STUDY GUIDE MODULE 5
STUDY GUIDE MODULE 5 ANT 3241
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This 5 page Study Guide was uploaded by Sharon Stambouli on Tuesday September 20, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to ANT 3241 at Florida International University taught by Jean Muteba Rahier in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 39 views. For similar materials see Anthropology, Myth, Ritual and Mysticism in Anthropology at Florida International University.
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Date Created: 09/20/16
ANT 3241 MODULE 5 STUDY GUIDE (Chapter 5 on Textbook) SUMMARY An altered state of consciousness is any mental state that differs from a normal mental state. Such states are characterized by a number of psychological experiences, such as alterations in patterns of thinking, disturbed sense of time, change in emotional experience, distortion in body image, and others. A person can enter an altered state through a number of situations including reduction of external stimulation, increase of external stimulation, increased alertness or decreased alertness, pain, or alterations in body chemistry such as those that accompany fasting and sleep deprivation. These factors create observable changes in the activity of the brain. Many religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, include fasting as a part of their religious practices. Another common practice associated with mental changes is pain. Pain is associated with stigmata in Christianity. Blood-sacrifice through self-inflicted pain was a key element in Mayan religious practices. Pain is also involved with body modifications found in many rites of passage. Altered states of consciousness are manifestations of alterations in the operating of the brain. For examples, the aura frequently associated with migraines may be interpreted as a religious experience. Overstimulation of the orientation association structure of the brain softens the boundary between self and other, resulting in a unitary state. Altered states of consciousness can also be brought about by drugs and chemical agents, such as the use of tobacco, coffee, alcohol, marijuana, peyote, and a number of manufactured substances. However, the use of these substances in religious practice occurs within a religious context. The experience is strongly influenced by cultural expectations. DEFINITIONS ü Altered states of consciousness: Any mental state that differs from a normal state. ü Entopic phenomena: Visual effects that have their origin in physical changes within the eye ü Fasting: The act of abstaining from eating food and drinking water over a period of time ü Orientation association structure: The part of the brain that enables us to distinguish ourselves from the world around us and to orient ourselves in space ü Pan-Indian: Refers to activities that draw from many different Native American traditions. ü Peyotism: The ritual use of peyote, a hallucinogenic cactus ü Spirit possession: An altered state of consciousness that is interpreted as a spirit taking over ontrol of a human body and is either deliberately by a ritual performance or taking control by a spirit causing illness. ü Stigmata: Bodily wounds or pain considered by Christians to be visible signs of participation in he sufferings of Christ. ü Sympathetic system: The arousal system of the brain. ü Therianthropes: Creatures that are part human and part animal. ü Unitary state: An altered state of consciousness in which an individual experiences a feeling of becoming one with the supernatural. POWERPOINTS SUMMARY Altered States of Consciousness Altered States of Consciousness: Any mental state that is recognized by the individual or observer as different from a normal state. In interacting with the supernatural world, an individual may have mental experiences that transcend ordinary experiences, such as a trance. In many cultures, these states are encouraged and are interpreted by the culture as important religious experiences. Characteristics of altered States of Consciousness: ü Which particular mental state is experienced and the intensity of the experience depend on different factors ü They can be brought out by a number of physiological, psychological and pharmaceutical factors Entering an Altered State of Consciousness ü Fasting: The act of abstaining from eating food and drinking liquids over a period of time o Societal variations and examples o Leads to an alteration in body chemistry o Seen as sacrifice to a diety and accompanies religious rituals ü Sacred Pain: common theme in religious traditions. It may be seen as punishments, consequences of bad karma, purifying, transformative, or source of supernatural power (used to achieve exorcism). Religious pain is often shared pain o Stigmata: marks on the body in areas that correspond to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus o Many rituals use pain that is self-inflicted or inflicted by others o Use in rites