A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures and objects, performed in a sequestered place, performed according to set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions including a religious community. Rituals are characterized but not defined by formalism, invariance, rule-governance, sacral symbolism, performance. Rituals are a feature of all known human societies, they include not only the worship rites and sacraments of organized religions and cults, but rites of passage and purification rites, oaths of allegiance, dedication ceremonies, coming of age ceremony or rites and presidential inaugurations and funerals, school "rush" traditions and graduations, club meetings, sporting events, Halloween parties, veterans parades, Christmas shopping and more. Many activities that are ostensibly performed for concrete purposes, such as jury trials, execution of criminals, scientific symposia, are loaded with purely symbolic actions prescribed by regulations or tradition, thus ritualistic in nature.
Common actions like hand-shaking and saying "hello" may be termed rituals. The field of ritual studies has seen a number of conflicting definitions of the term. One given by Kyriakidis is that a ritual is an outsider's or "etic" category for a set activity that, to the outsider, seems irrational, non-contiguous, or illogical; the term can be used by the insider or "emic" performer as an acknowledgement that this activity can be seen as such by the uninitiated onlooker. In psychology, the term ritual is sometimes used in a technical sense for a repetitive behavior systematically used by a person to neutralize or prevent anxiety; the English word ritual derives from the Latin ritualis, "that which pertains to rite". In Roman juridical and religious usage, ritus was the proven way of doing something, or "correct performance, custom"; the original concept of ritus may be related to the Sanskrit ṛtá" in Vedic religion, "the lawful and regular order of the normal, therefore proper and true structure of cosmic, worldly and ritual events".
The word "ritual" is first recorded in English in 1570, came into use in the 1600s to mean "the prescribed order of performing religious services" or more a book of these prescriptions. There are hardly any limits to the kind of actions; the rites of past and present societies have involved special gestures and words, recitation of fixed texts, performance of special music, songs or dances, manipulation of certain objects, use of special dresses, consumption of special food, drink, or drugs, much more. Catherine Bell argues that rituals can be characterized by formalism, invariance, rule-governance, sacral symbolism and performance. Ritual utilizes a limited and rigidly organized set of expressions which anthropologists call a "restricted code". Maurice Bloch argues that ritual obliges participants to use this formal oratorical style, limited in intonation, vocabulary and fixity of order. In adopting this style, ritual leaders' speech becomes more style than content; because this formal speech limits what can be said, it induces "acceptance, compliance, or at least forbearance with regard to any overt challenge".
Bloch argues that this form of ritual communication makes rebellion impossible and revolution the only feasible alternative. Ritual tends to support traditional forms of social hierarchy and authority, maintains the assumptions on which the authority is based from challenge. Rituals appeal to tradition and are continued to repeat historical precedent, religious rite, mores or ceremony accurately. Traditionalism varies from formalism in that the ritual may not be formal yet still makes an appeal to the historical trend. An example is the American Thanksgiving dinner, which may not be formal, yet is ostensibly based on an event from the early Puritan settlement of America. Historians Eric Hobsbawm and Terrence Ranger have argued that many of these are invented traditions, such as the rituals of the British monarchy, which invoke "thousand year-old tradition" but whose actual form originate in the late nineteenth century, to some extent reviving earlier forms, in this case medieval, discontinued in the meantime.
Thus, the appeal to history is important rather than accurate historical transmission. Catherine Bell states that ritual is invariant, implying careful choreography; this is less an appeal to traditionalism than a striving for timeless repetition. The key to invariance is bodily discipline, as in monastic prayer and meditation meant to mold dispositions and moods; this bodily discipline is performed in unison, by groups. Rituals tend to be governed by a feature somewhat like formalism. Rules impose norms on the chaos of behavior, either defining the outer limits of what is acceptable or choreographing each move. Individuals are held to communally approved customs that evoke a legitimate communal authority that can constrain the possible outcomes. War in most societies has been bound by ritualized constraints that limit the legitimate means by which war was waged. Activities appealing to supernatural beings are considered rituals, although the appeal may be quite indirect, expressing only a generalized belief in the existence of the sacred demanding a human response.
