black islanders” of the southwest Pacific near the
in India. New Delhi, India, 1975.
bottom of the evolutionary scale and often saw them as igno-
Kejariwal, O. P. The Asiatic Society of Bengal and the Discovery of
ble, miserable, and treacherous. These biased images affected
India’s Past, 1784–1830. Calcutta, 1988.
transcultural outcomes.
Kopf, David. British Orientalism and the Bengal Renaissance: The
For their part, the indigenous islanders had to make
Dynamics of Indian Modernization, 1773–1835. Berkeley,
sense of these highly mysterious newcomers, whose dress and
Calif., 1969.
accouterments were utterly alien and whose vessels were sig-
Kopf, David. The Brahmo Samaj and the Shaping of the Modern
nificantly larger than and different from their own. Each is-
Indian Mind. Princeton, N.J., 1979.
land culture had its own postures of response and interac-
Kopf, David. “The Bengali Prophet of Mass Genocide: Rabin-
tion, and in this vast region, which contains twenty-five
dranath Tagore and the Menace of Twentieth-Century Na-
percent of the known discrete languages and religions, this
tionalism.” In Rabindranath Tagore: Perspectives in Time, ed-
complexity is daunting. In general, however, each society had
ited by Mary Lago and Ronald Warwick, pp. 50–66.
periods of initial contact, longer periods of adjustment to se-
London, 1989.
rious intrusions into its local ways of life, and the increasingly
Kopf, David. “European Enlightenment, Hindu Renaissance and
more common, yet nonetheless creative, absorption of mo-
the Enrichment of the Human Spirit: A History of Historical
dernity.
Writings on British Orientalism.” In Orientalism, Evangeli-
calism and the Military Cantonment in Early Nineteenth-

In terms of religious change, the Pacific Islands are
Century India, edited by Nancy G. Cassels, pp. 19–53. New
noted for a massive shift towards Christianity (with over
York, 1991.
90% nominal adherence for the whole region). This general
Lago, Mary, and Ronald Warwick, eds. Rabindranath Tagore: Per-
change has entailed varying consequences for the myriad of
spectives in Time. London,1989.
isolated, small-scale, and survivalist cultures, some of which
Nehru, Jawaharlal. The Discovery of India. London, 1956.
have been so accommodating to the new faith that their tra-
ditions have become highly muted, and others which have
Thomas, Nicholas. Entangled Objects: Exchange, Material Culture,
been highly resistant to conversion. Typically, Christianity
and Colonialism in the Pacific. Cambridge, Mass., 1991.
has provided a window of opportunity for very localized peo-
DAVID KOPF (2005)
ples to participate in modernity, with all its accompanying
bewilderments that in turn have occasionally subverted the
religious life.
TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION:
Pacific “contact scenarios” with outsiders can be plotted
RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN
from the sixteenth century to the early twenty-first, since
OCEANIA
some mountain cultures in easternmost Irian Jaya have yet
In 1601, after a Spanish historian published a map showing
to interact with the outside world. When their content can
the islands of the Carolines and the Marianas, north New
be (re)constructed, most indigenous responses to external
Guinea, and most of the Solomon Islands, Pacific Island peo-
contacts appear “religious,” in that newcomers are taken to
ples became part of the general history of humankind. Even
be deities, strange and powerful spirits, or returning ances-
before geographers accepted French savant Dumont
tors. On Hawai’i Island, in 1779, the “natives” thought Cap-
d’Urville’s 1832 classification of Polynesia, Melanesia, and
tain James Cook was the long-awaited, returning fertility god
Micronesia, the islands entered the European imagination.
Lono, and he was feted by Chief Koah at much cost to the
Polynesia, largely through voyagers’ experiences at Tahiti,
locals. After Cook’s departure, however, when a storm forced
evoked a new kind of paradise, one including sexual freedom
him to return to the island, the natives killed him because
as well as escape from social restrictions in the Old World;
of what they saw as his deception. Over half a century earlier,
to a large extent, the region remains a “legend that sells” for
Rapanui, or Easter Islanders, apparently reacted to the enig-
pleasure-seeking holiday-makers. Melanesia, in contrast, has
ma of passing vessels (before Jacob Roggeveen’s landfall of
always presented ambiguity—home of untold treasures ac-
1722) by feverishly erecting many of their great statues to
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9321
face the sea at Rano Raruku—a most untraditional act, con-
earned privilege over others. Since inter-tribal hostilities had
sidering that the effigies of chiefs were meant to gaze over
long been endemic to the region, recipients of new weapons
their ancestral lands. In Polynesia, with its more vertically
could use them to create havoc among their enemies. For ex-
oriented cosmologies (sky/earth/underworld), the newcom-
ample, Maori tribes procured muskets from the 1810s, con-
ers were often thought to have arrived from above: the Samo-
vincing even missionaries to trade them for hunting pur-
an term papala[n]gi (sky people), for instance, is used to de-
poses. In Fiji, the European Charles Savage, remaining out
scribe the white visitors. Later on, as in Papua New Guinea,
of the range of traditional weaponry, was “employed” by
where a horizontal view of the cosmos prevailed, the first ap-
Naulivou, chief of Mbau, to shoot down his foes at the fore-
pearances of outsiders mostly suggested the return of the
front of inter-tribal battles (1808–1809).
dead. In 1877, for example, the Papuan Koitabu thought
Ruatoka, a Rarotongan co-worker of missionary James Chal-
Even during peacetime, however, the new religion could
mer, was an ancestral spirit because of his ghostly white suit;
be manipulated to secure special advantages and keep up old
in 1946, isolated Ke’efu highlanders who stumbled upon
enmities. Christianity came in more than one guise, and if
thirteen dead white people in a strange shelter—a crashed
one tribe was benefiting from the presence of a mission sta-
plane—buried their bodies and offered sacrifices to them as
tion, another might be tempted to invite in the representa-
“new beings” who could die like themselves.
tive of a different denomination. Before the 1950s, Catholic/
Protestant missionary competition made possible the local
Once interaction with outsiders continued, however
politics of playing one against the other. Sectarian Protestant
sporadic, islanders had to decide whether to resist them or
elements also competed for loyalties. In Papua after 1908,
trade with them. Epidemic diseases caused by contact often
for example, dissident families or clans often achieved social
stalled the progress of possible relationships, but the islanders
separation as a means of satisfying their local grievances by
also found the newcomers themselves to be vulnerable to
becoming Seventh-day Adventists. In Polynesia, Mormon-
trouble, sickness, and death. Once their weaknesses were
ism grew rapidly at the expense of more mainstream church-
known, the outsiders were classified as strangers, and thus be-
es, partly because of the material benefits it offered such as
came worth attacking. Spirit power would be needed to hold
superior housing and medical services. In fact, the Mormons
back the intruder; for example, patrol officer Jack Hides re-
had established their small “kingdom” in the Tuamotos as
members a day in 1935 on the Papuan Plateau when a sway-
early as 1844—even before the founding of Salt Lake City.
ing Etoro medium, playing a drum while perched on anoth-
er’s shoulders, sang a repelling clan into action.
With the establishment of towns, missions, trading
posts, and plantations, there arose the possibility of access to
Although the islanders killed various newcomers, many
increased power and new goods. Traditionally, wealth was
of whom were unarmed missionaries, the superior weapons
not only a mark of social status (of nobility in Polynesia, and
of whites and their parties eventually subdued any reprisals.
often of successful management in Melanesia), but it was also
In any case, trade offered a popular and profitable way of
a sign of blessing from the spirit order. In smaller societies,
dealing with the new uncertainty. Seafarers usually bore at-
moreover, prosperity was cherished by the group; the com-
tractive items for exchange, and they were soon considered
mon people looked to their chiefs for magnanimity, and a
as possible prizes of (group) possession. Sometimes exchange
Melanesian big-man achieved his leadership through gener-
activity was not satisfying, however; Tongans, as a result,
ous relinquishment—giving gifts so that many were put in
would pirate visiting vessels, such as the Port-au-Prince in
his debt. Now, however, since the longest-staying possessors
1806. The more hierarchical (mostly Polynesian) societies,
of the new goods were missionaries, the indigenous people
though, were in the best position to negotiate a high-level,
deduced that special material blessings would flow through
stable rapprochement with European officialdom. Tonga,
practicing the new religion. Ships’ cargo was already mysteri-
after all, had held together a far-flung island empire, from
ous in origin, and the connection of the strange goods with
as far west as the Isle of Pines (in southern New Caledonia)
the availability of new spiritual power heightened expecta-
to Samoa. Other, smaller societies had to capitalize on their
tions of collective well-being. This notion, called “cargoism,”
limited opportunities. Theft often occurred, explaining how
led people to try worshiping in the churches. Especially in
so many steel axes filtered into the Papuan Highlands years
Melanesia, though, where traditional rituals focused on the
before European miners did. Sometimes individuals got
tangible fecundity of plants and animals, group agitations oc-
lucky without having to resort to stealing. The earliest Cath-
curred, sparked by local prophesiers filled with hope that
olic missionaries to the New Guinea highland Chimbu, for
“cargo” (European-style trade goods invested with a religious
instance, gave tools to the local people to help them establish
aura) would arrive in abundance. The bearers of cargo were
an outpost in 1936. When the fortunate recipients arrived
often thought to be returning ancestors, but also possibly the
back in their hamlets, however, news of their prizes had pre-
“Jesus” spoken of by the evangelists. Makeshift wharves, even
ceded them; the missionaries then found queues of people,
airstrips, were erected to receive the marvels. What had been
with gifts to trade in order to acquire the new instruments.
almost exclusively directed to the expatriate strangers would
Outsiders often selected relatively safe locations to begin
now come to the local peoples. Such “cargo cults,” as they
trading or mission work, and as a consequence, some groups
have been dubbed, expressed frustration that indigenes had
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TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN OCEANIA
only limited access to these wonderful items, an inequity that
Hawai’i under Kaahumanu in 1822, for example, and in Fiji
seemed to contradict values of reciprocity and sharing.
under Cakabao in 1854). Legitimatization of local rule by
missionaries prior to colonization was often marked by the
Acculturative activity surrounding the introduced, in-
acceptance of royal insignia (e.g., whales’ teeth on Fiji), signs
ternationally marketed commodities has a complex history
of authority which became very important when royal courts
of its own. It has often involved mimicry, yet with sugges-
and councils of chiefs had to negotiate European annexa-
tions of ritual. Closer to contact, for instance, isolated villag-
tions. Although missionaries disdained beliefs and rites that
ers began setting their own imitation tables with wooden
appeared to contradict their faith, they sometimes worked to
copies of knives and forks. In later colonial times, with new
save the culture by solidifying a weakened traditional govern-
jobs available and liquor restrictions removed, islander office
ment, as did Benjamin and Lydia Snow in the Marshall Is-
workers could put on the airs of sophisticated white drinkers
lands in the 1860s.
in hotels, uncharacteristically sitting with crossed legs and
drooping cigarettes. Experimentalism abounded. Setting up
More generally, religious change occurred through
a store to become wealthy enticed many, yet businesses com-
evangelically charged, politically disengaged individuals.
monly failed because the owners expected magical results,
Many pioneer “European” missionaries have stolen the his-
and their relatives quickly absorbed the earnings. Islanders
torical limelight, but an immense unknown number of is-
often combined the new technology with traditional causal
landers also chose to participate in the evangelizing process.
beliefs. For instance, Melpa highlanders have been known to
Important centers sprang up for the training of islander evan-
sacrifice chickens when their trucks break down, and some
gelists; with the eastern Pacific being evangelized first, the
bureaucrats have become convinced they have been be-
emissaries have generally moved westward. Thus, Takamoa
witched through their computers.
and Malua Theological Colleges, established by the LMS on
Rarotonga (Cook Islands) in 1839 and Apia (Western
The remarkable effect of Christian missions in Oceania
Samoa) in 1844, respectively, have produced both preachers
influenced the transculturative processes involved in the
and teachers that exposed Melanesia to the new faith. Many
massive shift to a universal religion. A number of transforma-
of these evangelists—103 out of 203 of the pioneer Polyne-
tions deserve special recognition. One is epistemic—
sian LMS personnel—died in dangerous and malaria-ridden
traditionalist islanders and incoming Christians shared a gen-
places, unfortunate deaths that were taken as signs of spiritu-
eral worldview in terms of retributive (or “payback”) logic,
al vulnerability in Melanesian cultures. Methodist Fijians
but each supposed their grasp of its operations was correct.
were prominent among the earliest Melanesians to work
Indigenes supposed, for example, that trespassing into spirits’
among their fellow black islanders to the west (notably in
sacred groves and lairs would mean certain death; when mis-
New Britain and Bougainville).
sionaries, without this fear, did trespass without dire conse-
quence, they were taken to possess a superior understanding
These islander missionaries on Melanesia created a
of how the world worked, even while they had their own as-
three-tiered chain of “pastoral power,” which was compara-
sumptions about sacrilege. Again, islanders explained most
ble to colonial military structures. The religious hierarchy,
sicknesses and deaths in terms of spiritual causes and dam-
however, set an example for ways that people other than the
aged relationships with deities that provoked ancestral pun-
“white masters” could lead congregations. In western Mela-
ishments. Results of the missions’ modern health services,
nesia, Indonesians filled these mediating roles; the Dutch Re-
however, often defied such expectations, even while Chris-
formed missionaries typically deployed Ambonese, and the
tians taught that bodily blessings derived from relying on
Catholics sent Flores Islanders. Melanesia did experience a
“the true God.” Consequently, knowledge passed on at initi-
time lag, however, before the highly populous and volatile
ations could not compete with a mission education.
highlands received missionaries in 1920; various coastal Mel-
anesians were entrusted with this “frontier” activity. Devout
In some earlier civilizations in Polynesia with kings as
Lutheran converts from the Huon Peninsula became the first
rulers, the long-term establishment of Christianity followed
native evangelists to the eastern highlands of Papua New
the dénouements of major wars. In Tahiti in 1815, Pomare
Guinea, and rather aggressive Gogodala preachers were sent
II, who had lost power because of the emergent cult of the
by the Unevangelized Fields Mission into the southern high-
war god Oro, regained it in a holy war with the backing of
lands. Throughout Catholic mission history in Melanesia,
the London Missionary Society (LMS) from the Leeward Is-
many catechists were trained to perform non-clerical reli-
lands. In Tonga, the powerful, pro-Christian secular chief
gious duties in dispersed villages that were visited infrequent-
Taufa’ahau, who dominated the Ha’apai, subdued his ene-
ly by expatriate missionaries. As celibacy was required of its
mies by 1837. He unified the conquered peoples by first as-
religious, though, the Catholic Church always dawdled in
suming the role of the supreme sacral kingship of Tu’i Tonga
the creation of indigenous clergy—in a world of island socie-
(1852), and then by attempting to place the Wesleyan Mis-
ties that expected everyone to marry. Nevertheless, new or-
sion under his divine rule (although he had only partially
ders have been created in the region, such as the 1935 found-
succeeded by 1875).
ing of a sisterhood called The Handmaids of our Lord in
Conversion to the new religion mandated by high-level,
Papua. And in 1925, the Anglicans founded the Melanesian
local decision-makers also occurred in other places: in
Brotherhood in the eastern Solomon Islands.
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9323
Overall, the European and American overseas missions
Moreover, local rituals have become complicated due to
have established mainstream Christian denominations
varying limitations placed on the interaction between gospel
throughout the Pacific Islands. Historical circumstances usu-
and culture. In the central New Guinea Highlands, for in-
ally caused different church traditions to predominate in dif-
stance, at the Wahgi people’s great pig-killing festivals, in
ferent areas. Once a given mission gained a foothold in a par-
which a host tribe gives with astounding generosity to non-
ticular region, not even colonial shifts could readily change
hostile tribes around it, a wooden cross will often be planted
it. France, for example, which generally favored Catholic
on the dance ground and a Catholic priest will open proceed-
mission activity, did not deter LMS-originated Protestantism
ings with a blessing. Members of the Swiss Brethren’s mis-
in Tahiti (with its famous “Temple,” famous for choral com-
sion, on the other hand, would prohibit their adherents from
petitions, in Papeete) or in the Loyalty Islands (part of
attending these ceremonies. Across the Pacific Islands, pork
France’s Oceanic province of New Caledonia). Germany’s
and crab have been familiar dietary components, yet the Sev-
takeover of New Guinea in 1885 resulted in strong Lutheran
enth-day Adventist Church, which has proportionately its
and Catholic missions, especially on the mainland, but did
largest following in the Pacific, proscribes such food in accor-
not prevent the growth of Methodism (after the pioneering
dance with the Levitical code. Consequently, the first out-
work of Australian George Brown) on the islands of New
ward sign of any Adventist village is the presence of foreign
Britain and New Ireland. How these missions established
livestock—especially goats and cattle.
themselves sometimes depended on formal agreements. At
a time of comity between missions in the British Empire, for
As the churches grew, the model of the Christian village
example, the Governor of British New Guinea (or Papua) Sir
usually prevailed. Both the government and the mission dis-
William McGregor negotiated spheres of influence for mis-
couraged dispersed hamlets and encouraged larger commu-
sions within his jurisdiction in 1890. As a result, the LMS
nities, often nestling around well-kept places of worship.
work expanded along the southern coast where Catholic mis-
This proximity did not prevent various frictions, however.
sions were not already established, while the Anglicans con-
Sorcerers, especially in Melanesia, had once been accepted
solidated in the northeast and the Methodists further east
as useful agents to retaliate against enemies in other tribes;
again, in the Trobriand Islands. Not being party to this
now, however, the new peace was disturbed by the unnerving
agreement, and with a lot of non-British personnel, the
possibility that the remaining sorcerers could be paid to per-
Catholics managed to evade this arrangement to their advan-
petuate evil acts for jealous and disgruntled families within
tage, however, as did the Adventists.
the same village. Similarly, denominational or sectarian dif-
ferences and tensions often disrupted rural peace, occasional-
Each mission’s presence in a given region generated
ly dividing villages. Group reactions also arose from dissatis-
group loyalties, which are often reflected in the provincial or-
faction with the outcomes of introduced religion. In
ganizations of the newly independent Pacific nations; the
Polynesia and Micronesia, where both hierarchical social
groundwork of new social strata was laid through mission
schooling and indigenous ministries; and distinctive expres-
structures and cosmologies pertained, unsatisfied groups
sions of Christianity arose that often reflected the primacy
often responded to dissident prophets who accentuated the
of the first cultures affected in a given region. In the Papua,
lack of spirit power in ordinary church life. Thus, in these
for instance, annual ceremonies of LMS-originated churches
regions, missionaries could gain new followers on the pretext
along the coast are largely modeled on the Motu traditional
that a prophet has an extraordinary access to heaven’s bless-
exchange ceremony—called bobo—because the Motu were
ings. For example, between 1930 and 1932 on Onotoa (now
the first converts. In Catholic areas, the short, less schooled,
part of Kiribati), the prophet Ten Naewa tried to outwit the
and more aggressive Papuan Highlanders, called “bush ka-
LMS missionaries by announcing that God would descend
nakas,” have often suffered in comparison to the tall, educat-
in person, and he himself “fathered” the Father’s arrival, as
ed, coastal Mekeo, who have had a longer experience with
he led his waiting “Sheep.” In Melanesia, however, where
the outside world and who dominate the betel-nut market
cargo cults were more prevalent, the common complaint was
in the capital city of Port Moresby.
the churches did not bear material results (pidgin: kaikai, or
food). In the Solomons before World War II, local prophets
All throughout the Pacific, distinctive regional expres-
such as Sanop, on Bougainville, announced the arrival of ri-
sions of mainstream Christianity abound. What would a Sa-
fles, motor cars, and aircraft that were delivered by ancestors,
moan or Tongan Christian funeral be without the proverbial
thus rendering the colonial authorities unnecessary.
exchange of woven mats? How would agreements between
secular and ecclesiastical leadership be achieved in central
Eventually, independent churches emerged—many
Polynesia and much of eastern Melanesia without sharing the
with indigenous leaders who rejected the mainline forms of
common cup of pressed kava root? Dramatic reenactments
Christianity as foreign. In Melanesia, where over twenty such
of tensions upon the arrival of the first missionaries—of
churches have emerged, a third of them originated in cargo
Methodist minister Dr. Bromilow on Dobu Island in east
movements. Others stress concrete experiences of faith, such
Papua in 1891, or of Anglican bishop George Selwyn on
as dreams, visions, or collective ecstasies; the latter are nota-
Santa Ysabel in the central Solomons in 1862—become an-
ble among members of the Christian Fellowship Church, in
nual celebrations in particular places.
New Georgia, the Solomons. This church was once led by
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TRANSCULTURATION AND RELIGION: RELIGION IN THE FORMATION OF MODERN OCEANIA
the white-robed “Holy Mama.” In Polynesia, independent
copies, under islander supervision. By the early twenty-first
church leaders are commonly believed to have direct access
century, the prevailing missiological discourse stressed incul-
to heaven or to have come down from the heavens. The
turation, or the advisability of imbedding the gospel into the
Maori church, founded by Ratana in 1928, accepted him as
local culture, both honoring the latter’s pre-existing values
God’s “mouthpiece”; prominent in this church’s iconogra-
while also transforming and redeeming its weaknesses from
phy is a ladder linking an airplane (representing heaven) with
within.
a car (representing Earth). In 1985, the LMS Cook Islands
The general movement towards national ecclesial eman-
Christian Church began to attempt to heal a long-standing
cipation—or, rarely, transnational status, as with the United
internal rift, caused by a remarkable female healer named
Church in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands after
Apii Piho and her followers, who believed her claim that she
1968—proceeded with the emergence of new political inde-
was Jesus.
pendencies in the region. Excluding New Zealand (1947),
the newly decolonized nations—Western Samoa (1962),
The resilience of traditions in certain pockets of the Pa-
Nauru (1968), Fiji (1970), Papua New Guinea (1975), Solo-
cific has sometimes kept Christian influences at bay. Virtual-
mons, (1978), Kiribati (1979), and Vanuatu (1980)—have
ly all the strong neo-traditionalist movements are in Melane-
been governed by indigenous leaders. Even where indepen-
sia, and some of these are cargo cults. Latter-day followers
dence has not been achieved (with France and the United
of the large movement in Madang (north-coastal New Guin-
States as the two notable powers prolonging their possession
ea) during the 1950s and 1960s maintained that the indi-
of Pacific islands), national churches have been created, such
genes should be left to develop their own salvation stories,
as the l’Église évangelique in France’s New Caledonia or the
in which the ancestors and cult founder Yali are the heroes,
United Church in the Marshall Island in American Microne-
rather than the Biblical prophets and Jesus. In the Solomons,
sia. Whether politically autonomous or not, the whole region
on the western and southern parts of Guadalcanal, one Moro
has increasingly become affected by monetarization, foreign
sect has created a movement—complete with its own
investment, and transnational companies’ pursuit of oppor-
schools—that is deliberately designed to preserve tribal cul-
tunities in the metal, oil, gas, and timber industries. For ex-
ture and keep out Western influences. Not far to the north,
ample, one of the world’s richest copper deposits is on Bou-
the mountainous center of Malaita is home to the Kwaio,
gainville; natural gas is now piped out of the Lake Kutubu
who reject any “Christian interference.”
area in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highlands; while
All these expressions of independence, as well as the
New Caledonia has become well known for its extensive
many different varieties of indigenously generated new reli-
nickel deposits.
gious movements in the Pacific, have shown that islanders
Pacific islanders have embraced modernity in highly va-
believe in expressing religiosity in their own cultural terms.
rying ways. Money has become the medium of exchange in
Tensions and altercations at the village level have inevitably
towns and cities, but is still used in tandem with traditional
served to instruct churches in the Oceanic region, preparing
valuable items (such as mats, shells, feathers) in villages and
them for their own self-determination. In intercultural rela-
in rites (especially marriages and funerals). In rural areas,
tions, the balance of forces until the end of the twentieth cen-
money can therefore be incorporated into ritual life and sug-
tury favored preserving sound beliefs and practices borne by
gest new ritual forms. Old coins seem to circulate forever
the West. Religious leaders wanted to ensure that the differ-
within single villages through ritualized gambling games.
ent peoples receiving the Christian message were properly ac-
Money can now be pinned on a branch by New Guinea
culturated and did not lapse into the curious misunderstand-
highlanders and paraded as a “money tree” to apologize for
ings that had produced “cargo cults.” They made some
a killing or a road accident in a specific tribal area—quite an
concessions, however, in terms of sculpture (of crucifixes, for
innovation, since compensation payments in kind were tra-
instance) and architecture (Port Moresby’s handsome Catho-
ditionally exchanged between allies, not adversaries. Some
lic cathedral, designed in the shape of a Sepik haus tambaran
late-twentieth-century cargo cults were actually money cults;
[spirit house] in 1967). A few missionaries, such as Maurice
the followers were persuaded that the money that was already
Leenhardt—Protestant pastor to the Houailou on eastern
in the red boxes held by the leaders would multiply through
New Caledonian mainland in the 1930s—asked themselves
weekly rituals. Overall, the islanders’ quest to make money
whether they had learned more from “the natives” than they
has been strong, however. Sepik craftsmen have sold tradi-
taught them. Others, such as Percy Chatterton, submitted
tional effigies of the dead for money and have carved spirit
to the spirit of independence arising from local congrega-
figures for the tourist market. Hula dancing to entertain
tions; he quietly facilitated the post-LMS Papua Ekalesia
tourists in Hawai’i exemplifies adaptation of local dance
(Church of Papua), the first independent church of main-
forms in order to earn money from visitors. Even in rural
stream background in Melanesia formed between 1963 and
areas, today’s leading dance performers in traditional cere-
1968. The local people’s confidence in their own leadership
monies would compete for prizes at town shows or the privi-
eventually caused a decisive shift away from church commu-
lege to represent their nation at Pacific arts festivals.
nities operating under mission control toward regionally au-
Success in business and in the modern economy, al-
tonomous ecclesiastical structures, or separate Catholic epis-
though reserved for the few, has had religious consequences.
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TRANSMIGRATION
9325
Protestant Tongans employed in Honolulu or Sydney, for
foot high masks. When the Japanese unexpectedly bombed
example, or Cook Islanders in Auckland, have started impor-
Port Moresby in 1942, however, the Motu never celebrated
tant diaspora congregations, importing their pastors from
the festival again—not because they were forced to give it up,
their home regions. In Melanesia, capitalist success may
but because it had somehow lost relevance in a changing
sometimes cause a business leader to develop political aspira-
world.
tions, yet those ambitions inevitably lead him or her to the
Oceania’s religious scene in the early twenty-first centu-
traditional cultivation of dependents through the practice of
ry should be assessed for what it has become. Anthropologists
generous gift-giving as a neo-traditional “big-man.” Wealthy
can now begin evaluating specific congregations; observing
people may build large new houses in their home villages,
sociological differences in the region, such as the sedate, hier-
only to find themselves the objects of jealousy and thus of
archical Polynesian churches compared to the dynamic con-
paid sorcery attacks. In this context, the persistence of sor-
gregations of Melanesia, with their spiritistic and charismatic
cery can be defended ideologically as a social equalizer to
worship; and studying indigenous theological endeavors and
counter the inequities that threaten old reciprocities and vil-
liturgical innovations, appreciating them as important new
lage values.
developments within the wider world of religious affairs.
Religious factors also influence modern Pacific politics.
SEE ALSO Christianity, article on Christianity in the Pacific
National constitutions typically invoke the supreme God,
Islands; Politics and Religion, article on Politics and Ocean-
sometimes along with a worthy customary inheritance. Cler-
ic Religions.
gy have also achieved political prominence, such as Anglican
Fr. Walter Lini, first Prime Minister of Vanuatu, or Catholic
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Fr. John Momis, the foundation Minister for Decentraliza-
Barker, John, ed. “Christianity in Oceania: Ethnographic Perspec-
tion in Papua, New Guinea. Furthermore, internal military
tives.” In ASAO Monographs 12. Lanham, Md., 1990.
conflicts have sought religious inspiration. The Papuan Lib-
Garrett, John. To Live among the Stars: Christian Origins in Ocea-
eration Army (OPM) partly legitimates itself as a defense of
nia. Geneva, 1982.
Christianity against what is perceived as Indonesia’s neo-
Siikala, Jukka. Cult and Conflict in Tropical Polynesia. Academia
colonial promotion of Islam, and its members look to the
Scientarum Fennica, FF Communications 99/2. Helsinki,
collective martyrdom of followers of the prophetess Ang-
1982.
ganita under the Japanese in 1943 as an inspiring precedent
Smith, Bernard. European Vision and the South Pacific: 1768–
for their actions. In the Solomon Islands, civil strife in the
1850. Oxford, 1960.
late twentieth century, as well as religious differences be-
Swain, Tony, and Garry Trompf. The Religions of Oceania. New
tween largely Anglican Malaitans and mostly Catholic Gua-
York, 1995.
dalcanalese, exacerbated the clash. In such post-colonial con-
flicts, political slogans have carried neo-traditional religious
Trompf, Garry. Payback: The Logic of Retribution in Melanesian
Religions. Cambridge, U.K., 1994.
import. From 1990 to 2003, ideologues for the Bougainville
Liberation Army, for example, fought for the independence
GARRY W. TROMPF (2005)
of Bougainville as Mekamui (the Sacred Island). More gener-
ally, throughout what is a predominantly peaceful region,
thinly disguised appeals to Christian principles often lurk be-
hind the apparently secular political agendas of new national
TRANSMIGRATION denotes the process by which,
parliaments promoting better health, education, and social
after death, either a spiritual or an ethereal, subtle, and thinly
security.
material part of the personality, leaves the body that it previ-
ously inhabited; it then “migrates” to enter (i.e., is reborn in)
Despite frustrating realities sometimes experienced by
another body, either human or animal, or another form of
many outsider investigators, especially anthropologists, the
being, such as a plant or even an inanimate object. Other
Pacific Islands are remarkable for their strengthening indige-
terms often used in this context are rebirth, especially in con-
nous Christianity. As a result, traditional cultures are being
nection with Indian religions, palingenesis (from Greek palin,
transformed, and, rather than being devastated, showing
“again,” and genesis, “birth,”), metempsychosis (from Greek
their resilience in change. Contrary to some historians, out-
meta, “again,” and psychê, “soul”) and, increasingly in mod-
siders did not destroy Pacific cultures. While terrible epi-
ern popular parlance, reincarnation (from Latin re “back”
demics did make many island communities very vulnerable,
and caro, “flesh”). Manichaean texts in Syriac use the expres-
by and large, the missionaries did not impose religious
sion taˇspikha or taˇspikha denafshata, corresponding to Greek
change by force, and the islanders can no longer be precon-
metangismos (from Greek metangizesthai, “pour from one
ceived as credulous, lacking any ability to make sensible deci-
vessel into another one, decant”; similarly, Latin transfundi)
sions of their own. In fact, cultural relinquishments some-
and conveying the underlying notion of a transfusion or
times occurred spontaneously. LMS personnel, for instance,
change of vessel whereby the soul is “poured” from one body
encouraged the preservation of the Motu people’s harvest fes-
into another. The Latin church father Augustine of Hippo
tival, during which worshipers wore extraordinary fifteen-
(354–430) in his anti-Manichaean writings also uses the
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TRANSMIGRATION
noun revolutiones and the verb revolvi, which happen to be
terial in an evolutionary key, starting with the birth of the
identical with the later qabbalistic technical term gilgul: the
concept of the soul. Yet that stage in human history is unre-
soul “revolves” (i.e. rotates) through successive bodies. Earli-
coverable and speculations in that direction are rarely fruit-
er qabbalistic terms were sod-ha- Eibbur (“the mystery of tran-
ful. A modern approach should look at the geographical
sition”) and ha Etaqah (“displacing, changing place”), the lat-
spread, the nature, and the functions of transmigration in so-
ter equivalent to the Arabic tanasukh.
ciety. This survey will examine first non-literate societies and
progress to the major literate cultures and modern Western
It is obvious that the notion of a non-physical entity
society.
(soul) existing separately from the physical body is assumed
by most beliefs that posit an afterlife. The detailed elabora-
CROSS-CULTURAL OVERVIEW OF NON-LITERATE SOCIE-
tion of other cultures’ views of afterlife and transmigration
TIES. The acceptance of the belief in some form of transmi-
depends on the psychology and anthropology of those cul-
gration or return of the dead person to terrestrial life is a
tures, explicitly or implicitly. Thus the word soul may mean
widely occurring concept that is evident in many cultures.
the whole human minus the body or a special substance or
Whereas older studies often claim that there is little evidence
collection of substances non-physical in nature. In the for-
of belief in transmigration in most non-literate societies to
mer case, it is the whole albeit disincarnate person that sur-
the extent that they have been reliably and systematically
vives (and goes on, for example, to the underworld, the land
studied by ethnologists, contemporary studies have uncov-
of the dead); in the latter case it is a specific soul-substance
ered a wealth of evidence to the contrary. This new research
that persists and returns to its ancestral or heavenly home or
has been especially successful in America, where evidence
haunts the living or is reborn. Many belief systems, especially
suggests that such beliefs once were present among all North
among non-literate societies, know of multiple souls, but the
American Indian tribes. The first notices go back to the earli-
idea is also not uncommon in literate societies: examples in-
est stages of contact with European arrivals to the continent.
clude the ba and ka of the ancient Egyptians, the oldest
For example, it was recorded in 1636 that the Hurons be-
Greek psychê and thymos, and the fivefold division among
lieved a human soul can return into the body of a child, as
contemporary Jewish qabbalists (nefesh, ruah, neshamah, hay-
evidenced by the child’s strong resemblance to a deceased
yah, yehidah).
person. The prevalence of this belief among the Northwest
Coast Indians and the Inuit strongly suggests that here was
Unfortunately, contemporary knowledge of most small-
the development of an ancient cultural complex, which may
scale indigenous cultures is often based on the information
have been introduced by the first American immigrants who
of single informants and passing travelers, but rarely on the
came via the Bering Strait. There is less evidence of this in
sustained investigation of an anthropologist remaining in a
Middle and Latin America, and the evidence becomes even
culture for many years. The once-predominant idea among
scarcer in investigations into the cultures of the southern-
anthropologists that a single informant could be sufficient to
most region of Latin America.
“decode” a culture has proved to be a profound mistake, and
it should be noted while using such sources that much of the
About Africa, there are mentions of reincarnation rang-
information is incomplete. Even the material from older lit-
ing from quite extensive reports to mere scattered observa-
erate civilizations is not always that easy to analyze. The frag-
tions. Not surprisingly they seem to be limited to the south
mentary character of the texts and the modern, often Chris-
of North Africa where the adoption of Christianity and Islam
tian and philosophically influenced ideas about the soul and
likely prevented the survival of older beliefs in this direction.
the body tend to color interpretations and should preclude
It seems that in West Africa, especially, the belief in reincar-
facile conclusions. Last but not least, scholarly approaches
nation was prevalent. The beliefs can assume various forms.
often tend to present a uniform picture (the Christians be-
In many instances, there is the belief that a recently and hon-
lieve, the Buddhists believe, etc.), whereas especially in escha-
orably deceased ancestor—a warrior, for example—is reborn
tological matters people often have their own private ideas.
in a baby, although the connection with the ancestor be-
One final point is the appropriateness of the terminology of
comes weaker as the child grows. There also seems to be a
reincarnation or rebirth. Although it is used here in order not
gender aspect to the belief, for some tribes, like the Konkom-
to complicate an understanding, it must be stressed that the
ba, stress that women reincarnate, too. The Nigerian Yoruba
terms regularly, especially in Africa, do not presuppose that
believe that every living person is a reincarnation. Apparent-
the ancestors now leave the area of the dead, or how the after-
ly, the encroachment by Europeans even incited some Akan
life is imagined. On the contrary: ancestors may reincarnate
to formulate a belief in a return as white people, as the Dutch
but they often do stay present in the world of the dead as
traveller Willem Bosman (b. c. 1672) noted.
well. In other words, among many communities there is a
The existence of a belief in reincarnation among the
belief that the ancestors have a multiple presence, in this
Australian Aranda (Arunta) was the subject of a vigorous de-
world and the world hereafter.
bate in the early 1900s between Baldwin Spencer and Frank
ORIGIN OF CONCEPT. Edward Tylor (1832–1917), one of
Gillen, on one side, and German missionary Carl Strehlow,
the fathers of social anthropology, was perhaps the first mod-
on the other, who disputed the findings of the former. Yet
ern scholar of transmigration, but he still interpreted his ma-
the outcome seems to be that here, too, reincarnation exist-
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ed, even though rather by mythical ancestors than by “real”
India. In the Hindu religious tradition, the concept of trans-
people. The fact that several neighboring tribes mention a
migration is a vital aspect of the cultural milieu and has
reincarnation of ancestors supports the interpretations of
played a dominant role in shaping the actions, ethics, and
Spencer and Gillen.
ideologies of the people. Thus, the Indian subcontinent and
In the area of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia,
the cultures influenced by it are dominated by the notion of
many tribes tell about reincarnation, but the best informa-
sam:sa¯ra, “what turns around forever,” the wheel of birth and
tion comes from the Trobriand Islands, where Bronislaw
death. Whereas in the West the idea of reincarnation was al-
Malinowski (1884–1942) carried out detailed investigations
ways felt to be something exotic, strange, and at any rate re-
in the framework of his interest in the islanders’ sexual lives.
quired special justification, in India it came to be an accepted
As he noted, the inhabitants explained pregnancies as the re-
presupposition of life.
incarnation of ancestors.
The history and development of this notion are not yet
There is more information regarding Siberia, the Arctic
quite clear. However, there is consensus that the weary round
and the subarctic circle, where the belief in reincarnation was
of sam:sa¯ra is not yet part of Vedic religion. The locus classicus
virtually ubiquitous. Here shamanistic “theology” even
of Indian reincarnation can be found in two parallel passages
stressed that shamans could remember their former lives and
of the oldest Upanis:ads (Brhad Aranyaka Upanis:ad 6.2 and
some were able to show scars of their former lives. Among
Chandogya Upanis:ad 5.3–10), which mention reincarnation
the Jakuts it was rather exceptionally believed that one could
and salvation. The fact that the notion was taken for grant-
be reborn even outside one’s own tribe. In general, it is the
ed—and indeed even made the basis of their respective doc-
ancestors who were believed to return.
trines of salvation—by Jainism and Buddhism suggests that
From this survey, it follows that the belief in reincarna-
by the sixth century BCE it was already widespread in India.
tion is evidently very old. It is less easy to understand,
Among the presuppositions of this doctrine is the notion that
though, why it was originally absent from Egypt and the an-
space and time are endless. The identity of the self depends
cient Near East, from ancient Japan and China as well as
on (moral) karmic determinants. Life is an unending, eter-
from the Indo-European peoples. Unfortunately, contempo-
nal, weary round of suffering, governed by an automatic cau-
rary knowledge of the roads by which beliefs have traveled
sality of reward and punishment (kamma) that takes the soul
in prehistory are so obscure that explanations of this geo-
from one existence to another through all six spheres of
graphical spread can only be speculative.
being, from that of the gods to that of “hungry spirits” and
demons.
There is more certainty about the nature and function
of this belief in reincarnation, however. Firstly, there is a dis-
In Indian religious sensibility the emphasis is not so
tinction between the transmigration of a deceased person
much on the duality of life/death as on birth/dying. The
into an animal and the reincarnation into a person. The for-
problem about rebirth is that of necessity it also implies “re-
mer is much less current than the latter, but it is well attested.
dying,” that is, death recurring ad infinitum, unless a person
Among some Alaskan Inuits, for example, it was believed
succeeds in escaping from the vicious circle of sam:sa¯ra (also
that the souls of the dead migrated into their dogs. On the
depicted iconically as the monstrous wheel of unending exis-
other hand, the most frequent belief is that the birth of a new
tences, the bhavacakra, and described graphically in the Bud-
child signifies the rebirth of an ancestor. From the ancestors,
dhist Avadana and Nidana literature) into ultimate liberation
it is nearly universal that it is usually a deceased grandparent
(Hindu moks:a, Buddhist nirva¯n:a). It should be emphasized
who is the favorite incarnated person, as is also indicated by
that the ultimate goal (artha) is release and escape; the heav-
the identity of the name; in West Africa the identity between
ens (svarga) are still part of the samsaric world. Doctrinal dif-
ancestor and reincarnated child seems particularly marked.
ferences of opinion relate to the method of liberation (yoga,
Through the reincarnation the young child becomes incor-
mortifications, the “middle path”) as well as to the precise
porated, so to say, in the ancestral line, which reinforces or
definition of the liberated state.
creates new kinship relationships; reincarnation is very much
The descriptions in the Brhad Aranyaka Upanis:ad
a social process. This identity between ancestor and young
6.12.15f. (cf. also Kausitaki Upanis:ad and Mundaka
child often is so strongly linked in some cultures that corpo-
Upanis:ad) still exhibit a somewhat mythological character.
ral punishment of children was prohibited out of respect for
Those who have achieved perfection and have realized their
the ancestors. At the same time, the ancestor functions as a
true self go, after death, the “way of the sun,” namely, the
kind of guardian spirit for the youngster.
path of the gods (devayana): they enter the abode of brahman
In addition to being evidence of an older ancestor, a
(brahmaloka) never to return again. Those who have not
newly born baby is sometimes perceived as the reincarnation
achieved ultimate self-realization but have lived a life of sin-
of a previously deceased young child. It is plausible that this
less piety and devotion, through sacrifices, penance, and
belief has originated in an attempt to comfort parents regard-
charity, go along the path of the ancestors (pitryana) to the
ing the loss of an earlier child.
world of the moon, where they become rain and subsequent-
INDIA. The notion of transmigration and reincarnation is a
ly food: “Gods feed on them, and when that passes away
pivotal aspect of the general socio-religious belief system in
from them, they start on their return journey to the reborn
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TRANSMIGRATION
as human beings. . .Thus do they rotate.” Evildoers are re-
GREEK RELIGION. Reincarnation in ancient Greece was “in-
born as insects and vermin. According to the Chandogya
vented” by Pythagoras, an aristocrat from Samos, who came
Upanis:ad 5.10.7, they are reborn as dogs and pigs. As has
as an exile to Croton in southern Italy around 530 BCE. Here
been noted above, heaven too is part of the samsaric cycle,
he developed his teachings about reincarnation that are only
and hence gods too are reborn, even as human beings can
vaguely known, due to the fact that no writings of Pythagoras
be reborn as devas, to be subsequently reborn once again.
himself have been preserved and his community was almost
completely massacred in the middle of the fifth century BCE.
What or who exactly is it that is reborn? Unorthodox
Yet his contemporary Xenophanes of Colophon (sixth centu-
sramanic teachings as well as Upanisadic speculation provide
ry BCE) (fragment B 7, ed. Diels/Kranz) already told the fol-
a varied technical vocabulary (atman, jiva, purusa) to deal
lowing, uncomplimentary anecdote: “And once, they say,
with the questions of empirical ego, real self, and so forth.
when he passed by a dog which was being maltreated, he pit-
Some systems of thought conceive also of spiritual entities
ied the animal and said these words: ‘Stop! Don’t beat him!
in terms of a subtle, ethereal matter; one such example in
For he is the soul of a friend whom I recognized straightaway
Western history would be the Stoics.
when I heard his voice.’” Regrettably, it is not known how
Jainism. In the Jain system, the living entity is called
often Pythagoras thought of a reincarnation, but both Pindar
jiva (the eternal “soul” or “life”), and it is doomed to unend-
(fragment 133, ed. Maehler) and Plato (Phaedrus 249a)
ing rebirths as long as it is covered and encumbered (as if by
speak of three times, of which the first reincarnation has been
a thinner or thicker film) by kamma, which is conceived as
occasioned by a mistake in the underworld. Aristotle (384–
a kind of fine matter. The generation of new kamma must
322 BCE) notes: “as though it were possible, as in the tales
be stopped, and the accumulated kamma already present
of the Pythagoreans, for just any soul to clothe itself in just
must be removed if liberation is to be achieved. That such
any body.” Apparently, Aristotle thought that Pythagorean
liberation can be achieved is demonstrated by the line of jinas
reincarnation went from body to body, but the mid-fifth-
(lit., “conquerors”).
century philosopher Empedocles clearly taught differently,
as he wrote: “already I have been a boy and a maiden, a bush
Buddhism. The Buddha left no writings himself. Be-
and a bird and a fish jumping up from the sea” (fragment
cause Buddhist teachings were written down much later, the
B 117, ed. Diels/Kranz). This process could last an extremely
oldest stage of Buddhist teaching about transmigration is un-
long time, as Empedocles speaks elsewhere of wandering
known. The fascinating problem of Buddhist doctrine con-
“thrice ten thousand seasons” (fragment B 115, ed. Diels/
cerning karmic rebirth arises from the fact that Buddhism
Kranz). The origins of Pythagoras’s views are unknown. Ear-
denies the existence of an atman—that is, self, or ego-
lier generations of scholars liked to connect him with Bud-
substance beyond the empirical ego, which is a transitory
dhist views as he was nearly a contemporary of Buddha, but
combination of “heaps” of “elements” (skandhas). Regardless
the down dating of the Buddha (above) has made this im-
of whether the anti-Brahmanic doctrine of anatman (“no-
probable. It seems possible, however, to isolate a few factors
self”) was already explicitly taught by the Buddha himself or
that may have played a role to a smaller or larger degree.
was developed later, it is a central concept of historical Bud-
dhism. It is clear, though, that reincarnation did not yet oc-
First, reincarnation could only come about when the
cupy a position of prime importance in the teachings of the
Greek concept of psychê had developed into humankind’s
Buddha himself, but was elaborated in minute detail only by
immortal self. It seems indeed that Pythagoras was also the
his later pupils, as in the Abhidharma Pitaka of the Pali-
first Greek to develop this particular idea of the soul. Second,
canon.
the aristocratic Greeks were historically more interested in
group survival than in personal survival. Yet at the end of the
Tibet. The application of the doctrine of rebirth in
archaic period, there seem to be signs of an increasing interest
Tibet, a culture decisively shaped by one particular form of
in a more personal form of survival. Reincarnation can be
Buddhism, deserves special mention because of its relevance
seen as a more radical answer to this general development.
to the social system and its political institutions. Buddhism
Pythagoras’s loss of political power around 500 BCE may have
was established late in Tibet, not before the seventh century
been an extra stimulus for developing the doctrine of reincar-
CE. However, it would last to the fifteenth century before the
nation, since the survival of the soul singled out those rein-
characteristic connection between the worldly and spiritual
carnated from those who were not. In other words, the doc-
powers started to receive its well-known contemporary form.
trine may have been a kind of comfort to those of his pupils
Whereas initially it was only the leader of one of the many
and friends that followed him into his exile. It might echo
monk communities whose rule was determined by reincarna-
in the thesis of Max Weber (1864–1920), which posits that
tion, in the seventeenth century Mongolian support stabi-
the rise of religions of salvation, such as Christianity, was also
lized the rule of the Dalai Lama, which endured until the
the consequence of the depoliticization of the educated
Chinese conquered Tibet in 1951 and eliminated the theoc-
classes.
racy. The influence of the exile of the renowned fourteenth
Dalai Lama on the Tibetan ideas of reincarnation still re-
It was probably only a short while after Pythagoras that
mains to be properly assessed.
somebody in southern Italy developed a new set of doctrines
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9329
and practices which were promulgated not under their own
nation was clearly not part of Indo-European traditions and
name but that of the most famous singer of the Archaic Age,
there is little reliable evidence about such views in medieval
Orpheus. The so-called Orphics introduced vegetarianism,
Celtic literature, the Druids may well have taken over Greek
and modified existing Bacchic mysteries. At the same time
views, perhaps via Massilia (Marseilles). Unfortunately, there
they also produced new teachings (1) on the coming into
are no further detailed sources, and this intriguing possibility
being of the cosmos, gods and humankind; (2) on eschatolo-
remains an unsubstantiated one.
gy; and (3) reincarnation. Pindar (fragment 133 Maehler) al-
E
ready declares that the best roles in future reincarnations will
ARLY CHRISTIANITY. The early Christians firmly believed
in the resurrection of the body and therefore opposed the
be for those “from whom Persephone accepts compensation
doctrine of reincarnation. Although there were a few excep-
for ancient grief (viz. because the Titans had killed her son
tions that were prepared to consider its validity, such as Ori-
Dionysos)” and this “ancient grief” is also alluded to on re-
gen, even he came to a negative conclusion. In the second
cently found Orphic Gold Leaves. On an Orphic bone tablet
and third centuries
that was found in Crimean Olbia c. 400
CE, especially, church leaders tried to re-
BCE, the terms “life-
fute the belief, but around 400
death-life: truth; Dio(nysos)-Orphik(?oi)” are legible, and in
CE reincarnation no longer
played a role in the internal and external Christian debates.
his Meno (81a) Plato (c. 428–348 or 347 BCE) attributes the
Apparently, this decline in polemics went hand in hand with
doctrine of reincarnation to “priests and priestesses who try
the loss of pagan interest in reincarnation.
to give an account for the functions of their activities,” that
is, to wandering Orphics. It is part of this doctrine that the
It was different with the Gnostics. They opposed the
body is looked at rather negatively and considered to be the
idea of resurrection, and thus it is hardly surprising that some
“prison of the soul.”
of them—in particular the Carpocratians—were more sym-
pathetic to reincarnation, even though they limited its num-
As with Pythagoras, there are few particulars about Or-
bers. It seems possible that the Gnostics had reinterpreted the
phic reincarnation, but it is certain that Plato used Pythago-
older Greek beliefs in a more optimistic way, but the fact that
ras and the Orphics. His views on reincarnation have to be
the Gnostics are viewed in this respect only through the
deduced from his dialogues, whose temporal order still is de-
prism of Christian theology makes every interpretation a
bated. It seems that in his oldest dialogues Plato still is not
somewhat dubious affair.
completely convinced of the reality of reincarnation, but in
the middle ones (Phaedo, Phaedrus and the Republic) the doc-
MANICHAEISM. Manichaeism is the only world religion that
trine has become an important part of his eschatological
has disappeared. It was founded by Mani, who was probably
views, even though the content varies depending on the dia-
born on April 24, 216. He was may have been descended
logue. It is important to note that Plato’s Phaedo gives evi-
from Persian aristocracy but certainly grew up in a Jewish-
dence of the important process of ethicization, to use the
Christian group, the Elcasaites, and died in 277 in a Persian
term employed by Gananath Obeyesekere (2002), in which
prison. His followers carried his beliefs to the West, where
the bad receive a bad reincarnation (into animals) and the
they found in Augustine a temporary convert, and to the
philosophers go to the gods.
East, where they were more successful. Via the Silk Road,
Manichaean faith traveled to China, where the last
Plato’s ideas were rejected by some of his pupils and Ar-
Manichaeans probably died in the sixteenth century. Mani
istotle, but the Pythagoreans carried them into later antiqui-
worked in a geographical area that was influenced by Zoroas-
ty. The doctrine is found with philosophers like Plutarch
trian, Jewish, Christian and Buddhist views and this plurality
(before 50–after 120 CE), the Corpus Hermeticum, and the
makes it difficult to isolate the precise origin of many of his
so-called Chaldaean Oracles, but it became far more influen-
ideas. The difficulty is compounded by the need to recon-
tial among the Neoplatonists like Plotinus (205–270 CE) and
struct the Manichaean doctrines from a whole series of lan-
Porphyry. Unlike Plato, the former even considers a reincar-
guages, ranging over many centuries from Latin and Coptic
nation into plants a possibility. Moreover, Plotinus clearly
until Sogdian and Chinese.
had precise thoughts about the different stages of reincarna-
tion. Whereas the first rebirth is seen as an entry, the subse-
The Elcasaite community in which Mani grew up prac-
quent ones he calls metenso¯mato¯sis, or “re-enbodyment”; peo-
ticed vegetarianism, which in antiquity often went concomi-
ple can remember their previous lives, and there is no
tant with a belief in reincarnation. Indeed, a Christian source
liberation from the cycle of rebirths. Later philosophers had
reports that one of the Elcasaites, Alcibiades, taught that
much difficulty with the thought of a transmigration into an-
Christ had experienced already many a rebirth before being
imals and it is striking that in the second half of the sixth
born from the Virgin Mary. This information points to a
century, Olympiodorus, one of the last Neoplatonists, reject-
Greek origin rather than an Indian one, as later Arab histori-
ed the doctrine of reincarnation.
ans suspected.
CELTS. According to Caesar in his Gallic Wars (6.14) the
The Manichaeans taught that the soul could be reborn
Druids believed that souls did not perish but wander after
in humans, plants and animals. The aim was to be reborn
death; for this reason Clement of Alexandria (Stromateis
in an elite Manichaean, a so-called electus, and in this way
1.15) already compared them with the Brahmans. As reincar-
to become liberated from the cycle of rebirths. It is clear that
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TRANSMIGRATION
the Manichaeans dreaded their rebirths, as they could be-
tions have been offered to the question from where the Cath-
come birds, mice, or even grass.
ars derived their doctrine—from Jewish, Islamic or “hereti-
I
cal” Christian traditions—it is only fair to say that none has
SLAM. From the eighth century CE onward, Islam received
a clear impetus regarding the doctrine of reincarnation from
been demonstrated in a satisfactory manner.
the Manichaeans and Neoplatonists. Yet whereas conven-
The Romans had not been overly interested in reincar-
tional Islam strictly rejected reincarnation, “heretical” cur-
nation, but it was Publius Ovidius Naso (43–17) who,
rents embraced the doctrine, in particular the Syrian Ala-
through Book XV of his Metamorphoses, kept the memory
wites, the Lebanese Druze, and the Anatolian Alevites. Their
of Pythagoras and his teachings alive through the Middle
heretical position explains why they kept their teachings
Ages. This meant that the doctrine was regularly discussed
highly secret. It was only in the nineteenth century that apos-
and always rejected. Even during the Renaissance and the
tate Alawites started to publish some of their texts. These
immediate successive centuries, followers of the doctrine are
show that reincarnation is meant to enable the light souls to
extremely hard to find. Giordano Bruno (1548–1600) was
ascend to heaven through their reincarnations. The believers
a rare exception to this. Yet it is only in the later seventeenth
can reach this goal in seven times, but the non-believers have
and eighteenth centuries that evidence arrives of a renewed
to die and be born again a thousand times. Particularly bad
interest in the doctrine, undoubtedly favored by the growing
is the transmigration into an animal or plant. It seems that
questioning of normative Christianity by leading intellectu-
the doctrine also helps to explain human misfortune as a
als amongst whom Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781)
penalty for misdemeanors in previous lives.
played a leading role.
JUDAISM. Like normative Christianity and Islam, normative
THEOSOPHY, ANTHROPOSOPHY, NEW AGE. Despite a grow-
Judaism also rejected reincarnation, and it is not mentioned
ing interest in reincarnation among European intellectuals
in the texts of biblical and rabbinical Judaism. The first expo-
in the nineteenth century, the continuing rejection by nor-
sition of reincarnation in a primary Jewish source occurs
mative Christianity meant that it was only in alternative cir-
around 1200 CE in the book Bahir, which was probably writ-
cles that the doctrine of reincarnation could gain a perma-
ten in southern France. It is a typically Jewish touch that the
nent position. The source of all modern views is the
cycle of rebirths ends with the Messiah, who himself stands
Theosophical Society, which was founded by Helena Petrov-
outside the cycle. Allusions to and discussions of reincarna-
na Blavatsky (1831–1891) in 1875. This imaginative dilet-
tion can be found before Bahir and go back at least to the
tante found traces of reincarnation even in Egyptian sources
eighth century CE. This suggests a possible influence from
and the Bible, where previous scholars had not. It was her
Islam, but a Neoplatonist and/or Manichaean background
encounter with India that led her to develop her views on
cannot be excluded either, given that some Manichaeans
reincarnation—which, however, were filled with typically
were still present in Mesopotamia around that time.
European ideas, in particular the evolutionary development
Since the thirteenth century the notion of gilgul has
of the personality. Blavatsky was still trying to come to terms
been a central qabbalistic tenet, which also found a place in
with the combination of Asian and European concepts, but
the most influential qabbalistic text of that era, the Zohar by
Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) attempted especially in the last
Moses de Léon (d. 1305). After the expulsion of the Jews
years of his life, to make reincarnation one of the central te-
from Spain, the doctrine of reincarnation went with them
nets of his anthroposophy. Steiner was much impressed by
to other areas where Jews were living. This meant that via
the scientific progress of the nineteenth century and tried to
Galilee Safed in sixteenth-century Galilea it eventually
make his views on reincarnation acceptable to a public that
reached eastern Europe, where Hasidic leaders regularly tried
admired the latest insights of science. His views, however,
to legitimize their position by claiming to be a reincarnation
must be gleaned from his voluminous writings, because he
of previous great rabbis and scholars. This tradition largely
never succeeded in delivering a systematic exposition. The
ended after the upheavals of World War II and the Holo-
reincarnation, according to Steiner, starts in prehistory
caust.
where the soul arises from a kind of sea “of the spiritual (Ger-
man: des Geistigen)” and where it also ends. In the time be-
WESTERN CHRISTIANITY. Around the same time as Bahir,
tween the reincarnations, which may last on average between
if not already a few decades earlier, reincarnation can be
1,000 to 1,300 years, the souls wait on one of the planets.
found among the Cathars of southern France. The best in-
During this period the soul keeps its memory and before re-
formation comes from the protocol of interrogations in the
entering a body it looks for an appropriate pair of parents.
Pyrenees by Bishop Jacques Fournier (1285–1342). Cathar
Steiner himself usually concentrated on male reincarnations
belief was strongly dualistic: people had a good soul in a bad
and was not averse to speculations about his own historical
body. Souls traveled from body to body until they finally,
“ancestors.”
if they had become a Cathar, could return to heaven. It is
in this final body also that the resurrection will take place.
Over the course of the twentieth century, the idea of re-
The Cathars clearly admitted to a transmigration into ani-
incarnation gained increasing popularity, in particular
mals and, as a rule, seemed to have limited the number of
among adherents of what is loosely called New Age religion,
reincarnations to about seven. Although all kinds of solu-
and is even accepted by some Christian theologians. It is also
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9331
not unusual to find acceptance of the belief that people
Pratyutpannasama¯dhi Su¯tra that predicts the su¯tra would
choose their own incarnation. Yet contemporary believers are
come to be hidden in the ground for future times when it
less interested in the physical rebirth than in the progressive
could be propagated again. The Treasures also draw widely
spiritual evolution through successive “realities.” They often
on a range of notions about revelation and visionary inspira-
no longer think of a surviving mortal “I” but rather prefer
tion from both Indian and Chinese religions. However, as
to believe in a True Individuality or Higher Self, which con-
a well-defined movement with far-reaching political and
stitutes the link between this life and the previous or coming
cultural significance, Treasure is a distinctively Tibetan phe-
ones. Some New Age sources even claim that reincarnation
nomenon.
transcends space and time and that past and future lives coex-
ist with the present lives. But such views occur especially in
Treasure-like claims can be found in the colophons of
authors who tend to theoretical speculations and often have
some of the early Tibetan Snying thig (Nyingthig, “Heart
a science-fiction background.
Sphere”) scriptures, but the Treasure tradition in its full form
only emerges gradually. It is common both to certain
Recovery of the past lives can now also be used for thera-
branches of Tibetan Buddhism and to the adherents of Bon,
peutic purposes. In a twist that is not altogether surprising,
another religious tradition that has ancient roots in Tibet but
a belief that once was typically religious is used to achieve
that comes together as a school at around the same time as
psychological improvement.
the appearance of Buddhist Treasure adherents. An early
Bonpo “treasure discoverer” (gter ston) is said to be Gshen
SEE ALSO Orpheus; Pythagoras; Reincarnation.
chen Klu dga’ (Shenchen Luga) of the eleventh century. A
formative moment for the Buddhist Treasure tradition is to
BIBLIOGRAPHY
be identified in the work of Nyang ral Nyi ma ’Od zer
All previous general expositions have now been supplanted by the
(Nyangral Nyima Ozer, 1136–c. 1204), a visionary and
brilliant, erudite and balanced survey by Helmut Zander,
Geschichte der Seelenwanderung in Europa (Darmstadt, Ger-
scholar of the Rnying ma (Nyingma) school of Tibetan Bud-
many, 1999); note also Gananath Obeyesekere, Imagining
dhism. This Treasure discoverer codified a full-length hagi-
Karma. Ethical Transformation in Amerindian, Buddhist and
ography of Padmasambhava, the Indian Tantric master who
Greek Rebirth (London, 2002). For the non-literate cultures
is said to have been invited to the royal court in the eighth
see Michael Bergunder, Wiedergeburt der Ahnen (Münster,
century to teach Buddhism to the Tibetans. This story in-
Germany, 1994). For the earliest Indian stages see H.
cluded seminal passages about Padmasambhava’s conceal-
Bodewitz, “The Hindu Doctrine of Transmigration. Its Ori-
ment of Treasure as part of his mission in Tibet.
gin and Background,” Indologica Taurinensia 23–24 (1997–
98): 583–605. For Greece and the Cathars see Jan N. Brem-
Nyang ral Nyi ma ’Od zer and his hagiography of Pad-
mer, The Rise and Fall of the Afterlife (New York, 2002). For
masambhava are concerned primarily with the triumph of
the Celts see Helmut Birkhan, “Druiden und keltischer
Buddhism over Tibet’s older religions, especially the tradi-
Seelenwanderungsglaube,” in Johann Figl and Hans-Dieter
tions called Bon, but the Bon tradition produced many Trea-
Klein (eds.), Der Begriff der Seele in der Religionswissenschaft
sures of its own and flourished throughout the same time pe-
(Würzburg, Germany, 2002) 143–158. For New Age see
riod that the Buddhist treasure tradition did. These Bon
Wouter J. Hanegraaf, New Age Religion and Western Culture
Treasure scriptures contain much of the same range of types
(Albany, N.Y., 1998). A Rosicrucian approach can be found
in Édouard Bertholet, La réincarnation (Lausanne, Switzer-
of meditative and ritual practices as the Buddhist Treasures,
land, 1970). Other works of merit are La Réincarnation: Thé-
but their narratives of the period of the royal court are told
ories, Raisonnements et Appréciations, ed. Carl-A. Keller
from a different perspective, focusing upon Bonpo struggles
(Berne, Switzerland, 1986); Karma and Rebirth in Classical
with the Buddhist faction and the persecution of Bon by the
Indian Traditions, ed. Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty, (Berke-
Buddhist kings. They trace the ultimate origins of Treasure
ley, Calif., 1980); Hans-Peter Hasenfratz, Die Seele (Zürich,
teachings to the founder of the Bon religion, Gshen rab Mi
Switzerland, 1986), and Hasenfratz, “Seelenwanderung,” in
bo (Shenrab Miwo), and to early Bon masters in Tibet.
Gerhard Krause, Gerhard Müller, et al. (eds.), Theologische
Realenzyklopädie,
vol. 31 (New York, 2000), pp. 1–4.
In the Buddhist version of the Treasure story, the ratio-
nale for hiding Treasures is said to have been formulated
R. J. ZWI WERBLOWSKY (1987)
J
when Padmasambhava discerned the future, a time when Ti-
AN N. BREMMER (2005)
betans would need special teachings to get them through cer-
tain difficult periods. He therefore designed special Buddhist
practices and scriptures just for those times and proceeded
TRANSSEXUALITY SEE GENDER ROLES
to set up the circumstances for those special teachings to be
revealed at just the right moment. This involved designating
some of his own disciples to reveal those teachings in a future
lifetime. Padmasambhava then uttered an empowering
TREASURE TRADITION. The Treasure (gter ma)
prophecy about that future revelation and proceeded to hide
tradition has some precedents in Indian Buddhism. One
the teachings in a way that they would not be available until
striking example is a prophecy by the Buddha in the
the proper prophesied moment in the future.
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TREASURE TRADITION
As the Treasure tradition develops, the manner in which
selves outside of the conventional monastic and academic av-
Padmasambhava and other treasure concealers—both Bud-
enues for self-advancement. But that was precisely what
dhist and Bon—hide these teachings comes to be distin-
made them subject to doubt. This doubt is also represented
guished into several types. The basic form of the story is that
in psychological and personal terms in accounts of the expe-
the Treasures are buried in the physical world—in, for exam-
riences of the discoverers themselves. In fact it is for this rea-
ple, the ground or a stone or a pillar. But another mode soon
son that the Treasure tradition spawned prodigious autobio-
appears by which the concealer buries a Treasure in the
graphical writing throughout its history, often focused on
memory of the future discoverer. This alternate means rely-
narratives, sometimes idiosyncratic and poetic, of dreams, vi-
ing on mental processes and visionary experiences and is
sions, and meditative experiences. In these experiences the
often said to be set into motion when the concealer transmits
visionary would make contact with the teachers of the past
ritually to the future discoverer an especially impressive com-
who had originally concealed the Treasure, such as Padma-
munication. This makes it memorable enough to be held in
sambhava or an exalted Bon po master. The discoverers were
mind over the course of several lifetimes. In either case—of
often preoccupied with “reading the signs” of their lives,
the “earth Treasures” or the “mental Treasures”—the buried
their bodies (which often included special marks and pat-
teaching is usually encoded in some way, often said to be a
terns on the skin), and their surroundings in order to pick
special abbreviated language or script distinctive to the
up signals and evidence that would connect them with their
d:a¯kin¯ıs, a class of female enlightened spirits. Padmasamb-
prophecy texts and elements of a past life as a disciple of the
hava’s consort and disciple Ye shes mtsho rgyal (Yeshe
original concealer. Once the discovers did access the actual
Tsogyal), a former Tibetan queen, is herself cast as a d:a¯kin¯ı
Treasure itself—which often came in abbreviated form either
and served as Padmasambhava’s principal helper in the effort
in a dream, in a vision, or in “reality” in the form of a small
to conceal treasure. Ye shes mtsho rgyal often is said to have
scroll of paper with just a few cryptic linguistic indications—
been both the scribe for the Buddhist treasure teachings and
they would struggle with “decoding” the initial Treasure
their encoder.
signs, a struggle that itself would have to draw on a whole
Concealing the Treasure in code helps protect it against
range of esoteric yogic practices and skills. In short, a key part
discovery by the wrong person at the wrong time. The other
of what made the Treasures credible was just such genuine
element that ensures that the Treasure reaches its correct des-
doubts and heroic struggles on the part of the visionary intro-
tination in the future is the prophecy uttered at the time of
ducing them.
the treasure’s concealment. In the case of the Buddhist Trea-
The successful effort to access Treasure material and
sures, these prophecies are uttered by Padmasambhava and
then decode and unpack it to serve as a teaching tradition
serve to name the future discoverer and some of his (and
served to bolster the reputation of the discoverer himself or
sometimes her) circumstances, also often in coded or abbre-
herself, and indeed the success of a Treasure often rode on
viated form. When a discoverer in later times comes to pres-
the discoverer’s charisma and personal power. But other
ent a teaching that is claimed to have been originally hidden
kinds of evidence were also marshaled. In many ways it was
as Treasure, one of the things that adds to the credibility of
frequently the virtues of the teachings themselves—their rit-
that claim is if the Treasure does indeed contain this pro-
ual or soteriological efficacy, their aesthetic qualities, and
phetic utterance, with specific reference to the discoverer’s
their compelling narratives—that made them believable and
name and other characteristics.
worthy of veneration as representations of truth and reality,
Most Treasure texts do include such prophecies as part
that is, as teachings of an enlightened figure like Gshen rab
of the narrative sections that advance the legitimacy of the
Mi bo or Padmasambhava who served as an intermediary for
Treasure itself. When one considers what Treasures are from
primordial enlightenment itself.
the perspective of the discoverer, one can understand why le-
In the Buddhist case, the Treasure promoters argued
gitimacy is such a key issue. Treasure teachings usually come
that their teachings should actually be considered to be origi-
in the form of texts although they can also come in the form
nally and most basically the actual words of a buddha, on a
of objects, such as ritual instruments or symbolic images. To
par with other canonical Buddhist scriptures translated from
claim that such things, be they textual or otherwise, were in-
Indic languages into Tibetan. Evidence of the success of
deed concealed in the past for a particular purpose to be ful-
these Treasure scriptures may be seen in the careers of the
filled in the present and additionally that the discoverer is
discoverers and the kinds of following they attracted and the
a reincarnation of a person in the past specifically appointed
communities and institutions they built. It can also be as-
to uncover that Treasure now requires support and evidence
sessed in the longer term legacy: how often a given Treasure
in order to be believed.
cycle was published, how often it was ritually performed. In
In fact the Treasures were regularly subject to criticism
fact there have been hundreds of Treasure discoverers intro-
by skeptical members of most schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
ducing treasure texts and objects from the twelfth century CE
Partially such skepticism had to do with institutional and
to the twenty-first century. Many achieved great fame, and
sectarian competition. In large part the Treasure tradition
their works had lasting influence upon Tibetan literature, re-
served as a vehicle for religious figures to distinguish them-
ligious practices, and especially narratives about Tibet’s royal
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past and its present religious identity. Some of the discover-
who predominated in treasure production but also among
ers, like Klong chen pa (Longchenpa), were also scholars of
some of the more monastic communities and other schools
the highest order. Others, such as ’Jigs med gling pa (Jigme
of Tibetan Buddhism. One particularly notable example is
Lingpa), introduced Treasure ritual cycles that had far-
that the powerful fifth Dalai Lama had Treasure discoveries,
reaching popularity and influence.
and other Dalai Lamas had important connections with
Treasure figures.
It should also be noted that Treasure activity was some-
times the site of collaboration between Buddhists and Bon
It is not coincidental that Treasure discovery continues
pos. In the nineteenth century the principal Buddhist Trea-
to be a popular means for lamas to produce teachings and
sure cycles were collected by the polymath Kong sprul blo
gain followers inside Tibetan areas in China in the early
gros mtha’ yas (Kongtrul Lodro Taye), himself originally a
twenty-first century. The potentially nationalist implications
practitioner of Bon. Kong sprul worked in association with
of the tradition have not been lost on the governmental au-
the visionary ‘Jam dbyangs mkhyen brtse’ i dbang po (Jamy-
thorities, who for the most part have enforced a ban on Trea-
ang Khyentse Wangpo) and other colleagues and codified a
sure discovery and have imposed tight restrictions on flour-
corpus of Buddhist Treasures in a single collection, the Rin
ishing communities that continue to grow up around such
chen gter mdzod, of over one hundred volumes. A product
visionaries.
of the nonsectarian Ris med (Rime) movement, this collec-
SEE ALSO Bon; Dzogchen; Klong chen rab ‘byams pa
tion is organized by literary genre and ritual purpose. It con-
(Longchenpa); Kong sprul Blo gros mtha’ yas (Kongtrul
tains a wealth of meditation techniques, ritual actions, and
Lodro Taye); Padmasambhava; Ye shes Mtsho rgyal (Yeshe
descriptions of deities. It also includes key narratives about
Tsogyal).
Tibet’s royal dynasties, the glories of its kings, the defeat of
(in this version) anti-Buddhist demons and ministers, and
BIBLIOGRAPHY
the process by which the Buddhism that Padmasambhava
Germano, David F. “Re-membering the Dismembered Body of
taught to the court was taken in to become Tibet’s national
Tibet: The Contemporary Ter Movement in the PRC.” In
religion. The Bon po Treasure literature was also collected,
Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet, edited by Melvyn Gold-
codified, and divided into two main sections that are similar
stein and Matthew Kapstein. Berkeley, Calif., 1998.
to those of the more mainstream Tibetan Buddhist canon,
Gyatso, Janet. “The Logic of Legitimation in the Tibetan Treasure
the Kanjur and Tanjur. But unlike the Buddhist Kanjur and
Tradition.” History of Religions 33, no. 1 (1993): 97–134.
Tanjur, this massive Bon po collection of several hundred
Gyatso, Janet. “Guru Chos-dbang’s gTer ’byung chen mo: An Early
volumes consists almost entirely of Treasure texts. Its date
Survey of the Treasure Tradition and Its Strategies in Dis-
of compilation is not entirely clear, but it almost certainly
cussing Bon Treasure.” In Tibetan Studies: Proceedings of the
predated the Buddhist Rin chen gter mdzod (Repository of the
Sixth Seminar of the International Association of Tibetan
precious Treasures), possibly by a few hundred years.
Studies, edited by Per Kvaerne, vol. 1, pp. 275–287. Oslo,
1994.
For both the Bonpos and Buddhists, Treasure text pro-
duction constituted a way to formulate new teachings suited
Gyatso, Janet. Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of
to particular situations and audiences while giving them an
a Tibetan Visionary. Princeton, N.J., 1998.
aura of authenticity, antique pedigree, and religious power.
Hanna, Span. “Vast as the Sky: The Terma Tradition in Modern
Their specifically Tibetan character is evident in both Trea-
Tibet.” In Tantra and Popular Religion in Tibet, edited by
sure traditions. The Bon po Treasures are replete with de-
Geoffrey Samuel, Hamish Gregor, and Elisabeth Stutchb-
tailed rituals and deity lore that have no analogue in India
bury, pp. 1–13. Delhi, 1994.
and are clearly of ancient Tibetan origin. In the Buddhist
Karmay, Samten G. The Treasury of Good Sayings: A Tibetan His-
Treasures Tibetanness becomes salient in debates about can-
tory of Bon. London, 1972.
onicity, authorship, and origins. Tibetan Buddhist ortho-
Kvaerne, Per. “The Literature of Bon.” In Tibetan Literature:
doxy had it that all genuinely original and canon-worthy
Studies in Genre, edited by José Ignacio Cabezón and Roger
Buddhist teachings had to come from India. By tracing a
R. Jackson, pp. 138–146. Ithaca, N.Y., 1996.
Treasure’s origins back to a primordial Indic buddha or bud-
Thondup, Tulku. Hidden Teachings of Tibet: An Explanation of the
dha principle, the treasure theorists managed to have it both
Terma Tradition of the Nyingma School of Buddhism. Lon-
ways: to give the Treasure an aura of authenticity even while
don, 1986; reprint, Boston, 1997.
allowing historical Tibetan teachers to formulate new materi-
JANET GYATSO (2005)
als under the Treasure tradition’s aegis. In both cases it is
thus no accident that the Treasure narratives display so much
concern with Tibetan history, its leaders, its invasions, its
glories, and its disputes. Treasure became a venue for Tibet-
TREES are a form of nature that represent life and the sa-
an religious production qua Tibetan. It eventually became
cred continuity of the spiritual, cosmic, and physical worlds.
a popular means to acquire spiritual charisma not just by the
A tree is often used to symbolize a deity or other sacred
unconventional yogis of the Bon po and Rnying ma schools
being, or it may stand for what is sacred in general. The reli-
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TREES
gious beliefs that surround a tree may include as sacred any
enhance their spiritual force, as in the Japanese art of bonsai,
one or all of the physical parts of the tree: its trunk, branches,
builds gentleness of character, religious spirit, and respect for
leaves, blossoms, sap, or roots. Sacred objects constructed
humankind.
from the wood of special trees are also used for religious pur-
The Andaman Islanders use the intrinsic qualities of hi-
poses.
biscus trees to aid them in their struggles to catch large turtles
The physical properties of trees are combined with su-
and fish. It is through the spiritual qualities of these trees that
pernatural or sacred ideas, the beliefs that surround a tree’s
the Islanders are able to succeed in overcoming their prey and
connection with what constitutes religion in different cul-
to protect themselves from harm. The particular qualities of
tures. Trees are not only sacred in the major religions of the
the tree represent essential elements of physical and spiritual
East and West, but also in other traditions where belief in
life and ward off dangers associated with turtles and the sea.
the sacred is combined with beliefs in the power of ancestors,
The Haida Indians of North America used a power in-
in the creation of life in birth, about death and the after-
herent in hemlock branches to scrub themselves in ritual
world, and about health and illness. Trees that represent cer-
baths. The tree had the power to purify and protect the Indi-
tain deities or ancestors, serve as mediators or links to the re-
ans and to enable them to attain the degree of cleanliness re-
ligious realm, and are associated with cultural beliefs in
quired during their rituals and thus remain on good terms
heaven or the afterlife. Trees may be valued as spiritual and
with their supernatural beings.
physical contributors of life because they furnish liquids val-
ued as sacred beverages used in ritual or as medicines for cur-
Power to avert illness and evil. Trees offer protection
ing a variety of illnesses.
from both physical and spiritual illness through their associa-
tions with the divine. For the Ainu of Japan, ramat (literally
Through association with a particular religious or his-
“heart,” translated as “spirit” or “soul”) is a power that resides
torical event, an individual tree or species of tree acquires the
in all things in varying degrees. Wood is especially rich in
symbolic significance of the event as part of its meaning. The
ramat, which is provided by the spirit of Shiramba Kamuy,
oak, date palm, and willow were used in the building of Solo-
the upholder of the world and male god of vegetation. The
mon’s temple and in constructing booths at Sukkot (Lv.
Ainu believe that nothing is more effective for protection
23:40). Deodar wood is used in the construction of Hindu
against evil and spiritual problems than inaw (carved wood
temples. The oak is commonly taken to be the tree under
offerings). The wood of over fifteen kinds of trees including
which Joshua set up a pillar at Shechem to commemorate the
oak, willow, lilac, dogwood, and magnolia may be used in
nation’s covenant with God (Jos. 24:26). The Jewish captives
the carving of inaw, which are then offered to good kamuy
in Babylon in 597 BCE hung harps on weeping willows along
(spirits). Similarly three trees—the thorn, elder, and alder—
the banks of the Euphrates (Ps. 137). The religious signifi-
are predominantly used to carve inaw for bad kamuy. Inaw
cance of this act established the willow as a symbol of mourn-
are also hung in houses to provide general protection for the
ing, death, and rebirth. The branches of the palm tree stand
home and its occupants.
for Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday
as well as for his rebirth. These associations are still prevalent
In the Konkan district of western India it is believed that
in Christian tradition.
barrenness can be cured by planting a tree for the uneasy
spirits that wander about and inhabit women, preventing
A society’s religious beliefs about what kinds of trees are
conception. Under favorable circumstances the evil spirit will
sacred generally depends on the nature and number of trees
leave a woman suffering from barrenness to take up residence
found in its territory. If trees are plentiful, the forest as a
in the newly planted tree, allowing the woman to conceive.
whole will also be an important part of the religion’s spiritual
The Indian mimosa tree is believed to provide spiritual pro-
beliefs and rituals. The Kwakiutl Indians of Pacific North
tection against wicked spells and the evil eye. The illness
America, like many other societies living in a tree-filled envi-
caused by S¯ıtala¯-Ma¯ya¯, the Indian goddess of smallpox, may
ronment, believe that their heavily forested inland region is
be averted by setting up a branch of the neem tree just as
the home of supernatural beings.
