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The second edition contains "well over five hundred new topics, nearly one thousand completely new articles, and 1.5 million more words than the original. In his preface, the editor provides an excellent service to readers by clearly distinguishing the differences in content between the two editions. All 2,750 entries from the first edition were examined for revision, 1,800 of them remaining essentially unchanged. While entries in both editions are signed, the name of the scholar is followed by the date 1987 in the new edition, thereby indicating the article is reprinted with few or no changes. When entries were updated for the second edition, either by the original author or by another scholar, a single name will be followed by two dates (1987 and 2005) or two names will be listed, each followed by one of the two years. The editors considered some articles from the first edition worthy of inclusion in the second but no longer state-of-the-art (e.g., Mysticism, Rites of passage, Sexuality). Here, the entry is reprinted with the title qualified by "First Edition" and is then followed by a completely new article with the same title but the qualifier "Further Considerations. Most, if not all, entries conclude with supplemental bibliographies, often updated even if the entry itself was not. When they have been updated, the new citations follow the original bibliography under the heading "New Sources."

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Encyclopedia of Religion, Second Edition Lindsay Jones, Editor in Chief

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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA Encyclopedia of religion / Lindsay Jones, editor in chief.— 2nd ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-02-865733-0 (SET HARDCOVER : ALK. PAPER) — ISBN 0-02-865734-9 (V. 1) — ISBN 0-02-865735-7 (v. 2) — ISBN 0-02-865736-5 (v. 3) — ISBN 0-02-865737-3 (v. 4) — ISBN 0-02-865738-1 (v. 5) — ISBN 0-02-865739-X (v. 6) — ISBN 0-02-865740-3 (v. 7) — ISBN 0-02-865741-1 (v. 8) — ISBN 0-02-865742-X (v. 9) — ISBN 0-02-865743-8 (v. 10) — ISBN 0-02-865980-5 (v. 11) — ISBN 0-02-865981-3 (v. 12) — ISBN 0-02-865982-1 (v. 13) — ISBN 0-02-865983-X (v. 14) — ISBN 0-02-865984-8 (v. 15) 1. RELIGION—ENCYCLOPEDIAS. I. JONES, LINDSAY, 1954BL31.E46 2005 200’.3—dc22


This title is also available as an e-book. ISBN 0-02-865997-X Contact your Thomson Gale representative for ordering information. Printed in the United States of America 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


EDITOR IN CHIEF LINDSAY JONES Associate Professor, Department of Comparative Studies, Ohio State University BOARD MEMBERS DAVÍD CARRASCO Neil Rudenstine Professor of Study of Latin America, Divinity School and Department of Anthropology, Harvard University GIOVANNI CASADIO Professor of History of Religions, Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Antichità, Università degli Studi di Salerno

Program in Religious Studies, University of Wisconsin—Madison CHARLES H. LONG Professor of History of Religions, Emeritus, and Former Director of Research Center for Black Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara MARY N. MACDONALD Professor, History of Religions, Le Moyne College (Syracuse, New York) DALE B. MARTIN Professor of Religious Studies, and Chair, Department of Religious Studies, Yale University AZIM NANJI Professor and Director, The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London

WENDY DONIGER Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions, University of Chicago

JACOB OLUPONA Professor, African American and African Studies Program, University of California, Davis

GARY L. EBERSOLE Professor of History and Religious Studies, and Director, UMKC Center for Religious Studies, University of Missouri—Kansas City

MICHAEL SWARTZ Professor of Hebrew and Religious Studies, Ohio State University

JANET GYATSO Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies, The Divinity School, Harvard University CHARLES HALLISEY Associate Professor, Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia and

INÉS TALAMANTEZ Associate Professor, Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara

CONSULTANTS GREGORY D. ALLES Associate Professor of Religious Studies, McDaniel College Study of Religion

SIGMA ANKRAVA Professor, Department of Literary and Cultural Studies, Faculty of Modern Languages, University of Latvia Baltic Religion and Slavic Religion

DIANE APOSTOLOS-CAPPADONA Center for Muslim–Christian Understanding and Liberal Studies Program, Georgetown University Art and Religion

DIANE BELL Professor of Anthropology and Women’s Studies, George Washington University Australian Indigenous Religions

KEES W. BOLLE Professor Emeritus of History, University of California, Los Angeles, and Fellow, Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences History of Religions

MARK CSIKSZENTMIHALYI Associate Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature and the Program in Religious Studies, University of Wisconsin—Madison Chinese Religions

RICHARD A. GARDNER Faculty of Comparative Culture, Sophia University Humor and Religion

JOHN A. GRIM Professor of Religion, Bucknell University and Co-Coordinator,




Harvard Forum on Religion and Ecology Ecology and Religion

JOSEPH HARRIS Francis Lee Higginson Professor of English Literature and Professor of Folklore, Harvard University Germanic Religions

URSULA KING Professor Emerita, Senior Research Fellow and Associate Member of the Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Bristol, England, and Professorial Research Associate, Centre for Gender and Religions Research, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London Gender and Religion

DAVID MORGAN Duesenberg Professor of Christianity and the Arts, and Professor of Humanities and Art History, Valparaiso University Color Inserts and Essays

JOSEPH F. NAGY Professor, Department of English, University of California, Los Angeles Celtic Religion

MATTHEW OJO Obafemi Awolowo University African Religions

JUHA PENTIKÄINEN Professor of Comparative Religion, The University of Helsinki, Member of Academia Scientiarum Fennica, Finland Arctic Religions and Uralic Religions

TED PETERS Professor of Systematic Theology, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California Science and Religion

FRANK E. REYNOLDS Professor of the History of Religions and Buddhist Studies in the Divinity School and the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, Emeritus, University of Chicago History of Religions

GONZALO RUBIO Assistant Professor, Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Department of History and Religious Studies, Pennsylvania State University Ancient Near Eastern Religions

SUSAN SERED Director of Research, Religion, Health and Healing Initiative, Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University, and Senior Research Associate, Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights, Suffolk University Healing, Medicine, and Religion

LAWRENCE E. SULLIVAN Professor, Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame History of Religions

WINNIFRED FALLERS SULLIVAN Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer in the Anthropology and Sociology of

Religion, University of Chicago Law and Religion

TOD SWANSON Associate Professor of Religious Studies, and Director, Center for Latin American Studies, Arizona State University South American Religions

MARY EVELYN TUCKER Professor of Religion, Bucknell University, Founder and Coordinator, Harvard Forum on Religion and Ecology, Research Fellow, Harvard Yenching Institute, Research Associate, Harvard Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies Ecology and Religion

HUGH B. URBAN Associate Professor, Department of Comparative Studies, Ohio State University Politics and Religion

CATHERINE WESSINGER Professor of the History of Religions and Women’s Studies, Loyola University New Orleans New Religious Movements

ROBERT A. YELLE Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto Law and Religion

ERIC ZIOLKOWSKI Charles A. Dana Professor of Religious Studies, Lafayette College Literature and Religion



abbr. abbreviated; abbreviation abr. abridged; abridgment AD anno Domini, in the year of the (our) Lord Afrik. Afrikaans AH anno Hegirae, in the year of the Hijrah Akk. Akkadian Ala. Alabama Alb. Albanian Am. Amos AM ante meridiem, before noon amend. amended; amendment annot. annotated; annotation Ap. Apocalypse Apn. Apocryphon app. appendix Arab. Arabic EArakh. EArakhin Aram. Aramaic Ariz. Arizona Ark. Arkansas Arm. Armenian art. article (pl., arts.) AS Anglo-Saxon Asm. Mos. Assumption of Moses Assyr. Assyrian A.S.S.R. Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic Av. Avestan EA.Z. EAvodah zarah b. born Bab. Babylonian Ban. Bantu 1 Bar. 1 Baruch 2 Bar. 2 Baruch

3 Bar. 3 Baruch 4 Bar. 4 Baruch B.B. BavaD batraD BBC British Broadcasting Corporation BC before Christ BCE before the common era B.D. Bachelor of Divinity Beits. Beitsah Bekh. Bekhorot Beng. Bengali Ber. Berakhot Berb. Berber Bik. Bikkurim bk. book (pl., bks.) B.M. BavaD metsiEaD BP before the present B.Q. BavaD qammaD Bra¯h. Bra¯hman.a Bret. Breton B.T. Babylonian Talmud Bulg. Bulgarian Burm. Burmese c. circa, about, approximately Calif. California Can. Canaanite Catal. Catalan CE of the common era Celt. Celtic cf. confer, compare Chald. Chaldean chap. chapter (pl., chaps.) Chin. Chinese C.H.M. Community of the Holy Myrrhbearers 1 Chr. 1 Chronicles

2 Chr. 2 Chronicles Ch. Slav. Church Slavic cm centimeters col. column (pl., cols.) Col. Colossians Colo. Colorado comp. compiler (pl., comps.) Conn. Connecticut cont. continued Copt. Coptic 1 Cor. 1 Corinthians 2 Cor. 2 Corinthians corr. corrected C.S.P. Congregatio Sancti Pauli, Congregation of Saint Paul (Paulists) d. died D Deuteronomic (source of the Pentateuch) Dan. Danish D.B. Divinitatis Baccalaureus, Bachelor of Divinity D.C. District of Columbia D.D. Divinitatis Doctor, Doctor of Divinity Del. Delaware Dem. DemaDi dim. diminutive diss. dissertation Dn. Daniel D.Phil. Doctor of Philosophy Dt. Deuteronomy Du. Dutch E Elohist (source of the Pentateuch) Eccl. Ecclesiastes ed. editor (pl., eds.); edition; edited by




EEduy. EEduyyot e.g. exempli gratia, for example Egyp. Egyptian 1 En. 1 Enoch 2 En. 2 Enoch 3 En. 3 Enoch Eng. English enl. enlarged Eph. Ephesians EEruv. EEruvin 1 Esd. 1 Esdras 2 Esd. 2 Esdras 3 Esd. 3 Esdras 4 Esd. 4 Esdras esp. especially Est. Estonian Est. Esther et al. et alii, and others etc. et cetera, and so forth Eth. Ethiopic EV English version Ex. Exodus exp. expanded Ez. Ezekiel Ezr. Ezra 2 Ezr. 2 Ezra 4 Ezr. 4 Ezra f. feminine; and following (pl., ff.) fasc. fascicle (pl., fascs.) fig. figure (pl., figs.) Finn. Finnish fl. floruit, flourished Fla. Florida Fr. French frag. fragment ft. feet Ga. Georgia Gal. Galatians Gaul. Gaulish Ger. German Git. . Git. .t in Gn. Genesis Gr. Greek H . ag. H . agigah H al. H . . allah Hau. Hausa Hb. Habakkuk Heb. Hebrew Heb. Hebrews Hg. Haggai Hitt. Hittite Hor. Horayot Hos. Hosea H . ul. H . ullin

Hung. Hungarian ibid. ibidem, in the same place (as the one immediately preceding) Icel. Icelandic i.e. id est, that is IE Indo-European Ill. Illinois Ind. Indiana intro. introduction Ir. Gael. Irish Gaelic Iran. Iranian Is. Isaiah Ital. Italian J Yahvist (source of the Pentateuch) Jas. James Jav. Javanese Jb. Job Jdt. Judith Jer. Jeremiah Jgs. Judges Jl. Joel Jn. John 1 Jn. 1 John 2 Jn. 2 John 3 Jn. 3 John Jon. Jonah Jos. Joshua Jpn. Japanese JPS Jewish Publication Society translation (1985) of the Hebrew Bible J.T. Jerusalem Talmud Jub. Jubilees Kans. Kansas Kel. Kelim Ker. Keritot Ket. Ketubbot 1 Kgs. 1 Kings 2 Kgs. 2 Kings Khois. Khoisan Kil. Kil Dayim km kilometers Kor. Korean Ky. Kentucky l. line (pl., ll.) La. Louisiana Lam. Lamentations Lat. Latin Latv. Latvian L. en Th. Licencié en Théologie, Licentiate in Theology L. ès L. Licencié ès Lettres, Licentiate in Literature Let. Jer. Letter of Jeremiah lit. literally

Lith. Lithuanian Lk. Luke LL Late Latin LL.D. Legum Doctor, Doctor of Laws Lv. Leviticus m meters m. masculine M.A. Master of Arts Ma Eas. MaEaserot Ma Eas. Sh. MaE aser sheni Mak. Makkot Makh. Makhshirin Mal. Malachi Mar. Marathi Mass. Massachusetts 1 Mc. 1 Maccabees 2 Mc. 2 Maccabees 3 Mc. 3 Maccabees 4 Mc. 4 Maccabees Md. Maryland M.D. Medicinae Doctor, Doctor of Medicine ME Middle English Meg. Megillah Me Eil. MeEilah Men. Menah.ot MHG Middle High German mi. miles Mi. Micah Mich. Michigan Mid. Middot Minn. Minnesota Miq. MiqvaDot MIran. Middle Iranian Miss. Mississippi Mk. Mark Mo. Missouri MoEed Q. MoEed qat. an Mont. Montana MPers. Middle Persian MS. manuscriptum, manuscript (pl., MSS) Mt. Matthew MT Masoretic text n. note Na. Nahum Nah. Nahuatl Naz. Nazir N.B. nota bene, take careful note N.C. North Carolina n.d. no date N.Dak. North Dakota NEB New English Bible Nebr. Nebraska



Ned. Nedarim Neg. NegaEim Neh. Nehemiah Nev. Nevada N.H. New Hampshire Nid. Niddah N.J. New Jersey Nm. Numbers N.Mex. New Mexico no. number (pl., nos.) Nor. Norwegian n.p. no place n.s. new series N.Y. New York Ob. Obadiah O.Cist. Ordo Cisterciencium, Order of Cîteaux (Cistercians) OCS Old Church Slavonic OE Old English O.F.M. Ordo Fratrum Minorum, Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) OFr. Old French Ohal. Ohalot OHG Old High German OIr. Old Irish OIran. Old Iranian Okla. Oklahoma ON Old Norse O.P. Ordo Praedicatorum, Order of Preachers (Dominicans) OPers. Old Persian op. cit. opere citato, in the work cited OPrus. Old Prussian Oreg. Oregon EOrl. EOrlah O.S.B. Ordo Sancti Benedicti, Order of Saint Benedict (Benedictines) p. page (pl., pp.) P Priestly (source of the Pentateuch) Pa. Pennsylvania Pahl. Pahlavi Par. Parah para. paragraph (pl., paras.) Pers. Persian Pes. Pesahim Ph.D. Philosophiae Doctor, Doctor of Philosophy Phil. Philippians Phlm. Philemon Phoen. Phoenician pl. plural; plate (pl., pls.) PM post meridiem, after noon Pol. Polish

pop. population Port. Portuguese Prv. Proverbs Ps. Psalms Ps. 151 Psalm 151 Ps. Sol. Psalms of Solomon pt. part (pl., pts.) 1Pt. 1 Peter 2 Pt. 2 Peter Pth. Parthian Q hypothetical source of the synoptic Gospels Qid. Qiddushin Qin. Qinnim r. reigned; ruled Rab. Rabbah rev. revised R. ha-Sh. RoDsh ha-shanah R.I. Rhode Island Rom. Romanian Rom. Romans R.S.C.J. Societas Sacratissimi Cordis Jesu, Religious of the Sacred Heart RSV Revised Standard Version of the Bible Ru. Ruth Rus. Russian Rv. Revelation Rv. Ezr. Revelation of Ezra San. Sanhedrin S.C. South Carolina Scot. Gael. Scottish Gaelic S.Dak. South Dakota sec. section (pl., secs.) Sem. Semitic ser. series sg. singular Sg. Song of Songs Sg. of 3 Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men Shab. Shabbat Shav. ShavuEot Sheq. Sheqalim Sib. Or. Sibylline Oracles Sind. Sindhi Sinh. Sinhala Sir. Ben Sira S.J. Societas Jesu, Society of Jesus (Jesuits) Skt. Sanskrit 1 Sm. 1 Samuel 2 Sm. 2 Samuel Sogd. Sogdian Sot. . Sot. ah



sp. species (pl., spp.) Span. Spanish sq. square S.S.R. Soviet Socialist Republic st. stanza (pl., ss.) S.T.M. Sacrae Theologiae Magister, Master of Sacred Theology Suk. Sukkah Sum. Sumerian supp. supplement; supplementary Sus. Susanna s.v. sub verbo, under the word (pl., s.v.v.) Swed. Swedish Syr. Syriac Syr. Men. Syriac Menander TaE an. TaEanit Tam. Tamil Tam. Tamid Tb. Tobit T.D. Taisho¯ shinshu¯ daizo¯kyo¯, edited by Takakusu Junjiro¯ et al. (Tokyo,1922–1934) Tem. Temurah Tenn. Tennessee Ter. Terumot T . evul yom . ev. Y. T Tex. Texas Th.D. Theologicae Doctor, Doctor of Theology 1 Thes. 1 Thessalonians 2 Thes. 2 Thessalonians Thrac. Thracian Ti. Titus Tib. Tibetan 1 Tm. 1 Timothy 2 Tm. 2 Timothy T. of 12 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs T oh. .t ohorot . Tong. Tongan trans. translator, translators; translated by; translation Turk. Turkish Ukr. Ukrainian Upan. Upanis.ad U.S. United States U.S.S.R. Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Uqts. Uqtsin v. verse (pl., vv.) Va. Virginia var. variant; variation Viet. Vietnamese



viz. videlicet, namely vol. volume (pl., vols.) Vt. Vermont Wash. Washington Wel. Welsh Wis. Wisconsin Wis. Wisdom of Solomon W.Va. West Virginia Wyo. Wyoming

Yad. Yadayim Yev. Yevamot Yi. Yiddish Yor. Yoruba Zav. Zavim Zec. Zechariah Zep. Zephaniah Zev. Zevah.im

* hypothetical ? uncertain; possibly; perhaps ° degrees + plus – minus = equals; is equivalent to × by; multiplied by → yields


volume three


osmic visions


Images offer viewers a special advantage: not only can they compact and transmit information with great economy, they offer a commanding perch from which to survey vast transits of time and expanses of space. Schematic images serve as maps of the cosmos, of history, of the night sky, and of the wanderings and pilgrimages of the soul. Visual imagery can also present to a single view, for purposes of meditation or memorization, extensive bodies of thought and teaching. Such images are often diagrams or charts that serve as mnemonic devices, teaching aids, or prompts for visualization in meditation. This manner of imagery is able to condense a complex array of information into a single visual field and to serve as a graphic shorthand for referring to or recalling teachings. Itinerant Buddhist teachers in Tibet and other Himalayan regions make use of diagrams like the Wheel of Existence (a), in which are encoded in symbolic imagery and scenes the fundamental teachings of Buddhism as practiced by Tibetan followers. Nearly one meter high, the image serves as a teaching aid for explaining the cycle of life, the structure of the Buddhist cosmos, the forces of evil and good, and such essential doctrines as karma, rebirth and its causes, and the levels of rebirth. (a) A Tibetan cloth diagram of the Buddhist Wheel of Existence, from the eighteenth or early nineteenth century. [©The Newark Museum/ Art Resource, N.Y.]



(b) Navajo medicine man Victor Begay with a sand painting he created for a healing ritual. [©Arne Hodalic/Corbis]

Other images reproduced here are cosmic maps created for various purposes. The Navajo sand painting (b) is a temporary device produced for the purpose of healing, fecundity, and the restoration of order. The diagram configures the ideal, balanced relations among natural forces and divine beings, which, when they slip into imbalance by human action, cause evil and ill health. The creation of the sand painting and its quick and ritual destruction bring about the resumption of cosmic balance and human



well-being. A Daoist hanging scroll from China (c) also signifies the search for well-being conceived as balance and protection from evil. Zhenwu, the perfected warrior, is a savior figure who confronts evil on behalf of all souls by achieving the Dao’s ideal balance of yin and yang, symbolized in the eight trigrams above the central figure. The rest of the image consists of seventy-two talismans, each of which is a star diagram with script that explains the particular protection against malevolence provided by each configuration. Diagrams are an especially effective way of mapping a relationship between the scale of the human form and the corresponding macrocosm. The human body is transformed into a microcosm of larger forces. Robert Fludd’s hermetic diagram (d) is an example of this graphic way of discerning occult relationships between the human form and the cosmic. The image conveys a prevailing sense of harmony among spiritual and material domains, described as a continuum that stretches from the divine (the Hebrew tetragramaton at the top) to the human body centered in the genitals. A different kind of diagram that represents in abstract linear form the embodied connection of different levels of the cosmos appears on many Olmec celts or stone axe heads that were illustrated and (c) A B O VE . Chinese hanging scroll depicting Zhenwu with the Eight Trigrams, the northern dipper, and talismans, Qing dynasty, seventeenth or early eighteenth century. [Russell Tyson Endowment, 1999.566; reproduction, The Art Institute of Chicago] (d) L E F T . The Diapason Closing Full in Man, an illustra-

tion from Robert Fludd’s The Macrocosm, volume 1: Metaphysics and Cosmic Origins (1617). [The Granger Collection, New York]



vertically displayed as the axis mundi, or vertical alignment of earth, sky, and underworld. Celts mounted on wooden handles were used to prepare land for crops. The figure on some celts represents a shaman applying the tools of his trade to effect travel to the different levels of the cosmos for the benefit of the celt’s owner. Diagrams are often thought to possess power of their own. Several examples appear here. The investment of arcane diagrams with power and hermetic significance clearly informs the Jewish mystical or qabbalistic symbols assembled on a single folio and portrayed with Hebrew script (e), presumably to avoid the Bible’s injunction against graven images, but also to charge the images with greater spiritual potency. The hand-shaped form, for instance, called hamsa, provides protection against the evil eye. The elaborate printed page dedicated to the rosary (f ) offers 230 years off from the soul’s time in purgatory (note

(e) A B O VE . A qabbalist print by Samuel Habib, used as a mizrach, an indicator of the direction toward Jerusalem, 1828. [©The Jewish Museum, N.Y./Art Resource, N.Y.] (f ) R I G H T . Erhard Schön, The Great Rosary, hand colored woodcut. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1920. (20.34.1) [Photograph ©1997 The Metropolitan Museum of Art]



the angels snatching souls from flames at the bottom) for those who pray the rosary, prescribed and guided by the print’s compacted gathering of heavenly hierarchies who form the “brotherhood of the rosary,” that is, those celestial worthies to whom one joins one’s devotion. The circle of colored roses signifies the different kinds of prayer and the number of repetitions to ensure the rosary’s promised efficacy. A Hindu practice of combining a diagram or yantra with supplication is shown here (g), where a woman is creating the image of a lotus bloom from rice flour on the floor of a temple, while she invokes a goddess to assist her search for a good husband. The elaborate diagram is understood to attract divine energy and enable beneficial contact. A similar linear intricacy characterizes the Native American dream catcher (h), a delicate mesh of fiber stretched on a willow frame and hung above sleeping children to attract the ephemeral stuff of good dreams and filter out bad dreams. Diagrams are perhaps most widely used as maps. Eighteenth-century Muslims could envision the organiza(g) R I G H T . An Indian woman creates a yantra of a lotus for aid in finding a good husband, Samayapuram, Tirchirappalli district, Tamil Nadu, India. [©Photograph by Stephen P. Huyler] (h) B E L O W. A Yurok woman holds a dream catcher during the 1994 Salmon Festival in Klamath, California. [©Catherine Karnow/Corbis]



tion of the mosque in Mecca by the map (i) provided in manuscripts, showing the location of the Ka bah at the center and the entrances to the inner court of the mosque. Jains frequently used another kind of map found in stone relief in temples or painted portrayals. These structures present in highly symmetrical, concentric form the hall (samavasaran. a) that is built by the gods for the delivery of a sermon by a Jina, one of twenty-four teachers who have achieved liberation from rebirth and gather monks and laity alike about them in order to teach the way to salvation. The image maps out the key ideas of Jainism, in particular tranquility (santarasa) and nonviolence (ahim . sā), symbolized by the peaceful pairing of natural antagonists, such as the deer and tiger or the snake and mongoose. c

Mapping the astral realm and the passage of time is perhaps one of the most universal uses for diagrammatic structures. Stonehenge (j) is a Neolithic structure whose functions included a precise coordination of astronomical events with human ritual. Tibetan lamas rely on astrological charts, such as the one reproduced here (k), to consult (i) L E F T . An eighteenth-century map of the H . aram Mosque in Mecca. [©Giraudon/Art Resource, N.Y.] (j) B E L O W. Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, constructed of sandstone and bluestone c. 2000 bce. [©Jason Hawkes/Corbis] (k) O P P O S I T E . Srid pa ho (Divination Chart), Tibet, late twentieth century, paint on cloth. Tibetan Collection, Asian Division (82). [Library of Congress]





the horoscope of those undertaking a journey in order to determine an auspicious day for departure. The large Aztec stone diagram (l), uncovered in Mexico City in 1790, is, according to recent study, a portrayal of an earth deity surrounded by depictions of the major periods of cosmic history. Outer circles represent cardinal directions and a calendrical system of notating recent Aztec history that affirmed the cosmic centrality of the Aztec empire and appears to have declared the importance of combat and human sacrifice as the destiny of the empire.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Godwin, Joscelyn. Robert Fludd: Hermetic Philosopher and Surveyor of Two Worlds. Boulder, Colo., 1979.

(l) Late-fifteenth-century Aztec sun or calendar stone depicting the Five Eras, Tenochtitlan, Mexico. [©Bettmann/Corbis]

Leidy, Denise Patry, and Robert A. F. Thurman. Mandala: The Architecture of Enlightenment. New York, 1997. Little, Stephen, with Shawn Eichman. Taoism and the Arts of China. Chicago, 2000. Menzies, Jack. Buddha: Radiant Awakening. Sydney, 2001. Mills, Kenneth, and William B. Taylor, eds. Colonial Spanish America: A Documentary History. Wilmington, Del., 1998. David Morgan ()




CABASILAS, NICHOLAS (c. 1322–1395), born Nicolaos Chamaetos Cabasilas; Greek Orthodox theologian and saint. A native of Thessalonica, Cabasilas studied there and in Constantinople. One of his teachers was his uncle Nilos Cabasilas, an adherent and successor of Gregory Palamas in the see of Thessalonica. Cabasilas served for ten years as counselor to the emperor John VI Cantacuzenos (1341–1354). In 1353 his name was put forward as a candidate for the patriarchal chair, although he was a layman. During the second half of his life, he resided in Constantinople, mostly in the monastery of Mangana, as a layman or as a monk, devoting himself to theological studies. Gennadios Scholarios, the first patriarch after the fall of Constantinople, characterized Cabasilas’s writings as “an ornament to the church of Christ.” With an imposing style, apophthegmatic, prophetic, and poetical, he expresses genuine religious feeling and deep faith. One of Cabasilas’s most important works is Interpretation of the Holy Liturgy, a spiritual explanation of what is said and done during the Divine Liturgy, which he considers a real image of divine worship in heaven as well as of the earthly life of the incarnated God. In his thought the participation of the church in the sacraments (must¯eria) is not symbolic, but real, as is the participation of the members of the body in the heart. By participating in the mysteries (i.e., the Body and Blood of Christ), the faithful do not incorporate these elements into the human body as they do other food; rather, the faithful themselves are incorporated into these elements. Human’s union with Christ, soul with soul and body with body, brings complete peace, which makes the many one; disturbance makes the one many. Cabasilas’s second great work, On the Life in Christ, presents an anatomy of the spiritual life in the framework of the incarnation, repeated and continued in the sacraments of the church. Cabasilas’s thought revolves around the fact of salvation through union F R O M T O P L E F T C O R N E R . Bronze of the Egyptian goddess Bastet, patron of Bubastis, as a cat, 713–332 BCE. Louvre, Paris. [©Art Resource, N.Y.]; Ninth-century QurDa¯n written in Kufic script. Abbasid dynasty, Iraq. [©Werner Forman/Art Resource, N.Y.]; Le Christ de l’Abbé Menasprov. Louvre, Paris. [©Giraudon/Art Resource, N.Y.]; Aztec calendar stone. [©Bettmann/ Corbis]; Fifth-century CE silver Roman shield depicting Cybele in a chariot with Attis. Archaeological Museum, Milan. [The Art Archive/Archaeological Museum Milan/Dagli Orti] .





with God. The destination of humankind from the moment of its creation to the end of its history is this: union with God. For Cabasilas, the distinguishing property of God is goodness. God is good in an excelling way, and the nature of good is to pour itself out and be distributed. Thus humankind is created good from the beginning, both Godlike and Christ-like, with the purpose of being united with God in the future. The incarnate Word of God encounters a Godlike kernel in each human being and from this encounter a new life springs, which leads to perfection in life in Christ. Perfection is the supreme and complete gift of God. All things have been made for perfection. The present world is in the process of giving birth to the inner person, who is molded and formed in the present life, but who is born only in the future world. The moment of transition is the most delightful of visions. “Christ descends from heaven to earth brilliantly, the earth raises up other suns toward the sun of justice. All is full of light” (Life in Christ 6.16). In 1983 Cabasilas was canonized a saint of the Greek Orthodox church and his feast fixed on June 20. His writings are widely read in many languages.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Works by Cabasilas An unsatisfactory edition of the main texts, by Fronto Ducaeus, is reprinted in Patrologia Graeca, edited by J.-P. Migne, vol. 150 (Paris, 1865). All modern translations of Cabasilas’s two great treatises, based on this text, are necessarily unsatisfactory too. Explication de la divine liturgie, edited and translated by Sévérien Salaville, in Sources Chrétiennes, vol. 4 (Paris, 1967), follows the same text collated with one Parisian manuscript. An English translation by Joan M. Hussey and P. A. McNulty is also available as Interpretation of the Divine Liturgy (London, 1960). While working on my own translation into modern Greek, I prepared another, more correct original text, based on four manuscripts; see Nikolaos Cabasilas, no. 22 in the series “Philokalia” (Thessaloniki, 1979–). Works about Cabasilas Die Mystik des Nikolaus Cabasilas vom Leben in Christo, edited by Wilhelm Gass (1849; 2nd ed., Leiden, 1899), was excellent in its time. The work of Myrna Lot-Borodine, Un maïtre de la spiritualité byzantine au quatorzième siècle, Nicolas Cabasilas (Paris, 1958), in spite of its oratorical style, is very interesting. Special aspects of Cabasilas’s thought are treated in Ermanno M. Toniolo’s La mariologia di Nicola Cabasila (Vicenze, 1955); Ihor Sˇevcˇenko’s “Nicolas Cabasilas’ ‘Antizealot’ Discourse: A Reinterpretation,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 11 (1957): 79–171; and Jean Vafiadis’s L’humanisme chrétien de Nicolas Cabasilas: L’épanouissement de la personne humaine dans le Christ (Strasbourg, 1963). For readers of modern Greek, two important works are Athanasios Angelopoulos’s Nikolaos Kabasilas Chamaetos, H¯e zo¯e kai to ergon autou (Thessaloniki, 1970) and Panagiotes Nellas’s H¯e

peri dikaio¯seo¯s didaskalia Nikolaou tou Kabasila (Piraeus, 1975). PANAGIOTIS C. CHRISTOU (1987) Translated from Greek by Philip M. McGhee



CAIN AND ABEL, the first two sons of Adam and Eve, the progenitors of the race according to the Bible, after their banishment from the garden of Eden (Gn. 4). Cain (Heb., Qayin), the elder, was a farmer; Abel (Heb., Hevel) was a shepherd. The biblical text jumps from their birth to a later episode when both made (apparently votary) offerings to the Lord: Cain presented a meal offering of his fruits and grains, while Abel offered up the firstlings of his sheep. The offering of Cain was rejected by the Lord, and that of Abel was accepted. No reason for this is given, and generations of pious attempts to justify this event have been made by contrasting the intentions of the donors and the nature and quality of their donations. Cain’s despondency led to a divine caution to resist the temptation to sin (Gn. 4: 6–7); presumably this refers to the jealous urges and hostile resentments Cain felt. But the elder brother was overwrought and killed his brother in the field. This led to the punishment of Cain: like his father, he would not farm a fertile earth; and, like him, he would be banished “eastward of Eden.” Fearing further retribution, Cain was given a protective “sign,” whose aspect delighted the fancy in later legends and art. There is a deliberate reuse of the language of the temptation and punishment of Adam and Eve (Gn. 3) in the ensuing account of the temptation and punishment of Cain (Gn. 4: 1–17). The murder of Abel by Cain in Genesis 4: 1–17 is the first social crime recorded in the Bible, and it complements on the external level the inner temptation and misuse of will depicted in similar language in Genesis 3. The tradition of Cain’s act of murder and his subsequent punishment is followed by a genealogical list that presents him as the progenitor of several culture heroes. His son, Enoch, founded the first city (Gn. 4: 18); and two other descendants, Jubal and Tubalcain, were respectively named the cultural ancestors of “all who play the lyre and the pipe” (Gn. 4: 21) and those “who forged all implements of copper and iron” (Gn. 4: 22). There is thus an anachronistic blending of Cain, whose name means “smith,” with an ancient agricultural forebear. In so presenting Cain as the ancestor of technology and culture, the tradition displays a pessimistic attitude toward such achievements (complementing the attitude taken in the tower of Babel episode, in Genesis 10: 1–9) and shows a profound psychological insight into the energies and drives that underlie civilization. The episode of Genesis 4: 1–17 may reflect an old literary motif of debates between farmers and herdsmen as well as the fairly universal theme of fraternal pairs who represent contrasting psychological and cultural types. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Early rabbinic interpretation drew forth various elements of the story for moral and theological emphasis. The Midrash elaborates the psychology of fraternal strife (Genesis Rabbah 22.7), depicts Cain’s impious rejection of divine justice when his offering is rejected but also notes his act of repentance in the end (Gn. Rab. 11.13), and shows the cycle of violence that was unleashed by Cain’s act, since this deed led to his accidental death at the hands of his descendant Lamech who, in grief, accidentally killed his own son as well (Gn. 4: 23–24). Early Christian tradition focused on Abel as the head of a line of prophets who were killed (Mt. 23: 25) and emphasized his innocent blood (cf. Heb. 12: 24); thus they set the framework for the typology that related Abel’s innocent death to that of Jesus and saw Cain as representing the children of the devil (1 Jn. 3: 12). For Augustine, Cain was furthermore identified with the Jews. The topos of Cain and Abel recurs in the medieval mystery plays, and the murder of Abel was a common iconographic motif in Christian and Jewish art.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Aptowitzer, Vigdor. Kain und Abel in der Agada den Apokryphen, der hellenistischen, christlichen und muhammedanischen Literatur. Vienna, 1922. Fishbane, Michael. Text and Texture. New York, 1979. See pages 23–27. Ginzberg, Louis. The Legends of the Jews (1909–1938). 7 vols. Translated by Henrietta Szold, et al. Reprint, Philadelphia, 1937–1966. See volume 1, pages 55–59. Réau, Louis. Iconographie de l’art chrétien. Vol. 2. Paris, 1956. See pages 93–100. Speiser, E. A. Genesis. Anchor Bible. Vol. 1. Garden City, N.Y., 1964. See pages 29–38.

New Sources Levin, Schneir. “The Abel Syndrome.” Jewish Bible Quarterly 20 (1991): 111–114. Paine, Robert. “‘Am I My Brother’s Keeper?’ (Genesis IV:9): Violence and the Making of Society.” Qualitative Sociology 24 (2001): 169–189. Ratner, Robert J. “Cain and Abel, and the Problem of Paradox.” Journal of Reform Judaism 37 (1990): 9–20. MICHAEL FISHBANE (1987) Revised Bibliography

CAITANYA. For half a millennium, Caitanya has been revered by millions of Hindus, especially in eastern India, as a unique human manifestation of the divine Kr: s: n: a. He is understood to be Kr: s: n: a come to bestow devotion (bhakti) and salvation (uddha¯ra/nista¯ra) upon even the lowliest of persons, while combining in himself the fair complexion and devotional sentiments of Ra¯dha¯, his divine mistress. Caitanya is a popular shortened form of Kr: s: n: a-Caitanya (whose consciousness is of Kr: s: n: a), the religious name taken at his ascetic initiation (sam: nya¯sa) by Vi´svambhara Mi´sra (1486–1533), ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


an ecstatic devotee and Vais: n: ava revivalist. To his devotees, Caitanya is the paradigm of an emotionally intense, loving devotion (prema-bhakti) to Kr: s: n: a—which humans may aspire to emulate while never reaching the perfection of their divine/human exemplar. He is also the object of their devout adoration, affirmed to be God, Kr: s: n: a, appearing within recent human history to establish loving devotion as the religious norm (yuga-dharma) of the current degenerate era, the kaliyuga (Kali age).

LIFE. Vi´svambhara (i.e., Caitanya) was born/appeared at the onset of a lunar eclipse on the full moon day of Pha¯lgun month, February 27, 1486, at Navadvip town, the center of Sanskrit learning in then Muslim-ruled Bengal. The second son of a Vais: n: ava Bra¯hman: , Jaganna¯tha Mi´sra, and his wife S´ac¯ı, he became a Sanskrit pan: d: it, married Laks: m¯ı, and, after her untimely death, wed Vis: n: upriya¯. At the age of twenty-two, he journeyed to Gaya to perform post-funeral rites (´sra¯ddha) for his late father and first wife. While there, he was overwhelmed by devotion to Kr: s: n: a and promptly took initiation (d¯ıks: a¯) from a Vais: n: ava guru¯, ¯I´svara Pur¯ı. He returned to Navadvip overflowing with eagerness to spread devotion to Kr: s: n: a. Vi´svambhara’s charismatic proselytizing led him to be readily hailed by the Vais: n: avas of Navadvip as their leader. For about a year, he led devotional singing, acted in devotional dramas, and even challenged the Muslim authorities by leading sam: k¯ırtana (collective religious chanting) processions through Navadvip. His behavior, both when in normal consciousness and when in ecstatic states, suggested to his followers that he was in some way God, Hari (i.e., Kr: s: n: a), manifesting himself in human guise. His engrossing passion for bhakti to Kr: s: n: a brought an end to his career as pan: d: it and soon culminated in renunciation of domestic life while still childless. He received ascetic initiation from Ke´sava Bha¯rat¯ı in February 1510, when he took the name Kr: s: n: a-Caitanya. Soon after taking sam: nya¯sa, Caitanya went to the Jaganna¯th (Kr: s: n: a) deity (i.e., sacred image) in his great temple at Puri in Orissa. For several years, he traveled intermittently throughout India meeting adherents of diverse religious orientations—appealing all the while for devotion to Kr: s: n: a. His longest journey was through South India, toward the beginning of which he met Ra¯ma¯nanda Ra¯ya, whose spiritual sensibilities were remarkably akin to his own. It was Ra¯ma¯nanda who first declared Caitanya to be not simply Kr: s: n: a, but Kr: s: n: a combined with Ra¯dha¯. A subsequent journey toward the Vraja region—locale of Mathura and Vrindavan—via Bengal was cut short after Caitanya began attracting large crowds. Caitanya subsequently did make the much-desired journey to Vraja via wooded tracts of Orissa, where he spread devotion to Kr: s: n: a among tribal peoples. While in Vraja, he visited traditional sites of Kr: s: n: a’s birth, childhood, and youthful pastimes (l¯ıla¯s), and is said to have discovered still other sites.



From 1516 Caitanya remained at Puri, where he worshiped Jaganna¯tha, engaged in his private devotions, and counseled disciples. The latter included prominent devotees from Bengal who would make an annual pilgrimage for the Jaganna¯tha Chariot Festival (ratha ya¯tra¯) in June and remain with Caitanya for the duration of the rainy season. In his later years, Caitanya underwent intense and prolonged devotional states, often turbulent and ecstatic, pained by the sense of separation (viraha) from Kr: s: n: a. Among those who cared for him during these tormented years was Svaru¯pa Da¯modara, whose “notes” (kad: aca¯), based on his intimate observations of and communication with Caitanya, had a crucial role in shaping the Vais: n: ava theology being developed by the Gosva¯mins (pastors) whom Caitanya had earlier directed to settle in and around Vrindavan. There is no confirmed report of the circumstances of his death/ disappearance at Puri in the month of A¯s: a¯r: h (possibly July 9) in 1533. But one early biographer, Jaya¯nanda, mentions an injury that became septic. Vais: n: ava tradition affirms his merging with the Jaganna¯tha deity. There are several extant accounts in Sanskrit and in Bengali of Caitanya’s life and mission composed within eighty years of his passing. The earliest is the Sanskrit Kr: s: n: a-caitanya-carita¯mr: ta by a childhood friend and adult disciple, Mura¯ri Gupta. The most informative are Vr: nda¯vanada¯sa’s Caitanya-bha¯gavata (c. 1548; in Bengali) and Kr: s: n: ada¯sa Kavira¯ja’s Caitanya-carita¯mr: ta (c. 1612; also in Bengali but containing many Sanskrit verses). As remarked by Edward C. Dimock Jr. and Tony K. Stewart in their introduction to the former’s definitive translation of this masterpiece of Caitanya Vais: n: ava literature, “it is far more than a simple biography; it is a compendium of historical fact, religious legend, and abstruse theology so complete and blended in such proportions that it is the definitive work of the religious group called Vais: n: ava, since the time of Caitanya the most significant single religious group in all of eastern India” (1999, p. 3). Caitanya himself, though he inspired men of great learning and piety to compose a massive corpus of Sanskrit texts, may have left at most eight Sanskrit stanzas, including the following (in Dimock’s translation): He who knows himself as humbler than the grass, who is more forbearing than a tree, who feels no pride but gives honor to other men, he should practice always the Hari-k¯ırtana. (3:20:Sl. 5) He may crush my breasts in embracing me, a slave to his feet, he may destroy my heart by not appearing to me, he may be a libertine wherever he wants, but still he is the lord of my heart, and there is no other. (3:20:Sl. 10)

THEOLOGY. Caitanya’s conception of God and humankind—as elaborated by the theologians he inspired and guided—is grounded in the Bha¯gavata Pura¯n: a. The divine is understood to have three modes, in order of ascending ultimacy: brahman (conscious, but undifferentiated ground of being), parama¯tman (conscious divine soul indwelling all

individual souls), and bhagava¯n (ultimate conscious reality, personal and possessed of all auspicious forms and qualities, encompassing and surpassing brahman and parama¯tman). Kr: s: n: a is understood to be the quintessential bhagava¯n (“Kr: s: n: as tu svayam Bhagava¯n”; Bha¯gavata Pura¯n: a 1:3:28). Human souls (j¯ıvas) are minute emanations, paradoxically different and yet not different (acintyabheda¯bheda) from their divine source. A soul undergoes rebirth unless and until by divine mercy (kr: pa¯) it realizes its true nature as devoted servant of Kr: s: n: a. In the present degenerate age, Kr: s: n: a appears in the merciful guise of Caitanya to promulgate a simpler, universally accessible religious norm for the age, namely loving devotion to himself, evoked and expressed best through chanting his names (na¯mak¯ırtana). In principle, all persons, and especially such disfavored classes as women, ´su¯dras, and sinners, are eligible for bhakti, by which they may be delivered from bondage to spiritual ignorance (avidya¯), sin (pa¯pa), and rebirth (sam: sa¯ra). Devout souls may imitate the roles and sentiments displayed by Kr: s: n: a’s eternal companions: his servants, parents, friends, and lovers, who are depicted in the Bha¯gavata Pura¯n: a and other Vais: n: ava texts. The goal of human life is to enter into eternal communion with Kr: s: n: a and his divine and human companions, to participate with them in his transcendent pastimes, expressive of loving devotion. The myriad theological works in Sanskrit by the Gosva¯mins whom Caitanya dispatched to Vrindavan include commentaries on the Bha¯gavata Pura¯n: a by Sana¯tana (tenth canto) and J¯ıva (entire text); the Bhaktirasa¯mr: tasindhu and Ujjvala-n¯ılaman: i, two reference anthologies by Ru¯pa Gosva¯min illustrating devotional dramatic theory (bhakti-rasa-´sa¯stra); inspirational dramas and poems by Ru¯pa Gosva¯min, Raghuna¯thada¯sa, and others; a liturgicalcum-disciplinary manual, Hari-bhakti-vila¯sa, by Gopa¯la Bhat: t: a and Sana¯tana; Sana¯tana’s Br: had-bha¯gavata¯mr: ta, a “pilgrim’s progress” of a devout soul in search of ever more favored modes of devotion and ever more intimate selfdisclosures of the divine; and the S: at:-sandarbha (or Bha¯gavata-sandarbha), a summa of Vais: n: ava theology and philosophy by J¯ıva (based on a prior outline by Gopa¯la Bhat: t: a).

INFLUENCE. Caitanya and the movement (often called Gaud: ¯ıya or Bengali Vais: n: ava) of which he was the fervent catalyst spread devotion to Kr: s: n: a throughout Bengal, Orissa, and Vraja and to a lesser extent Assam, with scattered circles of devotees elsewhere in India. Restoration and popularization of sites sacred to Kr: s: n: a in the Vraja region owed much to the zeal of Caitanya and his disciples. Vernaculars of eastern India, especially Bengali, are far the richer for a host of original sacred biographies and hagiographies plus songs, poems, and other Vais: n: ava compositions; and for numerous vernacular translations and adaptations based on Sanskrit texts treating Kr: s: n: a, Caitanya, or Vais: n: ava bhakti. Bengali culture as a whole, including its non-Vais: n: ava Hindu and even Muslim sectors and as refracted through modern creENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


ative figures such a Rabindranath Tagore, has been influenced profoundly by the symbolism, ethos, values, and sensibilities of Caitanya’s humane and emotionally and aesthetically refined devotion to God as Kr: s: n: a. Even practitioners of transgressive Tantric yoga—the hybrid Vais: n: ava-Sahajiya¯s, many of whom sang Vais: n: ava lyrics— have claimed to share in the heritage of Caitanya. Through the ministering of certain of Caitanya’s married associates (also called Gosva¯mins), notably the egalitarian Nitya¯nanda and the more elitist Advaita A¯ca¯rya and their descendants, as well as Vais: n: ava ascetics, the majority of Bengali Hindus in the middle castes and considerable numbers in the upper and lower castes had come to identify themselves religiously as Vais: n: ava in the tradition of Caitanya by the time of British Indian ethnographic and census reports. Even so, Caitanya Vais: n: ava prestige was on the wane in urban Bengal by the late nineteenth century, despite the efforts of many to revitalize, reform, and modernize the tradition. Notable among these modernizers was Kedarnath Datta (Bhaktivinode Thakur, 1838–1914), a deputy magistrate of ka¯yastha caste. He wrote numerous Vais: n: ava texts, launched a vigorous revitalization campaign, and sought to make traditional Kr: s: n: a-Caitanya bhakti comprehensible to his rationalist contemporaries in Calcutta and elsewhere. His son, Bimalprasad Datta (Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, 1874– 1937), founded the Gaud: ¯ıya Mat: h, a pan-Indian network of monastic communities and temples centered in Calcutta and Sri Mayapur (adjacent to modern Navadvip) and dedicated to preaching and publishing about Caitanya Vais: n: ava bhakti. One of Bhaktisiddhanta’s disciples, Abhaycaran De (A. C. Bhaktivedanta, 1896–1977), inaugurated the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in New York in 1966. Its several thousand devotees, mostly nonIndians, currently propagate devotion to Kr: s: n: a-Caitanya worldwide using modern means of communication combined with traditional chanting of the “great prayer” (maha¯-mantra): “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare; Hare Ra¯ma, Hare Ra¯ma, Ra¯ma, Ra¯ma, Hare, Hare.” SEE ALSO Bengali Religions; International Society for Krishna Consciousness; Kr: s: n: a, Kr: s: n: aism; Ra¯dha¯.

BIBLIOGRAPHY An excellent source in English for studying the life, devotional image, and impact of Caitanya is the Caitanya Carita¯mr: ta of Kr: s: n: ada¯sa Kavira¯ja: A Translation and Commentary by Edward C. Dimock Jr., with an “Introduction” by Dimock and Tony K. Stewart (Cambridge, Mass., 1999). Valuable analyses of the textual sources for Caitanya’s life are Sushil Kumar De’s Early History of the Vais: n: ava Faith and Movement in Bengal, 2d ed. (Calcutta, 1961); Bimanbehari Majumdar’s S´r¯ıcaitanya-cariter Upa¯da¯n, 2d ed. (Calcutta, 1959); and assessments by Radhagovinda Nath in his editions of the Caitanya-carita¯mr: ta, 6 vols. (Calcutta, 1962–1963) and Vr: nda¯vanada¯sa’s Caitanya-bha¯gavata, 6 vols. (Calcutta, 1966). Other academic studies of Caitanya and his devotees’ ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


perceptions of him include: A. K. Majumdar’s Caitanya: His Life and Doctrine (Calcutta, 1978), Walther Eidlitz’s Kr: s: n: a-Caitanya: Sein Leben und seine Lehre (Stockholm, 1968), Deb Narayan Acharyya’s The Life and Times of S´r¯ıkr: s: n: a-Caitanya (Calcutta, 1984), and the less-thansympathetic book by Amulyachandra Sen, Itiha¯sera S´r¯ıcaitanya (Calcutta, 1965). Sixteenth-century accounts (besides the Caitanya-carita¯mr: ta) of Caitanya and his disciples available in English translation include the Caitanya-candra¯mr: ta of Prabodha¯nanda, translated by Bhakti Prajnan Yati Maharaj (3d ed.; Madras, 1978), and several by Kusakratha Dasa of the Krishna Institute (Los Angeles) and by other devotees. For analysis of the tension between historicity and theology-cum-mythology as reflected in each of the sacred biographies, see Tony K. Stewart’s “The Biographical Images of Kr: s: n: a Caitanya: A Study in the Perception of Divinity” (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1985). For academic studies of the theological-philosophical tradition stemming from Caitanya, see O. B. L. Kapoor’s The Philosophy and Religion of S´r¯ı Caitanya (Delhi, 1978), Sushil Kumar De’s Early History of the Vais: n: ava Faith and Movement in Bengal, 2d ed. (Calcutta, 1961), Radhagovinda Nath’s Gaud: ¯ıya Vais: n: ava Dar´san, 6 vols. (Calcutta, 1956–1959), Sudhindra Chandra Chakravarti’s Philosophical Foundation of Bengal Vais: n: avism (Calcutta, 1969), and Mahanamabrata Brahmachari’s Vais: n: ava Veda¯nta: The Philosophy of S´r¯ı J¯ıva Gosva¯m¯ı (Calcutta, 1974). Modern devotees’ presentations of Caitanya and the teachings associated with him include Sisir Kumar Ghosh [Ghoshe]’s S´r¯ı Amiya Nima¯i Carita, 14th ed., 6 vols. (1907; Calcutta, 1975); Bhakti Vilas Tirtha’s S´r¯ı Chaitanya’s Concept of Theistic Veda¯nta (Madras, 1964); and A. C. Bhaktivedanta’s The Teachings of Lord Chaitanya (New York, 1968). Among well-translated compositions of devotional literature in the Caitanya Vais: n: ava tradition are S´r¯ı Br: had Bha¯gavata¯mr: ta of Sana¯tana Gosva¯m¯ı, 2 vols. (Los Angeles, 2002–2003), translated by Gop¯ıpara¯nadhana Da¯sa; Mystic Poetry: Ru¯pa Gosva¯min’s Uddhava-Sande´sa and Ham ˙ sadu¯ta (San Francisco, 1999), translated by Jan Brzezinski; In Praise of Krishna: Songs from the Bengali (Garden City, N.Y., 1967; reprint, Chicago, 1981), translated by Edward C. Dimock Jr. and Denise Levertov; and Sukumar Sen’s History of Brajabuli Literature (Calcutta, 1935). Donna Marie Wulff’s Drama as a Mode of Religious Realization: The Vidagdhama¯dhava of Ru¯pa Gosva¯m¯ı (Chico, Calif., 1984) and David Haberman’s Acting as a Way of Salvation: A Study of Ra¯ga¯nuga¯ Bhakti Sa¯dhana (New Delhi, 1988) provide detailed expositions of how Vais: n: ava religious training (sa¯dhana) draws upon devotional literature and dramatic theory. A remarkably thorough survey of all aspects of the Vais: n: ava tradition in Bengal from Caitanya’s time through the nineteenth century is Ramakanta Chakrabarty’s Vais: n: avism in Bengal: 1486–1900 (Calcutta, 1985). For Orissa, see Prabhat Mukherjee’s History of the Chaitanya Faith in Orissa (New Delhi, 1979) and for Vraja, Alan W. Entwistle’s Braj: Centre of Krishna Pilgrimage (Groningen, Germany, 1987). Sociocultural implications of the Caitanya movement are examined by Melville T. Kennedy’s The Chaitanya Movement: A Study of Vaishnavism of Bengal (Calcutta, 1925), Hitesranjan Sanyal’s Ba¯n˙la¯ K¯ırtaner Itiha¯s (Calcutta, 1989), and Joseph



T. O’Connell’s Religious Movements and Social Structure: The Case of Chaitanya’s Vais: n: avas of Bengal (Shimla, India, 1993). For the Vais: n: ava-Sahajiya¯ phenomenon, see Edward C. Dimock Jr.’s The Place of the Hidden Moon: Erotic Mysticism in the Vais: n: ava-Sahajiya¯ Cult of Bengal (Chicago, 1966). Modern developments in the Caitanya tradition in India are treated in Shukavak N. Dasa’s Hindu Encounter with Modernity: Kedarnath Datta Bhaktivinoda, Vaisnava Theologian (Los Angeles, 1999) and in North America by J. Stillson Judah’s Hare Krishna and the Counterculture (New York, 1974). JOSEPH T. O’CONNELL (2005)

2003, p. 222). The earliest-known accounts of cakras as inner circles of energy actually come from an eighth-century Buddhist text, the Hevajra Tantra, which identifies four cakras in the body at the navel, heart, throat, and head respectively. These cakras are in turn identified with four geographical sites (p¯ıit:has) in India regarded as sacred to the Great Goddess, Devi or S´akti. The classic group of six cakras emerged slowly; not until the ninth or tenth century, in works like the Kaulajña¯nanirn: aya, does one find an identifiable system of six energy centers called cakras. Other yogic traditions, however, added a variety of other cakras, some listing as many as twelve. According to the well-known sixfold system, the name and location of the cakras is as follows:

CAKRAS. Literally meaning a circle, wheel, or discus, the Sanskrit term cakra plays a key role in both Hindu and Buddhist traditions, particularly in their more esoteric Tantric forms. The term has several uses in various forms of yogic and Tantric practice. Thus cakra may refer to the circle of worship in which a particular ritual is conducted—for example, the highly esoteric cakra pu¯ja¯ of Hindu Tantric rituals, usually performed in the dead of night in a cremation ground, involving practices that deliberately violate traditional laws of class distinctions and purity. Cakras may also refer to circular diagrams used in meditation and the worship of such specific deities as the famous S´ri Cakras or S´ri Yantra images associated with the goddess Tripura¯sundar¯ı. In Hindu and Buddhist yogic practice, however, cakra has a more specific meaning. In these traditions it refers to the spiritual energy centers believed to lie within the human subtle body (suks: ma ´sar¯ıra). The subtle body in the yogic tradition is the immaterial aspect of the living being that lies between its gross physical form and its divine spiritual essence. This subtle organism is comprised of a complex network of arteries (na¯d: ¯ıs, usually numbered at seventy-two thousand), knots (granthis), and energy centers (cakras), which correspond only roughly to the arteries and organs of the physical body. The cakras are often imagined not just as wheels but also as lotus blossoms with varying numbers of petals and even in some traditions as ponds connected by an internal network of rivers. The most widely known list of cakras in the early twenty-first century is the sixfold system, which identifies six energy centers located along the spinal column from the base of the spine to the eyebrows, with a seventh supreme cakra at the crown of the head. This sixfold list, however, is by no means the only or oldest one; it became standardized only after the publication of a translation of one relatively late text, the S: at:-cakra-niru¯pan: a, by Sir John George Woodroffe in 1919. The historical origin of the cakras as inner centers of subtle energy is not entirely clear. Some scholars believe that the cakras are derived from circular arrays of powerful goddesses who were originally represented externally in temples and ritual diagrams but were then gradually internalized and identified with energy centers within the body (White,

1. the mu¯la¯dha¯ra, located between the anus and the genitals, imagined as a lotus with four petals; 2. the sva¯dhis: t:ha¯na¯ at the root of the genitals, with six petals; 3. the man: ipu¯ra at the navel, with ten petals; 4. the ana¯hata at the heart, with twelve petals; 5. the vi´suddha at the throat, with sixteen petals; 6. the a¯jña¯ between the eyebrows, with two petals. Above these six lies a seventh and ultimate cakra, the sahasra¯ra, imagined as a thousand-petaled lotus that serves as the divine seat of Lord S´iva. Each of the cakras is also in turn enmeshed in a complex network of correspondences and is identified with a particular color, shape, element, cosmic principle, sacred syllable, and deity. The aim of yogic practice is to awaken the divine creative energy believed to lie within every human body. This energy is imagined in the form of a coiled serpent or kun: d: alin¯ı, which represents the microcosmic presence of the divine power (´sakti) of the goddess within each of us. When this energy is awakened through meditation, it can be made to rise upward through the body, where it successively penetrates the six cakras and awakens the various powers associated with each one. Finally, when it reaches the sahasra¯ra cakra at the crown of the head, the yogi experiences the supreme union of the divine male and female principles—Lord S´iva and the Goddess S´akti —within his or her own body. Although the cakras do not exist as physically measurable entities in the material body, they do correspond to particular psychological states and levels of consciousness. Their opening in turn leads to “mental transformation and the opening of the psyche to hitherto inaccessible levels of consciousness” (Kakar, 1988, p. 187). On the other hand, the malfunctioning of the cakras may also lead to a variety of mental and physical problems. For example, a disorder in the sva¯dhis: t:ha¯na cakra at the base of the genitals can produce delusion, infatuations, and sexual disturbances among other ills (Kakar, 1998, p. 188). One of the more remarkable figures in modern history to describe his experience of the cakras was the great Bengali ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


holy man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836–1886). According to Ramakrishna, the lower three cakras associated with the anus, the sexual organs, and the navel correspond primarily to the instinctual levels of consciousness, namely greed and desire. The higher cakras, however, relate to the transcendent states of consciousness found in the heart, in mystical experience, and finally in “complete absorption in the mystic-erotic union of S´iva and S´akti” (Kripal, 1988, p. 44). As Ramakrishna described the awakening of the highest cakra, it is a state of pure ecstatic annihilation in union with the divine: “When the kun: d: alin¯ı comes here there is Sama¯dhi [meditative absorption]. In this sahasra¯ra, S´iva, full of sat [Being] cit [Consciousness] and a¯nanda [Bliss], resides in union with S´akti . . . . In Sama¯dhi nothing external remains. One cannot even take care of his body any more; if milk is put into his mouth, he does not swallow. If he remains for twenty-one days in this condition, he is dead” (Dimock, 1966, p. 178). For Ramakrishna then, the awakening of the seven cakras suggests that there is no rigid separation of the physical and spiritual or the sexual and transcendent dimensions of consciousness. Rather, the higher and lower cakras lie on a continuum in which “mystical union and sexual experience are different wavelengths of the same energetic spectrum” (Kripal, 1998, pp. 45–46). Through the techniques of yoga and meditation, sexual energy itself can be transformed into mystical experience, greed and desire into spiritual ecstasy. In the early twenty-first century the cakras and techniques of awakening them are found not only in esoteric Tantric traditions but are also more widely dispersed throughout other Indian yogic practices. They have also made their way to the West and are now a regular feature in much of New Age and other alternative forms of spirituality across Europe and the United States. SEE ALSO Kun: d: alin¯ı; Man: d: alas, article on Hindu Man: d: alas; New Age Movement; Ramakrishna; Tantrism, overview article; Yantra; Yoga.

BIBLIOGRAPHY For good discussions of the cakras and their historical development, see David Gordon White, The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India (Chicago, 1996), and Kiss of the Yogin¯ı: “Tantric Sex” in Its South Asian Contexts (Chicago, 2003). The classic description of the sixfold system is Sir John George Woodroffe, trans., The Serpent Power, Being the S: at:-cakra-niru¯pan: a and Pa¯duka¯-pañcaka (London, 1919). On Ramakrishna’s description of the cakras, see Jeffrey J. Kripal, Ka¯l¯ı’s Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna (Chicago, 1998); and Edward C. Dimock, The Place of the Hidden Moon: Erotic Mysticism in the Vais: n: ava-Sahajiya¯ Cult of Bengal (Chicago, 1966). For an interesting psychological interpretation of the cakras, see Sudhir Kakar, Shamans, Mystics, and Doctors: A Psychological Inquiry into India and Its Healing Traditions (New York, 1982). ANDRÉ PADOUX (1987) HUGH B. URBAN (2005) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


CAKRASAMVARA. The term Cakrasamvara, “the binding of the wheels,” designates both a Buddhist scripture and also the man: d: ala that it describes, which is the abode of a host of deities centering around the divine couple S´r¯ıheruka and Vajrava¯ra¯hi. The text, the Cakrasamvara Tantra, is also known as the S´riheruka-abhidha¯na (The discourse of S´r¯ıheruka) and the Laghusamvara (Samvara light), a name it earned because it is a short text of approximately seven hundred Sanskrit stanzas. It was composed in India during the mid-to-late eighth century, and it quickly became one of the most important Indian Buddhist Tantras, as evidenced by the large number of commentaries and associated ritual literature that it inspired. Like most Tantras, it is primarily a ritual text, dedicating most of its fifty-one chapters to the description of rites such as the production of the man: d: ala and the consecration ceremonies performed within it, as well as various other ritual actions such as homa fire sacrifices, enchantment with mantras, and so forth. It is a rather cryptic text, one which never gives sufficient information for the performance of these rituals and that often obscures crucial elements, particularly the mantras, which the text typically present in reverse order or in codes via an elaborate scheme in which both the vowels and consonants are coded by number. The Cakrasamvara Tantra is classified by Buddhists as a Yogin¯ı or Mother Tantra, a designation that reflects the focus of the text upon female deities, who constitute a significant majority of the deities in the tradition’s main man: d: ala. It also reflects a focus on practices that, in a Buddhist monastic context at least, were deemed transgressive, such as sexual yogic practices as well as animal sacrifice and apparently even anthropophagy. Another characteristic of texts of this genre is an influence from non-Buddhist, particularly S´aiva, sources, as is most notable in the appearances of the deities themselves, who are quite similar to fierce Hindu deities such as Bhairava and Ka¯l¯ı. This reflects the complex origins of the text, which probably was inspired by teachings and practices of the loosely organized groups of “accomplished ones” (siddha), male and female practitioners of yoga who, generally speaking, do not seem to have had strongly defined religious identities. Their teachings, and the texts derived from them, seem to have been an important influence on the development of both Buddhist and Hindu Tantric traditions. The Cakrasamvara Tantra was particularly influenced by quasiheretical S´aiva groups such as the Ka¯pa¯likas, who were infamous for their transgressive practices, that is, their employment of violence, meat eating, intoxicants, and sexuality as key elements of their spiritual practice. According to the myths constructed to account for the origin of the Cakrasamvara tradition, the undeniable similarity between the Cakrasamvara deities and practices and those of their S´aiva competitors is not accidental, but a direct result of the “historical” revelation of the tradition. While there are several versions of the myth, all agree that this revelation was triggered by the takeover by S´aiva deities of twenty-four sa-



cred sites scattered across the Indian subcontinent. There, they engaged in transgressive practices such as wanton sexuality and sacrifice of living beings. In order to put an end to their “misbehavior,” the cosmic Buddha Maha¯vajradhara, along with his retinue, assumed the appearance of these S´aiva deities and then subdued them, in the process transforming the Indian subcontinent into the Cakrasamvara man: d: ala. This myth reflects the mixed origins of the tradition and expresses a Buddhist awareness that one of their more important textual and ritual traditions shared more than superficial similarity with those upheld by rival Hindu groups. By far the most important ritual element of the Cakrasamvara tradition is its man: d: ala. It is called the Three Wheeled, or tricakra, because its primary structural element is three wheels or concentric circles that are correlated both to the Triple World, or trailokya, of ancient Indian cosmology (that is, the heavens, earth, and underworlds) and to the three Buddhist psychophysical realms of body, speech, and mind. At the center of man: d: ala, in a palace atop the cosmic mountain, is S´r¯ıheruka and Vajrava¯ra¯h¯ı in sexual embrace, surrounded by the Four Essence Yogin¯ıs, Da¯kin¯ı, La¯ma¯, Khan: d: aroha¯ and Ru¯pin: ¯ı. They are in turn surrounded by the Three Wheels, three concentric Mind, Speech, and Body wheels, each of which has eight pairs of deities in sexual embrace, for a total of twenty-four couples, corresponding to the sacred sites. At the periphery of the wheels are eight fierce goddesses, who guard the man: d: ala’s gates and corners. This brings the total number of deities to sixty-two, thirty-seven of which are female. Lastly, artistic depictions of the man: d: ala usually show it as surrounded by the “eight great charnel grounds,” inhabited by fearsome beasts and evil spirits. This man: d: ala has been deployed in several important ways. It has been remapped across the Kathmandu Valley and Tibet, where many of the sites associated with the man: d: ala continue to be important pilgrimage places. Additionally, it is also mapped onto the human body, with the pilgrimage sites and associated deities linked to various parts of of the body. In the contemplative “body man: d: ala” practice, the adept visualizes the man: d: ala within her or his body, which is seen as a microcosmic version of the universe in its ideal form, as the pure abode of the man: d: ala deities. These practices helped ensure the successful transmission of the Cakrasamvara tradition to Nepal, Tibet, and Mongolia, where it is still practiced today.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Davidson, Ronald. “Reflections on the Mahe´svara Subjugation Myth: Indic Materials, Sa-skya-pa Apologetics, and the Birth of Heruka.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 14, no. 2 (1991): 197–235. An analysis of Buddhist myths of the conversion of Hindu deities. Davidson, Ronald. Indian Esoteric Buddhism. New York, 2002. An overview of the history of esoteric Buddhism in India, with a useful discussion of the Cakrasamvara sacred sites and their relation to rival Hindu groups. Dawa-Samdup, Kazi, ed. S´ri-Cakra´samvara-Tantra: A Buddhist Tantra. Calcutta, 1919; reprint, New Delhi, 1987. Not a

translation of the Cakrasamvara Tantra itself, but of several related ritual texts. Huber, Toni. The Cult of Pure Crystal Mountain: Popular Pilgrimage and Visionary Landscape in Southeast Tibet. Oxford, 1999. A detailed study of an important Tibetan Cakrasamvara pilgrimage place. Huntington, John, and Dina Bangdel. The Circle of Bliss: Buddhist Meditational Art. Chicago, 2003. A detailed study of Cakrasamvara art and iconography. Mullin, Glenn. Tsongkhapa’s Six Yogas of Naropa. Ithaca, N.Y., 1996. A translation of Tsongkhapa’s commentary on a tradition of yoga closely associated with the Cakrasamvara. Shaw, Miranda. Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism. Princeton, N.J., 1994. A study of the role of women in Buddhist Yogin¯ı Tantra traditions. DAVID B. GRAY (2005)

CAKRAVARTIN is a Sanskrit noun referring to an ideal universal king who rules ethically and benevolently over the entire world. Derived from the Sanskrit cakra, “wheel,” and vartin, “one who turns,” the term cakravartin (Pali, cakkavatti) in classical Hindu texts signifies that all-powerful monarch “whose chariot wheels turn freely” or “whose travels are unobstructed.” Such a ruler’s unsurpassed and virtuous rule is described as sarvabhauma; it pertains to all creatures everywhere. Buddhist and Jain literatures describe their enlightened founders (the Buddha or Buddhas and the t¯ırthan˙karas, respectively) in similar terms, the notion being that religious truth transcends local or national limitations and applies to all people everywhere. This idea is particularly evident in Buddhist oral and scriptural traditions, which frequently refer to Gautama as a cakrava¯la cakravartin, an illuminator of dharma (life in adherence to compassionate truth) in all regions of the world. From the symbol of the turning wheel, a sign of universal sovereignty, comes the description of the Buddha as dharmacakrapravartayati, “he who sets the wheel of law in motion,” and thus the name of his first sermon, Dharmacakrapravartana Su¯tra (Pali, Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta; The su¯tra on the turning forth of the wheel of dharma), in which the Buddha presents his insights into the Four Noble Truths. After his death in 480 BCE, Gautama’s followers cremated his body and enshrined his relics in a stupa, just as they would have done with a universal monarch. HISTORY OF THE CAKRAVARTIN AS AN IMPERIAL IDEAL. The general South Asian notion that the king was to have extensive rule dates at least as far back as the high Vedic era (1200– 800 BCE) and possibly to the centuries preceding. The Vedic ritual coronation of the king (Ra¯jasu¯ya), for example, was preceded by a ceremony in which a wild stallion was left to wander at will throughout the land for an entire year, at which time it was sacrificed in the important rite known as the A´svamedha, and all of the territory it had covered in that year was held to be the king’s domain. The actual term cakraENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


vartin was known in the late fifth and early fourth centuries BCE by the compilers of the Maitri Upanis: ad, who used the noun when listing the names of several kings who had renounced their royal prerogatives in favor of the life of ascetic contemplation (Maitri Upanis: ad 1.4). Direct discussions of the cakravartin as an imperial ideal appear as early as Kaut: ilya’s Artha S´a¯stra (c. 300 BCE), a court manual of polity, diplomacy, economy, and social behavior. In his descriptions of the range of an emperor’s influence (cakravarti-k´setra), Kaut: ilya notes that the king should undertake any task he feels will bring him and his people prosperity and that he should have power “from the Himalayas to the ocean.” Kaut: ilya may have had in mind the prestige and hopes of the first Mauryan king, Candragupta, who reigned from about 321 to 297 BCE and whom Kaut: ilya reportedly served as chief minister. Candragupta was perhaps the first ruler to unify all of the lands from the shores of the southern tip of India to the Himalayas in the north and the Kabul Valley in the northwest. Edicts and other lessons inscribed on pillars and cliffs describe the last Mauryan king, A´soka (d. 238 BCE?) as a cakravartin under whose patronage the Buddhist Dharma spread throughout South and Southeast Asia. Chroniclers in the courts of the S´a¯tava¯hana emperors (first to second centuries CE) similarly defined their kingdoms as that world extending from the eastern, southern, and western oceans to the mountains. The Guptas, too, viewed themselves as the rulers of empires. Skandha Gupta I, who reigned from 455 to 467 CE, for example, is depicted in the Janagadh inscriptions (dated mid-fifth century CE) as a leader whose rule was the entire earth bounded by the four oceans and within which thrive several smaller countries. The Western Ca¯l: lukyas (sixth to eighth and tenth to twelfth centuries) described themselves as the emperors of the lands between the three seas, while the Vijayanagara rulers (fourteenth to seventeenth centuries) labeled themselves the masters of the eastern, western, southern, and northern seas. Thus the South Asian political imagination up to the seventeenth century generally included the ideal of a unified rule, and various kings have identified themselves as universal monarchs: hence the common royal titles samra¯j (“supreme monarch,” i.e., the one who rules over all princes and principalities), ra¯ja¯dhira¯ja (“king above kings”), ekara¯ja (“the only king”), parama-bhat:t:a¯rka (“most venerable lord”), disampati (“lord of the lands”), and digvijayin (“conqueror of the regions”). Buddhist and Jain literatures have distinguished three types of cakravartin. A prade´sa cakravartin is a monarch who leads the people of a specific region and may be thought of as a local king. A dv¯ıipa cakravartin governs all of the people of any one of the four continents (dv¯ıipas, literally “islands”) posited by ancient Indian cosmologies and is, accordingly, more powerful in the secular realm than the prade´sa cakravartin. Superior even to a dv¯ıipa cakravartin, however, is the cakrava¯la cakravartin, the monarch who rules over all of the continents of the world. It is the political paramountcy of ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


the cakrava¯la cakravartin with which the Buddha’s religious supremacy is compared. RELIGIOUS DIMENSIONS OF THE CAKRAVARTIN IDEAL. The source of the image of the king as a cakravartin is not to be found, however, in its political history. Rather, it is the powerful and evocative South Asian mythic and religious themes regarding the cakravartin with which various kings identified. According to South Asian sovereign myths (many of which suggest a solar origin), the cakravartin—here, a paradigmatic figure—while deep in meditation sees a peaceful and pleasantly glowing wheel (cakra) turning slowly in the sky above him. Knowing this wheel to be a call to unify all peoples, the king leads his armies out in all directions to the farthest horizons, all the way to the universal ring of mountains (cakrava¯la) that lie beyond the oceans and that mark the final edge of the concentric world. Guided by the celestial wheel, and borne upon the atmosphere by flying white elephants and horses, he ends all strife and suffering as he brings all people everywhere under his virtuous rule. Thus, cakrava¯lacakravart¯ı cakram vartayati: the universal monarch turns the wheel of righteousness throughout the whole world. The mythic cakravartin, therefore, was a ruler in whose virtue and strength all people, regardless of their homeland, could find guidance. He was a pacifying leader whose power was embodied in his unifying skills. Hence it may be no coincidence that the religious traditions in which the cakravartin is given the most prestige revolve around the ideologies and aspirations of the ks: atriya class of Indian society, that group who were to protect society, serve as its soldiers, rule its courts, and sit on its thrones. For some ks: atriya communities, as, for example, those represented by the epics Maha¯bha¯rata and Ra¯ma¯ya¯n: a (c. 300 CE), the most appropriate person to become a universal monarch was somebody who already was a king, someone who could extend his rule through martial and diplomatic skill. Even for some ks: atriya traditions, however, the true cakravartin renounces the political life of the secular king and guides the people through the power of his spiritual virtue. Such is the case for the early Jain and, particularly, Buddhist communities, whose histories of their founders suggest the notion that to them religious truth is more powerful and universal than political prestige. According to both Jain and Buddhist literatures, both Vardhama¯na Maha¯v¯ıra (the most recent of the twenty-four Jain t¯ırtham: karas) and Siddha¯rtha Gautama (the Buddha) were born into powerful royal families, both displayed the characteristic physical signs of a maha¯purus: a (“great man”), and thus were certain to become secular cakravartins. Both traditions further maintain that their founders, however, chose not to enjoy the political power and privileges incumbent on the universal monarch but, rather, to seek understanding of the deepest dimensions of existence itself and—especially in the case of the Buddha—to teach that understanding to all. SEE ALSO Kingship, article on Kingship in East Asia.



BIBLIOGRAPHY Readers interested in the history of imperial rule in India may consult any of a number of good works on the history of India. A good, if relatively short, reference is An Advanced History of India (London, 1948), by Ramesh Chandra Majumdar and others. For more thorough studies by various respected historians, see The History and Culture of the Indian People, 11 vols., under the general editorship of Ramesh Chandra Majumdar (Bombay, 1951–1969): see especially volume 2, The Age of Imperial Unity; volume 3, The Classical Age, pp. 1–360; volume 4, The Age of the Imperial Kanauj; and volume 5, The Struggle for Empire. A more impressionistic depiction of the cakravartin ideal is found in Heinrich Zimmer’s Philosophies of India, edited by Joseph Campbell, “Bollingen Foundation Series,” no. 26 (1951; reprint, Princeton, 1969), pp. 127–139. Finally, for an example of the cakravartin ideal as expressed in religious myth, see Frank E. Reynolds and Mani Reynolds’s translation of a Thai Buddhist text, Three Worlds according to King Ruang (Berkeley, 1982), pp. 135–172.

New Sources Bartholomeusz, Tessa J. “In Defense of Dharma: Just-war Ideology in Buddhist Sri Lanka.” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 6 (1999). Collins, Steven. “The Lion’s Roar on the Wheel-Turning King: A Response to Andrew Huxley’s ‘The Buddha and the Social Contract.’” Journal of Indian Philosophy 24 (1996): 421–446. Daalen, Leendert A van. “Zum Thema und zur Struktur von Vakpatis Gaudavaha: der Held als cakravartin.” Deutscher Orientalistierung 8 (1994): 282–294. Harvey, Peter. An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics: Foundations, Values, and Issues. New York, 2000. Huxley, Andrew. “The Buddha and the Social Contract.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 24 (1996): 407–420. WILLIAM K. MAHONY (1987) Revised Bibliography



CALENDARS: AN OVERVIEW The absence of a historical dimension and the scant attention paid to the religious aspect of the question are the most notable limitations of the specialized literature on calendars during the nineteenth century and into the first decade of the twentieth century. Thus, such monumental works as L. Ideler’s Handbuch der mathematischen und technischen Chronologie (Berlin, 1825–1826), F. Ginzel’s work of the same title (Leipzig, 1906–1911), and even the entry “Calendars” in James Hastings’s Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. 3 (Edinburgh, 1910), although they provide indispensable information, amount to little more than unconnected descriptions of various calendars. These de-

scriptions are not satisfactorily situated against the background of the cultures in question, but are treated as if they are solely concerned with chronology and astronomy. The sacral aspect of the question has, however, been discussed in the subsequent scientific literature, in which the specialists are divided into two opposing camps: those who believe the calendar originated as a secular phenomenon purely utilitarian in its purposes (a view accepted by the majority of scholars), and those who believe it was originally a religious institution (Ernst Cassirer, Martin P. Nilsson, Henri Hubert and Marcel Mauss, Gerardus van der Leeuw, Mircea Eliade, and others). Less common are harmonizing positions such as that of Bronislaw Malinowski, who in an article on the calendar of the Trobriand Islanders (Journal of the Anthropological Institute 57, 1927, pp. 203ff.), viewed systems for computing time as meeting both practical and sacral demands. Disagreement on the subject has been largely overcome since the publication of such works as Eliade’s Cosmos and History: The Myth of the Eternal Return (New York, 1954) and Angelo Brelich’s Introduzione allo studio dei calendari festivi (Rome, 1955). The reality of periodicity in the world; the religious importance of this periodicity in helping to overcome the crisis that is coextensive with human existence (the duration of which is irreversible) by establishing frequent contact with the sacred time proper to the feast or festival (which is outside of ongoing duration); the parallelism between natural and sacral periodicity, both of which have as a constant a continual renewal in the same forms, so that in even the most diverse civilizations the sacral periodicity provides an effective means of keeping a timely eye on the natural periodicity—all these ideas are now well established in our discipline. As a result, any modern work on any aspect of the vast complex of problems raised by calendars must nowadays start with the acceptance of a concept that proves to be constant across the most varied cultural contexts and the most diverse calendrical forms and manifestations, namely, that time is of interest not in and of itself and as a simple fact of nature, but only as a dimension of life that can be submitted to cultural control. Such control is very difficult to exercise over something abstract, especially in social contexts still far from possessing even rudimentary astronomical knowledge. Nevertheless, by making use of a procedure now familiar to historians of religion, the various civilizations managed to gain this kind of control. They did so especially by concretizing time, whether this be understood in absolute terms or in relation to the various measurements (hours, days, months, years, etc.) that were gradually imposed on time, depending on the culture in question. Mythology makes clear how the chronological dimension (especially if limited to the distinction and alternation of the light and dark times of the day, or to the lunar phases, which are harmoniously ordered within the arc of the month) can acquire such a material form in the minds of the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


peoples under study that it becomes the subject of stories without causing the least disturbance in the civilizations involved. It is told, for instance, that time was wrapped in leaves (the Sulka of New Britain); enclosed in a bag (the Micmac of Nova Scotia); kept in a box (the Tlingit of the U.S. Northwest Coast) or a trunk (the Hausa of the Sudan) and later taken out; extracted from the wattles of a fowl (the Nandi of northeastern Africa); hidden and found (the Pomo of California); hung up (the northern Paiute of Nevada); hoisted up to heaven (the Pomo; the Aleut of Alaska); pierced by arrows (the Caddo of eastern Texas); or cut up with an obsidian knife (natives of Mota in Melanesia). In each case, time is looked upon not only as something very concrete but also and especially as something capable of being handled at will. Meanwhile the concrete treatment of time was strengthening this tendency toward materialization of the chronological sphere, for the latter was being treated in such a way as to acquire an ideal spatial coherence. As a macroscopic example, one can cite the persistent attempts to identify time with space, both in language and in the calendar, by the primitive cultures of North America—a tendency also found at a higher cultural level in the Aztec calendar, and in the IndoEuropean area as well (Müller, 1967). In addition, a real spatiotemporal dimension is found in Roman religion, where close, complex, and functional relations are discernible in the mythological tradition and in cult, as well as in the calendrical linking of the two, between time and Terminus (the symbol of boundaries and, at the same time, a divinity in charge of the juridical, political, and sacral aspect of territory). Moreover, the projection of a cosmic framework on the layout of the circus, and this in such a detailed form (with the aid of a rich set of symbols) as to make the circus a universe in miniature, automatically transformed the chariot races in the arena into the course of the sun through the arc of the year. Thus, it can be a rather short step from the concretization of time to its material embodiment. The example just given shows how, while the spectator at the circus (which is assimilated to the vault of heaven) feels himself to be witnessing the calendrical rotation of the sun, the charioteer is a direct protagonist in this drama as he drives his chariot. Yet the title “protagonist of time” belongs with greater justice to those who, through actions in which it is not easy to distinguish the sacred and profane dimensions, do not limit themselves to concretizing and materializing time but also embody it in a true calendrical system. Thus the native who in certain cultures uses knotted cords for computing time does not simply concretize this dimension by pinning it down to so many firmly fixed points of its otherwise limitless and therefore uncontrollable extension but also defines it in a calendrical manner that, though rudimentary, proves functional in relation to the needs of his society. The astronomer in ancient Peru, who used stone columns called “tools for knotting the sun” (inti-huatana) as a position for observENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


ing the stars, did not merely give material form to that which in and of itself would be simply the calculation of solstices and equinoxes; he also carried this materialization to a higher level by developing a calendar that was primarily a means of binding the heavenly corps in its otherwise incoherent and unusable movements. (But note, too, among the Aztecs, the “knot of years,” or xiuhmolpilli, a great cycle of fifty-two solar revolutions subdivided into four periods of thirteen years that were described as “knotted together,” thalpilli.) The magistrate in ancient Rome who was in charge of the ritual hammering in of the clavus annalis (“nail of the year”) on the Ides of September (which was New Year’s Day in one of the many Roman calendrical systems) thereby not only turned time from an abstraction into something that could be pinned down but also compelled it to remain, from one September to the next, within the limits of the solar year. It is possible to view in a similar perspective those who, in civilizations already familiar with writing, either ideally or in actual fact superintended the compilation of calendars, and this specifically in the form of inscriptions. In this case the concretization of time was accomplished either by binding the dimension of time to stones and/or metals, which were moved about or incised to this end, or by imprisoning it in the no less constraining nets of the various graphic forms. Evidence here is the widespread use in the ancient Near East of the alphabet as a calendrical memorandum as early as the second millennium BCE (Bausani, 1978), as well as the example, cited above, of the clavus annalis, which in early Rome was regarded both as a palpable sign of the year and as a functional “writing” of a chronologico-juridical kind at a time when few people could read the symbols of the alphabet. The key role played by human beings in these operations whereby time is concretized and straitjacketed (especially within the compass of, and for the purposes of drafting, calendrical systems that are more or less developed according to cultural level and social demands) is such that, in case of need, the materialization of time can be further specified by giving it human traits in the true and proper sense. This specification may be limited to introducing into the calendar the physiological rhythms of those who are the protagonists of time. This is seen in the assimilation, widespread and found in the most diverse cultures, of the lunar month of twentyeight days to the menstrual cycle of the same duration; or in the projection of the period of human gestation (260 days) onto the identical time period of nine lunar revolutions, as in the Aztec tonalamatl or the Numan calendar at Rome. But this process of specification can also lead to a more or less concealed identification of a segment of time (located within the calendar and thus describable in precise terms) with a part or belonging of a person who usually enjoyed an important sociocultural and, in particular, religious status. Thus, as a result of Islamic influence on the Cham of Cambodia, to give but one example, the first three days of every lunar cycle are assimilated to the three favorite wives of



Muh: ammad, and every year of the twelve-year cycle is equated with one of the Prophet’s members. Finally, this process can even find expression in a personification of time in its various parts. Thus in Achaemenid Iran the retinue of the magi seems to have usually comprised 365 young men dressed in red, one for each day of the year, with the color symbolizing the lighted period of the day. At Rome, on the Ides of March (New Year’s Day, according to one of the many Roman calendrical systems), all the negative aspects of the old year were eliminated through the ritual expulsion from the city of the mythical carpenter Mamurius Veturius. This kind of progressive, and in some cases even paroxysmic, personification of time seems on closer examination to be simply an expression of the persistent tendency to recreate, on several distinct but complementary levels, the temporal dimension that is so important at the human level, thus asserting the priority of the unqualifiedly cultural essence of time over the mere natural fact of time. If, on the one hand, this cultural point of reference is indispensable because it is linked to any latent or open calendrical system, on the other hand such a system, whatever its character (heliacal rising of a constellation; blooming of a species of plant; period of sowing and/or harvesting; migration of animals; etc.), becomes by this very fact a field of action for the cultural process, which immediately begins to act therein in the form of well-defined and often massive interventions. In the case, widespread in both higher and primitive civilizations, of a discrepancy between the lunar and solar years, for example, the intervention takes the form of an intercalation that makes up for the difference; in other words, a portion of human, cultural time is inserted into the living body of natural time, which is computed on the basis of the revolution of the heavenly bodies. The awareness that the intercalated period is the work of man, and the conviction that, as such, it merits a privileged position are made manifest at various levels. This is seen in the view that the year, having been thus manipulated, is now complete as compared with nature’s presumably defective version of it, whence the designation—prevalent among various primitive peoples, but also found in Mesopotamia, Rome, and China—of the year or month as “full” or “empty.” It is seen too in the systematic insertion of such intercalated periods immediately after moments in the calendar that sanctioned human control over the world of nature: at Rome, for example, the intercalation came immediately after the celebration of Terminalia, a festival that appealed to mythical time in order to give sacral confirmation to the cultural definition of space. Further evidence is found in the tendency to locate during the intercalated period those events that were of capital importance for the particular civilization and that evidently could not be left to the blind and irrational course of nature’s time, precisely because these events were due in the maximum degree to the human will and creativity. A prime example: the definitive liquidation

of monarchic rule, which was constantly assimilated to the negativity of the period of origins, in order to make way for a republic was traditionally dated by the Romans on the very day, February 24, on which the intercalation usually began. A negative proof pointing in the same direction is the resistance to and even rejection of intercalation in those civilizations that most clearly show the assimilation of natural time to sacred time. Such rejection was preferred despite the inevitable practical nuisances it entailed—above all, discrepancy with the rhythm of the seasons. Two examples among many can be cited. First, in ancient Egypt (which adopted the practice of intercalation only in the Alexandrian period, and then not without hindrances) an oath not to intercalate was taken by the pharaoh, who, in his capacity as the future Osiris and, therefore, an important participant in the field of action proper to the sun god Re, was probably reluctant to intervene in a dimension of reality that was projected in its ideal form onto the sacral level. Second, Muh: ammad categorically prohibited changing the number of the months, which “Alla¯h ordained . . . when he created the heavens and the earth” (su¯rah 9:36 of the QurDa¯n), and which “Alla¯h has sanctified” (su¯rah 9:37). Thus the Islamic lunar year, though without any correspondence to the seasons, has proved surprisingly functional for a religion now practiced in varying latitudes. Such interventions in the course of time became even more drastic in the great calendrical reforms of Julius Caesar (46 BCE) and Pope Gregory XIII (1582 CE). This kind of attempt to reduce time to a cultural creation is even more pronounced in those widespread cases in which the most varied means are used to emancipate time from natural phenomena on which calendrical computation is usually based and to replace these phenomena with others. Thus, the Aztecs chose the duration of human gestation, and not the Venusian year to which astronomy bears witness, as the basis of the tonalamatl; the Egyptians based their calendar on the rising of Sirius (Sothis), “the second sun in the heavens,” and not on the true sun; while, in the most diverse primitive cultures, it is the periodic return of the ancestors, regarded as dispensers of foodstuffs, and not the particular seasonal moment that gives a specific economic meaning to the great New Year festival. Comparable motivations probably explain the otherwise incomprehensible perseverance, on the part of the most varied types of civilization, in adopting lunisolar calendars and continuing to use them right down to the present day, despite such problems as the discrepancy between festive complex and seasonal moment, the consequent necessity of intercalating, and so on. It is as though this very difference of a few days or parts of a day represents a kind of margin of security for man, who thus has leeway to act on natural time instead of passively enduring it. This desire to be actors rather than spectators in the development of calendrical time is even more evident in those systems in which, by highly artificial means, months are established whose duration is identical with or superior to the lunar month, and in which a short period is set apart and ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


defined in a special way, independent of the features this period may assume from time to time in any other culture. By way of example, we may think of the five “supernumerary” (nemontemi) days that the Aztecs set apart at the end of the 360-day year, considering them to be nefasti (taboo) and unsuited for work of any kind; or, in the Egyptian calendar, of the epagomenai (“superadded”) days that did not conclude the old year, as might have been expected, but were a prelude to the new year, a kind of “little month” directly linked to the mythical time in which the gods were born. Similarly, in the Zoroastrian religion the “days of the Ga¯tha¯s” were added to the end of the year; on these days, the celebrants, assuming the title of Saoshyant (“rescuers”), participated ritually as protagonists in the renewal of the world. Along the same line, but at a more advanced level, is the creation of units of time comprising several or more days, months, years, centuries, or even millennia, which apparently, at least, are independent of the rhythms of nature. Examples include the very widespread seven-day week (already used in Mesopotamia); the cycles of three days and three, seven, and thirty years among the Celts; the seven-year period, the jubilee, and the groups of seven-year periods among the Hebrews; the octaet¯eris or eight-year period of the Greeks; the Aztec xiuhmolpilli; and the Indian kalpa. But perhaps the most radical humanization of the chronological dimension (the one in which the cultural intervention into nature is the most extensive, and the dependence on nature for the computation of time is reduced to a minimum that is obscured and even deliberately ignored) is found in cases in which the historical situation determines and defines the calendar. We may pass over those restructurings that are promoted or imposed on time by important politicians (i.e., the aforementioned Julian reform). In some civilizations, the personal name of the ruler was given to the current year (eponymy among the Assyrians and in the classical world, the “regnal name” in prerevolutionary China), or events of capital importance led to a complete resystematization of the calendrical pattern, the beginning, rhythm, and shape of which, though in substance inevitably following traditional lines, had to be at least formally determined by the new order of things. The prime example here is the French revolutionary calendar, which, though it started at a particular equinox, numbered 365 days, needed periodic intercalation, and linked the new names of the months with seasonal motifs, nonetheless presented new features: a beginning (September 22) that officially coincided not with the autumn equinox but with the inauguration of the republic (September 22, 1792); the abolition of the seven-day week in favor of the decade or ten-day week; the elimination of feasts; and the nonetheless festive solemnization of five or six days (significantly called sans-culottides) added at the end of the year as a definitive break with Christian worship. In connection with the historicization of time, one may also consider such phenomena as the adoption of calendrical systems belonging to other civilizations, as, for instance, the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


entrusting of calendar reform in China in 1629 to the Jesuits, and the adoption of the Gregorian calendar as the only valid one for civil purposes by the republican government of China in 1930; the acceptance by Japan in 1684 of the Chinese calendar as reformed by the Jesuits and then in 1873 of the Gregorian calendar; and the adoption of the Gregorian calendar by Russia after the October Revolution in 1917 and by various primitive peoples as they gradually accepted the lifestyles of the Western civilizations. Finally, there is the tendency, which practical considerations and economic reasons have made stronger than ever in our day, to create a universal and perpetual calendar that is binding on all. Such a calendar would be supremely artificial, since it seeks to be as independent as possible of natural rhythms, but for that very reason would transcend the various cultures. SEE ALSO Chronology; Sacred Time.

BIBLIOGRAPHY The extensive bibliography of scientific writing on the subject has been brought together and discussed splendidly by Angelo Brelich in his Introduzione allo studio dei calendari festivi, 2 vols. in 1 (Rome, 1955). The reader is also referred to this work for the historico-religious approach to calendrical problems. Festive time in relation to the New Year is extensively discussed and documented in Vittorio Lanternari’s La grande festa, 2d ed. (Bari, 1976). On the concretization of time at various levels, compare the following works: Werner Müller’s “Raum und Zeit in Sprachen und Kalendern Nordamerikas und Alteuropas,” Anthropos 57 (1962): 568–590, 68 (1973): 156–180, 74 (1979): 443–464, 77 (1982): 533–558; Hugh A. Moran and David H. Kelly’s The Alphabet and the Ancient Calendar Signs, 2d ed. (Palo Alto, Calif., 1969); Alessandro Bausani’s “L’alfabeto come calendario arcaico,” Oriens Antiquus (Rome) 17 (1978): 131–146; J. H. Scharf’s “Time and Language,” Gegenbaurs morphologisches Jahrbuch 128 (1982): 257–289; and Ulrich Köhler’s “Räumliche und zeitliche Bezugspunkte in mesoamerikanischen Konzepten vom Mondzyklus,” Indiana 7 (1982): 23–42. Also compare my Elementi spettacolari nei rituali festivi romani (Rome, 1965); Terminus: I segni di confine nella religione romana (Rome, 1974); and “La scrittura coercitiva,” Cultura e scuola 85 (1983): 117–124. Raffaele Pettazzoni treats the primitive myths on the origin of time and provides a bibliography in his Miti e leggende, 4 vols. (Turin, 1948–1963). Alexander Marshak discusses Paleolithic systems of noting time in The Roots of Civilization: The Cognitive Beginnings of Man’s First Art, Symbol, and Notation (New York, 1972). While Marshak’s views are somewhat controversial, they have been widely discussed. GIULIA PICCALUGA (1987) Translated from Italian by Matthew J. O’Connell

CALENDARS: MESOAMERICAN CALENDARS In 1555 Bishop Diego de Landa wrote: The natives of Yucatan were as attentive to the matters of religion as to those of government and they had a



high priest whom they called Ah Kin (Daykeeper) Mai . . . . He was very much respected by the lords . . . and his sons or nearest relatives succeeded him in office. In him was the key of their learning . . . . They provided priests for the towns when they were needed, examining them in the sciences . . . and they employed themselves in the duties of the temples and in teaching them their sciences as well as in writing books about them . . . . The sciences which they taught were the computation of the years, months and days, the festivals and ceremonies, the administration of the sacraments, the fateful days and seasons, their methods of devotion and their prophecies. (Tozzer, 1941, p. 27)

When he wrote those words, Bishop Diego de Landa correctly perceived the extraordinary attention paid time and calendar by the Maya of Yucatán even several centuries after their classical heyday. It is likely that these Ah Kin were among the elite of Maya culture. One eighth-century scribe from the city of Copán received a royal burial. His remains were found elaborately laid out, ink pots, brushes, and all, next to the ruler he served. Though his trappings seem far more modest in comparison to those of his precontact predecessor, the modern Maya day keeper is still one of the most important and highly regarded members of society. Seated at a cardinally oriented table adorned with bowls of incense and lighted candles, he arranges piles of seeds and crystals drawn from his divining bag in an attempt to “borrow from the days” the answers to questions posed by his clients: Will I be cured of the disease that plagues me? Will my daughter’s marriage be successfully consummated? Will my crop tide the family over this year?

BASIC CALENDRICAL UNITS. For the Maya a single word, kin, signified time, day, and sun. In both meaning and glyphic form it suggests that the art of timekeeping was intimately connected with the practice of astronomy. The directions of the petals of the floral design that makes up the kin glyph likely correspond to the extreme positions of the sun along the horizon. Cosmograms also exemplify the spacerelated time system employed by most ancient Mesoamerican cultures. Found on both pre-Columbian and colonial documents, these diagrams can be thought of as exercises in temporal completion. For example, page one of the Féjérvary-Mayer Codex from highland Mexico consists of a quadripartite glyph in the shape of a Maltese cross. Carefully positioned within the symmetric floral design are all the things that belong to each of the four sides of space: gods, plants, trees, birds, even parts of the body; moreover the four directions are color coded. But time is also spatially divided, each region of the world being assigned its share of the twenty days of the Aztec week. The so-called year bearers, the names of successive New Year’s Days, are placed one at each of the tips of the cross. Circumscribing the world is the ultimate Mesoamerican number for time: 260 dots, one to each day, arrayed in 20 units of 13. These 260 days make up the Maya tzolkin (called by the Aztecs tonalpohualli), a ritual calendar known as the “count of the days.”

Unique in the world, the number 260 served as the base of practically every Mesoamerican calendar that has survived. Its origin is debatable, but there can be no question that one of its factors, the number twenty, was derived from the number of fingers and toes on the body. The other factor, the number thirteen, represents the number of layers in the Maya heaven. Beyond this, however, it seems that the human body can be further implicated in the origin of the tzolkin. The average duration between human conception and birth is close to 260 days (on average 266). Modern Maya women in highland Guatemala still associate this sacred count with the term of pregnancy. The tzolkin also turns out to be a convenient approximation to the length of the basic agricultural season in many areas of southern Mexico, where it probably originated. Celestial phenomena are also implicated in establishing Mesoamerica’s fundamental time pillar. Nine moons (about 265 days) represent the 9 “bloods” taken away by the moon from pregnant women to give lives to their newborn. Lunar and solar eclipses occur at seasonal intervals commensurate with the tzolkin in the ratio of 2 to 3 (3 times the “eclipse year” of 173.5 days nearly equals 2 times 260 days). Thus the ancient astrologer could easily warn of certain days vulnerable to the occurrence of an eclipse. The planet Venus, the patron star of war in Teotihuacán (the ancient city of highland Mexico built around 100 BCE), was also revered by the Maya at a time when the New World’s most precise calendar was being developed. The duration of its appearance as morning star averages 263 days—again close to a tzolkin. And if all these harmonies were not enough, in southernmost Mesoamerican latitudes the year is divisible into periods of 260 and 105 days by the (2) days in the annual calendar when the sun passes overhead. Mesoamerican people were further cognizant of the seasonal year. Abhorring fractions, the Maya measured their year, or haab (Aztec, xiuhmolpilli), at 365 days. They divided the year into eighteen months, each of which was twenty days in length, with a concluding five-day month (an unlucky period thought to reside outside the year). Eschewing leap years, ancient Mesoamericans easily kept track of the anniversary of the tropical year within the haab. Cycle building emerges as a central theme of Mesoamerican calendrics. The strategy seems to have accumulated small cycles to make bigger and bigger ones. One of the larger cycles was the calendar round, a period of 52 years consisting of 18,980 days, the lowest common multiple of the tzolkin and the haab (52 x 365 = 73 x 260). This time loop thus records the interval over which name and number combinations in both cycles repeat themselves. Perhaps not coincidentally, it is also about equal to the length of a full human life. The completion of a calendar round was quite a momentous occasion. Spanish chronicles record that Aztec priests timed this “year binding” event by proceeding to a special place outside ancient Mexico City called the Hill of the Star. There they carefully watched the Pleiades to see ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


whether they would pass the zenith. If they did, it would be a sign from the gods that time would not come to an end. Instead, a new era would be granted to humanity. To judge by the archaeological and epigraphic evidence, Maya mathematics was almost exclusively devoted to day keeping. About half a millennium before the beginning of the common era a system of numeration developed in southern Mesoamerica. It probably emanated about 600 BCE from the region of Monte Albán, Oaxaca, but was not without Olmec antecedents from the Gulf Coast. The Maya employed only three symbols to produce numbers written in the hundreds of millions: a dot was equivalent to one, and a horizontal bar (uniquely Maya) was equivalent to five, whereas a variety of symbols represented zero. Each of these symbols likely derived from hand gestures. Unlike its Western counterpart, the Maya zero represented completeness rather than emptiness. Temporally it was regarded as the moment of completion of a cycle, as in the turning of a chain of nines to zeroes on the odometer of an automobile at the conclusion of a large-distance unit traveled. A seashell often represented the Maya zero, perhaps because its roundness was intended to depict the closed, cyclic nature of time. The grasping hand, which like a knot ties up or bundles the days and years together into completed packages, also serves as a zero in many of the inscriptions. The dot and bar numerals probably derived from the tips of the fingers and the extended hand respectively. The Maya expressed large time intervals in a notational system utilizing place values, quite like the Arabic system, which was developed independently in the Middle East after the fall of the Roman Empire. STRUCTURING DEEP TIME. Just as it is part of human nature to cling to life, many societies attempt to extend their power, lineage, and legacy. Hierarchically organized societies are in the best position to do this. Often they bureaucratize time, giving it a deep structure that goes beyond the immediate confines of remembered generational experience. The Maya utilized their mathematical system to create history. They accumulated years to make scores of years. Heaping score upon score was a logical extension of their vigesimal (base twenty) system. The “long count” is a five-digit tally that marks an event in lapsed time from the most recent creation. One finds most long counts carved on stelae dating from 100 BCE to 900 CE. These display the effigy of a ruler, usually in full regalia, accompanied by a hieroglyphic text that details his or her ancestral history, described in terms of the intervals between seminal events (birth, accession, conquests, marriage, death). To add depth and historical permanence, the dating of these events often seems to have been contrived to fit with repeatable cosmic time markers, such as the reappearance of Venus as morning star, eclipses, and solstices. To obtain the equivalent in the Gregorian calendar of any long count date appearing in the Maya inscriptions, one must be able to match with certainty at least one long count date with a date in the Gregorian calendar. Until the late ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


twentieth century there had been considerable disagreement about just how to do this. According to the most widely accepted scheme, the so-called Goodman-MartinezThompson correlation, the zero point of the most recent starting position of the long count was August 12, 3114 BCE, a date on which astronomers have found no momentous celestial event to have occurred. The next cyclic overturn will take place on December 8, 2012. CALENDARS AND CREATION. The concept of successive creation-destruction cycles is central to understanding Mesoamerican timekeeping. For example, despite the terrifying effigy at its center, the famous Aztec Sun Stone provides a pictorial narrative of a cyclic cosmogony in which people play an active role. Tonatiuh, the sun god, a flint knife depicting his lolling tongue, grips the firmament with his claws. He cries out for the blood of human sacrificial hearts that he may keep the world in motion. The four panels that surround Tonatiuh represent previous ages, or “suns,” as the Aztecs called them. The first cosmogonic epoch (upper right) was the “Sun of Jaguar,” named after the day “4 Jaguar” in the 260-day cycle on which it terminated (the head of the jaguar is surrounded by 4 dots within the panel). During this epoch the inhabitants of the earth, the result of the gods’ first try at a creation, were giants who dwelled in caves. But they did not till the soil as expected, and so the gods sent jaguars to eat them. In the second sun, the “Sun of Wind,” symbolized by the day “4 Wind” (upper left), another less than perfect human race was blown away by the wind. The gods transformed these creatures into apes that they might better cling to the world, an act said to account for the similarity between apes and people. In the third creation, the “Sun of Fire-rain” (the symbol of “4 Rain” is at the lower left), some people were permitted to survive by being transformed into birds to escape from the destruction of the world by volcanic eruptions. The fourth creation, the “Sun of Water,” depicted at the lower right, ended with a flood that followed torrential downpours. But this time a transformation from people into fish kept the people from perishing entirely. The symbol “4 Water” marks this epoch. The Aztecs believed they existed in the “fifth sun,” of which the symbolic date “4 Movement” houses the effigy of Tonatiuh and the other four ages. (The four large dots of this day sign’s coefficient are easily recognizable on the periphery of the four panels that denote the previous suns.) According to most Mesoamerican cosmogonies, the universe was destroyed and re-created anew, each age providing an explanatory temporal framework in which to categorize different forms of life and to relate them to the present human condition. Two distinct points about Mesoamerican concepts of time emerge in such creation stories. First is the oscillating, repetitive nature of the events taking place. Previous suns were thought to have been creative ventures that failed to achieve the necessary delicate balance between gods and people. Creation time repeats itself, but it is punctuated by periods of destruction. Second, each present contains a piece of the past. Each attempt at creation tries to account for the



present state of humankind by referring to what remains in the world. Fish and birds are really human kin, the failed children from archaic creations. People were not destined to dominate them, as Old Testament Genesis requires. Rather, people must revere them, for nature is part of people. According to the Aztec chronicles, the gods made sacrifices in order to bring about the world in its present condition. They performed these sacrifices at the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacán when, in the aftermath of a struggle among themselves, one of their number sacrificed himself to the ceremonial fire, thus promising to become the first rising sun. Such stories have a Darwinian ring to them: life is a struggle filled with key transitory moments. But unlike the Western view, theirs was a cosmology with a purpose. Human action, in this case blood sacrifice to the gods, was necessary to extend the fifth or present epoch. It mediated the balance of violent forces that might erupt as they still do in the fragile highland environment. After all since the gods sacrificed themselves for people, it is only reasonable that people should offer sacrifice as payment of the debt to them. CARRYING THE BURDEN OF TIME. Perhaps no monumental imagery better expresses the essence of Maya time than Stela D of Copán. This larger than human-size monolith is dedicated to rituals conducted at the juncture of a series of important time cycles. Eight squared-off images carved in high relief confront the eye at the top of the monument. Each depicts a humanoid figure carrying an animal that represents a bundle of time. They employ tump lines, common devices used by modern Maya peasants to carry a load of wood or a sack of citrus by tying one’s pack to a band that presses tightly about the forehead, thus leaving the arms to swing free and perform other tasks. Each porter is a full-figure glyph that represents a number. Thus the uppermost figure in the left block, number nine, is distinguishable by the markings on his youthful chin. He carries a heavy load of baktuns of time, 144,000-day periods consisting of 20 x 20 x 360 days. The old god of number 15, shown in the uppermost right block, hauls katuns (scores of 360-day periods). Fully transliterated, the numbered portion of Stela D reads: It was after the completion of nine baktuns, fifteen katuns, five tuns (360 days), zero uinals (20 days), and zero kin, reckoned since creation day, that such-and-such an event took place. Thus Stela D becomes the resting place of the numbers at the end of their long journey (lubay in Kekchi Maya), who finally let their burden fall 1,405,800 days (3,849 of our Gregorian years) after the last creation. Likewise katun prophecies from postconquest texts repeatedly refer to time as a burden: “This is the removal of his burden . . . fire is his burden . . . (In reference to the fifth katun)”; “On the day of the binding of the burden of Lord 5 Ahau.” Writes one chronicler, “According to what [the Indians] say [these four first days] are those which take the road and bear the load of the month, changing in time” (Thompson, 1950, pp. 59–61). Time then appears as some sort of essence to be carried or borne along the roadway of eternity, finally seated or brought to rest at various stopping points.

