This article considers a ritual of blessing the spirits of locality in Tuva, Southern Siberia, and compares the ways in which shamans and lamas perform it. The rituals are treated as pragmatic ways of attaining human ends rather than 'signifying practices' based on shared meanings, wherein practices create a certain version of reality. Ritual specialists and lay people share this social universe but differ in their positioning relative to various types of its inhabitants. In these conditions, it is suggested, it makes more sense to speak of bodily and emotional attitudes and styles of interpretation of signs than shared 'beliefs' as cognitive stances.
Shamans, Lamas, and Spirits in a Siberian Ritual
Soul Retrieval in Neo-shamanism
It has been generally agreed that rituals of healing work through transforming the embodied self; thus, they are especially fit to be analyzed as rituals in their own right. This chapter focuses on the ritual of soul retrieval as it is practiced by Western urban neo-shamans. It argues that apart from giving the patient new memories and new narratives of the self, this version of soul retrieval works by staging a formalized context for forgiveness, here conceptualized as reconciliation between the self and the mundane and divine others. It is argued, however, that the mechanism of this healing ritual is better understood in the light of New Age ontologies of the self, consciousness, and the divine, making ‘ritual in its own right‚’ a good first step towards re-engaging with the social.
Don Handelman and Galina Lindquist
We have discussed ritual between us for a long time—Don often from his suspicions of the canonical understanding of ritual as representation, Galina through her studies of healing and therapeutic efficacy
Galina Lindquist and Simon Coleman
In this introduction we provide a genealogy of anthropological writings on belief and discuss the politics of using the term in cross-cultural contexts. We summarize the contributions to this issue and argue for the virtues of writing 'against'—rather than 'with'—the term in ethnographic texts. The article concludes with reflections on the way anthropological discussions of belief have expressed wider assumptions about the representation of culture.
André Droogers, Sidney M. Greenfield, Don Handelman, Michael Houseman, Robert E. Innis, André Iteanu, Bruce Kapferer, Galina Lindquist, Piroska Nagy, and Don Seeman
Notes on Contributors