Buddhists invoke certain sacred trees for health.
THE INNATE POWER OF TREES. Religious or spiritual power
Trees may represent a spiritual healing for and protec-
may be inherent in a tree or in the elements that make up
tion from evil. The oil of the olive was traditionally used to
the tree. For example, in Taoist thought, trees and all forms
soothe pain and so the olive tree or a sprig of the tree has
of nature contain yin and yang energies, that is, the opposing
become a symbol of the grace of Jesus Christ through which
forces of the universe. Each tree has spiritual power as it con-
the sorrowful sinner finds eternal peace.
tains and balances these inequalities: the light and dark colors
of the leaves and bark, and the opposition between light and
The cosmic tree. In many religions the universe is por-
shadow. In southwest China fengshui stands for the interac-
trayed as multilayered, the layers kept distinct and in place
tion of yin and yang and represents a power that affects the
by a world tree running through the exact center of the cos-
world and everything in it. Fengshui may be found especially
mos. Salish Indians of North America hold that their deity
in strange and awe-inspiring trees and stones. The contem-
made three worlds, one above the other: the sky world, the
plation of these powers or the active cultivation of trees to
earth, and the underworld. All are connected by a single tree
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9335
that passes through the middle of each. The Babylonians be-
a tree of life and immortality as well. The patronesses of the
lieved that their cosmic tree, Kiskanu, was the home of the
cosmic tree for the Warao of South America are the Grand-
god of fertility and Ea’s mother, Bau, the goddess of plenty.
mothers, deities who are also associated with seasonal change
Heaven, or the home of Bai Ülgen, is believed by the Altai
and the winter solstice. The trees of the cardinal points and
people to be on the top of a giant fir tree that grows at the
the Warao deities take on an especially interesting form. The
earth’s navel. The Vasyugan Ostiak (Khanty) believed that
southeast represents the soul of the Mother of the Forest, a
the cosmic tree’s branches touched the sky and its roots ex-
deity of the world of light, while the southwest is the body
tended to the underworld. A copy of the celestial tree of the
of the Mother of the Forest. For the Warao, deities of the
Siberian Tatars stands before the palace of Erlik Khan, the
northeast and northwest represent the Tree of Life, the mori-
lord of the dead.
che palm, and so symbolize sustenance and fertility. Hebraic
teaching and Islamic tradition describe the Tree of Life with
Similarly, in Scandinavian mythology the cosmos is
its roots in heaven and its branches overarching the earth.
connected by a sacred ash, Yggdrasill. Its roots reach to Nifl-
Zoroastrianism teaches that the Tree of All Seeds, or the Tree
heimr, the lowest region of Hel; its trunk, enwrapped by the
of All Healing, which grows in the cosmic sea, Vourukasha,
snake of the ocean, is in Midgarðr, the realm of humans; and
is responsible for life on earth.
its branches reach to Ásgarðr, the home of the gods. Other
versions of the myth depict the great ash with three roots:
In ancient Egypt, the celestial tree was also a tree of life.
Niflheimr or Hel under one, Utgarðr, the realm of giants and
Its fruit kept the gods and the souls of the dead in eternal
demons, under the second, and Midgarðr under the third.
youth and wisdom. Out of this tree of life emerge divine
On top of Yggdrasill sits the eagle of Óðinn (Odin), chief
arms some of which bear gifts while others pour out the
of the gods; nearby is the Spring of Urðr (“fate”), where the
water of life from an urn. In the Vedas, Varuna lifted up the
gods dispense justice and determine the fate of the world. At
celestial tree of life and by squeezing its fruit between two
Ragnarok, the doomsday of the gods, Yggdrasill will shake
stones obtained soma, or amrta, the drink of immortality.
its roots, freeing the monsters of the lower regions.
Ancient Egyptian religion also associated this tree with fate.
Sekhait, the goddess of writings or fate, sits at the foot of the
Indian tradition offers many variations of the cosmic
cosmic tree where she records on the tree itself, or in its
tree. In the Upanisads the tree is inverted with its roots in
leaves, all future events as well as the important events of the
the sky while its branches cover the earth. The eternal asvat-
present for the benefit of future generations.
tha (“fig tree”; Ficus religiosus) is a manifestation of Brahma¯
in the universe. This forest tree is also described as rising
The tree of knowledge. For Buddhists, the bodhi tree,
from the navel of Varun:a or of Na¯ra¯yan:a as he floats in the
or bo tree, is both the source of life for all beings and the tree
waters of the universe.
of enlightenment. S´a¯kyamuni Buddha made a special resolu-
tion at the foot of this tree of wisdom to remain under its
The ancient Egyptians believed that the sky was a huge
branches until he attained supreme enlightenment. It was
tree that overarched the earth. The stars were fruits or leaves
under this tree that he attained enlightenment after he was
on the tree and the gods perched on its boughs. This tree sep-
tempted and threatened by Ma¯ra and his three daughters
arated the ocean from the sky, the upper from the lower
Tanha¯, Rati, and Ra¯ga, who were like swaying branches of
worlds. Osiris, lord of the dead, was identified with this ce-
a young leafy tree singing songs of the season of spring.
lestial tree. The sun was born from the tree every day while
the celestial tree disappeared each morning, thus marking the
The Babylonians believed that two trees guarded the
periods of night and day. The year was also symbolized by
eastern entry to heaven: the tree of truth and the tree of life.
365 trees representing the days of their calendar year.
Similarly, in the Garden of Eden described in Genesis stood
the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and
Cosmic space is also defined horizontally by trees. In ad-
Evil. After Adam ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge
dition to the center of the earth and the sacred tree, with its
of Good and Evil offered by Eve, God said, “Behold, the
roots deep in the underworld and its trunks and branches de-
man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now,
fining the world of humans and the gods, many American
lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life,
Indian religions add sacred trees, and their associated colors,
and eat, and live forever” (Gn. 3:22). Adam and Eve were
birds or other animals, and gods, to each of the four cardinal
driven from the garden, marking the beginning of human-
directions. The Maya, the Aztec, and the Indian cultures that
kind’s troubles on earth.
later took part in their cultural heritage believed that five sa-
Trees as food. In many religions trees are believed to
cred trees (the four corners of the world and the center) were
be responsible for spiritual nurturance and sacred food. The
responsible for the organization of the universe; they allotted
Polynesians of Futuna believe that in Polotu, the abode of
particular times of the year, or entire years in some cases, to
the gods, grows a sacred tree, the Puka-tala. The leaves of this
serve under the dominion of each direction.
tree will change into a wide variety of foods when they are
The tree of life. Many religions believe that the cosmic
cooked and so may supply all needs. For the tribes of South
tree stands for the sacrality of the world, its creation, contin-
America’s Gran Chaco, the god Cotaa created a wondrous
uation, and fertility. Thus in many cases the world tree is also
tree that would provide food and drink for hungry people.
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The bark of the alder tree is credited by the Karok Indi-
into the hole where the tree had been. The falling woman
ans on the Klamath River in northwestern North America
then discovered this world, an event that marks the begin-
with providing salmon, an important food source. The cre-
ning of the Seneca culture.
ator of the world, Kareya, built a dam at the entrance of the
Trees as ancestors. A common extension of the notion
Klamath River that prevented salmon from coming upstream
of the cosmic tree as the source of all life is the belief in a
to the Karok. The bark of the alder tree looks like salmon
tree as an ancestor and creator. This belief can take many
when it is broken off the tree and wetted. A Karok myth re-
forms. The Warramunga of northern Australia, for example,
lates how this bark was used by Coyote to trick the women
believe that the new life present in the womb of a mother
who guarded the dam into allowing the salmon to come up
receives its spirit or soul from certain trees, entering the
from the ocean, forever supplying food for the Karok. Salm-
womb through the navel. The Lakota on the upper Missouri
on play both a life-sustaining and a religious role among
River say that the first man and woman were two trees and
these Indians, as does the wood of the alder tree.
that a snake chewed their roots off in order to allow the cou-
Creation of humankind. In many religions the myth
ple to walk away.
of a people’s origin relates how a cosmic tree played an im-
The Sauras of India honor the banyan tree, for they be-
portant role in either the actual creation of people or the
lieve that “it is our mother.” The banyan tree succored two
emergence of humankind in this world from some other
fatherless children whose mother had abandoned them
world. These beliefs are intimately tied to what is believed
under its branches. The children would have perished but for
to be sacred. For example, among the Ainu the human back-
the milk of the banyan that dripped into their mouths and
bone is regarded as the seat of life, and was originally made
fed them.
from a willow branch. But more frequently the cosmic tree
or tree of life is responsible for the creation of the people of
For the Ndembu, the “milk tree” (mudyi) is a dominant
a society. Kiowa religion features a girl child, Pekeahaidei,
symbol of their culture and religious beliefs. The white latex
carried by a growing tree into the sky where she marries and
sap of the tree is believed to represent breast milk and semen,
has a boy child. Carrying her child with her, she falls through
suggesting the creation and nurturance of life. This tree
a hole in her world. The child survives the fall to this world
stands for what is good in Ndembu society and is used in
and is raised by Spider Old Woman, a very sacred being.
rituals to counter evil forces. The tree also stands for the spir-
Later the child creates Kiowa culture.
its of the ancestors of the matriline, the important lineage of
descent, and so represents social custom and structure.
The Uyurucares of Bolivia believe that their god Tiri
split a tree and from the opening came all the people of the
In another vein, trees can be associated with a shrine
earth. The Zuni, in their story of creation, are brought up
dedicated to a deceased relative, who, in time, becomes an
from the lowest world level, where all is darkness, with the
ancestor. Among the Nuer a colwic is the spirit of those peo-
aid of the two sons of the sun. Branches from the pine tree
ple struck by lightning. These people are believed to have
to the north, the spruce to the west, the silver spruce to the
been chosen to enter into close kinship with the god Kwoth.
south, and the aspen tree to the east had to be gathered be-
A person killed by lightning is said to become a Child of
fore they could leave the Darkness World. The Zuni climbed
Kwoth, a spirit of the air. The blood relatives of the deceased,
the long prayer stick made from the pine of the north to the
his patriline, erect a riek or shrine over his funeral mound
third world; scaled the crook from the spruce of the west to
and plant a sapling of the nyuot tree at its side. The nyuot
the second world; used the prayer stick from the spruce of
tree is associated with the colwic spirit and with the rain and
the south to rise to the world below this one, and finally
the sky to which the soul of the dead person has been taken.
emerged into the Daylight World (this world) by climbing
When this sapling is planted during the rains (when most
the prayer stick made from the aspen tree. This emergence
lightning occurs), the tree takes root. If it were to die another
story blends the cosmic tree, the trees of the four corners, and
would be planted in its place. This tree becomes a shrine for
the tree of life as sacred elements that bring the Zuni to their
the deceased’s lineage. It is through this shrine that the de-
present world and that serve as important parts of their reli-
ceased’s spirit may become active in the everyday affairs of
gious beliefs.
his relatives.
The Seneca Indians of northeastern North America also
This idea of a sacred tree representing the lineage or clan
give an account of the discovery of the world originating with
is an old one. For many cultures, the ancestors are the deities
the sacred people of the sky. In the middle of their village
and are responsible for life, death, and spiritual happines.
stood a tree covered with white blossoms, which gave light
The wooden totem pole used particularly by cultures of the
to the people when the tree was in bloom. When the blos-
Pacific Northwest coast of North America is not merely a
soms fell, there was darkness. A woman of the Seneca
name or emblem of different family groupings. The totem
dreamed three times that the tree must be pulled up by the
is a collective label, but it also has a religious character: the
roots. After the third dream, her people uprooted the tree.
totem’s origins related to the special relationship to the an-
Upon discovering their actions, the chief became angry and
cestors and the sacred world. The inaw of the Ainu, men-
ordered the woman who had had the dream to be pushed
tioned above, were originally the receptacles of ancestral
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TREES
9337
ramat; later, the winged inaw (shutu inaw) came to represent
The spirit of a Buddhist nun of the eighth century CE
ancestors. Some of these winged inaw became minor kamuy
is believed to be embodied in a giant ginkgo tree in Japan.
owing to their concentrated ramat, and were effective in
This tree is called the Nurse Goddess Tree of Miyagi Field
warding off injurious magic.
because of hanging formations that resemble human breasts,
from which moisture drips in wet weather. This tree’s “mois-
TREES AND DIVINE POWERS. Trees may be viewed as having
ture” is believed to have the power of restoring milk to a
souls or spirits themselves or they may be a part of some di-
woman who is unable to nurse. The tree itself is worshiped
vine being. Thus trees may symbolize a deity either by serv-
as a sacred mortal who has become a god and is filled with
ing as the visible embodiment of a sacred presence or by
divine power.
marking a sacred spot that a deity frequents. Sacred trees may
be the abode of deities or may be the divine beings them-
Deities as trees. Trees may give birth to deities, or sa-
selves. For instance, the sacred heath worshiped in the time
cred beings may be made from trees. Among the Ainu of
of Plutarch grew around the sarcophagus of Osiris and was
Japan, A-e-oina Kamuy, a sky god, is born to the elm tree
known as the “soul of Osiris.”
spirit as is Kamuy Fuchi, supreme ancestress and ruler of all
departed spirits. She was born from the elm tree impregnated
Trees with souls or spirits. Many religions include be-
by Kando-loro Kamuy, the possessor of the heavens. Her
liefs that trees have souls or are sentient sacred beings. The
spirit is manifested in the sacred fire of the hearth and in veg-
Australian Aborigines believe that the spirit of humanity re-
etation.
sides in the land and that a tree, a bush, or a rock is the pres-
ent incarnation of this spirit and has great religious value. A
In Asia Minor the almond tree and the river Sangarius
group of relatives thus includes humans and the spirits of
were believed to have given birth to the god Attis, and conse-
these natural features of the landscape. If an Aboriginal leaves
quently maturing almond trees became his symbol. The Tu-
the area, he would leave a vital part of himself behind.
pari of the Mato Grosso region of Brazil believe that two of
their male gods were born from a large rock. Since they had
The pre-Islamic jinn are associated with certain kinds
no wives, they cut down two trees, and each carved himself
of trees. These trees are conceived as animate and rational,
a woman and so populated the world.
for a supernatural life and power resides in the trees. In
Greece the dryads were oak nymphs, and the tengu of Japan
Trees may also represent the essence of the deity. For
are forest spirits.
example, the Buddha’s fig tree, asvattha, is the chosen symbol
of his essence, synonymous with all existence and all life.
The Trobriand Islanders of the western Pacific depend
Among the Mandan Indians along the Missouri River in
both spiritually and physically on the spirit of their canoe
North Dakota, the world had two creators: First Creator and
and the tree from which it is made. Once a tree is selected,
Lone Man. Lone Man leaves the cedar with the Mandan as
the owner, builder, and helpers must perform a short cere-
a protection from all harm. The cedar is the body of Lone
mony before the tree can be cut down. A small cut is made
Man and contains his essence. Among the Arikara the cedar
in the trunk, and a bit of food is placed in the incision. This
trees grown in front of their lodges are the body and spirit
is an offering to the tree’s tokway, or wood sprite, to induce
of Mother Corn, an important deity.
the spirit to leave the tree so that the workers may begin the
process of converting the tree into a canoe.
Deities symbolized by trees. Wreaths and crowns of
foliage, usually laurel, olive, myrtle, ivy, or oak were sacred
The Japanese have a story about the spirit of a very large
to Apollo and so symbolized some particular personification
and old willow tree that grows near a temple. The village de-
of him. The myrtle was also a symbol of both Venus and
cides to build a bridge and use the willow’s wood for part
Neptune, the male and female deities of the productive and
of its construction. A young man, who like his ancestors be-
fertile powers of the waters. Several species of oak were sym-
fore him loves and respects the old tree, saves it by offering
bols of Zeus.
to substitute wood from his own land in place of the willow
Frequently a tree is held to be sacred because a deity re-
tree. The village accepts and the tree is saved. Returning from
sides in its branches. The a´svattha is said by some to be the
work one day the young man meets a beautiful young
abode of Brahma as well as embodying his essence and serv-
woman under the willow. They marry with the understand-
ing as the tree of wisdom and life. Other sources say that in
ing that the young man never ask his wife where she came
this sacred tree abide Brahma¯, Vis:n:u, and S´iva, as well as
from or who her parents were. He agrees. The emperor de-
Vis:n:u in his incarnation as Kr:s:n:a. Among the ancient Sem-
clares that a temple is to be built nearby. The village is eager
ites, the goddess Al-Ozza had her abode in a sacred acacia
to have the willow included in the building materials for the
at Nakhla.
good fortune it will bring. One morning when the willow
is being cut down the wife wakes up and tells her husband
Some trees are taken as symbols of a sacred person be-
that she is the spirit of the willow, that she married him to
cause of particular religious qualities the tree possesses. The
make him happy in return for saving her (and the willow)
myrtle is believed to be the symbol of pure maidenhood in
so many years ago, but that now she must return to the wil-
Christianity and so is ascribed to the Virgin because of her
low to die with it because she is a part of it.
pure life and sacred character. The palm, cypress, and olive
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9338
TREES
are also symbols of the Virgin during her annunciation. They
will. The shaman may be spiritually connected to the cosmic
denote peace, heaven, and hope.
tree. Most frequently the shaman uses the cosmic tree as a
vehicle to ascend to the sky or to the deities of the universe
Greek beliefs frequently describe the actions of the gods
to gain sacred information.
in transforming human or divine beings into trees. The vir-
ginal Daphne, fleeing Apollo’s embrace, is turned into a lau-
In addition to the ability to transverse the universe and
rel tree by her mother, Gaia, the earth. Apollo breaks off a
communicate with the deities by means of the sacred tree,
branch and crowns himself with it. In another myth, Aphro-
shamans can communicate with the spiritual realm through
dite takes pity on Smyrna, mother of the slain Adonis, and
divination, frequently using parts of sacred trees for ritual
tranforms her into a myrrh tree.
communication. According to the religion of the Sisal, an
T
ethnic group in the Tumu district of northern Ghana, the
REES AS VEHICLES OF COMMUNICATION WITH DEITIES.
Trees serve as a means of communicating with the divine in
first diviner or shaman descended from God shortly after hu-
three ways: through their use in shrines, the meeting place
mans descended to earth using the baobab tree. Shamans also
on earth of a sacred being and humankind; through the rela-
frequently have spirit helpers to aid them in their ceremoni-
tionship between sacred trees and shamans, the religious me-
als. Among the Coast Salish of North America, one of the
diators of the divine; and through the use of sacred drinks
most powerful spirit helpers is known as Biggest Tree and
or drugs made from trees that allow a mystical contact with
aids the shaman in acquiring gifts made from cedar. These
the sacred.
gifts are “alive” for those who possess the power to perceive
and use them.
Trees and religious shrines. Sacred trees may be found
Religious objects made of wood may also act as messen-
along with bushes, shrubs, rocks, or even with a temple to
gers. The wooden inaw of the Ainu are messengers (shongo-
make a shrine. In ancient Egypt, by order of Pepi II, a new
koro guru) or intermediaries between the Ainu and the kamuy
center of worship was officially recognized by planting a Syri-
or between the kamuy themselves.
an fir in the town. Among the Pare of Africa, religious shrines
were sacred groves of trees and depended in size upon the
Trees and divine intoxicants. Many religions include
size of the comunity who would worship in them. Many
the use of a divine potion, made from sacred plants, as neces-
Shinto¯ shrines are built under the branches of an ancient tree
sary vehicles to the divine. Shamans frequently incorporate
as an alternate abode for the deity of the tree. The usual sa-
the use of such potions into their practices. Varun:a obtains
cred tree of Shinto¯ is the evergreen sakaki. It is usually on
soma, or amr:ta, the fruit of immortality, by squeezing the
the grounds of the shrine, protected by sacred ropes. One of
fruit of the celestial tree of life between two stones. The pal-
the most powerful shrines in Java lies in the center of Mod-
myra palm is a symbol of S´iva, yielding an intoxicating and
jokerto, where at the foot of a huge banyan tree lies a small
powerful juice. In Chan Kom, descendants of the Maya use
stone statue of Gan:e´sa, the Hindu elephant god of wisdom,
a favorite Mayan intoxicant and purge that has strong reli-
surrounded by a white fence.
gious associations. They make a ceremonial mead of fer-
mented honey and add the bark of the balche tree during the
A shrine in the town of Kagami in Japan is dedicated
process for its narcotic effect. This drink, balche, enables
to Musubi no Kami, the god of love, and built in honor of
communication with the deities and is necessary for all reli-
a cherry tree, Kanzakura. A myth tells of the spirit of a sacred
gious rituals, especially those for fertility, abundance of
cherry tree. A young girl falls in love with a handsome young
crops, rain, health, and family.
man and will not accept the marriage arranged for her by her
father. When the girl discovers she has fallen in love with the
THE RITUAL USE OF TREES. Sacred trees have a ritual signifi-
spirit of the cherry tree, she chooses to become a caretaker
cance. The trees and their meanings may be incorporated
of the shrine devoted to the tree. There she stayed for the
into rituals of curing, initiation, marriage, and death. Trees
remainder of her life, representing religious perfection and
used in any of these contexts stand for the divine and repre-
dedication.
sent the sacred beliefs being honored through the ritual.
Trees appear in rituals in various forms as symbols for
Sacred trees pass on communications from deities by
the divine. Sacred beverages are made from tree bark. Incense
speaking directly to humans, or indirectly through their
made from the sap and bark of sacred trees calls deities down
whispering leaves whose sounds must then be interpreted by
to this world and then “feeds” them while they are here.
priests. At Dodona in Epirus, the talking Oak of Zeus deliv-
Copal, an incense made from a tree sap and used by many
ered divine messages to humans through priests. Wood from
cultures in Latin America, not only aids communication
this oak was also used to build the Argo and spoke to the he-
with the deities but protects the ritual participants from
roes with a human voice. At Delphi, the laurel tree served
harm by driving away evil and purifying the area. Most fre-
as the voice of Apollo. The famous sacred tree near Shechem
quently, wood is used to construct powerful religious para-
called the “tree of the revealer” in Genesis 12:6, was originally
phernalia, such as the sacred poles erected to symbolize the
a Canaanite tree oracle.
presence of the ancestral spirits or the cosmic tree during the
Trees and shamans. Shamans or priests are frequently
ritual. The symbol of the cross is used in different religions
associated with sacred trees as oracles or interpreters of divine
to symbolize specific divine beings or the sacred in general.
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TREES
9339
The Zinacantecos, descendants of the Maya in Chiapas,
Christian practice in the United States. The leaves of the
erect cross shrines for every kind of ceremony. Three small
baine palm used by the Coorgs of South India are associated
pine trees are fastened to crosses and pine needles are strewn
with death and are used in funeral rituals.
on the ground around the crosses to set off the area as sacred
Many religions practice tree burial as the appropriate
and ritually pure. There must be three crosses for a ceremo-
spiritual resting place for the deceased. The Khasiyas of east-
ny, and one is generally a permanent wooden construction,
ern India leave the deceased in the hollow trunk of a tree.
supplemented by two crosses made entirely from fresh pine
Many North American Indian groups placed their dead in
boughs. The triadic symbol displays the Catholic religious
trees or on wooden structures grouped together to form a sa-
use of three crosses as well as the traditional Native American
cred burial ground. The Nootka and Southern Kwakiutl
beliefs. Crosses are “doorways” to the houses of the ancestral
used another form of tree burial. They folded the body up
deities. They mark the boundaries between the sacred and
and put it in a large box, which was then placed high in a
the profane realms.
tree. A wooden mortuary column was erected to display the
In Christian belief, the cross may be referred to as a sym-
family crest of the deceased.
bol of the Tree of Life that stands in the Garden of Eden.
In many religions, without proper religious burial the
The wood from the True Cross was believed to have the
soul of the departed would be in danger and could harm the
power to restore the dead to life. A variety of different trees
deceased’s living friends and relatives. For the funeral pyre,
are credited with being the wood chosen for Christ’s cross:
the Coorgs of South India cut down a mango or pavili tree
cedar of Lebanon, dogwood, mesquite, ash, and oak.
that grows in the burial ground. The entire tree must be used
Trees in rituals of initiation and marriage. Many Af-
for cremating the corpse; improper use of the tree’s parts may
rican cultures mark the transition from youth to adulthood
result in another death in the community in the near future.
through rituals of initiation, and some of the most powerful
symbolism of this change is represented through the use of
SEE ALSO Axis Mundi; Beverages; Incense; Rites of Passage;
trees. Among the Ndembu, the milk tree, the mudyi, a sym-
Vegetation.
bol of life and the ancestors, is used in both male and female
initiation ceremonies to transform boys and girls into fertile,
BIBLIOGRAPHY
productive adults. Traditionally, a girl’s initiation ceremony
Mircea Eliade provides a thorough discussion of the many differ-
and the use of the milk tree served as her marriage ceremony
ent beliefs and practices that involve sacred trees in Patterns
in Comparative Religion
(New York, 1958). Eliade places reli-
as well.
gious belief associated with trees into seven categories. Clif-
Every young girl among the Newari of Nepal is married
ford Geertz’s The Religion of Java (New York, 1960) de-
to a small tree (bel) from early childhood. In India, the “mar-
scribes the syncretism of Hindu, Muslim, and folk beliefs
riage of trees” may be performed when a woman has been
that constitutes Javanese religion. Geertz’s book is notewor-
thy for its discussion of ritual objects made from trees. Victor
married for many years and has not yet borne children. One
Turner’s seminal treatment of the African milk tree in The
tree representing her husband and one tree symbolizing her
Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual (Ithaca, N.Y.,
fertility are planted side by side so that their combined
1967) is an insightful and extensive consideration of a domi-
growth may symbolically and spiritually increase her fertility
nant symbol in Ndembu culture, the mudyi, or sacred tree.
and the growth of life within her womb.
Turner explores the ritual use of trees in life-cycle rites of pas-
sage.
The “marriage tree” is common in South India as a rep-
resentation of a male or female ancestor. This tree is neces-
M. N. Srinivas has provided an important contribution to the un-
sary for all weddings and is adorned as a part of the ceremo-
derstanding of Hindu beliefs about sacred trees, especially
ny. In Java large “plants,” are assembled from banana stems
their role in rituals of the life cycle, in Religion and Society
among the Coorgs of South India
(London, 1952). A. R. Rad-
and scalloped tree leaves of various types, and wrapped with
cliffe-Brown provides an account of the religious beliefs in
green coconut branches. These “flowers” made from trees are
the powers of trees and the rituals associated with them as
essential ritual elements for the wedding ceremony, repre-
found among the people who live on a chain of islands ex-
senting the virginity of the bride and the groom.
tending from Burma to Sumatra in The Andaman Islanders
(1922; 3d ed., Glencoe, Ill., 1948). In Argonauts of the West-
Trees associated with death and rebirth. A variety of
ern Pacific (1922; New York, 1953) Bronisllaw Malinowski
trees are specifically associated with religious beliefs about
provides a fascinating account of the beliefs and rituals that
the fate of the dead and the rebirth or passage of their souls
surround the use of trees among the Trobriand Islanders.
to the afterlife. Christian death symbolism involves the use
The use of trees as discussed in Buddhist scriptures is presented
of willows and cedar trees. These trees symbolically stand for
by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy in Elements of Buddhist Ico-
the death of the body as well as heralding a rebirth of the
nography (1935; New Delhi, 1972). The mixture of Roman
soul. These trees are almost always present in cemeteries in
Catholic and Mayan beliefs is explored in Evon Z. Vogt’s
America and may be accompanied by conifers or other kinds
Zinacantan: A Maya Community in the Highlands of Chiapas
of evergreens: a promise of everlasting life. Wood is the most
(Cambridge, Mass., 1969). This is an extensive study of the
common material from which coffins are made for burial in
Tzotzil-speaking Indians of Guatemala and includes a full ac-
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9340
TRENT, COUNCIL OF
count of their religious beliefs and the importance of sacred
misuse of their dispensing powers, particularly with regard
trees. Douglas Sharon’s Wizard of the Four Winds: A Sha-
to the appointment to benefices, was the root cause of those
man’s Story (New York, 1978) contains some encapsulations
abuses.
of North American and Mesoamerican cosmologies, includ-
ing beliefs about sacred trees. Sharon’s treatment of Me-
The demand for a council became the standard rhetoric
soamerican shamans’ use of trees as a source of power is note-
not only of churchmen but also of princes and statesmen.
worthy. Mircea Eliade’s Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of
Conciliar preeminence assumed doctrinal status in many of
Ecstasy, rev. & enl. ed. (New York, 1964), also provides an
the best universities in Europe and found its way into a thou-
insightful discussion on the relationships between shamans
sand pamphlets, treatises, and broadsides. Preachers thun-
and the cosmic tree.
dered the message from their pulpits, and echoes were heard
One of the best discussions of the interrelationship between spirit,
in busy chancelleries no less than in silent Carthusian
soul, God, and elements of nature is found in E. E. Evans-
charterhouses. No pope could be elected until he had assured
Pritchard’s Nuer Religion (New York, 1977). Neil G.
the cardinals in conclave that he would summon a council
Munro’s Ainu Creed and Cult (London, 1962) neatly de-
within a year or two of his coronation.
scribes the Ainu belief in ramat (spirit or soul), which inhab-
its trees, and the sacred and magical qualities ramat passed
Such were the shock waves loosed at the Council of
on to the ritual objects made from trees.
Constance (1414–1418). The questions addressed there
New Sources
were at once constitutional, procedural, and moral. With
Aburrow, Yvonne. The Enchanted Forest: The Magic Lore of Trees.
whom or what lies ultimate authority within the church? The
Milverton, U.K., 1993.
monarchical concept of the papal primacy had taken its clas-
Altman, Nathaniel. Sacred Trees. San Francisco, 1994.
sical form in the days of Gregory VII (d. 1085), had pressed
Brosse, Jacques. Mythologie des Arbres. Paris, 1989.
its brief even further under the great lawyer popes of the thir-
teenth century (e.g., Innocent III, d. 1216, and Clement IV,
Caldecott, Moyra. Myths of the Sacred Tree: Including Myths from
d. 1268) and, scarcely checked by the extravagances of Boni-
Africa, Native America, China, Sumeria, Russia, Greece, India,
face VIII (d. 1303), had reached a kind of practical hegemo-
Scandinavia, Europe, Egypt, South America, Arabia. Roches-
ter, Vt., 1993.
ny, at least in fiscal affairs, at Avignon (1305–1376). But the
protracted scandal of the Western Schism (1378–1417),
Gifford, Jane. The Wisdom of Trees: Mystery, Magic, and Medicine.
when two and then three rival “popes” competed for the alle-
New York, 2000.
giance of Christendom, brought the notion of papal monar-
Goelitz, Jeffret. Secrets from the Lives of Trees. Boulder Creek,
chy into severe disrepute, just as the solution of the crisis by
Calif., 1991.
a general council convened at Constance under the aegis of
Karas, Sheryl Ann. The Solstice Evergreen: History, Folklore, and
the German emperor enhanced the idea of conciliar superior-
Origins of the Christmas Tree. 1990; reprint, Fairfield, Conn.,
ity. The council’s deposition of the three squabbling claim-
1998.
ants, its election of a successor (Martin V, 1417–1431), and
Martin, Laura C. The Folklore of Trees and Shrubs. Guilford,
its solemn decree, Sacrosancta, all combined to stake out a
Conn., 1992.
constitutional position: a general council, representative of
PAMELA R. FRESE (1987)
the emperor and other Christian princes, the learned elite
S. J. M. GRAY (1987)
of the universities, the experts in canon law, and the college
Revised Bibliography
of bishops, acted for the whole church, of which the pope
was a functionary, albeit an exalted functionary.
The decree Frequens, which called for such a council to
TRENT, COUNCIL OF. Also known as the nine-
be held every ten years, concerned itself with the procedural
teenth general council of the Roman Catholic Church, this
problem. Frequens presumed the doctrine of Sacrosancta.
council opened on December 13, 1545, and closed on De-
Since final and decisive authority belonged to the council,
cember 4, 1563, after twenty-five formal sessions. The road
the pope’s position was that of chief executive or prime min-
to Trent, long and tortuous, passed through Constance,
ister responsible to the council, which therefore had to meet
Basel, and Pisa. The cry for a sweeping reform of the church
frequently. The conciliar movement of the fifteenth century
from top to bottom—“reformatio capitis et membrorum”—
based itself on these grounds. Due partly to the temper of
had been raised one hundred years before Luther posted his
the time, that movement did not succeed. The secular coun-
theses. It continued to ring out through the fifteenth centu-
terparts of the aristocratic ecclesiastical assemblage the con-
ry, accompanied more often than not by the insistence that
ciliarists had in mind were in retreat everywhere in Europe
serious reform could be achieved only within the framework
and, in most places, on the eve of dissolution. Ambitious dy-
of a general council. Basic to this coupling of reform and
nasts were in the process of bringing the powers to tax, to
council was the widespread conviction that the papacy was
maintain military establishments, and to appoint govern-
incapable of or unwilling to put right the tangle of abuses
ment personnel under their own bureaucratic control, and
that threatened to smother the ecclesiastical life of Christen-
thus reducing and even eliminating the prerogatives of the
dom. Indeed, it was argued by many that the popes’ chronic
great medieval parliaments. It was unlikely that the church,
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TRENT, COUNCIL OF
9341
the first great Western institution to adopt this centralizing
to have any outside agency oversee and most likely interfere
model, would have reversed direction in favor of a polity that
with the workings of their own court, the central bureaucracy
was demonstrably anachronistic.
of the church. Reform of the Curia, they proclaimed, was the
business solely of the supreme pontiff.
But there were other, more proximate causes for the col-
lapse of the movement, not least the tendency of the concil-
Whatever the theoretical value of this argument, the
iarists to quarrel among themselves. The popes, for their
trouble with it was that the supreme pontiffs, themselves
part, ignored the doctrine of Sacrosancta and evaded the pro-
products of the curial system, were clearly not prepared to
visions of Frequens. A council was indeed convoked at Basel
go beyond platitudes and gestures in correcting the colossal
in 1431, but it soon fell out with the pope, who withdrew
financial chicanery that corrupted the various papal depart-
from it and convened a more tame assembly under his own
ments and that reached a stunning climax in the election and
presidency at Florence. The rump council continued to meet
pontificate of Alexander VI (r. 1492–1503). Since Con-
at Basel until 1449, when it broke up into bitterly contend-
stance, the conviction that everything was for sale in Rome—
ing factions. After that, conciliar rhetoric sounded increas-
offices, judgments, indulgences, dispensations from the
ingly hollow, especially when engaged in by secular rulers
law—had grown, not lessened, and the poison of simony
who routinely invoked the threat of a council as a device to
seeped down through the whole body of the church. Julius
influence papal policy in Italy. So the conciliar movement
II did indeed summon a council in 1512, largely as a counter
died a lingering death, its last gasp coming at Pisa in 1511,
to the French-sponsored gathering at Pisa, but the meander-
when the king of France, in league with a dissident minority
ings of the Fifth Lateran Council (1512–1517) produced re-
of the college of cardinals, summoned a council whose de-
form decrees that were no better than scraps of paper and
clared purpose was to strip the pope, the king’s bitterest po-
that served merely to confirm the cynical mistrust of the pa-
litical enemy, of his office. This conciliabulum did not survive
pacy’s moral resolution.
the French military reverses of the following year.
The popes’ highest card in this game of stalemate was
The effective end of the movement, however, did not
the reluctance of even fervent conciliarists—aside from a
put a quietus to the theory. The teaching of Sacrosancta con-
handful of academics—to challenge the doctrine of the Pe-
tinued to flourish in university circles, notably at the Sor-
trine office. But the year that saw the conclusion of the futile
bonne. Nor did those who rejected Sacrosancta necessarily re-
Fifth Lateran Council was also the year of the ninety-five the-
pudiate Frequens as well. The two decrees had doubtlessly
ses. By 1520, Luther declared himself ready to jettison the
been wedded in the minds of the fathers of Constance, but
papacy if that institution obstructed the full flowering of the
as the century wore on a distinction between them was often
gospel as he understood it. And Luther soon proved he was
drawn by those who, while not prepared to admit the consti-
no effete intellectual but the leader of a potentially vast popu-
tutional superiority of the council, nevertheless believed that
lar movement. Over the next decade the character of the de-
only a council could bring about meaningful reform.
bate about a council was drastically altered. As early as 1523,
The moral issue raised at Constance went unresolved for
the German estates, gathered in the Diet of Nuremberg,
a hundred years. There had occurred a kind of spontaneous
called for “a free Christian council in German lands.” Here
reform of the members in some places—the Devotio Mod-
was conciliarism with a new twist. Now, besides the old
erna in the Netherlands, a florescence of mysticism in En-
clamor for a council to reform ecclesiastical abuses, there
gland and Germany, an evangelical revival in northern Italy,
came the demand from a growing constituency in northern
a dedication among the educated classes everywhere to the
Europe for a reform of dogma as well.
scholarly endeavors of Christian humanism. But these were
THE COUNCIL OF PAUL III. The pope who had to contend
hardly more than specks upon a dark sea of clerical illiteracy,
with this new situation, Clement VII (r. 1523–1534), avoid-
popular superstition, jobbery, and pastoral neglect. The be-
ed it as best he could, and though he paid lip service to the
lief was almost universal that such abuses perdured because
conciliar idea, he was as obstructive as his predecessors had
the Curia Romana, the pope’s own administration, permit-
been. His successor was cut from a different cloth. Alessan-
ted and even encouraged them. Curial fees, taxes, and
dro Farnese, who upon his election assumed the name Paul
charges proliferated, most of them designed to allow what
III (r. 1534–1549), had long been a champion within the
traditional law and common sense declared to be perilous to
Curia of a reform council, and he had carefully distanced
the life of the church. The members would never be properly
himself from Clement VII’s duplicitous policy in this regard.
reformed, it was said, unless the head were reformed too.
Not that Farnese had the credentials of a reformer. His
The Renaissance popes, whose lifestyles and political
youthful career—Alexander VI had made him a cardinal
ambitions were hardly calculated to inspire confidence, stub-
when he was twenty-six—had revealed many of the more
bornly refused to put their houses in order or to permit any
seamy features of the Renaissance papal court. In his middle
other organ of the church to do so. They tried to keep to the
years he had undergone something of a religious conversion,
high ground of constitutional theory. The papal primacy,
which, though it did not eradicate all the bad habits of his
they argued, was a datum of divine revelation that they were
past, led him at least to a greater earnestness and gravity of
pledged to defend as they had received it. They also declined
purpose. Never a moral zealot himself, he signaled his good
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TRENT, COUNCIL OF
intentions by promoting men of genuine probity and even
tence was not one of them. The intricate diplomacy involved
holiness to high ranks and, most of all, by immediately mov-
in the conciliar enterprise never really ceased, even when the
ing to fulfill his pledge to summon a general council.
distrustful emperor turned to another tack and urged a con-
ference of leading theologians, Protestant and Catholic, who
From the beginning of Paul III’s initiative, everything
could discuss all the religious discontents and find solutions
seemed to work at cross-purposes. For a council to succeed,
to them. The pope cooperated in this venture, but the distin-
both great Catholic sovereigns—the German emperor and
guished participants in the Colloquy of Ratisbon, which oc-
the king of France—had to support it, but they were bitterly
cupied most of the summer of 1541, failed to reach a meet-
at odds with each other. The emperor, Charles V, pressed
ing of minds. Any hope of religious reunion was fast slipping
for a council of reconciliation to bring peace to Germany,
away.
which meant a council to correct abuses, to satisfy the grava-
mina
of the German estates against the Curia, with as little
The pope responded by returning to his conciliar proj-
attention as possible paid to divisive doctrinal issues. Francis
ect. With the assent of the somewhat chastened emperor, he
I wanted no council at all, because religious unrest in Germa-
formally announced the opening of a general council for No-
ny, which discomfited his Habsburg rival, was much to his
vember 1, 1542. The site this time was Trent, a small italian-
liking. Had Paul III had his way, he would have preferred
ized town northwest of Venice that was nevertheless an im-
a council over which he could keep careful watch, a kind of
perial free city and thus juridically “in German lands.” But
“Sixth Lateran,” which would emphasize doctrine and, with
the earlier pattern of delay, postponement, and obstructive-
a preponderance of bishops from the Papal States in atten-
ness by Francis I and outright rejection by the Protestants,
dance, protect the prerogatives of the Curia. But he knew he
quarrels between pope and emperor, and intermittent war-
had no chance for that, and so he proposed what appeared
fare between France and the empire was bitterly repeated.
to be the next best scenario. Mantua was a petty Italian city-
Not until December 13, 1545, did Paul III’s council finally
state whose duke was vassal to the emperor; on June 2, 1536,
begin in the Cathedral of Saint Vigilius in Trent. The process
the pope, ignoring the unanimous advice of his cardinals,
had consumed eleven years and had produced only thirty-
summoned a general council to convene at Mantua the fol-
four voting participants. It was no wonder the mood was
lowing May and ordered all the bishops, abbots, and other
somber throughout the Mass of the Holy Ghost and the for-
prelates of the whole world to appear there.
mal reading of the bull of convocation, which reminded the
fathers that their solemn task was to heal the confessional
Immediately obstacles sprang up all around him. The
split, to reform those abuses that sullied Christ’s body, and
duke of Mantua demanded a large papal army to garrison the
to promote amity among Christian princes.
town. The Protestants promptly declined to attend because
of the presence of this hostile force, and then, when security
Those princes, though their influence over the council
arrangements were altered to meet their objections, they re-
was enormous, did not participate directly in its decision
fused anyway. The king of France also refused to participate
making, nor did anyone else outside the higher clergy. In its
or to allow any French prelates to do so. The emperor, point-
procedure Trent was more akin to the papal councils of the
ing out how Francis I had connived with the Lutheran
high Middle Ages than to Constance or Basel. Franchise be-
princes and even with the Turks, urged Paul III to join him
longed only to the “fathers” of the council, that is, to the
in an assault upon the French and thus guarantee a successful
bishops present—not their proctors—and to the generals of
council. The war duly broke out in 1536, but without the
the mendicant orders. The presiding officers were the legates
pope, who shrank from a step that might have provoked
appointed by the pope. They were empowered to set the
Francis into following the schismatic example of Henry VIII
agenda, although each bishop was free to request inclusion
and that at the same time might have contributed to elimi-
of any proposal he pleased. This arrangement met with few
nating the only check upon Habsburg power, which he
serious difficulties once the basic compromise between the
feared as much as the French king did. Instead, the pope
pope’s and the emperor’s positions was accepted: that mat-
postponed the Mantuan council twice, then translated it to
ters of dogma and matters of reform would be treated simul-
Vicenza, postponed it again, and finally, in 1539, suspended
taneously.
it altogether.
The work schedule followed a consistent pattern. It
The failure was more than a disappointment. It tended
began with a “particular congregation,” at which theologians
to sustain the view—not only among Protestants—that this
and canonists would discuss the draft of a particular decree.
pope was no more serious about reform than his predecessors
The fathers formed the audience for these technical exposi-
had been. Paul III did not help his cause much by the simul-
tions. Then, meeting alone in a “general congregation,” they
taneous campaign he was carrying on—in the best Renais-
debated the matter themselves until they reached agreement
sance style of his first mentor, Alexander VI—to make a rul-
upon a final text. A “session” was a public meeting at which
ing dynasty of his children and grandchildren. The Farnese
that text was read out, formally voted upon, and promulgat-
did indeed become dukes of Parma, but only at the cost of
ed at the council’s decree. Since it was thought to have a li-
diminishing further the pope’s limited fund of goodwill.
turgical as well as a juridical significance, a session was always
Even so, whatever Paul III’s flaws of character, lack of persis-
convened in the cathedral or some other church. Between
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TRENT, COUNCIL OF
9343
1545 and 1563 the Council of Trent held twenty-five ses-
to be replaced by a typhus epidemic that broke out in the
sions, of which seventeen were substantive in the sense that
vicinity early in 1547 and that caused the council to translate
they were occasions for the proclamation of doctrinal defini-
its deliberations to Bologna (eighth session, March 11,
tions and reform legislation, while the rest were ceremonial
1547). The emperor was furious at what he considered the
affairs.
pope’s maneuver to bring the council under his direct con-
trol by removing it to a city in the Papal States. Fourteen im-
The first particular congregation met on February 20,
perialist bishops remained in Trent, but the majority of the
1546, to examine Luther’s assertion of sola scriptura. On
fathers went dutifully off to Bologna, where they labored
April 8, at the fourth session, the council declared that apos-
through intense debate in both particular and general con-
tolic traditions, “which have come from the mouth of Christ
gregations on the rest of the sacraments, the sacrificial char-
or by the direction of the Holy Spirit and have been passed
acter of the Mass, purgatory, veneration of the saints, and
down to our own times,” deserve to be accepted by believers
monastic vows—all doctrinal issues raised by the Protestant
“with as much reverence [pari pietatis ac reverentia]” as scrip-
reformers. But Paul III allowed no formal sessions or decrees,
ture itself. The fifth session, on June 17, renewed earlier con-
lest he push the angry emperor too far. The significance of
ciliar legislation setting up structures for the theological
the Bologna phase of the council, until its suspension on
training of the parochial clergy and placed upon bishops and
February 16, 1548, proved to be the use to which its work
pastors a stern obligation to preach to their flocks every Sun-
was put when the council assembled again at Trent three
day and holy day. On the dogmatic side this session issued
years later.
six “canons,” terse condemnatory statements on the Pelagian
as well as the Lutheran view of original sin.
THE COUNCIL OF JULIUS III. Giovanni Maria del Monte,
who had been senior legate during the first phase of the
Then began the most protracted debate of the council,
council, was elected pope in February 1550 and took the
devoted to the central Lutheran doctrine of justification. The
name Julius III. Immediately he came under pressure from
first draft of a decree on this controversial subject was sub-
the emperor to reconvene the council and, specifically, to get
mitted to the fathers on July 28 and promptly rejected. For
on with the business of reform. The new pope faced many
the next seven months the arguments raged through forty-
of the same political problems as his predecessor, and it was
four particular and sixty-one general congregations, until fi-
in the teeth of strong resistance from the German Protestant
nally an acceptable text was hammered out and promulgated
princes and the new king of France, Henry II, that the coun-
at the sixth session, on January 13, 1547. There was nearly
cil reopened at Trent on May 1, 1551. The fifty or so fathers
unanimous assent to the sixteen chapters of the decree and
did little serious work before the end of the summer, but
the thirty-three canons, which repudiated Luther’s view of
thanks to the deliberations at Bologna they were ready at the
justification by faith alone. But there was no such unanimity
thirteenth session, on October 11, to issue a decree on the
when the next great issue of reform was introduced. The fa-
Eucharist that in eight expository chapters and eleven canons
thers and their theologians wrangled through the succeeding
reasserted the traditional dogma of the real presence as well
months over the requirement that bishops reside in their dio-
as the mechanism of transubstantiation. Six weeks later, at
ceses. When the proposed decree was presented the first
the fourteenth session, the sacraments of penance and ex-
time, only twenty-eight fathers out of a total grown by early
treme unction received doctrinal definition. The landmark
1547 to sixty indicated their agreement by voting placet. The
character of these dogmatic decisions, however, was not
divisions over the matter were so deep that it had to be set
matched by the reform legislation passed in the thirteenth
aside for later consideration. The seventh session, on March
and fourteenth sessions. Directives about rights and duties
3, 1547, therefore contented itself with asserting a bishop’s
of bishops with regard to their clergy, and regulations gov-
right to supervise parishes in his diocese administered by
erning procedures in ecclesiastical courts, did not, as the
members of religious orders. The dogmatic decrees of the
council’s critics were quick to point out, strike at the roots
same session defined the nature of the sacraments, fixed their
of the accumulated abuses.
number at seven, and asserted their effective spiritual power
(ex opere operato). The doctrine of baptism and confirmation
At the beginning of 1552 a faint flicker of hope for re-
was also treated in detail.
union flared up and then quickly died out. On January 15,
ambassadors and theologians from several Protestant states,
Meanwhile, in the midst of all this intellectual labor,
having come to Trent under a safe-conduct, appeared at the
various discontents revealed themselves. Trent was a small
council’s fifteenth session. But their brief presence only
town with limited accommodations. Its location made it a
served to demonstrate that the confessional divisions could
difficult place to supply with provisions, and its climate was
no longer be healed or that at any rate a council managed
harsher than the southerners in attendance were accustomed
by the pope and already committed to traditio no less than
to. Many of the fathers complained of the discomfort in
to scriptura as a font of revelation could never be an instru-
which they were forced to live. During the summer of 1546,
ment of reconciliation.
fighting between the emperor and the Smalcald League
surged close enough to the city that dissolution of the council
So the fathers returned wearily to their own debates,
was seriously contemplated. This danger passed away, only
now treating of the sacrament of orders and the sacrifice of
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9344
TRENT, COUNCIL OF
the Mass. The congregations dragged on inconclusively into
bishops exercised their office independently of the pope. A
the spring, as the emperor went to war yet again with the
vote on April 20, revealed that the fathers were divided al-
German princes allied with France. This time he was badly
most evenly on the subject. Tempers ran so high that the leg-
defeated, and when he fled to nearby Innsbruck the fathers
ates managed to calm the situation only by postponing dis-
at Trent decided it was too risky to remain there. They used
cussion of the question until a later date. Dogmatic
the sixteenth session, April 28, 1552, to adjourn the council
deliberations meanwhile continued, and at the twenty-first
sine die. Julius III, at heart an indolent and self-indulgent
session (July 16, 1562) the council defined the sacrificial
man, made no effort through the rest of his pontificate to
character of the Mass and the whole presence of Christ in
revive it. His successor, Paul IV (1555–1559), was fiercely
each of the eucharistic species of bread and wine. The disci-
determined to effect reform, but he had no patience for con-
plinary decision as to whether the laity should be allowed to
ciliar ways and preferred instead to impose doctrinal and
share the chalice—something taken seriously by the emperor
moral purity by liberal use of the inquisition, of which he
and by Germans generally—was referred to the pope for im-
had once been head. This policy was an utter failure, as in-
plementation after the council.
deed was Paul IV’s whole reign, and when the cardinals en-
tered the conclave of 1559 the scandal of an unfinished
Next on the agenda came discussion of the sacrament
council cast a long shadow over it.
of orders, which involved once more the thorny issue of epis-
copal residence. By autumn the council had reached an im-
THE COUNCIL OF PIUS IV. The conclave of 1559 lasted
passe. No formulation, however ingenious, could budge the
more than three months, and the pope who emerged from
determination of either side. The winter of 1563 arrived, and
it, Pius IV (Giovanni Angelo de’ Medici), was committed to
then the spring, and still no resolution was in sight. The con-
bringing the Council of Trent to a satisfactory conclusion.
ciliar machinery ground to a halt, and after ten months of
The obstacles he encountered in persuading the Catholic
wrangling, the breakup of the council appeared imminent.
powers to take up the conciliar enterprise once again were
Then, in early March, the senior legate suddenly died, and
different but hardly less daunting than those Paul III and Ju-
Pius IV replaced him with Giovanni Cardinal Morone. This
lius III had had to face. The Peace of Augsburg (1555) and
proved to be the decisive intervention.
the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis (1559) had indeed removed
for the time being the threat of war that had so plagued the
Morone, the ablest papal diplomat of the century, rec-
earlier stages of the council. But the Catholic monarchs—
ognized that behind the arguments advanced by the propo-
three of them, now that Charles V had departed the scene
nents of jus divinum lurked the conviction that the papacy
and had divided the Habsburg territories between his broth-
intended no real reform. He moved swiftly to defuse this rad-
er, Ferdinand I, and his son, Philip II of Spain—were deeply
ical mistrust, especially in the minds of the emperor and the
at odds over the crucial problem of whether the council Pius
king of Spain, by guaranteeing that a sweeping reform sche-
IV formally convoked (November 29, 1560) was to be a con-
ma, blessed in advance by the pope, would be proposed to
tinuation of the former one or an entirely new undertaking.
the council in short order. Employing a variety of formal and
France, now troubled as Germany had been for a generation
informal commissions, and playing skillfully upon the vanity
by a growing and aggressive Protestant faction, joined the
of the heretofore unpredictable French delegation, Morone
imperialists in demanding a new council unencumbered by
put the council back to work again. When the emperor ex-
any decisions arrived at earlier. The king of Spain conversely
pressed misgivings, Morone went off to Innsbruck to reas-
insisted that the work begun before be allowed to run its
sure him; when the pope hesitated to support his program,
course. The pope agreed with this view, though he dared not
Morone threatened to resign. At the twenty-third session, on
say so publicly. Instead he adopted a policy of studied am-
July 15, 1563, the council approved his first package of re-
biguity, confident that once an assembly had been lured back
form legislation. Perhaps its most important provision was
to its original site the problem would solve itself. After
the directive to establish a system of seminaries to provide
months of the most convoluted diplomacy, this tactic suc-
intellectual and moral training for the parochial clergy. As
ceeded. On January 18, 1562, some 113 fathers gathered at
for the conciliar crisis at hand, Morone evaded the insoluble
Trent—their number would ultimately swell to 277—and
problem by ignoring it. “It is a divine precept that the pastor
implicitly accepted continuation by deciding to resume de-
know his flock,” the decree began, but, though strictly oblig-
liberations at the point at which they had been suspended
ing bishops to reside, it did not try to define the basis of that
ten years before.
obligation. Moreover, cardinals were explicitly included in
the requirement, and thus was struck down one of the worst
By March the council had returned to the discussion of
and most resented of the abuses, the accumulation of bene-
episcopal residence and found itself mired once again in ar-
fices by officers of the Curia.
gument. Everyone agreed that bishops should reside in their
dioceses and that their widespread failure to do so was a fun-
The logjam broken, there followed a hectic summer and
damental cause of corruption in the church. But was the re-
autumn of congregations dealing with a flood of reform
quirement one of divine law or ecclesiastical law? This seem-
ideas. The whole clerical estate was refashioned during these
ingly abstract question had vast implications, because if
months. Morone moved easily through all the factions, the
residence were an obligation jure divino, it could mean that
pope’s man indeed but the council’s man too, always urging
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TRIADS
9345
accommodation, compromise, the practical attainment of
A useful survey of ecclesiastical history during the time the council
the goal of restoring spiritual primacy to the workings of the
was sitting is Leon Cristiani’s L’église à l’époque du Concile de
church. Special emphasis was placed upon eliminating the
Trente, “Histoire de l’église,” no. 17 (Paris, 1948). Special
chaos in ecclesiastical administration which had opened the
studies of note include Il Concilio di Trento e la Riforma Tri-
door to so many abuses. Morone spared little time for theo-
dentina, 2 vols. (Rome, 1965), a collection of distinguished
essays by a panel of international scholars; Dermot Fenlon’s
retical discussion; the question of indulgences, for example,
Heresy and Obedience in Tridentine Italy (Cambridge, U.K.,
which had occasioned the Lutheran reformation, was settled
1972), on Italian humanism and its import upon reform;
not in a dogmatic decree but in a reform decree. This also
James A. O’Donohoe’s Tridentine Seminary Legislation: Its
was the case with the veneration of the saints and relics. The
Sources and Its Formation (Louvain, 1957); and Wolfgang P.
council indeed defined the sacramentality and the indissolu-
Fischer’s Frankreich und die Wiedereröffnung des Konzils von
bility of matrimony, but it was even more intent on suppres-
Trient, 1559–1562 (Münster, 1973), on the resumption of
sion of clandestine marriages. Statistically the achievement
the council after the death of Paul IV. On the diplomacy
was prodigious: three times as much reform legislation was
during those crucial few years, H. Outram Evennett’s The
passed by the council during Morone’s brief legateship than
Cardinal of Lorraine and the Council of Trent (Cambridge,
in all the sessions before him combined.
U.K., 1930) is still useful, as is Gustave Constant’s La léga-
tion du Cardinal Morone prés l’empereur et le concile de Trente,

By the twenty-fourth session, on November 11, 1563,
avril–décembre, 1563 (Paris, 1922), a collection of docu-
the end was finally in sight. The last session, at which all the
ments and commentary. The best analysis of the council of
conciliar decrees since 1545 were to be formally promulgat-
Pius IV is Robert Trisco’s “Reforming the Roman Curia:
ed, was scheduled for December 9. However, news from
Emperor Ferdinand I and the Council of Trent,” in Reform
Rome that Pius IV was severely ill led Morone to move the
and Authority in the Medieval and Reformation Church, edited
date forward. Therefore, the twenty-fifth session was held on
by Guy F. Lytle (Washington, D.C., 1981).
December 3 and 4, 1563, when each of the 229 fathers gave
MARVIN R. O’CONNELL (1987)
his placet to all the work the council had done over its eigh-
teen years of life. A Te Deum was sung, and tearful fathers
embraced one another, in many cases embracing those with
whom they had often violently disagreed.
TRIADS, groups or sets of three persons, things, or attri-
butes, are found in many concepts of the divine. Because tri-
SEE ALSO Boniface VIII; Gregory VII; Innocent III; Luther,
ads involve an uneven number they have been considered to
Martin; Papacy; Reformation.
be perfect expressions of unity and proportion, correspond-
ing to a threefold division in nature or to images of the nucle-
BIBLIOGRAPHY
ar family.
The official collection of Tridentine decrees is Canones et decreta,
In Indian mythology, the R:gveda suggests a threefold
Concilii Tridentini (Rome, 1564), many times reprinted,
classification of its many divinities into gods of heaven, air,
now to be found most conveniently in the volume edited by
and earth. In its prayers three chief gods represent the powers
Giuseppe Alberigo and others, Conciliorum oecumenicorum
decreta
(Bologna, 1972). Relevant documents can be found
of these natural elements: “May Su¯rya [sun] protect us from
in Concilium Tridentinum: Diariorum, actorum, epistularum,
the sky, Va¯ta [wind] from the air, Agni [fire] from the earthly
tractatuum; Nova collectio, 13 vols. (Freiburg, 1901–1967),
regions” (10.158.1). Agni, god of fire and messenger to the
an immense deposit and an indispensable tool of research.
gods during fire sacrifice, took three forms, as the sun in the
The two classic studies are Paolo Sarpi’s L’istoria del Concilio Tri-
sky, lightning in the aerial waters, and fire on earth. Com-
dentino (1619), 3 vols., edited by Giovanni Gambarin (Bari,
mentators on the Vedas considered that the number of gods
1935); and Sforza Pallavicino’s Storia del Concilio de Trento
could be reduced to three, Agni, Va¯yu, and Su¯rya being con-
(1656–1657), 3 vols., edited by Mario Scotti (Turin, 1968).
sidered as sons of the lord of creatures, Praja¯pati.
The polemical camps trace themselves back to either Pallavi-
cino, a defender of the council, or to Sarpi, an attacker of it.
A famous dialogue in the Bra¯hman:as and Upanis:ads
asks how many gods there are. In reply, a traditional invoca-
The definitive history of the council has now been written: Hu-
tory formula in a hymn to all the gods is quoted as indicating
bert Jedin’s Geschichte des Konzils von Trient, 4 vols. in 5
(Freiburg, 1949–1975), the first two volumes of which have
three hundred and three and three thousand and three. Fur-
been translated into English by Ernest Graf as A History of
ther questioning reduces these figures to thirty-three, six,
the Council of Trent (London, 1957–1960). Jedin also pub-
three, two, one and a half, and finally one, and that one is
lished many monographs on Trent, including Girolamo Seri-
brahman (Br:hada¯ran:yaka Upanis:ad 3.9).
pando, 2 vols. (Würzburg, 1937), translated into English
In the same Upanis:ad, Praja¯pati is said to have had three
(but without the full scholarly apparatus) as Papal Legate at
the Council of Trent, Cardinal Seripando
(Saint Louis, 1947);
kinds of offspring—gods, humans, and demons—who lived
and Krisis und Abschluss des Trienter Konzils, 1562–63 (Frei-
with their father as students of sacred knowledge. Each class
burg, 1964), badly translated as Crisis and Closure of the
of beings asked for a divine word, and to all Praja¯pati gave
Council of Trent: A Retrospective View from the Second Vatican
the same reply: da¯. This word was like the rolling thunder,
Council (London, 1967).
da¯, da¯, da¯. Each interpreted the word according to its own
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TRIADS
needs, and three definitions resulted: self restraint, giving,
It was debated whether the three gods were equal or had
and compassion (Br:hada¯ran:yaka Upanis:ad 5.2). This con-
interchangeable functions. Each in turn might be the Su-
cept was used by T. S. Eliot in the closing lines of The Waste
preme Lord, Parame´svara, and take the place of the others.
Land: “then spoke the thunder. . . .” Eliot ended with an-
The poet Ka¯lida¯sa, in his Kuma¯ra¯sambhava (2.4ff.), ex-
other threefold borrowing from the Upanis:ads: “Shantih
pressed his adoration for the Trimu¯rti unified before creation
Shantih Shantih” (“Peace, peace, peace”).
but afterward divided in three qualities, proclaiming its
threefold glory as “knower and known, priest and oblation,
The Upanis:ads refer to three gun:as, strands or qualities
worshiper and prayer.” These verses inspired Emerson’s
that characterize all existing beings. These qualities are good-
poem Brahma and its line “I am the doubter and the doubt,
ness or purity (sattva), passion or force (rajas), and darkness
I am the song the Brahmin sings.” But rather than teaching
or dullness (tamas). The Maitri Upanis:ad affirms that in the
the equality of three persons in one God, Ka¯lida¯sa seems to
beginning the three qualities were differentiated within the
have been addressing the personal Brahma¯ as the supreme
supreme self: “That One become threefold.” This supreme
god, despite his use of the term Trimu¯rti.
self (brahman) is indicated by the sacred syllable om:, with
which every recitation of the Veda begins. The sacred syllable
For the Vais:n:ava believer Brahma¯ was an emanation of
divides itself threefold, for om: consists of three units: /a/, /u/,
Vis:n:u, a demiurge or secondary creator; he is described in
and /m/. Aum is the sound form of this being, and “one
the vision of the Bhagavadg¯ıta¯ (11.15) as sitting on a lotus
should worship it with aum continually” (Maitri Upanis:ad
throne emerging from the body of Vis:n:u, the god of gods,
6.3–4). A later description of Brahman was satcit-a¯nanda, or
a scene illustrated in many paintings. Whatever his former
saccida¯nanda: being, intelligence or consciousness, and bliss.
status, Brahma¯ has long since declined in popular esteem.
His temple at Pushkar in Rajasthan is said to be one of only
In the Bhagavadg¯ıta¯, goodness, passion, and darkness
two in India, though this is difficult to verify in such a vast
are declared to be the strands or qualities that spring from
land with innumerable shrines. At Pushkar the temple of
nature, binding the embodied self although it is changeless.
Brahma¯ has four black faces, supposedly directed at the four
But the world was deluded by these three strands and did not
cardinal points though three of them face the worshiper. A
recognize that they come from God alone, that they are in
lingam of S´iva nearby also has four human faces carved on
him but he is not in them. God is higher and eternal. Because
it, no doubt to show affinity with Brahma¯. But in popular
nature is the uncanny power of God, all elements must ulti-
religion in most of India today Brahma¯ has virtually disap-
mately derive from him (Bhagavadg¯ıta¯ 7.12–13).
peared, while Vis:n:u and S´iva have vast followings. (The two
TRIMU¯RTI. In Hindu mythology and popular theology many
groups are considered almost as distinct religions.) The third
gods appeared, though Vis:n:u and S´iva (Rudra) became dom-
most popular cult today follows the great goddess Maha¯dev¯ı,
inant. Early in the common era a trimu¯rti (“having three
the all-pervading power ´sakti, known under many names
forms”) was proposed that created a triad of these two and
and notably today as Ka¯l¯ı.
a creator, Brahma¯. These three were regarded as forms of the
neuter absolute brahman, or corresponding to the three
A famous sculpture of the Trimu¯rti dating from the fifth
gun:as of the Absolute. The epic Maha¯bha¯rata tells of these
to eighth centuries CE is in the Great Cave on Elephanta Is-
gods separately and not as a unity, and when the Trimu¯rti
land near Bombay. It is a massive stone bust nineteen feet
concept appeared its exposition varied according to the pref-
high, with three faces each four or five feet long. This figure
erences of the writers for one or another deity.
represents S´iva, who is the dominant deity among the sculp-
tures in these caves. The eastern face is Rudra the destroyer,
A story in the Bha¯gavata Pura¯n:a says that there was once
the front is Brahma¯ the creator, and the western face is Vis:n:u
a dispute among the gods as to which member of the triad
the preserver. All three are regarded as aspects of the charac-
was greatest. The sage Bhr:gu went to each of them in turn
ter of S´iva, and all show the impressive serenity that marks
to decide the matter by tests. First he saw Brahma¯ but omit-
representations of divine activity.
ted to bow to him, whereupon the god blazed out in anger.
Next he visited S´iva and did not return the god’s salutation,
Early students of Hinduism in the West often consid-
so that S´iva raised his trident (tri´su¯la) to destroy him; the
ered that parallels exist between the Trimu¯rti and the Chris-
sage was spared only by the intercession of S´iva’s wife. Lastly
tian doctrine of the Trinity, and attempts were made to ap-
Bhr:gu called on Vis:n:u, found him asleep, and woke him
portion common functions to the three persons in one God.
with a kick on the chest. Instead of becoming angry, Vis:n:u
There are still writers who call Brahma¯, Vis:n:u, and S´iva “the
begged the sage’s pardon for not having greeted him and said
Trinity,” but the parallel with Christianity is not close, and
that he was highly honored by the kick, which had left an
the Trimurti concept never became popular or embodied an
indelible mark on his breast, and that he hoped the sage’s
orthodox and catholic creed. Hindu writers and artists tend-
foot had not been hurt. Bhr:gu decided that Vis:n:u was the
ed to favor one god of the three, and Vis:n:u and S´iva came
mightiest god because he overcame his enemies with weap-
to dominate in their own schools.
ons of gentleness and generosity. This Vais:n:ava story indi-
TRIKA¯YA. In Indian Buddhism there were triadic concepts
cates the diversity and rivalry of different sects and the prob-
from an early date, and some that developed in Maha¯ya¯na
lems of a triad.
Buddhism and outside India showed parallels to Chinese tri-
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9347
ads. The Three Refuges (tri´saran:a), or Three Jewels (trirat-
Daoist philosophical notions of an original unity that pro-
na), appeared in Buddhism at an early date. In the Tripit:aka,
duced diversity. In the Dao de jing 42 (fourth to third centu-
or “Three Baskets” of scripture, the invocation of these ref-
ry BCE?) it is declared that “Dao produced the one, the one
uges is attributed to the first lay believer in the Buddha. Re-
produced the two, the two produced the three, and the three
cited every day in Therava¯da Buddhism by the laity as well
produced the ten thousand things.” This is not unlike an idea
as by monks, the Triple Refuge is a simple affirmation of
in the Cha¯ndogya Upanis:ad (6.2) of one neuter being that en-
trust in the central objects of religion: the Buddha, the
tered into three divinities to produce the many. However,
Dhamma or doctrine, and the Sangha or monastic order.
Arthur Waley in his translation of this verse rendered it thus:
The formula reads thus: “I go to the Buddha for refuge, I
“Dao gave birth to the One, the One gave birth successively
go to the Dhamma for refuge, I go to the Sangha for refuge.”
to two things, three things, up to ten thousand” (Waley,
The Buddha is credited with saying that whoever trusts firm-
1934, p. 195).
ly in the virtues of the Three Jewels has “entered the stream,”
has set out on the way to enlightenment.
The concept of an inseparable triad of Heaven, earth,
and man became popular in Chinese thought. Philosophers
In the development of Buddhism the term ya¯na
aimed at formulating systems that would deal with all ques-
(“vehicle, means of progress”) was used to indicate a way of
tions concerning the divine, natural, and human worlds, so
attaining enlightenment. The Maha¯ya¯na claimed to be the
that all human activity might be in harmony with divine and
“one vehicle” (ekaya¯na), and its followers called their oppo-
natural orders. Such a system of knowledge and behavior was
nents H¯ınaya¯na, followers of a “lesser vehicle.” But, occa-
set out in the Lüshi Chunqiu (Spring and Autumn Annals
sionally, more tolerant texts spoke of the major ways as
of Mr. Lü), a work by various hands early in the common
triya¯na, “threefold means.”
era. The book is in three sections, representing the triad of
Heaven, earth, and humanity. The first section is in twelve
Maha¯ya¯na Buddhist philosophy wrestled with the prob-
chapters, the number associated with Heaven. The second
lems of the absolute and the relative and of one or many
is in eight chapters, the number associated with earth. The
Buddhas. A solution was found for philosophy in the doc-
third is in six chapters, the number associated with man.
trine of the trika¯ya (“three bodies”). This was expressed in
Each chapter indicates actions appropriate for each season,
essence in the Lan˙ka¯vata¯ra Su¯tra and developed by the
stating that if humans fail to perform them properly they
Yoga¯ca¯ra school. According to this theory the body of the
will cause disturbances in nature and bring calamity from
Buddha is threefold. The dharmaka¯ya (“doctrine body or es-
Heaven.
sential body”) is self-existent and absolute, the same for all
Buddhas. It supports the other two bodies, for ultimately
Perhaps early in the common era, popular Daoist reli-
only it exists. The sambhogaka¯ya (“bliss body or communal
gion developed the worship of a triad, the Three Ones,
body”) is the channel through which the Buddhas communi-
Sanyi. It has been suggested that the concept of three celestial
cate with bodhisattvas in the heavens. This notion was used
persons derived from Christian influence, although it is rath-
to interpret texts that describe many Buddhas preaching to
er early for that to have happened unless some Christian
assemblies of bodhisattvas and gods in all the universes, while
ideas had filtered through via gnostic speculations. It is more
at the same time they had passed away to nirva¯n:a. The
likely that the idea of a religious triad developed from philo-
nirma¯n:akaya (“transformation body”) is that by which the
sophical notions of diversity arising from unity, or that
Buddha works for the good of all creatures, including the his-
philosophical and religious concepts developed independent-
torical Buddha, who appeared on earth, and in other exis-
ly and were merged by priests who claimed authority for
tences, and then passed away into nirva¯n:a.
three deities worshiped as one.
The trika¯ya doctrine sought to reconcile different ex-
An ancient Daoist divinity was Daiyi, the Grand Unity,
pressions of the nature of the Buddha. In early texts the
introduced into official worship during the Han dynasty as
dharmaka¯ya was simply the body of doctrine; once the Bud-
the greatest of all gods, above the five legendary emperors.
dha had died, he existed thereafter in the doctrine. In popu-
The Grand Unity became the personification of the Dao, as
lar beliefs the Buddhas were many, and they continued to
the Dao emanated itself into creation, a triad developed that
exist in a state of bliss to hear the prayers of worshipers. Bud-
controlled the whole universe. To the Grand Unity were
dhist art from Gandhara to Japan often grouped three Bud-
added Dianyi, the Heavenly Unity, and Diyi, the Earthly
dhas or bodhisattvas together, the individual personages dif-
Unity. It is strange that Diayi, the original all-embracing
fering according to the environment. Parallels that have been
unity, was egarded as one of three. It seems more natural for
drawn between the trika¯ya doctrine and the Christian teach-
Diayi to have been conceived as three in one, but there was
ing of the Trinity are strained and unproved. The Chinese
great complexity in the multiplication of Daoist deities.
triads appear to have been separate developments, although
From the second century of the common era Daoist liturgies
in popular religion triads of gods may be confused with sev-
spoke of the Great Mysterious Three in One, Taixuan Sanyi
eral Buddhas.
comprised the Sagely Father, the Lord and Master of the
THREE PURE ONES. Chinese speculations on a divine Triad
Human Spirit, and the Pivot of All Transformations. The
and its representation in worship may have developed from
Daoist imagination peopled the universe with a great variety
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9348
TRIADS
of gods, natural forces, and deified heroes, forming a heaven-
The Shinto¯ kami were regarded either as avata¯ras of the
ly hierarchy, under the presiding supreme triad that con-
Buddhas (from the Buddhist point of view) or as their origi-
trolled the universe like a state bureaucracy.
nals (from the Shinto¯ point of view). Chinese triadic influ-
ences appeared in Japanese symbolism, as in paintings with
In the Daoist triad the three gods were said severally to
three parallel curves and three or more flamelike signs, which
control time past, present, and to come. By the Sung dynasty
were taken as symbols of the soul. A characteristic Shinto¯
the triad of Three Pure Ones had become associated with
symbol is the tomoe, which is chiefly found in groups of three
chronological functions. The Precious Heavenly Lord, the
in the crest of many shrines. The tomoe, three pear-shaped
First Original Heavenly Venerable One, controlled time
sections of a circle, is often associated with the Chinese yin
past; some have compared him to the Father in the Christian
and yang, the two pear-shaped halves of a circle indicating
Trinity. The Precious Spiritual Lord, the Great Jade Imperial
complementary opposites, such as heaven and earth, male
Heavenly Venerable One, controlled time present; scholars
and female. The threefold tomoe is found even in the great
have compared him to the Son. The Precious Divine Lord,
Shinto¯ shrine center at Ise, though this site is said to have
the Pure Dawn Heavenly Venerable One appearing from the
been kept free from foreign influences.
Golden Palace, controlled time to come; scholars have com-
HYPOSTASES AND FAMILIES. Triadic concepts can be traced
pared him to the Holy Spirit. Joseph Needham wrote that
in the ancient Mediterranean world, though not as clearly,
“there can be little doubt that the Taoists [Daoists] had inti-
with the exception of Egypt, as in India and China. Plato in
mate contact with Nestorian Christians at the capital during
the Republic (book 4) distinguished two elements in human
the TEang dynasty. The really interesting question is where
nature, the rational and the irrational or lustful, not unlike
their trinity came from eight centuries previously” (Science
the Indian sattva and tamas. But he found himself obliged
and Civilization in China, Cambridge, 1956, vol. 2,
to distinguish a third element, the spirited or passionate, sim-
pp. 158–160).
ilar to the Indian rajas. When there is a division between ra-
Whether there was a Christian influence or not (Nesto-
tional and irrational, the spirited should array itself on the
rian missions did not arrive in China until the seventh centu-
side of the rational. The three elements in man, according
ry at the earliest), there was abundant contact between Dao-
to Plato, correspond to the social classes of guardians, auxilia-
ism and Buddhism, which from the first century established
ries, and producers. These were not unlike Indian classes or
itself as one of the three great ways of Chinese religion. Bud-
priests, warriors, and merchant farmers, although Plato’s
dhist triadic concepts could be found in the trika¯ya doctrine,
classes served different functions. Individuals and societies
or in the concept of the Dhya¯ni Buddhas, which were regard-
are wise when the rational element prevails, as when sattva
ed as personifications of creative aspects or manifestations of
prevails in Indian thought. They are courageous because of
a primordial A¯di-Buddha. In popular Buddhist religion there
the spirited element, and they are temperate when the ratio-
were triads of Buddhas, such as S´a¯kyamuni (Gautama),
nal element governs with the consent of the other two, pro-
Amita¯bha of the Pure Land, and Maitreya, the Buddha to
ducing balance and harmony.
come. Another triad comprised the mythical Avalokite´svara,
The Greeks wrestled with the problems of the divine na-
Mañju´sri, and Samantabhadra, who have been worshiped in
ture and action in ways different from those of the Indians
temples and pagodas in China and neighboring lands down
or Egyptians. In the Timaeus Plato proposed an account of
to modern times, often alongside Daoist gods.
the universe. The world came into being as a living creature
Laozi, the great saint of Daoism and the supposed au-
endowed with soul and intelligence by the providence of
thor of the Dao de jing, was often assimilated to the Three
God; the world is an image of what is eternal and true, a re-
Pure Ones. Influenced by Buddhist teachings on multiple
flection of the changeless; the ultimate truth is God the cre-
Buddhas and bodhisattvas and the various incarnations of the
ator. This was a unitary view, though Christian theologians
Buddha, the Daoists came to espouse similar beliefs. Laozi
later found a foreshadowing of the Trinity in the Timaeus,
was said to have been born before heaven and earth appeared
even from its first verse, which simply said, “One, two, three,
and to have experienced numerous later births. Like the Bud-
but where is the fourth of my guests?”
dha, he became an object of worship.
