There is no country, no civilization where religion hasn’t left its visible and beautiful traces. It's Egyptian pyramids and sphinxes storing the former grandeur, Gothic cathedrals of Europe, Armenian monasteries and cross-stones, many kilometers of stunning Indian “images” of American deserts, dainty Chinese painting, amazing Japanese art of ikebana and the shapes of rock gardens and, finally, the significant part of world literature, music, dance, art. Plunging into sacred traditions and legends, strange rituals and customs, you can, together with the Radio Vem, penetrate the arches of the majestic temples, be in the ancient shrines of different nations and under the shadows of sacred trees, find out what religion they practice, what kind of life they live, how they perceive the world and themselves, what and how they
Like other ancient nations, Canaanites considered sacrifices to be the main means for having impact on gods. Sacrifices were regarded as either expressions of gratitude for success, victory, and liberation, or advances for anticipated goods.
Canaan occupied the wide belt stretching from north to south across the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. From the south and east it was confined by steppes and deserts. Nowadays that territory includes Lebanon, Israel, and the western part of Syria.
It is not an easy task to make truthlike suppositions about the religious beliefs of the ancient farmers of Mesopotamia. Judging from the gifts found in the graves of the 7th to 5th millennia BCE, it is possible to conclude that ancient farmers undoubtedly believed in certain forms of life after death.
Researchers judge the religious views of the inhabitants of ancient Mesopotamia not only by preserved cuneiform texts but also by archaeological findings connected with religious practices, that is, by the ruins of temples, graves, and the depictions of religious rituals on stone reliefs and small cylindrical seals.
In the early 20th century, German Jesuit monk and scholar Anton Deimel published in Rome his study entitled "The Babylonian Pantheon." Reading Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian cuneiform tablets, Deimel had revealed the names of Mesopotamian deities, which you'll get acquainted with in our today's broadcast.
The Hellenes, Etruscans, and Romans following them, sailing to the Mediterranean shores of Africa, to the Pyrenean Peninsula, and to the western islands of the Mediterranean Sea, would meet not only retrograde tribes, but also competitors surpassing them in many spheres such as navigation, crafts production, urban planning, and trade.
The image of this goddess, perhaps the most famous in all the Egyptian pantheon, is fraught with a lot of mystery. Its origin comes from the depth of Egyptian history and becomes unclear to many Egyptologists. It is also not clear why Isis became the personification of the Great Mother in the Mediterranean and adjacent regions in the late antic era. The name "Isis" or "Izida" is the late Greek version of the ancient Egyptian "Iset" or "Eset", which according to the linguists means "throne". Isis, the sister and wife of Osiris, the chairwoman of the divine mystery of his resurrection from the dead, is associated with the spring rebirth of nature.
Since the days of the Old Kingdom there have been known three major cosmogonic schools that are related with the cities of Heliopolis, Hermopolis and Memphis. According to the Egyptian tradition, the Heliopolis school became the main among them, which taught that in the beginning of times there was a chaotic primordial ocean Nun, which hid in itself the possibility of origin of all that would be in the world. The shining stone "Ben-Ben", the first hill or mountain, came out from the primordial ocean. With it are associated the images of the cosmic egg and Phoenix, the solar bird that gave birth to the world.
It seems that nothing could be further from our modern life, than the religion of ancient Egypt. Despite the fact that after the adoption of Christianity we perceive the country of the Pharaohs through the prism of the Bible where Egypt is represented as a pagan state that persecutes the people worshiping the only God, in many other sources Egypt is mentioned as a center of oldest super-wisdom.
The native people of Northern America are sometimes called redskins though their skin color has never been red in reality but can have different colors from brown to yellowish. They were called redskin because of their special love for red dye. During rituals, they smeared it on their bodies, considering red color sacred.
The Chibcha-speaking Muisca people's civilization was formed in the high mountainous plateau of the Eastern Cordillera in the territory of modern Cuba. It spread its influence on Panama, Ecuador, and part of Venezuela. In the period of the great American civilizations, the Muisca civilization had its worthy place after those of the Maya, Inca, and Aztecs. The Muisca empire existed from the 2nd century CE until its conquest by the Spanish in the 30s of the 16th century. The Chibcha-speaking people called themselves Muisca, which means "human being."