Monuments such as Stela D attribute the completed cycle of time to the ruler and his dynasty. Stela D gives time a name and proclaims it to belong to the ruler, who is assigned various other titles that connect him to his otherworld ancestors. The side opposite the numbers leaves no doubt that it is the ruler who is being exalted. Dates of his accession, marriage, and victories in battle adorn the glyphic text. So high is the relief on the monument that the ruler seems almost to emerge from the cut stone, appearing larger than life, fully garbed with ritual paraphernalia in hand. He wears an enormous headdress and facial mask, his bloodletting instruments draped from his loincloth. Perhaps the ruler himself once stood before the citizenry in front of his monument performing the rite of genital bloodletting with the spine of a stingray to seal his bond with his ancestors. Here was a demonstration of the continuity of dynastic rulership that also guaranteed the continuity of time. Two seminal qualities of the Maya concept of time from the dynastic histories comprise these time capsules wrought in stone. First, one has the sense that, whereas the arrow of time points toward the future, it is pushed from behind rather than tugged forward, a stark contrast to the teleological or purposive forward pull of time embedded in the JudeoChristian tradition. Circumstances in the past, even before the creation of the world, had set the number gods on their journey. It was those four events, enacted in the realm of the ancestor gods, that determined the future course of human history, the creation of the lineage, the journey of the four founders of modern Maya culture to the right place to build the city. Their journey parallels in space the long arduous track along the road of time undertaken by the number gods who bear their ponderous freight. The Popol Vuh, the sacred book of creation of the Quiché Maya, states that the ancient word is the potential and the source for all that is done in the present world. “How should it be sown, how should it dawn?” the gods ask themselves as they contemplate the creative act (D. Tedlock, 1985, p. 73). Events that took place then, by the creators, the founders, the so-called motherfathers, are responsible for setting time on its course toward the present. A second seminal quality of Maya time inherent in the monumental inscriptions is more difficult to grasp, especially when contrasting it with the Western historical view of time, which clearly separates human history (arrived at via the testimony of people) from natural history determined from the testimony of things, such as events in the sky, in the landscape, signs in plants and animals. Thus events in the history of the dynasty are directly linked with cosmic events. For example, many of the paramount happenings in the life of 18 Rabbit (called Waxaklahun-Ubah-K’awil in modern orthographies), the name of the ruler depicted on Stela D, are tied directly to the appearance of the planet Venus at key positions in the sky. This habit of creating a single frame for natural and human history is quite common across Mesoamerica. It is reflected especially vividly in the Aztec year annals ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


in which depictions of volcanic eruptions, eclipses, comets, and shooting stars appear linked to victories in battle and the deaths of emperors. Aztec history consists of like-in-kind events, both natural and civic-social, matched up repeatedly over multiple fifty-two-year cycles of time. In many instances these astronomical events were registered in preferentially aligned calendrical, ceremonial architecture. For example, Temple 22 at Copán possesses a slotlike viewing chamber on its western facade that marks the appearance of Venus at the beginning of the rainy season. Buildings that deviate from the prevailing grid structure and buildings of unusual shape at Uxmal, Chichén Itzá, and other sites also contain Venus alignments. Classic Maya sites in the Petén rain forest include a number of solar “observatories.” These specialized architectural assemblages consist of a pyramid on the west side of an open plaza that overlooks three smaller structures on the east. Viewed from the top of the former, the sun rises over each of the latter on seminal dates of the year, for example, the solstices, the equinoxes, and especially dates measured at multiples of twenty days from the passage of the sun across the zenith. In the highlands of Mexico the largest building in the Aztec capital, the Templo Mayor, was deliberately aligned with the sun at the equinox. Such structures might better be conceived as “theaters” than “observatories.” They are sacred places that offer the appropriate setting for cosmically timed ritual. CALENDARS AND CODICES. In addition to the monuments, the books (misnamed “codices”) constitute a second major medium of information concerning Mesoamerican time and calendars. But here the message is quite different. If the monumental inscriptions, related to a program of public display, were intended to exalt the rulers and legitimize their descent from the gods, the content of the codices seems relatively esoteric and private, consisting of omen-bearing texts to be read only by high-status priests. Only four pre-Columbian codices have survived. Their content, expressed in what have come to be called almanacs, is almost exclusively concerned with divinatory rituals cyclically timed in remarkable detail. In a minority of cases the timings are based on astronomical phenomena encoded in tables that might properly be called ephemerides, even though their content is largely astrological. The manifold ways the almanacs are laid out, challenging the eye of the reader to dance about the page in order to pursue a temporal journey, bespeak a playful intercourse between time and the Ah Kin. Time’s arithmetic flows vertically or zigzaggedly; in some cases the black and red numbers that comprise, respectively, the intervals and resting points in a text are scattered about a single prognostic or divinatory picture like so many loose tokens dropped randomly upon it from above. In many instances the numbers seem to take on an irrational, almost mystical quality akin to the Pythagorean way of dealing with numbers. One thinks of an almanac in the West as a compilation of useful information, most of it adapted to local space-time. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


One usually finds in an almanac a calendar for each month that gives all the holidays. There is also astronomical information, such as sunrise, sunset, moon phase tables, and eclipses for the year, coupled with meteorological information and tide tables for major local harbors. Information concerning weather predictions and the positions of the planetary bodies in the signs of the zodiac is also provided. Add to these data nonquantitative information on food recipes and proverbs and the modern almanac, updated and altered slightly from year to year, becomes a handy compendium that both amuses and instructs in practical matters and perhaps offers advice regarding personal behavior. Maya almanacs feature many of these same aspects. They contain both invocations and divinations that deal with the weather, agriculture, drilling fire with sticks, and disease and medicine in addition to the fates and ceremonies. Their purpose seems to have been to bring all celestial and human activities into the realm of the sacred almanac of 260 days. As is the case in the monumental inscriptions, duration emerges as the support beam in the framework of Maya calendrics in the codices. Each phase seems to be based on a perceived forward movement of time from an event located at the start of the text, to which “distance number” intervals are added. Every round of time in a Maya almanac begins with a starting day name and number in the tzolkin. One then proceeds via black distance numbers to red dates, each accompanied by a picture and glyphic block that convey the appropriate debt payment and (usually) an accompanying omen. The participatory role of the Maya worshiper is also reflected in the content of the codices. The business of laying out the calendar that prescribes Maya ritual behavior must have been complex. A multitude of offerings needed to be made to the gods at the proper places and times when the gods of number dropped their loads, and the periods between ritual events surely were not arbitrary. Long thought to be endlessly cyclical in nature, many almanacs, studies suggest, may have been fixed in real time. And like modern almanacs, they may have undergone repeated revision and recopying. The most exquisitely complex and esoteric almanacs, termed ephemerides, deal with precise astronomical prediction. Known since its rudimentary elements were deciphered early in the twentieth century, the Venus table in the Dresden Codex chronicles the appearance and disappearance dates of that planet over several centuries. Accompanying pictorials at the middle of each frame show the Venus deity Kukulcan flinging daggers of omen-bearing light on victims who lie impaled below them. A correction table enables the Venus calendar to stay on track for five hundred years with scarcely a day error. Maya astronomers seem to have been attracted by the perfect 8 to 5 commensuration between the Venus cycle of 584 days and the seasonal year of 365 days as well as by the larger commensuration between 65 Venus cycles and two 52-year calendar rounds. Adjacent ephemerides in the Dresden Codex were used to predict eclipses and



to chart the movement of Mars, whose 780-day cycle commensurates with the tzolkin in the exact ratio of 3 to 1. Studies suggest that other pages of the Dresden Codex as well as certain pages of the Madrid Codex also mark astronomical events. Venus deities, looking much like those in the Dresden, also appear in the Borgia group of codices from highland Mexico. In the Anales de Quauhtitlan, a colonial document from the Mexican highlands, are specific statements about which class of people shall suffer wounds from the piercing rays of Venus, called Quetzalcoatl in the central Mexican pantheon: And as they (the ancients, the forefathers) learned. When it appears (rises). According to the sign, in which it (rises). It strikes different classes of people with its rays. Shoots them, casts its light upon them. When it appears in the (first) sign, “1 alligator.” It shoots the old men and women. Also in the (second) sign, “1 jaguar.” In the (third) sign, “1 stag.” In the (fourth) sign, “1 flower.” It shoots the little children. And in the (fifth) sign, “1 reed.” It shoots the kings. Also in the (sixth) sign, “1 death.” And in the (seventh) sign, “1 rain.” It shoots the rain. It will not rain. And in the (thirteenth) sign, “1 movement.” It shoots the youths and maidens. And in the (seventeenth) sign, “1 water.” There is universal drought. (Seler, 1904, pp. 384–385)

In stark contrast with the Maya texts, the so-called picture books of highland Mexico, which also include ritual ceremonial prescriptions, have generally been regarded as devoid of real-time astronomical events; that is, the Mexican codices have been characterized as celebrating time cycles, whereas the Maya books were thought to be more event specific. However, this traditional picture has been challenged by studies that offer evidence, specifically in the Codex Borgia, that real-time astronomical events were recorded in the middle of the fifteenth century. Scholars now regard Mesoamerican (especially Maya) mathematical, astronomical, and calendrical achievements to have been rather more like those of the ancient Middle East; that is, closer to the sort of quantitative science that led to modern astronomy. SEE ALSO Aztec Religion; Maya Religion.

BIBLIOGRAPHY As the field of Mesoamerican calendrics has remained extraordinarily specialized, most work is in journals such as the Journal for the History of Astronomy, Archaeoastronomy, Supplement to the Journal for the History of Astronomy, Latin American Antiquity. David H. Kelley’s Deciphering the Maya Script (Austin, Tex., 1976) and Anthony F. Aveni’s Skywatchers: A Revised and Updated Version of Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico (Austin, Tex., 2001) are standard texts that offer broad overviews of Mesoamerican calendrics. Somewhat more specialized are John Justeson’s “Ancient Maya Ethnoastronomy: An Overview of the Hieroglyphic Sources,” in World Archaeoastronomy, edited by Anthony F. Aveni (Cambridge, U.K., 1989); and Floyd Lounsbury’s “Maya Numeration, Computation, and Calendrical Astronomy,” in Dictionary of Scientific Biography, edited by Charles Coulston

Gillespie, vol. 15, supp. 1, pp. 759–818 (New York, 1978). Alfonso Caso’s “Mixtec Writing and Calendar,” in Handbook of Middle American Indians, edited by Robert Wauchope, vol. 3 (Austin, Tex., 1965), remains the classic exposition of central Mexican calendrics. See also Rafael Tena’s El Calendario Mexica y la cronografía (Mexico City, 1987). On other central Mexican calendars see Javier Urcid’s Zapotec Hieroglyphic Writing (Washington, D.C., 2001). Munro S. Edmonson’s The Book of the Year: Middle American Calendrical Systems (Salt Lake City, Utah, 1988) offers a pan-Mesoamerican comparative analysis of calendars and calendar glyphs. Contemporary Mesoamerican calendar systems are dealt with in Frank J. Lipp’s The Mixe of Oaxaca: Religion, Ritual, and Healing (Austin, Tex., 1991); Barbara Tedlock’s Time and the Highland Maya (Albuquerque, N.Mex., 1982; rev. ed. 1992); and Michael P. Closs, ed., Native American Mathematics (Austin, Tex., 1986), which also deals with North American calendars. See also Alfred M. Tozzer, ed. and trans., Landa’s Relación de las cosas de Yucatan, vol. 18 (Cambridge, Mass., 1941), Eduard Seler, “The Venus Period in Picture Writings of the Borgian Codex Group,” Bulletin of the Bureau of American Ethnology 28: 373–390, Dennis Tedlock’s translation of Popol Vuh: The Definitive Edition of the Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life and the Glories of Gods and Kings (New York, 1985), and J. Eric S. Thompson, Maya Hieroglyphic Writing (Washington, D.C., 1950). ANTHONY F. AVENI (2005)

CALENDARS: SOUTH AMERICAN CALENDARS At the time of the Spanish conquest of the New World in the early sixteenth century, the peoples of Mesoamerica and the Andes were living in highly developed civilizations supported by well-integrated political and religious organizations. The Aztec, Mixtec, and Maya of Mesoamerica produced codices in which are described their gods, priests, religious paraphernalia, and so on. Their knowledge was organized by way of an elaborate calendar that bore no relationship to any kind of calendrical system known to the Spanish. The chroniclers soon realized, however, that an important aspect of these Mesoamerican calendars was the repeating succession of 260 days. The 260-day “year” was divided into thirteen “months,” each comprising twenty days irrespective of observations of the sun, moon, and other celestial bodies. Unlike the Mesoamericans, the Andean peoples did not leave codices or a hieroglyphic script (as was used, for instance, by the Maya from their early history onward). They apparently had no tradition of a historical chronology and left no dated monuments. However, a recent analysis of Peruvian quipus—knotted strings that were used for various administrative purposes—demonstrates that Andean peoples were capable of highly abstract, mathematical thought. Accordingly, we may assume that the conclusion reached by certain Spanish chroniclers that the quipus were used for calendrical purposes is valid. Indeed, José de Acosta, an early ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


chronicler who thoroughly studied the cultures in both parts of what we now call nuclear America and who compared the Andean and Mesoamerican calendars, favored the Andean system because of its technical accomplishments. Thus it may be reasonable to assume that the political and religious needs of the Andean states crystallized into a common calendrical tradition of a complexity comparable with that of Mesoamerica; but its organizing principles may have been as different from those of the Mesoamerican tradition as these differed from the European. ACCOUNTS BY EARLY CHRONICLERS. When the Spanish conquistadors entered Cuzco, the capital of the Inca Empire, the Inca territory stretched from what is now northern Ecuador south to Chile and Argentina. Spanish chroniclers have left us some data on the astronomical and calendrical ideas of the people living on the north coast of Peru, a rich description of myths and rituals of Quechua-speaking peoples in central and southern Peru, and some bits and pieces of astronomical and calendrical lore from the Aymara-speaking peoples living around Lake Titicaca. But it was only in Cuzco that the chroniclers became aware of the rich tradition of the Inca’s history, myths, and rituals, as well as of their seasonal activities (e.g., agriculture and llama husbandry) and astronomical observations and beliefs about the sun, moon, and stars. Many scattered data of critical importance in the reconstruction of the Inca calendar have survived. Nonetheless, although some chroniclers may have been aware of the importance of some of these data for the reconstruction of the calendar, they themselves recorded little more than the names of the months. They assumed that the Inca calendar comprised twelve months but barely analyzed what kinds of “months” they were in fact dealing with. The actual reconstruction of the Inca calendar—going well beyond the chroniclers’ list of twelve names—enables us to realize the magnitude of the debt owed by the Inca to the states and cultures that preceded them: those of Huari, Tiahuanaco, and Chavín in the Andean highlands and those of Nazca, Mochica, and Paracas on the coast. The Spaniards’ interpretations of the Inca data provide only a faint idea of what a preConquest calendar might have looked like. Some seventeen years after the Conquest, Juan de Betanzos became the first chronicler in Cuzco to attempt an account of the months. His description, however, is inextricably interwoven with a recording of Inca history, especially with those events that concern the legendary reorganization of Cuzco after the city had successfully rejected a foreign attack. He intimates the close relationship between Cuzco’s calendar and its political organization, an aspect with which he was probably more familiar than any later chronicler. But he leaves the technical problem of the calendrical count unresolved. In 1574, the priest Cristóbal de Molina wrote the first detailed account of calendrical rituals in Cuzco. Juan de Polo de Ondegardo, a lawyer, had probably written a similar report some years earlier, but it was lost. In 1584, the third Council of the Peruvian Church published a shorter version of Polo’s calendar; it is this version, or the knowledge of the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


existence of a longer report, that heavily influenced all later accounts given by the major chroniclers (e.g., Cavello de Balboa, Murua). Only the later indigenous chronicler Felipe Poma de Ayala provides substantial new information on the economic use of the calendar; and yet another indigenous chronicler, Juan de Santa Cruz, refers to the mythological data pertaining to it. The description given in 1653 by Bernabé Cobo, the last chronicler, is probably the most faithful to those of Polo and Molina. POLO AND MOLINA’S INTERPRETATIONS. Although they themselves do not seem to have grasped the calendrical problem completely, Polo and Molina give us the best evidence with which to evaluate the character of the months. Polo, for example, tells us, “[The Inca] divided the year into twelve months by the moons, and the other days that remained were added to the [different] moons themselves.” Polo claims to be speaking of synodical months, that is, those that mark the period between new moons in a sequence independent from the solar year; nonetheless, he says that the eleven days that these twelve months are short of a year were added to the individual months. If he is right on this last point, we can assume that the Inca calendar had solar months, each thirty or thirty-one days long, bearing no connection to the phases of the moon. Polo refers to certain monthly observations of sunrises and sunsets that reinforce this claim. When considered together with important information from Molina, Polo’s critical data underscores the fact that the Inca calendar included synodical, as well as solar, months. According to Molina (1574), the Inca year began with the lunar month marked by the June solstice; this month started with the first new moon after the middle of May. Molina, however, was still using the Julian calendar; his “middle of May” is thus equivalent to May 25 in the Gregorian calendar, which was not introduced to Cuzco until ten years after Molina wrote his account. Accordingly, any month beginning with a new moon after May 25 would include the date of the June solstice, June 21 (Zuidema, 1982a). Molina then describes the subsequent lunar months, stressing in particular the observations of a new moon and full moon in the fourth month. This was the month in which crops were planted and all women, including the queen, celebrated the moon. Molina then comes to the seventh month, Capac Raymi (“royal feast”), during which noble boys were initiated into manhood. During the eighth month, Capac Raymi Camay Quilla (“royal feast, moon of Camay”), rituals were dedicated to the rains, which would subside in the months to come. Molina’s section on the seventh month has a day-to-day account of its ritual events but makes no reference to the moon; the eighth month, however, is described solely in terms of the lunar cycle. Polo says that Capac Raymi originally began in January but was later moved back to December, the month “when the Sun reaches the last point on its road towards the South pole.” Whatever historical information he thought could be derived from this statement, the most satisfactory reading in



calendrical terms would be that Capac Raymi ended on the December solstice itself and that Camay Quilla began thereafter. Molina’s description of ritual held at the end of Capac Raymi also seems to imply the same conclusion. But if both Polo and Molina were right about the lunar character of the months, then it is possible that a given Capac Raymi may not have included the December solstice at all, for the month of Inti Raymi could have begun just after May 25 (there are 211 days from May 25 to December 22; seven synodical months have only 206). From these data alone we cannot determine exactly how the Inca solved this calendrical discrepancy but we can conclude that they were aware of it and had probably devised a solution. Later chroniclers, including modern writers, did not take into account Molina and Polo’s critical data, although they sometimes opted for either lunar or solar months. Thus Clements R. Markharm (1910) interprets the calendar as consisting of solar months; the first month, he says, starts on the June solstice. John Howland Rowe, on the other hand, in his influential article “Inca Culture at the Time of the Spanish Conquest” (1946) chooses—on the authority of Polo, he claims—lunar months. Later studies on Inca culture generally follow Rowe’s example. These accounts differ by as much as two months in their assessment of the location in the calendar of a particular month, making the relationship between specific ritual and seasonal activities difficult to understand. ARCHAEOASTRONOMY AT CORICANCHA. The calendrical problem cannot be resolved on the basis of Molina and Polo’s data alone. Fortunately, research on the alignment of certain Inca buildings (Zuidema, 1982a; Aveni, 1981; Urton and Aveni, 1983; Urton, 1981; Ziolkowski and Sadowski, 1984) enables us to evaluate additional types of calendrical and astronomical data. I will mention here the data based on the architecture of the Coricancha (“golden enclosure”)— properly known as the Temple of the Sun—and on the rituals and myths associated with it. Located in the center of Cuzco, the Coricancha included four one-room buildings that served as temples, each facing the other two by two. The more important buildings were said to face the rising sun during the June solstice. But exact measurements by Anthony F. Aveni and myself revealed that the temples face the point on the horizon at which the sun rises on May 25. This alignment not only supports the validity of Molina’s data regarding when the Inca year began but also helps us interpret other significant information. For example, in exactly the same direction of the sunrise, but just beyond the horizon, is a legendary place called Susurpuquio, well known for its important role in Inca mythology. It was here that Pachacuti Inca, the king who set the Inca on the road to conquest, had met his father, the sun god, who predicted that he and his people would share a future filled with military success. The direction toward Susurpuquio coincides closely with that of the rise of the Pleiades, the “mother” of all stars. The reappearance of the Pleiades in early June, after they had disappeared from the southern sky for some fifty days, generally

marked the beginning of the year for people in central and northern Peru. In Cuzco, the full moon of the month that included the June solstice would have occurred after the Pleiades first rose in the morning sky. The Inca data on the Pleiades, the sun, and the moon replicate in detail the more general Andean concepts of celestial, calendrical, and social order established in relation to the Pleiades; we see here the Inca debt to the Andean cultures that preceded them.

CALENDRICAL SOCIAL DIVISION. Another way to further our understanding of the Inca calendar is to analyze the integration that obtained between the calendar and the empire’s political hierarchy and its territorial organization. Betanzos cites this integration but gives no technical details on it. An anonymous, but rather early and well-informed, chronicler mentions how Pachacuti Inca, the king who reorganized Cuzco, divided the population of the Cuzco Valley into twelve groups. His purpose was to make each group take “account of its own month, adopting the name and surname of that lunar month, and of what it had to carry out in its month; and it was obliged to come out to the plaza on the first day of its month by playing trumpets and by shouting, so that it was known to everybody” (my translation, from Maúrtua, vol. 8, 1908). Whereas his father had brought order to the observance of lunar months, Pachacuti Inca erected pillars on the horizon from which the sun could be observed. This was an attempt to integrate the months into an account of the solar year. THE CEQUE CALENDAR. Based on original information from Polo, Cobo describes a similar problem with the calendar and establishes the close link between customs of each Cuzco group and astronomical observations. His description is based on an important Andean political concept, which expresses the visual and directional relationship between the political divisions and their political and ritual center. For this purpose the Inca employed a system of forty-two “directions” called ceques (“lines”). The ceques were imaginary lines that radiated from Coricancha to points on the horizon. They were distributed in groups of three over four quarters of the territory; in one quarter, however, fifteen directions, that is, fourteen ceques (in this case, two ceques were taken together as one), were used. The twelve political divisions of Cuzco were individually associated not only with a different group of three ceques but also with one particular ceque in each group. Each ceque linked the division with the location of the land in the valley that it had been given by Pachacuti Inca. Lands in the fourth quarter were also divided between only three divisions; we notice that in this quarter the fourteen ceques were also rebundled into three groups of ceques (which had four, four, and six ceques, respectively). Each of the twelve political divisions had an important ritual obligation to bring offerings to a cultic place on the horizon. The sun would then arrive at this place, either at sunset or sunrise, sometime during its annual journey. These twelve places on the horizon were called sayhuas; two extra ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


ones, called sucancas, were necessary to comply with astronomical observations. The ceque system used the whole horizon, although the sun rises and sets in only part of it. Therefore a sayhua or sucanca was not necessarily located along a ceque that stretched between the horizon and the land of the political division that was in charge of its cult. People first worshiped a series of cultic places, called huacas, that were located along the three ceques associated with their division. They would then turn to the corresponding sayhuas, located in another direction, and offer the remains of whatever had been served to the huacas. Cobo lists the huacas that were served before the sayhuas and sucancas. If this list is complete (328 huacas), as it indeed appears to be, then it allows us to suggest various calendrical consequences. Although it would not be appropriate here to carry out a technical analysis of Cobo’s list, certain general characteristics of such a ceque calendar can be proposed. One observation of the sun was made along a ceque radiating from the Temple of the Sun: the one toward sunrise on May 25. Perhaps one other solar observation was made along a ceque in the opposite direction. But all other solar observations were done from higher places just outside town. Based on our data on stars and certain huacas in the ceque system, we believe that all risings and settings of stars were observed from the Temple of the Sun. In contrast to the sayhuas—upright, manmade stone pillars that were used for observing the sun—the huacas were mostly natural topographical features whose worship was part of a cult to the earth. The rather irregular numerical distribution of the huacas over the ceques and groups of three ceques seems to be conditioned by their calendrical use. The number of huacas—on ceques, on groups of ceques, and in each of the quarters—reveals that the Inca were concerned with bringing in line the worship of the moon during its full and new phases (these phases occur every twenty-nine and one-half days) with a cult of the sun (the sun is the cause of the moon’s phases), as well as with a cult of the stars (against which the moon shifts its position every night). The year can thus be divided into twelve solar months of thirty or thirty-one days each, while the moon will reach the same position among the stars every twenty-seven and one-third nights. Rituals during full and new moons carried out a balancing act between these two cycles related to the sun and the stars; one cycle occurred during the day and the other at night, while the moon can be observed both day and night.

MYTHS AND LEGENDS. Irrespective, however, of where a technical analysis of the ceque calendar leads us, the data given by the anonymous chronicler and by Polo and Cobo allow us to integrate Inca ideas of time and space with their calendrical rituals, legendary history, and myths. Each political division carried out rituals during the particular month after which it was named; we can assume, therefore, that each group’s ideas about its function in society, its past, and its origin myths are relevant for an understanding of its rituals. Each group worshiped its own mythical ancestor (in the form ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


of a mummy). Influenced by certain ideas of hierarchical order, the Inca integrated these ancestors into the legendary history of their royal dynasty. This line of thought explains why ten of the twelve political divisions were linked genealogically to the dynasty and were called panacas (collateral lines of descent from the royal family). The remaining two divisions represented the autochthonous population of the valley of Cuzco, which had been conquered by the Inca. Specific myths about panacas and former kings should help us interpret calendrical rituals. The anonymous chronicler gives us one clue on how to proceed. He claims that each division—that is, each panaca—took its name from its particular month. Thus we can argue that the highest-ranked panaca, called capac ayllu, was in charge of the initiation rituals of noble youths, who were also called capac churi (“royal sons”). These rituals occurred during the month of Capac Raymi, which ended on the December solstice. Another panaca, called aucailli (the “victory song” that was chanted at harvest time), implying that its rituals were conducted in April. But these examples seem to be more exceptions to than confirmations of the rule, and only one chronicler (Murua) relates a myth explicitly linking two political divisions to certain months of the year and their rituals (Zuidema, 1982b). What makes the following myth interesting is the relationship it establishes between dynastic legends and myths in Inca culture. Pachacuti Inca—who appears in the myth as the son of the first mythical founder of the royal dynasty— establishes a pact with a giant. During a month of heavy rains, the giant comes down on the rushing waters of a river some thirty kilometers from Cuzco. As the rains threaten to destroy the city, Pachacuti, who is characterized in this myth as a brash young warrior, persuades the giant to retreat, and he himself turns to stone. According to the myth, it is because of this pact with the giant that the Inca celebrated Capac Raymi in December. A sequel to the myth deals with the heroic feats of a son of Pachacuti Inca, whose conquests and marriage explain why the Inca celebrated their feast of planting (normally assigned to the month of September, but here to October 1). Other, more legendary versions of the first myth convert Pachacuti Inca into the ninth king of the dynasty and the giant into his father, Viracocha Inca; it is these conversions that allow us to relate their panacas to specific months. These versions present Pachacuti Inca as the reorganizer of the city, its political system, and its calendar. Both kings are seen as historical persons, but their mythical aspects crystallize them into deities in their own right: they become the thunder god, worshiped by Pachacuti Inca as his personal god, and Viracocha, the god whom the Spanish misinterpreted as the Inca creator god. Viracocha Inca, the king, was thought to be the ancestor of the high priests of Cuzco. It may be suggested here that the giant in the myth should be associated with the society’s concerns during the month of March. This was the month in which the priests of the Sun carried out rituals intended to curtail the rains and to prepare for the



forthcoming dry season and harvest; they also directed the building of dams in mountain lakes to store irrigation water for use during the dry season. No dynastic legends like those found at Cuzco were recorded for central Peru by the Spanish chroniclers, who do, however, relate stories of battles, similar to that between Pachacuti and the giant, that were fought between the thunder god and a primordial deity in the times before a great flood. The story of Pachacuti Inca functioned on two different temporal levels in Cuzco: as a myth that was related to the yearly calendar and as a dynastic legend. It should be observed, therefore, that the temporal sequence was not the same in both cases. In the myth, the giant is associated with a calendrical concern (in March) that followed the one associated with Pachacuti Inca (in December). In the dynasty, Viracocha Inca is the father of Pachacuti Inca. Dynastic interest established a kind of causal link between the legendary versions of the stories told about succeeding kings. But the myths, as seasonal versions of the same stories, did not follow the same temporal sequence. Here it is probably more the calendrical rituals that, in terms of a closed annual cycle, can bring unity into Inca thought, integrating the cosmological and political aspects of their society. On the basis of the data on Inca months in the chronicles, Henrique Urbano has evaluated the dialectical relationships between the gods Viracocha and Inti (Sun), who symbolize the opposing values of water and fire, respectively. Both are associated with animal symbols: Viracocha with the amaru (“serpent”), which is related to farming and the fertility of the earth, and Inti with the guaman (“falcon”) and puma (“mountain lion”), which both represent warfare. In this occurrence, Inti is emblematic of society and of the inside, while Viracocha symbolizes nature and the outside.

RITUAL AND THE INCA CALENDAR. The analytical value of the data available allows us to study various other aspects of the Andean calendar. One aspect, that of human sacrifice, was of capital importance in the Inca state, establishing political alliances and hierarchical relationships between peoples brought under imperial rule. Victims from all parts of the empire were brought to Cuzco, either to be sacrificed there or to be sent elsewhere to be sacrificed. In journeying to and from Cuzco, they traveled along routes that were as straight as possible and that, like the lines radiating from Cuzco, were called ceques. The data suggest that the system of human sacrifices was integrated into the calendar. Various kinds of animals were sacrificed according to the particular occasion; they were eaten or burned, and their blood was also used. Furthermore, ashes, including those of textiles and other products, were saved so that they could be thrown into rivers at appropriate times of the year. The most important sacrifices of all, however, were those of llamas. These animals were used for various ritual purposes according to their variety (alpaca, llama, guanaco,

vicuña), color, age, and sex. The system of llama sacrifice can be reconstructed (Zuidema and Urton, 1976). Iconographic evidence from the Huari and Tiahuanaco (1–1000 CE) cultures demonstrates how deeply rooted llama sacrifices were in Andean society. Another important aspect of Andean culture is that of divination, studied by E.-J. de Durand (1968). However, the numerous data relating to its importance for the calendar have yet to be coordinated. CONCLUSION. The Andean calendar as an exact numerical system for computing days in the year did not survive the onslaught of Western civilization. Many rituals and calendrical customs were integrated, however, into the Catholic calendar; many scholars have reported on this syncretism (Urbano, 1974; Poole, 1984). Their studies, as well as the data from numerous monographs on present-day Andean societies, are extremely valuable in helping us to understand the symbolic values of pre-Conquest rituals. Also, the knowledge of astronomy found among present-day Andean peoples has its principal roots in pre-Conquest culture, notwithstanding the fact that their ancestors were able to integrate Spanish learned and popular notions about the sky and weather into their own systems (Urton, 1981). The amount of ethnohistorical data that is available for reconstruction of the Inca and other Andean calendars is broader and deeper than had previously been assumed. In Peru, indigenous calendrical notions did not have the overwhelming impact on the Spaniards as they had in Mexico. Interestingly, it is those data that did not seem important to the Spaniards—that did not threaten their missionary and political interests and that lost their significance in colonial society, although they nevertheless happened to be reported—that are the most helpful in understanding preConquest Andean culture and its calendar. SEE ALSO Ethnoastronomy.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Aveni, Anthony F. “Horizon Astronomy in Incaic Cuzco.” In Archaeoastronomy in the Americas, edited by Ray A. Williamson, pp. 305–318. Los Altos, Calif., 1981. Durand, E.-J. de. “Aperçu sur les présages et la divination de l’ancien Pérou.” In La divination, edited by André Caquot and Marcel Leibovici, pp. 1–67. Paris, 1968. Maúrtua, Victor M. Juicio de límites entre el Perú y Bolivia. Lima, 1908. Volume 8 contains the anonymous “Discurso de la sucesión y gobierno de los Yngas.” Molina, Cristóbal de. Ritos y fábulas de los Incas (1574). Buenos Aires, 1947. Poole, Deborah A. “Ritual-Economic Calendars in Paruro: The Structure of Representation in Andean Ethnography.” Ph.D. diss., University of Illinois, Urbana, 1984. Rowe, John Howland. “Inca Culture at the Time of the Spanish Conquest.” In Handbook of South American Indians, edited by Julian H. Steward, vol. 2, pp. 183–330. Washington, D.C., 1946. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Urbano, Henrique. “La representación andina del tiempo y del espacio en la fiesta.” Allpanchis Phuturinqua (Cuzco) 7 (1974): 9–10. Urton, Gary. At the Crossroads of the Earth and Sky: An Andean Cosmology. Austin, Tex., 1981. Urton, Gary, and Anthony F. Aveni. “Archaeoastronomical Fieldwork on the Coast of Peru.” In Calendars in Mesoamerica and Peru, edited by Anthony F. Aveni and Gordon Brotherston. Oxford, 1983. Ziolkowski, M. S., and R. M. Sadowski. “Informe acerca de las investigaciones arqueo-astronómicas en el area central de Ingapirca (Ecuador).” Revista española de antropología americana 15 (1984): 103–125. Zuidema, R. Tom. “Inca Observations of the Solar and Lunar Passages through Zenith and Anti-Zenith at Cuzco.” In Archaeoastronomy in the Americas, edited by Ray A. Williamson, pp. 319–342. Los Altos, Calif., 1981. Zuidema, R. Tom. “Catachillay: The Role of the Pleiades and of the Southern Cross and a and b Centauri in the Calendar of the Incas.” In Ethnoastronomy and Archaeoastronomy in the American Tropics, edited by Anthony F. Aveni and Gary Urton, pp. 203–220. New York, 1982 (cited as 1982a in the text). Zuidema, R. Tom. “The Sidereal Lunar Calendar of the Incas.” In Archaeoastronomy in the New World, edited by Anthony F. Aveni, pp. 59–107. Cambridge, 1982 (cited as 1982b in the text). Zuidema, R. Tom, and Gary Urton. “La Constelación de la Llama en los Andes Peruanos.” Allpanchis Phuturinqua (Cuzco) 9 (1976): 59–119. R. TOM ZUIDEMA (1987)

CALIPHATE. The office of “successor” to the prophet

Muh: ammad as the leader of the Muslim community is a uniquely Islamic institution. Hence the anglicization caliphate is preferable to inadequate translations of the term khila¯fah. (This article will not address the concept of khila¯fah in Islamic mysticism.)

Upon Muh: ammad’s death in AH 11/632 CE there was in existence a self-governing, powerful Islamic community, or ummah. It had been shaped by the Prophet in conformity with the revelations he had received, and by the end of his life, his temporal as well as his spiritual authority was unassailable: he was the governor of the ummah, an arbitrator of disputes within it, the commander of its military forces, and its principal strategist. He had deputized others as his representatives to distant tribes and regions. The term khila¯fah in the pre-Islamic sense of “deputy” was apparently used in reference to these assignees. To the ummah the Prophet’s death was a shocking, even inconceivable event. The Muslims were suddenly bereft of divine guidance, the source of Muh: ammad’s charismatic authority. Yet they were sufficiently imbued with the Islamic vision to persevere in efforts to shape the ideal society embodied in that moral imperative. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


But who was to lead this society? What was to be his authority? The caliphate, the expression of the temporal leadership of all Muslims conceived as a single community, was the institutional answer. It had emerged ad hoc, however, in response to a crisis. Evolving practice framed theoretical constructions, especially in the absence of any agreed QurDa¯nic foundation. Hence the conduct of those holding the office, the caliphs, elicited sharp and continuing controversy over not only individual moral qualitites but also the character of the institution itself. The forces at work in this controversy may be divided for the purposes of analysis into Islamic theories of the caliphate and historical influences on the institution.

CLASSICAL THEORIES OF THE CALIPHATE. The majoritarian, Sunn¯ı view of the origins of the caliphate is that Muh: ammad left no instructions for the future leadership of the ummah. Yet on his death the community desperately required an acknowledged leader, since all the latent rivalries that the prophetic message had overwhelmed reemerged in tribal factionalism. The innermost core of the Muslims responded by acclaiming as their leader one of the earliest of their number and certainly among the most prestigious, Abu¯ Bakr (r. 632– 634). Whether he was actually proclaimed khal¯ıfa¯t rasu¯l Alla¯h (“caliph of the messenger of God”) is unclear, but all Sunn¯ıs regard him as the first caliph. His role was to lead the ummah in peace and in war as the Prophet had done, and to lead the ritual prayers and conduct the pilgrimage, both of which duties he had previously performed on Muh: ammad’s behalf. Absent from this formulation was the prophetic role that had clothed Muh: ammad’s acts with nigh impeccable authority. Theoretically, a divinely guided community of Muslims selected the early Sunn¯ı caliphs, while its act of acclamation, the bay Eah, constituted an elective ideal that deprecated all subsequent dynasticism. Evolved Sunn¯ı theory required that a caliph be an adult male from the Quraysh, the leading tribe of Mecca. Soundness of mind and body, knowledge of the religion, piety, and probity are frequently listed among Sunn¯ı criteria. Caliphal preogatives were to lead the prayer, to be recognized in the Friday sermon as the leader of all Muslims, to coin money, to command the army, and to receive on behalf of the ummah a fifth of all booty. Later, the Abbasid caliphs (750– 1258) arrogated to themselves the right to wear the presumed mantle of the Prophet, a sacred relic in their possession. Sunnis generally describe the caliph’s duties as follows: to defend the domain of Islam and to extend it if possible, to uphold the shar¯ı Eah, the prescribed conduct for a Muslim, to ensure law and order so that Muslims might observe the shar¯ı Eah in peace and security, to collect canonical taxes, and generally to administer the ummah in consultation with selected counselors. The Sh¯ıD¯ı conception of the caliphate differs from the Sunni in the manner of origination and the consequences



flowing therefrom. Out of certain verses of the QurDa¯n and from selected h: ad¯ıth (reports of the Prophet’s words or deeds), the Sh¯ıEah adduce that Muh: ammad had indeed chosen a successor: his first cousin, son-in-law, and early convert, EAl¯ı ibn Ab¯ı T: alib. According to the Sh¯ıEah, a conspiracy among the companions of the Prophet denied EAl¯ı his rightful position, plunging the community into error the instant Muh: ammad died. That the prophet had himself selected EAl¯ı establishes to Sh¯ıD¯ı satisfaction a leadership of far greater charismatic authority than the Sunn¯ı version, a leadership that for most of the Sh¯ıD¯ı grew to incorporate impeccability and infallible interpretation of scripture.

EAl¯ı did become the fourth caliph, the last of the socalled Ra¯shidu¯n or “rightly guided” caliphs, but his designation by the assassins of his predecessor, EUthma¯n ibn EAffa¯n (644–656) of the clan of Umayyah, precipitated a civil war that rent forever the fabric of the community. When EAl¯ı was killed in 661, the caliphate passed to the Umayyads (661– 750). The Sh¯ıEah would thereafter cleave to the view that only the EAlids, EAl¯ı’s progeny, could claim the caliphate; their claim alone was divinely sanctioned. Yet the inability of the Sh¯ıEah never to agree on a particular candidate among EAl¯ı’s descendants condemned their movement to martyrdom, factionalism, and futility. The conflict between EAl¯ı and the Umayyads spawned a third interpretation of the caliphate, that of the Kha¯rij¯ıs. In the view of these numerically few but very active dissidents, hostile to both parties following the civil war, the caliph was liable for deposition should he deviate an iota from Muh: ammad’s practice. The Kharijis thus depreciated the office to no better than a tribal chieftainship. Arab nomadic groups were, in fact, the milieu from which they drew their support. HISTORICAL INFLUENCES ON THE CALIPHATE. The evolution of the caliphate reflects in microcosm the forces molding Islamic civilization. Foremost of these was the Islamic moral imperative, expressed in the QurDa¯n and the sunnah, or custom, of the Prophet. However visionary and inspirational these Islamic teachings were, they offered little specific guidance on the shape of Islamic leadership, principally the prophetic model and a framework of moral principles. But various non-Islamic influences heavily warped these Islamic precepts. In the first Islamic century Arab tribalism was a continuing challenge to the developing caliphate. Inherited and/or acquired prestige, directly linked to lineage, constituted the basis of Arab leadership concepts. Traditionally power was closely associated with the numerical strength and past reputation of the lineage. Early Muslim caliphs lacked such esteem; only EUthma¯n had both tribal and Islamic prestige. His well-intentioned effort to use tribalism as well as Islamic prestige to enhance the caliph’s authority was a major cause of his downfall. Mutual hostilities among the tribes plagued the early Muslim community: the Umayyads were constrained to form tribal marriage alliances to solidify their au-

thority, but rising criticism of their reliance on Arab social custom was a crucial element in the dynasty’s overthrow. The later Umayyads and the early Abbasid dynasty were deeply affected by the tradition of imperial authority in the lands they had conquered. Its advocates, usually newly converted scribes, envisaged a rigidly hierarchical society of privileged rulers and taxpaying ruled, with the caliph as supreme arbiter in all matters. The Abbasid caliphs, therefore, withdrew within a royal city, appeared in public only on ceremonial occasions, ruled despotically and pursued a lifestyle greatly at variance with the Islamic values expressed in the QurDa¯n and sunnah. The Abbasids never exclusively adopted their imperial tradition inherited largely from the Sasanid Persians. They were acutely conscious of having acquired power by criticizing the alleged impiety of the Umayyads, so they patronized the Eulama¯ D (religious scholars) as well as poets, musicians, and wine merchants. Even the Islamic aspects of the caliphate, however, succumbed to imperial majesty. Assuming charismatic throne-names, the Abbasids, following the later Umayyads, asserted that their authority derived directly from God, not from Muh: ammad and certainly not from the ummah. If most of the pious shunned their patronage, still it was during the early Abbasid caliphate that Islamic civilization attained its full grandeur. By the middle of the tenth century, however, the caliph was a virtual prisoner in his palace, his authority and his majesty evaporated. Between 945 and 1055 the Buyids, tribesmen from Iran professing Shiism, ruled the caliphal capital of Baghdad yet retained the Sunn¯ı caliphate, perhaps recognizing that a pliant puppet symbolizing the unity of Islam was politically more useful to them than a Sh¯ıE¯ı caliph demanding at least their respect. Furthermore, the Buyids refused to recognize the Sh¯ıE¯ı Fatimid caliphate that had emerged in North Africa in 909 and was preparing to advance eastward to establish itself in Cairo (969) with the hegemony of the Muslim world as its manifest goal. As an extremist Sh¯ıE¯ı dynasty, the Fatimids were a menace to both Sunn¯ı and moderate Sh¯ıE¯ı Muslims. Such a threatening Sh¯ıE¯ı presence in North Africa evoked a response from the remnant of the Umayyad dynasty in Spain (755–1031). Heretofore content with lesser titles despite nonrecognition of their Abbasid successors, the Spanish Umayyads now claimed the caliphate in 929 as a rallying point for nearby Sunn¯ıs. The simultaneous existence of two Sunn¯ı caliphs presented a challenge to those religious scholars bent on accommodating their political theory to the actual historical process. Abu¯ Mans: u¯r EAbd al-Qa¯hir al-Baghda¯d¯ı (d. 1027), for example, argued that if an ocean should separate the ummah into two distant parts, a second caliph was unfortunately justifiable. This view was firmly rejected, however, by the jurist Abu¯ al-H: asan al-Ma¯ward¯ı (d. 1058), who would condone no attenuation of the caliphal prerogatives. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Rescue, if it can be so characterized, came in the form of the Seljuk Turks, tribesmen from Central Asia who styled themselves champions of Sunnism while continuing to dominate the caliph. In the eleventh century they reversed the tide of political Shiism, yet in their train came a new influence damaging to the concept of the caliphate: visions of world domination nurtured among pastoralists of the broad Asian steppes. Incipient with the Seljuks, the view reached full force among the pagan Mongols, who would suffer no rival, however moribund, to a Mongol khanate destined to rule the earth. Their assault on Baghdad in 1258 extinguished the classical caliphate. Although they soon became Muslim, those Mongols who ruled in Islamic lands and the Turco-Mongol dynasties that succeeded them gave little heed to the caliphate. They claimed to rule by divine right and garnished their own tradition with the Persian concepts of a functionally hierarchical society. Islamic scholarship adjusted, however reluctantly, to this new reality: henceforth the Eulama¯ D, claiming to be the guardians of the shar¯ı Eah, conferred the title of khal¯ıfat Alla¯h (“deputy of God”) upon any ruler who upheld that body of sacred law and ruled righteously. The once-exalted title became one of many with which Muslim rulers of succeeding centuries adorned their chancery documents. The Mamluk sultans of Egypt, however, adopted an alleged scion of the Abbasid house as legitimator of their oligarchic rule, seemingly a residual authority during the tension-laden interlude between the death of one ruler and the consolidation of his successor. Until 1500, Indian kings used to seek investiture documents from this “shadow caliph” to bolster their tenuous legitimacy. The Ottoman conqueror of Egypt, Yavuz Sultan Selim, then took this putative Abbasid caliph to Istanbul in 1517, an event subsequently exploited by Ottoman sultans of the nineteenth century to substantiate their own caliphal claims. By the late nineteenth century the force of European imperialism had sparked a revival of the caliphate in a new form that engendered as much controversy among Muslims as had the classical version. The Ottoman sultan, ruling a sprawling empire threatened by European powers, sought to elevate his prestige and retain a link to his lost Muslim subjects by recasting the caliphate into a spiritual office. This device appealed to Muslims under colonial rule, such as in India, tsarist Russia, the Malay Peninsula, and the Indonesian archipelago. Even in British-occupied Egypt it elicited a favorable response. But within the Ottoman empire, nonMuslim nationalists struggling for independence regarded the revived concept of the caliphate as an instrument to marshal Muslim support for their suppression. By the eve of the First World War this view was shared even by some Muslim Arabs who decried the Ottoman caliphate was a sham lacking the slightest trace of a Quraysh pedigree. Both Islamic reformers and Muslim nationalists reviled the Ottoman sultan/caliph and, citing classical scholars to support their contention, characterized the Ra¯shidu¯n as the only true caliphs. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


In retrospect, it is not surprising that the most secular of the nationalist movements in Muslim countries, the Turkish, should have abolished the Ottoman caliphate in 1924; at the time it came as a shock to the entire Muslim world. The Indian Khilafat Conference (1919–1933), advocating self-rule for Indian Muslims because they owed spiritual allegiance to the caliph, found its cause hopelessly undercut. Muslims elsewhere demanding independence from colonialism had to revise their strategy once they overcame their disappointment. In the newly independent Arab world a contest for the caliphate emerged, but the effort to revive the “true” caliphate was short-lived. Three conferences over a brief span (1926–1931) broke up in disarray. It was soon apparent that new nation-states opposed the restoration of such a vaguely defined but potentially influential institution unless their own governments could control it. The quickened religious pulse in the Islamic world today has evoked no noticeable inclination to revive the concept of the caliphate. It would seem that however much Muslims may desire a greater sense of unity, any expression of such sentiment is unlikely to assume the caliphal form. SEE ALSO Imamate; Modernism, article on Islamic Modernism; Ummah.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Historical Surveys In addition to Dominique Sourdel’s comprehensive article “Khal¯ıfa” (and its references) in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed. (Leiden, 1960–), the only full treatment of the concept of the caliphate and its role in Islamic history is the book by Thomas W. Arnold, The Caliphate, the second edition of which, with an additional chapter by Sylvia G. Haim, is to be preferred (Oxford, 1965). Its heavy emphasis on classical Sunn¯ı texts may be leavened by the insights and balance of Marshall G. S. Hodgson throughout the three volumes of his The Venture of Islam (Chicago, 1974). Al-Mawardi’s exposition of the Sunn¯ı caliphate is ably assessed by H. A. R. Gibb in an article, “Al-Ma¯ward¯ı’s Theory of the Caliphate,” in his Studies on the Civilization of Islam, edited by Stanford J. Shaw and William R. Polk (Boston, 1962). The chapter “Caliphate and Sultanate,” in the pioneering Islamic Society and the West, vol. 1, part 1, by Gibb with Harold Bowen (Oxford, 1950), unduly reflects the views of Sunn¯ı theoreticians of the caliphate. Interpretive Works Most valuable for its able exposition of the early caliphate against the background of Arab culture is H. M. T. Nagel’s article, “Some Considerations concerning the Pre-Islamic and the Islamic Foundations of the Authority of the Caliphate,” in Studies on the First Century of Islamic Society, edited by G. H. A. Juynboll (Carbondale, Ill., 1982), pp. 177–197. The growth of Persian influences on Islamic ruling institutions is best found in the two-part article by Ann K. S. Lambton, “Quis custodiet custodes? Some Reflections on the Persian Theory of Government,” Studia Islamica 5 (1956): 125–148;



6 (1956): 125–146. She continues her analysis into the Turko-Iranian period, but her work should be supplemented by Osman Turan’s article “The Ideal of World Domination among the Medieval Turks,” Studia Islamica 4 (1955): 77– 90. The chapter “The Mongols, the Turks and the Muslim Polity” in Bernard Lewis’s Islam in History: Ideas, Men and Events in the Middle East (London, 1973) puts Turan’s thesis in a broader perspective. Intellectual aspects of the recent phase of the history of the caliphate are perhaps best dealt with in Albert Hourani’s Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, 1789–1939, 2d ed. (Cambridge, 1983). The Turkish perspective is outlined in the analytical chapters of Bernard Lewis’s The Emergence of Modern Turkey, 2d ed. (Oxford, 1968), while the abolition of the caliphate and the reaction to it in the Arab world is covered in detail in Arnold Toynbee’s “The Islamic World since the Peace Settlement,” in the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Survey of International Affairs, 1925, vol. 1 (Oxford, 1927). HERBERT L. BODMAN, JR. (1987)



CALLIGRAPHY: AN OVERVIEW The term calligraphy derives from the Greek word graphein (to write) and kallos (beautiful); it has therefore often been identified with “beautiful writing.” But calligraphy is more than that. It arises out of a combination of several important elements: the attitude of society to writing; the religious concepts involved; the importance and function of the text; definite, often mathematically based rules about the correct interaction between lines and space and their relationship to each other; and a mastery and understanding of the script, the writing material, and the tools used for writing. Writing and script store information essential to the political, social, and economic survival of a particular group; they are as such part of the infrastructure of society. Calligraphy makes a statement about the sum total of its cultural and historical heritage. As such it can become subject to political and nationalistic/religious expressions and pressures. In addition, calligraphy united the pictorial with the scriptorial. A calligraphic passage, or even a single Chinese character, not only provides information through its scriptorial meaning but also communicates on a more direct and archetypal level through its inherent pictorial powers. Unlike writing, calligraphy cannot be acquired simply by learning; it demands insight and individuality, but individuality expressed within strictly prescribed boundaries. Calligraphy needs enabling tools: a smooth writing surface such as paper, parchment, or silk and instruments like a quill pen and brush to produce the variation of lines so essential for true calligraphy. The sharply yielding point of a

metal stylus on wax (as used in Rome and Greece), wet clay in Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean, or palm leaves on which the script is incised in South and Southeast Asia can produce pleasing results but not calligraphy. The material and the instruments used for writing simply do not allow the production of free-flowing lines. Though stone is not the best medium, it served well to receive and preserve calligraphic copies; indeed, Western calligraphy can trace its roots to the stone inscription found on Trajan’s (r. 98–117 CE) column. The other important factor is motivation. According to the above definition, only three civilizations have produced true calligraphy: the Chinese (and those who use the Chinese script, namely Japanese and Koreans), the Arabs (and those who use the Arabic script), and Western civilization based on Roman letters, Roman laws, and the Christian church. In the case of Arabic calligraphy, it was the revelation of the QurDa¯n and Islamic conquest; in the Far East artistic sensibility and political hegemony; and in the West the discipline of Roman letters and Christianity. Calligraphy flourishes within a definite discipline. Scribal authorities such as the ones established in medieval monasteries of Europe; Ibn Muqlah’s (866–940 CE) reforms of the Arabic script based on the interaction between the rhombic dot, the standard alif, and the standard cycle; and the original definition of a Chinese character based within a square. There is also a connection with dynastic elements. For example, after the fall of Rome in the fifth century, a number of “national hands” developed in the various states carved from the disintegrating empire: the Merovingian style, the Visigothic script, Carolingian minuscule, Gothic, and so on. THE POSITION OF THE CALLIGRAPHER IN SOCIETY AND RELIGION. The position of calligrapher in society and religion reflects the attitude to his craft and the level on which it is practiced. In Europe and the Arab world calligraphy has always been first and foremost in the service of God and the divine Revelation. In the West the calligrapher was “in service” too, first to a human master (Rome), then to the monastic order to which he had given his life, and eventually simply to the customer who paid him. Only in the Far East did the calligrapher exist in its own right. He did not propagate any secular or religious order; his calligraphy was, with definite restrictions, an expression of his inner self. Though mainly practiced by men, none of the three great civilizations actively forbade women to become calligraphers. The first Chinese treatise on calligraphy, published in 320 CE, that established definite criteria, still valid today, was written by the Lady Wei Shao. It is thought that even the great Wang Xizhi (321–379 CE) was one of her students. In China and Japan calligraphy was an accomplishment practiced by the elite for the elite; a good calligraphic hand ensured success in the civil service examinations (enforced during the Tang period, 618 to 907 CE). During the Japanese Heian period (794–1185 CE) it almost took the place of an ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


aphrodisiac in courtly circles. If the first note from a prospective lover proved indifferently written, the affair could not proceed. A special form of women’s calligraphy, written in the hiragana style, developed. The Islamic world, too, knew famous women calligraphers. Some Muslim ladies achieved a high competence in calligraphy; the emperor Aurangzeb’s daughter Zebunnisa (1639–1702), for example, a great patroness of art and learning, was proficient in at least three calligraphic styles. In the Maghrib (the western part of the Islamic world) women were told that they had to write at least one QurDa¯n to make a good marriage. Calligraphy written by eighteenth-century Turkish women is still kept in the mosques at Istanbul. Christianity had always favored literacy in women, hoping that a good education would make them more suitable for the monastic life, should their parents decide to dedicate them. Nuns often collaborated with monks in the production of calligraphic manuscripts, but unlike in China and in the Islamic world they worked, as did the monks, anonymously. Western calligraphy, which arose simply from copying texts that were often brought back after difficult journeys from Rome or neighboring monasteries, was part of the life to which they had dedicated themselves, and, like their male colleagues, they were strictly forbidden from boasting. This was different in the Islamic countries and in China/Japan, where a long list of famous calligraphers and their biographical data were freely provided.

“BEAUTIFUL WRITING.” Although outside the strict discipline of calligraphy, beautiful writing is mostly based on pictorial expressions. Writing itself began mostly with pictures: in Egypt, among the Sumerians, in the Indus Valley, and in the pre-Columbian world of Central America. In the case of the Chinese this pictorial element is often still clearly visible. Though not rooted in the knowledge of traditional science and religious conviction, beautiful writing could sometimes—as, for example, in the case of the originally Indian siddham script—become calligraphy in the hands of Japanese masters. But the absence of chancelleries and scribal authority had its restrictions. Judaism, for example, has produced many fine manuscripts and beautiful micrography but no calligraphy in the strict sense. During the many years of the Diaspora there were no courts or chancelleries that could establish and control definite styles. Except for the Sefer Torah, used in the synagogue, the meaning of the text has always been more important than its visual execution. Another concept consists of writing a picture that relates to the meaning of the text. The calligrams (text pictures) of the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire (1880–1918) go however back through history to the Greek poet Simias, who, in the fourth century BCE, wrote poems in the shape of an egg or the wings of a bird. The tradition continued and was eventually introduced into Christian Europe in the sixth century by the bishop of Poitiers, who wrote a poem in the form of a cross. Text pictures remained popular right through the Middle Ages and the baroque period and surENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


faced again among groups like the Dadaists and some individual modern poets. Though Islam is strictly averse to visual representation, calligraphers have been skillful in writing at least the basmalah (“In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful”) in a variety of shapes. Such text pictures were also known in India and China and other parts of the world. Indeed the whole text of the QurDa¯n, numbering some 77,934 words, has been written on the shell of a single egg. CONTEMPORARY CALLIGRAPHY. In the West printing has generally been considered a move toward the end of calligraphy. But the twentieth century has seen a remarkable renewal of interest, both in Europe and, perhaps even more so, in America: exhibitions, the foundation of professional societies, teaching at art schools and colleges, and a growing circle of gifted amateurs and fine professional scribes. The roots go back to the Arts and Crafts movement of the 1880s and the work of William Morris (1834–1896) and, most of all, Edward Johnson (1872–1944). In Islamic countries and in the Far East the situation has always been different. Calligraphy has never been a disinherited art form, and printing (with wood block on which the hand of the writer could be incised) has never meant an end of calligraphic traditions. Letters, always the main basis of Western calligraphic traditions, began to appear in paintings (such as those of the cubists, surrealists, Picasso, and Joan Miró) and on newspapers (characters written by Mao Zedong on the masthead of the Peoples Daily) and posters. Most important, however, was a certain kind of symbiosis between the three main styles that began to appear from the middle of the last century. Western calligraphers began to take an interest in Eastern conceptions of art and calligraphy; a definite example is Mark Tobey (1890– 1976). Islamic calligraphers, many educated at Western universities, have begun to look for new interpretations, which could be incorporated within the core of their own traditions. But it is mainly in Japan that calligraphy is still deeply respected. Prices for a good piece of calligraphy may start at four thousand pounds and can go up as far as one million. There, “well written” still implies calligraphic aspirations, not just textual excellence. SEE ALSO Alphabets.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Brown, Michelle P. A Guide to Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1660. London, 1990. An illustrated survey of the evolution of Western scripts. Butterworth, Emma M. The Complete Book of Calligraphy. Wellingborough, 1981. Overview of the subject. Catich, Edward M. Letters Redrawn from the Trajan Inscriptions in Rome. Davenport, Iowa, 1961. Influence of Trajan (Roman) inscription on letterforms. Folsom, Rose. The Calligraphers Dictionary. London, 1990. Offers an explanation and definition of words and concepts connected with calligraphy. Gaur, Albertine. A History of Calligraphy. London and New York, 1994. A comprehensive study of calligraphy in all its aspects.



Gray, Nicolette. A History of Lettering, Creative Experiment and Lettering Identity. Oxford, 1986. On the importance of letterforms in Western calligraphy. Hamel, Christopher de. Medieval Craftsmen: Scribes and Illuminators. London, 1992. Deals with the makers of paper, parchment and inks, and with scribes, illustrators, booksellers and bookbinders. Harris, David. Calligraphy, Inspiration, Innovation, Communication. London, 1991. Examines the breath of calligraphy in modern life. Mote, Frederick W., and Hun-Lam Chu. Calligraphy and the East Asian Book. Edited by Howard L. Goodman. Princeton, 1988. Calligraphy before and after the start of printing in China and Japan. Safadi, Yasin Hamid. Islamic Calligraphy. London, 1978. Examines the work of Islamic calligraphers from the beginning of Islam; deals also with calligraphy in Islamic architecture. Whalley, Joyce Irene. Writing Implements and Accessories: From Roman Stylus to the Typewriter. Vancouver, 1975. Exhaustive study of the history of writing implements. Yao, Min-Chi. The Influence of Chinese and Japanese Calligraphy on Mark Tobey (1890–1976). San Francisco, 1983. The spiritual influence of far eastern calligraphy on the American painter Mark Tobey. Zapf, Hermann. About Alphabets, Some Marginal Notes on Type Design. New York, 1960. The place of calligraphy in modern type design. ALBERTINE GAUR (2005)

CALLIGRAPHY: CHINESE AND JAPANESE CALLIGRAPHY Four thousand years ago, it is alleged, the Chinese sage Cang Jian, whose pastime was to observe birds’ footprints in the sand and trace their patterns, conceived China’s first writing. These were pictographs or stenographic sketches of familiar objects, animals, or birds, still more or less easily recognized. They formed no sentences or concepts, merely incomplete ideas and phrases. In the pre-Confucian, pre-Buddhist China of the Shang dynasty (1500–1050 BCE) such scripts were used to inscribe the shells and bones used for divination. Early writing is next encountered in China during the Zhou dynasty (1122–221 BCE) in the stiff, cold, classic, formal ideograms of the “great seal” style (da zhuan) that covered ceremonial bronzes with messages of felicity in the afterlife. These vessels, suitable for cooking or wine, were entombed with their masters, who might need such comforts as they journeyed to join their ancestors. “Great seal” was the writing Confucius read and wrote, and it is still used in China and Japan for signature seals (chops) or ornamental inscriptions of a particularly exalted sort. Following the unification of China in 221 BCE, the first emperor of the Qin dynasty simplified and regularized the written language into the “small seal” style (xiao zhuan). Writing continued in use as ceremony and religious obser-

vances, but its importance increased enormously in response to the central authority’s demand for records, accounts, and the issuance of edicts and orders throughout the provinces. Within a century the “regular” style (zhen shu) developed and became the standard form still employed today. Wang Xizhi (321–379 CE), China’s greatest calligrapher, created a cursive or “running” script (xing shu). He arrived at this elegant form of speed writing, which reduces the rigid formality and clarity of “regular” style to impressionistic essentials instantly comprehensible to the expert, after studying geese. He saw in their graceful, turning, supple necks precisely the strength and flexibility required of the calligrapher’s brush strokes. The result was that another convenience, and yet another level of artful beauty entered writing. Many Chinese characters are in a sense pictures (pictographs) representing “things” such as sun, moon, tree, or house; others (ideographs) represent “ideas.” But by far the majority of all Chinese characters are now recognized as “logographs,” that is, as graphs that represent, strictly, neither pictorial image nor brute idea but words, through a complex system of semantic and phonemic constituents that long ago escaped from a purely visual medium of representation. By combining these graphs in an endless variety of ways to make new words and then compounding them with still others, any word or idea can be expressed. For thunder and lightning, for example, combine rain and paddy field. For cash money, put the word for gold next to that for a guardian spear. Modern notions can be incorporated into the language by the same process. For electricity, write thunder and lightning, add a tail, and make a compound with the word for feeling. The system suits China’s monosyllabic language perfectly and adapts into Japanese most conveniently. When the Chinese or Japanese regard a character, they at once see a picture, hear a sound, and perceive a meaning. Unabridged Chinese and Japanese dictionaries list upward of forty thousand characters today. A knowledge of five thousand is sufficient for reading a newspaper. The number of strokes within a single character ranges from one (meaning “one”) to thirty-three (composed of three deer, meaning “rough,” “rude,” or “wild”). Each stroke is either thick or thin, strong or soft, curved or straight, heavy with ink or dry and faint, pushed against the paper or lightly withdrawn from it. A character, regardless of its number of strokes, must occupy the same amount of space within an invisible square, and must be equidistant from all others on the page. Each stroke composing the ideogram must be written in correct order—from top to bottom, left to right, vertical strokes before horizontal ones. In 405 CE, Wani, a Korean scribe well versed in Chinese classics, was hired by the imperial court of Japan as tutor to the crown prince. Japan had no written language of its own, and it had become increasingly necessary to communicate with its powerful neighbor, the “center of the universe.” Within a century China began sending presents to Japan’s ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


emperor—images of Lord Buddha, su¯tras translated into Chinese from the Sanskrit and Pali, and the teachings of Confucius. Scholars arrived from China bringing with them books, music, medicines (tea among them), the craft of calendar making, and the art of divination. And with them also came the “four perfections of calligraphy”—the brush, paper, ink stick, and ink stone. Calligraphy in Japan is called shodo¯, “way of writing,” and is a way of life, a path or pursuit, like bushido¯, the path of the warrior, sado¯, the cul˙t of tea, or Shinto¯, the way of the gods. In the Nara period (710–784 CE) priests began the practice of shakyo¯, the copying over and over of su¯tras, the Buddha’s teachings and commentaries thereon, a custom that continues to this day. A Chinese priest had said, “If you do not understand, write the su¯tra. Then you will see its inner meaning.” Obediently, priests spent lifetimes at this labor in search of enlightenment (which sometimes came in the middle of an ideographic stroke), as penance, and as a means of raising temple funds. Spiritual merit accrued not only to the writer but to the beholder and to anyone who purchased the manuscript. Japan’s earliest poems were in Chinese, but gradually the Japanese broke free and began adapting monosyllabic, short, concise, and tonal Chinese to their own spoken language, which is polysyllabic, highly inflected, and periphrastic with affixes for adjectives and prefixes for nouns. In the ninth century the women of the Heian court devised brief cursive signs called hiragana, a syllabary that derived from Chinese and, remotely, was probably inspired by the Sanskrit alphabet known in Chinese translation. At present, calligraphy is held in highest esteem in Japan. Scholars practice hitsudan, or communicating with each other by exchanging notes across a table. (They can also communicate with modern Chinese this way without knowing the pronunciation of a single spoken word.) Great calligraphers are paid as much as fifty thousand dollars a word, and specimens of fine writing adorn shopping bags, cigarette boxes, or signs outside a shop window. Kabuki actors are applauded for their calligraphy, and an onnagata (a player of female roles) will mix a touch of lipstick in his ink to add eroticism to an autograph. Kakizome, the first brush writing of the new year, occurs annually on January 2, and at “calligraphy meets” more than a thousand participants ranging in age from five to sixty gather in the Great Martial Arts Hall of Tokyo to compete for prizes. Although the typewriter and the fountain pen have removed calligraphy from the daily life of the average Japanese, many men and women practice it as a form of spiritual discipline. As Aoyama San’u, one of the greatest living calligraphers, expresses it, “In calligraphy you see the reality of the person. When you write you cannot lie, retouch, ornament. You are naked before God.”

BIBLIOGRAPHY Chen Zhimai. Chinese Calligraphers and Their Art. New York, 1966. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Ecke Zong Youhe. Chinese Calligraphy. Philadelphia, 1971. Hisamatsu, Shin’ichi. Zen and the Fine Arts. Tokyo, 1971. Sansom, George B. Japan: A Short Cultural History (1931). Rev. ed. New York, 1962. Sullivan, Michael. The Three Perfections. New York, 1980. Tazawa Yutaka, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Japanese Art. Tokyo, 1984.

New Sources Barrass, Gordon. The Art of Calligraphy in Modern China. Berkeley, 2002. Ellsworth, Robert Hatfield. Later Chinese Painting and Calligraphy 1800–1950. New York, 1987. Gaur, Albertine. A History of Calligraphy. London, 1994. Sturman, Peter Charles. Mi Fu: Style and the Art of Calligraphy in Northern Song China. New Haven, 1997. Zeng, Youhe. A History of Chinese Calligraphy. Hong Kong, 1993. FAUBION BOWERS (1987) Revised Bibliography

CALLIGRAPHY: HEBREW MICROGRAPHY The patterning of Hebrew texts into ornamental motifs is a medieval art form that bears the modern name of micrography, “minute writing.” Within an artistic tradition almost universally consigned to dependency on one dominant culture or another because of its minority status, this distinctive calligraphic device represents one of the most original aspects of Jewish art. EMERGENCE OF THE ART. Micrographic decoration can be found on manuscripts from Yemen to Germany, but its historical origins lie in the eastern Mediterranean, during the first few centuries of Muslim rule. The earliest dated example is the Cairo Codex of the Prophets written in Tiberius in 894/5 CE by the renowned scholar Moshe ben Asher. In the manner of near-contemporary QurDa¯ns, the manuscript contains five “carpet pages” of geometric and floral motifs, but six other full-page compositions are made up of elaborate micrographic patterns; simpler lettered designs are scattered throughout the margins of the text itself, and at the end, the patron’s colophon is similarly framed with writing. In addition to the Cairo Codex of the Prophets, patterned texts appear on at least fifteen other manuscripts and fragments dating from the tenth or eleventh century, all of which are associated with Egypt, although the scribes frequently come from elsewhere in the Muslim empire. Taken together, these early examples reflect quite clearly the dual Judeo-Muslim context that literally shaped the micrographic art. The meeting ground of the two, of course, was the veneration of the word of God, but while the Muslim scribes gave visual expression to this religious stance through the refinement of the letters that made up the divine words, their Jewish counterparts opted instead to fashion words into patterns. And here, the basic conservatism of the micrographic



script, which is never regularized or embellished like the Arabic letters of the QurDa¯n, may well reflect a reluctance to alter the alphabet that had been used for centuries in the writing of the Torah scroll (a practice carefully regulated in the Talmud). The words chosen for patterning were drawn from the Bible itself and the masorah, the critical apparatus aimed at keeping the biblical text intact through an elaborate system of word counts. Significantly, the Cairo Codex of the Prophets is also the earliest dated Bible with masorah—the activities of Masoretes and scribes alike (and Moshe ben Asher was both) were devoted in their respective ways to the preservation of the sacred scripture. On the popular level, these efforts were endowed with mystical and magical significance as well, through deeply rooted notions of letter symbolism and the power of the word. In fact, it is this last dimension that suggests a concrete source for the convention of micrographic decoration, namely the amulets and charms that were commonly inscribed, in minuscule letters, with the names of God and biblical verses often patterned around magical figures. In the early micrographic Bibles, this amuletic inspiration—and intent—is apparent throughout, from arcane marginal decorations made up of in-text masorah to elaborate geometric carpet pages incorporating propitious biblical verses. LATER DEVELOPMENTS. Within the Muslim world, micrography spread from the eastern Mediterranean to Yemen, where it became a highly developed art in the fifteenth century and continued into the seventeenth. The most striking example is a 1469 Pentateuch (British Museum, MS Or. 2348), with a double-page design that fashions Psalm 119 into a Mamluk metalwork pattern of mountains and fish.

manuscript arts, declined in the wake of the printed book. But the technique soon reemerged throughout eastern and western Europe in popular engravings and then lithographs, with subjects ranging from mizrah: and shiviti designs to indicate the direction of prayer toward Jerusalem to Bible illustrations, rabbi portraits, and postcard views from Palestine, all of which were often executed in an incongruously realistic style. Renewed interest in Jewish art has drawn some modern artists back to traditional micrography techniques.

BIBLIOGRAPHY The most extensive work on Hebrew micrography has been done by Leila Avrin, whose essay “Micrography as Art,” published along with Colette Sirat’s “La lettre hébraïque et sa signification” as Études de paléographie hébraïque (Paris, 1981), contains many illustrations and relevant bibliography. See also Avrin’s “The Illustrations of the Moshe ben Asher Codex of 985 CE.” (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1974).

New Sources Avrin, Leila. “Hebrew Micrography.” Ariel 53 (1983): 90–100. Metzger, Thérèse. “Ornamental Micrography in Medieval Hebrew Manuscripts.” Bibliotheca Orientalis 43 (1986): 377–388. MIRIAM ROSEN (1987) Revised Bibliography

In Germany and France, Gothic marginalia— grotesques and heraldic motifs—make their way into the micrographic tradition alongside the Near Eastern interlace, while the carpet pages at the beginning and end of the manuscript give way to full-page designs inserted between individual books of the Bible, including floral and animal motifs around the initial word of the biblical text. Full-page illustrations are also formed from micrographic text, as in the representations of Aaron found at the end of the Book of Exodus in a 1294/5 Pentateuch (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, MS Hébreu 5).

CALLIGRAPHY: ISLAMIC CALLIGRAPHY Calligraphy occupies the highest rank among the arts of Islam: according to the tradition of the Prophet, the calligrapher, who knows how to pen in beautiful letters the word of God or even a fragment of the QurDa¯n, will certainly go to Paradise. The art of calligraphy developed at an early stage of Islamic history, and soon the ungainly characters of the Semitic alphabet were transformed into decorative letters. An angular, hieratic script developed for the preservation of the QurDa¯n; although several early styles existed, it is generally called Ku¯f¯ı or Kufic (from the city of Kufa in Iraq), and in pious tradition certain features of it are ascribed to EAl¯ı ibn Ab¯ı T: a¯lib, considered the patron of calligraphers. Early Kufic lacks the diacritical marks that were added after 685, as were the signs for vocalization (both in color). A cursive hand was also used, as numerous papyri show. This was developed into several styles for chancelery and copying purposes when the use of paper (introduced from China) became common in the Islamic world after 751. Early Kufic QurDa¯ns are written on vellum with a reed pen; the format of the books is oblong, and only from about the tenth century was the normal book format adapted for QurDa¯ns, apparently first in the eastern Islamic world. With this change of format, the lettering too changed: the broad, very impressive early Kufic assumed a taller, more graceful stature, and its developed forms are still used for decorative purposes.

Apart from a revival of decorated marriage contracts (ketubot) in seventeenth-century Italy, micrography, like other

The cursive hand was transformed into true calligraphy by the Abbasid vizier Ibn Muqlah (d. 940), who invented the

Through the Iberian Peninsula the technique reached Europe by the the thirteenth century. Spanish variants on the Near Eastern repertoire include the addition of a framing text in large letters around carpet pages and the outlining of solid decorations with micrographic borders, as well as a few representational images in micrography illustrating the adjacent Bible text. The most elaborate Spanish Bible (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, MS Hébreu 1314–1315) opens with eight carpet pages containing the entire biblical text in micrographic interlace.



system of measuring the letters by circles and semicircles, with the first letter, alif, becoming the measure for the other twenty-seven letters. As alif is basically a straight vertical line with the numerical value 1 and is used in mystical speculation as a symbol for Alla¯h (God), the formation of the letters “in the shape of alif” corresponds in a mystical way to the shaping of Adam “in his, God’s, form.” The rules of Ibn Muqlah were refined by Ibn al-Bawwab (d. 1032). Along with the circles, the square dots produced by the tip of the reed pen served as measuring units: an alif could be five, seven, or nine points high, and all the other letters had to be formed accordingly. Su¯f¯ı interpretation saw here the primordial dot from which everything created developed. Cursive writing replaced Kufic first in books and documents (in early days usually written as scroll), then, in the thirteenth century, also in epigraphy, where the angular letters had grown, between 800 and 1250, into multiple forms of floriated, foliated, and plaited Kufic, which became barely legible but formed exquisite geometrical ornaments. In Iran, a “hanging,” slanted cursive developed from grammatical exigencies; it was refined according to Ibn Muqlah’s rules to become the “bride of Islamic writings,” nasta El¯ıq, the ideal vehicle for copying Persian, Turkish, and Urdu poetry. Calligraphy can be exercised on every material: vellum, papyrus, and paper (paper mills are found from Spain to India); it is woven into silk and linen, embroidered on velvet, used in metalwork and wood, on glass and ceramics, on stones and tiles. Brick and tile compositions result in “square” Kufic, where the names of God and the Prophet (and in Iran, EAl¯ı) or religious formulas can cover whole walls in geometrical design. Calligraphy on paper (which includes the patterns for the other types of writing) is written with a reed pen; only very rarely—in early days in Central Asia and India—a brush may have been used. The trimming of the pen in distinct angles and the preparation of the various types of ink belong to the arts the calligrapher has to learn, as he has to study the shape of each and every letter for years before becoming a master who is allowed to sign works with his katabahu, “has written.” Only in North Africa did pupils write whole words immediately, which accounts for the less “calligraphic” quality of the so-called Maghribi style. Later calligraphers liked to form tughra¯s—originally the elaborate signature or handsign of a ruler at the beginning of a document. Subsequently the word is applied to all kinds of artistic shapes: mirrored sentences, pious formulas in the shape of birds, lions, or other creatures, faces made of sacred names, or harmonically elaborated calligrams of invocations, prayers, or divine names. The imagery of calligraphy permeates Islamic poetry, and the interpretation of letters according to their numerical value and their “mystical” qualities was, and still is, widespread.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Numerous publications on calligraphy have been issued recently, most of which are devoted to aesthetic rather than historical purposes. A good brief introduction is Yasin H. Safadi’s IsENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


lamic Calligraphy (Boulder, 1979). Martin Lings’s The Qur Danic Art of Calligraphy and Illumination (London, 1976) is excellent because it dwells upon the religious character of writing. Ernst Kühnel’s small but weighty book Islamische Schriftkunst (1942; reprint, Graz, 1972) is still very valuable for its all-around approach and interesting examples. I have provided a brief introduction to the subject in Islamic Calligraphy (Leiden, 1970) and delved at greater length into the history, the social situation of the calligraphers, and the uses of calligraphy in Sufism and in poetical parlance in Calligraphy and Islamic Culture (New York, 1984). ANNEMARIE SCHIMMEL (1987)

CALVERT, GEORGE (1580?–1632), secretary of state and privy councillor under King James I of England; the first Lord Baltimore, principally known for his efforts in advancing religious toleration in an age that regarded pluralism as dangerous. Calvert’s commitment to religious toleration was a reflection of his unsettled religious life. Born into a Roman Catholic family that was troubled periodically for its allegiance to a proscribed church, he lived as a Catholic during the first twelve years of his life. In 1592 his father succumbed to the harassment of the Yorkshire High Commission and certified his conformity to the rites of the Church of England. George Calvert soon conformed and for the next thirty-two years lived as a Protestant. At about the age of fourteen Calvert matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford, where he studied foreign languages. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he spent three years studying municipal law at the Inns of Court. In 1603, while on a continental tour, he came to the attention of secretary of state Robert Cecil, who was in Paris. Employed as one of his many secretaries, Calvert used Cecil’s influence to begin a slow but steady climb in the government of James I. He traveled overseas on a number of diplomatic missions. In Ireland he served as a member of a commission investigating the complaints of Irish Roman Catholics. In 1610 Calvert was named one of the clerks of the Privy Council. Later he assisted James in writing a tract refuting the Dutch theologian Conrad Vorstius. Two years after knighting him in 1617, James appointed Calvert as one of the secretaries of state and made him a member of the Privy Council. During the negotiations to marry heir apparent Prince Charles to the Spanish Infanta, and to cement an alliance between Spain and England, Calvert, as secretary of state, became closely identified with both the Spanish and Roman Catholic causes. Laboring diligently to achieve the king’s goal, Calvert reached the pinnacle of his power in 1621 and 1622. However, when the government scuttled the marriage treaties in 1624, Calvert lost favor at court and came under intense pressure to resign his office. During this crisis, he resolved his religious commitments, declaring his intention to live and die a Catholic. He resigned his office, selling it for



three thousand pounds. James elevated him to the Irish peerage by creating him baron of Baltimore.

Also a humanist and linguist, Calvin helped to shape and standardize French language and literary style.

Out of office, Lord Baltimore turned his attention to his Irish estates and to the supervision of his Newfoundland colony, for which he had received a charter in 1621. In 1628 he returned to Newfoundland intending to colonize the region with a religiously diverse population. However, the forbidding climate and the hostility of the French convinced him to abandon his plans of permanent residency in Newfoundland. Baltimore subsequently journeyed to Virginia and, impressed by what he saw there, returned to England in 1630 to secure a charter for a colony along Chesapeake Bay.

Calvin was reclusive and reticent; hence the only Calvin we know is the public figure. Of his first twenty-five years we know comparatively little. He was born at Noyon (province of Picardy), France, on July 10, 1509, the fourth of six children born to Gérard Cauvin and Jeanne Lefranc. Christened Jean Cauvin, from his university days he used the name Calvin, the latinized form of Cauvin. He spent his first thirteen years in Noyon, benefiting from the rich traditions of this historic episcopal city where his father served as attorney for the cathedral and secretary to the bishop, Charles de Hangest.

Despite the opposition encountered from some of the Protestant settlers in Newfoundland to his policy of religious toleration, the Catholic Baltimore drew upon his own experiences in government and rejected the dominant concept of cuius regio eius religio, namely that the local ruler’s religion must be the religion of the region. Rather, he sought to found a colony where Catholics and Protestants could work together to achieve an economically viable enterprise. He died in April 1632, shortly before the Maryland Charter passed its final seals. The founding of the colony in 1634 was left to his son Cecil, the second Lord Baltimore.

Intimately associated as a youth with the de Hangest household, Calvin developed aristocratic tastes and demeanor. Church benefices permitted him to further his education at the University of Paris; he spent nearly eleven years in Paris, participating in the intellectual life both of the university and the large circle of humanist scholars at the court of the king, Francis I.

BIBLIOGRAPHY There is to date no modern biography of George Calvert. The most thorough biography is Lewis W. Wilhelm’s Sir George Calvert, Baron of Baltimore (Baltimore, 1884). It must be used cautiously, however, as it contains many errors. The Maryland Historical Society published the first four chapters of James W. Foster’s uncompleted biography under the title George Calvert: The Early Years (Baltimore, 1983). Calvert’s letters, mostly official, are scattered throughout the State Papers in the Public Record Office (London) and in The Calvert Papers in the Maryland Historical Society (Baltimore). For Calvert’s conversion to Roman Catholicism, see my short study “‘The Face of a Protestant, and the Heart of a Papist’: A Reexamination of Sir George Calvert’s Conversion to Roman Catholicism,” Journal of Church and State 20 (Autumn 1978): 507–531. For his religious problems in his Newfoundland colony, see R. J. Lahey’s “The Role of Religion in Lord Baltimore’s Colonial Enterprise,” Maryland Historical Magazine 72 (Winter 1977): 492–511. For the role of religion in the colony founded by his heir, Cecil Calvert, see my articles “Lord Baltimore, Roman Catholics, and Toleration: Religious Policy in Maryland during the Early Catholic Years, 1634–1649,” Catholic Historical Review 45 (January 1979): 49–75, and “‘With Promise of Liberty in Religion’: The Catholic Lords Baltimore and Toleration in Seventeenth-Century Maryland, 1634–1692,” Maryland Historical Magazine 79 (Spring 1984): 21–43. JOHN D. KRUGLER (1987)

CALVIN, JOHN (1509–1564), primary Protestant reformer, biblical scholar, church organizer, and theologian.

At the university, preparing for a career in theology, Calvin had completed the master of arts degree when his father had a falling-out with the bishop. The father ordered his son to change to a career in law. Obediently Calvin moved to Orléans, where the best law faculty in France, under the leadership of Pierre de l’Étoile, was located. Though more interested in humanist studies, he completely immersed himself in the law (at Orléans, Bourges, and Paris) and took his doctorate and his licentiate in three years. In 1531 Calvin’s father died excommunicate. The struggle to secure a Christian burial for his father doubtless soured Calvin’s relations with the Roman church. But for the moment the effect of his father’s death was to permit him to commit himself to the uninterrupted pursuit of humanist studies. In 1532 Calvin published his first book, a commentary on Seneca’s On Clemency. Though distinguished for its learning, the book did not win him any acclaim. His days of humanist study in Paris were cut short when, in 1533, his close friend Nicholas Cop, rector of the University of Paris, delivered an address that incorporated ideas of the Lutheran Reformation. Reaction by the theologians at the Sorbonne was strong, and because Calvin had a hand in the composition of the address, he, along with Cop, was forced to flee for his life. Although scholarly opinion differs, it appears that shortly thereafter he underwent the “sudden conversion” he speaks about later. A marked man in France, Calvin spent the rest of his life in exile. Having turned his considerable talents to the support of the Reformation, in early 1536 Calvin published at Basel the first edition of his epochal Institutes of the Christian Religion. Intended as a defense of the French Protestants to the king of France, it marked Calvin as the foremost mind of Protestantism. The desired life of solitude and study that perENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


mitted its composition could never again be Calvin’s. In late July of 1536, he happened to stop in the small city of Geneva; there God “thrust him into the fray,” as he was to say. Geneva had recently declared for the Protestant faith under the urging of the fiery evangelist Guillaume Farel, one of Calvin’s colleagues from his Paris days. Farel, learning of Calvin’s presence in the city, sought him out and urged him to join in the work of reform at Geneva. When Calvin refused, Farel thundered that God would punish him for turning his back on that work. The shaken Calvin heard it as the summons of God and agreed to stay. Except for a three-year period of peaceful study and ministry in Strasbourg (1538– 1541), Calvin was henceforth associated with the city and republic of Geneva in a stormy ministry designed to bring the city into conformity with the biblical model as he understood it. Calvin’s ideal for Geneva was that church and state work hand in hand to create and govern a utopian society in which the biblical worldview was enforced. But the Genevan state was determined to keep the church under its control. A man of courage and indomitable will, Calvin took up the battle. Armed only with the power of the pulpit and of the church institutions, through persistence, adherence to biblical principles, organizational talents, and moral conviction, he managed to overcome massive resistance and to see most of his ideals realized. Geneva was transformed from a city of ill repute to one in which a strict moral code regulated the lives of all, regardless of rank or class. In spite of the radical harshness of his policies, by the end of his life Calvin was widely respected, even admired, by the Genevans. From an international perspective, Geneva became the model for the emerging Protestant states, a city of refuge for persecuted Protestants, and the so-called “Rome” of Protestantism. Of perhaps capital importance, Calvin’s program—alone among the Protestant groups—included both a training center (in the University of Geneva, which he established) and an acceptance of a missionary mandate to export Calvinism throughout the world. Hence Calvinism, or Reformed Protestantism, was the only Protestant group with universalistic designs. Unquestionably, Calvin was first and foremost a man of ideas, although he effectively blended thought and action. True to his Renaissance humanist orientation, he was interested only in what was useful. All of his ideas are designed for practical application, whether to an individual religious experience or to a specific activity of the church. Further, the rhetorical and pedagogical program of the humanists formed the basis of his thought, and their devotion to original sources determined his methodology. As a theologian he intended only to set forth scriptural teaching. He accommodated ambiguity and contradiction in his theology, for people are both limited in mental capacity and debilitated by sin, hence totally reliant upon the revelation of God in scripture. For Calvin, the word of God in scripture is generated by the Holy Spirit and, therefore, properly interpreted only ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


by the Holy Spirit. It is, thus, a spiritual message. Hence Calvin should not be viewed as an academic theologian, or as a theologian writing for intellectual purposes. He wrote for the church, for believers; his purpose was to edify, to form the pious mind that would emerge in reverential, grateful worship and adoration of God. He constantly warned his readers not to indulge in idle speculation, not to seek to know anything except what is revealed in the scripture, not to forget that theology is more of the heart than of the head. Consequently, being biblical, practical, and spiritual, his theology was of a different type from that of most of the later Calvinists who wrote for the university audience, for those who regarded theology as the “queen of the sciences” in the world of ideas. The principal source for Calvin’s thought is, of course, the Institutes. This book is best understood as a manual on spirituality. And, although the corpus of his writings is great, Calvin’s ideas, whether found in sermons, biblical commentaries, or polemical literature, are consistent with what is presented in the Institutes. In general Calvin had fully accepted Luther’s idea that salvation is by grace alone through faith. Beyond this, scholars have been unable to establish that any one specific doctrine is central to his thought. The basic and fundamental development of his thought was not according to the traditional topics of theology, sequentially and logically developed. Formally he organized his material according to the topical format, suggesting that the key to its analysis be sought from the perspective of one or several discrete topics. Yet this approach has only led to an impasse—even to the conclusion that he was in logic and purpose inexact and ambiguous. The often-discussed doctrines of providence and predestination, for example, are presented by Calvin as the response or affirmation of a man of faith, affirming the control of God in his life, not as an epistemological program. To approach his theology from specific topics such as these has not been fruitful. There are, however, larger, general ideas or themes that run through the Institutes from the first page to the last like so many threads in an intricate tapestry and that point to what is essential in his thought. He understood the redemptive message to be the same in both the Old and the New Testament; hence his theology can be seen as all of a piece, permitting the dominance of the thematic approach rather than the topical. Calvin’s theological program is based on the dictum of Augustine that man is created for communion with God and that he will be unfulfilled until he rests in God. Calvin usually expresses this idea in terms of a union with the Maker and Redeemer, which is presented as essential to man’s spiritual life. Thus the relationship between God and man is made the basis of all theological discourse, and this union or communion is established and maintained through what Calvin calls knowledge, a theme or idea that becomes an ordering principle of his theology. Knowledge of God the creator and knowledge of God the redeemer are the two divisions of his



thought. He uses the term knowledge practically synonymously with the term faith. It comprises both the elements of objective information and its subjective appropriation, but essentially it consists of a reverential and worshipful trust in the goodness and bounty of God. As with all of his theological ideas, two poles or foci must be kept in balance: the knowledge of God and the knowledge of self. God is always—in the context of every theological discussion—at once the great, infinite, and incomprehensible being who calls all things out of nothing, as well as the loving, condescending, and revealing being who calls men and women to commune with him. God is always hidden and revealed, both beyond our comprehension and revealed to us at our level. Humans, albeit the greatest of God’s creations, are always dependent creatures, both because we are created to be so and because our sin renders us totally helpless in spiritual things. Consequently God must always be the initiator of any communication with us. And hence humility, sobriety, and teachableness are our principal virtues. Although he always keeps in mind the perfect condition in which all things were created, because of the cataclysmic event of the Fall, all of Calvin’s theology is concerned with redemption, with the restoration of the state that God originally created. Christ alone is the mediator who both reveals and effects this redemption, or restoration. Human beings are in bondage to sinful nature, so anything relating to this restoration must be initiated by God through Christ. Restoration occurs when the person is united to Christ by responding in faith to the provision made through Christ’s death and resurrection, but this mystical union occurs only if and when the hidden or secret work of the Holy Spirit engenders that faith. The faithful person is called to obedience, to be a servant of righteousness, to model his or her life after the incarnate Christ. In this sense Calvin’s theology is Christocentric. But he did not focus attention only in the area of Christology, for all that Christ does and is, is made real to man only through the work of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, all of his soteriology is presented in the context of the work of the Holy Spirit, “the bond by which Christ effectually unites us to himself.” The work of restoration, by the power of the Holy Spirit, is done in the context of the church, God’s gracious provision for the activity of preaching and teaching, for the administration of the sacraments, and for the communion (and reproof) of the saints. Calvinists were the most vital of the Protestant groups, spreading throughout Europe and the New World, triumphing in Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Scotland, and for a time in England and America. Scholarly opinion is divided over whether this success is due mainly to Calvin’s theological teaching, to his training and educational program (the complete revamping of the elementary schools and the creation of the University of Geneva), or to his organizational talent. Probably all of these are contributory factors, and perhaps others, but it does seem that the vitality of the Reformed or Calvinist movement, and therefore Calvin’s most

enduring legacy, is due principally to the nature of his church, to its unique, adaptable, and efficient organization. Although its unique blend of theory and practicality meant that Calvin’s theology could be drawn upon by a variety of different interests, it can also be shown that his theology was revised almost beyond recognition very shortly after his death and that the Institutes were not widely read in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Moreover, while the educational system produced an informed and well-trained church membership that was designed to be educationally self-perpetuating, it seems undeniable that the unique organizational structure of the Calvinist church was required for the growth and development of the educational program. Calvin appears to have recognized as much, for on his return to Geneva in 1541, his first major undertaking was to secure approval of his Ecclesiastical Ordinances, which set forth the organization of the church. Calvin developed a representative form of church government with the fundamental activity based in the local church. The leadership was elected from the local membership, and the power, which ultimately resided in the local membership as a whole, was vested in these elected officials, not in the clergy. While there are three higher levels of authority above the local church, established in ascending representative bodies and culminating in the national or general assembly, part of the genius of this organization lies in the ability of the local church, in times of emergency, to function without the meeting of the upper-level bodies. As a result these Calvinist churches were nearly impossible to eradicate. Silencing the minister and arresting the leadership only temporarily disrupted the church, for the minister was not an essential element in the church’s continuance, and in a short time new leaders would be elected. So the church could survive, even flourish, under conditions of severe persecution. Beyond the necessary capacity to continue to exist in times when religious persecution and wars were the order of the day, the representative nature of the church responded to the psychological and political reality that humankind is more likely to be committed to a cause when participation in the decision-making process is involved. The impact of the representative nature of the Calvinist church has been significant in the development of the democratic political structures of the Western world.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary Sources The numerous works of Calvin are available, in the original texts, in the fifty-nine volumes of the magisterial Ioannis Calvini opera quae supersunt omnia, edited by J. W. Baum and others (Braunschweig, 1863–1900), and in its continuation, the Supplementa Calviniana, a collection of subsequently discovered sermons edited by Erwin Mülhaupt and others (Neukirchen, 1961–), seven volumes to date with more to come. In English, the best edition of the Institutes of the Christian Religion is that of J. T. McNeill, translated by Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia, 1960) in two volumes. Many other works are available in English translation, including the important ediENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


tion of The New Testament Commentaries edited by Thomas F. Torrance and David W. Torrance (Edinburgh, 1959–).

Secondary Sources An excellent guide to the secondary literature is J. T. McNeill’s “Fifty Years of Calvin Study: 1918–1968,” which is prefaced to Williston Walker’s John Calvin, the Organiser of Reformed Protestantism, 1509–1564 (reprint, New York, 1969). T. H. L. Parker’s John Calvin (Philadelphia, 1975), is fully informed and reliable, but the fullest and best biography, in spite of its hagiographic character, is Émile Doumergue’s seven-volume Jean Calvin, les hommes et les choses de son temps (Lausanne, 1899–1927). On Calvin’s thought and influence, current scholarly opinion can be found in the proceedings of the International Congress on Calvin Research edited by W. H. Neuser in three volumes (vols. 1–2, Kampen, Netherlands, 1975, 1979; vol. 3, Bern, 1983). Benoît Giradin’s Rhétorique et théologique . . . (Paris, 1979) is indispensable for the explication of the nature and structure of his thought, and E. A. Dowey’s The Knowledge of God in Calvin’s Theology (New York, 1952) is one of the better introductions. Richard Stauffer’s Dieu, la création et al providence dans la prédication de Calvin (Bern, 1978) is an excellent corrective to the exclusively Christocentric interpretation of many recent scholars. On Calvin’s influence, Robert M. Kingdom’s Geneva and the Coming of the Wars of Religion in France, 1555–1563 (Geneva, 1956) and Geneva and the Consolidation of the French Protestant Movement, 1564– 1572 (Geneva and Madison, Wis., 1967) are representative and excellent studies. BRIAN G. ARMSTRONG (1987)

CAMPBELL, ALEXANDER (1788–1866), one of the founders and the foremost early leader of the Disciples of Christ. Campbell was born in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, the son of a Presbyterian minister, Thomas Campbell. He immigrated to America in 1809, joining his father, who had come two years earlier. When he arrived, Campbell discovered that his father had broken with the Presbyterian church and had begun a small, nonsectarian “Christian association.” Having been exposed to similar New Testament primitivist ideas in Scotland, young Campbell embraced his father’s reform and quickly became the most prominent leader of the new movement. For a time the Campbells were Baptists, and from 1823 to 1830 Alexander edited the Christian Baptist, a periodical that attracted many supporters in the West and South. Beginning in the 1830s Campbell and his “Reforming Baptist” supporters separated into independent churches. Campbell preferred the name Disciples of Christ, but local churches frequently were called Christian Church or Church of Christ. In 1832 the church nearly doubled in size through a union with the Christian movement led by Barton Stone of Kentucky; Campbell quickly became the dominant figure in the united denomination. From 1830 until 1864 Campbell edited a journal called the Millennial Harbinger, which became a mirror of his maturing thought. The heart of Campbell’s plea was an appeal ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


for Christian union through the “restoration of the ancient order of things,” that is, by restoring New Testament Christianity. Prior to 1830 Campbell was extremely iconoclastic in his attacks on the popular churches, ridiculing the clergy and seeming to attack all cooperative societies. After 1830 he became a more constructive builder and seemed confident that the millennium was about to begin, initiated by the restoration movement. In 1849 a group of Disciples leaders established the young church’s first national organization, the American Christian Missionary Society, and, although he was not present at the meeting, Campbell accepted the presidency of the society. Campbell’s formal college training consisted of less than one year at Glasgow University, but he was a man of considerable erudition. He established a national reputation as a debater, especially as a result of widely publicized debates with the renowned Scottish socialist and atheist Robert Owen, in 1829, and with the Roman Catholic archbishop of Cincinnati, John B. Purcell, in 1837. Campbell became financially independent as a result of his marriage to Margaret Brown in 1811, and he spent the remainder of his life living near his wife’s home in Brooke County in western Virginia. He became a moderately wealthy man, and in 1829, in his only venture into politics, he was elected a delegate to the Virginia Constitutional Convention. In 1841, Campbell established Bethany College near his home. Until his death he served as president and professor of moral sciences at the college and trained a generation of leaders for Disciples churches. Campbell traveled and preached widely throughout the United States, as well as in England and Scotland. The aging reformer was discouraged by the sectional tension caused by the slavery debate and the Civil War. He counseled moderation and believed that the restoration movement could survive the tragedy, but by the time of his death his millennial hopes had given way to pessimism. SEE ALSO Disciples of Christ.

BIBLIOGRAPHY No satisfactory biography of Alexander Campbell has yet been written. Probably the best source of information about the reformer is still the classic study written by his friend Robert Richardson, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, 2 vols. (Philadelphia, 1868–1870). A novel based on Campbell’s life is Louis Cochran’s The Fool of God (New York, 1958). Useful specialized studies include Harold L. Lunger’s The Political Ethics of Alexander Campbell (Saint Louis, 1954); R. Frederick West’s Alexander Campbell and Natural Religion (New Haven, 1948); and D. Ray Lindley’s Apostle of Freedom (Saint Louis, 1957). The most comprehensive statement of Campbell’s ideas can be found in his own The Christian System, 4th ed. (1866; reprint, New York, 1969). DAVID EDWIN HARRELL, JR. (1987)

CAMPBELL, JOSEPH (1904–1987). Joseph Campbell was perhaps the best-known mythologist of the twenti-



eth century. His fame was largely due to his highly acclaimed public television interviews with Bill Moyers in 1985–1986 and his posthumously published best-selling book, The Power of Myth (1988), based on that series, and in no small part to movie director George Lucas, who gave Campbell credit for inspiring his movie Star Wars (1977). Campbell’s books on myth had many admirers, from literary critics who found his analysis of hero myths interpretatively rich, to the general public, who loved Campbell’s retellings of his “myths to live by.” Campbell believed that the world’s great myths symbolized the ultimate human spiritual goal of living joyfully and mystically, at one with one’s true self and the cosmos, and generations of fans took his advice to “follow your own bliss.”

EARLY YEARS. Campbell was born in New York City in 1904 to a prosperous Irish-American family who gave their gifted child every advantage. He was trained in Roman Catholicism at parochial school, but became fascinated by non-Western traditions after seeing American Indians at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Campbell read widely, including many Indian myths that, he noticed, shared common motifs with stories from the Bible. After entering Columbia University in 1921, Campbell continued his studies in languages and literature, and studied anthropology with Franz Boas and philosophy with John Dewey. Campbell was introduced to Eastern religions on a trip to Europe before his college graduation. There he met Jiddu Krishnamurti and read Edwin Arnold’s The Light of Asia, with its translations of Asian religious classics like the Upanis: ads and the life of the Buddha. Both Hinduism and Buddhism were to have a major impact on Campbell’s interpretation of myths. After graduating in 1926 with a master’s degree in medieval literature, Campbell lived abroad in Paris and Munich on a two-year traveling fellowship, studying Romance philology and Sanskrit. He was deeply influenced by the contemporary European intellectual scene, and particularly intrigued by the fictional heroes of novelists James Joyce and Thomas Mann, cultural morphologist Adolf Bastian’s notion of elementary ideas, ethnologist Leo Frobenius’s idea of culture circles, and Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung’s theories of dreaming and the unconscious. Jung’s theory of collective archetypes and their role in the psychic process of selfintegration had a lasting impact on Campbell’s thinking.

