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(1,579 words)

Author(s): von Braun, Christina
Blood as the Seat of Life 1. The meaning of blood as the seat of life, and as the repository of the power of the soul, explains the pivotal role of blood in many religions, archaic and lettered alike. Here blood has an ambivalent meaning that can promise good or danger, life or death, and thus it is akin to the concept of ‘The Holy,’ which denotes all that is filled with special power. The early Teutonic word haila was the name for powers that can be useful as well as harmful. This ambivalence is revealed in the very etymology of the word ‘blood,’ which derives from the Indo-European bhle (‘pour,’ ‘bur…


(2,495 words)

Author(s): von Braun, Christina
The Body as Salvific Message 1. Inasmuch as human mortality is evinced in the transience of the body, the body becomes a central topos of all discourses of salvation. The myth of origins itself, through which a community defines itself as an indivisible ‘body,’ contains the wish for a defeat of death: the individual person is thought of as part of an immortal cosmos or collective body. In rough outline, four distinct ‘strategies’ of a religious defeat of death can be distinguished: (1) The participat…


(450 words)

Author(s): von Braun, Christina
Traditional fasting practices are to be found in nearly all religions. In many tribal cultures, fasting is practiced before hunting, to avert natural catastrophes (solar eclipses, storms), before a battle, or as a sign of mourning. Fasting is generally regarded as a means of repelling insalubrious powers, or ‘evil,’ or of calling upon the good powers. It is practiced before the celebration of rites of initiation, as part of a fertility rite, or for the observance of the new year. In literate cul…