National flags, for example, may be considered more than signs representing a country. The flag stands for larger symbols such as freedom, free enterprise or national superiority. Anthropologi
Sande known as zadεgi, bundu and bondo, is a women's secret society in Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast. The Sande society initiates girls into adulthood by rituals including female genital mutilation, it is alleged by its supporters to confer fertility, to instill notions of morality and proper sexual comportment, to maintain an interest in the well-being of its members throughout their lives. In addition, Sande champions women's social and political interests and promotes their solidarity vis-a-vis the Poro, a complementary institution for men; the Sande society masquerade is a rare and unique African example of a wooden face mask controlled by women – a feature that highlights the extraordinary social position of women in this geographical region. The Sande society is found throughout the Central West Atlantic Region, an ethnically plural and linguistically diverse region that lies within the littoral forest zone bounded by the Scarcies River and Cape Palmas; as early as 1668, a Dutch geographer named Olfert Dapper published a description of the "Sandy" society as it existed in the Cape Mount region of Liberia, based on a first-hand account that seems to date from 1628.
Anthropologists believe that Sande originated in Gola society and spread to the neighboring Mende and Vai. Today this social institution is found among the Bassa, Kissi, Loma and Vai of Liberia; the common features of all of these women's associations are: Group initiation in a secluded area of the forest. The use of Sande society names in lieu of birth names following initiation. Hierarchically ranked female leadership. A pledge of secrecy vis-a-vis uninitiated girls. Female genital mutilation performed by female specialists. An additional characteristic Sande feature – the wooden helmet mask and raphia costume worn by Sande leaders – is absent among the Kono and Mano. Although anthropologists and art historians sometimes describe the Sande society as an all-embracing, pan-ethnic association, there is considerable cultural variation throughout the region; the ethnic groups where the Sande Society is present speak languages belonging to three language families. They may be animists, or like the Mende and Yalunka, they may have significant Muslim populations.
In some societies, such as the Bassa and Kono, the complementary men's society, the Poro, may not be present. Among the Dei and Loma, the Sande society admits male blacksmiths as ritual specialists, in Gola society, the spirit represented by the mask is considered to be male rather than female. Indeed, the quintessential symbol of Sande among many of the ethnic groups where this woman's association is present – the wooden helmet mask – is absent among the Kpelle, Kono and Mano. Adolescent girls are initiated as a group during the post-harvest dry season in a specially cleared area of forest surrounding the town or village; the initiation period varies from several weeks to several months, depending upon such factors as the initiate's age, lineage membership, school attendance, ethnicity. In the past, the girls are said to have remained in the forest for upwards of one year, during which time they made rice farms for the Sande leadership. In addition to the initiate's labor, Sande leaders receive a substantial initiation fee from the girl's father or her prospective husband, as a girl may not marry before initiation.
According to Carol MacCormack: "Shortly after entering the Bundu bush, girls experience the surgery distinctive of a Bundu woman in which the clitoris and part of the labia are excised. It is a woman, the Majo, or head of a localized Bundu chapter, who performs this surgery. Bundu woman told me. A Majo reputed'to have a good hand' will attract many initiates to her Bundu bush, increasing her social influence in the process. Informants said the surgery made women clean."Many women who survive the "surgery" will have lifelong complications. Not only are the genitalia disfigured, multiple lacerations are made in the skin so that large scars will mark the initiate for life. After their wounds have healed, the girls are instructed in domestic skills, sexual matters and medicine. Specialized skills such as dyeing cloth may be taught to girls who demonstrate special aptitude or, according to some sources, to girls from high-ranking landowning lineages, but at least one anthropologist has suggested that the girls "learn little more than they knew before they entered the bush... or than they would learn at that stage of their lives if they did not become secret society members."In this view, the girls' training is more symbolic than utilitarian, for the essential lessons learned are deference to authority and an absolute respect for secrecy.
