A Ternary Process

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:
A Ternary Process

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Ecstatic or visionary shamanism is not a discrete phenomenon but the form of the experience of religion in tribes in which the questing impulse, common in some measure to all, finds fullest expression. It customarily coexists with calendar rites, sacrifice, divination, or spirit possession, and even when the shaman has been displaced by priestly officiants, he or she may reappear on the fringes as the still-indispensable, if more and more suspect, exorcist or medium, sorcerer or witch, clown or soothsayer, storyteller or poet. However, the principal emphasis of priestly ritual is on the invariant and collective, future-directed “aspiration” of Henri Bergson's second source: the “forward thrust” and “demand for movement” that subject the precarious entities of self and society in an uncertain world to inherently unpredictable transformation. Divination and spirit possession likewise serve to open the closure of ritual toward exploration of the encompassing unknown, the wildness that can never wholly be tamed.

Keywords: shamanism; religion; tribes; calendar; rites; sacrifice; divination; spirit; possession; Henri Bergson

Chapter.  7376 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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