SCHOLARLY WORK. In 1934, Campbell began his teaching career at Sarah Lawrence College, where he was a popular instructor until his retirement in 1972. His first major publication, A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake (1944, with Henry Morton Robinson), was in the field of literature, but Campbell’s broad scholarly interests soon shifted to mythology. He was influenced by his friendship with the German Indologist Heinrich Zimmer, whose positive views of Indian myths as repositories of timeless spiritual truths greatly impressed him. After Zimmer’s untimely death in 1943, Campbell edited his manuscripts, publishing Zimmer’s Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization (1946) and other important books

on Indian philosophy and art, along with several volumes from the Eranos conferences in Ascona, Switzerland, for the Bollingen series. Campbell’s fascination with myth, Eastern religion, and Jungian psychology finally led to his own famous study of hero myths, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949). Several other notable studies on comparative mythology followed. The Masks of God (1959–1968), written after an eye-opening trip to India in 1954, was a monumental four-volume survey of “primitive,” “oriental,” “occidental,” and modern literary “creative” mythology. His goal was to write a “natural history” of myths that traced “the fundamental unity of the spiritual history of mankind” by revealing themes with a worldwide distribution, such as “fire-theft, deluge, land of the dead, virgin birth, and resurrected hero” (vol. 1, p. 3). This was followed by The Flight of the Wild Gander (1969), a collection of Campbell’s important essays on the biological, metaphysical, and historical-cultural origins of myth as well as his own positive essay on the “secularization of the sacred” in the modern world. After retiring from Sarah Lawrence in 1972, Campbell moved to Honolulu, where he continued writing. Books from this period include Myths to Live By (1972), his argument that the modern world has a desperate need for new myths; The Mythic Image (1974), his exploration of the intimate connection between dreams, myths, and art; The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and as Religion (1986), a collection of lectures arguing that the true meaning of myth is symbolic, universal, and mystical; The Historical Atlas of World Mythology (1983, 1989), a two-volume attempt to trace the historical origin and diffusion of myths; and The Power of Myth. Campbell died of cancer in Honolulu in 1987. CONCEPTS OF MYTH. Campbell was hostile to organized religion. Intellectually, his antipathy owes much to John Dewey’s critique of organized religion in his A Common Faith (1934). Dewey dismissed religion as a set of fossilized doctrines and institutions based upon a now scientifically discredited belief in the supernatural and physical immortality, weighted with historical doctrines and rituals that obscured the powerful personal experiences underlying it, and mistakenly believed to be literally rather than symbolically true. While institutional religion had little value for Dewey, however, its symbols did. They expressed the “religious moral faith” of the individual who conscientiously harmonized the self to the world through a pragmatic “adjustment” of human ethical ideals in response to an experience of the “imaginative totality” of the Universe (Dewey, 1934, pp. 18–19). Campbell agreed with Dewey that taking such stories as the virgin birth, heaven, and resurrection as literal truths was absurd, and argued that they must be understood symbolically rather than doctrinally. In other respects, however, Campbell abandoned Dewey’s self-conscious pragmatism for a Jungian perspective. Campbell saw parallels between reliENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


gious and dream symbolism and followed Jung’s view that dreams symbolized the collective patterns, or archetypes, of the unconscious psyche. Campbell considered dreams to be personalized myths, and myths to be depersonalized dreams. He believed that myth’s symbols expressed a psychicspiritual wisdom that could free ordinary people from the debilitating anxieties and social chaos of modern secular society. Campbell believed that religious doctrines were nothing more than misunderstood mythology. In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, which he considered his most important work, Campbell drew on Freudian and Jungian psychology to argue that hero myths worldwide use a universal narrative formula to describe rites of passage, each one a local example of what James Joyce called the mono-myth, a narrative magnification of a basic three-part structure: separation, initiation, and return. Despite their various historical and cultural particularities, the stories of Jesus, Buddha, Gilgamesh, and other mythological heroes ultimately shared an underlying archetypal unity of common motifs, symbols, and themes. They also had a shared meaning—a common psychological and metaphysical reality was at work in these tales. This universality explains why ancient myths, even those of other people, are still powerful today. Campbell believed that myth functioned as a kind of comforting second womb. He focused his work on the latter half of human life, where dealing with despair and anxiety, and especially old age, sickness, and death, is unavoidable. Myths responded to the reality of suffering and mortality by revealing a spiritual way to transcend the universal tragedies of humanity. Campbell supplemented Jung’s theory of psycho-developmental integration of the unconscious and conscious with the mysticism of Hinduism and Buddhism. He believed world myths pointed to the possibility of apotheosis, of discarding personal ego and realizing an enduring oneness with the cosmos. The power of myth was its ability to shatter “forms and our attachment to the forms” and through “comedy, the wild and careless, inexhaustible joy,” to evoke an ecstatic feeling of being alive (Campbell, 1949, pp. 28–29). Campbell modified his views after his trip to India in 1954. In the latter volumes of The Masks of God, Occidental Mythology, and Creative Mythology, he rejected what he came to consider a dehumanizing monism in Eastern theology and instead embraced a Western spiritual individualism that did not dissolve the ego into a larger social and cosmic mystical whole. In Creative Mythology, Campbell claimed that this ideal, with origins in pre-Christian European paganism, was classically formulated in the twelfth-century Romantic literature of courtly love. Stories like those of Tristan and Isolde, in which the heroic lovers achieve an ecstatic spiritual and physical union while preserving their separate identities, exemplified the ideal of individualism. He found parallels in contemporary Western literature in the novels of James Joyce and Thomas Mann. The male heroes of Mann’s Magic Mountain (1924) and Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (1939) perENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


sonify a kind of spiritually radical monism that is not selfsacrificing but rather a self-fulfilling realization of the “soul in the body, heaven on earth, and god in humanity” (Segal, 1990, p. 138).

CRITICAL VIEWS. Several criticisms have been lodged against Campbell’s comparative mythology. Folklorist Alan Dundes argues that, like many other universalists, Campbell is prone to sweeping generalizations. To show the universality of his Belly of the Whale motif, for example, Campbell often cited stories in which a hero is swallowed. Dundes, however, points out that Campbell’s motif of a fish swallowing a person is not actually found worldwide; it is not found in subSaharan Africa, for one, so how can it be a universal structure? He further argues that Campbell’s examples include both Jonah being swallowed by a whale and Little Red Riding Hood being swallowed by a wolf. But Little Red Riding Hood is a heroine, not a hero; her story is a fairy tale, not a myth; and a wolf, not a whale, swallows her. Campbell does not explain to what level of generality an analysis can go to find the mythic pattern in myths. Other critics, including Wallace Martin, fault Campbell for emphasizing what stories have in common, an approach that inevitably blurs distinctions “and thus makes it impossible, within the theory, to show how and why stories are different” (Martin, 1986, p. 103). Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty dismisses this as Campbell’s “TV dinner approach” to myth, boiling it down to its bloodless archetypes. She sees this reductionism in The Historical Atlas of World Mythology, where Campbell abandoned Jungian theory for a supposedly historical analysis tracing the origin of his mythic motifs through diffusion. What Campbell forgot, O’Flaherty notes, is that a phallus, for example, may be archetypal, but it is “always someone’s phallus.” It is in the “banal details” of myths, their variants, and their culturally specific forms that meaning resides (O’Flaherty, 1988, pp. 34–35). Because of his decontextualizing approach, she argues, Campbell ignored indigenous interpretations and trivialized the many and often contested meanings of myths within their cultures of origin. Although he recognized different functions of myth, his critics claim that Campbell ignored the social, political, and ethical to focus exclusively on the mystical. In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell left Jung behind with a metaphysical, spiritual perspective that envisaged the role of myth “not to cure the individual back again to the general delusion, but to detach him from delusion altogether and this not by readjusting the desire (eors) and hostility (thanatos)—for that would only originate a new context of delusion—but by extinguishing the impulses to the very root, according to the method of the celebrated Buddhist Eightfold path.” (Campbell, 1949, pp. 164–165). Thus Campbell argued that the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh told the same story as the Dao de jing and Indian Tantrism: that physical immortality was impossible and that the only eternity was in the realization that all was one here and now (p. 189). Hindu mysticism and the eightfold path of Buddhism provided the key for Camp-



bell’s understanding of hero myths, and he later relied upon Kun: d: alin¯ı Yoga and European paganism as well. This onemeaning-fits-all approach, critics claim, reveals more about Campbell’s own brand of philosophy than anything else. Several critics, including Brendan Gill and Robert Segal, have also accused Campbell of being anti-Semitic. Campbell was hostile to organized religion generally, but his critics argue that he singled out Judaism especially, using what Segal calls “the crudest of stock epithets” for his vitriolic attacks on it as chauvinistic, fossilized, tribal, patriarchal, and literalistic (Segal, 1999, p. 462). Campbell’s biographers Stephen and Robin Larsen sympathetically portray him as, at most, anti-Zionist, but other critics believe Campbell’s prejudices left him indifferent to the Holocaust and blind to the dangers of what the philosopher Paul Tillich describes as the “mythical powers of origin of the soil and blood” that culminated in the Nazi worship of a German paganism that lay at the heart of its terror (Tillich, 1977, pp. 13–18). Campbell’s limited focus only allowed him to see this paganism nostalgically, as the source of a Western romantic individualism buried under the historical encumbrances of Christianity and Judaism.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Campbell, Joseph. A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake, with Henry Morton Robinson. New York, 1944. Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. New York, 1949. Campbell, Joseph. The Masks of God. 4 vols. New York, 1959– 1968. Campbell, Joseph. The Flight of the Wild Gander: Explorations in the Mythological Dimension. New York, 1969. Campbell, Joseph. Myths to Live By. New York, 1972. Campbell, Joseph. The Mythic Image, assisted by M. J. Abadie. Princeton, N.J., 1974. Campbell, Joseph. The Historical Atlas of World Mythology. 2 vols. New York, 1983, 1989. Campbell, Joseph. The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and as Religion. New York, 1986. Campbell, Joseph. The Power of Myth, with Bill Moyers, edited by Betty Sue Flowers. New York, 1988. Dewey, John. A Common Faith. New Haven, Conn., 1934. Doniger, Wendy. “A Very Strange Enchanted Boy.” New York Times Book Review, February 3, 1992. Dundes, Alan, ed. Sacred Narrative: Readings in the Theory of Myth. Berkeley, 1984. Ellwood, Robert. The Politics of Myth: A Study of C. G. Jung, Mircea Eliade, and Joseph Campbell. New York, 1999. Friedman, Maurice. “Why Joseph Campbell’s Psychologizing of Myth Precludes the Holocaust as Touchstone of Reality.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 66 (1998): 385–401. Gill, Brendan. “The Faces of Joseph Campbell.” New York Review of Books 36 (September 28, 1989): 16–19. Larsen, Stephen, and Robin Larsen. Joseph Campbell: A Fire in the Mind. Rochester, Vt., 1991.

Martin, Wallace. Recent Theories of Narrative. New York, 1986. Noel, Daniel, ed. Paths to the Power of Myth: Joseph Campbell and the Study of Religion. New York, 1994. O’Flaherty, Wendy Doniger. Other People’s Myths. New York, 1988. Segal, Robert. Joseph Campbell: An Introduction. Rev. ed. New York, 1990. Segal, Robert. “Joseph Campbell on Jews and Judaism.” Religion 22 (1992): 151–170. Segal, Robert. “Joseph Campbell as Anti-Semite and as a Theorist of Myth: A Response to Maurice Friedman.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 67 (1999): 461–467. Tillich, Paul. The Socialist Decision. Translated by Franklin Sherman. New York, 1977. MARK W. MACWILLIAMS (2005)


This entry consists of the following articles: AN OVERVIEW THE LITERATURE

CANAANITE RELIGION: AN OVERVIEW The term Canaanite is variously used in both ancient and modern sources. Most popularly, it refers to the indigenous population of the southwestern Levant, which, according to biblical traditions, was displaced by Israelite conquerors late in the second millennium before the common era. This popular usage is, however, both too narrow geographically and fraught with sociohistorical difficulties. In this article, the term Canaanite religion will refer mainly to the one Northwest Semitic religion of the second millennium that is presently well attested, the Ugaritic. It should be borne in mind, however, that ancient sources do not necessarily support the often-asserted equation of “Ugaritic” with “Canaanite,” if the terms of the equation are linguistic, ethnic, or political. And in any case, the undoubtedly idiosyncratic Ugaritic data do not facilitate a generally applicable description of “Canaanite” (or, more accurately, “Northwest Semitic”) religion. Before the late nineteenth century, there were only two sources for the study of the Canaanite religion. The first, the Hebrew scriptures, contains numerous references to the Canaanites and their practices, which are generally condemned as abominable (e.g., Lv. 18:3, 27–28). As early as the first century BCE, the biblical commentator Philo of Alexandria recognized that Canaan was the biblical symbol of “vice,” which the Israelites were naturally bidden to despise (De cong. 83–85). It is generally agreed that the biblical witness to Canaanite religion is highly polemical and, therefore, unreliable; biblical evidence must at the least be used with extreme caution, and in conjunction with extrabiblical sources. The second source for knowledge of Canaanite religion was those classical texts that preserve descriptions of aspects of it. The best known of these are the Phoenician History of ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Philo Byblius, of which portions are preserved in Eusebius’s Praeparatio evangelica, and The Syrian Goddess, attributed (perhaps falsely) to Lucian of Samothrace. The reliability of Philo Byblius, however, has been the subject of scholarly debate, and the present consensus is that the comparability of the Phoenician History with authentic Canaanite data should not be overstressed. At best, Philo’s information probably sheds light on the religion of late Hellenized Phoenicians, and offers no direct evidence for second-millennium Canaanite religion. The same generalization applies to (Pseudo-) Lucian, despite a few scholarly claims to the contrary. Firsthand evidence for Canaanite culture in the second millennium BCE (or, in archaeological terms, the Middle Bronze and Late Bronze periods) comes from artifactual evidence found at many archaeological sites (more than sixty for the first part of the Middle Bronze period alone—mostly tombs) and from textual evidence stemming mainly from three great discoveries: (1) the eighteenth-century royal archives of “Amorite” Mari (Tell Hariri, on the Euphrates River near the present border between Syria and Iraq); (2) the diplomatic correspondence between several Levantine vassal princes and the pharoahs Amenophis III and IV (first half of the fourteenth century), found at Tell al-EAmarna (about 330 km south of Cairo on the east bank of the Nile); and (3) the mainly fourteenth- and thirteenth-century texts found at Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit) and nearby Ras Ibn Hani, both within the present-day administrative district of Latakia, on the Mediterranean coast of Syria. The artifactual evidence is crucial for understanding material culture, socioeconomic developments, population movements, and the like, and provides considerable data about funerary practices. Most significant for the study of religion are the figurines, thought to represent gods and goddesses, that have been recovered in virtually every archaeological context. These will be discussed below with other manifestations of popular religion.


finities with biblical prophecies of a millennium later. Some of this oracular speaking seems to have been done by cultic personnel, and some apparently consisted of messages transmitted by the gods through ordinary people. In either case, it clearly deviated from the normal (and presumably normative) mode of divine intermediation, which was, as generally in the ancient Near East, divination in its various forms. Local temple officials probably felt that the extraordinary behavior, and the messages transmitted by it, had to be reported to higher authorities. It may be suggested, on the basis of these Mari texts and related evidence, that the phenomenon broadly termed prophecy represented a peculiar and peripheral kind of divine intermediation among the West Semites generally. Most of the Amarna letters report on Levantine military, economic, and political matters to the Egyptian court. The letters were written in Babylonian, the diplomatic language of the period, but they regularly reveal the Canaanite character of their authors—in personal names, peculiar scribal practices, and, especially, the use of characteristic Canaanite vocabulary and turns of phrase. While none of the Amarna letters is directly concerned with religion, important information can be derived from the divine names and epithets mentioned in passing (and as components of personal names), and from Canaanite religious and liturgical clichés that have been incorporated into the epistolary style. For example, the son of Aziru, prince of Amurru, writes as follows to the Egyptian court: “You give me life, and you give me death. I look upon your face; you are indeed my lord. So let my lord hearken to his servant.” Such expressions, which are frequent in the correspondence, are probably borrowed liturgical formulas, perhaps from lost Canaanite prayers that were probably comparable to the biblical psalms. A systematic study of all such formulas might shed considerable light on Canaanite religious conceptions of the mid-second millennium.

The ancient city of Mari was peripheral to both the Mesopotamian and the Levantine spheres of influence. Culturally and linguistically, it was clearly West Semitic, but to label it “Canaanite” goes beyond the evidence (the designation Amorite represents, to some extent, a scholarly compromise). The Mari texts are virtually all concerned with economic, juridical, and administrative matters. One text in particular testifies to the eclecticism and heterogeneity of Mari’s religious cult in the eighteenth century. It lists the sacrificial sheep distributed among the various gods and temples of Mari, and the list of gods is a mixture of Semitic and nonSemitic deities from east and west, along with some gods perhaps unique to Mari. This list of diverse gods may be supplemented by the more than one hundred forty divine names (at least two dozen of which are West Semitic) attested as components of personal names in the Mari archives.

Without slighting the importance of the Mari and Amarna material, by far the most significant evidence for Canaanite religion in the second millennium is found at Ugarit. From the beginning of the millennium until the city’s destruction at the hands of the Sea Peoples (c. 1180–1175 BCE), Ugarit was a thriving cosmopolitan trading center. In the Middle Bronze period (2000–1600; Level II of the Ras Shamra excavations), Ugarit underwent considerable expansion. During this period, two large temples (dedicated to the gods Baal and Dagan respectively; see below) were erected on top of older ruins, forming, in effect, an acropolis in the city. The pottery of the period is predominantly Canaanite, and other material evidence demonstrates that Ugarit was in contact with Egypt, the Aegean, and Mesopotamia. At the same time, Ugarit’s population was augmented by an influx of Indo-European-speaking Hurrians from the northeast.

The most striking group of Mari texts is the small collection of so-called prophetic texts. These twenty-odd letters attest to a type of oracular speaking that shows significant af-

The best-attested period at Ugarit is the last two centuries of its existence (Late Bronze III, c. 1365–1180 BCE; Level I.3 of the Ras Shamra excavations). The Ugaritic texts date




from this period, although some of the religious texts are undoubtedly older, and were merely written down at this time. One of the most important developments in human history was the invention, during the reign of Niqmad II (c. 1360– 1330 BCE), of a cuneiform alphabetic script (the world’s oldest alphabet) adapted to the Ugaritic language. It seems likely that this invention was specifically for the purpose of setting ancient religious documents in writing, since diplomatic and administrative texts could be, and often were, written in Akkadian. At the instigation of Niqmad II, the great mythological texts that are at the heart of the Ugaritic religion were incised on clay tablets. They were preserved in the library of the high priest, which was located on the acropolis near the two temples. In addition to the mythological texts from the high priest’s library, the excavations of this and several other archives of Ugarit and Ras Ibn Hani have turned up related mythological material, descriptive ritual texts, lists of sacrificial offerings, god-lists, prayers and liturgies, incantations, divinatory texts, and dedicatory inscriptions. These may be used, with due caution, as the basis of a description of Ugaritic religion.

DEITIES. The essential information about Ugarit’s deities comes from what appears to be a canonical god-list. Two nearly identical copies of the basic list have been published, along with an Akkadian “translation.” In addition, the list is incorporated, with minor variations, into a list of sacrificial offerings. This list shows that the basic cultic pantheon of Ugarit numbered thirty-three or thirty-four gods. One of the most controversial problems confronting Ugaritic scholarship is the imperfect correspondence between the god-list and the gods who are prominent in the mythological texts. The myths probably represent an older stratum of Ugaritic religion, and were undoubtedly “reinterpreted” in the light of subsequent developments in the cult. Two reasons are generally given for the order of the gods in the list: either it reflects their relative importance, or else it gives the order in which their symbols were paraded in a cultic procession. The list begins with two or three Ils (El)— the sources are evenly split on the number. Il is the common Semitic word for “god”; it is the proper name of the head of the Ugaritic pantheon in the mythological texts. The first Il in the god-list is associated with Mount Sapan (Tsafon), the Canaanite Olympus, which was traditionally identified with Jebel al-Aqra, about fifty kilometers north of Ugarit at the mouth of the Orontes River. (The mountain was itself deified, and appears in the god-list in place 14/15.) In all likelihood, the term sapan, which means “north,” was taken to be a metaphor for the god’s temple (as in the Bible, Psalm 48:3), and not as a simple geographical designation. Thus the Il of sapan is the numen manifest in the sanctuary, which is the earthly representation of the divine abode. Sapan, it should be noted, is not the abode of Il in the mythological texts, but of Baal.

The second Il is called Ilib. The Akkadian and Hurrian parallels show that this name is a portmanteau composed of the elements il (“god”) and ab (“father”), but the precise significance of the combination is uncertain. Most likely the name denotes an ancestral spirit, the numen manifest in the Ugaritic cult of the dead. In the Ugaritic epic of Aqhat, the ancient worthy Danil, whose epithets mark him as one of the deified dead, seeks a son who will “erect a stela for his ilib”—that is, for the divine spirit of his dead father. The affinity of Il with the Ugaritic cult of the dead is shown in a mythological fragment in which the god participates in a marzih feast (an orgiastic revel comparable to the Greek thiasos), the ritual banquet of the funerary cult. Il drinks himself into a stupor (as is customary at such affairs), and has to be carried off by his faithful son. (This, too, is one of the duties of the son enumerated in the epic of Aqhat.) The third Il is presumably to be identified with the head of the pantheon in the mythological texts. His epithets and activities in those, and in the cultic texts, provide a fair picture of his character. He is the father of the gods, who are called his “family” or “sons,” and he is styled “father of humankind” and “builder of built ones.” He may have been regarded as the creator of the world, but the Ugaritic evidence is inconclusive on this point. He bears the epithet “bull,” a symbol of virility and power (although one mythological text casts some doubt on his sexual prowess). He is serene in his supremacy, a source of “eternal wisdom,” “beneficent and benign”; a unique and problematic text that may be a prayer to Il seems even to hypostatize his “graciousness.” The three Ils comprise the three principal aspects of Ugaritic “godship,” or numinous power, that are denoted by the term il: (1) it is the wise and sovereign power that brought gods and humans into being; (2) it abides in any sacred place; and (3) it is the tangible presence of the spirits of the dead. The next deity on the list is Dagan. The Mari texts attest to his great importance in the Middle Euphrates region (especially Terqa). The most common explanation of his name relates it to the West Semitic word for “grain,” but this is by no means certain; other (even non-Semitic) etymologies are possible. One of the two temples on the acropolis of Ugarit was evidently consecrated to Dagan. During excavations carried out in 1934, two inscribed stone slabs were found just outside the temple. The inscriptions, the only known examples of Ugaritic carved in stone, commemorate pgr sacrifices of a sheep and an ox offered to Dagan. Since so little is known of Dagan’s character at Ugarit, and since the term pgr is controversial (perhaps “mortuary offering” is the best interpretation), it is not possible to say anything definitive about these stelae. Despite his obvious prominence in the cult, Dagan plays no role in Ugaritic mythology. The god Baal bears the epithet “son of Dagan,” but that is itself problematic, since Il was supposedly the father of the gods. Three explanations are possible: (1) Dagan was in some sense identified with or ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


assimilated to Il; (2) the epithet represents a variant tradition of Baal’s paternity; or (3) the epithet “son” is not to be taken literally but as an indication that Baal belongs to some class of gods exemplified by Dagan. Following Dagan come seven Baals. The first is the Baal of Mount Sapan, who dwells in the same place as the Baal in the mythological texts (the “heights” or “recesses” of Sapan); the term sapan surely refers to the Baal temple of Ugarit as well. The Akkadian rendition of Baal is Adad, which is the name of the most prominent West Semitic mountain and weather god. The same Ugaritic “prayer” that mentions the graciousness of El also establishes the threefold identification of Adad (the variant Hadd occurs in the mythological texts) with Baal of Mount Sapan and Baal of Ugarit. The significance of the other six Baals (none qualified by epithets and all identified with Adad) is uncertain, although sevenfold lists of all sorts, including divine heptads, are common throughout the ancient Near East: the number seven evidently denotes completeness or perfection. If the extra six Baals have some specific function, they might represent local manifestations or sanctuaries of Baal, separate cult symbols, or hypostatized attributes. The name Baal is derived from the common Semitic noun meaning “lord, master, husband.” The god’s full title in the mythological texts is “prince, lord (baal) of the earth,” and his principal epithet is “most powerful one” (aliyan). He is also called “high one” (aliy) and “rider of the clouds,” both names clearly illustrating his character as a weather god. In contrast to the numinous Il, Baal represents the divine power that is immanent in the world, activating and effectuating things or phenomena. Given the paucity of rainfall in most of the Levant, it is not surprising that the lord of the storm is the most prominent god of this type (cf. the ubiquitous Phoenician Baal Shamem, “lord of the heavens,” and his famous encounter with the Israelite god in 1 Kings 18). On his shoulders rests the burden of bringing fertility and fecundity to the land, and as such he is venerated by the rest of the gods and declared their “king.” But the kind of god who is immanent in the natural world is also subject to its flux. Thus, in the mythological texts, Baal has three enemies. The first two, Yamm (“sea”) and the desert gods who are called “devourers,” represent the destructive potential inherent in nature. Baal succeeds in subduing Yamm (and undoubtedly also the “devourers”), but he is in turn defeated by his third and greatest adversary, Mot (“death”; never mentioned by this name in the cultic texts). Nothing that is in the world, gods included, can escape death. Following the seven Baals, the god-list continues with Ars wa-Shamem (“earth and heaven”). Binomial deities are common in Ugaritic; they represent either a hendiadys (as in this case) or a composite of two related gods who have been assimilated to one another. This god’s function is unENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


known; perhaps the domain over which Baal holds sway is deified. There are also two other geographical deities: Sapan (discussed above) and “Mountain and Valley” (significance unknown, unless it defines the domain of Athtar, the god occupying the preceding place on the god-list). The remaining divine names on the list may be grouped in four categories: individual goddesses and gods who are known or at least mentioned in the mythological texts; collective terms that designate groups of lesser deities; Hurrian deities; and otherwise unknown or poorly attested gods. The two most prominent goddesses in the mythological texts are Athirat (Asherah) and Anat. Athirat is the consort of Il, and as such she is the highest-ranking goddess in the pantheon. Her full title is “Lady Athirat of the sea” (or perhaps “the lady who treads the sea”). She is the mother of the gods, bearing the epithet “progenitress of the gods.” She is also called Ilat (“goddess”), the feminine form of Il. Athirat’s activities in the mythological texts are not always clear, but she seems to specialize in zealous intervention on behalf of her divine offspring. In contrast to the maternal goddess Athirat, Anat is a violent goddess of sexual love and war, “sister” (perhaps consort) of Baal and vanquisher of Baal’s enemy Mot. Her principal epithet is “maiden,” a tribute to her youth, beauty, and desirability, but pugnacity is her primary trait in the mythological texts, as well as in the epic of Aqhat; there, she secures the magic bow of the title character by arranging his death. Iconographic evidence from Ugarit and elsewhere may be associated with both of the principal divine pairs, Il/ Athirat and Baal/Anat. The first two are represented as a royal pair, either standing or enthroned. Baal is typically depicted with his arm upraised in smiting position, and Anat is naked and voluptuous, sometimes standing on a lion’s back, an Egyptian Hathor wig on her head, with arms upraised and plants or animals grasped in her hands. Only the Anat figures can be identified with any certainty, because of an Egyptian exemplar that bears the inscription “QudshuAshtart-Anat.” Although the precise significance of Qudshu is uncertain (perhaps she is the same as Athirat?), the Egyptian inscription seems to demonstrate the fusion of the West Semitic Anat with the great Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar (Ugaritic Athtart; the biblical Ashtoret). This fusion is apparent in the binomial Athtart wa-Anat, which occurs in two Ugaritic incantation texts and is the ultimate source of the name of the first-millennium “Syrian goddess” Atargatis. In some mythological and cultic texts, as in the god-list, Athtart still has some independent status. (Paradoxically, in Israel it is Anat who has disappeared, evidently assimilated to Ashtoret.) Her beauty is proverbial, but her principal trait is pugnacity; like Anat, she is a divine huntress. The textual and iconographic evidence suggests that a central feature of Ugaritic religion was the veneration of two divine pairs. One pair apparently symbolized kingly and



queenly sovereignty over the world—Il and Athirat; the other represented brother and sister, caught in the flux and turmoil of the world, engaged in constant struggle for survival and supremacy—Baal and Anat. There are three other Canaanite goddesses on the godlist. Shapash is the all-seeing sun (male in Mesopotamia, but female at Ugarit), “luminary of the gods.” Pid-ray (“fat”?) and Arsay (“earth,” perhaps, on the basis of the Akkadian parallel, having some connection with the netherworld) are two of the daughters of Baal; the third, Talay (“dew”), does not appear on the god-list. Two other non-Canaanite goddesses are on the list, undoubtedly via the Hurrians, although the deities themselves are not necessarily Hurrian in origin: Ushharay (Ishhara), the scorpion goddess, who appears in several cultic texts but never in the myths, and Dadmish, probably a warrior goddess but very poorly attested. The one remaining goddess on the list is Uthht (pronunciation uncertain; the sex of the deity is, in fact, only surmised from the feminine ending); possibly Mesopotamian in origin, and most likely signifying a deified incense burner. Seven male deities remain on the god-list, all but one of whom are at least mentioned in the mythological texts. Yarikh is the moon god, and he figures prominently in a poem that describes his marriage to the moon goddess, Nikkal. This text is undoubtedly a Hurrian myth in Ugaritic guise. The other clearly astral god is Shalim (the divine element in the name of the city Jerusalem and of King Solomon), who represents the evening twilight or Venus as evening star. Since the root sh-l-m can signify “conclusion, completion,” it is appropriate that Shalim is the last name on the list. Elsewhere, he is often paired with his sibling Shahr, who is the dawn or the planet Venus as morning star. The birth of the pair is described and celebrated in a Ugaritic poem. Three of the gods play important roles in the mythological texts about Baal. Yamm is one of Baal’s principal adversaries; he is identified with or accompanied by two fearsome sea monsters, Litan (the biblical Leviathan) and Tunnan (the biblical Tannin). The god Athtar (the masculine form of Athtart) is often associated with a prominent South Arabian astral deity, but the Akkadian translation of his name identifies him with the Hurrian warrior god Ashtabi. When Baal is killed by Mot, Athtar, styled “tyrant,” is appointed king in his stead. The god Kothar (“skilled one”; also known as Kothar wa-Hasis, “skilled and wise one”) is the divine craftsman. In various sources he is a master builder, weapon maker, seaman, and magician. It has been suggested that he is the genius of technology. The god Rashap (the biblical Reshef, which means both “pestilence” and “flame”) is blamed in the epic of Kirta for the demise of part of the title character’s family. But Rashap’s real importance at Ugarit and Ras Ibn Hani emerges from the cultic texts, where he is the recipient of numerous offer-

ings. In the late third millennium, he was one of the patron gods of the kings of Ebla. He also found his way to Egypt, where he was patron god of Amenophis II and one of the most popular gods in the cults of the nineteenth dynasty. The Akkadian version of the Ugaritic god-list identifies Rashap with Nergal, the Mesopotamian king of the netherworld. That identification, along with other Canaanite and Egyptian evidence, leads me to suggest that Rashap is the god who, in one mythological text, is called Rapiu, the “healer,” the eponymous patron of the deified dead, the rapium (the biblical refa Eim). Most scholars, however, consider “Rapiu” to be an epithet of Il. The remaining god on the list is Kinar, who is perhaps the deified lyre. Nothing is known about him, but he has been identified with the Cypriot hero Kinyras, father of Adonis. Finally, the god-list includes four collective terms. The first, kotharat, designates a band of female divine singers and wet-nurses who appear on sad and joyful occasions in the Aqhat epic and the Nikkal poem, respectively (also, perhaps, in Psalm 68:7). Although their name suggests an affinity with the god Kothar, nothing further can be said about this. They bear an epithet that is problematic: the two most plausible translations are “daughters of joyous song, the swallows” and “shining daughters of the morning star [or the new moon].” The next collective term apparently designates the “two allies of Baal,” perhaps his messengers, Gapn (“vine”) and Ugar (“field”). The third collective term is puhr ilim, the “assembly of the gods,” which designates the host of lesser deities—unmentioned by name in the god-list—who constitute the progeny of Il and Athirat. In other texts, this assemblage bears other epithets, including “sons of Il” and “the family of the sons of Il”; the precise significance of these terms is much debated, but they all seem to pertain to the general Near Eastern notion of a “divine assembly” over which one god reigned supreme. The last collective term is malikum, which literally means “kings.” It designates the deified dead kings of Ugarit, the most important members of the larger assemblage of deified dead ancestors (rapium, mentioned above). The malikum are invoked by name in an extraordinary Ugaritic liturgy entitled the Document of the Feast of the Protective Ancestral Spirits. It may be inferred that the patron of the malikum was the ubiquitous Malik (biblical Molech), who is almost certainly to be equated with Death himself. Many other deities who do not figure in the standard god-list are mentioned in various texts and as components of personal names. Huge, malleable pantheons characterized every major urban center of the ancient Near East, and Ugarit was no exception (see Johannes C. de Moor, “The Semitic Pantheon of Ugarit,” Ugarit-Forschungen 2, 1970, pp. 185–228). RITUALS AND CULTIC PERSONNEL. Most older descriptions of Canaanite religion explain it in terms of the seasonal cycle ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


and concomitant fertility rites. The evidence for this characterization comes from first-millennium sources, especially the anti-“Canaanite” polemics of the Hebrew scriptures, and from the a priori claims of the “myth-and-ritual” approach to religion. When the mythic texts about the Ugaritic Baal were deciphered and pieced together, the tendency was naturally to make them conform to the older theories about Canaanite religion. Those texts were thus described as a mythic representation of the seasonal cycle, which was either recited as the accompaniment to fertility rites or served as the libretto of a fertility-cult drama. Assuming that the biblical and related data are reliable, they evidently refer to local manifestations of firstmillennium Phoenician cults (such as that of northern Israel). The simple assumption of continuity between secondmillennium Canaan and first-millennium Phoenicia is unjustified—as is, more generally, the facile identification of “Canaanites” with “Phoenicians.” As for the myth-and-ritual claim, the seasonal interpretation of the Baal texts is by no means certain. There is no evidence that the Baal texts were ever used in conjunction with cultic activity. In fact, there is only one Ugaritic mythological text containing rubrics for ritual performance (discussed below); it apparently entails some sort of fertility rite, but one not necessarily connected with the seasonal cycle. Knowledge of the Ugaritic calendar and its fixed festivals is too scanty to permit the claim that Ugaritic religion was organized with respect to the agricultural year. The Ugaritic ritual texts describe a highly organized sacrificial cult under the patronage of the king. The sacrifices seem to be of the gift or tribute type; that is, they were performed to curry favor with the gods, to secure their aid and protection. It is undeniable that offerings might have been made to deities (particularly chthonic ones) to promote the fertility of the land and the fecundity of the flocks. But the one mass public ritual that has survived, and the one attested prayer to Baal as well, both seem more concerned with protection from Ugarit’s potential military opponents. In view of the shifting alliances and political instability that marked Ugarit’s last two centuries, this concern seems only natural. Most of the known Ugaritic rituals were performed by or on behalf of the king. The best-attested type of ritual is found in seven different texts. In it the king of Ugarit performs, at specified times, a ritual lustration to purify himself, and then offers a series of sacrifices to various deities. At sundown, the king “desacralizes” himself in a way that is not clear. The most interesting of these texts is evidently a prescriptive ritual to which is appended a prayer to Baal, perhaps recited by the queen, that seems to specify the occasion on which the rites were to be performed. This text begins with a date formula and a list of offerings: “On the seventh day of the month of Ibalat [otherwise unknown]” sheep are offered to several gods, notable Baal and “the house of Baal of Ugarit.” Then “the sun sets and ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


the king performs the rite of desacralization.” On the seventeenth day of the month, the king (re)purifies himself and makes another series of sacrifices, perhaps accompanied by a festal banquet (if this is the correct sense of the technical term dbh). (Another of the main sacrificial terms, th, which seems to denote “gift offering,” also occurs here.) The king remains in his purified state and continues the series of offerings on the eighteenth day. Then the text breaks off. The reverse of the tablet begins with broken references to rites performed on the second day (of what, is unspecified). On the fourth, birds are offered; on the fifth the king offers a shlmm sacrifice to Baal of Ugarit in the temple, along with the liver of an unspecified animal (which has presumably been used for divination) and an offering of precious metal. The shlmm offering, well attested in biblical Hebrew and Punic cultic texts, was probably the most common type of sacrifice at Ugarit. The term is traditionally translated “peace offering,” but it seems actually to have been a “gift” or “tribute” to the god. In some texts (but not this one), the shlmm is described as a shrp, which probably signifies that it was wholly consumed by fire. On the seventh day, at sundown, the king performs the ritual desacralization, evidently aided in this case by cultic functionaries called “desacralizers.” Then the queen is anointed with a libation of “a hin [liquid measure] of oil of pacification for Baal”; the text concludes with the following prayer, perhaps recited by the queen: When a strong enemy assails your gates, A mighty foe attacks your walls, Raise your eyes unto Baal: “O Baal, chase the strong enemy from our gates, The mighty foe from our walls. A bull, O Baal, we consecrate; A vow, O Baal, we dedicate; A firstborn [?], O Baal, we consecrate; A htp sacrifice, O Baal, we dedicate; A tithe, O Baal, we tithe. To the sanctuary of Baal let us ascend, On the paths to the House of Baal let us walk.” Then Baal will hear your prayer, He will chase the strong enemy from your gates, The mighty foe from your walls.

A second type of ritual is preserved in three texts that describe the transfer of cult statues from one place to another. The clearest of these begins “When Athtart of hr [meaning uncertain] enters into the sanctuary [?] of the king’s house. . . .” It is not clear whether the term king refers to Ugarit’s king or to a god (perhaps both?); the “house” could be a royal palace or temple. A group of offerings is then made in the “house of the stellar gods” (meaning uncertain), including oblations, vestments, gold, and sacrificial animals. The rites are repeated seven times. The remainder of the text describes essentially the same rituals as those performed for a different collection of gods (on a different occasion?), the poorly attested gthrm.



One substantial ritual text is unique in the corpus, and has been the subject of many studies. It is unique in its poetic/hymnic quality and in the acts it describes. It seems to depict a great public assembly in which the entire population of Ugarit, male and female, king and commoner alike, participated. The ritual appears to have been a mass expiation or purgation of sins, or some sort of mass purification rite, designed to protect Ugarit against its threatening neighbors. A parallel has been drawn between it and the Jewish Yom Kippur, the “day of purgation [of sin].” In the Ugaritic text, the men and women of the community are alternately summoned to offer sacrifices, which they do. While the sacrifices are performed the people sing, praying that their offerings will ascend to “the father of the sons of Il” (that is, to Il himself), to the “family of the sons of Il,” to the “assembly of the sons of Il,” and to Thkmn wa-Shnm, Il’s son and attendant (the one who cares for him when he is drunk; in one of his epithets, Il is called “father of Shnm”). Only one mythological text, the poem about the birth of Shahr and Shalim (the ilima naimima, “gracious gods”), includes rubrics for ritual performance. These rubrics, interspersed throughout the poem, describe the activities of the king and queen, and of cultic functionaries called aribuma (some kind of priests?) and tha-nanuma (members of the king’s guard?). They offer sacrifices, participate in a banquet, and sing responsively to musical accompaniment. It seems almost certain that the poem itself was acted out as a type of ritual drama. It describes the subjugation of Death by some sort of pruning rite, followed by Il’s sexual relations with Athirat and Rahmay (“womb” = Anat?). The poem concludes with the birth of Shahr and Shalim, and their youthful activities. The text and its accompanying ritual may commemorate (or attempt to foster) the birth of a royal heir to the reigning king and queen of Ugarit; they bear some relation to Mesopotamian sacred marriage rites and to Hittite rituals designed to protect the life and vigor of the king and queen. Most difficult to reconstruct, but obviously of great importance, was the Ugaritic cult of the dead. The dead were summoned, by a liturgy accompanied by offerings, to participate in a banquet. The banquet, which was apparently a drunken orgy, was intended to propitiate the dead and to solicit the aid and protection provided by their numinous power. The most important group of the deified dead was comprised of Ugarit’s kings (malikum). The larger assemblage, variously called “healers” (rpim), “healers of the netherworld” (rpi ars), “ancient healers” (rpim qdmyn), “divine spirits” (ilnym), and “assembly of Ditan/Didan” (qbs dtn/ ddn), included two men who are prominent in the epic texts, Danil and Kirta, as well as several other spirits who are identified by name in a liturgical invocation of the dead. The funerary feast itself was called a marzih (or marzi), a feast. It was held at a special location: one text describes problems concerning the rental of a marzih hall; a poorly preserved fragment of the Aqhat epic suggests that the marzih

was held at a sacred “threshing floor” or “plantation,” perhaps within the royal palace. Another important text invokes the god Rapiu, “king of eternity” (that is, of the netherworld). Rapiu is clearly the patron of the deified dead; at first he is invited to drink, and at the end of the text he is asked to exert his “strength, power, might, rule, and goodness” for the benefit of Ugarit. If Rapiu is indeed to be identified with Il, this text comports well with the mythological fragment that depicts Il getting drunk at a marzih. Alongside the cult of the dead must be placed the texts that apparently describe the ritual offerings to the gods of the netherworld (ilm ars). The clearest of these begins with an offering to Rashap and mentions several other chthonic deities. There is also a strange god-list that appears to include a collection of netherworld demons. Finally, an inscribed clay model of a liver may record a sacrifice offered to a person (or deity?) who is “in the tomb.” The considerable activity that took place in the Ugaritic cult demanded an extensive array of cultic personnel. Unfortunately, while the names of many cultic officials are known, their precise function is not. It can be assumed, of course, that “priests” participated in the royal rituals described above, but the ritual texts do not specify how. Apart from the “desacralizers,” the tha-nanuma and aribuma already mentioned, several other kinds of personnel figure prominently. Except for the queen, who participated in some rituals (one broken text from Ras Ibn Hani describes a “dbh [sacrifical rite] of the queen”), all the important cultic functionaries attested by name or title are male. After the king, the highest-ranking religious official was probably the rb khnm, the “chief of the priests.” Under him were orders or guilds of khnm (“priests”); the term corresponds to the Hebrew kohanim, but there is no necessary similarity of function. The priests either were connected with the palace or they earned their living at the many shrines in Ugarite and its environs. They appear on administrative lists of personnel and on a military payroll. Other administrative texts detail allotments of oil and wine to various shrines. One of the high priests is also designated rb nqdm, “chief of herdsmen.” In all likelihood, there was a consecrated group of herdsmen whose task was to maintain the royal flocks to be used in the cult. The second major category of priests is called qdshm, “devotees” (comparison with Hebrew qedeshim, “cult prostitutes,” is almost certainly misleading). They appear only on administrative lists, in all but one case in conjunction with khnm. Nothing can be said about their function at Ugarit. Two categories of cult functionaries are attested in Akkadian texts from Ugarit, but they have no certain Ugaritic equivalents. One is the awilu baru, which is either an omen priest or some sort of oracular seer; one of these men is also called “priest of Adad [i.e., of Baal].” The other, aptly characterized by Anson F. Rainey (1967) as “a sort of religious ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


brotherhood” (p. 71), is “men of the marzi/marzih.” Their activity was almost certainly related to the ritual feasts of the Ugaritic cult of the dead. Several other terms probably designated groups associated with the cult. There were singers, instrumentalists, and libation pourers who served as temple attendants, along with a group of uncertain function called ytnm, who may be compared with the problematic biblical netinim. Finally, there is the well-attested and much-debated term insh ilm. Some scholars think that it is a divine name; others argue that it denotes cultic personnel. If the latter, then these people performed some function in the sacrificial rites, and seem to have been rewarded for their labor with “birds.” POPULAR RELIGION. As is generally the case in the ancient Near East, little can be said with any certainty about popular religion at Ugarit, since only kings, priests, and members of the elite are represented in the texts. The Ugaritic texts were apparently only a part of the larger cosmopolitan scribal tradition of Ugarit, which was modeled on the Babylonian scribal schools. The same scribes who produced the Baal texts were also trained to write in Babylonian cuneiform, and they copied Sumerian and Akkadian texts in almost every genre. Surviving evidence demonstrates that Ugarit’s educated elite was conversant with the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh traditions, wisdom and proverbial literature, and legal formulas, although little of this material is reflected in texts in the Ugaritic language. It is not at all certain, then, how much of the literary tradition might have filtered down to the commoners of Ugarit. Still, speculation about popular religion may be made in four areas: conceptions of gods reflected in personal names; the evidence of votive figurines; evidence for magic and divination; and possible religious, ethical, or “wisdom” teachings derived from the texts. Popular conceptions of the gods may emerge from a consideration of personal names, since a great number of names are composites of divine names (or surrogates) and nominal or verbal elements. The standard collection of Ugaritic personal names, Frauke Gröndahl’s Die Personennamen der Texte aus Ugarit (Rome, 1967), lists over fifty divine elements that appear in them. The most popular are Il, Baal, Ammu (“uncle,” a surrogate for a divine name), Anat and her “masculine” equivalent Anu, Athtar, Yamm, Kothar, Malik, Pidr (masculine equivalent of Pidray?), Rapiu, Rashap, and Shapash. In some names, a god is described as father, mother, brother, sister, or uncle (e.g., Rashapabi, “Rashap is my father”). In others, the bearer of the name is the god’s son, daughter, servant, or devotee (e.g., AbdiRashap, “servant of Rashap”). A large class of names describes characteristics of the gods; those composed with Il, for example, emphasize his kingship (Ilimilku, “Il is king”) and justice (Danil, “Il judges”; Ilsdq, “Il is just”), his creativity (Yakunilu, “Il establishes”; Yabniilu, “Il builds”) and his love (Hnnil, “Il is gracious”). ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


The second class of evidence for popular religion comes from metal figurines that are generally thought to represent gods and goddesses. A comprehensive catalog of these figurines, compiled by Ora Negbi (1976), describes over seventeen hundred of them. They are considered to have been miniature copies of now-lost wooden cult statues, and were probably used as votive idols. The fact that so many have been found at cultic sites suggests that they had some ceremonial function. Negbi notes that these idols “may have been used as amulets for magic purposes in domestic and funerary cults as well” (p. 2). As mentioned above, the figurines at Ugarit attest to the popularity of two distinct types of divine pairs, a kingly and queenly figure (Il and Athirat) and a smiting god and voluptuous goddess (Baal and Anat, with Anat occasionally portrayed as a war goddess). The latter pair is the better attested in Late Bronze Ugarit; figurines have been found in deposits from this period in and around both of the temples on the acropolis. Some textual evidence has been recovered for magic and divination at Ugarit. There are two versions of a long and impressive incantation against the bite of a venomous serpent; several important deities are summoned from their mythical abodes during the course of the incantations. Inscribed clay models of lungs and livers show that extispicy (divination by the examination of animal viscera) was practiced at Ugarit. The practice was undoubtedly borrowed from Babylonia, but it was given a distinctive Canaanite cast by the incorporation of West Semitic sacrificial rites. Another borrowing from the Babylonians is attested in three omen texts that describe the predictive value of unusual human and animal births. These texts clearly parallel the famous Babylonian shumma izbu omen series; unfortunately, they are all quite fragmentary. Finally, one very difficult text reports a divine oracle. It begins: “When the lord of the great/many gods [Il?] approached Ditan, the latter sought an oracle concerning the child.” Some individual presumably wishes to inquire of Il about his (sick?) child. (A comparable episode occurs in the Kirta epic.) Il can be reached through an intermediary, Ditan, the eponymous patron of those deified dead known as the “assembly of Ditan.” The text continues with a series of instructions (broken and unclear) that will enable the inquirer to obtain the desired oracular response. The text seems to conclude with several instructions, “and afterward there will be no suffering [?].” Taken together, these texts indicate a lively interest in the mantic arts at Ugarit. There is practically no evidence, however, about the specialists who practiced those arts; perhaps that is because they operated on the periphery of the official cultic institutions. The most problematic aspect of popular religion is the interpretation of the Ugaritic religious texts. Assuming that they were in some way normative and that they were diffused



orally, they would embody the religious “teachings” of Ugarit. There are, however, no surviving interpretations of the texts or expositions of religious doctrine that explain what those teachings might have been or what impact they had on the life of a community of believers. The Ugaritic mythic and epic texts (as opposed to the descriptive ritual texts) can be read as homilies on the nature of the world in which people live. Ancient readers or hearers of these texts would have sought their own place in the “cosmos” they describe. Ugaritic believers, like modern believers, would presumably have formulated a special application of sacred texts to their own lives. The Baal texts punctualize eternal truths in a symbolic realm that is only superficially remote from human experience. The gods experience joy and mourning, battle and tranquillity, life and death, power and impotence. The mightiest of the gods confronts the world’s challenges and surmounts them all, until he encounters Death, the one enemy to whom gods and humans alike succumb. Baal’s triumphs and trials, furthermore, illustrate the contiguity and interrelationship of everything in the world: the gods, nature, the political order, and human life are all part of the same order. When Baal is vanquished, political order collapses and the earth turns infertile—not because Baal “symbolizes” order and fertility in some simplistic way, but because the intricate balance of the world has been subverted. The same upset of the natural order occurs when Kirta, a human king, becomes mortally ill. Overarching the flux of the world, and apparently not subject to it, is the wise and beneficent Il. At critical moments in the Baal texts, the gods journey (or send emissaries) to him in order to obtain his favor and advice. After Kirta’s family is annihilated by malevolent forces, Il comforts the king in a dream; later on, Il provides the cure for Kirta’s terrible illness. And in the Aqhat epic, Baal implores Il to grant a son to the childless Danil. Il consents, and appears to Danil in a dream with the good news. In every case, Il manifests transcendent power that is wielded justly, in response to urgent pleas. The epic texts (perhaps “historico-mythic” would be a better designation for them) Aqhat and Kirta parallel and supplement the mythic texts. They narrate the existential encounter of humans with the gods. Historical (or pseudohistorical) figures become exemplary or admonitory paradigms of human behavior. The crises that move the plot of the Aqhat text demonstrate the conjunction and contiguity of the human and divine realms. Danil, who is, like Kirta, a man become god (one of the deified rapium—from the point of view of the reader, that is), is an embodiment of that contiguity. Danil is clearly an ideal type, pious and just; he brings his plea for a son before the gods in humble obeisance, and he is rewarded. The incubation rite performed by Danil at the beginning of the story seems to be a model of personal piety.

Other aspects of the Aqhat text suggest ethical teachings as well. The long-sought son, Aqhat, is presented as the archetypical huntsman, recipient of a magic bow fashioned by the craftsman god Kothar. But the bow is not an unequivocal blessing: it arouses the envy of Anat, and makes Aqhat so secure in his own power that he rudely dismisses the goddess. Aqhat’s folly parallels Baal’s when, secure in his new palace (also the work of Kothar), he presumptuously challenges Death. Even the cleverest invention affords no protection for one who oversteps his bounds and incurs divine wrath. Aqhat’s death is avenged by his sister Pughat, a model of love and devotion, just as Baal’s sister Anat acts on the god’s behalf in the mythic texts. The Kirta epic, like that of Aqhat, begins with its hero childless, this time because of catastrophe instead of impotence. Dramatic tension arises from the situation of a king without an heir, which could result in disruption of both the political and the natural order. The story conveys the fragility of power and the delicate relationship between humans and deities. Kirta enjoys the favor of Il, “father of humankind,” who calls the king “gracious one, lad of Il.” Kirta is instructed to perform a series of rituals in order to secure victory in battle and a new wife. He does so faithfully, but he also stops to make a vow in the sanctuary of “Athirat of Tyre, goddess of the Sidonians.” This act of personal piety leads to disaster: Kirta achieves his victory and builds a new family, but he is stricken with a mortal illness for his failure to fulfill the vow. His beneficent “father” Il intervenes once again in his behalf, but the story concludes with Kirta’s son attempting to usurp the throne, accusing Kirta of unrighteousness (reason enough, evidently, to depose a king). The vicissitudes of kingship continue. The texts are all firmly on the side of reward for virtue and piety, and punishment for wickedness, blasphemy, and folly. Yet even someone who is justly suffering the wrath of the gods may appeal to the gracious Il and be heard.

SURVIVALS. Survivals of Canaanite religion are observable in two first-millennium cultural spheres, the Levant and the Aegean. Phoenician religion, both in the Levant and in its wider Mediterranean sphere of influence, represents, to some extent, a continuation of Canaanite traditions. Northern Israel’s official cult was among the Levantine successors of Canaanite religion. It has often been noted that biblical polemics against that cult (for example, in the Book of Hosea) are directed against a characteristically Canaanite feature— the idea that the god (in this case Yahveh = Baal) was immanent in nature and subject to its flux. The Israelite god was, on the other hand, comfortably assimilated to the transcendent Il. In the Aegean area, the nature of Canaanite influence is more controversial. But there is compelling evidence for the existence of direct West Semitic contact with Mycenaean Greece, creating a legacy of Semitic names, literary motifs, ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


and religious practices that became part of the Hellenic cultural heritage.

BIBLIOGRAPHY There are excellent, comprehensive articles on Amarna, Mari, and Ras Shamra in the Dictionnaire de la Bible, Supplément, vol. 1, cols. 207–225 (by Édouard Dhorme); vol. 5, cols. 883– 905 (by Charles F. Jean); and vol. 9, cols. 1124–1466, respectively (Paris, 1928–). The Ras Shamra article, by several distinguished experts, is magisterial—the best survey to be found anywhere. In English, the journal Biblical Archaeologist has published a number of good survey articles: on Mari by George E. Mendenhall, vol. 11 (February 1948), pp. 1–19, and by Herbert B. Huffmon, vol. 31 (December 1968), pp. 101–124 (on the “prophetic texts”); on Amarna by Edward F. Campbell, vol. 23 (February 1960), pp. 2–22; on Ugarit by H. L. Ginsberg, vol. 8 (May 1945), pp. 41–58, and by Anson F. Rainey, vol. 28 (December 1965), pp. 102–125. All of these articles have been reprinted in The Biblical Archaeologist Reader, edited by David Noel Freedman and G. Ernest Wright, vols. 2 and 3 (Garden City, N.Y., 1961–1970). More recently, Biblical Archaeologist 47 (June 1984) is a special issue devoted to Mari. Turning specifically to Ugarit, an excellent popular introduction is Gabriel Saadé’s Ougarit: Métropole cananéenne (Beirut, 1979). Saadé gives a thorough account of the excavations, with complete bibliographical information and many illustrations. Most of the technical information is derived from articles in the journal Syria, beginning with volume 10 (1929), and from the volumes in the series “Mission de RasShamra,” 9 vols., edited by Claude F.-A. Schaeffer (Paris, 1936–1968). Two other useful works on the archaeological data are Patty Gerstenblith’s The Levant at the Beginning of the Middle Bronze Age (Winona Lake, Ind., 1983) and Ora Negbi’s Canaanite Gods in Metal (Tel Aviv, 1976). A good detailed account of Ugarit’s history is Mario Liverani’s Storia di Ugarit (Rome, 1962), and an unsurpassed description of Ugaritic society is Anson F. Rainey’s The Social Structure of Ugarit (in Hebrew; Jerusalem, 1967). Readers of English can consult Rainey’s Ph.D. dissertation, “The Social Stratification of Ugarit” (Brandeis University, 1962). On the study of Canaanite religion before the discovery of Ugarit, there is a fine survey by M. J. Mulder, “Von Seldon bis Schaeffer: Die Erforschung der kanaanäischen Götterwelt,” in the leading scholarly journal devoted to Ugaritic studies, Ugarit-Forschungen 11 (1979): 655–671. The best general introduction to Canaanite religion is Hartmut Gese’s “Die Religionen Altsyriens,” in Die Religionen Altsyriens, Altarabiens und der Mandäer (Stuttgart, 1970), pp. 3–181. On the Canaanite gods, the standard work is still Marvin H. Pope and Wolfgang Röllig’s “Syrien,” in Wörterbuch der Mythologie, edited by H. W. Haussig, vol. 1 (Stuttgart, 1965), pp. 219–312. On the rituals and cultic personnel, an excellent presentation of the data is Jean-Michel de Tarragon’s Le culte à Ugarit (Paris, 1980), which should be consulted alongside Paolo Xella’s I testi rituali di Ugarit (Rome, 1981). There is an exceptionally interesting theoretical discussion of Canaanite religion by David L. Petersen and Mark Woodward in “Northwest Semitic Religion: A Study of Relational Structures,” Ugarit-Forschungen 9 (1977): 232–248. The ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


outstanding representative of the myth-and-ritual approach is Theodor H. Gaster’s Thespis, 2d ed. (1961; New York, 1977). There is not yet an adequately introduced and annotated English translation of the Ugaritic texts. The best English translations are those of H. L. Ginsberg, in J. B. Pritchard’s Ancient Near Eastern Texts relating to the Old Testament, 3d ed. (Princeton, 1969), pp. 129–155, and those in J. C. L. Gibson’s revision of G. R. Driver’s Canaanite Myths and Legends, 2d ed. (Edinburgh, 1978). The serious student should consult Textes ougaritiques, translated and edited by André Caquot and others (Paris, 1974), and the even more comprehensive Spanish work by Gregorio del Olmo Lete, Mitos y leyendas de Canaán según la tradición de Ugarit (Madrid, 1981), complemented by the same author’s Interpretacíón de la mitología cananea (Valencia, 1984). A more popular introduction and translation that is both readable and of high quality is Paolo Xella’s Gli antenati di Dio (Verona, 1982). A comparable but inferior volume in English is Stories from Ancient Canaan, edited and translated by Michael D. Coogan (Philadelphia, 1978). Works on Ugarit and the Bible are legion. The serious student is directed to Ras Shamra Parallels, edited by Loren R. Fischer, 2 vols. (Rome, 1972–1975). The contributions are uneven in quality, but the many proposed parallels are presented with full bibliographic information. A convenient survey of comparative studies is Peter C. Craigie’s “Ugarit and the Bible,” in Ugarit in Retrospect, edited by Gordon Douglas Young (Winona Lake, Ind., 1981), pp. 99–111. John Gray’s The Legacy of Canaan, 2d ed. (Leiden, 1965), has become a standard work in this area; its great learning and originality are marred by eccentricity, especially in the translation of the Ugaritic texts. On the most important classical account of “Canaanite” religion, see the definitive work by Albert I. Baumgarten, The Phoenician History of Philo of Byblos (Leiden, 1981). Semitic influence on the Aegean world is one of the main topics of Cyrus H. Gordon’s stimulating book Before the Bible: The Common Background of Greek and Hebrew Civilizations (London, 1962); a more technical work on the subject is Michael C. Astour’s brilliant Hellenosemitica (Leiden, 1967).

New Sources The period 1985–2004 has produced a wealth of new information and scholarly analysis concerning Ugaritic religion. Important new reference works include the Handbook of Ugaritic Studies, edited by Wilfred G. E. Watson and Nicolas Wyatt (Leiden, 1999), and the revised edition of the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, edited by Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst (Leiden, 1999). These books provide extensive bibliographic references to previous studies of Ugaritic religion and deities. Excellent English translations of the mythological texts are conveniently gathered in Simon Parker’s edited volume, Ugaritic Narrative Poetry (Atlanta, 1997), and in Nick Wyatt’s Religious Texts from Ugarit (2d ed., Sheffield, 2002). Scholarly advances in the study of religious iconography are represented by the landmark book by Othmar Keel and Christoph Uehlinger, Gods, Goddesses, and Images of God in Ancient Israel (Minneapolis, 1998). The cultic and ritual texts from Ugarit have also received renewed attention, culminating in



Dennis Pardee’s massive study, Les textes rituels (Paris, 2000). Non-specialists may find Pardee’s shorter presentation, Ritual and Cult at Ugarit (Atlanta, 2002), more accessible yet equally authoritative. Gregorio del Olmo Lete’s useful book, Canaanite Religion: According to the Liturgical Texts of Ugarit (Bethesda, Md., 1999), offers a comprehensive analysis of Ugaritic religion, while Mark S. Smith’s survey, The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel (2d ed., Grand Rapids, 2002), explores the relationship between Ugaritic religion and the biblical record. Important studies of aspects of Ugaritic religion can also be found in the following books: Day, John. Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan. Sheffield, 2000. Dietrich, Manfried, and Oswald Loretz. Studien zu den ugaritischen Texten. Münster, 2000. Hadley, Judith M. The Cult of Asherah in Ancient Israel and Judah. Cambridge, 2001. Lipin´ski, Edward. Dieux et déesses de l’univers phénicien et punique. Leuven, 1995. Mettinger, Tryggve N. D. The Riddle of Resurrection: “Dying and Rising Gods” in the Ancient Near East. Stockholm, 2001. Niehr, Herbert. Religionen in Israels Umwelt: Einführung in die nordwestsemitischen Religionen Syrien-Palästinas. Würzburg, 1998. del Olmo Lete, Gregorio. El continuum cultural cananeo. Pervivencias cananeas en el mundo fenicio-púnico. Sabadell, 1996. del Olmo Lete, Gregorio. Mitos, leyendas y rituales de los semitas occidentales. Madrid, 1998. Pardee, Dennis. Les textes para-mythologiques de la 24e compagne (1961). Paris, 1988. Schmidt, Brian B. Israel’s Beneficent Dead. Tübingen, 1994. Smith, Mark S. The Ugaritic Baal Cycle, I. Leiden, 1994. Smith, Mark S. The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel’s Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts. Oxford, 2001. Wyatt, N., W. G. E. Watson, and J. Lloyd, eds. Ugarit, Religion, and Culture. Münster, 1996. Yon, Marguerite. La cite d’Ougarit sur le tell de Ras Shamra. Paris, 1997. ALAN M. COOPER (1987) Revised Bibliography

CANAANITE RELIGION: THE LITERATURE The scope of this article needs definition. The term Canaanite designates the culture of the region often known as the Levant, roughly comprising the modern entities of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine, beginning with the earliest extensive written records in the third millennium BCE and ending with the start of the Hellenistic period in the fourth century BCE. “Canaanite” did not have such a broad definition in antiquity; generally, and especially in the Bible, Canaan is the southwestern part of this region. The sources are not consistent in this usage, however, and many modern scholars apply it to the regions that in the first half of the

first millennium BCE were divided into the political units of Phoenicia, Israel (later Israel and Judah), Ammon, Moab, Edom, and not infrequently, Aram, especially AramDamascus. The term literature is used here to mean extended works composed in poetic style, specifically several dozen clay tablets, inscribed with an alphabetic cuneiform script, that have been found at ancient Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra) on the Syrian coast in excavations since 1929. The much larger body of material found there, and at nearby Ras Ibn Hani, apparently a royal palace, includes a variety of documents not germane to the topic of this article, such as diplomatic correspondence, lists of ritual offerings, economic texts, and notes for the care and treatment of horses. But even these contain valuable evidence for religious practice, especially in the names of the gods listed as recipients of offerings, names that were also used as components of personal names. Most of the literary texts were found in the temple precinct of ancient Ugarit, on the city’s acropolis. This is not merely a result of scribal activity in the sacred quarter, because the secular archives were found in the royal palace area and other libraries existed elsewhere in the city; rather, the presence of these texts in a religious context indicates that they had a religious function. Unhappily, few of them have any rubrics, and other, specifically ritual texts, such as the lists of offerings and the inscriptions on clay models of livers and lungs used for divination, provide no clue to the cultic setting in which the literary texts were used. Presumably, at least some of them were read or recited periodically at festivals, as were the Homeric poems in ancient Greece; others may have been actual librettos for ritual activities. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE TEXTS. The major mythological and epic texts were written on clay tablets that were fired after having been inscribed on both sides in from one to four columns. The lines are written continuously, with divisions between the words but without other spacing except for occasional dividing lines between sense units and episodes; these, however, are not used systematically. Not infrequently, the tablets have a title at the beginning; thus, two of the three parts of the Kirta cycle are marked “Concerning Kirta,” and one tablet of each of the Baal and Aqhat cycles has a similar heading. Such a cataloging device may have been used more regularly, but because a significant number of the tablets are broken at the edges, one cannot be sure. The incomplete preservation of many of the tablets also makes it more difficult to follow the sequence of the narratives and hence to interpret them; this explains the conjectural analyses below. Five tablets have concluding notations; the most complete reads: “The scribe was Ilimilku from Shubanu, the apprentice of Attanu-Purlianni, the chief priest, the chief herdsman; the sponsor was Niqmaddu, king of Ugarit, master of Yargub, lord of Tharumani.” As this colophon indicates, the texts were written under royal patronage, illustrating the close connection between palace and temple. The king in ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION



question was Niqmaddu III, the second-last ruler of Ugarit, who lived in the late thirteenth century BCE. Ilimilku may have been more than just a scribe to whom the contents of the tablets were dictated. Although the texts show signs of having originally been oral compositions, Ilimilku may have been a writer in the modern sense, one who, like Homer in Greece a few centuries later, took an oral tradition and creatively revised it for a written medium.

major source of Canaanite literature, the Hebrew scriptures, for the same building blocks of Canaanite verse—parallel pairs—are used there as well:

Among the characteristics that Canaanite literature shares with other oral literatures is the use of stock epithets for human and divine characters, a technique most familiar from the Iliad and the Odyssey. Thus, El, the head of the pantheon, is variously called “the bull,” “the creator of creatures,” “the father of years,” “the kind, the compassionate,” and “the king”; the storm god Baal is “the prince,” “the conqueror (of warriors),” and “the lord of the earth”; Kirta, the hero of the epic called by his name, is “the gracious one,” “the noble,” and “the servant of El”; and Danel, the father of the title character of Aqhat, is “the hero” and “the Healer’s man.” The poets apparently chose the epithet that was most appropriate for the context and that best fit the meter.

The reason for this similarity of form and content is cultural: notwithstanding the significant geographical and temporal differences between Ugarit and Israel, they were part of a larger cultural entity that shared a common poetic and religious vocabulary.

Another device familiar from the Homeric poems is the use of formulaic units to narrate standard scenes: the offering of a sacrifice; the harnessing of a donkey; the preparation of a banquet; the journey of a god or goddess to El’s abode. Thus, with appropriate changes of number and gender, the following lines occur some half dozen times in the extant corpus: Then she headed toward El, at the source of the two rivers, in the midst of the two seas’ pools; she opened El’s tent and entered the shrine of the King, the Father of Years. At El’s feet she bowed down and adored; she prostrated herself and worshiped him.

Also characteristic of Ugaritic literature is the almost verbatim repetition of large blocks of lines; this is found in the giving of a command and its execution, the occurrence of a dream and its telling, and in various specific narratives. Finally, like other ancient eastern Mediterranean literatures, this originally oral Canaanite literature was poetic. Because the texts were written almost entirely without vowels, it has so far not been possible to establish the metrical principles underlying the poetry, and rhyme was not used. But one formal characteristic can be identified, traditionally called parallelism and fortunately not obscured by translation. In Canaanite poetry the basic element is a unit of two or three lines in which one thought is extended by repetition, paraphrase, or contrast. Thus, in a speech by the craftsman god Kothar-wa-Hasis, the lines “Let me tell you, Prince Baal, let me repeat, Rider on the Clouds: behold, your enemy, Baal, behold, you will kill your enemy, behold, you will annihilate your foes; you will take your eternal kingdom, your dominion forever and ever”

consist of three units, each of which expresses a complete thought. This stylistic feature is familiar from the other ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION

Behold, your enemies, Yahweh, behold, your enemies have perished, all evildoers have been scattered. (Ps. 92:9) Your kingdom is an eternal kingdom, your rule is forever and ever. (Ps. 145:13)

This commonality is significant, for the literature of ancient Israel preserved in the Bible is able to shed much light on obscurities and gaps in the Canaanite literature from Ugarit. Conversely, the Ugaritic texts enable us to understand the Canaanites better on their own terms instead of through the often virulent polemics of the biblical writers. Each body of literature thus illumines the other, as will be seen below. MYTHOLOGICAL TEXTS. The texts in this category make no reference to human persons or actual societies. The protagonists are divine and there is no historical time frame. The Baal cycle. The major cycle of preserved Canaanite literature from Ugarit has to do with the deity Baal, the most important god in the Ugaritic pantheon. Although the high god El was worshiped at Ugarit, as throughout the Semitic world, and figures in a number of texts, Baal seems to have supplanted him as the major deity by the late second millennium BCE; this is confirmed both by nonliterary sources, such as ritual lists and personal names, and by the Baal cycle, whose theme in brief is the affirmation “Baal the Conqueror is our king!” More than a dozen tablets contain various episodes or variants of the Baal cycle, indicating the god’s importance at Ugarit, but many of them are fragmentary, and so any sustained development of the plot of the cycle is difficult to determine. What is clear is the main plot of three episodes: Baal’s battle with Sea; the construction and dedication of Baal’s house; and Baal’s encounter with Death. Baal and Sea. El, the head of the pantheon, had apparently shown preference to his son Sea (Yamm)—called “El’s beloved” and also by the parallel titles Prince Sea and Judge River—over Baal, the son of Dagan (whose name means “grain”). Initially, Sea seems to have gained the upper hand, with El’s support. He sends the council of the gods, over which El presides, an ultimatum: “Message of Sea, your master, your Lord, Judge River: ‘Give up, O gods, the one you are hiding, the one you are hiding, O multitude; give up Baal and his powers, the son of Dagan: I will acquire his gold.’”

Although El and the divine assembly are willing to capitulate to Sea’s demand, Baal is not, and he proceeds to engage Sea



in battle. With the help of magical clubs fashioned for him by Kothar wa-Hasis (“skillful and wise”; the divine craftsman, the Canaanite equivalent of the Greek Hephaistos), Baal defeats his adversary: The club danced in Baal’s hands, like a vulture from his fingers; it struck Prince Sea on the skull, Judge River between the eyes; Sea stumbled; he fell to the ground; his joints shook; his frame collapsed. Baal captured and drank Sea; he finished off Judge River.

This brief episode cannot be fully understood without reference to similar and more detailed Near Eastern myths, especially that preserved in the Babylonian Enuma elish. There the council of the gods is threatened by Tiamat (Deep), the primeval goddess of saltwater. The only deity able to rescue the gods is the young storm god, Marduk, who agrees to do so only if he is given complete authority over gods and human beings. Following their battle, described in lavish detail, Marduk forms the elements of the cosmos from the corpses of his defeated adversaries and is proclaimed supreme ruler. Despite differences between the Babylonian and Ugaritic texts, there seem here to be two versions of a single story that tells how a younger god comes to assume leadership over his fellows; similar myths are found in ancient Anatolia, Greece, and India. Like Marduk, Baal is a storm god: he is called the “rider on the clouds” (compare the Homeric epithet of Zeus, “the cloud-gatherer”); his weapon is the lightning bolt; and he is responsible for the rains in their season. Many of these aspects of Baal are also attributed to the Israelite Yahweh. Thus, he too is the “rider on the clouds” (Ps. 68:4); he makes the clouds his chariot, walks on the wings of the wind, makes the winds his messengers, fire [and] flame his ministers. (Pss. 104:3–4)

There are also allusions in various biblical passages to a primeval conflict between Yahweh and the sea; especially noteworthy is Job 26:12–13: With his power he stilled the sea, with his skill he smote Rahab, with his wind he put Sea in a net, his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.

(Compare Psalms 89:9–10 and Isaiah 27:1.) The Bible does not, however, present a completely developed version of this primeval struggle, for in ancient Israelite tradition the normative event was not mythical but historical: the defeat of the Egyptian army at the Red Sea. But frequently the language used to celebrate this event was derived from Canaanite myth. Thus, Psalms 77:15–20 incorporates into a remembrance of God’s ancient deeds the following: With your arm you redeemed your people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. The waters saw you, God, the waters saw you and writhed, indeed, the deeps trembled; the clouds poured out water, the thunderheads sounded their voice, your arrows were in constant motion. . . . Through the sea was your way, and your path through the mighty waters. . . . You led your people like a flock, by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

(Compare Isaiah 51:9–10.) Furthermore, the same parallel terms used of Baal’s adversary are put into service by biblical poets, as in Habakkuk 3:8: Were you not angry at the river, Yahweh, was your rage not against the river, was your wrath not against the sea?

And in Psalms 114:1–3 the formulaic pair “sea/river” is partially historicized: When Israel came out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from people of a different language . . . the sea saw and fled, the Jordan turned back.

In the more fully elaborated prose accounts of the story of Israel’s deliverance, the splitting of the Red Sea is repeated at the crossing of the Jordan, again reflecting the ancient parallelism. The ancient Israelites thus made frequent use of the broader ancient Near Eastern myth of the defeat of the primeval sea by the storm god. In the Bible, as in Ugaritic, the watery adversary of the deity is also called Leviathan, the multiheaded monster (Pss. 78:13–14; cf. Jb. 41). Behemoth and Rahab, other biblical names for the sea, have not yet turned up elsewhere. This myth is transformed in the apocalyptic visions of Jewish and Christian writers: in the end of time, the sea will finally be defeated (see Is. 27:1; Rv. 21:1). Baal’s house. After a considerable gap, the Baal cycle continues with a description of Baal’s victory banquet. One of Baal’s servants prepares an appropriate spread for “Baal the Conqueror, the Prince, the Lord of the Earth”: He put a cup in his hand, a goblet in both his hands, a large beaker, manifestly great, a jar to astound a mortal, a holy cup that women should not see, a goblet that Asherah must not set her eye on; he took a thousand jugs of wine, he mixed ten thousand in his mixing bowl.

Another break in the text occurs here, and there follows a lengthy account of a battle waged by Anat, the most vividly described of the three major goddesses in the Ugaritic texts. The other two, Asherah (Athiratu in Ugaritic) and Astarte (Athtartu), appear only infrequently and generally in formulaic passages that shed little light on their characters. Anat, on the other hand, is a major figure in the Baal cycle, a position that is appropriate in view of her relationship to Baal: she is his sister and his wife. As this description of her martial style indicates, Anat is a violent deity: Heads rolled under her like balls, hands flew over her like locusts, the warriors’ hands like swarms of grasshoppers. She fastened the heads to her back, she tied the hands to her belt. She plunged knee-deep in the soldiers’ blood, up to her hands in the warriors’ gore; with a staff she drove off her enemies, with the string of her bow, her opponents.

After this gory battle Anat purifies herself: She drew water and washed, the heavens’ dew, the earth’s oil, the rain of the Rider on the Clouds, dew that the heavens pour on her, rain that the stars pour on her. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


In the next scene, Baal sends messengers to summon Anat; this invitation, which includes one of those extended formulae that recur in the texts, is lyrical in tone: “Message of Baal the Conqueror, the word of the Conqueror of Warriors: ‘Remove war from the earth, set love in the ground, pour peace into the heart of the earth, rain down love on the heart of the fields. Hasten! hurry! rush! Run to me with your feet, race to me with your legs; for I have a word to tell you, a story to recount to you: the word of the tree and the charm of the stone, the whisper of the heavens to the earth, of the deeps to the stars. I understand the lightning that the heavens do not know, the word that human beings do not know, and earth’s masses cannot understand. Come, and I will reveal it: in the midst of my mountain, the divine Zaphon, in the sanctuary, in the mountain of my inheritance, in the pleasant place, in the hill I have conquered.’”

When Anat sees Baal’s messengers approaching, she is overcome with fear that another enemy threatens Baal. She lists the various enemies of Baal who have been defeated; first among them is Sea, who is given a full range of epithets, including “the dragon,” “the twisting serpent,” and “the sevenheaded monster.” Curiously, Anat herself claims credit for Sea’s defeat, as for that of the other enemies named. Clearly, there was more than one version of Baal’s defeat of Sea, for the one discussed above does not depict Anat as a participant in the battle; similarly, there is no account of combat between Baal and such adversaries as “the divine calf, the Rebel” or “El’s bitch, Fire.” These gaps in knowledge are salutary reminders of the limited nature of the sample of Ugaritic literature as yet discovered, and of the difficulty of combining the several tablets of the Baal cycle into a continuous narrative. When Baal’s messengers assure Anat that there is no danger and issue Baal’s invitation, Anat proceeds to visit Baal. Again a section is missing, and as the text resumes, the main plot line of this tablet is developed: the construction of a permanent abode for Baal. In the gap he apparently complains to Anat that despite his victory over Sea, he has no house like the other gods. The word house in Ugaritic, as in Hebrew, has several senses; here it means not just a dwelling but a permanent abode for the god, hence a temple. The construction of a temple for the god who has been victorious over the forces of chaos is a typical motif; in Enuma elish in particular, after Marduk establishes cosmic order and creates human beings from the blood of Tiamat’s spouse, the gods themselves build a temple for Marduk, and after its completion they are his guests at an inaugural banquet. Baal’s elevation to kingship over the gods and human beings is therefore incomplete as long as he has no house like the other gods. Anat goes to El to obtain his approval for the erection of a temple for Baal; her request includes a characteristic threat of violence if she is refused: “I’ll smash your head; I’ll make your gray hair run with blood, your gray beard with gore.” ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Before El can give his assent, however, his consort Asherah has to agree; mollified by a bribe of marvelous gifts specially fashioned by Kothar, the divine craftsman, she intercedes for Baal: “You are great, El, you are truly wise; your gray beard truly instructs you. . . . Now Baal will begin the rainy season, the season of wadis in flood; and he will sound his voice in the clouds, flash his lightning to the earth. Let him complete his house of cedar! let him construct his house of bricks!”

Anat brings the news of El’s approval to her brother; Baal then gathers appropriate building materials—silver, gold, lapis lazuli—and commissions Kothar to begin work. As they discuss the plans, Kothar recommends that a window be included; despite his repeated urgings, however, Baal refuses. The house is built, and with the other gods Baal celebrates its completion at a banquet, after which he goes on a triumphal tour of his domain. When he returns, he has apparently changed his mind about the window, and at his request Kothar makes one; from this window, appropriately described as a slit in the clouds, Baal thunders, the earth quakes, and his enemies flee. Baal’s enthronement as king is complete. Baal and Death. Near the end of the tablet on which the above episode occurs, Baal proclaims: “No other king or non-king shall set his power over the earth. I will send no tribute to El’s son Death, no homage to El’s Beloved, the Hero. Let Death cry to himself, let the Beloved grumble in his heart; for I alone will rule over the gods; I alone will fatten gods and human beings; I alone will satisfy earth’s masses.”

This challenge to Death is best explained by the incomplete nature of Baal’s triumph: while he has defeated Sea and has been proclaimed king by the divine assembly, the major force of Death is still not subdued. Like Sea, Death is El’s son; apparently, Baal’s accession to kingship over the gods requires the elimination of this rival as well. The enigmatic dispute between Baal and Kothar about whether Baal’s house is to have a window may be an indication of Baal’s awareness of this requirement. Baal’s initial reluctance can be better understood by reference to Jeremiah 9:21: Death has come up through our windows, he has entered our fortresses, cutting down the children in the street and the young men in the squares.

Since the decipherment of Ugaritic it has become clear that in many biblical passages that mention death, there is at least indirect reference to the Canaanite deity representing death (Hebrew and Ugaritic, mot) and not merely a designation of the cessation of life. The verse in Jeremiah is one such passage, and may reflect a popular belief that the god Death entered a house through the window. Seen in this light, Baal is at first unwilling to include a window in his house because he fears giving Death access; later, after his inaugural banquet and triumphal march, his grasp of power is, he thinks, more secure.



In any event, having proclaimed his supremacy, Baal sends messengers to Death; their names are Gapn and Ugar (“vine” and “field,” appropriately reflecting Baal’s aspect as god of the storm that brings fertility and thus anticipating the coming contest with its antithesis). Baal directs them: “Head toward the midst of his city, the Swamp, Muck, the throne where he sits, Phlegm, the land of his inheritance.”

Death’s underworld domain is, like the grave, a damp, dark, unpleasant place; it is reached from his earthly territory, the barren, hot desert, where (Baal continues) “Sun, the gods’ lamp, burns, the heavens shimmer under the sway of El’s Beloved, Death.”

Suitably warned and instructed, Baal’s two messengers leave. Because the text is broken here and even an entire tablet may be missing, it is not wholly clear what the gist of Baal’s message is; a plausible guess is that Baal wishes to invite Death to his new palace. But Death will have none of such niceties; Baal is condemned for his destruction of Sea and its cosmic consequences, and the sentence is death at Death’s hands. Gapn and Ugar return with Death’s reply: “One lip to the earth, one lip to the heavens; he stretches his tongue to the stars. Baal must enter inside him; he must go down into his mouth, like an olive cake, the earth’s produce, the fruit of the trees.”

Without any sign of resistance, Baal agrees: “Hail, El’s son Death!” “I am your servant; I am yours forever.” The tablet is very fragmentary here, leaving only the skeleton of a plot. Baal is to take with him all his companions and accoutrements—cloud, winds, lightning bolts, rain— and to proceed to the underworld; then “the gods will know that you have died.” Apparently he does so, for when a readable text resumes, two messengers are reporting to El: “We arrived at the pleasant place, the desert pasture, at the lovely fields on Death’s shore. We came upon Baal: he had fallen to the ground. Baal the Conqueror has died; the Prince, the Lord of the Earth, has perished.”

El’s reaction is, initially, one of grief: He poured earth on his head as a sign of mourning, on his skull the dust in which he rolled; he covered his loins with sackcloth. He gashed his skin with a knife, he made incisions with a razor; he cut his cheeks and chin, he raked his arms with a reed, he plowed his chest like a garden, he raked his back like a valley. He raised his voice and shouted: “Baal is dead: what will happen to the peoples? Dagan’s son: what will happen to the masses?”

Meanwhile, Anat independently discovers Baal’s corpse, and she too mourns in the same formulaic fashion. Afterward, with the help of Sun, she brings Baal’s body back to Mount Zaphon, where she buries him and offers the appropriate funerary sacrifice. Then she heads toward El’s abode, where her

announcement of Baal’s death occasions El’s suggestion to Asherah that one of her sons replace Baal as king; at least two try and are found wanting. After a considerable gap in the text, Anat is described as she is about to encounter Death: Like the heart of a cow for her calf, like the heart of a ewe for her lamb, so was Anat’s heart for Baal.

Anat grabs Death’s clothes and insists that he give up her brother; Death refuses, or at least is unable to grant her request. Time passes; in Baal’s absence the forces of drought and sterility are dominant; “the heavens shimmered under the sway of El’s son, Death.” Again Anat approaches Death; no words are exchanged, but this time Baal’s sister is as violent in grief as she is in battle: She seized El’s son, Death: with a sword she split him; with a sieve she winnowed him; with a fire she burned him; with a hand-mill she ground him; in the field she sowed him.

This agricultural imagery is striking: for Baal, the dead god of fertility, to be restored to life and for Death, the living god of sterility, to be destroyed, the mysterious processes of the natural cycle have to be ritually repeated. It is important to note that this is not the ordinary annual cycle but rather the periodic disaster that a prolonged drought can cause; if the life-giving winter rains are to fail, there will be no crops, no food for animals or humans. In myth this is represented by the struggle between Baal and Death; with Baal dead, the forces of sterility prevail, and Baal can be revivified only by Death’s death. Only if Death, whose appetite is insatiable, whose gaping jaws have swallowed up Baal like a lamb or a kid, is himself swallowed up, can Baal’s power return. In the next scene, El has a prophetic dream in which he foresees Baal’s restoration and its effects: In a dream of El, the Kind, the Compassionate, in a vision of the Creator of Creatures, the heavens rained down oil, the wadis ran with honey.

Baal is restored to power, and as a later heir of Canaanite tradition would put it (1 Cor. 15:54–55): Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?

(Compare Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14.) The Baal cycle does not quite end here; there remain his revenge on his rivals and yet another successful struggle with Death after a seven-year interval. The latter confirms the analysis of this last episode as the mythical representation of an occasional rather than an annual event. The relationship between El and Baal is complex. On a narrative level, it is difficult not to sense El’s less than enthusiastic acceptance of Baal’s dominion. In the first episode he is willing to hand Baal over to Sea, “El’s Beloved”; in the second, both he and Asherah are scornful of Baal’s position, for “he has no house like the other gods”; and in the third, ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


despite his real (although stylized) grief at Baal’s death, he is quick to suggest replacements from his own family. Furthermore, throughout the cycle El remains the head of the pantheon and presides over the council of the gods. Yet this very cycle, the most extensive among the surviving texts from Ugarit, tells of Baal’s rise to some kind of preeminence. At the very least it can be suggested that Canaanite ideology was not static, and the mythological literature reflects this fluidity. While Baal had become the patron god of Ugarit, this did not mean that its citizens rejected either the worship of El or the traditional understanding of his role in the world of the gods. Other mythological texts. In other texts from the same archaeological context as the Baal cycle, El has a dominant, sometimes even an exclusive, role. There follows a discussion of some of the better-preserved texts that also have to do with the Canaanite gods. Birth of the beautiful and gracious gods. Unlike the other texts treated here, this tablet (of which some seventysix lines survive) combines mythological material with ritual rubrics; the former is apparently the accompanying libretto for the action prescribed by the latter. The central portion of the tablet describes the conception and birth of the deities Dawn (Shahar, probably the morning star) and Dusk (Shalim, the evening star). As it opens, El is at the seashore, where two women became aroused as they observe his virility: El’s hand [a euphemism] grew as long as the Sea, El’s hand as long as the Ocean.

In language full of double entendre, the text relates how El shoots and cooks a bird, and then seduces the women: The two women became El’s wives, El’s wives forever and ever. He bowed low, he kissed their lips; behold, their lips were sweet, as sweet as pomegranates. When they kissed, they conceived, when they embraced, they became pregnant; they began labor and gave birth to Dawn and Dusk.

Two divine sons are thus sired by El, who is in full possession of his vigor and virility. As his offspring, they “suck nipples of the Lady’s breasts”; “the Lady” is El’s principal consort, the goddess Asherah. But the two young gods have insatiable appetites, comparable (because the same formula is used) to that of Death himself: One lip to the earth, one lip to the heavens: into their mouths entered the birds of the heavens and the fish in the sea.

So, at El’s command, they are banished to the desert; after seven years they are finally allowed to reenter the land by “the guard of the sown.” Here the text breaks off. This summary does not begin to deal with the many problems of interpretation posed by the laconic text, nor is it clear how the first portion of the tablet is related to the material just recounted. The tablet begins with a first-person ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


invocation to “the beautiful and gracious gods,” almost certainly Dawn and Dusk, who are minor but established figures in the Ugaritic pantheon; Dawn also occurs in biblical tradition (Is. 14:12). Their exile in the desert may be a mythical explanation of their perceived origin: in the ancient view both day and night rose in the east, and from the Canaanites’ perspective the eastern limit of their territory was the great Syrian desert. The details of the ritual, in which particular words and actions are to be repeated seven times and performed in the presence of the king, queen, and royal court, are highly obscure. Various deities are mentioned, various sacrifices are to be offered, and while there are some verbal connections with the mythic section, it is difficult to interpret the whole with coherence; yet it is improbable that the two parts are not somehow related. What is clear is that the myth depicts El with full enjoyment of his generative powers, and it is likely that the concern underlying both the ritual and the narrative parts is the maintenance of fertility. Marriage of Nikkal and the moon god. This relatively brief text is a kind of epithalamium, or wedding hymn, celebrating the marriage of the moon god (Yarih), “the heavens’ lamp,” to Nikkal wa-Ib. The first part of the latter’s composite name is ultimately derived from the Sumerian title of the moon goddess Ningal, “great lady,” and its second half is connected with the word for “fruit.” The tablet opens with an invocation of Nikkal and Hirhib, an otherwise unknown deity called “the king of summer,” and then tells of the Moon’s passion for Nikkal. To obtain his intended bride he uses the services of Hirhib, the divine marriage broker, offering to pay her father as bride-price a thousand silver pieces, ten thousand gold pieces, and gems of lapis lazuli. Hirhib suggests that Moon marry instead Baal’s daughter Pidray (“misty”) or someone else, but Moon is adamant; the marriage with Nikkal is arranged, and the bride-price is paid: Her father set the beam of the scales; her mother the trays of the scales; her brothers arranged the standards; her sisters took care of the weights.

This portion of the tablet ends with another invocation: “Let me sing of Nikkal wa-Ib, the light of Moon; may Moon give you light.” The brief second part of the tablet consists of another hymnic invocation of the goddesses of childbirth, the Wise Women (Kotharatu). Their presence, as in the account of the birth of Aqhat (see below), guarantees the conception and safe delivery of babies. El’s banquet. This short tablet provides a candid glimpse of the gods, and especially El, as they participate in a ritual symposium. El invites the gods to his house, where he has prepared a feast; among those present are Moon, Astarte, and Anat. The gods ate and drank; they drank wine until they were full, new wine until they were drunk.



At this point the party becomes rowdy, and El’s gatekeeper rebukes the guests; El too is chided, apparently for allowing the unruly behavior. Then, however, El himself becomes intoxicated and decides to retire; en route he has an alcoholic hallucination of a figure with two horns and a tail (a possible satanic prototype). Despite the support of two attendants, He fell in his excrement and urine, El fell like a dead man, El, like those who go down into the earth.

In other words, he is dead drunk. The reverse side of the tablet is extremely fragmentary, but, appropriately, it seems to contain a remedy for hangovers. In the middle of the text, El is described as seated, or enthroned, in his mrzh: (“symposium”). The mrzh: (Hebrew marzeah: ) was a chronologically and geographically widespread ritual institution, mentioned several times in texts from Ugarit (including once in the fragmentary Rephaim texts, discussed below), twice in the Bible (Jer. 16:5, Am. 6:7), and in Phoenician/Punic texts from Sidon and Marseilles. It is also mentioned in Aramaic texts from Elephantine in Egypt, from Petra in Jordan, and from Palmyra in Syria. Scholars disagree as to the precise character of this institution, especially its possible connection with funereal practices and memorials; there is no doubt that this text contains at least part of its mythological background. EPIC TEXTS. The two major Canaanite literary cycles with human protagonists are Aqhat and Kirta. As in more familiar classical heroic epics, however, and as in other ancient Near Eastern sources, such as the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh epic, the gods play a significant role in the narrative; from a temporal point of view, actions in both the divine and human realms occur on a single continuum. Thus, while a specific time is not indicated in either of these two texts, the time frame in which the narrative takes place is historical at least in the sense that the cosmic order has been established. Aqhat. This title is an ancient one, appearing as a cataloging device at the beginning of the third major tablet of the cycle that is preserved. Nevertheless, the story is part of a larger one about Aqhat’s father, Danel, a royal figure whose righteousness and wisdom were legendary (see Ez. 14:14, 20; 28:2). The surviving remnants of the cycle deal with the relationship of Danel and his son, and as the extant story begins, Danel is described performing a seven-day incubation ritual, occasioned by his lack of progeny. A period of seven days or seven years occurs some five times in Aqhat, and elsewhere in the Ugaritic corpus as well: Baal’s initial defeat of Death lasted seven years, and in the Aqhat text (see below), Danel cursed the land by calling for an absence of Baal’s generative powers: “For seven years let Baal fail, eight, the Rider on the Clouds: no dew, no showers, no surging of the double deep, no benefit of Baal’s voice.”

This is reminiscent of the alternation of seven years of plenty and seven of famine in the biblical story of Joseph. The frequent use of the number seven applies to days as well; in both

the Ugaritic texts and the Bible, seven days is the conventional length of a journey, and the revelation about to be made to Danel recalls God’s call to Moses on the seventh day (Ex. 24:16). Other biblical examples include the seven days of creation at the beginning of Genesis and the literal tour de force of the collapse of Jericho, which occurred on the seventh day after seven priests blowing on seven trumpets had marched seven times around the city. It is unlikely that this repeated use of seven is much more than literary convention, but its frequent occurrence in Ugaritic and biblical literatures underscores the close relationship between them. On the seventh and final day of Danel’s ritual, Baal, Danel’s patron, addresses the assembly of the gods on Danel’s behalf: “Unlike his brothers, he has no son; no heir, like his cousins; yet he has made an offering for the gods to eat, an offering for the holy ones to drink.”

In response, El blesses Danel and then catalogs the benefits that a son will provide: “When he kisses his wife she will become pregnant; when he embraces her she will conceive: she will become pregnant, she will give birth, she will conceive; and there will be a son in his house, an heir inside his palace, to set up a stela for his divine ancestor, a family shrine in the sanctuary; to free his spirit from the earth, guard his footsteps from the Slime; to crush those who rebel against him, drive off his oppressors; to eat his offering in the temple of Baal, his portion in the temple of El; to hold his hand when he is drunk, support him when he is full of wine; to patch his roof when it leaks, wash his clothes when they are dirty.”

Heartened by the divine promise, Danel returns to his palace, where with the assistance of the Wise Women, the goddesses of marriage and childbirth, conception occurs after seven days. This list of ritual and personal filial duties suggests that one of the epic’s purposes was didactic: to school its audience in proper social behavior, which included not only the responsibilities of a son to his father but the model conduct of kings, of daughters and sisters, and in fact, of all humans in their complex relationships with one another and with the gods. The picture of the childless patriarch is a commonplace in Canaanite literature. In the Ugaritic texts, the opening of Kirta (see below) is remarkably similar to that of the Danel cycle, and in Genesis, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob each are initially either childless or lacking descendants from their favorite or principal wives. In each case, offspring are promised by their patron deity: in Abraham’s case, in the context of a nocturnal revelation, like Danel’s (Gn. 15), and in Isaac’s, in response to a prayer by the patriarch (Gn. 25:21). In the more extensive Jacob cycle, the promise of numerous descendants is made at night (Gn. 28:11–17) and is granted in response to Jacob’s favorite wife Rachel’s specific prayer (Gn. 30:22). The stories of Hannah (Samuel’s mother), of SamENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


son’s parents, and to some extent of Job are further variations of this motif. In the biblical narratives of Israel’s ancestors as preserved in Genesis it is further significant that the patron deity who pronounces the blessing on each patriarch, although called Yahweh in the present sources, is elsewhere unequivocally identified as El (see Ex. 6:3; cf. Gn. 14:19–20; 49:25). As his epithets in biblical literature and especially in Genesis make clear, this is none other than the head of the Canaanite pantheon. It is noteworthy that in Aqhat, even though Baal is Danel’s patron (as his epithet, “the Healer’s man,” indicates), the blessing is given by El; Baal acts only as mediator between the childless king and “El, the Bull, the Creator of Creatures.” The middle third of this first of the cycle’s three tablets is missing; in this section the birth of Danel’s son Aqhat must have been related. The story then resumes. As Danel is engaged in typical royal judicial activity at the city gate, judging the cases of widows and orphans, he sees Kothar approaching with a bow and arrows. The divine craftsman gives this weapon to Danel as a gift for his son; after a suitable feast, prepared by Danel’s wife for their divine guest, the god departs. In the next episode Anat, having seen the wonderfully crafted weapon, offers to buy it from Aqhat; the latter refuses, proposing instead that he will supply the raw materials necessary for the construction of another one by Kothar. Anat goes further: “If you want life, Aqhat the Hero, if you want life, I’ll give it to you, immortality—I’ll make it yours. You’ll be able to match years with Baal, months with the sons of El.”

Again Aqhat refuses, and this time his response goes beyond the proper limits: “Don’t lie to me, Virgin, for to a hero your lies are trash. A mortal—what does he get in the end? what does a mortal finally get? Plaster poured on his head, lime on top of his skull. As every man dies, I will die; yes, I too will surely die. And I have something else to tell you: bows are for men! Do women ever hunt?”

The first part of Aqhat’s response, while realistic, is bad enough: he implicitly denies Anat’s ability to provide what she had promised, because from his perspective, old age and death are inescapable. But in insulting her prowess with such weapons, Aqhat is challenging the goddess’s very essence. Anat replies with a characteristically furious threat, and goes to report the matter to El. The second and shortest tablet of the cycle retains only two of its original four columns. In the first column El accedes, apparently with reluctance, to Anat’s insistence on revenge, and in the last Anat carries out her threat: When Aqhat sat down to eat, the son of Danel to his meal, vultures swooped over him, a flock of birds soared above. Among the vultures swooped Anat; she set him [Yatpan, Anat’s henchman] over Aqhat. He struck him ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


twice on the skull, three times over the ear; like a slaughterer he made his blood run, like a butcher, run to his knees. His breath left him like wind, his spirit like a breeze, like smoke from his nostrils.

The end of this tablet and the beginning of the next are badly broken; apparently Anat regrets her action, at least in part because while Aqhat was being killed his bow dropped into the sea. When the text becomes legible, Danel is again sitting at the gate presiding over legal matters. His daughter Pughat notices that the vegetation has withered and that vultures are swooping over her father’s house; both are clear signs of violent, unnatural death. With his clothes torn in mourning, Danel cursed the clouds in the still heat, the rain of the clouds that falls in summer, the dew that drops on the grapes.

Thus, Danel invokes a seven-year drought (see above), the absence of Baal’s pluvial benefits. Then, at her father’s instructions, Pughat, who got up early to draw water, who brushed the dew from the barley, who knew the course of the stars, in tears she harnessed the ass, in tears she roped up the donkey, in tears she lifted her father, she put him on the ass’s back, on the splendid back of the donkey.

At this point neither Danel nor Pughat is aware of Aqhat’s death; together they set out on a tour of the blasted fields. There, Danel poignantly wishes that they could be restored, so that “the hand of Aqhat the Hero would harvest you, place you in the granary.”

While they are still in the fields, messengers appear and relate the facts of Aqhat’s death. Danel is stricken: His feet shook, his face broke out in sweat, his back was as though shattered, his joints trembled, his vertebrae weakened.

Finally, Danel lifts up his eyes, sees the vultures overhead, and curses them: “May Baal shatter the vultures’ wings, may Baal shatter their pinions; let them fall at my feet. I will split their gizzards and look: if there is fat, if there is bone, I will weep and I will bury him, I will put him into the hole of the gods of the earth.”

Three times Danel examines the innards of various vultures for remains of Aqhat; they are found at last inside Samal, the mother of vultures, and presumably are given proper burial. Danel then curses the three cities near the scene of the crime and returns to his palace to begin the mourning period. For seven years the mourning goes on, and at its conclusion Danel dismisses the mourners and offers the appropriate sacrifice. In the last surviving brief episode, Pughat asks her father’s benediction: “Bless me, that I may go with your blessing; favor me, that I may go with your favor: I will kill my brother’s



killer, put an end to whoever put an end to my mother’s son.”

The blessing having been given, Pughat, like the Jewish heroine Judith, applies cosmetics and puts on her finery, under which she hides a sword. She reaches Yatpan’s tent at sundown, and he welcomes her, boasting: “The hand that killed Aqhat the Hero can kill a thousand enemies.”

Our text ends tantalizingly: Twice she gave him wine to drink, she gave him wine to drink.

Interpretation of this epic is difficult because of the gaps in the narrative and the abrupt break at the end of the preserved portion, but some light is shed on the main lines of the story by other ancient sources. The encounter between Anat and Aqhat is reminiscent of similar episodes in classical literatures, and especially of a portion of the Gilgamesh epic. There, the goddess Ishtar (Inanna) tries to seduce Gilgamesh; he repudiates her advances and reminds her in arrogant, insulting detail how she had behaved toward other mortals she had loved after she had finished with them. Ishtar is naturally furious and complains bitterly to her father, Anu, the head of the pantheon. At first he resists her desire to take revenge on Gilgamesh by setting against him a powerful animal adversary, the Bull of Heaven, telling her that if her request is granted there will be seven years of drought. Finally, however, Anu relents, when Ishtar tells him that she has stored up sufficient grain and fodder. The parallels between this episode and Aqhat are numerous and striking, but there are also significant differences. While Ishtar is the Mesopotamian counterpart of Anat, a goddess of love and of war, Gilgamesh and Aqhat are not simply literary cultural variants. In particular, it seems unlikely that the bow in the Ugaritic epic is a symbolic substitute for Aqhat’s sexual organ: because it had been manufactured by Kothar, a substitute could be made for it, and after Aqhat’s death it dropped into the sea. The Egyptian myth of Osiris offers another avenue of comparison. In that tale Isis, the sister (and wife) of the dead Osiris, retrieves the murdered corpse of her brother, gives it a proper burial, and then encourages their son Horus to avenge his father’s death; Osiris is, significantly, the god of the regenerating vegetation. It seems, then, that the Gilgamesh, Osiris, and Aqhat cycles have a common thread, the threat to continued fertility. Extrapolating from these links, it is likely first that Pughat does avenge her brother’s death, probably by destroying Anat’s henchman Yatpan—it turns out that women hunt after all! Second, given the importance assigned to Danel’s lack of an heir and the positive recollection of him in Ezekiel, it is difficult not to assume that he, like Job, is granted rehabilitation, that the land is restored to production, and that a substitute son is born, all in other episodes of the Danel cycle not yet discovered.

The Rephaim texts. Three other tablets, extremely fragmentary ones, give some hint of the outcome of the story. Like most of the texts treated in this article, they were written down by Ilimilku, and because one of them mentions Danel by name, they are part of the larger Danel tradition. Most scholars refer to them as the Rephaim texts, after the Hebrew pronunciation of the name of their principal figures, the Rephaim; this title is probably to be translated (despite the Hebrew vocalization) as “the Healers,” although some scholars prefer “the Healthy (or Healed) Ones.” These “Healers” seem to have been minor deities of the underworld. (See Job 26:5; in other biblical passages the term Rephaim is used for the legendary pre-Israelite inhabitants of the land of Canaan, probably by extension from the sense of the deified dead.) They also seem to have been connected with Baal; recall Danel’s epithet, “the Healer’s man.” In these texts the Healers visit Danel’s threshing floor and plantation, presumably to restore them. Four broken lines read as follows: “Behold your son, behold . . . your grandson . . . the small one will kiss your lips.”

It is tempting to see here the promise, if not the fact, of a new heir for Danel. It has even been conjectured that Aqhat himself was restored to life, somewhat analogously to Baal’s resurrection, but this is unlikely because Aqhat was human, not divine, and he himself had stated the Canaanite view of mortality: “As every man dies, I will die.” Kirta. This epic, consisting of three tablets, is incomplete: at least one additional tablet is missing, for the third ends abruptly in mid-sentence. Its eponymous hero, Kirta (a name also vocalized as Keret), was, like Danel, a king, and as the story begins he too has no heir. As he laments his lot, he has a revelatory dream in which El appears to him; parallels in Aqhat and in the ancestral stories of Genesis indicate that his sleep may have been part of a formal incubation ritual. El’s instructions to Kirta amount to more than ninety lines of text, and they are immediately repeated, with only minor variations, as the childless ruler carries out the divine commands. First, Kirta offers a sacrifice to the gods, and then he prepares an army for his campaign against King Pabil of Udm, whose daughter, the Lady Hurraya, is to be given to Kirta as his wife. There is almost universal conscription: The bachelor closed his house; the widow hired a substitute; the sick man carried his bed; the blind man was assigned a station; even the new husband came out: he led his wife to another, his love to a stranger.

This army proceeds like a swarm of locusts for three days, after which it arrives at the sanctuary of Asherah of Tyre. There Kirta vows that if his suit is successful, he will donate double the bride-price to the goddess. On the evening of the seventh day he reaches Udm and lays siege to the city: They attacked the cities, they raided the towns; they drove the woodcutters from the fields, and the gatherers ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


of straw from the threshing floors; they drove the water carriers from the well, and the women filling their jars from the spring.

After seven days of siege Pabil begins to negotiate, offering Kirta silver, gold, slaves, and chariots. But Kirta rejects these, insisting that there is only one thing he wants: “Give me rather what is not in my house: give me the Lady Hurraya, the fairest of your firstborn: her fairness is like Anat’s, her beauty is like Astarte’s, her eyebrows are lapis lazuli, her eyes are jeweled bowls.”

This is the end of the narrative of Kirta’s fulfillment of El’s command, and also the conclusion of the first tablet. The beginning of the second tablet is damaged; as the text resumes, Pabil accedes to Kirta’s suit, with regret: “As a cow lows for her calf, as recruits long for their mothers, so will the Udmites sigh.”

After some missing lines, the council of the gods assembles in procession. Some of them are listed: the Bull (El), Baal the Conqueror, Prince Moon, Kothar-wa-Hasis, the Maiden (Anat), and Prince Resheph. This assembly gathers to witness El’s blessing, at Baal’s behest, of Kirta’s marriage: “Kirta, you have taken a wife, you have taken a wife into your house, you have brought a maiden into your court. She will bear seven sons for you, she will produce eight for you; she will bear Yassib the Lad, who will drink the milk of Asherah, suck the breasts of the Virgin Anat, the two wet nurses of the gods.”

The close association with the gods of the offspring of royal but human parents is a feature of the Canaanite ideology of kingship. Seven years passed, and El’s blessing proves effective, but Asherah is angry because Kirta has forgotten his vow. Meanwhile, Kirta plans a feast for his nobles, but during its preparation he is stricken with a mortal disease, apparently as a punishment from Asherah. As the third tablet opens, Kirta’s son Ilha’u is expressing consternation at his father’s illness: “How can it be said that Kirta is El’s son, an offspring of the Kind and Holy One? Or do the gods die? Do the Kind One’s offspring not live on?”

Ilha’u shares his dismay with his sister Thitmanit (“the eighth,” or Octavia), who repeats her brother’s words of confusion. After another gap the text tells of the disastrous consequences of Kirta’s illness: The plowmen lifted their heads, the sowers of grain their backs: gone was the food from their bins, gone was the wine from their skins, gone was the oil from their vats.

Again there is a break in the text, and then El intervenes personally; he asks the divine council seven times if any of their number can cure Kirta, “but none of the gods answered him.” Finally he takes the task upon himself: “I will work magic, I will bring relief; I will expel the sickness, I will drive out the disease.” ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


To do so he takes clay and creates the goddess Shataqat (whose name means “she causes [disease] to pass away”), then sends her to Kirta. She succeeds; “Death was broken,” and Kirta’s appetite returns. In the final scene, after Kirta has been restored to his throne, his rule is challenged by one of his sons on the ground that because of his weakness, he has ceased to perform the expected functions of a king: “You do not judge the cases of widows; you do not preside over the hearings of the oppressed; you do not drive out those who plunder the poor; you do not feed the orphan before you, the widow behind your back.”