There was more triadism in Neoplatonic teachings of
three primal hypostases, a favorite theme of Christian theolo-
In Japanese Shinto¯ the first verse of the Kojiki names
gians. Plotinus claimed that earlier Greek philosophers had
three gods who all came into existence at the time of the be-
established three degrees of reality, the primary realities or
ginning of heaven and earth. Later gods of storm, sea, and
hypostases. These were represented triadically as the Good
fire were grouped in threes, notably the storm god Susano-o
or the One, the Intelligence or the One-many, and the
no Mikoto, who was considered under three aspects (“three-
World Soul. These three are in the very nature of things, and
treasure-rough-god”). The supreme sun goddess, Amaterasu,
they are also in human nature, so that our individual soul
when asked for permission to erect a great Buddhist statue
is something divine, possessing intelligence, and perfect.
at Nara, is said to have identified herself with Vairocana, a
member of a Buddhist triad, the personification of truth and
In popular Greek religion various gods were grouped to-
purity.
gether, as, for example, Demeter, Kore, and Dionysos. De-
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TRIADS
9349
meter, the corn goddess (Lat., Ceres), had an early double,
killed by his brother Seth, though according to one tradition
Kore, who in time was regarded as her daughter, Kore or Per-
he was drowned. The body of Osiris was divided into several
sephone (Lat., Proserpina). Demeter’s search for Persephone
parts and was sought and embalmed by his wife Isis, who be-
in the underworld was a vegetation myth represented in the
came pregnant by the dead god. Isis gave birth to Horus,
Eleusinian mysteries under the symbol of the growing seed
who avenged his father by killing Seth and reigning as succes-
that assures a happy future life. Dionysos was also a fertility
sor to Osiris. This complicated mythology was recorded
god; his mystery flourished in the Hellenistic age when
most clearly by Plutarch in the beginning century of the
Christianity was expanding.
common era. Fundamental to the myths of this divine triad
were the death and resurrection of Osiris, his place as a
The Etruscans had a triad of gods—Tinia, Uni, and
nature god, and his role as a model for earthly rulers.
Menerva—who presided over the destinies of towns and
These myths provided links with both gnostic and Christian
were identified by the Romans with their Capitoline triad of
teachings.
Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. In Rome the flamens (priests or
sacrificers) were led by three major and twelve minor priests.
Egyptian priests refined their ideas of the divine triads
The three major priests were the flamen Dialis (of Jupiter),
from early anthropomorphic myths to more abstract concep-
the flamen Martialis (of Mars), and the flamen Quirinalis (of
tions. Thus the god Ptah had two of his faculties, heart and
Quirinus). These gods of the triad were invoked in formulas
tongue (spirit and word), personified under the visible forms
of devotion recited before battle, on receiving spoils, and
of the gods Horus and Thoth. Or the family associations be-
when sanctifying treaties. Jupiter represented the sky-
came the union of three spiritual aspects of the same god:
universe, like the celestial gods of Greece and India, and his
his supreme intelligence, active spirit, and creative word. Or
priest was preeminent. Mars was the god of war, and months
God was conceived of as three persons animated by the same
and festivals were named after him. Quirinus was a god of
will, like the founders of the towns of Thebes, Heliopolis,
Sabine origin, but little is known of him except that his func-
and Memphis. Re was the thinking head of this triad, Ptah
tions resembled those of Mars and his flamen formed the
its body, and Amun its invisible intelligence. This was not
third of the threesome with those of Jupiter and Mars. The
far from the Neoplatonic doctrines of a God who comprised
triad of Jupiter, Mars, and Quirinus was later overshadowed
intelligence, mind, and reason.
by the triad of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. A great new tem-
ple was dedicated to the latter three on the Capitoline hill
In Mesopotamia there were triads of deities organized
in Rome in 509
according to the elements of heaven and earth. The high god
BCE, the first year of the republic; inside was
a statue of Jupiter.
Anu ruled in the sky, Enlil inspired the wind or storm and
was god of the land, and Enki or Ea ruled the waters or abyss
Among the many gods of the ancient Western world,
on which the world rested. The positioning of the deities var-
the clear examples of triads are found in Egypt and Mesopo-
ied over time. For instance, Enlil was once regarded as the
tamia. One reason for the concept of triads in Egypt, and no
first of the triad, though from the beginning of the second
doubt in other lands, was the fusion of the cults of different
millennium BCE he was regarded as second. Another triad of
places. When a victorious ruler brought several towns under
Babylonian deities was composed of the moon god Sin, the
his dominion, they would be subject to both political and
sun god Shamash, and the storm god Adad. The popular
religious control. New gods encountered local deities whose
goddess Ishtar was associated with both this and the previous
worship could hardly be suppressed. A simple solution for
triads, ousting colorless figures with whom they had earlier
the conqueror and his priests was to admit the gods of the
been associated. She was connected also with the ancient Su-
vanquished into general worship, without giving them too
merian god Tammuz, a vegetation deity like Osiris who de-
much independence. Neighboring gods joined the principal
scended into the underworld where Ishtar went to seek him.
deity, the patron of the city. Thus at Heliopolis the local god
The return of Osiris and Ishtar in the spring brought joy and
Atum was joined with the lion pair Shu and Tefnut from the
fertility.
nearby town of Leontopolis. At Memphis there was a triad
of Ptah, Sekhmet, and Nefertum. At Elephantine was a triad
Of the surviving religions of Semitic origin, Judaism
of Khnum, Sati, and Anukis.
and Islam rejected triadic notions of the godhead, while
Christianity developed them. The Hebrew Bible was strong-
However different the gods might have been originally,
ly monotheistic, although traces of female elements in the
the ancients regarded them as members of a divine family,
deity can be discovered, as when Jeremiah revealed that in-
taking the roles of father, mother, and son. But the coinci-
cense had been offered to the queen of heaven in Jerusalem
dence of different family relationships in the mythologies of
and the cities of Judah (Jer. 44:17). Scholars have noted that
the merging cults could cause confusion, as when the father
there was goddess worship among Hebrew emigrants at Ele-
became the son of his wife, or the mother the wife of her son.
phantine in Egypt. In a more abstract way Proverbs 8 and 9
The most famous triadic divine family of ancient Egypt
referred to wisdom personified as the female companion of
was that of Osiris, Isis, and their son Horus. Osiris was a very
God before and during creation, a notion akin to the Logos
popular god, whose cult flourished throughout Egypt from
doctrine of the Fourth Gospel. In the Qabbalah sexual imag-
prehistoric times. In the texts Osiris was said to have been
ery was used to describe the love of God for the Shekhinah,
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9350
TRICKSTERS: AN OVERVIEW
a sacred union of king and queen. But in general, Jewish
fully abridged in The Shorter Science and Civilisation in China
teaching was alien to dualities or triads.
(Cambridge, 1978) with chapters on Daoism and Confu-
cianism. Of the many books by Edward Conze on Buddhism
Islam was even more adamant, attacking the Christian
perhaps the best introduction is Buddhism: Its Essence and
doctrine of the Trinity, or what it considered that to be.
Development (Oxford, 1951), although Indian Buddhism, by
Thus the QurDa¯n exhorts, “Do not say, Three. Refrain, it will
Anthony K. Warder (Delhi, 1970), has fuller accounts of
be better for you. God is only one God” (4:169). And again,
both Theravada and Mahayana primary sources. Arthur
“Surely they have disbelieved who say: ‘God is one of three.’
Waley’s The Way and Its Power (London, 1934) is a classic
There is no god but one God” (5:77). Orthodox Christian
that has been reprinted many times, although other transla-
doctrine did not say God was one of three, though no doubt
tions need to be compared with it, and Holmes Welch’s The
the doctrine could be perverted in that way in popular use.
Parting of the Way: Laozi and the Daoist Movement (London,
Any suggestion of a divine family, of God begetting or pro-
1957) gives more information on Daoism in general. Short,
creating, or having a partner associated with him, was repug-
useful introductions to the major religions of ancient Greece,
Rome, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and indeed of Asia as well, are
nant to Islam. Thus in the QurDa¯n Jesus was credited with
provided in my Man and His Gods (London, 1971), reprint-
denying that he said, “Take me and my mother as two gods
ed with slight changes as An Illustrated History of the World’s
apart from God” (5:116). This was quite proper, and belief
Religions (London, 1983).
in the unity and absoluteness of God was fundamental to
Islam. Some writers have pointed out that Islamic theology
GEOFFREY PARRINDER (1987)
alludes to diversity in the divine nature through “the most
beautiful names of God” (al-asma¯ D al-h:usna¯); these many at-
tributes and titles are recited on prayer beads in popular de-
TRICKSTERS
votion. And theologians have discussed the eternity of the
This entry consists of the following articles:
Qur’an, which was held to be uncreated, almost like a divine
AN OVERVIEW
hypostasis. In Islamic art the name of God, Alla¯h, may be
AFRICAN TRICKSTERS
seen written three times in the prayer niche in mosques, but
NORTH AMERICAN TRICKSTERS [FIRST EDITION]
the main current of Islam has been against both triad and
NORTH AMERICAN TRICKSTERS [FURTHER
CONSIDERATIONS]
trinity.
MESOAMERICAN AND SOUTH AMERICAN TRICKSTERS
Christian doctrine developed, against an Old Testament
background, from devotion to Christ, but as it developed it
TRICKSTERS: AN OVERVIEW
came into contact with triadic concepts of the divine from
Trickster is the name given to a type of mythic figure distin-
Egypt and the Near East. Belief in a divine family emerged,
guished by his skill at trickery and deceit as well as by his pro-
for the concepts of Father and Son were in Christianity from
digious biological drives and exaggerated bodily parts. The
the beginning. The Holy Spirit was regarded as the third hy-
myths of many cultures portray such a comic and amoral
postasis in the Trinity, but it was often a vague or neglected
character, who is sometimes human but is more often animal
notion. With the growth of the cult of the Virgin and Moth-
in shape, typically an animal noted for agility and cunning:
er the female side of a triad seemed guaranteed. If Mary had
the wily coyote, the sly fox, the elusive rabbit, or the crafty
been called God the Mother, like Isis, she would have com-
spider. Sometimes the trickster is the agent who introduces
pleted a divine family. In popular religion that might have
fire, agriculture, tools, or even death to the human world.
happened, but trinitarian theology was anchored in the
As such, he plays the part of another mythic archetype, the
Bible, and Christian teachings developed from those scrip-
transformer, or culture hero, who in a mythic age at the be-
tures that gave a threefold baptismal formula and a triadic
ginning of the world helps shape human culture into its fa-
blessing. As with other religions, the threefold doctrine is
miliar form. However, the trickster’s distinction lies not so
best understood in its historical context, however attractive
much in his particular feats as in the peculiar quality of his
seeming cultural parallels may be.
exploits—a combination of guile and stupidity—and in the
SEE ALSO Numbers; Trinity.
ludicrous dimensions of his bodily parts and biological
drives. In those cultures where he stands independent of
B
other mythic figures, his adventures are recounted in a sepa-
IBLIOGRAPHY
Useful general introductions to Indian and Chinese thought, with
rate cycle of myths and lore.
selections from texts, are available in Sources of Indian Tradi-
The trickster represents a complicated combination of
tion (New York, 1958) and Sources of Chinese Tradition
three modes of sacrality: the divine, the animal, and the
(New York, 1960), compiled by Wm. Theodore de Bary and
human. Myth relates that the trickster existed in the early
others. A. L. Basham’s The Wonder That Was India, rev. ed.
(New York, 1963), ranges over Indian history and society
times when the world was still taking shape and was inhabit-
but devotes its longest chapter to religion, and Robert C.
ed by supernatural beings. As one of these important super-
Zaehner’s Concordant Discord (Oxford, 1970) speculates
naturals, the trickster possesses extraordinary powers more
about Chinese triads and other doctrines of the divine na-
divine than human. He frequently thwarts the supreme
ture. Joseph Needham’s great series on China has been use-
being’s creative intentions. In one North American Indian
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TRICKSTERS: AN OVERVIEW
9351
myth, for example, the Winnebago trickster Wakdjunkaga
a penetrable (i.e., accessible, comprehensible) reality. In the
scatters all living creatures across the face of the earth with
process of penetrating it, he reveals the sacrality both of pas-
an enormous fart, which leaves them laughing, yelling, and
sage and of mundane flaw. He images the process of the reli-
barking. This is an ungracious parallel to the Winnebago’s
gious imagination itself, which sees to it that human beings
solemn account wherein Earthmaker creates a quiet and stat-
experiment with the sacred and which sometimes leads not
ic world order in which each species remains in a separate
to the serenity of faith in a static, eternal paradise but to an
lodge. The trickster may assume an even more active role on
exciting, unpredictable turmoil of the senses in sacred music,
the mythic stage in the absence or weakness of a supreme
dance, and sexuality. The trickster represents not a mystical
being. However, there is no need to pair the trickster in a
contemplation of the singular but a sensuous appreciation of
dualism with the supreme being in order to understand his
multiplicities and contraries.
unique character.
The trickster is remarkable for the carnality that he
As the trickster flounders toward a sacred life rooted
shares with humans and animals. In his case, however, bodily
more in carnate being than in divine being, ambiguity, irony,
functions and features are extreme: voracious appetite, insa-
change, and humor fill the emptiness caused by the keno¯sis
tiable lust, stupendous excretions, cosmic flatulence. He re-
of immortality. The trickster unites things by passing them
orders (or has reordered for him) his bodily parts: His head
through the senses and the imperfect reflections of his intelli-
may be fastened to his bottom, or his penis to his back. The
gence. His bodily parts and “all too human” intelligence
trickster is usually male, but he often assumes female form
admit no firm distinction between corporeal and spiritual ex-
in order to conceive and give birth. His (or her) most con-
istence. His exorbitant and active penis offers him access to
spicuous bodily parts are passages (mouth, nostrils, anus,
realms of reality in which he ought properly to have no busi-
ears, vagina) and members that bridge or penetrate those pas-
ness. His (or her) bodily passages become the loci where
sages (e.g., head, penis, or, in the case of the spider figure,
worlds meet, come together, and even pass through and in-
the filament with which he spins his web). The trickster’s ap-
terpenetrate one another. Wherever he appears, the trickster
petites cannot be exhaustively explained in terms of the biol-
enacts the human comedy as a sacred drama, displaying the
ogy of sex or the physiology of hunger. He craves modes of
ironic condition of a limited mind served by limited senses
being other than his own: animal, plant, and so on.
but with an unlimited desire to relate to the realms of mean-
On a grand scale, the trickster mimics human needs,
ing around it.
drives, and foibles, especially the imperfections of an ambi-
tious but flawed intelligence. He often fumbles his tricks,
BIBLIOGRAPHY
and his mishaps lead to a comic apotheosis of wit into wis-
The best overview of general interpretations of the trickster is
dom. The nature of his deception is especially complicated:
chapter 1 of Robert D. Pelton’s The Trickster in West Africa:
a pretended ignorance and a pretended cunning. The irony
A Study of Mythic Irony and Sacred Delight (Berkeley, Calif.,
of his maladroit trickery is so pervasive that one cannot de-
1980). For psychological interpretations that now appear
cide whether the trickster is really ignorant or whether he is
overdependent on developmental models without consider-
so clever that he successfully exculpates himself by pretend-
ation of religious depth, see three essays in Paul Radin’s The
ing to be stupid. Reflections on his nature call into question
Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology (1956; re-
the deeper nature of reality in an imperfect and changing
print, New York, 1969): C. G. Jung’s “On the Psychology
world of the senses. By his duplicity, the trickster would have
of the Trickster Figure,” Karl Kerényi’s “The Trickster in Re-
one believe that he intends his elaborate schemes to fail so
lation to Greek Mythology,” and Radin’s title piece. For an
that benefits might arise from catastrophe.
overview that makes healthier use of the social context of the
trickster in interpreting its meaning, see Laura akarius’s “Le
Ironically, it is just in his animal-like biological con-
mythe du ‘Trickster,’” Revue de l’histoire des religions 175
straints and imperfections of intelligence—the human frame
(1969): 17–46. For an attempt to place the figure within the
of meaning—that the trickster affirms a sacrality different
history of ideas, see Ugo Bianchi’s “Pour l’histoire du dual-
from that of divine immortals. This sensate sacrality of foi-
isme: Un Coyote africain, le renard pâle,” in Liber Amicorum:
bles stumbles into other sacred realms with penetrating bur-
Studies in Honor of Professor Dr. C. J. Bleeker (Leiden, 1969),
lesque. For these reasons, trickster stories have been called a
pp. 27–43. Angelo Brelich has done admirably by examining
mythology of incarnation, and he a symbol of the human
the uniqueness of the trickster vis-à-vis other mythical figures
condition. The religious dimension of comic figures in folk
in “Il Trickster,” Studi e materiali di storia delle religioni 29
literatures and dramas is often illumined by comparison with
(1958): 129–137. I have pointed to the kind of close reading
the strictly mythic personality of the trickster found in sacred
of trickster texts necessary to disclose their full religious value
texts relating the beginnings of the world.
in “Multiple Levels of Religious Meaning in Culture: A New
Look at Winnebago Sacred Texts,” Canadian Journal of Na-
The trickster parodies all pretensions to perfection. He
tive Studies 2 (December 1982): 221–247. I have also drawn
mocks the gods, institutional religious figures, the techniques
out the comic aspects of incarnate saviors and loutish literary
of humans, and himself. By poking fun at anything that pa-
figures in “The Irony of Incarnation: The Comedy of Keno-
rades as permanent, important, or impermeable, he exposes
sis,” Journal of Religion 62 (October 1982): 412–417.
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9352
TRICKSTERS: AFRICAN TRICKSTERS
New Sources
animals as metaphors, partly for the surface rules and pat-
Hynes, William J., and William G. Doty, eds. Mythical Trickster
terns of their life, but much more for the deeper intuitions
Figures: Contours, Contexts, and Criticisms. Tuscaloosa, Ala.,
and meanings that make them, the Kaguru, who they are.
1993.
The Kaguru, like the Ashanti in their anansesem (“spider sto-
Kun, Mchog Dge Legs, Ldan Bkra Shis Dpal, and Kevin Stuart.
ries”) and the Azande in their tales of Tore, the spider, under-
“Tibetan Tricksters.” Asian Folklore Studies 58/1 (1999):
stand that the intricate lies and outrages of their tricksters re-
5–30.
veal the social order as sacred in its supple particularity. Too
McNeely, Deldon Anne. Mercury Rising: Women, Evil, and the
bawdy to be taken as cautionary fables, too confident of the
Trickster Gods. Woodstock, Conn., 1996.
unity between specific and ultimate aims to be reduced to
Mills, Margaret. “The Gender of the Trick: Female Tricksters and
sets of binary opposition, too attuned to animals’ lives to use
Male Narrators.” Asian Folklore Studies 60, no. 2 (2001):
them univocally, these stories provide an education in wit.
237–258.
They insist that the core of human existence, a meeting place
L
of every sort of force, is displayed by—not prior to, with-
AWRENCE E. SULLIVAN (1987)
Revised Bibliography
drawn from, or obliterated by—the twists of disease, the de-
nial of hospitality, the crazed lens of sexual rivalry. Ananse
is “wonderful” because he makes all multiplicity a symbol of
the Ashanti oneness that exists here and now. Telling the
TRICKSTERS: AFRICAN TRICKSTERS
trickster’s stories, then, is an anamnesis. In displaying his
African tricksters speak and embody a vivid, subtle language
power to dismember everything, a people celebrates its ca-
of sacred transformation. Through it they strike up absurd
pacity for remembering its own way of being.
conversations between laundresses and goddesses, sex and
death, flatulence and spiritual power, breaking the univocal
African trickster figures are images of an ironic imagina-
by the anomalous and so opening human life—bodily, daily,
tion that yokes together bodiliness and transcendence, soci-
defined—to its sacramental immensity. Like their counter-
ety and individuality. Ananse of the Ashanti, Mantis of the
parts in Amerindian myth and folklore, African tricksters in-
San, Ogo-Yurugu of the Dogon, and others contend with
ject bawdiness, rebellion, and wild lying (one might aptly call
animals and gods, spirits and humans; they exploit every li-
it polymorphous perversity) into the mythic history and the
minal space to claim all speech for human language. Thus
common experience of divine-human relations wherever
the differences among these figures are as significant as their
they appear. Unlike many tricksters elsewhere, however,
similarities. Indeed, the trickster in Africa shows by his witty
these multiform world-shatterers and pathfinders in Africa
juggling with meaning and absurdity that he is more accu-
are woven not only into the fabric of myth but also into the
rately understood as a spectrum of commentaries on mythic
stuff of everyday life, playing a part in economics, rites of
commentary than as a “category.” This epistemological play-
passage, and ordinary conversation. This observation may
fulness seems to represent a sophisticated African form of re-
tell more about the history of Western colonialism and eth-
ligious thought. It is perhaps a commonplace to insist that
nography than it does about the tricksters of non-
in every system the order of the center and the wildness of
Westerners, but it does suggest that anyone who wants to
the periphery are linked. It is a bold piece of spiritual logic
know the trickster in Africa must study the particular ways
to make this insistence a joke—or even more, a joking rela-
and speech of many different African peoples.
tionship.
Such study is only now passing into its second phase.
Legba, the trickster god of the Fon, personifies such
Travelers, ethnographers, and, more recently, Africans them-
logic clearly. The youngest of the seven children of the fe-
selves have studied hundreds of African societies. Trickster-
male-male high god, Mawu-Lisa, Legba is her linguist. All
like myths and stories have emerged from many of their re-
who approach her, even the other gods, must first address
ports, but only a few collections of trickster tales have been
him. His trickery provoked Mawu into distancing herself
gathered and examined within the context of their social and
from the newly formed earth, and his unpredictable media-
religious settings. Rarely do we have the tales in their original
tion reminds both gods and humans that autonomy requires
languages, or in more than a single version, together with the
the perils of relationship. Legba’s phallic image stands before
indigenous commentary that would make deep translation
all Fon dwellings as a symbol that every passage reshapes the
and comparison more reliable. Nevertheless, these barest be-
world; like Ananse, he reveals that each transaction releases
ginnings have already demonstrated that the transforming
a sort of anti-entropic energy that turns muteness into con-
power of the trickster—what the Yoruba refer to when they
versation, randomness into meaning.
say that “Es:u turns feces into treasure”—works in the present
Legba is the master of the Fon dialectic. Fon mythology
as well as in the primordial past.
has kept alive the memory of their historical adaptiveness,
In the first place, Africans have delighted in using ani-
which enabled them to borrow liberally from the institutions
mal tricksters to shape their children’s “moral imagination,”
of their neighbors (especially from the Yoruba, whose
as T. O. Beidelman (1980) has put it. He has analyzed the
Es:u-E:le:gba inspired Legba). By grasping their history in
complex ways that the Kaguru use Hare, Hyena, and other
mythic terms as well as in secular terms, the Fon have insisted
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9353
that their assimilation of others’ creations is both revelation
Yuru-gu, the “pale fox,” but his concupiscent itch, his desire
and ingenuity, and their traditional order has delighted in
to possess the source of fecundity, led his obedient male twin
elaborating the movement from dark, female inside to
(Nommo) to offer himself to Amma as a sacrifice that
bright, male outside—and back again. The patterns of king-
brought the world as it is into being. The Dogon believe that
ship and clan, the stages of inner growth, the interweavings
Yurugu still speaks a revelatory, if twisted, word in divination
of gods and nature, and even the structures of juridical pro-
and that his story is embedded in the human personality, es-
cess became images of the dual being of the high god, the
pecially in males. The navel bears witness to his premature
bipolar principle of all life. In the intercourse between visible
separation from the divine womb; children resemble him in
and invisible universes, Legba is the living copula. The Fon
their play; the joking relationship between an adolescent boy
say that Legba, or Aflakete (a name meaning “I have tricked
and his maternal uncle’s wife repeats the pattern of Ogo’s
you”), “dances everywhere like a man copulating.” He in-
quest for twinness; and funeral dances bear the traces of his
fuses cosmic dialectic into social order as the laughter he pro-
mistaken celebration of victory over Amma. Ogo-Yurugu is
vokes becomes the sacramental sign that the male-female
a paradigm of Dogon irony, for his “going and coming” dis-
processes of Fon life are both human and transcendent.
closes that wholeness is an “achieved gift,” one both won and
bestowed: as man thrusts outward, he discovers the inner
The link between divination and the trickster represents
unity of personal individuation, social integration, and cos-
a still deeper level of meaning that West Africans especially
mic intelligibility.
have found in him. The Yoruba, like the Fon (who have
The Dogon find Ogo-Yurugu within the soul and on
adopted much of the Yoruba system of divination, known
the peripheries of life, in the present and in the farthest past,
as Ifa) and the Dogon, see their trickster god as the chief pos-
in solitary rebellion and in every relationship. Like Ananse,
sessor of divination’s language. Es:u is a disruptive mediator,
whose lies defeat Kyiriakyinnyee (“hate to be contradicted”)
“the anger of the gods,” who stirs up trouble to increase sacri-
and bring contradiction into Ashanti life, Ogo symbolizes
fice, yet his quickness of eye and hand symbolizes a meta-
the human imagination reaching everywhere to create worlds
physical slipperiness that makes him both sociotherapist and
as filled with both order and meaning as language itself. The
iconographer. At moments of conflict the meetings that
African trickster, then, teaches both dexterity and insight.
create a world become collisions. Lines of connection break
His dance does not signify abandonment of either worship
down, intersections turn into dead ends, and, as the myths
or intelligence; it signifies delight that the unsayable is quite
say, all becomes as fluid as water, as destructive as fire. Divi-
precisely said in the never-final failures of this world’s words.
nation seeks to transform these dead ends into thresholds of
If, then, the realm of the sacred is shaped by human play as
larger meaning; Yoruba divination particularly knows that to
well as by divine work, so that the least fragment of life can
give answers to knotted social and spiritual questions is, fi-
become an icon of boundlessness, what could be more practi-
nally, to redraw an imago mundi, to restore the shattered icon
cal than learning how to imagine? And how could one better
of the Yoruba cosmos. Es:u is not the source of most divinato-
celebrate the meeting of transcendence and human wit than
ry responses, but he enables divination to run its course.
with sacred laughter?
Some depiction of him is carved into every divining tray, and
that portion of the tray is always turned to the east, from
SEE ALSO African Religions, article on Mythic Themes.
which both light and darkness come. Es:u brings confusion
so that order may encompass the unencompassable. In their
BIBLIOGRAPHY
art and cities the Yoruba image the world that the relation-
T. O. Beidelman has made an intensive study of trickster figures
ship between sky and earth, O:lo:run and Onile, with all their
and their social meanings in the oral literature of the Kaguru.
attendants and rituals, has brought into being. Lord of ex-
His important interpretive essay, which argues for a moral
change in the market beginning and ending each Yoruba
rather than an epistemological interpretation of the trickster,
week, Es:u reveals that the meeting of these beings creates
is “The Moral Imagination of the Kaguru: Some Thoughts
human business, truly Yoruba ground. At every kind of
on Tricksters, Translation and Comparative Analysis,”
American Ethnologist 7 (1980): 27–42. It includes a bibliog-
crossroads Es:u’s mastery of interchange ensures that the de-
raphy of his more than twenty-five articles on the Kaguru:
sign of this ground includes all movement—even explosion
collections and translations of tales, analyses of their signifi-
and decay.
cance, and other commentaries on Kaguru society. See also
Beidelman’s “Ambiguous Animals: Two Theriomorphic
The central figure of the vast spiral of correspondences
Metaphors in Kaguru Folklore,” Africa 45 (1975): 183–200.
that is Dogon life and myth is the tricksterlike Ogo-Yurugu.
Created by Amma, the high god, to become one of the an-
Other major collections of trickster stories are E. E. Evans-
drogynous semidivine founders and overseers of life on earth,
Pritchard’s The Zande Trickster (Oxford, 1967), R. S. Rat-
tray’s Akan-Ashanti Folk-Tales (Oxford, 1930), Charles van
Ogo rebelled against his “father’s” plan because he feared he
Dyck’s “An Analytic Study of the Folktales of Selected Peo-
would be deprived of his female twin. He seized part of his
ples of West Africa” (Ph.D. diss., University of Oxford,
primordial matrix and sought to shape the world with its
1967), and Melville J. Herskovits and Frances S. Herskovits’s
help. After a long struggle, Amma rendered him mute and
Dahomean Narrative: A Cross-Cultural Analysis (Evanston,
put him to wander alone on the fringes of human society as
1958). Tales, divination verses, and analyses of Es:u-E:le:gba
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TRICKSTERS: NORTH AMERICAN TRICKSTERS [FIRST EDITION]
can be found in ’Wande Abimbola’s Ifa Divination Poetry
gods or spirits, and they have no cult (other than the semiri-
(New York, 1977); William Bascom’s Ifa Divination: Com-
tualistic narration of their stories). Their relationship to sha-
munication between Gods and Men in West Africa (Blooming-
manism, the definitive religious form in most of the region,
ton, Ind., 1969); John Pemberton’s “Eshu-Elegba: The Yor-
is debated. Tricksters’ activities in myths often resemble sha-
uba Trickster God,” African Arts 9 (1975): 20–27, 66–70,
mans’ journeys to the spirit world, but tricksters ordinarily
90–91, and “A Cluster of Sacred Symbols: Orisa Worship
employ no “helpers,” and shamans do not seek help from
among the Igbomina Yoruba of Ila-Orangun,” History of Re-
“trickster spirits.” Although a history of oral traditions can
ligions 17 (1977): 1–28; and Joan Wescott’s “The Sculpture
and Myths of Eshu-Elegba, the Yoruba Trickster,” Africa 32
be only a matter of speculation, it appears that the trickster
(1962): 336–354. The major work on Dogon myth and life
figure belongs to a very ancient stratum of Indian mythology,
is that of Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen: Le renard
since certain universally disseminated motifs, such as the
pâle, vol. 1, Le mythe cosmogonique, pt. 1, “La création du
theft of fire and the origin of death, are regularly attributed
monde” (Paris, 1965).
to him.
For a study of four West African trickster figures in their social
The concept of the trickster as a type is based upon his
and mythic settings, see my book The Trickster in West Afri-
most essential trait: his trickiness. Tricksters everywhere are
ca: A Study of Mythic Irony and Sacred Delight (Berkeley,
deceitful, cunning, amoral, sexually hyperactive, taboo-
1980), which concludes with a discussion of the theory of the
trickster. For a comparative study of African and North
breaking, voracious, thieving, adventurous, vainglorious—
American tricksters and an analysis of the trickster’s role
yet not truly evil or malicious—and always amusing and un-
among the Azande, see Brian V. Street’s “The Trickster
daunted. Even though his activities are usually motivated by
Theme: Winnebago and Azande,” in Zande Themes, edited
ungoverned desire, the trickster is capable of performing
by Andre Singer and Brian V. Street (Oxford, 1972),
deeds that benefit others: releasing imprisoned game, the
pp. 82–104. In addition to Beidelman’s bibliography and the
sun, the tides, and such; vanquishing and/or transforming
one in my book, see also that of Martha Warren Beckwith
evil monsters; and, like the shaman, journeying to the land
in her Jamaica Anansi Stories (1924; reprint, New York,
of the spirits or the dead to rescue a lost loved one. The sig-
1969).
nificant element in all these deeds is trickery. But the trick-
New Sources
ster’s tricks are not considered evil: as a weak “animal-
Bennett, Martin. West African TricksterTales Retold by Martin Ben-
person” or mere human in a world of strange animals and
nett. New York, 1994.
spirit beings, the trickster must use strategy to survive. More-
Hyde, Lewis. Trickster Makes this World: Mischief, Myth, and Art.
over, as a being of insatiable appetites (for food and sex), he
New York, 1998.
cannot afford the luxury of scruples. Thus he breaks incest
Hynes, William J., and William G. Doby, eds. Mythical Trickster
taboos (rapes or marries in disguise his daughter or mother-
Figures: Contours, Contexts, and Criticisms. Tuscaloosa, 1993.
in-law) and hoodwinks small animals into dancing with eyes
closed so he can kill them. His overweening pride prevents
Owomoyela, Oyekan. Yoruba Trickster Tales. Lincoln, 1997.
him from asking for help, or from acknowledging it when
Schmidt, Sigrid. Tricksters, Monsters and Clever Girls: African Folk-
he receives it, and leads him into countless misadventures.
tales—Texts and Discussions. Cologne, 2001.
Often behaving like a fool and coming to grief, he reacts in-
ROBERT D. PELTON (1987)
variably with buoyant good humor, refusing to accept defeat.
Revised Bibliography
Nothing is sacred in his eyes: all holy institutions may be
mocked or mimicked with impunity by the trickster. Sha-
manism, especially, seems parodied in such continent-wide
stories as those of a trickster’s flight with geese or on the back
TRICKSTERS: NORTH AMERICAN
of a buzzard, ending in his crashing to earth, often being
TRICKSTERS [FIRST EDITION]
fragmented, and his laughing it all off as a big joke.
The most prominent and popular personage, generally
speaking, in the varied oral traditions of the numerous Amer-
In addition to humorous trickster folk tales, which are
indian peoples living north of the Rio Grande is the figure
remarkably similar all over North America, each region has
known as the trickster. Although the trickster may be spoken
its own set of traditions about the mythic age, and in a ma-
of in the singular as a type, there are in fact many tricksters,
jority of instances the leading personage of that time was a
of whom a great variety of stories is told across the North
trickster.
American continent. Some are purely tricksters, but the most
Raven is the dominant mythic figure all along the Alas-
significant and central mythic figure in many tribes is a trick-
kan and Canadian Pacific coast. Some tribes attribute to him
ster who is also the tribe’s culture hero and the creator (usual-
the creation of the land (e.g., by dropping pebbles on the
ly by transformation) of the present world order. Sometimes
water), probably following a world flood. The central myth
he is the maker of the earth and its beings, or alternately the
of the Raven cycle is about his theft of the sun, which was
co-creator, often antagonistic to the principal creator.
being kept in a box by a “powerful chief.” Making himself
With rare exceptions, North American tricksters are be-
a tiny particle in the drinking water of the chief’s daughter,
ings of the mythic age only; they are not believed to be living
Raven contrives to be reborn as a baby in the chief’s house.
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He cries for the box and is given it, whereupon he resumes
human race to emerge onto the earth by making them think
his raven form and flies away, bringing light to the world.
life here would be better. The Oglala are one of the few
(Theft of the sun is a mythic theme found over much of
groups in North America who consider the trickster genuine-
North America, attributed almost always to the principal
ly evil, and almost the only tribe that believes the trickster
trickster or to a group of animals headed by him.)
to be a living spirit.
In the Plateau region of the northwestern United States,
Hare, the chief trickster in the poorly preserved tradi-
Coyote is usually regarded as the maker or procreator of the
tions of the Indians of the Southeast, seems not to be impli-
people, sometimes using the body of a river monster he kills,
cated in the emergence-origin traditions of these tribes.
sometimes by cohabitation with trees after a flood. His prin-
Rather, he is a culture hero (stealing the sun, fire, and such;
cipal cycle concerns his release of the salmon and his subse-
transforming monsters), and he is the bungling rival of the
quent journey up the Columbia River, leading the salmon.
youthful “blood-clot boy,” a pure hero type. Siouan-
He demands a “wife” at each village, and if his request is
speaking peoples seem to have brought a tradition of Rabbit
granted, he makes that place a good fishing spot. The cycle
stories to the Great Plains when they migrated there from
is prefaced with a tale of jealousy, lust, and deceit. Coyote,
the Southeast. Their Rabbit or Hare is a precocious boy, liv-
desiring his son’s two wives, treacherously and magically
ing with his grandmother, who by his foolish and/or heroic
causes his son to be taken into the sky world. Coyote pre-
deeds makes the world habitable, as it is today. He is not,
tends to be his son while the son in the sky is gaining super-
however, credited with any demiurgic activities.
natural powers, unbeknownst to Coyote. Later the son re-
turns, reclaims his wives, and takes revenge by causing his
The Algonquins, inhabiting a large part of eastern and
father to fall into the river and be carried away. Thus Coyote
midwestern Canada, New England, and the area around the
arrives at the mouth of the river where the salmon are kept;
three western Great Lakes, have mythologies centered on an-
by turning himself into a baby, he tricks the women who
thropomorphic culture heroes who were also tricksters,
keep them and releases them to swim upstream.
though seldom foolish, plus several minor theriomorphic
tricksters. The leading figures are Gluskabe in Maine,
In California and the Great Basin region, Coyote usual-
Tcikapis in northern Quebec, and Manabush and Wisakejak
ly is involved in a dualistic relationship with a wise, benevo-
(various spellings) in the most westerly tribes. The few
lent creator (Eagle, Fox, Wolf, or an anthropomorphic fig-
Tcikapis tales recorded show him a monster-killing dwarf,
ure). Set against the backdrop of a world flood (or fire), the
whose greatest exploit was the snaring of the sun. Gluskabe,
earth is remade and repopulated by the two, with Coyote or-
Manabush, and Wisakejak have much in common: they live
daining the “bad” things such as mountains, storms, and
with their grandmother and younger brother, Wolf—who is
fruit growing out of reach. Coyote decrees death—and then
abducted and killed by water monsters and must be rescued
his son is the first to die. So Coyote establishes mourning
and revived by the hero. (A remarkably similar tale is told
rites for people to “enjoy.” He also decrees conception by sex
of Coyote and Wolf far to the west, in the Great Basin.) The
and painful childbirth. Here and in the Plateau, where “spirit
myth has been elaborated in the esoteric traditions of the
helpers” were commonplace in everyday life, Coyote too has
Midewiwin, a secret curing society of the western Algon-
his “helpers”: two chunks of excrement that he voids when
quins. Some investigators report a vague belief that the hero
in need of advice, but to which he always replies, “Just what
of this myth lives now somewhere in the north. The neigh-
I was going to do anyway!”
boring Iroquois make no place for their trickster,
The Paiute and Shoshoni of the Great Basin consider
S’hodieonskon, in their dualistic creation myth.
Coyote the progenitor of the people (through intercourse
In some tribes humorous trickster tales are relegated to
with a mysterious woman following the flood). But among
a category apart from the more serious “myths,” but because
the Pueblo, whose mythology centers on an emergence from
all these narratives are set in “myth times,” they are never
the underground, Coyote plays a rather minor role in most
confused with quasi-historical legends or accounts of sha-
tribes. The Navajo assign him a larger part than the others:
manic experiences. Thus, to some degree, a quality of sacred-
he causes the flood that necessitates the emergence; then he
ness adheres to the person of the trickster everywhere, despite
scatters the stars in the sky haphazardly, ordains death, and
the seemingly profane nature of many of the narratives.
establishes sex. On the Great Plains, Coyote is known pri-
marily as a trickster only. Some northern tribes credit him
The oral traditions of North America present a variety
with the recreation of the earth after the deluge, and the
of combinations of trickster traits with others (culture hero,
Kiowa consider themselves the people of Sendah, a Coyote-
demiurge, etc.); but all are reducible to the idea of a being
like figure, who led them out of a hollow log in the begin-
who lives by his wits and his wit, who represents a mythical
ning. Inktomi (“spider”) of the Lakota is very similar to Coy-
perception of man making his cosmos and finding a place
ote, except in the unique esoteric traditions reported from
within it.
the Oglala Lakota. Here he is a veritable “fallen angel,” who
caused the first human family to be banished from their sub-
SEE ALSO North American Indian Religions, article on
terranean paradise and who subsequently induced the whole
Mythic Themes.
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TRICKSTERS: NORTH AMERICAN TRICKSTERS [FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS]
BIBLIOGRAPHY
discourse also adopted the trickster as a model. Ironically,
The term trickster was coined by Daniel G. Brinton in his Myths
contemporary American Indians witnessed the cooptation of
of the New World (Philadelphia, 1868). The only serious
their tricksters by everyone else and so began to employ trick-
study of the American trickster to have been published in
ster tactics themselves. True to the trickster’s nature, the
book form remains Paul Radin’s The Trickster (1956; reprint,
practice of trickster tactics of destabilization, irony, foolish-
New York, 1969), which contains important essays by C. G.
ness, and deceit became a contest of one-upmanship. The
Jung and Karl Kerényi. It is not, however, a general study of
happy result is evident in current American Indian manifes-
tricksters in North America, but is mainly about those of the
tations of the trickster, a figure that cannot be analyzed as
Winnebago tribe. My article “The North American Indian
a phenomenon rooted in a mythic past anymore. Trickster
Trickster,” History of Religions 5 (Winter, 1966): 327–350,
is based on an earlier work, “The Structure and Religious
stories are still told with the same awe and laughter, but the
Significance of the Trickster-Transformer-Culture Hero in
trickster has become a model for action as well.
the Mythology of the North American Indians” (Ph. D.
The kinds of actions engaged in by contemporary trick-
diss., University of Chicago, 1965), which is a study of the
sters can in many ways be analyzed like the actions of the
entire continent north of the Rio Grande. Edward H. Piper
mythic trickster. On the one hand, there are actions that are
sees the trickster as basically a child figure in his psychologi-
foolish and lead to embarrassing consequences. On the other
cal analysis, “A Dialogical Study of the North American
Trickster Figure and the Phenomenon of Play” (Ph. D. diss.,
hand, there are actions that are creative and heroic and lead
University of Chicago, 1975). Laura Makarius has written
to community leadership and personal accomplishment. Ex-
several articles on tricksters from various parts of the world,
amples of the foolishness of tricksters most often impart les-
viewing the trickster as a taboo-breaking magician; on the
sons relevant to day-to-day life situations. The conflict be-
North American trickster, see her study “The Crime of
tween personal wants and needs and the order and
Manabozo,” American Anthropologist 75 (1973): 663–675.
limitations of an impersonal social order leads to constant
Barbara Babcock-Abrahams has published an interesting an-
evaluations of what actions to take in relation to the costs
thropological study, “‘A Tolerated Margin of Mess’: The
the actions will exact. Will the trickster engaged in quotidian
Trickster and His Tales Reconsidered,” Journal of the Ameri-
situations prompt foolish acts? Will the embarrassment of
can Folklore Institute 2 (1975): 147–186. A recent popular
failure (or success) be acceptable or will it prevent action? Do
collection of trickster stories, without significant interpreta-
tion, is by Barry Holstun Lopez: Giving Birth to Thunder,
the trickster stories compel one to act or prevent one from
Sleeping with His Daughter: Coyote Builds North America
acting? It is in these debates over trickster actions and re-
(Kansas City, 1977). See also the February 1979 issue of Pa-
sponses to the everyday that the importance of trickster sto-
rabola (4, no. 1), which is devoted to the trickster. For the
ries for self-identity can be explored. By recognizing that
texts of the stories, one must resort to the hundreds of vol-
contemporary peoples do not just enjoy trickster stories as
umes of reports of pioneer American anthropologists pub-
a humorous tale set in the mythic past, but see in them a par-
lished by the Bureau of American Ethnology, the American
able of actions and consequences that affect daily decisions,
Folklore Society, and other organizations.
we begin to see that tricksters continue to have a high degree
M
of salience for contemporary American Indians.
AC LINSCOTT RICKETTS (1987)
Can the trickster figure be said to have any religious or
spiritual significance or efficacy in today’s world? As stated
above, tricksters’ roles in religion and spiritually are continu-
TRICKSTERS: NORTH AMERICAN
ally debated. However, in acknowledging the creative influ-
TRICKSTERS [FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS]
ence that trickster figures have had in forming the landscape
These are exciting times for the trickster. As suggested above,
to make it suitable for human habitation we come closer to
the term trickster is used to describe a character that has
the spiritual nature of tricksters. Many examples in the earlier
“trickiness” as his main attribute and is adept at surviving by
part of this article illustrate how tricksters of many cultural
his “wits.” Yet, absent from this description is any critical ap-
traditions have been responsible for preparing the world for
praisal of the trickster concept. The comparative analyses of
humans. Tricksters have done so both consciously and un-
trickster types in varied American Indian cultural traditions
consciously. In the end (of mythic time), the landscape has
often ignore the bias of the analysts. Indeed, some critics sug-
become the physical manifestation of all of trickster’s activi-
gest that the trickster that we encounter when reading cross-
ties. Be it the freeing of game, the leveling of mountains, the
cultural accounts is not the indigenous trickster, but the
creation of waterfalls, the destruction of monsters, or the
trickster through the eyes of the analyst. But even as scholarly
changing of proportions and countenances of animals, all
accounts of tricksters were being debated, the trickster be-
these actions are embedded in the landscape and the cultural
came, in the 1980s and 1990s, a paradigm for overturning
traditions of the native North Americans. For many Ameri-
accepted practices in the academic world. During the height
can Indians the Native landscape is a sacred landscape, full
of the postmodern movement in the humanities and sciences
of stories that reinforce their connections to this world as
critics of the status quo invoked the name of Trickster to un-
well as to the mythic world that existed before humans.
dermine and question accepted practices. Marginalized
These worlds are not separate, just as the trickster of the
groups fighting to have their voices heard over the dominant
mythic time and world is not separate from today’s world.
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TRICKSTERS: MESOAMERICAN AND SOUTH AMERICAN TRICKSTERS
9357
Trickster is not an object for analysis held at an objective
TRICKSTERS: MESOAMERICAN AND SOUTH
distance, but tather serves as a model for survival. Many
AMERICAN TRICKSTERS
American Indian artists, writers, leaders, and community
The peoples of Mesoamerica and South America maintain
members use trickster tactics—and thereby embody the
lively traditions concerning a cunning and deceitful mythic
trickster—to negotiate social injustices, preservation of tradi-
figure, the trickster. Although tricksters are ludicrous rather
tional values, and repatriation of self-identity and self-
than solemn beings, they cannot be discounted as trivial be-
determination. Trickster, then, is alive and well in Native
cause their activities and transformations touch on religious
North America.
issues. For instance, they steal fire, which is deemed the cen-
ter of social and physical life, and their clever bungling fre-
SEE ALSO Anishinaabe Religious Traditions; Cosmology, ar-
quently introduces death. They stir up such a riot of the
ticle on Indigenous North and Mesoamerican Cosmologies;
senses with their playful conduct, that sex, food, and song
North American Indian Religions, article on Mythic
become sacred emblems of incarnate life. The trickster’s
Themes.
scheming prefigures human intelligence, which is based,
ironically, on the realm of the senses.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
The analysis of the trickster from non-Native perspectives and to
Tricksters are usually animals that have bodies riddled
serve non-Native purposes has been a part of the translation
with passages, or they may have excessively large orifices, any
processes since trickster tales were recorded. Paul Radin’s
of which may be cut open or penetrated. The contemporary
classic The Trickster; a Study in American Indian Mythology.
Huichol, who live in the Sierra Madre Occidental, in north-
With Commentaries by Karl Kerényi and C. G. Jung (New
central Mexico, consider Káuyúumaari (“one who does not
York, c1956; reprint, 1972) is an example from the perspec-
know himself” or “one who makes others crazy”) one of their
tive of psychoanalysis. Lewis Hyde would later follow with
principal deities (Myerhoff, 1974). Káuyumarie is the animal
his cross-cultural perspective in Trickster Makes This World:
sidekick of the supreme Huichol deity, Tatewari (“our
Mischief, Myth, and Art (New York, 1998). The postmodern
grandfather fire”). Irreverent, clever, and amusing, Káuyu-
incarnation of tricksters as a mode of critique is clearly articu-
marie brought about the first sexual intercourse between
lated in Donna Harray’s “Situated Knowledges:The Science
Question in Feminism and the Priviledge of Partial Perspec-
man and woman. He guides pilgrims to Wirikúta, where the
tive” in her Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention
Huichol believe the beginning of time and the center of
of Nature, (New York, 1991). A trickster mode of analysis for
space are located, and where, as the Sacred Deer, he was dis-
semiotics is also explicitly stated in C. W. Spinks’s Semiosis,
membered. Pilgrims learn at Wirikúta that all paradoxes and
Marginal Signs and Trickster: A Dagger of the Mind (Hound-
contradictions—even the distinctions between deer, maize,
mills, Basingstoke, U.K., 1991), and most recently in his ed-
and peyote—arise from the division of Káuyumarie’s body
ited volume Trickster and Ambivalence: The Dance of Differ-
(Myerhoff, 1974). The four directions are colored by his
entiation (Madison, Wis., 2001). For discussions on trickster
body parts, and these colors can be seen in flowers or in the
and marginal literature see Jeanne Campbell Reesman’s
visions induced by eating his flesh—the sacred peyote plant.
Trickster Lives: Culture and Myth in American Fiction (Ath-
The horns on Káuyumarie’s head enable humans to pene-
ens, Ga., 2001) and Jeanne Rosier Smith’s Writing Tricksters:
trate the contradictions that make up human experience
Mythic Gambols in American Ethnic Literature (Berkeley,
1997). In this same period, Native American writers and art-
(Furst, 1976).
ists began to re-appropriate trickster discourses in their cre-
Tricksters distort sight and sound purely to create illu-
ative works. Gerald Vizenor’s Dead Voices: Natural Agonies
sion and noise. The Aztec divinity, Tezcatlipoca (“smoking
in the New World (Norman, Okla., 1992) is a novel that
mirror”), uses an obsidian mirror to distort images. He was
grapples with the trickster role in contemporary Native
American oral traditions and his Narrative Chance: Postmod-
able to trick Quetzalcoatl, for example, into looking into the
ern Discourse on Native American Indian Literatures (Albu-
mirror in which Quetzalcoatl saw a repulsive and misshapen
querque, N. Mex., 1989) uses the postmodern appropria-
being. Tezcatlipoca in one of his assumed shapes is Huehue-
tions of trickster discourse to re-present a native analysis of
coyotl (“drum coyote”), the puckish patron of song and
Native American literature. Native American artists were also
dance, who was an ancient Chichimec divinity known for
exploring the possibilities of a revitalized trickster discourse
being a sly contriver (Brundage, 1979).
in their creative works as discussed and presented in Allan J.
Ryan’s The Trickster Shift: Humour and Irony in Contempo-
Extraordinary body designs or cross-sex dress, which the
rary Native Art (Vancouver, 1999). More locally inspired
trickster sometimes manifests, is a way in which the contrary
trickster projects are embedded in larger cultural reinscrip-
conditions of existence are mediated. In her study of Zina-
tion projects such as the Tlinkit project Will the Time Ever
cantecan myth from the Chiapas Highlands of Mexico, Eva
Come?: A Tlingit Source Book, edited by Andrew Hope III
Hunt links contemporary female tricksters to the sixteenth-
and Thomas F. Thornton (Fairbanks, 2000) and the West-
century goddess Cihuacoatl, a female deity with a tail, a fake
ern Apache project described by Keith Basso in his Wisdom
baby, and a snake, which emerges from under her skirt and
Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western
from between her legs. In the contemporary Cuicatec region
Apache (Albuquerque, 1996).
and the Puebla-Nahuatl area of Mexico, she is embodied as
BERNARD C. PERLEY (2005)
Matlacihuatl, and she is also known as Mujer Enredadora
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TRICKSTERS: MESOAMERICAN AND SOUTH AMERICAN TRICKSTERS
(“entangling woman”). Her name derives from maxtli, a
Maotchi, is extracted from a hole in a tree by a female agouti
loincloth. Matlacihuatl is adulterous and promiscuous, and
with whom he has promised to have sex in exchange for
she specializes in seducing homosexual men. She is sexually
being rescued. Once night falls, he fears making love with
anomalous, having a vagina at the back of her neck that
her, and so they sleep foot-to-foot. However, she begins to
opens like a mouth. If a man does seduce her, he will become
devour him through her anus, and by midnight she has
pregnant and give birth to a child that looks like excrement
“swallowed” him up to his anus, which then begins to swal-
(Hunt, 1977).
low her. On another occasion, Maotchi tricks his elder
A female turtle is the trickster of the Desána people in
brother, Kawarimi, into jumping with him into an enormous
southern Colombia. She constantly outsmarts primordial
hole that leads to another world at the center of the earth.
monkeys, jaguars (the dominant supernatural beings of the
Maotchi saves himself by grabbing a vine as he falls, uproot-
primordial age), foxes, deer, and tapir, using their body parts
ing the vine in the process. As his brother falls into the hole,
to her advantage; for example, she uses the leg bone of the
Maotchi shouts “Stone, stone!” to make his brother fall faster
jaguar as a flute.
and, eventually, break all his bones (Jacopin, 1981).
Tricksters often opposed the dominant supernatural be-
Cross-dressing constitutes another tactic of the trickster.
ings of their day and embarrassed or humiliated the divine
In eastern Ecuador, the Shipibo trickster is an ant eater who
patrons of priests, shamans, and other privileged religious
manages to trade “clothes” with a jaguar. The result is the
specialists. For example, the Maquiritaré, Carib-speakers of
human world, in which appearances and body forms can be
Venezuela, tell of divine twins; Iureke revives his twin broth-
deceiving: that is, where an ant eater is really a jaguar, a jag-
er, Shikiemona, who has been fixed in the form of a fish by
uar really an anteater, and so on (Roe, 1982). Because death
the Master of Iron. In an effort to save his brother, Iureke
is the ultimate transformation, tricksters have been linked
assumes the form of a kingfisher and covers his brother with
with it; they also mock death and extract benefit from its ap-
excrement. When the Master of Iron washes Shikiemona
pearances. For example, in Brazil, the Tapirapé culture hero,
clean, the water removes the excrement and revives the dying
Petura, is able to steal fire from the primordial king vulture
twin, and he swims away (Civrieux, 1980). Later, the twins
by pretending to be a cadaver: When the king vulture comes
destroy the supernatural jaguar by exploiting his will for
to devour the maggots infesting the corpse, Petura steals his
power. “I want some wind. I need some power,” the jaguar
“red fire.” He also gives the anteater its shape by thrusting
exclaims. So the twins trick him into swinging on a vine after
a club up its anus and a wooden stick into its nostrils (Wag-
eating a smelly agouti (a kind of rodent). The jaguar breaks
ley, 1977).
wind, filling the air with a foul smell on a cosmic scale, and
In the Gran Chaco area of southern South America, the
ultimately the jaguar is propelled to the end of the earth,
Mataco trickster Tokhwáh—also known as Tawkx-wax,
where he lands with a bang and breaks all his bones.
Takwaj, Takjuaj, Tokhuah—is both good and bad, and, al-
In other myths tricksters steal various forms of life from
though he advances human capabilities, every step forward
the underworld. For example, the Sanumá (Yanoama) of the
brings comic disaster (Simoneau and Wilbert, 1982). Tokh-
Venezuela-Brazil border region, tell of Hasimo, a mythic
wáh acts bisexually, chasing women and often seduced by
bird-man, who steals fire from a primordial alligator, which
men. His exploits require an entire cycle of myths, and he
stores fire in its mouth, by shooting excrement into its face,
is at once divine and earthly, creative and destructive. In
forcing the alligator to laugh (Taylor, 1979).
order to retain nourishing foods, Tokhwáh uses mud to close
Manipulation of flesh and of bodily openings and clos-
up his anus, which had been torn open through intercourse
ings is a key stratagem of tricksters. Among the Waiwai of
with an iguana. In another episode, he is blinded with excre-
Venezuela, an old man, who is a known liar and master of
ment that comes flying through the air when Tokhwáh
disguise, rescues his child from buzzards by making himself
strikes a pile of dung that has answered his questions by mak-
smell like putrid flesh (Fock, 1963). Yaperikuli, the trans-
ing inarticulate dropping noises, “pa pa pa pa.” On another
former and trickster of the Baníwa of the upper Rio Negro
occasion, as punishment for eating a child, all of Tokhwáh’s
region of northwestern Brazil, killed the chief of the Eenu-
orifices are plugged with clay or wax. When a woodpecker
nai (“sky people”) by opening his body and leaving it in a
reopens his orifices, various bird-beings are spattered with
hammock like a “dummy.” The trickster’s role in general
blood and waste, giving the various species their distinguish-
consists of his becoming enmeshed in a predicament and
ing marks (Simoneau and Wilbert, 1982).
then rescuing himself through the use of his incarnate intelli-
The actions of Mesoamerican and South American
gence and the physical transformation of his body. Tricksters
tricksters reveal the contradictions at the heart of human ex-
are sometimes wedged in the dangerous passages between
perience: carnal and spiritual, living but mortal, ambitious
two states of being, and through their efforts to rescue them-
but finite. With a blend of humor and tragedy, trickster
selves—using perhaps a hole, or vine, as a passage—these
myths describe the calamities that occur when contrary con-
states of being become altered forever.
ditions of being collide and overlap in a single experience.
The Yuküna people of the northwest Amazon region tell
the story of two heroic brothers. The younger brother,
SEE ALSO Jaguars; Tezcatlipoca.
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9359
BIBLIOGRAPHY
of him in the temple at Szczecin (Stettin), Pomerania, is at-
For a consideration of trickster figures as general mythical types
tested by Herbord, Ebbo, and Monachus Prieflingensis, the
among American Indian people, see A˚ke Hultkrantz’s The
three biographers of Otto, a twelfth-century bishop of Bam-
Religions of the American Indians (Berkeley, Calif., 1967). For
berg. According to Herbord, the image of Triglav at Szczecin
a treatment of trickster figures in Mesoamerica, see Barbara
had three heads joined to one another. Ebbo states that the
G. Myerhoff’s Peyote Hunt: The Sacred Journey of the Huichol
image was of gold; Monachus Prieflingensis asserts that all
Indians (Ithaca, N.Y., 1974); Burr C. Brundage’s The Fifth
three heads were silver-plated. Another idol of Triglav stood
Sun: Aztec Gods, Aztec World (Austin, 1979); and Eva Hunt’s
The Transformation of the Hummingbird: Cultural Roots of a
in the town of Wolin. Both images were destroyed by Otto.
Zinacantecan Mythical Poem (Ithaca, N.Y., 1977).
No detailed description of the image of Triglav exists.
For tricksters in various parts of South America consult the excel-
One of the interesting features of this god is that he was con-
lent series of volumes on folk literature of South American
nected with the number three. His idol stood on the largest
peoples edited by Johannes Wilbert and Karin Simoneau and
of the three hills of Szczecin, and the black horse consecrated
published by the UCLA Latin American Center at the Uni-
to him and used in divination was led thrice across nine
versity of California, Los Angeles. Each volume contains ex-
(thrice three) lances that were placed in front of the temple,
tensive indices directing the reader to specific trickster mo-
about a yard apart.
tifs. For example, this article refers to Johannes Wilbert and
Karin Simoneau’s Folk Literature of the Mataco Indians (Los
In the words of the high priest of the temple at Szczecin,
Angeles, 1982). Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff, Amazonian
Triglav had three heads in order to make it known that he
Cosmos: The Sexual and Religious Symbolism of the Tukano In-
ruled over three realms: heaven, earth, and the underworld.
dians (Chicago, 1971) presents the mythic figures of south-
Ebbo refers to him as the “summus deus” (“highest god”).
ern Colombia. For references to tricksters in the northwest
Hence, Triglav may have been either a manifestation of three
Amazon region, see the excellent collections of myths in
major gods or three aspects of one god. The black horse and
Robin M. Wright’s “History and Religion of the Baníwa
Peoples of the Upper Rio Negro Valley,” 2 vols. (Ph.D. diss.,
the mention of the underworld suggest Triglav’s ties with
Stanford University, 1981), and in Pierre-Ives Jacopin’s “La
Veles-Volos, the god of death and the underworld, a deity
parole generative: De la mythologie des indiens yukuna”
standing in opposition to Sventovit, the god of heavenly
(Ph.D. diss., Université de Neuchâtel, 1981). Trickster my-
light, who was associated with a white horse. Triglav may
thologies from Venezuela may be found in Marc de Civ-
also have been related to Chernoglav, the “black god,” who
rieux’s Watunna: An Orinoco Creation Cycle (San Francisco,
had a silver mustache and who was worshiped at Rügen, as
1980); Niels Fock’s Waiwai: Religion and Society of an Ama-
mentioned in the Knytlingasaga (1265).
zonian Tribe (Copenhagen, 1963); and Kenneth I. Taylor’s
“Body and Spirit among the Sanumá (Yanoama) of North
Tricephalous sculptures, mostly undated, have been
Brazil,” in David L. Browman and Ronald A. Schwarz’s Spir-
found in South and East Slavic areas (Yugoslavia, Bulgaria,
its, Shamans, and Stars: Perspectives from South America (The
Russia); in France, Gallo-Roman sculptures of three-headed
Hague, 1979), pp. 201–221, which discusses people living
gods date from the second to the fourth century CE. A trice-
on the Brazil-Venezuela border. Mention may also be made
phalous figure called the Thracian Rider was known in the
of Charles Wagley’s Welcome of Tears: The Tapirapé Indians
ancient Balkan world, particularly in Bulgaria, and his image
of Central Brazil (Oxford, 1977); the special study made by
is preserved on hundreds of stelae of the second and third
Mario Califano, “El ciclo de Tokjwaj: Analisis feno-
centuries CE. The name of Triglav has been retained in the
menológico de una narración mítica de los Mataco Cos-
toponymy of all Slavic areas, proving its common Slavic
taneros,” Scripta ethnológica (Buenos Aires) 1 (1973): 156–
186; and Peter G. Roe’s The Cosmic Zygote: Cosmology in the
origin.
Amazon Basin (New Brunswick, N.J., 1982).
B
New Sources
IBLIOGRAPHY
Machál, Jan. “Slavic Mythology.” In The Mythology of All Races,
Basso, Ellen B. In Favor of Deceit: A Study of Tricksters in an Ama-
vol. 3, edited by Louis H. Gray and George Foot Moore,
zonian Society. Tucson, 1987.
pp. 217–220. Boston, 1918.
Bierhorst, J. Myths and Tales of the American Indians. New York,
1992.
Palm, Thede. Wendische Kultstätten: Quellenkritische Untersuchun-
gen zu den letzten Jahrhunderten slavischen Heidentums. Lund,
Erdoes, Richard, and Alfonso Ortiz, eds. American Indian Trick-
1937.
ster Tales. New York, 1998.
Pettazzoni, Raffaele. “The Pagan Origins of the Three-Headed
Vizenor, Gerald. “Trickster Discourse.” American Indian Quarter-
Representation of the Christian Trinity.” Journal of Warburg
ly. 14 (1990): 277–287.
and Courtauld Institutes 9 (1946): 135–151.
LAWRENCE E. SULLIVAN (1987)
Pettazzoni, Raffaele. “West Slav Paganism.” In his Essays on the
Revised Bibliography
History of Religions, pp. 151–163. Leiden, 1967.
New Sources
Kapica, F. S. Slavyanskije tradicionnije verovanija, prazdniki i ritu-
TRIGLAV, a three-headed deity of the heathen Slavs, was
ali [Slavic traditional beliefs, festivities and rituals]. Moscow,
literally named: from tri,“three,” and glava, “head.” Worship
2001.
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9360
TRINITY
Petruhin, A. Y., T. A. Arapkina, L. N. Vinogradova, and S. M.
the first person of the Trinity but a synonym for God. Early
Tolstaya. Slavyanskaja mifologija [Slavic mythology]. Mos-
liturgical and creedal formulas speak of God as “Father of our
cow, 1995.
Lord Jesus Christ”; praise is to be rendered to God through
Shaparova, N. S. Kratkaya enciklopedija slavyanskoj mifologii [A
Christ (see opening greetings in Paul and deutero-Paul).
short dictionary of Slavic mythology]. Moscow, 2001.
There are other binitarian texts (e.g., Rom. 4:24, 8:11; 2 Cor.
Tokarev, S. A. “Mifi narodov mira [World myths].” Bolshaya Ros-
4:14; Col. 2:12; 1 Tm. 2:5–6, 6:13; 2 Tm. 4:1), and a few
sijskaya Enciklopedija, vol.1–2. Moscow, 1998.
triadic texts (the strongest are 2 Cor. 13:14 and Mt. 28:19;
others are 1 Cor. 6:11, 12:4–6; 2 Cor. 1:21–22; 1 Thes. 5:18–
MARIJA GIMBUTAS (1987)
Revised Bibliography
19; Gal. 3:11–14). Christ is sent by God and the Spirit is
sent by Christ so that all may be returned to God.
The language of the Bible, of early Christian creeds, and
TRINITY. Trinitarian doctrine touches on virtually every
of Greek and Latin theology prior to the fourth century is
aspect of Christian faith, theology, and piety, including
“economic” (oikonomia, divine management of earthly af-
Christology and pneumatology, theological epistemology
fairs). It is oriented to the concrete history of creation and
(faith, revelation, theological methodology), spirituality and
redemption: God initiates a covenant with Israel, God speaks
mystical theology, and ecclesial life (sacraments, community,
through the prophets, God takes on flesh in Christ, God
ethics). This article summarizes the main lines of trinitarian
dwells within as Spirit. In the New Testament there is no re-
doctrine without presenting detailed explanations of impor-
flective consciousness of the metaphysical nature of God
tant ideas, persons, or terms.
(“immanent trinity”), nor does the New Testament contain
the technical language of later doctrine (hupostasis, ousia, sub-
The doctrine of the Trinity is the summary of Christian
stantia, subsistentia, proso¯pon, persona). Some theologians
faith in God, who out of love creates humanity for union
have concluded that all postbiblical trinitarian doctrine is
with God, who through Jesus Christ redeems the world, and
therefore arbitrary. While it is incontestable that the doctrine
in the power of the Holy Spirit transforms and divinizes (2
cannot be established on scriptural evidence alone, its origins
Cor. 3:18). The heart of trinitarian theology is the conviction
may legitimately be sought in the Bible, not in the sense of
that the God revealed in Jesus Christ is involved faithfully
“proof-texting” or of finding metaphysical principles, but be-
and unalterably in covenanted relationship with the world.
cause the Bible is the authoritative record of God’s redemp-
Christianity is not unique in believing God is “someone”
tive relationship with humanity. What the scriptures narrate
rather than “something,” but it is unique in its belief
as the activity of God among us, which is confessed in creeds
that Christ is the personal Word of God, and that through
and celebrated in liturgy, is the wellspring of later trinitarian
Christ’s death and resurrection into new life, “God was in
doctrine.
Christ reconciling all things to God” (2 Cor. 5:19). Christ
is not looked upon as an intermediary between God and
Dogmatic development took place gradually, against
world but as an essential agent of salvation. The Spirit
the background of the emanationist philosophy of Stoicism
poured out at Pentecost, by whom we live in Christ and are
and Neoplatonism (including the mystical theology of the
returned to God (Father), is also not a “lesser God” but one
latter), and within the context of strict Jewish monotheism.
and the same God who creates and redeems us. The doctrine
In the immediate post–New Testament period of the Apos-
of the Trinity is the product of reflection on the events of
tolic Fathers no attempt was made to work out the God-
redemptive history, especially the Incarnation and the send-
Christ (Father-Son) relationship in ontological terms. By the
ing of the Spirit.
end of the fourth century, and owing mainly to the challenge
DEVELOPMENT OF TRINITARIAN DOCTRINE. Exegetes and
posed by various heresies, theologians went beyond the im-
theologians today are in agreement that the Hebrew Bible
mediate testimony of the Bible and also beyond liturgical
does not contain a doctrine of the Trinity, even though it
and creedal expressions of trinitarian faith to the ontological
was customary in past dogmatic tracts on the Trinity to cite
trinity of coequal persons “within” God. The shift is from
texts like Genesis 1:26, “Let us make humanity in our image,
function to ontology, from the “economic trinity” (Father,
after our likeness” (see also Gn. 3:22, 11:7; Is. 6:2–3) as proof
Son, and Spirit in relation to us) to the “immanent” or “es-
of plurality in God. Although the Hebrew Bible depicts God
sential Trinity” (Father, Son, and Spirit in relation to each
as the father of Israel and employs personifications of God
other). It was prompted chiefly by belief in the divinity of
such as Word (davar), Spirit (ruah:), Wisdom (h:okhmah),
Christ and later in the divinity of the Holy Spirit, but even
and Presence (shekhinah), it would go beyond the intention
earlier by the consistent worship of God in a trinitarian pat-
and spirit of the Old Testament to correlate these notions
tern and the practice of baptism into the threefold name of
with later trinitarian doctrine.
God. By the close of the fourth century the orthodox teach-
ing was in place: God is one nature, three persons (mia ousia,
Further, exegetes and theologians agree that the New
treis hupostaseis).
Testament also does not contain an explicit doctrine of the
Trinity. God the Father is source of all that is (Pantokrator)
Questions of Christology and soteriology (salvation) oc-
and also the father of Jesus Christ; “Father” is not a title for
cupied theologians of the early patristic period. What was
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Christ’s relationship to God? What is Christ’s role in our sal-
of Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274). Still Augustinian but focusing
vation? The Logos Christology of the apologists identified
on person rather than nature, Richard of Saint-Victor
the preexistent Christ of Johannine and Pauline theology
(d. 1173) and Bonaventure (d. 1274) developed a psycholo-
with the Logos (“word”) of Greek philosophy. The Stoic dis-
gy of love; charity is the essence of Trinity.
tinction between the immanent word (logos endiathetos) and
Although there are important exceptions to any typolo-
the expressed word (logos prophorikos) provided a way for Jus-
gy, in general, Greek theology emphasizes the hypostases, the
tin Martyr (d. 163/165) and others to explain how Christ
“trinity in unity,” whereas Latin theology emphasizes the di-
had preexisted as the immanent word in the Father’s mind
vine nature, or “unity in trinity.” The Greek approach can
and then became incarnate in time. Third-century monar-
be represented by a line: Godhood originates with the Fa-
chianism arose as a backlash against Logos theology, which
ther, emanates toward the Son, and passes into the Holy
was feared to jeopardize the unity of God; the modalism of
Spirit who is the bridge to the world. Greek theology (follow-
Sabellius admitted the distinctions in history but denied
ing the New Testament and early Christian creeds) retains
their reality in God’s being. Origen (died c. 254) contributed
the “monarchy” of the Father who as sole principle of divini-
the idea of the eternal generation of the Son within the being
ty imparts Godhood to Son and Spirit. The Greek approach
of God; although other aspects of Origen’s theology later
tends toward subordinationism (though hardly of an onto-
were judged to be subordinationist, his teaching that the Son
logical kind) or, in some versions, to tritheism since in Greek
is a distinct hypostasis brought about subtle changes in con-
theology each divine person fully possesses the divine sub-
ceptions of divine paternity and trinity. In the West, Tertul-
stance. The Latin approach can be represented by a circle or
lian (d. 225?) formulated an economic trinitarian theology
triangle. Because the emphasis is placed on what the divine
that presents the three persons as a plurality in God. Largely
persons share, Latin theology tends toward modalism (which
because of the theology of Arius, who about 320 denied that
obscures the distinctiveness of each person). Also the Trinity
Christ was fully divine, the Council of Nicaea (325) taught
is presented as self-enclosed and not intrinsically open to the
that Christ is homoousios (of the same substance) with God.
world.
The primary concern of Athanasius (d. 373), the great de-
PRINCIPLES OF TRINITARIAN DOCTRINE. Trinitarian theolo-
fender of Nicene orthodoxy, was salvation through Christ;
gy is par excellence the theology of relationship. Its funda-
if Christ is not divine, he cannot save. Like the bishops at
mental principle is that God, who is self-communicating and
Nicaea, Athanasius had a limited trinitarian vocabulary;
self-giving love for us, is from all eternity love perfectly given
hupostasis (person) and ousia (substance) could still be used
and received. The traditional formula “God is three persons
interchangeably.
in one nature” compactly expresses that there are permanent
The fourth-century Cappadocian theologians (Basil of
features of God’s eternal being (the three persons) that are
Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus) for-
the ontological precondition for the three distinct manners
mulated orthodox trinitarian doctrine and made it possible
of God’s tripersonal activity in the world (as Father, Son,
for the Council of Constantinople (381) to affirm the divini-
Spirit).
ty of the Holy Spirit. The speculatively gifted Cappadocians
Technical terms, theological theories, and official (con-
made a clear distinction between hupostasis and ousia (rough-
ciliar) statements function together as a “set of controls” over
ly equivalent to particular and universal), thereby establish-
the correct way to conceive both of God’s self-relatedness as
ing orthodox trinitarian vocabulary. At the close of the pa-
Father, Son, and Spirit, and God’s relatedness to creation as
tristic period John of Damascus (d. 749) summarized Greek
Father, Son, and Spirit. Although one must guard against re-
trinitarian doctrine with the doctrine of pericho¯resis (Lat., cir-
ducing the mystery of God to a set of formal statements, pre-
cumincessio), or the mutual indwelling of the divine persons.
cise distinctions are useful insofar as they refine theological
Western trinitarian theology took a different course be-
vocabulary or protect against distortions (“heresy”). Still,
cause of Augustine (d. 430). Instead of regarding the Father
doctrinal statements are inherently limited; they address spe-
as source of divinity, Augustine’s starting point was the one
cific points of controversy, leaving other questions unsettled
divine substance, which the three persons share. He sought
and sometimes creating new problems. Conciliar statements
the image of the Trinity within the rational soul and formu-
and theological principles guard against egregious errors (for
example, “the Holy Spirit is a creature”) and serve as bounda-
lated psychological analogies (memory, intellect, will; lover,
ries within which trinitarian discourse may take place.
beloved, love) that conveyed unity more than plurality. The
Augustinian approach served to effectively refute Arianism,
First, God is ineffable and Absolute Mystery, whose re-
but it also moved the doctrine of the Trinity to a transcen-
ality cannot adequately be comprehended or expressed by
dent realm, away from salvation history, from other areas of
means of human concepts. Trinitarian doctrine necessarily
theology, and from liturgy. In the Latin West Boethius (died
falls short of expressing the full “breadth and length and
c. 525) formulated the classic definition of person, namely,
height and depth” of God’s glory and wisdom and love. Even
“individual substance of a rational nature.” Augustinian the-
though God who “dwells in light inaccessible” is impenetra-
ology was given further elaboration in medieval theology, es-
ble mystery, the doctrine of the Trinity is not itself a mystery,
pecially by Anselm (d. 1109) and in the Scholastic synthesis
nor is the doctrine revealed by God, nor is the doctrine a sub-
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TRINITY
stitute for the knowledge of God gained in the union of love
cians) understands the unity to reside in the “perichoretic”
that surpasses all concepts (see Eph. 3:18–19). Trinitarian
relatedness of the three persons.
doctrine is a partial and fragmentary exegesis of what has
A corollary of the inseparability of the three coequal di-
been revealed, namely, that God is self-communicating love.
vine persons is the axiom that “all works of the triune God
Further, because God is a partner in love and not an object
ad extra are indivisibly one” (“opera trinitatis ad extra indivi-
to be scrutinized or controlled by the intellect, speculative
sa sunt”). According to Latin theology it is the three-
theology must be firmly rooted in spirituality, doxology, and
personed substance of God that acts in history; according to
a concrete community of faith so that trinitarian doctrine
Greek theology every action of God toward creation origi-
does not become “heavenly metaphysics” unrelated to the
nates with the Father, passes through the Son, and is perfect-
practice of faith.
ed in the Spirit (Gregory of Nyssa). In any case, the axiom
Second, the revelation and self-communication of the
must not be understood to obscure what is distinctive to each
incomprehensible God, attested in the concrete images and
divine person.
symbols of the Bible and celebrated in Christian liturgy, is
Fourth, a false distinction must not be set up between
the proper starting point of trinitarian theology. Theological
what God is and what God does, between essence and exis-
thinking proceeds from “God with us” (“economic” Trinity)
tence, between unity and threefoldness, between nature and
to the nature of God (“immanent” Trinity). The starting
person (relation). There are no “accidents” in God; the state-
point “within” God led to an overly abstract doctrine in the
ment of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) that each divine
West and to a virtual divorce of the “immanent” Trinity
person is the divine substance countered the claim of some
from the Trinity of history and experience. Friedrich Schlei-
theologians (Joachim of Fiore) that God is a quaternity
ermacher (d. 1834) reacted against the cleavage between
(three persons + essence = four persons).
“God” and “God for us” by relegating the idea of the essen-
tial Trinity to an appendix to his summary of Christian the-
Fifth, since the nature of God is to love, and love natu-
ology. Karl Rahner’s (d. 1984) widely accepted axiom is per-
rally seeks an object, it might appear that God “needs” the
tinent: “the ‘economic’ Trinity is the ‘immanent’ Trinity and
world as a partner in love. This would make the world co-
vice versa.” God is who God reveals God to be. Concepts
eternal with God. Many Scholastic theologians speculated on
that describe the ontological intrarelatedness of God must be
this question. Thomas Aquinas admitted that while he saw
drawn from and are subject to control by the “facts” of re-
no philosophical reason to deny the eternity of the world, the
demptive history.
testimony of the Book of Genesis and his Christian faith con-
strained him to do so. In 1329 Meister Eckhart was con-
Third, because the three persons together and insepara-
demned for asserting the eternity of the world. With respect
bly (though without mingling or confusion) bring about sal-
to trinitarian theology, even though Rahner’s axiom (see
vation and deification, and because the one God is wor-
above) suggests that God’s relations to us, including creation,
shiped as Father, Son, and Spirit, no divine person is inferior
are constitutive of God and vice versa, theologians tradition-
to any other person. Although undivided, God exists as the
ally speak of a perfect and reciprocal exchange of love “with-
pure relationality of love given and received. The decree of
in” God, that is, among Father, Son, and Spirit independent
the Council of Florence (1442) that “everything in God is
of their relationship to creation, in order to preserve the ab-
one except where there is opposition of relation” was regard-
solute character of God’s freedom.
ed as a final answer to tritheism (belief in three gods), Arian
C
subordinationism (ontological hierarchy of persons), Sabelli-
URRENT DIRECTIONS AND REMAINING PROBLEMS. After
an modalism (no real distinctions “in” God), and Macedoni-
centuries of disinterest in trinitarian doctrine in the West,
anism (denial of the divinity of the Holy Spirit).
the riches of this vast tradition are once again being explored.
Three basic directions may be observed. First, some theolo-
There are two divine processions: begetting and spira-
gians have revised analogies of the “immanent” Trinity ac-
tion (“breathing”). Each divine person exists by relation to
cording to contemporary philosophy (for example, process
the other two persons (Gr., “relation of origin”; Lat., “rela-
metaphysics), linguistics, or interpersonal psychology. While
tion of oppositon”), and each fully possesses the divine sub-
this approach overcomes some of the aporia of classical expo-
stance. In Greek theology the three hypostases have the
sitions, it perpetuates the metaphysical starting point “with-
distinguishing characteristics (sg., idiotes) of “being unbegot-
in” God apart from salvation history. A second approach fo-
ten” (agenn¯esia), “being begotten” (genn¯esia), and “proceed-
cuses on soteriology and Christology and is circumspect
ing” (ekporeusis). The Father is the fountainhead of Godhood
about the “immanent” Trinity, though without denying that
(fons divinitatis), who imparts divinity to Son and Spirit. Ac-
historical distinctions are grounded ontologically in God. A
cording to Latin theology there are four relations (begetting,
third approach uses trinitarian symbolism to describe God’s
being begotten, spirating, being spirated) but only three
deeds in redemptive history but resists positing real distinc-
“subsistent” relations: paternity, filiation, spiration. Latin
tions in God. Despite basic differences in method, these
theology (following Augustine) understands divine unity to
three approaches all move in a more personalist (relational)
reside in the divine nature that is held in common by Father,
direction and, in the case of the latter two, a more “econom-
Son, and Spirit; Greek theology (following the Cappado-
ic” direction.
