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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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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

The Varieties of Spirit Possession

The Varieties of Spirit Possession

Chapter:
(p.103) Chapter Eight The Varieties of Spirit Possession
Source:
The Spiritual Quest
Author(s):

Robert M. Torrance

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520081321.003.0008

Communication with the divine through spirit possession is widespread in tribal (as in other) societies from almost every part of the globe. Sometimes, as among the highly centralized Ashanti of Ghana, the spirit speaks through his priest. More commonly, in Africa and elsewhere, the office of medium or diviner is distinct from the priest's, although the same person may hold both. In some tribes, the diviner is identical with the medium, whom some anthropologists call “shaman.” Where the two are distinguished, it is through the medium that the spirit speaks directly, whereas the diviner, though he may at first be empowered by unpredictable possession, thereafter interprets signs such as the patterns of scattered stalks or winnowed grain in accord with strict rules and conventions.

Keywords:   communication, divine, spirit, possession, Ashanti, Ghana, diviner, shaman

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