Journal Article

Spirit-Writing and the Development of Chinese Cults

Graeme Lang and Lars Ragvald

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 59, issue 4, pages 309-328
Published in print January 1998 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 1998 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
Spirit-Writing and the Development of Chinese Cults

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Chinese spirit-writing, like other forms of shamanism, is one route to authority and influence during social crisis. The writings discussed here were produced by a spirit-medium who founded a cult during the plagues and political turmoil in China in the 1890s. Such material is valuable for understanding how the medium defines his/her mission, attracts and impresses followers, deals with group problems, and responds to the socio-political conditions of the time. This method of revelation was abandoned, however, after the spirit-writer's cult was relocated to Hong Kong and gained a mass following, in favor of the alternative method of “fortune-sticks” and fortune poems. The former divination method is ideal for the origins of such a cult; the latter, for mass worship in the metropolis.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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