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9363
Theologians who specialize in trinitarian doctrine sug-
BIBLIOGRAPHY
gest that several areas warrant further attention. First, most
Biblical and Historical Sources
trinitarian doctrine is so abstract it is difficult to see its con-
For the New Testament origins of trinitarian doctrine, see the arti-
nection with praxis. The “summary of Christian faith” and
cle and bibliography by Franz Josef Schierse, “Die neutesta-
the living out of that faith should be brought to bear more
mentliche Trinitätsoffenbarung,” in Mysterium Salutis, ed-
directly on each other. Creeds, doxologies, and liturgy are
ited by Johannes Feiner and Magnus Löhrer, vol. 2
important loci of the trinitarian faith recapitulated in trini-
(Einsiedeln, 1967), and Arthur W. Wainwright’s The Trinity
in the New Testament
(London, 1962). A standard and nearly
tarian doctrine.
complete exposition of patristic and medieval, Greek and
Second, unlike the “mystical theology” of the Orthodox
Latin trinitarian doctrine is Théodore de Régnon’s four-
tradition, theology in the West has been separated from spiri-
volume Études de théologie positive sur la Sainte Trinité (Paris,
tuality since the thirteenth century. Reintegrating theology
1892–1898). Organized chronologically and full of helpful
and spirituality would help to overcome the rationalist ten-
textual references is “Trinité,” by G. Bardy and A. Michel,
dencies of Western theology, to provide the field of spiritual-
in Dictionnaire de théologie catholique (Paris, 1950), vol.
ity with theological foundation, and also to strengthen the
15.2, cols. 1545–1855. Standard English-language works in-
weakest component of Western theology, namely, pneuma-
clude George L. Prestige’s study of shifting terminology and
concepts in early Greek trinitarian theology in God in Patris-
tology.
tic Thought, 2d ed. (1952; reprint, London, 1964), J. N. D.
Third, the filioque (“and from the Son”) clause, inserted
Kelly’s historical study, Early Christian Doctrines, 5th rev. ed.
into the Western creed in the sixth century but denounced
(New York, 1977), and Edmund J. Fortman’s The Triune
by the Orthodox church, remains a serious obstacle to re-
God (Philadelphia, 1972). Yves Congar’s three-volume I Be-
union between East and West. Theologians should work as-
lieve in the Holy Spirit (New York, 1983) is more impression-
siduously for ecumenical agreement.
istic but contains many historical gems and a seasoned ap-
proach to this vast field.
Fourth, to speak of God as “three persons” always has
been problematic and remains the same today. In the mod-
Theological Works
ern framework “person” means “individual center of con-
In Protestant theology, Karl Barth placed the doctrine of the Trin-
ity as a prolegomenon to dogmatic theology in Church Dog-
sciousness.” To avoid the tritheistic implications of positing
matics, vol. 1, pt. 1 (Edinburgh, 1936). See also Claude
three “persons” in God, the relational, or “toward-the-other”
Welch’s summary of recent Protestant theology in In This
character of “person” should be reemphasized.
Name: The Doctrine of the Trinity in Contemporary Theology
Fifth, the exclusively masculine imagery of trinitarian
(New York, 1952). Trinitarian theology that centers on the
doctrine hinders full recovery of the trinitarian insight into
cross is represented in Eberhard Jüngel’s God as the Mystery
the essential relatedness of God. The fatherhood of God
of the World (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1983) and Jürgen Molt-
should be rethought in light of the critique of feminist theol-
mann’s The Crucified God (New York, 1974). In Catholic
ogies and also in view of the nonpatriarchal understanding
theology, Karl Rahner’s monograph The Trinity (New York,
1970) summarizes but also seeks to go beyond standard
of divine paternity to be found in some biblical and early
Western trinitarian dogma. Heribert Mühlen’s Der heilige
theological writings.
Geist als Person, 2d ed. (Münster, 1966) and Una Mystica
Sixth, revising trinitarian theology along soteriological
Persona (Paderborn, 1964) develop a pneumatological and
lines raises the question of its place in the dogmatic schema,
interpersonal analogy of the “immanent” Trinity. Walter
that is, whether it ought to be treated as a separate “tract,”
Kasper’s The God of Jesus Christ (New York, 1984) is a magis-
as prolegomenous to theology, as its apex and summary, or
terial summary of classical and contemporary trinitarian the-
as an undergird that is presupposed throughout but never al-
ology, developed against the backdrop of modern atheism
luded to explicitly.
and in light of current studies in Christology. On Orthodox
theology, see Vladimir Lossky’s The Mystical Theology of the
Seventh, trinitarian theology must be pursued within
Eastern Church, 2d ed. (Crestwood, N.Y., 1976).
the context of the “God question” of every age, whether this
New Sources
question takes the form of existentialist atheism, secular hu-
Bobrinsky, Boris. The Mystery of the Trinity. Translated by Antho-
manism, or some other.
ny P. Gythiel. Crestwood, N.Y., 1999.
Eighth, the Christian doctrine of God must be devel-
Boff, Leonard. Holy Trinity, Perfect Community. Translated by
oped also within the wider purview of other world religions.
Phillip Berryman. Maryknoll, N.Y., 2000.
Trinitarian doctrine cannot be Christomonistic, excluding
Butin, Philip Walker. Reformed Ecclesiology: Trinitarian Grace Ac-
persons of other faiths from salvation, nor can it surrender
cording to Calvin. Princeton, N.J., 1994.
its conviction that God is fully present in Christ.
Collins, Paul M. Trinitarian Theology, West and East: Karl Barth,
For trinitarian doctrine to be recovered as a vital expres-
the Cappadocian Fathers, and John Zizioulas. Oxford and
sion of God’s nearness in Christ, theologians must translate
New York, 2001.
into a contemporary idiom the mystery of God’s triune love
Davis, Stephen T., Daniel Kendall, and Gerald O’Collins, eds.
in a way that does justice not only to the testimony of our
The Trinity. Oxford and New York, 1999.
predecessors but also to the ongoing and ever-new features
Schwöbel, Christoph, and Colin E. Gunton, eds. Persons Divine
of God’s relationship with a people.
and Human. Edinburgh, 1991.
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TROELTSCH, ERNST
Thompson, John. Modern Trinitarian Perspectives. New York,
Enlightenment traditions were more important than the the-
1994.
ology of the reformers. He believed that theology must be
Torrance, Thomas Forsyth. The Christian Doctrine of God. Edin-
changed from the old dogmatic paradigm to a “historical
burgh, 1996.
method” and must be based upon a general, rational theory
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TROELTSCH, ERNST
designated such a theology, which he believed compatible
(1865–1923), German Prot-
with modern consciousness, a “religious-historical disci-
estant theologian and cultural philosopher. Ernst Peter Wil-
pline.” It is not yet clear to what extent this statement was
helm Troeltsch is considered “the most eminent sociological-
influenced by the Göttingen religious historian and Septua-
ly oriented historian of Western Christianity” (Talcott
gint scholar Paul Anton de Lagarde (1827–1891). Troeltsch
Parsons, quoted by James Luther Adams, “Why the Tr-
was part of a very close and friendly exchange in Göttingen
oeltsch Revival? Reasons for the Renewed Interest in the
with the church historian Albert Eichhorn (1856–1926), as
Thought of the Great German Theologian Ernst Troeltsch,”
in The Unitarian Universalist Christian 29, 1974, pp. 4–15).
well as the exegetes Hermann Gunkel (1862–1932), Alfred
With regard to the impact of his work, Troeltsch was the
Rahlfs (1865–1935), Wilhelm Wrede (1859–1906), Hein-
most significant evangelical theologian since Friedrich
rich Hackmann (1864–1935), and especially Wilhelm Bous-
Schleiermacher (1768–1834). As the central figure in Ger-
set (1865–1920). These “young Göttingers” wanted to trans-
man Protestant theology in the early twentieth century, he
form traditional biblical scholarship into an undogmatic,
was able to exercise an enduring influence on philosophy, re-
sociologically informed religious history of Judaism and early
ligion, sociology, and the study of history.
Christianity. They therefore attempted to understand the or-
igins of Christianity from the perspective of the ancient reli-
Troeltsch was born in Haunstetten, a small town near
gions, especially of late Judaism. Since they were not interest-
the old southern German imperial city of Augsburg. He
ed in historically secondary theological dogmatics, but rather
spent his childhood and youth in Augsburg. Through the ef-
in the original productivity of religious consciousness, they,
forts of his father, a well-to-do physician, Troeltsch became
along with Johannes Weiss (1863–1914), emphasized very
acquainted at an early age with the modern natural sciences,
strongly the eschatological character of Jesus’ preaching of
and the famous preparatory school at Sankt Anna gave him
the kingdom of God, and also the autonomy of religion
the sense of a cosmopolitan Christian humanism.
within culture. Troeltsch was considered the “systematician”
In 1883, Troeltsch began the study of philosophy for
of this “little Göttingen faculty,” which as a so-called reli-
two semesters at the Roman Catholic preparatory school in
gious-historical school exercised a significant influence on
Augsburg and then, in the fall of 1884, of Protestant theolo-
the theology of the early twentieth century.
gy in Erlangen. He was particularly interested in the reconcil-
In a well-known essay, Über historische und dogmatische
iation of faith with knowledge and, therefore, attended lec-
Methode in der Theologie (On Historical and Dogmatic
tures in art history, political science, national economics,
Method in Theology; 1900, included in his Gesammelte
history, psychology, and philosophy. Since the theological
Schriften, vol. 2, Tübingen, 1913, pp. 729–753), using the
faculty at Erlangen was dominated by a neoorthodox Luther-
historiographic principles of critique, analogy, and correla-
anism, Troeltsch transferred, in 1885, to Berlin for a year
tion, Troeltsch drew the radical conclusion of definitively
and, in the fall of 1886, finally to Göttingen. Here the sys-
separating a supranaturalistic view of Christianity as the only
tematic theologian Albrecht Ritschl (1822–1889), the most
true religion from the old dogmatic understanding of Jesus
prominent contemporary representative of a liberal, Luther-
Christ as the extraordinary and exclusive revelation of God.
an, cultural Protestantism, exercised a primary and profound
The breaking down of the traditional isolation of Christiani-
influence upon him.
ty from other religions should not, however, imply any skep-
As early as 1891, however, Troeltsch formulated a sharp
tical relativism, but rather should serve as a foundation for
criticism of Ritschl’s ethicizing modernization of Luther’s
the specific validity that Christianity claims. The program
theology. He emphasized the far-reaching cultural differ-
for a general theory of religion, which Troeltsch first outlined
ences between the “Old Protestantism” of the sixteenth and
in 1895 in Die Selbständigkeit der Religion (The Indepen-
early seventeenth centuries and the modern world, which
dence of Religion), should, therefore, produce a metacritique
had emerged only with the Enlightenment of the eighteenth
of modern religious criticism. It should demonstrate, more-
century. Insofar as Luther had remained committed to the
over, in dialogue with Ludwig Feuerbach’s “suspicion of illu-
ideal of a religiously dominated, homogeneous culture and
sion,” the real meaning of religious consciousness, in order
had represented a pacifist ethic that sanctioned submission
to prove thereby the special validity of the Christian tradi-
to the status quo, he was, for Troeltsch, still part of the Mid-
tion. Thus the connection of historical-empirical analyses of
dle Ages. Thus for Troeltsch’s own theological development,
the history of Christianity with a variety of attempts at a sys-
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TROELTSCH, ERNST
9365
tematic philosophy of religion is characteristic of Troeltsch’s
knows itself—or all finite reality—to be grounded in a divine
lifework. The difficulties of making such a connection, how-
substance only insofar as he understood the a priori as a prod-
ever, demanded extensive epistemological, historical, and
uct not proper to the intellect. To presuppose objects of cog-
philosophical analyses of the relationship between historical
nition as directly given, however, contradicted the Kantian
contingency and the absolute. This Troeltsch was not able
point of departure of his argumentation. The more Troeltsch
to bring to completion. To that extent, his massive literary
sought to explain, in numerous small monographs on the
work is, for the most part, fragmentary.
philosophy of religion, the relationship of the religious con-
sciousness to reality, the less he could still do justice to Kant’s
After a short lectureship in Bonn, and at the age of only
criticism. Although in close personal contact with the leading
twenty-nine, Troeltsch was called to Heidelberg in 1894 as
German representatives of Neo-Kantianism, Troeltsch did
professor of systematic theology. After the turn of the centu-
not share their basic assumptions.
ry, he became known far beyond the narrow borders of aca-
demic theology. This was a result of his intensive engage-
After the turn of the century, in addition to his studies
ment in ecclesiastical politics on behalf of different
in the philosophy of religion, Troeltsch published in relative-
organizations in liberal Protestantism, and also his promi-
ly quick succession several cultural-historical investigations
nent position within the University of Heidelberg. From
into the profound transformation of the Christian conscious-
1909 to 1914, Troeltsch represented the university in the
ness during the transition to the modern period. These in-
lower chamber of the parliament of the grand duchy of
clude the large treatise, Protestantisches Christentum und Kir-
Baden. He was especially known for his numerous publica-
che in der Neuzeit (Protestant Christianity and the Church
tions. On the basis of religious-historical comparison in his
in the Modern Age, in Paul Hinneberg, ed., Die Kultur der
famous lecture Die Absolutheit des Christentums und die Reli-
Gegenwart, Part 1, Section 4.1, Berlin and Leipzig, 1906;
gionsgeschichte (The Absoluteness of Christianity and the
1922, 3d ed.), on the basis of which the University of Greif-
History of Religion, Tübingen, 1902), he denied to Chris-
swald conferred on him an honorary doctorate in philoso-
tianity its traditional claim of absoluteness and relative supe-
phy, and a famous lecture, Die Bedeutung des Protestantismus
riority as the religion of personality. In Psychologie und Erken-
für die Entstehung der modernen Welt (Munich, 1906; 1911,
ntnistheorie in der Religionswissenschaft (Psychology and
2d ed.; abridged English version, Protestantism and Progress:
Epistemology in the Study of Religion, Tübingen, 1905), an
A Historical Study of the Relation of Protestantism to the Mod-
essay presented to the International Congress of Arts and Sci-
ern World, London and New York, 1912). Both show the
ences in Saint Louis in 1904, he connected William James’s
strong influence of Max Weber’s investigations of 1904–
psychological pragmatism with the Neo-Kantian assumption
1905 into the genetic connections between Protestant ethics
of empirically independent structures of consciousness to
and the spirit of capitalism. And Weber, in turn, was strongly
form a theory of the “religious a priori.” In accordance with
influenced by Troeltsch’s understanding of Lutheranism as
this, the production of religious ideas is seen as a constitutive
a politically as well as economically premodern, patriarchal
accomplishment of human subjectivity. In Wesen der Religion
religion. Moreover, indications of the significance of the as-
und der Religionswissenschaft (Writings on Theology and Re-
cetic work-ethic of Calvinism for the development of capital-
ligion, 1977, pp. 82–123), Troeltsch sought to explicate the
ism can already be found in Troeltsch’s work before the ap-
independence of religion on four levels: First, empirically
pearance of his friend’s famous essays on Protestantism. The
given religion should be analyzed according to a psychology
very close, seventeen-year friendship meant a substantial
of religion as an autonomous phenomenon of life that is con-
scholarly enrichment for both Troeltsch and Weber.
stitutive for all culture. Second, in the epistemology of reli-
gion, the level of reality proper to religious consciousness
It is true that Troeltsch had established a sociological
must be rationally justified. Third, within a special historical
foundation for his understanding of the church even before
philosophy of religions, the general concept of religion
the meeting with Weber. However, it was only under the in-
should be realized specifically and concretely in terms of the
fluence of his friend that he distinguished precisely between
plurality of real existing religions for comparative religious-
church and sect as different types of religious community-
historical studies. Fourth, a metaphysics of religion bases the
building. Die Soziallehren der christlichen Kirchen und Grup-
religious understanding of worldly reality upon the self-
pen (The Social Doctrines of Christian Churches and
revelation of God. In this way, the universal history of reli-
Groups), which, already partially published in 1908–1910,
gion should be proven to be the progressive revelation of
appeared in 1912 as the first volume of Troeltsch’s collected
God, and the presence of the absolute would be demonstrat-
works, also shows, however, significant sociological differ-
ed in finite consciousness.
ences between the friends. Troeltsch wanted to present the
social and ethical consequences of the Christian conceptual
Troeltsch was not, however, able to carry out this great
world and its interaction with cultural phenomena. The es-
program. The concept of the religious a priori remained espe-
chatological ideal of the kingdom of God of the Gospels
cially unclear. For Troeltsch only partially appropriated
stands in a relationship of unresolvable tension to the factici-
Kant’s understanding of a priori structures of consciousness.
ties of culture. Nevertheless, in that the church institutional-
He could do justice to the statement that the pious subject
izes the grace of redemption sacramentally, it can become the
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TROELTSCH, ERNST
place of salvation for the masses and fit the Christian con-
political way for Germany. Since 1916 he had been fighting
cepts to the political-social order and its needs for legitima-
for a thorough democratization of the imperial constitution,
tion. In contrast to this, the sects, small groups on the margin
the political integration of the parties of the workers’ move-
of society with demands for high achievement on their mem-
ment, and economic reforms aimed at breaking down class
bers, radicalize the tensions of religion and society to the
differences. This was reflected in manifold activities for the
point of absolute opposition between the norms of culture
limitation of war and for peace negotiations. Troeltsch was
and the lex Christi, the Sermon on the Mount.
a delegate of the leftist-liberal German Democratic party in
the Prussian state assembly and undersecretary in the Prus-
From the types of church and sect, Troeltsch further
sian ministry for cultural affairs. After defeat and revolution,
distinguished mysticism as the third particular social form of
he was one of the leading representatives of that small minor-
Christianity. Here the opposites of religion and society are
ity in German Protestantism that interceded for the accep-
reconciled within the pious subject himself, to the extent that
tance of the constitutional compromise of Weimar and for
he knows himself to be a participant in the divine spirit and
its concrete actualization as a social democracy.
he glimpses the true reality of the kingdom of God in a pure-
ly spiritual and universal brotherhood of those gifted by
In close connection with his political and practical activ-
God. Troeltsch especially ascribed to his third type signifi-
ity, Troeltsch turned his attention in Berlin primarily to this
cant historical effects for modern Christianity. Weber, how-
question: to what extent could normative approaches to the
ever, did not consider mysticism to be a separate social form
solution of the present cultural crisis be found in the Europe-
of religion. This difference is the expression of contradicting
an cultural tradition? Because of his sudden death on 1 Feb-
evaluations of the real meaning of religion for modern socie-
ruary 1923, Troeltsch was not able to realize concretely his
ties. Unlike Weber, Troeltsch was convinced that, even
program for a “European cultural synthesis.” However, the
under the conditions of Western rationalism, religion was an
basic theological structure of Troeltsch’s philosophy of histo-
extremely important factor in societal formation. He under-
ry can be recognized in the lectures Christian Thought: Its
stood the Christian tradition primarily as a force for the
History and Application (London, 1923), edited by his friend
strengthening of individual autonomy over against the de-
Friedrich von Hügel (1852–1925), the so-called lay bishop
personalizing developmental tendencies of modern capital-
of Roman Catholic modernism, and also the concluding part
ism. Moreover, the church’s tradition had to be provided
of Das logische Problem der Geschichtsphilosophie (The Logical
with a new cultural credibility; that is, “religious individual-
Problem of the Philosophy of History), the first book of Der
ism,” inspired by the mystical tradition, which had been
Historismus und seine Probleme (Historicism and its Prob-
forced out of the evangelical church, had to be again given
lems), which appeared in 1922 as the third volume of the
a right to exist within a “flexible church of the people” (Ge-
Gesammelte Schriften. Troeltsch now expressly restricted to
sammelte Schriften, vol. 2, Tübingen, 1913, p. 105). In con-
the European-American cultural arena the old claim of
nection with Schleiermacher’s program of a practically ori-
Christianity to a position of relative superiority among the
ented theology of consciousness, Troeltsch interpreted
world religions. To pretend to understand foreign cultures
dogmatic statements as self-communications of the genuine
was cultural imperialism. Against monistic worldviews,
Protestant consciousness, as is shown especially in Die Bedeu-
which presuppose that a universal history of humanity can
tung der Geschichtlichkeit Jesu für den Glauben (1911; trans-
be recognized, Troeltsch argued for a pluralistic understand-
lated as The Significance of the Historical Existence of Jesus for
ing of reality. In that he was guided by the theological insight
Faith, in Writings on Theology and Religion, 1967,
that an overview of history is possible only for God, but not
pp. 182–207) and in his posthumously edited lectures on
for finite persons.
Die Glaubenslehre (Munich and Leipzig, 1925).
In the antiliberal, mostly antidemocratic, German Prot-
In the spring of 1915 Troeltsch was transferred to Berlin
estant theology of the 1920s, Troeltsch’s cultural relativism
by the minister for cultural affairs. The chair he occupied
encountered intensive criticism. Since the 1960s, however,
there was renamed specifically for him, as a professorship in
one can see—on the international level as well as on an inter-
“religious, social, and historical philosophy and the history
disciplinary level—a notable renaissance of interest in Tr-
of Christian religion” and was transferred from the theologi-
oeltsch’s thought. Indeed his theology of cultural modesty
cal to the philosophical faculty.
is important, in that it permits central problems of contem-
porary theological and philosophical discussion—for in-
With his moving to the capital of the empire, Tr-
stance, the pluralism of religious traditions, the dependency
oeltsch’s intensive political activity quickly gained in public
of theology upon contexts, the relationship of Christianity
significance. Troeltsch interpreted World War I as an impe-
to cultural modernity—to be grasped outside of all claims of
rialistic power struggle, at the root of which lay not only eco-
dogmatic absolutism.
nomic antagonisms, but also deep-seated political and cul-
tural contradictions between the German spirit and Western
BIBLIOGRAPHY
rationality. In spite of this connection with his earlier analy-
A comprehensive listing of published works by Troeltsch is now
ses of the social and ethical differences between Lutheranism
offered by Ernst Troeltsch Bibliographie, edited and with an
and Calvinism, Troeltsch was not a theoretician of a separate
introduction and commentary by Friedrich Wilhelm Graf
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

TRUBETSKOI, EVGENII
9367
and Hartmut Ruddies (Tübingen, 1982). This inclusive bib-
brother of Sergei, was professor of philosophy at the Univer-
liography indicates numerous previously unknown publica-
sity of Moscow from 1905 to 1918. He developed his philo-
tions of Troeltsch and various of Troeltsch’s own editions of
sophical views within the same general context as did Vladi-
the same texts. Summaries of texts that have been published
mir Solov’ev and was the author of a major study on him,
in English can be found in Jacob Klapwijk’s “English Trans-
Mirosozertsanie Solov’eva (Solov’ev’s Worldview, 2 vols.,
lations of Troeltsch’s Works,” in Ernst Troeltsch and the Fu-
Moscow, 1913). A theoretical disagreement with Solov’ev,
ture of Theology, edited by John Powell Clayton (Cambridge,
which did not stand in the way of their friendship, led Tru-
1976); see also the appendix, “Troeltsch in English Transla-
tion,” in Troeltsch’s Writings on Theology and Religion, trans-
betskoi to study Western theocratic ideas. In his two-volume
lated and edited by Robert Morgan and Michel Pye (Lon-
Religiozno-obshchestvennyi ideal zapadnogo khristianstva (The
don, 1977).
Religio-Social Ideal of Western Christianity, Moscow, 1892;
Kiev, 1897), which focused on Augustine and the medieval
Several introductions to Troeltsch’s work have been published:
papacy, he concluded that a religious institution’s primary
Trutz Rendtorff’s “Ernst Troeltsch, 1865–1923,” in Theolo-
responsibilities were incompatible with that institution’s ex-
gen des Protestantismus im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, vol. 2, ed-
ited by Martin Greschat (Stuttgart, 1978); Karl-Ernst Apfel-
ercise of political power.
bacher’s Frömmigkeit und Wissenschaft: Ernst Troeltsch und
In his philosophy, Trubetskoi blended philosophical
sein theologisches Programm (Munich, 1978); Giuseppe Can-
idealism, traditional Orthodoxy, and a voluntaristic-
tillo’s Ernst Troeltsch (Naples, 1979); Robert J. Rubanowice’s
exhortative creed that shaded off into political activism. His
Crisis in Consciousness: The Thought of Ernst Troeltsch, with
a foreword by James Luther Adams (Tallahassee, 1982);
posthumously published Smysl zhizni (Meaning of Life) was
Trutz Rendtorff’s and my discussion of Troeltsch in Nine-
popular among the Russian émigrés whom it provided with
teenth Century Religious Thought of the West, vol. 3, edited by
the much-needed assertion that there was meaning in exis-
Ninian Smart et al. (Cambridge and New York, 1985); and
tence.
my and Hartmut Ruddies’ “Ernst Troeltsch: Gesch-
ichtsphilosophie in praktischer Absicht,” in Grundprobleme
Trubetskoi was instrumental in stimulating increased
der grossen Philosophen, vol. 8, edited by Joseph Speck (Göt-
interest in religious philosophy. He was active in the Moscow
tingen, 1986). A critical biography of Troeltsch does not yet
Psychological Society, in the Religio-Philosophical Society of
exist. However, there are detailed studies for a biography of
Vladimir Solov’ev (named after the philosopher), and in the
the young Troeltsch in Troeltsch-Studien, vol. 1, Unter-
publishing house Put’ (The Way). All three, on different le-
suchungen zur Biographie und Werkgeschichte: Mit den un-
vels, popularized metaphysics, religion, and, tangentially, lib-
veröffentlichten Promotionsthesen der “Kleinen Göttinger
eralism. Trubetskoi worked for reform of the Russian Ortho-
Fakultät” 1888–1893, edited by Horst Renz and Friedrich
dox church and for a greater involvement of the laity in the
Wilhelm Graf (Gutersloh, 1982).
church. He was appointed to the pre-Sobor meeting in 1906
Jean Séguy’s Christianisme et société: Introduction à la sociologie de
that prepared for institutionalizing self-government in the
Ernst Troeltsch (Paris, 1980) offers an instructive introduc-
church and was elected to the church council that pro-
tion to Troeltsch’s sociology of religion. Intensive work has
nounced the reestablishment of the patriarchate in 1917.
also been done on Troeltsch’s dogmatics and theory of reli-
gion. See Ernst Troeltsch and the Future of Theology, edited
Evgenii Trubetskoi in his writing focused both on the
by John Powell Clayton (Cambridge, 1975); B. A. Gerrish’s
individual, as the carrier of value, and on the state, which es-
The Old Protestantism and the New: Essays on the Reformation
tablishes conditions that can make moral value effective. He
Heritage (Edinburgh, 1982); Walter E. Wyman, Jr.’s The
published a number of important works in law, and led be-
Concept of Glaubenslehre: Ernst Troeltsch and the Theological
tween 1906 and 1910 a small moderate political party, the
Heritage of Schleiermacher (Chico, Calif., 1983); Sarah Coak-
Party of Peaceful Regeneration. At the same time he edited
ley’s Christ without Absolutes: A Study of the Christology of
the Moskovskii ezhenedel’nik (Moscow Weekly), a journal in
Ernst Troeltsch (Oxford, 1986); and Troeltsch-Studien, vol. 3,
which he expounded upon public issues. In 1910 he joined
Protestantismus und Neuzeit, edited by Horst Renz and Frie-
the Constitutional Democratic Party. During World War I
drich Wilhelm Graf, (Gutersloh, 1984). In addition to
studies in the reception of Troeltsch’s thought in the Anglo-
his patriotic brochures, especially one containing an analysis
American world, in Italy, and in the Netherlands, this last
of icons titled Umozrenie v kraskakh (Speculation in Colors),
volume contains detailed examinations of Troeltsch’s politi-
were quite popular.
cal activity. Moreover, an instructive introduction is offered
Trubetskoi based his liberalism not on the will of the
by Arrigo Rapp in Il problema della Germania negli scritti
politici di E. Troeltsch, 1914–1922
(Rome, 1978).
majority but on the rights inherent in each individual. He
saw the state as a necessary buffer between the majority,
FRIEDRICH WILHELM GRAF (1987)
which could, on occasion, be illiberal, and the individual.
Translated from German by Charlotte Prather
Equally outspoken about the dangers of violence from the
left as from the right, he condemned the terrorist actions of
radicals that the Russian progressives tended to condone.
TRUBETSKOI, EVGENII (1863–1920), Russian
Trubetskoi was an early and uncompromising foe of the
Orthodox philosopher. Evgenii Nikolaevich Trubetskoi, a
Bolsheviks. In the last years of his life he placed great hopes
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TRUBETSKOI, SERGEI
on the innate religiosity and conservatism of the Russian
ty and is also part of that reality. Consciousness is not solely
peasants to overthrow the oppressive Bolshevik regime. He
the function of the individual but of the species collectively.
died in Novorossisk, fleeing the Bolsheviks and predicting
Hence, Trubetskoi considered the consciousness of causality
their early demise.
to be both innate and based upon external reality. In his
statement, “Whenever I make any decision I hold within my-
B
self a conference about all with all,” Trubetskoi encapsulated
IBLIOGRAPHY
There is no comprehensive study of Evgenii Trubetskoi. His
a theory he characterized as “metaphysical socialism.”
philosophical views are discussed in the standard works on
Because human beings have the capacity to reason, Tru-
Russian philosophy. I have written an introduction to a new
betskoi argued, it follows that humankind can rise above nat-
edition of his memoirs, Iz proshlago (Newtonville, Mass.,
1976), in which can also be found a bibliography of his
ural causes and act morally. Eventually, humanity or society
major works.
can develop the capacity to become a real organism, an eter-
nal person. Although Trubetskoi posited the collectivity of
MARTHA BOHACHEVSKY-CHOMIAK (1987)
consciousness, he maintained that value lay with the individ-
ual, since it is the individual who can reason and know. He
defended the immortality of the individual soul and the free-
TRUBETSKOI, SERGEI
dom of the individual from external constraints. His con-
(1862–1905), scion of an
scious attempts to popularize philosophy drew him into the
old noble family in Russia, was professor of philosophy at the
public arena. The reactionary wing of the Russian Orthodox
University of Moscow. Weeks before his death Sergei
clergy, which resented lay interference and the intrusion of
Nikolaevich Trubetskoi became the university’s first elected
philosophy into religion, accused Trubetskoi of undermin-
rector. He was instrumental in popularizing philosophical
ing religion, while in actuality he sought to make it meaning-
idealism. His philosophical and religious convictions led him
ful to the educated.
to take public stands on the major issues of the day, positions
which brought him national prominence. At an audience
with the tsar in June 1905 Prince Trubetskoi was the spokes-
BIBLIOGRAPHY
man of the moderate liberals. A close confidant of Vladimir
Among Trubetskoi’s major works are Metafizika v drevnei Gretsii
Solov’ev, Trubetskoi worked within the philosophical tradi-
(Metaphysics in Ancient Greece; 1890), Uchenie o logose v
tion of idealism that encompassed Plato, Kant, the Russian
istorii (A Study of the Logos in History; 1900), “Psikhologi-
cheskii determinizm i nravstvennaia svoboda” (Psychological
Slavophiles, especially Ivan Kireevskii, and the Western mys-
Determinism and Moral Freedom; 1894), “Etika i dogma-
tics, particularly Jakob Boehme. Trubetskoi’s interest in the
tika” (Ethics and Dogmatics; 1895), “Osnovaniia idealizma”
history of philosophy led him to the history of religion. He
(Foundations of Idealism; 1896), and “Vera v bezsmertie”
wrote an introduction to the Russian edition of Karl Barth’s
(Belief in Immortality; 1902). The articles were published in
Religions of India and prepared a bibliography on the history
Voprosy filosofii i psikhologii (Issues in Philosophy and Psy-
of religion for the Russian edition of P. D. Chantepie de la
chology), a journal Trubetskoi was instrumental in found-
Saussaye’s Illustrated History of Religions.
ing. His collected works are available as Sobranie sochinenii
kn. Sergeia Nikolaevicha Trubetskogo,
6 vols. in 5, edited by
Trubetskoi’s work was based on philological as well as
L. M. Lopatin (Moscow, 1907–1912). For further discussion
historical study and demonstrates an amalgamation of philo-
of Trubetskoi, see my book S. N. Trubetskoi: An Intellectual
sophical and religious concerns. He maintained that while
among the Intelligentsia in Pre-Revolutionary Russia, with an
no strictly philosophical system can solve all the problems
introduction by Georges Florovsky (Belmont, Mass., 1976).
raised by philosophy, Christianity does hold solutions to
these problems. For Trubetskoi, sophia (wisdom) is an inter-
MARTHA BOHACHEVSKY-CHOMIAK (1987)
mediary between the absolute and humanity. He argued that
the Logos, which he traced not to the philosophy of the
Greeks but to Jewish gnosticism, refers to the concrete per-
TRUTH. The concept of religious truth expresses various
son of Christ rather than to a rational concept that might be
aspects of human experience: reality that is permanent, im-
linked to sophia. He rejected the notion of God as the abso-
measurable, unconcealed, effective, powerful; personal char-
lute actualizing itself in history since, in his view, the abso-
acter that is sincere, good, genuine, valuable; and knowledge
lute, by its very nature, could not be in the process of becom-
that is certain, accurate, pure, clear, and convincing. Truth
ing. Trubetskoi held that Christianity, with its absolute and
emerges out of the basic human experience of valuation
autonomous system of morality, is the vehicle through which
(both as assessment and appreciation) as a necessity for
the potential for the kingdom of God can be realized.
human survival and well-being. Human life is characterized
The source of true knowledge, according to Trubetskoi,
by the need to distinguish between what is real and unreal,
lay in reason, sensibility, innate ideas, mystical experience,
powerful and powerless, genuine and deceptive, pure and
and faith, all of which reflect what he refers to as the “con-
contaminated, clear and confused, as well as relative degrees
crete consciousness” of each individual. Knowledge is possi-
of one extreme or the other. In an attempt to understand the
ble because the human being is conscious of an external reali-
character and variation of the existential engagement with
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truth in different religious traditions, we can recognize three
truth is a transforming orientation leading to superlative
aspects of truth: (1) the character of accurate knowing,
well-being, known in traditional religious terms as the con-
(2) the nature of the reality known, and (3) the formation
version from sin to salvation, illusion to insight, bondage to
of value as the power to actualize this reality in authentic liv-
freedom, and chaos to order. It expresses not only what is
ing. As a general concept, religious truth can be defined as
apparent or of relative worth but also what-is at the deepest
the knowledge and expression of what-is for the purpose of
level. From the standpoint of sin, bondage, or chaos, this ul-
achieving the greatest well-being possible (i.e., salvation, ab-
timate reality is experienced as what ought to be. By affirming
solute freedom, or total harmony).
the highest truth, a person declares a strategy for both know-
ing the ultimate reality and actualizing it in his or her daily
Inherent in religious truth is the recognition that a per-
experience, because such truth is of highest value for achiev-
son who knows, manifests, or orients his or her life to ulti-
ing superlative well-being. It expresses a comprehensive pur-
mate reality is achieving ultimate transformation—for exam-
pose as part of a person’s perception of reality.
ple, being saved or attaining complete liberation. In knowing
the truth a person becomes authentic because he or she places
In world religions, truth is advocated as a corrective to
his or her self-consciousness in a comprehensive context of
three general sorts of deception: (1) intentional deception be-
what-is. The object of religious knowing is not simply infor-
tween people, or lying; (2) error due to lack of information;
mation about another thing or person; it is recognition of
and (3) an inclination toward self-deception. These are inter-
the deepest reality or resource for fulfillment of life. Such an
related because, in the last analysis, the expression of truth
object, called God, the Dharma, the Dao, tathata¯
between people and the correction of ignorance find their ca-
(“thusness”), or nirva¯n:a, is not a conventional object in a
pacity in the awareness developed through a continuing ef-
subject-object relationship, but the original source, the na-
fort to avoid self-deception about “the way things really are.”
ture, or quality of all conventional objects as they really are.
People often lie to each other in the sense that they deceive
This understanding of truth cannot be limited to a concep-
themselves about their own deepest resource; they lack infor-
tion of truth as a relationship between words or between
mation about ultimate values and reality because they are too
ideas and things (though words, ideas, and mental images
easily satisfied by short-term pleasures.
may evoke the quality of truth whereby self-consciousness re-
sponds appropriately to what-is). Religious truth entails the
At the same time, there is a wide range of solutions to
continuing development of a valid relationship between self-
self-deception in the different world religions. This is due to
consciousness and one’s most extended and most profound
the fact that there are different orientations having different
environment (reality).
structures of valuation for determining which way of being
authentic is really the best and which is derivative or second-
When people express religious truth, they are aware of
ary. Since truth is a solution to a process of self-deception,
different levels, kinds, or functions of truth. At the extremes
the correcting process that communicates and actualizes
are absolute and relative truth, or transcendent and conven-
what-is at the deepest level, and thus what ought to be, is a
tional truth. The former expresses the deepest reality, the sa-
comprehensive transformation of one’s life-orientation. To
cred, God, or “what-is”; the latter indicates accurate infor-
examine different expressions of truth in world religions, we
mation about life the importance of which is limited to
must not only look at different ideas about truth as a concep-
specific situations and short-term goals. The assumption of
tual formulation but describe the processes in which the
all religious truth is that personal estimations of what-is or
truth as description or information about reality is also a re-
decisions of momentary value must be affirmed only insofar
evaluation of what is significant in life. We will look at five
as they are an aspect of the transcendent or absolute truth.
different approaches or ways of knowing the truth so that it
Such absolute truth transcends and incorporates the con-
might actualize the deepest well-being possible, sometimes
cerns defined by information dependent on time-space con-
specified as the good, heaven, salvation, liberation, or total
ditions; it establishes an overarching value in relation to
harmony. These approaches to truth are (1) intimate experi-
which the information has significance and meaning. This
ence of spiritual presence(s), (2) symbolic duplication of
value is not external to the reality experienced, as an idea
sacred reality through myth and ritual, (3) cultivation of
about something or a momentary feeling would be. Rather,
appropriate relationships, (4) awakening transcendent con-
it is experienced as a total orienting impetus providing coher-
sciousness, and (5) cognition of necessary and eternal reali-
ence for the ideas and feelings that prompt a person to act
ties. Then we will consider some of the problems of formu-
in a certain way. Thus, truth is the valuation achieved by self-
lating and reformulating the deepest truth in relation to
consciousness as it becomes a particular organizing center of
other, general claims to truth in changing historical and so-
self-awareness, meaning, feeling, and action—an individual
cial contexts.
participating in, and responding to, reality.
INTIMATE EXPERIENCE OF SPIRITUAL PRESENCE(S). One
To respond appropriately or accurately to what-is can
way of knowing the ultimate truth is the awareness of what-is
be understood as a release of ultimate power enabling a per-
through the extraordinary experience of spiritual presence(s).
son to avoid self-deception and dissipating entanglement
These are most often unseen but powerful, controlling forces
with unimportant activities and destructive forces. Religious
in life. This type of truth does not appeal for its validity to
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TRUTH
universal ideas or the coherence and meaning of culturally
cosmology that affirms hidden vital forces, and his “seizure”
accepted symbols, even though the social-mythic system
is seen as a sign that they will soon hear the voices or sounds
communicates the reality of these powerful presences in sym-
of these spirits that will aid them in dealing with vital prob-
bolic and mythic language. For this type of truth the adequa-
lems. The truth of the shaman’s utterances, then, is part of
cy and meaning of reality is encountered by direct personal
a total orientation to life in which the members of the com-
acquaintance with usually unseen spiritual presences as they
munity respond emotionally, socially, and physically to the
provide healing, regenerative resources, wholeness, and joy.
perceived forces affecting them day in and day out. Shamanic
The validity of this truth depends on the intimate and direct
utterances are distinguished in these societies from psychotic
experience of such a presence. I shall describe two kinds of
experiences among the people by their predictive force and
intimate knowledge of sacred presence. The first is found in
concrete results in solving problems. At the same time, when
many archaic cultures in North and South America, Africa,
the utterances of a recognized shaman are not effective by
Siberia, and the South Pacific islands; it is expressed in the
empirical examination, some extenuating circumstance, such
ecstatic experiences of diviners and shamans. The second is
as impurity or inadequate following of a prescription, can be
found in the ecstatic devotion to, and often prophetic utter-
given to account for the failure.
ance for, God in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the theis-
tic forms of Hinduism.
The second kind of religious truth that requires an inti-
mate knowledge of a sacred presence is the overwhelming ex-
An essential element of this religious knowledge is the
perience of a devotee to God. This, too, requires a sense of
rupture of conventional, everyday experience, a personal,
a usually hidden force that directs one’s life as well as all exis-
heightened sensitivity to the usually hidden, but ultimately
tence. Direct personal experiences of God in Judaism, Chris-
real, presence of power(s). While the wisdom of the shaman
tianity, and Hinduism are described as awesome, uncanny;
is often described as “supernatural,” it is probably better to
they can provoke fear and terror. At the same time, they can
regard this—from the standpoint of the advocates—as a
provide deep comfort, evoke a sense of wonder and joy of
deeper or clearer knowledge of the natural forces that make
life, and transform one’s self-consciousness from a feeling of
all life possible. For example, the kilumba or nganga (one
weakness, corruption, and worthlessness to strength, purity
who possesses a healing vision) among the Bantu-speaking
of heart, and profound value. In the theistic traditions of all
Luba in Africa is a man who is “seized” by a spirit or disem-
cultures are found examples of pious devotees whose person-
bodied ancestor in order to reveal why some person or a soci-
al experiences of God are described as spontaneous eruptions
ety has inappropriately interfered with the powers of life and
of a divine force that, on the one hand, compels them to lead
therefore has manifested disease, social disharmony, or natu-
a new kind of existence and, on the other, provides a serene
ral catastrophe. Or, among the Huichol of north-central
strength to meet life’s traumas of personal loss, illness, and
Mexico, the shaman (mara’akáme) is a person who is more
death. The devotee who lives his or her life in the presence
deeply aware of the hidden forces contending with each
of divine love and judgment feels reconnected with the
other; he has transcended the apparent conditions of conven-
source of life, so that even when mundane life is seen as full
tional existence and becomes the medium or mouthpiece of
of evil and impotency, there is confidence in the divine
these forces in life. The unusual character of his knowledge
power’s ability to overcome the apparent meaninglessness
is described as coming from the spirits (divine powers), who
and self-destructiveness.
know and determine everyday happenings.
The shamanic communication requires crossing over
The validity of the truth known from personal experi-
from the biosphere to a hidden (spiritual) plane and then re-
ence depends directly on an evaluation of one’s self-
turning to the mundane world. The mundane sphere is a
consciousness within the context of a transcendent presence
state of separation, pollution, and mortality, as evidenced by
of the powers of life or the Holy One. The awareness is per-
illness and social conflict. The hidden, but more powerful
ceived as an overwhelming disclosure that transcends other
(spirit) realm is also one of contending forces who (which)
norms of validity, such as empirical verification or rational
can be benevolent or beneficent toward the members of the
analysis. Such divine disclosure provides a direction for living
biosphere. The shaman needs to have the capacity and skill
and a principle for knowledge not available in other norms
to maintain a balance between the contending forces; he en-
of validity. The response to this disclosure is faith or trust
gages the spirit forces as they “possess” him while deftly re-
in the final control of a powerful, loving, and caring divine
maining balanced between two worlds. According to the Tu-
presence. In the last analysis, such a divine presence remains
cano of the Amazon forests, the soul of the shaman (payé)
a mystery, one that cannot be controlled by personal wants
is said to be luminous, penetrating the darkness, and genera-
or verified by the mundane experience of health or prosperi-
tive of life and health—like the sun. His skill and purity of
ty. The response of faith is one of service in (and servitude
soul allow him to ascend to the sky or descend into the neth-
to) the divine will. The truth known in such response is vali-
erworld, described as “death” or “dismemberment,” and then
dated by the devotee in the experience of being known by
return to the everyday world.
the Holy One.
When the shaman becomes “possessed” by a spirit, his
SYMBOLIC DUPLICATION OF SACRED REALITY THROUGH
ecstatic experience is interpreted by the audience within a
MYTH AND RITUAL. Symbolic expressions of truth in the
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form of divine words, sacred myths, and sacramental rites
scribe the joys of paradise in the eternal realm. In providing
and initiations are found throughout the world. They reflect
the paradigmatic truth regarding reality, myth and ritual also
the power of symbolic gestures and language to construct a
provide a model for successful human living. The appeal to
realm of meaning. While often combined with the experi-
divine action is a basic principle of justification for social re-
ence of powerful forces and the sense of social obligation and
lations, morality, and, in many cases, all human activities.
order, the communicative power of religious symbolic forms
Sacred words (divine names, sacred actions and laws,
is found in their capacity to express several levels of meaning
blessings, curses) and sounds (mantras, chants) are perceived
simultaneously, so that such activities as dancing, eating to-
by religious devotees to have a special capacity to release
gether, body marking, telling stories, and the use of special
power. According to the perspective of M¯ıma¯m:sa¯, a school
words or sounds can have more than a single signification.
of Hindu philosophical thought, the sacredness of mantras
Verbal language, especially, has the mental-emotional force
(sacred sounds, phrases, or verses) derives from the eternity
to construct multiple levels of meaning whereby self-
of the word. The use of the mantra in prayer, meditation,
consciousness attends to, and structures, experienced reality.
or worship reveals the deity or divine energy because the
The formation of ideas woven together by syntax (i.e., lan-
sound is intrinsically related to the divine energy; it is an eter-
guage) identifies and orders (often overlapping) conceptual
nal causal principle. The sound (´sabda) of words is not arbi-
units of consciousness into meaningful awareness. Thinking
trary; it represents an eternal principle or force that is mani-
or imagining is more than a presentation of external sensa-
fested in many forms of changing existence. The mantras,
tions to the mind; the formation of ideas is a projection of
thus, express the essence of divine powers in their very repeti-
self-consciousness toward, and into, the sensations of the ex-
tion; the sacred utterance in the hymns of the R:gveda is a di-
perienced world. To speak about the world creates a relation-
rect testimony to the primal energies of the universe. This
ship of symbolic meaning between self-consciousness and the
view is basic for several subsequent Hindu theistic schools
world. The use of language demands a choice whereby a per-
that appealed to the validity of verbal testimony on the basis
son separates one “thing” from another, classifies similar ap-
of the intrinsic power of sound (speech) to express the eternal
pearances into concepts, and makes evaluations between
principles so long as the revealer, the source of knowledge,
more or less significant features of one’s experience.
is adequate.
The power of language to construct a symbolic realm
In Zoroastrianism, a sacred utterance, the Ashem Vohu,
of meaning relates self-consciousness to the world by creating
is used in most devotions to concentrate a person’s mind on
a “center” in the individual and, at the same time, placing
asha (“truth”). Asha is the name of an abstract principle of
the individual in a universe “as it is”—that is, as it appears
truth or righteousness in the cosmos, but also the name of
directly to self-consciousness. Thus, symbols that express
a divinity often invoked in the Ga¯tha¯s, one of the Amesha
truth are those consistent with the deepest (often presumed)
Spentas (“bounteous immortals”). As one of the immanent
valuation inherent in one’s experience. Religious symbols are
powers who maintain the universe, Asha is also symbolically
those mental-emotional lenses that provide images of oneself
identified with fire, a focus of much Zoroastrian ritual. In
(a psychology) and the universe (a cosmology); they teach
this religious tradition, truth is symbolically expressed in a
human beings not only what to see, but how to see. As schol-
divine name, a concrete ritual image, and evoked through a
ars of mythology have pointed out, religious myths are those
sacred prayer. In Islam, “truth,” as identical to reality
symbolic expressions that are recognized as true simply by
(al-h:aqq), is an attribute of God, the creator of the world and
being expressed.
maintainer of righteousness. Al-h:aqq is that which is stead-
fast and permanent; it is genuine and authentic. God, as the
A religious symbol, such as a divine name, sacred myth,
reality, is the source of truth for humanity, especially as
ritual action, or visual image of a deity, is seen by religious
found in the sacred recitation (QurDa¯n) given to Mu-
advocates as the manifestation of a pure, original, mysterious,
h:ammad.
and powerful reality in a particular concrete form. The sym-
bolic bodily gesture, sound, or physical image is a paradigm
The validity for truth in religious symbolic expression,
of reality—divine reality. Myths and rituals are repetitions
then, is found in the recognition that its source is eternal,
of original life-creating actions by the gods, primal ancestors,
of the realm of the sacred. The activity of God, of bounteous
and cultural heroes and, therefore, must be carefully pre-
spiritual beings, or of primal ancestors is the real and signifi-
served and meticulously duplicated. They disclose the divine
cant activity. The duplication of the sacred realm in symbolic
resource that makes any life at all possible. It is the sacred
gestures, physical objects, names, stories, and sounds pro-
that is eternal, genuine, whole, and pure—the opposite of
vides the paradigm for meaning, regeneration in life cycles,
the profane, corrupt, and fragmented mundane human expe-
and the norm for righteousness. True human knowledge and
rience—yet, paradoxically, it is expressed in and through the
behavior imitates that of the gods or God. In religious initia-
mundane form, where it usually remains hidden. The reli-
tions, sacrifices, and sacraments, people release eternal power
gious power of the symbols derives precisely from the fact
that purifies as it discloses the foundation for human well-
that they claim to repeat the primal action of creation, the
being. The deepest problems in life arise from forgetting
divine rescue of the world from devouring demons, or to de-
one’s sacred source, neglecting to repeat the sacred action
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TRUTH
symbolically, or rejecting the sacred word (such as the Jewish
In classical Hinduism, also, there is the recognition that
Torah, Jesus Christ as the divine word made flesh, or the
truth about what-is is most profoundly expressed in everyday
Muslim QurDa¯n) as the basis for all well-being. When the ef-
activity. From the beginning of the common era, when the
fects expected from following the sacred rituals and words
Brahmanic tradition that grew out of Vedic rituals was syn-
are not attained, the devotee usually recognizes some failure
thesized with a concern for social order, down to the present
in perfectly duplicating the sacred paradigm. When there are
a prominent notion has been that of dharma (“law, reality,
conflicting myths competing for the loyalty of believers, the
truth”). The cosmic order that pervaded all things is ex-
sacred reality of one myth is often judged to be demonic
pressed also in appropriate social relationships. The dharma,
power by those holding another myth (an exclusive posi-
what people should do, is the correct arrangement of every-
tion), or it is seen as a lesser but related aspect of the true
thing in life. Knowledge of oneself is found in following
sacred reality according to advocates of another myth (an in-
one’s dharma, one’s way of being in relation to the organic
clusive position).
whole. Everything and everybody has a place in the universe.
CULTIVATION OF APPROPRIATE RELATIONSHIPS. Another
The moral duties of farmer and ruler, husband and wife, or
approach to truth that expresses self-consciousness of what-is
child and parent were defined by their appropriateness to
is through practical moral wisdom characterized by honesty,
each person’s station. To act contrary to one’s obligations
trustworthiness, and sincerity. Here the emphasis is on moral
and responsibilities destroys one’s own character and creates
action that is consistent with personal integrity. This ap-
chaos in society and nature.
proach holds that a person cannot truly know the nature of
According to the Brahmanic text Manusmr:ti (The laws
reality without demonstrating what it means to “be” in ev-
of Manu) the sources for knowing one’s dharma were first
eryday activities. The means for attaining wisdom combines
the Veda, then the tradition, then the virtuous conduct of
intuition with observation and learning drawn from ancient
the religious leaders and holy men, and, finally, self-
tradition. We will discuss first the expression of this truth
satisfaction. Most of the society did not study the Vedas, so
from Chinese and Indian sources, which appeal to a natural
they learned appropriate conduct from the tradition as ex-
cosmic order (law), and then briefly note several theistic ex-
pressed in popular stories, festivals, and social rules as they
pressions whose ultimate source is divine but that emphasize
were reinforced by interaction with others. The truth of one’s
the moral character of truth.
existence was defined by participation in the fabric of society,
In the classical Chinese expression of truth there is no
and the cultivation of personal character was found in the
sharp distinction between the knowledge of what-is and a
virtues of sincerity, self-restraint, and honesty.
person’s moral action. Authentic awareness of reality is ex-
pressed more in daily practice than formulated in arguments
In the theistic traditions of Zoroastrianism, Judaism,
about the nature of the good. The law of life is known not
and Islam there has also been a deep sense of expressing truth
through a personal experience of a divine presence, duplica-
through moral behavior. Truth is expressed in the qualities
tion of a sacred word, or rational reflection; rather it is
of veracity, integrity, and trustworthiness. In Zoroastrian-
known through living out a sensitivity to the inherent cosmic
ism, truth (asha) is the order that governs human conduct.
harmony within the self and the world. Moral wisdom is
Those who are honest, keep their oaths and covenants, and
found typified in the ancient Sage Kings by the phrase “sa-
are loyal to Ahura Mazda¯ are the righteous ones (ashavan),
geliness within and kingliness without.” The goal is to devel-
those who uphold asha. They look for the final victory over
op a moral attitude that is tested in social relationships, one
the wicked (drugvant), those who follow falsehood. In Juda-
that is based on the general notion that there is an intrinsic
ism, truth ( Eemeth) is expressed in righteousness, justice, and
order in all things that must be actualized in concrete rela-
peace. In such actions Jews worship “the God of truth.” God
tionships with nature and society.
keeps his word, and those who speak the truth come near
him. Thus, those who avoid deceit and hypocrisy in all their
Truth in both verbal expression and behavior is defined
dealings practice the truth. In Islam, the word s:adaqa means
as chang (“constant”). A statement or behavior is “constant”
integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness. It is the quality of ex-
when it promotes appropriate relationships within an organ-
pression when one tells the truth; it requires that a person
ic order. Thus, truth is not an idea or abstraction but a
be honest with himself or herself and with others, as well as
human expression that shapes practical behavior. It has a
recognize the actual situation with which one is dealing. To
practical function in communication that attempts to pro-
express the truth is to follow the will of God, since he is the
mote good behavior. In the Confucian classic Zhong yong
source of everything. A statement that corresponds to reality
(Doctrine of the Mean) the insight into the way (dao) of life
is an action that is trustworthy.
focuses on “sincerity” (zheng). Sincerity is the demonstration
that one perceives the reality of all life; it is a manifestation
AWAKENING TRANSCENDENT CONSCIOUSNESS. A fourth re-
of the ultimate coherence between self-consciousness and the
ligious way that truth is viewed as the accurate self-
objective world. The capacity to cultivate such sincerity or
consciousness of what-is focuses on the quality of conscious-
integrity is inherent in human beings, but its actualization
ness. Rather than centering the nature of truth on the inti-
is not inevitable, so the potential must be fulfilled by cons-
mate experience of a spiritual presence, on the symbolic
tant personal effort.
structuring of a sacred realm of meaning, or on cultivating
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appropriate relationships within a cosmic network, the
emotional stimuli, sustained and detailed awareness of the
power by which one can attain comprehensive well-being is
factors in one’s self-conscious “becoming,” concentration
the liberating insight that purifies inner dispositions, atti-
(sama¯dhi) on the unmoving or unifying center of conscious-
tudes, and the thinking-feeling processes—all aspects of con-
ness, and various levels of mental absorption (dhya¯na). These
sciousness.
are techniques through which a person is reeducated to “see”
himself or herself in relation to the world so that he or she
The truth of oneself and the world is perhaps partially
is not constructing mental-emotional chains that cause suf-
expressed in symbolic imagery, ideas, and behavior, but the
fering. For example, in Theravada Buddhist practice, the
key condition for attaining true (or transcendent) knowl-
meditation procedures are intended to help one to withdraw
edge, say the practitioners of this way, is the avoidance of at-
from external conditioning forces and to concentrate one’s
tachment to these conventional habits of knowing. Here the
concern to transform the manner or mode of knowing from
consciousness, so that one can avoid the habitual confusion
a self-limiting, fabricating, and distorting process to a free-
of one’s pure consciousness with the shifting appearances of
ing, direct-intuitive insight is crucial because it is assumed
things, people, ideas—all aspects of the “objective” world.
that there is an intrinsic and reciprocal relation between the
Once a person is not attached to conventional perceptive and
knowing process and the reality known. It is also assumed
ideational imagery, he or she can expand consciousness
that there are different qualities of knowing, each of which
through trance or mental absorption and eventually, in a
leads to one or another kind of “becoming real.” For any-
freed state of mind, be intuitively aware of “the immeasur-
thing to exist, it has to come into existence, or “become
able” or “emptiness.” In such a state of awareness, say the
something,” within the context of some manner of percep-
Buddhist suttas, the Buddha perceived the nature of “becom-
tion, process of knowing, and mode of consciousness. The
ing” as dependent coarising and also understood the root
concept of realization includes the two elements of knowing
cause of suffering and the possibility of its elimination. Simi-
and becoming, as when we say that someone realizes certain
larly, classical Hindu Yoga advocated the use of certain body
possibilities. To realize transcendent consciousness requires
positions, controlled breathing, detachment of the senses
a shift away from the conventional habits of consciousness
from external objects, and concentrated mental states to
aimed at perceiving (understanding) what-is. In this shift to
quiet—that is, to avoid producing—conventional proce-
another process of knowing, a person also comes to exist,
dures of knowing, such as habitual perceptions, inference,
“becomes,” in a new way.
memory, or authoritative (sacred) words. These conventional
means of knowing are useful as practical vehicles for business,
The highest truth, then, in this approach requires in-
getting physical pleasure, or establishing social relationships,
sight into the nature of the process of becoming; it stresses
but they are not useful in knowing the deepest reality, pure
how a person contributes positively or negatively to this pro-
consciousness (purus:a). Yoga intends to free one from the
cess by the manner or quality of his or her awareness. This
small, limiting consciousness, or the image of one’s ego, so
means that the expression of truth must “fit” the level or
that one may become directly aware of universal con-
quality of the hearer. Truth is not a single idea or proposition
sciousness.
that stands eternally and to which all particular forms partial-
ly correspond. Ideas and concepts are useful as pointers to
A common metaphor in both theistic and nontheistic
truth, or catalysts for freeing a person from habitual mental-
religious traditions for the transcendent consciousness is the
emotional entanglements, but a statement that would “fit”
identity or union of the self with ultimate reality (God).
a lower spiritual condition, and thus be “true,” might be de-
Well-known examples of this are found in Advaita Veda¯nta
nied as an appropriate expression for someone at a higher
Hinduism, in Muslim S:u¯f¯ı recollection of God, and in
level of spirituality. Because thought, emotions, and inner
Christian mysticism. S´an˙kara (eighth century CE), as an ex-
dispositions are interrelated, say the teachers of this way, a
ponent of “nondual highest knowledge” (advaita veda¯nta),
true statement is not a universal abstraction, an idea known
asserted that a genuine and deep investigation into dharma
by the intellect, but a catalyst for insight. Also, the hearer of
led to the inquiry into brahman, the single undifferentiated
truth must be prepared to receive it; for a religious idea to
reality that pervades all differentiated existence. The eternal
bear spiritual fruit, it must be received with a pure heart, or
brahman is pure being-consciousness-bliss (sat-cit-a¯nanda),
liberated mind. Such an apprehension requires more than in-
and the most profound spiritual truth is to realize that self-
tellectual skills or socially conditioned reflex responses; it is
consciousness (atman) is identical to brahman. The S:u¯f¯ı
cultivated through serenity, courage, diligence, and love
master Ibn al-EArab¯ı expresses a comparable insight in his as-
(compassion). To know the highest truth, then, is an illumi-
sertion that true submission to God is an all-pervading sense
nation of “becoming” as an aspect of what-is, which is experi-
that the self vanishes in the only true reality, God. He says
enced as unconditional freedom.
in his Fus:us: al-h:ikam: “When you know yourself, your ‘I’-
ness vanishes and you know that you and God are one and
The methods for attaining insight, which liberate one
the same.”
from self-imposed bondage according to several spiritual dis-
ciplines in India, include quieting the mind through medita-
The Spanish Christian mystic John of the Cross (1542–
tion, separating oneself from conventional perceptual and
1591) makes a similar claim in his manual on spiritual disci-
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TRUTH
pline, Ascent of Mount Carmel, when he writes: “This union
cognitive judgments pertaining to the continually changing
comes to pass when God grants the soul this supernatural
appearances of the outer world. The mind has both a passive
favor, that all the things of God and the soul are one in par-
and an active role in becoming aware of the meaning that
ticipant transformation; and the soul seems to be God rather
is exposed in the changing appearances. The passive aspect
than a soul, and is indeed God by participation.” The soul,
receives the impressions through observation, while the ac-
then, is like an unstained window that allows the divine rays
tive aspect constructs the meaning mentally, by thinking or
to illumine it and “transform it into its own light.” These
judgment. In this act the self-consciousness appropriates to
examples indicate a common concern to know the highest
some degree the meaning inherent in the being of things.
truth through emptying the self of its conventional con-
The truth cognized is the valuable quality of the meaning ap-
sciousness so that the ultimate reality itself is manifest; how-
propriated, and it is evident to the degree that the mind sig-
ever, because mystics each use a distinctive method interwo-
nifies to itself what is disclosed by what-is. In this approach
ven with their own psychological and cosmological concepts,
to truth, then, the primary effort is to respond with the intel-
their statements about the nature of consciousness and ulti-
lect to a meaning found in an impersonal but active reality
mate reality remain significantly different.
outside the mind. Truth is universal and has an inherent sig-
COGNITION OF NECESSARY AND ETERNAL REALITIES. A fifth
nification that must be reflected by the intellectual grasp of
approach to the expression of truth is that found in classical
that objective meaning. The basic conceptual signification of
Greek reflection on the nature of reality. While Greek phi-
reality should be the same in the mental experience of all
losophy is not a religious tradition in the conventional con-
human beings, regardless of their particular languages or
temporary sense, Greek philosophers such as Socrates, Plato,
symbolic systems.
and Aristotle wrestled at a profound level with the relation
Unlike the approach to truth through myth and symbol
between self-consciousness, the perceived world, and eternal
(which establishes the true meaning in symbolic duplication
reality (or realities). Their reflection had a significant influ-
of a sacred realm), the meaning in this approach is assumed
ence on patristic and medieval Christian theology and on Is-
to be in an external reality that is only reflected in corre-
lamic theology, as well as on the post-Renaissance European
sponding concepts. When mental images or concepts that in-
philosophical discussion of truth. Despite important differ-
tend to signify the meaning inherent in nonsymbolic facts
ences in the understanding of truth found in the philoso-
conflict with each other, it is an indication that one or more
phies of Plato and Aristotle, they shared several assumptions
of the symbolic significations do not correspond to the
in their approach that have been carried forward in the way
meaning, or self-signification, of reality. Such meanings are
Western philosophers, and some Christian and Muslim
simply “beliefs,” which may have emotional force but are not
theologians, have addressed the issue of truth.
regarded by people taking this approach as signifying what-
One of the basic assumptions is that reality (the being
is. In the Western religious traditions, this approach has led
of things) is universal, necessary, and, consequently, prior to
to both dogmatism and scientific theorizing: the former
any knowledge of it. Truth (Gr., al¯etheia, from al¯etheuein,
identifies eternal, universal, and objective signification with
“to disclose”) is a disclosure of what-is. Whether the eternal
divine revelation and its explication in theological dogmas;
being is defined in terms of eternal ideas, as in Plato, or in
the latter identifies eternal, universal, and objective significa-
terms of substances, as in Aristotle, the object of true knowl-
tion with scientific theories based on empirical verification
edge is a necessary reality that is effective (even active) in the
and general inferences that are presumed to function alike
experienced world. The being of things is objective, present-
in the experience of all people.
ing itself to the mind. Another important assumption is that
INTERPRETATION, COMMUNICATION, AND VERIFICATION.
whatever is real is intelligible; reality is that which can be
All religious truth, as an existential expression of what-is, is
known by the intellect. It has a signifying character, or a
tested and verified by ever-changing human experience. Re-
meaning of its own, which is known by cognition and, for
gardless of the nature of ultimate reality and its relation to
Plato, intellectually contemplated by the mind. The “being”
the process of its becoming actualized in self-consciousness,
of things is the subject of any true judgment, which is basi-
as discussed in the approaches to truth given above, the qual-
cally a response to the disclosure of being. Whatever is real
ity of one’s awareness, symbolic expression, or social relation-
has a universal potential—it is potent and is a possibility—
ship is tested in the changing circumstances of personal mat-
and is disclosed in particular forms and events. Plato asserted
uration and cultural-historical development. There is a basic
that being is itself a unity expressed by many particular
question arising in each religious and cultural tradition: how
forms, and such being is known by an integration of self-
is knowledge of the transcendent reality related to a general
consistent judgments. By means of the intellect, human be-
human means of knowing, for example, perception and in-
ings can know the universal potentials (reality), that is, can
ference? Another question arises: how is the original, eternal
identify their meanings as they disclose themselves. By know-
truth—which itself became manifest in a specific historical-
ing the eternal ideas, especially the Good, human beings re-
cultural-linguistic situation—to be known in changing and
spond appropriately to life and achieve their own well-being.
sometimes quite different cultures? We will look at various
In this context true knowledge is the mind’s inner ap-
answers to these questions by first considering the issues of
propriation of the universal potentials that are disclosed by
continuity, meaning, and interpretation of symbolic and
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moral truth. We shall then examine levels of meaning, practi-
history of the Christian church. During the thirteenth centu-
cal techniques, and the use of language to communicate the
ry a watershed formulation was made by Thomas Aquinas
special awareness found in the experience of spiritual pre-
that eventually was recognized as authoritative and has re-
sence(s) and transcendent consciousness.
mained the supreme theological statement for the Roman
In the claims of truth that are based on a sacred word
Catholic Christian community. In his Summa theologiae and
(divine revelation) and/or found in a tradition of trained
De veritates he synthesized an understanding of Christian
scholars (such as priests, lawyers, or Confucian literati) who
faith with Greek philosophical thought, especially from Aris-
conserve and interpret the eternal moral law, there is a pro-
totle, affirming that truth is a transcendental property of
found concern to understand or make intelligible the mean-
being that, in turn, is dependent on God, the ultimate intel-
ing of the sacred word and the eternal moral law. Great effort
lectual cause. According to him, faith is human understand-
is made to learn, preserve, and interpret the normative teach-
ing, but the truth of faith rests on the truth of God, and be-
ing so that it is relevant to a community of believers in a spe-
lief—which includes church dogma—is a result of divine
cific lived experience. The difficulty in exposing the genuine
grace. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, however,
intention of the original symbolic expression in light of new
Christian reformers, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin,
situations and personal differences of interpretation has re-
rejected the medieval understanding of a single ministerial
sulted in the development of various schools or denomina-
(papal) office and, thus, many Roman Catholic dogmas; they
tions within all religious traditions. For example, the center
emphasized the need to base Christian faith on the primal
of Jewish life is the study and interpretation of the Torah.
sacred word, the Bible. During the past three centuries,
In this tradition there are different interpretations regarding
Christians in western Europe and America have engaged in
the relation between the written Torah and the oral Torah.
theological reflection in a cultural context dominated by ra-
All faithful Jews try to live in the basic myth of the Exodus
tionalism, scientific analysis, and industrial socioeconomic
and according to God’s commandments, but there are differ-
structures. These intellectual influences condition the for-
ent interpretations of the purpose of God relative to the his-
mulation of Christian faith on issues such as the nature of
torical experience of the Jewish community, the nature of the
human life, the meaning of revelation, and the role of men
promised salvation (in this life and the next), and the degree
and women in the political and social order.
to which certain customs and ritual laws are to be observed
in different cultural situations, as well as the centrality and
Some basic problems encountered by advocates of truth
character of study, prayer, moral action, and observance of
derived from an intimate experience of spiritual presence(s)
sacred days. For the past two millennia the leadership of the
and from transcendent awareness are (1) communicating an
Jewish community has centered on the rabbi, who not only
inconceivable reality through the use of words or appeals to
was trained to interpret the Torah in a creative fashion but
conventional human experience, (2) relating unusual inner
also served in many communities as judge and administrator
experience to general criteria of verification in common-
of the law. Especially since medieval times, the rabbis and
knowledge perception or inference, (3) justifying the claims
philosophically inclined thinkers have had to relate the ex-
for a superior inner spiritual quality within the person who
pressions of the Torah to reason and, in the last two centu-
claims unusual and authoritative states of consciousness, and
ries, to scientific analysis of the human condition. Such ques-
(4) avoiding the apparent circularity entailed in the claim
tions as the nature of free will, divine providence, and the
that those who do not affirm the validity of supraconscious
psychological conditions for faith are important consider-
truth are not qualified to understand or judge the validity of
ations for contemporary efforts to worship God in truth and
this truth. The manifestation of the ultimate source of truth
to fulfill divine moral obligations of justice and love.
in an experience of spiritual presence(s) or an unconditional
transcendent awareness is seen by its advocates to be a source
Similarly, Christian faith is based on the divine revela-
of knowledge beyond logic, symbolic imagery, and conven-
tion in Jesus Christ, and study of the Bible, especially of the
tional perception.
New Testament, has been central to the life of the Christian
community. Already in the first centuries of the Christian
Nevertheless, advocates use words, symbols, and infer-
church, as the New Testament canon was taking shape and
ence to argue by analogy or by logical analysis. For example,
the creeds (the “symbols” of the church) were formulated to
the vision of Lord Vis:n:u in the Hindu classic Bhagavadg¯ıta¯
define the normative understanding of faith, the impact of
(Song to the Lord) includes such imagery as “many mouths
the Classical Greek philosophical language helped to shape
and eyes,” and “the light of a thousand suns springing forth
the doctrines of the Trinity, the person of Christ, and the
simultaneously in the sky” to portray the Lord. The Muslim
nature of humanity. A continuing issue in the proper inte-
devotional mystic Jala¯l al-D¯ın Ru¯m¯ı (d. 1273) describes the
pretation of scripture, devotional life, and worship was the
true devotee as a person with “a burning heart.” With regard
authority of one or another bishop to declare the official un-
to the use of inference to communicate transcendent aware-
derstanding of Christian faith, which was settled by the con-
ness, a prime example is the second-century CE Indian Bud-
vening of councils in the fourth and fifth centuries.
dhist philosopher-monk Na¯ga¯rjuna, who used a rigorous
The concern to formulate statements of belief that
logical dialectic to reject the claim of unchanging essences as
would gain intellectual assent by believers has pervaded the
the reality of existence. Or, in the Zen Buddhist tradition,
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TRUTH
logical riddles (ko¯an) are used to break the habits of language
forms (contents) of truth emerges when there is stability in
and conceptual imagery that cause attachment to things or
the basic system of evaluation.
ideas. Logic and symbolic imagery, then, are never wholly
The contemporary world is characterized by rapid
descriptive of the transcendent reality—only suggestive, or
changes in technology and the development of a worldwide
preparatory to moving to a new level of awareness.
communication network. This situation requires new con-
Critics, on the other hand, argue that since the religious
cepts of the self and the universe and an exchange of cultural
reality that its advocates claim to know is so different from
and religious approaches to truth. The challenge for contem-
any communicable description of it, religious experiences in-
porary people is how to live within some system of compre-
dicate more about the simply subjective (perhaps only psy-
hensive evaluation (as found in a religion or ideology) and
chological) conditions of the knower than about any univer-
how to respond in a mutually life-enhancing way with people
sal reality. Or, since the nature of religious truth requires a
committed to another system of evaluation. The survival and
change in the quality of apprehension through special tech-
well-being of people in all cultures necessitates a creative re-
niques or through transcendent power (e.g., God’s grace),
examination and critical assessment of varied truth claims
any special appeal to unusual states of consciousness cannot
that implicitly give weight to different ways of valuation.
provide the norm of validity for a general theory of truth that
SEE ALSO Epistemology; Knowledge and Ignorance; Philos-
also relies on conventional inference or perception.
ophy; Religious Experience.
Truth in world religions, then, is a concept that not only
has different meanings and uses in religious language but also
BIBLIOGRAPHY
indicates different approaches to the religious concern for the
Introductory discussions of the concept of truth in world religions
becoming self-conscious of what-is that makes possible the
can be found in the following works: William A. Christian,
attainment of the highest well-being. Each of the approaches
Jr.’s Meaning and Truth in Religion (Princeton, 1964) and his
described here provides an evaluative process that structures
Oppositions of Religious Doctrines (New York, 1972); Truth
and Dialogue in World Religions: Conflicting Truth-Claims
,
the conditions, goals, and nature of truth. The different ap-
edited by John Hick (Philadelphia, 1974); Wilfred Cantwell
proaches each have their own development, principles of val-
Smith’s Questions of Religious Truth (New York, 1967); and
idation, and impact on people’s lives. While different reli-
my Understanding Religious Life, 3d ed. (Belmont, Calif.,
gious and cultural traditions emphasize one or two
1985).
approaches to truth, the major world religions and civiliza-
For introductions to the nature of truth in shamanism and the
tions have included several of them as sometimes permissible
symbolism of archaic cultures, see Joseph Campbell’s The
options.
Masks of God, 4 vols. (New York, 1959–1968); Mircea
Eliade’s The Sacred and the Profane (New York, 1959) and
In the contemporary world, where people of different,
his Shamanism (New York, 1964); S. F. Nadel’s Nupe Reli-
and sometimes conflicting, religions and ideologies are in a
gion (London, 1954); and Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff’s Am-
network of political, economic, and ecological relationships,
azonian Cosmos (Chicago, 1971).
there is a heightened sense of urgency to develop strategies
The religious significance of truth in Western traditions is dis-
for at least existing safely within a plurality of ultimate com-
cussed in Mary Boyce’s A History of Zoroastrianism, 2 vols.
mitments, if not for integrating or discovering the principle
(Leiden, 1975–1982); Jacob Neusner’s The Way of Torah
of unity in that truth that declares the source of well-being
(Belmont, Calif., 1979); Understanding Jewish Theology, ed-
for all humanity. One of the most difficult issues in attempt-
ited by Neusner (New York, 1973); Stephen Reynolds’s The
ing to integrate the various approaches is that each holds that
Christian Religious Tradition (Belmont, Calif., 1977); Leslie
a distinction must be made between lesser, conventional
Dewart’s Religion, Language and Truth (New York, 1970);
truth and the highest, or divine, truth. Each approach is itself
W. Montgomery Watt’s Islamic Philosophy and Theology, 2d
a system of evaluations about the nature of ignorance, the
enl. ed. (Edinburgh, 1984); and Islam from Within, edited
ultimate reality, and the mechanism of knowing the truth
by Kenneth Cragg and R. Marston Speight (Belmont, Calif.,
1980).
that rejects alternate systems of evaluation.
The nature and cultivation of truth in Eastern traditions is de-
Especially in those communities that identify their sur-
scribed in Hajime Nakamura’s Ways of Thinking of Eastern
vival and highest fulfillment with a single form of truth,
Peoples (Honolulu, 1964); Revelation in Indian Thought, ed-
through orthodoxy (normative or prescribed teaching) or
ited by Harold Coward and Krishna Sivaraman (Emeryville,
orthopraxis (normative or prescribed behavior), the tolerance
Calif., 1977); K. Kunjunni Raja’s Indian Theories of Meaning
of alternative approaches to truth is difficult to maintain.
(Madras, 1963); Padmanabh S. Jaini’s The Jaina Path of Pu-
rification
(Berkeley, 1979); Kulitassa Nanda Jayatilleka’s
Paradoxically, a society often holds rigidly to a form of truth
Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge (New York, 1963); Fran-
when there is change in, or confusion about, the underlying
cis Dojun Cook’s Hua-Yen Buddhism (University Park, Pa.,
system(s) of evaluation (as, for example, the conflict between
1977); Tantra in Tibet, translated and edited by Jeffrey Hop-
the epistemological assumptions of the scientific method and
kins (London, 1977); Toshihiko Izutsu’s Toward a Philoso-
those of the symbolic self-consciousness attained in myth
phy of Zen Buddhism (Tehran, 1977); A Source Book in Chi-
and sacrament), and often an openness to explore alternative
nese Philosophy, translated and edited by Wing-tsit Chan
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(Princeton, 1963); Fung Yu-lan’s The Spirit of Chinese Phi-
presence. His teachings often take on two forms: (1) exoteric
losophy (Boston, 1962); Invitation to Chinese Philosophy, ed-
explanations of biblical or rabbinic lore, said with his eyes
ited by Arne Naess and Alastair Hanney (Oslo, 1972); and
open; and (2) esoteric teachings on the soul or on other mys-
Tu Wei-ming’s Centrality and Commonality: An Essay on
tical matters, which he says with his eyes closed, often in
Chung-yung (Honolulu, 1976).
trance.
A critical assessment of various principles of validity emerging
from different cultures is found in Eliot Deutsch’s On Truth:
BIBLICAL AND RABBINIC DOCTRINES. The Hasidic use of
An Ontological Theory (Honolulu, 1979); Modes of Thought:
the term tsaddiq—the righteous one—has deep roots in bib-
Essays on Thinking in Western and Non-Western Societies, ed-
lical and classic rabbinic literature, and was further informed
ited by Robin Horton and Ruth Finnegan (London, 1973);
by qabbalistic and late-medieval ethical treatises. Some of
and Knowing Religiously, edited by Leroy S. Rouner (Notre
these sources shall be illustrated here.
