By Andrew Dawson
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Extra info for Summoning the Spirits: Possession and Invocation in Contemporary Religion
Female moun tain spirits also distribute natural products to the disciples, such as fruit and betel nut, in contrast to the packaged food and drink distributed by other spirits, thus emphasising the connections between female moun tain spirits and nature. The Xa melodies, then, along with the behav iour and dress of the female mountain spirits, promote a feminised pan-ethnic minority stereotype of natural, happy, simple, colourful, and lively ethnic minorities. (2000: 10–11) Imagination plays a role in how mediums understand place and ethnicity.
During the New Year, for example, she asked to perform a cleansing ritual to rid the temple of negative energy. ’ Nevertheless, permission (xin phep) would need to be asked of the spirits. The New Year ritual involved the use of myrrh, dried flowers and cinnamon that were placed in various locations throughout the temple. It was to be practised every day for three consecu tive days but because Elise could only perform the rites for one day, she asked the temple medium to do it for her. The temple medium, however, was ‘too tired’ to carry out the ritual and asked Elise to do it herself.
The number of spirits is not fixed but depends upon region and individual temple variation. Generally, there are nine hierarchical ranks of spirits including four mother goddesses, one Saint Father with his three royal ladies and a young boy, ten mandarins, twelve ladies, ten princes, twelve princesses, ten or twelve young princes, and two kinds of animal spirit. In addition, the pantheon includes the Taoist Jade Emperor and two Star Spirits, the Buddha, and the bodhisattva Quan Am. There is a possible total of seventy or seventytwo spirits, but only thirty-nine of these spirits actually possess mediums.
Summoning the Spirits: Possession and Invocation in Contemporary Religion by Andrew Dawson