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Practices and Metaphors of Domestic Religion

Session Chair: N.N. | Monday, August 24, 1:30-3 p.m. | Venue

Aura Piccioni

Sacra privata perpetua manento: the archaeology of private cults in archaic Italy

“Sacra privata perpetua manento”, recites one of the Laws of the XII Tables. Sacra privata were spread in all antiquity, without exceptions: this means that not only by the Romans was present this use, but also, for instance, by Etruscans. The period that here is in the centre of our attention is the archaic, i.e. between the end of 7th to the 5th c. BCE. Archaeologically, the practice of familiar cults is proved by many sites, such as the “palaces” of Murlo and Acquarossa, or the private homes found at Roselle and Massa Marittima. Basing on the archaeological record, it can be assumed that in the first case took place a type of rituality linked to the demonstration of power of aristocratic families into society; in some other places instead, like in Massa Marittima, for instance, remained the traces of purely familiar practices, which were various and which find a comparison with other contexts of South Italy (like that of Sybaris). This paper focuses on private cults, which could be reconstructed on the base of above-mentioned findings, making also a comparison between the Etruscan area and others in ancient Italy between 6th-5th c. BCE. Family cults will be analysed thanks to what it is known about public religion, from sacrifices to “administration” of it, trying to answer to questions like the participation of women to domestic rites, already discussed by some scholars, in order to prove the existence of a kind koine in the forms of private religion during archaic period.

Kenta Takasao

Miko and Mizuko: the development of Taiwakyodan

Taiwakyodan (a new religious group in Japan) was established by Hisako Hozumi in 1957. Taiwakyodan has a training program for religious specialists, Miko. Since 1970, Taiwakyodan has held the rituals to console the spirits of aborted fetuses, Mizuko. While holding the rituals, Taiwakyodan have trained Miko to possess the spirits of the Mizuko. the activities of Miko and rituals of Mizuko have the important role to develop Taiwakyodan. Over fourty years has passed since the ritual to console the spirits of aborted fetuses. this presentation indicates that what kind of transformations of the rituals have been caused during the term.

Neomi de Anda

Reclaiming the Theological Image of Breast Milk Through the Americas

The images of breast milk and breastfeeding were once theologically robust in Christian Europe. The image was largely covered and silenced by the mid eighteenth century in Italy, France, and Germany. In Spain, however, this image was maintained as sacred and carried to the Americas by conquistadores, missionaries, and settlers through both physical pieces of sculpture and painting and was later incorporated into writings. This paper will trace three historical occurrences of this image to show that this image continues as both theological and sacred in parts of the Americas. The first will engage Sor María Anna Águeda de San Ignacio (Puebla, Mexico, 1695-1756) writings concerning el camino de la leche de Maria. The second will illuminate the paintings of Nuestra Señora de Belen significant in San Juan, Puerto Rico since the sixteenth century. The third will elucidate the devotions to María de la Leche, the first Marian shrine in the continental USA.

Jennifer Jones

Faith, failure and death on the Australian goldfields: Environmental adaptation of Scottish Calvinists’ belief, 1852-1865

When Scotsman James Hoey arrived on the Australian goldfields in 1852, he believed prosperity and worldly progress rewarded piety. Thirteen years of hardship, including failed business and mining ventures, the death of two wives and a son, and his own impending death from lung disease, however, led Hoey to question his election amongst the faithful. This paper considers how Hoey and his family, who were committed United Presbyterians, negotiated their Calvinist belief in the context of the goldfields. A rich archive of family letters reveals how these educated, middle-class, urbanised Lowlanders attempted to identify and interpret the will of God in their experience of hardship and loss. I argue that the realities of the goldfield required the adaptation of their beliefs and consider how the colonial environment triumphed over denominational expectation, as failure forced this Scottish family to alter their theological interpretation of a blessed life and a good death.


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