Dame, 1985). For an examination of the relation of lan-
guage, meaning, and truth in the mystical experiences of dif-
In biblical writings, the term tsaddiq was used to desig-
ferent religious traditions, see Mysticism and Philosophical
nate both the divine nature—righteousness—and the one
Analysis, edited by Steven T. Katz (Oxford, 1978).
who carries out God’s will. Given the biblical mythos that
New Sources
regards the human being as created in the divine image, the
Allen, Barry. Truth in Philosophy. Cambridge, Mass., 1993.
term represents the human ideal. The tsaddiq is one who has
chosen to be an instrument of the divine nature and will. At-
Blackburn, Simon, and Keith Simmons, eds. Truth. New York,
taining charisma thereby, he or she employs it for sacred pur-
1999.
poses.
Field, Hartry H. Truth and the Absence of Fact. New York, 2001.
Gupta, Anil, and Nuel Belnap. The Revision Theory of Truth.
The persona of the tsaddiq, as reflected in the teachings
Cambridge, Mass, 1993.
of the rabbinic period (second century BCE—fifth century
Hill, Christopher S. Thought and World: An Austere Portrayal of
CE) often suggests the functions of one who in biblical times
Truth, Reference, and Semantic Correspondence. New York,
was described by the word navi (prophet). The rabbis state
2002.
that a tsaddiq transforms divine wrath into divine compas-
sion: God issues a heavenly decree, and the tsaddiq may
Kölbel, Max. Truth without Objectivity. New York, 2002.
annul it (Midrash Genesis Rabba 33:3). The divine presence
Luntley, Michael. Reason, Truth and Self: The Postmodern Recondi-
(shekhinah) is said to be the tsaddiq’s constant companion.
tioned. New York, 1995.
Lynch, Michael P., ed. The Nature of Truth: Classic and Contempo-
The rabbis appraised the deeds of the tsaddiqim as being
rary Perspectives. Cambridge, Mass., 2001.
even more valuable than the creation of heaven and earth;
Soames, Scott. Understanding Truth. New York, 1999.
for the latter are the product of divine justice, whereas the
tsaddiqim add kindness to the creation (Babylonian Talmud
Williams, Bernard Arthur Owen. Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay
Ketubot fol. 5a). The tsaddiq is sometimes also called a
in Genealogy. Princeton, N.J., 2002.
Hasid—one who acts with kindness towards God and cre-
FREDERICK J. STRENG (1987)
ation, beyond the obligations of the law; upon acquiring
Revised Bibliography
both wisdom and humility. The rabbis detested the ignorant
Hasid, whom they regarded as a public nuisance. (The term
Hasid, meaning “follower of a particular Hasidic rebbe,” has
TSADDIQ.
no textual witness before the 1850s.) In classical Midrash,
The Hasidic tsaddiq (righteous one), also
the biblical Joseph was given the appellation tsaddiq, and re-
called rebbe (teacher) or admor (acronym for “master, teach-
fraining from sexual impropriety was regarded as the tsad-
er, and guide”), is the spiritual leader of a Jewish community,
diq’s hallmark.
to whom members look for guidance in both spiritual and
mundane matters. Throughout history, with a few excep-
In Babylonian Talmud Yoma there are esoteric state-
tions, the overwhelming majority of Hasidic tsaddiqim (plu-
ments such as: “the entire world was created for the sake of
ral for tsaddiq) have been male. The tsaddiq is the officially
one tsaddiq”(fol. 38b)—where either or both God and the
designated intercessor to God (shaliah tsibur) whose prayers
righteous individual are indicated; or “The tsaddiq is a foun-
on behalf of the community or the individual, while not ab-
dation upon whom the entire world stands”(fol. 38b)—a
solving them of their religious responsibility to address only
source for the idea of the Hasidic tsaddiq as axis mundi
God in prayer, are considered to be more efficacious than
(Green, 1977). The rabbis state that prior to creation, God’s
their own, due to his perceived close intimacy with—and in-
“first thought” was the creation of tsaddiqim, and that their
fluence on—divine providence. He prays with his communi-
primordial presence was “consulted” in the creation of the
ty and often presides over sacred meals with them, where his
human being (Midrash Genesis Rabbah 8:7). The tsaddiq
followers observe his holy comportment and participate in
functions as the conduit through whom divinity pours bless-
his charisma, expressed in both communal song and verbal
ings and liberation into creation; and it is stated that due to
teaching. The source of his charisma is said to be his having
the merit of tsidqaniyot (female tsaddiqim), Israel was deliv-
transformed his material being into spiritual form and sacred
ered from the bondage of Egypt (Babylonian Torah Sotah
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TSADDIQ
fol. 11b). In the Qabbalah of the sefirot, which hypostasized
ness of the letters of the Torah—through which the world
the divine attributes, Joseph represents the archetype of the
itself was created. These holy letters are themselves a central
tsaddiq—the procreative power.
object of contemplation. The famous Epistle of the Besht indi-
cates that the Messiah revealed to R. Israel Baal Shem Tov
The sages declare that male and female tsaddiqim are ex-
(henceforth, Besht, an acronym for Baal Shem Tov; 1700?–
empted from the curses of Adam and Eve—meaningless toil
1760), the founder of the Hasidic movement, that each letter
and the pain of childbirth (Babylonian Torah Sotah fol.
contains aspects of the outer world the realm of the soul, and
12a). In this Edenic vein another rabbinic teaching that plays
the divine realm, which all unite within divinity. Practice in
an especially important role in qabbalistic and Hasidic
this form of contemplative-union was said to have afforded
thought pronounces that: “By the light that was created on
the Besht (“Master of the Good Name”) clairvoyant vision.
the first day, one could simultaneously gaze from one end
of the world to the other. God, having observed that it could
This qabbalistic difference of opinion is similar to one
be abused by the wicked, hid this light and vouchsafed it for
found in medieval Jewish philosophy that deals with the pos-
the tsaddiqim in ‘the future time’”(Babylonian Torah Hagiga
sibility of conjunction—or devequt—during one’s lifetime
fol. 12a).
with the active (or agent) intellect, which is regarded as di-
vinely emanated. This devequt union results from human
It is within the potential of every human being, regard-
awareness transcending the physical body, focusing on the
less of national affiliation, to be a tsaddiq. As for the minimal
divine presence within the human mind. Formulae to this
qualification of the title tsaddiq, the rabbis state that a tsaddiq
effect are found in the explanations to the yihudim (unifica-
is one who has chosen, more often than not, to function as
tions)—practices promulgated by the sixteenth-century
a divine instrument: doing more good than evil, and at-
Qabbalah of R. Isaac Luria, whereby the tsaddiqim unify
tempting to establish a conscience-driven rapport with the
their own conscious presence with the divine attributes, and
divine presence (Babylonian Torah Qidushin fol. 40b).
raise them to higher levels, thereby drawing bounty from
Yet, even the greatest tsaddiqim—even the angels—are
more sublime levels within the divine source for the sake of
not perfectly free of fault. King David was accorded the role
tiqun—the repair of the divine-human interface. Lurianic
of the repentant tsaddiq who defeated his evil inclination by
Qabbalah stipulates eight basic levels of theurgic union that
practicing austerities although the ascetic ideal was not uni-
provide sustenance, increase, renewal, or innovation, on the
versally embraced by the rabbis. According to some rabbis,
spiritual and/or material planes. During the millenia of the
human beings—endowed with freedom of choice—are more
exile, nearly all unifications that occur are, in effect, the tsad-
precious to God than the angels, who were expressly created
diqim uniting with the shekhinah—as it were, embodying the
to suit their particular functions (Babylonian Torah Sanhe-
place of God—by uniting the divine primordial union with
drin fol. 93a). The principal inner voice of the human tsad-
the temporal state. During the Temple period (first Temple,
diq is the inclination to the good, construed as an angel nur-
c. ninth century BCE to late fifth century BCE ; second Tem-
tured by the tsaddiq’s good deeds, and the impetus that
ple, fourth century BCE to 70 CE) and in the Messianic era
sustains the tsaddiq is faith in divine righteousness. All of
(yet to occur), we read that it is God who directly enacts this
these form the ideal of the Hasidic tsaddiq.
union.
QABBALAH AND HASIDISM. Regarding the “light of the first
LEVELS OF TSADDIQIM. Hasidism, following the Zohar and
day” in qabbalistic literature, we find a difference of opinion
Lurianic Qabbalah, divided the soul into five levels: (1) ne-
as to the meaning of “the future time” when it is stored away
fesh, the animating soul of the material plane; (2) ruah, the
for the tsaddiqim. According to the Sefer haBahir, one of the
emotive spirit; (3) neshamah, the consciousness soul; (4)
earliest works of the Qabbalah (anon., twelfth century CE?),
hayah, the emanated wisdom-soul of divine Imminence; and
members of the Provence and Gerona schools of Qabbalah
(5) yehida, transcendent unity.
(1180–1230), the authoritative Sefer haZohar (anon., late
These soul levels correlate with four worlds and their de-
thirteenth century), and the Sefer haTemunah (anon., early
fining sefirot (divine attributes) as follows:
fourteenth century); this light is available to tsaddiqim during
their earthly lifetime, by means of Torah study and contem-
1. nefesh = action-sovereignty;
plative prayer. Through uniting with the light, the tsaddiq
2. ruah = formation-harmony;
theurgically and devotionally draws blessings to the entire
creation. But according to the more conservative Ma Darekhet
3. neshamah = creation-understanding;
haElohut and the introductory qabbalistic treatise Gates of
4. hayah = emanation-wisdom; and
Light by R. Joseph Gikatilla (both are late thirteenth centu-
5. yehida = crown of emanation = primordial Adam = unity
ry), as well as the Sefer haPeliah (early fourteenth century?)
within the absolute infinite. Each level contains all five,
“the future time” refers to the after-death state. In the six-
within its own context.
teenth century, R. Moshe Cordovero (1522–1570) and R.
Isaac Luria (1534–1572), both of whom greatly influenced
Whereas emanation is understood and experienced as a
Hasidic thought, accepted the view of the Zohar. In early
seamless divine dialectical unity, creation represents the un-
Hasidic teaching, this light was said to inhere in the sacred-
folding of the individual’s participation in this dialectic pro-
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cess. Formation represents the emotional contours of this
In every generation a soul-spark of the Messiah is sent
participation, and action, righteous effectuation. Given that
to incarnate, to redeem the generation that shows itself wor-
all souls were originally within Adam, this schema
thy; or, if there are worthy tsaddiqim in the generation, to
was understood as forming a collective, living, human-form
illuminate them. By means of messianic consciousness, all
organism.
the holy potential in human beings will be realized, and nu-
merous texts of early Hasidic teaching (1750–1825) suggest
The potential of the human being as such, whether male
that even the wicked will be transformed and released from
or female, is likened to all five levels, as explicated in the
hell. This transformative work, according to the Zohar and
Lurianic corpus. One who purifies all five levels of the nefesh
Lurianism, is performed by tsaddiqim in the present (both
attains to periodic transcendent unification with the aspect
in this life and in the hereafter), rescuing the souls of those
of sovereignty-in-emanation. This level constantly descends
people who are associated with their own Adamic roots.
into the world of creation and needs to be raised to emana-
tion by the tsaddiq, who has also descended. This is also the
This work is the source of the Hasidic doctrine of “the
case with one who is in the process of purifying the fourth
descent of the tsaddiq,” who must periodically leave exalted
level of thenefesh. These two constitute the levels of most
states of divine union in order to raise up those for whom
tsaddiqim. If one succeeds in purifying all five levels of the
they are responsible. Lower-level tsaddiqim leave involuntari-
ruah, one would be in constant communion with the Ruah
ly, and may even temporarily fall. For higher-level tsaddiqim
haQodesh, the Holy Spirit, and would abide—as active or
who have cultivated equanimity (as taught by the Besht and
passive—in the world of emanation, even when in descent
his disciples), in the words of Rabbi Elimelech of Lizansk
to the “lower worlds,” and would no longer be subject to jeal-
(1716?–1787), “oyven-hinten, hinten-oyven” (“below [inte-
ousy and competitiveness. This is perhaps the qabbalistic an-
grated with] above, and above [with] below”) (Or Elimelekh,
alog to the conceptions of the tsaddiq developed by R. Nah-
p. 98, number 148). And as said by Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz
man of Bratslav (1772–1810), a great-grandson of the Besht,
(1726–1791), a companion of the Besht: “great tsaddiqim
and by the founder of Habad Hasidism, R. Shneur Zalman
love the exceedingly wicked, and lesser tsaddiqim love the less
of Lyadi (1745?–1814). The archetypal image of tsaddiqim
wicked” (Imrei Pinchas haShalem vol. 1, p. 474, number 72).
mentioned in the Bible has them working on the five aspects
Elimelech and his disciples also stressed the practice of union
of the neshamah. The biblical forefathers, for example, were
with all the tsaddiqim. Since the appearance of the pioneering
regarded as the “Divine Chariot”—the instruments of the
work of Mendel Piekarz (1978), scholars no longer believe
emanated divine attributes: kindness, judgment, and harmo-
that these aspects of Hasidic spirituality were influenced by
nizing compassion—uniting the second and the third levels
the Sabbatean false-messiah movement (c. 1666). The anti-
of the cosmic neshamah. Moses was said to have attained the
Hasidic mitnagdic (opponent [to Hasidism]) theology of
union of its third and fourth levels and received, as a gift
Rabbi Elijah of Vilna (1720–1797) concurs with the concep-
tion of the tsaddiq in all of the above, and differs from the
from God, the emanated light of the fifth level. According
early Hasidic model on the public aspect of the intercessory
to the Zoharic-Lurianic Qabbalah, Moses incarnates in every
role of the tsaddiq and on the breakdown of elitist stratifica-
generation, and is potentially present in all Israelite and con-
tion in the community. Indeed, the Hasidic “social revolu-
vert-souls. Upon completion of the tiqun of the fifth level
tion” and its displacement of previous rabbinic and commu-
of the neshamah, he will be in constant union with the un-
nal forms became possible only as a result of the complete
changing compassion of the yehidah, and will manifest as the
breakdown of centralized Jewish authority (and its well-
Messiah.
established universal educational system) in Poland and Lith-
Luria states that tsaddiqim who during the course of
uania due to the continuing upheavals in the kingdom of Po-
their lifetime have always striven to “unite the part with the
land between the years 1648 and 1772 which resulted in a
whole” are constant companions of the divine presence
smaller and weakened state. In addition, the aforementioned
(shekhinah) and are themselves present in spirit whenever
failed popular messianic movement resulted in the near-
anyone enacts a yihud. Furthermore, these tsaddiqim may
interdiction of qabbalistic literature, which became the pre-
“impregnate” with their own souls the soul of one who con-
serve of the elite, who were perceived as having coldly dis-
templates in this way (striving to unify the part with the
tanced themselves from the greater, largely uneducated, com-
whole), thereby aiding the person’s spiritual development.
munity. These two events seemed to have engendered a novel
According to the Lurianic explanation of the Zohar, higher-
construal of social solidarity and a replacement of authority.
level tsaddiqim are able to voluntarily reincarnate, and they
MODELS OF HASIDIC LEADERSHIP: A BRIEF HISTORY OF
do so for the sake of furthering the cosmic tiqun. With this
THE TSADDIQ IN HASIDISM. Defining the archetype of
background it is easier to understand the insistence of R.
Moses as leader of his people was central to the formulation
Yaakov Yosef of Polnoya (died c. 1782), the chief spokesman
of the ideal tsaddiq in the teachings of the Besht, who de-
of the doctrine of the tsaddiq as expounded by the Besht, that
scribed such a tsaddiq as encompassing all and uniting with
for the untutored laity as well as for the lesser tsaddiq to expe-
all, from the pharoah to the sage. The tsaddiq’s sense of re-
rience devequt with God, he or she must be aligned with the
sponsibility is mirror-like; all facets of the world, both wick-
tsaddiqim.
ed and holy, become located in tsaddiqim, through recogni-
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tion of their subtle forms within themselves. This causes
obscurations will come to an end and the time of divine favor
them to repent, and opens the way for the wicked to repent
and salvation will be upon us.” Whereas the Besht was dis-
as well. When they discern that heavenly inspiration is of-
tressed by this answer, his numerous teachings instructing
fered, they give honest and loving rebuke, being present
the would-be tsaddiq in the ways of humility and the accep-
within the dialectic of humility and innate worth, and realiz-
tance of mutual social responsibility reflect acceptance of the
ing that the rebuke applies to themselves as well. Deriving
messianic challenge, albeit with the understanding that it is
from the qabbalistic procreative metaphor of the tsaddiq,
a slow process. Indeed, this messianic ideal is in keeping with
Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polnoya regarded the desire, enthusi-
Moses’ aspiration (Num. 11:29) that “the entire People of
asm, and pleasure that a person has in performing the good
God be prophets.”
as the expression of the attribute of the tsaddiq within the
individual.
It is this ambivalence that led to differences of opinion
among scholars as to whether early Hasidism was messianic,
In early Hasidic applications of these teachings to peti-
or represented a neutralization of acute messianism. In addi-
tionary prayer, the Besht and his successor, the magid
tion, we find statements from the Besht regarding the messi-
(preacher) of Mezritch (1710?–1772) had always stressed the
anic spark inherent in all who serve God, and the proviso
importance of the needs of the shekhinah as being the fore-
that one must pray for personal redemption before one can
most of the tsaddiq’s concerns; the Besht, making allowance
pray for cosmic redemption. We also find anecdotal testimo-
for personal petition when one’s sincerity would be compro-
ny regarding at least two Hasidic masters who realized this
mised by pretense. They counseled the tsaddiqim to observe
spark within themselves, while renouncing pretensions of
their needs, and by applying qabbalistic tools of symbolic
public messianic identity: Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vi-
analogy, to discern the spiritual needs of the shekhinah. The
tebsk (1730–1788), a senior disciple of the magid who guid-
magid, being of an ascetic bent, and having accepted the
ed Rabbi Shneur Zalman after the magid’s demise, before
leadership of what was fast becoming a religious movement
emigrating to the Holy Land in 1777; and Rabbi Menachem
that was attracting the cream of the young spiritually and in-
Mendel of Rymanov (d. 1815).
tellectually gifted, placed his entire stress on the needs of the
divine presence. This emphasis was passed on to Rabbi Sh-
THE THIRD GENERATION AND THE NINETEENTH CENTURY.
neur Zalman of Lyadi, who asked his followers not to trouble
Rabbi Elimelech of Lyzansk was an elder disciple of the
him with personal petitions.
magid who came to him after having already developed into
The magid, acting as the Hasidic movement’s advocate,
a fairly accomplished tsaddiq. He is credited with the formu-
distinguished between two types of tsaddiqim, based on
lation of a new Hasidic model—“Practical Tsaddiqism.” His
Psalm 92:12: “The tsaddiq shall blossom like a palm; like a
understanding of the exigencies of the time empowered the
cedar of Lebanon shall he rise high.” The solitary tsaddiq,
Hasidic tsaddiq to directly intercede on behalf of the material
who may rise high as “a perfect tsaddiq,” produces no fruit.
needs of the Jews. This was acknowledged by Rabbi Ephraim
But the one who causes others to flourish, raising the lower
of Sudlykov (1740–1800), a grandson and respected disciple
elements outside himself, although he may not rise “as high”
of the Besht, as legitimate, even as he stated that it represents
as the cedar, will blossom with new fruit. It is interesting to
a change from previously accepted emphasis on the needs of
note that this distinction is not found in the teachings of the
the shekhinah.
Besht as recorded by Rabbi Yaakov Yosef and other disciples.
The chief disciple of Rabbi Elimelech was Rabbi Jacob
This fact seems to conform to the view of scholars as of the
Isaac Hurwitz (1745–1815), the “Seer of Lublin,” whose dis-
1980s that Hasidism cannot be construed as a movement
ciples (1795–1870) became the rabbinic leaders of Poland
prior to the succession of the magid.
and Galicia and even penetrated into the Austro-Hungarian
Indeed, the recruitment efforts of the magid’s disciples
Empire. Hurwitz was allowed to function as a public tsaddiq
enabled them to become the next generation’s elite rabbinic
during the lifetime of Elimelech. The Seer’s school produced
authorities in most of the Ukraine and part of Poland (1772–
great practitioners of Lurianic theurgy, and further applied
1800), no doubt facilitated by the final division of Poland
its practices to petitionary prayer. The rationale given for this
in 1772 and the vacuum in Jewish centralized authority. The
was the conviction that with fewer material concerns, the
socioreligious change that Hasidic ideology advocated in the
laity would better apply themselves to spiritual pursuits. This
teachings of the Besht, as recorded by Rabbi Yaakov Yosef,
gave rise to anti-acute-messianism and informed a proto-
called for “men of form” to spiritually transform the “people
anti-Zionist ideology. Rabbi Tsvi Elimelech of Dynov
of matter.” This is in keeping with a narrative in the afore-
(1783–1841), a disciple of the Seer, asserted in the name of
mentioned Epistle of the Besht, which contains an exchange
the Besht that it is easier to attain the level of Ruakh ha-
between the Besht and the Messiah. The Besht asked: “when
Qodesh (inspiration of the Holy Spirit) in exile than in the
will the Master (Messiah) come?” The Messiah answered:
Holy Land, where the standards are more demanding. His
“when your teachings will be so well-publicized and revealed
descendants, the rebbes of Munkacs, were among the fore-
in the world . . . that they too will be able to enact unifica-
most anti-Zionist Hasidic leaders in the pre–World War II
tions (yihudim) and soul-ascents as you do. Then the cosmic
period.
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Returning to the theme of the Lurianic “cosmic organ-
zienice, Rabbi Israel Hopstein (1733–1815), a prolific writer
ism” with its levels and shortcuts, the early Hasidim claimed
of qabbalistic works and close friend of both the Seer and
that the tsaddiq can raise up some people only by eating or
Rabbi Simha Bunim of Preshischa (1765–1827), attempted
engaging in other mundane matters in a mode of holy inten-
to act as a bridge between them.
tion, whereas others had to be elevated through the tsaddiq’s
His daughter, Perele (d. 1849?) observed many of the
direct engagement in sacred matters. One of the contempla-
biblical commandments ordained specifically for men, and
tive innovations of the Besht involves the “raising up” of im-
was recognized as a tsadeqet by Rabbi Elimelech of Lyzansk,
proper, distracted thought by recognizing the holy essence-
who, together with her father, urged his followers to visit her
nature of the thought: physical desire is rooted in kindness,
with their prayer petitions. The Rebbe’s Daughter: Memoir of
anger and its effects are rooted in judgement, and pride is
a Hasidic Childhood (2002), a memoir by Malka Shapira, a
rooted in harmonious beauty. By subduing the evil impulse
descendent of the magid of Kozienice, sheds light on the ele-
in these negative manifestations and recognizing their specif-
vated status of women in this branch of Hasidism. Harry M.
ic nature in holiness, the tsaddiq “sweetens them at their
Rabinowicz, a scholar of the Hasidim in the late twentieth
roots.” Rabbi Yaakov Yosef quotes the Besht as saying that
century, profiled more than ten women who made their
one who doesn’t believe that divinity inheres in everything,
mark in the nineteenth-century Hasidic world, including
and who doesn’t believe that an untoward thought during
one who was not born into a family of Hasidic rebbes. Rabbi
prayer contains a holy spark sent to the person by divine
Hannah Rachel Werbmacher (1805–1892), an exceptional
providence so as to find redemption, shows a lack of faith.
self-taught tsadeqet known as the “Maid of Ludmir,” acted
Some of the disciples of the magid held that thought-
as a full-fledged Hasidic rebbe, receiving prayer petitions and
transformation practices were reserved only for the elite,
delivering Torah sermons in public from a cordoned-off
whereas some tsaddiqim from the school of the Seer of Lu-
room. Since the late 1980s there has developed a controversy
blin—notably, the great Hasidic qabbalist Rabbi Isaac of Ko-
among scholars of Hasidism as to the correct assessment of
marno (1806–1876)—advocated them for anyone who can
these phenomena. Certainly, there is much research yet to
maintain honesty in the course of these practices.
be done in this field.
There is an early Habad tradition (which traces its prov-
As of the 1870s, the elite of Preshischa renewed their
enance to the Besht) that states that whereas in earlier times,
interest in Qabbalah, including the works of Rabbi Isaac of
souls were incarnated within a stratified rubric (peasants pos-
Komarno, an opponent to the Preshischa path. Particularly
sessing souls from the world of action, business people
good examples of such integration can be found in numerous
possessing souls from the world of formation, and scholars
works of Rabbi Tsaddoq haKohen of Lublin (1823–1900),
possessing souls from the world of creation), as of the advent
a disciple of Rabbi Mordehai Joseph of Izbica (1788?–1854)
of the Besht, which constitutes the “footsteps of the Messi-
who often placed his teacher’s and his own deep psychologi-
ah,” the souls that enter the world contain sparks from all
cal insights in a qabbalistic context, and also emphasized the
worlds. Thus, at one moment, one can be engaged in a sub-
aspect of the tsaddiq potential in all his followers; and Rabbi
lime religious experience, and at the next, one can find one-
Yehudah Leib of Gur (1847–1905), whose voluminous Sefat
self in totally different inner circumstances. For this reason
Emet integrated many of the insights of the early Hasidim.
the Besht counseled against self-satisfaction—the surest way
to forsake the sacred path. Yet, Habad reserved thought-
Throughout this period, Hasidism faced staunch oppo-
transformation practices for tsaddiqim. On the other hand,
sition from the maskilim (enlighteners), who advocated an-
there is an oral tradition from the fifth Lubavitcher rebbe,
titraditional modernization and often attempted to accom-
Rabbi Shalom Dov-Ber (1860–1920), who recommended
plish it through government lobbying. Recriminations of
that each of his followers spend at least fifteen minutes a day
unscrupulous manipulation were rife on both sides. The his-
cultivating the persona of the tsaddiq, observing all things as
toriography of this period needs to be reevaluated, as its
rooted in primordial Adam.
scholarship has been colored by modernist agendas that mis-
I
value the efforts of the traditionalist Hasidim to preserve
NTERNAL DISSENT; EXCEPTIONAL WOMEN; EXTERNAL OP-
their culture. Although most Hasidic groups held secular ed-
POSITION; DECLINE AND ACCOMMODATION. The Hasidism
ucation, and even job-training, as anathema, many Pre-
of Preshischa, formulated at the beginning of the nineteenth
shischa-influenced Hasidic courst (including Gur) were
century by disciples of the Seer of Lublin as a breakaway re-
among the first to allow their communities access to Jewish
form of Hasidism, attempted to purify Hasidism from an
trade schools, and to permit the formation of political parties
ethos of the vain petitionary seeking of the miraculous. In-
that were more accommodating to the Zionist movement.
stead. it stressed the values of inner truth and the study of
the law, and demurred from the study of Qabbalah. This
Piekarz has gathered evidence to produce a profile of the
movement conquered Poland for the Hasidism of Kotzk,
deteriorated state of East European tsaddiqism based on cer-
Gur, Aleksander, Biala, Amshinov-Worka, and Izbica-
tain early twentieth-century Hasidic texts (c. 1920). This
Radzin. During the first three generations, it upheld its an-
decadent tendency sustains an insular conformist mentality
tipetitionary position. There was mutual criticism between
that fears and attacks all change. It views the stratification
the schools of Lublin and Preshischa. The great magid of Ko-
of souls as innate and unchanging—everyone has his station,
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TSADDIQ
and must place their faith in an unerring tsaddiq who is de-
riod by the few surviving elders. Most notable of those who
scribed as “the root of all worlds, transcending and filling and
trained these future rebbes was Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum
giving life to them all.” These tsaddiqim and their families
(1887–1987), the Satmar rebbe, whose lineage goes back to
and close kin would often spend their time at Western Euro-
Rabbi Moshe of Ujhely (1759–1841), a leading disciple of
pean resorts, financed by their less-than-wealthy Hasidic fol-
the Seer of Lublin. An ultra-conservative and brilliant schol-
lowers (in accord with Hasidic perspective: in exile, the tsad-
ar-charismatic, the Satmar rebbe saw his mission as rebuild-
diq replaces the Cohen-priest, whose upkeep is incumbent on
ing Hungarian and Galician Hasidism in the United Sates
the laity), whom they encouraged to oppose other Hasidic
so that it would be as similar as possible to prewar times. A
“dynasties.” However, there is not enough data to ascertain
complex elitist, he discouraged the public teaching of Qab-
the extent of this trend. Indeed, traditional Hasidism allowed
balah and Hasidism, while apparently also training serious
for pluralism of opinion and indeed, by stressing the unique-
cadres of Hasidic-qabbalistic scholars. Following his death
ness of the individual, encouraged it. One of the reasons for
there was a flurry of publications of classic Hasidic works
this deterioration over time is surely the nepotism of Hasidic
with extensive commentaries, originating both from his own
“dynastic succession”—appointing successors regardless of
community and from those aligned to it. Also, since the mid-
merit. This emerged from the process of institutionalization
1990s, several large anthologies of the teachings of the disci-
that took place during the nineteenth century.
ples of the Besht, such as Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz (1726–
During the interwar period (1918–1939), some of the
1791) and Rabbi Michael of Zlotchov (1734–1786) have ap-
conservative Hasidic elite began reluctantly opening up to
peared; these include manuscript material previously with-
the modern world. Overcoming opposition, but not precipi-
held by Hasidic dynastic leaders. In addition, some rare
tating a break, gifted members of various leading Hasidic
works written and published during the first four decades of
families, such as Rabbi Dr. A. J. Heschel (1907–1972) and
the twentieth century which attest to the continuing creativi-
R. Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902–1994), the sev-
ty of Hasidic Qabbalah have been reissued. After the death
enth Lubavitcher rebbe, were among the significant few who
of the Satmar rebbe in 1987, his surviving wife, Alte Feiga,
studied in some of Western Europe’s major universities. In
held the primary charismatic attention of a significant por-
addition, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935), the first
tion of his followers until her own death in 2001. The Lu-
chief rabbi of modern Palestine (but not, strictly speaking,
bavitcher rebbe, another brilliant charismatic tsaddiq, built a
not a Hasidic tsaddiq), emphasized the role of the contempo-
worldwide network of Hasidic institutions and outreach pro-
rary tsaddiq as one who also embraces the openness of mo-
grams. A look at the messianic pretensions of this movement
dernity and forges new paths of creative spiritual speculation
is beyond the scope of this article, but while the deep con-
out of humanistic and scientific developments.
templative traditions of this movement are being cultivated
by small numbers of his followers, the recent voluminous
As for the period of the war itself, two works composed
publications (many for the first time) of the teachings of the
during that period are notable. Esh Qodesh (1960; Sacred
seven rebbes of this dynasty (1777–1992) has led to a renais-
Fire) was written by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmish of Piasetzna
sance in the learning and teaching of this tradition.
(1889–1943), who was descended from some of the chief
disciples of the Seer, and before the war was a renowned edu-
In Israel Rabbi Shalom Noah Barazofsky (1918?–2000)
cator. This work contains his sermons delivered in the War-
the late rebbe of Slonim, had his discourses published in
saw Ghetto until 1943, and its heartrending theodicy of faith
modern vernacular Hebrew. Like Rabbi Tsaddoq haKohen
is a testament to this tsaddiq and his internalization of some
of Lublin, the Slonimer rebbe’s teachings addressed the tsad-
of the central messages of the Besht. The second book was
diq potential in all who came to hear him or read his ser-
written in occupied Hungary by Rabbi Yissachar Shelomoh
mons. The Amshinover rebbe, Rabbi Yaakov David Milikof-
Teichtal (1885–1945), a leading disciple of the brilliant
sky (b. 1947), is a premier type of charismatic tsaddiq in the
scholar Rabbi Haim Elazar, the rebbe of Munkacs (1868–
Preshischa mode. His manner of prayer exemplifies genuine
1937) and an irascible compassionate and extremely opin-
piety, and he is known as an extremely compassionate and
ionated Hasidic leader of the Hungarian anti-Zionist move-
astute listener in the private audiences that he freely grants.
ment. Rabbi Teichtal’s book, Em haBanim Smeha (A joyful
During the final decades of the twentieth century the charis-
mother of children), was an unpretentious repudiation of his
matic authoritative and intercessory model of the Hasidic
teacher’s theological arguments for opposing Zionism. Rabbi
tsaddiq was widely adopted in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish
Teichtal also left behind a wartime diary that was published
world at large, both by the anti-Hasidic Lithuanian mitnag-
in 1995.
dim and by the renascent Orthodox communities of Jews
POST-HOLOCAUST HASIDISM. Despite their population
originating from Moslem-dominated lands. Due to the un-
being decimated by the Holocaust, in the post-Holocaust
questioned authority obliged by their homogeneous commu-
world Hasidism made a remarkable recovery in the United
nities, which in each group results in stable voting patterns,
States and in Israel, rebuilding their institutions and replen-
these leaders have been increasingly sought after by politi-
ishing their numbers. Many of the eligible “future rebbes
cians, and at times have been instrumental in shaping the
who resurrected old dynasties were trained in the postwar pe-
balance of power in the larger political arena.
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Finally, the twentieth century has also witnessed a surg-
1991), see pp. 88–140 and 283–293. Scholem’s essay goes
ing of secular interest in the Hasidic ethos, thanks to both
on to discuss the early and classical Qabbalah, but then ig-
the person and the writings of Martin Buber (1878–1965),
nores Lurianic Qabbalah and discusses Hasidism. Additional
whose collections of Hasidic tales introduced the world at
sources come from the excellent collection Otsar haAgadah,
large to the spiritual relevance of this otherwise Jewish sectar-
edited by Moshe David Gross (3 vols., Tel Aviv, 1954; 13th
ian spirituality. In addition, numerous aphorisms as well as
ed., Jerusalem, 1993), see vol. 3, pp. 1032–1057, which ad-
duces over 500 rabbinic quotes regarding the tsaddiq; and
whole tracts of Hasidic teachings have been translated into
from the works of Abraham J. Heschel, including The Proph-
English and other Western languages as of the second half
ets (New York, 1962), see pp. 200–205.Theology of Ancient
of the twentieth century. The universal and ecumenical po-
Judaism (New York, 1965, Hebrew), see pp. 200–205. Also
tential within Hasidic spirituality was further developed by
see Arthur Green’s “The Zaddiq as Axis Mundi in Later Juda-
Rabbi Dr. A. J. Heschel, who produced various academic
ism” in Journal of the American Academy of Religion 45
studies on Hasidic history, the phenomenology of Hasidic
(1977): 327–347. Regarding the colloquial use of the term
piety, and wonder, and who also provided a living example
Hasid meaning “follower of a particular Hasidic rebbe,” the
of the religious activist-humanist tsaddiq. In the next genera-
earliest citation found is in a text of Preshischa provenance,
tion, postmodern New Age spirituality found a Hasidic ex-
Ramatayim Tsofim by Shmuel of Shinyava (Warsaw, 1881),
pression in Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi (b. 1924), a
see pp. 200–205, based on the teachings of Rabbi Menachem
Habad-educated spiritual master whose academic work on
Mendel of Kotzk (1787–1959) recalling events that took
the rebbe-Hasid personal interview gave rise to a form of
place in the 1820s that involved the Kotzker’s teacher, Rabbi
Simha Bunim of Preshischa (1765–1827). The history of
counseling that stresses the inner tsaddiq. He has continued
this usage requires further investigation.
the ecumenical trend by his intensive interactions with tradi-
tional spiritual teachers of non-Western religious traditions,
The qabbalistic aspect of the “hidden light” was briefly discussed
and he champions a cross-cultural creative-Jewish paradigm
in Scholem, pp. 113–115, where he adduces the Zohar II,
in collaboration with traditional Hasidic texts. During the
166b–167a. See Isaiah Tishby’s The Wisdom of the Zohar: An
last decade of the twentieth century, he and Rabbi Arthur
Anthology of Texts (Oxford, 1989, vol. 1),, p. 442. See also
Zohar II 147b and Daniel Abrams’s The Book Bahir: An Edi-
Green (b. 1941) established numerous retreat centers of Jew-
tion Based on the Earliest Manuscripts (Los Angeles, 1994),
ish contemplation that incorporate elements of Eastern (i.e.,
numbers 97–100, 106, and related references in Scholem.
Sufi-Hindu-Buddhist) meditative traditions. Together in the
And see, by Rabbi Azriel of Gerona, Perush haAgadot, edited
late 1960s they began the Hasidic-influenced “conscious
by Isaiah Tishby (Jerusalem, 1945–1983), p. 111, and re-
community” havurah movement in the Unites States. Rabbi
garding the theurgic application, see “Principles Concerning
Shlomo Carlebach (1925–1994), a charismatic Hasidic
the Secrets of Prayer” (Hebrew), included in Scholem’s
teacher and prolific composer and musician educated in the
“Newly Discovered Writings of Rabbi Azriel of Gerona”
great traditional academies of Europe and the United States,
(Hebrew) in Festschrift for A. Gulak and Sh. Klein (Jerusalem,
was Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi’s lifelong partner in ecumeni-
1942), pp. 214–216, and see Moshe Idel’s “Some Remarks
cal activity, often providing its ecstatic element. As a teacher,
on Ritual and Mysticism in Geronese Kabbalah” in Journal
he was largely responsible for the popular renewal of interest
of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 3 (1993): pp. 111–130. See
in Izbica, Bratslav, and Piasetzna thought, and touched
also Sefer haTemunah (vol. 3 of Torat haQaneh, Jerusalem,
1997), pp. 176a–177b. This is to be contrasted with
countless lives with his unconditional personal expressions
Ma Darekhet haElohut (Mantoba, Italy, 1558; reprint, Jerusa-
of universal love.
lem, n.d.), folio 101b–102b; Gates of Light, by Rabbi Joseph
Gikatilla (translated by Avi Weinstein, New York, 1994),
SEE ALSO Hasidism, overview article; Judaism, article on Ju-
pp. 76 and 327, and Sefer haPeliah in volume 1 of Torat ha-
daism in Northern and Eastern Europe since 1500; Luria,
Qaneh, p. 230a–b. Regarding Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, see
Isaac; Qabbalah.
Bracha Sack’s The Kabbalah of R. Moshe Cordovero (Jerusa-
lem, 1995, Hebrew), p. 323 and sources there; and on his
B
influence on Hasidism, see Moshe Idel’s Hasidism: Between
IBLIOGRAPHY
Ecstasy and Magic (Albany, N.Y., 1995). With regard to Luri-
There is as yet no scholarly history of Hasidic usage of the terms
anic Qabbalah, see Menachem Kallus’s The Theurgy of Prayer
tsaddiq, rebbe, and admor. With regard to teaching with open
in Lurianic Kabbalah (Ph.D. dissertation, Hebrew Universi-
or closed eyes, see Rabbi Hayim Elazar Shapira’s Divrei
ty, 2002), chapter 4, sections 12–14, and pp. 281–282; and
Torah (Munkacz, 1930; Israel reprint, n.d.), series 3, num-
for his influence on Hasidism, the same source at
ber 36.
pp. 280–281, and chapter 3. See also Menachen Kallus’s
The biblical and rabbinic theology of the tsaddiq was analyzed in
“The Relation of the Baal Shem Tov to the Practice of Luri-
the classic study by Rudolf Mach, Der Zaddik in Talmud und
anic Kavvanot,” Kabbalah: Journal for the Study of Jewish
Midrasch (Leiden, 1957), which together with Ephraim E.
Mystical Texts, vol. 2 (Los Angeles and Jerusalem, 1997),
Urbach’s The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs (Jerusalem,
pp. 151–167. As for the Besht and the “hidden light,” see
1975), pp. 483–511 and elsewhere, formed the basis for the
Sefer Baal Shem Tov al haTorah (ed. Rabbi Nathan Nata of
discussion of the classical period in Gershom Scholem’s
Kalbiel and Shimeon Menachem Mendel of Gowarchov,
Tsaddik: The Righteous One” in his On the Mystical Shape
Lodz, Poland, 1938; reprint, Jerusalem, 1993), vol. 1,
of the Godhead: Basic Concepts in the Kabbalah (New York,
“Noah,” p. 107, col. 1 of note number 13, and also p. 14,
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

9384
TSADDIQ
number 27 and notes. This is the most complete anthology
10, 24; Qedoshim numbers 2–18; Qorah numbers 1–5;
of the teachings of the Besht, and will be referenced here sev-
Eqev number 72, and elsewhere. Regarding the attribute of
eral times (cited as Sefer Besht, followed by volume number,
the tsaddiq within the individual, see Sefer Besht, vol. 1,
Torah Portion and the number of teaching). A translation of
Noah, number 2. With regard to the teachings of the Besht
it is due to appear in 2006–2007. Regarding the opinions of
on petitionary prayer, see Sefer Besht, vol. 1, Noah, numbers
medieval philosophers, see Dov Schwartz’s The Philosophy of
128–129 and 153–155, and on not compromising one’s in-
a Fourteenth Century Jewish NeoPlatonic Circle (Jerusalem,
tegrity in this, see especially ibid. numbers 124 and 152. For
1996, Hebrew), pp. 153–208. See also the fascinating mono-
the teachings of the magid see ibid. numbers 80, 84, 87, 89–
graph by A. J. Heschel, Prophetic Inspiration After the Proph-
94, and especially, 130–131. For Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s
ets: Maimonides and Other Medieval Authorities; translated
views on prayer, see Roman A. Foxbrunner’s Habad: The
and edited by Morris M. Faierstein (Hoboken, N.J., 1996).
Hasidism of R. Shneur Zalman of Lyady (Montogmery, Ala.,
Returning to Lurianic Qabbalah, see Sha Dar haYihudim
1992), pp. 19–22, 38, and 186–194. Regarding the two
(Lvov, Ukraine, 1855; reprint, Jerusalem, n.d.), chapters 4
types of tsaddiq in the works of the magid, see Liqutim Ye-
and 5, and see Kallus’s dissertation, chapter 4 towards the
qarim (Jerusalem, 1974), numbers 256 and 273, and for the
end of note 357, and section 6 of note 383.
version quoted here from the teachings of Rabbi Elimelekh,
Regarding the levels of the soul and the implications of their per-
where the dialectic between the two types is more pro-
fections, see Menachem Kallus’s “Pneumatic Mystical Pos-
nounced, see Torat Shimeon by Rabbi Shimeon of Yaroslav,
session and the Eschatology of the Soul in Lurianic Kab-
a disciple of Rabbi Elimelekh (Jerusalem, 1974) (beginning
balah” in Spirit Possession in Judaism: Cases and Contexts from
of Parshat Emor). On Hasidism during the generation of the
the Middle Ages to the Present, edited by Matt Goldish, fore-
Besht, see Immanuel Etkes’s “Hasidism as a Movement: The
word by Joseph Dan (Detroit, Mich., 2003), pp. 159–184.
First Phase” in Hasidism: Continuity or Innovation, edited by
See also, Gershom Scholem’s “Gilgul: The Transmigration
Bezalel Safran (Cambridge, Mass., 1988), pp. 1–26. On the
of Souls” in his On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic
teachings of the Besht regarding the role of the “men of
Concepts in the Kabbalah (New York, 1991), pp. 140–197,
form,” see Gedalya Nigal’s Manhig vaEdah (Jerusalem,
300–312. And regarding tsaddiqim who have always striven
1962) and Dresner’s The Zaddik: The Doctrine of the Zaddik
to “unite the part with the whole” and are present in spirit
According to the Writings of Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polnoy
whenever anyone enacts a yihud, see the Lurianic Sha Dar
(New York, 1960). The Epistle of the Besht was translated
Ruah haQodesh (Jerusalem, 1912; reprinted 1983), folios 13a
into English several times, most recently in the monumental
and 28a; and Sha Dar Maamarei Rashby (Jerusalem, 1898; re-
work of translation and commentary by Norman Lamm, The
print, 1978), folio 12b–c, and compare Sefer Besht vol. 2, Be-
Religious Thought of the Hasidim: Text and Commentary
hukotai number 3. On the alignment of the laity to tsad-
(New York, 1999); see there pp. 541–555, and for our text,
diqim, see Sefer Besht, vol. 2, VaEthanan number 66, and
p. 550. For the textual problems of this epistle, the history
Eqev numbers 12–15, 30, and 66–70. And see Samuel Dres-
of scholarship, and possible resolutions, see I. Etkes’s Ba Dal
ner’s The Zaddik: The Doctrine of the Zaddik According to the
Shem: The Besht—Magic, Mysticism, Leadership (Jerusalem,
Writings of Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polnoy (New York, 1960),
2000), pp. 292–310. On the scholarly controversy concern-
pp. 75–142. Regarding the “descent of the tsadyq” and re-
ing early Hasidism and messianism, see Gershom Scholem’s
lease from hell, see Zohar II, 128b–129a and elsewhere, and
“The Neutralization of the Messianic Element in Early Hasi-
Sefer Besht vol. 1, Bereshit numbers 70–75, Lekh Likha num-
dism” in his The Messianic Idea in Judaism and other Essays
ber 19; vol. 2, Eqev number 68 and elsewhere. And see from
on Jewish Spirituality (New York, 1971), pp. 176–203, and
Rabbi Pinhas of Koretz, Imrei Pinchas haShalem, edited by
see Ben Zion Dinur’s “The Beginnings of Hasidism and its
Yehezkiel Shraga Finkel (Bnei Beraq, Israel, 2003), pp. 370,
Social and Messianic Foundations” (translated, originally in
numbers 31–32 and 474, number 72; and see from Rabbi
Hebrew, 1945) in Essential Papers on Hasidism, edited by
Elimelekh of Lizansk, Or Elimelekh, edited by Alter Elisha
Gershon Hundert, pp. 86–209 (New York, 1991), whose in-
haKohen Paksher (Jerusalem, 1984), pp. 65–66, number 84,
sightful readings regarding the early Hasidic social “pro-
p. 89, number 129, p. 91, number 131, and p. 98, number
gram,” although attacked ad homonym have not been effec-
148; and from Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Rymanov, Men-
tively countered. See also Isaiah Tishby’s “The Messianic
achem Tsion, edited by Tsvi Elimelekh Pannet (Jerusalem,
Idea and Messianic Trends in the Growth of Hasidism” (He-
2004), p. 11, col. b. Regarding previous scholarship on the
brew) Zion 32, no. 1 (1967): 1–45. Regarding the messianic
“descent of the tsadyq,” see Dresner’s The Zaddik, chapters
spark-potential and the emphasis on personal redemption,
7 and 8; and regarding earlier sources of this doctrine, in-
see Sefer Besht, vol. 1, Bereshit number 166 and Shemot
cluding Lurianic Qabbalah, and the refutation of Sabbatean
number 5; and vol. 2, Nitzavim number 8. As regards Rabbi
influence, see Mendel Piekarz’s The Beginning of Hasidism:
Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, see Mordechai Hayim Per-
Ideological Trends in Derush and Mussar Literature (Jerusa-
low’s Liqutei Sipurim (Brooklyn, N.Y., 1992), p. 284, num-
lem, 1978, Hebrew), pp. 280–395. On Mitnagdic opposi-
ber 8. And regarding Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Rymanov,
tion to Hasidic conceptions of the tsaddiq, see Allan Nadler’s
see Torat haMagid meZlotchov, edited by Eliezer Eliyahu Ho-
The Faith of the Mithnagdim: Rabbinic Responses to Hasidic
rowitz (Jerusalem, 1999), p. 176, number 6.
Rapture (Baltimore, Md., 1999), chapter 2.
On Rabbi Elimelekh of Lizansk, see Nigal’s Mehqarim beHasidut
For the sources of the teachings on Moses and the tsaddiq, see Sefer
(Jerusalem, 1999; originally, 1978), pp. 116–233, and the
Besht, vol. 1, Bereshit numbers 121, 127, Noah, numbers 61,
more recent work by Piekatz, “R. Elimelekh miLizensk
62, 80, 81, 156–158; vaYishlakh, numbers 6–7; vol. 2, She-
uMamshichei Darko,” Gil Dad 15–16 (1998): 42–80, where
mot number 19; Ki Tisa number 9; Metzorah numbers 9,
he also discusses Rabbi Ephrayim of Sydlakov, and the later
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development of the school of the Seer. On the Seer of Lublin
parties, see Alan L. Mittleman’s The Politics of Torah: The
see Rachel Elior’s “Between Yesh and Ayin: The Doctrine of
Jewish Political Tradition and the Founding of Agudat Israel
the Zaddik in the Works of Jacob Isaac, the Seer of Lublin”
(Albany, N.Y., 1996). On decadent forms of Hasidism, see
in Jewish History: Essays in Honour of Chimen Abramsky, ed-
Mendel Piekarz’s “Religious Spiritualism against Zionism
ited by Ada Rapaport-Albert and S. J. Zipperstein (London,
and Determinist Elitism: Lessons from the Discourses of the
1988), 393–455. Regarding the easier availability of access
Admor of Partzava (1866–1930)” in Hasidism in Poland, ed-
to Ruah haQodesh in the exile, see Sefer Besht, vol. 1,
ited by I. Bartal, Rabbi Elior, and C. Shmeruk (Jerusalem,
VaYeshev number 4 and note 5. On Munkasz Hasidism, see
1994), and his earlier book, Ideological Trends of Hasidism in
Efraim Gottleib’s Studies in the Kabbalah Literature, edited
Poland during the Interwar Period and the Holocaust (Jerusa-
by Joseph Hacker (Tel Aviv, 1976), pp. 584–586. For the
lem, 1990). On the early life of Rabbi Dr. A. J. Heschel, see
techniques of and variety of Hasidic opinion on the “raising-
Abraham Joshua Heschel: Prophetic Witness by Edward K. Ka-
up of distracted thought,” see Sefer Besht, vol. 1, Noah num-
plan and Samuel H. Dresner (New Haven, Conn., 1998),
bers 97–124, and especially note 94 (pp. 152–155) for the
and on the seventh Lubavitcher rebbe, see Larger Than Life:
range of third- to fifth-generation Hasidic opinion. This
The Life and Times of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Men-
matter seems to be a litmus test with regard to the contrast
achem Mendel Schneerson by Shaul Shimeon Deutsch (New
between social realism and antielitist idealism in the develop-
York, vol. 1 1995, vol. 2 1997). Although written by a fol-
ment of Hasidic thought and its relation to the original de-
lower of the late Lubavitcher rebbe, this work is an honest at-
mocratizing impulse (see Scholem’s “Devekut, or Commu-
tempt at critical biography. For other examples of this trend,
nion with God” in his The Messianic Idea in Judaism and
see Hillel Goldberg’s Between Berlin and Slobodka: Jewish
other Essays on Jewish Spirituality, pp. 208–226). Regarding
Transition Figures from Eastern Europe (Hoboken, N.J.,
the Habad- Besht tradition concerning the nature of the soul
1989). Much has been written on Rabbi A. I. Kook. For
in later generations, see Rabbi Aaron of Staroselye’s Shaarei
some translations of his writings, see The Essential Writings
haYichud vihaEmunah (Jerusalem, 1966), folio 3b, marginal
of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, translated with introduction
note. On this important mystical thinker see Louis Jacobs,
by Ben Zion Bokser (Amity, N.Y., 1988), and When God Be-
translator, Tract on Ecstasy (London, 1963) and Rachel
comes History: Historical Essays by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hako-
Elior’s Paradoxical Ascent to God (Albany, N.Y., 1993).
hen Kook, edited and translated with introduction and notes
by Bezalel Naor (New York, 2003); and see Rabbi Abraham
Regarding the Hasidic “revolt” of Preshischa, see A. J. Heschel’s
Isaac Kook and Jewish Spirituality by Lawrence Kaplan and
Kotzk: The Struggle for Integrity, 2 volumes (Tel Aviv, 1963),
David Shatz (New York, 1995). On Hasidic thought during
see vol. 1, pp. 285–320 and 388–370; Morris Faierstein’s All
the Holocaust, and on Rabbi Kalonymus of Piasetzna, see
Is in the Hands of Heaven: The Teachings of R. Mordechai Jo-
Nehemia Polen’s, The Holy Fire: The Teachings of Rabbi
seph of Izbica (Hoboken, N.J., 1989); Shaul Magid’s Hasi-
Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto
dism on the Margin: Reconciliation, Antinomianism, and Mys-
(Northvale, N.J., 1994). Three of his works on educational
ticism in Izbica/Radzin Hasidism (Madison, Wis., 2003); and
philosophy were translated: A Student’s Obligation: Advice
for later developments, see Arthur Green’s The Language of
from the rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto (tr. Micha Odenheimer;
Truth: The Torah Commentary of the Sefat Emet (Philadel-
Northvale, N.J., 1991); To Heal the Soul: The Spiritual Jour-
phia, 1998), especially his introduction, and Alan Brill’s
nal of a Chassidic rebbe (tr. Yehoshua Starrett; Northvale,
Thinking God: The Mysticism of Rabbi Zaddok of Lublin
N.J., 1995) and Conscious Community: A Guide to Inner
(New York, 2002). On women and Hasidism, see Harry M.
Work (tr. Andrea Cohen-Keiner; J. Aronson, N.J., 1996).
Rabinowicz’s Hasidism: The Movement and its Masters
See also regarding him, and on Rabbi E. Teichtal: Mendel
(Northvale, N.J., and London, 1988), 341–351; Nehemia
Piekarz op. cit. (Jerusalem, 1990), and Eliezer Schweid:
Polen’s The Rebbe’s Daughter: Memoir of a Hasidic Child-
Wrestling Until Day-Break: Searching for Meaning in the
hood/Malka Shapiro (Philadelphia, 2002) and Nathaniel
Thinking on the Holocaust (Lanham, Md., 1994); idem. From
Deutsch’s The Maiden of Ludmir: A Holy Jewish Woman and
Ruin to Salvation (Hebrew) (Hakibbutz Hameuchad, Israel,
Her World (Berkeley, Calif., 2003); and for a contrary view,
1994).
see Ada Rapoport-Albert’s “On Women and Hasidism: S.A.
Horodecky and the Maid of Ludmir” in Jewish History: Essays
Regarding Satmar, see Israel J. Rubin: Satmar: Two Generations
in Honour of Chimen Abramsky, edited by Ada Rapaport-
of an Urban Island (New York, 1997) The Hasidic classic,
Albert and S. J. Zipperstein (London, 1988), pp. 45–525.
Toldot Yaakov Yosef by Rabbi Y.Y. of Polnoye (originally
On the early anti-Hasidic slander (Vienna, 1819) by the
published in Koretz, 1780) was published by Rabbi Shimeon
Maskilim, see Dov Taylor (ed. and tr.), Joseph Perl’s “Revealer
Weiss, a Hasid of Satmar in a five volume edition with exten-
of Secrets”: The First Hebrew Novel (Boulder, Colo., 1997),
sive commentary (Monroe, N.Y., 1998). The anthologized
and see Heinrich Graetz’s A History of the Jews (Philadelphia,
teachings of Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz and Rabbi Michael of
1967), volumes 4 and 5 regarding his bias against Qabbalah
Zlochov are referenced above, in sections 3 and 4. And see
and Hasidism. For a more recent treatment, see Raphael
A.J. Heschel: The Circle of the Baal Shem Tov (ed. S. Dresner;
Mahler’s Hasidism and the Jewish Enlightenment: Their Con-
University of Chicago Press, 1985) for monographs on these
frontation in Galicia and Poland in the First Half of the Nine-
and other members of this circle. There have not yet been
teenth Century, translated from the Yiddish by Eugene Oren-
any studies on the rebbes of Slonim and Amshinov. For a per-
stein (Philadelphia, 1985), and see Israel Bartal’s “The
spective on the political life of Post-Holocaust ultra-
Imprint of Haskalah Literature on the Historiography” in
Orthodox society, see: “Religious Fundamentalism and Reli-
Hasidism Reappraised, edited by Ada Rapoport-Albert (Lon-
gious Jews: The Case of the Haredim” by Samuel C. Heil-
don, 1996). On the development of Polish-Hasidic political
man and Menachem Friedman, in Fundamentalisms
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TS’AO TAI
Observed (ed. Martin E. Marty and Rabbi Scott Appleby;
Don drup rin chen at the age of seven. He spent the next
Chicago, 1991; pp. 197–264). Some of Martin Buber’s volu-
decade or so receiving tantric initiations and teachings, and
minous writings bear directly on Hasidism, such as his clas-
learning Buddhist doctrine. When he was sixteen or seven-
sic: Tales of the Hasidim (translated by Olga Marx; Schocken,
teen, following the advice of his teacher, he traveled to Cen-
N.Y., 1947 and 1991) and his novel based on the dramas of
tral Tibet.
the circle of the Seer of Lublin: For the Sake of Heaven
(Schocken, N.Y., 1945). Regarding Heschel, see also The
Central/Western (Dbus Gtsang) Tibet was the intellec-
Earth is the Lord’s (London, 1945; reprint, Jewish Lights,
tual center of the country at this time. Tsong kha pa studied
Woodstock, N.Y., 1995); God in Search of Man (New York,
at many of the great monastic academies of the day, gaining
1955); and a posthumous collection of his essays: Moral
expertise in all of the major texts and subjects of the Indian
Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity (edited by Susannah Hes-
Buddhist scholastic tradition. In 1381 Tsong kha pa took
chel, New York, 1996). Some of Rabbi Zalman Meshulam
full monastic (dge slong) ordination. He then began to focus
Schachter-Shalomi’s books include: Spiritual Intimacy: A
Study of Counseling in Hasidism
(Northvale, N.J., 1991); Par-
more intentionally on the esoteric teachings of Tantra. It was
adigm Shift: From the Jewish Renewal Teachings of Reb Zal-
during this period that he also met one of his major teachers,
man Schachter-Shalomi (Northvale, N.J., 1993) and Wrapped
Bla ma Dbu ma pa (fourteenth century), a mystic and vision-
in a Holy Flame: Teachings and Tales of the Hasidic Masters,
ary, and a specialist on the practices of the deity Mañju´sr¯ı,
edited by Nataniel M. Miles-Yepes (San Francisco, 2003).
who, it was said, spoke to Tsong kha pa through Bla ma
Also see Jacob Yuroh Teshima’s Zen Buddhism and Hasidism:
Dbu ma pa, answering his questions about the doctrine of
A Comparative Study (Lanham, Md., 1995). On Rabbi Shlo-
emptiness.
mo Carlebach, see, by Meshulam Brandwein, Reb Shlomele:
The Life and Work of Shlomo Carlebach
, translated by Gavriel
Although Tsong kha pa studied with many teachers
A. Sivan (Jerusalem, 1997), and Yitta Halberstam-
from all of the major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, it was
Mandelbaum’s Holy Brother: Inspiring Stories and Enchanted
the great Sa skya pa scholar Red mda’ ba Zhon nu blo gros
Tales about R. Shlomo Carlebach (Northvale, N.J., 1997).
(1349–1412) whom Tsong kha pa would come to regard as
MENACHEM KALLUS (2005)
his chief spiritual master. He studied with Red mda’ ba ex-
tensively during this period, but eventually Red mda’ ba and
Tsong kha pa would become each other’s teacher, spending
TS’AO TAI
a great deal of time together both teaching and in retreat.
SEE CAO DAI
By the early 1390s Tsong kha pa had completed his
philosophical studies, and he had established his abilities and
TSEVI, SHABBETAI S
reputation as a scholar by engaging in the so-called monastic
EE SHABBETAI TSEVI
rounds (grwa skor), the practice of submitting to public ex-
aminations at various institutions. He continued to take
teachings and initiations from various masters during this
TSONG KHA PA (1357–1419) is the founder of the
next phase of his life, receiving many lineages that would be
Dga’ ldan pa (Gandenba) or Dge lugs pa (Gelukba) school
important to the later Dge lugs order. But what really charac-
of Tibetan Buddhism. His official, monastic name was Blo
terized this phase of Tsong kha pa’s life was an emphasis on
bzang grags pa, but he is more typically known in the Dge
practice, teaching, and writing. For the next decade, he
lugs pa tradition under the honorific titles of Rje rin po che
would alternate periods of teaching and learning with peri-
(Precious Lord) and Jam dgon bla ma (Lama who is the Pro-
ods of retreat, all the while dedicating himself to “com-
tector Mañju´sr¯ı). Tsong kha pa lived during a period of Ti-
position.”
betan history in which large portions of the country had been
unified under a central authority. It was a time of great reli-
Tsong kha pa was also gathering disciples. One close
gious efflorescence, brought about in large part by the high
group of students, the so-called eightfold pure retinue, ac-
level of political stability that the country enjoyed.
companied him into a four-year intensive retreat at EOl kha,
during which Tsong kha pa and his students had many vi-
TSONG KHA PA’S LIFE. Tsong kha pa was born in the Tsong
sions of various deities. Visionary experiences, both in wak-
kha region of A mdo in Eastern Tibet. Hagiographical ac-
ing life and in dreams, had been a part of Tsong kha pa’s life
counts tell us that Tsong kha pa’s birth was prophesied by
from his youth, but they became more frequent during this
the twelfth abbot of Snar thang monastery, Blo bzang grags
time, and would continue for the rest of his life. Especially
pa (1299–1375), who told his student Chos rje don grub rin
important are a series of visions he had of Indian and Tibetan
chen (1309–1375) to find the boy and give him his own
saints that were seen by Tsong kha pa (and by the later Dge
name. His birth was augured by all of the traditional auspi-
lugs tradition) as legitimating his unique interpretation of
cious signs. Chos rje Don grub rin chen traveled back from
the doctrine of emptiness.
Central Tibet to his home region of A mdo, recognized the
young boy, and took him under his tutelage. Tsong kha pa
Tsong kha pa had already begun to write before this pe-
took lay vows at the age of three from the Karma pa Rol pa’i
riod, but it was really during and after his time in intensive
rdo rje (1340–1383), and novice (dge tshul) ordination from
retreat that he wrote some of his most important philosophi-
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9387
cal and tantric works. In 1408 the Ming emperor invited
a consistent whole. He especially sought to do this in his
Tsong kha pa to the Chinese court, but he declined, sending
summa. His Great Exposition of the Stages of the Path (Lam
a close disciple in his stead. Clearly, Tsong kha pa thought
rim chen mo) and his Great Exposition of the Stages of Tantra
that he still had much to accomplish in his native land.
(Sngags rim chen mo) are erudite, grand syntheses of exoteric
and esoteric Buddhism that offer the reader complete maps
In 1408, with the help of two patrons, Tsong kha pa
of these traditions. His Essence of Eloquence (Legs bshad snying
founded the tradition of the Great Prayer Festival (Smon lam
po) attempts to reconcile the apparent contradictions in the
chen mo) in Lhasa, a New Year festival where the focus was
Maha¯ya¯na philosophical corpus through the hermeneutical
on making offerings, both to the assembled clergy and to the
distinction between the provisional (drang ba’i) and defini-
image of the Jo bo rin po che (Tibet’s most famous Buddha
tive (nges pa’i) meaning of texts. Tsong kha pa devoted many
statue). This tradition would become one of Tibet’s most im-
of his works to the interpretation of emptiness. Candrak¯ırti’s
portant festivals, observed until the final Chinese takeover of
(seventh century) interpretation of emptiness—called the
Tibet in 1959. It also marks a turning point in Tsong kha
Consequentialist, or Pra¯san˙gika (thal Egyur pa), interpreta-
pa’s life, initiating a period of more public engagement, and
tion—was for Tsong kha pa the highest expression of the
one of greater concern with the institutionalization of his tra-
Buddha’s philosophical view (lta ba). Tsong kha pa saw emp-
dition.
tiness as a corollary of the Buddhist doctrine of dependent
The spectacle of the Great Prayer Festival brought even
arising (rten Ebrel), and this became a hallmark of his analysis
greater prominence to Tsong kha pa. With the help of pa-
of “Middle Way” (Madhyamaka) philosophy. All told,
trons, he founded in 1409 the monastery of Dga’ ldan, an
Tsong kha pa’s collected works comprise about seventeen
institution that would become his principal seat (and that of
volumes.
his successors). He remained chiefly at Dga’ ldan, giving ex-
As is obvious from Tsong kha pa’s own life, study, learn-
tensive teachings and composing principally tantric works
ing, and theory was only part of the equation. Equally impor-
from 1410 until 1416. The monasteries of EBras spungs and
tant was practice. As he states in a letter:
Sera, the other two “seats” (gdan sa) of the Dge lugs pa
school, were founded by two of Tsong kha pa’s disciples in
Over many years I strove to understand the meaning of
1416 and 1419, respectively. In 1419 Tsong kha pa took ill.
the [texts]. Based on that [understanding], and taking
He passed away at Dga’ ldan on the twenty-fifth day of the
as the basis [for practice] the safeguarding of the moral
discipline to which I had committed myself, I practiced
tenth Tibetan month. His body was preserved there in a gol-
many forms of accumulating [merit] and purifying [sin]
den reliquary, where it remained for over five hundred years
[bsag sbyang], and devoted myself to the cultivation of
until the monastery was bombed (and his tomb sacked) by
the various meditational objects that constitute the path
Chinese troops.
in its entirety. With this as the cause, I was able to
achieve insight into at least the rough features of the
TSONG KHA PA’S THOUGHT. Tsong kha pa believed himself
path of Su¯tra and Tantra.
to be following an intellectual and spiritual trajectory that ex-
tended from the Buddha, through the great scholar-adepts
Following in the footsteps of the Bka’ gdams pa masters,
of India and Tibet, up to his own time. Whether or not he
Tsong kha pa believed that moral discipline (tshul khrims),
saw himself as actually reviving the Bka’ gdams pa tradition,
epitomized by the monk’s life, was the basis for the practice
founded almost half a millennium earlier by the Indian
of both the su¯tra and the tantric paths. The later tradition
scholar-saint Ati´sa, Tsong kha pa’s early followers came to
maintains that so crucial was the practice of monasticism to
refer to themselves as the “New Bka’ gdams pa.”
him that he eschewed taking a consort—and thereby post-
poned his own enlightenment until the after-death, interme-
Conservative in his approach, Tsong kha pa believed
diate stage—so as to teach to his followers the importance
that the great texts of Indian Buddhism were the standard
of celibacy.
by comparison to which the authenticity of doctrines and
T
practices was to be judged. Bemoaning the fact that in his
HE CULT OF TSONG KHA PA. Like many Tibetan masters
of his day, Tsong kha pa came to be considered an emanation
day “those who strive at yogic practice have studied little,
(sprul pa) of a specific deity: in his case, Mañju´sr¯ı, the deity
while the learned are uninformed about the details of prac-
of wisdom. Iconographically, Tsong kha pa is most often
tice,” Tsong kha pa sought to steer the tradition back to its
represented as a monk wearing a pandit’s hat, with a text em-
Indian roots, grounding yogic practice in textual learning
anating from his left shoulder and a blazing sword (the sym-
and philosophical analysis. He believed that the essence of
bol of Mañju´sr¯ı) from his right shoulder. Tsong kha pa’s
Buddhism was not preserved in secret, oral lineages (man
apotheosis is celebrated in a variety of rites, arguably the most
ngag), but that it was instead publicly accessible in the writ-
famous of which is a visualization/recitation practice called
ings of the Indian Buddhist masters. His written work, there-
“The Hundred Deities of Dga’ ldan” (Dga ldan lha rgya ma),
fore, can be seen as an attempt to critically reappropriate the
that concludes with the recitation of a verse of homage to
Indian classics, and to show their relevance to practice.
Tsong kha pa called “The Object[less] Compassion [Verse]”
His writings are holistic and synthetic, characterized by
(dmigs rtse ma). The mantra-like “accumulation” (or repeti-
the impulse to harmonize all of the Buddha’s teachings into
tion) of the verse is a common practice, and is touted as effi-
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9388
TSUNG-MI
cacious in everything from curing illness to achieving en-
TSWANA RELIGION. Traditional religion among
lightenment.
the Tswana of the high veld of southern Africa centered upon
The cult of Tsong kha pa has taken more popular forms
the supreme being, Modimo, and ancestor spirits known as
as well. Pilgrimage to Dga’ ldan monastery (and to his tomb)
badimo. The fact that badimo is the plural form of modimo,
has always been a favorite practice among the laity and clergy
an honorific term used to express awe and reverence toward
alike. Devotees circumambulate the monastery, prostrate be-
elders as well as toward the supreme being, indicates that the
fore his tomb, and collect small pieces of dough that have
difference between Modimo, the ancestors, and human be-
been molded (and thereby blessed) by coming into contact
ings is one of degree rather than kind. While they occupy
with a relic of Tsong kha pa’s tooth. Finally, Tsong kha pa’s
different positions in a complex hierarchy of spiritual power,
death date is celebrated throughout Tibet in the religious fes-
all beings—whether spiritual or human—are intimately con-
tival called the “Dga’ ldan Offering of the [Twenty] Fifth”
nected with each other. As the Tswana Christian theologian
(Dga’ ldan lnga mchod), which culminates in offerings of but-
Gabriel Setiloane indicates, it is a basic premise of Tswana
ter lamps after nightfall. On this occasion, during a midwin-
thought that a representative is identical with the person
ter’s night, entire monasteries become filled with the flicker-
being represented or that a symbol is that which it symbol-
ing of butter lamps, making it one of the most beautiful
izes. Hence, the Tswana say, “Motho ke modimo” (“Man is
events in the Tibetan liturgical calendar.
modimo”), something that implies a far greater degree of in-
teraction than the English “There is something of the divine
SEE ALSO Buddhism, Schools of, article on Tibetan and
in every man” (Setiloane, 1976, p. 21).
Mongolian Buddhism; Mañju´sr¯ı; Worship and Devotional
Life, article on Buddhist Devotional Life in Tibet.
Modimo is believed to be the source and root of all exis-
tence. Intangible and all-pervasive, irreparably part of human
experience but not directly sensed, he is a source of appeal
BIBLIOGRAPHY
in times of affliction and the guardian of the moral order.
Various Tibetan-language editions of Tsong kha pa’s collected
The complexity of the Tswana concept of the supreme being
works (gSungs Ebum) have been preserved and published in
is best indicated by the wide range of praise names that are
India, China, and Japan. These remain the standard refer-
ences for his life and thought. In European languages, on
used to characterize him. Modimo is mme (“mother”) and
Tsong kha pa’s life, see Rudolf Kaschewsky, Das Leben des
lesedi (“light”), but he is also known as selo (“monster”) inso-
lamaistischen heilegen Tsongkhapa bLo-bzan˙-grags-pa (1357–
far as he possesses dangerous powers that go far beyond those
1419), Dargestellt und erläuert anhand seiner Vita: “Quellort
of normal humanity.
allen Glückes” (Wiesbaden, 1971), 2 vols; and Robert A. F.
Thurman, ed., The Life and Teachings of Tsong khapa
Because a person cannot come into direct contact with
(Dharamasala, India, 1982). The latter work also contains
Modimo and remain unchanged, the Tswana have recourse
translations of some of Tsong kha pa’s minor works. The last
to the badimo, ancestors who act as intermediaries between
two decades have seen the translation of some of Tsong kha
humanity and the supreme being. Closely involved in every-
pa’s major works. The Lam rim chen mo, arguably his most
day life, the badimo function to preserve harmony in social
important work, has now been translated as The Great Trea-
relations and to ensure the fertility of humans, animals, and
tise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment: Lam rim chen
crops. Their attitude toward humans is basically parental—
mo by Joshua Cutler, Guy Newland, et al. (Ithaca, N.Y.,
looking to the welfare of the community as a whole, they
2000–2003), 3 vols. Tsong Khapa’s Speech of Gold in the Es-
seek to correct faults and protect their descendants from
sence of True Eloquence, translated by Robert A. F. Thurman
harm. In return, they expect tirelo (“service”). The essence
(Princeton, 1984), is a translation of Tsong kha pa’s Legs
of tirelo is the sharing of benefits with others. The badimo
bshad snying po; this work has also partially been translated
in Jeffrey Hopkins’s Emptiness in the Mind-Only School of
are said to love company and are especially gladdened by
Buddhism (Berkeley, 1999). Tantra in Tibet and Deity Yoga
feasts. Whenever food or beer is prepared, a portion is set
(both Ithaca, N.Y., 1987) are translations by Jeffrey Hopkins
aside or poured on the ground for the badimo. This is done
of portions of the Sngags rim chen mo, with the commentary
to maintain their good favor, for without it, life cannot be
of the Dalai Lama. Tsong kha pa’s Six Yogas of Naropa (Ithaca,
kept in proper balance and lived to the full. When an indi-
N.Y., 1997) is Glenn Mullins’s translation of the Yid byes
vidual has neglected to honor the badimo, the Tswana say
gsum ldan, Tsong kha pa’s main work on this subject. Tsong
that he suffers from bolwetse, a term that covers both physical
kha pa’s Dbu ma dgongs pa rab gsal, his commentary to
illness and a range of other maladies. Principally, it indicates
Candrak¯ırti’s Madhyamaka¯vata¯ra, has been partially trans-
that an individual is in disharmony with the spiritual forces
lated by Jeffrey Hopkins in Compassion in Tibetan Buddhism
(including Modimo) that engender and sustain his existence.
(Ithaca, N.Y., 1980), and by Jeffrey Hopkins and Anne Klein
in Path to the Middle (Albany, N.Y., 1994).
The concern for the community as a whole that is a cen-
JOSÉ IGNACIO CABEZÓN (2005)
tral part of Tswana religion is expressed in the Tswana theory
of human personality, or seriti (pl., diriti). Each person is
born with a “heavy” or “light” seriti that can act for evil or
for good. If a child is born with a light seriti, it must be
TSUNG-MI SEE ZONGMI
strengthened and imbued with good intentions. Healthy seri-
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TSWANA RELIGION
9389
ti brings dignity, respect, and properity; bad seriti causes ill
as husband and wife, parent and child, or brother and broth-
will and discord in the social realm. A father of a household
er, who are overcome by feelings of greed, envy, or ven-
or a chief with good seriti strengthens the diriti of those who
geance. Bongaka, therapy performed by the various dingaka,
live in the house or chiefdom and vice versa. Because a man’s
is essential to the prevention of sorcery.
seriti pervades much of his world, if he does wrong, his chil-
dren, crops, or animals may suffer. Also, insofar as seriti origi-
Contemporary Tswana religion can only be explained
nates from the badimo and is upheld by them, it functions
in light of the tragic history of the people since the beginning
as a spiritual force that knits together social and spiritual rela-
of the nineteenth century. The impact of Western civiliza-
tions.
tion coincided with the beginning of the nineteenth century,
and chaos reigned in Tswanaland from 1810 until 1840. The
In times of suffering, people have access to religious spe-
first Christian mission was established in 1816 and four oth-
cialists, or “doctors,” known as dingaka (sg., ngaka). Both
ers were set up in the next thirty years; by 1870, missions
men and women can become doctors. There are six kinds of
had spread throughout Tswanaland. The dispersal of Tswana
doctors in Tswana society, each classified according to the
groups—both by the onslaught of marauding refugees result-
various divinatory and medicinal skills that he or she possess-
ing from the Zulu expansion known as the Mfecane and by
es. The best known, however, are the “horned” and the
the Boers, who took Tswana lands and subjected the people
“hornless” doctors. The horned doctors divine by interpret-
to forced labor—greatly weakened orthodox religious prac-
ing the pattern created by the throwing of four tablets, which
tices. The Boers drove the Tswana into reserve pockets of
represent an older and younger male and an older and youn-
land in the Transvaal, the northern Cape of Good Hope, the
ger female, or of pairs of astragalus bones, which represent
Orange Free State, and the territory that became the Bot-
the male and female of every common animal species. The
swana state. Here, the remnants of once cohesive groups re-
hornless doctors divine by examining the patient. There are
combined into artificial units.
few doctors today and their practices, though still common,
are officially illegal.
The Tswana have therefore been subjected to a great
deal of pressure and turmoil inimical and destructive to their
Human suffering is largely caused by incurring the dis-
own religion. The official religion of most Tswana groups is
pleasure of the badimo or by the actions of sorcerers. The
now Christianity. Although the public rituals of the indige-
complex Tswana term boloi, often translated as “sorcery” or
nous religion are seldom encountered, the more private and
as “magic,” refers to both of these occurrences. There are two
individualized practices of witchcraft, sorcery, and tradition-
kinds of boloi that are socially constructive: boloi of the heart
al healing persist strongly, even among Christians. The rela-
and of the mouth. Both involve offenses against a senior
tionship between old and new beliefs is complex; much more
member of the kin group. If the senior member is slighted
of the former may remain than meets the eye. As Setiloane
in some way, it is believed that he “puts the badimo” on the
points out, many zealous and longstanding Christians have
offender. The senior member need not be conscious of ill will
never given up the old worldview but have instead fitted
toward the offender. In response to the offense, the badimo
Christianity into it. A number of traditional religious skills
withdraw their support from the offender’s seriti in order to
and rituals, including pha badimo, a thanksgiving ritual that
call attention to his fault, and he is then susceptible to disease
is performed to show gratitude to the badimo, continue to
and other malign influences. Because of the encompassing
play an important role in Tswana Christianity. The new so-
nature of his seriti, much of his world is similarly threatened.
cial, political, and economic order brought about by the co-
In order to restore proper relations within the community
lonial system had more impact in christianizing the Tswana
(which includes the badimo), the offender provides an animal
than the missionaries’ religious teaching, which was too bla-
for slaughter; after it has been killed, the senior member uses
tantly contradicted by the harsh oppression and racism of
a mixture of chyme and aloe to “wash” the offender and
southern Africa to carry conviction.
strengthen his seriti.
