Possession and Transformation

Robert M. Torrance

in The Spiritual Quest

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 1994 | ISBN: 9780520081321
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520920163 | DOI:
Possession and Transformation

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The literature of spirit possession repeatedly emphasizes the contrast between the convulsive spasms of the disoriented novice and the controlled trances of the authoritative medium who is no longer, in the Afro-Brazilian distinction, an undisciplined child, but a mother or father of the god. The initial seizure is not always a call to the medium's vocation. Unexpected encounters with the wild can lead to destruction as well as mastery, and malignant possession, whether from witchcraft or random demons of the bush, may result in wasting illness, madness, or death, unless the invading spirit is exorcized or appeased. If the seizure is diagnosed as a call, moreover, the vocation to which it summons may be that of an exorcist or diviner who will not thereafter enter possession, even if inducing it in others.

Keywords: spirit possession; seizure; medium; witchcraft; spirit; vocation; diviner

Chapter.  6770 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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