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Journey to the Sacred Sea

Classroom Activity

To review and discuss belief systems implicit in legends of Lake Baikal.

Materials for each team
  • copy of "Legends of Baikal" student handout (PDF or HTML)
  1. Copy and distribute the "Legends of Baikal" student handout to each student. Among Baikal's most dramatic features are the wild storms that suddenly engulf the lake. One story, cited by a turn-of-the-century traveler, records a conversation between a soldier and a Buryat about the reasons for the turbulent waters of the lake.

  2. Have students discuss the belief systems implicit in these stories. How do these writings and stories try to explain some of the lake's anomalies, and how do their ideas differ from those offered by scientists in the film?

Activity Answer

Although student answers will vary depending on individual interpretations of the legends, they should find some of the following beliefs implicit in the stories. Story 1 suggests a polytheistic belief system, with stronger and weaker gods and spirits. From this story, a reader can infer that the people in the story believed the gods could change natural phenomena and the weather. Story 2 describes witches, spirits, and gods who possess masculine and feminine traits. Spirits can change from one life form to another. Implicit in this story is the idea that people were created by natural forces. Story 3 also implies that spirits can change their life forms. In this story, humans and gods seem able to outwit each other.

Teacher's Guide
Journey to the Sacred Sea

Video is not required for this activity