Summoning the Spirits, II-III

Contents of Part II -- "Taking Possession of the Spirit : Relational Selves and Supernatural Others"






Possession in Cuban Spiritism

Diana Espirito Santo

93 to 108


Virgin Birth in South India

Gillian Goslinga

109 to 123



"Process, Personhood and Possession in Cuban Spiritism"

Diana Espirito Santo

93 to 108

p. 99 Kardecism

"the Spiritism of Allan Kardec (also known as Kardecism), whose main works [were] -- The Spirits' Book (1857) and The Mediums' Book (1861) -- ... alluded to laws of communication and influence between spirit and material worlds, processes of reincarnation and ... of successive lives and deaths."

p. 100 functions of Spiritist practitioners

"Overwhelmingly, Spiritists are sought-after to impart the dead's advice on matters ranging from health and professional prospects, to love, marriage and family ... . They

elucidate paths of action by clarifying the state of an individual's relationships,

perceive and pass on knowledge regarding ... neighbors or ... co-workers,

determine whether the individual is being followed by unwanted spirits, and

associate him or her with this or that oricha. ...

Mediums may also undo witchcraft by performing cleansings with plants and tobacco,

prescribing particular baths or remedies to lighten a person's 'energies' or

by staging rituals of 'breakage' (rompimientos) to cut negative influences which are particularly entrenched."

p. 101 pragmatic necessity for acknowledgement of deities/spirits by human mortals

"as I was told on several occasions, sceptics and disbelievers are the easiest targets for witchcraft and other 'evil works' (obras para el mal ['works for the evil']). Because they have not 'attended to' their own spirits in ways that properly acknowledge and materialise their praesence, sceptics and disbelievers are more vulnerable to domination and coercion by the spirits of others.

While espiritistas create the potential for spirit activity through an identification of their [allied spirits'] characteristics and needs, those who ignore them [scil., their own allied spirits] do not only deny the existence of spirits, they also undermine their own [existence and that of their personal allied spirits]. As one informant put it,

On many occasions those spirits can simply leave the person's side ... because that person has never given them any attention, the spirit may not recognise them at all. For good reason there are ceremonies in Palo and in the santo {i.e., Lukumi`}, as well as in Ifa`, so that the entity recognizes you."

p. 102 dealings with the dead

"many religious persons in Havana claim to suffer from the excessive proximity of dead kin. Because of this, espiritistas are routinely hired to provide relief by either dispatching the spirits from the realm of the living or by clarifying their pleas and thereby helping the living respond to their needs."

pp. 103 & 104 Spiritist cordon (entourage of spirits)

p. 103

"When talking of the spirits belonging to their spiritual cordon, adepts of Spiritism describe them as being ... of this or that ethnic and religious background, profession and personality. ... Every cordo`n is thought to be composed of identifiable beings whose experiences and abilities ... are unique and to a large extent transferred as 'perspectives' and knowledge to those whom they protect. ... Garoutte and Wambaugh argue that , '... these entities ...' ... represent 'a thoroughly Cuban transformation of the spirit guides recognized by Kardec' (2007:160)."

p. 104

"While the spiritual cordon can be thought of as a kind of 'blueprint' established before birth ..., development (desarrollo) requires not just acknowledging the spiritual cordon but also activating it."

Garoutte & Wambaugh 2007 = C. Garoutte & A. Wambaugh : Crossing the Water ... to the Afro-Cuban Spirit-World. Durham : Duke U Pr.

p. 104 use of spirits' powers for divination

"While some mediums are inclined to work with cards if their dominant spirit is that of a gypsy, for example, the mode of divination changes relative to ... the kind of entity manifesting itself at the time."

p. 105 dolls of, and gifts to, spirit-guides

"espiritistas will dress and care for dolls and icons of all shapes and forms which represent their particular spirit guides. Gifts of flowers ... and jewellery or attributes such as bows, arrows and miniature weapons are means not just of paying tribute but

actually fortifying the spirits in question.

{The spirit's capacity which is thus fortified is the spirit's ability to connect with, and be of assistance to the practitioner in, the material world.}

... espiritistas whose spiritual cordons are well represented are thought to be those better equipped to defend themselves in the [spiritual] battles of everyday life."

"representations serve as a type of ontological 'mirror' through which spirits recognize themselves as agents in and of the material world. In doing so, the spirits take shape ... within it."



"Embodiment and the Metaphysics of Virgin Birth in South India"

Gillian Goslinga

109 to 123

[concering Gillian Goslinga : "She works in ... god-assisted reproductive technologies in ... Tamilnadu." (p. 224)]

p. 110 arrival at the temple of Pandi-muni-is`varara northeast of Madurai

From "the eyes of certain women ... tears quietly stream down ..., jaws clench, and bodies tremble. Some women barely control huge, involuntary yawns ... . When ... passes the boundary stone itself, abruptly and dramatically, women are struck backward ... . Others swoon or start to dance vigorously. On especially auspicious days, one ... after another will fill with ululations and screams and dancing women as they come within reach of the temple -- Pandi's Kooyil ('abode'). These god-dancers (saami aaDi) are the women whom Pandi has 'caught' (piDi)."