In contrast, another source suggests that "the emphasis is not on learning new skills so much as on learning new attitudes toward their work. Instead of doing this work in the role of a daughter, they begin to anticipate the role of wife who must work cooperatively with her co-wives and her husband's female kin." MacCormack notes that the shared experience of a lengthy stay in the forest and the risk of the surgery binds the girls together as a cohesive social group. But: "There are pleasures to be enjoyed as well as ordeals, the girls go gladly into the initiation grove. Food is plentiful since the initiation season occurs in the post-harvest dry season and each girl's family is obliged to send large quantities of rather special food into the
Evolutionary origin of religions
The evolutionary origin of religions and religious behavior is a field of study related to evolutionary psychology, the origin of language and mythology, cross-cultural comparison of the anthropology of religion. Some subjects of interest include Neolithic religion, evidence for spirituality or cultic behavior in the Upper Paleolithic, similarities in great ape behavior. Humanity's closest living relatives are common bonobos; these primates share a common ancestor with humans who lived between six and eight million years ago. It is for this reason that chimpanzees and bonobos are viewed as the best available surrogate for this common ancestor. Barbara King argues that while non-human primates are not religious, they do exhibit some traits that would have been necessary for the evolution of religion; these traits include high intelligence, a capacity for symbolic communication, a sense of social norms, realization of "self" of continuity. There is inconclusive evidence that Homo neanderthalensis may have buried their dead, evidence of the use of ritual.
The use of burial rituals is thought to be evidence of religious activity, there is no other evidence that religion existed in human culture before humans reached behavioral modernity. Other evidences have revealed that Homo neanderthalensis have made cave art, which would be a way of symbolic thinking close to the religious one. Elephants demonstrate rituals around their deceased, which include long periods of silence and mourning at the point of death and a process of returning to grave sites and caressing the remains; some evidence suggests that many species grieve loss. In this set of theories, the religious mind is one consequence of a brain, large enough to formulate religious and philosophical ideas. During human evolution, the hominid brain tripled in size. Much of the brain's expansion took place in the neocortex; the cerebral neocortex is presumed to be responsible for the neuronal computations underlying complex phenomena such as perception, language, episodic memory and voluntary movement.
According to Dunbar's theory, the relative neocortex size of any species correlates with the level of social complexity of the particular species. The neocortex size correlates with a number of social variables that include social group size and complexity of mating behaviors. In chimpanzees the neocortex occupies 50% of the brain, whereas in modern humans it occupies 80% of the brain. Robin Dunbar argues that the critical event in the evolution of the neocortex took place at the speciation of archaic homo sapiens about 500,000 years ago, his study indicates that only after the speciation event is the neocortex large enough to process complex social phenomena such as language and religion. The study is based on a regression analysis of neocortex size plotted against a number of social behaviors of living and extinct hominids. Stephen Jay Gould suggests that religion may have grown out of evolutionary changes which favored larger brains as a means of cementing group coherence among savannah hunters, after that larger brain enabled reflection on the inevitability of personal mortality.
Lewis Wolpert argues that causal beliefs that emerged from tool use played a major role in the evolution of belief. The manufacture of complex tools requires creating a mental image of an object which does not exist before making the artifact. Furthermore, one must understand how the tool would be used, that requires an understanding of causality. Accordingly, the level of sophistication of stone tools is a useful indicator of causal beliefs. Wolpert contends use of tools composed of more than one component, such as hand axes, represents an ability to understand cause and effect. However, recent studies of other primates indicate. For example, chimpanzees have been known to escape from pens closed with multiple latches, thought could only have been figured out by humans who understood causality. Chimpanzees are known to mourn the dead, notice things that have only aesthetic value, like sunsets, both of which may be considered to be components of religion or spirituality; the difference between the comprehension of causality by humans and chimpanzees is one of degree.
