Tag Archives: Soul

Orante Soul Power

From THE ORANTE AND THE GODDESS IN THE ROMAN CATACOMBS
By Valerie Abrahamsen

Traditional Interpretations of the Orante
Ever since their modern discovery in the catacombs and on other artifacts such as sarcophagi, Orante figures have been studied and interpreted by early church historians, art historians and other scholars. However, among present-day scholars, there is no consensus on their meaning.

One common interpretation of the Orante is that she represents the “soul of the dead person – whether a man or a woman – rather than an actual […] woman” 7 or “the immortal image of the dead, under the guise of a young girl.”8 The question becomes, why use a female figure to depict the soul? One explanation is that the word for soul in Greek, psyche, is feminine, and that the Orante is similar to other personifications of qualities and virtues; Nike, for instance, is a female personification of the quality Victory, and Tyche/Fortuna personifies Luck or Fortune.

However, in Gnostic and other literature of the early Christian period, Continue reading

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Into the Shade – 2

infinitely small - musco5HADES AS PLACE
by Brian Clark, 2001

Part 1

Metaphorically, we may be drawn into Hades through the caves and empty places formed from our depression or despair. Grief and loss of meaning in our lives may also draw us into the Underworld. Or we may descend through a chasm that has been opened by a volcanic blast of buried feeling. Emotional catharsis may leave a dark hole through which we now must enter the Underworld to encounter soul, as in Jung’s experience. At critical transitions in the life cycle, when we need to relinquish one stage of life to enter another, we often find ourselves standing at one of the entrances to Hades. The most potent of these times is on the threshold of “midlife.” […] Continue reading

Into the Shade

infinitely small - musco5HADES AS PLACE
by Brian Clark, 2001

In Greek myth, Hades is not only the personification of the Underworld god Pluto, but also refers to his extensive Underworld kingdom. Mythological tradition and epic clearly differentiate the Underworld and the god Hades, who is regent of this place. The topography and atmosphere of this mythological nether world is symbolic of the sphere we are drawn into during a transit of Pluto and provides a context for the textures and shades of subterranean feelings experienced during this time.

Descent into the Underworld, or catabasis, is a common motif in myth, and this journey is undertaken for a variety of reasons. The journey to the Underworld crosses the crucial threshold between this world Continue reading

Kra Tri – 3

The Universe Has Three Souls
Notes on Translating Akan Culture (1)
By Phil Bartle, Journal of Religion in Africa, Volume XIV, Number 2, 1982, pp 85-114

Part 2

THE CULTURE HAS THREE ELEMENTS

The Twi word usually translated as “culture” is amane, but I soon discovered it meant only traditional customs and rituals. Its meaning is equivalent to high culture of western society: ballet, coronations and the fancy wigs of high court judges; it includes drumming, dancing, etiquette and dress in priests’ and chief’s courts. Culture means all learned human behaviour, high and low. To be learned, culture must be transmitted by symbols, and it is those symbols to which we now turn. Names of people, group identity and behaviour rules such as food avoidances, rites recognising status changes, and the assumed characteristics of colours, are some of these. What is significant in the examination of the ways these signs are used is the reflection of the tripartite cosmology (mentioned above) in these symbols.

Let us begin with labels: how do Akan people get names? Red: Naming is not matronymic in this Continue reading

Kra Tri – 2

The Universe Has Three Souls
Notes on Translating Akan Culture (1)
By Phil Bartle, Journal of Religion in Africa, Volume XIV, Number 2, 1982, pp 85-114

Part 1

Behind each of these three physical elements of the individual there are a series of spiritual personalities or identities which can be seen as parts of increasingly general categories. Behind the flesh and blood is a blood spirit or matrilineal ghost; behind the semen and cleansing fluids is a morality spirit or personality spirit; behind the breath and anima is a destiny soul. Each of these have individual and communal or shared elements, so let us discuss them in turn:

The body belongs to its lineage: so does its “ghost” (saman). When a chief pours a libation on the ancestral stool(s), he is praying to his matrilineal ancestors (Nananom Nsamanfo) and asking them, and, indirectly, God to bring good luck. The word “ghost” is a very poor translation. I prefer to think of saman as “blood spirit” rather than either ghost or soul, because it is different from the other two spirit Continue reading

Akan Soul

A Critique of the Concept of Quasi-Physicalism in Akan Philosophy
MOHAMMED MAJEED, African Studies Quarterly | Volume 14, Issues 1 & 2| November 2013

Introduction

The philosophical ideas of any culture, including the Akan, may be obtained from the language, beliefs, and practices of that culture. In this regard, an examination of some Akan cultural beliefs and language should aid in the understanding of the Akan concept of a person. In Akan language, the human body is referred to as honam, but there are two other expressions, ōkra and sunsum, which, together with honam, seem to suggest belief in the existence of two distinct components of the human being. These expressions are sometimes translated as “soul or mind” and “spirit’ respectively and designated as being spiritual.

Akan thinkers who hold spiritual conceptions of these entities include Asare Opoku, Peter Sarpong, and Kwame Gyekye.1 Even though Sarpong, for instance, correctly translates sunsum as “spirit,” he nonetheless sees it as deriving from the father—an error that Gyekye points out.2 It is also held in Akan thought that the ōkra does not, just like the sunsum, form part of the brain or the body Continue reading

Kra Tri – 1

The Universe Has Three Souls
Notes on Translating Akan Culture (1)
By Phil Bartle, Journal of Religion in Africa, Volume XIV, Number 2, 1982, pp 85-114

CHANGING ONE’S CULTURE

In learning to think Akan, I began seeing things as “both-and” as well as the previous “either or.” Instead of classifying things as “profane-sacred”, for example, I discovered that there were two kinds of sacred: “sacred/white” and “sacred/black”. Then what I had thought of as “profane” later became, in a sense, “sacred/red.”

I discovered that the universe thus had three elements: two of which contrasted the familiar differences between yang-yin, female male, down-up, or left-right. There was a third, however, which sometimes went beyond, but sometimes was parallel or equivalent to, yet different from, the first two. I saw that the concept of the human individual, too, had this three-fold nature, and reflected the concept of the universe. Or was it that the concept of the world was a reflection of the concept of the individual? I found the symbolic uses of colour categories, red, black, and white, helpful in sorting out these Continue reading

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