p. 110 dreams, visions, and oracles of Pandi

"Pandi regularly visits in dreams or 'directly' in visions (neeraadi);

he descends (iranku, also 'to alight') on these women ... that makes their bodies weep, laugh, scream, tremble, and dance vigorously;

once their mouths are 'opened,' he speaks and gives oracles through them to their kin and strangers both;

he guides courses of action, warning of danger and opportunity;

he endows many of these women with healing powers to cure fright ..., black magic, and possessions by lost souls or evil spirits, often for remuneration if he has granted permission."

pp. 110-1 impraegnation & orgasm of women caused by the god Pandi

p. 110

"Pandi cures 'childlessness' ..., often by becoming a woman's lover. As one woman explained to me :

... I light an incense stick for him and burn camphor, and pray ... . Then at night when he comes, we laugh and play ["a

p. 111

emphemism for sex"{ual intercourse}]. He comes ... Like a husband. Like a real man, face, body, and all. Not a shadow or a silhouette." [p. 201, n. 6:4 : "Pandi can also visit in the form of a karuppu -- a dense, black shadow vaguely resembling a human. Typically,

a karuppu visit is unpleasant, causing unbearable pressure on the chest."]

{This is the so-called "Old Hag Syndrome" ("OHS").}

"Many of my informants reported such nightly visitations which are striking for their orgasmic intensity."

{p. 201, n. 6:5 :] "Female orgasm is considered a necessary condition for conception in South India (See Daniel, 1984:175)."}

"OHS" = "Old Hag Syndrome"

Daniel 1984 = V. Daniel : Fluid Signs : being a person the Tamil way. Berkeley : U of CA Pr.

pp. 111 & 112 authoress's true-belief in spirit-possession; and in a divine source of synchronicity

p. 111

"I join a small but growing group of scholars studying possession on the same terms as their subjects."

p. 112

"the details are brought together to make meaning ... temporally literal -- such as the timing of hearing a temple bell chime or of catching a whiff of jasmine scent with something said or thought.

{These are synchronicities of favorable omen.}

Such timings and propinquities, correspondences of form or conduct, are what sign for {function as signals indicating the proximity of} Pandi (and other South Indian gods and goddesses);

they constitute his signatures in the world."

{"The Doctrine of Signatures outlines the dynamic interpenetration of archetypal sympathies." ("SWhCM")} {"He had the energy signature of a deity" ("EP").}

"SWhCM" = "Synchronicity : When Cosmos Mirrors Inner Events"

"EP" = "Energy Play".


Contents of Part III -- "Possession and Invocation in Late-Modern Contexts"






New Religion of Santo Daime

Andrew Dawson

143 to 161


Imagining Spirit-Possession

Birgit Staemmler

162 to 178


Spirit-Possession in Paganism

Douglas Ezzy

179 to 197



"Spirit, Self and Society in the Brazilian New Religion of Santo Daime"

Andrew Dawson

143 to 161

pp. 143-4 organizations

p. 143

"Santo Daime emerged in the Amazonian state of Acre among the ... community led by Raimundo Irineu Serra (1892-1971). ... Subsequent to Irineu Serra's death, a breakaway organisation know as Cefluris -- the Electic Centre of the Universal Flowing Light ... -- was founded by Sebastia~o Mota de Melo (1920-90) ... .

p. 144

... Heaquartered at Ce`u do Mapia` in the state of Amazonas, Cefluris is now led by Alfredo Grego`rio de Melo and Alex Polari".

p. 144 ayahuasca/Daime

"When applied to these religions, the generic term ayahuasca denotes the combination of the vine {liana} Banisteriopsis caapi and the leaves of the shrub Psychotria viridis ... . ... Called 'Daime' by daiministas, ayahuasca is regarded as an 'entheogen;' that is, an agent who properties facilitate ('catalyse') the interaction of humankind with supernatural agents or forces (Polari, 1999)."

Polari 1999 = A. Polari : Forest of Visions. Rochester : Park St Pr.

pp. 144-5 background of the founders of Daimeism

p. 144

"Before the founding of Santo Daime and throughout his time as its leader, Irineu Serra had a reputation ... in ... his ability to work with the spirits."

p. 145

"At the time of his conversion to Santo Daime in the mid-1960s, Sebastia~o was a practising medium in the Brazilian Kardecist tradition ... (Cavalcanti, 1983)."

Cavalcanti 1983 = M. L. V. de C. Cavalcanti : O Mundo Invisi`vel. Rio de Janeiro : Zahar Editores.

p. 148 influence from Umbanda and from Candomble` on Cefluris

"the church of Ce`u do Mapia` ... valorises Umbanda-inspired practices relative to the ... lower profile ... of Brazilian Kardecism. ...

In addition to the spirits of ... Umbanda ..., a growing number of churches today practice the incorporation of supernatural agents venerated in the traditional Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomble`."

p. 149 variant attitudes toward spirit-possession within Cefluris {effects of spirit-mediumship upon the spirit-medium would, of course, depend on the type of spirit/deity being incorporated}

"indicative of traditional Afro-Brazilian influences, some daiministas describe possession as an event involving suppression of the conscious self and an inability to remember anything from the point of actual possession to the moment of 'despatch.'

