Paleolithic Religions

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Paleolithic Religions The religious practices of the Paleolithic period may seem incredibly strange to us now in the modern context. During this period, strange spiritual practices were dominated by the concept of animism and a clear blurring between the secular and sacred. These forces then helped to shape the artifacts and mythology of the period, helping modern researchers better understand the spiritual nature of these ancient peoples. One of the major elements of Paleolithic religion is animism. According to research, animism "is defined as a belief that a soul or spirit exists in living things (humans, animals, plants) and inanimate objects (rocks, mountains, sticks, bodies of water). These things may have a spirit that has a human-like personality or motivation, or they may possess an impersonal force that emanates or transfers good (mana) or ill (taboo)" (Cramer, 2012). Essentially, it is the belief that human and nonhuman objects carry some sort of spiritual power. Thus, they become an important part of the many religious doctrines of this ancient time period. Animism can be seen as a way to interpret many of the artifacts and myths within Paleolithic religions. For one, the myths of creation of many different groups around the globe are often centered on animal spirits or other nature spirits that are nonhuman, yet that played a large role in the creation of the human world (Hefner & Virgilio, 2010). Moreover, artifacts of animals and human/ animal hybrids
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