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The Spiritual QuestTranscendence  in Myth, Religion, and Science$
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Robert Torrance

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780520081321

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520081321.001.0001

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Mesoamerica and South America

Mesoamerica and South America

(p.196) Chapter Thirteen Mesoamerica and South America
The Spiritual Quest

Robert M. Torrance

University of California Press

This chapter shows that in much of Middle America, from the northern borders of Mexico to the Isthmus of Panama, and especially in Mesoamerica—the large regions once dominated by ancient Mexican and Mayan civilizations—native peoples were Christianized earlier than further north, and populations more extensively mixed. Thus whatever vestiges of ancestral shamanism survive will be intertwined, in most cases, with hardly less primordial ritualisms, aboriginal and Christian. Continuation of an impulse, toward personal transcendence not fully satisfied by the fixed rites of these settled agriculturalists, bears witness to an unsatisfied need to expand human limits through pursuit of a spiritual goal indispensable to the degree that it remains beyond attainment. From earliest times, the Mesoamerican archaeological record bespeaks highly stratified societies in sharp contrast to the generally mobile and egalitarian cultures of North America.

Keywords:   Middle America, Mesoamerica, shamanism, ritualisms, transcendence, cultures, North America

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