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Possession

  • James KellenbergerEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Possession of persons by evil spirits has been recognized in various religious traditions, including in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic beliefs. Demonic possession in these traditions is not divine in origin and not epiphanic. In the Christian tradition, only demonic possession is contemplated, but in other traditions epiphanic possession is recognized too. Possession, or spirit possession, as it is externally observed in such traditions, is a trance-state in which an individual speaks and acts apparently unconsciously. As subjectively experienced—phenomenally—the individual in a state of possession is possessed by a god or spirit so that the god or spirit speaks and acts through him or her. Under the umbrella of our definition of epiphany, such possessions are epiphanies when the possession is by a god or by a spirit that is benign. For, in such cases, when one is possessed one encounters—indeed, is commandeered by—a god or benign spirit reflective of religious reality. Possession or spirit possession is found in more than one religious tradition. In this chapter, drawing upon the anthropological work of Alfred Métraux, the Haitian form of possession is treated in detail.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyCalifornia State University, NorthridgeNorthridgeUSA

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