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The Spiritual QuestTranscendence  in Myth, Religion, and Science$
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Robert Torrance

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780520081321

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520081321.001.0001

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Shamanism, Possession, and Ecstasy

Shamanism, Possession, and Ecstasy

Australia and the Tropics

(p.135) Chapter Ten Shamanism, Possession, and Ecstasy
The Spiritual Quest

Robert M. Torrance

University of California Press

The medium's personal transformation by possession trance is a temporary change without major consequence (in most instances) for daily life. Her self-perception as the passive implement of a power beyond her control reduces, moreover, the extent to which she actively participates in shaping its responses (thus in shaping the future), and increases her tendency to fall back on cultural stereotypes restricting both the uncertainty that initiates the quest and the transformative encounter with the new which is its goal. Only in exceptional cases does the recognized medium fail to enter trance and transmit the spirit's words—and without risk of failure, the quest through spirit possession can never go far toward transcending the ancestral certainties of ritual to which it remains, in many tribal religions, firmly linked.

Keywords:   medium, transformation, possession, trance, self-perception, quest, spirit, words, ritual, religions

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