Drawing Down the Spirits, I.2



Geography of Spirit-Possession


pp. 40-1 Zar & related spirit-possession cults

p. 40

"Zar originated in Ethiopia ...; trade routes through northeast Africa carried Ethiopian slave women who spread the Zar cult ... . The Zar cult believes that people ... are possessed by at least two jinn {jnun} (known as asyad, or "masters of the spirit"). ["ZPM"] ...

The Kodia owns al-ilba (the box), a large trunk containing the paraphernalia of her profession. In this she keeps items for her spirit and for other spirits who might arrive. ...

{This single box may have been considered to contrast with the set of two boxes named >al-Jafr 'the Skin' (scil., of hound and of camel -- "Supplemental Tales" to BThN&N, p. 168, fn. 5) containing the regalia of Muh.ammad and of his Yarsani successors.}

The woman for whom the Zar is prepared usually wears white ... . She wears henna on her hands ..., and kohl around her eyes, and may also be heavily perfumed ... .

p. 41

... When the musicians play a rhythm associated with a woman's possessing spirit, she will begin ... convulsing and bobbing ... . ... At this point, the Zar leader[ess] will communicate with the spirit ... . ...

In Sudan, this is almost exclusively a women's cult. Men ... may assist in drumming -- but the vast majority of Kodias ... are female.

Gnaoua or Gnawa, a practice found ... in Morocco and Mauritania, features male or mixed groups and involves salutes to ... various Jinns {Jnun}, but is similarly focused on possession by spirits called by particular songs and rhythms.

In Tunisia practitioners of stambeli pay homage to sub-Saharan "Black Spirits" as well as Islamic "White Saints."" ("BSWhS")

"ZPM" = Christina K. Campo-Abdoun : "Zar : Power And Meaning". https://web.archive.org/web/20080319103424/http://www.cacac.org/Christina_Campo_Abdoun_Zar_Power_And_Meaning.htm -- citing Janice Boddy : Wombs and Alien Spirits. Madison : U of WI Pr, 1989.

BThN&N = Richard Francis Burton (transl.) : The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Tale_of_Attaf

"BSWhS" = Richard C Jankowsky : "Black Spirits, White Saints : Sub-Saharan ... Spirit Possession". http://www.diasporas.ac.uk/assets/jankowsky%20sg.pdf

pp. 41-2 Ac^ioli tribe in U-ganda

p. 41

"On May 25, 1985, a twenty-nine-year-old Achioli woman named Alice Auma was possessed by a spirit who struck her deaf and mute. Her concerned father took her to eleven witches ... .

p. 42

Finally Alice wandered ..., returning forty days later as a trance medium whose spirit, Lakwena ("the Messenger"), soon gained a repuation as a skilled healer and diviner. In 1986 ... Lakwena ... informed Alice that she was to ... create a paradise on earth. ... . ... Alice moved to ... Kenya, where she died in January 2007."

p. 43 in central India

"The Bhils, a tribal people living in central India, observe an annual ceremony during which young initiates climb a bamboo pole in a state of trance ... . ...

The panda, a Gond shaman ..., ascends a ladder whose pegs are often formed of swords and knives ... . Meanwhile, other pandas drive swords through their cheeks,

{These (both climbing a ladder whose rungs are swords, and skewering one's own cheeks) are traditional Taoist ritual practices.}

dance on nail-covered planks, or walk on hot coals {embers}." ("ShERHDO")

"ShERHDO" = Francesco Brighenti : Shamanistic Echoes in Rituals of Hindu Devotional Ordeals". http://www.svabhinava.org/friends/FrancescoBrighenti/ShamanisticEchos-frame.php

p. 44 Omoto

"On February 3, 1892, an impoverished widow named Deguchi Nao was first possessed by Ushitora no Konjin, a spirit who later identified himself as "the god who will reconstruct the world." Nao ... felt a great force in her abdomen. At this time ... her body became rigid. She would then begin rocking backward and forward, her chin drawn in ... . While so possessed, Nao was able to heal the sick and prophesy. ... Today Deguchi Nao is revered as the founder[ess] of Oomoto, a Shinto-inspired religious movement".

