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Introductory notes: The landtaking ritual as a key to understanding indigenousreligions

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Chapter Summary

This chapter presents introductory notes on the landtaking ritual for understanding indigenous religions. Phenomenologists of religion like Gerardus van der Leeuw and Mircea Eliade claim that, for homo religiosus, landtaking 'meant' ritual repetition of the divine creation of the world according to cosmogonic myths. The comparative study of landtaking rites indicates that the dwelling place of the land's guardian spirit/deity was founded on human initiative and as part of a ritual procedure by which the founder wished to come to terms with the nature spirits which were assumed as being already present on the land and as owning it. In discussing sacred groves of the Karo and Toba Batak of North Sumatra, one shall also meet with a custom of worshipping the village founder after his death in the local sacred grove, so that the original guardian spirit would then coexist or eventually merge with a human soul.

Keywords: cosmogonic myths; divine creation; Gerardus van der Leeuw; indigenous religions; landtaking ritual; local sacred grove; Mircea Eliade; Toba Batak



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