Gregory Shushan

in Near-Death Experience in Indigenous Religions

Published in print September 2018 | ISBN: 9780190872472
Published online August 2018 | e-ISBN: 9780190872502 | DOI:

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Many near-death experiences (NDEs) were found in Polynesia and Melanesia, alongside claims that afterlife beliefs derived from them, and numerous relevant myths. Religious rituals and beliefs often incorporated knowledge of NDEs, and revitalization movements often had NDE origins and themes. Shamanic practices included otherworld journeys, soul-retrieval, mediumship, and invited spirit possession. Micronesia and Australia, in contrast, yielded very few NDEs, or statements that beliefs originated in them. In Micronesia, the dead were brought to the living via possession and mediumship, while Australians practiced otherworld journey shamanism. Such practices took preference over interest in NDEs, while fulfilling similar socioreligious functions. The differences between the regions also reflected different funerary practices: in Polynesia and Melanesia they often facilitated the possibility of the soul’s return, while in Micronesia and Australia they were frequently designed to prevent such a return.

Keywords: near-death experience; Oceanic religions; afterlife myths; shamanism; funerary practices; Polynesia; Melanesia; Micronesia; Australia; New Zealand

Chapter.  30605 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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