Nature and the Supernatural in Ancient Societies Essay

Submitted By ksavich
Words: 917
Pages: 4

| Nature and the Supernatural in Ancient Societies | Section | | | 9/28/2012 |


Societies in the ancient world had many different ways to explain nature and the supernatural. The ways a person viewed the world around them depended on where they were from and what culture they were from, as everyone group had different views and ideas. Nature was viewed as a majestic force, a god, or even a person. The supernatural is viewed through their gods. Every culture had different gods that represented numerous things and all were worshipped differently. Each culture developed what we call mythology to explain the things around them that they did not understand. The first example of ways in which ancient societies view nature and the supernatural comes from ancient Egypt. Located in ancient Egypt is the Nile River. The Nile provided the Egyptians with most of the basic necessities; they were dependent on the river. This dependence made the people of Egypt view the Nile as a god. In a passage from the Hymn to the Nile, it says “If you cease your toil and your work, then all that exists is in anguish. If the gods suffer in heaven, then the faces of men waste away.” The people completely rely on the Nile for everything they need to survive. The people say to the Nile, “offerings are made unto you, men are immolated to you, great festivals are instituted to you.” They worship the Nile just like every other god. The people give sacrifices and give thanks to the river, and praise it for all that it does. The ancient Egyptians use tangible items in which to explain the unknown. Along with the Nile, the people of Egypt also worshipped the sun as a god. They believe the sun, known to them as Aten, is the creator of life. The Great Hymn to Aten states “who makes seed grow in women, who creates people from sperm; who feeds the son in his mother’s womb, who soothes him to still his tears, nurse in the womb, giver of breath, to nourish all that he made.” The people believe the sun is the creator of all things living. The Egyptians believe the sun makes the differences between the people and that every single life form on earth comes from it. Just like the Nile, they worship the sun and give it thanks. These are their gods, and this is how they explain nature. Nature is the life of everything, and without it they would not exist. Another example of ancient society’s view of the supernatural and nature comes from the Chinese culture. The Chinese believed in a system called Daoism, or harmony with nature. The belief was that nature is passive, yet a powerful force. If one upset nature, nature would in turn cause turmoil. The Chinese wanted to live in “wuwei,” or simply and in accord with nature. To live in wuwei, one must avoid ambition and chaos. This means they must avoid excessive riches and too much education. Daoism is also known as Taoism or Tao for short. The Chinese believe Tao is everything in the world. According to the Dao De Jing, “nature is not kind; it treats all things impartially.” This means that nature will treat the people as they treat it. If they live in harmony, nature will not cause problems. But if the people start causing chaos, nature will, in turn, retaliate. The Dao De Jing also states, “who understands Nature’s way becomes all-cherishing: being all-cherishing he becomes impartial; being impartial he becomes magnanimous; being magnanimous he becomes part of Nature; being part of Nature he becomes one with Tao.” If the people live without chaos, they believe they