The most forgotten ancient religions

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In the ancient world, science has just begun to emerge. Many gods of the past have been forgotten.

But many religions of antiquity were founded long before the majority of modern basic beliefs (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism) appeared. Many of them have existed for centuries and even millennia.

Finnish paganism. This polytheistic religion has no clear definition. This form of paganism was widespread on the territory of modern Finland until Christianity came here. The religion has evolved from shamanism and includes several features. So, for example, here special attention is paid to the veneration of ancestors, as in related religions. The Finns believed that the word has very strong meaning and power. In their opinion, the soul was present not only in living objects, but also in non-living ones. Finnish pagans were in close contact with the natural world, they believed that the whole world was created from a diving duck's egg. And their main god was Ukko, the god of thunder, riding a chariot across the sky and throwing lightning. His holiday was celebrated on April 4, and it was one of the most important dates on the calendar. Ukko had several things in common with the Scandinavian god Thor. It is both a magical hammer and a thunderstorm that appears if Ukko sleeps with his wife Akka. With such a courageous god, his sacred animal looks rather strange - it is a ladybug, known as Ukko the cow.

Canaanite religion. This now forgotten country was the prototype of Phenicia and lay between the Euphrates and Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. For thousands of years, the only proof of the existence of the ancient people were excerpts from the Torah and the Bible. The Canaanites there appear to be the constant rivals of the Israelites. But from 1927 to 1937, several Canaanite tablets were found on the northern coast of Syria. From them it became known about the ancient religion. It was a polytheistic religion in which characters such as the supreme god El, his son Baal, the god of thunder and rain, stood out. One of the most popular legends was the story of the struggle between Baal and Mot, the god of death. He defeated Baal, resulting in an unprecedented drought. Then all the other gods, led by El, united to free Baal. The war was ended by the virgin Anat, the warrior goddess. She entered the underworld, killed Moth and freed Baal. In general, in the Canaanite religion, the deities were constantly at war with each other and copulated. They interfered in the affairs of people simply for the sake of their whim, without thinking about the suffering caused to a person. Under the influence of neighboring peoples and the conquests of the Israelites, the Canaanite religion gradually eroded and disappeared.

Atonism. This religion was introduced by the Pharaoh of Egypt Akhenaten, also known as Amenhotep IV. Atonism was a monotheistic religion that was officially declared official. Pharaoh staged a real cultural and religious revolution in the country, however, after his death, the old beliefs were returned. Akhenaten claimed that only he could speak with the god Aten. This restrictive nature of religion led most of the common Egyptians to retain their old beliefs. This helped atonism to quickly fade away after the death of its main preacher. Plates about the existence of such an unusual ancient religion were found only at the beginning of the 20th century. They said that Akhenaten was more and more immersed in atonism, especially after the death of his beloved wife, Nefertiti. Pharaoh was the father of Tutankhamun, who in childhood, under pressure from priests, was even named Tutankhaton in honor of the god Aton. During the reign of Akhenaten, several religious hymns were created, one of which is similar to the famous Psalm 104.

Minoan religion. This religion originated from the civilization of the same name, which existed on the island of Crete. A strong contact with nature is noted here, as evidenced by at least the masks with bull horns found during excavations. There is a lot of evidence that there were even contests like the modern rodeo. The inhabitants of Crete chased the bull and tried to saddle it. As with many other religions, there is no single primary source for this belief. Most of the information we received is rock paintings and various archaeological finds from the island. The main Minoan deity was a woman - the goddess of nature. This makes the belief one of the few matriarchal. There were also male deities in the Minoan religion, but they were less significant or were not gods at all. An important part in the rituals was played not only by bulls, but also by snakes, as well as a double-sided ax. With recent excavations, evidence has emerged of even human sacrifice in the culture. It is possible that this is how the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur appeared.

Mithraism. This religion had Persian roots and appeared in Europe thanks to the conquests of Alexander the Great. The cult of Mithras was very popular among the Roman soldiers. It especially spread in the border provinces. Mithraism turned into an ancient Roman secret belief, a kind of sect. As the Romans knew him, Mithra was the Persian god of the sun, heavenly light and justice. The soldiers believed that he brought them good luck. Little information remains about Mithraism. There are practically no traces of a single holy book, and has it ever existed? Almost everything we know about Mithraism has been found in the ruins of ancient temples. They were located underground, and the followers of the religion preferred to build new ones when old temples wore out. The detail that distinguishes the Roman worship of Mithra from the Persian is the killing of a bull, which has made its own confusion in the archaeological world. Such a myth did not exist in ancient Iranian mythology. One of the most important dates in the believers' calendar was December 25, the birthday of Mithras. Because of this, as well as some other details, it is believed that Christianity is the heir to Mithraism, adopting its features. But it is very difficult to prove it.

