Religion in the Amerindian Society Essay

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Religion in the Amerindian Society The religion of the indigenous Amerindians was a colorful mixture of nature worship, ancestor worship and protective magic. This hand out will examine the religious sphere in both the Taino and Kalinago society. The Tainos believe their land had been created by a male sky-god and a female earth goddess. They believed these two gods were too far away consequently they worshipped many nature gods and ancestral spirits who controlled wind, rain, sickness, luck and misfortune. Each of these gods could be represented by a zemi. Zemis were made from wood, bones, cotton or shell in the shape of a human or an animal. Tainos believed that trees, rivers and rocks were the homes of evil spirits. To protect themselves they wore amulets, painted their bodies and took special medicine. Each village had its own zemi house. It was a shadowy place where the priests and cacique offered food and clothing to the spirits and asked for their help. The priests or cacique were responsible to carry out all religious rites as only they were worthy enough o do so. Powered tobacco called cohabo was burnt before the zemis. A Y-shaped pipe was placed deeply in the nostrils and the priest inhaled the fumes until he fainted. It was believed in his state of unconsciousness be could communicate with the gods. The Tainos buried their dead and believed in life after death in coyaba. This was said to be a peaceful place which was free from natural calamities like sickness and hurricanes. A man was buried with his most valuable possession to accompany him to coyaba. The Kalinagos worshipped their ancestors and nature and believed in evil spirits or maboya. The priest or medicine men were called Boyez. Their function was to heal the sick with herbs and to use magic charms or spells to ward off evil spirits. They had special huts where they practiced their rites.

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