Consciousness, Wights and Ancestors

BLAIN, Jenny (2013). Consciousness, Wights and Ancestors. In: HARVEY, Graham, (ed.) The handbook of contemporary animism. Acumen Handbooks . London, Routledge, 423-110.

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The “new Animism” is influencing not only many directions within religious practice, notably paganisms, but interpretations (of these and other practices) within Religious Studies and Anthropology. This chapter has, therefore, a dual focus. Historically within social sciences, “animism” has been used to signal otherness, a “superstitious” belief or faith in directive or authoritarian non-human entities. If, rather, “animism” is interpreted to mean the possibility of relationships between human and other-than-human people, within a “living landscape,” in which all players, be they stones, sparrows or social scientists, have their part, how does this influence both spiritual practices and the anthropological or sociological theories which attempt to account for those practices? This chapter explores some dimensions of how relationships are constructed and reported in practitioner discourse, as engagements in altered consciousness states or “trance”, with examples from contemporary seidr as a “western shamanism”. It interrogates meanings constructed within the seidr ritual and in discussions with practitioners and audience. It deals also with the interactions with landscape and with “wights” (beings, people) which are implicit within place and movement in the spaces in which today’s animic practitioners sojourn, and hence with importances of ancestors and landscape for identities for today. And it deals with how we, as reflexive practitioners of social research, can reflect, theorise, and learn from these happenings.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sociology, Politics and Policy Research Group
Page Range: 423-110
Depositing User: Jenny Blain
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2012 23:01
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 23:30

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