Taos - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Three religious systems are active at Taos: the kiva-based aboriginal religion, Catholicism to which nearly all belong at least nominally, and Peyotism. Taos is the only Pueblo where the Peyote religion was accepted. Membership today is small. The Indians have been most secretive concerning their kiva religion, so that a full understanding remains impossible. The six active subterranean kivas together with their constituent societies are Big Earring, Day, and Knife on the north side, Water, Old Axe, and Feather on the south. Extended and rigorous male initiation (six-eighteen months) between the ages of seven and ten culminate and are tribally validated at the annual August pilgrimage to Blue Lake. No non-Taos in this century have been permitted to observe these rites. The ceremonial round, with public performances as integral parts, generally follow Catholic ritual observances such as Saints' Days, Christmas, New Year's Day, and the like and are laced with aboriginal elements. They are paralleled by more or less constant kiva activity about which little has been revealed. There are a host of animistic spirits including prominently Father Sun, Mother Earth, and the cloud spirits. Except for the publicly performed ceremonials, the activities of the kiva societies are poorly described. Prayer sticks, corn meal, pollen, and other standard Pueblo ritual equipment, often referred to as "Medicine," are used, but little is known of their true role and significance.

Religious Practitioners . Kiva priests conduct rituals aimed at community welfare and rites of intensification Directed toward game animals and agriculture. A few men and women are skilled in the arts of individual curing.

Death and Afterlife. A Catholic mass is held at death with the deceased buried immediately following in the open area of the old mission church destroyed in 1847. It has served since then as the Pueblo cemetery. A four-day observance of general inactivity by the deceased's family follows and closes with a feast celebrating the departure of the dead person's soul to the abode of the cloud spirits in the depths of Blue Lake, although some today regard the Christian heaven as the final place for departed souls.

Also read article about Taos from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: