Relationship and Reciprocity

Joseph Epes Brown and Emily Cousins

in Teaching Spirits

Published in print August 2001 | ISBN: 9780195138757
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199871759 | DOI:
 Relationship and Reciprocity

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This chapter focuses on Native Americans' belief about nature. It shows that Native Americans do not dichotomize human and animal, natural and supernatural. Typical Western distinctions between animism and animatism are not necessarily present in the Native American experience, since all forms and aspects of creation are experienced as living and animate. Even “inanimate”rocks are thought to be mysteriously possessed with life. But this experience of the sacred does not exclude a unitary, all-inclusive concept that refers to both a Supreme Being and to all gods, spirits, or powers of creation. The roots of relatedness, Lakota metaphysics, animal beings as teachers, and the cyclical relationships that Native American traditions sustain with nature are discussed.

Keywords: Native American culture; religious experience; religion; human and animal; natural and supernatural

Chapter.  9026 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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