Discernment: Recognising the Presence of Spirits

Discernment is a key skill in many traditions concerned with non-physical, non-ordinary beings, whether in the context of shamanism, spirit possession and mediumship, or spirit release therapies and ghost hunting in contemporary post-industrial societies. How do practitioners know that spirits are present? How do practitioners distinguish between what they perceive to be an external, ontological other and the ‘normal’ self? What methods are employed to make this distinction? Inherent in such questions are issues relating to the nature of personhood and consciousness – what exactly constitutes a ‘person,’ and what is ‘consciousness’? This workshop will explore the theme of discernment from a range of different cultural contexts, and will discuss the implications of traditions of discernment for wider questions about the nature of consciousness and self.

PhD candidate Jack Hunter University of Bristol, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, UK ( jh5895@bristol.ac.uk)
Dr. Fiona Bowie, King’s College London, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, UK ( fiona.bowie@kck.ac.uk)

Please download the abstracts of the papers that will be presented in this workshop here.