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  • 1.
    Oestigaard, Terje
    Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Agrarian Change, Property and Resources.
    Holy water: the works of water indefining and understanding holiness.2017Inngår i: WIREs Water, ISSN 0935-879X, E-ISSN 2049-1948, Vol. 4, nr 3, 1-12 s.Artikkel i tidsskrift (Fagfellevurdert)
    Abstract [en]

    Holy water has a central role in shaping the understanding and beliefs of holiness in general, but how does holy water work, and what defines holy water? By analyzing holy water in three different religious traditions—Christianity in Northern Europe, Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, and Hinduism—the aim is to discuss the metaphysical essence of water in human understanding and ideas of holiness embodied in water. On the one hand, holy water represents purity and has to be protected from defilement, but on the other hand, many holy rivers are severely polluted. This seeming paradox will be analyzed by focusing on actual beliefs and uses of holy water in ritual and religious practices. Holy water transmits purity and holiness, but it also transfers, transports, and transforms impurities. In the process of obtaining spiritual purity, devotees may pollute the holy because holy water is believed to have a divine agency. By comparing ritual practices and beliefs in three distinct religious traditions in Europe, Africa, and Asia, it is possible to enhance the understanding of the ways holiness and holy water are perceived to work in cultural-specific religious worldviews based on essential capacities of water cross-culturally. This directs the attention to the structuring mechanisms at work because water is conceptualized and used as holy in remarkably similar ways in many religions.

  • 2.
    Oestigaard, Terje
    et al.
    Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Agrarian Change, Property and Resources.
    Kaliff, Anders
    Cremation, Corpses and Cannibalism. : Comparative Cosmologies and Centuries of CosmicConsumption.2017Bok (Annet vitenskapelig)
    Abstract [en]

    Death matters and the matters of death are initially, and to a large extent, the decaying flesh of the corpse. Cremation as a ritual practice is the fastest and most optimal way of dissolving the corpse’s flesh, either by annihilation or purification, or a combination. Still, cremation was not the final rite, and the archaeological record testifies that the dead represented a means to other ends – the flesh, and not the least the bones – have been incorporated in a wide range of other ritual contexts. While human sacrifices and cannibalism as ritual phenomena are much discussed in anthropology, archaeology has an advantage, since the actual bone material leaves traces of ritual practices that are unseen and unheard of in the contemporary world. As such, this book fleshes out a broader and more coherent understanding of prehistoric religions and funeral practices in Scandinavia by focusing on cremation, corpses and cannibalism.

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