Spirit possession

Spirit possession is a term for the belief that animas, aliens, demons, extraterrestrials, gods, or spirits can take control of a human body. The concept of spirit possession exists in many religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Haitian Vodou, Wicca, Hinduism, Islam and Southeast Asian and African traditions. In a 1969 study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, spirit possession beliefs were found to exist in 74 percent of a sample of 488 societies in all parts of the world. Depending on the cultural context in which it is found, possession may be considered voluntary or involuntary and may be considered to have beneficial or detrimental effects on the host. Within possession cults, the belief that one is possessed by spirits is more common among women than men.

According to Augustin Calmet:

The Egyptians believed that when the spirit of an animal is separated from its body by violence, it does not go to a distance, but remains near it. It is the same with the soul of a man who has died a violent death; it remains near the body—nothing can make it go away; it is retained there by sympathy; several have been seen sighing near their bodies which were interred. The magicians abuse their power over such in their incantations; they force them to obey, when they are masters of the dead body, or even part of it. Frequent experience taught them that there is a secret virtue in the body, which draws towards it the spirit which has once inhabited it; wherefore those who wish to receive or become the receptacles of the spirits of such animals as know the future, eat the principle parts of them, as the hearts of crows, moles, or hawks. The spirit of these creatures enters into them at the moment they eat this food, and makes them give out oracles like divinities.. Porphyry, when consulted by Anebo, an Egyptian priest, if those who foretell the future and perform prodigies have more powerful souls, or whether they receive power from some strange spirit, replies that, according to appearance, all these things are done by means of certain evil spirits that are naturally knavish, and take all sorts of shapes, and do everything that one sees happen, whether good or evil; but that in the end they never lead men to what is truly good. - Treatise on the Apparitions of Spirits and on Vampires or Revenants

See Nympholepsy

In Sudan and certain East African cultures the Zār cult conducts ethnomedical healing ceremonies involving possession, typically of Muslim women by a Zār spirit. This is also found in North Africa.

Among the Gurage people of Ethiopia, spirit possession is a common belief. Wiliam A. Shack postulated that it is caused by Gurage cultural attitudes about food and hunger, while they have a plentiful food supply, cultural pressures that force the Gurage to either share it to meet social obligations, or hoard it and eat it secretly cause feelings of anxiety. Distinctions are drawn between spirits that strictly possess men, spirits that possess women, and spirits that possess victims of either sex. A ritual illness that only affects men is believed to be caused by a spirit called awre. This affliction presents itself by loss of appetite, nausea, and attacks from severe stomach pains. If it persists the victim may enter a trancelike stupor, in which he sometimes regains consciousness long enough to take food and water. Breathing is often labored. Seizures and trembling overcome the patient, and in extreme cases, partial paralysis of the extremities.

This page was last edited on 2 April 2018, at 16:11 (UTC).
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_Possession under CC BY-SA license.

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