of passage, including rituals o It can also induce a euphoric state and may be related to experiences of dissociation or trance o Closely linked to emotion and sense of self o Pilgrimages often involve sacred pain The Biological Basis of Altered States of Consciousness ü Sympathetic System: the arousal system of the brain is driven to higher and higher levels, ultimately becoming over stimulated, such as in situations in which a fast rhythm is being used. The brain selectively shuts down. ü Orientation Association Structure: one area of the brain that shuts down when over stimulated. o Enables us to sense the boundaries of our body, to distinguish ourselves from the world around us, and to orient ourselves in space. o The result is a softening of the boundaries between self and other o Unitary State: an altered mental state described by many religious systems in which divisions between the self and the outside world disappear and one feels as being “one” with the universe or supernatural beings. Drug-Induced Altered States: the use of drugs is practiced by many societies (Peyote). Ritual drug use is highly controlled and adaptive ü The importance of a ritual setting: religious drug use takes place only at certain times and in certain contexts, with defined beginning and end points. Ethnographic Examples of Altered States of Consciousness ü The Holiness Churches ü San Healing rituals ü The Sun Dance of the Cheyenne Religious Use of Drugs in South America ü Description of the Yanomamo of Venezuela’s practices in their religious systems ü The use of tobacco ü Rastafarians: one of their key beliefs is the coming repatriation of blacks in the Americas to Africa. This is an example of a revitalization movement. Their rituals include smoking marijuana or ganga (wisdom weed). Religious Interpretations of Altered States of Consciousness ü Spirit Possession: a phenomenon in which a supernatural power, usually in the form of spirits or gods, enters the person’s body ü The second common religious interpretation is that a person has entered a trance state because the soul has left the person’s body. FILM SUMMARY The Peyote Road "The Peyote Road" is a documentary protesting the 1990 Supreme Court decision that denied First Amendment protection to the sacramental use of peyote by Native Americans in ceremonies that predate the Constitution by at least a millennium. Filmmakers make their case easily that the Supreme Court's decision is so far-reaching that it jeopardizes freedom of religion itself. (One scholarly interviewee wonders whether the decision, which would take an act of Congress to overturn, could be used against circumcision and kosher slaughtering practices in Judaism.) The documentarians marshal one Native American after another, many of them tribal elders and leaders, to explain to us that the use of peyote by many different tribes is a means of attaining a heightened awareness, as "a way of relating to the world" that "is done out of respect for the Creator." Native American actor Rodney A. Grant, who appeared in "Dances With Wolves," guides us through a typical ceremony, which involves a circle of men--women serve as water bearers--sitting in a circle inside a tepee, staring at a fire in the tepee's center, meditating and praying for hours on end to the accompaniment of drumming and chanting. One participant states firmly that he had never had a hallucinatory experience nor has he ever known anyone who ever has. This takes us to the heart of the matter, which is where the filmmakers slip up. They go to great and persuasive lengths to explain and defend the religious aspects of chewing peyote, harvested from a Southwestern cactus, and the cultural, political and legal implications of its use. However, they overlook scientific opinion, although one of their interviewees does cite a study showing that peyote doesn't harm our chromosomes or cause birth defects. Native Americans refer to peyote as a medicine or an herb rather than a drug, although Webster's, which refers you to the entry for mescal, mentions its hallucinogenic effect. The opinions--indeed, definitions--from a couple of scientists would be most helpful here since we're being asked to regard peyote as the same as sacramental wine in Judeo-Christian rituals. But is this an appropriate comparison? The filmmakers may in fact be so caught up in preaching to the converted, assuming we know all about how peyote is prepared for consumption and how it is consumed and what its effects are, that they tend to overlook those of us who are open-minded and could be even more sympathetic to the freedom-of-religion aspects of their cause had they provided us with more precise, factual information about peyote use. Despite this not inconsiderable reservation, "The Peyote Road" does succeed in suggesting that the Supreme Court decision is yet another instance of the white man's ignorance and hypocrisy in regard to Native Americans.
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