Supernatural: The Anthropology of Ritual, Magic and the Occult
Ritual and magic have played a vital role in the development and structure of societies all over the world, and throughout human history.
Shamans, sangomas, voodoo queens and high priestesses all hold important keys to our understanding of ritual practices and the use of magic in society. Why has the supernatural been so important to us, and how has its relevance been embedded in, and expressed by, different cultures across time and space? To what extent are we still influenced by the spiritual realm in all of its various manifestations?
Now, in this unique five-week online course, anthropologist Dr. Mark Anderson will accompany you on a journey through the supernatural world. Adopting a cross-cultural perspective, Mark will guide you week by week through the discovery and critical evaluation of rich anthropological, historical and archaeological evidence. You will examine aspects of mythology, folklore and ritual practice that fascinate and challenge, glimpsing a realm of humanity that is at times both enlightening and terrifying.
This course is open to anyone, regardless of their background, experience or prior knowledge of anthropology. Our aim is to develop your understanding of human societies by adopting a cross-cultural exploration of sacred belief systems and rituals as practiced by a variety of different peoples, past and present.
In this course we cover the following topics:
Module 1: Anthropological approaches to the supernatural
Module 2: Shaman: link to the spirit world
Module 3: African healing, sorcery and witchcraft
Module 4: Voodoo: from shackled roots
Module 5: Western Witchcraft and Pagan Magic
Upon completion of the course, learners should be able to:
- Examine human experience, behaviour, and social and cultural institutions from an anthropological perspective;
- Compare some of the belief systems and ritual practices of different cultures, drawing from anthropological, archaeological and historical evidence;
- Critically apply anthropological approaches, methodologies and the interpretation of cultural evidence.
Dr. Mark Anderson specialises in field archaeology, the anthropology of ritual and religion, the formation of complex societies, and the archaeology and cultures of Africa.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.