The degree of comprehension in an animal depends upon the size of the prefrontal cortex: the greater the size of the prefrontal cortex the deeper the comprehension. Religion requires a system of symbolic communication, such as language, to be transmitted from one individual to another. Philip Lieberman states "human religious thought and moral sense rest on a cognitive-linguistic base". From this premise science writer Nicholas Wade states: "Like most behaviors that are found in societies throughout the world, religion must have been present in the ancestral human population before the dispersal from Africa 50,000 years ago. Although religious rituals involve dance and music, they are very verbal, since the sacred truths have to be stated. If so, religion, at least in its modern form, cannot pre-date the emergence of language, it has been argued earlier that language attained its modern state shortly before the exodus from Africa. If religion had to await the evolution of modern, articulate language it too would have emerged shortly before 50,000 years ago."Another view distinguishes individual religious belief from collective religious belief.
While the former does not require prior development of language, the latter does. The individual human brain has to explain a phenomenon in order to relate to it; this activity may have caused it. The theory is, belief in the supernatural emerges from hypotheses arbitrarily assum
The afterlife is the belief that the essential part of an individual's identity or the stream of consciousness continues after the death of the physical body. According to various ideas about the afterlife, the essential aspect of the individual that lives on after death may be some partial element, or the entire soul or spirit, of an individual, which carries with it and may confer personal identity or, on the contrary, may not, as in Indian nirvana. Belief in an afterlife is in contrast to the belief in oblivion after death. In some views, this continued existence takes place in a spiritual realm, in other popular views, the individual may be reborn into this world and begin the life cycle over again with no memory of what they have done in the past. In this latter view, such rebirths and deaths may take place over and over again continuously until the individual gains entry to a spiritual realm or Otherworld. Major views on the afterlife derive from religion and metaphysics; some belief systems, such as those in the Abrahamic tradition, hold that the dead go to a specific plane of existence after death, as determined by God, or other divine judgment, based on their actions or beliefs during life.
In contrast, in systems of reincarnation, such as those in the Indian religions, the nature of the continued existence is determined directly by the actions of the individual in the ended life, rather than through the decision of a different being. Theists believe some type of afterlife awaits people when they die. Members of some non-theistic religions tend to believe in an afterlife, but without reference to a deity; the Sadducees were an ancient Jewish sect that believed that there was a God but no afterlife. Many religions, whether they believe in the soul's existence in another world like Christianity and many pagan belief systems, or in reincarnation like many forms of Hinduism and Buddhism, believe that one's status in the afterlife is a reward or punishment for their conduct during life. Reincarnation is the philosophical or religious concept that an aspect of a living being starts a new life in a different physical body or form after each biological death, it is called rebirth or transmigration, is a part of the Saṃsāra doctrine of cyclic existence.
It is a central tenet of all major Indian religions, namely Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism. The idea of reincarnation is found in many ancient cultures, a belief in rebirth/metempsychosis was held by Greek historic figures, such as Pythagoras and Plato, it is a common belief of various ancient and modern religions such as Spiritism and Eckankar and is found as well in many tribal societies around the world, in places such as Australia, East Asia and South America. Although the majority of denominations within the Abrahamic religions of Judaism and Islam do not believe that individuals reincarnate, particular groups within these religions do refer to reincarnation; the historical relations between these sects and the beliefs about reincarnation that were characteristic of Neoplatonism, Hermeticism and Gnosticism of the Roman era as well as the Indian religions have been the subject of recent scholarly research. Unity Church and its founder Charles Fillmore teach reincarnation. Rosicrucians speak of a life review period occurring after death and before entering the afterlife's planes of existence, followed by a judgment, more akin to a final review or end report over one's life.
Heaven, the heavens, seven heavens, pure lands, Jannah, Valhalla, or the Summerland, is a common religious, cosmological, or transcendent place where beings such as gods, jinn, saints, or venerated ancestors are said to originate, be enthroned, or live. According to the beliefs of some religions, heavenly beings can descend to earth or incarnate, earthly beings can ascend to heaven in the afterlife, or in exceptional cases enter heaven alive. Heaven is described as a "higher place", the holiest place, a paradise, in contrast to hell or the underworld or the "low places", universally or conditionally accessible by earthly beings according to various standards of divinity, piety, faith or other virtues or right beliefs or the will of God; some believe in the possibility of a heaven on Earth in a world to come. In Indian religions, heaven is considered as Svarga loka. There are seven positive regions the soul can go to after seven negative regions. After completing its stay in the respective region, the soul is subjected to rebirth in different living forms according to its karma.