Others, however, adopt a typical Kardecist line to describe themselves as remaining conscious throughout the possession-episode. Here,

some regard their subjective presence as integral to directing the possessing spirit;

whereas others talk of the self as an interested but passive third-party looking on to what the spirit is doing through their body."

p. 149 astral travel in Daimeism

"Employing ... astral flight, some daiministas talk of disembodied trips across the globe ... .

Indigenous ... [methods] of soul flight are likewise employed to ... discarnate journeys to assorted spiritual realms populated by supernatural agents".

{Soul-flight into divine worlds is likewise taught in the Robert Monroe Institute.}

p. 152 becoming a spirit-medium in Daimeism

"The requisites of successful mediumship in Santo Daime" : "First ..., the individual must learn ... the physical side-effects of incorporating an otherwise discarnate spirit (e.g., shaking, expostulating and gesturing).

In addition to inducing ... the possession event, the individual must also learn to identify and express appropriately the particular type of spirit by which s/he is possessed."

pp. 152-3 in Daimeism, the spirit-medium's function within the ritual, and likewise the spirit-medium's social standing, must each limit the status of the spirit allowed to be incorporated by that spirit-medium

p. 152

"The incorporation of the wrong kind of spirit at an inappropriate moment ... interrupts the spiritual current generated by the ritual in question and risks public censure".

By "influencing the number and cosmological status of the spirits one regularly incorporates, social standing may ... determine the pecking order in which individuals get to incorporate. ...

p. 153

Consequently the medium has the responsibility not only to incorporate the right kind of spirit at the right moment, but also to ensure that enactment of the possession event does not lead to assigned ... [social] boundaries being transgressed."



Imagining Spirit-Possession

Birgit Staemmler

162 to 178

p. 168 the word for ' spirit-possession'

"Hyoi is a standard Japanese scholarly term for 'spirit-possession,' ... Hyoi is defined in Manta's dictionary as a 'phenomenon when [someone is] possessed by a spirit'".

p. 170 spirit-possession by animal-spirits

"Foxes, like badgers, were believed to be tricksters who appeared in the guise of travellers or beautiful women and fooled people ... . They were also associated with unsolicited spirit possession." (Smyers, 1999)."

Smyers 1999 = K. Smyers : The Fox and the Jewel : ... Japanese Inari worship. Honolulu : U of HI Pr.

p. 172 categories of shamans

"shugenja ... became closely related to people's everyday lives as they lived among them and conducted rituals for them.

Onmyoji, on the other hand, ... controlled much of high society's everyday life in the Heian period."

pp. 173-4 Ainu spirits & deities

p. 173

"Koropokkuru are very small and friendly beings who, according to Ainu myths, lived in the distant past near Ainu villages seeking shelter under large butterburr leaves (Asai, 1977:362-3)."

"However, in Hokkaido ... male shamans have long

p. 174

ceased to exist and the rare female kusu wait to be possessed by deities to enquire about reasons for illness (Adami 1991:151-3)."

Asai 1977 = T. Asai : "Koropokkuru". In :- Inada et al. (edd.) : Mukashibanashi Jiten. Tokyo : Kobundo.

Adami 1991 = N. R. Adami : Religion und Schamanismus der Ainu auf Sachalin. Mu:nchen : Iudicium Verlag.

p. 175 Izumo

"Izumo is depicted as ... the mythical entrance to the mythical world-beyond ... . ... The deity Okuninushi is both the main deity on the Grand Shrine of Izumo ... and regarded as the deity governing the underworld (Antoni, 2005:11); ... the netherworld accessed in Izaumo. ... Izumo is ... adjacent to the Japanese Sea ... . ... . ... it was in Izumo that the Sungoddess's ... brother, Susanoo, fought the giant eight-headed serpent and extracted a sword from one of its tails."

Antoni 2005 = K. Antoni : "Izumo as the 'Other Japan'". JAPANESE RELIGIONS 30.1/2:1-20.



"Spirit Possession in Contemporary Witchcraft and Paganism"

Douglas Ezzy

179 to 197

p. 182 trance-journey of a seidworkeress : a shamanic initiation by the deities themselves

"She made the journey to visit the Maurnir who ... are female giants. The Maurnir dwell in a cave, and she went there ... . ... They were there, and saw her, and asked why she was there. The Maurnir have much wisdom, and she asked ... if they would teach her ... . They said ... if she wished she could become part of the wisdom. She agreed ... . So they ate her. They threw aside the bones, as they ate. Her bones were lying on the cavern floor, and when Loki appeared and started dancing and singing, calling to the goddesses and god to put her back together, ... they eventually did. ... When she was together again, she thanked him ... . ... ([Blain,] 2002:23)"

Blain 2002 = J. Blain : Nine Worlds of Seid-Magic. London : Routledge.


LIBRARY OF MODERN RELIGION, 15 = Andrew Dawson (ed.) : Summoning the Spirits : possession and invocation in contemporary religion. I.B. Tauris, London, 2011.