By Mircea Eliade
"No one has performed rather a lot as Mr. Eliade to notify literature scholars within the West approximately 'primitive' and Oriental religions... everybody who cares concerning the human experience will locate new details and new angles of vision."—Martin E. Marty, long island instances booklet evaluate
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Additional resources for A History of Religious Ideas: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries
2 The lake of Stellmoor was probably considered a sacred place by the Mesolithic hunters. Rust collected various objects from the deposit: wooden arrows, bone tools, axes made from reindeer antlers. In all likelihood they represent offerings, as is the case with objects from the Bronze Age and the Iron Age found in certain ponds and lakes in western Europe. To be sure, more than five millennia separate the two groups of objects, but the continuity of this type of religious practice is beyond doubt.
Hunting as means of subsistence continues in the societies of agriculturalists. Probably a certain number of hunters who refused to take an active part in the economy of the cultivators were employed as guardians of the villages-first against the wild beasts that harassed the sedentary populations and damaged the cultivated fields, later against bands of marauders. Probably, too, the first military organizations took shape from these groups of hunters acting as guardians. As we shall soon see, warriors, conquerors, and military aristocracies carryon the symbolism and ideology of the paradigmatic hunter.
These civilizations, arrested at a stage similar to the Upper Paleolithic, thus constitute a sort of living fossils. 36 Of course, there is no attempt to transpose the religious practices and mythologies of the "primitives" to the men of the Old Stone Age. However, as we have already observed, ecstasy of the shamanic type appears to be documented in the Paleolithic. This implies, on the one hand, belief in a "soul," able to leave the body and travel freely through the world, and, on the other hand, the conviction that, during such a journey, the soul can meet certain superhuman beings and ask them for help or a blessing.
A History of Religious Ideas: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries by Mircea Eliade