Kirta’s response is to curse his son, praying that Horon, an underworld deity, and Astarte, “the name of Baal,” will smash his son’s skull. The plot of the Kirta cycle is relatively straightforward (at least where the text is continuous). Kirta also provides a perspective on the Canaanite ideology of kingship. Among the duties of the king was to maintain the social order; he did so by his effective support of the powerless in society— the poor, widows, orphans—all groups who are mentioned in innumerable ancient Near Eastern sources as the special responsibility of kings, both divine and human. Thus, his son’s attempted coup to seize Kirta’s throne was motivated by the alleged lack of justice for the powerless; Absalom’s revolt against his father, King David, in 2 Samuel 15 was initially successful because Absalom was able to appeal to a similar failure in the royal administration of justice. Another aspect of the maintenance of the social order was the provision for an orderly succession; Kirta’s (and Danel’s) desire for male descendants was prompted by the recognition of this royal responsibility. The most complex feature of Canaanite royal ideology, however, was the quasi-divine status of the king; as the repeated question of Kirta’s children—“Do the Kind One’s offspring not live on?”—shows, it was puzzling to the Canaanites as well. The Kirta cycle probably recounts the legendary tale of the founder of a Canaanite dynasty. While there is evidence that the kings of Ugarit, like those of the Hittites, were deified after their death, there is no suggestion of actual divine parentage for them. Kirta’s epithet “El’s son” must therefore have a nonbiological sense, expressing in mythological language the close connection between human and divine rule. Thus, just as Baal was responsible for the continuing fertility of the earth, which failed during the period of his subjugation to Death, so the king shared in this responsibility; when Kirta was ill, the natural order was upset. (Psalm 72, one of the Israelite royal hymns, is an extended elaboration of the positive connection of natural prosperity with the king.) The evidence of a number of biblical passages that speak of the king as the son of Yahweh is instructive here. The language of divine sonship is not just a literary device but seems to have been part of the actual coronation ceremony, in which the newly anointed king would proclaim:



“I will tell of Yahweh’s decree. He said to me, ‘You are my son; this day I have given birth to you.’” (Ps. 2:7)

Similar language is found in 2 Samuel 7:14 and in Isaiah 9:2–7, a prophetic coronation oracle, the divine council itself proclaims: “To us a child has been born, to us a son has been given.”

The language of sonship also occurs in Psalms 89:26, immediately after a passage that expresses in the clearest way the close relationship between deity and king. Earlier in the psalm Yahweh is praised as the one who (like Baal) rules the raging of the sea, scattering his enemies with his mighty arms (vv. 9–10); in verse 23, using the traditional parallel formula for the storm god’s enemy, the deity states that he will share his cosmic powers with the Davidic king: “I will set his hand on the sea, and on the rivers his right hand.”

CONCLUSION. This article has dealt primarily with the corpus of Canaanite literature from Ugarit and has not discussed in detail the many other Canaanite sources extant. Most prominent among these are hundreds of inscriptions from the first millennium BCE in the Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew, Moabite, Ammonite, and Edomite languages; references to Canaanite religion in various Greek and Roman writers; and, more remotely, scattered material in Mesopotamian sources. It should be realized, however, that with rare exceptions, this material is not literature in the sense in which the term has been interpreted above. Throughout this article there has also been an effort to adumbrate the significance of the Ugaritic texts for the interpretation of the other great corpus of literature that may be subsumed in the designation Canaanite—the Bible. Much more could be added on this topic, including discussion of the council of the gods; the enthronement festival of the deity as represented in Psalms; and, in general, the pervasive use of Canaanite imagery, formulas, and ideology by biblical writers, especially when describing the character and activity of Yahweh. The writers were themselves aware of this relationship and the problems it raised; this partially explains the consistent portrayal of ancient Israel as—at least in the ideal—a people set apart from their historical context, their hostility toward their non-Yahwistic neighbors, and the insistence on the uniqueness of Yahweh. Yet biblical tradition can, on occasion, be remarkably candid about the origins of Israel and its culture. In the light of Canaanite religious and mythological literature, the declaration of the prophet Ezekiel to Jerusalem is strikingly apposite: “Your origin and your birth are of the land of the Canaanites” (Ez. 16:3).

BIBLIOGRAPHY The official publication of the major Ugaritic texts is Andrée Herdner, Corpus des tablettes en cunéiformes alphabétiques découvertes à Ras Shamra-Ugarit de 1929 à 1939 (Paris, 1963); the first volume contains the texts, preceded by extensive bibliographies and copiously annotated, and the second con-

tains photographs and hand copies. The standard edition used by most scholars is Manfred Dietrich, Oswald Loretz, and Joaquín Sanmartín, The Cuneiform Alphabetic Texts from Ugarit, Ras Ibn Hani, and Other Places, 2d ed. (Munster, Germany, 1995); it is generally abbreviated as CAT (or sometimes KTU, from the title of the original German edition). Several accessible translations for the general reader exist. The translations in this article are the author’s own, revised from those first published in Michael David Coogan, Stories from Ancient Canaan (Philadelphia, 1978) and used by permission of Westminster John Knox Press. That work also includes helpful introductions to each of the four cycles that are translated, as well as to the Canaanite material from Ugarit in general. The best recent translation of the Ugaritic texts into English is Simon B. Parker, ed., Ugaritic Narrative Poetry (Atlanta, 1997), in which translations by a number of scholars are juxtaposed to transcriptions of the original Ugaritic; unfortunately there is no consistency in this volume, so that the same Ugaritic words and phrases are translated differently by different scholars. Also important are Gregorio del Olmo Lete, Mitos, leyendas y rituales de los semitas occidentales, 2d ed. (Madrid, 1998), and the translations, mostly by Dennis Pardee, found in William W. Hallo, ed., The Context of Scripture, vol. 1, Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World (Leiden, 1997), pp. 237–375. Nicolas Wyatt, Religious Texts from Ugarit: The Words of Ilimilku and His Colleagues, 2d ed. (London and New York, 2002), which includes a number of ritual texts as well as the myths and epics considered here, is often idiosyncratic. Among older versions, especially valuable are Textes ougaritiques, vol. 1 of Mythes et légendes, by André Caquot, Maurice Sznycer, and Andrée Herdner (Paris, 1974), and Canaanite Myths and Legends, by John C. L. Gibson, 2d ed (Edinburgh, 1978). A number of studies have been devoted to individual myths and epics. Among the best are Mark S. Smith, The Ugaritic Baal Cycle (Leiden, 1994), and Simon B. Parker, The Pre-biblical Narrative Tradition: Essays on the Ugaritic Poems Keret and Aqhat (Atlanta, 1989). It is also important to understand the myths and epics in the larger context of the ritual texts from Ugarit; a good starting point is Gregorio del Olmo Lete, Canaanite Religion according to the Liturgical Texts of Ugarit (Bethesda, Md., 1999), translated by W. G. E. Watson. Grammars and dictionaries are also important resources. Among the most comprehensive are Gregorio del Olmo Lete and Joaquín Sanmartín, A Dictionary of the Ugaritic Language in the Alphabetic Tradition (Leiden, 2003), translated by Wilfred G. E. Watson, and Josef Tropper, Ugaritische Grammatik (Munster, Germany, 2000). Since their discovery and decipherment, the Ugaritic texts have been the focus of a steady stream of investigation. A useful summary of the history of scholarship is Mark S. Smith, Untold Stories: The Bible and Ugaritic Studies in the Twentieth Century (Peabody, Mass., 2001). A fuller view of Ugaritic studies at the turn of the millennium is provided by the essays in Handbook of Ugaritic Studies, edited by Wilfred G. E. Watson and Nicolas Wyatt (Leiden, 1999). See also the lengthy review of that volume, providing many corrections especially on matters of detail, by Dennis Pardee, “Ugaritic Studies at the End of the 20th Century,” Bulletin of the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


American Schools of Oriental Research 320 (November 2000): 49–86. MICHAEL D. COOGAN (1987





CANDRAK¯IRTI (Tib., Zla ba grags pa; Chin., Yuecheng; Jpn., Gessho¯), Indian Buddhist dialectician. Scholars have identified at least three Candrak¯ırtis. The first, who will be referred to as “Candrak¯ırti I,” was a renowned Madhyamaka (Ma¯dhyamika) philosopher who lived around 600– 650 CE; the second, “Candrak¯ırti II,” was a Tantric master assumed to have lived slightly later than the former; and the third, “Candrak¯ırti III,” was a Buddhist thinker of the eleventh century. Biographies are available only in Tibetan sources such as the histories of Bu ston, Ta¯rana¯tha, and Sumpa mkhan po. These sources are not particularly helpful to the historian, for they tend to confuse history and legend and freely interchange the lives of the three Candrak¯ırtis. This did not pose a great problem in Tibet, however, for the Tibetan tradition acknowledges only one Candrak¯ırti, who lived for three or four hundred years. Candrak¯ırti I wrote several important commentaries on the works of Na¯ga¯rjuna and A¯ryadeva: (1) the Prasannapada¯ (available in Sanskrit in Bibliotheca Buddhica 4, hereafter cited as Bibl. Bud.), a commentary on Na¯ga¯rjuna’s Mu¯lamadhyamakaka¯rika¯; (2) the Yuktis: as: t:ika¯vr: tti (Derge edition of the Tibetan Tripit: aka 3864, hereafter cited as D.; Beijing edition of the Tibetan Tripit: aka 5265, hereafter cited as B.); (3) the S´u¯nyata¯-saptativr: tti (D. 3867, B. 5268); and (4) the Catuh: ´satakat:¯ıka¯ (D. 3865, B. 5266, partially available in Sanskrit), a commentary on A¯ryadeva’s Catuh: ´sataka. He also composed works of his own inspiration: (1) the Madhyamaka¯vata¯ra, with its autocommentary, the Madhyamaka¯vata¯rabha¯s: ya (Tib. edition in Bibl. Bud. 9), an introduction to the basic Madhyamaka treatise of Na¯ga¯rjuna; and (2) the Pañcaskañdhaprakaran: a (Tib. edition, Lindtner, 1979), a treatise on Abhidharma topics (five aggregates, twelve bases, and eighteen elements) from the Madhyamaka point of view. Opinions differ concerning the authorship of the work titled Tri´saran: a[gamana]saptati (D. 3971, 4564; B. 5366, 5478). According to Lindtner it was composed by Candrak¯ırti I, but according to Ruegg (1981), by Candrak¯ırti II. As to the chronological order of these treatises, one can only state with certainty that the Madhyamaka¯vata¯ra (probably with the autocommentary) was composed before the two large commentaries, the Prasannapada¯ and the Catuh: ´satakat:¯ıka¯, since both of the latter refer to the former. Candrak¯ırti I expounded the Madhyamaka philosophy of Na¯ga¯rjuna and defended the position of Buddhapa¯lita (c. 470–540) against the criticism of Bha¯vaviveka (c. 500–570), ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


who had wanted to adopt independent inferences. Candrak¯ırti I thus tried to reestablish the prasan˙ga method of reasoning. Tibetan doxographers accordingly classified him with Buddhapa¯lita as representative of the Pra¯san˙gika school. He also lodged criticism against the doctrines of the Buddhist logico-epistemological school and the metaphysical and gnoseological theories of the Yoga¯ca¯ra-Vijña¯nava¯ddins. Candrak¯ırti II composed a few Tantric works, the most important of which is the Prad¯ıpoddyotana (D. 1785, B. 2650), a commentary on the Guhyasama¯ja Tantra. Candrak¯ırti III composed the Madhyamaka¯vata¯raprajña¯ or Madhyamakaprajña¯vata¯ra (D. 3865, B. 5264) and together with the translator ‘Gos khug pa lhas btsas translated it into Tibetan. If the identification of Dpal ldan zla ba with Candrak¯ırti III is correct, this same pair of translators also translated Kr: s: n: apa¯da’s commentary on the Hevajra Tantra (D. 1187, B. 2317). ‘Gos khug pa lhas btsas also translated the Prad¯ıpoddyotana with Rin chen bzang po (958–1055) and others. We can thus fix the date of Candrak¯ırti III within the eleventh century. Although Candrak¯ırti I and III are certainly two different people, it may be possible that Candrak¯ırti II is identical with either Candrak¯ırti I or III. Research on this point remains open. SEE ALSO Ma¯dhyamika.


Lindtner, Christian. “Candrak¯ırti’s Pañcaskandhaprakaran: a.” Acta Orientalia 40 (1979): 87–145. May, Jacques, trans. Candrak¯ırti, Prasannapada¯ Madhyamakavtti: Commentaire limpide au traité du milieu. Paris, 1959. Ruegg, David S. The Literature of the Madhyamaka School of Philosophy in India. Wiesbaden, 1981.

New Sources A¯ryadeva, Candrak¯ırti, and Karen Lang, “Aryadeva and Candrak¯ırti on Self and Selfishness” In Buddhism in Practice, edited by Donald S. Lopez, Jr., pp. 380–398. Princeton, 1995. Jong, J. W. de. “Materials for the Study of Aryadeva, Dharmapala and Candrakirti: The Catuhsataka of Aryadeva, Chapters 12–13, 2 V.” Indo Iranian Journal 36 (1993): 150–153. Scherrer Schaub, Cristina. “Tendance de la pensee de Candrakirti, Buddhajnana et Jinakriya.” Buddhist Forum 3 (1994): 249–272. MIMAKI KATSUMI (1987) Revised Bibliography

CANISIUS, PETER (1521–1597), doctor of the church, Jesuit priest, educator, theologian, and saint. Born at Nijmegen, Peter Canisius was educated at the University of Cologne. Sent by his father, Jakob Kanijs, to study law at Louvain in 1539, Peter, determined to be a priest, returned to Cologne and in 1541 became the first German Je-



suit. He helped to found the first German Jesuit house at Cologne and in 1546 was ordained a priest. In 1547, Cardinal Truchsess of Augsburg appointed Canisius as his theologian at the Council of Trent. Between the first and second sessions of the council, Canisius went to Rome for further spiritual training with Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. From 1548 to 1580 Canisius worked out of Germany, traveling to Austria and Poland as Jesuit provincial, counselor to princes, and founder of Jesuit schools. Three times Emperor Ferdinand I (1556–1564) asked Canisius to become bishop of Vienna, but each time he refused. From 1556 to 1569 Canisius served as the first Jesuit provincial of upper Germany. In 1580 he was sent to Fribourg in Switzerland to help found a Jesuit college; it was his last assignment. Canisius’s primary work was reestablishing Roman Catholicism or strengthening it where it was threatened by Protestantism, especially in Germany, Austria, and Poland. His means were manifold, but chief among them was education through the establishment of twenty Jesuit colleges between 1549 and 1580. From these colleges came staunchly Roman Catholic political and spiritual leaders. Frequently, Canisius had to deal directly with Protestants, as at Worms in 1557 and at Augsburg in 1566, or indirectly through his advice to Catholic princes to whom he was appointed secret nuncio by the pope. While he dealt severely with heretical books and what he deemed overly lenient policies on the part of princes, he distinguished between obdurate heresy and that of people who had been led astray. These latter should not be coerced, he argued, but persuaded. To prepare Catholics to meet Protestant arguments, Canisius drew up catechisms that, while not attacking Protestants frontally, gave Catholics a thorough grounding in the Catholic side of controversial issues such as justification and the Lord’s Supper. Canisius also answered Protestant controversialists, especially the Centuriators, Flacius Illyricus and Johann Wigand, who had prepared the Magdeburg Centuries, a century-by-century history interpreted from a Lutheran perspective. Toward his flock, Canisius was a kindly and practical superior and pastor. He served as cathedral preacher at Augsburg, Innsbruck, and Fribourg, and through his direct and pious sermons won back thousands to the Roman Catholic sacraments. Pope Leo XIII (1898–1903) dubbed Canisius “the second apostle of Germany after Boniface.” He was canonized on May 21, 1925 and declared a doctor of the Catholic church by Pope Pius XI.

BIBLIOGRAPHY The best source for Canisius’s life is a multivolume edition edited by Otto Braunsberger, Beati Petri Canisii Societatas Iesu epistulae et acta, 8 vols. (Freiburg, 1896–1923). Friedrich Streicher has edited a critical edition of Canisius’s catechisms: S. Petri Canisii doctoris ecclesiae catechismi Latini et Germanici, 2 vols. (Munich, 1933–1936). The Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, compiled by Carlos Sommervogel (1891; reprint, Paris, 1960), contains a bibliography of Canisius’s

publications in volume 2, pages 617–688. The standard life of Canisius is by James Brodrick, St. Peter Canisius, S.J., 1521–1597 (1935; reprint, Baltimore, 1950). JILL RAITT (1987)

CANNIBALISM is both a concept and a practice that may involve diverse themes of death, food, sacrifice, revenge, aggression, love, and destruction or transformation of human others. The many and varied examples of cannibalism are difficult to summarize, except in terms of the widespread idea of the human body as a powerful symbolic site for defining relations between oneself and others and marking the boundaries of a moral community. In violating the bodily integrity that prevails in ordinary social life, cannibalism signifies an extraordinary transformation or dramatization of relations between those who eat and those who are eaten. When it occurs in religious contexts, the act of consuming human substance commonly represents an exchange between people and cosmic powers, promoting union with the divine or renewing life-sustaining spiritual relations. Such religious meanings may overlap with the social and political significance of consuming enemies to mark one’s dominance and superiority—or consuming kin to express love, to distance the spirit of the deceased from the world of the living, or to acquire physical or spiritual qualities contained in the corpse. Thus sacrifice, the aggressive destruction of enemies, and the devoted incorporation or anxious destruction of a loved one’s body are all facets of cannibalism that may be present in different cultural contexts. CANNIBALISM AND ITS COMPLEXITY OF FORM. Anthropologists distinguish between endocannibalism, eating a member of one’s own social group, and exocannibalism, eating a member of some other group, frequently an enemy. Endocannibalism is most often associated with funerals or other mortuary rites and with themes of sacrifice, familial devotion, reincarnation, and regeneration, as well as group welfare, reproduction, and continuity. Exocannibalism commonly signifies domination, revenge, or destruction of enemies. The distinction between exo- and endocannibalism has limited value in describing the complex forms in which people have ingested human body substances. The symbolism of the sacrifice and consumption of human offerings pervades religious thought in European and Middle Eastern traditions; this symbolism is explored by Walter Burkert in Homo Necans (1983). Cannibalism is a common theme in mythology and folk tales (see LéviStrauss, 1969) and, as a practice, it has been reported in Europe, Polynesia, Melanesia, North and South America, and Africa (see Tannahill, 1975; Sanday, 1986; Gordon-Grube, 1988). The occurrences have no simple correlation with patterns of subsistence, ecology, food supply, or other cultural conditions. In popular imagination and in psychoanalytic analyses such as that of Eli Sagan (1974), cannibalism has commonly ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


been seen as characteristic of primitive communities and magical thought rather than civilization and religion. Such assumptions ignore the variety of cannibalistic practices in complex societies, such as the western European tradition of using human body parts as medicines and the Aztec practice of human sacrifice. As William Arens (1979) has emphasized, exaggerated or unfounded reports of cannibalism are widespread and often have been used as racist propaganda and justification for colonial domination of native peoples. Arguments persist about when and where cannibalism really has existed as an institutionalized, socially accepted practice. Some of the most heated of these debates have focused on Fiji and the circumstances surrounding the death of Captain James Cook in Hawai’i, and on the interpretation of archaeological remains of the ancient Anasazi culture of the southwestern United States. Anthropological scholarship on some of the better-described ethnographic and historical cases has focused on elucidating the cultural beliefs reflected in the diverse historical practices of consuming human body substances.

CANNIBALISM AND THE AZTEC RELIGION. Perhaps the most widely known large-scale practice of human sacrifice and cannibalism is that of the ancient Aztec, as recorded by many early reports. The Aztec religion involved many kinds of offerings, but the Sun, patron of warriors, required human hearts and human blood for nourishment; human sacrifice was therefore essential. The victims were usually prisoners or purchased slaves; during the rituals, their hearts were removed and placed in vessels, and their heads were placed in skull racks. The limbs, and sometimes other portions of the victims’ bodies, might be cooked and eaten by the nobles, priests, and wealthy elite, as well as by successful warriors and guests invited to celebratory feasts. Aztec priests also practiced autosacrifice, drawing their own blood as an offering. Michael Harner (1977) and Marvin Harris (1977) argue that Aztec cannibalism had a nutritional purpose, because the Aztecs of the late prehistoric and early historic period had depleted their game supply and lacked domestic herbivores. Harner and Harris suggest that cannibalism was a response to the pressure of overpopulation and meat shortage, disguised as propitiation of the gods. Their reasoning and claims about the scale of both human sacrifice and food shortages have been disputed by other scholars who emphasize that the public ritual of blood sacrifice was vital in the Aztec religion.

CANNIBALISM IN SYMBOLISM AND MYTH. Among the Kwakiutl of the northwest coast of North America, a major feature of the winter ceremonies was the Hamatsa dancer, who symbolized hunger, craving for human flesh, the fire that transforms, and regurgitation (rebirth), and who was later tamed so as to become a member of society. Here the cannibalistic image is the key to the relation between man and supernatural forces. In the Great Lakes region of Canada and the United States, northern Algonkian legends describe a cannibalistic Windigo monster. Under conditions of winENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


ter isolation and the threat of starvation, individuals sometimes developed delusions of being transformed into such a monster (Marano, 1985). The idiom of cannibalism in myth is worldwide and has an extensive range of context and meaning. Claude Lévi-Strauss (1969) points to the universe of oppositions, associations, and transformations of humans and animals: death and rebirth, cooked and raw food, death and rotting, cannibal and ogre. South America is one of the areas where these themes have been elaborated in myths and, in the past, were expressed by a number of native societies through practices of endocannibalism and exocannibalism.

ENDOCANNIBALISM AND EXOCANNIBALISM IN SOUTH AMERICA. For some native peoples in lowland South America, endocannibalism was a ritual act that honored the deceased by sparing the corpse from the horror of burial and decay. Eradicating the body by consuming it was thought to protect against the negative effects of death and the twin dangers associated with the corpse: the danger that the body’s presence would attract the dead person’s soul to attack living people, and the danger of excessive grief among mourners for whom the body is a constant reminder of their loss (Conklin, 2001). South American endocannibalism took several forms, from eating the flesh (among the Guayaquí of Paraguay and the Wari’ of Brazil) to cremating the flesh and grinding the roasted bones into a powder to be mixed with food or beverage and consumed (Clastres, 1974; Conklin, 2001; Dole, 1962; McCallum, 1999; Vilaça, 2000). Among the Wari’ of Brazil, who believed that ancestors’ spirits become game animals that offer their flesh to feed their living relatives, the act of consuming the corpse at the funeral evoked religious beliefs about life-supporting reciprocity between the living and the dead, and between people and animal spirits. For the Tupinamba and other native peoples of lowland South America, exocannibalism was traditionally associated with intertribal and intercommunity warfare. War was highly ritualized, being preceded by dreams and magical rites, and victory was celebrated with further rites, cannibal feasts, and a display of head trophies by the victors. Prisoners might be kept for a long time, adopted or married into a local family, and then tortured before being killed and eaten. Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (1992) has shown how the Tupinamba treatment of war captives embodied cultural ideas about self and other, nature and culture, marriage and alliance. Carlos Fausto (1999) sees cannibalism as a key mechanism and metaphor through which Amazonian peoples transformed enemies into kin, or mortals into immortals, by taming, socializing, or perfecting that which is wild or culturally inferior.

CANNIBALISM IN THE PACIFIC ISLANDS. The raiding of enemy villages and consumption of enemy dead—or the taking of captives who were later killed and eaten—also has been documented in Melanesia and Polynesia. The discovery and control of Pacific islanders from the eighteenth century onward brought exploratory expeditions, missionaries, administrators, magistrates, and, later, anthropologists into contact with local informants who described and explained



their beliefs and practices related to consuming human substances. Ross Bowden (1984) reports that in New Zealand, Maori cannibalism in warfare not only provided contributions to the warriors’ diet but also had a profound symbolic significance: to degrade the slain enemy, whose flesh was converted into food and whose bones were turned into objects of common use. The victors especially relished desecrating the corpse of a chief.

secret societies, such as the Human Leopard and Alligator, reportedly required head-hunting and cannibalism as a qualification for membership (see MacCormack, in Brown and Tuzin, 1983). Witches and sorcerers acquired and renewed their powers by consuming human flesh and thereby absorbing the powers of the deceased. Accusations of cannibalism are a political weapon still powerful among the contemporary Sherbro of Sierra Leone.

In Fiji, myth and historical practices together provide an understanding of the interconnections between the Fijians’ surrender of their sisters to foreign husbands in exchange for marriage payment of valuable whale teeth and their capture of foreign war prisoners for cannibalism. Human sacrifice accompanied the building of sacred houses and canoes and the ceremonial visits of allied chiefs. A Fijian chief oversaw an exchange cycle that included the symbolic transfer of valued objects—women (as wives) and men (as cannibal victims); by this process, political alliances were confirmed. The cannibal victims were consecrated to the major war god, who was represented by the chief.

Witchcraft is in various ways commonly associated with cannibalism. In the Strickland/Bosavi region of the New Guinea highlands, among a number of groups, including the Onabasulu (see Ernst, in Goldman, 1999), witches who were executed were cooked and consumed in a symbolic denial of the individual’s humanity and status as a moral person. Elsewhere, witches themselves are often thought to be cannibals who obtain personal mana (power) by consuming a victim. The notion that witches feed upon the blood and body of their victims and that death results from this loss of body substance is noted in many areas among unrelated peoples. In some places a cult group of witches is believed to teach and share techniques and cannibalistic acts, real or symbolic, but a belief in a solitary cannibal-witch also exists. Neil Whitehead (2002) describes how sorcerers in the highlands of Guyana extract and sip fluids from decomposing corpses. The act is the sorcerer’s gift to divine beings of the cosmos, given to ensure the fertility of plants, fish, and animals. CONCLUSION. The theme of cannibalism as an exchange that feeds and renews sources of life and fertility appears in a wide range of contexts, from the hostile relations of Guyanese sorcery and Aztec warfare and human sacrifice to the loving and honorable funerary rites of native peoples in Melanesia and lowland South America. Although Eli Sagan (1974), I. M. Lewis (1986), and other psychological theorists see in aggression and interpersonal conflict the source and meaning of cannibalism, the trend among most anthropologists and historians has been to demonstrate the diversity of cultural meanings. In both practice and imagination, cannibalism is clearly an emotionally charged and culturally significant act, but it has no single meaning. Cannibalism’s multifaceted symbolism and its connections with mythic themes of sacrifice, destruction, regeneration, and social reproduction are understood best within a specific cultural context.

In parts of Melanesia, anthropologists have documented native informants’ accounts of cannibalistic practices that continued into the mid-twentieth century. In the northern Fore region of the New Guinea highlands, dead enemies were eaten by men and women, and in the southern region women and children ate kin and members of the residential group who had died. Similarly, Gimi women cooked and ate the dead of the local group. The Fore people reportedly valued enemy flesh as food, but cannibalism carried ritual meanings as well. When Gimi women ate human flesh they prevented the ravages of decomposition and alleviated the hunger they believed to be caused by intense sorrow. Gimi practices were structured by kinship relations, ideas about exchange transactions between men and women, and myths that associate cannibalism with wildness and uncontrolled or rapacious female sexuality. Elsewhere in the New Guinea highlands, warfare cannibalism reflected concerns with fertility and gender. The Bimin-Kuskusmin (see Poole, 1983) and the neighboring Miyanmin reportedly ate enemies killed in war. The latter ate the whole body, whereas the former group dismembered bodies, buried heads, and ate to defile the enemy. The Bimin-Kuskusmin distinguished between hard body parts that were considered male and were eaten by men, and those parts, flesh and fat, that were considered female and were eaten by women. The Great Pandanus Tree Rite was an occasion for feasting upon game and human victims obtained by raiding a nearby group. Fitz John Porter Poole’s interpretation of this ritual emphasizes the cultural meaning of male and female substances, ritual expression of myth, relations between the sexes, fertility, and death. CANNIBALISM AND THE OCCULT. Among the Asmat, the consumption of enemies was associated with the construction of masculinity through head-hunting and initiation rituals. In West Africa, among the Sherbro, for example, certain

SEE ALSO Aztec Religion; Human Sacrifice, overview article.


Books and articles on cannibalism may be theoretical or interpretive general works or they may present descriptive case studies that analyze cannibalism in particular cultural settings. Many works combine both features, applying a theoretical or interpretive approach to particular case studies.

General Works Arens, William. The Man-Eating Myth: Anthropology and Anthropophagy. New York, 1979. Finds the evidence for cannibalism unconvincing. Goldman, Laurence R., ed. The Anthropology of Cannibalism. Westport, Conn., 1999. Presents a series of articles with criENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


tiques of Arens’s position, analyses of the politics of ethnographic representations of cannibalism, and case studies cited in the text of this article: Kantner on the Anasazi, Zubrinich on the Asmat, and Ernst on the Onabasulu. Harris, Marvin. Cannibals and Kings: The Origins of Culture. New York, 1977. Presents a materialist-ecological explanation of cannibalism. Lewis, I. M. “The Cannibal’s Cauldron.” In Lewis’s Religion in Context: Cults and Charisma, pp. 63–77. New York, 1986. Highlights symbolic themes of sexuality and oral aggression. Sagan, Eli. Cannibalism: Human Aggression and Cultural Form. New York, 1974. A popular psychoanalytic study of cannibalism in general, relating it to aggression and sublimation of aggression. Sanday, Peggy Reeves. Divine Hunger: Cannibalism as a Cultural System. New York, 1986. Surveys cross-cultural cannibalism and analyzes its relation to cultural concepts of self-other relations and the reproduction of society. Tannahill, Reay. Flesh and Blood: A History of the Cannibal Complex. New York, 1975.

Studies of Areas and Cases Bowden, Ross. “Maori Cannibalism: An Interpretation.” Oceania 55 (1984): 81–99. Brown, Paula, and Donald Tuzin, eds. The Ethnography of Cannibalism. Washington, D.C., 1983. Presents a group of case studies, some cited in the text of the article: Poole on the Bimin-Kuskusmin, MacCormack on the Sherbro, and Sahlins on the Fijians, with a commentary by Shirley Lindenbaum. Burkert, Walter. Homo Necans: The Anthropology of Ancient Greek Sacrificial Ritual and Myth. Berkeley, Calif., 1983. Essentially a study of the ritualization of sacrifice. Cannibalism as imagery rather than practice. Clastres, Pierre. “Guayakí Cannibalism.” In Native South Americans: Ethnology of the Least Known Continent, edited by Patricia J. Lyon, pp. 309–321. Boston, 1974. Conklin, Beth A. Consuming Grief: Compassionate Cannibalism in an Amazonian Society. Austin, Tex., 2001. Dole, Gertrude. “Endocannibalism among the Amahuaca Indians.” Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences 24 (1962): 567–573. Fausto, Carlos. “Of Enemies and Pets: Warfare and Shamanism in Amazonia.” American Ethnologist 26, no. 4 (1999): 933–956. Forsyth, Donald W. “The Beginnings of Brazilian Anthropology: Jesuits and Tupinamba Cannibalism.” Journal of Anthropological Research 39 (1983): 147–178. Gillison, Gillian. Between Culture and Fantasy: A New Guinea Highlands Mythology. Chicago, 1993. Gordon-Grube, Karen. “Anthropophagy in Post-Renaissance Europe: The Tradition of Medicinal Cannibalism.” American Anthropologist 90, no. 2 (1988): 405–409. Harner, Michael J. “The Ecological Basis for Aztec Sacrifice.” American Ethnologist 4 (1977): 117–135. Lévi-Strauss, Claude. The Raw and the Cooked. New York, 1969. Discusses myths of cannibalism and the symbolism of raw, cooked, and rotten food, especially among South American tribes. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Lindenbaum, Shirley. Kuru Sorcery: Disease and Danger in the New Guinea Highlands. Palo Alto, Calif., 1979. A discussion of the importance of sorcery belief in the reactions of the Fore to the kuru disease, which was spread by contact with victims of the disease, mainly through cannibalism. McCallum, Cecelia. “Consuming Pity: The Production of Death among the Cashinahua.” Cultural Anthropology 14, no. 4 (1999): 443–471. Marano, Lou. “Windigo Psychosis: The Anatomy of an Emic-Etic Confusion.” In Culture-Bound Syndromes, edited by Ronald C. Simons and Charles C. Hughes, pp. 411–448. Dordrecht, 1985. Métraux, Alfred. “The Tupinamba.” In Handbook of South American Indians, edited by Julian H. Steward, vol. 3. Washington, D.C., 1949. Métraux, Alfred. “Warfare, Cannibalism, and Human Trophies.” In Handbook of South American Indians, edited by Julian H. Steward, vol. 5. Washington, D.C., 1949. Obeyesekere, Gananath. “Cannibal Feasts in Nineteenth-Century Fiji: Seaman’s Yarns and the Ethnographic Imagination.” In Cannibalism and the Colonial World, edited by Francis Barker, Peter Hulme, and Margaret Iversen, pp. 63–86. New York, 1998. Poole, Fitz John Porter. “Cannibals, Tricksters, and Witches: Anthropophagic Images among Binim-Kuskusmin.” In The Ethnography of Cannibalism, edited by Paula Brown and Donald Tuzin, p.13. Washington, D.C., 1983. Sahlins, Marshall. “Raw Women, Cooked Men, and Other ‘Great Things’ of the Fiji Islands.” In The Ethnography of Cannibalism, edited by Paula Brown and Donald Tuzin. Washington, D.C., 1983. Strathern, Andrew. “Witchcraft, Greed, Cannibalism and Death: Some Related Themes from the New Guinea Highlands.” In Death and the Regeneration of Life, edited by Maurice Bloch and Jonathan Parry, pp. 111–133. New York, 1982. Compares and discusses the themes of cannibalism, witchcraft, sacrifice, exchange, recreation, and the enemy. Vilaça, Aparecida. “Relations between Funerary Cannibalism and Warfare Cannibalism: The Question of Predation.” Ethnos 65, no. 1 (2000): 83–106. Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo Batalha. From the Enemy’s Point of View: Humanity and Divinity in an Amazonian Society. Chicago, 1992. An interpretation of Tupi-Guarani ritual cannibalism, emphasizing how society is constructed through the incorporation of enemy others. Walens, Stanley. Feasting with Cannibals: An Essay on Kwakiutl Cosmology. Princeton, N.J., 1981. A symbolic analysis of Kwakiutl cannibalistic spirits and dances. Whitehead, Neil L. Dark Shamans: Kanaimà and the Poetics of Violent Death. Durham, N.C., 2002. Zerries, Otto. “El endocanibalismo en la América del Sur.” Revista do Museu Paulista (Sao Paulo) 12 (1960): 125–175. PAULA BROWN (1987) BETH A. CONKLIN (2005)

CANON. Because employment of the term canon (usually as a synonym for scripture) in comparative religious studies



is both commonplace and subject to a growing scholarly debate, the classic usage will be considered at the outset. Subsequently, a consideration of contemporary applications of the term within the study of world religions will follow in order to illustrate its usefulness and to show some of the hermeneutical issues implicit in such usage. Since the use of canon to mean both a norm and an attribute of scripture arose first within Christianity, some special attention must necessarily be given to present debates in the study of that religion. However, the focus of this treatment is on the wider implications concerning the value of this term in a comparativist description of world religions.

ETYMOLOGY AND EARLIEST HISTORICAL USAGES. The Greek word kano¯n, which gave rise to its later European and English equivalents, is a Semitic loanword basically signifying a reed, as seen in biblical passages such as 1 Kings 14:15 and Job 40:21. The semantic usage that occurs in Hebrew (qaneh), Assyrian (qanu), Ugaritic (qn), and similarly in Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic, and modern Hebrew, derives in turn from the even more ancient non-Semitic Sumerian (gi, gina), with the same import. In the above Semitic languages, the basic conception of a reed generated a semantic field that included in Hebrew, for example, the description of either a standard of length or a straight or upright object. Images of a standard of length that occur in biblical passages are the measuring rod (qeneh ha-middah) in Ezekiel 40:3 and 40:5 and a full reed of similar length in Ezekiel 41:8. The straight or upright object is exemplified as the shaft of a lampstand in Exodus 25:31, the branches of a lampstand in Exodus 25:32, and a shoulder blade in Job 31:22. The Greek usage of this common Semitic term extended these derivations to include a great variety of figurative applications. Besides associating this term with various instruments of measure and design, Greeks came to regard lists, catalogs, or tables in the sciences as “canons.” Likewise, the humanities and anthropology sought to describe “the norm” (ho kano¯n), for example, in grammar, aesthetics, music, physical beauty, ethics, the perfection of form in sculpture, and so forth. Epicurus wrote a book, now lost, entitled Peri krit¯eriou h¯e kano¯n, focused on the “canonics” of logic and method. Epictetus, and the Epicurians similarly, sought to find a formal basis (kano¯n) for distinguishing truth from falsehood, the desirable from the undesirable. In the area of religion, Christianity drew heavily from this Hellenistic milieu and came to assign a new and unique role to the term canon. In the New Testament itself, the Greek term is used only by the apostle Paul as a standard of true Christianity in Philippians 3:16 and in a late text, Galatians 6:16, and as a divinely delimited mandate or authorization in 2 Corinthians 10:13–16. Nonetheless, in the Roman church during the first three centuries, the term occurs frequently and can signify almost any binding norm of true Christianity, expressed with a variety of technical nuances. For instance, Irenaeus, in the second century, could already speak of various familiar canons: “the canon of truth” (in

preaching), “the canon (rule) of faith” (Lat., regula fidei, or the essential truth of the gospel), and “the ecclesiastical canon” (Lat., regula veritatis, expressing both true confession and correct ritual participation in the church). Likewise, the term could characterize any authorized list or collection of decisions or persons. Thus one could speak of a “canonical” set of laws, a list or collection of “canonized” saints, papal decretals (ninth century), church leaders, monks, nuns, and so on. Hence, early in the history of Christianity, the Greek kano¯n was carried over as canon or regula in the Latin used in churches of the East and the West. By the Middle Ages, the whole collection of binding decisions by the Roman church came to be regarded as the ius canonicum (canonical laws), either touching on secular matters (Lat., lex; or Gr., nomos) or belonging to the juridical, religious, and ethical canons of the church. Gratian’s Decretum (1139– 1142 CE) provided the foundation for canon law in Roman Catholicism. The relationship between “canon” and “scripture” in Christianity is more complicated. The earliest Christian scripture was either the Hebrew Bible of Judaism or the old Greek version of it (the so-called Septuagint). Within Judaism, neither prerabbinic nor rabbinic literature ever chose to refer to this scripture as a “canon.” At about the same time as the flowering of rabbinic Judaism in the second century, Irenaeus—probably borrowing the use of the term from Marcion, his gnostic competitor—began to speak of a “New Testament” as a group of “inspired” Christian traditions distinct from the “Old Testament” inherited as scripture from Judaism. The Christian terminology of “inspiration,” although grounded in Jewish understanding, occurs first in the later Pauline traditions and undoubtedly reflects influence from related Hellenistic conceptions that had previously been applied to the Iliad and the Odyssey. However, not until shortly after 450 CE did the term canon begin to be used by Christians, apparently first by Athanasius, to designate the biblical books of scripture. Within rabbinic Judaism, the Hebrew scripture began to be called Miqra’ (“that which is read”), and the entire collection came to be referred to as Tanakh, an acronym of the names of the three major divisions of the Hebrew scriptures: Torah (Pentateuch), Nevi’im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings). Instead of speaking about “canonization,” as was typical later in Christianity, Jewish sources describe an endeavor to determine which books “defile the hands” and, therefore, constitute sacred scripture, as distinguished from other normative traditions. The extrabiblical traditions in the Mishnah and Talmud were, consequently, authoritative (arguably “canonical” in that sense) but considered to be “oral law,” which did not defile the hands, in contrast to the scripture or “written law.” Prior to these designations within Judaism and Christianity, the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) was denoted by a variety of diverse expressions, such as “the law and the prophets and the other books of our fathers” (Prologue to Ben Sira); “the law and the prophets” ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


(e.g., Mt. 5:17); “the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms” (Lk. 24:44); the “oracles of God” (Rom. 3:2); “the scripture” (e.g., Mk. 12:24); “the holy scriptures” (Philo Judaeus, On Flight and Finding 1.4); “the book”; “the sacred book”; and others. In view of this evidence scholars continue to disagree whether the weight of the later Christian references to the term canon for scripture turns primarily on the term’s denotation of either a binding “norm” or an ecclesiastically approved “list” of inspired books. In Islam, another “religion of the Book” associated with the children of Abraham, the QurDa¯n replaces the imperfect rendering of revelation in Judaism and Christianity. While Muslim interpreters never traditionally identified the QurDa¯n as a “canon,” they did employ the term to designate the law, in a manner reminiscent of some early Christian understandings of the biblical law of God. CONTEMPORARY USAGE. Certainly, the use of the term canon, despite its association with Christianity, can prove to be an illuminating heuristic device in describing other world religions and their principal texts. The analogies with the formation of Western religious canons provides an attractive, yet to be fully explored, way of thinking about religion in general. For example, such terminology can be helpful in understanding aspects of Eastern religions. Although Confucius (Kongzi), who died in the fifth century BCE, claimed of his teaching, “I have transmitted what was taught to me without making up anything of my own” (Lun-Yü 7.1), the “Five Classics” as we now know them only became a scripturelike guide to Confucianism from the first century CE onward. Obviously innovations entered into this work long after the death of Confucius. Moreover, competing views within Confucianism led to some groups’ diminishing the importance of this work or adding to it new canons that were viewed as complementary (e.g., Ssu Shu, or “Four Books,” and still later in the ChEing era, the “Thirteen Classics”), almost in the same manner as Christianity added the New Testament to the “Old.” Just as Christians debated whether the Old Testament “canon” should be the Hebrew version, with Judaism, or the expanded old Greek version, language and culture influenced the formation of “canonical” distinctions in many religions. Centuries after the death of the Buddha, ancient traditions were combined in South Asia to form what is presently called the “Pali canon” (c. 29–17 BCE). A century or so later, a different “canonical” literature developed in India, written in Sanskrit and eventually translated into Chinese and Tibetan, which became foundational for Maha¯ya¯na Buddhism. In contrast to adherents of the Pali canon, these Buddhists regarded the su¯tras of the Maha¯ya¯na (“great vehicle”) as an alternative canon, the only true authority regarding what the Buddha himself taught. Even within later Zen Buddhism, where the idea of a canon seems antithetical, one may consider the lists of ko¯ans, questions and answers developed in regional monasteries for training and testing students, as attaining “canonical” status as a constant feature of the instructions given by particular Zen masters. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Just as some “Christian” gnostics dismissed the Hebrew Bible in favor of a “New Testament,” one may find an analogy with the development of Hinduism as a reaction against certain aspects of Vedic religion. Similar to the Jewish distinction between written and oral law was the distinction made by brahmans between two kinds of “canonical” literature. S´ruti (“heard”) generally refers to the ritualistic literature found in the Upanis: ads and is believed to be revealed directly from divinity, while smr: ti (“remembered”) designates the epics, the later Pura¯n: as and other legal and philosophical writings touching on practical matters of personal, social, and domestic conduct. Even if ´sruti has a higher status, it can be viewed as a lower kind of ritualistic knowledge in comparison with the immediate moral implications of smr: ti. So, too, even if the oral law does not defile the hands, it may provide a more explicit and pragmatically significant register of the demands of a holy life in Judaism than one can find by simply reading the written law. HERMENEUTICAL IMPLICATIONS. The above descriptions adumbrate some of the possibilities and problems in the use of canon as a technical term in the study of religion. The term inherently vacillates between two distinct poles, in both secular and religious usage. On the one hand, it can be used to refer to a rule, standard, ideal, norm, or authoritative office or literature, whether oral or written. On the other hand, it can signify a temporary or perpetual fixation, standardization, enumeration, listing, chronology, register, or catalog of exemplary or normative persons, places, or things. The former dimension emphasizes internal signs of an elevated status. The latter puts stress on the precise boundary, limits, or measure of what, from some preunderstood standard, belongs within or falls outside of a specific “canon.” For the purpose of illustrating these significant differences, I shall call the former “canon 1” and the latter “canon 2.” This “ideal” distinction only demarcates poles in a continuum of options, since the essential nature and status of a normative tradition or a “scripture” within a religion inevitably emerges through its own unique, dialectical interplay between these polarities. The interplay itself engenders a systemic ambiguity in any discussion of religious canons and helps account for the variety of ways, sometimes conflicting, in which the term canon has been employed in recent scholarship. Canon 1. In its first usage as rule, standard, ideal, or norm, the term canon in the secular domain may apply to a wide range of fields in which a standard of excellence or authority governs the proper exercise of a discipline. For example, it can reflect criteria by which one makes decisions within a field of inquiry, whether these choices conform to grammatical and mathematical principles or indices of aesthetic excellence in rhetoric, art, or music. Implicit in such canons is some political and social theory of intellectual consensus about the quality, worth or preservation, and validity of that which is being judged and remembered. Likewise, religious iconography, Buddhist organization of a city, and church architecture reflect implicit canonical assumptions. The success of “pop art” in the 1960s may have resided partly



in its ability to make our implicit canons explicit. The Campbell’s Soup can we had accepted in some unconsciously canonical sense suddenly appears before us in an explicitly canonical form through the medium of art. The dynamism possible within such canons becomes evident when, for instance, one surveys the changing collections of art museums and contrasts their content with the work being done in artists’ studios. In examining religious scriptures as “canons,” one may generalize that the founding leaders of religions almost never compose for their disciples a complete scripture. The one obvious exception is that of the third-century Mani, founder of Manichaeism. There are usually substantial periods after the death of a leader or founder when oral and/or written traditions function authoritatively as canonical, in the sense of representing a scripture without specific dimension. This dynamic process may be influenced greatly by later disciples, and the scriptures may for long periods of time, if not indefinitely, lack the public form of a fixed list of books or a standardized “text.” At the same time, canonical criteria, such as “inspiration,” incarnation of the Dharma, and so on, are sufficient for them to sustain their scriptural status. The initial recognition of some traditions as being crucially foundational or scriptural sets in motion political and economic pressures within the religion that usually lead to the formation of a scripture in the latter sense of canon (canon 2). From the standpoint of Christian history, one may argue that the term canon has been and may continue to be useful in the designation of extrabiblical oral or written decisions that are binding in matters of faith and practice, as part of a church’s teaching magisteria. Certainly, prior to the fourth century, some Christian traditions were explicitly canonical (canon 1) in the sense that they provided normative religious guidance outside of the Hebrew Bible. Justin Martyr cites from the “Sayings of the Lord” source as authoritative alongside the Hebrew Bible and arguably refuses to do the same with the Gospel narratives or Paul’s letters. It is unlikely that these “sayings” belong to a fixed list. Therefore, one can say that Christian scripture had a canonical status (canon 1) long before the church decisions of the fourth century delimited a fixed list of books (canon 2). More precisely, the canonization (canon 2) is by degree, since even in the fourth and fifth centuries the standardization of the actual text had not taken place. Despite the silence of the rabbinic tradition on the subject, recent studies of Judaism commonly refer to “canon(s)” and “canonization.” In a provocative study, Sid Leiman regards a religious book as “canonical” if it is “accepted by Jews as authoritative for religious practice and/or doctrine . . . binding for all generations . . . and studied and expounded in private and in public” (Leiman, 1976, p. 14). Because this definition conforms to criteria of canon 1, Leiman can claim that the oral law is “canonical,” although it both is “uninspired” and does not defile the hands as scripture. Relying on this principle of normativeness, Leiman can distinguish

between different kinds of books: “outside” or banned books; secular or “Homeric” books that deserve reading; inspired canonical books (scripture); and uninspired canonical books (oral law, i.e., Mishnah/Talmud). Consequently, the Jewish discussion at the end of the first century CE at Yavneh over the status of the Book of Ecclesiastes concerned only its “inspiration,” not its canonicity, for it could continue to be cited as normative even if not as “scripture.” Conversely, other scholars, (see, for example, Jacob Neusner, 1983, pp. 11–37) argue that the ritual difference, “defiling the hands,” did not produce any clear levels of canonical authority between the Hebrew Bible, the Mishnah/ Talmud, other religious books, and the “inspired” commentary of a rabbi. If canonicity (canon 1) is determined by the norm of revelation itself, then distinctions either among levels of canonicity or between canonical and noncanonical literature begin to blur. If, as Neusner suggests, the rabbis themselves embodied the torah (law), then for students of religion there is only limited value in a descriptive appeal to certain texts as “canonical.” If the meaning of these texts resides in a spiritual or “Midrashic” sense held by consensus among “inspired” rabbis rather than in a “plain” literary, or peshat:, sense, then the semantic import is not publicly available through a reading of the scripture per se. Similarly, some Catholic scholars currently locate the canonical sense of Christian scripture in the teaching magisterium (canon 1) of the church hierarchy rather than in either a literary or historical-critical assessment of biblical texts themselves. In such an approach, a scripture may be viewed as the deposit of a variety of historical traditions, any of which may or may not be “canonical” (canon 1) according to an “inspired” norm or standard inherent within the leadership of the religion itself. In this case, identifying a scripture may shed only modest light on the beliefs of a religion. From a historical perspective, the final formation of a scripture (canon 2) usually results from an earlier, often obscured process of redaction, expansion, and selection of texts (canon 1), whether one thinks of the Dao de jing of Daoism, the various Buddhist canons, the extensive collection of Jain “canonical” literature, or the Hindu Maha¯bha¯rata and the Bhagavadg¯ıta¯ along with the older Vedas. Often some underlying traditions of a scripture were considered normative or “canonical” for the earliest disciples, while other traditions gain an elevated status as scripture not anticipated by their celebrated founders, as, for example, through the posthumous deification of Lao-tzu. Repeatedly one finds evidence of how earlier oral or written traditions or writings, whose normativeness depended originally on more modest criteria, gradually gain greater authority, in terms of a later perception of religious genius, inspiration, revelation of the law (e.g., dharma), or the presence of ultimate reality, perfection, or some other transcendent value. This adjustment in the believers’ vision of canonical traditions within a religion often entails a radical shift in the perception, understanding, and significance of older traditions when they are caught up into the new context of a scripture. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Most often, canon and community are related dialectically in a process of semantic transformation. The steps taken by editors in this process may go unrecognized by the believers or may be seen as essential elements in the orchestration of the traditions in order to protect them from heretical misinterpretation. In sum, the recognition of canon 1 materials, defined as traditions offering a normative vehicle or an ideal standard, occurs in most world religions and usually contributes momentum to an impulse within the history of a religion to totalize, to circumscribe, and to standardize these same normative traditions into fixed, literary forms typical of canon 2. Canon 2. The second usage of the term canon will be in the sense of a list, chronology, catalog, fixed collection, and/or standardized text. Scholars of comparative religion such as Mircea Eliade and Wilfred Cantwell Smith have placed emphasis on the full appearance of a religion complete with its “scripture,” reflecting whatever norms of excellence, truth, goodness, beauty, or revelation may be affirmed by the respective religious adherents. In religious studies, the foundational religious documents are most easily approached at this more developed stage, when they constitute a publicly available, delimited canon (canon 2) in the maturity of particular religious movements. Of course, only the most presumptuous type of “protestant” interpretation of other religions would presume that the ideas and beliefs of a religion can be grasped solely by a literary study of such religious canons. Smith has amply illustrated the problems that arise in the study of Islam because of this naïveté. As already noted, the normativeness of religious traditions is usually acknowledged long before these same traditions attain a fixed dimension and textual standardization, the elements of canon 2. So, for example, after the death of the Buddha the disciples sought, although not without controversy, to envision the diverse sermons (canon 1) of the Blessed One as part of a larger collection (canon 2), a larger normative and publicly recognized canon. Conversely, Mani claimed to write by inspiration “my scriptures,” which combined the essence of older books or scriptures into one “great wisdom” (Kephalaia 154). His work remains exceptional in part because he is perhaps the only founder of a major religion who was self-consciously “inspired” to compose a complete “scripture.” His work represents the best-known example of a canon that attained both normative authority and distinct literary boundaries at the same time. Even so, other generations of believers expanded and modified the canon. Mani’s use of the JudeoChristian concept of scripture corresponds to his hope of absorbing these two religions into his own, much as Islam aspired in its early development to bring Jews and Christians into its more universal fold. Unlike most other religious canons, completed centuries after their founders had died, Islam settled most dimensions of the QurDa¯n within only twenty-three years after the death of Muh: ammad. One of the significant differences in ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


the comparison of Islam with Judaism, Christianity, and Manichaeism is that the QurDa¯n is not a “scripture” in the sense of an inspired, historically accommodated writing. The QurDa¯n is the actual word of God, representing an eternal archetype of revelation cast in heavenly language. Unlike Christianity’s scripture of “books” (ta biblia), the QurDa¯n is more simply “the Book.” Nevertheless, during the lifetime of the Prophet, his disciples did not have the book of the QurDa¯n as we now know it. The order of the chapters and other significant editorial influence belongs to the hands of the disciples who succeeded the Prophet. Moreover, the later collections of the sunnah (customary practice of the Prophet), now found in the h: ad¯ıth, provided a normative and, therefore, “canonical” (canon 1) guide to Muslim exegesis. As with the Jewish Karaites and the Antiochene Christian exegetes, many “spiritualists” within Islam could lay claim to their own direct insight upon scripture in a manner that diminished the significance of the h: ad¯ıth and could appear to assign normative, and in that sense, “canonical” status to the QurDa¯n alone. Regarding the final delimitation of the Hebrew scriptures, most scholars agree that the promulgation by Ezra of a five-book Torah in the early postexilic period constituted a decisive moment in the formation of Judaism. Unlike the later case of the Christian Gospels, the Pentateuch comprised a single, allegedly Mosaic “book of the Torah” (Jos. 1:7–8). From a traditional-historical standpoint, this Mosaic Torah appears to combine multiple older, normative torot, or laws, in the sense of canon 1 and/or canon 2 (e.g., ProtoDeuteronomy) into a fixed and integrated collection of books (canon 2). This combination of traditions most likely reflects the legislation preserved and venerated by two different groups from the Babylonian exile—bearers of Jerusalemite priestly tradition (e.g., the laws in Exodus 22ff.) and deuteronomistic interpreters (e.g., the Decalogue in Deuteronomy 5 and the subsequent laws). The effect would be to make much private tradition public and to set all of the laws forward to be interpreted together as parts of the same revelation of law delivered by God to Moses prior to the conquest of Palestine. Similar to the codification by the Egyptians of the Fifth Pharaonic Law early in the same period, the promulgation of the Mosaic Torah probably occurred in response to a benevolent policy under Persian sovereignty. As a reward for this codification and public promulgation of the private or secret religious law, the Persians sanctioned the right of Jewish leaders to make juridical decisions according to it in exchange for obedience to Persian civil and international law. In any case, these events undoubtedly helped to accelerate the forces behind the formation of a part of a religious canon. The compilation of the exact list of books that make up the completed Hebrew Bible could not be completed until late in the first century, perhaps not until the second. Furthermore, the textual standardization of the Bible continued up to the end of the first millennium, culminating in a rela-



tively uniform consensus regarding the orthography, punctuation, and vocalization of the so-called Masoretic text of the Tanakh, the Hebrew scriptures. Here, as in the case of Christianity and many other religions, the process of canonization in the sense of canon 2 entails a resolution of the limits of the collection before a full standardization of the text can take place. Centuries might elapse during this process of full canonization (canon 2), and it may be much easier for believers to debate the authority of the latest stages in the process of the text’s stabilization than it is for them to reopen the question of whether a book really belongs in the scripture at all. The length of the process of full canonization may often affect the believer’s assessment of what represents the final text. The semantic import of the formation of a canon 2 should not be underestimated. Christianity and Judaism amply illustrate this feature. Unlike the above-mentioned instance of the Pentateuch, the individual Christian Gospels retained their independence from one another despite the assumption that they collectively convey the same “one” gospel of Jesus Christ. Perhaps the late ending of Mark attests to an effort at bringing that work into greater harmony within the canonical collections of gospels. Paul’s letters illustrate a different feature, for they include in a single collection some original letters in edited and unedited form, for example, Galatians, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, together with deuteroPauline traditions reflective of a later generation, for example, 2 Thessalonians. The original Pauline letters, which were written before the composition of the Gospels, were, through canonization, subordinated to the Gospels as commentary upon them. Similarly, the Gospel of John is read contextually within scripture in connection with the so-called Johannine letters (1, 2, and 3 Jn.), even though the historic evidence of common authorship is extremely weak. Again, this type of canonization alters the religious vision of the preceding authoritative traditions (canon 1) as being part of a larger “inspired” New Testament. The terms New Testament and Old Testament likewise signal a change in the perceived significance of the Hebrew Bible when read as part of a Christian text in the context of a purportedly new revelation. The difference in religious visions of the “shared” scripture implies profound distinctions between the import of the Tanakh within Judaism and that of an “Old Testament” within Christian interpretation.

SCRIPTURE AND CANON. These ideal distinctions between canon as a norm and canon as a list or standardization of text usually overlap in the actual assessment of a particular religion. For example, in the Tanakh and the New Testament one can detect evidence of “canon-conscious redactions,” whereby assumptions about the normativeness (canon 1) of the traditions and of their being read together in a specific collection (canon 2) coincide. Historicized titles added to the psalms assigned to David link these prayers contextually to the narrative about David in 1 and 2 Samuel. The epilogue to Ecclesiastes summarizes

the essence of the book in a manner that puts the “wisdom,” or Solomonic, books in full continuity with the Torah. The addition of titles to some of the Christian Gospels makes their character and common witness together as Gospels more explicit than their original authors could have envisioned. The Gospel of Luke in the Western tradition has now been separated from its original sequel, Acts of the Apostles, by the Gospel of John. In this way, the Gospels were read collectively and Acts came to mark a transition from the teachings of Jesus to that of the apostle Paul. This type of organization of highly diverse traditions into partially harmonized canons of literature is also common to the canons of other world religions. As has already been shown, considerable differences of opinion exist among scholars over the appropriate relationship between the terms scripture and canon. At a minimum, these terms both gain and lose some of their historical significance when they are taken away from the specific religious vocabulary of Judaism and Christianity for the purpose of an etic assessment of world religions. Frequently scholars have used scripture and canon synonymously, although ambiguity in both terms, particularly in the latter, suggests the need for more careful definitions and historical finesse. In the application of both terms to a religion, the interpreter stands within a hermeneutical circle. Only by some prior judgment regarding the identity of the believers of a given religion can any description be proffered regarding their “canons” and their modes of interpreting the same. Moreover, this judgment is hindered by the ethnocentrism of the outside observer, as well as by the difficulty in taking a term indigenous to one religion and assigning to it a technical usage appropriate for describing features of other religions. Nevertheless, contemporary efforts to understand how canons achieve formation and exercise significance within a religion has already proved unusually illuminating as a way to describe and to compare religions generally. The interpretation of religion must inevitably assume some operational certitude regarding the identity, the economic character, and the literary sources of revelation or truth to which religions lay claim in the world. It must be carried out with an acute awareness that the heretics and noncanonical sayings of some will likely be viewed as the saints and scripture of others. SEE ALSO Authority; Scripture.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Beyer, Hermann W. “Kanon.” In Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by Gerhard Kittel. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1965. An excellent word study of the Greek term in secular and Christian sources. Bleeker, C. Jouco, ed. Historia Religionum: Handbook for the History of Religion, vol. 2, Religions of the Present. Leiden, 1971. An excellent overview of religions with careful attention to the historical appearance of normative traditions in each. Brown, Raymond E. The Critical Meaning of the Bible. New York, 1981. A significant Catholic example of the modern attempt ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


to distinguish between the “literal” and the “canonical sense” of the biblical text. Campenhausen, Hans von. The Formation of the Christian Bible. Philadelphia, 1972. A classic study of the canonization of the New Testament. Childs, Brevard S. Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture. Philadelphia, 1979. An examination of how the canonization of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) influenced the “shape” and semantic import of biblical books. Childs, Brevard S. The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction. Philadelphia, 1985. A study of the New Testament from the perspective of the role played by canonization in its formation as scripture. Eliade, Mircea. A History of Religious Ideas, vol. 2, From Gautama Buddha to the Triumph of Christianity. Chicago, 1982. A monumental overview in which “canon” and “scripture” are employed as categories to interpret major world religions. Leiman, Sid Z. The Canonization of Hebrew Scripture. Hamden, Conn., 1976. A controversial reexamination of the primary evidence for the canonization of the Hebrew Bible. Leiman helpfully collects and translates relevant texts from the Mishnah, the Talmud(s), and other sources. Neusner, Jacob. Midrash in Context. Philadelphia, 1983. A provocative study of how the oral law came to accompany Jewish scripture in the history of that religion, as well as the implications of “canon” for the same. Peters, F. E. Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam. Princeton, 1982. A comparative investigation into the three “religions of the book,” including concern with issues of scripture and tradition. Sanders, James A. Canon and Community: A Guide to Canonical Criticism. Philadelphia, 1984. An attempt to understand the dynamic of religious interpetation in Judaism and Christianity through a hermeneutical theory of canonization. Sheppard, Gerald T. Wisdom as a Hermeneutical Construct: A Study in the Sapientializing of the Old Testament. Berlin and New York, 1980. A monograph that examines the canonical understanding of “wisdom” and “wisdom books” in prerabbinic Judaism and explores similar examples of late “canon conscious redactions” within the Hebrew Bible itself. Sheppard, Gerald T. “Canonization: Hearing the Voice of the Same God through Historically Dissimilar Traditions.” Interpretation 36 (January 1982): 21–33. An examination of the semantic import of the selection and editing of traditions in the formation of both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Smith, Wilfred Cantwell. “The Study of Religion and the Study of the Bible,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 39 (June 1971): 131–140. A general theory regarding the proper understanding of “Bible” in the study of comparative religions. Smith, Wilfred Cantwell. “The True Meaning of Scripture: An Empirical Historian’s Nonreductionist Interpretation of the QurDa¯n.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 11 (July 1980): 487–505. A consideration of the problem of understanding what constitutes viable religious interpretation from a history of religions perspective. Sundberg, Albert C., Jr. The Old Testament of the Early Church. Cambridge, 1964. An argument, based on an examination ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


of early Christian appeals to “scripture,” that the conception of a “scripture” without specific dimensions preceded the later ecclesiastical decisions regarding a “canonical” Bible conforming to a specific list of books.

New Sources Assmann, Aleida, and Jan Assmann, eds. Kanon und Zensur. Munich, 1987. Proceedings of two conferences on canonization and censorship, including contributions in both sociological and historical perspectives. Farneti, Roberto. Il canone moderno. Filosofia politica e genealogia. Turin, Italy, 2002. Kooij, Arie van der, and Karel van der Toorn. Canonization and Decanonization. Papers presented to the International Conference of the Leiden Institute for the Study of Religions. Leiden, 1998. This important volume includes a first section on “(De)canonization and the History of Religions” and a second section on “(De)canonization and Modern society.” An annotated bibliography compiled by J. A. M. Snoek (pp. 436–506) makes this book an indispensable tool for any future study on the topic. GERALD T. SHEPPARD (1987) Revised Bibliography

CAO DAI is a syncretistic modern Vietnamese religious movement founded in 1926 by Ngo Van Chieu (1878– 1932; also known as Ngo Minh Chieu). An official of the French colonial administration, Chieu was widely read in both Eastern and Western religion, and had a particular interest in spiritism. The movement began during séances conducted by Chieu and a group of friends of similar background as Vietnamese intellectuals. An entity called Cao Dai (literally, “high tower,” a Daoist epithet for the supreme god) appeared and delivered to the group the fundamental features of the religion: universalism, vegetarianism, the image of an eye in a circle (which became its central symbol), and various details of worship. On November 18, 1926 the movement was inaugurated in a dramatic ceremony that drew some fifty thousand people. Though resisted by Buddhists and French officials, who perceived its nationalistic potential, Cao Dai grew phenomenally. By 1930 it numbered a half million by conservative estimate, and soon had garnered over one million followers, embracing at least oneeighth of the population in what was to become South Vietnam. The remarkable appeal of the eclectic, spiritist faith undoubtedly reflected the yearning of an oppressed Vietnamese population for something new, immediate, indigenous, and idealistic in a situation in which Catholicism was the religion of the alien colonizers, Buddhism was moribund, and Confucianism was linked to a social order clearly passing away. Cao Dai met those criteria. The substantial Chinese cultural influence in Vietnam is evidenced in the fundamental similarity of Cao Dai to religious Daoist sectarianism in its spiritism, political overtones, and colorful liturgy. Furthermore, like most Chinese religious movements of recent centuries, it also sought to unify the “three faiths,” and so it in-



corporated Confucian morality, Buddhist doctrines such as karman and reincarnation, and Daoist occultism. Also like some of its Chinese counterparts, it further sought to unify the religions of the world, seeing them all as coming from the same source, and heralding a new age of world harmony. Its elaborate organizational structure, headed by a pope, cardinals, and archbishops, was patently inspired by Roman Catholicism. Besides the supreme god, Cao Dai, the faith also honored a great company of spirits, not only Eastern figures like the Buddha, Lao-tzu, Confucius, and Sun Yat-sen, but also such Westerners as Jesus, Muh: ammad, Joan of Arc, and Victor Hugo. Cao Dai worship centers on rituals performed in temples four times daily and celebrated with even greater elaborateness on festivals. The rituals consist of prayer, chants, and such simple offerings as incense, tea, and wine presented with highly stylized ceremony. Séances are held separately and are restricted to set occasions and to mediums appointed by the hierarchy. Despite these rules, Cao Dai has generated a number of sizable subsects, frequently inspired by fresh mediumistic communications. Cao Dai is headquartered in a sacred city, Tay Ninh, northwest of Saigon. Here it boasts a large main temple and many administrative and ritual offices. Before the unification of Vietnam under the communist Hanoi regime in 1975, the “Holy See” was responsible not only for spiritual and ecclesiastical matters, but also for managing the sect’s considerable agricultural and business holdings. During the several decades of strife before 1975, Cao Dai exercised effective control of its headquarters province and, until its forces were disbanded by President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1955, fielded its own army. Although its alliances shifted among the contending groups, Cao Dai basically labored for an unaligned nationalism. Accused by the new communist state of being both politically oriented and “superstitious,” after 1975 Cao Dai was severely repressed A high proportion of its churches were confiscated, and clergy arrested or laicized. The Holy See became virtually inactive. However, a gradual liberalization of policy toward religion commenced in the late 1980s. In 1997, in a grand ceremony at Tay Ninh, the regime officially made Cao Dai a recognized religion, though its governance was placed firmly under state control; many believers resisted recognition at that price. Outside Vietnam, Cao Dai temples and worship centers flourish in Vietnamese immigrant communities. Estimates put the faith’s worldwide numbers at between two and four million. SEE ALSO Vietnamese Religion.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Blagov, Sergei. The Cao Dai: A New Religious Movement. Moscow, 1999. Bui, Hum Dac, and Ngasha Beck. Cao Dai: Faith of Unity. Fayetteville, Ark., 2000.

Oliver, Victor L. Caodai Spiritism: A Study of Religion in Vietnamese Society. Leiden, 1976. Werner, Jayne Susan. Peasant Politics and Religious Sectarianism: Peasant and Priest in the Cao Dai in Viet Nam. New Haven, 1981. ROBERT S. ELLWOOD (1987



CAPPS, WALTER. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, of Swedish-American background, Walter Holden Capps (1934–1997) was a professor in the Department of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, from 1963 to 1996. Beginning with his academic training and intellectual interests in European Christian theology and philosophy of religion, Capps proceeded to develop innovative research and teaching on the intersections of religion with American culture, society, and political life. He emerged as a public intellectual through his academic and administrative leadership of the Council on the Study of Religion (1977–1984), the California Council for the Humanities (1983–1985), and the National Federation of State Humanities Councils (1985–1987). Elected in California to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, Walter Capps served in the Congress for ten months before his untimely death of a heart attack in October 1997. The Walter H. Capps Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, was established in 2002 to continue his legacy by advancing the study of religion and public life. From the philosophy of religion developed in Uppsala, Sweden, by Anders Nygren (1890–1978), Capps distilled an intellectual program for the study of religion, based on a Kantian framework, that remained remarkably consistent throughout his life. Immanuel Kant’s three critiques represented for Capps three different but complementary entry points into the study of religion: with echoes of the ancient Greek trinity of the true, the good, and the beautiful, as Capps often observed, Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1781) raised the problem of theoretical knowledge; his Critique of Practical Reason (1788) focused on ethics; and his Critique of Judgment (1790) engaged the world of aesthetics. Adopting this multidimensional Kantian mandate, Capps pursued these three threads—theoretical, practical, and aesthetic— through his publications and teaching in the study of religion. Although his earliest books were on contemporary developments in Christian theology, Capps had a consistent interest in theory and method in the study of religion and religions. In part, this interest was informed by Nygren’s philosophy of religion, which sought general, formal, and even scientific terms in which “to identify and examine the content of religion” (Capps, 2000, p. 21). But Capps was also convinced that the academic study of religion was a collective, cumulative, intellectual enterprise in asking certain basic questions about the essence, origin, structure, function, and language of religion. From Ways of Understanding ReliENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


gion (1972), his edited collection of theoretical approaches to these questions, to his landmark history of the study of religion, Religious Studies: The Making of a Disciple (1995), Capps rigorously and perceptively examined the diversity of theoretical approaches to the study of religion. Moving from the theoretical to the practical, Capps developed work on religion and politics, first through his interest in the impact of the Vietnam War on American society, which produced a groundbreaking book, The Unfinished War: Vietnam and the American Conscience (1982), and an extraordinary university course, “Religion and the Impact of the Vietnam War,” which received national attention in the United States by being featured on the popular television show 60 Minutes. Subsequently, in his research on rightwing, conservative Christian politics, which resulted in the book The New Religious Right: Piety, Patriotism, and Politics (1990), Capps emerged as an acute analyst of religious and political tensions in American society. Although his work on the practical implications of religion primarily focused on the United States, Capps’s interest in the political, social, and ethical implications of religion was never parochial, as witnessed by his skill in surveying global, cross-cultural, and multireligious relations between religion and society. Alongside theory and practice, Capps was consistently interested in aesthetics, structures of feeling, and varieties of experience. From 1968 to 1969, as a visiting scholar at one of the world’s preeminent centers for art history, the University of London’s Warburg Institute, Capps was able to develop his enduring interest in aesthetics. In his studies of religion, this aesthetic sensibility was clearly evident in his abiding theoretical concern that most accounts of religion failed because they were frozen in time—like still photographs—instead of providing moving pictures that might track the dynamic, experiential character of religion. In thinking about religious experience, Capps was more interested in processes of change, as explored by the psychoanalyst Erik Erikson (1902–1994), who tracked the psychological transitions in the human life cycle, than in establishing deep psychological structures. At the same time, however, Capps’s interest in aesthetics, feeling, and religious experience informed his research on the stillness of religious contemplation and religious solitude, as evident in his edited volume on Christian mysticism and his explorations of Christian monasticism. For the study of religion, these three strands— theoretical, practical, and aesthetic—represent a research program, as Capps argued, that fits the multidimensional character of religion. In a 1997 article on the Czech philosopher, political activist, and creative artist Václav Havel, Capps demonstrated that these three strands could be woven together in a single life. His own life, as academic, politician, and person, was similarly woven.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Capps, Walter. Time Invades the Cathedral: Tensions in the School of Hope. Philadelphia, 1972. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Capps, Walter, ed. Ways of Understanding Religion. New York, 1972. Capps, Walter. Hope Against Hope: Moltmann to Merton in One Decade. Philadelphia, 1976. Capps, Walter, and Wendy Wright, eds. Silent Fire: An Invitation to Western Mysticism. San Francisco, 1978. Capps, Walter. The Unfinished War: Vietnam and the American Conscience. Boston, 1982; 2d ed., 1990. Capps, Walter. The Monastic Impulse. New York, 1983. Capps, Walter. The New Religious Right: Piety, Patriotism, and Politics. Columbia, S.C., 1990. Capps, Walter. Religious Studies: The Making of a Discipline. Minneapolis, Minn., 1995. Capps, Walter. “Interpreting Václav Havel.” Cross Currents 47 (1997): 301–316. Capps, Walter. “Introduction to Religious Apriori.” In Anders Nygren’s Religious Apriori, edited by Walter H. Capps and Kjell O. Lejon, pp. 17–35. Linköping, Sweden, 2000. Available from http://www.ep.liu.se/ea/rel/2000/002/rel002contents.pdf. DAVID CHIDESTER (2005)

CARDS function in the religious context both as instruments for performing divination rituals and as repositories of esoteric sacred teaching. Current historical evidence suggests that cards originated in China and that their sacred usage developed from shamanistic or Taoist divinatory rituals that predated cards themselves. The oldest extant card, found in Chinese Turkistan, dates from no later than the eleventh century. The design of Chinese cards was copied from paper money first used in the Tang dynasty (618–908 CE). The design of an arrow on the back of the oldest Korean cards suggests that those cards developed from a divination technique for interpreting the pattern of arrows randomly cast onto a circle divided into quadrants. Number and pattern, and their orderly transformations, are in sacred mathematics symbolic expressions, or hierophanies, of the eternal divine essences and processes that manifest themselves to us in time as the visible cosmos. The pack of divination cards is a homologue of the set of divine mathematical potentialities that can manifest itself in the time and space of the cosmos. The spontaneous play of the cards, like in any other particular act of divination, reveals a meaningful structure homologous to the divine creative process, which manifests itself within worldly events. The interpretation, or reading, of any particular play of cards is essentially a matter of intuiting from the sacred mathematical symbolism of the cards the worldly events whose structure corresponds to that symbolism. It is not certain when and where cards first appeared in Europe. One hypothesis is that they were brought into southern Europe by the Moors as early as the eighth century. The earliest mention of numbered cards is in Covelluzzo’s



Istoria della città di Viterbo (1480). Covelluzzo says that they were brought to the city of Viterbo by the Saracens in 1379. In her extensive study A History of Playing Cards (New York, 1966), Catherine P. Hargrave says that these early numbered cards were probably European copies of Chinese cards that arrived through Venice. The oldest extant European cards are several tarot cards from a pack designed for Charles VI of France in 1392. The two most prominent packs of cards used in Europe for divination are the ordinary pack, consisting of fifty-two cards, and the tarot pack, consisting of seventy-eight cards. The ordinary pack is divided into four suits—diamonds, clubs, hearts, and spades. Joseph Campbell (in Campbell and Roberts, 1979) has suggested that the four suits represent the four estates, or classes, of the medieval social order: clergy (hearts), knights (spades), merchants (diamonds), and peasants (clubs). The four suits of the ordinary pack possibly developed under Protestant influence from the earlier tarot suits of chalices, swords, coins, and staves. The fact that the four suits of the ordinary pack culminate in the figures of knave, queen, and king leads Campbell to suppose that the pictorial symbolism of the cards expresses a medieval esoteric initiatory tradition wherein ascent along any of the four lines represented by the suits leads to spiritual realizations of equivalent value and importance. The tarot pack falls into two sections: the “minor arcana” of fifty-six cards, divided equally into four suits, and the “major arcana” of twenty-one numbered picture cards and one unnumbered card, the Fool. The origin of the tarot deck is not known. The first history of the tarot, Le jeu des tarots (Paris, 1781), was written by Court de Gebelin. Gebelin claims that the deck originated in ancient Egypt and represents the esoteric teaching of the god Thoth, recorded and expressed in a hieroglyphic alphabet, in which all the gods are symbolized by pictorial signs and numbers. While Gebelin’s theory of Egyptian origins is clearly itself of a mythic nature (the Rosetta Stone, which made translation of hieroglyphics possible, was not discovered until 1790), the evidence of recent research on the history of symbols indicates that the deck is indeed, as Gebelin supposed, a repository of sacred teaching and esoteric knowledge. The pictorial symbolism of the deck is known to have much in common with the symbolism of spiritual initiation rites and instruction in Hellenistic mystery cults, ancient astrology, and medieval alchemy, wherein the processes of manifesting divine energies are represented in the progression of visual and numerical symbols.


Tarot Revelations by Joseph Campbell and Richard Roberts (San Anselmo, Calif., 1979) is a detailed work summarizing the phenomenological evidence linking the tarot to Hellenistic religion and alchemy as well as the tarot’s place in nineteenth-century esoteric societies.

New Sources Baird, Merrily. “Card Games.” In her Symbols of Japan: Thematic Motifs in Art and Design. New York, 2001.

Giles, Cynthia. The Tarot: History, Mystery, and Lore. 1992; reprint. New York, 1994. Preston, Cathy Lynn and Michael Preston. “Catholic Holy Cards: Visual, Verbal, and Tactile Codes for the (In)visible.” In their The Other Print Tradition: Essays on Chapbooks, Broadsides, and Related Ephemera, pp. 266–283. New York, 1994. RICHARD W. THURN (1987) Revised Bibliography

CARGO CULTS [FIRST EDITION]. In 1980, a motorcade drove into Madang, a provincial capital in Papua New Guinea (independent since 1975), and stopped outside the local branch of the national bank. The drivers and passengers came from a Catholic village sixty kilometers to the west. Their spokeswoman, Josephine Bahu (about twenty-eight at the time), asked the bank manager, a European, to give her the keys to his vaults, for God had revealed to her the truth about money—its true source and its proper use as a road to economic development. This incident was a recent example of cargoism, the most common form of millenarianism in Melanesia since the nineteenth century, when colonial rule reduced its inhabitants to the status of cheap labor for European employers. The millennium, as it has inevitably come to be manifested in this context, is the anticipated arrival of bulk supplies of European goods (cargo)—civilian stock, such as tinned meat, cotton cloth, steel tools, and motor vehicles; and military equipment, especially rifles and ammunition—which many of the people believe to be made not by human beings but by a deity or deities aided by the spirits of the dead. This conception of the millennium may give rise to a cargo cult or movement whose devotees perform ritual to induce the cargo god(s) to send the ancestors with supplies of the new wealth (and nowadays, as the initial example suggests, money) for immediate distribution. I begin by describing overt cargo phenomena and then discuss some of the best-known approaches to their study by Western scholars. OVERT CARGO PHENOMENA. Western scholars first learned about cargo phenomena in 1857 through the publication of the Mansren myth of the Koreri in the Biak-Numfoor area of Irian Jaya, probably the oldest cargo movement in the whole region, although there were manifestations in Samoa in the 1830s and in Fiji in the 1880s. In Papua New Guinea the first known cults were the Baigona, reported in 1912, and the Vailala Madness, reported in 1919, although one movement, centered on Madang, can be dated from 1871 and continues to the present day. Cargoism began to proliferate just before World War II. In Papua New Guinea there has been a plethora of cults; in the Solomon Islands, Marching Rule; and in Vanuatu, the John Frum movement. In recent times the region has seen the rise of various alternatives to cargoism, specifically Pentecostalism and other Christian cults that are independent of the established European missions and that lay stress on healing and salvation. Although ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


it is hard to draw a firm line between cargoism and other modern religious developments in Melanesia, I concentrate on cargo cults as such. The many forms that cargo cults take depend on a number of variables: (1) a people’s socioeconomic structure, basic personality, and traditional religion, which factors together determine the strength of their desire for the new wealth and the extent to which they are prepared to test or reject theological experiments; (2) the nature of the introduced religion, which they may or may not readily interpret as cargo doctrine; and (3) the pattern of initial contact and subsequent relations with Europeans (the actual purveyors of cargo), which underlie the political aspects of the people’s responses. Thus, as we learn from the early ethnographic accounts of the Papua New Guinea Highlands—which were brought under administration only after 1933, when Europeans had gained some experience in Melanesian affairs—for some years it seemed likely that strong social structures, hardheadedness, and the predilection for secularism rather than religion, together with good race relations, accounted for the general paucity of cargo cults in the area. On the seaboard, incorporated within colonial administrations soon after 1884, a contrary situation obtained. Relatively weak social structures, an induced inferiority complex, an intellectual system dominated by theology, and often traumatic race relations had created the conditions in which cargoism was bound to flourish. Yet, although differences of this kind do exist, the neat geographical distinction suggested is probably overdrawn. In recent years cargoism, like Pentecostalism, has made inroads into the Highlands, forcing a reappraisal of previous interpretations. The most obvious signs of a cargo cult’s emergence are generally its devotees’ preparations for the arrival of the goods they expect. Especially early on, when all cargo came by ship, they built wharves and storehouses in coastal villages. During and after the Pacific war, when the importance of aircraft became apparent, they cleared airstrips. Cargo may also be expected to appear in local cemeteries, which devotees assiduously keep clean and tidy, on altars in churches, which they regard as particularly holy, or at other places the leaders designate. In addition, there have been “flagstaffs,” “radio masts,” and even “telephones,” by means of which the leaders could make contact with the deity and ancestors for news of the goods’ arrival. Sometimes both leaders and followers have “demonstrated” the reality of this contact by simulating spirit possession, including shaking fits and other forms of violent seizure. Yet cargo cannot come by itself: its arrival has to be ensured by means of religious ritual. A cult normally begins when, after a dream, waking vision, or some other extraordinary experience, its leader announces that he has been in touch with the deity, who has revealed to him the source of the desired wealth, the methods by which those who have so far monopolized it (generally Europeans) have defrauded the people of their rights, and the new ritual procedures necENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


essary to redress the balance. Most leaders have been men, but there have been some outstanding women: Josephine Bahu in the 1980s, Philo of Inawai’a village (of the Mekeo language group, Papua) in 1941, and Polelesi of Igurue village (of the Garia language group, New Guinea) in 1947. In this context, it is essential to distinguish between cults based on paganism, Christianity, and syncretic Christian-pagan doctrine. In a purely pagan cult, the leader has the difficult task of persuading the followers that traditional myths have a meaning which was not mentioned in the past but which has now been revealed to him alone. In quasiChristian cults the problem is not so great. Christianity is not enshrined in tradition and can be interpreted with greater flexibility. The leader may claim to have visited God in heaven and returned as the Black Jesus. Again, in the course of some such experience, he may have learned that the secret of the cargo is the identification of an indigenous deity with God or Jesus Christ. These basic differences, which are generally the result of the degree of administrative and more particularly mission influence, determine the nature of the ritual instructions the leader invariably claims to have received from the deity. In a pagan cult, where cultural change is minimal, the leader is likely to do no more than order the performance of mainly traditional rituals in honor of deities and the dead (possibly with a few foreign embellishments), albeit in an intensified form, as happened in the eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. But where there has been acculturation, ritual incorporates new forms and becomes more elaborate. Cults based on Christianity may have mass village assemblies with marathon church services and prayers to God, “the Cargo Giver.” Disbelievers are threatened with hellfire, and the Second Coming of Our Lord is prophesied as imminent, with all the wealth of Europe going to the faithful. There are mass conversions and baptisms. Polygyny and sexual promiscuity are forbidden, although in some villages in the southern Madang Province in the 1940s cult leaders experimented with wife exchange on the ground that this eliminated the quarrels over adultery that so displeased God. The sanctuaries of traditional deities are often desecrated or destroyed, and all forms of indigenous dancing and exchange outlawed. Christian fervor may go to extremes: in the early 1960s, in a village north of Madang, a man acquiesced in having his throat slit in front of a completely unsuspecting Catholic archbishop. It eventuated that this was a ritual reenactment of the Crucifixion: the victim was the Black Jesus, who was to intercede with God for the economic advantage of his people just as the White Jesus had done for Europeans. In Christian-pagan syncretic cults, ritual, like doctrine, tends to borrow from both religions. Cults of this degree of sophistication often have two interesting features. First, devotees may root out their crops, cut down their palms and fruit trees, and slaughter their livestock. No ubiquitously satisfactory explanation for this behavior has been found, but in one area, the southern Madang Province, the reason given



is that the people want to stress their poverty to the cargo deity and ancestors, thereby hastening the arrival of the new goods. Second, especially in communities which value money as a means of access to cargo, leaders may persuade their followers to place spare cash in a case or chest on the promise that their ritual will increase the sum deposited many times over. Finally, in some areas the people have totally rejected Christianity and its syncretic modifications in favor of paganism for cargoist ends. This heralds the reintroduction of traditional ritual with modern borrowings. WESTERN ANALYSES OF CARGO PHENOMENA. The extensive literature on cargoism primarily consists of accounts of single cults, although there are several important comparative analyses. Space precludes detailed consideration of these general works, so I have selected for discussion the approaches of several Western scholars since World War I to indicate the trends in our thinking about the problem. It took many years to complete detailed studies of cargo cults in which the participants could speak for themselves. Inevitably, therefore, the first European interpretations were ethnocentric. Francis E. Williams, who was from 1922 until 1943 the government anthropologist in Papua, wrote essays in 1922 and 1934 that examined the facts of cargo phenomena in light of the assumptions of his own society. He wrote only about the disturbances in the Gulf Province, the socalled Vailala Madness, a title which, significantly, he never challenged. Although a meticulous field-worker, he never comprehended Melanesian values and epistemology. He made careful notes about the external features of the cult: the people’s imitation of European dress, eating habits, and house decoration; their use of Christian beliefs as part of their doctrine; their make-believe Western technology; and their periodic hysteria. But the meaning of it all eluded him: nothing in his personal or academic experience had prepared him for this kind of behavior. He concluded that the people were temporarily insane as a result of misunderstood Christianity and boredom caused by the loss of traditional activities, such as warfare and religious ceremonies. The cure he advocated was the Anglo-Australian boarding-school nostrum: some form of intervillage sport like football. Peter Worsley, writing in the 1950s, had at his disposal a far larger body of cargoist literature, which he presented with great thoroughness. Yet much of the material was of doubtful value, based as it was on superficial accounts by untrained onlookers during and after World War II. Many of the observations were made when, after a period of optimistic but unproductive cooperation with Europeans (which the authors never appreciated), the people were finally hostile to whites. Hence it was easy for Worsley to offer a Marxist explanation: the cults were an embryonic form of class struggle against economic and political oppression, that is, the people’s protest against their colonial overlords. There are two objections to this kind of analysis. First, although one aspect of cargoism is undeniably its political statement, we have no evidence that cargoism is invariably

anti-European. After a bad period, mainly in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, colonial rule—certainly as it was known in Papua New Guinea—was relatively benign. Many villagers have adopted cargoism as a means of explaining and manipulating the new order long before unfulfilled hopes have made them antagonistic. As indicated, cargoism can express the desire to fraternize with white men. Second, the Marxist approach to issues raised by cargoism is basically secular and so barely touches on the question of why the people have used religion, virtually on its own, to explain and try to cope with the colonial and postcolonial situations. Many cults are based on intricate philosophies, which cannot legitimately be ignored. Between 1960 and 1972 three other scholars—Ian Jarvie, Freerk Kamma, and Kenelm Burridge—did much to offset this imbalance. Jarvie, a philosopher with a deep interest in social anthropology and an appreciation of Melanesian religion, approaches cargoism from an uncompromisingly intellectualist point of view. Although he does not deny the importance of the political issues raised by Worsley, he makes it quite plain that his interest lies in the structure of cargo doctrines as means of “teaching” the people the source of European wealth and giving them the prescription for getting it. In the sense that they are based on traditional assumptions and modes of thought, cargo cults are completely logical. Kamma, a missionary who studied the Koreri movement in the northwestern sector of Irian Jaya, argues that it is a direct continuation of religious traditions aimed at maintaining and improving the people’s way of life. With the arrival of European missionaries in the nineteenth century, the people wove Christianity into these traditions and treated cargo as the symbol of the improved way of life. His argument is echoed by John Strelan, another missionary, who reasons that for Melanesians cargo is salvation, an idea akin to Calvin’s dictum that worldly success is the basis of certitudo salutis. Burridge, who studied the Tangu in the northern Madang Province, sees cargo cults as the Melanesians’ attempt to achieve full human dignity through attainment of economic and sociopolitical equality with Europeans. Their purpose is to create the “new society” and the “new man” able to maintain this principle of equivalence with whites. He stresses the importance of the “myth-dream,” in both traditional religions and quasi-Christian cults, as the revelation of the origin of cargo and the secret of the ritual that will make it available. A COMPOSITE APPROACH TO CARGO PHENOMENA. I have developed a composite approach based on my own research in the southern Madang Province after 1949. I regard it as essential to take all the issues raised by the foregoing scholars and combine them in a way that keeps each one in proper perspective. Broadly, cargoists try to recreate in the modern situation the same kind of predictable cosmic order they knew in the past: an order the gods ordained and human beings maintain by fulfilling social obligations among themENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


selves and ritual obligations toward deities and ancestors. This recreation will give them the key to the new wealth and ensure its fair distribution. In a word, they retain their old cosmic values of anthropocentrism and materialism: man is the center of the cosmos, which exists for his benefit. Cargoism, thus conceived, is a dialogue between the old sociocultural system and the economic, political, and religious policies introduced by colonial administrations. A most important factor is that, although they enabled the people to acquire limited supplies of the new goods, these policies actually achieved few changes in village life. Despite a century of European control, the pattern of economic and sociopolitical life has remained very much intact. The people still have minimal knowledge of the European world, so that their reactions to, and interpretations of, cargo are based primarily on tradition. To this extent, cargoism is conservative. My “composite approach” to cargoism raises three questions relating to motivation, conceived means, and effects in cargo cult. Why do the people desire European goods so much that they waste decades in trying to acquire them by obviously futile procedures? Why do they rely on religious ritual rather than secular activity? What have cargo cults done to indigenous society?

MOTIVATION. In absolute terms, Melanesians have never been poor. They have rarely known hunger. Hence cargoism is an expression of relative deprivation. The people want Western goods for two reasons: their obvious utility and technical superiority over indigenous products; and their sociopolitical significance. They quickly saw the practical value of European artifacts, especially steel axes and knives, nails, and cloth. In the nineteenth century European traders took great pains to provide the kinds of goods the people wanted. These traders were always on guard against theft, for the demand for their goods was great, and Melanesians were skillful fighters. By 1900, most Melanesians under colonial administration had adopted steel tools, some Western clothing, and such luxuries as glass beads and mirrors. This pragmatic incentive has its sociopolitical counterpart, which can be understood only by considering the role of wealth in traditional society. Beyond its usefulness, wealth is a vital content of all social relationships. Bonds between local descent groups, kinsmen, and affines—the prime constituents of social structure—are strengthened by the periodic exchange of goods and services, particularly pigs and valuables. For one party to fail in its commitments is cause for tremendous shame, which nothing can alleviate. The people desire exactly this kind of egalitarian relationship with Europeans, and cargo is the most important part of the goods and services to be exchanged. One cargo leader put it to an Australian officer thus: “We are doing no harm. All we want is to live well—like white men!” Yet the structure of the modern economy necessitates marked inequalities between foreign employers and indigenous employees. European monopoly of the new wealth has become the symbol of this imbalance and hence a primary cause of political unrest. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Although the pragmatic incentive to acquire cargo is a constant, sociopolitical motivation correlates with the climate of race relations, which in its turn determines the kinds of goods the people desire and the political significance of cult activity. This has been documented for one area of Papua New Guinea. In the southern Madang Province, which comprises a large number of separate language groups or virtually autonomous societies, the cargo movement has since 1871 passed through five broad stages that have expressed varying attitudes toward Europeans (ranging from friendship to hostility) and shifting preferences for specific types of goods, civilian or military. The first stage (1871–c. 1900) began with the arrival of the first European settler, the Russian scientist Baron Miklouho-Maclay, who won the people’s friendship by establishing a fair trading partnership with them. He introduced Western civilian goods and new food plants, all of which were enthusiastically received. In 1884 he was followed by German settlers, whose behavior was a complete antithesis: they were arrogant; they alienated a disproportionate amount of coastal land for plantations; and they paid badly for labor. Friendship gave way to hostility, which was the leitmotif also of the second stage (c. 1900–c. 1914). The people now wanted to acquire rifles and ammunition with which to expel the foreigners. In 1904 the administration put down a serious uprising in Madang and in 1912, fearing another emergency, exiled a large part of the local population. The third stage (c. 1914–c. 1933) saw a volte-face. The new Australian administration permitted the exiles to return home, and the people sought an accommodation with the whites, hoping to live in peace with them and acquire civilian goods. Certainly the last expectation was unreal, so that the fourth stage (c. 1933–c. 1945) witnessed a return to enmity toward Europeans and a desire for military equipment. Some cultists collaborated with the Japanese (who occupied the area between 1942 and 1944), armed themselves with discarded Japanese weapons, and set up a quasi-military camp. For a brief time after 1945 the people, under the leadership of Yali Singina, who had served in the Australian army, once again expressed goodwill toward Europeans. Because of a misunderstanding, Yali believed, and so had persuaded his people, that in return for the loyalty of native troops the Europeans would reward the people with bulk cargo. These hopes were dashed in 1947, when it transpired that the “bulk reward” was to be development in the form of hospitals and schools—benefits that ordinary villagers could not then appreciate. This inaugurated the fifth stage (1948–1950), which expressed renewed hostility and, for some of the regional population at least, the hope of getting modern weapons with which to fight the Europeans. Regrettably, there is no comparable account of this alternating pattern of friendly and hostile race relations elsewhere in Melanesia. Yet the Madang evidence stresses the falsity of the view that cargoism always expresses hostility toward Europeans. Another recent incident supports this ar-



gument. In a major cargo cult in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea in 1971, some six thousand people formed a chain gang to remove from the summit of Mount Hurun some military concrete markers, which were believed to be demons impeding the cargo millennium. Before the event local Europeans widely predicted that they would be the target of popular animosity. Yet there was no evidence of this. Cult devotees brought the markers to the station of the local European patrol officer and then peacefully dispersed. Significantly, a year later a similar operation was planned near Madang: the destruction of the monument erected in honor of the German governor von Hagen after his death in 1897 and said to be preventing the arrival of the cargo deity. The sponsors stressed their desire for racial harmony by inviting Europeans and Chinese to take part. They tried to get a message to this effect broadcast over Radio Mandang. Conceived means. As attacks on trading vessels and uprisings around Madang suggest, Melanesians are prepared to use physical force to gain their economic and political ends. Hence it is perhaps puzzling that at the same time they consistently rely on religious ritual as a means of getting cargo in the face of recurrent failure. It can be said, of course, that once they appreciate the power of colonial administrations they are afraid to take direct action. But this does not explain why they are convinced that religion will provide a solution or why, in some cases, they combine it with secular economic activity. For instance, the people of Karkar Island and Mount Hagen, now rich from cash crops, either believe in or actually practice cargo ritual. The only possible answer is that Western contact has not destroyed the people’s traditional intellectual assumptions: that religion is the source of “true knowledge” and that ritual is a pragmatic technology with no mystical attributes. The forces that governed the old cosmic order should govern the new one. This idea was expressed to me early in my research by a highly intelligent informant: “Everything that we have was invented by a deity: taro, yams, livestock, artifacts. If we want taro to grow, we invoke the taro goddess, and so forth. Well, then, you people come to us with all your goods, and we ask, ‘Where is the god of the cargo and how do we contact him?’” The continuing search for the divine source of Western goods after each negative result is consistent with this statement. Here again the southern Madang Province is illustrative, as the area saw a succession of five cargo beliefs or doctrines that correlated more or less with the sociopolitical stages already summarized. The first of these beliefs (1871–c. 1900) expressed the people’s conclusion that the early European visitors were indigenous gods suddenly appearing in their midst. Miklouho-Maclay was either Kilibob or Manup, the two deity brothers who between them were said to have created all the sociocultural systems of the region’s seaboard. He had invented the new goods he brought especially for them, and as a measure of their friendship they had to reciprocate

with gifts of food. They do not appear to have honored him with ritual while he was living in their midst. Ordinary social behavior sufficed. Although they at first expected to establish comparable exchange ties with the Germans, ultimately they came to regard them, because of their haughtiness, as hostile gods whose purpose was to enslave them with their rifles. But, as the second cargo belief (c. 1900–c. 1914) indicated, they decided that the Germans were human beings who, because of a cosmic accident, had acquired sole access to the cargo deity, Kilibob or Manup, and so misappropriated the wealth properly destined for Madang. The third cargo belief (c. 1914–c. 1933) expressed the people’s renewed goodwill toward Europeans because the missionaries had consistently shown concern during their exile and the new administration had brought them home, which they interpreted as signs that the cargo secret would be revealed to them. To this end, they adopted Christianity and revised it as a cargo religion. God, Jesus Christ, and the ancestors lived in Heaven (a suburb of Sydney, Australia), where they made cargo. Baptism and assiduous worship of the kind already described would induce God to send the ancestors with cargo to the ships (and later aircraft) that would deliver it to the Madangs. But after twenty years the people were no better off. Thus the fourth cargo belief (c. 1933– c. 1945) spelled out their distrust of, and enmity to, Europeans, especially the missionaries, who had hidden the truth from them. The new doctrine and ritual were syncretic. Kilibob and Manup were equated with God and Jesus Christ, the cargo deities kept prisoner by the whites in Australia. The aim was to honor them in such a way as to ensure their return: through church services, dancing, feasting, and food offerings. The Japanese soldiers, of course, were either spirits of the dead or emissaries of the cargo god sent to punish the Europeans for their duplicity. The fifth cargo belief (1948– 1950) marked the end of dependence on a foreign religion. All the traditional gods of the southern Madang Province were now proclaimed cargo deities. The missionaries had hidden them in Australia, but Manup (alias Jesus Christ) had found them and taught them to make cargo. It was now the people’s duty and interest to get them back to Madang to establish the millennium. To do this, they had to reject all Christian teaching and worship, and return to traditional ritual, especially dancing, feasting, initiatory ceremonies, and food offerings to gods and ancestors set out on specially prepared tables. Effects. Until recently a main interest of AngloAustralian social anthropology has been the study of political structure and function, and it is not surprising that the effect of cargoism on traditional society has been evaluated predominantly in that field. Early suggestions were that cargoism might help lay the foundations of future nationalism in two ways: by uniting the populations of whole regions and thereby breaking down sectionalism based on clan, village, and language group; and by preparing the people to accept genuine development when it was presented to them in realENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


istic administrative projects. We should be careful on both these counts. In the first context, although cargo cults have at times brought together social aggregations far larger than was possible before contact, it is doubtful whether this process has been universal and automatic or whether the leaders have deliberately fostered it. The evidence suggests rather that these aggregations occur only when their members have a single doctrine to unite them. When this is lost, the aggregations disperse. I consider again the southern Madang Province. In the second stage of the cargo movement, although the people of the whole coast under administration may have been hostile to the Germans and may have hoped for a return of Kilibob or Manup, they did not form a grand alliance. The politico-military groups in the revolts of 1904 and 1912 appear to have been based on old rather than new alignments: traditional clan alliances and marriage or kinship ties. In the third stage, widespread conversion to Christianity gave the people of the whole region a sense of common consciousness: together with Europeans, they were all descended from Adam, Eve, and Noah. Yet there was no attempt to create a wide political organization to exploit the new attitude. In the fourth stage, this widespread common consciousness was considerably attenuated because the new syncretic doctrines based on the amalgam of the Kilibob-Manup myth and Christianity were restricted entirely to the littoral. The quasiChristian cargoists of the inland, who had no rights to the traditional myth, were at once excluded. Nevertheless, the coastal villagers following the new doctrine did evince a degree of solidarity never known in the past. Finally, in the fifth stage, Yali Singina agreed to become the movement’s leader only when he was satisfied that Jesus-Manup had transferred the power to make cargo to all the indigenous deities so that he, as an inland dweller, could not be accused of theft for meddling with a coastal myth. The new doctrine had the potential to unite the people of the whole region in a mass antiEuropean cult. Yet, although antagonism was rife, Yali’s organization was too inefficient and parochial to turn it into an effective political force. In short, the process of expanding political cohesion is probably unconscious and haphazard rather than deliberately planned. In the second context, there appears to be even less evidence to support the view that cargoism arouses among the people such energy and enthusiasm for modernization that it helps facilitate the change to indigenous government and administration. Indeed, the facts suggest that cargoism is— and that its devotees see it as—ontologically quite different from the national structure established and bequeathed by the former colonial power, and that cargoism cannot easily be assimilated to that structure, which, moreover, it may deliberately impede. By presenting itself as a seemingly logical alternative system, the movement offers those unwilling to experiment with new ideas the opportunity to engage in activities which may be consistent with tradition but are bound to be sterile—an argument relevant not only to the political field but to the economic and educational fields as well. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


In the field of politics, it is necessary to consider the behavior of cargoists in two situations; in the electorate at large; and within parliament and local government councils. During election campaigns cargoists have indeed made extravagent claims. In 1967–1968 Yali Singina, who now prefixed his name with the title god-king, campaigned for a seat in the national parliament in Port Moresby on the following platform. He would go to the House, where he would discover the indigenous deities, whom the administration had now placed there in a secret room. He would occupy the Speaker’s Chair, take control of the Mace, and liberate the gods, with whom he would return to Madang, where he would usher in the cargo millennium and proclaim selfgovernment, administering the country with the aid of those European officers of whom he approved. He was not elected. Again, in 1971, he rejected an offer of an electoral alliance from the Madang representatives of Pangu Pati (the senior government party) on the grounds that as “king” of Papua New Guinea he could not share power. Yet, in 1972, he belatedly but unsuccessfully tried to take up the offer because he believed that Pangu was a cult organization like his own. Matias Yaliwan, the chief cargo prophet in the East Sepik Province, claimed to have been told in a dream that he had been appointed leader of the country. He was elected to parliament in 1972 and subsequently told his followers that it was through his special aura that self-government was achieved. By the same token, in the 1980s Josephine Bahu’s senior followers wrote to the prime minister that she should be made head of state. Apart from Matias Yaliwan, a number of known cargoists have been elected to parliament and local government councils, where their behavior has generally been far more circumspect. Real politics does not provide an arena in which they can operate with success. Matias resigned his seat when he realized that his claim to personal leadership was being quietly ignored. Other cargoists have remained largely quiescent, making few speeches and little contribution to proceedings beyond voting. In the same way, Yali Singina and his “deputy” Dui Yangsai sat for many years on the Rai Coast Council but, despite their flamboyant pronouncements elsewhere, never advocated cargoist policy in the chamber. A comparable conflict of interest and interpretation obtains in the fields of economic development and education. Although on Karkar and at Mount Hagen the people have succeeded in cash cropping while at the same time engaging in cargoism, there are many other cases in which cargoists and developers are continually at loggerheads. The cargoists assert that the developers prevent the millennium by paying all their attention to their plantations and denying the cargo god the ritual honor due to him. Also, it is questionable how genuine economic success on Karkar and at Mount Hagen can be when many people still appear to regard purely secular activity as a poor second best. Cargoism could well hold them back from innovations that might lead to expansion, so that they may remain always the satellites of European



businessmen, who still provide all the initiatives. Finally, many people misunderstand and are disenchanted with modern education. In the past, parents have taken their children away from mission schools when they discovered that the cargo secret was not in the curriculum. Some have even denied the value of mission schools, which are attended by children of both sexes: genuine education—that is, powerful religious secrets—is given only to males during and after initiation. In cargoist areas secular education has been equally badly received. Many children see no point in it, and the dropout rate for secondary schools is very high. Unsuccessful pupils have been drawn into cargo organizations as “secretaries” and “clerks.” With their smattering of Western knowledge, these young members give the cults an appearance of increased sophistication and provide explanatory systems so persuasive that the ordinary villager finds it hard to fault them. It is no wonder that both national and provincial politicians and public servants, concerned for the future of their country, view these counterintellectuals with disquiet, as a fifth column that can vitiate genuine achievement. SEE ALSO New Guinea Religions.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Berndt, Ronald M. “A Cargo Movement in the Eastern Central Highlands of New Guinea.” Oceania 23 (September 1952): 40–65; (December 1952): 137–158; (March 1953): 202– 234. An early paper describing what was until recently one of the few cargo cults in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Burridge, Kenelm. Mambu: A Melanesian Millennium. London, 1960. A humane and sophisticated analysis of cargo activity in the northern Madang Province of Papua New Guinea. Emphasizes the people’s efforts to reestablish their selfrespect by achieving socioeconomic and political equality with Europeans. Burridge expands and projects his argument into the field of international millenarianism in his New Heaven, New Earth (New York, 1969). Cochrane, Glynn. Big Men and Cargo Cults. Oxford, 1970. An analysis of the role of leaders in cargo cults, with emphasis on Papua and the Solomon Islands. Guiart, Jean. Un siècle et demi de contacts culturels à Tanna, Nouvelles-Hebrides. Paris, 1956. An important historical analysis of administrative and mission influence and popular response (including cargoism) in Vanuatu. Hanneman, E. F. “Le Culte du Cargo en Nouvelle-Guinée.” Le monde non Chretién, n. s. 8 (October–December 1948): 937–962. An early demonstration of the possibilities of an intellectualist approach to cargoism. A classic work. Harding, Thomas G. “A History of Cargoism in Sio, North-east New Guinea.” Oceania 38 (September 1967): 1–23. A paper important not only for its ethnographic content: here Harding coins the term cargoism and establishes the movement as a philosophy in its own right. Jarvie, Ian C. The Revolution in Anthropology (1964). New York, 1967. A prominent work: the first internationally recognized study of cargoism in intellectualist terms and, at the same time, an astute critique of positivist social anthropology.

