Advances in the Study of Spirit Experience: Drawing Together Many Threads

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Abstract

This article traces some important changes in anthropology during the last 100 years, especially with regard to the study of consciousness. Vignettes of the field material of a number of scholars given here exemplify that the philosophy under which we have studied in the past is now no longer limiting itself but is extending its provenance all the way to the study of spirituality. Earlier, the concept of liminality broke through social anthropology and loosened the power of Durkheim, while the study of what the old consciousness scholars called psi proved ineradicable from researchers' reports and keeps coming back. Arising from whatever causes, there has been a literature explosion on spirituality and shamanism in the last fifteen years. This article draws the following conclusion from the vivid field examples given: that a thing variously called spirit-energy is everywhere and is commonly accepted at the heart of the ritual of all the different societies.

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