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Spirit Possession and Trance New Interdisciplinary Perspectives by Bettina Schmidt

Spirit Possession and Trance New Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Part of the Continuum Advances in Religious Studies Series


Spirit Possession and Trance New Interdisciplinary Perspectives by Bettina Schmidt

Spirit possession is a phenomenon that often elicits a response of fear, particular in those who are ignorant of its meaning and role within its particular religious and cultural traditions. Possession by divine beings (such as spirits or gods) is, however, a key practice in religions worldwide. It is therefore important to gain an understanding of this practice in its cultural context before trying to develop a wider theory about it. This fascinating book contains several case studies that present new interpretations of spirit possession worldwide. The authors show the diversity of possible interpretations and methodological approaches that provide a new insight into the understanding of possession and trance.


Is possession by spirits a global phenomenon or do the differences in different cultural conceptualisations preclude world-wide comparison? Can one distinguish clearly between possession by spirits and trance? Are shamans possessed? Are mediums charlatans or are they really shamans in Western dress? How do modern New Age shamans compare with tribal masters of the art? All these and other questions are addressed by the contributors to this collection of essays on spirit possession across time and space. The range of ethnography is a particularly important and unusual feature; the ethnographic details provide rich material for these important debates. A comprehensive introduction by the editors sets the theoretical context. An important contribution to thinking on this intriguing phenomenon. - Professor Jean La Fontaine, The London School of Economics and Political Science,

About the Author

Lucy Huskinson is Lecturer in the Philosophy of Religion at Bangor University, UK. Bettina E. Schmidt is a cultural anthropologist and Senior Lecturer in Study of Religions at Bangor University, UK.

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd November 2011


Bettina Schmidt

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Continuum Publishing Corporation


258 pages


Spirituality & religious experience
Christian spirituality & religious experience



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