First Published in 2004. States of spirit possession, in which believer's feel themselves to be 'possessed' by the deity and raised to a new plane of existence, are found in almost all known religions. From Dionysiac cults to Haitia voodoo, Christian and Sufi mysticism to shamanic ritual, the rapture and frenzy of ecstatic experience forms an iconic expression of faith in all its devastating power and unpredictability. Ecstatic Religion has, since its first appearance in 1971, became the classic investigative study of these phenomena. Exploring the social and political significance of spiritual ecstasy and possession, it concerns the distinct types of functions of mystical experience - in particular, the differences between powerful male-dominated possession cults which reinforce established morality and power, and marginal, renegade ecstatics expressing forms of protest on behalf of the oppressed, especially women.
I. M. Lewis's wide-ranging comparative study looks at the psychological, medical, aesthetic, religious and cultural aspects of possession, and covers themes including soul-loss, ecstatic trance, divination, erotic passion and exorcism. Probing the mysteries of spirit possession through the critical lens of anthropological and sociological theory, this fully revised and expanded Third Edition is of crucial importance for students of psychology, sociology, religious mysticism and shamanism.
Table of Contents
Preface to the third edition, 1. TOWARDS A SOCIOLOGY OF ECSTASY, 2. TRANCE AND POSSESSION, 3. AFFLICTION AND ITS APOTHEOSIS, 4. STRATEGIES OF MYSTICAL ATTACK: PROTEST AND ITS CONTAINMENT, 5. POSSESSION AND PUBLIC MORALITY — I ANCESTOR CULTS, 6. POSSESSION AND PUBLIC MORALITY — II OTHER COSMOLOGICAL SYSTEMS, 7. POSSESSION AND PSYCHIATRY, Bibliography, Index
'Well presented and ingeniously argued...in this excellent book there is much that is lively, sometimes even comic. Not only is Ecstatic Religion well written and lucid, but it states a case with vigour and is quite devoid of jargon.' - Times Literary Supplement on Ecstatic Religion: First Edition.
'This book is a fascinating study of the subkject from a variety of view points ... the author writes with intelligent insight and offers some thought-provoking questions.'