The fundamental belief in the supreme being and the
Two other types of boloi exist that are unquestionably
badimo continues to inform convictions about the earth and
evil. Boloi ba bosigo (“night sorcery”), which seems to be a
home as sacred and holy as well as attitudes toward cattle,
form of witchcraft rather than sorcery, refers to the belief that
which still have strong emotional, religious, and practical
certain witches (usually elderly women working in covens)
value, for they form the basis of important transactions be-
cavort at night and cause mischief. Essentially tricksters, such
tween Tswana. Such exchanges continue to provide a bind-
witches gather naked, enter houses through closed doors and
ing conception of marriage, paternity, kinship, and family
windows, upset pots, suck milk from nursing mothers or
bonds that Christianity cannot replace. Initiation ceremo-
cows so that their yield is insufficient, exhume new corpses,
nies, with their acutely emotional and religious accompani-
and use owls as sentinels and hyenas as steeds. Day sorcery
ments, also retain central and unassailable roles, as they in-
(boloi ba motshegare) is much more serious. It involves the
duct the young into the profound continuities and
purposeful manipulation of material substances for evil
solidarities of community life, earth, kin, and cattle. These
ends—usually to inflict disease or death upon a particular in-
values can still give a fundamental sense of psychological se-
dividual. Sorcerer and victim are often close relatives, such
curity, personal adequacy, and proper place in the cosmic
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TUATHA DÉ DANANN
scheme of things, and they function as an anchor in the
THE BATTLES OF MAGH TUIREDH. In the pseudo-historical
stormy upheavals that afflict the Tswana in southern Africa
framework of Leabhar Gabhála Éireann the Tuatha Dé are
in the early twenty-first century.
the fifth group to invade Ireland, conquering the previous
settlers in the First Battle of Magh Tuiredh. After losing an
BIBLIOGRAPHY
arm in that combat, the Tuatha Dé king Nuadhu (subse-
Brown, J. T. Among the Bantu Nomads: A Record of Forty Years
quently called “Silverhand” for his artificial silver arm) re-
Spent among the Bechuana. London, 1926.
signs the kingship. The Tuatha Dé form an alliance with the
Mackenzie, John. Ten Years North of the Orange River: A Story of
Fomhoire, and Nuadhu’s successor is the half-Fomorian,
Everyday Life and Work among the South African Tribes from
Bres, whose rule proves oppressive. After Bres flees to his
1859–1869. Edinburgh, 1871.
Fomhorian kinsmen for reinforcements, Nuadhu (his natu-
Pauw, B. A. Religion in a Tswana Chiefdom. London, 1980.
ral arm miraculously reattached) is reinstated and invites
Schapera, Isaac. The Tswana. London, 1953.
Lugh, who is skilled in every art, to prepare the Tuatha Dé
for war. Lugh’s strategies are successful, and against great
Setiloane, Gabriel M. “How the Traditional World View Persists
odds the Fomhoire are defeated in the Second Battle of
in the Christianity of the Sotho-Tswana.” In Christianity in
Magh Tuiredh.
Independent Africa, edited by Edward Fashole-Luke et al.,
pp. 402–413. Bloomington, Ind., 1978.
The subsequent treaty brings the Tuatha Dé specialized
Willoughby, W. C. The Soul of the Bantu. London, 1928.
knowledge about agriculture, offered by Bres in exchange for
New Sources
his life and the end of Fomhorian aggression. After a long
Setiloane, Gabriel M. The Image of God among the Sotho-Tswana.
and peaceful rule, the Tuatha Dé are defeated by the Sons
Rotterdam, 1976.
of Míl, legendary ancestors of Ireland’s present inhabitants.
The Tuatha Dé Danann retreat into Ireland’s lakes and hills
AIDAN SOUTHALL (1987)
Revised Bibliography
and into pre-Celtic sacred mounds, such as Newgrange, and
their association with magical underground dwellings (sídhe)
survives in beliefs about the fairies of later folk tradition. The
Sons of Míl receive sovereignty over the surface of the land
TUATHA DÉ DANANN. The Tuatha Dé Danann
after promising that Ireland will continue to bear the names
are the gods of pagan Ireland whose social order reflects the
of three territorial goddesses, including Ériu (hence the name
structure and values of early Irish society and includes poets
Erin).
and storytellers, kings and warriors, and practitioners of
other professions and crafts. The name Tuatha Dé Danann
FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS. The Second Battle of
(The Tribes or Peoples of the Goddess Danu) may originally
Magh Tuiredh reveals fundamental characteristics of leading
have been simply Tuatha Dé—meaning simply the Tribes
members of the Tuatha Dé when Lugh, practitioner of all
or Peoples of the Gods or of the Goddess—with Danann a
the arts, asks how each will help defeat the Fomhoire. As a
later addition. Both Danu (genitive, Danann) and Anu are
royal surrogate, whose many arts give him a rank equal to
identified as personal names of the goddess of warfare and
that of a king, Lugh both coordinates the preparation for bat-
destruction known as the Morríghan (Great Queen or Phan-
tle and leads the Tuatha Dé to victory after Nuadhu is slain.
tom Queen), wife to Eochaidh Ollathair (Great Father), also
Oghma, the strongman and champion, brings prowess as a
called the Daghdha (Good God). Danu may, however, once
warrior. Dian Cécht, grandfather of Lugh, serves as physician
have been a separate figure, parallel to the Welsh Dôn and
to the wounded. Goibhniu (“Smith”) manufactures swords
Indic Danu, mother of the gods. The Tuatha Dé Danann
and spears. Eochaidh Ollathair, the “god of druidry,” is a fig-
war against and intermarry with the Fomhoire, a supernatu-
ure of extreme sexual potency (symbolized by his three testi-
ral people associated with the sea, much as the Indic Devas
cles) and is known for his great strength, skill with a club as
and Asuras are both foes and kin.
well as a sword, and mastery of magical arts. Morríghan, the
goddess of battle who can take the form of a crow, deter-
Sources for information about the Tuatha Dé Danann
mines the outcome of battles and can ensure victory through
include Leabhar Gabhála Éireann (The book of the taking
verbal magic. Other Tuatha Dé women appear as experts in
of Ireland), a compendium of medieval prose and poetry as-
magical practice, in the arts of warfare, in healing, and as arti-
sociating legendary settlements of pre-Christian Ireland with
sans. Lugh’s muster includes many other major and minor
classical and biblical chronology and presenting the gods as
deities, some with highly specialized skills, facilitating com-
mortals descended from Noah. Additional sources, in which
parisons with other Indo-European divine societies.
the Tuatha Dé are often explicitly called gods and goddesses,
include texts whose language often reflects many chronologi-
Tales about the gods illustrate early Irish social institu-
cal layers, some as early as the eighth century. These sources,
tions and beliefs and were sometimes used as leading cases
including mythic and epic narratives, glossaries, and place-
in native Irish law. Members of the Tuatha Dé Danann are
name lore, show elaboration and reshaping in response to
cited as sources of specialized professional knowledge and are
cultural and political changes including those arising
recognized as initiators of cultural practices. The Daghdha’s
through Viking and Norman influences.
daughter Brígh (Brighid), for example, is identified as the
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TUCCI, GIUSEPPE
9391
first to keen (lament the dead) in Ireland when she mourns
TUCCI, GIUSEPPE (1894–1984), Italian scholar of
her son who was slain in battle. This goddess, whose name
Asian religions. Giuseppe Tucci was born in Macerata in the
is linked to healing and smith craft as well as to poetry, is
Marche region of Italy on June 5, 1894, and died on April
also associated with domestic animals, and the folk practices
5, 1984, in his house in San Polo dei Cavalieri, near Tivoli,
connected to the cult of Saint Brighid may reflect early be-
in the province of Rome. Tucci fought during World War
liefs about Brígh’s influence over crops and herds. Her hus-
I, and after the war he graduated from the University of
band, Bres, is associated with agricultural and pastoral pros-
Rome (1919). From 1925 to 1930 he resided in India, teach-
perity. Laws addressing legal liabilities for illness and injury
ing Chinese and Italian at the universities of Santiniketan
are attributed to Dian Cécht, who is invoked in early healing
and Calcutta. In 1929 Tucci was elected to the Accademia
charms; his daughter, Airmedh, was reportedly the first to
d’Italia, and in 1930 he accepted the chair of the department
recognize all healing properties of herbs. Lost laws associated
of Chinese language and literature at the Istituto Universi-
with smith work and other crafts are attributed to Goibhniu
tario Orientale of Naples. He then accepted the chair of the
and other craftsperson deities.
department of religion and philosophy of India and the Far
K
East at the University of Rome (1932), where he remained
INGS AND GODDESSES. Sovereignty, a key theme in mythic
and epic tales involving the Tuatha Dé, is often represented
until his retirement in 1969.
by the relationship between the king (divine or human) and
In 1933 he was instrumental in the founding of the Isti-
the goddess of the land he rules. Many women of the Tuatha
tuto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente (IsMEO), the
Dé serve as goddesses of territorial sovereignty and are associ-
first president of which was Tucci’s colleague and friend Gio-
ated with sacred wells and rivers and with the land of Ireland
vanni Gentile. Tucci himself was president of the institute
itself. Tales surrounding Édaín, who becomes the wife of
from 1947 to 1978; from 1979 he was its honorary pres-
Midhir of Brí Léith, explore aspects of kingship and the nec-
ident.
essary presence of the queen—whether she is seen as divine
He was the editor of several periodicals, including Alle
or as a symbol of the sovereignty of the land. Midhir woos
fonti delle religioni from 1921 to 1924, Bollettino del’IsMEO
Édaín through several reincarnations and finally reclaims her
(which became Asiatica in 1935) from 1933 to 1943, Le
from her mortal spouse Eochaidh Airemh, king of Ireland.
scienze del mistero e il mistero delle scienze in 1946, and East
Interaction between the gods and human society often oc-
and West from 1950 to 1984. He founded many series of
curs when sovereignty is in jeopardy. For example, in the
scholarly publications of the IsMEO, such as the “Serie
tragic destruction of Conaire Mór, a king descended from
Orientale Roma” (the first fifty-two volumes of which he ed-
Édaín, the people of the sídhe surround him at the time of
ited) in 1950, “Reports and Memoirs” (documenting re-
his death.
search) in 1962, and “Restoration” in 1969. From 1950 to
1973 he directed the series “Il nuovo Ramusio,” published
SEE ALSO Celtic Religion, overview article; Fomhoire; Lugh.
by the Libreria dello Stato. He edited many other works
meant to diffuse and popularize knowledge about Asian civi-
BIBLIOGRAPHY
lizations.
Gray, Elizabeth A. Cath Maige Tuired: The Second Battle of Mag
Tuired. Irish Texts Society, vol. 52. Leinster, Ireland, 1982.
Tucci’s scholarly research was complemented by his
Provides text and translation, contains extensive indices of
field explorations—he was, perhaps, the last of the great ex-
references to the Tuatha Dé Danann and Fomhoire in early
plorers—as well as by his impassioned interest in the con-
and later medieval Irish literature.
temporary Asian world. The six years he spent in India were
Mac Cana, Proinsias. Celtic Mythology. New York, 1970; reprint,
fundamental in his life, as were his eight expeditions to Tibet
1973. Succinct, authoritative and comprehensive survey, ex-
(1929–1948), his six expeditions to Nepal (1950–1954), and
tensively illustrated with photographs of significant items of
his missions of exploration to Pakistan (starting in 1955), Af-
Celtic material culture, includes chapters on the Tuatha Dé
ghanistan (1957), and Iran (from 1959); Tucci continued to
Danann and on the Irish heroic tradition.
conduct archaeological research on field explorations such as
Mac Neill, Máire. The Festival of Lughnasa. 2 vols., 2d. ed. Dub-
these until 1976.
lin, 1982. Provides an extensive discussion of both learned
The highest honors of the countries of Afghanistan,
and popular literary sources related to Lugh and details folk
Japan, India, Indonesia, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, and Thailand
customs associated with the celebration of Lughnasa.
were conferred upon Tucci. He received honorary doctorates
Rees, Alwyn, and Brinley Rees. Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition
from many European and Asian universities, including those
in Ireland and Wales. London, 1961. Far-reaching and ahead
of Delhi, Kathmandu, and Tehran; he was given various aca-
of its time, this work explores the range of Celtic mythic tra-
demic and scientific titles in Italy (from the Accademia
dition in the Indo-European context, including references to
d’Italia, the Accademia delle Scienze of Turin, the Ac-
the work of Georges Dumézil, with exhaustive notes that
cademia of San Luca, and the Società Geografica Italiana),
provide access to both specialist studies and more general
in Austria (from the Österreichische Akademie der Wissen-
works.
schaften), in France (from the Société Asiatique), in Germa-
ELIZABETH A. GRAY (2005)
ny (from the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut), in Japan
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

9392
TUCCI, GIUSEPPE
(from the Imperial Academy and the To¯yo¯ Bunko), in India
works, among which are Santi e briganti nel Tibet ignoto
(from the Asiatic Society of Calcutta and Vishvabharati Uni-
(1937), Forme dello spirito asiatico (1940), Asia religiosa
versity of Santiniketan), and in England (from the British
(1946), Tra giungle e pagode (1953), To Lhasa and Beyond
Academy and the Royal Asiatic Society).
(1956), The Discovery of the Mallas (1962), La via dello Swat
(1963), Il trono di diamante (1967), Tibet, Land of Snows
Tucci received many international prizes, including the
(1967), and Rati-L¯ıla¯ (1969).
gold medal of the Calcutta Art Society (1965), the Sir Percy
Sykes Memorial Medal (1971), the medal for archaeology of
Many of Tucci’s minor writings are collected (partially
the Academy of Architecture of Paris (1972), the Jawaharlal
revised by him) in his Opera Minora (1971) published by the
Nehru Award for International Understanding (1976), and
Oriental School of the University of Rome. The Istituto Un-
the Balzan Prize for History (1979). The Jawaharlal Nehru
iversitario Orientale of Naples dedicated two volumes of
Award was always especially dear to Tucci because of his
Asian studies to him titled Gurura¯jamañjarika¯: Studi in onore
friendship with Nehru and his ties with great figures of mod-
di Giuseppe Tucci (1974), and the IsMEO published an in-
ern India such as Rabindranath Tagore, Sarvepalli Radhakr-
ternational collection of Asian studies in three volumes dedi-
ishnan, and Mohandas K. Gandhi.
cated to Tucci’s memory, titled Orientalia Iosephi Tucci
Memoriae Dicata
(1985–1988).
The entire Indian subcontinent and Tibet were the
main areas of Tucci’s interest as a scholar and explorer. A
complete bibliography of his works contains 360 titles, in-
BIBLIOGRAPHY
cluding many dozens of books, about two hundred articles,
On May 7, 1984, the Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo
numerous encyclopedia entries, reviews, and so on. His re-
Oriente solemnly commemorated its founder with the publi-
search actively touched on many fields other than Indian and
cation of my Giuseppe Tucci (Rome, 1984); an English ver-
Tibetan studies, however, and he focused especially on the
sion of this work, accompanied by an updated bibliography
study of religious and philosophical thought and on histori-
of Tucci’s writings, appeared under the title “Giuseppe
Tucci” in East and West, n.s. 3 (1984): 11–12 and 23–42.
cal investigation. His interest in the latter field led him to
A year after Tucci’s death, the institute published Ricordo di
study the archaeology of Hindukush and Iran; this study was
Giuseppe Tucci (Rome, 1985) by Raniero Gnoli with contri-
also inspired by his perennial interest in the various points
butions from Luciano Petech, F. Scialpi, and G. Galluppi
of encounter of the great Asian civilizations of the Himalayan
Vallauri; this work includes a biographical note, a discussion
regions, Northwest India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
of Tucci’s cursus honorum and his scholarly concerns, and a
bibliography.
He undertook his studies of China primarily during the
first stage of his scholary activity in works such as Scritti di
Short commemorative notices have been published in various sci-
Mencio (1921), Storia della filosofia cinese antica (1922), and
entific reviews, including S. Cleuziou’s in Universalia 1984
Saggezza cinese (1926). At any rate, the most important ob-
(the annual supplement of the Encyclopaedia Universalis),
ject of his studies was Buddhism in the various forms it had
pp. 614–615; P. Corradini’s in Mondo cinese 45 (1984):
101–105; Mircea Eliade’s in History of Religions 24 (1984):
taken as it expanded from India toward Tibet, Central Asia,
157–159; K. Enoki’s in Tohogaku 68 (1984): 127–154; Lu-
China, and the Far East. Tucci interpreted Buddhism as the
ciano Petech’s in the Journal of the International Association
highest form of Asian humanism. Always in search of univer-
of Buddhist Studies 7 (1984): 137–142; B. J. Staviskij’s in
sal values in a humanistic perspective, Tucci felt that the his-
Narody Azii i Afriki 1 (1985): 213–214; M. Taddei’s in
tory of Asia was closely interconnected with that of Europe,
AIUON 44 (1984): 699–704; and R. Tamburello’s in Il
and he thus always considered Eurasia to be a single conti-
Giappone 24 (1984): 211–213.
nent in cultural as well as geographical terms.
A special commemorative issue (no. 2) of India Past and Present:
His most important scholarly works are Linee di una
A Biannual Journal of Historical Research (Bombay, 1985), is
storia del materialismo indiano, 2 vols. (1923–1929); Indo-
dedicated to Tucci and contains (pp. 3–11) an editorial on
Tibetica, 6 vols. (1932–1941); Tibetan Painted Scrolls, 2 vols.
his life and work. Corrado Pensa’s study “L’occidente e le re-
(1949); Teoria e pratica del Mandala (1949); The Tombs of
ligioni orientali nella prospettiva di Giuseppe Tucci,” in
Paramita: Quaderni di Buddhismo 16 (1985): 19–25, deals
the Tibetan Kings (1950); Minor Buddhist Texts, 2 vols.
with the West in relation to Eastern religions following the
(1956–1958); The Religions of Tibet (1970); The Ancient Civ-
perspective of Giuseppe Tucci.
ilization of Transhimalaya (1973); and On Swa¯t: The Dards
and Connected Problems
(1977).
New Sources
Melasecchi, Beniamino, ed. Giuseppe Tucci nel centenario della
Endowed with vast humanistic knowledge and intensely
nascita. Rome, 1995.
interested in religious and philosophical thought, Tucci pos-
sessed great erudition, extraordinary knowledge of languages,
Tucci, Giuseppe. On Swat: Historical and Archaeological Notes.
and philological skill. He knew Sanskrit and Tibetan in
Rome, 1997.
depth, and also had significant knowledge of Chinese and
GHERARDO GNOLI (1987)
Pali (and other Indian languages). Nevertheless, he did not
Translated from Italian by Rodica Blumenfeld-Diaconescu
disdain the public at large, to whom he addressed many
Revised Bibliography
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TUNGUZ RELIGION
9393
TU KUANG-T’ING SEE DU GUANGTING
SEE ALSO Bhakti; Hindi Religious Traditions; Poetry, article
on Indian Religious Poetry; Ra¯ma¯yan:a.
TULS¯IDA¯S, late medieval Indian poet whose plays and
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Hill, W. Douglas P., trans. The Holy Lake of the Acts of Ra¯ma
other works have had great influence on Hindu devotional-
(1952). Reprint, Oxford, 1971.
ism, especially in communities that make Ra¯ma the focus of
worship. Despite his great popularity, or perhaps because of
McGregor, Ronald S. Hindi Literature from Its Beginnings to the
it, very little accurate information is available about the life
Nineteenth Century. Wiesbaden, 1984.
of Tuls¯ıda¯s. There is abundant material about him in the
Tuls¯ı Das. Kavita¯vali. Translated and with a critical introduction
form of hagiographies and oral legends, but these legitimize
by Raymond Allchin. London, 1964.
his saintly life and the holy nature of his literary works rather
New Sources
than record the actual events of the biography.
Lutgendorf, Philip. The Life of a Text: Performing the Ramcarit-
While there is disagreement as to the date of Tuls¯ı’s
manas of Tulsidas. Berkeley, 1991.
birth, his death is generally agreed to have occurred in 1623.
VELCHERU NARAYANA RAO (1987)
The traditionally accepted date of his birth is 1503, which
Revised Bibliography
would mean that he lived for 120 years. This is logical from
the point of view of his hagiographers, because the full life
span of a sinless human being is believed to be 120 years.
TUNG CHUNG-SHU SEE DONG ZHONGSHU
Modern scholars consider that he was born probably in 1532
to a brahman family in an eastern Hindi-speaking area. In
his Kavita¯vali, Tuls¯ı writes that he was born to a very poor
family and that his father and mother did not welcome his
TUNGUZ RELIGION. The peoples of Siberia speak-
birth. It is believed that he was born under an unfortunate
ing Tunguz languages numbered 65,900 persons, according
conjunction of planets, which meant that for astrological rea-
to the 1989 census of the U.S.S.R. The most numerous of
sons his parents had to abandon him.
them are the Evenki (30,000) and Eveny (17,000), who are
collectively called Tunguz in the older literature. Sometimes
Tuls¯ı says that in his childhood his mind was always on
the ethnonym Lamut (“sea person”) is employed, applying
Ra¯ma, but that he later fell into the ways of the world. Some-
only to certain groups of Eveny. The close racial and cultural
time during his life Tuls¯ı went to Banaras, where he lived
relationship of these two peoples makes it possible to exam-
until his death.
ine their beliefs in the framework of a single system, which
In 1574 Tuls¯ı began the composition of his most re-
may be designated “Tunguz religion.” Other peoples speak-
nowned work, the Ra¯mcaritma¯nas, or The Holy Lake of the
ing Tunguz languages are the Nanay (Goldi; 12,000), Ulchi
Deeds of Ra¯ma. Tuls¯ı became famous through this work, and
(3,200), Udege (1,900), Oroki and Orochi (1,200), and
he himself remarks in his Kavita¯vali that “the world even lik-
NegidalDtsy (600). They represent a special cultural area, ex-
ens me to the great sage Va¯lm¯ıki.” In addition to the
tending as far as the basin of the lower Amur River and Sa-
Ra¯mcaritma¯nas and the Kavita¯vali, at least ten other works
khalin Island, that includes the ancient cultural legacies of
can be ascribed to Tuls¯ı with certainty. Chief among them
the Ainu and Nivkhi (Giliaks) and the inhabitants of north-
are Vinay-patrika, Doha¯vali, and G¯ıta¯vali.
eastern China. A common religion has long been the primary
As a poet, Tuls¯ıdas combines the grandeur and the maj-
factor uniting the atomized society of Tunguz hunters who,
esty of Sanskrit with the lyrical grace and power of Vraj (or
in small groups, mastered the vast space of taiga and tundra
Braj) Bha¯s:a¯, a dialect of Hindi. A master of alliteration and
between the Yenisei River on the west and the Sea of Ok-
rhythm, Tuls¯ı also shows great restraint in his use of words,
hotsk on the east and between the Arctic Ocean on the north
blending the epic and the lyric styles. His choice of dialect
and Lake Baikal on the south.
and style was not in conformity with the scholarly standards
The periodic religious ceremonies of the Tunguz are
of his time. Tuls¯ı describes himself as pra¯krit kavi
closely tied to their mythology, and in several instances they
(“uncultivated poet”), and from a scholarly viewpoint his
directly reproduce myths of creation and of the heroic deeds
language was gra¯mya—of the village, uncultured. Yet because
of their first ancestors, beginning with the words
of its poetic excellence, Ra¯mcaritma¯nas was the most revered
tarnïmnga¯ka¯ndu biˇcen (“this was in nimnga¯ka¯n”). The term
of all Hindi texts both by scholars and by ordinary people.
nimnga¯ka¯n means “myth, tale, legend; warm fairyland; bear
The greatest achievement of Tuls¯ı lies in making the
ritual; shamanic séance.” Each group of Tunguz has a myth
popular devotional style acceptable to the orthodox Hindu
on the creation of bugha—its own inhabited territory. Bugha
community and the philosophical interpretations of the high
has a variety of meanings: “locality, world, native land; cos-
culture accessible to ordinary people. His reinterpretation of
mos, sky, earth; spirit master of the upper world/lower
the Ra¯ma¯yan:a, based on the Sanskrit Adhya¯tma-Ra¯ma¯yan:a
world/hunt, God, devil; paradise, hell; icon.” The Tunguz
and Bhusundi-Ra¯ma¯yan:a, revolutionized the nature of the
also use this term to designate the entrance into a bear den
epic and transformed it into a popular devotional poem.
or a small hut made of young larches with small figures of
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9394
TUNGUZ RELIGION
beasts and birds placed therein in preparation for shamanic
sun. Having caught up with his prey, the bear returns the
performances. The basic meanings of the term bugha em-
sun to its place. Both protagonists in this myth form the con-
brace, in this way, notions of the creator, creation of the
stellation of Ursa Major, the Big Dipper, in Tunguz cosmol-
world, and of a model of the world. For designating the deity
ogy (Chichlo, 1981, pp. 39–44).
of the upper world the Tunguz also use the names Mayin,
This myth of the heavenly (or cosmic) hunt was reenact-
Ekseri, Seweki, and Amaka. The first of these names is tied
ed by the Tunguz during the greatest festival of the year,
to the concept of “success” or “hunting luck,” whereas the
Ikenipke (a name derived from the word ike, “to sing”),
last is a kinship term referring to representatives of the older
which took place in a specially constructed cone-shaped
age groups: “grandfather, father, uncle,” and, in general, “an-
dwelling (zˇumi), whose name designates not only “house,
cestor.” The word amaka also has other meanings: “bear;
household, or family” but also “bear den” and uterus ani-
God; sky.”
malis. In the center of this dwelling is placed a pole called
According to the perceptions of the Tunguz, the upper
Tuuruu, along which Ekseri, the spirit of the upper world,
world (ughu bugha) is connected to the middle world (dulu
and Hargi, the spirit of the lower world, travel in order to
bugha) through the North Star, termed bugha sangarin, “sky
hold conversations with the shaman. The festival, which may
hole.” In turn the middle world is also connected to the
be called the Tunguz New Year, consists of eight days of
lower world (hergu bugha) through an opening within it. In
dancing, singing, and pantomine. The people, led by the sha-
the nimnga¯ka¯n the first ancestors were able to move between
man, would move inside the zˇumi in a circle in the direction
all three levels of the world. Thereafter this became the privi-
of the sun’s movement as they traveled up the river Engzˇekit
lege of the shamans, who use for this purpose Tuuruu, the
behind an imaginary reindeer. In his song, the shaman would
Tunguz variant of the World Tree, or its equivalent.
describe all the details of the travel, which lasted a year—all
Engzˇekit, the mythical river called “the place that no one
the animals, spirits, and obstacles encountered. At the end
sees.” It flows from the place termed Timanitki (“toward
of the festival the men would shoot from a shamanic bow
morning; east”), transects the middle world, and enters into
at wooden reindeer figures, shattering them into pieces that
the place called Dolbonitki (“toward night; north”), beyond
each man kept until the next festival.
which stretches the realm of the dead, Bunikit or Buni. Into
Other important shamanistic rituals of the Tunguz took
Engzˇekit flow the many branch rivers of individual shamans.
place in specially constructed dwellings in the taiga. With
Somewhere at the confluence of these tributaries with the
complex auxiliary structures, these represented a model of
mythical river are the Omiruk, territories inhabited by souls
the supernatural world. The first, nimnga¯ndek, signifies “the
(o¯m¯ı); these lands comprise the sacred wealth of each clan.
place where nimnga¯ka¯n is fulfilled.” The second, sevenˇcedek,
One of the myths associated with Engzˇekit tells of the
is “the place where a ceremony with seven is performed.”
origin of the first people, of reindeer, and of cultural objects
Among all Tunguz peoples, seven means “shaman’s spirit
from the various parts of the mythic bear’s body. He volun-
helper,” but this word is connected to one of the names of
tarily sacrificed himself to the heavenly maiden, who was car-
the high God, Sevek or Seveki, and to the taboo reindeer of
ried off on an ice floe in the current between the upper and
light coloring, sevek, which is also called bughadi oron, “heav-
middle worlds. In other myths the bear, representing the an-
enly reindeer.” The ritual of dedicating the chosen reindeer
cestor of one or another Tunguz tribe, is similarly depicted
as sevek is either independent or part of the ritual cycle in the
Ikenipke festival. From the moment of this dedication, the
as a culture hero, the creator of reindeer breeding, bequeath-
sevek serves only for the transport of sacred objects. After its
ing after his inevitable death the ritual of the Bear Festival.
death, this reindeer is laid out on a platform set up in a tree.
This festival, which is essentially the same among all the
Tunguz, is associated with the seasonal hunt of the animal
The word seven also signifies the ritual dish at the Bear
in its den, which takes place in early spring or late autumn.
Festival, which is prepared from rendered bear fat mixed
The most important detail of the Tunguz bear ceremony,
with finely chopped bear meat. Scooping the seven with a
which has an explanation in their religio-mythological per-
spoon, the hunter must swallow it without its touching his
ception of the world, is the way in which they handle the
teeth. This method of partaking of the body of the beast
bear’s eyes. Hunters, having cut off the head of the slain
deity is identical to the rules of handling bear eyes. The bold-
beast, take out its eyes with great care, seeking to touch them
est hunters may swallow them but only without touching
neither with a knife nor with their fingernails. Then they
them with their teeth; otherwise the hunter will become
wrap the eyes in grass or birch bark and carry them away into
blind. The meaning of these rules becomes more understand-
the forest, where they place them high in a tree. The Udege
able in light of the strong prohibitions associated with the
did this in the hope that the bear’s eyes might be illuminated
domestic hearth. The firewood and coals must not be stirred
by the first rays of the rising sun. In the tabooed language
with a sharp object, nor may broken needles be thrown into
of Tunguz hunters the bear’s eyes are called o¯s¯ıkta (“stars”).
the fire. Even to place a knife with its point toward the fire
The connection of the bear with heavenly luminaries is well
may put out the eyes of the spirit of the fire. This spirit, ac-
illustrated in a Tunguz myth in which the bear, named
cording to an Orochi myth, is a pair of bear cubs born from
Mangi, follows the reindeer or moose who had stolen the
the mating of a bear and a woman. According to the Evenki,
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TUNGUZ RELIGION
9395
the bear is a culture hero who gave people fire. Reconstruct-
If the image is hit immediately, it becomes a singken. The
ing the Tunguz spirit of the domestic fire discloses his bisex-
dried parts of previously killed animals (hearts, jaws, noses),
ual nature, corresponding to an androgynous deity like the
which the hunter saves, are also guarantors of success. Cer-
bear. It is therefore understandable why hunters do not risk
tain groups of Tunguz began to call the spirit master of the
swallowing o¯s¯ıkta (“bear’s eyes”), preferring to return them
taiga Singken. The Evenki and Orochi conducted a Sing-
to the taiga. The luster of these “stars” on top of the World
kelevun ceremony in October, before the beginning of the
Tree assured hunting success, and the projections of the lus-
winter hunting season. It was performed among them as a
ter are the light and warmth of domestic hearths.
complex shamanistic ceremony consisting of several cycles.
When considered as a system, the myths, concepts, ritu-
For the preservation of human life, the Tunguz pre-
als, and customs of the Tunguz show what a large, if not cen-
pared special repositories of souls, which were “earthly” min-
tral, role the bear occupies. The most powerful shamans have
iature copies of o¯m¯ıruk found in the basin of the Engzekit
him as a guardian spirit. At the time of the séance they don
River in the upper world. The domestic o¯m¯ıruk are small
his skin, thus receiving power over all zoomorphic spirits,
boxes with little figurines placed in them. Each figurine holds
which they gather in the darkness of the sacred dwelling that
the soul of a person placed there by a shaman. Certain sha-
represents, in essence, the cosmic bear den. The moose as
mans placed tufts of hair from persons needing protection
well plays a significant role in the religious life of hunters and
in the o¯m¯ıruk. Such little boxes were strapped to the saddle
shamans, but its significance cannot be explained, as it is by
of the heavenly reindeer. The o¯m¯ı was evidently a reincarnat-
most scholars, by economic functions alone. It must be
ed substance circulating within the limits of a determined so-
noted that, according to myth, the moose emerges from the
cial group. Among the Nanay, for example, the o¯m¯ı lived in
bear’s fur and is, in consequence, part of him. And if Ursa
the form of small birds on the clan tree, from which they de-
Major is termed Heglen (“moose”) by the Tunguz, this de-
scended into women’s bodies. Depictions of these trees are
notes a shift of stress in the direction of one member of a bi-
still found on the robes of Nanay women today.
nary opposition composing the structure of the myth (and
In the case of frequent deaths of children, the shaman
constellation), in which prey and hunter can change places.
had to set out for the upper world, where he snared one of
In their ritual practice Tunguz shamans preferred to place
the soul birds and swiftly descended to earth. Evidence of his
this stress on the figure of the hunter, inasmuch as they con-
successful trip was a fistful of wool strands pressed together,
sidered Mangi, who tracked the cosmic moose, to be their
which he threw into a white handkerchief held up for him
forefather.
by an assistant during the séance.
Traces of the myth of the cosmic hunt in the religious
The traditional method of disposing of the dead among
life of Tunguz peoples still remain, as attested by ancient
the Tunguz was aerial: the body, washed in the blood of a
wooden disks of the Nanay that represent the sun (siu¯). On
sacrificial reindeer and clothed and wrapped in a hide, tent
the upper part of one of them is a drawing of a bear, and on
cover, or birch bark, was laid on a scaffold set up in the
the lower is the representation of a moose turned upside
branches of a tree. Coffins, when used, were made of hol-
down. The Nanay hung such disks on the door of a dwelling
lowed-out tree trunks and set upon tree trunks or on posts
or on a child’s cradle; to the shamans they were an indispens-
dug into the ground. The belongings of the deceased were
able accessory of their costume. Possessing healing and pro-
left with him, and his reindeer was strangled and left at the
tective functions, these disks are concise and expressive signs
place of burial. After christianization in the eighteenth centu-
of the fundamental myth of the beginnings of human histo-
ry, the Tunguz began to practice underground burial. How-
ry. In the Nanay culture area, the myth of the bear Mangi,
ever, the traditional ritual persists in the Siberian taiga even
who freed the sun from captivity, and the myth of the hunter
today.
Khado, who killed the excess suns, which were burning all
living things, came into contact with each other. Both myths
The Tunguz considered the cause of death to be the de-
are similar insofar as the Orochi, neighbors of the Nanay,
parture or theft by evil spirits of the beye soul, the name of
consider Khado the father of the shamanistic spirit Mangi,
which translates as “body.” In conducting the mourning cer-
the representation of which is on the shamans’ staffs.
emony for the dead a year later, the Tunguz sometimes pre-
pared a temporary “body” from a section of a tree trunk,
The Tunguz, whose livelihood depends upon success in
which they clothed in part with the deceased person’s cloth-
hunting, conducted simple ceremonies that gave the hunter
ing, provided with food, and bade farewell to forever. The
confidence in his own powers and in the benevolence of fate.
shaman, completing the conveyance of the deceased into
He could do without a shaman, having enlisted the support
Buni, asked him not to return again nor to disturb the living.
of the master spirit of a locality and having gained a personal
Among the Nanay, the initial conveyance of the deceased,
spirit helper. One of these rites is Singkelevun, “obtaining
termed Nimngan, took place on the seventh day. Here, the
singken (success).” This ritual appears to be the simplest imi-
deceased was represented by a bundle of his clothing, in
tation of the concluding ceremony of the Ikenipke rite: the
which the shaman placed the han Dan, the “shadow” soul of
hunter makes an image of a reindeer or a moose, takes it with
the deceased, which he had caught. This bundle of clothes
him into the taiga, and then shoots at it with a small bow.
was treated like the living for a period of three years, until
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9396
TUONELA
the final farewell with him at the large kasa memorial festival,
Paproth, Hans-Joachim. Studien über das Bärenzeremoniell: I.
lasting several days. But even here, under the unquestionable
Bärenjagdriten und Bärenfeste bei den tungusichen Völkern.
influence of Manchurian Chinese customs, the Nanay and
Uppsala, 1976.
other Tunguz peoples of the lower Amur region observed
Priroda i chelovek v religioznykh predstavleniiakh narodov Sibiri i
traditional division between the living and the dead. An an-
Severa. Leningrad, 1976. See especially the essays by S. V.
cestor cult did not unfold here nor, more forcibly, was it
Ivanov (pp. 161–188), N. B. Kile (pp. 189–202), and A. V.
characteristic of the Evenki and Eveny, the nomads of the
Smoliak (pp. 129–160).
Siberian taiga.
Shirokogoroff, S. M. Psychomental Complex of the Tungus. Beijing
and London, 1935.
Shamanism and the traditional religion of the Tunguz
have not totally disappeared, as is commonly believed, not-
Smoliak, A. V. Shaman: lichnostD, funktsii, mirovozzrenie. Mos-
withstanding atheist propaganda and prohibitions. As re-
cow, 1991.
cently as 1958, four nomadic Even communities, living in
Vasilevich, G. M. “Preshamanistic and Shamanistic Beliefs of the
isolation for more than thirty years in the mountainous for-
Evenki.” Soviet Anthropology and Archeology 11 (1972).
est-tundra of Magadan oblast, were headed by eight authori-
BORIS CHICHLO (1987 AND 2005)
tative shamans, one of whom was called by the honorific
Translated from Russian by Demitri B. Shimkim
Amanzˇa (Amaka). But, in spite of their forced settlement,
these Evens (Berezovka village, north-east of Yakutia) pre-
served their religious beliefs and behavior. Thus at the begin-
ning of October 2000, to cause a fall of snow waited so much
TUONELA, which means “the abode,” is the mythical
by the reindeers herders and the hunters of the village, a
place of sojourn for the deceased in the religious traditions
woman left her house with a bear skin, shook it vigorously,
among Finns, Karelians, Ingrians and speakers of many other
then suspended it outside. People of the village while arriving
Finnish-related languages. The word concerns a sacred place
in the taiga after the snowfall, achieved the following ritual:
in the otherworld, and is often used as a synonym of the
Men sacrificed a reindeer and a woman copiously coated
words for the netherworld (Manala, maanalainen: “under-
three selected larches with the blood of the animal. Then
world”) or for the mythical kingdom of the extreme north
they threw in fire some drops of vodka and pieces of meat.
(Pohjola: “Northern Land”). In oral epics, laments, and lull-
Thus they wanted to thank the spirits of the forest and to
abies it refers to “the home of the Tuoni,” where Tuoni refers
be ensured of their benevolence.
to the ruler of the world of the dead. The term tuonilmainen
refers to “the other air,” which is another term for the other-
SEE ALSO Bears; Shamanism.
world. A parallel Mansi word, tammaa (the otherworld) re-
fers to the final destination of the journey of the breathing
BIBLIOGRAPHY
spirit (lil) of the deceased one in the northernmost edge of
Anisimov, A. F. Religiia evenkov. Moscow and Leningrad, 1958.
the universe. The spirit flies to tammaa across the Arctic
Chichlo, Boris, “Ours—chamane.” Études mongoles et sibé-riennes,
Ocean in the shape of a migrating goose. In addition to its
12 (1981): 35–112.
meaning as the mythical geographical destination of the spir-
Delaby, Laurence. “Chamanes toungouses.” Études mongoles et si-
itual voyage of a soul, tuonela also refers to the filled grave
bériennes, 7 (1976).
of an individual dead person, as well as the entire village
Diószegi, Vilmos. “The Origin of the Evenki ‘Shaman Mask’ of
graveyard.
Transbaikalia.” Acta orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hun-
Karelian, Ingrian, and Veps cemeteries at the Finnish-
garicae 20 (1967): 171–200.
Russian border provide a good example of the long-lasting
Diószegi, Vilmos. “The Origin of the Evenki Shamanistic Instru-
encounter between traditional folk belief and the deep influ-
ments (Stick, Knout) of Transbaikalia.” Acta Ethnographica
ence of Russian Orthodox Christianity. Small log huts were
Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 17 (1968): 265–311.
erected above the graves, with a window set at one end, to-
Diószegi, Vilmos, ed. Popular Beliefs and Folklore Tradition in Si-
wards the direction of home, to let in light, and also to enable
beria. Translated and revised by Stephen P. Dunn. Budapest,
the dead to look out and guard the life and behavior of rela-
1968. See especially the essays by V. A. Avrorin
(pp. 373–386) and G. M. Vasilevich (pp. 339–372).
tives at home for the benefit of family fortune and social con-
trol. A hole is made at another end through which the löyly
Diószegi, Vilmos, and Mihály Hoppál, eds. Shamanism in Siberia.
(breathing soul) can leave the grave to visit its former home
Budapest, 1978. See especially the essays by A. V. Smoliak
(pp. 439–448) and V. A. Tugolukov (pp. 419–428).
or to make its final journey to the home of the Tuoni in the
shape of a bird.
Lopatin, I. A. The Cult of the Dead among the Natives of the Amur
Basin. The Hague, 1960.
Similar huts have been found in the cemeteries of other
Mazin, A. I. Traditsionnye verovaniia i obriady evenkov-orochonov.
Finno-Ugric peoples (e.g., the Mordvins, Komi, and Mansi)
Novosibirsk, 1984.
in Russia. The custom of erecting huts in cemeteries was bor-
Michael, H. N., ed. Studies in Siberian Shamanism. Toronto,
rowed from the Russians, who erected similar house-shaped,
1963. See the essays by A. F. Anisimov (pp. 84–124) and G.
pitched-roof structures over their graves. (These structures
M. Vasilevich (pp. 46–84).
were forbidden by the tsarist government in the nineteenth
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TURKIC RELIGIONS
9397
century.) The cutting of trees and the breaking of twigs was
manic visions and journeys to the Land of the Dead. Lem-
forbidden in such places.
minkäinen, who appears in folklore as both a god and a sha-
man is an example of how traditional shamanic epics have
Scholars of Finnish folk beliefs, epics, and rituals (Mart-
been combined to include elements of Egyptian Osiris my-
ti Haavio, Uno [Holmberg-]Harva, Lauri Honko, Aili
thology.
Nenola-Kallio, Juha Pentikäinen, and Anna-Leena Siikala)
have emphasized the importance of death as the essential ele-
SEE ALSO Finnish Religions; Finno-Ugric Religions.
ment of Finnish culture. Within that culture the extended
family unit extended beyond those members still living on
BIBLIOGRAPHY
this earth and those who have died and passed on to the
Haavio, Martti. “Suomalaisten tuonela-kuvitelmia.” Kotiseutu,
“other air”: the realm of Tuoni. The deceased ones had
1939, pp. 65–67. A discussion of Finnish images of Tuonela,
strong power to enforce the values and norms of the society,
based on folk songs.
and could punish the living for violating taboos. The dead
Haavio, Martti. “Väinämöinen’s Journey to Tuonela.” In his Väi-
were believed to have the same needs as the living—clothing,
nämöinen, Eternal Sage, translated by Helen Goldthwait-
food, and work tools, so it was the duty of the living to pro-
Väänänen, pp. 83–105. Helsinki, 1952. The journey of Väi-
vide these necessities. Of special importance was the provi-
nämöinen, the chief protagonist of the Kalefala, to Tuonela.
sion of Tuoni footwear, in which the dead were dressed with
Holmberg, Uno. The Mythology of All Races, vol. 4: Finno-Ugric,
woolen socks. Women who died unmarried were given the
Siberian. Boston, 1927.
kerchiefs that married women wore, so that they could marry
Honko, Lauri. “Jenseitsvorstellungen.” In Wörterbuch der
in the otherworld. Care for the dead continued beyond the
Mythologie, vol. 2, edited by H. W. Haussig. Stuttgart, West
funeral, for they continued to share in the family’s proceeds.
Germany, 1973. A section from Honko’s longer article “Fin-
On personal and annual commemoration days, plenty of
nische Mythologie”, this offers a fine general account of
food was taken to the graves. It was believed that the dead
Tuonela.
ones came to the graves in the form of birds, and ate the food
Järvinen, Irma-Tiitta. “Communication between the Living and
that was left there as a sacrifice.
the Dead through Rituals and Dreams in Aunus Karelia.” In
The topography of Tuonela varies in Finnish folklore
Folklore and the Encounters of Traditions: Finnish-Hungarian
Symposium on Folklore and the Encounters of Tradition, 18–20

and mythology. Beliefs and practices which are clearly based
March 1996, Jyväskylä. Jyväskylä, Finland, 1996.
on neighboring cultures and missionary religions have also
been adapted to Finnish-Karelian cosmography, and are
Mansikka, V. J. “Itkujen Tuonela.” In Kieli-ja Kansatieteellisiä,
elaborated in funeral laments, for example. According to
edited by E. N. Setälä, pp. 160–180. Helsinki, 1924. On
Finnish ideas about the journey to Tuonela, as reflected in
these beliefs, the realm of the dead may be situated in heaven
funeral laments.
or at the northern end of the world, separated from the world
of the living by a deep precipice. At the base of the precipice
Nenola-Kallio, Aili. Studies in Ingrian Laments (Folklore Fellows
Communications 234). Helsinki, 1982.
flows the black river of Tuonela, unilluminated by the sun
or moon. The river contains a whirling, wild cataract and a
Pentikäinen, Juha. The Nordic Dead-Child Tradition. Helsinki,
stream of fire in which spears, swords, and needles stand up-
1968.
right and the dead can be seen swimming in bloody clothes.
Pentikäinen, Juha. Kalevala Mythology. Translated and edited by
The crossing of the river was associated with great danger.
Ritva Poom. Bloomington and Indianapolis, Ind., 1989.
The dead could wade through it, or they could cross a bridge
Originally published in Finnish as Kalavalan mytologia. Hel-
made of thin thread. More frequently, the dead were trans-
sinki, 1987.
ported across the river in a boat steered by the daughter of
Siikala, Anna-Leena. Suomalainen ˇsamanismi. Mielikuvien hi-
Tuoni. If a person heard a ringing in his or her ears, it meant
storiaa. (Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seuran Toimituksia
that relatives in Tuonela were calling for the boat.
565). Helsinki, 1992. Discusses shamanistic survivals in
Finnish Charms and in the practices of Finnish wise men,
Fingernails and locks of hair were especially significant
including ideas about the abode.
in the Karelian and Ingrian beliefs about Tuonela. The nails
FELIX J. OINAS (1987)
of the deceased were clipped on Saturday night, cut in two,
JUHA PENTIKÄINEN (2005)
and slipped into the neck-hole of the deceased person’s shirt.
The clippings were thought to help the dead ascend Tuonela
mountain, which was smooth as an eggshell. However, the
nails had to be cut in pieces; otherwise, the Evil One would
TURKIC RELIGIONS. Throughout the course of
make a boat from the whole nails and use it to ferry the de-
their long history, the Turkic peoples have simultaneously
ceased to Hell. The picturesque nature of these beliefs about
or successively practiced all the universal religions (Christian-
Tuonela stems partly from Baltic-Slavic, Byzantine, and Old
ity, especially Nestorian Christianity; Judaism; Manichae-
Egyptian traditions, and partly from medieval Christian vi-
ism; Buddhism; and Mazdaism) before the majority of them
sionary literature and hagiography. In Finnish epics, these
were won over to Islam. However, before yielding to these
traditions have been merged with the older tradition of sha-
religions, they held their own system of beliefs, their own
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TURKIC RELIGIONS
personal representations. These are generally identified as
considerable wealth of information. This information takes
“animism” or “shamanism,” even though the last term can-
on full meaning when compared with ethnographic notes,
not even begin to cover the whole of the religious phenome-
medieval Mongolian sources, and pre-Islamic remnants in
na. Their “national” religion, largely shared by the Mongols
Turkic-Muslim plastic and literary works. Thus we begin to
and certainly the Tunguz, is still practiced today. It has been
have, if not a complete knowledge of the ancient Turkic reli-
kept alive among certain Siberian and Altaic groups and, to
gion, at least a satisfactory view of the overall picture.
a much greater extent than is realized, within the very institu-
tion of Islam, to which it has more or less adapted without
Of course, we have acquired more information on some
abandoning or altering many of its original characteristics.
periods and peoples than on others. We have a fair under-
standing of the religious situation under the empires but
This is not to say that the indigenous Turkic religion
know little of the religious situation of the tribes, at least be-
is free of every foreign element. It developed in contact with
fore the modern era. We know something of certain ethnic
other ideas, notably those from China and Iran. It has con-
groups but nothing at all of others. In general, we have suffi-
tinually evolved and grown richer over the course of centu-
cient documentation on the period between the foundation
ries, either through internal development or the influence of
of the Türk empire (sixth century) and the conversion of the
great civilizations. It is, in fact, quite flexible and is based on
Oghuz to Islam (eleventh to thirteenth century), as well as
tolerance and religious coexistence. Certainly, it is essentially
on the present era.
a mystic religion. Its beliefs have never been solidly unified,
and, as we are beginning to better understand, they are like
THE COMMON HERITAGE. With a few small exceptions, the
two diverging branches of a common trunk: the popular one
Turkic religion has offered structures to all peoples of all so-
is centered on shamanism, totemism, and a vigorous polythe-
cial classes in all regions of the Turkic world throughout his-
ism; the imperial one is antishamanist, antitotemist, and has
tory. Admittedly, there was a less influential period during
monotheistic tendencies in its advocacy of the supremacy of
which the religion was developing, but it appears to have
Tengri, the sky god.
been firmly established as early as the first century CE. It
would be incorrect to believe, for example, that at the begin-
Although they are separate, these two branches have not
ning of the Türk empire, the western Türk borrowed a cult
escaped interpenetration. One branch developed under the
of fire that was unknown to the eastern Türk from Iran
tribal regime, the other during the formation of the great em-
(where it is known to have flourished), for the cult was al-
pires of the steppes, such as those of the Hsiung-nu, the T’u-
ready pan-Turkic. Because Sogdian, the language of an Irani-
chüeh or Türk (sixth to eighth century), the Uighurs (eighth
an people, was used as a written language as far north as
to ninth century), or the Mongols (thirteenth to fourteenth
Mongolia in the early sixth century, the fact that literary evi-
century). It must be remembered that the Turkic peoples
dence for the fire cult exists in an Iranian language cannot
played a major role in the Mongol empire. This is reflected
be used to prove that the cult was of Iranian origin. Far less
in the use of the name Tartar (Turkic, Tatar), which was
important practices seem to be known in the east but not in
used to refer to the armies of Chinggis Khan and is none
the west, such as the wearing of plumes, which did not
other than the name of a very ancient vassalized Turkic tribe.
spread to the west until the Mongolian invasions.
This expressive name also evoked an infernal river of antiqui-
ty, the Tartarus, and had the connotation of “barbarian” as
Although the religion was fairly well established early
well.
on, certain innovations appeared over the course of time.
Without doubt, the dualism already apparent in the Turkic
Whether tribal or imperial, however, the prevailing po-
religion has been accentuated through the influence of Mani-
litical and social regime allowed a memory of the former to
chaeism. From Buddhism has come a conception of hell as
remain, and when the prevailing order was temporarily abol-
a cosmic zone situated under the earth in symmetry with the
ished, along with it was abolished a part of what it had im-
sky (a deity), as well as the transformation of one of the great
posed. Nevertheless, it is important to consider the beliefs
mythological characters, Erlik or Erklik (“the virile one, the
common to both the popular religion and the imperial reli-
valiant one”) from a warrior who killed the stars at daybreak
gion apart from the beliefs that pertain more particularly to
to the god of the underworld, a king of innumerable demons
one or the other.
who not only live on the earth but haunt the entire universe.
Until recently, it had been considered impossible to un-
Equivalent to the Indo-Iranian Yama, he is attested to in
derstand the religion of the Turkic people in its ancient form.
Turkic sources as early as the 1200s. The idea of paradise
Studies, especially ethnographic ones, have been written on
seems to have taken shape in a similar way; the Sogdian word
groups of people who continued to practice the religion in
for it, utchmaq, has been confused with the Old Turkic infin-
modern times (nineteenth to twentieth century). Only re-
itive utchmaq, which means “to fly away” and which was tra-
cently has it been observed that the inscribed Turkic stelae
ditionally used, at least in speaking of great individuals, to
of the sixth to the tenth century, certain manuscripts (includ-
signify “to die.” An innovation that seems to be more impor-
ing the dictionary of Mah:mu¯d al-Ka¯shghar¯ı, eleventh centu-
tant was observed by the Chinese in about 628: “In the past,
ry), and foreign sources (especially Chinese but also Byzan-
the Türk had the custom of burning the dead; now they bury
tine, Arabic, Latin, Armenian, and Syrian) present a
them.” However, one must consider that the Turkic peoples
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9399
have always fluctuated between incinerating and burying the
than truth to this. The Orkhon inscriptions (eighth century)
dead. Of the pre-Slavic Bulgarians and, in a general way, of
speak about origins in two lines: “When the sky above was
the western Türk, it is said, “One phratry burns its dead, the
blue and the earth below was dark, the son of man appeared
other buries them.” The Kirghiz continued to use incinera-
between them.” The Turkic peoples were little interested in
tion until they came into contact with Islam.
the cosmogonical problem or in eschatology. Of the more
Ideas that have remained unchanged are those relative
recent cosmogonies (after the tenth century), the well-known
to death, the afterlife, and funerary rites (apart from the issue
one reported by Wilhelm Radloff (1884, vol. 2, p. 3) and
of burial versus incineration). Death, which one hopes will
all allusions to the creative power of the sky god were influ-
be violent and unnatural (in spite of the respect that is occa-
enced by foreign religions.
sionally shown the elderly) is considered the Necessity, Ker-
The observation of stars is an important occupation.
gek (perhaps a deity). However, it is deeply dreaded and has
The phases of the moon are considered lucky or unlucky. No
given rise to bitter regrets, supposedly issued from the
projects are to be undertaken when the moon is in its last
mouths of the deceased. Death is eminently contagious and
quarter, although a good time to launch a military campaign
requires a sober approach toward the dying one (generally
is when the moon is waxing or is full. The last days of the
abandoned) or the deceased. The type of afterlife to be at-
lunar month are favorable for obsequies because they mark
tained depends primarily on the treatment accorded the skel-
an end and announce a rebirth. Similarly, human life closely
eton. It must be cleaned perfectly: the flesh must be scraped
parallels plant life. Trees are born each spring and die each
off and the cadaver set on a platform in a tree and exposed.
autumn; thus the cadaver is saved for the biannual obsequies,
When the bones are clean, they are either buried in the
which take place either when the leaves begin to fall or as
ground (if the deceased is to retain his earthly ties) or burned
they grow green again, a fact that explains the aforemen-
(if he is to lose them and gain access to the kingdom of the
tioned techniques used to preserve the skeleton. When great
dead). The funerary ceremonies have also survived the centu-
personages are taken to their place of final rest, an attempt
ries without having been changed: they include lamentations
is made to be in harmony with the vegetative season, the
and ritual mutilations, declamations (agit) of the virtues of
phases of the moon, and the beneficial moments of the sol-
the deceased, a sacrifice, and a communal meal. The meal
stices and the equinoxes.
has been especially important, so much so that the word yog,
originally designating the funeral as a whole, would eventual-
The four classic elements make up the universe. Water
ly connote only the meal.
and fire are of exceptional value. Moreover, they are antago-
The varying forms of the obsequies clearly demonstrate
nists and complementary components: fire comes from
the margin of liberty or of uncertainty that remained within
wood, which is born from water. The last has a fertilizing ca-
a well-defined context. This latitude occurs again and again
pacity but above all is pure. It is forbidden to dirty water,
primarily in the view of the world. The universe is generally
even though water does not purify. A “mass of water” is a
represented as composed of two parallel plains, the sky and
symbol of knowledge and intelligence, qualities of the sover-
the earth (ultimately extended to three with the addition of
eign. Fire, which eventually would become a god, is an alter
the underworld). At the same time, it is also seen as a square
ego of the shaman because of its hypnotic, elevating, and
plateau (earth), covered by a circumscribed dome (sky), with
healing powers. It is the great purifier. All defiled objects or
the four corners of the earth being allowed to exist outside
those suspected of being defiled, notably anything that enters
the shelter of the sky. The cosmic axis that links the sky, the
the camp, must pass between two fires, jump over the fire,
earth, and the underworld can be a mountain or a tree with
or go around it. However, this ancient belief became obsolete
seven branches, each branch representing a level of the sky.
in the nineteenth century, while fumigation, also a purifier,
The levels of the sky are in turn derived from the seven plan-
remained popular. The hearth, considered the reflection of
ets still known to have been popularly believed in during
the family, is protected by numerous taboos. To extinguish
modern times but also attested to by prehistoric engravings
it and disperse the ashes would amount to destroying the
and by every construction with symbolic value, for example,
race. Since ancient times, the great priest of this fire has been
the pillar of the tent, the ensemble formed by the central
the “prince of fire,” the ottchigin (derived from ot tegin), the
hearth of the yurt, and its upper opening, through which the
youngest son to inherit the paternal residence—the heart of
smoke escapes. This axis is at once the support for the sky
the empire—after the older sons had been provided for or
and the path that permits access to it. Among the numerous
endowed with a distant appanage. Today, this office is held
microcosms consonant with this view, the yurt, a circular
by various members of the family, occasionally women. Like
tent in the form of a bell, is the most characteristic. It is pro-
thunder, lightning—fire from the sky—arouses terror and is
tected from exterior influences by the powerful deity of the
seen as a divine punishment against the one it strikes.
threshold, which one must kiss upon entering. Although cir-
Every existing thing is inhabited by a force of varying
cular in shape, the yurt was oriented first toward the rising
intensity that we could call, although not quite accurately,
sun and then toward the south.
“spirit,” “soul,” or “master-possessor.” Each force can be bro-
It is possible that the sky and the earth originally may
ken down into a multitude of forces or can be combined with
have been placed side by side, but there is more speculation
others to constitute a more vast, collective force. The tree is
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9400
TURKIC RELIGIONS
powerful, but the grove or forest is more powerful. The “eter-
sentially a religious phenomenon, a dominant one in the reli-
nal” stone is fully effective only when combined with others
gious life of contemporary non-Muslim Turkic peoples and
to form cairns (obo), piles generally located in dangerous pas-
one that is at the heart of the popular religion. It speaks to
sages or passages recognized as such by a sacred mystery.
the people of things that interest them most—the preserva-
Anything complex like a man or woman, has several souls;
tion of their life (magical healings), their future (divination),
human souls reside particularly in the blood (the shedding
and their relations with the familiar gods and spirits (the sha-
of which is forbidden), breath, hair, skull, sexual organs, and
man’s sacerdotal role, his cosmic voyage). The institution of
elsewhere. Thus nothing is simple or stable; everything has
shamanism is surely quite ancient. Although poorly discern-
variable dimensions, a sort of ubiquity. But everything makes
ible in antiquity, it was in full bloom by the time of the Mid-
reference to the animal, zoomorphism being the form par ex-
dle Ages, despite the total silence of the Türk inscriptions on
cellence—the form of all spirits and of human spirits before
the subject. This silence does not prove the nonexistence of
their birth, during their life, and after their death. Conse-
shamanism but, rather, reflects the care taken to exclude it
quently, everything that exists can appear as it is or in animal
from imperial records. The oldest descriptions of shamanic
form.
séances date back almost to the era when the Old Turkic
In one way or another, all animals have had a numinous
word for shaman, qam, clearly appears, and when magical
role, but certain animals are different from others: the bird
healings and divinations were attested to among the Oghuz.
of prey, the eagle or falcon, is a divine messenger that flies
Descriptions of such rites among the nomadic Turkic tribes
near Tengri and sits enthroned on the summit of the cosmic
come to us from Ibn S¯ına¯ (Avicenna), while similar accounts
tree; the stag is often considered a saint, but is hunted never-
regarding the Kirghiz come from Marvaz¯ı.
theless; the hare’s position is as ambiguous as that of the
Shortly after this period, numerous traces of shamanism
camel, which is totemized or tabooed as impure; the bear is
appeared among the tribes converted to Islam who became
the quintessential lunar animal, whose hibernation stirs the
part of the Seljuk hordes. From then on, the information
imagination; geese or swans, which appear in the widespread
continues to increase and become more precise. In the thir-
legend of the swan maiden, may symbolize the celestial vir-
teenth century, van Ruusbroec provided a remarkable de-
gin; all birds are souls; and the horse, a member of the clan,
scription of the séance. From all this medieval information,
is the epitome of the sacrificial animal and also often a solar
it appears that the shaman had the ear of the people, commu-
or aquatic symbol.
nicated with the sky god, was visited by demons, and went
With the exception of the act of killing another human,
into trances to accomplish his cosmic voyages, during which
combat between an animal and an adolescent, or another an-
he met many spirits and their auxiliary, or adversary, spirits.
imal designated to represent him, constitutes the principal
His objectives were to cure the sick by expelling the spirits
rite of passage. This rite allows a male youth to become part
that had entered them or by finding the spirits that had left
of adult society and gives him rights to women or, rather,
their bodies, to predict the future, and to exercise certain sac-
constitutes marriage in itself. In effect, the match is an enact-
erdotal and political powers. In other respects, the shaman
ment of the sexual act: to conquer the animal is to become
seems to have been a sort of blacksmith, a manipulator of
both its spouse and its son. It renews and reenacts the pri-
two numinous objects, fire and metal. In any case, he already
mordial ancestral struggle: murder, copulation, and birth.
had rivals: for healing, the first official doctors; for divina-
This rite is an ancient legacy clearly attested by the animal
tion, the astrologers (seers who were closer to the princes
art plaques of the steppes, medieval manuscripts, and mod-
than to the people) and all kinds of sorcerers, diviners, and
ern commentary.
prophesiers who waved their wands or arrows and used osse-
lets and dice, who used haruspicy, scapulimancy, and, espe-
Despite a strong family structure, accounts of adoption
cially, oneiromancy, and who interpreted divinatory texts.
by animals or humans are numerous, and fraternity is not de-
One type of sorcerer who became the shaman’s most threat-
pendent upon birth alone. Fraternity can be pledged between
ening rival was the “rainmaker,” the yadadji, who, with the
two strangers through the exchange of significant gifts (osse-
help of a bezoar, produced thunderstorms on demand. These
lets, arrows, horses) and particularly through the mixing of
sorcerers, like the astrologers, worked more freely under the
blood. The rite that establishes fraternity consists of the two
imperial religion than did the shamans, because the sorcerers
postulants’ joining their slashed wrists or drinking mixed
had no pretensions to power or claims of intimacy with the
drops of their blood from a cup that is often made from the
sky.
dried skull top of a murdered enemy chief. This giving of
one’s blood to another man is actually only one variant of
The totemic system, which can exist only in tribal socie-
the oath. The other form is the giving of blood to the earth,
ties that employ it to determine basic structures (families,
realized through the pouring of one’s blood or the blood of
clans), plays a role in the popular religion that is almost as
a sacrificed animal; this act is performed before the sky,
important as that of shamanism. For a long time, totemism
which deeply involves those making the pledge.
was unknown among the Altaic peoples in general; however,
THE POPULAR RELIGION. Despite the pretensions of certain
in the mid-twentieth century pioneering research by P. J.
shamans to positions of tribal leadership, shamanism is es-
Strahlenberg, Cho-dzidlo, A. Billings, N. Shchukin, and oth-
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TURKIC RELIGIONS
9401
ers revealed a totemic system among both contemporary and
possible ties of the people to the great gods as revealed to us
extinct Turkic societies, such as the Bashkirs, the Oghuz, and
by the imperial texts alone, at least for the period during
the western Türk. Since the eighth century, the Arabs (as
which the people were not under the empire.
confirmed by certain medieval Turkic texts) have observed
T
a tie between clans of certain tribes and certain animals. The
HE IMPERIAL RELIGION. It is difficult to comprehend the
significance and the success of the imperial religion without
study of these observations reveals, beyond all possible
taking into account the tribal organization of society, with
doubt, a totemism, naturally misunderstood in the Arab and
its attendant instability, internecine wars, anarchy, and mis-
medieval Turkic accounts.
ery. Divided, the inhabitants of the steppes were powerless.
It is clear that the people, organized under the tribal sys-
United, they became invincible. Therefore, their strength as-
tem, worshiped numerous gods of human dimension and
sured free commerce and made possible raids and conquests
that they cared little about great deities, notably the Sky. We
of the rich lands of sedentary peoples. Despite the tribes’ pro-
have seen that they were surrounded by innumerable forces
nounced taste for independence and their attachment to tra-
that they had to use or protect: natural forces and even fabri-
dition, the empire presented certain advantages that the
cated objects (the “master” of the weapon, its “soul,” could
tribes were prepared to accept, even if it meant losing part
render the weapon ineffective). The “masters” of the herd,
of their patrimony along with their autonomy. Certainly the
of game, fish, hunting and fishing territories, and doubtless
sovereign, promoted through his own genius or through cir-
others all had to be conciliated. The masters that the Old
cumstances, was descended from the tribal regime and prac-
Turkic texts call iduq yer sub, “sacred lands and waters,” con-
ticed the popular religion. This fact, together with his need
cerned them most. These also could be the ensemble of indi-
to secure mass support, inclined him to tolerate the tribal re-
visible lands inhabited by the tribe, or better, their “master-
ligion; but he reorientated it, promoting elements that had
possessors” (those of other tribes and of foreigners such as
been secondary, diluting or eliminating elements that were
the Chinese were recognized). It could also refer to certain
in essence antimonarchist. The two great victims were sha-
privileged parts of this ensemble, often cited by name. The
manism and totemism.
latter lands were “left free,” as conveyed by the word iduq.
From the imperial viewpoint, shamanism had no alter-
In these areas it was forbidden to carry out any secular activi-
native but to adapt. During the long medieval periods, sha-
ty: hunting, fishing, or felling trees. The idea that the parts
mans had not only attained positions of tribal leadership
of a whole should always be respected was extended to every-
(without necessarily having the gifts or the means for leader-
thing. There were also iduq animals within the herd that
ship) but had also pretended to maintain privileged relation-
could not be milked, sheared, or mounted. It was important
ships with the invisible, to climb to the sky. As tribal chiefs,
for the hunters to allow some animals to escape from the
they had to accept a superior authority, something that was
game they encircled. At least the first fruits of the harvests
more difficult for them than for others. As religious leaders,
had to be set aside unused. At each milking and at each meal,
they had to acknowledge that the kaghan, the emperor, had
it was customary to set apart a portion of milk or meat to
relationships with the invisible world and the sky, relation-
be offered to the gods.
ships much closer than their own. Thus, there was an inevita-
Out of a desire to maintain control over the earth’s
ble conflict between the shaman and the sovereign. However,
products, the people made “soul supports”; these represented
the contest being unequal, it often ended abruptly or resulted
the spirit protectors of animals and harvests. They were
in the inevitable elimination of the shaman. Chinggis Khan’s
among the numerous idols placed in the yurts and were also
suppression of the influence of the great shaman at his court
transported in carts, which became veritable traveling altars.
can be seen as an epitome of this conflict. Even though we
Constructed of felt, wood, and metal, these zoomorphic or
have no information, we can assume that the process was the
anthropomorphic idols could also represent and contain the
same in other political structures with pan-Turkic tenden-
soul of ancestors and of all imaginable powers. One took care
cies. It is characteristic that the Old Turkic texts do not con-
of them, fed them, and painted them with blood. Ethno-
tain a single word about shamanism: we have already seen
graphers eventually began to call these idols by the Mongol
why. Nevertheless, it took real courage on the part of the sov-
word ongon (Turkic equivalents: töz, tyn, kürmes), although
ereign to disregard the fear inspired in the Turkic peoples by
ongon actually refers to totems. Some of the highest deities
all those who held religious or magical powers, including
were affected by this idolization, either through a spontane-
priests of the religions with which they came in contact.
ous irruption of the practice as applied to the lower spirit
protectors or through absorption of elements from the impe-
Totemism was an equally formidable obstacle erected by
rial religion. In a general way, the cave, the waters, the trees,
the tribal regime against the empire. Classificatory and divi-
and the stars were venerated. Every elevation of ground be-
sive by definition, it was diametrically opposed to the imperi-
came a place of cult worship: it established the image of an
al ideal. The duty to which the sovereign was thus called to
ascent toward the sky, a distant and vague god.
devote himself consisted of renouncing the various totems
of the clan cults and insistently promoting the totem or to-
Whereas the tribal and familial deities of ancient periods
tems of the ruling dynasty. The ruling dynasty, like every
are poorly understood, it is almost impossible to define the
family, like every tribe, was descended either from two unit-
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9402
TURKIC RELIGIONS
ed animals or from an animal that had had sexual relations
Some were more or less forgotten, while others were promot-
with a human. The sex of the animal or human was not as
ed. Still others were obviously approached from a new per-
important in this matter as was the complementarity of the
spective. The various iduq yer sub, the “forbidden places,” the
different species. The latter was indicated more clearly and
“master-possessors of the earth and waters,” were apparently
can be seen in the animal art of the steppes: a wildcat and
reduced to those originally belonging to the imperial family.
a herbivore, a bird of prey and a rodent, an animal and a
The mountains saw their strength become concentrated in
human. The myth of origin that was the most widely be-
two or three summits, such as the Ötükän, where the prince
lieved (because it simultaneously served the Türk, the Mon-
was seated. On the other hand, everything that appeared to
gols, and other, smaller, groups) first presented a she-wolf
be universal, common to all humankind, grew dispropor-
who fed a young boy, married him, and gave him children,
tionately. The earth goddess was often associated with the
thus becoming his mother and wife at the same time. Later
sky god and partook of his indivisibility. The sky himself,
this was changed: a wolf was believed to have united with
principally Tengri, became the sky god and was “blue,” “ele-
a doe. The content of this myth is particularly rich, especially
vated,” and “endowed with strength”; he clearly became, at
among the Türk, because it involves the intervention of fer-
least eventually, “eternal,” the supreme god above all others
tilizing water (the marsh where the she-wolf finds the child),
because he was the god of the emperor and was as exceptional
the cave (where she gives birth), and even the bird of prey,
as the latter was. The sovereign was “born from the sky,” “re-
which flies above the couple.
sembled the sky,” and was some times the sky’s son, acting
However, widespread as it is, this myth is only one
in his name as if he were his great priest; but he was also
among many. One could say that there are as many myths
more, something like the sky’s projection, his “shadow,” as
as there are Turkic peoples. Hence, the ancestor of the Kir-
the Muslims would say. He directed the sky’s cult, the collec-
ghiz was a bull or a dog married to forty virgins; the ancestors
tive prayers and ceremonial sacrifices in which he had all his
of the Karakhanids, a lion and a camel. The Oghuz have
people participate. From then on, Tengri concerned all peo-
demonstrated how a theme was able to change owing to un-
ple, all animals, all vegetables. He gave them life, made them
known influences. Oghuz Kaghan, the eponymic ancestor of
grow, and protected them through two specific gifts, kut, a
the confederation (whose name was etymologically ogush,
viaticum and celestial “soul,” and ülüg, “luck.”
“tribe”) was first named “colostrum” (agiz), then “young
The national god of the Turkic peoples, Tengri, was also
bull” (oghuz) after his ancestor, while the wolf remained his
the god of all men and demanded that all recognize him, that
guide and protector. Later, the Oghuz had six birds of prey
is, that they submit to the Turkic kaghan—a demand that
as “totems” when they were divided into six clans and twen-
caused him to take on the characteristics of a god of war. The
ty-two or twenty-four when the number of their tribes in-
worst transgression was to revolt against the prince, that is,
creased. The exaltation of one’s ancestors was emphasized in
against Tengri, and the god knew no other punishment for
the Türk empire. Each year the sovereign either went in per-
this than death. Before sending death, Tengri “applied pres-
son or sent a high dignitary to the birthplace (cave) of his
sure,” sent messengers, and intervened in a purely psycholog-
family. Türk flagpoles were topped with golden wolves’
ical manner. In serious cases, he intervened simultaneously
heads; thus the wolf continued to lead his descendants into
with the more popular gods. In medieval times, at least, there
battle and also to march ahead of them in migrations.
does not seem to have been any notion of retribution or post-
The imperial ancestor was clearly a divine animal who
mortem punishment.
came from the sky. He was “blue” like the sky and, as de-
If the popular religion has been passed over in silence
scribed in a relatively recent (post-Chinggisid) text, he could
by imperial Turkic texts, and often by others, there are none-
be associated with luminous rays that emanated from the sun
theless numerous deities that appear around the sky god
and moon. Thus, two different traditions concerning the ori-
without our knowing their connections to him: the earth
gins of great men seem to have existed—one involving the
goddess, the iduq yer sub and other master-possessors, the sa-
sexual union of animals, one involving light that came and
cred springs and rivers, the trees, fire, and the mountain.
impregnated a woman or that, itself a radiant daughter, se-
Whether this last represented the “god of the earth,” as with
duced heroes like Oghuz Kaghan. Some attempt was made
Boz Tengri, or whether it constituted the earth’s axis, the
to combine the two traditions, but never with much success,
center of the empire, like the famous Ötükän (in the Greater
not even in the case of the Mongols, whose Secret History re-
Khingan Range), its role eventually became so great and im-
veals the efforts made in this respect, or in the Turkic Oghuz
posing that it was generally designated in Central Asia, as the
name, which owes much to the former.
god of the earth. (For example, the sacred mountain of the
The popular gods suffered less from the imperial reli-
Mongolians is the Burkhan Qaldun.) The most powerful
gion. Any major force that contributed to the power of the
and stable of these deities that appear around the sky god is
empire was welcomed, and the Turkic peoples, with their
Umai (often still called this today but also known by other
fundamental beliefs in the diffused divine, opposed the dis-
names, for example, A˘ıyysyt among the Siberian Yakuts), a
appearance of these gods. (Popular sentiment also had to be
placental goddess of whom al-Ka¯shghar¯ı says, “If one wor-
respected.) Nevertheless, their fate was not always the same.
ships her, a child will be born.” She protects newborns and
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TURKIC RELIGIONS
9403
mares and safeguards against puerperal fever. Certain at-
Bussagli’s Culture e civiltà dell’Asia Centrale (Turin, 1970) is
tempts seem to have been made to bring her closer to Tengri;
a good historical presentation of nomadic cultures. For earli-
she has been called “close to the khatun,” that is, to the em-
er periods, see Karl Jettmar’s Die frühen Steppenvölker
press.
(Baden-Baden, 1964), translated by Ann E. Keep as The Art
of the Steppes
(New York, 1967). For the Huns, see Otto J.
Finally, in addition to grandiose ceremonies (in terms
Mänchen-Helfen’s The World of the Huns: Studies in Their
of the empire), the imperial religion apparently promoted
History and Culture (Berkeley, 1973), which has a complete
cults and new rites. The banner cult supported a particular
bibliography. Wilhelm Barthold gives the historical context
soul, either of an ancestral animal (often evoked through a
of medieval Central Asia in Turkestan down to the Mongol In-
statuette or horse or yak tails atop a pole) or of one of the
vasion (1900), 2d ed., translated from the Russian (London,
sovereign’s ancestors. This gave rise to the feast of the unfurl-
1958). For a comprehensive overview of Turkic religion, see
ing of standards and to solemn sacrifices. The imperial family
my La réligion des Turcs et des Mongols (Paris, 1984), which
adopted the ancient practice of bloodless animal slaughter:
has a vast but nonexhaustive bibliography. For contemporary
they were strangled, suffocated, or stoned. Funerary temples,
religious practice, Uno Harva’s Die religiösen Vorstellungen
erected structures that are the only Turkic temples outside
der altaischen Völker, “Folklore Fellows Communications,”
no. 125 (Helsinki, 1938), is a useful reference work, al-
of natural sanctuaries (caves, groves, springs, mountains) or
though quite biased. It has been translated as Les représenta-
domestic sanctuaries (tents, carts carrying idols), have unfor-
tions religieuses des peuples altaïques (Paris, 1959). Wilhelm
tunately come down to us in a deplorable condition. What
Radloff has devoted himself to a vast study, most of which
remains of them, the balbal and the baba, may also be an im-
can be found in Aus Sibirien, 2 vols. in 1 (Leipzig, 1884).
perial innovation. The balbal are shapeless stones (eventually
Wilhelm Schmidt collected considerable documentation in
wood was used, for instance among the Cumans and Kip-
volume 9 of his Der Ursprung der Gottesidee (Münster,
chaks) erected to represent enemies slain in combat or immo-
1949), see also volumes 10–12 (Münster, 1955). On the sub-
lated during obsequies. The slain enemies represented by the
ject of funeral rites and the beyond, see my La mort chez les
balbal are supposedly at the service of their murderers. For
peuples altaïques anciens et médiévaux (Paris, 1963). On the
great personages, these monoliths number in the hundreds.
position of animals and vegetables, see my Faune et flore
sacrées dans les sociétés altaïques
(Paris, 1966). For a study of
The baba are the funerary statues of deceased princes
the phenomenon of shamanism, see Mircea Eliade’s Shaman-
and, occasionally, princesses. They were not viewed as im-
ism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, rev. & enl. ed. (New York,
ages of the departed but as images of the living, who, after
1964). For examples of pre-Islamic relics in Turkic Islam, see
their death, remained among the people. Not of great aes-
John K. Birge’s The Bektashi Order of Dervishes, “Luzac’s
thetic value, these huge, crude statues, of which a good num-
Oriental Religious Series,” no. 7 (1937; reprint, New York,
ber of specimens are known, represent the individual stand-
1982), and my Les traditions des nomades de la Turquie méri-
ing or seated, always holding a cup in the right hand, which
dionale (Paris, 1970). Much work on Turkic religion has
is drawn back over the stomach. These works were the origi-
been widely published in journals, notably in Central Asiatic
Journal
(The Hague, 1957–). Noteworthy articles in English
nal image of the “prince in majesty” of classical Islam.
include those by John Andrew Boyle in Folklore: “A Eurasian
It is impossible to know whether belief in an afterlife in
Hunting Ritual,” Folklore 80 (Spring 1969): 12–16; “Turk-
the sky was of imperial or popular origin, although there is
ish and Mongol Shamanism in the Middle Ages,” Folklore 83
no lack of presumptions that favor imperial origins: having
(Autumn 1972): 177–193; and “The Hare in Myth and Re-
come from the sky and belonging to it, the prince can only
ality: A Review Article,” Folklore 84 (Winter 1973): 313–
return there. In so asserting, one says that he “flies away,”
326. See also Glaubenswelt und Folklore der sibirischen Völker,
later that he “becomes a gyrfalcon” or that he “climbs up to
edited by Vilmos Diószegi (Budapest, 1963).
the sky” where he is “as among the living.” But there are also
New Sources
attestations of a celestial beyond for those who did not attain
Bainbridge, Margaret, ed. The Turkic Peoples of the World. Lon-
sovereignty—a place for those close to the prince, his ser-
don, 1993.
vants, horses, concubines, and all those who could serve him
Baldick, Julian. Animal and Shaman: Ancient Religions of Central
or be useful to him. However, even if the sky was easily acces-
Asia. New York, 2000.
sible to all—something we do not know—there was nothing
Elverskog, Johan. Uygur Buddhist Literature. Turnhout, Belgium
to prevent the various souls of the same man, even those of
1997.
a kaghan, from finding other places to inhabit (the tomb, the
banner, the balbal, the baba), from being reincarnated in a
Garrone, Patrick. Chamanisme et islam en Asie centrale: la baksylyk
hier et aujourd’hui. Paris, 2000.
new body, or from roaming the universe as an unsatisfied
phantom.
