Traditional medicine

The Hebrew Bible is given a lot of coverage (Old Testament). Furthermore, the church accepts a larger corpus of scripture that contains apocalyptic scriptures including the First Book of Enoch. Circumcision is almost uniformly practiced; some devout believers observe the Saturday Sabbath (in addition to Sunday); an ark is an important object in every church, and strict fasting is still practiced.

The baby’s mother sat over the smoke-filled hole while enclosing herself in a blanket. This seemed strange to me. How is she acting? I questioned Firew. He responded, “She’s smoking herself,” as if it weren’t evident.
We now travel to explore differences, and I’m always game for a new cultural encounter that will push my comfort zone a little. As a result, a year later I was waiting for a traditional “butter massage” in an Ethiopian beauty shop with my all-female Venus Adventures tour group. I requested that my Ethiopian friend Felekech make a reservation for us after she recommended it to me over the phone while we were still in the car because she goes there once a week. It has an interesting, distinctive tone! Get those knickers off, you bashful Westerners! As we were led upstairs in groups of three, we were asked to take off our clothes and sit on plastic-covered massage tables. Then, gorgeous Ethiopian attendants gave us a head-to-toe massage using butter (which smelled and felt odd!). Many others laughed and made comments about how much like basted turkeys we appeared. After the massage, we got up in our underwear (except for a coating of butter, of course—a bit strange, I know, but you get used to it).
The Ethiopian church’s priesthood is not studied in general, but there are theological seminaries in Addis Ababa and Harar. Individual monasteries also teach special subjects in theology or church music, and monasticism is widespread.

Each community also has its church school, which provided Ethiopian education until 1900. The liturgy and scriptures are traditionally written in Ge’ez, but both have been translated into Amharic, Ethiopia’s main modern language. In Ethiopia, the church claimed more than 30 million followers in the early twenty-first century.

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