Manichaeism. This religion was founded in the third century AD by a Persian named Mani. Initially, beliefs were viewed as a heretical Christian sect. But over time, Manichaeism earned the status of an independent religion. The founder claimed that it combined the features of all the leading religions of that time - Christianity, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism. In fact, many of the apocryphal Christian writings would have been lost were it not for the Manicheans. The main attention was paid to the difference between evil and good, but the way to salvation was seen as knowledge. The most zealous adherents were known as “the chosen ones” or “distinctive”, reminiscent of Buddhist monks, but were itinerant. Among the followers there were many great missionaries who spread Mani's teachings throughout the world. Religion lost its popularity in the Middle Ages. The reason for this was the constant persecution by the Chinese government, the ancient Roman government and the Catholic Church. The greatest myth of Manichaeism lies in the existence of a story about the battle of the world of Light and Dark, two separate kingdoms. It was said that Adam and Eve were created by evil creatures, but Jesus and Mani were the personification of good. These holy people were called to help humanity to manifest its true spirituality. And although many of Mani's works were considered irretrievably lost, parts of them were recently found, which allowed us to learn more about the ancient religion.

Tengrianism. This religion is one of the oldest in the world. It is said to have appeared around the Bronze Age, between 3600 and 1200 BC. They invented such a belief system in Gornaya Altai in Central Asia. This is a monotheistic religion strongly oriented towards ancestor worship. There was no single holy book in Tengrism, as in other religions. Most of the early beliefs have already dropped out of our knowledge system. It is believed that many Huns of the North Caucasus, too, may have worshiped the god Tengri, to whom they sacrificed horses. As is the case with many pagan religions, Tengrianism has a lot in common with Christian traditions. For example, the most important holiday, Epiphany, was celebrated on December 23rd. The bulk of this tradition dates back to the 5th century AD. and includes bringing a "Christmas" tree into the house and decorating it. And although Tengrianism did not gain popularity in the era of Mongol rule, it is still practiced today. Some politicians in Kyrgyzstan even call for this belief to be made the state religion.

Ashurism. This religion became the national cult of the Assyrian people. Ashurism was almost identical to the older Babylonian religion, with only one difference. It was not Marduk that was worshiped here as the supreme deity. The Assyrians chose Ashur for this role. In this polytheistic religion there were thousands of deities, but the most important were only 20, including Ishtar and Marduk. Due to the similarity with the Babylonian religion, there were many common stories with Judaism and Christianity, for example, the myths about the Flood or the Tower of Babel. It was from here that the apocryphal story of the demon woman Lilith, who became the first wife of Adam, began. The most revered date in ashurism was the New Year Festival, Akitu. It lasted for 11 days, during which special honors were given to the supreme deity. And such a religion appeared about 1800 years before the birth of Christ and it existed until the fifth century. Assyria fell, as did its religion. True, it is likely that they secretly practiced Ashurism for some time.

Vedism. The ancient Indo-Aryans practiced Vedism. This religion has been popular for nearly two thousand years, from 1500 BC. to 500 AD It can be considered that it was Vedism that became the basis for the emergence of the modern Hindu faith. After all, both there and there are used the same sacred texts, the four Vedas. True, there are some differences. Vedism provided for polytheism in nature, these creatures were divided into two categories: the gods of nature, devas, and asuras. Gods of moral concepts. Oral hymns were very important for the followers of Vedism; priests played an important role in rituals. They told believers how they could improve their lives by pleasing the gods. Vedism practiced animal sacrifice, but it was still a rare practice. Wherever the gods were given milk and grain. Indra was the supreme god in Vedism. One of the most famous myths is the story of his struggle with the children of the demoness Diti. After Indra killed almost all of her children, she called on magic so that her unborn son would become more powerful than the supreme god himself. When Indra found out about this, he threw lightning into the womb of the demoness, destroying it. The unborn child has turned into 40 little demons.

Olmec religion. This people lived in the territory of Central America, and its religion existed from 1400 BC. until 400 A.D. The reason for the disappearance of the Olmecs remained unknown. The most popular version is volcanic activity or other environmental changes. There is not even direct evidence of the existence of the Olmecs. Archaeologists simply compare the artifacts found with those that were present in the religion of the Aztecs and Mayans, looking for similarities. It is believed that the Olmec beliefs were closely associated with shamanism, the most popular god there was the god of rain and fertility. He was personified by a jaguar. True, there is an opinion that the Olmecs did not have a main deity at all, his role was played by eight separate and no less important gods. It is believed that the religion was accompanied by various sacrifices, including bloody ones. The gods were represented by jade figurines, as well as masks during ritual dances. Olmec priests used hallucinogenic drugs that helped them communicate with spirits. Today, archaeologists have learned only about ten deities of this people. Due to its early origins, this religion is considered the mother of later Mesoamerican religions, which is defined by a number of common elements.

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