Jettmar, Karl. “Die Religion der Alttürken.” In Die vorislamischen
Religionen Mittelasiens, edited by Karl Jettmar and Ellen Kat-
SEE ALSO Chuvash Religion; Erlik; Islam, article on Islam
tner, pp. 219–228. Stuttgart, 2003.
in Central Asia; Ongon; Tengri; Umai.
Lieu, Samuel. Manichaeism in Central Asia and China. Leiden,
1998.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Much research has been done on the formation of religious con-
Roux, Jean-Paul. L’Asie centrale: histoire et civilisations. Paris,
cepts among the people of the steppes and of Siberia. Mario
1997.
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9404
TURNER, HENRY MCNEAL
Van Deusen, Kira. Singing Story, Healing Drum: Shamans and Sto-
Turner became a friend of Charles Sumner, Thaddeus
rytellers of Turkic Siberia. Montreal, 2003.
Stevens, and other influential Republicans in the years before
J
the Civil War. When war broke out in 1861, Turner was
EAN-PAUL ROUX (1987)
Translated from French by Sherri L. Granka
commissioned as the first black chaplain in the U.S. Army.
Revised Bibliography
After the war Turner helped to establish AME congregations
throughout Georgia, but he was frustrated by the lack of
trained clergy to continue his work.
TURNER, HENRY MCNEAL. Henry McNeal
With Congress’s passage of the Reconstruction Acts in
Turner (1834–1915) was the twelfth bishop of the African
1867, Turner involved himself more directly in politics by
Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and the U. S. Army’s
helping to organize Georgia’s Republican Party. He was
first African American chaplain. He studied history, theolo-
elected to Georgia’s House of Representatives from the city
gy, law, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and German and received an
of Macon. The white-controlled legislative body, however,
LL.D from the University of Pennsylvania in 1872. Turner
ousted the African American representatives in 1868. After
also served as vice president of the African Colonization Soci-
Turner protested this injustice, he received threats from the
ety (1877) and was a major spokesperson for the Back-to-
Ku Klux Klan. In 1869 he was appointed postmaster of
Africa movement. The movement was an African American
Macon by President Ulysses S. Grant, but he was forced to
led effort that advocated their emigration to Africa. Most
resign from this position a week later. He finished his term
black leaders had been opposed to such schemes since the op-
in the Georgia legislature in 1870, after which he moved to
tion was first pursued in 1816 with the formation of the
Savannah, Georgia, where he served in local churches (in-
American Colonization Society by whites. However, emigra-
cluding the prestigious St Philip’s AME Church) and served
tion became a viable option for some blacks in the 1880s,
as an inspector for the U.S. Customs Service.
when many black leaders were becoming increasingly disillu-
In 1876 Turner assumed the management of the AME
sioned about the prospects of achieving equal rights in Amer-
Book Concern in Philadelphia and the editorship of the
ica. Matters became especially bleak in 1883 when the Unit-
Christian Recorder. In 1880 he became the bishop of the de-
ed States Supreme Court outlawed the Civil Rights Act of
nomination in a hotly contested election.
1875. This action by the Supreme Court paved the way for
Turner was extremely effective as bishop. After the Su-
state legislatures to enact laws that segregated all aspects of
preme Court circumscribed the civil rights of African Ameri-
southern society. In 1896 segregation was upheld in the
cans in 1883, Turner’s critique of mainstream American so-
Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision that set forth the
ciety became scathing. Equally scathing were Turner’s
“separate but equal” doctrine. Turner’s career was profound-
criticisms of black meekness in the face of white oppression.
ly shaped by these events. Elected to the Georgia legislature
He urged blacks to defend themselves against mob violence
during the Reconstruction era following the Civil War, Tur-
and saw his educational and missionary initiatives as vehicles
ner became known as the “Apostle of Foreign Missions” be-
for enhancing black self-worth and freedom. He published
cause of his travels to West Africa to found two churches,
a catechism, a hymnal, and such books as The Genius and
one in Sierra Leone and the other in Liberia. Turner was also
Theory of Methodist Polity (1885) and The Black Man’s Doom
famous for frequently asserting that “God is a Negro.”
(1896). He founded the Southern Christian Recorder in 1889
Turner was converted to Christianity at the age of thir-
and the Voice of Missions in 1892, as well as encouraging the
teen while attending a Methodist revival. At the age of fifteen
organization of the Women’s Home and Foreign Missionary
he took a job as a janitor with a law firm in Abbeville, South
Society (1896) and the formation of the Women’s Christian
Carolina. Turner’s intelligence so impressed his employers
Recorder. Turner was also the first AME bishop to ordain a
that they provided him with his basic education in law and
woman to the office of deacon, which he did in 1885. Turner
history. He received his preacher’s license in 1853 and trav-
served as the editor of the Theological Institute and as the de-
eled as an itinerant evangelist throughout the South as far
nomination’s historiographer from 1908 to 1912. He died
west as New Orleans. He also traveled to Missouri and then
in 1915 while traveling on church business. Turner is num-
to Baltimore, where he furthered his study of grammar,
bered with Richard Allen (1760–1831) and Daniel Payne
Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and German while overseeing a small
(1811–1893) as one of the greatest bishops in the history of
mission congregation. Turner was ordained a Methodist dea-
the African Episcopal Methodist Church.
con in 1860 and an elder in 1862.
SEE ALSO African American Religions, overview article;
Turner married Eliza Peacher, the daughter of a wealthy
Allen, Richard; Methodist Churches.
African American house builder in Columbia, South Caroli-
na, in 1856. The threat of slavery that hung over free blacks
BIBLIOGRAPHY
in the South before the Civil War caused Turner to move
Angell, Stephen Ward. Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and African
with his family to St. Louis, Missouri. Over the course of the
American Religion in the South. Knoxville, Tenn., 1992.
next five years he filled pastorates in Baltimore, Maryland,
Ponton, M. M. Life and Times of Henry M. Turner. Atlanta, Ga.,
and Washington, D.C.
1917.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

TURNER, VICTOR
9405
Redkey, Edwin S. Black Exodus: Black Exodus and Back to Africa
aside the analytical perspective and alien categories of the
Movements, 1890–1910. New Haven, Conn., 1969.
outside observer and oriented his studies around the experi-
Redkey, Edwin S., ed. Respect Black: The Writings and Speeches of
ential context and cultural criteria of the Ndembu world,
Henry McNeal Turner. New York, 1971.
an approach that he later called the “anthropology of experi-
ence.”
JAMES ANTHONY NOEL (2005)
Although his initial study, Schism and Continuity in an
African Society (1957), was labeled “difficult” and “experi-
TURNER, VICTOR (1920–1983). Scottish-born
mental,” Turner continued to refine his ideas about social
American anthropologist and comparative religionist. On
drama and ritual process. He wrote one of the most detailed
the basis of fieldwork in central Africa, Victor Witter Turner
and perceptive studies of African divination, Ndembu Divi-
produced the richest ethnographic achievement of the period
nation: Its Symbolism and Techniques (1961), viewing the
after World War II, and he explained the nature of religious
subject in the context of social process and analyzing its use
ritual and symbolism in an African society in more detail
of social and ethical symbolism. He also wrote a short but
than anyone had before.
brilliant clarification of methodological issues in African
witchcraft studies, “Witchcraft and Sorcery: Taxonomy ver-
Turner was born in Glasgow, Scotland. In 1943, in the
sus Dynamics” (1964), in which he treats a subject that had
midst of his five years of military service, he married Edith
become bogged down in functionalist theorizing and con-
Davis, who was to collaborate with him in field research and
fused definitions. He argues that witchcraft has to be viewed
writing throughout his career. He received his B.A. degree
as a complex matter involving social process, cosmology,
with honors in anthropology in 1949 from the University of
ecology, and biological factors. In addition he wrote a pio-
London, where he studied with some of the leading figures
neering study of an Ndembu cult of affliction, Chihamba,
of structural-functionalism: A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, Meyer
the White Spirit (1962). In this work he attempted to go be-
Fortes, Raymond Firth, and Edmund Leach. He went on to
yond the examination of social process and symbolic action
graduate study at the University of Manchester under Max
and to formulate the implicit content of Ndembu thought
Gluckman and was introduced to conflict theory and politi-
by means of Thomistic concepts, long before the subjects of
cal anthropology. During 1950–1954 he was a research offi-
ethnophilosophy and ethnotheology had gained currency in
cer at the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute in Lusaka, Zambia
anthropology. It was a venturesome effort and did not re-
(then Northern Rhodesia), where he undertook, with his
ceive an entirely positive response. In subsequent and more
wife, a two-and-a-half-year study of the Ndembu people. In
detailed studies he examined Ndembu ethnomedical and et-
1954 he returned to the University of Manchester and was
hnobiological concepts in the context of cults of affliction.
appointed to the positions of lecturer and senior lecturer in
One of these studies, The Drums of Affliction (1968), became
social anthropology. From 1963 to 1968 he was professor of
the locus classicus of later scholarship in the field of African
anthropology at Cornell University, and from 1968 to 1977
medical anthropology.
he was professor of anthropology and social thought at the
University of Chicago. From 1977 until his death he was the
In the course of these ritual studies, Turner began to de-
William R. Kenan Professor of Anthropology at the Univer-
velop a theory of religious symbols. He noted in the field that
sity of Virginia. He held numerous fellowships, visiting ap-
certain symbols were dominant in ritual contexts and that
pointments, and distinguished lectureships at universities in
they exhibited properties of condensation, unification of dis-
the United States and around the world. He organized major
parate significata, and polarization of meaning. Because of
international conferences and was editor of the important se-
such semantic complexity, contextual variation, and attach-
ries “Symbol, Myth and Ritual” published by Cornell Uni-
ment to ritual sequence, Turner rejected as overly simplistic
versity Press.
the structuralist method of interpreting symbols in terms of
synchronic, binary relationships. Instead, he proposed a
Like other leading anthropologists, Turner’s ideas were
threefold hermeneutic, based upon “exegetical,” “operation-
shaped by his field experience. In the course of fieldwork he
al,” and “positional” levels of meaning. Moreover, he sugget-
decided to abandon the social structural emphasis of his
ed that in the context of intense ritual experience, the ideo-
teachers and their bias against religion and to pursue a micro-
logical, or “normative,” and the sensory, or “orectic,” poles
sociological investigation of the actual processes of Ndembu
of meaning came together and reinforced one another in
village life that, he found, were articulated and resolved in
such a way as to produce powerful emotional effects and real
ritual performances. Since Ndembu society is prone to con-
transformations of character and social relationships. Herein,
flict because of its inherent inconsistencies, he also rejected
Turner felt, lay the power and efficacy of ritual.
the static and mechanistic models of functionalism together
with its goal of constructing universal social laws. Instead,
Although he wrote two detailed accounts of Ndembu
he treated Ndembu society as a dynamic social process whose
boys’ and girls’ initiation rites (the first appearing in The For-
events were analyzable as “social dramas,” consisting of
est of Symbols, 1967, the second in The Drums of Affliction,
phases of breach, crisis, redressive action, and reintegration
1968), it was in the context of a brief comparative study of
(or schism), in which ritual played a central role. He also set
rites of passage, “Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

9406
TURNER, VICTOR
in Rites de Passage” (1964), that he began to focus upon the
gists Claude Lévi-Strauss, Clifford Geertz, and Mary Doug-
work of the Belgian anthropologist Arnold van Gennep. He
las, also helped to revive comparative studies in religious an-
found van Gennep’s analysis of rites of passage into the
thropology, which had been abandoned by British and
phases of separation, threshold or limen, and reaggregation
American functionalists. But, although he agreed with
to be not only a useful cross-cultural model but also the
Douglas and Geertz on the cognitive importance of ritual
source of a fundamental insight: the regenerative and trans-
symbols, he refused to tie them closely to social structure as
formational possibilities of ritual liminality. Whereas van
in Douglas’s theory or to construe them as “texts” according
Gennep emphasizes only the outward change of social status
to Geertz’s formulation.
accomplished by these rites, Turner emphasizes the inward,
Following the American anthropologist Edward Sapir,
moral, and cognitive changes that occurred, and where van
Turner held that culture is not a completely or consistently
Gennep examines only the social aspects of the liminal state,
articulated system, a set of dogmas or logically arrayed or
Turner examines its deconstructive and reconstructive pro-
Lévi-Straussian symbolic codes, but rather a changing entity,
cesses. Thus Turner concentrated upon the heretofore
influenced by “root paradigms,” that is, by axiomatic frames,
neglected, strange, and amorphous properties of symbols and
or deep myths, that propel and transform people and groups
actions of the liminal phase. He regarded such symbols
at critical moments. In this respect Turner came to see that
and actions both as channels for communicating basic social
the Ndembu are not exceptional but typical, and thus that
and cultural values and as channels for discovering new
social order is fundamentally “processual” in form and “dra-
moral and metaphysical insights that tend to subvert as well
matic” in character.
as support established religious and social orders.
Turner called his analytical method “dramatistic,” be-
Turner developed his theory of liminality further in the
cause, like Freud, he believed that examination of distur-
seminal work The Ritual Process (1969). Here he defines the
bances of the normal and the regular often gives greater in-
social form of liminality as communitas, the direct, egalitarian
sight into the normal than does direct study. Because of the
encounter and fellowship between people as people, which
episodic character of social systems, Turner preferred the so-
characterized both temporary ritual states and certain more
ciologist Kurt Lewin’s image of society as “social fields.” He
enduring social groups. In this context he defined three
also saw affinities with the phenomenological sociology of
forms of communitas, the “spontaneous,” the “ideological,”
Alfred Schutz and his followers, who regarded culture as a
and the “normative,” and he elaborated a host of contrasting
constantly negotiated set of meanings, and he found useful
liminal and status system forms. In addition to illuminating
Wilhelm Dilthey’s theory that the meanings and values of
past religious and political movements as well as popular cur-
life are to be found in the “structures of experience” and not
rents in American society of the 1960s, Turner brought his
in the formal categories of thought. This approach led him
theory of liminality to bear upon the phenomenon of reli-
to welcome a shift in anthropology away from such concepts
gious pilgrimage, a generally ignored subject in the history
as structure, equilibrium, function, and system to such con-
of religions. His contribution, presented in another impor-
cepts as process, indeterminacy, and reflexivity, and he envi-
tant essay, “The Center Out There: Pilgrims’ Goal” (1973),
sioned a new anthropology based upon a synthesis of disci-
was to see pilgrimage as a rite of passage whose goals include
plines instead of the usual disciplinary specialization. Turner
both the experience of communitas and the liminal encounter
himself was not, however, given to sustained theoretical ex-
with the sacred at the pilgrimage center. There followed a
position, and he often let unclarities remain in his writings,
series of lectures and articles on this theme, and they inspired
for which he was sometimes taken to task by his colleagues.
other scholars to take up the subject. Together with Edith
He preferred to forge his concepts as he went along. His ap-
Turner, he explored the subject further in relation to Mexi-
proach was regarded as highly original, and he put forward
can, Spanish, and Irish pilgrimage sites in a fieldwork study,
his ideas with a strong personal conviction that gave his anal-
Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture (1978). His subse-
yses great force.
quent search for liminality in the modern secular world led
to his use of the word liminoid to represent the nonreligious
His final studies led him into the field of performance
genres of art, sport, and performance.
theory. In theater, especially experimental theater in the
United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Turner saw
Although Turner often emphasized his departure from
the same kind of liminal reflexivity, the public cognizance
social functionalism, his vision of religion and society re-
of social situations, that he encountered in rituals associated
mained partly indebted to it. Like Émile Durkheim, he saw
with the redressive phase of Ndembu social dramas. Togeth-
social order to be dependent upon ritual and ceremonial per-
er with the drama theorist and director Richard Schechner,
formances, and like Max Gluckman, he emphasized the ca-
Turner understood theater to be an important means of
thartic effects of ritual reversal that helped to restore and le-
communicating a society’s self-reflections and a means of
gitimate established social structures. But he went beyond
cross-cultural understanding. Thus he encouraged anthro-
both Durkheim and Gluckman by examining the processes
pologists to study theatrical performances as well as ordinary
of social change and the ways in which ritual helped to create
social life. In the course of his teaching he also guided stu-
new social realities. His work, along with that of anthropolo-
dents in the performance of ethnographic rituals as a means
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TURTLES AND TORTOISES
9407
of learning about ritual and about the societies from which
“Body, Brain, and Culture.” Zygon 18 (September 1983): 221–
the students came.
245.
At this juncture, he became interested in the subject of
On the Edge of the Bush. Edited by Edith Turner. Tucson, 1985.
the neurobiology of ritual. It appeared that the contrasting
New Sources
functions of the cerebral hemispheres, the right and left
Ashley, Kathleen M., ed. Victor Turner and the Construction of
brain, might correspond to the two aspects of society Turner
Cultural Criticism: Between Literature and Anthropology.
Bloomington, Ind., 1990.
had been looking at, structure and liminality. In a major
essay, “Body, Brain and Culture” (1983), Turner speculated
Barnard, H. G. “Victor Witter Turner: A Bibliography (1952–
1975).” Anthropologica 27 (1987): 207–233.
that the right hemisphere might also be the source of univer-
Haviland, William A. Anthropology. 6th edition. Fort Worth,
sal symbolic patterns, such as C. G. Jung’s archetypes or his
1991.
own root paradigms and deep myths, which seemed to exist
Lett, James. The Human Enterprise: A Critical Introduction to An-
at the subliminal level until activated and brought into the
thropological Theory. Boulder, Colo., 1987.
articulate realm of the left brain. The existence of different
McLaren, P. L. “A Tribute to Victor Turner.” Anthropologica 27
brain levels, especially the neocortex and the midbrain, also
(1987): 17–22.
seemed to resemble the ideological and orectic poles of domi-
nant symbols. Perhaps at the height of ritual, Turner specu-
BENJAMIN C. RAY (1987)
Revised Bibliography
lated, it was the interaction between these two levels with the
right and left hemispheres of the brain that produced the
transformational effect that was essential to successful ritual
TURTLES AND TORTOISES. There is a wide-
performance. Although these were but speculations about
spread belief that the earth rests on the back of a turtle or
the possible biological mechanisms of the ritual process, they
tortoise. This archaic idea is found not only among North
were consistent with Turner’s fundamental conviction that
American Indians but also in South Asia and Inner Asia. The
it was in the dynamics and dramatics of social, ritual, and
turtle now appears even as a symbol of the entire universe
theatrical events that one came to understand the lives of
(e.g., in China). Moreover, according to creation myths in-
others and oneself.
volving an earth diver, the turtle, sometimes as an incarna-
B
tion of the divine being, plays a prominent part in the cos-
IBLIOGRAPHY
From 1980 until his death in 1983, Turner was an editor of this
mogony of various cultures.
encyclopedia, to which he contributed two articles: “Bodily
According to the Maidu in California, a turtle dived to
Marks” and “Rites of Passage: A Few Definitions.” His previ-
the bottom of the primeval ocean and procured a little soil
ously published works include the following.
under its nails. When it surfaced, God scraped its nails care-
Schism and Continuity in an African Society: A Study of Ndembu
fully and made a ball like a small pebble. The ball of soil then
Village Life. Manchester, 1957.
grew miraculously until it became as large as the universe it-
Ndembu Divination: Its Symbolism and Techniques. Manchester,
self. The Yokut narrate how at the time of beginning the
1961. Reprinted in Revelation and Divination in Ndembu
eagle and the coyote sent a turtle into the waters. The motif
Ritual.
of the turtle’s successful dive is known also among the Algon-
Chihamba, the White Spirit: A Ritual Drama of the Ndembu. Man-
quin. According to the Onondaga and the Mohawk (i.e., the
chester, 1962. Reprinted in Revelation and Divination in
Iroquois), it was a turtle that directed several different ani-
Ndembu Ritual.
mals into the ocean; a beaver tried in vain, an otter also
“Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites de Passage.
failed, but a muskrat returned successfully with soil in his
In Symposium on New Approaches to the Study of Religion, ed-
claws and mouth. This soil was placed on the back of the tur-
ited by June Helm, pp. 4–20. Seattle, 1964. Reprinted in
The Forest of Symbols.
tle, and then the miraculous growth of earth began.
“Witchcraft and Sorcery: Taxonomy versus Dynamics.” Africa 34
Inner Asia has preserved similar stories. According to
(1964): 314–325. Reprinted in The Forest of Symbols.
the Buriats, in the beginning there was nothing but water
The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual. Ithaca, N. Y.,
and a turtle. God turned the turtle on its back and built the
1967.
world on its stomach. In other versions, Mandishire (the bo-
The Drums of Affliction: A Study of Religious Processes among the
dhisattva Mañju´sr¯ı) transforms himself into a great turtle
Ndembu of Zambia. Oxford, 1968.
and supports the earth he has made on the surface of the
The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. Chicago, 1969.
waters.
Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society.
The great tortoise is often represented in India as the
Ithaca, N.Y., 1974.
sustainer of the four elephants upon whose backs the world
Revelation and Divination in Ndembu Ritual. Ithaca, N.Y., 1975.
rests. In the Maha¯bha¯rata the tortoise, as an avatar of Visnu,
Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture: Anthropological Perspec-
supports the earth when the gods and demons churn the pri-
tives. Written with Edith Turner. New York, 1978.
meval ocean to obtain ambrosia.
From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play. New York,
In China, the turtle symbolizes the universe; its dome-
1982.
shaped back represents the sky, while its belly, square in
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9408
TU-SHUN
shape, stands for the earth. It also appears as the god of the
In the Sayr wa sulu¯k, T:u¯s¯ı gives a brief account of his
waters, presiding over the north, one of the four cardinal
theological and philosophical education, but he does not go
points of the universe. Black in color, it is symbolically asso-
into details about the scholars with whom he became ac-
ciated with winter and other aspects of the yin, or female
quainted, nor of his studies in mathematics and astronomy,
principle; as in ancient Egypt and Greece, the tortoise in
which latter became important areas of investigation for him.
China is a symbol of erotic power and fecundity. Moreover,
But we know from other sources that T:u¯s¯ı was a precocious
the great age to which the tortoise supposedly lives has made
learner and by the time he was seventeen he had studied the
it a symbol of longevity and immortality; in the mythico-
philosophy of Ibn S¯ına¯ (d. 1037) with Far¯ıd al-D¯ın Da¯ma¯d
iconographical tradition the tortoise often forms a complex
(d. c. 1246) and attended the lectures of Qut:b al-D¯ın
together with immortality, the moon, and paradise. There
Sarakhs¯ı (d. 1221) in N¯ısha¯pu¯r, where he is said to have met
are “stone” turtles in South Korea and southern Japan (Kyu-
the famous poet and mystic Far¯ıd al-D¯ın EAt:t:a¯r (d. 1220).
shu), at its seashore facing the Korean Peninsula. Dating
At around this time, it is also certain that he studied jurispru-
from prehistoric times, these monuments indicate that peo-
dence.
ple believed in the turtle bestowing new life or immortality
At the age of twenty-two, T:u¯s¯ı joined the court of Na¯s:ir
on the dead and escorting them to the otherworld far across
al-D¯ın Muh:tashim (d. 1257), the Isma¯E¯ıl¯ı governor of
the sea or to paradise under the waters.
Quhista¯n, in northeast Iran, where in his own words he was
accepted into the Isma¯E¯ıl¯ı community. It is probable that in
BIBLIOGRAPHY
N¯ısha¯pu¯r, which at the time was an active center of Isma¯E¯ıl¯ı
On the turtle in cosmogonic myths, much useful information has
been collected by Charles H. Long in his Alpha: The Myths
preaching, he had become acquainted with its teachings.
of Creation (New York, 1963), pp. 192ff. On turtle symbol-
Later, in a journey from Iraq to Khura¯sa¯n, he met Shiha¯b
ism in China, see Marcel Granet’s brilliant discussion in his
al-D¯ın Muh:tashim (d. c. 1245), a highly renowned Isma¯E¯ıl¯ı
La pensée chinoise (1934; reprint, Paris, 1968), pp. 173ff. Jo-
scholar, and gradually he became more acquainted with
hannes Maringer has studied “stone” turtles in East Asia in
Isma¯E¯ıl¯ı teachings through the religious writings of the
his article “Vorgeschichtliche Grabbauten Ostasiens in
Niza¯r¯ı Isma¯E¯ıl¯ı Ima¯m H:asan EAla¯D Dhikrih¯ı al-Sala¯m
Schildkrötenform und ihr mythischer Prototyp,” Antaios 5
(d. 1166).
(1963): 368–374.
In Quhista¯n, T:u¯s¯ı developed a close personal relation-
New Sources
ship with the governor and dedicated to him and his family
Süss, Rudolph. Vom Mythos der Schildkröte: das Urtier als Glücks-
ringer. Dortmund, 1991.
a number of scholarly works, such as the Akhla¯q-i Na¯s:ir¯ı,
Akhla¯q-i Muh:tashim¯ı, and Risa¯la-yi mu E¯ıniyya, which ulti-
MANABU WAIDA (1987)
mately paved the way for his move to Alamu¯t:, the seat of
Revised Bibliography
Isma¯E¯ıl¯ı political power in Iran.
Apart from editing, translating, and composing a variety
TU-SHUN SEE DUSHUN
of philosophical and scientific works, T:u¯s¯ı produced a num-
ber of Isma¯E¯ıl¯ı texts, adding his scholarly background and
talents to the unique collection of literature and archival ma-
T:U
¯ S¯I, NAS:¯IR AL-D¯IN. Nas:¯ır al-D¯ın T:u¯s¯ı
terials in Alamu¯t:. An example of this genre is his strong
(Muh:ammad ibn Muh:ammad ibn H:asan, AH 597–672/
philosophical and esoteric interpretation of Isma¯E¯ıl¯ı thought,
1201–1274 CE), addressed in general Islamic literature as
as represented in the Rawda-yi tasl¯ım in particular.
khawa¯jah (master) and the muh:aqqiq (scholar) of T:u¯s, was
The Mongol invasions of western Asia led to the col-
a Persian Sh¯ıE¯ı philosopher, theologian, mathematician, as-
lapse of Isma¯E¯ıl¯ı political power and the massacre of
tronomer, and statesman. He is by far the most celebrated
Isma¯E¯ıl¯ıs, who were perceived by the Mongols as a serious
scholar of the thirteenth century in eastern Islamic lands.
threat. Under these circumstances, T:u¯s¯ı sought alternative
Very little is known about his childhood and early education,
patronage and was able to obtain employment in the emerg-
apart from what he reveals in his autobiography, the Sayr wa
ing court of the Mongol conquerors, who wished to show
sulu¯k. He was born in T:u¯s, in northeastern Iran into an Ithna¯
E
support for learning and science. He also embarked on writ-
ashar¯ı (Twelver) Sh¯ıE¯ı family and died in Baghdad. He lost
ing a series of Twelver Sh¯ıE¯ı works.
his father at a young age. Fulfilling the wish of his father,
T:u¯s¯ı took learning and scholarship very seriously and trav-
In the Mongol court, T:u¯s¯ı witnessed the fall of the Ab-
eled far and wide to attend the lectures of the renowned
basid caliphate, and after securing the trust of Hu¯legu¯
scholars of the time. In a relatively short period, T:u¯s¯ı mas-
(d. 1265), he was given the full authority of administering
tered a number of disciplines. At a time when religious edu-
the awqa¯f (religious foundations). His primary concern dur-
cation was a priority, especially in his own family, which was
ing this period was to protect the life of scholars and their
associated with Twelver Sh¯ıE¯ı scholars, T:u¯s¯ı seems to have
freedom to pursue learning. He also established probably the
shown great interest in mathematics, astronomy, and intel-
most important observatory and center of scientific learning
lectual sciences.
of his time in Mara¯ghah, in the northwest of Iran. Under
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TWELVE TRIBES
9409
these circumstances T:u¯s¯ı acted as a senior advisor to Hu¯legu¯
glish by Vladimir A. Ivanow as Rawa˜atu Dt-Tasl¯ım, Commonly
and continued his scholarly activities and writing on various
Called Tas:awwura¯t (Leiden, 1950), and into French by
aspects of Sh¯ıE¯ı thought.
Christian Jambet as La convocation d’Alamu¯t: Somme de
philosophie ismaélienne
(Lagrasse, France, 1996); Akhla¯q-i
The corpus of T:u¯s¯ı’s writings comprise approximately
Na¯s:ir¯ı, translated in English as The Nasirean Ethics by G. M.
135 titles on a wide variety of subjects, including astronomy,
Wickens (London, 1964); al-Tadhkirah f¯ı Eilm al-hayDa, ed-
ethics, logic, mathematics, philosophy, theology, Sufism, po-
ited and translated into English by F. G. Ragep in Nas:¯ır
etry and popular sciences. Some of these works—for exam-
al-D¯ın T:u¯s¯ı’s Memoir on Astronomy (New York, 1993), and
ple, his commentary on Ibn S¯ına¯’s al-Isha¯ra¯t wa-al-tanb¯ıha¯t
the Sayr wa sulu¯k, edited and translated into English by S.
on philosophy and the Akhla¯q-i Na¯s:ir¯ı on theoretical and
J. Badakhchani as Contemplation and Action: The Spiritual
practical ethics—are still used as textbooks in many centers
Autobiography of a Muslim Scholar (London, 1998).
of learning in the Muslim world.
S. J. BADAKHCHANI (2005)
T:u¯s¯ı’s interest in ethical writings begun in Quhista¯n
when, in answer to the request of Na¯s:ir al-D¯ın Muh:tashim,
he produced a number of ethical works, namely the Persian
TWELVERS SEE SHIISM, ARTICLE ON ITHNA¯
translations of Ibn Muqaffah’s (d. 759) al-Adab al-waj¯ız lil-
EASHAR¯IYAH
walad al-s:aq¯ır, Akhla¯q-i Muh:tashim¯ı, and Akhla¯q-i Na¯s:ir¯ı,
as well as the twenty-second chapter of the Rawda-yi tasl¯ım,
which, in line with the content of Akhla¯q-i Na¯s:ir¯ı, could be
classified as a text on philosophical ethics.
TWELVE TRIBES. The Twelve Tribes (previously
A proper scholarly investigation into T:u¯s¯ı’s contribu-
known as the Northeast Kingdom Community Church be-
tion to philosophy, astronomy, trigonometry, and mathe-
cause of its location in the northeast corner of Vermont, and
matics has only recently begun. His importance in religion
later as the Messianic Communities) is a communal, mille-
lies partly in his being one of the subtlest and most learned
narian Bible-based movement that emerged from the Jesus
of the Sh¯ıE¯ı theologians, and partly in his application of
Movement in the 1970s counterculture of the United States.
philosophical ideas and methods to Islamic contexts and
Many of the Christian sects that emerged from this move-
problems, as well as his active involvement in the politico-
ment, such as the Children of God (the Family), Shiloh, and
religious debates of his time. Within the overall domain of
Jesus People USA, developed communal patterns of living.
Islamic philosophical thinking, by defending Ibn S¯ına¯’s phi-
The Twelve Tribes is one of the few Jesus groups that sur-
losophy, T:u¯s¯ı should be considered as representing a revival
vived from this period without disbanding or being absorbed
of philosophical thinking in the eastern Islamic lands. For
into the U.S. religious mainstream.
him, differences between Muslim sects and persuasions were
Elbert Eugene Spriggs (b. 1937) had worked as a per-
merely theological debates, allowing the partisans to move
sonnel manager and former schoolteacher when he joined a
freely from one stand to another without necessarily having
charismatic church in Glendale, California, in 1971. When
to take parochial positions. It is from such a perspective that
the church disbanded, he moved back to his hometown,
his ideas contributed to the development of h:ikmah
Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his new wife, Marsha Ann
muta Ea¯liyah (higher wisdom), later developed by Mulla¯
Duval. There the couple set up a small coffee shop in 1972
S:adra¯ (d. 1641) and the school of Isfahan.
called the Light Brigade, where they held Bible study groups
in the evenings. Attracting both young conservative Chris-
BIBLIOGRAPHY
tians and hippies from the “lost generation,” these Bible
There are still no comprehensive studies on T:u¯s¯ı in European lan-
study sessions extended long into the night, so people
guages. See H. Daiber and F. G. Ragep, “al-T:u¯s¯ı, Nas:¯ır
brought their sleeping bags and gradually moved in with the
al-D¯ın,” in Encyclopaedia of Islam, new edition (Leiden,
Spriggses, who shared their resources with their flock. The
1999), vol. X, pp. 747–757; as well as Wilferd Madelung,
coffee-house ministry expanded to include five Victorian
“Nas:¯ır al-D¯ın T:u¯s¯ı’s Ethics between Philosophy: ShiEism
houses that were renovated by Spriggs and his followers.
and Sufism,” in Ethics in Islam (Ninth Giorgio Levi Della
Vida Conference, May 6–8, 1983; Malibu, Calif., 1985), ed-
They also opened as a “court of the gentiles” a small health-
ited by Richard G. Hovannisian, pp. 85–101; Hamid Da-
food café called the Yellow Deli. The Spriggses attended the
bashi, “Khwa¯ja Nas:¯ır al-D¯ın al-T:u¯s¯ı: The Philosopher/
First Presbyterian Church with their flock, and worked close-
Vizier and the Intellectual Climate of His Times,” in History
ly with the New Covenant Apostolic Order, a short-lived
of Islamic Philosophy, edited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Oli-
Christian group.
ver Leaman (London, 1996), pp. 527–584; Herman Lan-
The group’s break with the mainstream Christian
dolt, “Khwa¯ja Nas:¯ır al-D¯ın T:u¯s¯ı, Isma¯E¯ıl¯ısm and Ishra¯q¯ı
Philosophy,” and Farhad Daftary, “Nas:¯ır al-D¯ın al-T:u¯s¯ı
church occurred in 1975, when the Spriggses and their
and the Ismailis of the Alamut Period,” in Nas:¯ır al-D¯ın T:u¯s¯ı,
friends arrived for the Sunday morning service at the local
ed. N. Pourjavady and zˇ. Vesel (Tehran, 2000), pp. 13–30
Presbyterian church and discovered that the service had been
and 59–67, respectively. Translations of some of T:u¯s¯ı’s
canceled on account of the Super Bowl. The Spriggses and
works include: Tas:awwura¯t, edited and translated into En-
their friends began to hold Sunday services in their commu-
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9410
TWELVE TRIBES
nal homes, and called themselves the Vine Community
Members give each other Hebrew names, accessed
Church. Spriggs began to baptize members in the local pond,
through inspired moments of prophecy. They consider
an act that alienated the Chattanooga Christian community,
themselves to be part of the Commonwealth of Israel form-
because he was not ordained in any denomination. They also
ing in the last days, bound by the New Covenant in the
began observing the Saturday Sabbath, following Jewish cus-
blood of the Messiah (Eph. 2:12). The Tribes are strongly
tom. In 1980 the group relocated to Island Pond, Vermont,
evangelistic, but instead of sending out missionaries to
where they were called the Church in Island Pond, and as
spread their doctrines, they seek to win converts by inviting
they spread through New England, they adopted a new
outsiders into their communal houses in order to demon-
name, the Northeast Kingdom Community Church.
strate the reality of a loving, sharing, orderly communal and
family life. Visitors are invited to share their meals, and to
“Gene” Spriggs is recognized by his followers as an
“Apostle” (authoritative teacher). Although all community
witness their happy family life and joyful revival meetings,
members believe that they are inspired by God and have the
which combine circle dancing, singing, sermons, and prayer.
gift of prophecy, they believe that he exhibits these gifts on
Once there, visitors encounter a unique, spiritual culture that
a higher level, and they call him Yoneq (Hebrew for “sap-
resembles the historic Shaker villages in its “hands to work,
ling”). This millenarian movement has grown to around
hearts to God” ethic. Twelve Tribes women are skilled in the
2,500 members (half of them are second and third genera-
crafts of baking, painting with watercolors, sewing and mac-
tion) living in communities in nine countries on four conti-
ramé, and making soaps and body lotions. The men are
nents as far-flung as New Zealand, Brazil, England, France,
skilled in leatherwork, cabinet-making, candle-making, and
Germany, Spain, and Canada. Their early communities were
making stained-glass windows. Their renovated Victorian
established in New England—Vermont, Rhode Island, and
houses preserve the historic style, and they repair antique fur-
Massachusetts, where the largest concentration of members
niture, expressing their doctrine of restoration. Their chil-
can be found. Each community names itself after its local
dren sing and compose an impressive repertoire of original
town or area.
devotional songs. Boys work alongside their fathers in the
candle factories and farms, and daughters assist their mothers
Over their thirty-year history, the Twelve Tribes have
in the kitchen and sewing rooms. All members spend at least
come to believe that they are the restoration of the messianic
two hours a day in devotional dancing and singing, and
Hebrew New Testament community of the first century CE.
many play and even build their own musical instruments.
This belief evolved through members’ study of the Bible and
personal experiences. They reject the “white-bread” Chris-
Another missionary strategy employs the community’s
tianity of mainstream churches that worship a remote imper-
famous double-decker buses, which appear at Grateful Dead
sonal God and does not sustain the soul, and they replace
festivals, the Billy Graham Crusade, the Rainbow Gathering,
it, both literally and symbolically, with the “wholegrain,
and other mass events. Men, women, and children make
home-baked bread” of their living communal “church” that
friends by offering hospitality that includes free distribution
seeks to bring about the return and loving union with Yah-
of wholegrain baked goods, apple cider tea, and first-aid ser-
shua (Jesus). The community attempts to restore the New
vices, and members invite the crowd to join in their circle
Testament church by developing a physical and artistic cul-
dancing and musical jams. They distribute the Freepaper,
ture that interprets first-century messianic Judaism in twen-
their missionary tract which portrays a utopian vision of per-
ty-first-century terms. They are divided into “tribes” that
fect, loving families and service to one’s brothers and sisters
correspond to their geographical regions. Men grow full
preparing for the return of Yahshua.
beards and women cover their heads with scarves, following
Considering that this new religious movement is rela-
the Jewish custom.
tively small and lacks the controversial features of some other
In the “church” (community), members follow a strict
Christian millennial groups—such as the use of firearms or
code of ethics, dress, and diet, and must surrender to the hi-
illegal drugs, and polygamy or “free love”—level of conflict
erarchical authority that descends from God through Yoneq,
between the group and the larger society has been extraordi-
the Elders, the Teachers, the fathers, and the mothers, to the
narily high. The trouble began in Chattanooga in the mid-
children. The Twelve Tribes is dedicated to ushering in the
1970s with a series of eight kidnappings and “deprogram-
millennium by “raising up a people” who are truly loving and
mings” of Spriggs’s youthful followers by Ted Patrick, the
free of sin and selfishness. The church defines itself as the
cofounder of FREECOG, the first anticult organization that
“pure and spotless bride” of Revelation who is preparing for
formed in opposition to the Children of God (COG).
the return of her king, Yahshua—the second coming. The
FREECOG and was superseded by the nationally based Citi-
path of the Tribes is the restoration of the primitive Jewish/
zen’s Freedom Foundation, which networked with the
Christian church, as described in Acts 2:37–47 and 4:32–35.
media, labeling the Tribes a cult and attributing their success
This restoration is both theological and practical, and has led
in winning converts to brainwashing. The conflict escalated
to a whole new way of life based on renouncing possessions,
in 1982 when a series of custody battles launched by parents
worldly habits, and attachments, and sharing all goods in
who had left the community drew attention to the group’s
common.
sectarian methods of child rearing and their strict, Bible-
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TWINS: AN OVERVIEW
9411
based practice of corporal punishment of children. Stigma-
ual process in which, before the return of Yahshua, the
tizing news reports proliferated, portraying the Island Pond
Tribes must raise up a people of seven generations before the
Community Church as a scary, gothic, puritanical “neo-
Yo-bell, the last trumpet of revelations, will be blown. A new
Salem,” where children were routinely neglected and abused.
revelation laid out in the Stone Kingdom Freepaper, a special
edition of the Freepaper, adds a middle ground between the
The Twelve Tribes guidelines stipulate that children
saved and the damned, where “just men,” or people who
who do not obey upon first command must be punished,
have never encountered the Tribes, will live.
and the millenarian rationale is that they must be alert and
ready to respond to Yahshua’s call when he returns. Chastise-
SEE ALSO Family, The; Jesus Movement; Millenarianism,
ments usually consist of a few blows to the palm with a flexi-
overview article.
ble stick, and they must not be given in anger. Through this
discipline, parents believe that their children will achieve
B
eternal life; otherwise, they are in danger of “dying” into sin.
IBLIOGRAPHY
Bozeman, John, and Susan Palmer. “The Northeast Kingdom
On June 22, 1984, the Island Pond Community was the
Community Church of Island Pond, Vermont: Raising Up
target of a massive raid to seize their children. Ninety Ver-
a People for Yahshua’s Return.” Journal of Contemporary Re-
mont state troopers and fifty social rehabilitation services
ligion 12, no. 2 (May 1997): 181–190.
workers arrived in the predawn hours with a court order;
Palmer, Susan J. “Helpmeets in the Messianic Communities.” In
they searched the households and took 112 children into
Moon Sisters, Krishna Mothers, Rajneesh Lovers: Women’s Role
protective custody. Parents accompanied their children to
in New Religions, edited by Susan J. Palmer. Syracuse, N.Y.,
the hearing in Newport, Vermont, where District Judge
1994.
Frank Mahady held forty individual hearings in one day. At
Palmer, Susan J. “Apostates and Their Role in the Construction
the end of the day, he ruled that the search warrant issued
of Grievance Claims against the Northeast Kingdom/
by the state was unconstitutional, and he noted that the chil-
Messianic Communities.” In The Politics of Religious Aposta-
dren involved had been detained solely in order to provide
sy: The Role of Apostates in the Transformation of Religious
Movements
, edited by David G. Bromley, pp. 191–208.
evidence for charges of abuse, and that no concrete evidence
Westport, Conn., 1998.
other than hearsay had been produced by the state. The
church-state confrontation thus ended abruptly, and the
Palmer, Susan J. “Frontiers and Families: The Children of Island
children were returned to their parents. Ten years after
Pond.” In Children in New Religions, edited by Susan J.
Palmer and Charlotte E. Hardmann, pp. 153–171. New
the raid, the Twelve Tribes held a festival (which has become
Brunswick, N.J., 1999.
an annual event) to commemorate their “deliverance” from
the raid. Some of the children of the raid, many of whom
Palmer, Susan J. “The Messianic Communities’ Stone Kingdom.”
In Christian Millennialism from the Early Church to Waco, ed-
are married with their own children, speak out in defense of
ited by Stephen Hunt. London, 2001.
their parents and their community.
Swantko, Jean A. “A 25 Year Retrospective on the Impact of the
The Tribes have also become a target for Christian
Anti-Cult Movement on Children of the Twelve Tribes
countercult groups who are combating Christian heresy.
Community.” Paper presented at the Thirteenth Interna-
Reverend Robert Pardon founded the New England Insti-
tional Conference of CESNUR. Bryn Athlyn, Penn., 1999.
tute of Religious Research, and through his website he dis-
Swantko, Jean A. “An Issue of Control: Conflict between the
seminates discrediting accounts of the Twelve Tribes’s Apos-
Church in Island Pond and State Government.” Available
tle, their “heretical” doctrines, and what he perceives to be
from http://religiousmovements.lib.Virginia.edu/nrms/
excessive control by the group over the lives of individuals.
tribes.html.
The two executive leaders of the Tribes are a married
SUSAN J. PALMER (2005)
couple, Eddie Wiseman (“Hakam”) and Jean Swantko, a
lawyer who experienced a religious conversion while working
on Wiseman’s legal defense. They have responded to anticult
pressure and social-control efforts by secular authorities by
TWINS
This entry consists of the following articles:
opening up dialogues with scholars at conferences, holding
AN OVERVIEW
press conferences, and making persistent efforts to correct
BALTIC TWIN DEITIES
misinformation and reach out to their critics. The Twelve
Tribes, who have adopted the colonialist hero Roger Wil-
liams as a sort of patron saint, have managed to realize their
TWINS: AN OVERVIEW
own “separation of church and state” by preserving strict
The notion of duality, which must be distinguished from du-
boundaries between their community and the “sinful” soci-
alism, is common to every human culture. It finds a particu-
ety that surrounds them, while softening some of their sectar-
lar expression in the concept of the couple, an idea under-
ian attitudes. Their millenarian drama has evolved from an
stood as a generating agency not only in the field of animal
uncompromising and imminent catastrophic scenario in
physiology but also in numerical and metaphysical symbolo-
which all outsiders will fall into a lake of fire, to a more grad-
gy (as, for example, in Pythagorean speculation). According
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9412
TWINS: AN OVERVIEW
to this, the One and the Two, as generating principles, are
More significant and much older is a text belonging to the
perceived as masculine and feminine. The kind of duality ex-
very old Ga¯tha¯s in the Zoroastrian Avesta (Yasna 30.3). This
pressed by the generating couple need not be viewed as dual-
poem mentions two spirits (Spenta Mainyu and Angra
istic in itself, but the shift from duality to dualism is obvious
Mainyu) who “were seen in sleep as twins”; they are respec-
when the constituent elements (the One and the Two, male
tively good and bad in thought, word, and action and the
and female) are understood as principles that are, in effect,
foundations of life and its opposite. According to a recent
principal: that is, when their mutual relationship is responsi-
translation of this text by Helmut Humbach, their aspects
ble for the first origins of the world and of human beings
as the foundations of life and its opposite are not to be inter-
and, at the same time, is one characterized by a strong dispar-
preted specifically in a chronological sense (that is, in the
ity of value (or even a total opposition) between them.
sense of a cosmogony); but one may still consider the two
Another privileged expression of duality, in both physi-
spirits as opposite principles that exist prior to any manifesta-
ology and symbology, is the notion of twinship. The concept
tion of their existence in this world and hold them account-
of twinship is not reducible to the projection of a physiologi-
able for the existence of good and bad, life and death. Thus,
cal experience on a symbological plane. In fact, physiology
they express a radical formulation of dualism, not only moral
requires the possibility of more than two twins, a possibility
but ontological.
that is normally excluded in the symbological use of the no-
It is not clear, however, whether the two spirits are liter-
tion. Thus, the duality of twins, an essential constituent of
ally twins. According to most scholars, they are sons of one
the notion in symbology, is given a peculiar function in the
and the same father, Ahura Mazda¯ (the former spelling of the
field of ontology, different from that of the couple. First, the
name O
¯ hrmazd), because other texts in the Ga¯tha¯s state that
couple is understood as a generating agency from the dynam-
Ahura Mazda¯ is the father of the beneficent Spenta Mainyu.
ic perspective of a sonship, which, on the symbological plane,
Moreover, the same scholars, noting that the text quoted
can be unitary (as in the triadic pattern of father, mother,
above mentions a “choice” made by the two twins (a good
and son) or indefinitely plural. The notion of twins, howev-
er, is oriented toward stasis, whether there is a perfect sym-
choice by the first and a bad choice by the second), think that
metry between the two constituent elements, or, inversely,
these choices were made freely, in keeping with the then-
disparity between them. In fact, twinship is founded on the
current Zoroastrian notion of the free choice between good
physiological experience of the diachrony of twins’ concep-
and bad that can be made by any human being in this world.
tion in or emergence from the maternal womb. (This diach-
This interpretation appears highly improbable. Good and
rony is the motivation behind seniorship, the notion that the
bad seem natural choices for the first and second spirit re-
twin born second was conceived first.)
spectively (otherwise, why should there be precisely two?),
in the sense that the spirits prefigure the radical character of
HISTORICAL EXAMPLES. Diachrony is a decisive element in
the choice. Or, rather, they embody it, but as principles and
a famous mythical story about twins, the myth of the birth
preformate referents of the choice itself and its consequences
of O
¯ hrmazd and Ahriman, the God and the Antigod of Zo-
for people and da¯evas, that is, life and its opposite. This is
roastrian religion; this narrative is not explicitly accounted
the only interpretation that can account for the pregnancy
for in Zoroastrian literature but only in Christian and Islam-
and the profound intermixture of ontology and ethics (as
ic sources arguing against Zoroastrianism. It was not intend-
well as cosmogony and moral struggle) that is characteristic
ed to resolve the radical dualism of Zoroastrianism but to
of Zoroastrianism in every period of its history. Moreover,
provide an explanation of the origins of evil. Zurwa¯n, the
it would be impossible to conceive the great god Ahura
personification of time, performed a sacrifice in order to gen-
Mazda¯ as the father of the evil spirit, for the simple reason
erate O
¯ hrmazd, the potential creator of all good things. But
that their respective essences have nothing in common. In
Zurwa¯n doubted the efficacy of his sacrifice, and as a result
conclusion, the term twins, as applied to the two spirits,
he gave birth to twin sons, O
¯ hrmazd and Ahriman. The for-
should be understood in that Gathic text not as designating
mer was a result of his sacrifice, and the latter the conse-
brothers, sons of one and the same father, but as a strong ex-
quence of his doubt. Since Zurwa¯n had pledged to concede
pression of their symmetrical and perfectly contrary essences.
the royal privilege to the first son who appeared before him,
In order to compare this notion of the twin spirits with the
the perverse Ahriman broke out of the maternal womb pre-
myth of Zurwa¯n and his two sons (who are also good and
maturely and demanded the fulfillment of his father’s prom-
bad already in their respective natures and not as a conse-
ise. Zurwa¯n did not acknowledge him as a true son but was
quence of a contrary choice made by them), one must take
obliged to honor his promise; he declared that Ahriman
into account the precisely different natures of Ahura Mazda¯
would be king for nine thousand years, but that O
¯ hrmazd
and Zurwa¯n. The former is a supreme being completely en-
would be king forever.
dowed with personality and ethics; the latter—as time or des-
Despite Zurwa¯n’s probable existence in the mythology
tiny personified—is not so endowed; he is an entity apt to
of older times (in the cuneiform tablets of Nuzi and, accord-
have materially with himself and to generate from himself
ing to some scholars, in a silver relief coming from Luristan),
such contrary personal agents as the twin characters, God
a similar myth of twinship appears in later religious contexts.
and Antigod, that is, O
¯ hrmazd (the old Ahura Mazda¯) and
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TWINS: AN OVERVIEW
9413
Ahriman (the old Destructive Spirit) and their mutually op-
Ahriman (with the exception of some brief, very heterodox
posing activities.
tales in which he is given some positive capacities that render
him rather akin to the figure of a trickster: For example, it
These two examples show the mythical theme of twin-
is he who knows what O
¯ hrmazd must do in order to create
ship in the context of the dualistic conceptions of Zoroastri-
the great luminaries). However, some comparisons may be
an religion. As has been seen, the opposition between the two
drawn between the Iroquois myth and the myth of the birth
twins in the Ga¯tha¯s and in the myth of Zurwa¯n is, in a sense,
of O
¯ hrmazd and Ahriman from Zurwa¯n. Some of the char-
horizontal. A different use of the theme of twins is present
acteristics of the bad Tawiskaron may remind one of the
in Manichaeism. Mani was said to have a counterpart in the
deeds of Ahriman. The bad Iroquois twin breaks out of the
celestial realm, a twin, (Syr., at-Taum) a pneumatic-divine
maternal womb, emerging from his mother’s side. Iouskeha’s
entity who was both his protecting agency and his alter ego.
demiurgical activity, like that of O
¯ hrmazd, calls the good
In the Manichaean Codex of Cologne, a Greek biographical
creatures of the world into existence; the creations of his twin
text, the term suzugos (“he who is bound in marriage”) is sub-
are monstrous and maleficent. Tawiskaron calls into exis-
stituted for twin. This is reminiscent of the fact that in Val-
tence a gigantic frog who absorbs all the water in the world,
entinian Gnosticism the soul of the Gnostic was conceived
causing aridity—a mythical motif that also exists in the
of as feminine, destined to marry her divine counterpart, her
Zurwa¯n mythology. All in all, differences predominate. Even
angel. In Mani’s case, the terms twin and husband both point
though Iouskeha (or Oterongtongnia) triumphs, he does not
to a relationship that implies the Gnostic notion of the per-
transcend his identity as a twin and grandson—not even the
fect consubstantiality of the celestial element and its counter-
privileged one—of the female, primordial character, Ataent-
part active in the terrestial realm. The terrestrial element
sic. Therefore, he has very little in common with the high
waits to be reunited with the celestial element, the pneumatic
god of Zoroastrianism, who does transcend his earthly role.
self. At the same time, the heavenly twin and the angelic hus-
band are an expression of transcendence in relation to what-
There are numerous problems connected with the
ever lives in the terrestial realm: “The mysteries and [vi]sions
myths of twins found among American Indians because of
and the excellence of my Father, and concerning me, who
certain sociological elements common to many tribes; the
I am, and my suzugos . . . who he is” (Manichaean Codex
tendency toward a dual organization, for instance, is shared
of Cologne 23.1–5). It is clear that this ambivalence concern-
by many populations of North and South America. It ap-
ing the perfect consubstantiality (or even identification) be-
pears that the two moieties of a tribe are frequently connect-
tween Mani and his twin and at the same time the difference
ed with two mythical twins. According to Werner Müller
between them (i. e., their respective, actual identities) before
(1956), this prevents one from interpreting the opposition
the final return of Mani’s soul to its original abode implies
between such twins as a crude opposition between good and
a vertical structure, well adapted to the general Gnostic no-
evil. According to Mircea Eliade, the Iroquois myth “is a du-
tion of a devolution of some pneumatic essence or of its mis-
alist myth, the only North American myth susceptible to
sion in this mixed world. This notion is antithetical to the
comparison with the Iranian dualism of zurvanite type. . . .
radical, horizontal opposition of essences expressed in Zoro-
Nevertheless, as shall presently be seen, such an irreducible
astrianism in the notion of twin spirits.
antagonism does not reach the Iranian paroxysm, and this
for the simple reason that the Iroquois refuse to identify in
Among the nonliterate cultures in which dualistic and
the ‘bad’ twin the essence of ‘evil,’ the ontological evil that
(needless to say) dual myths and conceptions exist, explicit
obsessed Iranian religious thought” (Eliade, 1969, p. 147f.).
radical dualisms are rare. The notion of two symmetrically
Moreover, the ontological basis of the Iroquois dual and (be-
opposed twins is found in the Iroquois myth of Iouskeha
cause connected with cosmogony) dualistic mythology is in-
(“sprout”) and Tawiskaron (“flint”). More primitive tribes
tertwined with sociological and cultural motivations; it im-
that profess a dualistic mythology do not share the idea of
plies a question not only of essence but also of function.
a symmetry between two opposed, superhuman beings (as,
Tawiskaron’s activity, though essentially negative in its value,
for example in the myth of Coyote, who has nothing in com-
is considered to have an effect on Iroquois institutions (their
mon—as far as his origin and ontological meaning are con-
cult and calendar) and way of life. As Eliade observes (on the
cerned—with the creator). The Iroquois are agriculturalists
basis of Werner Müller’s argumentation), it was a prophet
with matriarchal institutions. This may imply that the dual-
of the Seneca tribe, Handsome Lake, who, at the beginning
istic structure expressed in their myth, both in terms of the
of the nineteenth century “substituted for the couple of the
symmetry of opposing twins and their common origin from
mythical Twins that of the Great God, Haweniyo (the ‘Great
a maternal entity, derives from a lunar mythology. On the
Voice’) and the Devil, Haninseono (‘Who Dwells in the
other hand, this symmetry must be distinguished from that
Earth’)” (ibid., p. 148). This substitution could be a result
found in Zoroastrianism between the opposed “twin” spirits,
of the prophet’s monotheistic tendency, but as Müller and
or between Ahriman and O
¯ hrmazd. The Zoroastrian notion
Eliade point out, it could also be a response to the accusation
of the ontological opposition between the two spirits or be-
made by the Europeans that the Iroquois “adored the Devil.”
tween God and Antigod is radicalized to such an extreme
This accusation has been leveled several times in response to
that it denies any dialectical or complementary function for
dualistic theologies and mythologies; it implies that there is
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9414
TWINS: AN OVERVIEW
a cult around the second element of the couple. This element
cannot but concur with Eliade that the twins in these my-
may be a demiurge-trickster, a culture hero, or a twin, in no
thologies form a complementary couple ruling “the two
way an exclusively bad character because it is also connected
modes or two ‘times,’ which together constitute the living
with an important, complementary aspect of reality. Such a
and fertile universe” (ibid., p. 149).
notion is a reminder of the Egyptian myth (as expounded by
Another character from these Iroquois myths, the Gran-
Plutarch) that Seth, the opposing and destroying agency
de Bosse, a double of Tawiskaron, who fought against the
complementary to Osiris, was defeated but not annihilated
creator and introduced sickness and other evils, was finally
in order that the equilibrium of the universe remain un-
defeated but was given the task of curing and helping people.
changed.
This double lives on the cliffs at the borders of the world,
According to A˚ke Hultkrantz, the theme of twins in
in the land where diseases are born, accompanied by the
American Indian culture is connected with the figure of the
False Faces, the abortive creations of Tawiskaron, who had
culture hero. This hero may be the father of the twins; in
tried in vain to imitate the human beings created by his
some instances, at least one of the twins has some of the
brother. But, as Müller points out, as known from ritual,
hero’s characteristics. One even gets the impression that the
these creatures “in spring and autumn, drive away the mala-
twins incorporate respectively the two essences or tendencies
dies from the villages” (Müller, 1946, p. 272). This is a no-
present in the culture hero: “the vocation to produce and the
tion widespread both in North America and in Australia,
vocation to destroy” (Hultkrantz, 1963, p. 41). Hultkrantz
namely, that bad entities or spirits that are guilty of homicide
maintains that there is also a kind of parallelism between the
are endowed with the capacity to heal: They know the “med-
relationship linking the supreme being and the culture hero
icine.” In the Menomini cult of Manabozo, for example, the
on the one hand and the relationship between the two twins
evil spirits responsible for the death of the brother of the hero
on the other. “It seems verisimilar that the myth of the twins
are obliged to impart the medicine to those initiated in the
be a variation of the mythological theme expressed in the re-
cult, that is, to act against their previous homicidal activity.
lationship between the Supreme Being and the cultural hero,
The same applies to the dreadful character of Crow in some
and that it influenced the latter only secondarily, possibly
Australian myths and also to the Egyptian myth already
emphasizing dualism present in this” (ibid., p. 41f.).
mentioned, in which the evil Seth is defeated but not annihi-
lated. A providential decision by Isis allows him to continue
In other cases, the twins have nothing in common with
his struggle against Apophis, the serpent, who day after day
the culture hero, but they may accomplish—individually or
attacks the cosmic boat of the sun crossing the heaven.
together—some of the deeds traditionally attributed to him.
Eliade’s discussion applies to the Egyptian situation as well
According to Paul Radin (1949), three types are to be distin-
as to the Indian:
guished at the core of American Indian myths of twinship.
First, the mother of the twins dies as a result of outside ag-
In other words, though the adversary has been defeated
gression or the unnatural birth of the bad twin (as among
by the Great God, his works, the “evil,” persist in the
the Iroquois). In both myths, the second twin is negative and
world. The Creator does not seek to, or perhaps he can-
violent, but the first—at least in the first type of myth—is
not, annihilate the “evil,” but neither does he permit it
scarcely more commendable in his modus operandi. Second,
to corrupt his creation. He accepts it as an inevitable
negative aspect of life, but at the same time he compels
the twins are children of the Sun. They are different in char-
his adversary to combat the results of his own work.
acter, but they cooperate. The third type of myth is a combi-
(1969, p. 149)
nation of the first two. The first type seems to be common
among the northern regions of North America; the second
Eliade points out, too, that the Iroquois worldview displays
is concentrated in the southwestern regions of the same con-
a clearly dualistic view of evil. Considered a “disastrous inno-
tinent; the third belongs exclusively to South America.
vation” brought about by some bad superhuman personage,
evil is nonetheless
Particularly interesting is the respective quality of the
achievements of the twins in the context of their demiurgical
accepted as a henceforth inevitable modality of life and
activity, an issue that adds new particulars to the generic
of human existence. . . . The universe is imagined to
statement that the second twin, as Eliade points out, “does
have a central portion, i. e., the village and the cultivat-
not incarnate the idea of, ‘evil’ but only the negative, dark
ed fields, inhabited by men; this central portion is sur-
rounded by an exterior desert full of stones, swamps,
aspect of the world” (Eliade, 1969, p. 149). Thus, among the
and “False faces.” (ibid., pp. 149–150)
Tuscarora, an Iroquois tribe, the bad twin, “animated by a
bad spirit,” came violently to light, so killing his mother. The
The same situation is found in old Egypt, where the Nile and
good twin tried to create plants and animals, but the other,
the land that is periodically flooded by it belong to Osiris;
trying to imitate him, succeeded only in bringing desert
the desert and the barren sea (with the foreign, Asiatic) coun-
lands and reptiles into existence. The bad twin also created
tries belong to the “red” Seth (red being the color of the de-
the bodies of human beings; his brother gave them souls. In
sert), who is characterized by loneliness, infertility, and ag-
the end, the bad twin was vanquished but not annihilated;
gressiveness. A similar notion is found among the Dogon of
he became the king of the dead (Hultkrantz, 1963). One
West Africa. Nommo, the god of water (that of the Niger),
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TWINS: AN OVERVIEW
9415
may resemble the high god of numerous mythologies in his
The principle of twinship is fundamental to the ideolo-
creative activity. The infelicitous attempts of his evil brother,
gy of the Dogon of Mali. For them, twinship means perfec-
Yurugu, or Ogo (who is not properly a twin), at creation re-
tion. One of the main characters of their cosmology and cos-
sult in misshapen, monstrous creatures. Compelled by his ex-
mogony is Nommo. He is perfect and beneficent. His
perience of failure, he introduces pain into the existence of
personality is equivalent to a pair of twins, masculine and
the good creatures. In doing so, Yurugu joins the ranks of
feminine, who represent the ideal couple. This couple is not
the demiurge-tricksters at least in terms of his inability to im-
to be imitated on this earth because the marriage between
itate the efficacy of the creator. But a difference remains. The
twins is prohibited as a result of the troubles caused by
demiurge-trickster is more interested in particular occur-
Yurugu, or Ogo, the first son of Amma and the Earth.
rences in purposedly worsening the quality of life than is the
Nommo as a spiritual entity is a married couple, which is,
bad twin or brother; he introduces painful conditions of life,
because married, completely perfect. Yurugu alone is single,
creates cliffs and mountains that are difficult to cross, and
imperfect, and unhappy. He personifies deficiency, ontologi-
causes people to become mortal (as does Coyote among some
cal and ethical. Not directly linked to a twin (Nommo is
Californian tribes and the bad demiurge of some Asiatic my-
his younger brother), Yurugu is only understandable as
thologies). But he also justifies his actions by claiming that
Nommo’s misshapen opposite. But it is exactly this opposi-
he challenges human cultural creativity by providing obsta-
tion (and not the twinship inherent in the entity that is
cles to survival.
Nommo) that introduces a crucial dialectic between
completeness and deficiency in the Dogon ideology. In this
Another important feature of American Indian mythol-
ideology, there is a kind of articulated totality in which defi-
ogies of twins is that in South America and in the southwest-
ciency—as represented by Yurugu—is an indispensable com-
ern regions of North America twins are conceived as sons of
ponent. All in all, it may be concluded that in the Dogon
the sun. Their birth is characterized by the violent death of
ideology, twinship attains a higher status than in American
their mother. The twins are not necessarily portrayed as ri-
Indian mythologies, because in those mythologies the princi-
vals. The difference between them is sometimes attested to
ple of twinship is directly engaged in a dialectic of complete-
by the difference of their respective destinies; one of them
ness and incompleteness as an element constituting a totality
experiences death but is resurrected by the other (a motif
(so that even the “dark” element of a pair of twins is consid-
found in the classical myth of the Dioscuri). These twins rep-
ered positive from a functional point of view).
resent universal duality at the cosmological and sociological
levels, which fact, however, does not prevent a consideration
According to the Dogon conception, twinship as such
of them as disparate in terms of their ontological consistency
transcends evil but is pledged to coexist with it (i.e., with the
and their axiological evaluation. Similar interpretations apply
single Yurugu). This kind of triadic ontology is very similar
when the mythical referents of the twins are respectively Sun
to that expressed in the Egyptian myth of Osiris and Seth
and Moon, such as among the Apinagé (or Apinayé; see Ni-
told by Plutarch. The good Osiris and the bad Seth are not
muendajú, 1939). Among the Caribbean population of the
twins but brothers. Osiris’ counterpart is his wife, Isis; Seth
Kaliña, the first twin, Tanusi, is a kind of high god and an-
is infecund and alone—which does not prevent him from
cestor, the creator of all good things, living in the “land with-
being an element of a universal totality. Yurugu’s status as
the older son of Amma is a feature not uncommon in dualis-
out evening.” Yolokantamulu, his twin brother, is connected
tic conceptions. For instance, the birth of Ahriman precedes
with obscurity and the pains of humanity and lives in the
(though as a consequence of a trick and a violent act) that
“land without morning.” By the standard tendency implicit
of O
¯ hrmazd in the Zurvanite myth, while Satan is the youn-
in this kind of duality, the inborn disparity of the twins is
ger (or older) brother of Christ in the dualistic and sectarian
not to be explained only as an expression of mere opposition
doctrine of the Bogomils. The violence that characterizes the
between good and evil but also (or even preeminently) as an
birth or coming to light of a bad twin or brother is typical
expression of ontological and cosmological (and sometimes
of such twinship mythologies; this feature probably expresses
sociological and psychological) complementarity (but see
a kind of recrimination against the bad twin, which is in-
also the discussion by Josef Haekel, 1958, concerning Tanu-
tended to diminish but not to abolish his “legitimacy.”
si’s feature as high god). At the same time, a notion of the
disparity of value between the twins in the American Indian
Finally, as far as the “incompleteness” of Yurugu is con-
mythologies and religions can find a counterpart, as Eliade
cerned (i.e., his deprivation of the benefits of both twinship
(1969, pp. 137f.) has observed, in the conception of the two
and marriage, or of the marriage implied in twinship), one
souls in humans, one of heavenly origin and the other of “an-
can conclude that for the first entities of some cosmogonies
imal” nature (as among the Apapocúva of Brazil). As for the
the duality of twinship and the duality of the married couple
Caribbean Kaliñas, they characteristically claim that things
are the same. (An example can be found in the Zoroastrian
existing on earth have their spiritual counterpart in heaven.
myth of the first human couple, Mashya and Mashyane, who
On the sociological plane, the twins may sometimes repre-
were twins due to the fact that they were brought into exis-
sent respectively the two moieties of a tribe, as among the
tence as the result of a split within a rhubarb plant.) On the
already quoted Apinagé.
contrary, this identification between the two main forms of
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9416
TWINS: AN OVERVIEW
duality on the anthropological level—between marriage and
self the “bad” aspect, or simply the inferior quality, of the
twinship—is prohibited in the actual life of the Dogon as a
second twin, is not unqualified and static but articulated and
lasting consequence of the rupture of harmony caused by the
dynamic; a distant equivalent is to be found in Platonic,
“previous guilt” committed by Yurugu, a guilt that is both
Middle Platonic, and Neoplatonic speculation, where the ex-
a cause and a consequence of his deficiency. According to a
istence of the lower, imperfect world, made after the image
version recorded by Montserrat Palau Marti (1957),
of the ideal one, is a requisite for the completeness of the All.
Yurugu’s deficiency was due to the fact that he was born ir-
It is clear that this notion of an imperfection, which is
regularly to Amma and the Earth, a couple whose feminine
a necessary component of a perfect totality, is extraneous to
component had not yet been excised and was therefore not
biblical creationism. It is dualistic in itself (when the two
yet ready for marriage and generation.
members of the couple are seen as disparate “principles” in
Another version ascribes the guilt to Yuguru himself,
the context of a cosmogony), and it in turn expresses a dialec-
who could not believe that Amma would give him a wife for
tical form of dualism. It must be distinguished from two
his twin. This ambivalence concerning the ontological level
other forms of dualism, where the “harmony” of the dialecti-
to which the first origin of deficiency is attributed reminds
cal position is broken. The first is the Zoroastrian conception
one of the sin of Sophia according to Valentinus and his fol-
of the twins, one beneficent and the other maleficent; their
lowers. Sophia failed to obey the law that regulated the order
relationship is one of radical opposition and mutual exclu-
and fecundity of the aeons, those spiritual couples (or syzy-
sion (a condition also present in the myth of Zurwa¯n, despite
gies) that exist in the divine Pleroma (“fullness”). Yurugu did
the fact that the idea of Time as father of both O
¯ hrmazd and
not find his “twin soul” (literally, the feminine part of his
Ahriman is not to be confused with the Zoroastrian concep-
soul) because of his lack of belief or, alternatively, because
tion of the twin spirits, who cannot have God as their com-
of his inborn deficiency, and therefore he cohabited incestu-
mon father). The second form is found in Gnostic specula-
ously with his mother, the Earth; this resulted in the birth
tion, particularly Manichaeism, where matter, the substance
of certain malevolent entities who live in the woods, outside
of this visible world, is condemned, and Mani, the inspired
of the culturalized and purified (i. e., ritually cultivated)
founder, has a spiritual twin who is a heavenly counterpart
land. On the other hand, the impurity and sterility of
of himself (i.e., his true self), to which he is to be “reduced”
Yurugu does not prevent him from being an important ele-
after his corporeal death.
ment in the cosmological process; he is an essential part of
INDO-EUROPEAN CULTURES. This article comes finally to
the ordinary life of the Dogon. His “words” are essential to
some myths of twins in the Indo-European cultures. In
the development of life. Nommo, that is to say, one of the
India, Yama, whose name means “twin,” is accompanied by
twins that compose his double personality, was sacrificed,
a female counterpart, Yam¯ı, the feminine form of his name.
and some cosmic entities were derived from him; he was later
But he underwent some essential modifications and became
resurrected. Once the world is put in motion, the androgy-
the king of the dead, a function well suited to his original
nous condition of existence (which was also peculiar to
quality as first man. In Iran, Yima (the equivalent of Yama),
Nommo, whose two souls, masculine and feminine, were
with his female twin, Yimak, remained a prototype of hu-
twins) is abolished, and sexual differentiation obtains—a dif-
manity. (Other prototypes were Gaya-maretan, a total figure
ferentiation, of course, that is different from the loneliness
with no female counterpart or twin, and Mashya and Mash-
and incompleteness of Yurugu, the inhabitant of the woods.
yane, the primordial twins and human progenitors.) Yima
All in all, Yurugu remains a representation of limitation, but,
later became the inhabitant of Var, a subterranean world in
for the same reason, also a referent of the growing cosmos
which different categories of living beings wait for the final
of culture and agriculture. This corresponds to the will of
rehabilitation. Yima’s connection with the principle of twin-
Amma, that all be found and all be functional in nature, the
ship is an important confirmation of the principle of duality
perfect and the imperfect. Dogon dualism has its roots
in the field of cosmogony, no less important than another
higher in the vertical series of the ontological levels; it affects
principle in the same field, androgyny.
the divine to some degree particularly if the first origin of de-
ficiency is seen as deriving from the irregular maternity of
The mention of a pair of Indian twin deities, the Nasa-
Earth, whose feminine part was not yet excised.
tyas (or A´svins), connected with the realm of health and
fecundity (the third function of Indo-European tripartite
One can conclude that the motif of twins in the ideolo-
ideology according to Georges Dumézil) provides an intro-
gies of nonliterate cultures takes two main expressions: (1)
duction to Castor and Pollux, the Dioscuri of Greek mythol-
symmetry, which being partial and not specular as in the Zo-
ogy. These can be seen as a privileged expression of ontologi-
roastrian (Gathic) notion of the two spirits, is an adequate
cal disparity, which is not necessarily ethical, contained
expression of the complementarity of twins; and (2) disparity
within a set of twins. According to the characteristic and pre-
in value, which also includes in itself a dynamism motivating
vailing (but not necessarily older) formulation of the myth
some peculiarities related in the myth (e.g., when the second
(first mentioned in the old epic poem Kypria, fragment 5k),
twin undergoes a crisis and is rehabilitated by the first). This
Pollux was immortal, the son of Zeus—the supreme god—
complementarity, which is capable of integrating within it-
and of Leda; Castor was mortal, son of Tyndareus, the
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TWINS: AN OVERVIEW
9417
human husband of Leda. A very particular mythical element
to a typology in between that of the chthonic hero and the
mediated their relationship so that they were neither wholly
heavenly god. Their shared immortality, based on their gem-
disparate nor wholly equal: The immortal Pollux renounced
inate personality, allows them to act together as heavenly
half of his immortality in favor of his mortal brother when
gods; as such, they manifest themselves on the summit of a
the latter was fatally wounded by some common enemies. As
ship’s mast during a tempest, or they appear at the decisive
a consequence of this, Castor and Pollux live alternatively in
moment during a battle. Their stay in a tomb links them to
the heavens and in the netherworld (or they sojourn in their
the classical heroes. All in all, this is a polytheistic interpreta-
tomb in Laconia, at Therapnae near Sparta). This particular
tion of the motif of twins, different from those that are famil-
aspect of the myth represents a very peculiar expression of
iar in nonliterate cultures.
the twinship motif. The twins’ symmetrical affinity is em-
The most famous set of twins in myth and legend is
phasized by their common attribute of the pilos, a piece of
Romulus and Remus, the founders of the Eternal City. Al-
headgear later interpreted as representing half of Leda’s egg;
though the Dioscuri were worshiped in old Latium, as dem-
on the other hand, their radical, original disparity is empha-
onstrated by an archaic Latin inscription from Lavinium
sized by the opposite natures of their respective fathers (Zeus
(fifth century BCE) dedicated to them, these twins were unre-
and a human hero). However, this dialectical situation—of
lated to the Roman twins. In contrast to the Dioscuri, who
partial affinity and radical disparity—is transcended by the
tended to be equated in their destiny and function (although
attribution to the mortal twin of one-half of the immortality
Castor has special relations with the cavalry, and the temple
of the other; this leads to the situation of an artificially pro-
on the forum was originally dedicated to—or at least named
duced, balanced equality. In this sense, twinship is both an
after—him, and only later after the Castores, the Roman
ontological presupposition and a final acquisition for them:
name of the Dioscuri), Romulus and Remus tended to be
a pattern different from, or opposed to, that of other myths
differentiated, to the extent that the former kills the latter
concerning twins or brothers who, on the basis of an onto-
immediately after the marking of the sacred pomerium,
logical or merely ethical or behavioral disparity, come to rep-
which was intended to separate the domestic soil of the city
resent opposing elements (sun or moon, life or death, etc.).
from all external territory. The killing of the offender,
Unfortunately, there are versions of the myth of the Di-
Remus, because he had violated the pomerium, may be inter-
oscuri that modify this basic pattern. In some texts, Castor
preted as prototypical of the drastic measures associated with
and Pollux are sons of the same father, Tyndareus, whose
this boundary for the protection of the city.
name can also designate Zeus (“he who strikes”). According
The legendary killing of Remus, however, did not pre-
to other sources, they are sons of Zeus (hence the name hoi
vent the Romans from continuing a ritual celebration, the
Dioskouroi, “the young sons of Zeus”). Moreover, there are
Lupercalia, at which time two groups of Luperci, those alleg-
different interpretations concerning the modalities of their
edly instituted by Romulus (the Fabiani) and those said to
alternating destinies apart from the fact that in old sources
be instituted by Remus (the Quinctiales), acted as rivals run-
(Homer) they live as typical heroes in their tomb at Therap-
ning around the old city acting out a rite intended to pro-
nae. The more widespread interpretation (Lucian) is that one
mote health and fertility and to reaffirm the ominous destiny
lives in heaven and the other in his tomb or in the nether-
of Rome. The rite was modified in 44 BCE, when a third
world, and vice versa. There are also good reasons for under-
group of Luperci was instituted (the Julii), the tradition be-
standing that they experience life and death together in alter-
hind the festivity being somewhat misunderstood. The
nation. In a famous song of victory (Nemean Odes 10),
owner of the third flock of Luperci, Caesar, who in those
Pindar immortalizes this episode, making brotherly love the
months was striving after kingship, could automatically be
motivation behind the generous deed of Pollux, who re-
compared to the first founders of Rome as a candidate for
nounces one-half of his (still to be experienced) immortality
kingship. All in all, the celebration of the Lupercalia—
to show that life (even immortal life) is hard without friends.
strictly ritualized and thus made inoffensive—could perpetu-
This throws a different light on the whole myth, more in ac-
ate in Rome’s historical memory a significant notion, that of
cordance with the old Homeric statement that the two are
an endogenous source of rivalry and destruction, a duality
together in their Laconian tomb, or h¯ero¯ion.
threatening to become a dualism and, as such, dangerous; for
this reason it was allowed to survive only within a strictly
Thus, the myth of the Dioscuri may be distinguished
controlled ritual.
from such myths as that of the Sumerian Dumuzi, who alter-
nates his stay in the netherworld with that of Geshtinanna,
TWINS AND THE MYTHS OF ORIGINS. One must note some
his sister. In other words, the Dioscuri do not belong funda-
considerations concerning the cultural-historical setting in
mentally to the typology of the dying god (even a dying god
life of at least some of these traditions of twinship within the
split into two figures who take turns dwelling in the nether-
context of myths of origins. Such traditions are dualistic in
world); they represent instead a special (duplicate) version of
character, whether they emphasize a horizontal or a frontal,
the hero, who lives in his tomb, from which emanates his
mutually exclusive opposition between the twins (as in the
protecting influence on the town and the territory. More
case of Zoroastrianism), or, alternatively, a dialectical rela-
precisely, the Dioscuri (theoi h¯ero¯es, “divine heroes”) belong
tionship between them. It would seem that this dialectic, as
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9418
TWINS: AN OVERVIEW
it is manifested among the American Indians, has something
of twinship on the ritual-sociological level, is perhaps too far-
in common with an ideology of agriculturists, based on ma-
fetched.
triarchal and lunar aspects (e.g., the Kaliña situated the twins
respectively on the bright and on the dark side of the moon).