Kamma, Freerk C. Koreri. The Hague, 1972. A detailed history and analysis of cargoism in western Irian Jaya, with a most valuable summary and assessment of other works on the general subject. Lawrence, Peter. Road Belong Cargo. Manchester and Melbourne, 1964. A full history of the cargo movement in the southern Madang Province of Papua New Guinea, with a rounded analysis of the movement in its economic, sociopolitical, and intellectual contexts. The analysis of the people’s intellectual interpretation of cargo and the right way to get it, independently parallels and endorses Jarvie’s argument in The Revolution in Anthropology, mentioned above. May, Ronald J. “Micronationalism in Perspective” and “Micronationalism: What, When, and Why?” in Micronationalist Movements in Papua New Guinea, edited by Ronald J. May. Canberra, 1982. The most recent and precise analysis of the relationship between cargoism and nationalism in Papua New Guinea. McSwain, Romola. The Past and Future People. Oxford, 1977. A thorough examination of a Papua New Guinea society (Karkar Island) undergoing development preparatory to becoming part of a new independent nation-state; discusses the way in which the people have interwoven new economic, political, and educational projects with cargoism. Ogan, Eugene. Business and Cargo. Canberra, 1972. A most valuable account of the relationship between commercial development and cargoism among the Nasioi of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, a people living in the shadow of a major mining venture to which much of the local economy was tied. Plutta, Paul, and Wendy Flannery. “‘Mama Dokta’: A Movement in the Utu Area, Madang Province.” In Religious Movements in Melanesia, edited by Glen W. Bays. Goroka, Papua New Guinea, 1983. A vivid description of cargoist activity in modern postindependence setting; illustrates the uneasy relationship between cult devotees and the indigenous government. Schwartz, Theodore. “The Paliau Movement in the Admiralty Islands, 1946–1954,” Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History 49 (1962): 211–421. An important work. Describes and analyzes an indigenous, as against a government-sponsored, development movement and its ambivalent relationship with a cargo cult. Steinbauer, Friedrich. Melanesian Cargo Cults. Saint Lucia, Australia, 1979. A most comprehensive survey and discussion of the literature on cargo cults and of European scholars’ approaches to them. Strathern, Andrew. “The Red Box Money-Cult in Mount Hagen 1968–71.” Oceania 50 (December 1979): 88–102; (March 1980): 161–175. A paper important for dispelling the mistaken notion that Highlands societies in Papua New Guinea are not prone to cargoism; valuable too for showing how the people experiment with cargo activity while engaging in vigorous cash cropping. Strelan, John G. Search for Salvation. Adelaide, Australia, 1977. An enterprising general analysis of cargoism from a Christian missionary’s point of view. Strelan suggests that Melanesians are now working out their own distinct theology. Williams, Francis E. “The Vailala Madness” and “The Vailala Madness in Retrospect.” In Francis Edgar Williams: The VaiENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


lala Madness and Other Essays, edited by Erik Schwimmer, pp. 351–384 and pp. 385–395. London, 1976. Two early accounts of cargo cult, most valuable for their careful description of its external features but lacking insight into its socioeconomic, political, and epistemological bases. Worsley, Peter. The Trumpet Shall Sound: A Study of “Cargo” Cults in Melanesia (1957). New York, 1968. An early general work important because it did much to bring the phenomenon of cargoism to the attention of Western scholars. Describes many of the outbreaks of cargo cult up to the 1950s. The first edition is written from a strictly Marxist perspective, at least part of which the author renounces in the second. PETER LAWRENCE (1987)

CARGO CULTS [FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS]. Since Peter Lawrence wrote his confident, empirically rich discussion of the cargo cult for the first edition of this encyclopedia in 1987, the terrain of Pacific religion and politics has changed, as has the terrain of scholarly analysis. It is no longer so clear that “cargo cults” ever existed, or at least whether the analytic category is valuable. Over the past fifty years in the Pacific, the post–World War II decolonization imperative has proceeded apace. New nation-states, multinational corporations, nongovernmental organizations, proliferating evangelical groups, and other postcolonial institutions and agents populate the islands. The imperial world system entanglements of the era of European capitalist and colonial expansion are replaced by global interconnections of the post–World War II United Nations world, including regional nation-state alliances, aid and development programs, migration, tourism, multinational corporate penetration, consumption, and media flows. Yet, Pacific people have not ceased to innovate politically and religiously. How are we to understand these innovations? What particular issues of religion, power, and sovereignty are raised by the nation-state and how might this implicate the concept of the cargo cult? In scholarship, the “cargo cult” is now treated far more skeptically by many scholars than in Lawrence’s account. In the mid-twentieth century, scholars unproblematically wrote books and articles defining cargo cults, giving examples of cargo cults, arguing over their nature and causes, and proposing explanations of their causes. While many important studies still use the category (and while Pacific peoples themselves may use the term—positively, neutrally, or pejoratively), many of the analytic issues have turned from ontology to epistemology, from questions about what cargo cults are, to questions about the knower, and to the effects of claiming that cargo cults do exist or the effects of seeking to specify their characteristics. For example, some anthropologists now argue that “cargo cults do not exist,” finding the so-named phenomena better understood instead in terms of ongoing trajectories of Pacific history-making (including that long predating the colonial encounter), while others find their oriENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


gin not in Pacific sociology or cosmology but in the Western imagination. Finally, serious scholarly thinking about the nature of states and cults that finds the state as enchanted as any millenarian movement has made the melding of politics and religion in these Pacific movements less surprising and all the more useful to study of general issues of present and future religious life. This entry reviews three analyses that exemplify some of these trends in interesting ways, beginning with a summary of Martha Kaplan’s chronicle of the Fijian Tuka movement, Neither Cargo nor Cult: Ritual Politics and the Colonial Imagination in Fiji (1995). The work is fully committed to understanding an ongoing, dynamic ritual-political history making of Fijians, and it is also highly skeptical of the analytic utility of the concept of the cargo cult, finding its origins in British colonial discourse of order and disorder. It thus takes a Bakhtinean, dialogical approach to this colonial and postcolonial history. Dialogical does not mean a friendly or consensus-seeking interchange, but rather explores the semiotic and cultural consequences of interactions of sharply opposed agents, parties, and classes. Thus, a dialogical history is a history in which none of the agents is unaffected by the interaction (see Kelly and Kaplan, 1990). Next is a summary of Lamont Lindstrom’s important Cargo Cult: Strange Stories of Desire from Melanesia and Beyond (1993), which argues that cargo cults do exist (or at least that there is a cross-cultural unity among certain events of collective action in which people seek to fulfill rational desires through irrational means). But Lindstrom does not seek to elaborate the characteristics of this category. Rather, Lindstrom’s poststructuralist psychoanalytic approach draws our attention to what he calls the Western discourse of cargoism, in which, he argues, non-Melanesians map onto Melanesians their own fantasies concerning love, longing, and unrequited desire. Finally, a brief summary is presented of an article in which discourse about cargo cults figures in decolonization history. Robert J. Foster’s “Your Money, Our Money, the Government’s Money” (2002) is an evocative historical ethnography of money and the state in decolonizing and independent Papua New Guinea (PNG), in which the enchantments of a national monetary system emerge in a complex and dialogical postcolonial history. This description of the current field is, by design, selective. The examples have been chosen to contrast with Lawrence’s approach. Readers interested in a wider spectrum of important turn-of-the-millennium writing on cargo cults in the Pacific, and on cargo cults and revitalization movements more generally, will find the collections by Holger Jebens, Cargo, Cult, and Culture Critique (2004), and Michael E. Harkin, Reassessing Revitalization Movements: Perspectives from North America and the Pacific Islands (2004), most useful. PROBLEMATIZING THE ANALYTIC CONCEPT. Important scholars have seen the Fijian Tuka of the 1880s as the flag-



ship example of a cargo cult (Worsley, 1957, 1968) or millenarian movement (Burridge, 1969). Tuka would seem to have features similar to those Lawrence describes. Led by a hereditary oracle priest called Navosavakadua or Mosese Dukumoi (d. 1897) oriented in opposition to eastern coastal Fijian kingdoms and colonial rulers, 1880s colonial accounts of the movement described anticipation of the return of Fijian gods (notably the twin gods Nacirikaumoli and Nakausabaria, newly understood as Jesus and Jehovah) and a transformed political and material order. One could then, following Lawrence, see Tuka as one of his syncretic rather than pagan or Christian movements. One could also, with Peter Worsley and later Fiji scholars Simione Durutalo (1985) or E Atu Emberson-Bain (1994), see Tuka as protonationalist, prefiguring twentieth-century incipient union movements or Labour Party politics. Or, with Kenelm Burridge (1969), one could see the movement as a strategy to obtain moral recognition in an oppressive colonial context. However, chronicling Tuka via field research in Fiji (with descendants of the leader and his followers) and via examination of the colonial records at the National Archives of Fiji and beyond, Kaplan has argued instead that there was neither a cargo nor a cult at issue. The very attempt to define and explicate a general category of “cargo cult” seems to reify and occlude the complexities of this dialogical history. On the one hand, theorists of “cargo cults” or “millenarian movements” were among the first scholars to have acknowledged and politically engaged the issue of the agency of “Others” in cultural change in colonial contexts. Such studies initiated basic discussions about agency and history in colonial societies that have inflected most later anthropological considerations, including this one. (Indeed, over the years since Lawrence’s entry for this encyclopedia was written, Worsley’s approach, downplayed by Lawrence, seems to have been prescient of the strong political voice that emerged in the anthropology of the 1980s, an anthropology much focused on Gramscian questions [via Raymond Williams] of hegemony and resistance or Foucaultian questions of knowledge/power.) Problematic, however, is the way that these studies drew boundaries around the phenomenon to be studied and the way they reified the category of cult, lumping together ostensibly similar events throughout Fiji and the Pacific, identifying and abstracting “cults” as a general phenomenon, or treating cults as a transitional stage between tradition and inevitable modernity (see Kelly, 2002; Pletsch, 1981). DISSOLVING THE CARGO CULT INTO THE FABRIC OF PACIFIC HISTORY-MAKING. The analytic concept of cult itself has been called into question in a range of ways. For example, quite pointedly, Nancy McDowell argues with reference to Claude Lévi-Strauss’s famous argument on totemism that “cargo cults do not exist or at least their symptoms vanish when we start to doubt that we can arbitrarily extract a few features from context and label them an institution” for “just as totemism did not exist, being merely an example of how people classify the world around them, cargo cults too do not

exist, being merely an example of how people conceptualise and experience change in the world” (1988, pp. 121–122). For example, concerning Navosavakadua and Tuka in Fiji, why in seeking to study millenarianism did scholars such as Burridge problematize “Tuka” for study, rather than the massive Fijian Christian conversion of the 1830s and 1850s? Indeed, Marshall Sahlins (1985) chronicles this conversion as part of a ritual-political kingship politics in Fiji without finding any need to refer to “cults.” Reconsidered in these ways, “cults” dissolve into far more complex histories of indigenous history making of colonial encounter and of the making of new cultural-political systems. For some scholars, this becomes an opportunity to reconsider cargo cults as examples of a culturally Melanesian form of history making, whereby external intrusions are encompassed and remade culturally. Such an approach can run the risk of presenting Pacific people as unchangingly culturally separate, but the argument that there are plural ways of making history can also serve as a strong, politically inflected argument for the autonomy and power of non-Western peoples, even in the face of hegemonizing discourses. Indeed, as Sahlins (1988) and others point out, globalization itself can impel or support diversification and difference. And indeed, in the events called “Tuka,” Fijians mobilized a Fijian grammar for history making, invoking a longstanding ritual political opposition of “People of the Land” against eastern coastal chiefs and other culturally constructed foreigners, as well as against labor recruiters, missionaries, and colonial administration Yet, it is not enough simply to see Navosavakadua and Tuka as encompassed in an essentially Fijian form of local history making. For, reconsidering cargo cults in the context of local histories entails attention to a dialogical history, in which the local and the colonial, the local and the global are never unaffected by each other.

CULTS AND MOVEMENTS IN THE COLONIAL IMAGINATION. While Neither Cargo nor Cult (1995) argues that the analytic categories of “cargo cults” or “millenarian movements” are scholarly reifications, it also argues that (despite McDowell’s elegant borrowing of Lévi-Strauss) cults and movements do exist. They exist, not necessarily as Pacific or non-Western phenomena, but rather as a category in Western culture and colonial practice. “Tuka” was a thing to colonial officers and has come down to us as such. In the colonial imagination it incited the drafting of ordinances for its criminal prosecution and the deportation of its practitioners, gaining its own sites in colonial archival files and indexes and in local responses to colonial criminalization. When Tuka as cult—separate, irrational, and nonorthodox—came into being via British colonial discourse and practice, a coalition of eastern coastal Fijian chiefs and colonial officials simultaneously brought into being another entity: a colonial state founded on a system that would (with selfproclaimed humanity and cost-effectiveness) rule Fijians through their traditional chiefs, institutions, and customs. An understanding of the dependence of states (from kingENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


doms to colonies to nation-states) on ritual or magical constitution of cosmology and authority shifts our attention from the enchantments of the marginalized to the enchantments required to routinize the major and central power (e.g., see Abrams, 1988; Kelly and Kaplan, 1990; Sahlins, 1985; Tambiah, 1985; Taussig, 1992). Certainly, neither colonial state nor cult was real before the dialogical history of Fiji of the late 1800s. Both were founded and routinized in ritual politics. Thus, in Neither Cargo nor Cult (1995) Kaplan presents a composite analytic approach, but the analytic components are quite different from Lawrence’s empirical, causal conditions. This view is one that is confident of the reality of Fijian and colonial historical agencies, in dialogical relation, though it is skeptical that separating out inquiry about cults in particular will tell us enough about this complex history and the enchantments of both the colonially routinized state and the criminalized resistant counterpolity that Navosavakadua envisioned and tried to make real. It does, however, attend to the pull, the feeling of obviousness, to find cults real, since, ethnographically, they were very real to colonial agents. Still, it is important to recognize that that reality was generated initially not in Fijian practice or intent, but rather in the colonial imagination. CARGOISM: WESTERN DISCOURSE ABOUT “CARGO CULTS.” It is this Western certainty that cargo cults do exist that Lindstrom explores, taking us from the twentieth-century arenas of colonial discourse and practice in which they coalesced for scholars of Melanesia to an American and global popular imagination. In Cargo Cult: Strange Stories of Desire from Melanesia and Beyond, Lindstrom, invoking poststructuralist theory and literary deconstructionism (1993, p. 10), focuses attention on the literal term cargo cult. Tracing the term, Lindstrom cagily proclaims that he will not say anything about Melanesian ethnographic realities. “Cargo cult—or something like this under another name—may actually exist on Melanesian islands—or it may not” (p. 12). On the other hand, Lindstrom later asks, looking at discourse about “cargo cults,” what common denominator is to be found in the phenomena to which the term is applied? If there is a general phenomenon, it is a “variety of desires for collective benefit coupled with apparently irrational strategies to attain those desires,” he concludes (p. 189). Yet, it is not so much the quest for an essence of cargo cult, a common denominator in the events and actions of different peoples in Melanesia and beyond, but rather a common denominator in what Westerners perceive in these events and the implications of naming something a cargo cult that fascinates Lindstrom. He borrows the term cargoism, coined initially to denote “real” Melanesian activities, to instead denote discourse about cargo cults, especially Western discourse. Lindstrom’s interest is, adamantly, in the uses of the term, which he considers to be a Western projection of unfulfilled desire. The term had, and still has, a complex life: it was at first a Western term projected onto Melanesians, but more recently it has been used by Melanesians about themselves and by ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Westerners about Melanesians, about the Third World, and about themselves. The term cargo cult, Lindstrom tells us, first appeared in 1945 in the pages of the colonial news magazine Pacific Islands Monthly (1993, pp. 15–16) and was used as an epithet, interchangeably with “madness.” Soon, Lindstrom notes, missionaries, planters, and administrators traded accusations as to who was responsible for cargo cults. Soon, too, the term entered anthropological usage, from missionaryanthropologists in New Guinea to Australia-based anthropologists, and by the 1950s the literature was copious enough that a bibliography was compiled by a South Pacific Commission librarian (p. 38). He argues that the term is then projected back, anachronistically, as when Lawrence wrote of early nineteenth-century movements as cargo cults (p. 38), though, one might argue that more could be said of the reifications already extant in British colonial discourse. Lindstrom goes on to chronicle the history of uses of the term in anthropological analysis (up to and including the argument that “cargo cults do not exist”). He suggests that anthropologists extended the features of the ostensible cults to all of Melanesian society, seeking to show that care for cargo and use of cultic, religious means was itself a general Melanesian characteristic. To sympathetically explain cults, Lindstrom says, anthropology claims that the colonial’s exceptional and fearful cult is in fact normal Melanesian culture. Thus, he says, for anthropologists, “Cults are not—or not just— aberrant ritualized reaction to a powerful European presence. Anthropology instructs us, rather, that cults are normal, creative Melanesian institutions of cultural dynamism and change” (1993, p. 61). Other anthropologists would argue that in fact the anthropological problematic of valuables, exchange, and cosmology in the Pacific, made famous by Bronislaw Malinowski in 1922 and Marcel Mauss in 1925, predates “cargo cult” discussions and that Lindstrom homogenizes and simplifies anthropological scholarship of the Pacific, in his quest to delineate a single, general Western obsession with cargo cults. Lindstrom also discusses political uses of the term in independent Papua New Guinea, where it is used in political discourse, sometimes to signify positive kastam, or tradition, other times as a negative epithet to disparage political opponents. But he reserves special interest for the term’s wider spread in popular discourse (film, tabloids, and news media) in the United States and globally. Most interesting to Lindstrom are the consequences of calling phenomena “at home” in the West cargo cults. He concludes, “The cargo cult is an allegory of desire” (1993, p. 184). He finds this desire, projected onto “others,” but really about the self, in the Western psyche and in love of commodities, an unfulfillable desire, an unrequitable love. “Cargo Cult is fascinatingly trivial,” Lindstrom wrote provocatively on page three of his 246-page book. His fascination draws us to chronicle a world of talking about cargo cults. The work’s focus on cargo cults, even when the focus



is on discourse about cargo cults, may once again reify its object, now risking solipsism. What more, beyond unrequited love, might animate the projects and events that are folded into this way of narrating unrequited love? What of desires and successes for freedom, for self-determination, for Burridge’s “moral redemption,” for . . .? It is Lindstrom’s intention to produce a Foucaultian genealogy of a term’s contextual origins and the consequences of its use. However, diagnosing Western unrequited longing may not lead us into greater insights into anything else.

DIALOGICAL HISTORIES FOR A DECOLONIZING AND GLOBWORLD. The big story of the twentieth century for places like the Pacific is the end of the era of empires and the coming into being of the nation-state as the normal polity form. Not just the former colonies, but also the former colonizers were reconstituted as nation-states. Massive new secular rituals, state myths, and authorizing accounts have been mobilized to routinize and to make real these new polity forms. Familiars for the state and nation are born: flags that seem the living body of the state and anthems and pledges of and for the nation that serve as charms binding members to national citizenship (on state familiars, see Kaplan, 2003). What is the place of matters once called cargo cult in this history?


The most intriguing of more recent studies of cargo cults are those that are not about cargo cults at all, but rather about complex local and global histories in which the term figures historically. In this category would fall, for example, studies like Foster’s “Your Money, Our Money, the Government’s Money: Finance and Fetishism in Melanesia” (2002). This is an analysis, not of a cargo cult, but of the enchantments found in the putatively modern, Western, disenchanted, and practical world of nation-states, nation-building, development agencies, financial institutions, and national economy. Foster’s overall point is that by assuming that Melanesians were confused about the real and true origins and value of material things, colonizers were also able to assume that they themselves lived in a Western world in which the real and true value of material things was self-evident and irrefutable, a world without fetishes (pp. 36–37). Foster’s analysis shows that the New Guinea state, and indeed all states, depends on the workings of state familiars like money; that is, on the public belief that only the state-issued tokens are appropriate tender for all debts, public and private. In the mid-twentieth century, colonizers in New Guinea began distributing educational material about money, seeking to counter cargo-cult thinking, the perceived “native” misunderstanding of the origin of goods. In the 1960s the Administration and the Reserve Bank of Australia produced booklets and films to provide people with “an understanding of the management of money.” Addressing individuals with advice about “your money,” they presupposed and naturalized “modern” individuals who would relate to money and define themselves via work and monetary wealth, rather than in relation to other people. Ironically, urging

people to abandon the materiality of traditional wealth items, colonial advice nonetheless proffered a material form for the wealth of the people of Papua New Guinea: the bank book. At the lead up to independence in 1975, colonial education about money turned to “our money” and the national wealth, with money serving as a token of the nation-state that was just coming into being. Where Lindstrom was critical of approaches that lent reality to cargo cult beliefs and practices, believing that they implied a diagnosis that the “natives” were mad, not rational, Foster follows William Pietz (1985, 1987, 1988), not Lindstrom, in seeing the cardinal fantasy endorsed by cargo-cult theory (and all imputations of fetishism to “others”) as the idea that “We” have or can have a society without fetishes, a purely rational society of enlightenment. Foster’s argument can be carried further, thinking about alleged “cargo cults’” in particular. Something becomes known as a “cargo cult” precisely when it is objectified, criminalized, and subject to scrutiny, criticism, and counterargument; when its premises do not seem natural and inevitable; and when its modes do not readily persuade official observers. But, as Foster argues, we all live with tokens of the state (we might call them state familiars), including our money, that for others have not successfully routinized into obvious utility. Foster cites U.S. survivalists who question U.S. government legitimacy and question the legitimacy of U.S. paper money. And, in Papua New Guinea, Foster shows, questions about money question the state as well, whether debating the figures portrayed on notes, maintaining shell money and using it to pay taxes, or using bills and notes as ceremonial exchange valuables. These kinds of usages bring together what colonial and postcolonial administrators “hell bent on modernization” (Foster 2002, p. 60) tried so hard to keep apart. One could propose that this is an example of Melanesian confusion, or, preferably, that it is an example of the very potential that all powerful systems (states, finance systems, and cosmologies) must trade in reliance on modes of routinzation, on tokens of existence, and on familiars that render them subject to being recognized as constructs, challenged and sometimes remade. That is, one could take the point to be that nations, states, and religions rely on the same kinds of enchantment of symbols and institutions that get undermined in criticism of cults. GODS AND NATION-STATES. Whether or not cargo cults and the cargo cult literature is adduced, much of the scholarship since the 1980s in the Pacific has focused on postcolonial histories of nation and state as locally understood and lived in the Pacific Islands, describing predicaments and novel local solutions in ritual, economics, kinship, and religious life that connect to matters of sovereignty and its infringements, and the reconfiguration of old and new institutional forms. The literature that explicitly continues the study of cargo cults also connects new cosmologies to postcolonial as well as colonial history and sees millenarian movements growing in entwined response to increasingly diverse Christian evangelizing and/or to development discourse, electoral politics, and political crises. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Commonly, conflicts over power begun in precolonial and colonial eras are of continuing import. This is especially clear in the example of Tuka in Fiji’s history. Tuka was about questions of local sovereignty (though not nation-state sovereignty) and it was also, for Navosavakadua, about identifying one’s own gods. For Navosavakadua, the twin gods Nacirikaumoli and Nakausabaria had been misunderstood as Jesus and Jehovah. For some of his descendants, Navosavakadua was himself Jesus, returned. For some Fijians, more generally, Fiji and Fiji Christianity are special and traditional and entitle Fiji’s indigenes to special political privilege in the island’s nation-state (Kelly and Kaplan, 2001). What we learn from Tuka, we can bring to the study of the United Nations and the nation-state. These putatively disenchanted institutions have, in fact, their own rituals and even their own familiars. For Lawrence, the variables for considering cargo cults were the characteristics of local society, the nature of introduced religion, and the character of contact with Europeans. But the world-system entanglements of the era of European capitalist and colonial expansion are replaced by global interconnections of the post–World War II, United Nations, nation-state world. People everywhere in this world face dilemmas of belief over the question of how nation-states or other political entities are to be authorized. On what basis is legitimate sovereignty made? Does it come from “we the people”? From a god or gods? From previous or external powerful political forms, like empires or the United Nations? People in nation-states are confronting these questions. Monotheism and the idea of a universal god is not always congruent with bounding the local nation-state. The relations of church and state, and of God and the nation are often in tension.

CONCLUSION. Earlier scholarship that defined cargo cults (including the work of Peter Lawrence), addressed matters of subjectivity and the imagination, and of emotional life entwined with reason and social institutions, mostly as matters located in local, non-Western institutions in transition toward a generalized modern life. Those studies neglected the degree to which colonials, and then scholars, imposed their own subjectivity, images, categories, and desires into their frameworks of description and analysis. Later, so-called postmodern scholars demonstrated the powers and limits of intrinsically political discourse everywhere. They tended to refocus attention from the people studied to the people studying. But scholars of the cargo cult and beyond now ponder both scholarly (and other) imaginings and the actual fabric of the world’s interconnected histories—that is, they can ponder both the elements of actually complex and variegated Western imaginaries (religious, political and scholarly, local and global, colonial and postcolonial, Western and not) and the careers of those ideas everywhere.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Abrams, Philip. “Notes on the Difficulty of Studying the State.” Journal of Historical Sociology 1, no. 1 (1988): 58–89. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Burridge, Kenelm. New Heaven, New Earth: A Study of Millenarian Activities. Oxford, 1969. Durutalo, Simione. “Internal Colonialism and Unequal Regional Development: The Case of Western Viti Levu, Fiji.” Master’s thesis, University of the South Pacific, 1985. Emberson-Bain, E Atu. Labour and Gold in Fiji. Cambridge, U.K., 1994. Foster, Robert J. “Your Money, Our Money, the Government’s Money: Finance and Fetishism in Melanesia.” In Materializing the Nation: Commodities, Consumption, and Media in Papua New Guinea. Bloomington, Ind., 2002. Harkin, Michael E., ed. Reassessing Revitalization Movements: Perspectives from North America and the Pacific Islands. Lincoln, Neb., 2004. Jebens, Holger, ed. Cargo, Cult, and Culture Critique. Honolulu, 2004. Kaplan, Martha. Neither Cargo nor Cult: Ritual Politics and the Colonial Imagination in Fiji. Durham, N.C., 1995. Kaplan, Martha. “The Magical Power of the Printed Word (in Fiji).” In Magic and Modernity: Interfaces of Revelation and Concealment, edited by Birgit Meyer and Peter Pels. Stanford, Calif., 2003. Kelly, John D. “Alternative Modernities, or Alternatives to Modernity? Getting out of the Modernist Sublime.” In Critically Modern: Alternatives, Alterities, Anthropologies, edited by Bruce M. Knauft. Bloomington, Ind., 2002. Kelly, John D., and Martha Kaplan. “History, Structure, and Ritual.” Annual Review of Anthropology 19 (1990): 119–150. Kelly, John D., and Martha Kaplan. Represented Communities: Fiji and World Decolonization. Chicago, 2001. Lindstrom, Lamont. Knowledge and Power in a South Pacific Society. Washington, D.C., 1990. Lindstrom, Lamont. Cargo Cult: Strange Stories of Desire from Melanesia and Beyond. Honolulu, 1993. Malinowski, Bronislaw. Argonauts of the Western Pacific. London, 1922. Mauss, Marcel. The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies (1925). Translated by W. D. Halls. New York, 1990. McDowell, Nancy. “A Note on Cargo Cults and Cultural Constructions of Change.” Pacific Studies 11, no. 2 (1988): 121– 134 Pietz, William. “The Problem of the Fetish.” Part 1, Res 9 (1985); Part 2, Res 13 (1987) 23-45; Part 3, Res 16 (1988) 105–123. Pletsch, Carl. “The Three Worlds, or, The Division of Social Scientific Labor, circa 1950–1975.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 23, no. 4 (1981): 565–590 Sahlins, Marshall. Islands of History. Chicago, 1985. Sahlins, Marshall. “Cosmologies of Capitalism: The Trans-Pacific Sector of ‘The World System.’” Proceedings of the British Academy 74 (1988): 1–51. Tambiah, Stanley Jeyaraja. Culture, Thought, and Social Action: An Anthropological Perspective. Cambridge, Mass., 1985. Taussig, Michael. “Maleficium: State Fetishism.” In The Nervous System, pp. 111–140. New York, 1992. Worsley, Peter. The Trumpet Shall Sound: A Study of “Cargo” Cults in Melanesia. London, 1957; 2d ed. New York, 1968. MARTHA KAPLAN (2005)




This entry consists of the following articles: PRE-COLUMBIAN RELIGIONS AFRO-CARIBBEAN RELIGIONS

CARIBBEAN RELIGIONS: PRE-COLUMBIAN RELIGIONS European explorers noted three major aboriginal groups in the Caribbean at the time of contact (1492 and the years immediately following): Island Arawak, Island Carib, and Ciboney. There is an abundance of information concerning the religious practices of the Island Arawak and Island Carib, but very little is known of Ciboney religion. Our knowledge of the Ciboney has increased somewhat, especially through the work of Cuban archaeologists such as Osvaldo Morales Patiño, but there remain many gaps in the archaeological and ethnohistorical records. This essay will focus on the Island Arawak and the Island Carib. The Island Arawak were concentrated in the Greater Antilles, a group of large, mainly sedimentary islands. The principal islands of the Greater Antilles are, moving from east to west, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola (now divided between Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Jamaica, and Cuba. The Island Carib inhabited the small, mainly volcanic islands of the Lesser Antilles (Saint Christopher-Nevis, Antigua, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, Saint Vincent, and Tobago). Trinidad, Margarita, Cubagua, and Coche are usually considered a part of the Caribbean region, but culturally these islands have much in common with the South American mainland (Glazier, 1980b; Figueredo and Glazier, 1982). Earlier scholars, such as Hartley B. Alexander (1920), emphasized differences between Island Arawak and Island Carib religions. This tradition continued in the work of scholars such as Fred Olsen (1974) and Charles A. Hoffman (1980), for example, who postulated strong Maya influence on the religious systems of the Greater Antilles. Later, scholars paid greater attention to the similarities in Arawak and Carib belief systems—for example, the many parallels in Arawak and Carib shamanism—than to their differences. Both the Island Arawak and the Island Carib originally migrated from the South American mainland (Rouse, 1964). The Island Arawak settled in the Greater Antilles at about the beginning of the common era and were followed several hundred years later by the Carib, who claimed to have begun their migrations into the Lesser Antilles only a few generations before the arrival of Columbus. The Island Carib asserted that they conquered the Arawak of the Lesser Antilles, killing the men and marrying the women. Douglas M. Taylor (1951) suggests that the women’s language prevailed, because the language spoken by the descendants of the Island Carib belongs to the Arawakan family of languages. Of course, another possible explanation is that all the peoples of the Lesser Antilles were of Arawak origin. It should not be assumed that the Island Arawak of the Greater Antilles and the Arawak of the South American

mainland are members of the same ethnic group. The Island Arawak and Arawak proper did not speak the same language. Irving Rouse points out that their two languages were “no more alike than, say, French and English” (Rouse, 1974). Moreover, inhabitants of the Greater Antilles thought of themselves not as “Arawak” but as members of local chiefdoms, each of which had its own name. Since each chiefdom was totally independent of all others, the group we know as the Island Arawak had no need for an overall tribal name. In 1920, Hartley Alexander suggested that the sea must have been a tremendous barrier to cultural transmission in the Caribbean. Contemporary archaeologists, however, recognize that water did not constitute a barrier for these peoples. Therefore, archaeologists no longer study individual islands in isolation. This has many implications for the study of aboriginal Caribbean religions as it becomes increasingly apparent that religious developments on one island were likely to have affected religious developments elsewhere in the region. Various island groups seem to have been in constant contact with one another. Archaeologists have since established a firmer and more comprehensive chronology for the Caribbean region (Rouse and Allaire, 1978). They also have discovered much greater variation in religious artifacts than was previously thought to exist, which in turn hints at a greater variation within the religious traditions of the Island Arawak and the Island Carib than was previously supposed. Arawak and Carib traditions, for example, may have differed from settlement to settlement on the same island. DEITIES. Both the Island Arawak and the Island Carib possessed a notion of a high god, though, as the chroniclers’ reports make clear, their high god differed conceptually from the God of Christianity. We know, too, that aboriginal high gods were thought to exert very little direct influence on the workings of the universe. Many of the early chroniclers, including Fray Ramón Pané, Gonzalo F. de Oviedo, and Raymond Breton, refer to Arawak and Carib high gods as kinds of deus otiosus; that is, they are inactive gods far removed from human affairs and concerns. Neither the Island Arawak nor the Island Carib conceived of their high god as creator of the universe, and it is unclear how powerful the high god was thought to be. Was it that their high god was able to interfere directly in world affairs but chose not to do so, or was he thought to be totally ineffectual? Chroniclers differ somewhat on this. Pané suggests that the high god was a powerful deity who chooses to be inactive. Other chroniclers stress the inactivity of the high god and the lack of attention accorded him. The bulk of the evidence, including what we know of other American Indian religions (Hultkrantz, 1979), supports the latter interpretation. Island Arawak. The identification of Island Arawak deities is often a problem. Their high god was known by two names: Iocauna and Guamaonocon (spellings differ from chronicler to chronicler). Peter Martyr reports that the Arawak supreme being was not self-created but was himself ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


brought forth by a mother who has five names or identities: Attabeira, Mamona, Guacarapita, Iella, and Guimazoa. He also reports other appellations for the high god, including Jocakuvaque, Yocahu, Vaque, Maorocon, and Macrocoti. Pané provides an equally complex list of male and female deities, and it is apparent that most deities in the Arawak pantheon were recognized by a number of appellations. Henri Pettitjean-Roget (1983) has suggested that the various names be interpreted as different incarnations of the same deity, as in the Hindu tradition. Another possible explanation is that different names simply represent local variants. A number of interpreters (Joyce, 1916; Alexander, 1920) have posited that the Island Arawak possessed a conception of an earth mother and a sky father similar to that of other American Indian groups. This has been called into question. While there are many similarities between the goddess Attabeira and the earth mother of American Indian mythology, there are also many differences. Attabeira does seem to have been associated with fertility, and as Fred Olsen (1974) suggests, her many Arawakan names describe her various functions: mother of moving waters (the sea, the tides, and the springs), goddess of the moon, and goddess of childbirth Representations of Attabeira frequently show her squatting in the act of parturition, and archaeologists have been greatly impressed with the vividness of these portrayals. Her hands are holding her chin while her legs press into her sides as she struggles in childbirth. In several representations her open mouth and heavy eyebrows ridging over wide-open eyes convey successfully the intensity of her efforts. But there are other characteristics of Attabeira that are not at all like those of an earth mother. Sven Lovén (1935) concludes that Attabeira cannot be identified as a goddess of the earth because she seems to have dwelt permanently in the heavens. He concedes that Attabeira may have been an all-mother, but this does not necessarily imply that she was an earth goddess. Lovén (1935) also points out that Iocauna was not an all-father. As noted previously, native conceptions of Iocauna would have precluded procreative activities. It is possible that one of Iocauna’s names, Yocahu, is related to the yuca (cassava) plant (Fewkes, 1907). Yocahu may have been the giver of yuca or the discoverer of yuca, but he was not believed to be the creator of yuca (Olsen, 1974). It is clear from all accounts that after yuca was given to the Island Arawak, it was cultivated through the cooperation of zemi spirits and was not at all dependent on the cooperation of Yocahu. Other prominent Island Arawak deities include: Guabancex, goddess of wind and water, who had two subordinates: Guatauva, her messenger, and Coatrischio, the tempest-raiser; Yobanua-Borna, a rain deity; Baidrama (or Vaybruma), a twinned deity associated with strength and healing; Opigielguoviran, a doglike being said to have plunged into the morass with the coming of the Spanish; and Faraguvaol, a tree trunk able to wander at will. One difficulty with the various listings provided by the chroniclers is that they do not distinguish mythical beings and deities. This is ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


unfortunate because the Island Arawak themselves seem to have made such a distinction. As Alexander (1920) has pointed out, there is some evidence that nature worship and/or a vegetation cult existed among the Island Arawak. This remains, however, a much neglected aspect of Island Arawak religion. Pané’s elaborate description of the manufacture of wooden religious objects suggests some similarities between the production of these objects and the construction of wooden fetishes in West Africa. While the analogy is not complete, it has been noted that many aspects of Caribbean religions seem to derive from similar attitudes toward material objects (Alexander, 1920). One of the most important differences between Arawak and Carib religions is that among the Island Arawak nature worship seems to have been closely associated with ancestor worship. The bones of the Island Arawak dead, especially the bones of their leaders and great men, were thought to have power in and of themselves. This notion also existed among the Island Carib, but their ceremonies and representations were not so elaborate. In addition, most chroniclers mention that the Island Arawak painted their bodies and faces, especially in preparation for war. The chroniclers are in agreement that the painted figures were horrible and hideous, but there is little agreement as to what the figures were supposed to represent. Jesse W. Fewkes (1907) has suggested that body paintings had religious importance; most other sources suggest that markings served to distinguish members of the same clan. The practice may have been a form of ancestor worship. Island Carib. Like the Island Arawak, the island Carib recognized a multitude of spirit beings as well as a high god whose name varies according to text. Sieur de La Borde (1704) refers to their high god as Akamboüe. According to Raymond Breton (1665), however, Akamboüe means “carrier of the king,” and the highest deity in the Island Carib pantheon was the moon, Nonu-ma. Breton argues that the moon was central in Island Carib religion because the Carib reckoned time according to lunar cycles. The sun, Huoiou, also occupied an important place in the Island Carib pantheon. Although the sun was said to be more powerful than the moon, Huoiou was also said to be more remote from human affairs and therefore less significant. Of the spirits directly involved in human affairs, Icheiri and Mabouia are the most frequently mentioned. Icheiri, whose name comes from the verb ichéem, meaning “what I like” (Breton, 1665, p. 287), has been interpreted as a spirit of good, while Mabouia, from the same root as the word boyé, or “sorcerer,” has been interpreted as a spirit of evil. The Carib informed Breton that it was Mabouia who brought about eclipses of the sun and caused the stars to disappear suddenly. The terms icheiri and mabouia have been widely discussed in the secondary literature. I believe that these were not names of spirits, but were general categories within the spirit world, and that spirits were classified primarily accord-



ing to their relation to the individual. One man’s icheira (helper) could be another man’s mabouia (evil spirit) and vice versa (Glazier, 1980a). The most important consideration, as far as the Carib were concerned, was to get a particular spirit on one’s side. Another major category in the Island Carib spirit world was that of the zemiis. Zemi, too, appears to have been a very general term; the word is of Arawak origin and indicates the strong influence of Island Arawak language and culture on the Island Carib. Among the Carib, to get drunk, chemerocae, literally meant “to see zemiis.” Zemiis were thought to live in a paradise far removed from the world of the living, but every so often, according to La Borde (1704), Coualina, chief of the zemiis, would become angry about the wickedness of some zemiis and drive them from paradise to earth, where they became animals. This is but one example of the constant transformations from deity to animal in Island Carib mythology. Zemiis were frequently represented by, and in many cases were identical with, conical objects that have been found at both Island Arawak and Island Carib sites. The most common types are triangular (the so-called threepointers) and/or humpback in shape. Some are elaborately carved, but a majority of zemiis are plain. Archaeologists have discovered zemiis made of wood, conch shell, and stone, but stone zemiis are the most prevalent. Fewkes (1907) was among the first to suggest the religious import of these objects. He posited that they may have had a magical function, especially in reducing pains associated with childbirth. Olsen (1974) offers a more materialistic explanation. He suggests that the conical shapes of these stones represented the Caribbean islands themselves dramatically rising out of the sea with their pronounced volcanic peaks. Pettitjean-Roget (1983) provides a broader interpretation than Fewkes or Olsen. He postulates that these conical objects were nothing less than an encapsulation of the entire cosmos. AFTERLIFE. Both the Island Arawak and the Island Carib had a notion of the afterlife. The Island Arawak conceived of spirits of the dead, called opias or hubias, who were said to wander about the bush after dark. Occasionally opias joined the company of the living and were said to be indistinguishable from the living, except for the spirits’ lack of navels. In both Arawak and Carib religions, the activities of the dead were thought to resemble the activities of the living. Opias, for example, passed their time feasting and dancing in the forest. Their behaviors were similar to native ceremonies.

went to the seashore or became mabouias in the forest. There was no concept of an underworld, nor were spirits associated with specific locations, as among the Island Arawak. Each individual was said to possess three souls: one in the heart, one in the head, and one in the shoulders. It is only the heart-soul that ascends to the sky, while the other two souls wander the earth for eternity. The Island Carib asserted that only valiant heart-souls ascended; the implication here is that even the heart-souls of the less valiant sometimes became mabouias and roamed the earth. Elaborate burial ceremonies were noted among both the Island Arawak and the Island Carib. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Island Arawak performed several types of burials: (1) direct interment, with the skeleton in a sitting or flexed position; (2) interment within a raised mound, with the body in a crouched position; (3) interment within a grave covered with an arch of branches topped with earth; and (4) burial in caves, with skeletons in a flexed position. Secondary burials were also prevalent (Lovén, 1935). Christopher Columbus summarized the different burial customs on Hispaniola as follows: “They open the body and dry it by the fire in order that it may be preserved whole. Often, depending on rank, they take only the head. Others are buried in caves. Others they burn in their houses. Others they drive out of the house; and others they put in a hammock and leave them to rot” (Lovén, 1935). It is apparent that Arawak burial customs differed markedly and that burials for leaders were much more elaborate than burials for the masses. From the archaeological record, it is also apparent that the Island Arawak buried a majority of their dead in crouching or flexed positions. In this they differed from the Ciboney, who buried their dead lying straight (Lovén, 1935). Burial customs among the Island Carib were not so varied. Breton (1665) noted that the Island Carib dreaded death, and that it was forbidden to utter the name of the deceased. The Island Carib referred to the dead indirectly (e.g., “the husband of so-and-so”) because to do otherwise would cause the deceased to come back to earth.

Pané reports that the Arawak of Haiti believed in a kingdom of death, Coaibai, which was situated on their own island. Every leader of importance had his own kingdom of death, usually located within his own dominion. In addition, there were uninhabited places where the spirits of evil people were said to roam.

When an Island Carib male died, the women painted his cheeks and lips red and placed him in a hammock. After some time the decomposed body was brought inside a hut, where it was then lowered into a shallow grave. Burial was in the flexed position, with the body sitting on its heels, and with the elbows resting on the knees and hands folded to the breast. Important men were buried with cooking pots and utensils, their dogs, and slaves who were killed so they might continue to serve their masters in the next life. La Borde (1704) notes that the Island Carib frequently burned the bodies of their leaders and mixed the ashes with their drinks. This may not be accurate, for there is little archaeological evidence for cremation among the Island Carib.

The Island Carib, on the other hand, had a much more diffuse notion of the afterlife. All spirits of the body, omicou,

ORIGIN MYTHS. We possess no creation myths for Caribbean peoples. Both Island Arawak and Island Carib seem to ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


have assumed that the universe had always been in existence. They did, however, have many stories concerning the earliest peoples of their respective groups. Island Arawak. According to the aborigines of Haiti, the earliest people appeared out of two caves. A majority of the people emerged from a cave known as Cicibagiagua, while another, smaller group emerged from the cave Amaiacuva. Alexander (1920) suggests that these two caves represent two different races or tribes. Lovén (1935) argues to the contrary: there is, he says, but one tribal group. Since most of the people emerged from Cicibagiagua, those who emerged from Amaiacuva constituted an elite, the Taino. I find Lovén’s interpretation the more plausible. These caves, situated on the mountain of Cauta in the region of Caunana, were believed to actually exist and may have been located in the area of present-day Sierra de Coonao. Where caves did not exist, Island Arawak stress appearance out of the ground. Island Arawak legends also account for the first appearance of the sun and the moon from a grotto known as Giovaua, and for the origin of fish and the ocean. According to the legend: There was a certain man, Giaia, whose son, Giaiael, undertook to kill his father, but was himself slain by the parent, who put the bones into a calabash, which he hung on top of his hut. One day he took the calabash down, looked into it, and an abundance of fishes came forth. The bones had changed into fish. Later, when Giaia the parent was absent, his four sons took the calabash and ate some of the fish. Giaia returned suddenly and in their haste the sons replaced the calabash badly. As a result, so much water ran from it that it overflowed all of the country, and with the water came an abundance of fish. (Fernández Méndez, 1979; my trans.)

Other stories tell how the four brothers obtained manioc and tobacco from people whom they visited (see Fernández Méndez, 1979). Rouse (1948) suggests that these stories may have been put to song. The stories of the emergence from caves and the origin of fish are, in Pané’s account, followed by stories concerning the adventures of Guaguigiana, a culture hero, and his comrade. Giadruvava. Guaguigiana appears to have been something of a trickster figure, and his adventures resemble those of trickster-fixers associated with other American Indian groups. It is to Pané’s credit that he attempted to present stories in the order in which the Island Arawak themselves presented them, even when that order made little intuitive sense to him (Deive, 1976). Island Carib. Among the Island Carib the first man, Louguo, was said to have descended from the sky. Other men came out of his navel and his thighs. Louguo created fish by throwing cassava scrapings into the sea, and according to La Borde (1704), many of the first men were later transformed into stars. The constellations were accorded great importance in Island Carib thought: Chiric (the Pleiades) was used to numENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


ber their years; Sauacou, who changed into a great blue heron, was sent to heaven where he forms a constellation announcing hurricanes; the Great Bear is the heron’s canoe; the constellation Achinaou announces gentle rains and high winds; the constellation Cauroumon is associated with heavy waves; the constellation Racumon was changed into a snake; and Baccamon (Scorpio) foretells high winds (Breton, 1665). It is clear that the various constellations were used to divine the future, but it is unclear whether or not the constellations were actually believed to cause earthly events. RITES AND CEREMONIES. The most important ceremonies among the Island Arawak pertained to rain and the growth of crops, but there were also important ceremonies for success in war, burial of the dead, curing of the sick, canoe building, cutting hair, the births of children, marriage, and initiation. In most instances these rites took the form of elaborate dances known as areitos. Fewkes (1907) notes that dramatization played a part in all ceremonies. For example, in their war dances the entire war sequence was portrayed: the departure of the warriors, surprise of the enemy, combat, celebration of victory, and return of the war party. Singing also played a part in all ceremonies, and some of the early chroniclers incorrectly restricted their use of the term areitos to funeral chants or elegies in praise of heroes. The island Carib conducted ceremonies on many of the same occasions as did the Island Arawak. According to La Borde, the Island Carib held rites whenever a council was held concerning their wars, when they returned from their expeditions, when a first male child was born, when they cut their children’s hair, when their boys became old enough to go to war, when they cut down trees, and when they launched a vessel. Some authorities mention other ritual occasions: when a child reached puberty, when a parent or spouse died, when the Island Carib were made captives, and when they killed one of their enemies. Island Carib rites met individual as well as societal needs. Each individual had his own personal deity or zemi. These personal deities were thought to reveal things to the individual, and it is reported that individuals customarily withdrew from society for six or seven days, without taking any sustenance save tobacco and the juice of herbs. During this period, the individual experienced visions of whatever he or she desired (victory over enemies, wealth, and so on). Much has been written on alleged cannibalism among the Island Carib (the word cannibal is a corruption of Caribal, the Spanish word for “Carib”). The Island Arawak told Columbus that they were subject to raids by man-eating Indians known as Carib, and Columbus directed his second voyage to the Lesser Antilles, where he had been told the Carib lived, in order to confirm Arawak reports. Rouse (1964) credits Columbus with confirming that the Carib practiced ritual cannibalism, that is, they ate captives in order to absorb their fighting ability. Recently the anthropologist William Arens (1979) has suggested that Columbus had no direct evidence for this assertion, and in fact did not really



believe that the Carib were cannibals, but he perpetuated the myth of Carib cannibalism for political reasons. The early chroniclers provide some support for this position. In his Historia general de las Indias, 1527–61, Bartolomé de Las Casas flatly denies that the Carib were cannibals. Whatever the status of Carib cannibalism, there is agreement that it was not an everyday practice and was largely confined to ritual occasions.

to direct offering to zemiis during public ceremonies. In both of these duties, they served as intermediaries between the Island Arawak and their gods (Deive, 1978).

One other Island Carib rite attracted considerable attention in the early literature, and that was the practice of the couvade. At the birth of a child, Jean-Baptiste Dutertre reports, Carib fathers would rest as if it were they who were suffering labor pains. For forty days and nights fathers remained isolated from society, fasting or consuming a meager diet. At the end of this period there was a great feast at which the invited guests lacerated the father’s skin with their fingernails and washed his wounds with a solution of red pepper. For an additional six months the father was expected to observe special dietary taboos (e.g., it was believed that if the father ate turtle, the child would become deaf). Dutertre records a number of other taboos involving birds and fish. DRUGS. Tobacco, narcotics, and stimulants played an important part in both Island Arawak and Island Carib rites. Tobacco, called cohiba, was used in a number of different forms in all ceremonies. Among the Island Arawak, tobacco smoke was used as an incense to summon the gods. Tobacco was sprinkled on the heads of idols as an offering. Religious leaders among the Island Arawak and Island Carib “stupefied” themselves with tobacco when they consulted their oracles; they also used tobacco in curing rituals.

Pané provides a lengthy account of Arawak healing practices. The curer, he notes, began his treatment of the patient by prescribing a special diet and was himself expected to observe the same diet as his patient. Herrera gives a condensed description of curing procedures:

As Breton (1665) reports, the Island Carib “know tobacco but do not smoke it.” They would dry it by a fire, pound it into a powder, add a little seawater to it, and then place a pinch of the snuff between their lips and gums. The Island Arawak, on the other hand, sometimes did inhale tobacco smoke through their nostrils. But its use was limited. Generally there is no evidence that tobacco was burned during ceremonies. Throwing aji (pepper) onto live coals was part of Island Arawak and Island Carib preparations for warfare. Ricardo E. Alegría (1979) contends that the pepper caused irritation of the mucous membrane, a racking cough, and other discomforts that were thought to induce the proper psychological state for war. SHAMANISM. The distinction between shamans, who are said to obtain their power directly from the supernatural, and priests, who must learn a body of ritual knowledge from established practitioners, is not useful in distinguishing Island Arawak religious leaders (variously known as piaies, behutios, buhitihus, behiques) from Island Carib leaders known as boyés. Although the role of the piaie appears to have been more priestlike than that of the boyé, similarities among piaies and boyés far exceed their differences. Island Arawak. Major duties of the Arawak piaie were to divine the future by consulting their personal zemiis and

Accounts of Arawak shamanism provide very little detail concerning the piaie’s role in public ceremonies, and it is unclear whether or not all piaies were able to conduct public ritual. It is possible that some piaies functioned solely as curers or diviners and could not perform other rites.

When any leading man is sick, he calls a medicine man, who is obliged to observe the same dietary rules as the patient. It is customary for the medicine man to purge himself with an herb that he takes by inhaling until he believes himself inspired. In this condition he says many things, giving the sick to understand that he is talking with an idol. Then the Indians anoint their faces with oil and purge the sick who stand by in silence. The medicine man first makes two circuits about the patient and, pulling him by the legs, goes to the door of the house, which he shuts, saying: “Return to the mountain or whither you wish; blow and join hands and tremble, and close the mouth.” Breathing on his hands, he then sucks the neck, the shoulders, the stomach, and other parts of the body of the sick man, coughing and grimacing; he spits into his hands what he had previously placed in his mouth and tells the sick man that he has taken from the body that which is bad. He also says that the patient’s zemi had given it to him because he had not obeyed him. The objects that the doctors take from their mouths are for the most part stones, which they often use for childbirth or other special purposes, and which they also preserve as relics. (Herrera, 1937, p. 69; my trans.)

If a patient died, it was thought to be because the piaie had not observed the proper diet. The Island Arawak were not very tolerant of unsuccessful healers, and it was not uncommon for a healer to be seized by a deceased person’s relatives who would strike him with a stick until his arms and legs were broken, gouge out his eyes, and lacerate his private parts. Alfred Métraux (1949), in his overview of shamanism in South America, states that in most instances the role of the religious leader was distinct from that of the political leader, but this distinction between political and religious authority does not seem to have been as pronounced among the Island Arawak. For example, Rouse (1948) points out that it is unclear whether the chief and his attendants (the principal men of the village) were also shamans. The attendants, he notes, had a special name, bohuti, and were of such high status that they customarily refused to accept commoners as patients. Island Carib. The Island Carib maintained a rigid distinction between political and religious authority. There are ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


no reports of healers becoming chiefs or chiefs becoming healers. But even in the Lesser Antilles, a certain complicity between religious and political leaders is apparent. For example, a political leader needed a boyé’s support in order to wage war, and boyés derived direct economic benefits through their association with chiefs. The Carib never went to war without first consulting the spirit world to find out if conditions were favorable for victory. Since chiefs were unable to make direct contact with spirits, they required the services of a boyé whose predictions had tremendous impact on public opinion. It would be difficult for a war chief to override a boyé’s predictions and carry out expeditions believed to be inauspicious. Shamans never gained an upper hand, however, for if a chief was dissatisfied with one boyé’s prediction, he was free to consult others. Often, several boyés were consulted at once, and the old war chief chose the most “correct” prediction. Given the circumstances, it was advantageous for both parties when a chief developed a working relationship with a particular shaman who could be counted on to support his war policies. These relationships often followed kinship lines. Boyés also needed to develop working relationships with chiefs to defray the high costs of apprenticeship. We have no clear notion of the actual length of apprenticeship for shamans among the Island Carib, though in some tribes of the Guianas apprenticeship is said to have lasted from ten to twenty years (Métraux, 1949). This period of training was probably considerably shorter among the Carib, but we lack details for all but the final months of preparation: After a fast of five months, the candidate is brought into the carbet (a place in which things have been set aside) before a table on which manioc bread, ouicou (sweet potato and manioc beer), and the first fruits of the season are placed. An older shaman chants and blows tobacco smoke to summon his familiar spirit who descends and sits on a hammock to receive offerings (anaeri). The elder shaman asks for another spirit to descend and become his apprentice’s familiar. (Dutertre, 1667–1671, vol. 2, pp. 365–366; my trans.)

From this passage, it is clear that five months of training (and possibly more) was required of the would-be shaman. This would constitute a hardship for the apprentices family, for others had to assume his workload and provide for him while he was in training. Also, they had to provide offerings for sacrifice and make payments to senior boyés. Boyés were a professional class in Island Carib society. They charged for all services, and I contend that they did not train new shamans without demanding something in return. War chiefs and their families, as wealthier members of their society, were in the best position to take on obligations to senior boyés (Glazier, 1980). Island Carib shamanism was not flexible. It was not possible to go off on one’s own and become a boyé. A would-be shaman had to do an apprenticeship under an established boyé and had to undergo formal rites of initiation in order ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


to receive a spirit familiar. Shamans who claimed that their knowledge derived solely from their relationship with spirits probably glossed over their arduous training, wanting instead to stress mystical aspects of their careers. The picture they present of shamanism in the Lesser Antilles is inaccurate. There is, however, no ambiguity concerning the boyé’s authority. While the authority of the war chief may have been that of a charismatic leader, the authority of the boyé was clearly that of formal investiture. Breton (1665) put it succinctly: “The boyés make other people boyés.” Boyés were perhaps the wealthiest members of their society. While war chiefs and families had considerable control over the distribution of some resources and war booty, boyés had control over the distribution of goods outside kinship obligations. A boyé’s clientele was not restricted to his kin group, and his reputation could well transcend his own island. The boyé Iris’s reputation, for example, extended beyond his native Dominica (Du Puis, 1972). The boyés had great potential for wealth, for there was always demand for their services. In times of trouble, they were called upon to dispel evil spirits; in times of prosperity, they were called upon to insure its continuance; and when there was doubt, they gave assurances for the future. Major religious activities were sacrifice and offerings, both of which were ultimately appropriated by the boyés (Rochefort, 1665). Offerings consisted of foodstuffs and some durable goods, a portion of which went directly to the shaman in return for his services; the remainder, ostensibly for the gods, was appropriated later for the shaman’s use. Thus shamans had numerous occasions to accumulate wealth, and in some cases a shaman may have gotten too wealthy and would be forced by public opinion to redistribute part of his property. Under certain conditions, senior war chiefs were allowed to join with the boyés in appropriating offerings intended for the gods. This further differentiates the roles of boyé and chief. Only the most senior war chief had the right to do what any boyé could do from the moment of his initiation.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Alegría, Ricardo E. “The Use of Noxious Gas in Warfare by the Taino and Carib Indians of the Antilles.” Revista/Review Interamericana 8 (1979): 409–415. Alegría, Ricardo E. Ball Courts and Ceremonial Plazas in the West Indies. New Haven, 1983. Alexander, Hartley Burr. “The Antilles.” In The Mythology of All Races, edited by Louis Herbert Gray, vol. 11, Latin-American Mythology, pp. 15–40. Boston, 1920. Arens, William. The Man-Eating Myth: Anthropology and Anthropophagy. Oxford, 1979. Benzoni, Girolamo. History of the New World (1595). Translated by W. H. Smyth. London, 1857. Breton, Raymond. Dictionnaire caraïbe-françois. Auxerre, 1665. Charlevoix, Pierre-François de. Histoire de l’Ile Espagnole ou de Saint-Dominique. 2 vols. Paris, 1930–1931.



Deive, Carlos Esteban. “Fray Ramón Pané y el nacimiento de la etnografía americana.” Boletín del Museo del Hombre Dominicano 6 (1976): 136–156. Deive, Carlos Esteban. “El chamanismo taíno.” Boletín del Museo del Hombre Dominicano 9 (1978): 189–203. Du Puis, Mathias. Relation de l’establissement d’une colonie françoise dans la Gardloupe isle de l’Amérique, et des mœurs des sauvages (1652). Reprint, Basse-Terre, 1972. Dutertre, Jean-Baptiste. Histoire générale des Antilles habitées par les François (1667–1671). 4 vols. Fort-de-France, Martinique, 1958. Fernández Méndez, Eugenio. Art y mitologia de los indios Tainos de las Antillas Mayores. San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1979. Fewkes, Jesse Walter. The Aborigines of Porto Rico and Neighboring Islands. Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, no. 25. Washington, D.C., 1907. See especially pages 53–72. Figueredo, Alfredo E., and Stephen D. Glazier. “Spatial Behavior, Social Organization, and Ethnicity in the Prehistory of Trinidad.” Journal de la Société des Américanistes 68 (1982): 33– 40. García Valdés, Pedro. “The Ethnography of the Ciboney.” In Handbook of South American Indians, edited by Julian H. Steward, vol. 4, pp. 503–505. Washington, D.C., 1948. Glazier, Stephen D. “The Boyé in Island-Carib Culture.” In La antropología americanista en la actualidad: Homenaje a Raphael Girard, vol. 2, pp. 37–46. Mexico City, 1980. Cited in the text as 1980a. Glazier, Stephen D. “Aboriginal Trinidad and the Guianas: An Historical Reconstruction.” Archaeology and Anthropology: Journal of the Walter Roth Museum (Georgetown, Guyana) 3 (1980): 119–124. Cited in the text as 1980b. Gullick, C. J. M. R. Exiled from St. Vincent. Valletta, Malta, 1976. Herrera y Tordesillas, Antonio de. Historia general de los hechos de los Castellanos en las islas y Terrafirme del Mar Océano. 17 vols. Madrid, 1934–1957. Hoffman, Charles A. “The Outpost Concept and the Mesoamerican Connection.” In Proceedings of the Eighth International Congress for the Study of the Pre-Columbian Cultures of the Lesser Antilles, pp. 307–316. Tempe, Ariz., 1980. Hultkrantz, A˚ke. Religions of the American Indians. Los Angeles, 1979. Joyce, Thomas A. Central American and West Indian Archaeology. London, 1916. La Borde, Sieur de. Voyage qui contient un relation exacte de l’origine, mœurs, coûtumes, réligion, guerres, et voyages des Caraïbes, sauvages des isles Antilles de l’Amérique. Amsterdam, 1704. Las Casas, Bartolomé de. Historia general de las Indias, 1527–61. 2 vols. Edited by Juan Perez de Tudela and Emilio Lopez Oto. Madrid, 1957. Layng, Anthony. The Carib Reserve: Identity and Security in the West Indies. Lanham, Md., 1983. Lovén, Sven. Origins of the Tainan Culture, West Indies. Göteborg, 1935. Métraux, Alfred. “Religion and Shamanism.” In Handbook of South American Indians, edited by Julian H. Steward, vol. 5, pp. 559–599. Washington, D.C., 1949.

Morales Patiño, Osvaldo. “Arqueología Cubana, resumen de actividades, 1946.” Revista de arqueologia y etnografia (Havana) 1 (1947): 5–32. Olsen, Fred. On the Trail of the Arawaks. Norman, Okla. 1974. Oviedo y Valdés, Gonzalo Fernández de. Historia general y natural de las Indias (1535). 5 vols. Edited by Juan Perez and Tudela Bueso. Madrid, 1959. Pané, (Fray) Ramón (Father Ramón). Relación acerca de las antigüedades de los Indios, 1571. Edited by José Juan Arrom. Mexico City, 1978. Pérez de Oliva, Fernán. Historia de la inuención de las Yndias. Edited by José Juan Arrom. Publicaciones del Instituto Caro y Cuerva, no. 20. Bogotá, 1965. Pettitjean-Roget, Henri. “De l’origine de la famille humaine ou contribution à l’étude des Pierres à Trois-Pointes des Antilles.” In Proceedings of the Ninth International Congress for the Study of Pre-Columbian Cultures of the Lesser Antilles, pp. 511–530. Montreal, 1983. Rochefort, Charles César de. Histoire naturelle et morale des ïles Antilles de l’Amérique. 2d ed. Rotterdam, 1665. Rouse, Irving. “The West Indies.” In Handbook of South American Indians, edited by Julian H. Steward, vol. 4, pp. 49–565. Washington, D.C., 1948. Rouse, Irving. “Prehistory of the West Indies.” Science 144 (1964): 499–513. Rouse, Irving. “On the Meaning of the Term ‘Arawak.’” In On the Trail of the Arawaks, by Fred Olsen, pp. xiii–xvi. Norman, Okla., 1974. Rouse, Irving, and Louis Allaire. “Caribbean.” In Chronologies in New World Archaeology, edited by R. E. Taylor and C. W. Meighan, pp. 431–481. New York, 1978. Taylor, Douglas M. The Black Carib of British Honduras. New York, 1951. Wilbert, Johannes. “Magico-Religious Use of Tobacco among South American Indians.” In Spirits, Shamans and Stars: Perspectives from South America, edited by David L. Browman and Ronald A. Schwarz, pp. 13–38. The Hague, 1979. This article also appears in Cannabis and Culture, edited by Vera D. Rubin (The Hague, 1975), pp. 439–461. STEPHEN D. GLAZIER (1987)

CARIBBEAN RELIGIONS: AFRO-CARIBBEAN RELIGIONS Most West Indians of African descent are affiliated, at least nominally, with a historic Christian denomination or with one of the newer sects. In many areas of the West Indies, however, a number of hybrid religions have attracted large numbers of followers. In Haiti, virtually the entire population is in some way involved in vodou. In Jamaica, the Revivalist, Kumina, and Convince cults continuously attract a small number of adherents. Wherever such cults are found, some persons participate more or less regularly in both a Christian church and a cult, and in times of crisis many who ordinarily ignore the cults become involved in their healing or magical rituals. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


This essay will concentrate on four types of syncretic religious cults found in the Caribbean region, which will be called the neo-African cults, the ancestral cults, the revivalist cults, and the religio-political cults. The experience of Caribbean blacks under the political, economic, and domestic conditions of slavery modified character in a stressful direction, and those who were most sensitive to the stress advanced innovative religious and secular systems to deal with their anxiety. The new religious institutions consisted of elements of African and European beliefs and practices, and, in some cases, parts of American Indian and South Asian religious traditions. A number of new religions arose from the interaction of three major variables: socioeconomic, psychological, and cultural. Contingent factors in the development of these hybrid religions include such ecological and demographic variables as the degree to which a group of people had been isolated physically and socially from other segments of the population and the proportion of the total population constituted by various ethnic and racial groups (Simpson, 1978). Successful religions spread, adapt, and persist after the conditions that gave rise to them have changed (or changed to some extent), and individuals are socialized into accepting the revised beliefs and procedures. When this happens, a religion acquires new meanings for its members, and it takes on new functions, the most universal of which is the satisfaction that comes from group activities.

NEO-AFRICAN CULTS. These cults developed during the early stages of cultural contact between persons of European and African origin, because members of the subordinate group could neither acquire the religion of the dominant group nor participate as comembers in the historic Christian denominations. The major cults of this type are Haitian vodou, Cuban Santería, and Trinidadian Shango. From the viewpoint of cultural content, these religions represent the most extensive blend of African and European traditions and rituals in the Caribbean region. Haitian vodou. The African dances that were performed in the seventeenth century by slaves in the western part of the island of Hispaniola and the religious beliefs of the Fon, Siniga, Lemba, Yoruba, and other African peoples who had been brought to Hispaniola were combined with certain beliefs of European folk origin about Roman Catholic saints, and, as a result, the neo-African religion of vodou developed. As James G. Leyburn (1966) has noted, the period from 1780 to 1790, when the importation of slaves to Hispaniola was increasing, saw the emergence of vodou, with a gradual ascendancy of Fon ideas. Finding the rites useful for their cause, revolutionary leaders in the last decades of the eighteenth century and the early years of the nineteenth century brought about further syntheses. The supernatural phenomena of greatest importance in vodou are the lwa, also known as zanj, mistè, and other names. Many of these have names derived from old African gods, but other deities have names derived from African tribal or place names, names of Haitian origin, or names of ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Catholic saints; others have names of uncertain origin. The confusions and contradictions in the beliefs about these beings are due in part to contradictions in the Fon religious system that the Haitians adopted, and in part to the merging of the Fon system with that of the Yoruba (Courlander, 1960). But the endless variations in these and other beliefs concerning the ultimate reality are also the result of the absence of a hierarchy in the cult and of written documents. Erika Bourguignon (1980) suggests that variety and inconsistency in Haitian vodou have developed, and continue to develop, in part through the mechanism of altered states of consciousness, particularly in the forms of possession-trance and dreams. In Haiti, possession-trance is not highly stereotyped and prescribed. During possession-trance, cult leaders and members speak and act in the names of the spirits, behaving in ways that may modify the future performance of the ritual or the adherents’ perception of the spirits. The grand lwa comprise both nature spirits and functional spirits that are of African origin. Prominent among the nature spirits are Dambala, the serpent spirit identified with the rainbow and associated with floods; Bade, spirit of the winds; Sogbo, a Fon spirit of thunder; Shango (Yor., S: ango), the Yoruba spirit of thunder and lightning; and Agwé, spirit of the sea. The functional lwa include Legba, the Fon guardian of crossroads and all barriers; the Ogou (Yor., Ogun) family, spirits associated with war; Zaka, associated with crops and agriculture; Ezili, a sea goddess among the Fon, but transformed in Haiti into the personification of feminine grace and beauty; the members of the Gèdè family, the spirits of death; Adja, skilled in the fields of herbs and pharmacy; and Obatala (Yor., O: batala), the Yoruba divinity responsible for forming children in the womb (Herskovits, 1937b; Courlander, 1939; Simpson, 1945, 1978; M. Rigaud, 1953; Métraux, 1959). The lwa are also identified with Catholic saints. Thus, Legba is often believed to be the same as Anthony the Hermit, but some say that he is Saint Peter, the keeper of the keys. Dambala is identified with Saint Patrick, on whose image serpents are depicted. Ogou Ferraille is equated with Saint James; while Ogou Balanjo, the healer, is associated with Saint Joseph, who is pictured holding a child whom he blesses with an upraised hand. Obatala becomes Saint Anne; and Ezili, who is believed to be the richest of all the spirits, is identified with Mater Dolorosa and is represented as richly clothed and bejeweled. The marassa, spirits of dead twins, are believed to be the twin saints Cosmas and Damian (PriceMars, 1928; Herskovits, 1937a). The relationship between vodou adherents and the lwa is thought to be a contractual one; if one is punctilious about offerings and ceremonies, the lwa will be generous with their aid. The lwa must be paid once or twice a year with an impressive ceremony, and small gifts must be presented frequently. It is thought that the lwa like blood and that animal sacrifices are the means by which favors may be obtained. It is believed also that neglect of one’s lwa will result in sick-



ness, the death of relatives, crop failure, and other misfortunes (Simpson, 1980). In West Africa, concepts of the “soul” are highly elaborated. In traditional Fon belief, all persons have at least three souls, and adult males have four (Herskovits, 1938). In Haitian vodou, every man has two souls: the gro bonanj, which animates the body and is similar to the soul in the Christian sense, and the ti bonanj, which protects a person against dangers by day and by night (Métraux, 1946). “Bad” souls are said to become “bad” lwa who divide their time between suffering in hell and doing evil deeds on earth (Simpson, 1945). Adherents fear the power of the dead and observe funerary and postfunerary rites meticulously. A wake is held on the night of death; the funeral itself follows and, if possible, is held in accordance with the rites of the Catholic Church. On the ninth night after death is the “last prayer,” and on the tenth night a ritual is held in which sacrifices are offered to all the family dead (Métraux, 1959; Herskovits, 1937b). Also, a family must honor its dead by mentioning their names at subsequent ceremonies and, if family finances permit, by holding memorial services for them annually. In vodou belief, the dead rank second only to the lwa, and to neglect or anger them is to invite disaster. (For accounts of vodou cermonies, see Herskovits, 1937b, pp. 155–176; Simpson, 1940; Simpson, 1946; Rigaud, 1946; Métraux, 1959, pp. 157–212; Courlander, 1960, pp. 41–74.) François Duvalier, the dictatorial president of Haiti from 1957 to 1971, successfully exploited vodou for political purposes (Rotberg, 1976). Nevertheless, most observers agree that the cult has been weakened in recent years. An important factor in its decline has been the decay of the large extended family in the rural areas. Many of the large cult centers have split up into minor sects under priests whose training has been inadequate. A deepening economic poverty in the countryside has brought about the impoverishment of ritual there, and with the expansion of urbanization there have emerged innovative cult leaders who deal with the problems of a heterogeneous clientele rather than with the traditional concerns of farming or the demands of ancestral spirits (Bastide, 1971; Métraux, 1959; Bourguignon, 1980). Cuban Santería. Most of the non-European elements in the Afro-Cuban syncretic religion known as Santería are derived from Yoruba beliefs and rituals. Animals are sacrificed to Yoruba deities, Yoruba music is played on Africantype drums, songs with Yoruba words and music are sung, and dancers are possessed by the orisha (Yor., oris: a, “spirit”). Yoruba foods are cooked for the gods and for devotees, beads of the proper color are worn, and leaves with Yoruba names are used in preparing medicines and in washing the stones of the ori-sha and the heads of cult members. In Santería, Elegba (Yor., Es: u or E: le: gba) is identified with Saint Peter, and Shango (Yor., S: ango), god of thunder, is identified with Saint Barbara. Shakpana (also Babaluaiye; Yor., S: o: -po: na) is equated with Saint Lazarus. Oya (Yor., O: ya), one of Shango’s wives, is the equivalent of Saint Teresita. Obatala (Yor.,

O: batala) is Our Lady of Mercy, and Yemaja (Yor., Yemo: ja) is identified with the Virgin of Regla (a suburb of Havana). Osun (Yor., O: s: un) is associated with the Virgin of Cobre (a town in eastern Cuba), and Osanyin (Yor., O: sanyin) known for his skill in healing, is identified with Saint Raphael. Ifa, or Orunmila (Yor., O: runmila), the god of divination, is linked with Saint Francis of Assisi. The Ibeji (Yor., “twins”), who behave like young children, are the counterparts of the twin saints Cosmas and Damian. Ogun, the Yoruba god of war and iron, is equated with John the Baptist (Bascom, 1951, 1972). During a Santería ceremony, the blood of animals sacrificed to the gods is allowed to flow onto the sacred stones of the santero (Santería priest). Many instances of spirit possession during a given cermony indicate that the orishas have been well fed and are satisfied with the ritual offerings. The herbs serve to cleanse, refresh, and prepare the devotees and ritual objects for contact with the orisha. The blood is the food of the deities, and the stones are the objects through which they are fed and in which their power resides (Bascom, 1950). The lucumis (Afro-Cubans of Yoruba extraction) honor each of the gods with choral dances and pantomime in accordance with authentic Yoruba tradition (see Ortiz, 1951, for a detailed and vivid account of lucumi dances; and Simpson, 1978). The regime of Fidel Castro has not assisted the AfroCuban cults and has taken some measures to control their expansion (Barrett, 1982). Although in recent years Santería has declined in Cuba, the presence of Cuban refugees has stimulated the worship of Shango and the other Yoruba orisha in the United States. Today many priests and priestesses officiate in Miami, New York City, Newark, Detroit, Chicago, Savannah, Gary, and other cities (Bascom, 1972). The Shango cult in Trinidad. In southwestern Nigeria, each Yoruba deity, including S: ango, god of thunder and lightning, has his or her own priests, followers, and cult centers. In the Shango cult in Trinidad, Shango is only one of several dozen “powers,” which include twenty or more Yoruba deities (Lewis, 1978). Several non-Yoruba powers— especially Gabriel and Mama Latay—are popular in Trinidad. Ancient African gods are identified with certain Catholic saints, as occurs in Haiti, Grenada, parts of Brazil, Cuba, and other countries in the New World. Among these pairings in Trinidad are Obatala and Saint Benedict; Shango and Saint John; Shakpana and, variously, Moses or Saint Francis or Saint Jerome; Oshun and Saint Philomena or Saint Anne; Béji (Ibeji) and Saint Peter; Emanja and Saint Catherine or Saint Anne; Oya and Saint Philomena or Saint Catherine. Each god has his or her favorite colors, foods, and drinks; each is thought to have certain physical traits and to possess certain powers. In Shango, as in vodou and Santería, participants can recognize the major spirits who are well known throughout the country, or the principal spirits known in a given locality, by the stylized behavior of devotees possessed by them (Bourguignon, 1980). For example, Ogun, the god ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


of iron and war, is believed to prefer the colors red and white (also the favorite colors of Shango), and rams and roosters are his preferred offerings. When possessed by Ogun, a Shangoist brandishes a sword and behaves in a violent way (Simpson, 1978). Each Shango cult center holds an annual ceremony in honor of the orisha known to its worshipers. The four-day ritual begins with the recitation of original prayers, followed by several repetitions of the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, and the Apostle’s Creed. The leader then recites in succession prayers such as Saint Francis’s prayer, Saint George’s prayer, and Blessed Martin’s prayer; he recites each prayer line-byline, and the worshipers repeat each line after him. Next, in an act of dismissal, food for the deity Eshu is placed outside the ceremonial area. (The Yoruba deity Es: u is thought both to serve as a messenger among the gods and to be a trickster.) After Eshu’s ejection, the worshipers invite other powers to the ceremony by drumming the powers’ favorite rhythms. Ogun’s rhythm is the first to be played. Drumming, dancing, singing, and spirit possession continue through the night; the climax comes at dawn with the sacrificing of pigeons, doves, chickens, agoutis, land turtles, goats, and sheep. Similar rites are performed on the following three nights, and often a bull is sacrificed. Aspects of Trinidadian cult life that are closely related to African religious behavior include divination, conjuring, and folk medicine, which are often strikingly similar to West African procedures (Simpson, 1978). In recent decades, traditional religious, magical, and medical beliefs have been undermined to some extent by the expansion of education, the growth of medical and social services, and the influence of mass communication. Trinidadian Shango has also been modified by the intermixture of some of its aspects with the Spiritual Baptist (Shouters) complex (Simpson, 1978). There are many similarities between the Shango cult of Trinidad and that of Grenada (PollakEltz, 1968; Simpson, 1978). ANCESTRAL CULTS. The second type of hybrid religious cult in the Caribbean, called the ancestral cult, has fewer African and more European components than does the neo-Africantype religion. The Kumina and Convince cults and the Kromanti Dance in Jamaica, the Big Drum Dance of Grenada and Carriacou, Kele in Saint Lucia, and the religion of the Black Carib of Belize exemplify this kind of syncretic religion. Kumina. According to Monica Schuler (1980), Kumina did not originate among plantation slaves of the eighteenth century but was brought to Jamaica by postemancipation immigrants from central Africa who chiefly settled in the eastern parish of Saint Thomas. Kumina is primarily a family religion, and each group honors a number of family spirits in addition to other divinities. The three ranks of Kumina spirits (known as zombies) are the sky gods, the earthbound gods, and ancestral zombies. Among the thirty-nine sky gods listed by Joseph G. Moore (1953), only one (Shango) clearly has the name of a West African deity, ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


but some Kumina gods appear to serve tribes or “nations” that are African. Of the sixty-two earthbound gods given by Moore, at least seven have biblical names (e.g., Moses, Ezekiel). The twenty-one ancestral zombies are the spirits of men and women who, in their lifetimes, were dancing zombies (persons who experienced possession by a god and who danced while possessed), obeah men (sorcerers), and drummers (Moore and Simpson, 1957). Most Kumina dances are memorial services held to pay respects to the dead ancestors of the participants, but ceremonies are performed on other occasions, such as betrothal, marriage, burial, the naming of a baby, the anniversary of emancipation, and Independence Day (Moore, 1953; Schuler, 1980). All zombies are invoked through drumming and singing. Songs are of two types: bilah songs, which are sung in a dialect of English; and country songs, which are sung in a language referred to as African (accent on the last syllable). Kumina ritual ends with the sacrifice of a goat and the dance of the Queen of the Kumina and her attendants. In performing ritual, the living members of a family convey their wishes to the ancestors (Moore and Simpson, 1957, 1958). Convince. The Convince ritual practiced in the Jamaican parishes of Saint Thomas and Portland has a number of Christian elements, but its principal powers are the spirits of persons who belonged to the cult during their lifetime. The most powerful bongo ghosts come from Africa, but the spirits of ancient Jamaican slaves and the Maroons (descendants of runaway slaves), who perpetuated the cult until recent times, are also of importance. The spirits of Jamaicans more recently departed are less powerful than the other ghosts, but those who practiced obeah (“conjuration”) in their lifetime are used by bongo men (i.e., Convince devotees) as partners in divination and conjuring. Each bongo man operates independently, and each has one or more assistants called apprentices or grooms. In addition, a number of lesser followers are attached to each cult group, including some persons who are devout Christians (Hogg, 1960). Each bongo man holds a sacrificial ceremony annually and conducts Convince rites as the need for them arises. Christian prayers, the reading of Bible passages, and hymn singing precede the main ceremony. Special bongo songs, hand clapping, and dances performed by bongo men call the spirits to the ceremony. Later, the spirits of the ancestors (that is, devotees possessed by the ghosts) dance. According to Donald Hogg (1960), such traits as blood sacrifice, vigorous possession-trance behavior, the materialistic purposes of ceremonies, the involvement with divination and conjuring, religious dancing, the worship of ancestral spirits, and the propitiation of potentially malevolent beings almost certainly have African antecedents. In these respects Convince, like Kumina, shows greater African influence than do the Revival Zion, Pocomania, and Rastafarian cults in Jamaica. Once a nativistic movement, Convince has so declined since the 1950s that it now provides mainly jollification and catharsis.



The Kromanti Dance. The traditional religion of the descendants of “Maroons,” escaped slaves of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Jamaica, is known as the Kromanti Dance. One supreme deity, Yankipong, is believed to be remote from human affairs. The spirits of the dead, called duppies, jumbies, or bigi-man, have the power to work good or evil in the daily lives of their descendants, and this power is referred to by the term obeah or by the more modern term science. No Kromanti Dance can be successful without one or more of the participants becoming possessed by the spirit of an ancestor. Most Kromanti Dance ceremonies require the sacrifice of an animal to the pakit (ancestral spirit) of the feteman (ritual specialist). Although the Kromanti Dance is a separate tradition, it bears some similarity to both Kumina and Convince (Bilby, 1981, pp. 52–101). The Big Drum Dance in Grenada and Carriacou. For numerous residents of Grenada and Carriacou, performing the Big Drum Dance (also known as the Nation Dance, or Saraca—“sacrifice”) is a show of respect to their ancestors. In Carriacou, many persons can still recount the African “nations,” traced patrilineally, to which they belong. Usually this ceremony is a family occasion, but it may be put on by members of an occupational group—for example, fishermen. Various reasons are given for organizing a festival: to counter the ill health or misfortune of a friend or relative, to dedicate a tombstone for a deceased family member, to start a critically important undertaking, or to launch the marriage preparations of a son or daughter. Offerings of food are prepared for the ancestors and the guests, a space is provided where the spirits of the ancestors can dance, the ancestors are summoned, and the “beg pardon” dance is performed, during which family members kneel and sing, asking the ancestors to pardon them for any wrongdoing (Pearse, 1956). In Carriacou, as M. G. Smith (1971) has noted, Christianity and the ancestral cult are complementary, each supplying what the other lacks. The Kele cult in Saint Lucia. The Kele ceremony in Saint Lucia resembles, in attenuated form, the Shango ritual in Trinidad. The ritual is performed to ask the ancestors of devotees for health, protection against misfortune in agriculture, and success in important undertakings, as well as to thank the forebears for past favors. The paraphernalia essential for the Kele rite consists mainly of Amerindian polished stone axes (which are called pièrres tonnerres, “thunderstones,” by devotees, who believe them to have fallen from the sky), drums, and agricultural implements such as machetes, axes, hoes, and forks. Several of the stone axes are placed on the ground to form a cross, with additional axes arranged around the central grouping (Simpson, 1973; Simmons, 1963). The stone axes, addressed as “Shango,” symbolize the African ancestors of the Saint Lucians who participate in Kele. Thunderstones constitute one of the principal symbols of Shango in West Africa, Haiti, Cuba, Trinidad, Grenada, and urban areas of the United States that are heavily populat-

ed by immigrants from the Caribbean. Present-day devotees in Saint Lucia seem to be unaware that Shango (S: ango) is the deity of thunder and lightning in traditional West African belief. To these believers, Shango is simply the name of the thunderstones that enable the living to get in touch with their African ancestors. Following some preliminary drumming, singing, and dancing, the leader of a Kele ceremony asks the ancestors to intercede with God on behalf of the sponsor of the occasion. A ram is then sacrificed to the ancestors. Communication with God is achieved through possession; the ancestors enter the bodies of some of the men participating in the ceremony. After the ram has been cooked, morsels of the meat, as well as portions of yams, rice, and other foods, are thrown on the ground as offerings to Shango—that is, to the African ancestors. Saint Lucia is a predominantly Catholic country, and some devotees of the cult are active Catholics. Ancestral cult of the Black Carib of Belize. The Black Carib of Belize are descendants of African slaves who escaped from other parts of the West Indies and settled first among the Island Carib in Saint Vincent. At the end of the eighteenth century, they were deported by the English to Roatan, an island in the Gulf of Honduras, and later they spread out along the coast of the mainland. The Black Carib of Belize speak a South American Indian language, and, as Douglas MacRae Taylor has noted, their “outward cultural manifestations differ but little, in the main, from their neighbors” (Taylor, 1951, p. 37; Stone, 1953, pp. 1–3). The supernatural beliefs, rites, and practices of the Black Carib are a mixture of African and non-African elements. Singing, drumming, and dancing are intended to placate the ancestors of the family giving the ceremony, and some participants become possessed by the spirits of their deceased ancestors, as occurs in Kumina and Convince in Jamaica, the Big Drum in Grenada and Carriacou, and Kele in Saint Lucia. Sacrifices of food and drink are offered periodically to the spirits of the ancestors; some offerings are taken out to sea and thrown into the water. Most of the Black Carib are professed Christians and, in the main, Catholics. They see no inconsistency between their Christian faith and non-Christian beliefs. The ancestral spirits are regarded as subordinate to the Christian God, and the evil forces of the universe are manifestations of Satan (Taylor, 1951). REVIVALIST CULTS. The third type of Afro-Caribbean religious syncretism, the revivalist cult, descends from the AfroProtestant cults of the late eighteenth century and, in the case of Jamaica, from the Great Revival of 1861–1862. Revival Zion in Jamaica, the Spiritual Baptists (Shouters) of Trinidad, and the Shakers of Saint Vincent typify this kind of cult. Revival Zion. For nearly a hundred years after England acquired Jamaica in 1655, no missionary work was carried on on the island. The official missionary movement did not begin until the 1820s. A religious movement known as ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Myalism emerged in the 1760s to protect slaves against European sorcery. This “native” Baptist movement was without serious competition during the forty-year period (1780– 1820) when a reinterpretation of Christianity spread across Jamaica. Rent and wage disputes between planters and workers were common after the abolition of apprenticeship in 1838. In 1841–1842, Myalists preached the millenarian message that they were God’s angels, appointed to do the work of the Lord, and their wrath was directed against both planters and missionaries. The authorities took severe measures against the movement. Popular interest in separatist churches, as well as in regular missions, was stimulated by the Great Revival which swept over the island in 1861–1862, but the enthusiasm dwindled within a short time. The hybrid religion of the Myalists, or Black Baptists, which included dancing, drumming, and spirit possession, resurfaced in 1866. Subsequently, the vitality of this movement was seen in the multiplication and flourishing of black revivalist cults (Curtin, 1955; Schuler, 1979). Adherents of Revival Zion and the related sects of Revival and Pocomania do not identify old African gods with Christian saints as do participants in vodou (Haiti), Santería (Cuba), and Shango (Brazil, Trinidad, Grenada). The Holy Spirit possesses followers during revivalist ceremonies, as do the spirits of Old Testament figures such as Jeremiah, Isaiah, Joshua, Moses, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; New Testament apostles and evangelists such as Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, and James; the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael; Satan and his chief assistant, Rutibel; beings from Hebrew magical tradition, such as Uriel, Ariel, Seraph, Nathaniel, and Tharsis; Constantine, Melshezdek, and the Royal Angel; and the dead, especially prominent revivalist leaders of the past (Moore and Simpson, 1957; Simpson, 1978). Drumming, hymn singing, hand clapping, praying, Bible reading, spirit possession, and intermittent commentary by the leader are main features of the weekly services, as is “spiritual” dancing, in which leading participants circle the altar counterclockwise, stamping first with their right feet and then with their left, bending their bodies forward and then straightening up, hyperventilating, and groaning rhythmically. Special revivalist rituals include baptismal ceremonies, death rites (wake, funeral, “ninth night,” “forty days,” and memorial services held after one or more years have passed since the death), and the dedication of a meeting place. “Tables” (feasts) are given to thank the spirits for assistance or to seek deliverance from trouble (Simpson, 1956). Spiritual Baptists (Shouters) of Trinidad. In many ways, the Spiritual Baptist cult (Shouters) in Trinidad is similar to Revival Zion in Jamaica, but there are several noteworthy differences. Among the Shouters, no drums or rattles accompany hymn singing. Spiritual Baptists do not become possessed by the wide variety of spirits that possess Revivalists in Jamaica; as a rule, devotees are possessed only by the Holy Spirit. Certain groups among the Shouters do, however, ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


make ritual offerings to the spirits “of the sea, the land, and the river,” and occasionally a Shango “power” may enter a person who is taking part in a ritual. In Trinidad, important relationships exist between Spiritual Baptists and Shango groups. (The Shango cult is not found in Jamaica). Shangoists as well as Shouters need to be baptized, and only a Shouters pastor of some standing can perform this service. In addition, “mourning” and “building”—optional rites taken by some members of both cults—are conducted by Spiritual Baptist leaders. Many Shouters attend the annual ceremonies staged by different Shango cult groups, and like their counterparts in syncretic cults elsewhere in the Caribbean, some adherents participate at times in the services of more orthodox religions (Simpson, 1978; Glazier, 1983). Spiritual Baptists are often men and women of the lower classes. Most are of African descent, but a few East Indians do participate in the cult. Throughout the Caribbean in recent decades, most of the neo-African cults, the ancestral cults, and the revivalist cults, as well as many of the historical churches, have lost membership, while the Pentecostal, Holiness, and Adventist sects and the Rastafarian movement have made impressive gains (Simpson, 1978). The Shakers of Saint Vincent. English rule of the island of Saint Vincent began in 1783, and the first direct religious influence intended for the slave population was brought to the island by a Methodist missionary in 1787. The Shaker cult, which goes back to at least the early part of the twentieth century, has a Methodist base, with an admixture of elements of other Christian denominational traditions (Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, Pentecostalism), modified African religious traits, and elements developed locally. An important feature of this religion is the mild state of dissociation, attributed to possession by the Holy Ghost, that some of its adherents experience. The range of Shaker services and the rituals themselves are similar to those of the Spiritual Baptists of Trinidad (Henney, 1974). RELIGIO-POLITICAL CULTS. The fourth cult type appears when a society is undergoing severe reorganization, as was the case in Jamaica with the unrest that accompanied the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Rastafarian movement, which appeared in the island during this period, is a mixture of social protest and religious doctrine and so may be called a religio-political cult. Rastafarianism. An important factor underlying the rise of Rastafarianism is that, since at least the beginning of the twentieth century, Jamaican blacks have identified with Ethiopia on account of its biblical symbolism. The verse most often cited is Psalms 68:31: “Princes come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.” Between 1904 and 1927, Ethiopianism came to the attention of Jamaicans through several essays, articles, and books published in Jamaica and in the United States. The early 1930s saw the founding of a number of associations for black people and the emegence of the Rastafarian movement, named after Ras (“prince”) Tafari, who was crowned emperor Haile



Selassie of Ethiopia (Abyssinia) in November 1930. Marcus Garvey had formed the Universal Negro Improvement Association in Jamaica in 1914, and his doctrine of racial redemption, together with the coronation of Haile Selassie, furthered interest in the Ethiopian tradition (Hill, 1980). Since emancipation, persons on the lower rungs of Jamaican society have struggled continuously against exploitation. Higher wages, the granting of civil and political rights, and other gains have come slowly, and often against bitter opposition. In the early 1930s, the basic issues for rural Jamaicans were land, rent, and taxation, and their struggles over these questions gave rise to the millenarian visions of the Rastafarian movement. In that period, Rastafarians were subjected to intense police pressure in Saint Thomas and neighboring parishes. It is likely that the Rastafarian millenarianism, with its vision of black domination, served as a catalyst in bringing about the labor uprisings of 1938 (Hill, 1981). In 1953, Rastafarianism bore strong resemblance to revivalism in organizational and ritual patterns. The small, independent groups of both movements had similar sets of officers, festivals, and ritual procedures, including the reading of passages from the Bible and the singing of hymns (modified in the case of the Rastafarians to fit the doctrines of the cult), but important differences existed. Drumming, dancing, and spirit possession were prominent features of revivalism, but they never occurred in a Rastafarian gathering (Simpson, 1955). Beards and dreadlocks were present among Rastafarians but were not important aspects of the movement in the early fifties, nor was the place given to ganja (marijuana). Rastafarianism was, however, antiestablishment and bitter on the racial question (Chevannes, 1977). Revivalism had no political significance in 1953; its adherents were mainly concerned about personal salvation (Simpson, 1956). According to Rastafarian doctrines in 1953, (1) black people were exiled to the West Indies because of their transgressions; (2) the white man is inferior to the black man; (3) the Jamaican situation is hopeless; (4) Ethiopia is heaven; (5) Haile Selassie is the living God; (6) the emperor of Abyssinia will arrange for expatriated persons of African descent to return to the homeland; and (7) black men will soon get their revenge by compelling white men to serve them (Simpson, 1955). These remain the basic beliefs of the movement, but not all adherents subscribe to all of them, nor do they give them equal emphasis. Rastafarians reinterpret the Old Testament in claiming that they are true present-day prophets, the “reincarnated Moseses, Joshuas, Isaiahs, and Jeremiahs.” They also believe that they are “destined to free the scattered Ethiopians who are black men” (Nettleford, 1970, pp. 108–109). As revivalism began to decline in the mid-1950s, many of its followers were attracted to Rastafarianism and became active participants in the movement, or sympathizers (Smith, Augier, and Nettleford, 1960). Between 1953 and 1960, the Rastafarian movement grew rapidly and became more com-

plex doctrinally. This growth continued through the 1970s and the early 1980s. Membership—both the fully committed and partially committed—came to be drawn from all levels of the society. The more militant Rastafarians insisted that deliverance from poverty, unemployment, and humiliation must come from forces within Jamaica and not from Haile Selassie or Haile Selassie’s spirit. Repatriation to Africa received less emphasis as some bands began to stress black power and “the africanization of Jamaica” (employment, education, and use of the country’s resources are to benefit persons of African descent; see Nettleford, 1970; Barrett, 1974; Simpson, 1978). The militancy of present-day Rastafarianism is seen clearly in its concept of a modern Babylon that includes Britain, the former colonial power; the United States, the present major industrial power; the bourgeois state of Jamaica; and the church. Babylon is said to be the source of Jamaica’s misfortunes (Chevannes, 1977). A recent theme of the movement has to do with its concept of nature. In Rastafarian thought nature is nonindustrial society; and this underlies certain aspects of Rastafarian lifestyle—for example, dietary rules, uncombed locks and beards, and the importance of ganja (Chevannes, 1977). Since the early 1960s, Rastafarianism has played an important role in the evolution of Jamaican popular music. The rhythm of the Rastafarians’ akete drums influenced the development of the fast rhythm called ska, and the ska form has developed into reggae. Most reggae songs contain caustic social comments, but they also praise Ras Tafari, Jamaican heroes, freedom, and ganja (Barrett, 1977; Chevannes, 1977). In the poetry and prose written by contemporary Rastafarians awareness of an African identity and of Africa itself is a main theme (Johnson, 1980). Rastafarianism is not a unified movement (Campbell, 1980). Many of the brethren gather in small, informal bodies and are not affiliated with organized groups. Many Rastafarians refuse to take part in elections on the grounds that neither of Jamaica’s two political parties represents them. In recent times, however, some Rastafarians have played an increasingly active role in politics (Smith, Augier, and Nettleford, 1960; Chevannes, 1977). Rastafarian culture has spread to other parts of the Caribbean, and Rastafarian art, poetry, music, and philosophy are well known in London, Paris, and other cities in Western Europe and the United States. Rastafarian music has been diffused to a number of African countries (Campbell, 1980). The dethronement of Haile Selassie in 1974 and his death the following year have not resulted in a decline of the movement. Rastafarianism arose out of certain conditions in Jamaica and in other countries of the Caribbean and has continued because those conditions, as well as the international situation, have not changed appreciably (Barrett, 1977). SEE ALSO Christianity, article on Christianity in the Caribbean Region; Fon and Ewe Religion; Santería; Vodou; West African Religions; Yoruba Religion. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


BIBLIOGRAPHY Barrett, David B., ed. World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Study of Churches and Religions in the Modern World, AD 1900–2000. Oxford, 1982. Barrett, Leonard E. Soul-Force: African Heritage in Afro-American Religion. New York, 1974. Barrett, Leonard E. The Rastafarians: Sounds of Cultural Dissonance. Boston, 1977. Bascom, William R. “The Focus of Cuban Santeria.” Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 6 (Spring 1950): 64–68. Bascom, William R. “The Yoruba in Cuba.” Nigeria 37 (1951): 14–20. Bascom, William R. Shango in the New World. Austin, Tex., 1972. Bastide, Roger. African Civilisations in the New World. New York, 1971. Bilby, Kenneth M. “The Kromanti Dance of the Windward Maroons of Jamaica.” Nieuwe West-Indische Gids (Utrecht) 55 (August 1981): 52–101. Bourguignon, Erika. “George E. Simpson’s Ideas about Ultimate Reality and Meaning in Haitian Vodun.” Ultimate Reality and Meaning (Toronto) 3 (1980): 233–238. Chevannes, Barry. “The Literature of Rastafari.” Social and Economic Studies 26 (June 1977): 239–262. Courlander, Harold. Haiti Singing. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1939. Courlander, Harold. The Drum and the Hoe: Life and Lore of the Haitian People. Berkeley, 1960. Curtin, Philip D. Two Jamaicas: The Role of Ideas in a Tropical Colony, 1830–1865. Cambridge, Mass., 1955. Davis, E. Wade. “The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 9 (1983): 85–104. Glazier, Stephen D. Marchin’ the Pilgrims Home: Leadership and Decision-Making in an Afro-Caribbean Faith. Westport, Conn., 1983. Henney, Jeannette H. “Spirit-Possession Belief and Trance Behavior in Two Fundamentalist Groups in St. Vincent.” In Trance, Healing, and Hallucination: Three Field Studies in Religious Experience, by Felicitas D. Goodman, Jeannette H. Henney, and Esther Pressel, pp. 6–111. New York, 1974. Herskovits, Melville J. “African Gods and Catholic Saints in New World Negro Belief.” American Anthropologist 39 (1937): 635–643. Cited in text as 1937a. Herskovits, Melville J. Life in a Haitian Valley. New York, 1937. Cited in text as 1937b. Herskovits, Melville J. Dahomey: An Ancient West African Kingdom. 2 vols. New York, 1938. Hill, Robert A. “Dread History: Leonard Howell and Millenarian Visions in Early Rastafari Religions in Jamaica.” Epoche 9 (1981): 30–71. Hogg, Donald. “The Convince Cult in Jamaica.” Yale University Publications in Anthropology 58 (1960): 3–24. Johnson, Howard. “Introduction.” In Boy in a Landscape: A Jamaican Picture, by Trevor Fitz-Henley. Gordon Town, Jamaica, 1980. Laguerre, Michel S. Vodou Heritage. Beverly Hills, Calif., 1980. Lewis, Maureen Warner. “Yoruba Religion in Trinidad: Transfer and Reinterpretation.” Caribbean Quarterly 24 (September– December 1978): 18–32. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Leyburn, James G. The Haitian People. Rev. ed. New Haven, 1966. Métraux, Alfred. “The Concept of Soul in Haitian Vodu.” Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 2 (Spring 1946): 84–92. Métraux, Alfred. Vodou in Haiti. New York, 1959. Moore, Joseph G. “Religion of Jamaican Negroes: A Study of Afro-American Acculturation.” Ph.D. diss., Northwestern University, 1953. Moore, Joseph G., and George E. Simpson. “A Comparative Study of Acculturation in Morant Bay and West Kingston, Jamaica.” Zaire 11 (November–December 1957): 979– 1019, and 12 (January 1958): 65–87. Nettleford, Rex M. Mirror, Mirror: Identity, Race and Protest in Jamaica. Kingston, Jamaica, 1970. Ortiz Fernández, Fernando. Los bailes y el teatro de los negros en el folklore de Cuba. Havana, 1951. Pearse, Andrew C. The Big Drum Dance of the Carriacou. Ethnic Folkways Library P 1011. Pollak-Eltz, Angelina. “The Shango Cult in Grenada, British Westindies.” In Proceedings of the Eighth International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, vol. 3, pp. 59–60. N.p., 1968. Price-Mars, Jean. So Spoke the Uncle. Washington, D.C., 1983. A translation, with introduction and notes, by Magdeline W. Shannon of Ainsi parla l’oncle (Paris, 1928). Rigaud, Milo. La tradicion vaudoo et le vaudoo haitian: Son temple, ses mystères, sa magie. Paris, 1953. Rigaud, Odette M. “The Feasting of the Gods in Haitian Vodu.” Primitive Man 19 (January–April 1946): 1–58. Rotberg, Robert I. “Vodun and the Politics of Haiti.” In The African Diaspora: Interpretive Essays, edited by Martin L. Kilson and Robert I. Rotberg, pp. 342–365. Cambridge, Mass., 1976. Schuler, Monica. “Myalism and the African Religious Tradition in Jamaica.” In Africa and the Caribbean: The Legacies of a Link, edited by Margaret E. Crahan and Franklin W. Knight, pp. 65–79. Baltimore, 1979. Schuler, Monica. “Alas, Alas, Kongo”: A Social History of Indentured African Immigration into Jamaica, 1841–1865. Baltimore, 1980. Simmons, Harold F. C. “Notes on Folklore in St. Lucia.” In Iouanaloa: Recent Writing from St. Lucia, edited by Edward Braithwaite, pp. 41–49. Saint Lucia, 1963. Simpson, George E. “The Vodun Service in Northern Haiti.” American Anthropologist 42 (April–June 1940): 236–254 Simpson, George E. “The Belief System of Haitian Vodun.” American Anthropologist 47 (January 1945): 35–59. Simpson, George E. “Four Vodun Ceremonies.” Journal of American Folklore 59 (April–June 1946): 154–167. Simpson, George E. “Political Cultism in West Kingston.” Social and Economic Studies 4 (June 1955): 133–149. Simpson, George E. “Jamaican Revivalist Cults.” Social and Economic Studies 5 (December 1956): 321–442. Simpson, George E. “The Kele Cult in St. Lucia.” Caribbean Studies 13 (October 1973): 110–116. Simpson, George E. Black Religions in the New World. New York, 1978.