p. 45 ogamisama

"an ogamisama (trance medium) from northeastern Japan {Miyagi Praefecture, Tohoku Region in Hon-shu} ... knelt while other adepts sang and chanted until her guardian spirit possessed her. ... "... But if the divine possession didn't take, it might go on all day and still continue. And they'd keep it up until the possession occurred. Because the individual herself had to declare who the possessing spirit (tsukigamisama) was."" ("LSh")

"LSh" = Kawamura Kunimitsu : "The Life of a Shamaness : Scenes from the Shamanism of Northeastern Japan". In :- Inoue Nobutaka (ed.) : Folk Beliefs in Modern Japan. Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics, Kokugakuin University, 1994. http://www2.kokugakuin.ac.jp/ijcc/wp/cpjr/folkbeliefs/kawamura.html

p. 46 in Nepal

"the shaman is possessed by a Masta (god) that first appears in a dream ..., then takes possession of the dhami and speaks through his mouth. ... The villagers ask him about their problems, ... their futures ... . Literally translated, the trance state is called "carrying the god on his back." In this state the shaman can perform miracles". (A&ShH)

A&ShH = E'ric Chazot & Jean-Pierre Girolami : "Art and Shamanism in the Himalayas". TRIBAL ARTS V 1:1/ 2000. https://web.archive.org/web/20101201061644/http://tribalarts.com/feature/himalayas/index.html

p. 47 Bon etc. in Bod

"The Bo:n practitioners ... incorporate ... the sky and soil gods ... . Today ... the Dalai [b]Lama consults a Bo:n oracle ... .

Tibetan oracle-spirits frequently ... show ... strength, ... twisting swords into spirals, or rdo rje mdud pa (knotted thunderbolt)." ("ShM&T")

"ShM&T" = "Shamanism in Mongolia and Tibet". https://web.archive.org/web/20140101184035/http://www.iras.ucalgary.ca/~volk/sylvia/Magic.htm

p. 48 in Korea

"In Korea, ... the main shaman-officiants are the mudang -- nearly all female ... . There are two types of mudang -- hereditary and possessed; the latter type is seized by a spirit (or several) and learns to make it her ally".

p. 50 in Norse saga

"In the Norse Heidrek's Saga, the god Odin {O`dinn} comes to the hall of ... king Heidrek in the flesh, ... to ask clever riddles ..., and prophesies ... .

In another saga -- Gautrek's Saga -- the father of the main character Gautrek, Gra[`]ni Horsehair, takes his son to a strange ritual where he [the father] speaks as (and claims to be {i.e., temporarily incarnateth} the god Odin {O`dinn}".

pp. 50-2 the "French Prophets"

p. 50

"in 1688, Isabeau Vincent, a young shepherdess in Dauphine', began to speak in the voice of the Holy Spirit. ...

p. 51

Among the Huguenots ... in the Ce'vennes Mountains, ... Prophets and prophetesses ... "shaking their heads, crawling on the floor, quaking and trembing, ... howling like a dog ... ." Then ... as the spirit came on them, ... would now speak in a calm, ethereal voice as listeners gathered to hear their words. ... Many of the Camisards came to ... England. There ... their spectacular possession rituals (what they called Sacred Theatre) proved too much ...

p. 52

and only a few ... would ... incorporate these practices into their spiritual life. One of them, ... Ann Lee, would soon discover her facility for allowing the Holy Ghost to speak through her. Using the intense prayers ... favored by the French prophets, she and others were able to experience the convulsions followed by channeling that would give them the name Shakers after they emigrated to America."