The great Inca Empire was formed in the first half of the 2nd millenium CE and occupied the vast territories of modern Peru as well as large parts of Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile.
The divinization of the Sun is a common phenomenon in different corners of the world, but the Inca who called themselves "Sons of the Sun" surpassed all tribes and peoples in this. The image of the Sun in the form of a golden disc with a human face served as an official object of worship. The two most famous myths about the establishment of the Inca Empire are also related to the name of the Sun.
The Aztecs called their country "Island Atzlan" — a place where herons live. The location of their initial homeland is not precisely known, but most researchers are inclined to think that this tribe originally lived on the islands adjacent to the northern part of the Gulf of California. The name "Aztec" is derived from the word "Atzlan."
In order to attract the attention of the gods, members of the Mayan tribe long fasted, sometimes for three years, and did not consume meat, salt, pepper, and the hot spice Mexican chili. Sexual abstinence was also encouraged. However, most of these prohibitions concerned the priests. Other members of the tribe had much freedom, but under the influence of the priests, they also sought to follow the methods that caused the mercy of the gods.
Nowadays, millions of tourists visit the magnificent ruins remained from the mysterious cultures of the ancient native Americans of Mexico and Peru. They discover the wonderful architecture and sculpture of the natives, their expressive fine figurines, golden and nephrite jewelry as well as colorful ceramics covered with images.
In the developed Slavic religion and mythology, Perun the Thunderer became the supreme god. This was so in the religion of other Indo-European nations also. Thus, Perkons, the supreme god of Lithuanians, Prussians and Latvians, is very like the Slavic god Perun. The thunderer Thor of Germanic tribes also shadowed the more ancient heavenly god Tyr over time.
The Slavs had various burial rites. Since the days of pastoral life up to the adoption of Christianity, the most widespread form of burial was that of kurgan. During the burial of the dead, Slavs put weapons, horse harnesses, slaughtered horses and dogs in the graves of men, and sickles, vessels, grain, slaughtered cattle and poultry in the graves of women.
Not only in the woods and waters did the spirits dwell. There was a spirit dwelling in houses, domovoy, a home spirit. It was believed that domovoy lived either under the stove, or in a bast shoe hung for him on the stove. People would transport a domovoy to a new house in a pot full of coals from the old stove, saying, " Domovoy, domovoy, come with me!" Domovoy was the patron of housekeeping. If the owners were diligent, domovoy multiplied the goods, while laziness was punished by a scourge.
In Slavic fairy tales you can meet many magical characters — either hideous, mysterious and unclear or kind and willing to help. For contemporary people, they are funny fictitious images, but in ancient times, the ancestors of the Russians firmly believed that the entire surrounding world is shrouded in magic: in the thickets of the forest the hut of Baba-Yaga stands; in the dark stony mountains the serpent that steals beauties dwells; and a horse is able to speak in human language. Such faith is called paganism or folk belief.
The anticipation of the end of the world and the destruction of gods is peculiar to the Norse mythology. The reason for this is perhaps the circumstance that the main group of Scandinavian myths was formed in the era of the destruction of the tribal class when there were divisions and battles. Most probably, the creators of Scandinavian myths were not able to cope with these events.
During burial rituals, parties and even orgia were common among many ancient nations. Death was a threat to the wholeness of the tribe, and the latter regained its oneness during ritual parties.
Since the bronze age, half of I millennium BCE, Germanic tribes inhabited Scandinavia and Southern Baltic. The petroglyphs preserved in Southern Scandinavia bring to us from those ancient times the ritual processions and battles of the old Germanic gods that are vividly depicted on stones.
It's hard to say exactly which beliefs formed the basis of the Druidic cult, which system of religious beliefs the Celts had and what gods they worshiped. Not only because the main content of the Druidic teachings is now considered lost, but also because the teachings of the Druids and the beliefs of the ancient Celts did not always coincide.
The main duties of the Druids were not the preservation of historical traditions, application of their knowledge of natural medicine, and court examination. Their duties were the service to the gods and performance of rituals, which were seen to everyone but their deep meaning remained unnoticed by the uninitiated.