SEE ALSO Androgynes; Clitoridectomy; Culture Heroes;
In the same way may be interpreted the extreme specializa-
Dualism; Tricksters.
tion and absoluteness of the dualism of the Iroquois twins,
deriving probably from a lunar, female entity, as well as the
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Baumann, Hermann, and Diedrich Westermann. Les peuples et les
type of culture present in the South American and Caribbean
civilisations de l’Afrique. Paris, 1948.
tribes. This means, as Hultkrantz (1963) has observed, that
dualism in America (at least this kind of dualism) is a south-
Bianchi, Ugo. Zaman i O
¯ hrmazd: Lo zoroastrismo nelle sue origini
e nella sua essenza. Turin, 1958.
ern phenomenon (as opposed to that of the Arctic hunters).
To be sure, one cannot forget, as Müller (1956) points out,
Bianchi, Ugo. Selected Essays on Gnosticism, Dualism and Mysterio-
sophy. Leiden, 1978. Compares Egyptian and Dogon my-
that some mythologies of hunters, both in Canada and in
thology (see especially pages 86–102) and discusses the Egyp-
California, are also dualistic. But this dualism (e.g., the well-
tian myth of Seth (pages 103–125) and the Zoroastrian
known myth concerning the demiurge-trickster, Coyote,
doctrine of the twin spirits and the myth of Zurwa¯n (pages
who opposes the high being in his creating activity and thus
361–416).
introduces death and the “heavy” physiology of human be-
Bianchi, Ugo. Il dualismo religioso: Saggio storico ed etnologico. 2d
ings) is structurally very different from the dialectical sym-
ed. Rome, 1983.
metry of twins. The high being and the demiurge-trickster
Boyce, Mary. A History of Zoroastrianism, vol. 1. Leiden, 1975.
are of very different extraction; they cannot be reduced to
a symmetrical, bipartite form of totality. On the other hand,
Chapouthier, Fernand. Les Dioscures au service d’une déesse. Paris,
1935.
dialecticism is not absent in the Californian myths of the su-
preme being and Coyote. The supreme being is a giver of life,
Cirillo, Luigi, ed. Atti del primo Simposio internazionale sul Codex
Manichaicus Coloniensis. Cosenza, 1986.
but death is introduced by Coyote on the basis of an argu-
ment that tends to emphasize the cultural utility rather than
Count, Earl W. “The Earth-Diver and the Rival Twins: A Clue
the negative aspect of death.
to Time Correlation in North-Eurasiatic and North Ameri-
can Mythology.” In Indian Tribes of Aboriginal America, ed-
Another issue concerning the twins motif in mythology
ited by Sol Tax, pp. 55–62. Chicago, 1952.
concerns the direct impact of the physiological experience of
Dumézil, Georges. Les dieux des Indo-Européens. Paris, 1952.
twinship on the psychology of the relevant populations. Ac-
Eliade, Mircea. The Quest: History and Meaning in Religion. Chi-
cording to Hultkrantz (1963, p. 45) the “superstitious” at-
cago, 1969. See especially pages 127–175.
tention paid to the phenomenon of twinship could have
Farnell, Lewis R. Greek Hero Cults and Ideas of Immortality
been inspired by its appearance in the symbological language
(1921). Oxford, 1970.
of myth. On the other hand, what is exceptional on earth
Griaule, Marcel, and Germaine Dieterlen. Le renard pâle, vol. 1,
could also be seen as primordial, so that the inauguration of
Le mythe cosmogonique. Paris, 1965.
the terrestrial (imperfect) status of humanity would have
meant also the transition from (perfect) twinship to (imper-
Gusinde, Martin. “Das Brüderpaar in der südamerikanischen
Mythologie.” In Proceedings of the Twenty-third International
fect) singleness. Twinship, as it is experienced in this world,
Congress of Americanists, 1928, pp. 687–698. New York,
comes to mean something extraordinary. In addition, the
1930.
rather extraordinary phenomenon of twinship has been dif-
Haekel, Josef. “Purá und Hochgott.” Archiv für Völkerkunde 13
ferently evaluated in different cultures. In Africa, for in-
(1958): 25–50.
stance, one moves from a feeling of dread before twins (in
some cases, one or both of them may be killed) among the
Harris, John R. The Cult of the Heavenly Twins. Cambridge, 1906.
San and Damara in southern Africa to a feeling of happiness
Hewitt, J. N. B., ed. Iroquoian Cosmology, 2 pts. Washington,
and expectation of good fortune in their presence, as in
D.C., 1903, 1928.
Sudan. One could also venture that the typical ambivalence
Hultkrantz, A˚ke. Les religions des indiens primitifs de l’Amérique:
found in the disparities between twins (the second twin as
Essai d’une synthèse typologique et historique. Stockholm,
bad, or simply as terrestrial, or, as a part of a totality, destined
1963.
for a sacrifice from which he is ultimately rescued, as among
Humbach, Helmut, ed. and trans. Die Ga¯tha¯s des Zarathustra.
the Dogon) is not unrelated to the problematical nature of
Heidelberg, 1959.
physiological twinship, in which the different values of duali-
Insler, Stanley. The Ga¯tha¯s of Zarathustra. Tehran and Leiden,
ty (completeness, but also distinction or even disparity) can
1975.
put in motion a plurality of interpretations, both at the
Krickeberg, Walter, ed. Die Religionen des alten Amerika. Stutt-
mythological and the ritual-sociological level. The reverse
gart, 1961. Translated as Les religions amérindiennes (Paris,
possibility, namely that the motif of twinship, which origi-
1962).
nally developed on the mythological level, could have moti-
Métraux, Alfred. “Twin Heroes in South American Mythology.”
vated with its different expressions the contradictory nature
Journal of American Folklore 59 (April–June 1946): 114–123.
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TWINS: BALTIC TWIN DEITIES
9419
Müller, Werner. Die Religionen der Waldlandindianer Nor-
the scattered branches of the damaged tree, the oak. It was
damerikas. Berlin, 1956.
only in the fourth year that she found the tip of the tree and,
Nimuendajú, Curt. The Apinayé. Washington D.C., 1939.
by piecing together all of the branches, made rebirth of the
Palau Martí, Montserrat. Les Dogon. Paris, 1957.
cosmos possible.
Radin, Paul. “The Basic Myth of the North American Indians.”
Another variation of this theme has it that during the
In Eranos–Jahrbuch (Zurich) 17 (1949): 359–419.
heavenly wedding a daughter of the sun drowned. Her body
Wide, Sam. Lakonische Kulte (1893). Stuttgart, 1973.
was carried down the river into the sea, from the sea it was
washed ashore, and in this spot grew a linden tree with nine
Zaehner, Robert C. Zurvan: A Zoroastrian Dilemma. Oxford,
1955.
branches. In Latvian mythology the number nine is an indi-
cator of time and space in the cosmos. While carving from
New Sources
this linden tree a kokles (psaltery), a Latvian musical instru-
Schwartz, Hillel. The Culture of the Copy: Striking Likenesses, Un-
ment considered to be the embodiment of a female deity or,
reasonable Facsimiles. New York, 1996.
in a broader sense, the soul and life of a woman, the son of
Ward, Donald. The Divine Twins; An Indo-European Myth in Ger-
Dievs recognized his twin sister, the daughter of Saule. Death
manic Tradition. Berkeley, Calif., 1968.
and rebirth of the gods and of the seasons is the basis of this
UGO BIANCHI (1987)
myth; it is analogous to the ancient Greek myth about Per-
Revised Bibliography
sephone. Latvian mythology scholars have tried to interpret
the daughters of Saule as the sunlight at dawn or dusk (in
autumn and winter, but also in the evening, the sun and its
beams seem to die, while in the spring and at dawn they ap-
TWINS: BALTIC TWIN DEITIES
pear to be reborn), while the sons of Dievs are interpreted
The twin myth and various folk beliefs associated with the
as Venus, which the Baltic people believed to be embodied
idea of twins and the concept of duality have an important
in the two stars R¯ıta and Vakara (morning and evening). The
place in Baltic religion. The divine or deified twins usually
divine twin sons of Dievs, in both Latvian and Lithuanian
are demiurges, with various associated cosmogonic and an-
folklore, sources are associated with horses. In mythological
thropogonic functions. Thus, for Latvians, Dievs, the per-
folk songs the twins travel by boat or by horse, often trans-
sonification of light, is the twin of Velns. The world was cre-
forming into or fusing with the horse. They appear also as
ated, according to ancient folk legend, as a result of their
water-loving beasts, otters, or beavers, dancing in either otter
fight on a stone in the middle of the sea (vidu¯ ju¯ras uz
or beaver skins. They are also associated with the cosmic tree,
akmen¸a) or on an island in the middle of the sea (vidu¯ ju¯ras
the oak.
salin¸a¯), a place that at a later date became the central axis of
the cosmos.
The sons of Dievs, usually two in number, are typically
both called by the same name, but in some instances, each
The Baltic divine twins have often been associated with
has a different name. Thus, in the spring season, the son of
the cycle of death and rebirth. Thus in Latvian mythological
Dievs, as the embodiment of rebirth, is named U
¯ sin¸ˇs (from
folk songs the theme of the sons of Dievs marrying their twin
the verb aust, literally, “the rising of the sun,” or “the emer-
sisters, the daughters of Saule (the sun), is widespread. Before
gence of light”). In autumn, the son of Dievs is the embodi-
the wedding a ritual wooing of Saule’s daughters takes place,
ment of death called Ma¯rtin¸ˇs, possibly linked to the word
which Dievs’s sons accomplish by looking through the petals
mirt (to die). Both twins mirror the mythological idea of se-
of poppies (Caur magon¸u lapin¸a¯m), flowers that at weddings
quential change and continuity of the cycle of life and death.
symbolize death, rebirth, and also puberty. On the wedding
The sons of Dievs are perceived as the protectors of humans,
night, while waiting for the appearance of Saule’s daughters
primarily of men and specifically during war, at sea, when
at the vault of heaven, the sons light two candles at sea. These
fishing, and when caring for horses. In Latvian mythological
heavenly weddings end unsuccessfully because of an implied
folk songs they reveal themselves as two candles in the sea
but never quite articulated suggestion of a serious viola-
to fishermen and sailors, thus lighting their way:
tion—incest.
In antiquity it is probable that sacral incest was differen-
Div svec¯ıtes ju¯ra¯ dega Sudrabin¸a lukturos;
tiated from profane incest, the first being committed by a
Ta¯s dedzina
primeval human or demiurge, the second by a trickster. In-
Dieva de¯li, Zvejniecin¸us gaid¯ıdami.
cest demonstrably pointed to two diverse forms of sexual be-
Two candles burn at sea
havior: the cultured versus the natural (as exhibited in na-
In silver lanterns;
ture), or, in other words, the civilized versus the savage.
They’re lit by the sons of Dievs,
Sacral incest likely occurred only in illo tempore (the begin-
Awaiting fishermen.
ning of time) when there was no other coupling possible ex-
The divine twins are also associated with fertility cults and
cept between brother and sister. Angered by the violation of
productivity. For Latvians this is revealed in a particularly
incest being committed, Pe¯rkons, the god of thunder, struck
striking fashion in the cult of Jumis and his twin sister Ju-
the cosmic tree, or tree of life. For three years Saule collected
mala, at one time either his betrothed or his wife. Jumis and
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TWINS: BALTIC TWIN DEITIES
Jumala are words for which parallels can be found in several
founders of a tribe. Widewuttis is the founder of secular
Indo–European traditions: in ancient Gaelic, e(a)main; in
power and the first king of the Prussian tribe, while Bru¯tens
Avesta, yima; in Indo-Iranian, yama—as found, for example,
is the founder of its spiritual power and the romow sanctuary,
in the hymn in R:gveda about Yama and his twin sister Yam¯ı,
being its first Krive krivaitis (high priest). In later times the
wherein Yam¯ı tries to entice her brother to take part in inces-
Prussians worshiped Widewuttis and Bru¯tens in the form of
tuous relations. The Iranian twins Yima and Yima¯k, by get-
two posts, one called Worskaito (the elder), the other called
ting married, become the predecessors of humanity. This
Iszwambrato (i.e., Svais bra¯ti, “his brother”).
theme is also found in Latvian mythological folk songs,
where there is a direct allusion to incestuous relations be-
Even as late as the end of the nineteenth century (and
tween the brother and sister Jumis and Jumala (Jum¯ıts and
into the twentieth), twins appear in Lithuanian and Latvian
Jumalin¸a are diminutive forms):
historical legends. A Latvian legend recorded in the nine-
teenth century tells of the twin brothers Turo and Tusko,
Jum¯ıts mekl¯ej Jumalin¸u
who both loved the same girl. They were so similar that the
Pa t¯ırumu staiga¯dams;
girl could not tell them apart, and for this reason gave one
Bra¯l¯ıts mekl¯ej l¯ıgavin¸as
a gold ring and the other a silver ring to wear. Turo finally
No ma¯sin¸as vaica¯dams.
succeeded in winning the girl’s love, but Tusko, in a dreadful
Jum¯ıts looks for
act of betrayal, posed as his twin brother and stole his be-
Jumalin¸a
trothed. When the betrothed of Turo, on recognizing the
Walking in the field;
ring, learned that she had been deceived, she killed herself
The brother is seeking a bride
with a sword, while the twin brothers killed each other. The
Asking his sister.
graves of all three are located in Zilais kalns (Blue Hill), an
Latvians and Lithuanians also give the name jumis to any two
important and legendary sanctuary in Latvia, located near
fruits or nuts that have grown together, or to two sheaves of
the city of Valmiera. This legend about the twins, along with
grain on one stalk. In ancient times (and still today), having
other legends that abound regarding Zilais kalns, reflects the
harvested the rye, barley, and wheat, people tried to find and
concepts of death and rebirth associated with the twin myths.
save two sheaves of grain intertwined, or they tied two bun-
There is another interesting element in the Turo/Tusko
dles of the harvested grain together, saving this jumis over
legend. The names Turo and Tusko start with the same let-
winter to ensure fertility and productivity for the coming
ter. This also occurs in the Roman Romulus and Remus, the
year. On the subject of birth and fertility, according to Latvi-
Germanic Hengist and Horst, and in another Latvian myth
an folk beliefs, if a young woman wanted to have twins, she
about twins, Auseklis and U
¯ sin¸ˇs (both of which are derived
had to find and eat a jumis, such as two nuts or berries or
from the Indo-European root-form *aus/*us, with the an-
some other fruit that have grown together. The Latvian
cient form of the latter being Ausin¸ˇs).
Jumis and Jumala are associated with the idea of the death
and rebirth of nature. Another testimony to the Jumis myth
The divine twins as special patrons of the fertility and
can be seen in the jumis nut found buried in a young girl’s
productivity cult are also revealed in traditional wood archi-
grave during an archeological dig of an eighth- to eleventh-
tecture in Latvia. Even today, one can find fastened to the
century burial ground in Latvia called Kaugaru Beites.
ends of gables on houses or buildings two identical, symmet-
rically placed wooden horses, goats, or figurative carvings of
Another son of Dievs who is mentioned in Latvian folk-
other animals and birds. This tradition was practiced by all
lore, particularly in summer solstice songs called Ja¯n¸u dzies-
Baltic peoples, as can be seen from ethnographic drawings
mas (Ja¯nis’s songs), is Ja¯nis (’Ai Ja¯n¯ıti, Dieva d¯els; Oh Ja¯n¯ıtis
and written records of the eighteenth and nineteenth centu-
[dim. of Ja¯nis], son of Dievs). Ja¯nis is typologically similar
ries, as well as from photographs taken during the first half
to Baldr in the Scandinavian indigenous religions; that is, he
of the twentieth century in Latvia, Lithuania, and East Prus-
is a seasonal deity embodying the ideas of fertility and pro-
sia. Paradoxically, one of the places where zoomorphic and
ductivity associated with summer. We can assume that Ja¯nis,
ornithomorphic images of twin deities have been preserved
like the Roman Janus, is two-faced—the two sons of Dievs
is East Prussia, which was most devastated during World
united in one person, one linked to the spring and summer
War II and which now forms part of the Russian Federation
seasons, the other linked to autumn and winter. When one
as the Kaliningrad region and part of northeastern Poland.
of them appears in the sky as a heavenly body (a star), the
In districts where prewar buildings have been preserved, one
other, being underground, is not visible. The idea of promot-
can still see carved twin horse heads at roof gables and in the
ing fertility predominates in the summer solstice songs. Folk-
wooden trim above windows. This tradition has also been
song texts indicate that during this time the mythical heaven-
retained in the Curonian Spit in the Baltics. One part of the
ly wedding takes place between the divine twins—the sons
Curonian Spit territory is located in Lithuania, while the sec-
of Dievs and the daughters of Saule.
ond part belongs to Russia; in Lithuania this twin-horse tra-
Twins also figure as the founders of ancient social orga-
dition at gable ends is being preserved, with the horse heads
nizations, such as tribes, nations, states, and cities. For the
being restored, whereas in Russia such carvings are going to
Prussians, the twin brothers Widewuttis and Bru¯tens are the
ruin, along with the buildings themselves. It is significant
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TWO BOOKS, THE
9421
that in Latvian Jumis and jumts (roof), as well as the verb
Scripture. Pope John Paul II proclaimed, “From the great-
jumt (to roof, to thatch) and the term debesu jums (vault of
ness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding per-
heaven), are derived from the same root-form, based on the
ception of their Creator (Wisdom 13:5). This is to recognize
Indo-European root *ieu (to tie together). Not only does the
as a first stage of divine Revelation the marvelous book of
twin deity Jumis consist of two tied into one, but also a house
nature, which, when read with the proper tools of human
roof having two sides joined into one whole.
reason, can lead to knowledge of the Creator” (John Paul II,
The significance to the Baltic peoples of the twin myth,
1998, p. 19).
particularly as it relates to the birth of twins, was noted in
ORIGINS OF THE METAPHOR. The origins of the “two
the nineteenth century by such scholars as the German-born
books” metaphor are embedded in the conviction of the
ethnographer and folklorist August Bielenstein. However,
Abrahamic faiths that God is knowable through revelation.
the Baltic twin myth has merited special attention and com-
The Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament were under-
parative analysis only since the 1960s, when it was included
stood to be transmitting the very word of God, and thus the
in an overview of various Indo-European twins written by
“book” became of paramount importance in their respective
Donald Ward (1968), and later by Vjacˇeslav Ivanov (1972
traditions. Psalms 19:1 majestically articulates the idea that
and 1983) and the Latvian-born folklorist Liene Neuland
“the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament
(1977). Evidently scholars have noted the similarities be-
proclaims his handiwork.” The theme in the Book of Wisdom
tween the Baltic divine twins and the broader Indo-
that God is known through the divine works even by Gen-
European twin concept, as in, for example, the Greek Dios-
tiles is echoed in the New Testament locus classicus for the
curi, Castor and Pollux (Polydeuces), and the ancient Indian
natural knowledge of God, the Pauline declaration in Ro-
twin, A´svin.
mans: “For what can be known about God is plain to them,
because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation
BIBLIOGRAPHY
of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power
Beresnevicˇius, Gintaras. “Brutenio ir Videvucˇio religine˙ reforma.”
and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have
In Baltu˛ religin˙es reformos, pp. 77–125. Vilnius, 1995.
been made” (Rom. 1:19–20). Paul elsewhere describes the
Bielenstein, August. “Die Dieva de¯li des lettischen Volksliedes.”
visible worlds as “images of the invisible” (Heb. 11:3).
Magasin, Vol. 19, 4th ed., pp. 240–282. Mitau, Russia,
In patristic literature one finds the first full expression
1896.
of the metaphor. Elements may be found as early as the sec-
Biezais, Haralds. “Dievi un dievu de¯li.” In Smaidoˇsie dievi un
ond century in Justin Martyr’s adoption of the Stoic idea of
cilv¯eka asara, pp. 54–81. Senatne, 1991.
the logos spermatikos (Second Apology, chap. 8) and in Irenaeus
Bucˇas, Jurgis. Kurˇsiu˛ nerijos nacionalinis parkas. Vilnius, 2001.
of Lyons (130–202 CE) the idea of the works and the word
Ivanov, Vjacˇeslav. “Otrazˇenie indoevropejskoj terminologii
of God (Adversus haereses IV.20). Tertullian prefigured it in
bliznecˇnogo kul’ta v baltijskih jazykah.” In Balto-slavjanskij
his antiheretical argument that, because Marcion has eviscer-
sbornik, pp. 193–205. Moscow, 1972.
ated Scripture, he cannot provide a counterpart in revelation
Ivanov, Vjacˇeslav. “K probleme latyˇsskogo Jumis i baltijskogo
to the knowledge of God derived from nature (Adversus Mar-
bliznecˇnogo kul’ta.” In Balto-slavjanskie issledovanija. Mos-
cionem, V.5). Athanasius (c. 296–373 CE) offered a proto-
cow, 1983.
statement of the theme in his claim that nature and Scripture
Neuland, Lena. Jumis die fruchtbarheitsgottheit der alten Letten.
are the sole sources of knowledge of God (Vita S. Antoni, 78).
Uppsala, Sweden, 1977.
The clearest patristic statements of the metaphor of “the
Ru¯sin¸ˇs, Valdis. Divda¸l¯ıgums sakra¯la¯ veseluma struktu¯ra¯ latvieˇsu
book of nature” were offered by John Chrysostom (c. 354–
relig‘iskajos priekˇsstatos. Platforma, pp. 67–72. Riga, Latvia,
407 CE) and Augustine of Hippo (c. 354–407 CE). Chrysos-
2003.
tom declared:
Ward, Donald. The Divine Twins: An Indo-European Myth in Ger-
manic Tradition. Los Angeles, 1968.
If God had given instruction by means of books, and
of letters, he who knew letters would have learnt what
JAN¯INA KURS¯ITE (2005)
was written, but the illiterate man would have gone
Translated by Margita Gail¯ıtis and Vija Kostoff
away without receiving any benefit. . . . This however
cannot be said with respect to the heavens. . . . Upon
this volume the unlearned, as well as the wise man, shall
TWO BOOKS, THE.
be able to look, and wherever any one may chance to
The relationship between reli-
come, there looking upwards towards the heavens, he
gion and science in the Christian West has often found ex-
will receive a sufficient lesson from the view of them.
pression in metaphors and models. Since the nineteenth
(Homilies to the People of Antioch, IX.5, 162–163).
century the strident “warfare model” has dominated inter-
pretations of these different realms of human knowledge.
Augustine proclaimed:
However, a renaissance is occurring of a far more ancient
There is a great book: the very appearance of created
metaphor, that of God’s self-revelation through a pair of
things. Look above you! Look below you! Note it. Read
complementary books, the book of nature and the book of
it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that
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9422
TWO BOOKS, THE
book with ink. Instead He set before your eyes the
riod. The Reformers’ emphasis on the literal sense of Scrip-
things that He had made. Can you ask for a louder
ture cut through the profusion of “meanings” and “signa-
voice than that? Why, heaven and earth shout to you:
tures” found by medieval scholars in nature and reinforced
“God made me!” (City of God, 11:22).
the idea of two books. However, the book of nature was
But although these passages establish the complementarity
clearly subordinate to biblical revelation in the theology of
of natural and revealed theology among the fathers, the met-
John Calvin, who held Scripture to be a necessary corrective
aphor only reached full articulation with the progressive re-
to the deficiencies of nature (Institutes, I.6.1). The Reformed
discovery of Aristotelian natural philosophy, when the “two
tradition retained this Calvinist interpretation of the two
books” became a primary model for expressing a mature bi-
books in the Belgic Confession adopted by the Dutch Re-
nary epistemology of revelation.
formed Church. In contrast, Paracelsus suggested an empiri-
cal approach: whereas Scripture was to be explored through
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE “TWO BOOKS” METAPHOR. Medi-
its letters, the book of nature had to be read by going from
eval thinkers employed the model of a twofold revelation
land to land because every country was a different page.
with great plasticity. Alain of Lille wrote, “Omnis mundi crea-
tura / Quasi liber et pictura / Nobis est et speculum
” (Every
The metaphor was affected in the seventeenth century
creature is to us like a book and a picture and a mirror).
by both the elaboration of natural theology and the develop-
Hugh of Saint Victor regarded both the creation and the in-
ment of the sciences in novel empirical and theoretical direc-
carnation as “books” of God and compared Christ as primary
tions. Pierre Gassendi (1592–1655) saw purpose in all of na-
revelation to a book. Saint Bonaventure’s (1217–1274)
ture and suggested that if René Descartes wanted to prove
model of revelation included three volumes: sensible crea-
the existence of God he ought to abandon reason and look
tures are “a book with writing front and back,” spiritual crea-
around him and that the two books were not to be kept on
tures are “a scroll written from within,” and Scripture is “a
separate shelves. Although Francis Bacon seems in practice
scroll written within and without” (Collations on the Hex-
to have kept the two books distinct, he articulated their es-
aemeron, 12.14–17). Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Contra
sential complementarity:
Gentiles likewise speaks about a threefold knowledge that hu-
manity may have of divine things: ascent through creation
The scriptures reveal to us the will of God; and the
by the natural light of reason, descent of divine truth by reve-
book of the creatures expresses the divine power; where-
of the latter is a key unto the former: not only opening
lation, and elevation of the human mind to a perfect insight
our understanding to conceive the true sense of the
into things revealed. For Dante, for whom the book in which
scriptures, by the general notions of reason and rules of
everything is contained is the Godhead, perfect insight is es-
speech; but chiefly opening our belief, in drawing us
chatological in paradise, where everything that has been scat-
into a due meditation of the omnipotency of God,
tered throughout the entire universe like loose pages is now
which is chiefly signed and engraven upon his works.
“bound in one volume” (Paradiso XXXIII, 82).
(The Advancement of Learning, VI, 16)
Raymond of Sabunde offered the fullest late-medieval
Bacon set the tone for the seventeenth-century scientific en-
articulation of the metaphor in Theologia Naturalis (1436):
terprise in his redirection of the “two books” metaphor to-
ward the improvement of the human estate.
Hence there are two books given to us by God, the one
being the book of the whole collection of creatures or
Galileo Galilei argued that the book of nature is written
the book of nature, and the other being the book of sa-
in the language of mathematics, not only implying that
cred scripture. The first book was given to human be-
mathematics is the sublimest expression of the divine word
ings in the beginning, when the universe of creatures
but de facto restricting its full comprehension to those who
was created, since no creature exists that is not a certain
are appropriately educated:
letter, written by the finger of God, and from many
creatures as from many letters is composed one book,
And to prohibit the whole science [of astronomy]
which is called the book of the creatures. Within this
would be but to censure a hundred passages of holy
book is included humanity itself, and human beings are
Scripture which teach us that the glory and greatness of
the first letters of this book. But the second book, Scrip-
Almighty God are marvelously discerned in all his
ture, was given to human beings secondarily to correct
works and divinely read in the open book of heav-
the deficiencies of the first book, which humanity could
en. . . . Within its pages are couched mysteries so pro-
not read because it is blind. The first book is common
found and concepts so sublime that the vigils, labors,
everyone, but the second book is not common to all,
and studies of hundreds upon hundreds of the most
because only clerics are able to read what is written in
acute minds have still not pierced them, even after con-
it. (Theologia Naturalis sive Liber Creaturarum, 35–36)
tinual investigations for thousands of years. (Letter to
Sabunde’s incautious exaltation of the book of nature and his
Grand Duchess Christina)
insistence that the book of Scripture is less accurate led to
Galileo’s famous dictum that Scripture teaches “how the
the condemnation of the work as heretical in 1595.
heavens go and not how to go to heaven” should be inter-
EARLY MODERN VARIATIONS ON THE THEME. The “book of
preted in light of his conviction of the complementarity of
nature” enjoyed its greatest currency in the early modern pe-
the two books.
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TWO BOOKS, THE
9423
The metaphor flourished in the natural theological cli-
spectively the verbal and the pictorial representations of di-
mate of seventeenth-century England, particularly in the
vine wisdom, correlating the “inspired record of creation”
“physico-theology” of the Boyle Lectures, where the idea was
with contemporary science (Science and the Bible, 1871).
used by many divines as shorthand for the assumed validity
Paul Chadbourne regarded nature as an unchangeable re-
of the design argument. But its two terms were not always
cord, written in the language of the sciences of which geology
held in comfortable balance. The dissenting theologian Rich-
comprised the most clearly comprehended volume (Nature
ard Baxter, for example, argued that “nature was a ‘hard
and the Bible from the Same Author, 1870). The geologist Jo-
book’; which few could understand, and that it was therefore
seph Le Conte declared that “the whole object of science is
safer to rely more heavily on Scripture” (The Reasons for the
to construct the theology or the divine revelation in nature.”
Christian Religion, 1667). In contrast, Sir Isaac Newton saw
Although quite clear about the limits of science as a com-
nature as perhaps more truly the source of divine revelation
mentary on the book of Scripture, he held that “of these two
than the Bible, although he spent decades of his life investi-
books, nature is the elder born, and in some sense, at least,
gating the prophetic books. It has been argued that in virtual-
may be considered the more comprehensive and perfect” (Re-
ly abolishing the distinction between the two books, which
ligion and Science, 1902).
he revered as separate expressions of the same divine mean-
ing, Newton was attempting to keep science sacred and to
The innovations in hermeneutics and science pushed
reveal scientific rationality in what was once a purely sacral
the more religiously conservative wings of society in a pre-
realm, namely biblical prophecy (Manuel, 1974, p. 49). By
critical direction of maintaining verbal inerrancy and defend-
the early eighteenth century there was a significant faction
ing the ancient understanding of earth history. The meta-
within the Royal Society opposed to any mention of Scrip-
phor of the “book of nature” gained weight as one of the
ture in a scientific context.
cornerstones of their position, thriving in evangelical and
fundamentalist-creationist circles right through the end of
DECLINE AND SURVIVAL OF THE “TWO BOOKS.” Although
the twentieth century.
the metaphor of the book of nature persisted vigorously into
the nineteenth century, various movements began to weaken
However, in both liberal and neo-orthodox theology the
its cogency. The Enlightenment critiques of David Hume
metaphor of “God’s two books” entered into steady decline
and Immanuel Kant undermined the project of natural the-
after 1900. Parallel to the development of historical geology
ology in broad strokes, and the deist movement challenged
and biblical criticism was the erosion of confidence that one
the uniqueness of the Christian revelation. Thomas Paine
can easily interpret natural processes teleologically, as Wil-
asked defiantly: “Do we want to know what God is? Search
liam Paley had once argued. The discovery of extinction in
not the book called the Scripture, which any human hand
the fossil record disproved the ancient assumption of the im-
might make, but the Scripture, called the creation” (The Age
mutability of species, rendering it increasingly difficult to
of Reason, 1794).
read the “book of nature” as self-evidently revealing the di-
vine plan or at least as a plan worthy of admiration. Addi-
The revolutions in geology and biology eroded long-
tionally the metamorphosis of “natural philosophy” or “nat-
standing traditions of a young earth and an immutable cre-
ural history” into the variety of sciences as understood in the
ation and wore away the bedrock beneath a coherent “book
early twenty-first century undercut both terms in the meta-
of nature” temporally coextensive with the “book of Scrip-
phor of “God’s two books.” As each new scientific discipline
ture.” Whereas John Mason Good argued that the Bible
developed its own sphere of study, the “nature” underlying
must be the word of God, “for it has the direct stamp and
the “book of nature” lost its metaphorical coherence, and the
testimony of his works” (The Book of Nature, 1833), Charles
replacement of science as commentary on authoritative texts
Babbage advanced a view that seemed almost to verge on as-
by the empirical investigation of the natural world essentially
serting the superfluity of scriptural revelation in light of the
removed the “book” from the “book of nature.” Finally, the
book of nature (Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, 1838). Parallel
gradual recognition over the nineteenth and twentieth centu-
to the “historicization” of geology and biology, the develop-
ries that the human community embraces a plurality of reli-
ment of a historical critical approach to study of the Scrip-
gious faiths has had the effect of relativizing the Bible as a
ture challenged the profoundly rooted tradition about the
source of revelation. The “two books” metaphor truly func-
Bible as an integral and timeless record of the word of God.
tions only if the claim can be defended that the Bible is the
book of Scripture.
Despite the developments outlined above, the “two
books” metaphor continued to thrive during the nineteenth
The complex metaphor of the “two books” has enjoyed
century among both conservative anti-Darwinians and more
a long and convoluted life cycle. For nearly two millennia
liberal thinkers who enthusiastically adopted the principles
the idea variously framed, constituted, negated, or otherwise
and discoveries of contemporary science. For the Scottish Fr-
reflected the relationship between the two human institu-
eechurchman Hugh Miller, the “two books” became the
tions now referred to as science and religion. It is an open
“two theologies” (Testimony of the Rocks, 1857). A decade
question whether as a rhetorical device it can be rehabilitated
after Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859), Her-
in a world of historical critical interpretation of all sacred
bert Morris argued that Scripture and nature represent re-
Scriptures and in which evolutionary or developmental mod-
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9424
TYLOR, E. B.
els hold sway in scientific disciplines ranging from cosmology
During the years of Tylor’s greatest activity, the ques-
and geology to biology and neuroscience. But the changing
tion of the origin and evolution of religion was high on the
fashions of metaphor cannot mask the conviction of believers
agenda of social scientists, the dominant theorists being F.
that God does speak to God’s creatures in pluriform ways:
Max Müller on one level and Herbert Spencer on the other;
through religious traditions, through immediate intuition,
Müller worked exclusively with language, while Spencer pro-
through personal relationships, and through the revelations
ceeded by way of vast generalizations learned in large mea-
found in sacred writing and in nature.
sure from Auguste Comte. Tylor was no less interested than
Müller in language, but he began at an earlier point in its
BIBLIOGRAPHY
evolution, far beyond “Aryan” roots and their meanings. To
Blumenberg, Hans. Die Lesbarkeit der Welt. Frankfurt am Main,
reach this point it was necessary for Tylor to formulate a
Germany, 1981.
comprehensive theory to bridge the gap between the present
Bono, James J. The Word of God and the Languages of Man: Inter-
and the remote past. This was the theory of “survivals”—
preting Nature in Early Modern Science and Medicine. Madi-
elements of culture or society that evolution has left behind.
son, Wis., 1995.
Gesture probably preceded language, though Tylor was too
Curtius, Ernst Robert. European Literature and the Latin Middle
cautious to claim gesture to have been a separate stage in
Ages. Translated by Willard R. Trask. New York, 1953.
human communication. In matters concerning religion, he
Harrison, Peter. The Bible, Protestantism, and the Rise of Natural
believed himself to be on firmer ground.
Science. Cambridge, U.K., 1998.
Howell, Kenneth J. God’s Two Books: Copernican Cosmology and
It was in 1866, in an article in the Fortnightly Review
Biblical Interpretation in Early Modern Science. Notre Dame,
titled “The Religion of Savages,” that he first introduced his
Ind., 2002.
idea of “animism,” “the belief in Spiritual Beings,” as the ear-
John Paul II, Pope. Fides et Ratio. Casale Monferrato, Italy, 1998.
liest form of known religion—and of course accessible only
through the study of survivals and by placing a particular in-
Manuel, Frank E. The Religion of Isaac Newton. Oxford, 1974.
terpretation on the difficult matter of “savage” mental pro-
Pedersen, Olaf. The Book of Nature. Vatican City State, 1992.
cesses. His theory was given a definitive statement in Primi-
Raymond of Sabunde. Theologia Naturalis Seu Liber Creaturarum.
tive Culture, and the word animism is still widely used today,
Stuttgart, Germany, 1966.
though more in a descriptive than in an evolutionary sense.
PETER M. J. HESS (2005)
Otherwise, Tylor’s approach to early forms of human
religion has often been criticized as being too intellectual and
too moral. According to one of his disciples, R. R. Marett,
TYLOR, E. B. (1832–1917) was an English anthropolo-
he was “a little blind to the spontaneity of the process where-
gist, often called “the father of British anthropology.” Ed-
by Man becomes at once religious and moral, without taking
ward Burnett Tylor was born in London on October 2,
conscious thought to it, until he is fairly involved in an inco-
1832, the son of a brass-founder. Both his parents were
herent striving that is neither because it is both together”
members of the Society of Friends, and it was within the
(Marett, 1936, p. 168). Looking into the past for a certain
Quaker community that Tylor grew up. He entered his fa-
type of moralized religion, and failing to find it beyond a cer-
ther’s brass foundry at the age of sixteen, but a breakdown
tain point, Tylor missed much of importance. He had no
in health followed, and in 1855 he was sent to America in
feeling for the ecstatic side of religion, perhaps partly because
search of a cure. In Cuba in 1856 he met the noted archaeol-
of his intense dislike of nineteenth-century spiritualism. Also
ogist Henry Christy, who was also a Quaker, and they trav-
he cannot be exonerated from having overlooked or deliber-
eled together for some time. Out of this visit came Tylor’s
ately ignored all the evidence later produced by Andrew Lang
first book, Anahuac, or Mexico and the Mexicans, Ancient and
in support of “high gods of low races,” gods who were neither
Modern (1861), written and published before he was thirty.
ghosts nor spirits. “Spirit” was perhaps the only category
He had no university education of any kind, but he was a
open to a pioneer such as Tylor, but when linked with “be-
gifted writer and a tireless researcher in the emergent anthro-
lief” (as it was in his celebrated “minimum definition” of reli-
pological field. The two books for which he is chiefly remem-
gion), it had the effect of relegating much else to a subordi-
bered were written in his thirties: Researches into the Early
nate place in the structure of religion and culture.
History of Mankind (1865) and the even better known work
Primitive Culture (2 vols., 1871). Although he wrote many
In the running debate between evolutionism and diffu-
more articles and reviews, he was to publish only one more
sionism it is generally supposed that Tylor was wholehearted-
book, the popular handbook Anthropology (1881). Gradually
ly on the side of the unilinear evolutionists. But he was pre-
he gained academic recognition. He received an honorary
pared to consider diffusionism on its merits, and to stop only
doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1875. In 1883
when the evidence would carry his argument no further. In
he became keeper of the Oxford University Museum, and
his early years he was indeed something of a diffusionist, even
in 1884 reader in anthropology. From 1896 to his retirement
to the extent of speculating that the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl
in 1909 he was professor of anthropology, the first in Britain.
was not only a man but may even have been an Irishman!
He was knighted in 1912 and died on January 3, 1917.
Later his habitual caution prevented any further such flights
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TYNDALE, WILLIAM
9425
of fancy, and on the whole he sided with the evolutionists,
whom any vernacular deviation from the Latin translation
while stopping short of absolute dogmatism.
(made in the fourth century) was heresy. This censorship was
It was characteristic of Tylor’s immediate disciples that
at its most severe in England, where it was rigidly applied:
sooner or later they were forced to part company with his
in the 1380s, alarmed by the spread of handwritten Bible
findings in the form in which he stated them. The ubiqui-
translations made from the Latin into English under the in-
tous and enigmatic Andrew Lang broke away on the issue
fluence of John Wyclif, the English Church had punished
of “high gods,” the urbane R. R. Marett on the matter of
many “Lollards,” as Wyclif’s followers were nicknamed,
“preanimism” and later on questions concerning performa-
often by burning them alive. Tyndale needed the permission
tive ritual. But these scholars and others retained a deep af-
of a Bishop, and sought it from Erasmus’s friend Cuthbert
fection for their mentor. Marett wrote that throughout his
Tunstall, Bishop of London. He was snubbed.
career Tylor appears as “the most ingenuous of men, open-
With money from courageous London merchants, Tyn-
minded because he is simple-minded, the friend of all man-
dale went to Germany, and in Cologne began printing his
kind because he would be incapable of feeling otherwise; and
English translation. He had reached Matthew’s Gospel chap-
withal hardheaded, of business antecedents, not easily fooled,
ter 22 when the print shop was raided. Tyndale and his help-
pedestrian enough to prefer solid ground under his feet”
er fled up the Rhine to the safe Lutheran city of Worms.
(ibid., p. 214). In short, though often unacknowledged, he
There in 1526 he produced 6,000 copies of his first English
laid foundations on which the study of primal religion has
New Testament, pocket-size like all his works. Smuggled
built for more than a century.
down the Rhine and eagerly received in England and Scot-
land, copies were ruthlessly hunted and destroyed: Tunstall
SEE ALSO Animism and Animatism; Manism.
supervised their burning at St Paul’s. Only three copies now
survive, one on permanent display in the British Library.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
In Germany, Tyndale learned Hebrew (unknown in
For discussions of Tylor’s contribution to the science of religion,
see R. R. Marett’s Tylor (London, 1936); Richard M. Dor-
England) and in 1530 printed in Antwerp his translation of
son’s The British Folklorists: A History (Chicago, 1968),
the “First Five Books of Moses”—the first time that Hebrew
pp. 187–197; J. W. Burrow’s Evolution and Society: A Study
had been translated into English. Finding that knowledge of
in Victorian Social Theory (Cambridge, 1970), pp. 228–259;
Hebrew deepened his understanding of the Greek biblical
and Eric J. Sharpe’s Comparative Religion: A History (Lon-
text, Tyndale produced a revision of his New Testament,
don, 1975), pp. 53–58.
printed in Antwerp in 1534. He worked in Antwerp also on
New Sources
the second quarter of the Old Testament, the Historical
Segal, Robert A. “Tylor’s Anthropomorphic Theory of Religion.”
books Joshua to 2 Chronicles.
Religion 25 (January 1995): 23–30.
Tyndale’s 1534 New Testament, and half of the Old
Tylor, Edward Burnett. The Collected Works of Edward Burnett
Testament, were reproduced largely unchanged in successive
Tylor. London, 1994.
English Bibles throughout the rest of the century, culminat-
ERIC J. SHARPE (1987)
ing in the influential version made in the name of King
Revised Bibliography
James in 1611: five-sixths of that New Testament, and only
slightly less of the Old Testament, were there taken over di-
rectly from Tyndale, without acknowledgement.
TYNDALE, WILLIAM (1494?–1536), Bible transla-
Tyndale’s greatness lay in his accurate translation of the
tor and Reformation scholar. William Tyndale came from
original Greek and Hebrew; his clarity of expression; and in
a well-established family in Gloucestershire in the west of
his choice of a linguistic register just a little above ordinary
England. After an excellent education at a local Grammar
speech. He gave English speakers very many phrases still in
School, he was for ten years at the University of Oxford. In
use, such as “Let there be light.” His Plain Style, a Saxon vo-
1516 Tyndale’s life took a decisive turn when the New Tes-
cabulary in a neutral word order, through his wide Bible
tament was for the first time printed in Greek, its original
readership established English as a good written language
language, in an edition made by Desiderius Erasmus in Basle,
that anybody could use. Much of the remarkable develop-
Switzerland. Along with scholars throughout Europe, and
ment of literature in the hundred years after him came out
particularly Martin Luther in Germany, Tyndale recognized
of his work: it is not fanciful to remark “Without Tyndale,
the importance of a readily available Greek New Testament,
no Shakespeare.”
and the need for a printed translation which could reach En-
His New Testament affected the nation. A neat defini-
glish readers and hearers at any level.
tion of the Reformation is “people reading Paul.” The Epistle
After spending perhaps a year in Cambridge (where
to the Romans in particular, the bedrock of New Testament
Erasmus had been teaching Greek), Tyndale returned to
theology, and read or heard—as Tyndale famously intend-
Gloucestershire to begin work on an English New Testa-
ed—even by “the ploughboy,” showed the believer’s direct
ment. Such an enterprise was forbidden by the Church, for
access to God through faith. Moreover, in the newly avail-
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9426
TY´R
able Bible a large number of the Church’s practices and dog-
The gods had been warned that the monstrous offspring
mas were not found: confession to the ear, the celibacy of
of Loki and the giantess Angrboða—Fenrir, the witch Hel,
the priesthood, Purgatory, and so on.
and the serpent Miðgarðsormr—would cause them great
Tyndale wrote other important books. The Parable of
harm. Óðinn cast Hel into the cold, dark world of Niflheimr
the Wicked Mammon (1528) demonstrates the New Testa-
and dispatched the Miðgarðsormr to the rim of the cosmic
ment emphasis on faith rather than works. His The Obedi-
ocean, but the wolf was still in the custody of the Æsir. As
ence of a Christian Man (1528) countered the lie put about
the whelp grew up, only Ty´r dared to feed him, and the gods
by his enemies that the reformers preached sedition.
thought it time to chain him. They tried twice, but the wolf
easily broke loose. The Æsir got the dark elves to manufac-
Tyndale had a price on his head as a heretic. Commis-
ture an unbreakable fetter. From the rustle of a moving cat,
sioned to do so, Thomas More attacked him at length. In
the beard of a woman, the roots of a cliff, the breath of a fish,
Antwerp, Tyndale was tricked into arrest; he was imprisoned
the sinews of a bear, and the spittle of a bird, the elves made
near Brussels for sixteen months, and in October 1536 taken
a band as soft as silk yet able to withstand any force. The gods
out, strangled, and burned. His heresy was the making of the
took Fenrir to a remote island, where they challenged him
English Bible: his influence, long ignored, was very large.
to free himself again. Having prided himself on snapping the
S
other bonds, he did not deign to pit himself against some-
EE ALSO Wyclif, John.
thing so fragile-looking. When the gods insisted, he became
B
suspicious and only consented to be bound with the ribbon
IBLIOGRAPHY
Daniell, David. William Tyndale: A Biography. New Haven,
if one of them placed a hand in his mouth as a pledge of good
Conn., and London, 1994.
faith. All were reluctant to do this except Ty´r, who lost his
Tyndale’s New Testament. Introduction by David Daniell. New
hand when the wolf found himself bound fast. The gods
Haven, Conn., and London, 1989. A modern-spelling edi-
chained Fenrir to a huge boulder and gagged him with a
tion.
sword, where he remained until the Æsir’s final battle against
Tyndale’s Old Testament. Introduction by David Daniell. New
the giants and monsters at Ragnarok. Each god had his own
E
Haven, Conn., and London, 1992. A modern-spelling edi-
special opponent in that conflict, and Ty´r was killed by
tion.
Garmr, the monstrous dog that guarded the entrance to
Hel’s realm.
DAVID DANIELL (2005)
Ty´r’s action is an example of heroic abnegation, and
Georges Dumézil (1974; 1985, pp. 268–274) has noted the
TY´R (“God”) is a Scandinavian deity associated with law
parallel between Ty´r and Mucius Scaevola, who sacrificed his
and war. Although his name reflects the Indo-European
right hand to convince Lars Porsena, the Etruscan leader
words for “god” and “day” (IE, *deywos >; PGmc., *Tíwaz;
threatening Rome, that he and three hundred young men
cf. Sansk. dyaus, Gk. Zeus, and Lat. deus), Ty´r no longer rep-
were ready to give up their lives to kill him. Porsena then
resents the transcendence and majestic glory of the luminous
signed a peace treaty that saved Rome from destruction.
sky. He must have played a more important role at some
There are also parallels with non-Germanic gods: the Irish
stage, for his name can simply mean “god,” both originally
god Nuadu and the Indian god Súrya are one-armed as well.
and in Viking times. His sovereign powers also meant that
Ty´r the one-handed seems to be juxtaposed with the spell-
Norse court poets could substitute his name for that of
working, one-eyed Óðinn, just as Nuadu with his one hand
Óðinn when it was combined with an object or characteristic
stood beside Lug with his magic and his closed eye.
associated with Óðinn: Victory-Ty´r, Ty´r of the Hanged, and
Ty´r’s sacrifice has been correlated with his function as
Ty´r of Ships’ Cargoes all designate Óðinn. More mysterious
god of law (De Vries, 1967, pp. 13–14, 22–24; Dumézil,
is the occurrence of Ty´r as the name of a young boy in the
1973, p. 45), mainly on the basis of his association with the
Eddic poem Hymiskviða; this figure may not have any rela-
Germanic thing (the assembly of the warriors), where priests,
tionship to the god.
perhaps of Tíwaz, kept the peace (cf. Tacitus, Germania 11),
By the time of the first written sources, Ty´r was not a
and the Germanic concept of war as a vápnadómr (judgment
supreme being, a creator of the world, or a heavenly father,
by arms) with set rules. The interpretatio Romana of German-
but he still had an honorable position among the leading
ic Tíwaz as Mars (cf. the translation of Lat. dies Martis as OE.
Æsir, the primary group of Norse gods. According to Snorri
Tiwesdæg, Eng. Tuesday) can thus be correlated with Duméz-
Sturluson, Ty´r is the boldest and most courageous of the
il’s view of Ty´r as the Germanic representative of the juridi-
gods and is invoked by warriors because he can grant victory.
cal aspect of sovereignty (Dumézil, 1977, pp. 196–200;
He possesses extensive knowledge, whence the Old Norse ex-
Dumézil, 1985, pp. 265–272; Polomé, 1984, pp. 402–
pression ty´spákr (as wise as Ty´r). Yet few other details are
405). Dumézil, however, sees Ty´r’s action not as heroic but
given: the identity of his father is uncertain, he does not ap-
as the embodiment of fraudulence, because it involves delib-
pear to be married, and the only myth in which he plays a
erate perjury—the gods had promised Fenrir that they would
significant role is the story of the fettering of the wolf Fenrir.
release him if he could not break the band. Most scholars
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TYRRELL, GEORGE
9427
view the deceit as ethically acceptable because it neutralizes
bondage by his devoted mother and schooled in gospel kind-
an uncontrollable danger threatening the community of the
ness by Charles W. Benson of Rathmines School, but was
Æsir. Clunies Ross (1994, p. 221) points out that both the
swayed oppositely by the acerbity and agnosticism of his
wolf and Ty´r show courage, and both suffer. She interprets
elder brother William.
this myth as illustrating the interrelatedness of the worlds of
gods and giants: giant nature does not lie in a world different
William’s untimely death sent Tyrrell on a search for
from that of the gods, but instead lies inside it.
stable footing in the externals of religion. Experimentation
with Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism led to friendship
Evidence for the worship of Ty´r is scanty outside of
with Robert Dolling, the later famous “Father Dolling,” who
Denmark, where place-names such as Tislund (Ty´r’s grove)
served briefly as Tyrrell’s mentor and spiritual director, first
attest to his widespread veneration. Ty´r is commemorated
securing his matriculation at Trinity College (1878), then in-
in only two place-names in Norway (Tysnes, “Ty´r’s peninsu-
viting him to London to see sane Anglo-Catholicism at work,
la”; Tysneso⁄, “Tysnes island” or “The island near Tyr’s pen-
hoping thereby to prevent his anticipated conversion to
insula”); here the cult appears to have been adopted from
Roman Catholicism. Dolling’s strategy failed. On May 18,
Denmark. Ty´r’s name has also been seen in some of the
1879, Tyrrell was received into the Catholic church and a
place-names of southern England, and Old English writers
year later into the Jesuit order as well.
occasionally glossed the Latin Mars by Tiw or Tig. There are
no Swedish place-names associated with Ty´r. Most likely, the
Although Tyrrell felt confirmed in those momentous
importance of his cult elsewhere in the Germanic region di-
decisions, he was unprepared to conform to the rigid ultra-
minished over time. He is also associated with the t-rune,
montanism and rationalist neoscholasticism of the post–
which was called the “victory rune.” Warriors engraved it on
Vatican I church and to the mechanistic spirituality of the
their sword hilts and guards, thereby invoking Ty´r twice.
“restored” Society of Jesus. Two of Tyrrell’s seminary profes-
sors suggested more congenial paths. Thomas Rigby encour-
SEE ALSO Dumézil, Georges; Eddas; Germanic Religion,
aged him to bypass the scholastics and to read Thomas Aqui-
overview article; Óðinn; Runes.
nas for himself, while Joseph Rickaby was no doubt the one
who gave him John Henry Newman’s Grammar of Assent in
BIBLIOGRAPHY
1885 and thus occasioned “a profound revolution in my way
Clunies Ross, Margaret. Prolonged Echoes: Old Norse Myths in Me-
of thinking.” From Thomas, Tyrrell learned the principle of
dieval Northern Society, vol. 1: The Myths. Odense, Denmark,
modernization, or aggiornamento; from Newman, he derived
1994.
an experience-based psychology of religion and an inductive,
De Vries, Jan. Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte, vol. 2. 2d rev. ed.
historical method, as opposed to the a priori, deductive
Berlin, 1967.
method of scholasticism.
Dumézil, Georges. Gods of the Ancient Northmen. Berkeley, Calif.,
1973.
In 1894 Tyrrell was appointed to the chair of ethics at
the Jesuit school of philosophy at Stonyhurst, but two years
Dumézil, Georges. “‘Le Borgne’ and ‘Le Manchot.’” In Myth in
Indo-European Antiquity, edited by Gerald James Larson,
later, no longer tolerable to the established faculty, he was
pp. 18–20. Berkeley, Calif., 1974.
removed to London and the staff of the Jesuit religious peri-
odical, the Month. Thus began a writing career that would
Dumézil, Georges. Les dieux souverains des Indo-Européens. Paris,
propel him into ever-widening circles of liberals, modernists,
1977.
and modernist sympathizers (among them Wilfrid Ward,
Dumézil, Georges. L’oubli de l’homme et l’honneur des dieux. Paris,
Friedrich von Hügel, Maude Petre, and Henri Bremond)
1985.
and lead him to the thought of a host of nonscholastic schol-
Polomé, Edgar C. “The Indo-European Component in Germanic
ars (Bergson, Blondel, Dilthey, Harnack, Loisy, Sabatier,
Religion.” In Myth and Law Among the Indo-Europeans, ed-
Schweitzer, Troeltsch, and Weiss).
ited by Jaan Puhvel, pp. 55–82. Berkeley, Calif., 1970.
Polomé, Edgar C. “The Indo-European Heritage in Germanic Re-
Tyrrell’s work anticipated Vatican II’s effort to bring
ligon: The Sovereign Gods.” In Athlon: Satura Grammatica
church polity and doctrine into constructive dialogue with
in honorem Francisci R. Adrados, edited by Alberto Bernabé
the best and most enduring elements of post-Enlightenment
et al., vol. 1, pp. 401–411. Madrid, 1984.
thought. Initially Tyrrell allied himself with Ward’s mediat-
E
ing tactic of palliating ascendant policies with liberal doses
LIZABETH ASHMAN ROWE (2005)
of Newmanism, but as he encountered historical and biblical
criticism, he concluded that Newmanism could not be made
to answer questions it had never asked. In Christianity at the
TYRRELL, GEORGE (1861–1909), leading Roman
Cross-Roads (1909) Tyrrell sought to establish Newman’s as-
Catholic theologian of the so-called modernist movement.
sumed identity between the “idea” of Christ and Christianity
Adversity and agitation marked Tyrrell’s life from the begin-
and the “idea” of Roman Catholicism by showing that the
ning. Born in Dublin on February 6, 1861, two months after
categories of apocalyptic and eschatology had carried the
his father had died, Tyrrell was raised in penury and vaga-
“idea” of Christianity unadulterated from epoch to epoch.
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9428
TZU CHI
He also went beyond Newman in criticizing not only the
monographs are Lex Orandi, or Prayer and Creed (New York,
doctrinal expression of faith but the act of faith itself.
1903), on psychology of religion; The Church and the Future
(1903; reprint, London, 1910), originally published under
On February 19, 1906, Tyrrell was dismissed from the
the pseudonym Hilaire Bourdon, an apologetic for Roman
Society of Jesus for refusing to retract a published excerpt
Catholicism; and Christianity at the Cross-Roads (London,
from his Letter to a University Professor (1903). The following
1910), an attempt to incorporate the implications of escha-
year, on October 22, 1907, he was excommunicated for pub-
tology and apocalypticism. M. D. Petre’s Autobiography and
licly criticizing Pius X’s encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis,
Life of George Tyrrell, 2 vols. (London, 1912), of which Tyr-
which condemned modernism. Tyrrell died on July 15,
rell wrote volume 1, is an indispensable, if biased, account.
1909, a victim of Bright’s disease, and was buried in the An-
My own book, George Tyrrell: In Search of Catholicism
glican churchyard in Storrington, Sussex.
(Shepherdstown, W.Va., 1981), with extensive notes and
bibliography, provides the fullest introduction to Tyrrell’s
thought.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
DAVID G. SCHULTENOVER (1987)
Tyrrell’s early apologetic essays are collected in The Faith of the
Millions, 2 vols. (New York, 1901), while his later essays on
the revelation-dogma-history issue are given in Through Scyl-
la and Charybdis
(London, 1907). His most substantive
TZU CHI SEE CIJI
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N



U–V
UCHIMURA KANZO
¯ (1861–1930), Japanese essayist, scholar of the Bible, and
Christian leader. Uchimura’s unique place in modern Japanese thought results from his
insistence on human independence before the biblical Christian God. Four prophetic acts
by Uchimura dramatize and represent themes in his writing. In two of these acts Uchi-
mura questioned the growing authoritarianism of the government. His scrupulous hesita-
tion in 1891 to bow before the signature of the emperor and his outspoken avowal of
pacifism in 1903, immediately before the onset of the Russo-Japanese War, raised the
issue of Christian loyalty to the state. He also proclaimed the imminent return of Christ
in 1918 and appeared to renounce in a posthumously published document the Christian
movement associated with his name.
These acts resulted from a heightened sense of individual worth and responsibility
apparent in Uchimura’s personal history. His father, a capable samurai civil servant, lost
his status, position, and self-respect with the political changes that followed the revolution
of 1867–1868. He turned the leadership of the family over to his sixteen-year-old son
after the boy received a government scholarship large enough to support the whole family.
Uchimura studied at a government agricultural college, where, under the influence of
evangelical American Calvinist teachers, he became a Christian.
After graduation in 1881, dissatisfaction with government service as a fisheries scien-
tist and a disastrous marriage drove him to the United States. There he found sympathetic
mentors at Amherst College and obtained a second bachelor’s degree in 1887. Back in
Japan, Uchimura administered a school manned largely by American missionaries. Dis-
agreement over evangelical methods—he wanted to cite Japanese examples of the upright
life before he taught Christianity—led Uchimura to resign and forsake cooperation with
missionaries. His hesitation before the imperial signature while a teacher in a government
school cost him the possibility of further official employment. As a result, he determined
to live by writing. After several lean years, he became the editor of a newspaper that he
was to make into Japan’s largest daily, but his declaration of pacifism cost him that posi-
C LOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT CORNER. A deceased man sails through the underworld in a painting on
papyrus from the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
[©Erich Lessing/Art Resource, N.Y.]; Venus of Milo, c. 130–120 BCE. Louvre, Paris. [©Erich
Lessing/Art Resource, N.Y.]
; Sixth-century Guatemalan funerary mask. Museo Nacional de
Arqueologia, Guatemala City. [©Erich Lessing/Art Resource, N.Y.]; Cham Temple in My Son,
Vietnam. [©Luca I. Tettoni/Corbis]; Detail from a fourth-century BCE Etruscan vase depicting
Athena with her owl in flight and Poseidon holding the trident. Louvre, Paris. [©Réunion des
Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, N.Y.]
.
9431

9432
UFO RELIGIONS
tion. He had already started in 1900 a monthly called Seisho
latter version will include some more articles and many more
no kenkyu¯ (Biblical Studies). This publication fulfilled a
letters. The best biography is by Masaike Megumu, Uchi-
long-standing ambition to write popular Bible commentaries
mura Kanzo¯ den (1950; Tokyo, 1977). In English, Culture
and provided him with a livelihood until his death. Through
and Religion in Japanese-American Relations: Essays on Uchi-
his magazine, numerous individuals came to look upon
mura Kanzo¯, 1861–1930, edited by Raymond A. Moore,
Uchimura as their spiritual mentor. His many large lecture
Michigan Papers in Japanese Studies, no. 5 (Ann Arbor,
1981); and my article “Uchimura Kanzo¯,” in Pacifism in
meetings after he joined the Second-Coming Movement in
Japan: The Christian and Socialist Tradition, edited by No-
1917 returned him to the center of national attention. The
buya Bamba and me (Kyoto, 1978), discuss aspects of Uchi-
meetings developed into two-hour commentaries on the
mura’s legacy. I have written a complete critical biography,
Bible for weekly audiences of five to seven hundred. He con-
which is ready for publication.
tinued his magazine and lectures until death stilled his voice.
JOHN F. HOWES (1987)
All of Uchimura’s writings reflect a concern for a Japan
suddenly introduced into the modern world. At the time,
“the modern world” signified the European and North
American nations, whose people believed in a hierarchy of
UFO RELIGIONS. The rise of interest in unidentified
states with those of the Christian culture ranked highest.
flying objects (UFOs) has been amply demonstrated over the
Uchimura, through his English-language works, interpreted
last few decades. It is not surprising that in an age of scientific
Japanese concerns to Westerners, emphasizing the rectitude
discoveries, especially in the field of astronomy, the search
of traditional Japanese virtues. His early Japanese-language
for extraterrestrial life is a legitimate and respectable enter-
works commented on contemporary Japanese society. His
prise. But the quest for alien life on planets both within and
later writings introduced the Bible and the fruits of Christian
outside our galaxy appears to have gone beyond the usual
culture to Japan. These essays were frequently based upon
pursuit of scientific data supported by empirical evidence. It
the notes he had written for his weekly lectures. The com-
has also surpassed the quest for adventure beyond the con-
mentaries on the Bible form a major part of these writings
fines of planet Earth. Many people do not just speculate
and constitute the largest corpus of biblical studies by one
about the possibility of alien life elsewhere but claim to have
author in the Japanese language.
actually encountered or been visited by aliens. The search for
The concept associated with Uchimura’s name is
UFOs has become the center of a belief system with most,
mukyo¯kai or mukyo¯kai shugi, usually translated as “no
if not all, of the features that are usually linked with religion.
church,” “nonchurch,” or, in Uchimura’s translation,
The phrase UFO Religions can thus be applied to those orga-
“Christianity of no-church principle.” It proclaims a faith
nizations that exhibit many of the various dimensions that
linking humans to God through prayerful use of the Bible
have been routinely applied to other, more established, reli-
alone. The church as it existed in the Christian nations
gious organizations.
seemed to Uchimura so burdened with the associations of
While the precise definition of religion is still a matter
Western history and tradition as to lack meaning for Japa-
of debate among scholars, there seems to be some agreement
nese. On the other hand, Japanese, through faithful reading
about those key features or characteristics that are central to
of the Bible, could develop a Christianity true to their needs
any religious system. Among these are a communally shared
and consistent with their traditions. Uchimura’s denial in an
belief system or worldview in which a sacred or transcendent
article published after his death of “what is today commonly
reality figures prominently; a belief that the human race
called mukyo¯kai” did not reflect any change in his belief. In-
needs some kind of salvation or redemption from its present
stead, it expressed his dismay at the incipient development
condition; an ethical system; experiences such as devotion,
among his followers of a church based on their interpretation
ecstasy, rebirth, and inner peace; central myths or stories, es-
of mukyo¯kai shugi.
pecially those dealing with the creation and future of human-
Uchimura’s followers, most concerned that they must
kind; and rituals. Many of these features are also found in
not start a church, continue in small Bible-study groups
UFO religious groups, though not all have been accorded the
known collectively as mukyo¯kai. They have no other organi-
central place given them in most of the world’s religions. Sev-
zational ties than their respect for the Bible and the works
eral UFO groups are noted for forming well-knit communi-
of Uchimura. Adherents include a number of figures impor-
ties with a mission to propagate the teachings of their faith.
tant in the shaping of Japanese institutions after 1945:
Others stress individual spiritual development and/or heal-
Tanaka Ko¯taro¯, Yanaihara Tadao, Nambara Shigeru, Takagi
ing. Still others, while having some of the main features of
Yasaka, and Matsumoto Shigeharu.
religion, are mail-order organizations and thus lack the com-
munal and ritual aspects typical of some UFO religions.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
HISTORY. The rise of the modern UFO religions can be
The definitive Uchimura Kanzo¯ zenshu¯, 20 vols. (1932–1933; re-
traced to Kenneth Arnold who, in the mid-1940s, reported
print, Tokyo, 1961–1966) has been replaced by another
to have seen several flying saucers. Sightings by other individ-
work of the same name in 38 vols. (Tokyo, 1981–1984). The
uals followed, and soon people were relating their experi-
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UFO RELIGIONS
9433
ences of meeting and communicating with aliens from other
George King, the founder of the Aetherius Society, main-
planets.
tained contact with aliens, many of which are identical to the
ascended masters, which include founders of world religions
George Adamski (1891–1965) was the first contactee of
such as Jesus and the Buddha.
the modern era. Believing that he had been visited by a being
from the planet Venus on November 20, 1952, Adamski saw
GENERAL WORLDVIEW AND AIMS. The worldview adopted
himself as the chosen person with the mission of communi-
by UFO groups is much broader than that proposed by tradi-
cating important messages from the aliens to human beings.
tional religions. It indirectly includes modern astronomical
Adamski never founded a religious organization as such, but
discoveries and takes for granted the existence of intelligent
he attracted a following interested in the wisdom and knowl-
creatures on other planets in the vast cosmos. These beings
edge that the aliens had to offer to the human race. This led
are superior to the human race intellectually, scientifically,
to the foundation of the International Get Acquainted Club.
and spiritually. In spite of this expansive view of the universe,
Several organizations to disseminate his teachings were later
the main concern is still planet Earth, which is conceived as
founded by his followers. The largest is the George Adamski
a somewhat backward planet where men and women need
Foundation, which has since 1965 continued to circulate his
outside help to advance in the course of evolution.
works and to promote his view that contacts with aliens have
been made throughout the ages and that advancement in var-
While UFO religions offer little, if any, speculation
ious sciences has been achieved through such contacts.
about the origin of the universe, they often have elaborate
theories of the origins of the human race and its condition
The George Adamski Foundation became the spearhead
here on Earth. Raëlians, for instance, hold that human life
of the religiously oriented UFO groups that have emerged
on Earth was created by beings from another planet through
since the 1950s. The leaders of these groups reported contact
their knowledge of DNA and its use. A similar view had al-
with aliens, mainly from various planets in our solar system,
ready been popularized in Erich von Daniken’s book
and at times maintained that they had traveled to other plan-
Chariots of the Gods (1969) and has become part of UFO
ets, where they were shown advanced civilizations that made
mythology.
human cultures look rather primitive. Some of these leaders
were charismatic and/or prophetic and succeeded in gather-
Central to any UFO religion is the belief that contact
ing a clientele around them, eventually forming cult move-
with aliens is the way to salvation and improvement. The
ments, “which are full-fledged organizations that attempt to
teachings of Adamski describe the aliens as “beings of amity,
satisfy all the religious needs of the converts” (Stark and
intelligence, understanding and compassion,” while the
Bainbridge, 1985, p. 29). They became an elite group of in-
Semjase Silver Star Center in California points out that they
dividuals who were accepted as contactees with extraterrestri-
come with a mission to assist the human race out of its pres-
al intelligences who delivered their messages and teachings
ent ignorance. Some groups, especially those that originated
through their chosen mediums or prophets.
in the 1950s such as the Aetherius Society, White Star, the
Some UFO groups, such as the Aetherius Society, Un-
Ashtar Command, and Cosmic Star Fellowship, stress the
arius Academy of Life, and the Association for Sananda and
need to be saved from the dangers of the atomic (or nuclear)
Sanat Kumara, with the passing away of their leaders in the
age that can lead humans to self-destruction. Others, such
1990s, are now becoming institutionalized and have contin-
as the Solar Light Retreat, expect aliens to help solve the en-
ued to survive and carry on their agenda without the pres-
ergy and environmental crisis. Spiritual development, a
ence of a contactee.
higher consciousness, healing from spiritual, psychological,
and physical maladies, emancipation from the fear and chaos
Some scholars have pointed out that there is a connec-
that beset human beings, and evolution to higher spiritual
tion between UFO beliefs and the Theosophical Society and
and self-awareness levels are among the benefits that many
the I AM Religious Activity, though these latter groups can-
UFO groups hope to accrue with the advent of intelligent
not, strictly speaking, be called UFO religions if for no other
and advanced beings from other planets. In some UFO
reason than that the existence of, and communication with,
groups, such as the Aetherius Society and Unarius, healing
aliens is not one of their central characteristics. Yet many of
is one of the main ritual practices. In others, such as the Ex-
the aliens are similar and at times identical to the masters of
traterrestrial Earth Mission and Mark-Age, the stress is on
the Theosophical Movement. The teachings of quite a few
achieving a higher consciousness or a more advanced evolu-
UFO religions have incorporated Eastern religious notions,
tionary stage.
such as karma and reincarnation, that were already made
popular by theosophy. The Association of Sananda and
The belief system of UFO religions is often considered
Sanat Kumara is an excellent example of the link between
as part of the New Age movement and tends to be syncretis-
theosophy and extraterrestrials. The late Sister Thedra, the
tic. Thus, Chen Tao (God’s Salvation Church), which in
founder of this organization, channeled for years the ascend-
1997 migrated from Taiwan to North America, is a prime
ed masters, while later on she also communicated with the
example of such amalgamation, with Buddhist, Daoist, and
angel Moroni (prominent in Mormonism), with beings from
folk beliefs intertwined and later combined with a Christian
other planets, and with Sananda (Christ). In the same way,
apocalyptic and millenarian worldview.
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9434
UFO RELIGIONS
One of the common features of UFO religions is that
the prophecy to materialize has not led to the demise of the
their founders are convinced that they have been contacted
group.
by aliens. Adamski related how he had been visited by a hu-
manlike being from Venus who imparted certain knowledge
Another UFO religion, Mark-Age, believed that the ar-
that he was instructed to pass on to humankind. He also
rival of the aliens would be around the year 2000 and stated
could communicate with the aliens by telepathy. Other con-
that its mission was to externalize on Earth the Hierarchical
tactees who followed him made the same claim. George
Board, namely, the spiritual government of our solar system,
Hunt Williamson of the now defunct Brotherhood of the
in preparation for the advent of the aliens. Borrowing the
Seven Rays had contact with Martians via automatic writing.
concept of the second coming from Christianity, it teaches
William Ferguson of the Cosmic Circle of Fellowship was
that this Christian belief has a dual meaning, namely (1) the
transported to both Mars and Venus, where he was given
second coming of each one’s I Am Self, expressed through
messages to bring back to Earth. George King, of the Ae-
the mortal personality; and (2) the second coming of Sanan-
therius Society, received messages from aliens either while in
da/Jesus the Christ, Prince of Earth, in his resurrected, light
a trance or by telepathy. The founders of Unarius, Ernest and
body.
Ruth Norman (known as Archangels Raphael and Uriel re-
Other groups are more cautious. The Aetherius Society
spectively), authored books containing teaching received
expects a new master, presumably to precede the advent of
from advanced intelligent beings living in other worlds.
the aliens, but does not give a specific date. While many
Nada-Yolanda (Pauline Share) of Mark-Age, Inc., uses both
members believe that it will be soon, the society states that
automatic writing and telepathy to convey messages from be-
he will come when human beings are ready for his arrival.
ings in spacecrafts. In like manner Valerie Donner of the
Raëlians think the extraterrestrials will arrive around the year
Ground Crew uses channeling as a means of communication
2020. But before they arrive, human beings must first have
with extraterrestrial beings. Claude Vorilhon (now known as
established world peace and built an embassy for them in or
Raël) of the Raëlian Movement met several times with an
near Jerusalem.
alien who entrusted him with the good news of the true ori-
gins of human beings and of the return of the Elohim. The
SIGNIFICANT FIGURES AND ORGANIZATIONS. While many
two leaders of the Extraterrestrial Earth Mission (known
people believe in UFOs, the number of UFO religious orga-
since 1993 as Drakar and Zrendar) go a step further and pro-
nizations and of those who have joined their ranks is rather
claim that different aliens have periodically taken possession
small. J. Gordon Melton (2003) lists twenty-three flying sau-
of their bodies, presumably enabling them to communicate
cer groups, while Mikael Rothstein (2002) estimates that
more freely and regularly to human beings.
they are twenty-five different groups active today, but he
does not list them. Melton’s list, only slightly updated from
As in the classical monotheistic religions, where God
the previous edition of his encyclopedia, omits such groups
takes the initiative to call prophets, it is the aliens who ap-
as Heaven’s Gate, Chen Tao, the Nuwaubians, and the
proach specially selected individuals and commission them
Ground Crew and its splinter group the Planetary Action
to act as messengers to the human race. The aliens, though
Organization (PAO). It still remains, however, the most
not elevated to the status of gods or goddesses, are obviously
complete and provides short descriptions of the origins and
transcendent and suprahuman beings even in those UFO re-
belief systems of each group.
ligions like the Raëlian movement in which belief in God or
supernatural beings is not found or does not occupy an im-
Melton’s list also indirectly points to the some of the
portant place.
difficulties involved in studying these groups. Thus, Melton
Besides an elaborate soteriology, UFO groups also teach
states that two of the groups he lists are defunct. He could
an eschatology, the chief element of which is the actual arriv-
not trace the addresses of eight groups and found that six
al of the aliens, an advent that, as Solar Light Retreat teaches,
provide only a post office box address. Nine of the groups
will initiate a new heaven and a new earth. The Ground
mentioned have a web page, as have the more recent ones.
Crew maintains that at least one angel will accompany each
The vast majority do not report the number of members of
spaceship and that Earth will be transformed into a paradise.
the organization. The membership of most groups may be
somewhat fluid and probably consists of a few hundreds or
The advent of aliens can be apocalyptic and/or millenar-
thousands at most. At least two, the Ground Crew and Zeta-
ian. In most instances the time of the extraterrestrials’ arrival
Talk (the latter led by Nancy Lieder), exist only on the inter-
is not specified but is expected to be relatively soon. Probably
net. By far the largest UFO group is probably the Raëlian
the most recent attempt to pinpoint the time of arrival was
movement, which boasts sixty thousand members in almost
made by Chen Tao in Garland, Texas. In typical prophetic
a hundred countries. Unarius Academy of Science states that
fashion, its leader, Hon-Ming Chen, said that God would
tens of thousands of individuals have participated in its pro-
announce his descent by taking control of the television net-
grams. It is not clear how each organization counts its mem-
works on March 25, 1998. In similar fashion Unarius Acade-
bership. The Aetherius Society lists three levels of member-
my of Science has foretold the advent of the aliens in their
ship, full, associate, and friends, the last including interested
flying saucers. As in many prophetic instances, the failure of
individuals and scholars, but it provides no figures.
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UFO RELIGIONS
9435
Not all UFO groups prefer to be called a religion. The
mic Circle of Fellowship was convicted of fraud and sen-
Aetherius Society’s web page states explicitly: “This is not a
tenced to a year in prison.
religion. . . . It’s a spiritual path to enlightenment and the
CONCLUSIONS. The presence of UFO religions has elicited
cosmic evolution of mankind.” Unarius Academy of Science
the attention of many scholars from different academic
tends to view itself as a philosophy of life, while the Nuwau-
fields. Both sociologists and psychologists have offered differ-
bians prefer to call themselves a fraternal organization. One
ent interpretations of why they might come into being and
group in particular, the Raëlian movement, is highly critical
of the psychological and mental state of their members.
of established religion, particularly Christianity. It describes
The rise of belief in UFO religions is interesting from
itself as an “atheist, spiritual organization” and states that one
the point of view of both religious studies and theology.
of its goals is to lead human beings to understand true reli-
UFO religions seem to be making an attempt to relate reli-
gion. Its founder, Raël, starts by reinterpreting the biblical
gion with science more positively. The adherents of UFO re-
concept of Elohim, which, he asserts, refers not to God but
ligions see their beliefs confirmed by scientific data regarding
to beings from another planet who created life on Earth.
the nature of the universe and the possibility of intelligent
CONTROVERSIES. Until recently, UFO religions have not
extraterrestrial life. Ryan Cook (2002) has called them
been controversial. They rather left the impression of being
“Technospiritualities.”
innocuous, eccentric groups. In 1997, however, the members
From a theological standpoint, UFO religions attempt
of Heaven’s Gate took the initiative to transport themselves
to incorporate a scientific view of the universe in their ideolo-
to a spacecraft by committing suicide in order to move into
gy. Traditional theology is Earthbound. In terms of myths
a higher state of being. This was perceived by many as a
of creation, beliefs regarding the origin of the human race,
warning sign that UFO religions might be dangerous. Chen
its current problems and destiny, and spirituality, theology
Tao’s claim that God would speak over the television net-
has been confined to the planet Earth. Although theological
works and then come down in flying saucers to save people
speculations about the possibility of other worlds have been
created quite a stir and raised the fear that its members might
going on long before modern astronomy and its discoveries
follow in the path of those of Heaven’s Gate. Such fear
(O’Meara, 1999), Earth still remained the theological center
proved unfounded, and when the prophecy failed, many
of the universe. Speculations about the spiritual nature of be-
members abandoned the group, though some have remained
ings in other worlds, their need for salvation, and the possi-
loyal to Hon-Ming Chen’s teachings and prophetic utter-
bility of divine intervention were never considered in the
ances.
context of contact with extraterrestrials who visit Earth in
The vi