Chapter

Mesoamerica and South America

Robert M. Torrance

in The Spiritual Quest

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 1994 | ISBN: 9780520081321
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520920163 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520081321.003.0013
Mesoamerica and South America

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This chapter shows that in much of Middle America, from the northern borders of Mexico to the Isthmus of Panama, and especially in Mesoamerica—the large regions once dominated by ancient Mexican and Mayan civilizations—native peoples were Christianized earlier than further north, and populations more extensively mixed. Thus whatever vestiges of ancestral shamanism survive will be intertwined, in most cases, with hardly less primordial ritualisms, aboriginal and Christian. Continuation of an impulse, toward personal transcendence not fully satisfied by the fixed rites of these settled agriculturalists, bears witness to an unsatisfied need to expand human limits through pursuit of a spiritual goal indispensable to the degree that it remains beyond attainment. From earliest times, the Mesoamerican archaeological record bespeaks highly stratified societies in sharp contrast to the generally mobile and egalitarian cultures of North America.

Keywords: Middle America; Mesoamerica; shamanism; ritualisms; transcendence; cultures; North America

Chapter.  14385 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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