Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2014 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • Morgan Stebbins
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6086-2_680

Something that is taboo is so powerful that it must be approached only with the proper attitude and training or not at all. The concept of taboo derives from the Tongan tapu or the Fijian tabu. In both cultures it carries a double meaning: it refers to what is both sacred and forbidden. That is, it indicates that which is so powerful that it is dangerous unless treated the right way, or by the right person, under the right circumstances. In original usage, taboo could refer to certain foods, to bodies of the deceased, to the resting places of powerful spirits, to tribal rulers and to warriors who have slain others, and often to women’s menstrual periods, as well as even mentioning some of the above in conversation (Frazer 1990). Thus, we see that it can apply to words, objects, actions, and concepts (including metaphysical actors such as divinities) and also that there is a temporal aspect; for instance in some warrior cultures we find a taboo on sex but only before battle. In many...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of the New York C.G. Jung FoundationNew YorkUSA