Shamanism, Possession, and Ecstasy

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:
Shamanism, Possession, and Ecstasy

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The medium's personal transformation by possession trance is a temporary change without major consequence (in most instances) for daily life. Her self-perception as the passive implement of a power beyond her control reduces, moreover, the extent to which she actively participates in shaping its responses (thus in shaping the future), and increases her tendency to fall back on cultural stereotypes restricting both the uncertainty that initiates the quest and the transformative encounter with the new which is its goal. Only in exceptional cases does the recognized medium fail to enter trance and transmit the spirit's words—and without risk of failure, the quest through spirit possession can never go far toward transcending the ancestral certainties of ritual to which it remains, in many tribal religions, firmly linked.

Keywords: medium; transformation; possession; trance; self-perception; quest; spirit; words; ritual; religions

Chapter.  6372 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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