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Perception/Sensory System

(6,155 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
1. “On Sundays, my father takes me to Mass, and when the ladies sing Hosanna I think I won't get out of there in a thousand years. Hosanna, Hosanna, they screech, without letup, and nobody can put the brakes on them, not the Chief of Police or anybody […] The beautiful things about Mass are: all the lamps are lit, and all the flowers smell wonderful […] The bad things about Mass are: you have to kneel too long, it lasts too long at Easter […]”1 No one's tastes are the same, and so neither are their sense impressions. The Neapolitan grammar-school girl describes Sunday Mass in her…

Pagan Religions and Paganism: The Pre-Christian Religions of Ancient Europe and the Mediterranean Regions, and Their Reception [Time Chart]

(1,689 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
Era 1: Late Antiquity: Paganism as formation of reaction to Christendom 253–268 Under the influence of his mentor Plotinus, Emperor Gallienus fosters Greek philosophy and the Mysteries of Eleusis Egypto-Greek philosopher Plotinus (205–270) develops the Platonic teaching to the religio-philosophical system of “Neoplatonism.” 361–363 (reg.) Emperor Flavius Claudius Julianus (Julian the Apostate) After a personal, philosophically grounded conversion, Julian fosters the Greco-Roman religion at the cost of Christianity (reconstruction of temples), lec…


(2,203 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
Physical Light and Luminous Bodies (Sun, Mon, Stars) 1. Light—the basic condition of organic life on earth: without light, there can be no photosynthesis, no food chain supplying the needs of the human being. The sun is the source of light par excellence, a mighty nuclear fusion reactor, transforming hydrogen to helium and streaming its energy on earth and moon. Light, as today's physics understands it, is electromagnetic radiation. But for denizens of earth, light is mainly an overwhelming experience—w…

Social Myths and Fantasy Images

(1,155 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
The Rumor of Orleans 1. On May 10, 1969, in the lovely French city of Orleans, a shop for women's clothing opened. Its name was provocative: Aux Oubliettes—Fr., “In the Dungeons.” The management had thought up something quite special that was certainly expected to stimulate attention: the changing cubicles were outfitted after the fashion of a medieval dungeon. This idea did not remain without consequence. A scant month later, a number of shops and city-centers began to display the motto: “Don't buy from Jews. They traffi…

Ascona/Monte Verità

(1,443 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
1. Monte Verità (Ital., “Mount of Truth”) was a cultic site frequented by devotees of the European, especially the German-speaking, alternative culture of the first third of the twentieth century. The level elevation overlooking the village of Tessino and today's tourist center of Ascona, on the Swiss northern bank of Lago Maggiore, received its name from the homonymous sanatorium at the same location. From 1900 to 1920, Belgian industrial heir Henri Oedenkoven (1875–1935) and pianist Ida Hofman…


(2,044 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
Human Beings in Crowds and Masses 1. ‘Mass,’ like ‘crowd,’ means first of all a multitude of persons. ‘Mass,’ however, goes beyond ‘crowd,’ and denotes a ‘perceptual’ form of crowd, special from without as from within: a multitude arising and understood politically, religiously, or aesthetically, as an independent social condition of aggregate. This aggregate is not defined in terms of an absolute number: the community of believers itself, in its → architecture, is a (prayer) mass. Human masses make t…

Vision/Auditory Experience

(4,198 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
Heroldsbach 1949–1952 1. On October 9, 1949, four ten and eleven-year-old girls went to the park of the Castle of Heroldsbach, in Franken (Germany), to gather fall foliage.1 They had just participated in an evening meditation on Mary. Upon leaving the wood, first one of the girls, then the others, felt a sudden compulsion to pray. Immediately thereafter, they saw, first, a black figure between the trees, then the abbreviation ‘JHS’ (in the popular German reading, Jesus—Heiland—Seligmacher, ‘Jesus—Savior—Beatifier’), in green script between two birch trees, and finally, …


(1,614 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
The Concept 1. Mysteries are ‘mysterious’—it sounds banal, and suggestive of a detective story: a “mystery thriller.” Nevertheless, the expression indicates an important characteristic. The topic is cults, which comprise the secret actions (rites), narratives (myths), or teachings accessible to or comprehensible by the initiated alone. There are ‘private parties,’ which seek to guarantee the participants special experiences. They are not exhausted by the fact of → secrecy, to be sure, though the ‘secret,’ the mysterion, aroused much curiosity. Mysteries are often condu…


(627 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
Icons (Greek, eíkon, ‘image’) are the sacred images of the Eastern Churches. Since the Byzantine image controversy (which began around 726 under Emperor Leo III and lasted, through various reversals, until 843 under Empress Theodora), the icon has stood at the center of Eastern Christian theological and artistic effort. The laborious defeat of currents of opposition to and even destruction of images (‘iconoclasm’) had the consequence that the creation of icons in the Eastern church was subjected t…


(316 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
Heathen are always the ‘others’: Muslims, freethinkers and atheists, cannibals—even Catholics or Protestants, as you prefer. ‘Heathen’ is a collective, ‘exclusive’ (excluding) concept: in the Hebrew Bible, the ‘others’ are the goyim (Gen 10:5, Isa 14:26); in the Greek New Testament, they are ta éthne (‘the tribes’), or, as the part for the whole, hoi Héllenes (‘the Greeks’: John 7:35, Mark 7:26), the ‘(other) peoples,’ those who do not belong to one's own (religious) community. ‘Heathen,’ then, is one of those collective appellations that sets up a …

