A History of Religious Ideas, Volume 1: From the Stone Age by Mircea Eliade

By Mircea Eliade

Publish yr note: initially released in French below the
title Histoire des croyances et des idees religieuses. Vol. 1: De [,age de l. a. pierre
aux mysteres d'Eleusis
Payot, Paris, 1976.

"No one has performed quite a bit as Mr. Eliade to notify literature scholars within the West approximately 'primitive' and Oriental religions. . . . all people who cares concerning the human experience will locate new info and new angles of vision."— Martin E. Marty, ny instances booklet Review

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Additional resources for A History of Religious Ideas, Volume 1: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries

Example text

Similar criticisms have been made by Henri Lhote. 32. Alexander Marshak, The Roots of Civilization, pp. 81 ff. Equally significant is the ability of the Paleolithics accurately to observe and draw the phases of plant life (see Marshak, Roots, pp. , and his" Le baton de com man dement de Montgaudier (Charente)," pp. 329 ff. Rites, thought, and imagination 23 Whatever may be thought of Marshak's general theory concerning the development of civilization, the fact remains that the lunar cycle was analyzed, memorized, and used for practical purposes some 15,000 years before the discovery of agriculture.

To give only one example, a cosmogonic myth brings on the stage the primordial Waters and the Creator, the latter either as anthropomorphic or in the form of an aquatic animal, descending to the bottom of the ocean to bring back the material necessary for the creation of the world. 42 Similarly, myths, legends, and rites related to ascent to the sky and "magical flight" (wings, feathers of birds of preyeagle, falcon) are universally documented, on all the continents, from Australia and South America to the Arctic.

Cf. J. Maringer, The Gods of Prehistoric Man, pp. 103 if. and fig. 14. 16 THE PALEANTHROPIANS The importance of an archaic religious idea is likewise confirmed by its ability to survive into later periods. Thus the belief that an animal can be reborn from its bones is found in a considerable number of cultures. IS That is why it is forbidden to break the bones of animals whose flesh has been eaten. This is an idea which is proper to the civilizations of hunters and herders but which has survived in more complex religions and mythologies.

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