This cycle can be broken after a soul achieves Nirvana. Any place of existence, either of humans, souls or deities, outside the tangible world is referred to as otherworld. Hell, in many religious and folkloric traditions, is a place of torment and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history depict hell as an eternal destination, while religions with a cyclic history depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations; these traditions locate hell in another dimension or under the earth's surface and include entrances to hell from the land of the living. Other afterlife destinations include limbo. Traditions that do not conceive of the afterlife as a place of punishment or reward describe hell as an abode of the dead, the grave, a neutral place located under the surface of earth; the afterlife played an i
Mana, in Austronesian languages, means "power", "effectiveness", "prestige". In most cases, this power and its source are understood to be inexplicable, its semantics are language-dependent. The concept is significant in Polynesian culture and is part of contemporary Pacific Islander culture, its study was included in cultural anthropology—specifically, the anthropology of religion. Links were seen between mana and earlier phases of Western religion: animism at first, followed by pre-animism. According to the POLLEX Project, a protoform for "mana"—noted in historical-linguistic convention as *mana-"—existed in Proto-Oceanic, the precursor of many Pacific languages. Although the path through the tree from Proto-Oceanic to a specific language is not always clear, the word and concept are thousands of years old. According to linguist Robert Blust, "mana" means "storm, or wind" in some languages. Blust hypothesized that the term meant "powerful forces of nature such as thunder and storm winds that were conceived as the expression of an unseen supernatural agency.
As Oceanic-speaking peoples spread eastward, the notion of an unseen supernatural agency became detached from the physical forces of nature that had inspired it and assumed a life of its own." Mana is a foundation of the Polynesian worldview, a spiritual quality with a supernatural origin and a sacred, impersonal force. To have mana implies influence and efficacy—the ability to perform in a given situation; the quality of mana is not limited to individuals. In Hawaiian and Tahitian culture, mana is a spiritual energy and healing power which can exist in places and persons. Hawaiians believe that mana may be gained or lost by actions, Hawaiians and Tahitians believe that mana is both external and internal. Sites on the Hawaiian Islands and in French Polynesia are believed to possess mana—for example, the top rim of the Haleakalā volcano on the island of Maui and the Taputapuatea marae on the island of Raiatea in the Society Islands. Ancient Hawaiian believed that the island of Molokaʻi possesses mana, compared with its neighboring islands.
Before the unification of Hawaii by King Kamehameha I, battles were fought for possession of the island and its south-shore fish ponds which existed until the late 19th century. A person may gain mana by pono. In ancient Hawaii, there were two paths to mana: violence. Nature is dualistic, everything has a counterpart. A balance between the gods Kū and Lono formed, through. Kū, the god of war and politics, offers mana through violence. Lono, the god of peace and fertility, offers mana through sexuality. In Māori, a tribe with mana whenua must have demonstrated their authority over a territory. In Māori culture, there are two essential aspects of a person's mana: mana tangata, authority derived from whakapapa and mana huaanga, defined as "authority derived from having a wealth of resources to gift to others to bind them into reciprocal obligations". Hemopereki Simon, from Ngāti Tūwharetoa, asserts; the indigenous word reflects a non-Western view of reality. This is confirmed by the definition of mana provided by Maori Marsden who states that mana is:Spiritual power and authority as opposed to the purely psychic and natural force — ihi.