Simpson, George E. “Ideas about Ultimate Reality and Meaning in Haitian Vodun.” Ultimate Reality and Meaning (Toronto) 3 (1980): 187–199. Smith, M. G. “A Note on Truth, Fact, and Tradition in Carriacou.” Caribbean Quarterly 17 (September–December 1971): 128–138. Smith, M. G., Roy Augier, and Rex M. Nettleford. The Ras Tafari Movement in Kingston, Jamaica. Mona, Jamaica, 1960. Stone, Doris. The Black Caribs of Honduras. Ethnic Folkways Library P 435. Taylor, Douglas MacRae. The Black Carib of British Honduras. New York, 1951. GEORGE EATON SIMPSON (1987)



CARNIVAL. The Christian festival called Carnival takes place on Shrove Tuesday, the eve of Ash Wednesday. In its widest sense, however, the Carnival period is of much longer duration, beginning right after Christmas, the New Year, or the Feast of Epiphany, depending on the region. The etymological roots of the name Carnival may be the Latin caro (“meat”) and levara (“to remove, to take away”), which in vulgar Latin became carne levamen, and afterward carne vale. Some etymologists also link it to carnis levamen, “the pleasure of meat,” the farewell to which is celebrated in the festivities that come immediately before the prohibitions of Lent. Another hypothesis links it etymologically to the carrus navalis, the horse-drawn, boat-shaped carriage that was paraded in Roman festivals in honor of Saturn, carrying men and women who, in fancy dress and wearing masks, sang obscene songs. If it is problematic to identify the etymological roots of Carnival, it becomes even more difficult to determine the historical origins of the celebration itself. However, the Roman feasts of Saturn, the Saturnalias, are generally recognized as the ancient forerunner of Carnival festivities. They embodied the essential carnival spirit, strongly characterized by the transgression of daily conventions and excesses of behavior. In these feasts, which took place in the midst of great licentiousness, slaves banqueted together with their masters, whom they insulted and admonished. From among them was elected a King of Chaos who, for the period of Saturnalia only, enjoyed full rights to his master’s concubines, and gave ridiculous orders that had to be obeyed by everyone. At the end of the festivities, however, he was unthroned and, in the earliest form of the rite, sacrificed to signal a return to order. Although far in meaning from the Christian Carnival, these Roman rituals contained some elements that would come to define the later and more universal concept of the feast. The inversion of prevailing norms—as when servants rule masters—is of particular importance; the burlesque par-

odies of power and order, as seen in the dramatization of the Jester King, and the element of exaggeration, both in terms of libidinous excesses and in the inordinate consumption of food and drink, have also become prominent characteristics of Carnival. This unruliness that temporarily suspends the recognized world order has the corollary of introducing a contrast to the parameters of daily life. In other words, these cyclical rituals of disorder and rebellion show themselves incapable of administering real life because they foster the confusion of roles, licentiousness, and the mockery of power; they thus serve as a reminder of the necessity for order, which is reestablished at their conclusion. In Rabelais and His World (Cambridge, Mass., 1968) the Russian essayist Mikhail Bakhtin presents an interesting interpretation of the meaning of Carnival in the context of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. He treats Carnival as the most evident expression of a joking popular culture with its roots in the Roman Saturnalias, which reflected the playful, irreverent side of human nature and the indestructible festive element in all human civilizations. During the whole of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, this culture of laughter resisted the official, serious culture. In opposition to the mysticism and dogmatism of the ecclesiastical culture and rigidity of the prevailing political structures, the joking popular culture revealed a world in which a playful mutability was possible and provided an experience, at once symbolic and concrete, of the suspension of social barriers. By dramatizing the comic and relative side of absolute truths and supreme authorities, it highlighted the ambivalence of reality, coming to represent the power of both absolute liberty and farce. Using these distinctions, Bakhtin contrasts the official and ecclesiastical ceremonies of ordered society with the festivities of carnivalesque culture. He characterizes the former as rituals of inequality because they reinforce the dominant order and seek justification of the present in the past. The latter he regards as rituals of equality because they parody the stratification of power and the cult of religion, as well as provide a symbolic suspension of norms and privileges, harboring a seed of social reaction in satire. Thus, inversion is universally at the root of Carnival symbolism, and explains the presence of such customs as transvestite costume, or clothes worn inside out, the poor playing the role of the rich, and the weak that of the powerful. This interpretive perspective also makes sense of the symbolism of death, common in Carnival celebrations; here it implies revitalization. Similarly, the dethroning and burning in effigy of the Jester King marks the end of a cycle and suggests the commencement of another, and the scatological aggressions with bodily materials like urine are a symbolic component implying fertilization. From this point of view, one can also amplify the concept of “carnivalization” to include all the symbolic processes that bring about transformations in the representation of social reality. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


The most notable carnivalization of late medieval European society was to be found in the Feast of Fools, also called the Feast of Innocents. Although it took place in churches between Christmas and Epiphany, this festival was both an extreme satire of the mannerisms and mores of the court and the high church and a radical mockery of ecclesiastical structure and religious doctrine. The low church and the lower orders played an important part in it, while the high church and the nobility were its principal targets. For the festival, a King of the Fools or a Boy Bishop, chosen from among the local choir boys, was elected to act out a parody of episcopal functions, including the distribution of blessings to the crowd from a balcony. A comic version of the holy mass was enacted, in which obscene parodies such as “The Liturgy of the Drunkards,” “The Liturgy of the Gamblers,” and “The Will of the Ass” were substituted for the canticles and prayers. Masked and painted, wearing the garb of the high church or dressed up as women, the revelers danced freely in the cathedrals and banqueted on the altars. The burning of old shoes and excrement replaced incense. Meanwhile, riotous processions of other revelers, wearing goat and horse masks, paraded dancing and singing through the streets. Dances in churches are not totally unheard of in the history of Christianity; so-called shrine dances, for example, were frequent in the first centuries of its development. However, with the consolidation and institutionalization of the church, these dances were gradually abolished. In any case, the Feast of Fools had an entirely different sense. Its most striking characteristic was that of grotesque buffoonery, and in it the carnivalesque inversion was carried to its ultimate extreme. Focusing on the ecclesiastical hierarchy and religious ethics, the Feast of Fools pointed out the critical relations of medieval society and demonstrated that such a society was capable of self-criticism. The Feast of the Ass, which took place principally in France, was a variation within the same category of rituals of carnivalesque inversion. Also part of the Christmas cycle, it theoretically commemorated Mary’s flight to Egypt. The central character was, however, the ass, or rather the Ass Prince, who was richly adorned and brought in procession under a luxurious canopy to the church, where a mass was celebrated in its honor, punctuated with braying noises to which the celebrants responded by also braying. For almost a millennium, the Roman Catholic church attempted, with perceptible difficulty, to control or ban the Feast of Fools. One of the first recorded proscriptions dates from the seventh century in Toledo, Spain. That this had little success can be measured by the numerous subsequent proscriptive edicts up to the sixteenth century, like that of Dijon, France, in 1552. The Feast of Fools died out only with the advent of the Reformation and CounterReformation. Until then, just as it had come under severe attack, it had also produced its enthusiastic apologists, such as those who wrote the circular of the Theology School of ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Paris in 1444. This circular maintained that just as fermenting barrels of wine sometimes need ventilation to prevent them from exploding, the wine of human madness must have an outlet at least once a year in order to transform itself into the good wine of pious devotion. The Feast of Fools continued for a long time in France. It was still a solidly institutionalized event in Nice in the seventeenth century, when various secular laws were passed to regulate the structuring of the profane “Abbeys of the Fools” and to formalize the powers of the “Abbots of the Fools.” At the same time, ecclesiastical decrees attempted to prevent the previously uncontrolled participation of the low church in the carnivalesque festivities and dances and bind them to their liturgical duties on the relevant days. As a result of the Nice ordinance in 1539, the carnivalesque balls were subdivided into four categories, namely, those of the nobles, the merchants, the artisans, and the laborers. Each was the responsibility of one Abbot of the Fools, aided by a certain number of “monks,” who policed the ball. The “abbots” were responsible for maintaining order, for making sure that only those suitably dressed, unarmed, and wearing masks, entered, and for preventing members of a different category from attending the wrong ball. The ruling of 1612 increased the number of Abbeys of the Fools to ten and gave the Abbots of the Fools the artistic function of directing the musicians as well as the right to dance at the balls. The Abbots of the Fools also had the right to collect charavilh, a tax paid by betrothed widows upon remarriage. Charavilh itself sometimes brought about a sort of carnival, whenever the bridegroom was reluctant to pay it. In such an instance, the “abbot” would barricade the entrance to his house and orchestrate a deafening racket with trumpets and various improvised percussion instruments, such as saucepans and frying pans, until the recalcitrant newlyweds agreed to pay. Although charavilh was prohibited in Nice in 1721, it was so deeply rooted in the popular customs of the region that there are records of its occurrence until the end of the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, by the end of the Middle Ages, the trend everywhere was to discipline Carnival, restricting the extremes of its licentiousness and violence, while encouraging its artistic aspects. To control carnivalesque rebelliousness was, however, the work of centuries. The introduction of masked balls in the sixteenth century in Italy was the first step on the festival’s path to a predominantly poetic character. Parades of floats began to compete for a place in the disorderly street processions. From the combination of these two new currents flowered the fusion of carnival with art. The rise of the Italian commedia dell’arte played an important role in the consolidation of the use of masks, lending them an artistic character and codifying human types. Previously, a wide variety of masks had already been featured in Carnival, so that they were easily assimilated into the commedia dell’arte, a theatrical genre with a close popular affinity



to the festival, imbued with a similar spirit of social satire. The commedia dell’arte selected several types of masks from the carnivalesque repertory and reduced these to a certain number of character types, translating regional and psychological characteristics which, as they evolved, became more abstract and universal. It drew strongly on regional inspiration and referred to events in the day-to-day Italian life of the time, as is the nature of improvised theater. From these traditions emerged its famous characters, who, in a stylized form, dominated the three subsequent centuries of the carnivalesque scenario in Europe. The characters of the commedia dell’arte embodied various satirical social types of the Italy of that period: Pantaloon, for example, was the rich, greedy, and libidinous merchant; the Doctor represented the pedantic drunkard and charlatan; and the Captain was boastful and full of bravado, but a complete coward. Harlequin, Colombine, and Pulcinella are the most famous of these figures. With time, all modified their characteristics. Initially, Harlequin represented the ignorant rustic who thought himself intelligent and whose poverty was evident in the patches, later sophisticated into lozenges, on his clothes. Pulcinella belonged to the same category of clowns and buffoons, though he was also crafty, as did Colombine, who evolved from a simple peasant girl to a calculating and extremely cunning maidservant. From the fusion of the commedia dell’arte with the masquerades of other cultures came a number of other characters, such as Pierrot, from France, who became an eternally present and central character in Carnival. The commedia dell’arte and the Italian Carnival had much in common, as a result of their shared spirit of buffoonery and improvisation, each making the other more colorful and fertile. In Renaissance Florence, Carnival songs made fun of the private lives of certain social groups, with themes like “the goldsmith’s song,” “the song of the poor who accept charity,” and “the song of the young wives and the old husbands”; by means of their festive ambivalence, they revealed the ridiculous—and usually censored—side of social conventions. Under the patronage of the Medici family, the Florentine Carnival was typified by the singing of these songs on flower-covered, ornamented triumphal carts, which were the models for the later Carnival floats of the Baroque and Romantic periods. In Turin, too, there were parades of flower-covered carts and floats as well as tournaments and cavalcades. In Venice, as throughout the Italian Peninsula, masks were the distinguishing feature of Carnival. Celebrated with the great solemnity afforded by the presence of the doge and Signoria and accompanied by a fireworks display, it contrasted with what happened in the streets, where there were battles between rival groups and a bull was sacrificed. Another element of Venetian Carnival was the flight of a man on ropes to the top of the campanile of Saint Mark’s, since Carnival was also a time to challenge and exorcise the forces of nature. Carnival in Rome was typified by a complex symbolism of violence, death, and resurrection. In Pope Paul II’s time,

in the fifteenth century, it was transferred to the Via Latta, which became the traditional setting for the carnivalesque parades called Corso. The Roman Carnival was essentially a series of masquerades and horse parades—these abolished only in 1833—culminating on Shrove Tuesday with an impressive candlelight procession, in which the participants, shouting “Death to him who has no candle,” tried in whatever ways they could to put out one another’s candles. In the carnivalesque revelry, the literal meaning of the threat of death was tempered, blending into the essential ambivalence of Carnival imagery. The procession ended with a Pantagruelian feast in the early morning of Ash Wednesday, during which immense quantities of meat were consumed in anticipation of the Lenten fast to follow. As a result of the Romantic movement, the following centuries saw a growing beautification of Carnival. Flowered carriages, parades, allegorical floats that grew ever more majestic and complex, and fancy-dress balls became permanent features of the celebration, wherever it still existed. The elements of violence lessened: fighting, verbal abuse, and the various forms of mock aggression—water jets, the hurling of oranges, plaster confetti—gradually gave way to battles of flowers and colored paper confetti that were the new and prominent aspect of nineteenth-century street Carnival. In this way, the masses of revelers were gradually transformed from participants to spectators, to the detriment of the heterogeneous character of the festival, which had been for everyone and everywhere, unfocused and without privileged actors. In proportion as the crowds grew more controlled, the festival became spatially more limited, subordinated to rational organization, diminishing the spirit of carnivalesque improvisation and burlesque satire. In Nice, for example, where Carnival still preserved its rich tradition, a festival committee was set up in 1873. The functions of this committee were to organize the festivities, parades, and flower battles and to award prizes for the allegorical floats, functions that still exist today. These artistic and commercial innovations passed by the Carnival in Portugal. The typical form of Portuguese Carnival, like that of the whole Iberian Peninsula, was the Entrudo, a rowdy celebration in which flour, eggs, lupines, mud, oranges, and lemons were thrown on passersby. Dirty water, glue, and various other liquids were also poured onto the crowd, and gloves heavy with sand were dropped from windows. Repeating a common New Year custom, pots and pans and all sorts of useless kitchen utensils were also thrown out of the windows, perhaps symbolizing the discarding of the old, or perhaps heralding the Lenten fast. Fierce battles were waged with plaster eggs, wax lemons, corncobs, and beans blown fiercely through glass or cardboard straws. Blows with brooms and wooden spoons were dealt out liberally. Apart from the violence and filth, the Entrudo was also a Carnival of gluttony: in the better stocked houses—from whose windows cakes and pastries were pitched—guests feasted sumptuously. Even in the convents cakes were widely distributed. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


The apogee of the Portuguese Entrudo was in the eighteenth century. This coincided with the period of the greatest popularity and prestige of masked balls in the European courts; in 1715, the Royal Music Academy of Paris transformed its opera hall into a ballroom, in use three times a week throughout the year. Masks had been prohibited in Portugal since 1689, exactly when they were at the height of fashion in the rest of Europe. The first masked ball in Lisbon took place only in 1785, offered by the Spanish ambassador in commemoration of the marriage of Princess Carlota Joaquiná with Prince Joa˜o, but further masques were prohibited again immediately afterward. So the Entrudo continued to reign largely without rivals. In Galicia, Spain, the Carnival of flour, eggs, and water was similar. It began with a chariot attack by one neighboring village on another and ended with the burial of Señhor Antroido, for whom a eulogy was written, satirizing the most notable local people and the most notorious events of the previous year. In nineteenth-century Portugal, there were flower battles in Oporto and Lisbon. Nevertheless, the form of Carnival introduced into the American colonies by Portugal and Spain was, in substance, the Entrudo. In Europe, it was a weakened Carnival that greeted the contemporary age. In the scientific dogmatists of the end of the nineteenth century, Carnival inspired suspicion and contempt and was viewed as an irrational, primitive, and inexplicable rite. Lacking spontaneous popular support in Europe, Carnival has, with rare exceptions, gradually lost its force in the twentieth century, until it has become a subject of interest chiefly for academics and those who have a strong affection for the past. In Brazil, meanwhile, Carnival assumed the proportions of a national festival. Because of Brazil’s multiethnic population and nearly continental proportions, its Carnival drew on many different cultural and folkloric sources, becoming the melting pot of indigenous, African, and European influences. Instead of surviving merely as a curious anachronism, it is today a living, dynamic phenomenon, modifying itself even in conjunction with the modern resources of mass communications. The Brazilian Carnival, like those of all Hispanic America, stems from the Iberian Entrudo. Begun with the Portuguese colonization in the sixteenth century, the Entrudo lasted more than three centuries before collapsing in the first years of the Brazilian republic. Prohibitions against it, however, date from its very introduction. The first recorded one is a decree of 1604, the first of many that produced no result, despite the stipulated punishments. A decree of 1853 imposed fines and detention for free men and caning and prison sentences for slaves participating in the Entrudo; nevertheless, another with identical content had to be issued in 1857. The Brazilian Entrudo was very close to its Portuguese source: it involved the throwing of a lot of water and various ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


small projectiles, later substituted by wax lemons. During the Entrudo, so much water was used in Rio de Janeiro that the newspapers invariably warned about risks to the city’s water supply. The Entrudo was played even in the imperial palace, and whole families with their slaves dedicated weeks on end to the fabrication of wax lemons. Daniel Kidder, an American missionary who visited Brazil in the nineteenth century, advised in his Sketches of Residence and Travel in Brazil (Philadelphia, 1845) that people leaving their houses on these days should take their umbrellas with them to protect themselves against missiles and water. In the mid-nineteenth century, the Brazilian Carnival showed clear signs of transformation. Masked balls were held, though the use of masks had been prohibited during the whole of the colonial period, just as in Portugal. Processions of allegorical carriages made their first appearance in 1855, in a pompous parade sponsored by competing groups known collectively as the Great Carnivalesque Societies, and this contrasted so strongly with the disorder of the Entrudo that from then on the characteristics of the street Carnival began to change. Originally, among these societies there were a considerable number of intellectuals; one of the relevant features of the parade each year was the presence of a “Float of Criticism,” satirizing some important recent political event, about which satirical poems were also distributed. With the abolition of slavery at the end of the nineteenth century, massive rural contingents migrated to the larger urban centers, bringing with them a great variety of regional folkloric contributions. In the first decades of the twentieth century, the activities involved in Carnival expanded, and a multiplicity of organizations, structured to a greater or lesser extent, began to make their presence felt in the street Carnival. The Congo, a popular festivity with African roots alluding to the coronation of the “Congolese kings,” began to make its contribution at this time. It was made up of several elements, among which were processions and warlike dances. From these came the majestic Maracatus, making their appearance in the Carnival of northeastern Brazil; these are choreographed processions derived from the Congo, with king, queen, and a court of princes, ladies, ambassadors, and standard- and sunshade-bearers, along with a percussion section of rhythmic drums and triangles. There was also an increase in the number of cordo˜es—loose groupings of people with masks depicting old people, the Devil, kings, queens, clowns, Bahian women, Indians, bats, Death, and so forth, who sang and danced frenetically to the accompaniment of percussion instruments. An innovation in the Carnival of the south of Brazil were the ranchos de reis, which were taken from devotional Christmas dramatizations performed in procession, reproducing the journey of the Three Kings to Bethlehem to visit the infant Jesus. They were, however, stripped of their religious allusions, carnivalized, and took the form of rancho carnavalesco—a slow-march procession accompanied by brass



and string instruments, during which costumed male and female choruses, carrying small allegorical images, narrate lyrical stories while singing and dancing. The most complete expression of the contemporary Brazilian Carnival is the samba school. These schools, which are actually associations, present a kind of mobile popular opera, each year worked around a different theme. This theme is narrated through the music and words of the Carnival samba song (samba-enredo), and the characters are represented collectively by groups of dancers and singers in costume, with the scenery mounted on allegorical floats. A samba school is divided into three basic sections: first comes the drum section (bateria), which has between two hundred and four hundred instrumentalists, who play big bass drums (surdos), side drums, tambourines, triangles, cuícas, and bells, among other percussive instruments; second is the group (ala) of composers; and last is the main body of dancer-singers and other performers of the school. Schools compete with one another during the festival. The increasing complexity of the parade, and its internal regulation, have brought about the creation of a great number of both financial-administrative and technical-artistic posts, organzing the samba schools to meet certain commercial norms. There are more than a hundred samba schools, concentrated principally in Rio de Janeiro, where they originated, each one with between two thousand and four thousand members. The rapid rise of the samba schools is an interesting sociological phenomenon. They sprang up in Rio de Janeiro in the 1930s, from the lowest social strata. At that time, the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro was visibly stratified: the upper classes amused themselves with costumed saloon-car processions, tossing confetti and paper ribbons; working-class districts celebrated with ranchos; while the samba schools, which were still embryonic associations, attracted the remaining peripheral elements. At first these associations suffered great persecution. Their participants, the sambistas, sometimes had to hide themselves in the centers of Afro-Brazilian cults recognized by the police, where they held clandestine samba parties. There was still a lot of violence and disorder in the Brazilian Carnival; on the one hand, fights and shoot-outs and, on the other, strong police repression, particularly against the lowest social elements. The samba schools came from the carnival blocks (blocos carnavalescos), which were conglomerations of barely organized masked dancers, modelled on the ranchos but with rather more limited financial resources. From the ranchos they adopted the processional form, the thematic structure, the master of ceremonies and flag-bearer, and the allegories, but the brass instruments were eliminated and the rhythm section increased to correspond to the beat of the samba. The samba schools soon caught the attention of the governing authorities because of their populist potential, and when Carnival was made official in 1935, it became obligato-

ry to enact national and historic themes. In the 1960s, the intellectuals and the urban middle class became involved in the samba schools, recognizing them as a genuine focus of popular national character. Their complete acceptance by the higher social classes coincided with the aspiration of the poorer element to be accepted and, as a result, the samba schools received a fresh and definitive impulse on the road of growth and social valuation. The samba schools have now developed into extraordinarily complex institutions, in both their actual parades and their daily organization. They continue to function throughout the year as modest community clubs, always, however, with an eye to raising money for their Carnival expenses. As Carnival draws closer, they open up to allow the participation of the upper classes, until the parade at the climax festival, which is itself a rite of total social integration. Afterward, they retract again to their more modest dimensions. The themes of the parade refer to folkloric tales and events from Brazil’s history, which, in the language of Carnival, are translated into an idealized vision of Brazil, depicted as a rich and generous mother country in which the contributions of the three races—white, black, and indigenous—join them in harmony, and where there is always room for hope and optimism. In reality, Brazil is a country marked by deep inequalities, still struggling in its uphill battle for development. In its historical and contemporary manifestations, the common denominator of Carnival is still the process of the inversion of reality. This inversion is of a symbolic and temporary nature, which classifies as a process of ritual transformation. As a ritual, Carnival allows a glimpse of the axiomatic values of a given culture, as well as its underlying contradictions. The language that relates these contradictions to one another is principally that of satire. But the carnivalesque inversion can equally be expressed through violence and exaggeration. In the Carnival context, violence symbolizes an attack on order, classifying the festival, in this case, as a ritual of rebellion, of which the Entrudo is the clearest example. Carnival retains a close correlation with daily life, though during its celebration the normal and quotidian are inverted and lived as a festival. In this way, carnivalesque rebellion and provocation become a parody of true rebellion and provocation. In any case, ambivalence is inherent in Carnival symbolism, since Carnival itself is on the threshold between order and disorder, hierarchy and equality, real and ideal, sacred and profane. Essentially, Carnival represents confrontation of the antistructure with the structure of society, constituting a channel through which utopian ideals of social organization find expression and suppressed forms of human behavior are released from the restrictions of daily life. The inversion of the social order inherent in Carnival, when amplified to a larger scale, represents the inverted, profane extreme of the sacred religious festival that Carnival immediately precedes. The two are inextricably interwoven and find their opposites in each other. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION



BIBLIOGRAPHY One of the most complete interpretations of the meaning of contemporary Carnival in Brazil is Roberto DaMatta’s Carnavais, malandros e heróis (Rio de Janeiro, 1979). The same author analyzes the costumes and gestures of Brazilian Carnival in Universo do Carnaval (Rio de Janeiro, 1981). For a knowledge of samba schools, their internal organization and ideology, see my O palácio do samba (Rio de Janeiro, 1975) and José Sávio Leopoldi’s Escola de samba, ritual e sociedade (Petrópolis, 1978). For the carnivalization of a sacred rite, refer to Isidoro Maria da Silva Alves’s O Carnaval devoto (Petrópolis, 1980), which deals with the profane aspects of a religious procession. For a view of contemporary Carnival in Europe, see Annie Sidro’s Le Carnaval de Nice et ses fous (Nice, 1979). The catalog edited by Samuël Glotz, Le masque dans la tradition européenne (Mons, Belgium, 1975), provides important information about the use of masks at Carnival. A broad definition that allows a vision of Carnival as a ritual phenomenon can be found in the article by Edmund R. Leach, “Ritualization in Man in Relation to Conceptual and Social Development,” in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 251 (December 1966): 403–408. For notions of structure and antistructure and for a discussion of the symbolic properties and transformation processes of ritual phenomena, essential reading is Victor Turner’s The Ritual Process (Chicago, 1969).

New Sources Béhague, Gerard. “Popular Music.” In Handbook of Latin American Popular Culture, edited by Harold E. Hinds Jr. and Charles Tatum, pp. 3–38. Westport, Conn., 1985. Cunha, Maria Clementina Pereira. Ecos da folia: uma história social do carnaval carioca entre 1880–1920 (Echos of folly: a social history of carnival between 1880 and 1920). Sa˜o Paulo, 2001. Dudley, Shannon. Carnival Music in Trinidad: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. Oxford, 2003. Eisenbichler, Konrad, and Wim Hüsken, editors. Carnival and the Carnivalesque: The Fool, The Reformer, The Wildman, and Others in Early Modern Theatre. Amsterdam and Atlanta, 1999. Eneida, Haroldo Costa. História do Carnaval Carioca (History of Carnival). Rio de Janeiro, 1987. Harris, Max. Carnival and Other Christian Festivals: Folk Theology and Folk Performance. Austin, 2003. Orloff, Alexander. Carnival: Myth and Cult. Wörgl, Austria, 1981. Scher, Philip W. Carnival and the Formation of a Caribbean Transnation. Gainesville, Fla., 2003. MARIA JULIA GOLDWASSER (1987) Revised Bibliography





CARROLL, JOHN (1735–1815), first Roman Catholic bishop of the United States (1789). Carroll attended Saint Omer College in French Flanders in 1748 and a few years later joined the Jesuits. By 1771 he had been ordained a priest and made his final vows in the order. When Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Jesuits in 1773, Carroll was briefly under arrest. The next year he returned to his family estate in Maryland, ministering as best he could under the uncertain jurisdiction ex-Jesuits then faced. He joined his cousin, Charles Carroll, and Benjamin Franklin in an attempt at winning Canadian support for political independence, which would open the way for an American Catholic church. Carroll’s church leadership emerged in 1782–1783, inspired by concepts of church-state separation drawn from the writings of Roberto Bellarmino, Francisco Suárez, and English Catholic commentators on the subject. Carroll viewed the relationship between the pope and Roman Catholic congregations as principally spiritual rather than administrative; thus his plan for the American Catholic church placed church property in the United States in its own corporations, both clerical and lay, in this way guarding against foreign intrusion. Carroll also emphasized the spiritual nature of the office of bishop, a view he would explain in a disciplinary decree published in 1797. In order to ensure against a nonresident appointee by Rome, Carroll advocated electing the first American bishop by vote of the clergy. Thereafter, he expected, the American hierarchy could follow more common ecclesial practices. However, the first American see, Baltimore, remained under the administrative control of the Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith, a body administered by Rome, thus weakening American control over episcopal appointees. Later, as first archbishop of Baltimore (1808–1815), Carroll was to acknowledge the lack of suitable American candidates to fill offices created by four new dioceses. Consistent with Maryland Catholic tradition, Carroll held that no one should be molested in the free exercise of his religion. He believed that the Maryland constitution honored this principle. He wrote against states with laws that favored Protestantism (1789), arguing that such laws went beyond what was just in interpreting the role of religion in the state’s promotion of public morality. In An Address to the Roman Catholics (1784), Carroll responded to what he considered distortions of Catholic teachings in these and other areas. His arguments were effective in the era before the rise of Nativism—a movement characterized by hostility toward immigrants, particularly Irish Catholics. John Carroll was also eminent as a builder of the church in visible form. Emerging into the world of public worship after 1776, the Catholic community under his leadership determinedly built parishes and institutions. Among the lasting legacies of his episcopacy were the establishment of Saint Mary’s Seminary, the recruitment of priests from Europe, and the founding of Georgetown College for the laity of all



faiths. He placed high value on the ministry and education of women, as seen in his sponsorship of Elizabeth Ann Seton’s founding of the Daughters of Charity and of parochial schools. He also sponsored establishments of the Carmelite and Visitation orders. Carroll also contributed his services to Saint John’s and Washington colleges and to what became the University of Maryland.

BIBLIOGRAPHY The primary source for Carroll’s writings is The John Carroll Papers, 3 vols., edited by Thomas O’Brien Hanley (Notre Dame, Ind., 1976). Arranged in chronological order, it has title and date listings for each volume, useful for the references made above. Annabelle M. Melville’s John Carroll of Baltimore (New York, 1955) to some extent abridges Peter K. Guilday’s biography, The Life and Times of John Carroll, 2 vols. (1922; reprint, Westminster, Md., 1954). Joseph Agonito has made the most extensive use to date of the Carroll papers in “Ecumenical Stirrings: Catholic-Protestant Relations during the Episcopacy of John Carroll,” Church History 45 (1976): 358–373. THOMAS O’BRIEN HANLEY (1987)

CA¯RVA¯KA. A school of “materialists” thought to have been contemporary with early Buddhism, the Ca¯rva¯ka school, or Ca¯rva¯kas, has only scant evidence to attest to its existence. Writing in Hastings’s Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, Louis de La Vallée Poussin noted that “a materialistic school, a system in the exact sense of the term” did not exist in India. Such an opinion was based not upon the failure of scholars to recognize such terms as loka¯yata (“worldextended”?) or ca¯rva¯ka, or the schools known by these names, but upon the ambiguity and obscurity that certainly surround their origin and exact connotation. In earlier literature the term loka¯yata did not stand for a doctrine that is necessarily materialistic. In the Buddhist collection Sam: yutta Nika¯ya, two brahmans are described as followers of the Loka¯yata view, proponents of which are credited with holding one or more of the following four propositions: everything exists; nothing exists; everything is a unity; and everything is a plurality. Buddhaghosa’s commentary identifies the first and third propositions as “eternalist views” (sassataditthiyo) and the second and fourth as “annihilationist views” (uccheda-ditthiyo). Later, the Annihilationist views were regarded as consonant with materialism. The use of the word ca¯rva¯ka was also initially obscure. Some say that ca¯rva¯ka was a name. Others propose a fanciful etymology, joining caru (“beautiful”) with va¯k (“speech”) to render a compound connoting “attractive discourse”; thus understood, the doctrines of this school, which denounce religion and religiously founded morality as useless, would have been found attractive by the common man, himself a materialist at heart. In later writings, the name Loka¯yata came to refer to the Ca¯rva¯ka school, which was traced to a mythical founder Br: haspati. In the latter part of the twenti-

eth century, a number of Loka¯yata Ba¯rhaspatya su¯tras were collated from various sources, but their authenticity is open to question. According to the available sources, the Ca¯rva¯ka taught that the world is as we see it, that is, as perceived by our sensory organs, and is devoid of all but a purely mechanical order or principle that can be confirmed by recourse to sense evidence alone. A moral or ethical order, admitted in one form or another by all other Indian schools (as in, for instance, their use of the paired terms dharma and adharma), is thus denied as incompatible with empirical evidence. So too, an omniscient being, God, life after death, and ultimate reward or punishment for one’s actions are all denied. It is for this reason, and for the fact that it denies the authority of the Vedas, that the school is termed na¯stika, or negativist. Ca¯rva¯ka ethics, as might be expected, do recognize the claims of superior force and authority. Obedience to the king and to the state are recommended as a practical means of selfpreservation; otherwise, a life given to the pursuit of pleasure and wealth is considered the ideal. Political power was deemed by the materialists to derive from the approval of the governed (lokasiddha bhavet ra¯ja¯); as a consequence, the ruler’s mandate to govern was regarded as without divine or transcendental sanction. Ca¯rva¯ka cosmology recognized four elements—earth, water, fire, and air—as fundamental constituents of all things; when called on to explain the appearance of life or consciousness in material things when the elements themselves are devoid of any such powers or properties, the Ca¯rva¯ka had recourse to a theory whereby the conjunction of certain elements is accidentally invested with properties missing in the original constituents. As evidence of this, they pointed to the power in the fermented drink to intoxicate, which is missing in the unfermented constituents. This empirical methodology might have been the precursor of scientific thought in India. Ca¯rva¯ka epistemology regards perception as the only valid source of knowledge and explicitly rejects inference. Eventually, the school produced a very sophisticated philosophical critique of the inductive premise in each act of inference. Sometimes the Ca¯rva¯ka view is represented as a skeptical critique of knowledge, for, according to Jayara¯´si, probably a proponent of Ca¯rva¯ka doctrines, even sense evidence can mislead. It is doubtful whether there was ever a well-entrenched traditional “school” called Ca¯rva¯ka or Loka¯yata, for we do not have available to us any independent texts of the classical period that are expressly affiliated with this school. The notable exception is the text of Jayara¯´si called Tattvopaplavasim: ha, discovered and edited in 1940. In it, the author is revealed as a gifted dialectician. The work itself is a highly sophisticated critique of all the prama¯n: as, or valid sources of knowledge, criticizing both Vedic and non-Vedic schools. Theories of perception and inference of the Nya¯ya¯, Buddhist, Sa¯m: khya, M¯ıma¯m: sa¯, and Jain traditions are all faulted. If this text belongs to the Ca¯rva¯ka-Loka¯yata school, ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


then we have to admit that this tradition consists not only of materialism, but combines elements of skepticism and agnosticism as well. In this light, it would be incorrect to credit the Ca¯rva¯kas with advocacy of pure license and hedonism, charges that, after all, are found only in the writings of their opponents (as, for instance, Haribhadra and Ma¯dhava). All told, the Ca¯rva¯kas probably represent an anti-religious tradition that rejected religious and spiritual pursuits and sought the basis of moral and social order in human rationality. SEE ALSO Materialism.


Summary accounts of this school can be found in such compendia of Indian philosophy as Haribhadra’s S: ad: dar´sanasamuccaya (seventh century) and Madhava’s Sarvadar´sanasam: -graha (fourteenth century). Haribhadra was a Jain and hence belonged to a non-Vedic school; Ma¯dhava was a Vaidika, probably a Veda¯ntin. Modern studies include Hara Prasad Shastri’s Lokayata (Oxford, 1925), a pioneering work that is both suggestive and illuminating; Dakshinaranjan Shastri’s A Short History of Indian Materialism, Sensationalism and Hedonism, 2d ed. (Calcutta, 1957), a tenuous historical reconstruction of the school; and Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya’s Loka¯yata: A Study in Ancient Indian Materialism (New Delhi, 1959), a Marxist analysis of the history of Indian materialism, including useful materials from nonphilosophical literature. BIMAL KRISHNA MATILAL (1987)

CASSIAN, JOHN (c. 365–c. 435), monastic leader, founder of ascetic theology in the Latin church. According to Gennadius of Marseilles, John Cassian came from Scythia Minor (modern-day Dobruja), a province of the early Byzantine empire. Born of a rich Scythian family, Cassian received a good education. After he moved to Palestine, he entered a monastery in Bethlehem, together with his friend Germanos. Receiving permission for a temporary absence, the two men left the monastery for a short visit to the monastic colonies of Egypt. After they met the first prominent elders there, they were so fascinated that they forgot their promise to return to their monastery in Bethlehem. They continued on their travels as far as the region of Scetis, where they settled. From time to time they made visits to other monastic areas, but they do not seem to have realized their original intention of visiting the Pachomian monasteries at Thebais. Cassian and Germanos stayed in Egypt for over thirteen years, with only a short break to settle the matter of their permission to leave Bethlehem. During the anti-Origenist persecution of 399 the two men were forced to abandon Egypt because of their association with Origenist monks, whose theological exponent was Evagrios of Pontus. They fled to Constantinople, where they were well received by the archbishop John Chrysostom. There Germanos was ordained a priest and Cassian a deacon. At the beginning of 405, they went to Rome on behalf of Chrysostom to deliver a letter to Pope Innocent I. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


After 415 Cassian, now a priest, moved to Marseilles, where he established two monasteries, one for men and one for women. The last record of him is Prosper of Acquitaine’s theological attack on him, in about 433. A short time after the attack Cassian died; his last words, reported in Sayings of the Fathers, were “I have never done my own will, nor taught anyone something which I had not previously carried out.” Cassian came very late to writing, and he wrote only when requested to do so by important persons. Generally he used the same material as did Evagrios, but he gave it his own personal imprint. More synthetical than Evagrios, he arranged his sources in extensive collections. He was a brilliant Latin stylist, distinguished for his clarity and elegance. Three of his works are still read today with great interest. 1. Institutes of the Cenoby and the Remedies for the Eight Principal Vices, written around 420 at the request of Castor, bishop of Apt in Provence, consists of two distinct sections. Books 1–4 discuss clothing, prayer, psalmody, and rules of monastic life; books 5–12 are a moral exposition of the eight evil thoughts, or vices— gluttony, luxury, avarice, wrath, sloth, acedia (negligence), vainglory, and pride—and their remedies. 2. Conferences of the Fathers has three sections. Conferences 1–10, written around 422 and dedicated to Leo, bishop of Fréjus, and the monk Helladius, recount Cassian’s conversations with famous elders from Scetis on the fundamental principles of the ascetic and spiritual life. Conferences 11–17, written around 424 at the request of Honoratus, founder of Lérins monastery, and the monk Eucherius, recount Cassian’s conversations with elders of the Nile delta on problems of spiritual theology. Conferences 18–24, written around 426 and dedicated to a group of Gallican monks, present conversations with elders of the Nile delta and Scetis on particular problems of the ascetic life. 3. On the Incarnation against Nestorius, written in 430 at the request of the future pope Leo, constitutes the single Western refutation of Nestorian teachings, which Cassian considered a result of Pelagian influence. Cassian is the first monastic leader in the West to have set forth the theological principles of monastic life. Although his works encompass not only the anchoritic but also the cenobitic form of monasticism, his real interest lay in anchoritism. On questions of monastic organization, his sources are the institutions of the monastic centers in the East, chiefly Egypt and Palestine. In the theoretical area, he has as his guide the great teacher of ascetical theology, Evagrios, although, because Evagrios had been condemned as a heretic, Cassian avoided citing his name. Cassian’s thought revolves around the spiritual perfection of ascetics, following the classical twofold distinction of the stages of the spiritual life, the active and the contemplative way, for which he used the Greek terms praktik¯e and



theoretik¯e. Complete renunciation leads to the active way: “We have two fathers, one to abandon, the other to follow” (Conf. 3.6). In the preliminary stage a fierce struggle develops against the passions caused in us by demons and evil thoughts. Praktik¯e becomes the way through which the cleansing of the passions and the establishment of the virtues are effected. Theoretik¯e is the higher stage, in which the contemplation of the divine realities and the acknowledgment of the most secret signs are acquired (Conf. 14.1). Like all ascetic writers, Cassian demands from Christians a hard struggle for the attainment of perfection. This struggle, in turn, requires a strong and free will. Cassian rejected two important theories of his day. He regarded the volitionism of Pelagius as heretical, and the absolute predestination of Augustine of Hippo as sacrilegious. According to Cassian, humankind preserved even after the Fall the ability to turn toward the good and to accept or reject the salvation offered by God. In the West, Cassian’s teaching was criticized by Prosper of Aquitaine, a disciple of Augustine, and later it was condemned by the Council of Orange (529). It is still regarded today as semi-Pelagian. Cassian, however, was an Eastern theologian in the Latin West, and his teaching must be judged by Greek theological criteria. From this point of view, he was in agreement with the entire Eastern tradition and especially with the views of John Chrysostom. In his last years, Cassian was regarded as one of the leading theologians of the West. Even though his opposition to Augustine kept him out of the mainstream of the Western church, his authority was unofficially accepted. Abridged redactions of his writings were made in both Latin and Greek, while eight of his sayings were preserved in Sayings of the Fathers. Through Benedict of Nursia his influence was spread throughout the West. Gennadius of Marseilles calls Cassian a saint, but in the West he is not venerated, except in Marseilles, where his feast is celebrated on July 23. In the East the feast is generally celebrated on February 29.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Works by Cassian Guy, Jean-Claude, ed. and trans. De institutis / Institutions cenobitiques. Vol. 109 of Sources chrétiennes. Paris, 1965. Migne, J.-P., ed. Opera omnia. Vols. 49 and 50 of Patrologia Latina. Paris, 1874 and 1863. Petschenig, Michael, ed. Opera omnia. Vols. 13 and 17 of Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum. Vienna, 1886 and 1888. Pichery, Eugène, ed. and trans. Conlationes Patrum (Conférences). Vols. 42, 54, and 64 of Sources chrétiennes. Paris, 1955– 1959.

Works about Cassian Cassian’s doctrines on nature and grace in opposition to Augustine’s view of predestination is the central concern of Alexan-

der Hoch’s Lehre des Johannes Cassianus von Natur und Gnade: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Gnadenstreites im fünften Jahrhundert (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1895), and Joseph Laugier’s S. Jean Cassien et sa doctrine sur la grâce (Lyons, 1908). A general picture of the personality and the work of Cassian is given under “Cassien” in Dictionnaire de spiritualité (Paris, 1937). Owen Chadwick’s John Cassian: A Study in Primitive Monasticism (1950; 2d ed., London, 1968) is very important. A number of other studies on special aspects of his monastic activities may be mentioned, such as Hans Oskar Weber’s Die Stellung des Johannes Cassianus zur ausserpachomianischen Mönchstradition (Munich, 1961), Salvatore Pricoco’s L’isola dei santi: Il cenobio di Lerino e il origini del monachesimo gallico (Rome, 1978), and Philip Rousseau’s Ascetics, Authority and the Church in the Age of Jerome and Cassian (Oxford, 1978). Some new studies on the theological teachings are Victor Codina’s El aspecto cristológico en la espiritualidad de Juan Casiano, “Orientalia Christiana Analecta,” vol. 175 (Rome, 1966), and Paul Christophe’s Cassien et Césaire: Prédicateurs de la morale monastique (Gembloux, 1969). PANAGIOTIS C. CHRISTOU (1987) Translated from Greek by Philip M. McGhee

CASSIRER, ERNST (1874–1945), German philosopher of culture. Cassirer was born in Breslau, Silesia. He studied at the universities of Berlin, Leipzig, Heidelberg, and Marburg and completed his inaugural dissertation under the direction of the Neo-Kantian Hermann Cohen at Marburg in 1899. Between 1903 and 1919 Cassirer taught as privatdocent at the University of Berlin, and in 1919 he assumed the chair of philosophy at the newly founded University of Hamburg. Cassirer left Germany in 1933 with the rise of Nazism; he taught for two years at Oxford before accepting a professorship at the University of Göteborg in Sweden in 1935. Cassirer left Sweden for the United States in the summer of 1941, teaching first at Yale and then at Columbia. Cassirer’s published writings comprise nearly 125 items, ranging from short articles to books of eight hundred pages. They treat a wide range of subjects in history, linguistics, mythology, aesthetics, literary studies, and science. Because he wrote continuously on so many subjects it is difficult to form a sense of Cassirer’s thought as a whole. The largest division within his writings is between his works on the history of philosophy and those that state his own philosophical position. In addition to these are subcategories of works on literary figures, especially Goethe, and on the philosophy of science. The center of Cassirer’s work in the history of philosophy is his four-volume study Das Erkenntnisproblem in der Philosophie und Wissenschaft der neuern Zeit (The Problem of Knowledge in Philosophy and Science in the Modern Age). The first two volumes (1906–1907) trace the problem of knowledge from Nicholas of Cusa to Kant. The third (1920) and fourth (first published in English translation in 1950) continue the theme through Hegel and into the first ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


decades of the twentieth century. In addition to this large study, Cassirer’s works on the Enlightenment, the Renaissance, Descartes, and Leibniz have become classics in their areas. The central work of Cassirer’s original philosophy is his three-volume Philosophie der symbolischen Formen (The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms; 1923–1929), the groundwork of which was laid in his theory of scientific concept formation in Substanzbegriff und Funktionsbegriff (Substance and Function) in 1910. He extended his theory of concept formation to humanistic thought in Zur Logik der Kulturwissenschaften (The Logic of the Humanities; 1942). Cassirer recast his conception of symbolic forms in An Essay on Man (1944). This was followed by The Myth of the State (1946); both works were written in English. Cassirer regards religion as part of the symbolic form of myth. In An Essay on Man he labels this as the symbolic form of “myth and religion” within a series of symbolic forms that includes also language, art, history, and science. Each of these areas of human culture represents a way in which people form their experience through symbols. Cassirer defines the human as an “animal symbolicum.” Consciousness forms its object in many different ways. No one mode of formation offers a “literal” presentation of the real; all human activities are equally “symbolic.” The symbol is the medium of all people’s cultural activity, whether mythic-religious, linguistic, artistic, historical, or scientific. The interrelationships of all these manners of symbolizing form the system of human culture. Religion arises as a stage within the mythical mode of symbolizing. In the second volume of Philosophie der symbolischen Formen (see part 4) Cassirer says that the break between religious consciousness and the mythical symbol occurs when consciousness begins to regard the images and signs of myth as pointing to meanings beyond immediate existence. Like true linguistic signs, Cassirer says, religious signs are understood as referring to an order of reality beyond the plane of immediate sensuous existence. In mythical consciousness the dancer who wears the mask of the god is the god; he does not signify the god who exists in another realm of being. Religion introduces a distinction between a finite and an infinite realm, a distinction that is beyond the power of the mythic symbol. For mythical consciousness, symbol and symbolized occupy a single plane of reality. In religious consciousness the sensuous and the spiritual divide, but they remain in this division as continuously pointing to each other in a relationship of analogy. In An Essay on Man Cassirer approaches the relationship between myth and religion less in terms of the epistemology of the symbol and more in sociocultural and moral terms: “In the development of human culture we cannot fix a point where myth ends or religion begins. In the whole course of its history religion remains indissolubly connected and penetrated with mythical elements” (p. 87). Cassirer says that myth and religion originate in the “feeling of the indestructible unity of life” and in the fear of death as a break in this ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


unity. In his phenomenology of the third volume of Philosophie der symbolischen Formen, Cassirer connects myth with the Ausdrucksfunktion of consciousness, with the primordial phenomenon of “expression.” Religion never loses its roots as an expression of the unity of life and the fear of death. Religion also has roots in the “sympathy of the Whole” that underlies magical practices in primitive societies. But religion arises, Cassirer says in An Essay on Man, when the totem and taboo system of society based on magical practices begins to break down. In the taboo system the individual has no responsibility for his own actions. Religion gives scope to a new feeling, that of individuality. Cassirer regards the prophetic books of the Old Testament as an example of the rise of the new ideal of individual moral responsibility that marks the appearance of religious consciousness out of the taboo system. In religion there develops this first sense of the moral self.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Works by Cassirer There are two comprehensive bibliographies of Cassirer’s writings: a topical arrangement can be found in Philosophy and History: Essays Presented to Ernst Cassirer, edited by Raymond Klibansky and H. J. Paton (Oxford, 1936), pp. 338–353, and a chronological listing appears in The Philosophy of Ernst Cassirer, edited by Paul A. Schilpp (Evanston, Ill., 1949), pp. 881–910. Of particular interest to the study of Cassirer’s conception of myth and religion are the following: Philosophie der symbolischen Formen, 3 vols. (Berlin, 1923–1929), translated by Ralph Manheim as The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, 3 vols. (New Haven, 1953–1957), especially volume 2, Mythical Thought; Sprache und Mythos (Leipzig, 1925), translated by Suzanne K. Langer as Language and Myth (New York, 1946); Zur Logik der Kulturwissenschaften: Fünf Studien (Göteborg, 1942), translated by C. S. Howe as The Logic of the Humanities (New Haven, 1961); An Essay on Man: An Introduction to a Philosophy of Human Culture (New Haven, 1944); and The Myth of the State (New Haven, 1946). Symbol, Myth, and Culture: Essays and Lectures of Ernst Cassirer 1935–45 (New Haven, 1949), edited by Donald Phillip Verene, is a volume of Cassirer’s previously unpublished papers. It includes a description of the corpus of Cassirer’s manuscripts housed at Yale University. Works about Cassirer For bibliographies of critical work on Cassirer, see “Ernst Cassirer: A Bibliography,” Bulletin of Bibliography 24 (1964): 103– 106, and “Ernst Cassirer: Critical Work 1964–1970,” Bulletin of Bibliography 29 (1972): 21–22, 24, both compiled by Donald Phillip Verene, and “Bibliographie des textes sur Ernst Cassirer,” Revue internationale de philosophie 28 (1974): 492–510, compiled by Robert Nadeau. These bibliographies list critical works on Cassirer in all languages. The main source for critical views on Cassirer’s thought remains The Philosophy of Ernst Cassirer, edited by Paul A. Schilpp (Evanston, Ill., 1949). The essays in this volume cover all aspects of Cassirer’s thought, but most are expository. Other book-length works are Carl H. Hamburg’s Symbol and Reality: Studies in the Philosophy of Ernst Cassirer (The Hague, 1956); Seymour W. Itzkoff’s Ernst Cassirer: Scientific Knowl-



edge and the Concept of Man (Notre Dame, Ind., 1971) and Ernst Cassirer: Philosopher of Culture (Boston, 1977); and David R. Lipton’s Ernst Cassirer: The Dilemma of a Liberal Intellectual in Germany, 1914–1933 (Toronto, 1978). There are two biographies of Cassirer in essay form, one by Dimitry Gawronsky in The Philosophy of Ernst Cassirer, the other by Cassirer’s wife, Toni Cassirer, Mein Leben mit Ernst Cassirer (1950; reprint, Hildesheim, 1981).

New Sources Bayer, Thora Ilin. Cassirer’s Metaphysics of Symbolic Forms: A Philosophical Commentary. New Haven, Conn., 2001. Friedman, Michael. A Parting of the Ways: Carnap, Cassirer, and Heidegger. Chicago, 2000. Graeser, Andreas. Ernst Cassirer. Munich, 1994. Itzkoff, Seymour W. Ernst Cassirer: Scientific Knowledge and the Concept of Man. 2nd ed. Notre Dame, Ind., 1997. Krois, John Michael. Cassirer, Symbolic Forms and History. New Haven, Conn., 1987. Lofts, Steve G. Ernst Cassirer: A “Repetition” of Modernity. Albany, N.Y., 2000. Strenski, Ivan. Four Theories of Myth in 20th Century History: Cassirer, Eliade, Lévi-Strauss and Malinowski. Iowa City, Iowa, 1987. Sundaram, K. Cassirer’s Conception of Causality. New York, 1987. Wisner, David A. “Ernst Cassirer, Historian of the Will.” Journal of the History of Ideas 58 (1997): 145–161. DONALD PHILLIP VERENE (1987) Revised Bibliography



CASTRATION. Castration is a custom found both in mythological tales and in ritual practices of peoples of various origins, cultural levels, and geographical locations. Because there is a preponderance of documentation of the custom in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean cultures, the origin and propagating center of this custom has often been ascribed to ancient Semitic culture. But evidence of castration has also been found in other, different cultures that were never influenced by Semitic culture, which seems to rule out a hypothesis of diffusion. Besides, the act of castration, both mythological and ritual, is naturally connected with other practices, beliefs, and doctrines that are all related in some way to sex and sexuality. Their connections (with circumcision, bisexuality, virginity, and celibacy) constitute a kind of compact but multivariegated “symbolic universe.” MYTHS. Many of the cosmogonic myths are based on two cosmic entities, Sky and Earth, who are originally united in a sexual embrace from which violent action alone can separate them. A tale of the Maori in New Zealand says that offspring born of the endless mating of Rangi (“sky”) and Papa (“earth”) are held in darkness and spacelessness. Finally the

offspring decide to separate their parents, cutting the father’s “tendons” (probably a euphemism) and pushing him up to achieve the present separation of sky and earth. The cosmogonic motif of the primordial couple is found in almost all Oceanic civilizations and widely in Africa and the Americas. But the act of violent separation of the two cosmic entities is seldom clearly described as a real act of castration, even if its symbolic verisimilitude leads one to think of it in this way. An example of castration presented in a straightforward manner is in the Greek cosmogonic myth, Hesiod’s Theogony. The god Ouranos (“sky”) and the goddess Gaia (“earth”) conceive a breed of divine beings, but the god exhausts his paternal role in procreation and keeps his children from any kind of activity, thrusting them again into their mother’s womb. At last one of them, Kronos, makes an ambush and cuts off his father’s sexual organ, throwing it behind his own back. The goddess Gaia is fertilized by the blood of Ouranos, while from his sexual organ, which falls into the sea, is born the goddess of love, Aphrodite. Thus the only way to eliminate Ouranos, whose existence consisted of mere sexual and procreative activity, was to castrate him: this is the only opportunity to “murder,” in some sense, an immortal god. This castration is a positive event because it breaks the cycle of endless and useless reproduction and gives Ouranos’s offspring a living space between sky and earth. It represents moreover a fundamental moment in the establishment of the real and ordered world. From the morphological point of view, the myth of Ouranos’s castration is typical of the image of the heavenly divine being who, after his initial performance, leaves the stage, becoming a deus otiosus. Comparative analysis has pointed out important resemblances to the myth of the impotence of Varun: a, an IndoIranian god, and also to the investiture ritual of the king in India (Dumézil, 1948). Analogies exist also with the Navajo creation myth (Dine Bahane), in which the First Woman gives birth to twins with her husband. These twins, who are nadleeh (intersexed, neither male nor female), ordered the world, slayed the dragons, and invented pottery and all sort of tools. Historical analysis, on the other hand, has indicated some parallel cases in cosmogonic myths of the ancient Near East. The Mesopotamian creation epic, Enuma elish, tells of the god Enki, who defeats and annihilates his enemy Mummu, taking off his crown, smashing his head, and finally cutting off his penis. The Hittite myth of Kumarbi contains even more similarities to Ouranos’s story. This cosmogony, combining one of the earliest Hurrian stories with some elements of Assyro-Babylonian mythology, deals with a succession of children’s rebellions against their fathers. In this myth Kumarbi pursues his father, Anu, who seeks safety by flying toward the sky, but the son grabs his father’s feet, dragging him to the ground. Then, seized by excitement, Kumarbi bites his father’s penis, tears it off, and swallows it, laughing and boasting of his bravado. But the swallowed sexual organ makes him pregnant with terrifying gods who will soon defeat him in turn. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Scholars are in agreement that the similarity between Greek and Hittite myths can be explained as an indication of direct historical derivation on the grounds of similar general structure and the common presence of castration. Nevertheless there are significant differences between these myths, and there remains a notable uncertainty about how the motif spread. A recurrence of Ouranos’s castration can be found in the cosmogony of Philo of Byblos, a late Phoenician author who claims a reference to Sanchuniathon, an ancient Phoenician author. Mixing local information with Greek conceptions in a syncretic and euhemeristic way, Philo ascribes to the god El-Kronos an act of castration against his father. The Hellenic pattern is clearly apparent, but archaeological discoveries at Ugarit (Ras Shamra) in Phoenicia, dating from the second millennium BCE, seem to confirm to some extent the authenticity and antiquity of the myth. In a different case in the Prose Edda, an ancient Germanic cosmogony, the “father of everything,” a personal entity with creative power, is also called “the castrated” with no further explanation. Scholars agree that many features of this divine being are not original but derived from Christian influences, and they think also that the castration element can be dated back to the earliest Greek tradition of Ouranos. Besides these cosmogonic myths other kinds of myths in which castration constitutes a pattern of ritual action deserve mention. The close connection between myth and rite in these cases arouses the rightful suspicion that the myth may have been constructed in order to provide a motivation for the ritual practice. The most famous myth is the GrecoRoman story of the goddess Cybele and the god Attis. Cybele, venerated in Rome and in the Roman Empire under the name of Great Mother (Magna Mater), was an ancient goddess of fertility known in Anatolia since the second millennium BCE under the name of Kubaba. Some iconographic and onomastic evidence suggests an even more remote origin going back to the Anatolian Neolithic and perhaps Mesopotamian civilization. The young servant-lover Attis, on the other hand, seems to have been introduced along with his mate only after the arrival in Anatolia of the Phrygians (c. eighth century BCE). There are several mythical versions of Attis’s castration (Hepding, 1903/1967). It is easy to follow a constant line of development from more ancient tales—much more intricate and grotesque—to the embellished and romantic later versions. The original stories take place in an environment of unnatural primitiveness, monstrous procreations, violent loves, and bloody punishments. All these versions culminate in the story of Attis, who castrates himself in a fit of madness or out of a desire for absolute chastity. Sometimes Attis’s castration is attributed to a wild boar or to a jealous entity who wants to punish him for his amorous exploits. Similar is the Egyptian myth of the mystical couple Isis and Osiris, but here the mythical castration apparently does not constitute a pattern of ritual action. The god Osiris was dismembered, and fourteen pieces of his body were strewn ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


all over Egypt. His wife, the goddess Isis, found the body. But Osiris’s penis was thrown into the Nile and eaten by a fish, so Isis is forced to construct with sycamore wood a facsimile of his phallus. The Phoenician and Cypriot and in any case Semitic Adonis that lives out his short season seducing and being seduced by Aphrodite, whose vitality is overpowering, bled to death in a boar hunt. But his castration is only hypothetical, and above all there is no evidence that his priests practiced ritual castration. Two basic events, emasculation and death, therefore mark the mythical personalities of these young gods (but only problematically the concrete ritual castration of their followers) and signify the depotentiation of divine life and its inevitable repercussions on the life of the cosmos, which seems to imitate the vicissitude of the divine body (Casadio, 2003).

RITUALS. The documentation related to ritual practices records, first of all, that the act of castration can sometimes be the result of temporary exaltation or religious fanaticism. The religio-historical as well as ethnographic literature cites some examples, but their rarity and especially their complete isolation from myths, doctrines, and institutionalized interpretations make them subjects for studies in psychology (or psychopathology). The history of religions, on the other hand, is concerned with institutionalized acts of castration, for instance, within the so-called pubertal cults. All these practices belong to a broader category of ritual mutilations, like the custom of removal of one testicle, which is practiced almost exclusively among Camitic populations in Africa, where it seems to serve as a substitute for circumcision, a practice completely unknown to them. In the initiation rites of primitive peoples different practices involving male genitalia are frequent (circumcision, subincision), as are those involving female genitalia (clitoridectomy, infibulation), and their origin and significance seem rather difficult to establish. According to some scholars, these practices constitute symbolic equivalents of castration. Another category of castration is the custom, widespread in the ancient Near East and in Semitic cultures, of castrated priests. The kurgarru, for instance, is a eunuch priest of Ishtar who officiates at the orgiastical rites in honor of the god Marduk. Many of the clergy of Hekate in Stratonicea, Caria, and in Laginas and the clergy of Artemis in Ephesus and of Atargatis in Hierapolis, Syria, were castrated. Some sporadic cases of analogous priestly castration have been reported in Brahmanic India, particularly in the northern mountains, and also in Nepal and Tibet. Usually the castrated priests are connected with a powerful and fertile goddess, sometimes with astral characteristics, and at other times with the features of a goddess of animals, who is conventionally called Mother Goddess. Finally, there is a series of examples in which the ritual of castration appears entirely institutionalized, justified according to the myths of foundation or in accordance with precise beliefs and doctrines. Within the Cybele and Attis cult, the mythical castration of Attis is the foundation of the



practice of castration of his priests (and perhaps of believers too), which is a kind of sacrament of consecration, a sacrifice recalling the god’s passion, and sometimes a votive offering. The Galli—as these priests are most commonly called— dedicated themselves to the goddess Cybele after willingly castrating themselves during ritual performances in which, in a frenzy of dances, obsessive beating of drums, and selfflagellation, they reached paroxysms of exaltation. The Galli wore female clothing and heavy makeup, their hair was long and loose, and they lived in a wandering missionary community, supporting themselves with alms they received for offering predictions and prognostications. At Pessinus in Asia Minor they ruled sacerdotal city-states in which temples and royal palaces were unified. In Greece they were generally despised and driven away because of their mutilation and their appearance; they were never fully assimilated into official religion. In Rome, where the cult of Cybele was introduced in 204 BCE, and in the Roman Empire they were at first strictly regulated and controlled by the state; then they acquired, little by little, more importance and autonomy. The Roman distaste for eunuchism slowly faded away because of the approval of some emperors of the practice and because of a certain lessening of bloodier and crueler aspects of the cult. Thus the cult of Cybele and Attis had its temples and its brotherhood in Rome, and its feasts included in the sacral calendar. Little by little, under the influence of a certain spiritualism and new symbolic interpretations, the cult assumed a mystic character and became a kind of mystery cult like other cults of Oriental origin. The castration of believers was easily explained as a sign of the search for perfection, a voluntary renunciation of the pleasures of the flesh, and the Attis figure became more and more spiritualized. During the later Roman Empire the self-castration of believers was probably replaced or integrated into the bloody and spectacular rite called the Taurobolium. A bull was slain and (probably) castrated, and its blood was shed over the believer as a lavation of intensified achievement, regenerative and purifying. Important mystical interpretations of relevant myths also were given in late antiquity by Naassene Gnostics, for example, by which “the mutilation of Attis means that he was separated from the low earthly regions of creation” (Cosi, 1986, pp. 111–113). For Julian the Apostate the castration of Attis means “a pause in the rush towards the infinite” (Cosi, 1986, pp. 111–113). Castration appears sporadically in practices of groups, sects, and isolated thinkers that link it to doctrines preaching asceticism and sexual abstinence and regard it as an escape from the temptations of the flesh. Such doctrines—which have remarkable precedents and parallels within the pagan as well as the Judaic world—developed during the first centuries of the Christian era and were inclined to radicalize the pronouncement by Matthew on eunuchs (Mt. 19:12) as well as the orthodox position (of Paul, for instance) on the prestige of virginity. Strongly connected with sexual and marital morality, bound to the theme of ecclesiastical celibacy, and

intertwined with the rise of monasticism, this topic is evinced in some authors as a preaching of the enkrateia (continence), understood as the complete rejection of any kind of sexual intercourse. If within the ecclesiastical and orthodox line virginity and chastity are recommended solely on the basis of motivations, such as the imitation of Christ or in anticipation of the kingdom of heaven, according to these doctrines sexual abstinence becomes a necessary condition of salvation and is based on ontological and protological motivations of the dualistic and Platonic mold. According to some writers, the Greek father Origen (third century CE) and other ecclesiastic authorities castrated themselves in order to extinguish definitively any desire for sexual intercourse. At the same time, in the mysterious sect of the Valesians (from Valesius, the founder), castration was a normal practice. Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis, refuted the sect and accused it of heresy. It also seems that among the Manichaeans the current obligation of chastity was transformed in some cases into the practice of self-castration. The phenomenon must have been rather widespread, because it was addressed by the Council of Nicaea (325 CE) and a bull of Pope Leo I (c. 395 CE). A renewal of the practice of castration for the sake of proselytism and asceticism (a call to remove the “organs of sin”) is found among the Skoptsy (the castrated), a Russian sectarian community that developed from the complex movement of the Raskol schism during the mid-eighteenth century. The Skoptsy were long persecuted, but they spread throughout Russia during the next century and survived in some Romanian peasant communities until 1950.

ORIGINS. From this brief review of facts relative to castration in some myths and ritual practices, it becomes clear that even if the ancient Semitic (and Mediterranean) world offers the majority of the documentation and shows some cases of dependence and evolution, it cannot be considered the unique source of the diffusion of this practice. In the same way it is impossible to decide on a univocal interpretation of the practice of castration that can explain in all cases its causes and motivations. Sometimes the connection with themes of fertility and procreation is primary, so that castration of a “vegetation spirit” (“Dying and rising god,” in the words of James George Frazer [1890, I, pp. 278–279]) constitutes a dramatic event stopping the flow of life or containing it within more orderly boundaries. “Functional” is otherwise the explanation provided by Walter Burkert (1979): the act of castration, producing neither man nor woman but “nothing,” puts a man outside archaic society and makes apostasy impossible. At other times, on the basis of doctrinary principles, castration is instead related to a search for asexuality understood as a privileged condition. In some cases this asexuality resolves into a kind of symbolic bisexuality that aims to reproduce in the believer the powerful joint presence of both sexes that is found in certain androgynous primordial figures. Interpretations influenced by psychoanalysis have often been offered to explain these themes. Finally, in many cases castration is clearly demanded as an extreme form of mystical pracENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


tice in currents of thought that celebrate abstention as a choice in life and as a condition of salvation. SEE ALSO Androgynes; Clitoridectomy; Cybele; Dying and Rising Gods; Hierodouleia; Virginity.

BIBLIOGRAPHY For “Dying and rising gods,” see James George Frazer, The Golden Bough, I-II (London, 1890). For a discussion of castration as a form of substitution sacrifice, see Henri Graillot’s treatment of the myth and the ritual of Cybele and Attis in his now classic Le culte de Cybèle, mère des dieux, à Rome et dans l’Empire romain (Paris, 1912). For a more modern treatment, see Maarten J. Vermaseren’s Cybele and Attis: The Myth and the Cult (London, 1977). Vermaseren compiled archaeological and literary documents concerning the cult in Corpus cultus Cybelae Attidisque, 7 vols. (Leiden, 1977–1989). See also Walter Burkert, Structure and History in Greek Mythology and Ritual (Berkeley, Calif., 1979); Dario M. Cosi, Casta Mater Idaea: Giuliano l’Apostata e l’etica della sessualità (Venice, 1986); Shaun Tougher, ed., Eunuchs in Antiquity and Beyond (London, 2002); and Maria Grazia Lancellotti, Attis: Between Myth and History; King, Priest, and God (Leiden, 2002), a radically historicizing treatment of myth and ritual. For a discussion of Ouranos and Kumarbi, see Hans Gustav Güterbock, ed., Kumarbi: Mythen vom churritischen Kronos aus den hethitischen Fragmenten zusammengestellt (Zurich, 1946). For a reappraisal of the evidence of Dionysos, see Eric Csapo, “Riding the Phallus for Dionysus,” Phoenix 51 (1997): 253– 295. The literary sources for Attis are in Hugo Hepding’s Attis, seine Mythen und sein Kult (Giessen, 1903; reprint, Giessen and Berlin, 1967). A comparative study of Indian and Iranian ritual is Georges Dumézil, Mitra-Varuna, 4th ed. (Paris, 1948). The theme of sexual abstinence is addressed in Ugo Bianchi, ed., La tradizione dell’enkrateia: Motivazioni ontologiche e protologiche (Rome, 1985). See in general Walter Burkert, Creation of the Sacred: Tracks of Biology in Early Religions (Cambridge, Mass., 1996); Gary Taylor, Castration: An Abbreviated History of Western Manhood (New York, 2002); and Giovanni Casadio, “The Failing Male God: Emasculation, Death, and Other Accidents in the Ancient Mediterranean World,” Numen 50 (2003): 231–268. DARIO M. COSI (1987



CASTRÉN, MATTHIAS ALEXANDER (1813– 1852) was a scholar of Finno-Ugric languages and the founder of the Finnish School of Ethnography of Religion. His studies of remote north Eurasian peoples helped establish a discipline that he named Altaic in accordance with his theory of their urheimat (point of common origin) in the Altai Mountains. Now called Finno-Ugrics or Uralics, the discipline, in Castrén’s broad definition, embraces comparative studies of Finnish and Finno-Ugric languages, literature, ethnology, folklore, and religion. Castrén began his studies at the University of Helsingfors (now Helsinki) as a student of Greek and Hebrew. Before long, however, this was subsumed by an interest in FinnENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


ish and other regional languages. He traveled twice throughout Eurasia, including a journey through Siberia proposed by his Finnish colleague A. J. Sjögren (1794– 1855), an academician in Saint Petersburg. During his visits among the small populations in the huge, sparsely populated territory between the Ural Mountains and the southwestern Chinese border, Castrén recorded local folk songs, proverbs, legends, and other traditions. These were published by Anton Schiefner (1817–1879), another linguist from Saint Petersburg, in the twelve-volume series Nordische Reisen und Forschungen, between 1853 and 1862. Castrén collected folklore mainly among the Samoyed peoples of Siberia; most of this work was published in 1960 by Toivo Lehtisalo (1887–1962) as Samojedische Sprachmaterialien: Gesammelt von M. A. Castrén und T. Lehtisalo. Publications on Castrén’s voyages by Aulis J. Joki (1913– 1989) show how Castrén carried out his fieldwork, collecting such linguistic artifacts as Turkish epics among the Tatars of Minusinsk steppe at Akaban (Schiefner, 1853–1862, vol. 2, pp. 305–306). Castrén had a rare ability to learn to communicate in foreign languages in a short time, and he spent three to six months at each key station. Although he was criticized by later philologists for both his Altaic urheimat theory and his overeagerness to find new languages, both of these can be understood in the context of the nationalistic Pan-Finno-Ugric trend of his time, which sought new relatives on the family tree of the recently established Finnish nation. The study of Finno-Ugric religion, particularly shamanism, was central to Castrén’s fieldwork between 1841 and 1849. He wrote: All the religion proper of the Altaic peoples has been called shamanism. Unfortunately this far attention has more been paid on the naming and outer features of the phenomenon, not on the inner disposition, the essential nature of it. . . . I would not consider shamanism as a form of religion of its own, but rather as a moment of the folk religious divine doctrine. (Castrén, 1853, p. 1)

A professor at the University of Helsingfors in the last years of his life, Castrén was appointed chair of Finnish language and literature studies. As a professor Castrén devoted most of his lectures to the folklore and mythology of northern peoples. In one of his last lectures he defined ethnography as: a new name for an old thing. It means the scientific study of the religion, society, customs, way of life, habitations of different peoples, in a word: everything that belongs to their inner and outer life. Ethnography could be regarded as a part of cultural history, but not all nations possess a history in the higher sense; instead their history consists of ethnography. (Castrén, 1857, p. 8)

Castrén’s untimely death at the age of thirty-nine left much of his work unfinished. He is remembered most for his linguistic studies that identified the Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic languages as members of the larger Uralic family.



SEE ALSO Finnish Religions; Finno-Ugric Religions.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Castrén, Matthias Alexander. Nordiska resor och forskningar, vol 2: Föreläsningar i finsk mytologi. Helsinki, 1853. Castrén, Matthias Alexander. Tutkimusmatkoilla Pohjolassa; Matias Aleksanteri Castrénin matkakertomuksista suomentanut ja johdan non kirjoittanut Aulis J. Joki. Helsinki, 1853. Castrén, Matthias Alexander. Nordiska resor och forskningar, vol. 3: Ethnologiska föreläsningar. Helsinki, 1857. Castrén, Matthias Alexander, and Toivo Lehtisalo. Samojedische Sprachmaterialien: Gesammelt von M. A. Castrén und T. Lehtisalo. Helsinki, 1940. Estlander, Bernhard. Mathias Aleksanteri Castrén: Hänen matkansa ja tutkimuksensa. Helsinki, 1929. Joki, Aulis J. “M. A. Castrénin elämäntyö.” Virittäjä 67 (1963). Pentikäinen, Juha. “Northern Ethnography: On the Foundations of a New Paradigm.” In Styles and Positions: Ethnographical Perspectives in Comparative Religion. Comparative Religion 8. Helsinki, Finland, 2002. Schiefner, Anton. Nordische Reisen und forschungen. Saint Petersburg, 1853–1862. JUHA PENTIKÄINEN (2005)

CASUISTRY. Moral knowledge comprises general principles and propositions: for example, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” “Honest persons do not lie or steal,” and so forth. However, moral knowledge also bears on choices to act in specific ways in unique situations. Thus, general principles must be transformed into particular choices: “I should not make this offensive remark about him because I would not want him to say such a thing about me in the hearing of those people,” “I could not consider myself honest if I told her she was capable enough to deserve promotion,” and so forth. Casuistry is concerned with the transition from general moral knowledge to particular moral choices. It can be defined as “the technique of reasoning whereby expert opinion is formulated concerning the existence and stringency of particular obligations in light of general moral maxims and under typical conditions of the agent and circumstances of the action.” Religious moralities that rest upon strong divine commands and prohibitions are fertile ground for a casuistry. Unless a divine imperative is couched in terms that direct a particular person to perform or refrain from a particular act at a particular time (e.g., “Moses, you must proclaim the Commandments to the people when you descend the mountain”), interpretation of the general statement of a divine command is necessary. Does, for example, the command “Thou shalt not kill” apply to David facing Goliath? However, it is not only divine commands and prohibitions that generate the need for casuistry. All statements of moral principle are expressed in universal terms; thus, any ethical system, if it is to take effect in the lives and actions of its adherents, must have its universal principles fitted to the various situations in which decisions are to be taken.

CASUISTRY IN NON-CHRISTIAN CONTEXTS. In the three major ethical monotheisms, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, certain persons have assumed the role of interpreting to the faithful the overarching moral injunctions of the Lord God. In Judaism, the written law, collected in the five books of the Torah, and the oral law, taught by Moses to the Israelites, were expounded by the scribes. These detailed interpretations of the law, collected in the two Talmuds, were themselves commented upon by the learned teachers of the people. This immense body of literature, as well as the intellectual tradition enshrined in it and continued by the rabbis in the life of the people of Israel, is called halakhah (“the way”). Concerned with fidelity to the law in every aspect of daily life, it is the casuistry of Judaism. However, within this tradition, a special form of reasoning, employing very sharp distinctions and clever logic, came to be called pilpul (“pepper”). Flourishing in the late Middle Ages, it was criticized by the great rabbi Eliyyahu ben Shelomoh Zalman (1720–1797) and others for twisting the plain truth “like shaping a wax nose.” In this respect, pilpul resembles the Roman Catholic casuistry of the seventeenth century that gave rise to the pejorative connotation of the word. Shar¯ı Eah (lit., “the path toward water”) designates the holy law of Islam revealed in the QurDa¯n. More particularly, the word refers to forms of ritual and social behavior to be observed by the faithful. In the eighth and ninth centuries, schools of interpretation coalesced: they attempted to define precisely the exact content and stringency of the law. The teachers of Islam, muft¯ıs, issued fatwa¯s, considered opinions for the guidance of the faithful, distinguishing moral acts as obligatory, recommended, permitted, reprehensible, or forbidden. Since God’s will is inscrutable, it is permitted to find hiyal (“stratagems”) to avoid the letter of the law in favor of the spirit. Again, it is this aspect of Muslim casuistry that recalls the reprehensible approach that gave casuistry its bad name. In the Western philosophical and theological tradition, two sources of casuistry are manifest. Socrates suggested cases to test whether the general definitions of virtue proposed by his interlocutors were adequate (e.g., in Euthyphro, Laches). Aristotle noted, as the premier methodological point of his Nicomachean Ethics that, while the nature of the human good and of virtue can be stated in general, “fine and just actions exhibit much variety and fluctuation” (Nicomachean Ethics 1.3). The Stoics proposed the most general precepts (e.g., “Follow nature”), and their opponents, particularly the Cynics, retorted with cases to show that rules of such generality could lead to no definite conclusions for action, or even to contradictory ones. Certain questions that become perennial first appear in this debate: for example, “Which of two shipwrecked men clinging to a spar has a right to it?” and “Should a merchant reveal defects of his merchandise?” Cicero recalls these questions and employs them to illustrate his theses regarding the priority of virtue over expedience. The third book of his On Duties is, in effect, the first book of caENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


suistry in Western moral philosophy, even though it contains much material from authors of the Late Stoa. CASUISTRY IN THE CHRISTIAN ERA. The teachings of Christ contain many “hard and impossible” commands: “If you will follow me, leave father and mother,” “Turn the other cheek,” “It is as hard for a rich man to enter heaven as for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.” Those dedicated to following his ideals of love and mercy had to discern how these difficult and paradoxical commands were to be carried out in daily life. They also faced the problem of whether they and all converts from Judaism and paganism were bound by the law of the Jews. There is therefore some casuistry in the Gospels, in the Acts of the Apostles, and in the epistles of Paul, all of it employing reasoning of the type familiar to the rabbinical schools. In the early centuries of the church, many Christian writers faced the problem of how the Christian should live. In Can a Rich Man Be Saved? Clement of Alexandria advises that the severe words of Jesus do not condemn those who, while rich in goods, are poor in spirit. Augustine’s On Lying is a premier work of casuistry in which appears the question analyzed centuries later by Kant: “Should a person lie to conceal an innocent person from persecutors?” In the history of Christianity, casuistry was given its greatest impetus by the practice of confession of sins and absolution by a priest. When private confession first appeared, in the sixth to the eighth centuries, books of direction were written for priests advising them what penances to impose. These “penitential books,” while lacking precise analysis of moral acts, show an incipient sense of discrimination regarding the moral seriousness of certain acts and the circumstances that modify or excuse. In the twelfth century the canon law of the church, working with the large corpus of ecclesiastical case law, as well as with rediscovered Roman law, provided distinctions and categories for a more refined casuistry, as did the speculative theology of the thirteenth century. The books for confessors published from the late thirteenth through the fifteenth centuries manifest this influence in careful but succinct delineations of the nature of conscience, of law, and of imputability. These later volumes were stimulated by a universal law of the church requiring that all confess at least yearly and that the confessor deal with penitents “as a prudent physician of the spirit” (Fourth Lateran Council, 1215). These books present innumerable cases involving marriage, commerce, feudal obligations, and justice. In each example the purpose is to assist the confessor in judging whether a particular act that appeared to violate a moral commandment of church law did in fact do so in the particular circumstances of its commission. Raymond Pennafort, Peter the Cantor, Alain of Lille, William of Chobham, and Peter of Poitiers were the principal authors of this genre. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, certain summae that presented material in alphabetical order (e.g., from Absolution to Uxoricide) became immensely popular: the Summa Astesana, the Summa Sylvestrina, and the Summa Angelica. During the Reformation, casuistry was stimulated by several circumstances. The Council of Trent (1551) required ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Roman Catholics to confess sins by kind and number, a reaction to Protestant rejection of confession to a priest. The Society of Jesus, founded in 1540, dedicated itself to propagating the proper use of the sacrament of penance and to the education of the Catholic laity and clergy. In the religious turmoil of the last half of the sixteenth century, many settled moral positions were upset. Catholics faced novel problems of personal relationship (e.g., how to deal with nonCatholics) and of public moment (e.g., how to continue to observe traditional prohibitions regarding money lending in the new mercantile economy, how to govern newly discovered lands, whether to give allegiance to rulers of newly formed national states). The Jesuits and other theologians undertook to analyze these problems, both in speculative treatises and in more practical case presentation. They produced a vast literature, known collectively as “cases of conscience.” In the century between 1565 and 1665, over six hundred titles appeared, many of them in multiple editions. In 1663 Blaise Pascal, the great mathematician and physicist who had taken the side of the Jansenists (a Catholic sect of extreme piety and rigor) against the Jesuits, published the Provincial Letters. In this brilliant satire, he attacked the Jesuit casuists, citing case after case in which ingenious analysis led to outrageous moral conclusions. The casuists, with their clever distinctions, seemed able and willing to dispense with all moral probity, allowing killing, adultery, and lying, if only the circumstances were right. The criticism, justified to some extent, was too far-reaching: it condemned the entire enterprise of casuistry for the faults of some of its authors and the weakness of some aspects of its methodology. From that time onward, casuistry has carried the opprobrious sense of moral sophistry. Casuistry continued to be an integral part of Catholic moral theology. Alfonso Liguori (1696–1787), a most revered Catholic moralist, was a master casuist. By the midnineteenth century, however, casuistry had become sterile and was much criticized, within and without the church, for its failure to promote moral ideals and its dwelling on minimal obligation. Nevertheless, some fine casuistic analyses continued to appear: about the just war, the just wage, abortion, and so forth. Protestant theology showed little interest in casuistry— indeed showed early antipathy. (Luther cast the Summa Angelica into the flames, calling it the “Summa Diabolica.”) Anglican theologians engaged in a vigorous casuistry in the seventeenth century, with Jeremy Taylor and William Perkins being the leading authors. In the twentieth century, Conscience and Its Problems (1927), one of the very few modern English works on casuistry, was written by an Anglican theologian, Kenneth E. Kirk. In the 1970s, interest in medical ethics led to the revival of a sort of casuistry both within and without the theological context. The occurrence of many cases of note, such as that of Karen Ann Quinlan, brought theological and philosophical moralists to analyze the ethical issues. The National



Commission for Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research (1974–1978) employed a method of case analysis to develop the ethics of research. In the 1980s, concern about nuclear armaments further stimulated casuistry, and a case analysis of various “scenarios” of defense was developed. The Church and the Bomb (1983), a publication of the Church of England, and the pastoral letter on nuclear warfare (1984) of the American Catholic bishops are both examples of sound casuistry. METHODOLOGY OF CASUISTRY. Casuistry differs from moral philosophy in a number of ways. The work of the casuist is discrimination; that of the moral philosopher, generalization. Casuists discuss moral problems; moral philosophers discuss moral reasoning. Casuists analyze the morality of choice in circumstances; moral philosophers analyze the meaning of moral principle in general. While the work of moral philosophers has been richly described and many methodologies have been proposed, the work of casuists— although we are all, in a sense, casuists in our personal moral deliberations—is hardly understood, and it has no accepted methodology. Even the casuists of the seventeenth century developed no overall method of resolution of moral problems. Inspection of their work, however, reveals the outline of their method. Casuists developed positions by first stating a case in which the moral obligations entailed by a rule were most clear and then moving, step by step, to more complex cases. These steps were taken by adding various circumstances and weighing their relevance to the stringency of the rule. They assessed the degree of credence that various options deserved and the consequent weight of moral obligation. They aimed at resolving the case not by settling theoretical problems but by practical advice concerning how seriously a person involved in certain sorts of circumstances should consider himself bound by or excused from the moral principles generally incumbent. The strength of the casuists’ method lay in an appreciation of exceptions and excuses generated by different circumstances; the weakness lay in the absence of any theoretically established boundaries of this appreciation. Casuistry at its best is vigorous moral common sense; at its worst, it is moral sleight of hand. SEE ALSO Christian Ethics.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Häring, Bernhard. The Law of Christ, vol. 1, General Moral Theology. Translated by Edwin G. Kaiser. Westminster, Md., 1961. See especially chapter 1. Jonsen, Albert R., and Stephen Toulmin. The Abuse of Casuistry. Berkeley, 1988. Kirk, Kenneth E. Conscience and Its Problems: An Introduction to Casuistry. London, 1927. Long, Edward L. Conscience and Compromise: An Approach to Protestant Casuistry. Philadelphia, 1954.

New Sources Gallagher, Lowell. Medusa’s Gaze: Casuistry and Conscience in the Renaissance. Stanford, Calif., 1991.

Keenan, James F., and Thomas Shannon, eds. The Context of Casuistry. Washington, D.C., 1995. Leites, Edmund, ed. Conscience and Casuistry in Early Modern Europe. New York, 1988. Miller, Richard P. Casuistry and Modern Ethics: A Poetics of Practical Reasoning. Chicago, 1996. Vallance, Edmund, and Harald Braun, eds. Conscience in the Early Modern World, 1500–1700. New York, 2003. ALBERT R. JONSEN (1987) Revised Bibliography

CATHARI. Catharism (from cathari, “the pure”) was distinguished from the other heresies of the Middle Ages by its rejection of basic Christian beliefs, although its adherents claimed that in their pursuit of a pure life they were the only true Christians. In contrast to the Waldensians and other gospel-inspired movements of the twelfth century, the basis of Catharism was a non-Christian dualism deriving ultimately from Gnosticism. In place of the Christian conception of an inherently good universe that was wholly God’s creation and embraced all existence, spiritual and material alike, this dualism posited two principles: one good, governing all that was spiritual, the other evil, responsible for the material world, including man’s body. The consequence was the denial of the central Christian doctrines of the incarnation, Christ’s two natures and the virgin birth, bodily resurrection, and the sacraments, all of which involve the acceptance of matter as part of God’s design, as well as nullifying the doctrine of the Trinity and the very idea of God’s omnipotence. By the time it reached the West from Byzantium, Catharism had taken two forms, a mitigated and a radical dualism. Mitigated dualism originated with the Bogomils in Bulgaria in the tenth century, spreading to the Byzantine empire, whence it was carried to western Europe. It was closer to Christianity in recognizing only one God, the good God who had created everything good, including Satan, who had been his eldest son Lucifer before he had rebelled against his father. Satan had therefore corrupted himself by his own free will, and that freedom was held, somewhat inconsistently, to belong also to the souls that Satan subsequently imprisoned in bodies. Adapting the Old Testament account of creation in Genesis, the Bogomils, and later the Cathari, substituted Satan for God as creator of the firmament and the visible world, although Satan made it from preexisting matter created by God from nothing. The world was therefore Satan’s domain, and the Old Testament was the witness to his tyrannical rule. Hence the Cathari rejected the Old Testament as God’s word—one of their distinguishing traits. Although they accepted the New Testament, its meaning was transformed as part of a syncretism of Christian and non-Christian beliefs, expressed as allegories and fables that were the preserve of the initiated—the perfect. Catharism thus not only had its own tenets and practices but also its own canonical literature. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


The only thing that Satan had been unable to make was the human soul; it came from the angels and was variously described in the different Cathar fables as having been captured or stolen from heaven and then put in a body. The first two imprisoned souls were Adam and Eve, who by succumbing to Satan’s temptations, depicted in strongly sexual imagery, became the progenitors of the human race. The penalty for their fall, which for the Cathari was identified particularly with sexuality, was the procreation of individual souls with their bodies, so that all men were born as souls imprisoned in a body. The whole of Cathar religious practice was directed toward releasing the soul from the body, thereby liberating it from Satan’s rule and enabling it to return to its place in heaven. That was also the reason why God, taking pity on the fallen angels, represented by mankind suffering for Adam and Eve’s sin, had sent not only Christ, his second son, but also the Holy Spirit into the world to help redeem them. Although they, too, according to some mitigated dualists, were part of God’s nature, they were inferior to God. Moreover, as a spirit, Christ in his human form did not have a real body: it was either, according to some, a phantom, or, according to others, some kind of angelic covering. Whatever the case, though, the human Christ of the Cathari was not the word made flesh. He had not been born of Mary but had entered through her ear. Nor did he suffer on the cross, another of the material objects, together with images and the material properties of the Christian sacraments, rejected by the Cathari. The true Christ suffered for mankind in heaven. In this world his role was to show the way and reestablish the truth of God’s word. In that sense there was, in keeping with their docetic belief, only one Christ, in heaven; he was not to be found in churches, which were not his house: one more Cathar trait, shared with the Waldensians, although by the late twelfth century in Languedoc, the Cathari did use churches as meeting places for their ceremonies. The struggle of the soul with Satan would finally end not as in the orthodox Christian belief, in the body’s resurrection with the soul, but in the body’s destruction with all of Satan’s handiwork and the soul’s ascent into heaven. The main divergence of radical dualism from the mitigated form lay in its making the opposition between the principles of good and evil absolute and eternal. Good and evil and their creations had always coexisted. And as the good God’s creation was heaven, so the visible world created by Satan was hell. Hence to live in this world was to be in hell, in man’s case through having a body in which, as with the mitigated dualists, Satan had initially imprisoned the souls of angels taken from heaven. Free will thus played no part in Satan’s original fall; and the power of God was correspondingly restricted in never having had control over evil, which was completely autonomous. Nor did individuals have the means of directly returning to God. Although Christ taught the way of salvation, individuals had first to undergo a series of reincarnations until they came to recognize evil by becoming perfect, thereby freeing their souls from the devil. Christ himself, and generally Mary, were reENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


garded as angels, neither having a real body. For both absolute and mitigated dualists, as indeed for orthodox Christians, all souls would at the end be saved or damned. But for the absolute dualists free will seems to have played no part in salvation. At the end the visible world would fall into material chaos from which all souls would have departed, whereas for the mitigated dualists Satan would be captured and all things would return to order. Accordingly the Cathari shunned all contact with the material, beyond that which was unavoidable to their existence as human beings. That meant the rejection of marriage, of all foods that were the product of sexual generation, of all material elements in worship, and of all involvement in things of this world, whether love of material goods or worldly behavior, including any kind of violence or taking of life, the exercise of jurisdiction, or the swearing of oaths. The result was an extreme asceticism and austerity, which in their moral and practical expression had close affinities with the Christian ideal of evangelical perfection. The Cathari exhibited the same sense of material renunciation and spiritual devotion, and that probably more than anything else accounted for the hold that the Cathari were able to gain in southern France and northern Italy in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Because the demands of Catharism were exceptional, strict practice was confined to a small minority of adepts, the perfect. They represented the Cathar hierarchy; unlike the Christian hierarchy, however, they were a very small elite who had to prove themselves all the time. The mass of ordinary Cathar believers were able to live ordinary lives while accepting the spiritual ministrations and authority of the perfect. The great dividing line between the perfect and the believers was the reception of the consolamentum: the initiation rite of spiritual baptism by the laying on of hands that admitted the recipient into the ranks of the perfect. It was usually performed after a year’s probation and the full revelation of Cathar teaching, which was not accessible to the ordinary adherents. Once received, the consolamentum remitted the consoled’s sins and the consequences of the soul’s imprisonment in a body, reuniting his soul with his spirit in heaven and releasing him from Satan’s rule. It was then that his testing really began. Any lapse into forbidden sins—and for the Cathari they were all equal—meant the loss of the consolamentum both for the sinner and for those who had been consoled by him. He could be reconsoled only after severe penance. But so long as he remained firm to his obedience, he was effectively among the saved, one of the perfect, and revered as such by ordinary believers. For the latter a special consolamentum was administered before death to remit their sins and bring salvation; should they recover, a further consolamentum was needed. The consolamentum thus conferred a Gnostic-like certainty of salvation which challenged orthodox Christian revelation.



The precise date of the appearance of Catharism in western Europe has been keenly debated; there is no universal agreement even now. The generally accepted view is that the first firm evidence of Cathari appears at Cologne in 1143 or 1144. That opinion could well be modified in the future. What can be said is that by the 1150s they were in southern France and northern Italy; by the 1160s they were firmly established in both regions. These became their two chief areas, especially Languedoc in the lands of the count of Toulouse. In 1176 a great council of Cathari is reported to have been held at Saint-Félix-de-Caraman where, in addition to an already existing Cathar bishopric at Albi, three more bishoprics were established for Cathar territories. It was from Albi that the southern French Cathari received their name of Albigensians (Albigenses). By 1170 they had become the main heresy to be combated. The papacy sent a succession of preaching missions, including Waldensians, Cistercians, and the founder of the Dominican order, Dominic. As early as 1181 Alexander III’s cardinal legate, Henry, abbot of Clairvaux (before whom Valdès also appeared), besieged a castle at Lavaux sheltering two heretics. Alexander’s successor, Innocent III, intensified the pressure, using both sanctions and persuasion. Matters came to a head in January 1208, when one of Innocent’s legates, Peter Castelnau, was assassinated. Innocent, who had already called upon the king of France to make war against the Cathari, then launched his own crusade under the abbot of Cïteaux. That marked the beginning of the Albigensian crusade, in which the lands of the count of Toulouse were overrun. Although the crusade severely weakened the Cathari, they survived and regrouped. It was not until 1243 that they were effectively destroyed as an organized church with the capture of over 200 perfect at Montségur. Their strength had lain in the widespread support they had received in both town and countryside from the nobles as well as from artisans and members of the professions. For a time before the Albigensian crusade they had overshadowed the Roman Catholic church in southern France. In Italy, the Cathari never enjoyed the same cohesion as those in Languedoc. They were driven by the conflicts that began early in the 1160s between adherents of the two forms of dualism. They were also mainly located in the cities, where they owed their survival to the opposition of the cities to both imperial and papal authority. It was only in the second half of the thirteenth century, after the ending of the wars between the popes and Frederick II, the German emperor, that the way was cleared for papal action against the Cathari. A series of trials in the larger Italian cities had largely extirpated them by the beginning of the fourteenth century, at which time they also disappeared from Languedoc. SEE ALSO Dominic; Waldensians.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Borst, Arno. Die Katharer. Stuttgart, 1953. The standard work on the subject. Lambert, Malcolm. Medieval Heresy: Popular Movements from Bogomil to Hus. London and New York, 1977. The fullest and

most up-to-date account of medieval popular heresies. Particularly strong on the Cathari. Moore, R. I., ed. The Birth of Popular Heresy. London, 1975. A representative selection of translated sources, mainly from the twelfth century, with a useful introduction. Obolensky, Dimitri. The Bogomils: A Study in Balkan NeoManichaeism. Cambridge, 1948. The standard account in English. Russell, Jeffrey B. Dissent and Reform in the Early Middle Ages. Berkeley, 1965. A useful, wide-ranging survey of early medieval heresies to the end of the twelfth century. Thouzellier, Christine. Catharisme et Valdéisme en Languedoc. Louvain and Paris, 1969. A very full analysis of the sources. Wakefield, Walter L. Heresy, Crusade and Inquisition in Southern France, 1100–1250. Berkeley, 1974. A clear, brief account with a good bibliography. Wakefield, Walter L., and Austin P. Evans, eds. Heresies of the High Middle Ages. New York and London, 1969. The largest collection of translated sources, particularly valuable for their fullness. GORDON LEFF (1987)

CATHARSIS. The Greek katharsis is an action noun corresponding to a verb that literally means “to prune, to clean, to remove dirt or a blemish [katharma] for the purpose of rendering some thing, place, or animate being pure [katharos].” As denoting the general process of purification, catharsis could of course be applied to a very broad range of phenomena in the history of religions. In this article, however, the focus will be specifically on the Greek conception. Although the meaning of catharsis and the exact techniques or modalities of purification (katharmoi) differ according to context, the sense of catharsis always remains negative: it refers to separating, evacuating, or releasing. Whether performed in a strictly ritual setting or understood as a spiritual concept, catharsis maintains this negative meaning of ridding either oneself or an object of something impure or unclean. Catharsis originally appears as a ritualized process of quasi-material purification that makes use of a variety of substances as purifying agents. Chief among these are the elements water, fire, and sulfur, followed by oil, clay, and bran. Certain other vegetable substances, such as laurel, myrtle, and olive are also used, especially as prophylactics (coronets of leaves) or as supports of cleansing waters (aspersions). Since ceremonial purifications are usually conducted out in the open, the element of air also plays a role. In the selection and use of such purifying agents, the symbolism of numbers sometimes comes into play, especially of the numbers three, seven, and nine. The gestures involved in aspersions, ablutions, fumigations, and the like, may be repeated a set number of times; a definite number of sacrificial victims may be required; and even the source of the water used in the rite may be determined on the basis of numbers (water coming from a river that arises from three springs was preferred). ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


When a sacrificial victim was required for purification, the pig was the most frequently sacrificed animal. However, once a year, the Athenians purified their city with the sacrifice of two human victims, pharmakoi, one bearing the guilt of all the Athenian men, the other bearing the guilt of all the Athenian women. As a general rule whatever served for the purification had to be completely destroyed. Human victims were burned. The idea of defilement is closely linked to the perception of a disturbance of the natural order or a breach of the day-to-day routine. Contacts or experiences that call into question the physical integrity of the individual or of the general environment require a catharsis. Since health is understood to be normal, illness is seen as something abnormal, as a physical or mental stain requiring purification. Madness, too, and breaches of morality are seen as illnesses and therefore as defilements; thus an army in violation of the law or in revolt can be called back to order, cured of its illness, through purifications. Examples of this “psychosomatic” use of purification are numerous. The Proetides were purified of their madness by the magus Melampus. To cure the Lacedaemonian women struck with nymphomania required the intervention of a kathart¯es Bakis, delegated by Apollo, the god of healing and purification. The women of Samos were liberated from their sexual exaltation thanks to the katharmos of Dexikreon. The Bacchants were liberated from their maladies quite differently, however—in the orgy, which temporarily identified them with Dionysos, the god of mania. The Dionysian orgy is cathartic to the extent that it releases the urges repressed by social and moral constraints. The ritual release of the Dionysian rite is a purification: “Blessed are the dancers and those who are purified, who dance on the hill in the holy dance of god” (Euripides, The Bacchae 75ff.). Intoxication from wine or from dance purges the individual of irrational impulses which, if repressed, would be noxious. Ritual madness can also cure internal madness. Music, too, can have a cathartic function (Quintilianus Aristides, Peri mousik¯es 3.23). The Aristotelian theory of tragedy—initially Dionysiac—defined catharsis from this same perspective: The satiation of the passions by the spectacle of the theater is a therapeutic based, like the Bacchic ekstasis, on purgative and liberating homeopathy. Contact with death requires purification, whether it is a death one has caused, the death of a family member, or any other contact with the dead. The murderer, whether the act was voluntary or involuntary, is defiled. Herakles had to be purified of the deaths of Iphitos, the Meropes, the sons of Proteus, and the centaurs; Achilles of the murder of Thersites (according to Arctinos of Miletus); Jason and Medea of the murder of Apsyrtos; and Theseus of the murder of the Pallantides. In certain cases, only the gods can cleanse the criminal of his wrongdoing. Ixion was apparently the first murderer purified by Zeus. Patricide constituted a particularly grave case, whether of Oedipus or Orestes; the latter was purified ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


by Apollo himself. The stain of death may also be collective, as in the case of the Athenians after the deaths of Androgeus or the Cylonians. In this case a collective purification may be necessary. Even the quelling of malefic creatures such as the brigands killed by Theseus, the dragon killed by Cadmus, or the serpent Python killed by Apollo demands purification. However, Homer presents us with a somewhat different picture. Odysseus, after having executed the suitors of Penelope, asks that sulfur and fire be brought “to disperse the bad air” (Odyssey, 22.481). This is meant to purify the house but not particularly those who have been killed or have done the killing. It is as if the cadaver that defiles a house takes precedence over the idea of moral responsibility for homicide. Throughout antiquity the sentiment prevails that the contact with death, the presence of the dead under the family roof, demands purification. Iamblichus writes around 300 CE: “It is impious to touch human bodies from which the soul has departed,” since “the nonliving mark the living with a stain.” Thus the domicile of the deceased should be ritually disinfected. In the morning, vases of lustral water that had to be borrowed from another house were placed at the door of the deceased’s home. These were then interred with the dead. The funeral and the subsequent rites had the ultimate purpose of purifying the family and consecrating the boundary that would henceforth separate the dead from the living; any dead person deprived of a tomb thus remained a katharma. Certain sacred places prohibit the presence of tombs. Pisistratus, instructed by the oracles, purified the island of Delos by having the dead disinterred “anywhere in the region within visual range of the sanctuary” (Herodotus, 1.64). Later, in 426, all of the dead found on the island were disposed of (Thucydides, 1.8, 3.104, 5.1). The authorities of Eleusis had the body of a dead man found on the plain of Rharos removed and had the entire plain purified by a kathart¯es. Contact with the world of the dead was not permissible without prior lustrations (Homer, Odyssey 11.25ff.; Lucian, Nekuomanteia 7). Conversely, one who was resuscitated had to be washed and nursed like a newborn (Plutarch, Quaestiones Romanae 5). Even encountering the dead in a dream requires purification (Aristophanes, Ranae 1340). Finally, contact with and, particularly, the eating of dead animals were impure in the eyes of the Orphics, the Pythagoreans, the initiates of the cult of Zagreus (Euripides, The Cretans 472), as well as for candidates for certain initiations (Porphyry, De abstinentia 4.16; Apuleius, Metamorphoses 11.23.2). There was also a blood taboo, which legitimated excluding criminals from the Eleusinian mysteries, but the Lesser Mysteries of Agra prepared them for initiation into the Greater. The blood taboo explains the relationship of menstruation, generation, and parturition to catharsis. Hippocrates gives the menstrual periods the name katharsis because they relieve women of their menstrual blood. The houses of women giving birth also require purification. Miscarriages



require forty days of lustrations. When Delos was purified in 426 all lying-in on the island was forbidden. To approach a woman in labor was, for the superstitious character in Theophrastus (Characteres 16.9), as serious as walking on a grave or touching the dead (the two injunctions are often in tandem). The initiates of Ida whom Euripides places on stage in The Cretans avoid “assisting at birth or approaching a coffin.” The newborn, too, must be purified. By means of several lustrations the Amphidromies of the Greeks and the rites of the dies lustricus of the Romans integrate the newborn into the community and preserve him from evil spirits attracted by the blood present at birth. Sexual contacts demand catharsis just as those with death or the dead. Anyone wishing to approach the chapel of Men-Lunus had to be purified if he had eaten pork or garlic or touched a woman or corpses. Matrimonial rites derive from concerns connected with the taboos of blood, sex, or life. They consist of preliminary lustrations (baths, aspersions, circulating fumigations, the wearing of white vestments and of crowns), which were to safeguard the couple (Euripides, Iphigenia in Aulis 1111; Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 8.245f.). More radically, life itself can appear impure, inasmuch as life comes from a mixture of body and soul, Dionysiac and Titanic elements which, according to Orphism, are implicit in the human makeup. Life is also impure when compared to that of the gods. Contact with the gods thus requires certain lustrations. Access to sacred enclosures (and especially to the aduton, the inner sanctum) is forbidden to those who have not undergone the ritual catharsis. Pools of water for this purpose are located at the entrances to sanctuaries, reminiscent of the holy water fonts of Christian churches. The sacrificial ceremony itself includes purifications of the officiates, of the participants, the victim, the liturgical vessel, the instruments of immolations, and the altar near which the animal is to be slaughtered. The initiations, which permit man to establish a closer bond with the world of the gods, indeed, to be assimilated to the gods in certain cases, impose on the candidate a rigorous catharsis. Examples include the rituals of Andania and Agra, various types of abstinences, baths in the sea with a sacrificial pig for the candidates for the mysteries of Eleusis, and the continences, abstinences, and ablutions for the initiates of Isis, Mithra, and Dionysos. The Bacchic mysteries could even be regarded as being essentially cathartic. These rites suppose that man himself is too unclean to enter into relationship with the gods. Moreover, he cannot himself proceed with his own purification; he needs to have recourse to the techniques of a priest or of a kathart¯es. The philosophers, however, shifted emphasis in the understanding of catharsis, viewing it more in terms of spiritual purification. An inscription at Epidaurus recommends that one approach the gods with a pure spirit (Porphyry, De abstinentia 2.19; cf. Cicero, De legibus 2.24: “The law bids one approach the gods purely, with a spirit that is in which all

things are”). The speculations of the Orphics were particularly important to this change of emphasis. Orphic mythology places a hereditary taint on humanity that has been compared to a sort of original sin. It is said that Zeus, hurling a bolt of lightning, reduced the race of Titans to cinders for having eaten Dionysos Zagreus. The human race is then born from these cinders. Consequently, human beings must be delivered from this Titanic contamination in order to recover their true Bacchic essence. Toward this end, Orphic catharsis serves to actually reinstate the divine life through the practice of continual asceticism. Similarly, Plato (Phaedo, 67c) refers to an “ancient tradition” for the purification par excellence: the separation of the soul from the body. The kathart¯es whom Plato ridicules in The Republic (364e) and the Orpheotelestes of Theophrastus (Characteres 16.11) offer ritual recipes. The “Orphic life” implies a spiritual discipline, a kind of personal sacrifice. Similarly, the Platonists and, later, the Neoplatonists, were to preach the liberation of the spirit. This catharsis is reserved, however, for the elite sages, and with the last of the Neoplatonists the techniques of theurgy tended to overshadow intellectual purification. After physical death (which the philosopher can anticipate while still in the body), the soul must be stripped of the garments that it has donned in its descent through the planetary spheres (Cumont, 1949, pp. 358, 364; Festugière, 1953, pp. 128ff.). Posthumous catharsis, as understood by the Orphics and Neoplatonists, consists in separating the soul from all heterogeneous elements. Vergil’s hell (Aeneid, 6.740ff.), which tries the souls by wind, water, and fire, reminds us of the katharmoi of Empedocles (frag. 115). Seneca (Ad Marciam de consolatione 25.1), by contrast, gives a moral explanation for posthumous purification. The funeral pyre is thought by some to purify the soul from the body. Lightning is also thought to confer apotheosis (Cumont, 1949, p. 330). For others, the universe as a whole is subject to periodic purifications, which in Stoic cosmology consist of deluges and conflagrations (Origen, Against Celsus 4.12, 4.21, 4.64, 4.69). From birth to death, through marriage and initiations, catharsis thus sanctioned the major steps of life. From its therapeutic, magic, or prophylactic functions, catharsis tended to shift in time to a moral and mystical exercise, especially in stipulating the conditions for salvation or apotheosis through radical ablation or liberation. SEE ALSO Blood; Fire; Purification; Water.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Bouché-Leclercq, Auguste. “Lustratio.” In Dictionnaire des antiquités grecques et romains (1904), edited by Charles Daremberg et al., vol. 3. Graz, 1963. Boyancé, Pierre. Le culte des muses chez les philosophes grecs. Paris, 1937. Boyancé, Pierre. “Platon et les cathartes orphiques.” Revue des études grecques 55 (1942): 217–235. Cumont, Franz. Lux perpetua. Paris, 1949. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Dodds, E. R. The Greeks and the Irrational. Berkeley, 1951. Fehrle, Eugen. Die kultische Keuschheit im Altertum. Giessen, 1910. Festugière, A.-J. La révélation d’Hermès Trismégiste, vol. 3. Paris, 1953. Festugière, A.-J. Études de religion grecque et hellénistique. Paris, 1972. Jeanmaire, Henri. Dionysos: Histoire du culte de Bacchus. Paris, 1951. Moulinier, Louis. Le pur et l’impur dans la pensée des Grecs, d’Homère à Aristote. Paris, 1952. Nilsson, Martin P. Geschichte der griechischen Religion, vol. 2, Die hellenistische und römische Zeit. 3d rev. ed. Munich, 1974. Parker, R. Miasma: Pollution and Purification in Early Greek Religion. Oxford, 1983. Places, Édouard des. La religion grecque. Paris, 1969. Rohde, Edwin. Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality among the Greeks (1925). Translated by W. B. Hillis. London, 1950. Spiegel, N. “The Nature of Katharsis according to Aristotle: A Reconsideration.” Revue belge de philologie et d’histoire 43 (1965): 22–39. Trouillard, Jean. La purification plotinienne. Paris, 1955. Turcan, Robert. “Un rite controuvé de l’initiation dionysiaque.” Revue de l’histoire des religions 158 (1960): 129–144. Turcan, Robert. “Bacchoi ou bacchants? De la dissidence des vivants à la ségrégation des morts.” L’association dionysiaque dans les sociétés anciennes (Coll. De l’Ecole française de Rome, 89), Rome, 1986, pp. 227–244. Wächter, Theodor. Reinheitsvorschriften im griechischen Kult. Giessen, 1910. ROBERT TURCAN (1987 AND 2005) Translated from French by Marilyn Gaddis Rose and William H. Snyder




CATHERINE OF SIENA (1347–1380), Caterina da Siena; Italian mystic and Christian saint. The particular genius of the spirituality of Catherine of Siena had its earliest beginnings in a visionary experience of Christ when she was six years old, and her subsequent childish yet serious vow of virginity. She persisted in her purpose in spite of family opposition until she was accepted as one of the Mantellate, a Dominican third-order group comprising, up to then, only widows. For about three years thereafter she gave herself to prayer and asceticism in almost complete seclusion, until her very prayer (which had become deeply mystical) led her out, first to serve the poor and the sick in her own city, and gradually into wider and wider spheres. She had learned in her solitude to read, and now she became an enthusiastic conversationalist, feeding insatiably on ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


the theological knowledge of friends she attracted among Dominicans, Augustinians, Franciscans, and Jesuits. She began, too, to draw as disciples people from every walk of life, a circle she would call her famiglia. She found an ideal mentor in the Dominican friar Raymond of Capua. Raymond was an astute theologian and diplomat, under whose guidance and in whose company Catherine’s scope broadened to include the ecclesiastical and the political—in her mind always of one piece with the spiritual, and all ultimately oriented to the same spiritual ends. Unlike her contemporary Birgitta of Sweden, Catherine was an ardent promoter and recruiter for the crusade projected by Pope Gregory XI and his successor, Urban VI. A holy war seemed to her a perfect means of uniting in a common cause Christians now at odds among themselves and with the papacy. She saw Palestine as a Christian trust, and she believed with many that the advance of the Turks toward Europe must be halted. A main object of the crusade would be the conversion of the Muslims, who would in their new faith be a leaven to reinvigorate a sick church. And it would provide her and others (she apparently intended to go along) the opportunity to pay Christ “blood for blood.” It was the dissension between Florence and Gregory XI that brought Catherine to that city in 1376 to attempt to mediate a reconciliation. On the mandate, probably, of only certain Guelphs she traveled to Avignon (where the popes had resided since 1309) with no official credentials, only to be ignored by Florentine ambassadors who came later. In subsequent efforts, also, she failed to influence the Florentines significantly in this dispute, which was to her essentially religious but was to them a matter of political survival. Once rebuffed by Florence, Catherine turned her energy toward the two issues she considered the root of the dissension: the continuing absence of the popes from Rome and clerical corruption. If the pope would return to Rome, she reasoned, Christians would have no more cause for rebellion, and reform could begin. Gregory XI had in fact so resolved but had repeatedly, in fear, put off taking action. Catherine can surely be credited with finally moving him. In fact, when dissent deepened after his return to Rome, many including the pope blamed Catherine’s advice. Gregory XI died on March 27, 1378, and within months his successor, Urban VI, was being denounced by a growing number of the cardinals, who in September of that year elected Clement VII as antipope, thus effectively splitting the church. At Urban’s invitation Catherine came to Rome to support his cause. Though her health was by this time failing under her fierce asceticism and exertion, she continued to pray and work tirelessly for unity and reform, both of which seemed to her ever more elusive. The weight of this sense of failure surely contributed to her early death on April 29, 1380. She was canonized in 1461 and proclaimed a doctor of the church in 1970; she and Teresa of Ávila were the first women to receive that title.