"the French prophets ... started ... making animal noises". http://www.christian-truth-ministry.com/gifts_of_the_spirit_through_the_.htm

pp. 54-5 Montanism

p. 54

"In 170 CE, Montanus ... began prophesying ... in Phrygia ... . Soon two wealthy women, Prisca (also known as Priscilla) and Maxilla, left their husband to join Montanus and prophesy by his side. ... On one occasion, {the Trinity who spake through} Montanus was quoted as saying "I am the Father, the Word and the Paraclete"; on another, "I am the Lord God omnipotent, who have descended into man," and "... I, the Lord, the Father am Come." [quoted in, e.g., MChrT, p. 20] ... To further distinguish between Montanus and the Person who spoke through him, the {Holy} spirit explained :

"Behold, the man is like a lyre, and

{"The Jina "'preaches' by means of a magical 'divine sound,'" a "miraculous sound emanating from his body."" (ShATh, p. 202)}

I dart like the plectrum. The man sleeps, and I am awake." [CE"M"] ...

p. 55

A Catholic writer, Miltiades, wrote a (now lost) book called How a Prophet Ought Not to Speak in Ecstasy ... . ... Total possession was condemned as inappropriate -- and,

when a priest spoke in the first person as the Father or Paraclete, blasphemous."

{On the contrary, in the Old Testament, nabi>i^m (prophets) commonly spake as the Deity, in the 1st person singular, thus : "I, YHWH [the Lord], have spoken". Catholic theologians would evidently condemn major Old Testament prophets as "blasphemous"!}

MChrT = Steven Fanning : Mystics of the Christian Tradition. Routledge, London, 2001. http://files.shroomery.org/cms/Fanning%20-%20Mystics%20of%20the%20Christian%20Tradition.pdf

ShATh = Thomas McEvilley : The Shape of Ancient Thought. Allworth Pr, NY, 2002.

CE"M" = Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. "Montanists" http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10521a.htm

Yh.ezqe>l 5:15 http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1205.htm

24:14 http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Ezekiel-24-14/

Yirmyah 23:4 http://www.bible.gen.nz/amos/bible/jer23.htm

p. 57 Micronesia

"The [spirit-]possession rituals were stimulated by the rapid chewing ... of betel nut ... . The spirit medium responded, with legs and arms trembling and face distorted, speaking in the voice of a chelid (spirit), often for hours at a time." ("DSP&TM")

"DSP&TM" = J. D. Dobbin & Francis X. Hezel : "Distribution of Spirit Possession and Trance in Micronesia". PACIFIC STUDIES 19(2):105-46. June 1996. http://micsem.org/pubs/articles/socprobs/frames/distspirfr.htm

pp. 58-9 in Vanuatu of the New Hebrides

p. 58

"in early 1940, ... In meetings from which whites and women were excluded, a little man named John Frum ... was enjoining people to take kava ..., engage in communal gardening ... . Soon John Frum was promising a new age in which ... every White person on the island, including the missionaries, would leave. To gain this paradise, John Frum ordered his followers ... to reject ... money, and Christianity. In 1941, they rid themselves of money ..., left the missionary churches, ... and moved farther inland to celebrate traditonal ... feasts, dances, and rituals. ... Soon ... his followers built symbolic landing strips ... .

p. 59

... Today we can see ... NiVanuatu beliefs in a spirit world that brings blessings to those who pay it proper homage, and which speaks to its followers through trance possession. ... On John Frum Day (February 15) ..., the John Frum Movement celebrated its ... anniversary. ... Since 1957 the "Tanna Army" has organized ... parades, their faces painted in ritual colors ... . This parade ... attracts many tourists".

"Tanna Island -- John Frum Cult" https://web.archive.org/web/20070701012718/http://www.vanuatu-hotels.vu/country_guides.php


Kenaz Filan & Raven Kaldera : Drawing Down the Spirits : the Traditions and Techniques of Spirit Possession. Destiny Bks, Rochester (VT), 2009.