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One of the concepts that were discussed in class is outlined in one of the chapters concerning communal religions, which encompasses the idea that people organize rituals such as rites of passages and harvest ceremonies, in addition to having shamans. Both of the ethnographies illustrate elements of rites of passages and harvest ceremonies and how they are associated within their own distinct social groups, for example harvest ceremonies would be held as long standing-annual events for blessings of the gods and celebrations for special occasions. Similarly there would be the practice of rites of passage in which the individual must go through a transition from one stage of their life to the other.
The first ethnography depicts an example of the rites of passage in which the individual must go through the process of a social transition. Nisa experiences her first menstruation, and the women of the village enclose her in a hut and perform the ritual ceremonies that accompany that momentous event in a !Kung woman's life. A woman's first menstruation is the process whereby she is considered an adult and is no longer considered a child. The ceremonies that would accompany this event would be woman dancing around the village and holding a festival. We also see similar ceremony practices being held in fusion of the worlds where people were accustomed to thirst because they would experience seasonal drought. So in order to thank the spirits for their good weather and a successful crop season they would hold a harvest festival, to celebrate the good crop season.
In the second ethnography Songhay mediums play similar roles in their society to what shamans would in communal religions. Shamans are individuals who are able to act as intermediaries between the supernatural realm (spirit world) and ordinary people (human world). Likewise Songhay mediums would serve similar roles in their societies, Songhay mediums would allow the spirit to take possession of their body and the spirit makes contact with the human world. All mediums would be affected by their practices, which made them obliged to pay lifelong allegiance to the spirit and support the actives of the spirit. At the same time in Nisa we see that there also exist the belief in the spirit world, in particular the roles spirits are thought to play in healing and illness.
In general you can see that both ethnographies share familiar facets with the supernatural realm, which is discussed in the reading of Mirror for Humanity. The societies discussed in the ethnographies have spirit connections with the spirit world and these associations with spirits affected their lifestyle, culture and behaviour in there everyday life.