Ritual and religion have historically been powerful shapers of society. Every society that has existed has asked universal questions like the following. Where do we come from? Why are we here? How did “here” get here? How did we get here? How are we supposed to act? What happens to us when we die? This course provides a cross cultural and comparative examination of sacred texts and teachings to reveal the ideological constructs that people have generated in seeking to answer these questions. Concepts and practices of holy, creation, anima, heroes/prophets, codes of behavior, ritual and prayer, and the center-world tree-temple complex are examined as they are revealed in the sacred primary texts. The course emphasizes the influence of the social, environmental, and economic contexts on ideological systems and incorporates field research to local religious specialists in the region.