According to Prof. Margaret Mutu mana in its traditional sense means:Power, ownership, influence, respect derived from the god. In terms of leadership Ngāti Kahungunu legal scholar Carwyn Jones comments that, "mana is the central concept that underlies Māori leadership and accountability." He considers mana as a fundamental aspect of the constitutional traditions of Māori society. According to the New Zealand Ministry of Justice: Mana and tapu are concepts which have both been attributed single-worded definitions by contemporary writers; as concepts Maori concepts they can not be translated into a single English definition. Both mana and tapu take on a whole range of related meanings depending on their association and the context in which they are being used. In contemporary New Zealand English, the word "mana", taken from the Māori, refers to a person or organisation of people of great personal prestige and character; the increased use of the term mana in New Zealand society is as a result of the politicisation of Maori issues stemming from the Māori Renaissance.
Missionary Robert Henry Codrington traveled in Melanesia, publishing several studies of its language and culture. His 1891 book The Melanesians: Studies in their Anthropology and Folk-Lore contains the first detailed description of mana. Codrington defines it as "a force altogether distinct from physical power, which acts in all kinds of ways for good and evil, which it is of the greatest advantage to possess or control", his era had defined animism, the concept that the energy in an object derives from a spiritual component. Georg Ernst Stahl's 18th-century animism was adopted by Edward Burnett Tylor, the founder of cultural anthropology, who presented his initial ideas about the history of religion in his 1865 Researches into the Early History of Mankind and developed them in volumes one and two of Primitive Culture. In Tylor's cultural anthropology, other primates did not appear to possess culture. Tylor did not try to find evid
Theories about religions
Sociological and anthropological theories about religion attempt to explain the origin and function of religion. These theories define what they present as universal characteristics of religious belief and practice. From presocratic times, ancient authors advanced prescientific theories about religion. Herodotus saw the gods of Greece as the same as the gods of Egypt. Euhemerus regarded gods as excellent historical persons whom admirers came to worship. Scientific theories and tested by the comparative method, emerged after data from tribes and peoples all over the world became available in the 18th and 19th centuries. Max Müller has the reputation of having founded the scientific study of religion. Subsequently, Clifford Geertz and others questioned the validity of abstracting a general theory of all religions. Theories of religion can be classified into: Substantive theories that focus on the contents of religions and the meaning the contents have for people; this approach asserts that people have faith because beliefs make sense insofar as they hold value and are comprehensible.
The theories by Tylor and Frazer, by Rudolf Otto and by Mircea Eliade offer examples of substantive theories. Functional theories that focus on the social or psychological functions that religion has for a group or a person. In simple terms, the functional approach sees religion as "performing certain functions for society" Theories by Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Émile Durkheim, the theory by Stark and Bainbridge exemplify functional theories; this approach tends to be static, with the exception of Marx' theory, unlike e.g. Weber's approach, which treats of the interaction and dynamic processes between religions and the rest of societies. Other dichotomies according to which theories or descriptions of religions can be classified include: "insider" versus "outsider" perspectives individualist versus social views evolutionist versus relativist views Early essentialists, such as Tylor and Frazer, looked for similar beliefs and practices in all societies the more primitive ones, more or less regardless of time and place.
They relied on reports made by missionaries and colonial civil servants. These were all investigators who had a religious background themselves, thus they looked at religion from the inside, they did not practice investigative field work, but used the accidental reports of others. This method left them open to criticism for lack of universality, which many admitted; the theories could be updated, however, by considering new reports, which Robert Ranulph Marett did for Tylor's theory of the evolution of religion. Field workers deliberately sent out by universities and other institutions to collect specific cultural data made available a much greater database than random reports. For example, the anthropologist E. E. Evans-Pritchard preferred detailed ethnographical study of tribal religion as more reliable, he criticised the work of his predecessors, Müller and Durkheim, as untestable speculation. He called them "armchair anthropologists". A second methodology, seeks explanations of religion that are outside of religion.
As did the essentialists, the functionalists proceeded from reports to investigative studies. Their fundamental assumptions, are quite different; when explaining religion they reject divine or supernatural explanations for the status or origins of religions because they are not scientifically testable. In fact, theorists such as Marett excluded scientific results altogether, defining religion as the domain of the unpredictable and unexplainable; the dichotomy between the two classifications is not bridgeable though they have the same methods, because each excludes the data of the other. The functionalists and some of the essentialists have criticized the substantive view as neglecting social aspects of religion; such critics go so far as to brand Tylor's and Frazer's views on the origin of religion as unverifiable speculation. The view of monotheism as more evolved than polytheism represents a mere preconception, they assert. There is evidence that monotheism is more prevalent in hunter societies than in agricultural societies.
