Espiritualidade e Sociedade




Jack Hunter

>    Talking With the Spirits: Anthropology and Interpreting Spirit Communicators

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Jack Hunter
>  Talking With the Spirits: Anthropology and Interpreting Spirit Communicators

Jack Hunter
Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Bristol


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ABSTRACT

Anthropological approaches to the study of spirit mediumship groups, and related practices, have usually tended to focus on social-functional interpretations, arguing that spirit mediumship groups function as a means to enable female practitioners to protest against their traditional roles as “mothers, wives and sexual partners” in oppressive maleoriented societies (Boddy, 1988; Lewis, 1971; Skultans, 1974). Such approaches, however, have failed to address the experiential core of these groups: members believe that they are able to make direct contact with the world of spirits, whether through communicating with spiritual entities channelled via entranced mediums, witnessing ostensibly paranormal phenomena in the context of séances, or through falling into trance themselves and experiencing direct communion with the “numinous” (Otto, 1958).

The experiential element cannot be removed from an analysis of mediumship, as it represents the primary motive for séance attendance as the members themselves perceive it. To ignore it would be to detrimentally reduce the complexity of the phenomenon. In addition to providing an overview of a variety of anthropological approaches to the issue of spirit possession and mediumship, this paper will detail the experiences of an anthropologist exploring this experiential component while conducting fieldwork for his undergraduate dissertation (Hunter, 2009a).

The fieldwork itself was conducted at the Bristol Spirit Lodge, a centre established specifically with the aim to promote and develop trance and physical mediumship. The fieldwork methodology was one of immersive participant observation informed by the work of Edith Turner (1993, 1998, 2006), who has advocated the necessity of complete immersion in ritual if its functions and effects are to be adequately understood.

In an attempt to understand the role of experience for the members of the group, participant observation was carried out in séances and mediumship development sessions as a means to gain an appreciation of the types of experience encountered by both sitters and mediums.
This paper will present the research findings and describe the experiences of the researcher while engaged in the field.


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Fonte: Hunter, J. (2011). 'Talking With the Spirits: Anthropology and Interpreting Spirit Communicators.' Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 75.3, No. 904, pp. 129-142.
- https://www.academia.edu/3981845/Talking_With_the_Spirits_Anthropology_and_Interpreting_Spirit_Communicators

 

Leiam de Jack Hunter:

>   Anthropology & the Supernatural: From Spirits to Consciousness
>   Beyond Castaneda: A Brief History of Psychedelics in Anthropology
>   "Between Realness and Unrealness": Anthropology, Parapsychology and the Ontology of Non-Ordinary Realities
>   Can Science See Spirits?
>   Contemporary Physical Mediumship: Is it Part of a Continuous Tradition?
>   Definitions, Origins, Functions and Experiences: Trends in the Anthropology of the Supernatural from Tylor to Turner
>   Music and Altered States of Consciousness in Shamanism and Spirit Possession: An Overview of the Literature
>   Numinous Conversations: Performance and the Manifestation of Spirits in Spirit Possession Practices
>   "Spirits are the Problem": Anthropology and Conceptualising Spiritual Beings
>   Talking With the Spirits: Anthropology and Interpreting Spirit Communicator

Leiam de Jack Hunter; Joey M. Caswell, Lucas W.E. Tessaro :
>   Phenomenological Convergence between Major Paradigms of Classic Parapsychology and Cross-Cultural Practices: An Exploration of Paranthropology

 



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