Upcoming Webinars

Easter Island, Those Powerful Ancestors
Saturday May 22, 2021 1:00pm EST
by Georges Fery
Easter Island, Those Powerful Ancestors

The history of Easter Island is a dramatic example of the clash between faith and

demographics. Throughout humankind’s history, communities mitigated or, as in our case, worsened their environment, and destroyed their food chain. On a large landmass people move with the seasons, weather conditions or away from neighbors’ hostility. Inversely, island migrations are dependent on available land and food collection zones, extended offshore. Observations that may apply to Easter Island, but are insufficient to answer its riddle. The island’s name in the local language, the Rapanui, is Rapa Nui.  

Ancient nonliterate cultures recorded their histories as myths and folklore, while their beliefs were dependent on what was perceived as an “Otherworld” of ancestors and “mind-made” deities. This spiritual perception was inherited from the Lapita trailblazers of the Pacific and successive cultures, thousands of years in the past. The mythological past traditionally short on facts, leaves many grey areas in the Rapa Nui ethnological record. The origin of the historical group that settled on the island, points to Mangareva in the Tuamotu archipelago. The easternmost points of human settlement in the Pacific island triangle, however, will be Hawaii and Rapa Nui (900 AD) and New Zealand (1200 AD).

 In Rapa Nui, climate, animal migrations from birds to fish, food crops’ success or failure, water supply and other life sustaining needs, were believed to be the exclusive dominion of Make-make. The paramount god was the sole master of mana’s powers, granted or withheld at will to Rapa Nui’s ancestors who, in turn, granted mana to their living family and communities’ heads.

No success or failure, from nature’s reward to joy or sadness, wellbeing or deprivation could happen in this world without mana. The belief in an “Otherworld” as a wellspring of ancestral powers for individuals and families, was then common to most cultures of the Pacific. With this mythological perception of life and the support from their ancestors, the Rapanui could not possibly understand the cumulative cause and effect of their actions, nor their failures. Did Make-make turn his back and withheld mana from the ancestors?

Georges Fery

Georges Fery is a tri-lingual freelance writer and photographer based in Dallas, Texas. He has travelled extensively over the last 35 years from Europe to Africa and the Americas. His website  www.georgefery.com  focuses on the history of the Americas up to the arrival of the Europeans. His articles are dedicated to research and papers about the Maya, past and present, as well as other Mesoamerican cultures and those of the South American continent. He is a fellow of the Institute of Maya Studies  www.instituteofmayastudies.org, Miami, FL, the Royal Geographical Society  www.rbg.org , London, UK and also a member in good standing of the Maya Exploration Center  www.mayaexploration.org.  He is a member of the NFAA-Non Fiction Authors Association, nonfictionamericanwritersassociation.com

Austin, TX and the Archaeological Institute of America  www.archaeological.org , Boston, MA.

 


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To Touch the Sky: Myth and Astronomy in the Oral World
Saturday June 26, 2021 1:00pm EST
by Dr John Lundwall
To Touch the Sky: Myth and Astronomy in the Oral World

In the ancient world, ritual was not separated from the space in which it was performed. The sacred space is the point from which true transformation takes place, and according to Mircea Eliade, it is the point of orientation that founds the sacred world. The sacred was the power of transformation that was manifest from the eternal world into this one. Seeing a seed germinate, sprout, bear fruit, and die, all in accordance with the movements of the Sun, Moon, and stars, was the revelation of reality to oral peoples astutely observing the universe. This life-cycle echoed throughout all biological rhythms in the world, from agriculture to the seasons, from animal migrations to the tides and winds. More important, this cycle was seen as a reflection of the moving celestial luminaries that rose, set, and turned, and appeared to be the source of all of nature’s processes on earth. As such, life was mirrored in the cosmogony.

Join Dr. John Knight Lundwall as he explores the connections between ancient, oral cosmology, astronomy, and mythology within his own fieldwork amongst the ancient Fremont peoples (Southwestern Native American, 300 to 1300 AD.). Dr. Lundwall will show how an ancient petroglyph created by the Fremont mirrors the cosmos, was used as a site to preserve and enhance the sacred, and mimic solar and stellar cycles in Fremont culture. Using this as a springboard, Dr. Lundwall will explore other Native American expressions of this sacred cosmovision and will show parallels in cultures across the globe.

Dr John LundwallJohn Lundwall holds a doctorate in comparative myth and religion from the Joseph Campbell school of myth studies, Pacifica Graduate Institute, out of California. He is a researcher, lecturer, a published author, and has served as an editor on several academic publications. His primary interests are oriented towards orality and the origins of myth and religion.

Dr Lundwall is a founding board member of the Utah Valley Astronomy Club (501 (c)(3)), a non-profit organization that partners with State and National Parks within Utah in the United States to help run their astronomy and science programs.

Dr Lundwall is also the Project Leader of the Utah Cultural Astronomy Project. Lundwall and his team are investigating the cultural astronomy of the ancient Fremont Indian, a Native American culture group associated with the American Southwest that inhabited the land of present-day Utah between 300 and 1300 AD. So far, the team has made several remarkable and original discoveries.

 

Dr Lundwall is the author of Mythos and Cosmos: Mind and Meaning in the Oral Age

 


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