The view of a uniform progression in folkways is criticized as unverifiable, as the writer Andrew Lang and E. E. Evans-Pritchard assert; the latter criticism presumes that the evolutionary views of the early cultural anthropologists envisaged a uniform cultural evolution. Another criticism supposes that Frazer were individualists. However, some support that supposed approach as worthwhile, among others the anthropologist Robin Horton; the dichotomy between the two fundamental presumptions - and the question of what data can be considered valid - contin
Sacred dance is the use of dance in religious ceremonies and rituals, present in most religions throughout history and prehistory. Its connection with the body and fertility has caused it to be forbidden by some religions. Dance has formed a major element of worship in Hindu temples with formalized styles such as bharatanatyam, requiring skilled dancers and temple musicians. In the 20th century, sacred dance has been revived by choreographers such as Bernhard Wosien as a means of developing community spirit. W. O. E. Oesterley proposed in 1923 that sacred dance had several purposes, the most important being to honour the supernatural powers. Harriet Lihs in 2009 divided religious dance into dances of imitation, such as of animals thought to be spirit messengers, or of battles. Laura Shannon in 2018 stated the purposes of contemporary sacred dance as practised at the Findhorn Foundation as "to be inclusive, mutually supportive, to connect with the earth and each other, to become more whole." It was a means of channelling "healing energy" both for the dancers and for their families and communities, indeed for the whole world.
Within religion, ecstatic dance is one of the ways. Indigenous ceremonial dance rituals around the world appear to preserve forms that were widespread in ancient times. For example and circle dances seen in indigenous dance today were used in ancient Egypt and among the Hebrews. In ancient Egypt, dancers impersonated a deity such as the goddess Hathor, taking on the deity's attributes and interpreting the divine world for those watching. In ancient Israel, King David danced "before the Lord", it is mentioned as something familiar. Sacred dance is described in the Bible by verbs meaning dancing, jumping and whirling; the dance was accompanied by hand-drums, flutes, lyres and lutes. The Hittites are shown in a sacred processional dance in a c. 1200 BC rock inscription at the sanctuary of Yazılıkaya, near their city of Hattusa, in Cappadocia. A group of men wearing conical hats and tip-tilted shoes, a group of women, dance in a running step towards a group of named gods and goddesses. In ancient Greece, sacred dance was widespread.
The Hawaiian Hula dances to Pele, the volcano goddess, whereas European maypole dances have lost their meaning as tree-worship and survive only as folk tradition. Lewis Farnell observed that sacred dance has an "extraordinary uniformity" among indigenous peoples all over the world, something that he found so striking that it suggested either "belief in an identical tradition, or more reasonably, the psychologic theory that... at the same stage of development respond with the same... religious act to the same stimuli" from the environment. Oesterley suggested that these stimuli to sacred dance were people's response to supernatural power, "the obtaining of food." Some Christian traditions make use of liturgical or worship dance, but it has long been controversial within the church. It has been supported, sometimes fervently, by Christian scholars; the early church was in favour of dance, as in the 2nd Century Acts of John which states that "Grace danceth. I would pipe: dance ye all; the whole world on high hath part in our dancing."
Circle dance is used, in its more meditative form, in worship within religious traditions including the Church of England. In northern Greece and southern Bulgaria, in the annual celebrations for Saint Constantine and Saint Helen, dancers perform the Anastenaria, a fire-walking ritual, as the climax of three days of processions, music and animal sacrifice. Indian classical dances such as Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Mohiniattam can be traced to the Sanskrit text Natya Shastra, they are a traditional drama-dance expression of religion, related to Vaishnavism, Shaktism, pan-Hindu Epics and the Vedic literature. As a religious art, they are either near it. Dance is unusual within Islam, but circle dance is us