The phenomenology of mediumship
Date of Issue2007
Shamans and Spirit mediums: A Conference at the Asian Civilisations Museum (2007:Singapore)
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Practising as a medium requires a two-fold authentication: between mediums and their client, and between mediums and their own experience. The latter requirement leads mediums to perform actions that generate in themselves the directly felt sensation of simultaneously acting and being acted upon. ‘Trance’ – which seems not to be a unitary altered state of consciousness – labels the kind of performance that mediums must actively perform in order to convince themselves that some other agency is acting on (or through) them. In a mediumistic performance, only partial dissociation is of any use ritually. Complete dissociation or spontaneous dissociation – in which the medium no longer performs appropriately – are of no ritual use, and measures are usually taken to ensure that it does not occur.
© 2007 Geoffrey Benjamin.