Antiquity: Festival Cycles

(1,798 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
a) Festival Cycle of the Greek Religion: Example of Athens b) Festal Cycle of the Roman Religion Carmentalia (January 11 and 15): Feast of Goddess of Birth, Carmentis. The Calends of February (February 1) were the foundation festival of Juno Seispes (Sospita), Mater Regina in Lanuvium (Alban Mountains), at which the consuls brought her a sacrifice. Further, at this festival, a serpentine oracle was performed. A virginal girl was made to offer food to a serpent, in the cultic cave, and, by whether or not the serpent accepted it, a fruitful or unfruitful year was foretold. Between February 1…


(751 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
Along with the statues, apparatus, and special attire of worship, material is an important, if often little noticed, component of worship and ritual. Material used in worship can be made of inorganic matter and products as well as organic ones, which find application within ritual activities. It is applied as sacrificial material, when entrails are burned in honor of the gods, or flowers are placed on graves for ancestors; as means of purification, when the body is cleansed before prayer with water or refined aromatic oils, sand, or even bare stones; as means of painting or marking, when, …


(1,594 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
1. Machines (from the Doric Gk. machaná, or Attic mechané), are gears with movable parts serving for a power transfer. Normally, they stand in a fixed location, although, as in the modern traffic system, they can be ‘self-moving’ (Gk., auto-; Lat., mobile); cf. ‘locomotive’ (Lat., locus, ‘place’; movére, ‘to move’). ‘Robots’ (from the Czech robota, ‘compulsory labor,’ ‘drudgery’) and ‘automatic’ machines (from Gk., autómatos, ‘self-’) comprise the core of modern technology: without them, the global → industrialization of the economy and the mechanization of…


(7,378 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
Mohr, Hubert A. Concept and Theory (CT) [German version] 1. Concept (CT) Paganism is the modern, scholarly term for the intentional resumption ('reception') and resurgence ('revitalisation', 'reconstruction') of ancient, or ethnic, religious traditions or of their constituent parts (cults, myths, symbols), insofar as these occurred outside of Christianity and Judaism, and opposed the two. The underlying concept of Judeo-Christian polemic, 'heathenism', should be distinguished from the religious-historical …


(5,911 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
Mohr, Hubert A. Begriff und Theorie (RWG) [English version] 1. Begriff (RWG) Paganismus ist der mod. wiss. Begriff für die bewußte Wiederaufnahme (“Rezeption”) und Wiederbelebung (“Revitalisierung”; “Rekonstruktion”) ant. (oder rezenter ethnischer) rel. Trad. oder deren Teilelemente (Kulte; Mythen, Symboliken), sofern sie außerhalb von Christentum und Judentum und gegensätzlich zu diesen geschieht. Zu unterscheiden ist der zugrundeliegende Begriff jüd.-christl. Polemik (“Heidentum”) von dem religionshisto…


(1,417 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
[English Version] . Als N. kann die jüngste Phase des Paganismus, der anti- und a-christl. rel. Rezeption antiker und nichteur. Religionen, bez. werden. Ihr Beginn ist zeitlich um die Mitte des 20.Jh. anzusetzen, wobei sie sich aus Vorläufern des 19.Jh. (Romantik, F. Nietzsche; Lebensreformbewegung) speist. Der N. zeichnet sich dadurch aus, daß seine Träger das Negativstereotyp »Heide« in ein positives Selbstbildnis wenden, als »Neue Heiden« ein rel. Rollenbild entwickeln und in bis dahin nicht gekanntem Maß öfftl. auftreten. Der N. des 20.Jh. besitzt zwar Wurzeln in den …


(539 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
[English Version] Otto, Walter Friedrich (22.6.1872 Hechingen – 23.9.1958 Tübingen), Altphilologe und Religionswissenschaftler. O. war Ordinarius für Klassische Philol. in Basel (1913/14), Frankfurt/M. (1914–1934) sowie Königsberg (1934–1944) und lehrte als Gastprof. und Emeritus bis zu seinem Tod in Tübingen (1946–1958). O.s Werk und Wirken ist von (religions- und altertums-)wiss. wie religionsgesch. Bedeutung. Obwohl von Hause aus, als Schüler Franz Büchelers, Latinist (Aufsätze zur röm. Religions…


(525 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
[German Version] Mafia is a collective term of uncertain etymology (Arab.?) that referred initially to criminal groups in Sicily but has been applied more recently to comparable criminal secret societies elsewhere (“Russian Mafia,” “Chinese Mafia”). The self-designation Cosa Nostra (“Our Affair”) was probably introduced in the recent past (Hess). The role of the mafioso is a by-product of Sicilian agrarian feudalism: mafiosi were originally estate managers ( gabellotti) who acted as agents (“power brokers”: Wolf) of the absent feudal lords, guaranteeing and enf…

Otto, Walter Friedrich

(622 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
[German Version] ( Jun 22, 1872, Hechingen – Sep 23, 1958, Tübingen), classical philologist and specialist in religious studies. Otto was professor of classical ¶ philology at Basel (1913/1914), Frankfurt am Main (1914–1934), and Königsberg (today Kaliningrad; 1934–1944); from 1946 until his death in 1958 he taught at Tübingen as visiting professor and emeritus professor. His work and influence are important for the study of religion in antiquity and the history of religions. He began his career as a Latinist, studying under Franz Büchler ( Aufsätze zur römischen Religionsgesch…


(2,227 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
[German Version] I. The Institution: Definition and Function – II. History – III. Religion in the Museum: A Typological Survey – IV. Religions in the Museum: Forms of Reception and Areas of Conflict I. The Institution: Definition and Function Museums are complex institutions of Europe's modern secular civil society, especially, since the 18th century, of urban culture and its system of knowledge ( episteme). The creation of the modern museum forms part of the discursive unfolding of a historical and national consciousness in historicism, and of the esta…
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