They lived on the coast and must have understood the rhythm of the tides since they would gather the shellfish at low tides. Some clever individual might have noticed the connection between the moon cycles and the tides and could predict when it was time to go back to the shore to gather the shellfish. Those astute observers would be important individuals and they would have become leaders of the tribe. This would eventually become the start of the knowledge that there was a connection between heavenly bodies and the happening of events on earth. The observation that the sun and the moon influenced what happened on earth and that that knowledge could be used to predict future happenings evolved into a philosophy of astrology.
Obviously, because of their cognitive abilities, humans looked for such signs in their environment to predict the future. And eventually when they spread out through the world, they learned to predict many events, the changing seasons, weather and even calamities such as floods and other disasters. They wanted to explain why things were happening and invented explanations for events that they did not understand, at least from a modern scientific standpoint. The individuals who could predict some things would not always be correct but one could always blame external forces (various gods) when things didn’t pan out. We find that phenomenon still happening today reflected in the popular phrase among humanists that “It’s God’s Will” when they mock and ridicule religious beliefs.
During the ages before any written language was invented, “knowledge” was passed on from generation to generation by song and dance and storytellers and shamans would train their offspring or pupils. The experience of eating certain plants, herbs and animals resulted in the knowledge what was beneficial and what was to be avoided (especially some of the herbs). Diseases also were experienced and Homo sapiens learned to avoid some behaviours to minimize their exposure. Despite the poor record-keeping of early Homo sapiens, this knowledge must have evolved in fits and starts and therefore progress was very slow. When finally written down in “recent” times, these rules became the “laws” which have governed the behaviour of our “recent” ancestors, if by “recent” we encompass the last 8000 years, as compared to the previous 100,000 to 200,000 years. Before these “laws” were written down, they could be adapted to new knowledge and experiences. “Laws” now written “in stone” are much more difficult to adapt to new developments and situations. We have had to constantly struggle with people who believe that those written rules, although written by humans, are inspired by “God” and are, therefore, the absolute truth. It will take a long time before all of humanity will overcome this “belief” and realize that we must adapt to the evolving new knowledge.
Walking past the “Spirit Catcher” sculpture, created by Ron Baird in 1986, now enshrined at the western end of Kempenfelt Bay in the City of Barrie, Ontario, I pondered over its name. It is a wind-catcher in the form of a stylized bird with metal “feathers” that move in the wind. It occurred to me that, in First Nations folklore, the wind was considered to be a spirit. The ‘Great Spirit’ is akin to the concept of a ‘life force,’ analogous to a ‘Supreme Being’ known as Wakan Tanka in Lakota, Gitche Manitou in Algonquian, and a multitude of other names in North American pre-columbian cultures. My musings started a train of thought that has intrigued me ever since.
The wind was a force one could feel, but not see, although one could see what the wind did. It was an invisible force that could not be controlled and was a very mighty force, or spirit, ruling the earth. We find that concept widely spread throughout totally different cultures. The breath, air or wind is considered a life force in old Scandinavian religion, in China as Chi or Qi, and in India as Prana. In Abrahamic religions, it translates into Spirit or Soul. In yoga, nostril breathing is said to balance the Prana. In Denmark, people still open windows when someone dies in a room to let the spirit out. In Ojibwa funeral services, the structure holding the body must be open so the spirit can escape. Even South America’s Mayan religion incorporates various “spirits” of which one of them is “breath.”
When a baby was born, a small part of that spirit "breath" would enter the body and gave the baby life. God breathes life into Adam’s nostrils (Genesis 2:7). When someone died, this small spirit or soul would leave the body and be rejoined the Big Spirit. Babies were therefore not considered to be separate human beings until they took their first breaths. This is still considered to be the case in some cultures. Aman Shaw, Shan Alam, Malaysia, wrote: “I am a doctor by profession, and so I will endorse one part of your post. A newborn baby is not considered alive until it draws in its first breath, only then the soul enters the body and it's pronounced a living human being. There are occasions when the newborn baby desists in drawing in its first breath; these are pronounced as stillborns, dead upon delivery. If the product of conception is aborted before 18 weeks, it is called an abortion (no life at all in the baby to begin with). However, if the pregnancy is carried on after the 18th week of gestation and later terminated, it is called childbirth, whether the child is alive or stillborn. And now we come to the pertinent question: is there life in the baby while still in the womb of the mother? An interesting question isn't it? You can see the baby moving about in the ultrasound and there is a heartbeat, so you presume it is a live human being. Nope, it is not considered alive in medical terms until it is delivered and draws in its first breath.” Some religions have now altered this concept and consider a human embryo to be the start of an independent life. Keep in mind that the opposition to birth control and abortion has little to do with a "moral" principle but rather with a method to create as many followers in the religious tribe as possible.
To infer that air was the life force and "breath" was the soul was a very logical explanation in previous times. The word “spirit” is derived from the Latin word “spiritus” meaning “breath” and “spirare” meaning “breathe”. Consider the fact that breath, spirit, soul and ghost are words essentially meaning the same thing throughout many cultures and history. They are still with us. Ghosts and spirits are still associated with chilly, drafty airflows. In conclusion, using Occam’s razor, (the simplest explanation is likely the correct one), we can state that Spirit and Soul are original concepts, preserved in most cultures from prehistoric times. Air is the life force that sustains our lives through the breaths we take. Indeed without breath, we have only minutes to live. Although “spirit” has been interpreted as a supernatural force, it isn’t. It is the air we breathe, the life force we cannot do without. To the people who state they are not religious but spiritual, we can say, yes, keep breathing because that’s what it means. Not only native legends or folks traditions connect Breath, Wind, Spirit, and Soul but the Bible refers to this many times as well. The King James version shows this throughout the Old Testament. The "Easy to Read Version" of the Bible, by the World Bible Translation Centre, is still much clearer. You can find it on the internet by consulting www.biblegateway.com. King James Version of the Bible:
Genesis 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul
Genesis 6:17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and everything that is in the earth shall die.
Genesis 7:15 And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.
Genesis 7:22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died
Job 27:3 All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;
Job 33:4 The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.
Isaiah 42:5 Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
Ezekiel 37:9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
The term “shaman” is reserved for the leaders who used their knowledge and cunning to impress the rest of their tribes. Shamans were believed to have supernatural powers. They were not “military” leaders; that calls for a different type of leadership. This might explain why we still live with this dual leadership of military (political) leaders and religious leaders. Some of them successfully cooperate but some are in a continual struggle for power, even today. Religious leaders
assume that they have an advantage, claiming the support of a supernatural entity, and try to assert religious privileges as a result.