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Stones, Sacred

(381 words)

Author(s): Kraatz, Martin
[German Version] Stones of all kinds, from large rocks to precious stones, can play a concrete or metaphorical role in religion. In many religions, stones – unhewn or finished, individually or in groups, piled loosely or installed permanently – mark a site endowed with special power, often a cult site recalling an event in which this power was once revealed and where it is now worshiped. In the case of ancient Israel and its neighbors, this use of stones is well attested both in the Tanakh and arc…


(163 words)

Author(s): Kraatz, Martin
[German Version] Like other excretions of the human body (Saliva), sweat externalizes an individual’s vital force, making it available for use. In ancient India, an archer’s sweat applied to an arrowhead had the power to destroy the enemy ( Kauśikasūtra 17.44). St. Paul’s face cloths or handkerchiefs were used to heal the sick and exorcise evil spirits (Acts 19:12). The sudarium of Veronica, purportedly bearing the image of Jesus’ face, is said to have healed Emperor Tiberius. In Egypt the salves and frankincense earmarked for the go…

Heiler, Friedrich

(320 words)

Author(s): Kraatz, Martin
[German Version] (Jan 30, 1892, Munich – Apr 28, 1967, Munich), was a scholar of religion, ecumenicist, ¶ preacher, liturgist and pastoral counselor. Brought up a Roman Catholic, Heiler wanted to become a priest, came into contact with modernism early on, studied Near and Far Eastern languages, philosophy, psychology, Catholic theology, history of religions and, privately, Protestant theology in Munich. He earned his Dr.phil. in 1917 and published Das Gebet (51923, repr. 1969; ET: Prayer, 1932), based on his doctoral dissertation, then his Habilitation Die buddhistische Versenk…

Sacred Objects

(447 words)

Author(s): Kraatz, Martin
[German Version] Any object, natural or made by human hands, can be used by a religion and thus become a religious object. Sacredness is ascribed only to those religious objects that, to believers, effectively represent an agency of their religion or their personal religiosity – an agency that is outside their control but which has power over them –, that convey this effectiveness, or that have been touched and non-materially changed by it. From the perspective of religious studies, the quality of…


(321 words)

Author(s): Kraatz, Martin
[German Version] Even today saliva evokes intense but ambivalent feelings – revulsion when it is spat, delight in the context of kissing (Kiss). In early times people thought that saliva, like other bodily fluids, contained the vital force of individuals; when outside the body, it could be used for positive or negative, good or evil purposes, depending on the individual, the intention, and the situation. The saliva of the gods can be productive: in Norse mythology (Germanic religion), the saliva that ¶ the Æsir and Vanir spit into a vessel to make peace gives birth to the wis…

Phallic Cults

(676 words)

Author(s): Kraatz, Martin
[German Version] The phallus (Gk ϕαλλός/ phallós), the erect male member, plays various roles in religions; it is more than a mere cult object. In prehistoric cave drawings (Prehistoric art), the phallus denotes the man pressing towards coitus. The vulva is always to be thought of together with the phallus, and sometimes ¶ coitus is represented directly or by a symbol of the vulva (e.g. a triangle) – plastic expression of a ritual performed, either in reality or via creation of the image, in order to obtain regenerative life force or the successful outcome of a hunt (Hunters). In the ancient…


(1,222 words)

Author(s): Kraatz, Martin | Niemann, Hartwig A. W. | Heckel, Christian
[German Version] I. History of Religion, Church History – II. Art History – III. Church Law I. History of Religion, Church History Bells are used in several contexts and with a number of meanings. Their jingling and ringing wards off harmful influences: on the harnesses and collars of animals and children, the garments of priests and shamans, doors of houses and roofs, from the church tower during storms, and in …