Catherine used letters prodigiously as a favored vehicle of influence. The nearly four hundred letters that have been collected and edited date mostly from 1375 to 1380. They are addressed to persons as diverse as popes, high-ranking clergy, nobles, relatives, disciples, prisoners, and prostitutes. Unfortunately, the early compilers’ purposes of simple edification led them to delete much that was personal from the letters, but still they open a revealing window on Catherine’s evolving thought and on her warm and spontaneous personality.

coló Tommaseo, revised by Piero Misciattelli (1860; reprint, Florence, 1940). The first volume of the only truly critical edition was prepared by Eugenio Dupré Theseider, Epistolario di Santa Caterina da Siena, vol. 1 (Rome, 1940); the work on this critical edition is being pursued by Antonio Volpato. A complete English translation from the critical edition is in progress under my editorship. I have translated Giuliana Cavallini’s critical editions of Il dialogo (Rome, 1968) and Le orazioni (Rome, 1978) as The Dialogue (New York, 1980) and The Prayers of Catherine of Siena (New York, 1983), respectively.

In 1377 and 1378, in addition to all her other activities, Catherine composed the work since known as The Dialogue (because she cast it as an exchange between God and herself). Her intent in writing it was to share with her disciples and others the insights she had gained in prayer and in her own experience. In it she approaches the way of holiness from several vantage points, and develops at length the themes of God’s providence, the role of Christ as redeemer and mediator, and the church. Finally, during the last three and a half years of Catherine’s life, her secretaries sometimes recorded her prayers when she spoke in ecstasy. Twenty-six such prayers have been preserved.

Works about Catherine of Siena A useful primary source for the life of Catherine of Siena is Raymond of Capua’s The Life of Catherine of Siena (1385–1389), translated by Conleth Kearns (Wilmington, Del., 1980); other biographies in English are History of St. Catherine of Siena and Her Companions, by Augusta Theodosia Drane (London, 1899), good for its inclusion of primary source material not otherwise available in English; Saint Catherine of Siena: A Study in the Religion, Literature and History of the Fourteenth Century in Italy, by Edmund G. Gardner (New York, 1907), complete on historical contexts and well indexed; and Arrigo Levasti’s My Servant, Catherine, translated by Dorothy M. White (Westminster, Md., 1954), which concentrates on Catherine’s psychology and spirituality and also gives an excellent bibliography. Eugenio Dupré Theseider’s entry “Catherine da Siena, Santa,” in Dizionario biographico degli Italiani (Rome, 1979), covers very well Catherine’s life and theology, including debated points, and offers a very comprehensive bibliography.

Through her reading and her associations, Catherine gained a knowledge of the Christian tradition remarkable in an otherwise unschooled person. In her works she draws freely not only from scripture but from Augustine, Gregory the Great, Bernard, and Thomas Aquinas (to name only those most frequently reflected), as well as from contemporaries such as Ubertino of Casale, Domenico Cavalca, Iacopo Passavanti, and Giovanni Colombini. Her own writing, however, is not speculative or systematic or analytical. Rather, she synthesizes into an integrated whole all of the various aspects of Christian faith on which she dwells. Her purposes are eminently practical, her tone warm and personal. She resorts for clarification not to conceptual argumentation but to literary images, developing the meaning of each as she goes and interweaving them one with another. The central principles around which Catherine’s teaching revolves are everywhere evident in her writings: God alone is absolute being, and God’s being is at once love and truth—love that is truth and truth that is love. When humankind cut itself off from God by sin, God’s endlessly creative and re-creative being took flesh in Jesus Christ, who in himself repaired the breach. The foundation of all spiritual life is knowledge of oneself in God and of God in oneself. Human nature is God’s creation and as such is essentially good, and Catherine is therefore understanding and compassionate of human weakness even as she denounces sin. Desire for the truth and love that is God puts all in order, and what God asks of the human heart is infinite desire.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Works by Catherine of Siena The most complete recent edition of Catherine’s letters is Le lettere di S. Caterina da Siena, 4 vols., translated and edited by Nic-





CATS seem to be surrounded by a special power. Their graceful movements, their liveliness at night, and their inaudible steps as well as their independent spirit have enchanted poets and painters and storytellers in many cultures, but these very traits account also for the aversion many people have had to them. Throughout history, cats have rarely been regarded with indifference; they have generally been considered either sacred or demonic. The earliest known center of their veneration, and probably also of their domestication, was ancient Egypt, where they are documented from 1600 BCE onward. Bast, a popular goddess of pleasure, was represented with a cat’s head. Numerous sacred cats lived around her sanctuary in Bubastis, and thousands of mummified cats have been found in that area. Other goddesses with feline attributes have also been connected with cats. In a Roman myth, Diana assumes the form of a cat, and in Germanic mythology, Freyja’s carriage is drawn by cats. In Bengali Hinduism, S´as: t: i rides or stands on a (usually black) cat. Should a mother be disrespectful to the goddess, a cat will kill her children; such revenge can be ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


averted by pouring sour milk over a black cat and licking it off. Cats are frequently perceived as malevolent creatures. The idea that a cat can “suck the breath” of sleeping children (i.e., suffocate them) is widely prevalent, and in some myths the cat is represented even as a bloodsucking ogre. Some people think that to swallow a cat’s hair will result in tuberculosis. But a cat’s tooth can serve as a talisman, for cats have not only “nine lives” but supernatural powers. In Ireland, for example, it is thought that the devil can assume the form of a cat; in China, it is believed that cats can see spirits at night and that a dead cat can turn into a demon. In many places it is thought that cats can sense the presence of death, that they can smell the guiding spirit come to conduct away the departing soul. Because of their supernatural abilities, cats are connected with witches and sorcerers; in fact, they are— especially black ones—typical familiars of witches. In medieval Europe, every owner of such an animal was therefore suspect. As an agent of the supernatural, the cat became a sacrificial animal in some cultures. In medieval Europe, cats were killed as an expiation in times of plague or were thrown into the Saint John’s fire at the summer solstice. As late as the mid-seventeenth century, in the ceremony of the Taigheirm in the West Highlands of Scotland, black cats were roasted on spits to raise the infernal spirits. In Japan, however, as in ancient Egypt and other cultures, it has been thought inadvisable to kill a cat, owing to its special power. Such an act would bring misfortune, or would have to be atoned for (in Muslim Bengal, with five pounds of salt).


that it can predict—or, indeed, is responsible for—the weather. In Turkey, if a cat purrs loudly, a severe winter is impending; in England, if a cat sits with its back to the fire, there will be frost. In Java and Sumatra, bathing two cats or throwing one into a river can bring rain. Folklore often talks about the hypocritical cat. “The cat weeps at the mouse’s death,” according to a Chinese proverb. The story of the “repentant” cat that appears as a pious ascetic in order to cheat the mice has been told from ancient Egypt to modern Mongolia, and it occurs frequently in Persian literature (see EUbayd-i Za-ka¯n¯ı’s little epic Mouse and Cat from the fourteenth century). Hence, in Persian and Ottoman Turkish urban poetry, the term cat is sometimes used to characterize a sly person of high rank. The friendship of a cat with a mouse or other weaker animal, or with its archenemy the dog, lasts only so long as both are in danger, as Ka-l¯ılah wa-Dimnah (The fables of Bidpai) tells us; once safe, the cat usually eats the mouse. This “hypocrisy” has been expressed in many proverbs that warn against trusting the cat, which may first lick one’s hand and then scratch it. The motto of the Mackintosh clan of Scotland is “Touch not a cat but [i.e., without] a glove.” Nevertheless, the cat has many positive aspects. In ancient Rome, the cat was a symbol of liberty, for no animal has so independent a spirit or is so resistant to restraint as a cat. In China, the association of the sign for cat, mao, with that for the number eighty has made the cat a symbol of long life.

In many cultures it is considered a bad omen to see a cat, especially a black one, when leaving a house; likewise, to dream of a black cat, or to cross its path, means misfortune. But the black cat’s body serves both medical and magical purposes; a meal of cat’s brains may arouse love in someone, or strengthen a man’s sexual power, or restore sight. Pulverized cat’s gall rubbed into the eyes enables one to see at night, or to see jinn. Certain parts of a black cat, prepared with other ingredients, can make a person invisible.

In Islamic tradition, the cat is born in Noah’s ark from the lioness’s sneeze, or else she is the lion’s, or tiger’s, aunt who teaches him various tricks but withholds the last one, that is, how to climb a tree. The positive evaluation of cats in the Islamic world is due to the prophet Muh: ammad’s fondness for cats. Because he stroked the back of a cat that saved him from a snake’s wiliness, cats never fall on their backs, and the trace of his fingers is visible in the dark stripes that appear on the foreheads of most cats. The cat is clean and does not spoil man’s purity for prayer (as does the dog), and its drinking water can be used for ritual ablutions. Many S: u¯f¯ıs have had cats as companions, animals that have sometimes performed wonderful feats of clairvoyance or selfsacrifice to save others from danger or death. The most remarkable cult of cats is connected with the North African beggars’ order of the Heddawa, in which cats are treated like humans; however, once in a while a cat is ritually killed by the brethren. Cats can assume the shape of saints or helpers, as in pre-Islamic Arabia, where desert demons, ghu¯l, were visualized with cats’ heads. Even the Sak¯ınah, God’s presence, appeared to the Prophet in the shape of a white cat.

The behavior of cats is also often regarded as an omen. In Germany, if a cat washes itself, a guest will come. In China, the arrival of a strange cat in a house portends poverty, because that cat is believed to have a premonition that many mice will come to live in that house. The cat’s sensitivity to atmospheric changes has led, in many places, to belief

Caterwauling, not always appreciated by most people, has sometimes been interpreted as mysterious music. An early Arabian musician learned some superb songs from a black cat in his dreams. Nursery rhymes sing of the cat’s fiddling, and the cat’s purr has sometimes been interpreted as its prayer.

In European lore, cats can function as house goblins and are also counted among the shapeshifters; they can assume enormous proportions in case of danger or in order to rescue their benefactor from equally enormous rats. Thus their role can be beneficial as well: friendly cat demons can produce gold and treasures for those who have been kind to them, and cats—especially tricolored cats (which are believed to be always female)—can protect a house from fire and guarantee marital happiness.




Benevolent cats occur frequently in folk tales. The Dick Whittington motif of the cat that proves useful in a country without cats is known in the East and the West. The friendly, clever tomcat, manifested in Puss in Boots, is a common topic of folk tradition. It is always the youngest of three sons who inherits the resourceful cat. Thus, the cat often uses its magic properties for positive ends and appears as a mediator between the hero and the supernatural world. This expresses best the good side of the cat’s ambivalent character and of its role as an animal that is powerful in the three realms of activity: demonic, human, and divine.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Carl Van Vechten’s The Tiger in the House, 3d ed. (New York, 1936), includes interesting chapters on cats in the occult and in folklore as well as an extensive, classified bibliography. Since publication of this work, the literature about cats has increased enormously and at present is growing almost daily. Excellent surveys can be found in Nine Lives: The Folklore of Cats, by Katharine M. Briggs (New York, 1980), and in Le chat dans la tradition spirituelle, by Robert de Laroche (Paris, 1984). For Islamic cat lore, see my discussion in Die orientalische Katze (Cologne, 1983).

New Sources Loibl, Elisabeth. Deuses Aimais. Sa˜o Paulo, 1984. ANNEMARIE SCHIMMEL (1987) Revised Bibliography

CATTLE. By cattle is here meant those bovines that have been brought under domestication (Bos taurus, Bos longifrons, Bos brachyceros, Bos indicus) and not merely bovines or domesticated livestock in general. The first datum that must thus concern anyone interested in the religio-historic importance of cattle is the very fact of the domestication of wild bovines, which was one of the central cultural accomplishments of the “Neolithic revolution,” now dated in the period roughly between the tenth and sixth millennium BCE. Since the nineteenth century, a debate has continued between those who have argued in favor of a religious motivation for the domestication of this species and those who have stressed material and economic factors. The former position, initially formulated by Eduard Hahn, emphasized the common use of cattle as sacrificial victims throughout ancient Mesopotamia, arguing from this datum that cattle were tamed in order to ensure a regular and adequate supply of victims for the sacrificial cult. While some still maintain this theory, more generally accepted is the opposing point of view, which holds that obtaining reliable sources of milk, meat, and traction power for nonreligious purposes was the primary motive for the initial domestication. Once tamed, cattle quickly came to occupy a highly important place within both the agricultural and the pastoral economies of Neolithic societies. In those areas where sufficient rainfall and a long growing season made the production of crops feasible, cattle were harnessed to the yoke and used

for plowing, a process that greatly increased the agricultural yield. This combination of cereal agriculture and cattledrawn plows was an extremely dynamic one: increased agricultural production made it possible to feed ever larger herds of cattle (as well as ever more people), which in turn made it possible to bring ever larger areas of land under the plow. As irrigation techniques were mastered, still greater production resulted, ultimately making possible the emergence of urban civilization. Elsewhere, in terrains less conducive to agricultural production, with perhaps an inadequate water supply and/or a short growing season, pastoral economies proper developed. Here, herds of cattle were exploited more as a source of food and raw materials than for their labor. Milk, butter, cheese, and sometimes the blood of cattle served as chief items of diet, although agricultural products might also be obtained by way of trade. Meat, for pastoralists as for those who practiced mixed herding and agriculture, remained always a highly specialized and prestigious item of diet, the consumption of which was surrounded by religious attitudes and ritual procedures. Beyond food, cattle provided numerous other necessities of life for such pastoral peoples as the Nilotic tribes of East Africa, the Israelites of the patriarchal period, and the early Indo-Europeans. Among the products derived from cattle were leather hides, used for clothing, shelter, defensive armament, thongs, and the like; bone tools; dung, which served as fuel for slow-burning fires in areas where wood was scarce; and urine, often used as an all-purpose disinfectant. It is thus no overstatement to say that for cattle-herding pastoralists, cattle formed the very means of production, being in effect machines for the conversion of grass into multiple usable forms. Equally important, however, is the fact that cattle served as the standard measure of wealth and means of exchange. Nor is exchange to be understood as simply trade: rather, the transfer of cattle from one person or group to another establishes a continuing relation between them, the exchange having social, ritual, and sentimental dimensions as well as economic. Convenient examples of this are found in the institutions of bridewealth and wergild, whereby one social group that has caused another group to lose a valued member compensates the latter by bestowing a prescribed number of cattle upon them. These cattle not only restore the economically productive value of the lost individual, but also replace him or her in the affections of the group that receives them. As a result of this exchange, the two groups—one of which would otherwise benefit at the expense of the other—remain in balance and harmony. Cattle are thus a crucially important part of any pastoral society, for in truth they make social life possible. All moments of passage—births, deaths, marriages, initiations—are marked by an exchange of cattle. And, in addition to horizontal exchanges of cattle (i.e., those between humans, all of whom occupy the same level of the cosmos), vertical exENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


changes are also frequent, sacrifice being in part an exchange between humans and gods—as for instance in sacrifices performed on behalf of those suffering from disease, in which cattle are given to deities, who in return restore the afflicted person to his or her social group. One can thus readily see that there exists a constant demand for cattle within pastoral societies, given their enormous importance as means of production, means of exchange, measures of wealth, and signs of prestige. New supplies are obtained through normal reproduction and breeding, of course, but also through violence, for the raiding of neighboring people’s herds is an extremely common practice among pastoralists. Such raids stand in marked opposition to the types of exchange discussed above. Involving no reciprocity, they create or perpetuate imbalance and disharmony between the raiding and raided groups, reciprocity and balance (but never harmony) appearing only when the tables are turned and the previously raided group turns raider itself. To ensure success in raids, warrior values and patterns of organization—militarized age-sets, Männerbünde, and the like—are particularly cultivated. Specialized training, initiatory rituals, and magical apparatuses prepare young men to go forth on raids, these being not simply expeditions born of socioeconomic utility, but also—from the point of veiw of those who participate, at any rate—sacred, ritual ventures. The chief means whereby raids are elevated to ritual status is through the propagation of myths that offer a divine precedent for the deeds of warriors. Such myths, in which the exploits of a deity, hero, or primordial ancestor are celebrated, serve to charter and legitimate similar raiding activity, as warriors come to identify with, and pattern themselves after, the mythic models. A case in point is a celebrated Nuer myth, which tells of the first cattle raid launched by the first Nuer against the first Dinka, at the command of God himself: There were still no cattle on the earth. Then God collared Nuer and gave him a cow and a calf with the instructions to share them with Dinka—to give the cow to Dinka and to keep the calf himself. Then, he secretly gave Nuer the direction to come to him early in the morning in order to receive his calf. But, unobserved, Dinka had overheard this speech. Very early—still by night—Nuer came to God’s dwelling and said, “Gwah, my Father, I have come; give me my calf.” “Who are you?” asked God. Whereupon the Nuer said, “I am Nuer.” “But now, who was it who came to me a little while ago and said he was Nuer, and to whom I consequently gave the calf?” God now asked. The astonished Nuer replied, “I did not come. That must have been Dinka. This was Dinka cunning; he has out-witted me.” Then God said to Nuer, “Good, now you take the cow for the present; then follow Dinka. When you have overtaken him, you may kill him and take the calf from him.” Since that time date the struggles of the Nuer against the Dinka to gain possession of their cattle. (Crazzolara, 1953, pp. 68–69; my trans.) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


As the last sentence of this highly significant text indicates, the Nuer—who are militarily superior to their Dinka neighbors—make use of this myth to justify their raiding activity, for the myth permits them to claim that such aggression (1) sets right an ancient wrong, in which Dinka initially cheated Nuer of his calf, and (2) fulfills a commandment spoken by God. Such an ideology permits the Nuer to make use of their superior force with a sense of perfect self-righteousness; it seems probable that the Dinka herds would be thoroughly depleted by Nuer attacks, were it not for the fact that the Dinka tell more or less the same myth, interpreting it, however, as establishing a sacred charter and precedent for their own continuing theft of Nuer cattle through stealth and guile, qualities in which they exceed their Nuer enemy. Similar stories are found among many other peoples for whom cattle are a mainstay of the society and economy. Sometimes these circulate in secular versions, as in Ireland, where numerous tales, including the great national epic Táin Bó Cuailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cuailnge) celebrate the raiding exploits of human, if prodigious, warriors. Elsewhere, demigods appear as the prototypical heroes of cattle raids, as with the Greek tale of Herakles and Geryon, or its Roman counterpart, in which Hercules vanquishes Cacus. Both of these are quite similar to the pattern of the Nuer myth, telling how a foreigner stole cattle, which the national or ethnic hero then recovered in a fully justified raid. Yet again, the central figure of raiding myths may himself be a deity, as in numerous myths of Vedic India, in which the warrior god Indra recovers stolen cattle from such enemies as the pan: is, Vr: tra, and Vala. In these myths, the cattle raid is lifted to cosmogonic significance, for it is regularly told that in recovering lost cattle, Indra also set free imprisoned waters and light, rescuing the cosmos from possible disaster. Here the rains and the sun’s rays are homologized to cattle; they are the cows of the atmosphere and of the heavens respectively, these having been penned up by drought and night but set free by the god’s successful cattle raid—a raid that makes all life and prosperity possible and on which human raiding is patterned. A certain moral ambiguity frequently surrounded raiding, however, in myth as in actual practice. Thus, for instance, the Homeric Hymn to Hermes tells how the god Hermes, while still an infant, stole cattle from his brother Apollo. Yet for all that the exploit is celebrated and helped Hermes win elevation to full divine stature (the common initiatory value of raiding is here evident), Hermes’ action is also called into question. According to the hymn, he was hunted down by Apollo, forced to stand trial, and ultimately had to make restitution to his brother before peace could be established between them. Part of the problem was that Hermes had killed some of the cattle that he stole, and the unrightful slaughter of cattle is always a most serious crime among cattle-herding peoples. Thus, for instance, Enkidu was condemned to death for his part in slaying the Bull of Heaven, according to the Epic



of Gilgamesh, and the men of Odysseus’s last ship were all destroyed by a thunderbolt for having killed and eaten the cattle of the sun god Helios, which were pastured on the island of Thrinacia. Again, among Nuer and Dinka alike, any cattle killed for food outside of sacrifice are said to be slain “just for nothing” (bang lora), and it is expected that they will return to haunt their slayer. The same point is made in this Nuer-Dinka belief as in the story of Odysseus’s men: however much hunger may drive one to desire meat, lethal violence directed against cattle constitutes a sacrilege unless it is set within a ritual context—that is to say, carried out with a certain etiquette, solemnity, and decorum (often by specialists), and legitimated by reference to some set of sacred precedents, symbolic constructs, or transcendent principles. These conditions being met, the slaughter of cattle and subsequent distribution of meat is considered sacrifice; these lacking, it is wanton butchery. Cattle sacrifice is ideologically the most prestigious and significant ritual performed among pastoral peoples, although in practice offerings of lesser economic value (sheep, goats, milk products, cakes, etc.) are often substituted. In part, as has been discussed above, sacrifice always includes among its significances and functions the consecration of meat and the legitimation of the violence requisite for the procurement of meat. Sacrifice is no more a straightforwardly utilitarian procedure, however, than it is a simple or univocal one. Rather, complex symbolisms and multiple dimensions are always present, however much these may differ from one culture area, historical period, or sacrificial performance to another. Cattle sacrifice in ancient Babylon, for example, while clearly part of the general “care and feeding of the gods” enjoined upon mankind, was also in part a remembrance or repetition of the cosmogony. For as tablet 5 of the creation account Enuma elish makes clear, the deity Tiamat—whose death marks the beginning of the cosmos as we know it—was understood to take the form of a cow, although other passages of the text present her as a monstrous, chaotic being. (A similar account of a being simultaneously monstrous and bovine, which must be put to death in order for a proper cosmos and society to emerge, is the golden calf of Exodus 32.) Moreover, the sacrifice of cattle was cast as a divine act, as is clear in the declaration of the Babylonian priest who offers an ox, the skin of which will be made into the covering for a temple drum: “These acts—it is the totality of the gods who have performed them, it is not really I who performed them.” Again, the cattle sacrifice of the Greek polis (city-state) was informed by myths of the first sacrifice, particularly that performed by Prometheus, as described by Hesiod, which— as Marcel Detienne and Jean-Pierre Vernant (1980) have demonstrated—served to define the essential human position in the universe as that intermediate to those of beasts and gods. Of particular interest in myth and practice alike

is the precise definition of portions allocated to the gods— the victim’s bones, wrapped in a single layer of fat—and those reserved for humans—the rest of the meat, wrapped within the animal’s stomach. In this, some scholars have seen a reminiscence of archaic hunters’ rites, the bones being preserved so that the dead animal might be resurrected. Detienne and Vernant have argued, however, for a different line of interpretation, in which bones are contrasted to meat as the undecaying (or immortal) portion of the victim to the decaying (or mortal) portion. The contrast of meat and bones thus replicates and comments upon the contrast of gods and men; the inclusion of the stomach in the human portion further stresses man’s need to eat, which spurs him on to kill. Social processes also figure prominently in the logic and structure of cattle sacrifice, for the distribution of meat tends to be differential and hierarchic, either in the nature of the portions assigned to individuals or in the order in which portions are presented, or both. A clear case in point is the Roman Feriae Latinae, an annual ceremonial to which all members of the Latin League sent representatives and contributions. The central act was the sacrifice and dismemberment of a white bull, pieces of meat from which were assigned to the representatives according to the relative importance of their cities. Change over time was also reflected in the proceedings of the Feriae Latinae, for as a city grew or shrank in size and stature, its portion of meat seems to have been adjusted accordingly. Other societies also possessed mechanisms whereby social hierarchy could not only be signified within a sacrificial context, but could also be contested, as seen in the accounts of brawls and duels fought over the “champion’s portion” among the Greeks and Celts. Cattle sacrifice was also a highly important part of IndoIranian religion, reflecting the prominent position of cattle within the society and economy of India and Iran alike. Certainly, cattle figure almost obsessively in the earliest religious texts from India and Iran (the R: gveda and the Ga¯tha¯s of the Avesta respectively), although some scholars have maintained that most references to cattle should be taken metaphorically or allegorically, while granting that the stimulus for bovine imagery would still come from the real possession of cattle. Controversy also exists as to whether Zarathushtra (Zoroaster) condemned cattle sacrifice in Iran—as some of the Gathic texts seem to indicate—or if it remained always a part of the Zoroastrian cultus. The rejection of cattle sacrifice is attested elsewhere in history, particularly in cases where a previously pastoral population has abandoned its earlier mode of production and consequent way of life. Thus, for instance, within the Athenian polis, details of the foremost cattle sacrifice—the Bouphonia (“ox-slaying”)—reveal a profound uneasiness over the violence and bloodshed inherent in the rite. Toward the end of each Bouphonia, a trial was thus held to assess the guilt of those responsible for the victim’s death, such guilt ultimately being assigned to the sacrificial knife with which it was killed, the knife then being punished (and purified) by being thrown into the sea. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


However much the ritual slaughter of cattle prompted a certain moral disquietude, the practice continued unabated throughout the history of ancient Greece, insofar as sacrifice was a central mechanism for the periodic renewal of social hierarchy and integration within the polis. The criticism of sacrifice implicit in the Bouphonia, however, was given a more articulate and aggressive formulation by certain philosophers and mystics possessed of a radically different vision of what the polis ought to be and of the guilt incurred through sacrificial violence. Chief among these were Pythagoras and Empedocles, the latter of whom condemned sacrifice in the following terms, contrasting it with an imagined paradisal sort of offering that took place in the distant past and—given his theories of cyclical time—would once again replace the bloody rituals: Ares was not a god for them, nor was Battle-din, Nor was Zeus the king, nor Kronos, nor Poseidon, But Aphrodite was queen. They appeased her with pious gifts: With painted animal figurines, with perfumes, With sacrifices of unmixed myrrh and fragrant frankincense, Pouring libations of golden honey to the ground. The altar was not smeared with the unmixed gore of bulls. Rather, that was the greatest defilement for men: Taking away the life-force in order to eat the noble limbs.

Although these Greek opponents of sacrificial ritual remained always in a minority—often, what is more, a suspect minority—others were more successful in India, where the doctrine of ahim: sa¯, “noninjury” to all living creatures, gradually displaced older sacrificial ideology, particularly in the wake of Buddhist and Jain challenges to Brahmanic doctrines and practice. Thus, the Sanskrit legal texts—as Ludwig Alsdorf (1962) first demonstrated—show a clear process of development, in which the eating of meat obtained from sacrifices was first freely permitted, but later came to be condemned. Although the privileged status of the “sacred cow” in India is in some measure related to the emergence of the ahim: sa¯ ethic, its sources are considerably older. For already in the R: gveda and also in the Avesta, cows are referred to as “beings not to be killed” (Skt., aghnya; Av., agenya), a correspondence that indicates that this was already an item of Indo-Iranian belief at the beginning of the second millennium BCE. One must stress, however, that it is only cows—that is, female bovines—that are so designated, and not cattle in general, and it appears likely that the symbolic, sentimental, and socioeconomic importance of the cow as the source of both milk and new bovine life led to the formulation of religious principles protecting it against slaughter, even slaughter within the context of sacrifice. Within modern Hinduism, however, the “sacred cow” has been treated as the foremost example of the more general principle of ahim: sa¯, as for instance in a celebrated treatise by ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Mohandas K. Gandhi entitled “How to Serve the Cow.” Vast numbers of cattle roam the Indian subcontinent free from any threat to their well-being (urban riots have been provoked by attempts to drive cattle from busy streets or markets), and numerous homes have been founded for the care of old and sick cattle. Western technocrats, colonial authorities, and others have generally viewed the “sacred cow” of India as a classic example of the ways in which religious principles can lead large populations into modes of habitual behavior and social organization that are irrational and counterproductive in strictly economic terms. Yet this view has been challenged, largely by the research of Marvin Harris, and a lively debate has resulted, which is still to be resolved. For it is Harris’s contention that when one considers the full range of ways in which cattle resources are exploited within India (traction, dung for fuel, milk and milk products, etc.) and the ways in which cattle are fed (scavenging, use of stubble from the fields, etc.), as well as other important seasonal and ecological factors, one is forced to conclude that the prohibition on killing cattle is both rational and productive, even in the most narrow economic sense. Debate still rages over many details of Harris’s argument, as well as on his general conclusion, but his writings have been a valuable corrective to studies that emphasize the divergence between religious and socioeconomic considerations. Rather than being contradictory, even in the case of the “sacred cow,” these matters are intimately correlated, in ways far richer and more complex than is generally understood. SEE ALSO Bones; Neolithic Religion; Sacrifice.


On the religious significance of cattle within pastoral cultures, see my Priests, Warriors, and Cattle: A Study in the Ecology of Religions (Berkeley, 1981). A good discussion of the domestication of the species is found in Frederick E. Zeuner’s A History of Domesticated Animals (New York, 1963). Eduard Hahn’s theories on the religious origin of domestication were set forth in a number of publications, most important of which was Die Haustiere und ihre Beziehungen zur Wirtschaft des Menschen (Leipzig, 1896). The importance of cattle in the life and religion of the peoples of East Africa has been treated in a number of excellent publications, among which should be noted Melville J. Herskovits’s “The Cattle Complex in East Africa,” American Anthropologist 28 (1926): 230–272, 361–388; E. E. Evans-Pritchard’s Neur Religion (Oxford, 1956); Godfrey Lienhardt’s Divinity and Experience: The Religion of the Dinka (Oxford, 1961); Peter Rigby’s Cattle and Kinship among the Gogo (Ithaca, N.Y., 1969); Pierre Bonte’s “Il bestiame produce gli uomini: Sacrificio, valore e feticismo del bestiame nell’ Africa orientale,” Studi storici 25 (1984): 875–896; and J. P. Crazzolara’s Zur Gesellschaft und Religion der Nueer (Vienna, 1953). On sacrifice in general, see Walter Burkert’s Homo Necans (Berkeley, 1983); La cuisine du sacrifice en pays grec, edited by Marcel Detienne and Jean-Pierre Vernant (Paris, 1980); and the papers on the theme “Sacrificio, organizzazione del cosmo, dinamica sociale,” Studi storici 25 (1984): 829–956.



On the use of cattle as metaphor, see Wolfgang E. Schmid’s “Die Kuh auf der Weide,” Indogermanische Forschungen 64 (1958– 1959): 1–12; George G. Cameron’s “Zoroaster the Herdsman,” Indo-Iranian Journal 10 (1968): 261–281; and Boris Oguibenine’s “Le symbolisme de la razzia d’après les hymnes vediques,” Études indo-européennes (1984): 1–17. On cattle raiding, see Peter Walcot’s “Cattle Raiding, Heroic Tradition, and Ritual: The Greek Evidence,” History of Religions 18 (May 1979): 326–351; Françoise Bader’s “Rhapsodies homériques et irlandaises,” in Recherches sur les religions de l’antiquité classique, edited by Raymond Bloch (Paris, 1980); and Doris Srinivasan’s The Concept of Cow in the Rigveda (Delhi, 1979). On ahim: sa¯ in India, see Ludwig Alsdorf’s Beiträge zur Geschichte von Vegetarismus und Rinderverehrung in Indien (Wiesbaden, 1962). The debate on the sacred cow has taken place largely in the pages of Current Anthropology (Chicago) from 1966 on. Marvin Harris’s arguments are conveniently summarized in Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches (New York, 1974). On the Indian homes for indigent cattle, see Deryck O. Lodrick’s Sacred Cows, Sacred Places (Berkeley, 1981).

New Sources Peires, J. B. The Dead Will Arise: Nongqawuse and the Great Xhosa Cattle-Killing Movement of 1856–7. Bloomington, 1989. BRUCE LINCOLN (1987) Revised Bibliography



CAVES. In all cultures and in almost all epochs the cave has been the symbol of creation, the place of emergence of celestial bodies, of ethnic groups and individuals. It is the great womb of earth and sky, a symbol of life, but also of death. It is a sacred place that constitutes a break in the homogeneity of space, an opening that is a passage from one cosmic region to another, from heaven to earth or, vice versa, from earth to the underworld (Eliade, 1959, p. 37). All caves are sacred. Some, like cosmic mountains or important sanctuaries, are considered the center of the universe. Where the sacred manifests itself, the world comes into existence (Eliade, 1959, p. 63). Every religious person places himself at the center of the world, “as close as possible to the opening that ensures him communication with the gods” (ibid., p. 65). Earth gods live in caves, which are often called “the earth’s navel.” As the world center, the axis mundi, the cave at times blends in religious symbolism with the mountain. Of the elements in Asian geomancy that determine the quality of a place for a settlement, a home, or a tomb, mountains are considered the most important. Their vital energy gives them the name of “dragon.” This magical energy flows into a cave, which is not always a real opening but represents an auspicious site. Geomantic caves are those surrounded by mountains, where wind is stored and where water, which

maintains the spiritual energy, is close by. The mountains are believed to have been created in order to form geomantic caves (Yoon, 1976, pp. 28–34). This mountain-cave-waterenergy tradition is similar to the ancient Mexican belief that water was contained within mountains, the womb of the water goddess Chalchiuhtlicue, whence it flowed in the form of the rivers and lakes necessary to human settlement.

THE CAVE AS AXIS MUNDI. The cave as a sacred spot that marks the place for a major religious structure and even for a great city, the axis mundi of its time, is well illustrated at Teotihuacán, Mexico. The most impressive monument here (built c. 100 BCE, destroyed c. 750 CE) is the Pyramid of the Sun, built shortly before the beginning of the common era over a primitive shrine, which was itself built over a subterranean cave. The cave has the form of a four-petaled flower, one of Teotihuacán’s most popular art motifs, possibly symbolizing the four world quarters. The great Sun Pyramid was constructed in such a way that the four-petaled cave lies almost directly beneath its center. Although the cave was ransacked in ancient times, the few remains within suggest that it may have been a cult center for water gods. Or, inasmuch as a sixteenth-century document labels the place in front of the pyramid “Moctezuma’s oracle,” an oracle may well have dwelt here. Whatever the answer, the sacredness of this cave was such that it had to be preserved by building a shrine over it, then by constructing the immense pyramid over this. Sacred space was thus preserved for all time. BIRTH AND CREATION. Because of its volcanic formation, Mesoamerica is honeycombed with caves. Each is revered, and many are associated with the emergence myth. Chicomoztoc (“seven caves”) was the place of creation of many ethnic groups, particularly the Aztec. Its seven caves are represented in ancient pictorial manuscripts and in oral tradition. But before the creation of people, the sun and the moon were made in a grotto. In the myth of the creation of the Fifth Sun (the name given the present era by the Aztec), some chronicles state that after one god threw himself into a fire and became transformed into the sun, another god went into a cave and came out of it as the moon. In a legend of Española (Hispaniola), all men were created in one cave, all women in another (Fray Ramon Pané, in Heyden, 1975). Sustenance, also, originated in caves, according to popular belief. Some caves were called cincalco, “house of maize”; in them corn was kept by the gods. A sixteenth-century Mexican chronicle, Historia de México, relates that Centeotl, a maize god, was born in a cavern; from different parts of his body cotton and many edible plants grew. According to another early chronicler, Fray Geronimo de Mendieta, a flint knife fell from heaven and landed in Chicomoztoc, where it broke into sixteen hundred pieces, from which that number of gods was created. The cave, then, is a symbol of the womb. According to Fray Bernardino de Sahagún’s Historia general de las cosas de la Nueva España (the so-called Florentine Codex), a saying is ascribed to Aztec women of the sixteenth century: “Within us is a cave, a gorge . . . whose only function is to receive.” ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


THE EMERGENCE PLACE. The cave as the center of the world and place of emergence is found in many traditions. Hopi mythology tells of three worlds under the earth where the Hopi lived with the Ant People before they found their way up to the fourth, or present, world. The Zuni, with the same traditions, call the place of emergence hepatina (“the middle place”) and the last world (which they classify as still underground) the “fourth womb.” The modern kiva of these and other Pueblo Indian groups is an artificial cave, the ceremonial center of the village, in which there is also a small hole in the ground, symbolic of the place of emergence. Kiva ritual follows a man from life to death. As soon as he is born a boy is symbolically initiated into the ritual life and pledged to his father’s kiva. Zuni society has six divisions, associated with the four world directions, the zenith, and the nadir. Each division has its own kiva, around which religion revolves (Leighton and Adair, 1966). The kiva evidently has been basic to ritual for many centuries. During the Pueblo Classic period (1050–1300) the underground kivas were of tremendous size, as can be seen in the ruins of Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon. They were caves within caves, partially natural grottoes and partially hacked out of the rocks. A maze design carved on rocks in Arizona—much like the Minoan maze—represents the myth of emergence. It is the Mother Earth symbol, according to the modern Hopi; the maze represents the paths a person will follow on the road of life (Campbell Grant, 1967, p. 65). CAVE GODS AND RITES. Since the rites and deities of different parts of the world, many of them associated with caves, are dealt with in numerous articles of this encyclopedia, this brief section is focused on Mesoamerica, which, in general, is less well known than Europe or the Orient. Tlaloc, the Aztec rain and earth deity, was also called Path under the Earth, or Long Cave, according to the sixteenth-century chronicler Fray Diego Durán. This name refers to the god’s character as fertilizer of the earth with gentle rain, and also to rites in caves where water deities were propitiated. Rain, lightning, and thunder were thought to be controlled in caves and on mountain tops. Toribio Motolinía, another colonial chronicler, describes ceremonies to Tlaloc each year during which four children were sacrificed and their bodies placed in a cave; this was then sealed until the following year, when the rite was repeated. Children were considered special messengers to the water gods. Oztoteotl literally means “god of caves”; this was the name of a god venerated in a sacred cave at Chalma, a site about two days’ march from Mexico City that was the scene of important pilgrimages. Oztoteotl has been supplanted by the Christian Lord of Chalma (a representation of Christ), who is no less venerated, both in the cave and in a church erected here. One rite in Chalma is the leaving of umbilical cords in two caves, one at the top of the hill, one at the bottom, in order to ensure the infants of good fortune in life. Vegetation gods frequently had rites performed in their honor in caves. For example, the skins of flayed victims (symENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


bolizing corn husks or those of other plants) were stored in an artificial cave at the foot of the Yopico pyramid in Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital, and bodies of young women sacrificed to Xochiquetzal, the vegetation goddess, were placed in a cave called a “mist house.” These instances may constitute a ritual metaphor for seed germination, which takes place in a dark area, comparable to the cave-womb. Regarding ceremonies, the fabulous grotto of Balankanché, immediately southeast of the ancient Maya city of Chichén Itzá in Yucatán, has revealed a wealth of offerings to the rain god Tlaloc (Chac, among the Maya) and chamber after chamber of ceremonial settings for rites. These date mainly from the ninth century CE, when highland Mexican influence was strong (hence the presence of the god Tlaloc rather than Chac), although the grotto was used for ritual purposes mainly by the Maya, through 3,000 years. Six offertory foci are directly associated with either underground pools or stalagmitic formations, caused by the action of the water (Andrews, 1970, p. 9). These natural formations have the appearance of altars and were used as such. In the major chamber, floor and ceiling are united by a stalactitestalagmite “tree” that suggests the ceiba (silk-cotton), the sacred Maya tree that unites earth, sky, and underworld. This structure is called by the modern—and undoubtedly by the ancient—Maya the “throne of the balam,” that is, of the Jaguar Priest. When the inner chambers were discovered in 1959, this altar-throne was found to be covered with effigy censers, most of them in the form of Tlaloc, some wearing flayed skins and some suggestive of the Aztec vegetation deity Xipe Totec. Other offerings here and in various chambers include miniature vessels, grinding stones, and spindle whorls, perhaps symbolic offerings for use in the otherworld. Enigmatic handprints in red ocher (as suggested below, perhaps evidence of a rite of passage) are on the central, treelike column and on the ceiling of low tunnels. Other chambers with stalagmitic altars yielded many more Tlaloc effigy censers, quantities of shells, jade beads, fragments of a wooden drum, and charcoal from burnt offerings. Numerous fire pits and the charcoal in the censers seem to be evidence of both illumination and ritual hearth use. Inasmuch as smoke was one of the messengers to the gods, the fires may have been intended solely for communication. That this was a major ritual center is indicated by the insistence of the H-men (the practitioner of native folk religion) from a village near Balankanché that, because of the cave’s sacred nature, when the sealed chambers were discovered, it was necessary to propitiate the deities within in order to ward off supernatural retribution for the profanation. Rites were held involving the ritual drinking of honey-based balché, the sacrifice of chickens, and, among other things, the imitation of frogs by two small boys: the entrance to the cave home of the rain god was traditionally guarded by a frog (Andrews, 1970, pp. 70–164). This type of ceremony is not unique to the cenotes of Yucatán. Marion Oettinger (in a personal communication) records a cave rite in the state of Guerrero dedicated to the



water god; in it, stalactites and stalagmites are revered as deities. Corn is believed to come from hollows on the cave floor made by dripping water. Rites dedicated to supernatural beings who control water and vegetation are still held within the cave. RITES OF PASSAGE. Since Paleolithic times caves have been preferred places for many rites of passage. Symbols of passage into another world, of a descent to the underworld, they are the scene of initiation rites for shamans—among the Australian medicine men, among the Araucanian of Chile, among the Inuit (Eskimo), and among peoples of North America, to mention but a few (Eliade, 1964, p. 51). The iruntarinia (“spirits”) of central Australia create a medicine man when an Aranda (Arunta) candidate goes to sleep at the mouth of a cave; he is dragged into it by one of the spirits and dismembered, and his internal organs are exchanged for others. For example, a fragment of rock crystal, important to shamanic power (a detail reported in Oceania and the Americas also), is placed in his body, which is then returned to his village (Eliade, 1964, pp. 46, 139). Eliade tells also of the initiatory dream-journey of a Nenets (Yurak Samoyed) in his transition from candidate to shaman. In one important episode, the initiate was led into a cave covered with mirrors; there he received a hair from each of two women, mothers of reindeer, with which to shamanize for the animal (p. 41). In British Columbia, as each Salish adolescent concluded a puberty rite, he or she imprinted a red hand on a cave wall. Furthermore, these and other images painted in red on rock walls recorded remarkable dreams. A spirit quest by a Salish boy led him into the hills, usually to a cave, where, through praying and fasting, he would dream of a supernatural being who would be his guardian in later life (Grant, 1967, p. 29). Among the Dogon in Africa, circumcision rites are recorded by ritual signs and paintings on the rocks; these are also related to ceremonies for the renewal of the cosmos every sixty years. In Mexico’s Malinalco rock temple, carved altarlike felines and eagles stand against the walls; the military orders of the Jaguar and the Eagle must have held ceremonies here, such as the initiation of new members into their select ranks. A rite of passage from illness to health is performed at the grotto at Lourdes, France. The healing waters of Lourdes’s spring and the story of the apparition of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette have made this an important pilgrimage center since 1858. In Mexico, until early this century, a boy child born in the vicinity of the Teotihuacán pyramids was placed in a cave. An animal, it was said, came out from the dark interior and licked his face; if the baby did not cry, he automatically acquired the right to be a granicero. Graniceros perform curing ceremonies and control rain from within caves. Thus the child experienced two rites of passage, a kind of baptism and initiation into this special group. In a part of Chiapas, as soon as a child moves within his mother’s womb, he is said to possess a spirit, and this dwells in caves (Esther Hermitte,

cited by Heyden, 1976). At times a cave steals this spirit or that of an adult, whereupon a curandero, a healer, must perform a rite in the cave. In one case he captures the lost spirit in a piece of the spirit-owner’s clothing and manages to pull it out of the cave (Guido Münch, personal communication, referring to Oaxaca). In these cases of soul loss and recuperation, the rite of passage is a hazardous one between life and death. People also become ill from cave “winds,” and graniceros can cure them by making offerings to the owners of the caves. A rite associated with these ceremonies is that of dying and resuscitating; the usual way to become a granicero is to be struck by lightning, be pronounced dead, and then come to life again. In some regions the healer must “die” twice a year; then his spirit goes to a special cave, where he receives instructions (William Madsen, cited by Heyden, 1976). Exorcism is yet another rite practiced in caves, frequently by saying a mass in the interior, in the presence of the affected person.

RELIGIOUS CAVE ART. Paintings on the walls of ancient caves, or sculptures hewn out of rock within caverns, have been called “invisible art” and likened to “silent music” (Carpenter, 1978, pp. 90–99). That is, such art was created for the initiated few and did not need to be public. Esoteric it is, and it has generally been conceived to possess sympathetic magic. For example, depicting a speared deer would ensure success in the hunt. Undoubtedly this is one meaning, but it is not the only one. Some cave images may be a way of keeping a record of rites. They may also relate to the animal double that each person possesses. Among the North American Indians, a young man, as part of a spirit quest, often gave thanks to his spirit guardian by painting or carving figures on cliff walls or in dark caves. These were addressed to his spirit guardian and were not meant to be seen by living humans; exposure would diminish their powers. Carpenter suggests that many anthropomorphic figures, depicted at times in coitus, in caves or in earth sculpture on mountaintops or desert floors, probably represent the original tribal ancestors and, by extension, the beginning of the world. European cave paintings dating from the Upper Paleolithic period (c. 35,000–19,000 years ago), among them those at Altamira in Spain and at Lascaux, Cap Blanc, Les Trois Frères, Cougnac, and Rouffignac in France, portray mainly animals. Although Henri Breuil had interpreted these as belonging to hunting-gathering magic, recent studies propose that such art is part of Paleolithic cosmology. LeroiGourhan (1965) sees this worldview as based on a malefemale division, with sections of the caves, as well as the animals and symbols, divided according to gender. Alexander Marshack interprets certain forms in cave art as calendrical and incisions on bones and antlers as notational; he also claims that some representations have seasonal and ecological significance, symbolized, for example, by flora and fauna typical of certain seasons and regions (cited by Conkey, 1981, p. 23). Ritual art, then, is often a key to the daily life and economy of a people, as well as to their religion. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


At El Castillo in Cantabrian Spain, about fifty negative handprints were painted on a wall by blowing red ocher around a hand held there. Although this symbol has not been clearly interpreted by students of the period, it is reminiscent of red handprints on walls in the Maya region of Mexico, prints that according to popular tradition were placed there by slaves who were to be sacrificed. This interpretation may be fantasy, however, for in Pueblo belief (where Mexican influence is often found) the handprint is a “signature” that attracts supernatural blessings or marks the completion of a rite. Some animal representations, evidently men dressed in skins and antlers, have been thought to depict sorcerers. Clusters of bison on the ceiling at Altamira could symbolize different human groups that went to the cave for various reasons and rites. Thus the cave could have been a seasonal aggregation site for people who were dispersed throughout the region (Conkey, 1981, p. 24). Could Altamira have been an early Magdalenian pilgrimage center? René Huyghe, in discussing Paleolithic cave art, points out that the facsimile is effective in the beliefs of the people who create these magic images. He further explores the function of the facsimile, citing paintings on the walls of Egyptian tombs, where representations of foodstuffs and furniture sometimes substituted for the actual articles needed for life after death. Huyghe has stated that the accomplished technique with which the cave paintings were executed indicates probable teaching by sorcerer-priests (1962, pp. 16, 18). With the transition to the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, cave art became more realistic and depicted human beings in communal activities. Paintings of this sort are found at the entrance to caves, accessible to the larger group, instead of in dark interiors, where formerly esoteric rites must have been held. This different religio-social art is characteristic of the Iberian coast facing Africa, and its tradition has continued to the present time among the African San. The paintings convey great action, expressed by few, almost abstract lines (running warriors at Teruel, for example), side by side with incipient architecture (the menhir, probably intended as a receptacle for the soul of the deceased). Both reflect more settled activities of Neolithic peoples: flock keeping and agriculture, which spurred new ideas and customs (Huyghe, 1962, pp. 21–24). America holds a wealth of cave and rock art, from Alaska to South America. Most of it dates from about 1000 CE to the late 1800s. Its subjects are animals, humans, supernatural beings, and abstract designs. Although some scenes are historical or narrative (depicting Spanish horsemen, for example), much of this art is religious. Hunting magic is represented by a heart line drawn within an animal and sometimes pierced by an arrow. The mythical Thunderbird, thought to control thunderstorms but also a clan symbol and sacred ancestor guardian among the Hopi, is often represented. The plumed serpent, known as the god Quetzalcoatl in Mexico, was the guardian of springs and streams in the Southwest, and is seen on kiva wall paintings or in rock carvings. In the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


San Francisco Mountains of Baja California a sixteen-footlong plumed serpent is the object of a ceremony involving red and black men and deer. However, Uriarte sees this great figure as a serpent-deer, joining the natural forces of both creatures (1981, p. 151). The men surrounding it wear serpent-deer headdresses and therefore must be members of a cult group. Uriarte suggests also that the two-in-one animal may represent a male-female creation myth. Hundreds of handprints found in Arizona, Utah, and northern California must have had ceremonial significance. The Chumash of California painted supernatural figures, believed to be related to dreams and visions, in remote mountainous areas. A ceremonial liquor used by the Chumash and other groups was made of the hallucinogenic jimsonweed, which could have spurred such ritual art. Rock paintings by the Navajo marked sacred places where mythological events occurred; these paintings often depicted the yei, equivalent to the Pueblo kachina, a divine creature usually associated with maize agriculture. Campbell Grant (1967) suggests an important reason for some of the rock art symbols: they were mnemonic devices for rites, and records of certain events. Among presentday Ojibwa, tobacco, prayer sticks, and cloth are placed on rocks below paintings as offerings to the supernatural beings depicted there. The Ojibwa believe that a shaman can enter the rock and trade tobacco with the spirit there for special medicine (Grant, 1967, pp. 32, 147). In central Baja California, Uriarte (1981) records 72 caves painted with 488 figures or sets of figures, many with the bodies adorned in body paint of various colors. Similar colors are also typical of cave paintings in northwestern Australia. Among the Kulin there, Bunjil was the supreme mythological being, who with all his people turned into stars and whose son was the rainbow. Bunjil’s favorite place was Angel Cave; he created it when he spoke to rocks, which then opened up (Aldo Massola, 1968, pp. 59, 106). ARTIFICIAL CAVES. Some of the world’s most renowned painted caves are in India. At Ajanta¯ the Gupta style of the fifth and sixth centuries was the peak of a golden age, although the caves themselves existed by the second century BCE, and painting continued through the eighth century CE. Portrayed on the walls are scenes from the lives of Gautama Buddha, the bodhisattvas, and other divine beings conceived in the manner of the palace life of the time. The ja¯taka tales painted here illustrate the Buddha’s previous earthly experiences. That some of the people are engaged in religious conversation is apparent from the occasional mudra¯s (hand positions). But perhaps the most extraordinary thing about these caves, as well as at Ellora and elsewhere, is that they were carved out of sandstone rock. Entire mountains were turned into sanctuaries by devoted and anonymous sculptorarchitects to be used as monastic retreats. The thirty Ajanta¯ caves, excavated in the semicircular face of a mountain in the Deccan region near Aurangabad, are either caityas (chapels) or viha¯ras (monasteries). The caityas consist of an apse, side aisles, and a central nave in the center of which is a stupa, all hewn out of living rock. In the viha¯ras there are a congre-



gation hall and monks’ cells. In the early caves, the Buddha was represented not in his bodily form but with symbols, such as the bodhi tree or a set of footprints. Sculpture in relief and in the round later filled the caves and covered the doorways with large figures of the Buddha and the bodhisattvas as well as an exuberance of elephants, buffalo, men and women in different positions, lotus medallions, and other floral motifs. The happy marriage at Ajanta¯ of architecture, painting, and sculpture produced an insuperable monument to the Buddhist faith. Also hewn out of a mountain (sometime between the fourth and ninth centuries CE), the caves at Ellora are a miracle of carving. Unlike the Buddhist caves at Ajanta¯, these are dedicated to three faiths: the early caves, before 800, are Buddhist; the Hindu caves overlap (600–900), and the Jain caves cover the period from 800 to 1000. At Ellora the great Hindu Kailash temple dedicated to S´iva represents Mount Kailash, where the gods dwell. In the early Buddhist caves, the vast number of Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and ´saktis express the Vajraya¯na philosophy, wherein Buddhahood was obtained through self-discipline and meditation. The Hindu caves are dedicated to S´iva, who is worshiped symbolically in the phallic symbol called the lingam, found always in the shrine. Sculptures of S´iva also represent him in many of his manifestations, as the personification of death and time, as Creator, Destroyer, Divine Lover, and Lord of the Dance. S´iva’s wife Pa¯rvat¯ı, goddess of love and beauty, accompanies him, as does his son Gan: e´sa, the elephant-headed god of wisdom. S´iva is sometimes represented in his half-male, halffemale form. Brahma¯ and Vis: n: u are also portrayed in various forms. The composition of Ajanta¯ paintings is at times reminiscent of the man: d: ala (or cosmic diagram), while Jain sculpture at Ellora borrowed freely from Hinduism and depicts Hindu deities. Undoubtedly the most spectacular of the many caves carved out of solid rock in China is the complex known as Longmen Grottoes at Luoyang, in Honan Province. Begun in the fifth century CE, the grottoes continued to be carved over a period of four hundred years. Twenty-one hundred caves and niches and more than forty pagodas house more than one hundred thousand sculptures, the largest 17.4 meters, the smallest only 12 centimeters high. Statues in these grottoes mainly portray the Buddha. Also represented are attendant figures, warriors, the Buddha’s disciples, bodhisattvas, and a giant lotus—symbol of divine birth, purity, creative force, and Buddha’s footsteps—on a ceiling. The walls of one cave, that of the Ten Thousand Buddhas, are covered with a myriad of tiny relief-carved figures of the divinity, which envelop the viewer with an awesome sense of the sacred.

ROCK TEMPLES AND TOMBS. The hypogea, rock-cut tombs of Egypt, attest to the use of natural materials available for building. Stone, abundant in Egypt, was used for the great monuments. From the Middle Kingdom on, tombs were hollowed out of cliffs alongside the Nile for high officials of

Upper Egypt. By the time of New Kingdom, the Valley of the Kings, on the Nile’s west side facing Luxor, had become the necropolis of pharaohs, who lay in rock-cut tombs on both sides of the valley. The funerary temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir al-Bahri was carved out of the mountain on different levels. Under Ramses II, in the nineteenth dynasty, the spectacular rock temple at Abu Simbel was hewn out of a mountain in Upper Egypt. In Persia, royal rock tombs at Naksh-i-Rustam, near Persepolis, date from the sixth to the fourth centuries BCE. Here the king is represented before a fire altar, above which is the god Ahura Mazda¯, whose face is surrounded by a circle, symbol of eternity. At Petra, in modern Jordan, the Nabateans more than two thousand years ago carved their capital city out of rock. Along with temples and civil buildings, some of these artificial caves are tombs for the kings. In Mexico, shaft tombs—the shaft hollowed out of the earth, ending in a side chamber for the cadaver—were definitely cave representations, the deceased returning to the earth that gave him life. The temazcal, the purifying sweat bath, used for millennia in this region, was “the house of flowers” in pre-Columbian times, the flower symbolizing both the womb and the cave. An outstanding example of funerary caves, albeit in this case artificial, is that of Rome’s catacombs. These were Christian cemeteries begun in the first century CE. They were twice confiscated, during the third century and at the beginning of the fourth; after a bloody persecution by Diocletian, peace was finally granted by Constantine in 313. From then on, catacomb excavations were enlarged and embellished with paintings and inscriptions referring to Christian martyrs; they became the goal of pilgrims. In the sub-Saharan region of Mali, the Tellem people, who flourished from the eleventh to the sixteenth centuries, buried their dead, accompanied by grave furniture and clothing for the otherworld, in special caves. Objects were ritually destroyed, as they are in other parts of the world, in order to release the spirit. One cave contained three thousand skeletons. Among the offerings left in these high cliff caves were skeletal remains of a crowned crane and of a turtle, both figures in the mythology of the Dogon, who came to the region after the Tellem (Bedaux, 1982, pp. 28–34). In the lowland Maya region of Mexico and Central America, the limestone floor is honeycombed with cenotes. Perhaps because these are the main sources of water in the largely riverless Yucatán Peninsula, they were highly venerated as sacred sites; one of their functions was that of funeral chamber. The great cenote at Chichén Itzá is well known, as are tales of fair maidens thrown into the water at this cavewell. It actually was a place of sacrifice to aquatic deities, but adolescents of both sexes were the victims. A sixteenthcentury account by Fray Diego de Landa tells of young boys whose hearts were extracted before their bodies were deposited in the cenote; propitiation of water gods by child sacrifice ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


was a common rite. The victims were accompanied by incense balls, gold jewels, and the even more highly prized jade, symbol of water and of all that is precious. These sacrificial rites were related to maize agriculture, but also had divinatory and prophetic purposes. Before the rainy season, or during times of drought, child sacrifices increased. Some accounts relate that the victims were lowered alive into the cave-well so that they could communicate with the god, then left to drown. A procession went from the main temple to a shrine next to the cenote; there the priests instructed the victim as to the message to be given to the gods; then they consummated the sacrifice. The walls of Guatemala’s spectacular Naj Tunich cavern are covered with eighth-century paintings of the ritual ball-game (with celestial and life-death significance), ritual bloodletting, dwarfs (associated with both heavens and the underworld), shells (symbols of birth and of death), and long columns of hieroglyphs, mainly calendrical. George Stuart (1981, pp. 220–235) points out that the Classic Maya considered the numbers and days in their calendar as a procession of gods who marched along an eternal and endless trail. The Maya believed that caves, like the roots of the sacred ceiba tree that held earth and sky together, reached far down into the underworld. Caves were the entrance to this place, called Xibalba, where underworld gods dwelt. Stuart suggests that the great cavern of Naj Tunich was the embodiment of Xibalba, place of death. SEE ALSO Labyrinth; Mountains; Neolithic Religion; Paleolithic Religion.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Andrews, Edward Wyllys. Balankanché, Throne of the Tiger Priest. New Orleans, 1970. Bedaux, Rogier M. A. “Rediscovering the Tellem of Mali.” Archaeology 35 (1982): 28–34. Carpenter, Edmund. “Silent Music and Invisible Art.” Natural History 87 (1978): 90–99. Conkey, Margaret W. “A Century of Palaeolithic Cave Art.” Archaeology 34 (1981): 20–28. Eliade, Mircea. The Sacred and the Profane. New York, 1959. Eliade, Mircea. Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. Rev. & enl. ed. New York, 1964. Grant, Campbell. Rock Art of the American Indian. New York, 1967. Heyden, Doris. “An Interpretation of the Cave underneath the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacán, Mexico.” American Antiquity 40 (1975): 131–147. Heyden, Doris. “Los ritos de paso en las cuevas.” Boletín Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia (Mexico City) 2 (1976): 17–26. Huyghe, René. “Prehistoric Art: Art Forms and Society” and “Primitive Art: Art Forms and Society.” In Larousse Encyclopedia of Prehistoric and Ancient Art, edited by René Huyghe, pp. 16–25, 72–77. London, 1962. Leighton, Dorothea C., and John Adair. People of the Middle Place: A Study of the Zuni Indians. New Haven, 1966. Leroi-Gourhan, André. Treasures of Prehistoric Art. New York, 1965. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Massola, Aldo. Bunjil’s Cave: Myths, Legends and Superstitions of the Aborigines of South-East Australia. Melbourne, 1968. Stuart, George E. “Maya Art Treasures Discovered in Cave.” National Geographic 160 (1981): 220–235. Uriarte, Maria Teresa. Pintura Rupestre en Baja California. “Colección Científica,” no. 106. Mexico City, 1981. Yoon, Hong-key. Geomantic Relationships between Culture and Nature in Korea. Taipei, 1976.

New Sources Berkson, Carmel. Elephante, the Cave of Shiva. Princeton, N.J., 1983. Bonor, Juan Luis. Las cuevas mayas: simbolismo y ritual. Madrid, 1989. Loubser, J. H. N. A Guide to the Rock Paintings of Tandjesberg. Bloemfontein, Republic of South Africa, 1993. Rutkowski, Bogdan, and Krzysztof Nowicki. The Psychro Cave, and Other Sacred Grottoes in Crete. Warsaw, 1996. Whitehouse, Ruth. Underground Religion: Cult and Culture in Prehistoric Italy. London, 1992. DORIS HEYDEN (1987) Revised Bibliography

CAYCE, EDGAR. Edgar Cayce (1877–1945) was an American spiritual healer and teacher. Celebrated for trance readings, diagnosing illnesses, and for prescribing unorthodox but reputedly effective treatments, Cayce (pronounced “Casey”) was a seminal figure for the mid- to late twentiethcentury revival of interest in psychic phenomena and the New Age movement. In addition to Cayce’s healing work, the New Age movement was inspired particularly by trance teachings offered by the “sleeping prophet,” as Cayce was called. These included “life readings,” interpreting the lives of individuals in light of previous incarnations, and discourses involving future history and “earth changes.” Cayce was relatively little known until the appearance late in his life of a best-selling biography by Thomas Sugrue, There Is a River (1942); Cayce’s life and work thereafter became the subject of many publications. Cayce was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, in modest circumstances, the son of a farmer and sometime small shopkeeper. Edgar Cayce’s formal education did not extend beyond grammar school. He and his family were faithful members of the (Campbellite) Christian Church. Deeply religious, Edgar read the Bible regularly and taught Sunday school for many years. He married Gertrude Evans in 1903 and was the father of three sons: Hugh Lynn, Milton Porter (who died in infancy), and Edgar Evans. As a young adult, Cayce was employed as a salesman in a bookstore and in other enterprises. After moving to Bowling Green, Kentucky, in 1903, he worked as a photographer. He lived in Alabama, chiefly in Selma, from 1909 to 1923, then moved to Dayton, Ohio, and finally in 1925 to Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he spent the remainder of his life engaged in his psychic work.



The trances began around 1901, when Cayce was hypnotized in Hopkinsville by Al C. Layne, an osteopath and amateur hypnotist, in connection with treatment for a throat disorder. Reportedly, the entranced patient diagnosed his own condition and prescribed an effective cure by suggestion. As news of this occurrence spread, Cayce was persuaded by Layne to work with him in treating other patients in a similar way. Layne would put Cayce into a hypnotic state, during which the latter would characteristically say, “We have the body,” and proceed to describe the ailment in specific anatomical terms. The healing methods he recommended varied greatly from individual to individual and included unique combinations of osteopathy, chiropractic, electrotherapy, vibrations, massage, foods and diets, and herbal treatments. Experience showed that the work was equally effective whether the patient was in the same room with Cayce, in an adjoining room, or miles away. For some years, however, Cayce’s trance readings were only occasional. During his years in Alabama, he also attempted to use his psychic powers to find oil in Texas, but without success. In 1923 Cayce met Arthur Lammers of Dayton, Ohio, a prosperous printer and student of theosophy. Deeply impressed by his conversations with Lammers, Cayce moved to Dayton, and soon afterwards his readings began to include references to reincarnation, Atlantis, Gnostic Christianity, and other features of the theosophical and occult worldview. He began to give “life readings,” relating physical and other problems of clients to their past lives. In 1925, following what he believed were psychic leadings, Cayce moved to Virginia Beach where, with the support of wealthy backers, he was able to devote himself exclusively to his spiritual calling and to establish complementary works. Chief among his supporters was Morton Harry Blumenthal, a young Jewish stockbroker from New York. They founded a Cayce Hospital in 1928 and Atlantic University in 1930, but both failed during the Great Depression. On the other hand, the Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE), a membership organization incorporated in 1932, has remained a major pillar of Cayce’s work and legacy. It provided for continuing stenographic recordings of Cayce’s readings (begun in 1923), for the dissemination of a newsletter and other literature, and, in time, for the establishment of Cayce study groups around the nation and the world. Some fifteen thousand transcripts of readings are kept in the ARE library in Virginia Beach, a collection available to researchers and unique in the annals of mediumship. A study by Edgar Cayce’s sons based on this material, The Outer Limits of Edgar Cayce’s Power (1971), presents a remarkably candid assessment of their father’s successes and failures. Edgar Cayce’s older son, Hugh Lynn Cayce (1907– 1982), a gifted organizer, did much to develop the ARE, heading it in the postwar years following his father’s death. It was largely through Hugh Lynn’s books, lectures, and energetic promotional activities that Cayce and the ARE ac-

quired a central position in the new spiritual consciousness of the 1960s and the New Age movement. The association regained control of the hospital building in 1956 and converted it into office spaces for the ARE. Atlantic University was reopened in 1985 as a distance learning institution, offering courses and degree programs in New Age topics. By 2004 the extensive headquarters campus of the movement in Virginia Beach included a library, a bookstore, a conference center, alternative healing facilities, and a day spa. Hugh Lynn Cayce was succeeded in the leadership of the movement by his son, Charles Cayce (b. 1942). Edgar Cayce is a figure unique in American spirituality. He represents a link between the biblical and folk Christianity of the middle South out of which he came and which was always a part of his world, and the theosophical ideas he also espoused. Reincarnation and other such concepts seemed much less alien to many Americans when expressed by a seer of Cayce’s background and earthy character. Cayce also was a living link between the Spiritualism of the nineteenth century, with its trance mediumship, and the New Age era of the late twentieth century. Because of him, ideas from all these quarters came together to form the groundwork of a distinctive American esotericism. SEE ALSO Association for Research and Enlightenment.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Bro, Harmon Hartzell. A Seer out of Season: The Life of Edgar Cayce. New York, 1989. Cayce, Charles Thomas, and Jeanette M. Thomas, eds. The Works of Edgar Cayce as Seen through His Letters. Virginia Beach, Va., 2000. Cayce, Edgar. My Life As a Seer: The Lost Memoirs. Compiled and edited by A. Robert Smith. New York, 1971. Cayce, Edgar Evans, and Hugh Lynn Cayce. The Outer Limits of Edgar Cayce’s Power. New York, 1971. Cayce, Hugh Lynn. Venture Inward. New York, 1964. Cayce, Hugh Lynn, ed. The Edgar Cayce Reader. New York, 1969. Johnson, K. Paul. Edgar Cayce in Context: The Readings, Truth and Fiction. Albany, N.Y., 1998. Kirkpatrick, Sidney D. Edgar Cayce: An American Prophet. New York, 2000. Sugrue, Thomas. There Is a River: The Story of Edgar Cayce. New York, 1942; rev. ed., 1945. ROBERT S. ELLWOOD (2005)

CELIBACY, the deliberate abstinence from sexual activity, derives its religious value from the vital human significance of sex itself. The different roles played by celibacy in the world’s religions then reflect different attitudes toward procreation and earthly existence. Thus, traditions oriented toward fecundity and wordly success, like those of most nonliterate peoples, rarely if ever enjoin permanent celibacy for ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


anyone; only periods of temporary celibacy preceding and following childbirth and at crucial communal rituals are prescribed. The great traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity, on the other hand, all oriented toward otherwordly goals, have firmly established roles for celibate monks working out their salvation. And smaller, extreme groups with radically negative views of life in the world may prescribe celibacy as an ideal for all. The reasons offered for celibacy consequently range from concerns for personal physical health to a total rejection of the physical body. Religious institutions, moreover, differ both in the ways of life that they prescribe for the celibate and in the image of the celibate that they present to laypersons.

TRADITIONAL PERCEPTIONS. The placement of deliberate religious restraints on physical behavior, celibacy is often explained within tradition through physiological as well as metaphysical concepts. Asian esoteric texts, moreover, can be most explicit about the spiritual potentials of reproductive energies. Traditional understandings of celibacy, then, present a continuity that spans ideas about marriage and procreation, spiritual powers, spiritual purity, and chaste marriage to the divine. Temporary concentration of reproductive energies. The perception that sexual intercourse during pregnancy and lactation will harm an infant is found in many cultures, including some contemporary Western folk traditions. The larger worldviews in which this perception is embedded may thus vary immensely. For the Arapesh of New Guinea, the practice of temporary celibacy has a positive religious significance for procreation. According to Arapesh ideas, the fetus is shaped and nurtured by both parents through several weeks of frequent and purposeful intercourse after the mother’s menstruation stops. Yet once the mother’s breasts enlarge in the first obvious sign of pregnancy, the child is considered fully formed and all intercourse must cease. After the child is born, the parents are supposed to sleep together with it, devote their energies to it, and give it special attention. If either parent indulges in sexual activity—even with other partners—before the child can walk, they say that it will become weak and perhaps die. With infanticide common among the Arapesh, choosing to keep a child is a deliberate decision, and this extended celibacy surrounding childbirth, once chosen, is normally kept. Celibacy then appears to represent here a conscious channeling and concentration of the reproductive power of both parents for the good of the child, lineage, and community. The power of holy persons. Adepts in the esoteric traditions of Asia are often aware of transmuting their reproductive power into spiritual power and channeling it within. This perception lies behind certain occult meditation techniques found in both India and Daoist China that draw on a tension between continence, in a strict sense, and sexual intercourse. Through entering a woman and still remaining continent, the male adept arouses sexual energy in both partners, which can then be absorbed inwardly for spiritual transENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


formation. More often, however, adepts practice techniques that entail only physiological imagery: Daoist spiritual alchemy may lead to the generation of an immortal fetus; Hindu yogins speak of channeling the seed upward through higher centers of the body. For most adepts, then, total celibacy is crucial in order to preserve the spiritual potencies of their own seed, a point also affirmed in popular tradition: Hindu mythological texts are full of stories of ascetics who succumbed to lust and lost their powers. Thus, the power of holy persons also depends in good part on their self-control. The word yoga, in fact, deriving from a root meaning “to yoke,” can often be best understood in a very concrete sense: a willful harnessing of the vital energies, which are considered prone to rage like beasts. So even in traditions like Christianity that do not explicitly posit a direct continuity between sexual and spiritual energies, celibacy still appears as a measure of powerful mastery over the senses. Latin Catholicism gives us stories of triumphant (and faltering) ascetics struggling with incubi or succubi, attractive male or female spirits bent on seducing them. Among the American Shakers, a struggle with sexual desire became the distinctive focal point through which an active Protestant sect sought to reform human existence. For the Shakers, the world of sensual experience itself was so overwhelming that a break with it required radical means: absolute abstention. In this instance, perfect celibacy expresses an attempt at total self-mastery. Separation from the impure. Ascetics who aim to subjugate the flesh usually have no high opinion of the gross physical matter that constitutes it. The eventual aim of controlling the sexual nature for many can then become the achievement of distance from a fundamentally impure, degenerate, and transient world. The perception of the physical body itself as disgusting and ultimately worthless may be actively cultivated in monastic traditions, sometimes through deliberate meditation practice. In the near-canonical Visuddhimagga, Therava¯da Buddhist monks are enjoined to detach themselves from sensual desire by contemplating the dead body in various stages of decomposition (swollen, bluish, gnawed, worm-eaten) and the live body as filled, among other things, with intestines, excrement, bile, pus, fat, mucus, and urine (chaps. 6, 8). Sexual activity in this context can easily be seen as another disgusting physical function from which all wise people should abstain. In nonliterate cultures, which usually have fewer qualms about the physical body, the impurity attributed to sex may stem in part from its potential danger to the social fabric. Built up out of kinship bonds, tribal societies may splinter over family tensions and conflicts about women. Temporary celibacy is thus often enjoined at crucial public rituals that highlight communal solidarity—initiations, hunting expeditions, the start of a group journey. The image of chaste asexuality encompassing the common good is also found in Western religious institutions. Roman state religion, which is often, in fact, understood to



derive from the religion of family and clan, exalted the Vestal Virgins. The keepers of Rome’s communal hearth, the Vestal Virgins were legally neither men nor women. Buried alive if they violated their chastity, their most crucial obligation was celibacy itself. People in literate as well as nonliterate cultures, then, may believe that sacred institutions maintaining the welfare of humanity as a whole should depend on individuals in an extraordinary state, beyond human sexuality. Ideas about the impurity of sex known both to the Roman world’s ascetics and in its politico-religious institutions were assimilated and transformed by early Christians, who by the fourth century had recognized the source of their own religious institution in the virgin son of a virgin mother. For Christians, then, maintaining virginity can be an imitation of divine models and the purity of permanent celibacy can offer a constant tie to what is realized as primal in religious experience. Appearing as the original state of man born of the spirit, celibacy in Christianity, as in other traditions, promises innocence—eternal childhood in the Lord. Exclusive attachment to the divine. Being an eternal child in God can free the celibate from many worldly responsibilities. Luke’s reference to chaste persons as “equal to angels” (20:35–36) suggests not only the innocence of celibates, but also their roles as agents of God, in no way beholden to man. Certainly, the ability to devote all of one’s efforts to spiritual matters without the burden of family obligations is a very frequently voiced justification for celibacy in the East as well as in the West. In India, the practical implications of celibacy for a life devoted to religious pursuits has explicit expression in the semantic range of the Sanskrit word brahmacarya, which occurs very frequently in religious writings. Used most often to refer to sexual abstention, brahmacarya literally means “walking with brahman,” the primal divine essence; at the same time, brahmacarya may be used to refer specifically to the first stage in the traditional Hindu life cycle, which is supposed to be devoted to religious study. Thus, a word suggesting adherence to first divine principles explicitly links the concept of celibacy to distinctly religious pursuits and the absence of worldly, adult responsibilities. In a highly dualistic theology, strict adherence to first principles can demand an absolute withdrawal from involvement in earthly endeavors. Abstinence from sex is required less to follow active religious pursuits freely than to desist from physical procreation. For a gnostic like Marcion (d. 160?), the physical world is the creation of a false god, not the true one; trapped in physical bodies, souls cannot return to their real, original home. From this perspective, making more physical bodies only means making more prisons for human souls, and keeping celibate represents a refusal to further the false, earthly creation. By inhibiting fruitful physical unions, celibacy may also strengthen the devotee’s spiritual union with the Lord. Indeed, in devotional traditions, physical sexual abstinence is often a sign of faithful attachment to the divine beloved. Hindu devotional poetry idealizes the stalwart devotee as the

Lord’s faithful wife, a concept institutionalized in Catholic orders that identify nuns as brides of Christ. Moreover, Christian as well as Hindu mystics sometimes express themselves in terms of nuptial ecstasy. Though the patriarchal heritages of East and West usually present the aspiring soul in feminine guise, dependent on the will of her Lord, men too can adopt a passionate devotional attitude. In India, both male and female devotees of Kr: s: n: a understand the highest spiritual state in terms of romantic love, and make much of Kr: s: n: a’s amorous dalliance with the adoring milkmaids of his pastoral childhood home. Some theologians of Kr: s: n: a worship have further pointed out that the milkmaids were in fact married women, and that the most intense desire between men and women actually takes place outside routinized marriage, between clandestine lovers. So, paradoxically, the milkmaids’ passionate attachment to Kr: s: n: a —an important ideal for a large tradition of Indian celibates—is frequently represented as wives’ unchaste betrayal of their husbands. Thus, as radical departures from ordinary convention, both celibacy and sexual abandon become religious parallels to one another.

THE PLACE OF CELIBACY IN SOCIETY. Like total sexual abandon, moreover, total abstinence is not a generally recommended practice in most traditions, and the social regulation of sexual behavior may entail curbs on celibacy as well as on indulgence. Indeed, traditional cultures often present celibacy and procreation in a complementary relationship, which can be ordered according to the calendrical cycle, the life cycle, or divisions in the society as a whole. At the same time, separate communities of celibates have their own norms of sexual propriety, and the maintenance of these norms is often crucial for the image of the celibate in the eyes of laypersons. Procreation and abstinence in traditional societies. Clearly, no civilization can survive for long without some provision for procreation, and religious traditions with strong ethnic roots, like Confucianism and Judaism, may have no place at all for the permanent celibate. Although traditional Judaism proscribes sexual relations outside marriage, all Jews are expected to marry and engage regularly in conjugal relations. Indeed, the Sabbath itself is thought of as a bride, and to celebrate its arrival Jewish husbands are enjoined to have intercourse with their wives joyously on Sabbath eve. In Judaism, then, controlled religious pursuits should also embrace sanctified procreation throughout a mature person’s life. The most highly structured relationships between abstinence and procreation are found in traditional India, where classical Hindu tradition sees these relationships ordered not, as in Judaism, in a lifelong weekly cycle, but in the cycle of each individual life. The life stages of classical Hinduism are fourfold: (1) brahmacarya, a period of celibate study; (2) gr: hastha, the householder stage, in which traditional Hindus were expected to marry and have many children, particularly sons who would perform their death rites; (3) vanaprastha (“forest dwelling”), the later stage of marriage, after the chilENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


dren were fully raised and had received most of their inheritance, and when abstinence was prescribed; and finally (4) sam: nya¯sa, the stage of total renunciation of settled life as well as sex. The classical Hindu life cycle, then, begins and ends in celibacy, but prescribes a sexually fruitful period of life as a householder in between. Giving celibacy an explicit place in the individual life cycle, Hindu tradition also gives celibate individuals an explicit place in society. Hindus recognize that exceptional individuals will want to live all their lives as celibate ascetics, either prolonging their studies indefinitely as brahmaca¯rins or bypassing the householder stage by making early formal renunciation. Today, Hindus tend to collapse the first and last stages of the cycle and ignore the third, thus resolving the four stages of the life cycle into two social states: householders fruitfully participating in society, nurturing new souls, and supporting ascetics; and solitary celibates outside society, working out their own salvation. In most Indian cosmologies, the participation of householders as well as celibates is required in the proper economy of salvation in the cosmos. Sexual norms in celibate groups. In Therava¯da Buddhism, the complementary roles of the householder and celibate were institutionalized and given a distinctive religious valuation. The community of monks—the sam: gha—should be supported by the laity, but the proper ordering of the cosmos (and so the welfare of the laity) depends on the sam: gha’s purity, conceived in good part as its sexual purity. Thus, in the Vinaya Pit: aka, the monastic disciplinary code, specific rules governed everyday practices that had even the most subtle sexual implications, from propriety in dress to contact with women. Atonement for even minor sexual infractions required not only confessions but also a formal legal decision handed down in a meeting of the community. Sexual intercourse with a woman was one of the few grounds for immediate expulsion from the sam: gha. Perhaps more crucial than the rules regulating the contact between members of a celibate community and potential sexual partners outside it are those controlling the relationships among the community members themselves. These rules can be especially complex in celibate communities of mixed sex. The Shakers, a mixed celibate community founded by a woman, maintained strict segregation between the sexes; men and women were even to avoid passing each other on stairways. Taking in children and youths to raise, they kept them under tight control. Children were not allowed out at night except for some specific reason (and not for any reason on Saturday evenings); lest they be tempted, children even of the same sex were not to be left unattended at their weekly bath. In whole communities of the same sex, too, provisions are often made to inhibit physical contact among members. Though the Rule of Saint Benedict, which stands behind much of Western monastic life, has little explicit to say about celibacy itself, it does include provisions apparently aimed at the prevention of homosexuality. Monks ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


should sleep in separate beds, clothed and with a light burning; though inmates of monasteries should sleep in groups, young monks should not sleep alone as a group but should be together with older ones (chap. 22). The abbots seemed to recognize that ideals of spiritual love among members of their communities could stand in practical tension with vows of celibacy. Yet more often than not, the physical chastity of cloistered monks is rarely tested; the crucial spiritual role of sexual restrictions on celibates is less the prevention of sexual activity than of sexual thoughts. For celibates living outside the cloister, continually interacting with laypersons, temptation and desire can become particularly problematic. Necessary celibacy for diocesan priests has been frequently questioned, both inside and outside the Roman Catholic church. In preReformation Europe, many priests openly took concubines, and the last half of the twentieth century has heard continuing discussion of the value of requiring celibacy for all priests. The tensions facing the modern priest are understandable: living in a sexually open society and as a confessor hearing detailed accounts of the intimate lives of individuals, he is nevertheless expected to exercise the same sexual discipline— both mentally and physically—of the cloistered monk. The image for the layperson. The persistence of sacerdotal celibacy in Roman Catholic tradition may lie, in part, in the image that the priest holds for the laity. As an administrator of divine office, the priest is seen to function within the holy mother church and should reflect her virginal purity. The ideal of virginal purity for its officiants is maintained even in the Eastern Orthodox church: though married men are allowed to become priests, they are not allowed to rise to the highest episcopal office, and once a man has become a priest he may not take a wife. As representatives of a sacred institution regarded as pure, Buddhist monks project a similar image of chaste holiness in Therava¯da society. Like priests, monks are formal participants in Therava¯da ritual, much of which involves the feeding of monks by laypersons. The religious power of the rite for laypersons depends in part on the monks’ perceived purity. A vow of celibacy, moreover, can make individuals appear remarkable beyond the confines of sanctified ritual. No longer appearing as ordinary mortals, celibates can be relaxed in their socioreligious roles. The Roman Catholic priest can joke and gossip with parishioners and not have to worry too much about a decorous image. A Therava¯da monk, even if he is not particularly charismatic, at least withstands the rigors of chastity—an experience familiar to many male Theravadins who have temporarily taken the robe. Among Hindu gurus, the married ones may feel constrained to appear particularly scrupulous in financial matters; celibate gurus, on the other hand, not burdened by family responsibilities, are said to be more easily trusted. And in all traditions, celibate hermits who do not interact readily with laypersons may, through their renunciation of society, seem awesome and powerful.



CONCLUSION. In setting individuals apart from normal life, deliberate celibacy can render them extraordinary both to themselves and to others. In crucial situations, temporary abstinence is undertaken by members of many cultures, either to achieve distance from impurity during rituals or to channel reproductive energy at the birth of a child. In religions oriented toward salvation, more permanent vows of celibacy affirm the links of individuals to powers higher than this world, often as members of sanctified institutions. In these ways, celibacy makes people seem less grossly, physically human, and thus, sometimes, more divine. SEE ALSO Asceticism; Desire; Kun: d: alin¯ı; Sam: nya¯sa; Tantrism; Virginity.

BIBLIOGRAPHY For an extensive survey of celibacy in Christianity with a brief treatment of Asian traditions see Elizabeth Abbott, A History of Celibacy (New York, 2000). For small-scale societies, see the essays in Celibacy, Culture, and Society: The Anthropology of Sexual Abstinence (Madison, 2001) edited by Elisa Janine Sobo and Sandra Bell. In Taoist Yoga: Alchemy and Immortality (New York, 1970), Charles Luk presents a translation of a turn-of-the-century Chinese text that treats the spiritual transformation of sexual energies. Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom (Princeton, 1969), treats this dimension of celibacy along with many others in Hindu religious traditions. Social-scientific insight on the role of celibate monks in Therava¯da Buddhist culture is presented in S. J. Tambiah, Buddhism and the Spirit Cults in North-east Thailand (Cambridge, 1970). A socio-religious perspective on the Shakers is given by Louis J. Kern, who presents them as a radical Protestant community: An Ordered Love (Chapel Hill, 1981). Incisive accounts of issues surrounding celibacy in the first Christian centuries are offered by Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York, 1988). Later Christian traditions are treated in the essays in Medieval Purity and Piety: Essays on Medieval Clerical Celibacy and Religious Reform (New York, 1998), edited by Michael Frassetto. Contemporary concerns about celibacy in Catholicism, together with a concise historical survey, are presented by Thomas McGovern, Priestly Celibacy Today (Princeton and Chicago, 1998). DANIEL GOLD (1987




This entry consists of the following articles: AN OVERVIEW HISTORY OF STUDY

CELTIC RELIGION: AN OVERVIEW Historical references to the Celts begin in the fifth century BCE. Herodotus and Hecataeus of Miletus are the forerunners of a long series of Greek and Latin writers whose reports and comments, both well- and ill-informed, reflect the changing fortunes of the Celtic peoples during the pre-

Christian era and their impact on the Greco-Roman world. Herodotus and Hecataeus confirm that by about 500 BCE the Celts were already widely dispersed over central and western Europe, including perhaps Gaul and the Iberian Peninsula, and evidence from the fifth century testifies to further territorial expansion. About 400 BCE this process quickened as tribal bands invaded northern Italy and established settlements that, in due course, became the Roman province of Gallia Cisalpina. Some Celtic bands raided farther south, as far as Rome and Apulia and even Sicily, and around 387 they captured and sacked the city of Rome, an event of traumatic importance in Roman history. To the east, other Celtic tribes penetrated into the Carpathians and the Balkans during the fourth century BCE. In 279 some of them entered Greece and plundered the shrine at Delphi, and in the following year three Celtic tribes, known collectively to the Greeks as Galatae, crossed into Asia Minor and eventually settled in the region that still bears the name Galatia. In Britain, the final phase of Celtic settlement came with the arrival of the Belgae in the first century BCE, although there is archaeological evidence of earlier immigrations dating back as far as the fifth century BCE. For Ireland, the evidence is complicated, and one cannot confidently infer a Celtic presence before the third century BCE. By the early third century BCE the Celts extended across the length of Europe from Britain to Asia Minor, and they were considered one of the three or four most important barbarian peoples in the known world. Thereafter, however, their history is one of decline. Harried by Germans in the north, Dacians in the east, and Romans in the south, the continental Celts saw their widespread dominion disintegrate and contract until their realm came to be associated solely with Gaul, where they maintained their independence until their conquest by Caesar (100–44 BCE) in the mid–first century BCE (58–51 BCE). In Britain and Ireland the process was longer drawn out, but there too Celtic society was gradually eroded and submerged by foreign domination. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, Celtic languages were being spoken only on the western periphery, in restricted areas of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany. The insular languages belong to two distinct branches of Celtic and perhaps reflect an older dialectal division among the Celtic-speaking peoples of Europe: Goidelic, which comprises Irish and Scottish Gaelic (and formerly Manx), and British or Brythonic, comprising Welsh and Breton (and formerly Cornish). However, Breton, which is largely the product of immigration to Brittany from southwest Britain from around the fourth to the seventh century CE, may also have absorbed surviving elements of Gaulish speech. The entry of the Celts into the written record coincides with the first evidences of the Second Iron Age, also known as La Tène culture, which refers broadly to those areas of Europe historically associated with the Celts. However, the further back beyond the fifth century BCE one goes, the more ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


difficult it becomes to use the term Celts with reasonable confidence, because the correlatives of language and written reference are lacking. The cultural phase which preceded La Tène, known as Hallstatt, dates from the ninth century BCE and covers an expanse of territory extending at least from Burgundy to Bohemia. Hallstatt culture is characterized by elaborate chariot burials and by the use of iron rather than bronze for arms and utensils. It is the product of a warrior aristocracy that is generally recognized as Celtic, or at least as the direct ancestor of the Celts of the following period. Obviously, the definition of a Celtic identity was the product of a long period of linguistic and cultural evolution, and some archaeologists have ventured to identify as proto-Celtic the peoples of the Urnfield culture and of the Tumulus culture that preceded it in the second millennium BCE, or even the peoples of the Beaker and Battle-Axe cultures of the third millennium BCE. However, this is mere speculation; the point in the archaeological record at which the IndoEuropeans made their appearance in central and western Europe cannot be known with certainty. And yet most scholars discern in the culture of the Tumulus peoples features that are echoed in that of La Tène. SOURCES. The sources for Celtic religion fall broadly into two categories. The first category comprises the various monuments relating to the Celts on the continent, particularly in Gaul and in Roman Britain, and the second category comprises the insular Celtic literatures that have been preserved in writing. The two types pose problems that are very different in character. Most dedicatory inscriptions, images of Celtic deities, and commentaries by classical authors belong to the Roman period and probably reflect in varying degrees the effect of Roman influence on Gaulish institutions. For example, because Gaulish sculpture is based for the most part on Greco-Roman models, it is often difficult to assess and interpret its relevance to native belief. Even cases in which motifs and figures seem clearly to derive from pre-Roman religious tradition, as in some of the Celtic coins of the third and second centuries BCE, they are not easily related to what is known of insular Celtic myth and ritual. The difficulty lies in the lack of the literature that would provide a context for the iconography as well as a key to its understanding. The druids, as Caesar records, accorded primacy to the spoken word and refused to commit their teaching to writing. Consequently, the whole of the traditional literature, including the mythology that gave the iconography its meaning, was confined to oral transmission and perished with the extinction of the Gaulish language. The total loss of this vernacular literature, which was doubtless comparable in volume and variety with that of early Ireland, renders all the more significant the testimony of those classical authors who recorded their own or others’ observations on the Celts. Probably the most important was Posidonius (c. 135–c. 50 BCE), who had firsthand knowledge of diverse cultures, including the Celtic in southern Gaul, and who devoted the twenty-third chapter of his lost Histories to Celtic ethnography. Much of his account of the Celts survives in the work ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


of later writers who borrowed from him, such as the historian Diodorus Siculus (died after 21 BCE,), the geographer Strabo (c. 63 BCE–24 CE), and, most notably of all, Julius Caesar, whose account is crucial for the study of Gaulish religion. The limitations of the classical sources are obvious. Most of the reports come at second- or third-hand and are subject to the prejudices and preconceptions born of classical civilization—or even, as in the case of Caesar, of internal Roman politics—but they are not without substance, as on many points they harmonize remarkably with the later insular sources. For example, classical sources note that in Gaul there were three classes associated with literature and learning: the druids, the bards, and, between them, an order that seems to have been best known by the Gaulish term *va¯tis (cognate with Latin vatis; * denotes a form not appearing in epigraphs and reconstructed from the quotations of Greek and Latin authors), which is not clearly distinguishable from the druids. Far removed in time and space, the same threefold arrangement occurs in medieval Ireland, comprising here druids (druïdh), filidh, and bards (baird). The term fáith (prophet) is the Irish cognate of Gaulish *va¯tis and appears frequently as a near synonym of fili (plural, filidh). Manuscripts. The second main body of evidence, the insular Celtic literatures, is at first glance far removed from the pre-Roman world of the continental Celts. The great historian of Gaul, Camille Jullian (1859–1933), questioned whether it was valid to use Irish and Welsh literary sources to interpret Latin and Greek references to Gaulish institutions and concluded that one could not rely on documents written so long after the Celtic migration to Ireland. In fact, the gap is much narrower than the twelve centuries that he supposed, because much of the relevant material is linguistically older than the period of the manuscript collections in which it is now preserved. Further, there is no evidence that Christianity was introduced to any part of Ireland before the second half of the fourth century CE, or that it impinged much on the traditional culture of the country before the sixth century. Moreover, one must reckon with the highly conservative character of Irish learned tradition, which, thanks to the assiduousness of the hereditary filidh, survived far into the Christian period and transmitted innumerable elements of form and content, particularly in the area of social institutions, which find their closest detailed analogues in the sacred texts of Vedic and classical Sanskrit. Written literature in Irish dates from the second half of the sixth century CE, when monastic scholars adapted the Latin alphabet for that purpose, and it gradually increases in volume during the following centuries. In addition to a good deal of typically monastic learning, both religious and secular, the literature comprises a vast amount of varied material recorded or adapted from oral tradition. However, only fragments of this literature survive in contemporary manuscripts, mostly in the form of annals or notes and glosses accompanying Latin texts; all the vernacular manuscripts written before the end of the eleventh century, some of them known by



name, have perished through usage or spoilage caused by warfare. Then around 1100 came Lebhor na hUidhre (The book of the dun cow), probably written in the monastery of Clonmacnois and the first of a series of great vellum manuscript compilations that were part of a conscious endeavor in the face of ominous political and social change to conserve the monuments of native tradition. It was followed around 1130 by an untitled collection now at the Bodleian Library at Oxford University and around 1150–1200 by Lebhor na Nuachongbála (known commonly as the Book of Leinster), probably compiled in the monasteries of Glendalough and Terryglass, respectively. Over the next couple of centuries a number of major manuscripts appeared, of which the most important are the Great Book of Lecan, Yellow Book of Lecan, Book of Ballymote, Book of Lismore, and Book of Fermoy. These capacious bibliothecae embrace all the various genres of traditional literature: hero and king tales, mythological tales, origin legends, genealogies, onomastic (the study of proper names) and etymological lore, gnomic texts, legal tracts, eulogy and elegy, battle tales, birth tales, death tales, tales of the otherworld, and so on. It is important to remember that, although the surviving manuscripts date from a relatively late period, the matter they contain has generally been copied more or less faithfully from earlier manuscripts. The result is that the initial redaction of the individual texts can be dated with a fair degree of accuracy on the basis of linguistic criteria. Thus the texts are often demonstrably centuries older than the extant manuscripts. Along with these manuscript collections, several specialized compilations, including Leabhar Gabhála Éireann (The book of the taking of Ireland), commonly known as the Book of Invasions, an amalgam of myth and pseudohistory, which purports to recount the coming of the Gaels to Ireland as well as the several immigrations that preceded it; the Cóir Anmann (Fitness of names), a catalog of names of “historical” personages with many imaginative etymologies and references to traditional legends; and the Dinnshenchas (Lore of famous places), which provides a much fuller and more elaborate examination of place names than the Cóir Anmann provides for personal names. The features of the Irish landscape and their names, if properly construed, were thought to reveal the history of the country and its peoples from their beginnings. From the first shaping and definition of the land— the clearing of plains, the creation of rivers and lakes, and the assigning of names (as related in Leabhar Gabhála)— each place was linked indissolubly to momentous events by an association that conferred on it an enduring psychic resonance. The onomastic element is pervasive in Irish (and Welsh) literature, and in poetic tracts dating from around the tenth century, the history of dinnshenchas is included in the course of study prescribed for apprentice filidh. During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, a period of intensive compilation, a comprehensive volume of these onomastic legends was assembled. This mythological gazetteer of Irish place names exists in several recensions (critically revised texts that use varying sources), both prose and verse. Among

the many other miscellaneous sources are the lives of the saints, particularly those later ones compiled or redacted from the eleventh century onward (of which it is sometimes said that they contain more pagan mythology than Christianity). Evidence indicates that the early oral literature of Wales was comparable in volume and variety with that of Ireland. Unfortunately, because of a weaker scribal tradition, Welsh literature is less well documented for the pre-Norman period, prior to the eleventh century. This applies particularly to prose, which in the Celtic languages is the standard medium for narrative and hence for most heroic and mythological literature. Of the compositions ascribed to the fathers of Welsh poetry, Taliesin and Aneirin, who belonged to the second half of the sixth century, only a modest proportion is likely to be authentic, and all of that consists of eulogy and heroic elegy. However, from the ninth or tenth century onward Taliesin became the focus of poems and stories (extant only in much later versions) that represent him as a wonder child, seer, and prophet; some of these motifs clearly derive from native mythological tradition. There is no evidence of written Welsh narrative prose before the eleventh century, the period to which most scholars assign the first redaction of the earliest of the group of tales known as the Mabinogi or Mabinogion. However, the earliest manuscripts containing this prose material date from considerably later. Apart from two manuscript fragments from the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, the main texts are the “White Book of Rhydderch” from the mid–fourteenth century and the “Red Book of Hergest” from the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century. Another important source is the Trioedd Ynys Prydein (The triads of the island of Britain), which contains numerous references to mythological as well as historical characters and events; it may have been compiled in the twelfth century, but much of the contents must have existed in oral tradition before then. Also of mythological interest are the poems compiled as part of the “Black Book of Carmarthen” in the mid-thirteenth century, some of the contents of which may be dated on linguistic grounds to the ninth or tenth century. Given the diversity of these sources, it is unrealistic to expect from them a clear image of religious and mythological unity. On one hand, Gaulish epigraphy and iconography belong preponderantly to the period of Roman domination when native religion was being progressively modified by Roman influence. On the other hand, the insular literatures, although exceedingly conservative in many respects, were recorded and redacted by monastic scribes and scholars who, however well disposed toward their own vernacular tradition, were nonetheless educated Christians, who on matters of crucial importance doubtless gave priority to Christian teaching over pagan tradition. In short, the integral tradition as it would have been transmitted and commented on by the druids in an independent Celtic society does not exist. Even among the insular Celts, history created important dispariENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


ties. For instance, Ireland escaped the immediate physical presence of Rome, which left its imprint so clearly on medieval language and thought in Britain and Wales. One must also acknowledge the imponderable but obviously considerable survival of pre-Celtic religion in Celtic belief and practice in the several areas of Celtic settlement. Yet, despite these sources of dissimilation, the underlying structural and thematic unity of British and Irish ideology is more striking than the superficial differences. Artifacts. The plastic art of the Celto-Roman period is so evidently based on that of Rome that it might appear at first glance to have been borrowed whole and unchanged, but on closer scrutiny it reveals many elements that derive from the Celtic rather than from the Roman tradition. On one hand, there are forms quite foreign to classical art, such as the tricephalic (three-headed) god, the god with stag’s antlers, and the god depicted in the Buddha-like cross-legged position. On the other hand, there are images more or less in the classical mode but with features not associated with the corresponding deities of Greco-Latin religion: the wheel, for instance, or the mallet. The wheel is seen by some as representing the thunderbolt, by others as representing the sun, and in some cases it may also be the emblem of the god of the underworld. Similarly, the mallet or hammer is thought to have several connotations: it symbolizes thunder and the sky from which it emanates, but it also functions as an apotropaic (able to prevent evil or bad luck) symbol and as the emblem of an underworld god of fecundity. The cornucopia, or horn of abundance, is not particularly Celtic, but it appears as a common attribute of the Celtic mother goddess, perhaps the most important divinity of the primitive Celtic pantheon. Animal horns are commonly regarded as signs of fertility, and the antlers that the Celtic deity wears on the Gundestrup Caldron, a first-century BCE vessel found in Denmark, and elsewhere are taken to symbolize his power and fecundity. Another frequent emblem of divinity is the ornamented torque, which is interpreted to denote a powerful god who is able to provide protection from evil spirits. Although it is usually worn around the neck as a metal collar, the torque is sometimes held in the hand, and, on the relief of the Celtic god Cernunnos in the Musée de Cluny in Paris, the deity carries two torques suspended on his horns. Probably the most notable element in the religious symbolism of the Celts is the number three; the mystic significance of the concept of threeness is attested in most parts of the world, but it seems to have had a particularly strong significance for the Celts. This is confirmed both by CeltoRoman iconography, which has its three-headed and threefaced deities (and even a triphallic Mercury) and its triads of mother goddesses, and by the insular literary tradition, which has an endless variety of ternary groups in which the triad is an expressive restatement of an underlying unity. Examples include goddesses such as the three Brighids and inseparable brothers such as the three companions of the tragic heroine Deirdre. It is commonly accepted that ternary repetition has ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


an intensifying force, expressing totality or omnipotence, although its symbolism may be even more complex and subtle.

