A culture is called primitive if the people make their living by foraging, hunting and gathering. Such culture is egalitarian, living in small groups and dealing with issues among them on a face-to-face basis. With the invention of agriculture, the basic patterns of primitive life gradually gave way. Groups of people moved away from hunting and gathering to form stationary settlements, some of which grew into large villages and cities. This kind of life gave rise to a new social and religious worldview known as archaic culture. In archaic cultures chiefs or kings were needed to provide social order, and egalitarianism lost out.
In archaic society some spirits begin to take on more powerful roles, becoming what we now call “gods.” These gods are often arranged in hierarchies that reflect the increasingly hierarchical nature of archaic society. Though the primitive spirits could often be controlled or frightened, the powerful archaic gods require greater care. Forms of persuasion such as sacrificial offerings and worship are used to keep the goodwill of the gods. Belief in many powerful spirit beings we call gods is usually labeled “polytheism.” Magic also appears now in higher or stronger forms such as the astrological power of the heavens. Such power is beyond human ability to influence it. So people must learn to conform to it. Archaic culture is generally more complex than primitive culture. Polytheism does not replace animism. Belief in gods and great mana is added to belief in... [continues]
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