CONTINENTAL DEITIES AND INSULAR EQUIVALENTS. Given that the bulk of the relevant evidence belongs to the Roman period, the Gaulish religion is for the most part as seen through Roman eyes, which means that it is perceived and presented in terms of Roman religion. A classical example is the passage in Caesar’s Gallic Wars in which he lists and defines the principal gods of the Gauls: Of the gods they worship Mercury most of all. He has the greatest number of images; they hold that he is the inventor of all the arts and a guide on the roads and on journeys, and they believe him the most influential for money-making and commerce. After him they honor Apollo, Mars, Jupiter, and Minerva. Of these deities they have almost the same idea as other peoples: Apollo drives away diseases, Minerva teaches the first principles of the arts and crafts, Jupiter rules the heavens, and Mars controls the issue of war. (Gallic Wars, 6.17)

What Caesar offers us here is a thumbnail sketch of the Gaulish pantheon modeled on that of Rome. As part of this glaringly Roman interpretation, he refers to each deity not by his proper Celtic name but by that of a Roman deity to which it is most easily equated. At the same time he introduces a neat schematism, which is quite foreign to all that is otherwise known of Celtic religion. In thus equating gods and divine functions that are not really equal, he has posed many problems for modern scholars who seek to identify Caesar’s Roman gods in continental Celtic iconography and insular Celtic mythology. To confound matters further, modern scholars have tended to depreciate Caesar’s testimony on the Gauls; first, on the grounds that he distorted the facts to enhance his own achievements, and second, on the grounds that he took his information from Posidonius, but used it inaccurately. It has been argued, for example, that Caesar—and even Posidonius—exaggerated the social and political importance of the druids, assigning them a dominant role that they never in fact possessed. Yet in this regard, as in others, Caesar’s version of things is largely confirmed by the independent evidence of the insular literatures. Once allowance is made for the synoptic nature of his comment, his inevitable professional bias, and the limitations of his interest in Gaul, there is no reason to assume that his account is not largely authentic. By the time he wrote his account, he had had eight years’ experience of the country, and most likely he derived much of his information from personal observation and from the reports of colleagues and acquaintances; certainly there is little basis for the common assumption that he was totally indebted to Posidonius for his knowledge of the land and its people. The concise precision of Caesar’s testimony makes it difficult to correlate with other evidence. Georges Dumézil (1898–1986) remarked that one of the many traits the early Irish shared with the Indians is that they were both fond of



classification and careless of order. The result is that Irish literature is often a curious mixture of meticulous detail and incoherence that finds its closest parallel in some of the Indian epics. One must therefore adjust one’s mental perspective considerably as one moves from Caesar to the vernacular literatures. It may be that something of this prodigal disorder is reflected in the continental Celtic iconography, which may help to explain why identifications with Caesar’s deities are often more a matter of speculation than of demonstration. But perhaps a more important consideration is that Caesar’s account and the iconography refer to quite different stages in the history of Gaulish religion. Periods of profound cultural and political change often bring into prominence popular forms of belief and practice that have hitherto been concealed by the dominant orthodoxy. It seems probable that the religion represented in Gallo-Roman plastic art was less clearly structured and delimited than that maintained by the druids in the days of independence before Caesar’s conquest. Modern scholars have often noted, and sometimes exaggerated, a discrepancy between Caesar’s account and the Gallo-Roman evidence, claiming that the evidence does not substantiate Caesar’s account of a pantheon of major deities who were worshiped throughout Gaul. In Gallo-Roman dedications, deities may be assigned a Roman name, a native Gaulish name, or a Roman name accompanied by a native epithet. The last two cases clearly have to do with indigenous gods, and even the first group may also. For example, the numerous statues and reliefs of Mercury in the guise of the Greco-Roman god might have been intended to honor that god, but equally they might have been intended to honor a native god by borrowing the classical form together with the classical name. Indeed, many of these images have certain features that betray their essential non-Roman character. It has been observed that the great majority of the several hundred names containing a Gaulish element occur only once. Those that occur more frequently tend to do so in regional or tribal groupings, and many of them have a clear local reference (e.g., Mars Vesontius pointing to Vesontio and Dea Tricoria referring to a goddess of the Tricorii). The inference drawn by some scholars, including Joseph Vendryes and Marie-Louise Sjoestedt, is that, although the Celts had a multiplicity of gods, their cults were local and tribal rather than national. Scholars also cite Lucan’s (39–65 CE) mention of the deity name Teutates, which they interpret as “God of the Tribe” based on the etymologies of Celtic word *teuta¯ (tribe) and an oath formula from Irish hero tales, Tongu do dia toinges mo thuath (I swear to the god to whom my tribe swears). But this evidence is susceptible of a different interpretation. A large proportion of the Gaulish forms attested in dedications are mere epithets or bynames; even of those that may be taken to be proper names, it would be quite erroneous to suppose that each indicates a separate deity. As Dumézil remarked in Dieux des Indo-Européens (1952), the names of deities are easily reinvented, and the insular literatures offer ex-

amples of major gods known by several different names. As for the form Teutates, it may be a title linking the god to the tribe but does not necessarily confine him to it. By the same token, in early Irish law the small tribal kingdom, the tuath (from *teuta¯), was the unit of jurisdiction, and rules of law were explicitly stated to apply i tuaith (within a tuath). Presumably, then, laws originally applied with equal validity only between members of the same tribe; however, substantially the same law—formulated by the same learned class of jurists related to the druids and filidh—was common to all the tribal kingdoms. Similarly, in primitive Ireland the vital ritual of inauguration was founded in the first place on the small tribal kingdom (tuath), as is enunciated in the law tracts, but it is also replicated at different levels throughout the wider cultural community. And as for the alleged lack of great divinities common to all the Celtic peoples, this is gainsaid even in terms of nomenclature by such insular gods as Lugh and Brighid and their continental equivalents. In short, there is a growing awareness that, despite its all too obvious complexities, the seeming throng of Celtic gods is both less amorphous and more universal than was formerly believed. Another criticism levelled at Caesar is that he assigned separate functions to the several Gaulish deities in contradiction of the evidence. Some scholars hold that the deities were polyvalent (they can be understood in more than one way) tribal gods, and that to seek to restrict them to distinct spheres of activity is pointless. Others hold that all the various attested gods may be reduced ultimately to a single deity who is both polyvalent and polymorphic (i.e., taking more than one form). Thomas F. O’Rahilly, one of the two principal exponents of this view, believed that the core of Irish and Celtic mythology was the conflict in which this universal deity was slain by a youthful hero using the god’s own sacred weapon, the thunderbolt. Pierre Lambrechts, the other principal exponent of this view, believed that originally Celtic religion was bound up with one great deity, possibly a ternary (three-formed) deity endowed with multiple and comprehensive attributes and that during the Roman period this largely undefined and impersonal deity was fragmented into a number of smaller, specialized deities through contact with the Greco-Roman world. This notion of a single all-encompassing god, endlessly varied in form and function, has perhaps a certain plausibility. Because the Celtic gods were not clearly departmentalized, it is difficult to pair them off neatly with their Roman counterparts, and so one finds such evident anomalies as the occasional use of the same Gaulish byname (e.g., Iovantucarus and Vellaunus) with different Roman deity names (e.g., Mars and Mercurius). However, although the functional roles of the several deities are not clearly defined and delimited and frequently overlap with one another, it does not follow that they may be reduced to a single, all-purpose divine overlord. It has often been remarked that in polytheistic systems each god tends to move beyond his or her normal ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


functional field toward a kind of universalism. Yet, despite this tendency toward the assimilation of roles, the insular Celtic gods are far removed from functional indifferentism, and there are some, like Goibhniu (The Smith) and Dian Cecht (The Leech) whose central responsibilities are defined very precisely. The assumption of undifferentiated polyvalence that underlies the conflicting interpretations of Vendryes and O’Rahilly (i.e., tribal and polytheistic) or Lambrechts (i.e., vaguely monotheistic) has not been substantiated. In fact, more recent scholars, notably Françoise Le Roux and Anne Ross, have moved in the direction of a typological classification of the gods based on criteria of function. The scheme put forward by Le Roux is in close conformity with the principles established in Dumézil’s functional theory of Indo-European mythology. Indeed, it could be argued that this typological approach had already been anticipated by Caesar in his brief account of the characteristic activities of the major Gaulish deities. Mercury or Lugh. Caesar’s observation that Mercury was the deity with the greatest number of images in Gaul is confirmed by the surviving evidence of inscriptions, stone statues and reliefs, bronze statuettes, and terra-cotta figures. His image often appears in the mode of the classical Mercury: youthful, naked, and beardless; equipped with caduceus (rod entwined with a pair of snakes), petasos (wide-brimmed hat), and purse; and accompanied by cock, ram, or tortoise. But his image is also found in Gallo-Roman guise: mature, bearded, and dressed in a heavy cloak. Sometimes, as in the east and the north of Gaul, he has three heads. Unlike his Roman counterpart, he has a frequent consort named Maia or Rosmerta (The Provider) and includes the art of war in his range of competence. One cannot assume that Caesar’s Mercury coincides with a single native deity throughout the Celtic areas, but there is quite strong evidence for identifying him substantially with the Irish god Lugh (although some doubts have been expressed in this regard by Bernhard Maier). First, Lugh’s name and cult were pan-Celtic. Further, Caesar speaks of Mercury as omnium inventorem artium (inventor of all the arts), a close paraphrase of Lugh’s sobriquet in Irish, (sam)ildánach (skilled in many arts together). In fact, an episode in the tale of the mythological Battle of Magh Tuiredh dramatically sets forth Lugh’s claim as the only god who was master of all the arts and crafts. At Osma in Spain an inscription was found with a dedication on behalf of a guild of shoemakers to the Lugoves, whose name is the plural of Lugus, an older form of Lugh. Most likely these divinities, who recur in an inscription from Avenches in Switzerland, are simply the pan-Celtic Lugus in plural, perhaps triple, form. The Middle Welsh tale Math vab Mathonwy may well echo this connection with shoemaking, for Lleu, the Welsh cognate of Lugh, operates briefly as a high-class practitioner of the craft. In Ireland, Lugh was the youthful victor over malevolent demonic figures, and his great achievement was to kill ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


the cyclopean Balar with a slingshot. Lughnasadh, his feast, was a harvest festival, and at least two of its principal sites, Carmun and Tailtiu, were the burial places of goddesses by the same names, who were associated with the fertility of the earth (as was, apparently, the Gaulish Mercury’s consort Rosmerta). Lugh was the divine exemplar of sacred kingship, and in the tale Baile in Scáil (The Phantom’s Vision) he appears seated in state as king of the otherworld and attended by a woman identified as the sovereignty of Ireland, reminiscent of Rosmerta. His usual epithet, lámhfhada (of the long arm), relates to his divine kingship. In the Christian period Lugh survived in the guise of several saints known by variants of his name—Lughaidh, Molua, and others—and the motif of the arm is reflected in these Christian traditions as well. Gaulish Mars. A famous passage in Lucan’s (39–65 CE) Civil War refers to the bloody sacrifices offered the three Celtic gods: Teutates, Esus, and Taranis. A later commentator on Lucan clearly illustrates the difficulty of identifying individual Gaulish and Roman gods, for one of his two main sources equated Teutates with Mercury, the other with Mars. But if, as seems likely, teutates is primarily a title (“god of the tribe”) rather than a name, then such confusion is explainable: the god of sovereignty and the arts, Mercurius, will also function as a warrior, whereas the god of war, Mars, will often function as the protector of the tribe. Consequently, their functions will sometimes overlap, and it may be a matter of chance or circumstance which is given preeminence in a given time or place. A further complication is that many of the Gallo-Roman dedications to Mars present him not only as a god of war but also as god of healing and guardian of the fields, but this may reflect an extension of his role in the Roman period and does not necessarily discredit Caesar’s description of him as god of war. So far as the insular tradition is concerned, a god of war does not come into clear focus, perhaps because fighting is a more or less universal rather than a differentiating feature in the heroic context. Thus one cannot easily define the role of Mars, and one cannot so easily assign him a pan-Celtic identity as one can Lugh. Gaulish Apollo. The classical form of Apollo in Romano-Celtic monuments only partly conceals the several native deities who have been assimilated to him. The use of the plural is probably justifiable, because several of the fifteen or more epithets attached to Apollo’s name have a wide distribution, which might suggest that they were independent gods. Yet some of these epithets may have referred to a single deity. Belenus was especially honored in the old Celtic kingdom of Noricum in the eastern Alps, as well as in northern Italy, southern Gaul, and Britain. The solar connotations of the stem bel- (shining, brilliant) would have confirmed the identification with the Greco-Roman Apollo. Grannus, whose name is of uncertain etymology, has a widespread cult with one of its principal centers at Aachen. He is sometimes accompanied by a goddess named Sirona. Borvo, or Bormo, whose name denotes boiling or seething water, is associated



with thermal springs, as at Bourbonne-les-Bains and other sites named after him. His consort is Damona (Divine Cow) or Bormana. This association of healing with springs and wells, which was subsequently taken over into Christian or subChristian usage throughout the Celtic countries, tended to encourage localized cults, and it is all the more remarkable that these early names had such an extensive currency. Unlike those already mentioned, Maponos (Divine Son/Youth) occurs mainly in northern Britain, although it is also attested in Gaul near healing springs. Maponos appears in medieval Welsh literature as Mabon, son of Modron, that is, of Matrona (Divine Mother), eponymous goddess of the river Marne in France. A brief but significant episode in the tale of Culhwch and Olwen casts him in the role of hunter and alludes to a myth attested elsewhere in insular literature of the youthful god carried off from his mother when three nights old. That his legend was once more extensive in oral tradition than appears from the extant literature is borne out by the survival of his name into Arthurian romance under the forms Mabon, Mabuz, and Mabonagrain. His Irish equivalent was Mac ind Óg (Young Lad/Son), otherwise known as Oenghus, who was believed to dwell in Bruigh na Bóinne, the great Neolithic and therefore preCeltic, passage grave of Newgrange. He was the son of Daghdha, chief god of the Irish, and of Boann, eponym of the sacred river of Irish tradition (Boyne, in English). As his name and relationship suggest, he is a youthful god, and, perhaps in keeping with this, he is often treated with a certain affection in the literature, particularly in his familiar roles of trickster and lover. But he is nowhere presented as a god of healing, which merely underlines the impossibility of exactly equating Celtic and Roman gods in terms of their functional range. Gaulish Minerva: Irish Brighid. The goddesses of insular Celtic tradition are involved in a wide range of activities that are only partly reflected in Caesar’s succinct comment that Minerva concerned herself with teaching “the first principles of the arts and crafts” (Minervam operum atque artificiorum initia tradere), even though expertise in arts and crafts enjoyed high status in Celtic society and covered a broad swathe of competences. It is very probable that Caesar chose a single widely revered deity to represent the whole category of goddesses, national and regional. Dedications to Minerva are found throughout the Celtic areas of the continent and in Britain. At Bath she was identified with the goddess Sulis who was worshiped there in connection with the thermal springs and has been identified as a solar deity. The name Minerva is frequently accompanied by the epithet belisama (very brilliant), which suggests a rapport with the GalloRoman Apollo, who is sometimes named Belenus (The Shining One). The related plural suleviae is applied to triads of mother-goddesses at sites on the Continent and in Britain. Sulis Minerva is also related to the widespread and important category of mother-goddesses: Matres Suleviae and Suleviae Iunones.

In the Irish context the single goddess who answers best to Caesar’s Minerva by virtue of her functional repertoire and wide-ranging cult is the goddess Brighid (from earlier *Brigent¯ı). According to the Glossary of Cormac mac Cuilennáin (c. 900) she was the daughter of the father-god, the Daghdha (literally, Good God), and was worshiped by the filid, the exclusive fraternity of learned seer-poets. In keeping with the Celtic penchant for triadic repetition, she had two sisters, also called Brighid—the one associated with healing, the other with the smith’s craft—and their combined fame was such that among all the Irish a goddess used to be called Brighid (a statement that invites comparison with Caesar’s use of Minerva as an inclusive term for the goddesses of Gaul). Thus, Brighid was patroness of the artistic inspiration of the poets as well as of healing and craftsmanship. Minerva, for her part, is associated with healing, as at the shrine of Bath, and she is also combined on reliefs with Mercury, the master of all the arts, and Vulcan, more specifically connected with the craftsmanship of the smith. It seems clear that Brighid is merely the Irish reflex of a pan-Celtic deity. Her name, which meant originally “The Exalted One,” has its close linguistic correspondent in *Brigantî, latinized as Brigantia, the name of the tutelary goddess of the Brigantes, who formed an important federation in northern Britain. She has also a remarkable Christian (or Christianized) double in the person of her namesake Brighid, the great sixthcentury abbess of the monastery of Kildare. The legend of the saint is inextricably fused with that of her pagan alter ego, and as she is inevitably accorded a much fuller documentation by monastic redactors, there is the curious irony that the richest source for the mythology of the goddess is the hagiography of the saint together with the prolific folklore that commemorates her in popular tradition. Both the saint’s Lives and her folklore suggest a close connection with livestock and the produce of the soil, and, appropriately, her feastday, February 1, coincides with Imbolg, the pagan festival of spring. In a passage of the Topographia Hiberniae that evidently draws on this conflate tradition, the twelfthcentury Norman cleric Gerald of Wales (c.1146–c.1223; also known Giraldus Cambrensis) reports that Brighid and nineteen of her nuns at Kildare took turns in maintaining a perpetual fire surrounded by a hedge within which no male might enter. Also, it is a significant coincidence that already in the third century Iulius Solinus, associating Minerva with the healing springs of Sulis, mentions in Collectanea Rerum Memorabilium that perpetual fires burned in her sancuary also. In secular texts Brighid is sometimes made to aid and encourage the men of Leinster when they were engaged in crucial conflicts, a reflection perhaps of her pristine role as territorial goddess like those other Celtic deities indicated by such nicknames as Dea Tricoria of the Tricorii in the Narbonnaise, Dea Nemetona of the Nemetes in the Rhine region, or even Dea Brigantia of the British federation. Celtic Vulcan. Although Caesar does not mention a Gaulish Vulcan, his cult was evidently known to all the Celtic peoples; indeed, the evidence suggests that he enjoyed a ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


higher status than his Roman counterpart. Because he functioned as a very specialized deity, there is a strong probability that his native name among the continental Celts made reference to his craft, as it did in Ireland and Wales, where he was known as Goibhniu and Gofannon, both names derived from the word for smith. The weapons Goibhniu forged with his fellow craft gods, Luchta the Wright and Creidhne the Metalworker, were unerring in aim and fatal in their effect. Further, those who attended the Feast of Goibhniu and partook of the god’s sacred drink were thereby rendered immune to age and decay. He was known for his healing powers, and he is invoked in an Old Irish charm for the removal of a thorn. Until the nineteenth century, and in some areas even into the twentieth century, the country smith was still believed to retain something of his ancient preternatural faculty, and he was constantly called on for the healing effects of his charms and spells. In the early tradition, Gobbán Saer (Gobbán the Wright; Gobbán is a hypocoristic form of Goibhniu) was renowned as a wondrous builder, and under the modern form, Gobán Saor, he is the skillful and resourceful mason who outwits his rivals and enemies by his clever stratagems. Gaulish Hercules or Irish Oghma. Hercules is well represented in Celto-Roman iconography and has a number of regional epithets assigned to him. Doubtless his popularity derives largely from his identification with native Celtic gods who correspond approximately to his classical character. One of these is mentioned in a curious passage by the Greek writer Lucian in the second century CE, who, when describing a Gaulish picture of Hercules, notes that the Celts call him Ogmios. It showed him armed with his familiar club and bow but pictured him uncharacteristically as an old man, bald and gray with his skin darkened and wrinkled by the sun. He pulled behind him a willing band of men attached by slender chains that linked their ears to the tip of his tongue. The explanation, according to Lucian’s Gaulish informant, was that eloquence reaches its apogee in old age: the Celts did not identify eloquence with Hermes, as did the Greeks, but with Hercules, because he was by far the stronger. A question much debated is whether this hoary champion can be identified with the Irish god Oghma, despite the fact that the phonological correspondence is not exact. The functional parallel is adequate: Not merely is Oghma known as a trénfher (strong man, champion), but he is also credited with the invention of the Ogham letters. This system of writing was based on the Latin alphabet and can hardly be older than the fourth century CE, but it probably replaced an older system of magical symbols of the same name. Gaulish Dis Pater or Irish Donn. Caesar mentions Dis Pater separately from the other gods and states that all the Gauls believed with their druids that they were descended from him. The reference is brief but is sufficient to indicate at least an analogy between the Gaulish god of the dead and his Irish counterpart Donn (Brown/Dark One), whose ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


dwelling place was a small rocky island off the southwest coast of Ireland known as Tech nDuinn (House of Donn). Its English name, the Bull, echoes its other name in early Irish, Inis Tarbhnai (Island of Tarbnae). Tarbhnae derives from tarbh (bull), which perhaps suggests a connection between the god Donn and the great brown bull (the Donn) of Cuailnge, which provides the central motivation for the saga Táin Bó Cuailnge (The cattle raid of Cuailnge). In his role as god of death, Donn is a rather retiring figure in the early literature. Like Dis Pater, he seems to stand apart from the other deities, but his importance is confirmed by his status in modern folk tradition, in which he is represented as the underworld god who creates storms and shipwrecks but also protects cattle and crops. Both early and late sources record the belief that the dead made their way or were ferried to his island after death. As one early text makes clear, these travelers were regarded as Donn’s descendants returning to their divine ancestor. The parallel with Dis Pater is evident and is a further argument for the general authenticity of Caesar’s account of the Gaulish deities. Donn’s importance in indigenous religious tradition is implicitly recognized in the fact that he is included in the pseudo-history of Leabhar Gabhála Éireann as chief of the Gaels, the Sons of Míl, last of the several peoples to settle in Ireland, but his religious significance presented a problem of how to accommodate him within what was essentially a project of Christianizing native mythic history. The solution the redactors opted for was to dispose of him by having him drown in the sea off the southwest coast and be subsequently brought for burial to a rocky islet nearby that has been known ever since as the Island of Donn. Sucellus and Nantosvelta. Some two hundred monuments, mostly in Gaul, show a deity holding a hammer, and a number name him as Sucellus (The Good Striker). Besides the characteristic hammer or mallet, he is often depicted with a cask or drinking jar and accompanied by a dog. He is sometimes paired with the goddess, Nantosvelta, whose name suggests an association with water (cf. Welsh nant, meaning brook). Particularly in the Narbonnaise, Sucellus is frequently assimilated to the Roman Silvanus, guardian of forests and patron of agriculture. Because of these associations and attributes, he has been seen as controlling fecundity, not an unusual function for an underworld deity. He has also been equated with the Celtic Cernunnos and the Irish Daghdha, but although there are certain broad similarities between them, the evidence does not suffice to prove a closer connection. Goddesses and divine consorts. In continental iconography, the frequent pairing of god and consort represents the goddesses as complementary to the male deities, and this image may overlap with the ideal coupling of king and territorial goddess so widely portrayed in medieval Irish literature. It seems impossible to draw any clear distinction between specific named goddesses and the matres or matronae



who appear so frequently in Celtic iconography, often in triadic form like the goddesses of Irish tradition. Both goddesses and matres are concerned with fertility and with the seasonal cycle of the earth, and the insular goddesses are sometimes identified with the land and cast in the role of its protective deities. This intimate connection with the land and its physical features is reflected in the exceptional importance of the feminine element in the dinnshenchas, the vast accumulation of prose and verse, which constitutes a virtual mythological topography of Ireland. A goddess’s concern for the land in general also becomes a responsibility for the particular region or kingdom with which she is especially associated. Each goddess ensures the material well-being, sovereignty, and physical security of her particular domain, just as Brighid, in the guise of her saintly namesake, protects Leinster both as goddess of war and as goddess of peace. The mother-god specifically titled as such, Mâtrona, gave her name to the river that is now the Marne in France. She was the mother of Maponos (The Youthful/Son God) known in Welsh as Mabon, son of Modron. In Irish tradition the corresponding role belonged to Boann, eponym of the river Boann (anglicized Boyne); she was the mother of the Irish divine youth par excellence, Mac ind Óc, whose name is the semantic equivalent of the Welsh and Celtic Mabon/ Maponos. As mother, the goddess is sometimes represented in Irish texts as ancestress of a distinguished line of descent, and this is presumably what is intended by the author of the medieval Welsh tale “Branwen Daughter of Llyˆr” in which he describes Branwen as one of the three great ancestresses of the island of Britain. In keeping with their title—Matres, Matrae, Matronae—the mother-goddesses attested throughout the Romano-Celtic world are characteristically represented with the various symbols of their maternal and creative function: carrying or caring for infants or bearing such familiar symbols of prosperity as the cornucopia or the basket of fruits. They were also thought of as nourishing and watching over specific peoples and regions and were named accordingly the Matres Glanicae at Glanum (Saint-Rémy-de-Provence), for example, or the Matres Treverae among the Treveri. They would seem to have survived cultural and religious change in the guise of the mamau (mothers) and the formidable cailleacha (old women) of Welsh and Irish-Scottish popular tradition respectively. Nature associations. Underlying the tradition of dinnshenchas is the belief that prominent places and geological features throughout Ireland were the scene of mythic events or the abode, even the embodiment, of mythic personages. Many of the numerous women who populate this world of onomastic legend are clear reflexes of the multifaceted goddess whose origins are bound up with the physical landscape—figures like Tailtiu and Carmun whose burial places were named after them—were the sites of great royal assemblies. In most of the Celto-Roman world the early onomastic lore disappeared with the indigenous languages, but some-

thing of it remained in the divine nomenclature of these areas. Apart from the general cult of the earth goddess, an extensive repertory of deity names attached to individual places or topographical features also exists. Hilltops and mountain tops are considered particularly appropriate settings for the sacred, as evidenced by dedications to Garra and Baeserta in the Pyrenees and to Vosegus in the Vosges. There was a god of the clearing or cultivated field (Ialonus), of the rock (Alisanos), of the confluence (Condatis), of the ford (Ritena), and of the fortified place (Dunatis). Water, particularly the moving water of rivers and springs, had its special deities, which were generally female in the case of the rivers. One can perhaps glimpse the lost mythology of such rivers as the Seine (Sequana), the Marne (Matrona), and the Saone (Souconna) through the legends of insular equivalents like the Boyne (Boann). The names of many rivers throughout the Celtic lands, such as the French Dives or the Welsh Dyfrdwy, are derived from the stem dev- and mean simply “the divine one.” Sacred springs are deified as, for example, Aventia (Avenches), Vesunna (Périgeux), and Divona (Cahors). Further, there were many divine patrons of thermal waters, such as the god Borvo, and this particularly widespread cult is reflected in the countless holy and healing wells (some twelve hundred in Wales alone, and no one has yet added up the Irish instances) that made the transition from paganism to Christianity with little essential change. However, the abundant material evidence for this pan-Celtic phenomenon is not matched by the early insular literary evidence: many Irish tales mention wells with preternatural powers and associations, but there is hardly anything about healing wells as such. Unless this is due to suppression by the monastic redactors of the literature, the only explanation would seem to be that the frequenting of healing wells had always been regarded, even in pagan times, as a popular practice to be distinguished from the more official tribal cults, or simply that it was so familiar as to be unremarkable. In many instances the holy wells of the Christian period stand close to a specific tree that shares their supernatural aura. Obviously, this is one aspect of the widespread cult of sacred trees. In the Pyrenees there are dedications to the beech (Deo Fago) and to the Six Trees (Sexarbori deo, Sexarboribus) and at Angoulême to the oak (Deo Robori). The Romano-Celtic name of the town of Embron, Eburodunum, contains the name of the deified yew tree. Such continental forms are supplemented by a vast dossier of insular evidence. There were, for example, scores of Christian foundations in Ireland evidently located on the sites of pagan cult centers, each with its sacred tree nearby. The literature frequently mentions several great trees that were particularly honored in tradition: the Tree of Tortu (an ash), the Oak of Mughna, the Yew of Ross, the Bough of Dathí (an ash), the Ash of Uisnech, among others. There was even a special term for such trees, bile, and this term was sometimes used for the great tree that marked each of the inauguration sites of tribal ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


and provincial kings. Standing theoretically at the center of its kingdom like the axis mundi in its greater cosmos, the bile symbolized the integrity and independence of the kingdom. When it happened, as it did occasionally, that it was attacked and felled by a hostile neighbor, this doubtless dealt a severe blow to communal pride and self-respect. Zoomorphic gods. Celto-Roman iconography contains a rich abundance of animal imagery, frequently presenting the deities in combinations of zoomorphic and anthropomorphic forms. Already noted is the probable connection between Donn, the Irish Dis Pater, and the bull of the same name in the epic Táin Bó Cuailnge. Neither of the two bulls whose conflict forms the climax of the tale is of natural origin. According to other texts, they had previously undergone many metamorphoses—as ravens, stags, champions, water beasts, demons, and water worms—and in the beginning they had been the swineherds of the lords of the otherworld. This kind of shape shifting, a continuing expression of the unity of the living world of creation, is commonplace in insular Celtic tradition and serves to invest a given deity or heroic demigod with the attributes traditionally ascribed to certain birds and animals. For instance, the bond between animal and human is implicit in the archetype of the divine swineherds, who are doubtless avatars of the great herdsman god. Further, the Brown Bull of Cuailnge cannot be wholly dissociated from the Tarvos Trigaranus (The Bull of the Three Cranes), pictured on reliefs from Trèves and NotreDame-de-Paris and presumably the subject of a lost Gaulish narrative. Among the Celts, as among many other cattlerearing peoples, the bull was a vivid symbol of power and fertility and appears frequently as a trope in the eulogy of the medieval Irish court poet. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that a god representative of royal and heroic functions should have been represented by this image. Donnotarvos (Brown Bull), the king of the Helvetii mentioned by Caesar, bore a name of great mythic resonance among the Celts, most probably derived from the same deity who appears in the Irish saga as the Brown Bull of Cuailnge. The animal connections of the Celtic gods are extensive and varied. The iconography shows Cernunnos (The Horned One) associated with the stag, the ram-headed serpent, the bull, and, by implication, with the whole animal world. The iconography also includes boars, horses, dogs, and bears, as well as fish and various kinds of birds—all connected more or less closely with certain deities. This rich diversity is reproduced in even greater abundance in the insular tradition, creating a complex web of connotations and relationships that defy any neat classification. For example, the boar is quite well represented in Celto-Roman sculpture, as in the figure from Euffigneix, Haute-Marne, of a god carrying a boar before him. In insular literature it appears almost ubiquitous. It sometimes leads its pursuers into the otherworld, and often it is in fact a human who was transformed through some mischance or misdeed. Pork was the choice food of the Celts, and, appropriately, in Irish tales the unfailENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


ing food of the otherworld is a pig, which, although cooked each night, remains alive and whole each morning. The horse, index and instrument of the great IndoEuropean expansion, has always had a special place in the affections of the Celtic peoples. Sometimes in insular tradition, particularly in folk tales, he is the bearer of the dead to the otherworld, a role probably reflected in some monuments in southern Gaul, such as the frieze of horses’ heads on a lintel from the Celto-Ligurian sanctuary of Roquepertuse, Bouches-du-Rhone. Epona (from *epos, meaning horse) was an important Celtic deity and was particularly favored as patron of the cavalry of the Roman army. She has insular analogues in the Welsh Rhiannon and in the Irish Edaín Echraidhe (echraidhe, meaning horse riding) and Macha, who outran the fastest steeds. There was also a Dea Artio (as well as a Mercurius Artaios), whose name connects her with the bear (Irish, art, meaning bear); a little bronze group from Bern shows her seated before a large bear with a basket of fruit by her side. Dea Arduinna, who appears seated on a wild boar, may be compared with the Irish goddess Flidhais, who ruled over the beasts of the forest and whose cattle were the wild deer. Gaulish monuments that show a god or goddess with two or more birds seated on their shoulders call to mind the supernatural birds that are a familiar feature of insular tradition, in which some deities assume bird form occasionally; others, like the war goddesses, do so constantly. The insular catalog of bird imagery is endless. King Conaire’s supernatural father came to his mother in bird form, Fann and Lí Ban came to Cú Chulainn as two birds joined by a golden chain, emissaries from the otherworld. Indeed, such wondrous birds are a recognized symbol of the supernatural world. Examples include the three birds of the Irish goddess Cliodhna with their magic song and the three birds of the Welsh Rhiannon who “wake the dead and lull the living to sleep.” They all form part of that rich imaginative intuition that envisaged animals, birds, and the whole domain of nature as a mediating element between gods and men and that underlies Celtic literary tradition as well as the fluid discipline of early Irish art.

INVASIONS OF GODS AND MEN. When Irish monastic scholars began recording native mytho-historical tradition, probably in the second half of the sixth century, they experienced the same difficulty that Christian historiographers have encountered elsewhere in dealing with traditional sources: how to resolve the conflict between Christian and native versions of cosmic origins. Their solution was the familiar one of substituting the biblical doctrine for the earlier part of the native legend, so that it would seem that the legend derived from the doctrine. The fact that the scholars controlled the art of writing invested their new composite history—incrementally elaborated under the influence of the chronicles of Orosius (c. 385–420) and Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 260–c. 330 CE) and Isidore of Seville’s (c. 560–636) Etymologiae—with an authority it might not otherwise have acquired so quickly.



As Christian scholars developed an increasingly close accommodation over the next few centuries with the custodians of native learning, the filidh, their revised version gradually won universal acceptance. Although it did not erase all trace of the earlier tradition, it cancelled out the substance of the original cosmogonic myth. For instance, although the primary ancestral role of Donn, Nuadhu, and others was not forgotten, Adam was accepted as the progenitor of mankind. The Book of Invasions. The formulation of this revised teaching is attested in poems of the seventh century or earlier, but it was in the twelfth century that it reached its culmination in the pseudohistory entitled Leabhar Gabhála Éireann (The Book of the Taking of Ireland), commonly known as the “Book of Invasions,” a cumulative enterprise that carried the tale of Ireland’s history from Noah to the Norman conquest. The “taking” in question evidently refers to the coming of the Gaels (or Goidels), but in the extant compilation this is preceded by five other immigrations. The first came before the Flood and was led by either Cesair, a daughter of Bith, who was a son of Noah, or by Banbha, one of the eponyms of Ireland. But the only one to survive the Flood was Fintan (The White Ancient One), who outlived innumerable generations until finally in the Christian period he bore witness to the events of the distant past. The next two settlements were led by Partholón and Nemhedh, respectively. During both, various crafts and social practices were introduced, many lakes were formed, and plains were cleared. These advances indicate in the familiar manner of myths of beginnings how Ireland attained the reality of permanent morphological definition in those times. Both peoples had to withstand the attacks of the Fomhoire, a race of demonic beings who from their haunts beyond the sea posed a perpetual threat to the existence of ordered society. The main innovations credited to the fourth settlement, comprising the Fir Bholg, the Gailióin, and the Fir Dhomhnann, were sociopolitical in character. By dividing the country into five they instituted the provinces (literally, fifths in Irish), and they introduced the concept of sacred kingship and the relationship between the justice of the king and the fertility of the land. They were followed by the Tuatha Dé Danann (The Tribes/Peoples of the Goddess Danu), who came skilled in the arts of druidry and magic. They brought with them four talismans: the Stone of Fál, which shrieked under the true pretender to kingship; the spear of Lugh, which ensured victory; the sword of Nuadhu, which none escaped; and the caldron of the Daghdha, from which none went unsatisfied. They defeated the Fir Bholg in the First Battle of Magh Tuiredh, but soon they had to take up arms against the Fomhoire. The Second Battle of Magh Tuiredh. There is also an independent account of the Second Battle of Magh Tuiredh in a text that is perhaps the single most important source for Irish mythology. In it the genesis of the conflict is traced to the First Battle of Magh Tuiredh, in which Nuadhu, king of the Tuatha Dé Danann, lost his arm. Because a personal

defect, physical or moral was incompatible with the notion of true kingship, he was obliged to abdicate and was succeeded by Bres (The Beautiful), who had been fathered by Elatha, a king of the Fomhoire, with a woman of the Tuatha Dé, among whom he was reared. But his rule brought only hardship and oppression for the Tuatha Dé, and there was an end to the generosity and hospitality that characterized a true king. Finally he was lampooned by the poet Coirbre in the first satire composed in Irish, and he was asked to give up the kingship. His response was to go to the Fomhoire to seek their support. Meanwhile, Nuadhu was fitted with a silver arm by Dian Cécht (The Leech) and restored to sovereignty, and from that time forth he was known as Nuadhu Airgedlámh (Nuadhu of the Silver Arm). But when Lugh came to the royal court of Tara and gave proof of his mastery of all the arts, Nuadhu immediately gave way so that Lugh might lead the Tuatha Dé to victory. In the battle itself Lugh called on all the preternatural powers of the craftsmen and magicians of the Tuatha Dé, while Dian Cécht used his own healing magic to revive the slain. The dreaded Balar of the Fomhoire had a “baleful eye” which could destroy armies, but Lugh struck it with his slingstone and killed him. The Fomhoire were then expelled from Ireland forever, and Bres himself was captured, but his life was spared on condition that he divulge to the Tuatha Dé the proper times for plowing, sowing, and reaping. The Gaels and the Tuatha Dé. The primary subject of the “Book of Invasions” was perhaps the final settlement of prehistoric Ireland, that of the Gaels, or Irish Celts. Because its underlying purpose was to biblicize the origins of the Gaels, it began, as it were, at the beginning, following them in their long journey from Scythia to Egypt and to Spain, whence they finally came to Ireland under the leadership of Míl Espáine (Míl of Spain). The account of this early odyssey is a learned fiction modeled on the story of the wandering of the Israelites in the book of Exodus. But as the narrative approaches Ireland, it undergoes a sea change and begins to draw more overtly on native tradition. The crucial role in the landing is assigned to the poet-seer and judge Amhairghin. By virtue of his wisdom and his mantic power he overcomes the opposition of the Tuatha Dé and becomes the first Gael to set foot on Irish soil. As he does so—on the Feast of Beltene (May Day)—he sings a song of cosmic affirmation in which he subsumes within himself the various elements of the created universe: “I am an estuary into the sea / I am a wave of the ocean / I am the sound of the sea / . . . I am a salmon in a pool / I am a lake in a plain / I am the strength of art.” Like Kr: s: n: a in the Indian tradition and Taliesin in the Welsh, he embodies the potential of all creation, and the timing of his song is particularly appropriate and decisive. Sung as he arrives at the land’s edge from the ocean of nonexistence, his words are the prelude to the creation of a new order of which he is the shaper and the source. Through them and through the judgments he pronounces in the sucENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


ceeding narrative, the Ireland of history is summoned into being.


Having defeated the Tuatha Dé, the Sons of Míl go to the royal center of Tara and on the way meet the three divine eponyms of Ireland—Banbha, Fódla, and Ériu. At Tara the three kings of the Tuatha Dé—Mac Cuill, Mac Cécht, and Mac Gréine—ask for a respite before surrendering sovereignty. Significantly, they refer the conditions to the judgment of Amhairghin. He decides that the Sons of Míl should reembark and retire beyond the ninth wave, which for the Celts constituted a magic boundary. But when they try to land again, the Tuatha Dé create a magical wind that carries them out to sea. Then Amhairghin invokes directly the land of Ireland, and immediately the wind abates. The Sons of Míl come ashore and defeat the Tuatha Dé at Tailtiu, site of the annual festival instituted by Lugh.

Subsequently, Math seeks a new foot-holder, and Gwydion suggests his sister, Aranrhod, daughter of Dôn. Math asks her to step over his magic wand as a test of her virginity, and as she does so, she drops a yellow-haired boy and something else, which Gwydion promptly conceals in a chest. The boy is baptized Dylan and immediately makes for the sea and takes on its nature, for which reason he is henceforth called Dylan Eil Don (Dylan son of Wave). The object concealed by Gwydion turns out to be another male child, who in due course is given the name Lleu Llaw Gyffes (Lleu of the Skillful Hand). The rest of the tale is taken up with Lleu’s relations with his mother, Aranrhod, and with his beautiful but treacherous wife, Blodeuwedd (Flower-aspect), who had been created for him by Gwydion from the flowers of the oak, the broom, and the meadow sweet. The name Lleu is, of course, the cognate of the Irish Lugh and the Gaulish *Lugus.

Although defeated, the Tuatha Dé still use their magic powers to extract a reasonable settlement from the Gaels. They agree to divide the country into two parts, the lower half going to the Tuatha Dé and the upper half to the Gaels. Thus is explained the traditional belief that the ancient gods—the sídheóga (fairies)—lived underground in sídhe, or fairy mounds. That this belief was traditional already in the seventh century is evidenced by Bishop Tírechán, biographer of Saint Patrick, who noted that the sídh, or gods, dwell in the earth.

The same tale refers incidentally to Gofannon, son of Dôn (Divine Smith), whose name is cognate with the Irish Goibhniu. There is mention elsewhere of Amaethon, son of Dôn, the divine plowman, and there are various references in medieval poetry that indicate the existence of extensive oral tradition about the family of Dôn. Their communal association with magic is reminiscent of the Irish Tuatha Dé Danann, and it has been suggested that Dôn is the equivalent of Irish Donu (Mother of the Gods), the original form of the name Danann.

GODS OF BRITAIN. Early Welsh literary tradition, like the medieval Welsh language, seems further evolved from its archaic roots than its Irish counterpart. This is probably due partly to the cultural effects of the Roman colonization of Britain from the first to the fifth century and partly to the late redaction of the extant material, particularly the prose. But whatever the causes, the result is that Welsh mythological narrative, although preserving some remarkably archaic elements, nonetheless lacks the extensive context found in Irish narrative and betrays the hand of a later redactor or redactors not wholly familiar with the mythological framework from which their materials derived.

Family of Llyˆr. The three members of the family of Llyˆr—Branwen, Bendigeidvran (Bran the Blessed), and Manawydan—appear in the “Second Branch” of the Mabinogi, although it is only in the “Third Branch” that Manawydan assumes an independent role. The tale is dominated by the enormous figure of Bendigeidvran. When his sister Branwen is ill treated in Ireland, where she has gone as the wife of Matholwch, king of Ireland, he goes with an army to exact vengeance. The British gain victory in a fierce battle with the Irish, but only seven of them survive beside Bendigeidvran, who is wounded in the foot by a poisonous spear. He commands his companions to cut off his head and to bury it at the White Mount in London as a safeguard against invasions. They set out for London and on the way enjoy two periods of otherworldly peace and joy in the presence of his uncorrupted head, at Harlech and on the isle of Gwales.

Family of Dôn. The main source for Welsh mythological tradition is the collection of tales known as the Mabinogi or Mabinogion, especially the group known as the “Four Branches.” These four tales, which were probably redacted toward the end of the eleventh century, take the gods of Britain as their dramatis personae. The last of the four, “Math Son of Mathonwy,” deals in particular with the group of gods sometimes referred to as the family of Dôn. The Math of the title is lord of Gwynedd in north Wales. His peculiarity is that he must keep his feet in a virgin’s lap except in time of war. When his virginal foot-holder is violated by his sister’s son—Gilfaethwy, son of Dôn—with the connivance of his brother Gwydion, son of Dôn, Math turns the two brothers into male and female animals—stags, boars, and wolves—for three years, during which time they give birth to three sons. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION

Clearly, the children of Llyˆr are not comparable with those of Dôn: in no sense do they form a pantheon of deities; indeed, Branwen’s antiquity is not beyond question. But the association of Bran (as Bendigeidvran was known earlier) and Manawydan is old, and there is an early verse reference to them presiding together over the otherworld and its feast. Manawydan’s Irish counterpart is Manannán mac Lir (Son of the Sea), and it is a curious and perhaps significant coincidence that Manannán figures with an Irish Bran in an early lyric tale, which tells of a journey made by Bran to the otherworld. But Manannán is represented as god of the sea, proba-



bly replacing the god Nechtan in this role, whereas Manawydan has no such function in Welsh in the extant Welsh texts. Pwyll, Rhiannon, and Pryderi. In the “First Branch” of the Mabinogi, Pwyll, Lord of Dyfed in southwest Wales, comes to the aid of Arawn, king of Annwn, by slaying his otherworld enemy Hafgan in a single combat that is, in fact, an ordeal by battle of the kind known in early Irish as fír fer (truth of men or heroes). As a result he is henceforth known as Pwyll the Head of Annwn. The Mabinogi represents him here as a mortal, but because his name literally means wisdom and because he is designated Lord of Annwn (the Otherworld), it is probable that he was originally a deity. The latter part of the tale is concerned with the death of the hero Pryderi. Pwyll marries the lady Rhiannon, who first appears to him riding a white horse, and from their union Pryderi is born. But the newborn child is mysteriously abducted, to be discovered later by Teyrnon, Lord of Gwent Is-coed, and reared by him and his wife for several years until they realize the child’s true origins and restore him to Pwyll and Rhiannon. After Pwyll’s death Pryderi succeeds to the lordship of Dyfed. Later, in the “Third Branch,” Rhiannon becomes the wife of Manawydan. The above merely sketches a complicated narrative whose reference to the underlying mythology is extremely difficult to decipher with any confidence. Teyrnon’s name (from *Tigernonos; Great/Divine Lord) implies a more important role than the one he plays in the tale and, in fact, is a more appropriate title for the lord of the otherworld. Rhiannon (whose name derives from *R¯ıgantona; Great/ Divine Queen) may be an equivalent of Epona, the Celtic horse goddess, whereas Rhiannon and Pryderi seem to offer a parallel to the pairing of Modron (Great/Divine Mother) and Mabon (Great/Divine Son). The problem is similar to that posed by much of the Welsh mythological evidence in the medieval poetry and the collections of triads: There are numerous references to mythological persons, objects, and events, but these appear without sufficient accompanying matter to set them in context. GODDESSES OF THE INSULAR CELTS. In The Aran Islands (1907) John M. Synge said of the Aran islanders of the beginning of the twentieth century that they were interested in fertility rather than eroticism, and on the evidence of the extant monuments and literature, his observation could apply to those people who created the mythology of the Celtic goddesses. The Celts had no goddess of love, and so far as one can judge from insular tradition, the numerous sexual liaisons of the goddesses were generally motivated by ritual or social causes, not by erotic ones. Their sexuality was merely the instrument of their fertility, whether in terms of progeny or of the fruitfulness of the land with which they were so often identified. The cult of the mother goddess, attested in Gaul from prehistoric times, underlies a great deal of Irish and Welsh tradition. The “Second Branch” of the Mabinogi describes Branwen daughter of Llyˆr as “one of the three great ances-

tresses of Britain.” The other two presumably are Rhiannon and Aranrhod, and it is clear from Irish literature that the typical goddess figure was often esteemed as the genetrix of peoples. Her personification of the earth tended to be defined and delimited by cultural and political boundaries: The eponymous triad of Ériu, Fódla, and Banbha represent both the reality and the concept of Ireland in its totality, but a multitude of analogous characters also exist that are connected with lesser areas—a province, a district, or a particular locale. Some of the latter, such as Áine, Aoibheall, and Cliodhna, have retained their niche in popular tradition and in place names to the present day. In this domain the supernatural female often becomes a dominant figure overshadowing her male counterpart. One of the most enduring myths of the Celts was that of the solemn union between a ruler and his kingdom, in which the kingdom is conceived in the form of a divine woman. It appears, slightly veiled, in the Arthurian romances and may be reflected at times in the frequent pairing of god and goddess in Celto-Roman sculpture, but its influence is most profound and most widely documented in Irish tradition. The normal way of reporting the inauguration of a king was to say that he was married to (literally, “slept with”) his kingdom. From the hundreds if not thousands of references and allusions to this theme, one gains some idea of the ritual union of king and consort as it must have been performed before the effective Christianization of the political establishment in the sixth century. The ritual union had two main elements: first, a libation offered by the bride to her partner, and second, the sex act. The divine nature of Queen Medhbh of Connacht is evidenced by her name as well as by her actions: She who was famed for the number of her successive husbands was called Medhbh (The Intoxicating One), and, under the slightly variant name Medhbh Lethdherg, it was said of her that “she would not permit a king in Tara unless he had her for his wife.” The central element was the sexual meeting, and its profound significance is brought out in countless poems and narratives in which the woman is transformed from repulsive age and ugliness to radiant youth and beauty by the act of intercourse with her ordained mate. As leader of the Connacht armies, Medhbh is associated with war as well as with sovereignty, but, in general, the warlike aspect of the goddess is manifested indirectly: she influences the fortunes of war rather than actually participating. Other goddesses teach the art of fighting, including Buanann (The Lasting One); Scáthach (The Shadowy One), from whom Cú Chulainn acquired his heroic skills; and the formidable trio of Morríghan (Phantom Queen), Bodhbh (ScaldCrow), and Nemhain (Frenzy) or Macha, who haunt the battlefield to incite the fighters or to hinder them by their magic. These had their equivalents throughout the Celtic world: The name Bodhbh Chatha (Crow/Raven of Battle) is the exact cognate of Cathubodua, attested in HauteSavoie, and the trio of war goddesses recurs in Britain at Benwell in the inscription “Lamiis tribus” (to the three Lamiae). ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


In direct contrast to these ruthless furies are those charming women who inhabit the happy otherworld in such numbers that it came to be called Tír inna mBan (The Land of Women) in some contexts. Sometimes they come as emissaries from the land of primeval innocence where the pleasures of love are untainted by guilt and where sickness and disease are unknown. Conla son of Conn is induced to go there by “a young and beautiful woman of noble race whom neither death awaits nor old age,” and Bran son of Febhal is similarly persuaded by a woman bearing a silvery branch from the wondrous apple tree, which is a characteristic feature of the Celtic otherworld. The multiforms of the insular Celtic goddesses are endless, and sometimes the named figure changes her role from one context to another. For example, in Mythe et épopée (1968), Georges Dumézil has sought to demonstrate from three separate tales that the goddess Macha, eponym of the old pagan center of Emhain Mhacha and of the Christian metropolis of Ard Macha (modern Armagh), reflects in her several roles the Indo-European trifunctional system of religion, warrior prowess, and fertility. Although his argument is open to question, it is nonetheless true that several of the prominent goddesses have widely varying epiphanies. MYTHIC SPACE AND TIME. In a tradition in which the natural and the supernatural realms frequently converge, it is not surprising that there is a constant awareness of the relativities of time and space. This is particularly true of texts relating explicitly to the otherworld, but it is common throughout Irish and much of Welsh literature. The land of Ireland itself, with its place names and physical features, seems to shift with enigmatic ease between the two levels of perception. The early redactors of the written texts were fascinated by the contrasting effects of changing perspective, as when the god Manannán describes the sea as a flowery plain or the monks of Clonmacnois observe a boat sail in the sky over their head and drop its anchor by their church door. But certain places are permanently set apart from their secular environment: cult sites, the precincts of sacred festivals, and, above all, the notional center of the ethnic world of native tradition. This concept of the center is one of the constants of Celtic ideology, and it retained a good deal of its ancient symbolism in Irish learned literature as late as the seventeenth century. Caesar reports that the Gaulish druids assembled each year at a holy place in the lands of the Carnutes, which was regarded as the center of Gaul. His term locus consecratus may well translate the word nemeton (sacred place),which is found in place-names throughout the Celtic world. According to Strabo (c. 63 BCE–24 CE), the Council of the Galatians met at a place known as Drunemeton (Oak Sanctuary). In Ireland the druids were closely associated with Uisnech, the “navel” of Ireland, the location of the primal fire, and reputedly the site of a great festival. The focus of sacral kingship was at Tara in the central province of Midhe (Middle) and it was entirely fitting that St Patrick’s late seventh-century biographer, Muirchú maccu Machtheni, who describes Tara as caput Scotorum (the capital of Ireland), ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


should have him travel there to demonstrate his superiority over the druids of Loegaire mac Néill, imperator barbarorum and “ancestor of the royal stock of almost the whole of this island.” The great social assemblies of ancient Ireland were generally held at one of the seasonal festivals. The Irish year, like the Indo-European year, was divided into two halves, samh (summer) and gamh (winter). The summer half began at Beltene or Cédshamhain, the first of May, and the winter half at Samhain, the first of November. These halves were further subdivided by the quarter days of Imbolg, the first of February and the beginning of spring, and Lughnasadh, the first of August and the start of the harvest festival associated with the god Lugh. The old binary division is found also in the famous bronze calendar discovered at Coligny, near Bourg, which probably dates from the early first century CE or late first century BCE. Judging from the calendar, the Gaulish druids divided the year into two halves beginning with the months Samon(i-) and Giamon(i-). Of the two names for the beginning of summer, Beltene may have referred originally to the fire ritual traditionally held at that time: belprobably means shining or bright, and tene may be related to the Irish word for fire. In the course of time, however, Beltene displaced the older term Cédshamhain or Cédamhuin (cf. the Welsh cognate Cyntefin) as the name for the festival season itself. KINGSHIP. In Caesar’s time the institution of kingship was already on the way to dissolution in Gaul, having been widely displaced by the secular office of vergobret (chief magistrate), although it is clear from the extant evidence that all the tribal territories, the civitates of Caesar’s time, had earlier been ruled by kings in the mold of those of early Britain and Ireland. The medieval Irish king tales inevitably share in some degree the values of the general heroic literature, but these are not their main preoccupation. They are concerned rather with the affirmation of political and social realities and with the safeguarding of traditional institutions: the status and functions of the king and the sacred ritual of inauguration that set the seal on his accession to power, the origins of tribes and dynasties and exemplary tales of their internecine conflicts, the deeds and judgements of famous rulers of the past, and so on. The sacral kingship was both the pivot and the foundation of the social order, and the king was its personification. If his conduct or even his person were blemished in any way, the effect of his blemish would be visited on his kingdom, diminishing its integrity and prosperity; conversely, fortune favored the righteous ruler and his people flourished and his territory became rich and fertile. As the instrument of justice, the king must be seen to be fair and flawless in his decisions and several of the famous kings of legend are frequently presented as models of regal wisdom and justice. Thus, Cormac mac Airt is pictured as a paragon of kingship and as an Irish Solomon. His accession came about when he proposed a just judgement after his predecessor Lughaidh mac Con had been deposed for delivering an unjust one. Conaire Mór is likewise an exemplary king whose



reign brings peace and well-being to the land until he tempers justice with excessive mercy in the case of his three marauding foster brothers. Immediately a train of events is set in motion that leads inexorably to his death in a welter of violence. As the central pillar of his kingdom the sacral king was its primary point of contact with the world of the supernatural in pre-Christian time, and as such it was necessary to insulate him from harmful intervention from whatever source. Thus each of the five provincial kings was subject to a set of gessa (taboos), which made manifest the transcendent nature of his role and were presumably intended to hedge him from unnecessary danger. When, however, as in the case of Conaire Mór, he unavoidably or unwittingly violates his gessa, he is already doomed to disaster and death. The crucial touchstone of a king’s reign was the fír flathemon (the ruler’s truth/ righteousness) with which he discharged the responsibilities of his office. The analogy between the fír flathemon and the Indic “act of truth” has long been recognized and there is acceptance that together they represent an Indo-European institution. The concept of the Ruler’s Truth is referred to frequently in Irish literature, most notably in Audacht Morainn (The Testament of Morann, a legendary law-giver), an early example of the literary genre of the speculum principum (literary, “mirror of princes”), which was designed to give counsel and guidance to a king. The Audacht was probably written toward the end of the seventh century CE, but the genre was already long established in oral tradition, and it is widely accepted that the European speculum principum derives partly from the Irish model and that the Audacht itself contains much that is referable to Irish kingship in the pre-Christian period. As a genre the speculum was evidently associated with the rite of royal inauguration and was probably recited publicly by a druid or fili in the course of the ritual ceremony. In the pre-Christian and early Christian period, as reflected in the classical law tracts, there were three grades of kingship: the rí tuaithe (king of a tuath; literally, “people” or “tribe”), the smallest political entity; the ruiri (great king or overking), who, as well as ruling over his own petty kingdom, received tribute from several other tuatha; and finally the rí ruirech (king of overkings), who is equated to the rí cóicid (king of a province). Despite the wide disparity of these kingships in range and importance, each of them had its own sacred king and its own inauguration site. However, it is clear that Tara—as the ideological focus of sacral kingship and at the heart of the Irish cosmographic system—enjoyed a special prestige as a kind of primus inter pares (first among equals) among royal sites and thus became the goal, real or notional, of ambitious kings throughout the early Middle Ages. Feis Temhra (The Feast/Wedding Feast of Tara) was the great festival held in pagan times to confirm a new king and to celebrate his ritual marriage to his kingdom. At Tara stood the Lia Fáil (Stone of Fál), the “stone penis” that cried out when it came in contact with the man destined to be king. Feis,

verbal noun of the verb foaid, means literally “to sleep, spend the night,” and, in the context of the royal confirmation, it refers to the ritual marriage of the king and his kingdom, as underlined in the alternative expression banais rígi (wedding feast of kingship), in which banais is compounded of ben (woman) and feis. This terminology continues to be used of various royal inaugurations in annalistic and other texts, even in the Anglo-Norman period. One can only speculate as to the precise form the marriage ritual may have assumed in pre-Christian times—actual union with a surrogate bride or a simulated union that included the proffering of the drink of sovereignty. The earliest list of reigning kings for the kingship of Tara is furnished by the seventh-century text Baile Chuind (The vision of [King] Conn [Cétchathach]), which purports to prophesy the individual kings who were to reign in Tara from the time of his son Art onward. Its literal formula for “X shall reign” is “X shall drink it,” in which the formal potion presented to the ordinand is employed as a synonym for the combined ceremony of sacral investiture and the exercise of kingship. The text is devoid of explanatory introduction and is presumably to be understood as spoken by Conn himself, but when it was reworked and expanded in a more narrative and iconically stylized context in the ninth century in the tale Baile in Scáil (The phantom’s vision), the prophecy is spoken by the god Lugh, the Irish (and Celtic) divinity traditionally regarded as personifying the ideal of kingship. It tells how Conn went on a circuit of the rampart of Tara accompanied by his three druids to guard against hostile incursions by forces from the otherworld, perhaps a reference to the familiar taboo that forbade the king to let the sun rise on him in Tara. One recalls, for example, the story of Aillén mac Midgna from the otherworld mound of Síd Finnachaid who came regularly to Tara at Samain (Hallowe’en), lulled its people to sleep with his supernatural music (ceol sídhi) and burned it down with a pillar of fire, until finally he was slain by the leader of the Fiana, Fionn mac Cumaill. So, when Conn mounts the rampart of Tara in Baile in Scáil, he comes into direct contact with the otherworld, although, in this instance, under one of its more benign aspects. A magic mist enveloped the king and his companions and a horseman (the scál or phantom) approached and asked them to accompany him to his dwelling. Within they found a girl seated on a chair of crystal and wearing a golden crown. Beside her stood a vessel of gold with a golden cup nearby. The phantom, seated on his throne, identified himself as the god Lugh and declared that he had come to announce to them the names of Conn’s successors and the duration of their reigns. The young woman was the sovereignty of Ireland and when she asked to whom she should offer the cup of red ale (dergfhlaith), the phantom enumerated his catalog of the kings who would follow Conn. The terminology used in reference to the hieros gamos (sacred marriage) of king and goddess points to some sort of sexual union taking place in pre-Christian times, as do the several tales of the loathsome hag who is transformed to youth and beauty by intercourse with the rightful candidate ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


for kingship, a theme that is exploited for political dynastic ends in extant medieval versions. But accounts of the actual inauguration ceremony are of later date and betray some degree of ecclesiastical influence. Inevitably the Christian Church, conscious of the pivotal significance of the sacral kingship to native society, sought to arrogate to itself a central role in “ordaining” the ruler, and thus to sanitize the most incompatible elements of the traditional ritual. But tradition was tenacious. According to a quite late prose account (fourteen to sixteenth century) of the ceremonial inauguration of the Ó Conchubhar kings of Connacht, many clerics and all the subkings of the province were present, yet it was Ó Maoil Chonaire, the fili, modern proxy of the ancient druid, who installed him as king (aga ríghadh) by presenting him with the rod of sovereignty, and, the text adds, none but Ó Maoil Chonaire had the right to be with the king on the inauguration mound apart from the keeper of the mound. Moreover, the gradual revision of the inauguration ceremony during the pre-Norman centuries may not have proceeded as regularly and universally as most later accounts might suggest. In a well-known passage of his Topographia Hiberniae, which is based on information garnered during his stay in Ireland in the late twelfth century, Gerald of Wales describes a “barbarous and abominable” rite of inauguration practiced in what is now County Donegal. A white mare is brought to the midst of the assembled people, the future chief has sexual union with the mare, which is then killed, cut in pieces, and boiled. The chief then sits in this bath, eats of the mare’s meat and drinks of the broth, and thus kingship and power is conferred on him. Despite the lack of supporting native testimonies, it is difficult to discount the striking analogy this bizarre ritual presents to the Indic asvamedha (horse sacrifice), one that is accepted by most comparatists. The main disparity is that in the Irish version the sex act involves the king and a mare instead of the queen and a stallion, as in India, but some scholars would, in fact, argue that the Indo-European inauguration was primarily between king and mare. However, even if the essential authenticity of Gerald’s account is accepted, it does not follow, as some have assumed, that such a rite was practiced in or close to his time. Elsewhere he draws on reports—some fabulous, others more factual—gathered from a variety of sources, oral as well as written. In this particular instance, it is a piece of seanchas (oral history), referring to an already more or less obsolete era. Nonetheless, it is a useful reminder that the version of native belief and ideology mediated to modern readers by the redactors of the medieval monasteries is less than comprehensive. Another archaic institution associated with royal inauguration was the crech ríg (royal foray), which is still attested in the post-twelfth century Anglo-Norman period. As in ancient India, such a cross-border raid was a recognized occasion for the new king to demonstrate his fitness for office and at the same time to acquire the means to make appropriate show of his largesse. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


The heroic ideal: The Ulster Cycle. Like the sacral king of prehistoric tradition, the hero occupied an ambiguous status between god and men. Typically, he has a divine as well as a human father, and his trials and achievements bring him into contact with supernatural powers more frequently than other mortals. He has many incarnations in insular Celtic literature, but it is above all the Ulster Cycle that represents him in the quintessential heroic setting. The cycle is set in the province of Ulster when it was dominated by the Ulaidh, the people from whom the province derived its name, at a time somewhere between the coming of the Celts, perhaps as late as the third century BCE, and the conquest of the Ulaidh, which may have taken place in the early fifth century CE. The cycle portrays an aristocratic warrior society with a La Tène (Second Iron Age) type material culture, and in many respects the society shows striking correspondences with what is reported of independent Gaul. The king of the Ulaidh at this time was Conchobhar mac Nessa, who had his royal court at Emhain Mhacha near the present city of Armagh. He presided over a numerous company, which included the youthful Cú Chulainn, the senior heroes Conall Cernach and Ferghus mac Roich, and such others as the druid Cathbhadh, the wise peacemaker Sencha mac Ailella, and the inveterate mischief-maker Bricriu, known as Nemhthenga (Poison-tongue). These characters constitute the cast of an extensive literature of which the centrepiece is the great saga Táin Bó Cuailnge (The cattle raid of Cuailnge). It tells of Queen Medhbh of Connacht’s incursion into Ulster with the object of seizing the great Brown Bull of Cuailnge, which was of divine origin. As a result of a curse by the goddess Macha, the Ulstermen are unable to resist the attack, and it falls to the young Cú Chulainn to defend the province single-handedly. By engaging in a series of single combats with heroes of the Connacht army, he hinders their advance until the Ulstermen recover their strength and rout their enemies. The climax and finale of the tale is the tremendous encounter in which the bull of Cuailnge slays the Finnbhennach, the white-horned bull of Connacht. As the heroic milieu par excellence, the court of Conchobhar at Emhain became the focus for a wide variety of tales reflecting the different facets of the heroic ethos, and as the quintessential hero Cú Chulainn became the subject of many narratives exploring the nature of the hero’s mediating role between gods and men and his singular relationship with his own community. Cú Chulainn experiences the perennial dilemma of the supreme hero caught in the insoluble contradictions of his ambiguous status. Neither divine nor merely human, Cú Chulainn lives within the tribe and yet does not wholly belong; a member of a heroic confraternity, he characteristically stands alone. His initiation to the heroic circle is recounted in a section of Táin Bó Cuailnge that narrates his boyhood deeds (macghnímhartha), which, linguistically, is not part of the oldest stratum of the text (it may belong to the ninth century), although its content is part of an archaic tradition. For his first exploit, Cú Chulainn slays the



three fearsome sons of Nechta Scéne who have been a scourge on the Ulstermen. Here the narrative appears to reproduce an old lndo-European motif of the hero’s victory over a trio of adversaries or a three-headed monster. He also, for the first time, experiences the riastradh (grotesque distortion) and the phenomenal body heat that are the external manifestations of his battle fury and that mark him in Irish tradition as a hero above heroes. These traits also have old and widespread analogues. Cú Chulainn’s career is a short one, but because it constitutes a paradigm of the hero, the mythmakers and storytellers have taken the critical stages of his life and woven a web of narrative around each: his threefold birth distinguished by incest and divine paternity, familiar marks of the sacred conception of the hero; his martial training with the otherworldly Scáthach; his wooing of Emher and his marriage; and finally his death, which, because he was invincible by merely human means, could only be effected through trickery and sorcery. This framework has also accommodated a number of other more occasional tales, such as those of his adventures in the otherworld or the tragic Aided Aenfhir Aífe (The death of Aífe’s only son), which brings Cú Chulainn to slay his own son through a combination of moral compulsion and mistaken identity. But Cú Chulainn and his life cycle are only a part of the larger cycle of the Ulster tales and in many he plays a relatively small role or none at all. His singular importance is that he epitomizes the heroic virtues and values. By the seventh century CE he had become a focus in the written literature for archaic traditions pertaining to what Dumézil defined as the second of the Indo-European social functions— that of the warrior. The Fionn Cycle. In early Irish, the Fionn Cycle was also known as the Fianaighecht. It comprises a complex of stories and traditions about the Fian, the band of hunterwarriors led by Fionn mac Cumhaill. The cycle is commonly called the Fenian Cycle, a modern Anglicization, or the Ossianic Cycle, after Fionn’s son Oisin (or Ossian). Etymologically, the term fian (plural, fiana) embodies the notion of living by the hunt or by force of arms, and this notion corresponds exactly with the role of the Fiana in Irish tradition. Originally there were several groups of Fiana, but the fame of Fionn’s company relegated the others to obscurity. Each féinnidh (individual member of the Fian) was required to undergo initiatory trials of his skill and endurance before admittance, and once accepted he had to sever his legal and social connections with his kin and his tribe and abandon the associated rights and responsibilities. Yet although he placed himself outside the tribal community, he did not place himself outside the law, for the Fiana were recognized by law and tradition as fulfilling a legitimate function. Many legends picture the Fiana as the defenders of Ireland against the incursions of foreign—that is, in effect, supernatural— enemies. From the eleventh or twelfth century onward, and perhaps even earlier, these enemies are often identified in an

ambiguous, mythopoeic (relating to mythmaking) fashion with the Viking raiders of the ninth century. Some have recognized the Celtic form *vindos (white, fair)—the source of Irish Fionn and Welsh Gwynn—in the Celtic deity name/epithet Vindonnus, and thus concluded that Fionn himself was originally divine, although this is questionable. *Vindos is related to the Indo-European stem *ui-n-d (finds out, knows). It also has been suggested that Fionn’s name means “he who finds out, he who knows.” This accords with his role in tradition, which represents him as poet and seer as well as warrior-hunter, perhaps like his Welsh counterpart Gwynn ap Nudd, who appears fleetingly in Welsh tradition as a “magic warrior-huntsman.” Fionn is sometimes said to have acquired his supernatural knowledge by tasting the otherworldly liquor. His normal means of divination was simply to chew his thumb, with which he had once touched the Salmon of Knowledge, which he was cooking for his master in poetry and magic. Moreover, poetry and preternatural vision have always been characteristic attributes of the Fionn cycle as a whole. Like Cú Chulainn, Fionn is also the subject of a narrative recounting his boyhood deeds. His birth followed soon after his father’s death at the hands of the rival band of the Sons of Morna. He was reared secretly in the forest by two female warriors until he was ready to assert his precocious claim to the leadership of the Fian. He killed a malevolent being called Aillén mac Midgna, who came each year to burn down the royal court of Tara (one of several variants of a myth in which Fionn figured as conqueror of a supernatural one-eyed arsonist). Even within the Fian his archrival was Goll (one-eyed) mac Morna, also known as Aodh (Fire). There is an obvious analogy here with the myth of Lugh’s defeat of Balar, and it has, in fact, been argued that Fionn was simply another name and persona for that deity. However, although Lugh is represented as being closely associated with the sacred function of kingship, Fionn’s relationship to kingship is, at the very least, ambiguous. It is true that he and his followers became closely associated with the king of Tara as a kind of standing army, but it has been suggested that this is a fairly late development. Earlier their role as mercenaries appears to have been more marginal and ambivalent. This marginal status may partly explain why the Fianaighecht was accorded little space in the written texts before the eleventh and twelfth centuries, although it is attested as early as the Ulster Cycle. By and large the literature of prestige such as the Ulster Cycle reinforced the structures and usages of organized aristocratic society within its clearly defined political boundaries. But the Fian’s environment was outside and beyond this cultivated domain in the forest and the wilderness. Here they roamed at will, on foot or on horseback, unlike the Ulster heroes, who traveled in chariots. Intimately connected with nature, both animate and inanimate, their world blurred and often dissolved the boundaries of social and natural categories. For example, several of the feinnidi were born of mothers in animal form, and the Fian’s ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


great hounds, Bran and Sgeolang, had a human mother. It is hardly surprising that Fian mythology has always had a firm hold on the popular imagination and that it only gained prominence in the written tradition when the learned class began to react to the pressure of sociopolitical change in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The ambiguous nature of the region inhabited by the Fian emerges clearly in their relations with the otherworld. Whereas in the Ulster tales the association of the two worlds tends to happen at specific times—at the great calendar festivals, for instance, or during initiation rituals—among the Fian these associations are casual and continual. The Fian’s liminal status ensures that they can participate freely in both the natural and the supernatural world as they are able to easily cross the threshold between worlds. In this as in much else they correspond to the heroes of Arthur’s court and there can be little doubt that the cycles of Fionn and Arthur, whatever their later vicissitudes, derive from the same sector of insular mythology. The “Elopement of Diarmaid and Gráinne,” one of the most popular tales in the Fianaighecht, tells how the mature Fionn loses the beautiful Gráinne to Diarmaid ua Duibhne (The Master and Charmer of Women), just as Arthur loses Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere) to Medrawd (Melwas). The tale is one of several Irish analogues of the romance of Tristan and Iseult, and it also ends in tragedy, when Diarmaid is killed by the magic boar of Beann Ghulban with Fionn’s connivance. It has been suggested that Gráinne’s name, which can mean literally ugliness, obliquely identifies her with the version of the sovereignty goddess who appears as a repulsive hag until she is transformed to youthful beauty by union with her rightful and royal mate. Diarmaid Donn (Brown, Dark) may originally have been the god Donn who ruled the otherworld of the dead. The most comprehensive source for the Fianaighecht is a long frame story entitled Agallamh na Senórach (The converse of the old men), which was probably compiled near the end of the twelfth century. The title indicates the convenient device on which the massive narrative rests: Caoilte mac Rónáin, one of the principal members of the Fian, long outlives his contemporaries and eventually meets with St. Patrick, who is on his mission of Christianization. Caoilte accompanies Patrick on his journey throughout the Irish countryside and, at the saint’s request, tells him the stories associated with its hills, rivers, plains, and other natural features. The result is a vast thesaurus of place-name lore (dinnshenchas), which brings together the several streams of learned and popular tradition that went into the making of the Fionn Cycle. SYSTEM OR CHAOS. Matthew Arnold admired the Celts for their lyric gifts, but he claimed, perhaps not without some reason, that they lacked the sense of architecture in their literary compositions. It is a sentiment that has been echoed by many students of Celtic religion and mythology when confronted with the frustratingly formless and unfinished ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


character of the rich corpus of evidence. This feeling has been aptly expressed by Marie-Louise Sjoestedt in her Gods and Heroes of the Celts (1949): In travelling through the dense forest of the insular legends, and stirring the ashes of the continental Celtic world, we did not hope to uncover the plan of a vast edifice, a temple of the Celtic gods, partly overrun by the luxuriant wilderness and partly ruined by invaders. The indications are that this edifice never existed. Other people raised temples to their gods, and their very mythologies are temples whose architecture reproduces the symmetry of a cosmic or social order—an order both cosmic and social. It is in the wild solitude of the nemeton and sacred woodland, that the Celtic tribe meets its gods, and its mythical world is a sacred forest, pathless and unbounded, which is inhabited by mysterious powers. . . . We seek for a cosmos and find chaos. . . . The investigation of the insular tradition leaves one with a sense of something missing. One searches in vain for traces of those vast conceptions of the origin and final destiny of the world which dominate other Indo-European mythologies. Was there a Celtic cosmogony or eschatology? Must we suppose from the few allusions, vague and banal as they are, which Caesar or Pomponius Mela have made to the teaching of the druids, that a whole aspect, and an essential aspect, of this mythical world is hidden from us and will remain hidden? Should we explain the silence of our texts by the censorship of Christian monks, who were nevertheless liberal enough to allow the preservation of episodes much stained with paganism, and features most shocking to the Christian mentality? (p. 92)

Sjoestedt’s own reply to this last rhetorical question would have been a clear negative, but some more recent studies suggest a qualified affirmative. In fact, there are grounds for believing that the early monastic redactors, for all their undoubted empathy and tolerance, did censor pagan learned tradition by omission as well as by critical editing, and that their omission most seriously affected those areas in which conflict of doctrines was least acceptable to Christian orthodoxy: ritual, cosmogony, and eschatology. In 1918 Joseph Vendryes demonstrated in an important article that the Celtic languages, and particularly early Irish, preserve the remnants of an old Indo-European religious vocabulary originating with the hieratic ancestors of brahmans, pontifs, and druids. Since then it has become increasingly clear that these particularities of terminology are not to be seen as isolated fossils but rather as reflecting interrelated elements of a system of socioreligious thought and practice, which must have persisted substantially unchanged until a relatively late date, perhaps—in Ireland at least—until the establishment of Christianity. The numerous survivals of archaisms from Indo-European ideology, ritual, and liturgy in early Irish recorded tradition strongly support this conclusion. So also does the “deep structure” of early Irish narrative that is gradually being uncovered by the close analysis of individual texts. In the context of such fundamental and constantly recurring themes as the sacral kingship, the king as



mediator between the secular and the supernatural world, the antinomy of ideological unity and political fragmentation, and the concept of social or cosmic order, these early texts often reveal a complex weave of structured allusion that presupposes in the not too distant past a coherent and authoritative system of politico-religious and juridico-religious belief and speculation. However, it would be wrong to assume that the texts offer a complete and consistent record of that system, not merely because monastic redactors practiced conscious censorship and selectivity but also because the texts were recorded long after druidic paganism had ceased to be the official and uncontested religion of the country. By reason of this remove in time and motivation, the early Irish documentation belongs largely to the category to which Georges Dumézil has applied the term mythologie littérarisée It is the concern of contemporary scholars to analyze and interpret this rich documentation and to restate it in mythico-religious rather than literary terms. SEE ALSO Druids; Fomhoire; Mabinogion; Matres; Sídh; Táin Bó Cuailnge; Tuatha Dé Danann.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Arnold, Matthew. On the Study of Celtic Literature. London, 1867. Bieler, Ludwig, ed. The Patrician Texts in the Book of Armagh. Dublin, 1979. Binchy, Daniel A. Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Kingship. Oxford, 1970. Birkhan, Helmut. Kelten: Versuch einer Gesamtdarstellung ihrer Kultur. Vienna, 1997. A comprehensive and detailed account of ancient and medieval Celtic culture with generous treatment of religion, mythology, and institutions. Bromwich, Rachel. Trioedd Ynys Prydein: The Welsh Triads. 2d ed. Cardiff, 1978. This edition of the medieval triads and the rich commentary and notes that accompany it are an invaluable source of information on early Welsh and British history, myth, and legend. Duval, Paul-Marie. Les dieux de la Gaule. Rev. ed. Paris, 1976. A convenient compendium of what is known and surmised about the Gaulish gods. Dumézil, Georges. Horace et les Curiaces. Paris, 1942. Dumézil, Georges. Naissance de Rome. Paris, 1944. Dumézil, Georges. Dieux des Indo-Européens, Paris, 1952. Dumézil, Georges. Mythe et épopée. Vol. 1. Paris, 1968. Gray, Elizabeth A. Cath Maige Tuired: The Second Battle of Mag Tuired. London, 1982. An edition of this important mythological text. Gray’s “Cath Maige Tuired: Myth and Structure,” Éigse 18 (1981): 183–209 and 19 (1982–1983): 1–35, 230–262, presents a detailed interpretative analysis of the content of the tale. Lambrechts, Pierre. Contributions a l’étude des divinités celtiques. Bruges, 1942. Le Roux, Françoise, and Christian J. Guyonvarc’h. La Civilisation celtique Rennes: La société celtique: dans l’idéologie trifonctionnelle et la tradition religieuse indo-européennes. Rennes, France, 1991.

Le Roux, Françoise, and Christian J. Guyonvarc’h. Les fêtes celtiques. Rennes, France, 1995. Lucas, A. T. Cattle in Ancient Ireland. Kilkenny, Ireland, 1989. Mac Cana, Proinsias. Celtic Mythology. Rev. ed. Feltham, U.K., 1983. A short survey of the subject with illustrations of sculpture, metalwork, and so on. MacCulloch, J. A. The Religion of the Ancient Celts. Edinburgh, 1911. Reprinted as Celtic Mythology (Boston, 1918). Still useful if read in conjunction with more recent accounts. MacNeill, Máire. The Festival of Lughnasa. Oxford, 1962. A comprehensive inventory of all the local festivals in Ireland that can be shown to continue the Celtic feast of Lugh, together with a very helpful commentary and a rich collection of texts, largely from the oral tradition. Maier, Bernhard. “Is Lug to be identified with Mercury? (Bell. Gall. VI, 17,1): New Suggestions to an Old Problem.” Ériu 47 (1996): 127–35. Maier, Bernhard. Dictionary of Celtic Religion and Culture. Woodbridge, U.K., 1997. Translation of Lexikon der keltischen Religion und Kultur (Stuttgart, Germany, 1994; reprint, 1997). A useful and accurate work of reference covering the continental and insular evidence—literature, iconography, archaeology. Meyer, Kuno, ed. and trans., and Alfred Nutt. The Voyage of Bran, Son of Febal, to the Land of the Living. 2 vols. London, 1895– 1897. Includes a long commentary on the Celtic concept of the otherworld and the doctrine of rebirth. Largely superseded by more recent studies, it still contains many useful insights. Murphy, Gerard, ed. and trans. Duanaire Finn: The Book of the Lays of Fionn. Vol. 3. Dublin, 1953. Includes a long and valuable commentary on the history of the Fionn Cycle and on the relationship between medieval manuscript and modern oral versions. Nagy, Joseph Falaky. The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in Gaelic Narrative Tradition. Berkeley, Calif., 1983. An excellent interpretative commentary on the Irish Fionn Cycle, the first extended study of the cycle in terms of modern mythological theory. It explores the internal consistency of the cycle as reflected in some of its constituent narratives and brings out the markedly liminal character of Fionn and his followers. Ó Cathasaigh, Tomas. The Heroic Biography of Cormac mac Airt. Dublin, 1977. A perceptive exposition of the status and function of the Irish hero-king as reflected in the legends of Cormac mac Airt. O’Flaherty, Wendy Doniger. Women, Androgynes, and Other Mythical Beasts. Chicago, 1980. In particular, see chapter 6, “The Indo-European Mare.” O’Rahilly, Thomas F. Early Irish History and Mythology. Dublin, 1946. Valuable for its coverage of Irish literary resources in all periods and for its brilliant analyses of medieval texts, but sometimes rather outmoded and idiosyncratic in its treatment of essentially mythological narratives as reflections of historical events. Ó Riain, P. “Traces of Lug in Early Irish Hagiographical Tradition.” Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 36 (1978): 138–55. Ó Riain, Pádraig. “The ‘Crech Ríg’ or ‘Regal Prey.’” Éigse 15 (1973): 24–30. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Puhvel, Jaan. “Aspects of equine functionality.” In Myth and Law among the Indo-Europeans, edited by Jaan Puhvel, pp. 169–69. Berkeley, Calif., 1970. Rees, Alwyn, and Brinley Rees. Celtic Heritage. London, 1961. An important and stimulating work that seeks to structure insular Celtic tradition in terms of a number of ideological concepts and motivations. It is inspired by the Dumézilian system of analysis, applied in a flexible and imaginative fashion. Ross, Anne. Pagan Celtic Britain. London, 1967. Surveys the British repertory of images for the Celtic gods and their attributes. Contains an extensive discussion of the several main categories of deity: horned god, warrior god, divine animals, among others. Useful also for its rich comparative documentation from insular literary and folklore sources. Scowcroft, R. Mark. “Leabhar Gabhála. Part II: The Growth of the Tradition.” Ériu 39 (1988) 1–66. Offers an excellent analytic commentary on the new synthetic mythology that emerged from the fusion of pagan myth and legend with the Latin-mediated learning of clerics and schoolmen. Sjoestedt, Marie-Louise. Dieux et héros des Celtes. Paris, 1940. Translated by Myles Dillon as Gods and Heroes of the Celts (London, 1949). A short but perceptive survey of Celtic, mainly Irish, mythology and hero tales. At the time of its publication it offered fresh insights into the nature of Celtic myth and is still necessary reading. Synge, John M. The Aran Islands. Drawings by Jack B. Yeats. Dublin, 1907. Vendryes, Joseph. “Les correspondances de vocabulaire entre l’indo-iranien et l’italo-celtique.” Mémoires de la Société de Linguistique de Paris 20 (1918): 265–285. Vendryes, Joseph. Les religions des Celtes (1948). Revised by PierreYves Lambert. Vol. 1. Spézet, France, 1997. It is primarily an exhaustive catalogue of the varied data, both continental and insular, relating to Celtic religion. More descriptive than theoretical, it is still a useful source of information. Vries, Jan de. Keltische Religion. Stuttgart, Germany, 1961. A comprehensive treatment of the whole of Celtic religion. It is well documented and strong on Indo-European and other comparative aspects, less so on the insular tradition, although the latter is given fairly generous coverage. PROINSIAS MAC CANA (1987



CELTIC RELIGION: HISTORY OF STUDY The terms Celt and Celtic were originally used by ancient Greek and Roman writers to refer to an extensive network of tribes located primarily in Gaul (roughly modern-day France, Belgium, and northern Italy) who claimed, or were thought by their neighbors, to share a common descent. These terms, however, were never used in reference to the peoples of Britain and Ireland, even though it is now known that they did (and some still do) speak Celtic languages. Some classical writers did note traits common to both the Celts and the Britons, such as the institution of druids and druidism, which, according to Caesar, originated in Britain. The use of the ethnonym Celtic to refer to related languages ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


both modern and ancient (that in turn constitute a subset of the Indo-European family of languages) dates back to the eighteenth century, arising in the wake of the scholarly discovery of the family resemblance among the still-living Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, Welsh, Cornish, and Breton languages and the long-dead languages of the continental Celts. EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF CELTIC RELIGION STUDIES. Soon after the discovery of the common descent of ancient and living Celtic languages circa 1700, ambitious attempts were launched to expand the “Celtic connection” beyond the realm of linguistics and specifically to establish Celtic common denominators in the areas of religion, worldview, and myth. Central to these attempts to understand what the pagan Celts believed, who their gods were, and how they worshiped them was the figure of the druid, famously described in classical sources as a barbarian philosopher and also as a presider over sometimes grisly sacrifices, pointedly conducted in the realm of nature as opposed to the cultural confines of temples. John Toland (1670–1722), the English pantheist and biographer of John Milton, wrote admiringly of the druids of ancient Britain and of the enlightened religion they promulgated. Later on in the mysticism of the poet William Blake (1757–1827) the not-really-pagan British priests played an important role in Blake’s vision of the salvific link between “Albion” and Jerusalem. In time druids (including those who occasionally appeared in medieval Irish literature) merged in the scholarly and popular imagination with the figure of the Celtic bard, the practitioner of the verbal and musical arts toward which, according to popular notions that linger into the early twenty-first century, the Celts are naturally inclined. The impression of an artistic as well as a “druidic” (philosophical, mystical, and perhaps even savage) bent to pre-Christian Celtic religion, and even to Christianity as it developed among the Celts, gained strength from the popularity of the works of the Scottish writer James Macpherson (1736–1796), who fabricated an ancient Celtic poet “Ossian” to evoke a dramatic world of ancient Highland heroes and heroines prone to romantic melancholy and pronouncements worthy of the Enlightenment’s noble savage. Even in the early twenty-first century most of the popular, Neopagan, and some academic treatments of the topic of Celtic religion are fueled by a druidocentric desire to recapture a mystical wisdom that supposedly informs Celtic culture and art. This popular tendency to view the religion along with the art of the Celts as sources of atavistic truth for modern seekers to rediscover can also be traced to the widely influential literary characterizations of Celts and their worldview developed by the Breton scholar of religion Ernest Renan (1823–1892), the English critic Matthew Arnold (1822–1888), and the Irish poet William Butler Yeats (1865–1939). The romantic image of the Celts and their religious traditions has now been compounded by the widespread impression (based on ambiguous evidence) that the Celts privileged women and honored their goddesses to an extent that set them apart from other ancient peoples.



It is important to note that most of the serious Celtic scholarship from the mid–nineteenth century on has been devoted to locating and organizing the available data on the Celts—their languages, histories, cultures, literatures, and the physical record they left behind—and not to tackling broad, harder-to-define, and controversial concepts such as “Celtic religion” and “mythology.” Larger questions such as these have in fact been ignored or even treated with scorn by many if not most scholars in the field. Undeniably this neglect in part reflects the difficulty of accurately describing Celtic religious beliefs, practices, and myths, given that the pre-Christian Celts left relatively little in the way of a written record and the agenda of medieval Christian Celts often overruled the ethnographic impulse in what they wrote about their pre-Christian past. And yet the relative dearth of serious study of Celtic religion, by definition an interdisciplinary venture, also points to the rather sparse communication among Celticists working in different languages and literary traditions (such as Irish and Welsh) and between those who work on Celtic languages, literatures, and history and those who work on Celtic archaeology and prehistory. The earliest attempts to discover what the pagan Celts believed, who their gods were, and how they worshiped them that are still worth consulting in the early twenty-first century, though cautiously, were authored by the first Oxford professor of Celtic, Sir John Rhyˆs (1840–1915), and the enterprising Englishman Alfred Nutt (1856–1910). The attention of these scholars was directed primarily toward the texts produced by the medieval Welsh and Irish, and their primary working assumption was that the “waifs and strays” of preChristian beliefs, myths, and rituals were embedded in this literature and to some extent were reconstructible. There was also considerable interest (especially on the part of Rhyˆs) in the folklore of contemporary Celts—their superstitions, stories, and customs—as reflecting many of these same vestiges. Rhyˆs and Nutt, like their scholarly coevals, were profoundly affected by a nineteenth-century view of premodern religion (particularly of the polytheistic Indo-European kind) as a prescientific system for explaining natural phenomena—a system that, the theory went, was prone to misinterpretation and breakdown as it was passed down through the generations. These early pioneers of the study of Celtic religion freely compared their data with the pre-Christian religious traditions of other Indo-European peoples and employed many of the terms and concepts developed in the nineteenth century by Jacob Grimm (1785–1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786–1859), Johann Georg von Hahn (1811–1869), and Friedrich Max Müller (1823–1900).

thors writing on their Celtic neighbors, to interpret Celtic religious traditions in terms borrowed from Greek and Roman religion (e.g., the search for a Celtic “pantheon”). Some Irish and British scholars of the first half of the twentieth century attempted, sometimes to the point of obsession, to reconstruct insular Celtic divinities consonant with their continental cousins from what they considered to be the garbled medieval record produced by Christians no longer in touch with pre-Christian religious sensibilities. The philologist Thomas O’Rahilly’s never completed Early Irish History and Mythology (1946) cast a spell on a whole generation of scholars as it looked relentlessly for solar deities and heroes, although, as the title suggests, historical peoples and forces were also discernible behind some members of O’Rahilly’s mythological cast of characters. William John Gruffydd (1881–1954), in his still influential reconstructions of narratives about gods and goddesses underlying the Four Branches of the Welsh Mabinogi, applied some of Frazer’s formulations of “primitive” magical and religious thought (Nagy, 2001) and recycled the “heroic biography” paradigm of mythic narrative previously used by Nutt. Later studies that still employ but fine-tune the biographic-mythic paradigm include Tomás Ó Cathasaigh’s Heroic Biography of Cormac mac Airt (1977) and Joseph Falaky Nagy’s The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in Gaelic Narrative Tradition (1985), both studies of Irish narrative characters whose story cycles have religious implications. TWENTIETH-CENTURY DEVELOPMENTS. As the twentieth century unfolded, Celtic scholars, pursuing questions raised by earlier scholars and their particular approaches to religion, had access to new resources and tools. Major strides in the uncovering and cataloging of the remains of ancient Celtic peoples made it much more feasible and productive to compare and contrast ancient images with medieval tales and narrative characters, for example, in the work of Marie-Louise Sjoestedt (1900–1940) and Anne Ross’s Pagan Celtic Britain: Studies in Iconography and Tradition (1967). Meanwhile the tireless collecting activities of the Irish Folklore Commission made it possible to study the diachronic development of Irish narratives, beliefs, and customs that arguably derive from the pre-Christian religious tradition and that, by adapting to changing cultural circumstances, have survived or even flourished down to modern times. Máire MacNeill’s 1962 study of the Irish harvest festival of Lughnasa and the stories and rituals associated with it through the centuries and Patricia Lysaght’s 1986 monograph on the enduring figure of the banshee demonstrate the chronological span over which studies of the pre-Christian religious tradition and its protean afterlife can now range.

These nineteenth-century tendencies, both stimulating and confining, were still in evidence in early twentiethcentury scholarship on Celtic religion. Also influencing these works—including Georges Dottin’s La religion des Celtes (1904), John Arnott MacCulloch’s The Religion of the Ancient Celts (1911), and Joseph Vendryes’s La religion des Celtes (1948)—was the inclination, derived from classical au-

The profound twentieth-century shift in the scholarly paradigm of religion, sparked by the contributions of Max Weber (1864–1920) and Émile Durkheim (1858–1917) to religious studies, and the structuralist approach to the study of symbolic aspects of human culture (deriving from linguistics and semiotics) slowly but surely penetrated Celtic studies in the twentieth century. When Celtic scholars began to view ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


society rather than nature as the primary focus of religion and negotiation among cultural values rather than explanation of natural phenomena as the basic task of religion, solar deities gave way to ideological concepts, especially under the influence of the linguist Émile Benveniste (1902–1976), who pioneered the techniques of a lexically based search for shared Indo-European institutions and elements of worldview, and of the scholar of religion Georges Dumézil (1898– 1986), who compellingly excavated a model of society consisting of three “functions” out of the religious data available from various ancient and medieval Indo-European cultures (including Celtic). Heralding these new approaches, Celtic Heritage by Alwyn Rees and Brinley Rees (1961) presented an ambitiously comprehensive and fundamentally religious interpretation of medieval Celtic literature. As argued by Rees and Rees, who were inspired by the work of Mircea Eliade (1907– 1986) as well as by Dumézil, the Christian milieu of medieval Celtic literary composition hardly deterred the rich body of story preserved thereby from refining and applying the inherited sacred model of the Indo-European “tripartite” society, mapped onto the landscape by way of place names and local associations and traced in the contours of a historicized but still fundamentally mythic past. The reflections and refractions of social structure and thought on display in religious symbolism as expressed through story and image also loom large in Jan de Vries’s Keltische Religion, also published in 1961, which focuses primarily on the available evidence concerning the continental Celts and their modes and objects of worship. Druids staged a dramatic comeback on the scholarly scene, this time viewed from a more archaeologically and sociologically informed perspective, in Stuart Piggott’s The Druids (1968) and Françoise Le Roux’s Les druides (1961). Proinsias Mac Cana’s perennial Celtic Mythology (1970) inaugurated a golden age of scholarship informed by a confidence that key themes and motifs in Celtic religion and mythology could be securely identified and interpreted (Gray, 1981–1983; Sayers, 1985; Sterckx, 1981). Such studies judiciously combined an openness to the nuances of the linguistic, literary, and archaeological evidence with those elements of Dumézil’s and Sjoestedt’s approaches that served the Celtic materials best—such as viewing sovereignty myths and rituals as fundamentally religious, making a distinction between culture heroes who operate within the social realm and those who ambivalently dwell on its borders, and appreciating the “multitasking” that characterizes the careers of goddesses and other mythological females. Busying themselves more with the details than with the big picture, scholars of the latter half of the twentieth century prudently shied away from perpetuating a monolithic concept of Celtic “religion” or “mythology” and grew more sensitive to the diversity of religions and mythologies that historically developed among the Celts, who themselves were never a single people. A major contribution of the second half of the twentieth century to the evolving understanding of Celtic religious traENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


ditions has been a heightened awareness of the delicate artifice underlying both the modern scholarly concept of Celtic and the reports of pre-Christian belief, practice, and myth conveyed in early medieval texts. Careful probings of “Celticity” punctuate Patrick Sims-Williams’s (1990) salutary sorting-out of concepts of the otherworld as they were supposedly shared among the insular Celts. Bernhard Maier’s Die Religion der Kelten (2001) similarly displays a healthy skepticism concerning the literary evidence that, on religious matters especially, can be as intentionally misleading as it is enlightening about the preliterary past. The boldness behind the medieval Irish project to construct a picture of pre-Christian Ireland and its religion that would appear consistent with biblical history and early medieval, not exclusively Celtic, notions of how pagans worshiped and what they believed in was the focus of Kim McCone’s revisionist Pagan Past and Christian Present in Early Irish Literature (1990). In light of what is now known both about continental Celtic religious belief and practice (particularly as these engaged in cultural dialogue with those of the Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans) and about medieval Irish and Welsh cultures engaged in lively cross-cultural communication on the northwestern edge of Christendom, it is no longer scholarly wisdom, as it once was, to view the Celtic peoples as having been compulsively conservative in regard to their religious traditions. Indeed the tendency is now to highlight the syncretistic trends that have produced what were once thought to be characteristically Celtic religious concepts of either the pre-Christian or Christian era or concepts that seem to straddle both (Borsje, 1996; Mackey, 1989; Sjöblom, 2000). Stemming in part from hyperrevisionist critiques of Celtic and Indo-European as cultural categories, an even more radical scholarly approach to the study of Celtic religious traditions emerged in 1999, spearheaded by Simon James. Receiving considerable attention but not immediately widely embraced, James’s approach highlights the impact of the geographic contiguity or proximity of peoples over linguistic and cultural inheritance as a factor in determining the outcome of cultural development, including religion. A controversy over a familiar and formulaic phrase from medieval Irish literature serves as a demonstration of some of the key shifts in perspective and agenda that have shaped scholarship on Celtic religions. A recurring preface to heroic boast or assertion in a body of late Old Irish and early Middle Irish tales constituting what is called the Ulster Cycle, having to do with heroes and situations pertaining to a period well before the coming of Christianity, is, to the effect, “I swear by the god(s) my people swear by.” This expression was considered an example of what much in the Ulster Cycle seems to offer, namely, “a window on the Iron Age” (Jackson, 1964), replete with a pre-Christian worldview, tribal gods for one’s people to swear by (parallel perhaps to the continental Celtic deity Teutates “God of the People”), and other elements of belief and practice that seemed more reflective of



pre-Romanized Gaul than of early Christian Ireland. In the late twentieth century this attractive reading of the Ulster Cycle as a portal into the Celtic past was challenged, and the argument made that the “I swear” expression is a Christianera invention meant to evoke the flavor of an imagined preChristian past (Ó hUiginn, 1989). A scholarly battle ensued, with the original interpretation of the phrase stoutly defended by Calvert Watkins (1990). Whatever the outcome of this controversy and whether or not the expression is authentically pre-Christian, there is still much to be learned about the religious traditions of the continental and insular Celtic peoples. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so, the increasing availability of different types of data (textual, archaeological, and folkloric) and the increasing confidence in understanding and using them has made Celtic scholars more hesitant to treat sources as unambiguous time capsules and more leery of blanket statements of the sort that used to characterize the study of Celtic religion and that still, alas, bedevil the seemingly endless stream of popular published treatments of the subject. At this stage of knowledge of Celtic religion, those who truly know their Celtic archaeology or their Celtic literatures are hardly ready to swear to anything, by any god.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Borsje, Jacqueline. From Chaos to Enemy: Encounters with Monsters in Early Irish Texts; An Investigation Related to the Process of Christianization and the Concept of Evil. Turnhout, Belgium, 1996. Gray, Elizabeth A. “Cath Maige Tuired: Myth and Structure.” Éigse 18 (1981): 183–209; 19 (1982–1983): 1–35, 230–262. Gruffydd, William John. Math vab Mathonwy: An Inquiry into the Origins and Development of the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi with Text and a Translation. Cardiff, 1928. Jackson, Kenneth Hurlstone. The Oldest Irish Tradition: A Window on the Iron Age. Cambridge, U.K., 1964. James, Simon. The Atlantic Celts: Ancient People or Modern Invention? London, 1999. Le Roux, Françoise. Les druides. Paris, 1961. Later editions, coauthored with Christian Guyonvarc’h, are considerably expanded but not necessarily improvements on the original. Lysaght, Patricia. The Banshee: The Irish Death-Messenger (1986). Boulder, Colo., 1997. Mac Cana, Proinsias. Celtic Mythology (1970). Rev. ed. New York, 1983. MacCulloch, John Arnott. The Religion of the Ancient Celts. Edinburgh, 1911. Mackey, James P., ed. An Introduction to Celtic Christianity. Edinburgh, 1989. MacNeill, Máire. The Festival of Lughnasa: A Study of the Survival of the Celtic Festival of the Beginning of Harvest. London, 1962. Maier, Bernhard. Lexikon der keltischen Religion und Kultur. Stuttgart, 1994. Available in English as Dictionary of Celtic Religion and Culture. Translated by Cyril Edwards. Rochester, N.Y., 1997. Contains entries on and brief bibliographies for most of the concepts and authors mentioned in this article.

Maier, Bernhard. Die Religion der Kelten: Götter-Mythen-Weltbild. Munich, 2001. An up-to-date and reliable survey of the subject; the opening chapter deftly covers some of the major intellectual trends that have influenced the study of Celtic religion. McCone, Kim. Pagan Past and Christian Present in Early Irish Literature. Maynooth, Ireland, 1990. Meyer, Kuno, and Alfred Nutt. The Voyage of Bran, Son of Febal to the Land of the Living: An Old Irish Saga. 2 vols. London, 1895–1897. As well as an edition and translation of this and other texts that are important for an understanding of the concept of the otherworld that inhabits early Irish literature, this work contains Nutt’s characteristic “Essay on the Irish Vision of the Happy Otherworld and the Celtic Doctrine of Rebirth.” Nagy, Joseph Falaky. The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in Gaelic Narrative Tradition. Berkeley, Calif., 1985. Nagy, Joseph Falaky. “Folklore Studies and the Mabinogion.” In 150 Jahre “Mabinogion”—Deutsche-Walische Kulturbeziehungen, edited by Bernhard Maier and Stefan Zimmer, with Christiane Batke, pp. 91–100. Tübingen, Germany, 2001. Ó Cathasaigh, Tomás. The Heroic Biography of Cormac mac Airt. Dublin, 1977. Ó hUiginn, Ruairí. “Tongu do dia toinges mo thuath and Related Expressions.” In Sages, Saints, and Storytellers: Celtic Studies in Honour of Professor James Carney, edited by Donnchadh Ó Corráin, Liam Breatnach, and Kim McCone, pp. 332–341. Maynooth, Ireland, 1989. O’Rahilly, Thomas F. Early Irish History and Mythology. Dublin, 1946. Piggott, Stuart. The Druids. London, 1968. The latter half of the book includes a helpful survey of early modern popular and scholarly attitudes toward druids and Celtic religion in general. Rees, Alwyn, and Brinley Rees. Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and Wales. London, 1961. Rhyˆs, Sir John. Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion as Illustrated by Celtic Heathendom. London, 1888. Ross, Anne. Pagan Celtic Britain: Studies in Iconography and Tradition. London, 1967. Sayers, William. “Fergus and the Cosmogonic Sword.” History of Religions 25 (1985): 30–56. Sims-Williams, Patrick. “Some Celtic Otherworld Terms.” In Celtic Language, Celtic Culture: A Festschrift for Eric P. Hamp, edited by A. T. E. Matonis and Daniel F. Melia, pp. 57–81. Van Nuys, Calif., 1990. Sjöblom, Tom. Early Irish Taboos: A Study in Cognitive History. Helsinki, Finland, 2000. Sjoestedt, Marie-Louise. Gods and Heroes of the Celts. Translated by Myles Dillon. London, 1948. Dillon’s English translation of Les dieux et héros des Celtes (1940). Sterckx, Claude. La tête et les seins: La mutilation rituelle des enemis et le concept de 1’âme. Saarbrücken, Germany, 1981. Vendryes, Joseph. La religion des Celtes (1948). Spézet, France, 1997. An additional critical apparatus (including bibliography) supplied by Pierre-Yves Lambert adds to the value of this reissue of Vendryes’s work. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


Vries, Jan de. Keltische Religion. Stuttgart, 1961. Watkins, Calvert. “Some Celtic Phrasal Echoes.” In Celtic Language, Celtic Culture: A Festschrift for Eric P. Hamp, edited by A. T. E. Matonis and Daniel F. Melia, pp. 47–56. Van Nuys, Calif., 1990. JOSEPH F. NAGY (2005)

CENTER OF THE WORLD. The importance of the symbolism of the center of the world can hardly be overstated, for it establishes the order of the universe, drawing together the spiritual destiny of collective humankind and that of the individual human being. The term center of the world refers to that place where all essential modes of being come together; where communication and even passage among them is possible. The center of the world is the heart of reality, where the real is fully manifest. The nature of this manifestation may vary greatly from one culture to another, taking the form of a vague, undefined power or of the direct appearance of a divinity. Since this center stands apart as the extraordinary place where the real is integral, it is always a sacred place, qualitatively different from mundane space. In the religious world view, every ordered and habitable area possesses such a center, a space that is sacred above all others. For this reason, the center of the world should not be portrayed in purely geometric terms or forms. It is because the center of the world is defined by its special relationship to the sacred that there can be multiple centers in any cosmos or microcosm. Cultures in Mesopotamia, India, and China, for example, saw no inconsistency in recognizing a large number of sacred places, each one called “the center of the world.” The center of the world is a locus in mythic geography, a symbolic portrayal of the real, known, and essential aspects of the world, rather than a detached and objective reckoning of abstract space. In cultures that conceive of the universe as multiple realms of heavens, hells, and strata for various kinds of beings, the center of the world is that point where all realms intersect and where the most direct contact with the sacred is obtained. Existence of a sacred center allows for the establishment of a world system, a body of imaged realities that are related to one another: a sacred point that stands apart from the homogeneity of general space; symbolic openings from one level of reality to another; an axis mundi (tree, mountain, ladder, vine, or pillar) that symbolizes the communication between cosmic regions; and the extension of an organized and habitable world that exists around the center. This cosmos constructed around a sacred center lies in opposition to the chaotic space beyond it, which has neither been ordered by the gods nor consecrated in rituals imitating the divine creative acts. That indeterminate space beyond the cosmos remains uninhabitable by human beings because it is a place where communication with the supernatural world is impossible. In the “other world” dwell demonic beings, ghosts, monsters, souls of the dead, or foreigners. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION


SYMBOLIC FORMS. In order to illustrate how widespread is the concept of the center of the world and how constant is its basic meaning, some of its most common symbolic forms may be noted. Amond these are the sacred mountain; the cosmic tree; the bridge or ladder connecting cosmic realms; sanctuaries, temples, tombs; sacred cities; domestic space; personal space; and sacred sound. In Asia one finds the elaborate religious symbolism of Mount Meru, the cosmic mountain whose complex symbolic meanings are put forth especially in the post-Vedic literature of India, particularly in the Pura¯n: as of Hinduism, and in certain Buddhist texts. On its peak lie the cities of the gods. It has existed since the beginning of time. Upon its slopes the waters of immortality are stored in Lake Anavatapta. The sacred river Ganges flows from Mount Meru. It is the fixed point about which revolve the sun and the stars. Around it are gathered other sacred mountains. In ascending the slopes of Mount Meru, one passes through all possible spiritual states of being until, arriving at the summit, one transcends the particularities of any of them. Similarly, in early Daoism, Kunlun is a cosmic mountain paradise connecting heaven and earth. In some accounts concerning the primordial human being named Pangu, Kunlun makes its appearance from out of the chaotic flood waters that deluged the earth. It was here at the center of the universe that human life was created and the world regenerated. In the Zhuangzi and Liezi, Kunlun is the place where the Yellow Emperor “dies” to the mundane world and flies to heaven in the immortal form of a bird-man. Also in the Liezi is a description of the mountain Hu-ling, which forms the center of a paradise whose inhabitants are rejuvenated by the water bubbling forth from the sacred spring