[NB] Evidentiary Ghosts II: Trash Heap and Salvation

“All things are lawful to me, not all things are expedient. All things are lawful to me, all things edify not.”—I Corinthians 10:23

Philip K. Dick noted that one of the first places that the spirit of salvation tends to manifest is in the trash heap. Some trashy bit of fiction, a cheap bit of jewelry, a character in a TV show, becomes illumined all out of proportion to their material presence and speaks to us. It’s the sort of thing that superficially seems to justify all sorts of pop culture magic experimentation, but if placed in the context of the ghost-ridden fallen world, speaks against such efforts.

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[NB] Evidentiary Ghosts

So, now for something entirely different.

Stacey and I have been talking about ghosts a bit lately, particularly the parasitic sort, and I realize that there is probably something to be said about ghosts that I haven’t said before. The family of pretenders that often first appear to us as we set out on a magical path (which we hopefully learn to distinguish from the higher powers with which our destiny entwines) do provide a useful service; they educate us about ourselves and our spiritual make-up.

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[NB] The Ghosts that Haunt Me

I have been dipping in and out of the Friedson’s exceptional Remains of Ritual. The book is a delightful fusion of philosophy, ethnography, and musicology. More than that, Friedson takes seriously the world of gorovodu, reporting seriously spiritual and magical experiences, neither sensationalizing them nor downplaying them. While the book focuses on Ghana, Friedson’s work clear applications to the Americas and the dynamics that shape religious life there parallel (with differences, of course) those in the Americas.

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Ancestors: Til We Have No Faces

This follows a thread that I started with the discussion of Fisher’s Hungry Ghosts. I noted there that one of the things that characterized the hungry ghost sort of spirits was their talkiness, they loved to discourse. I realize there is something else about them that is important to highlight—they like to take on human identities. They like to have a name and a history.

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[NB] Talking Dead

So, I chewed through chunks of Joe Fisher’s The Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts and while I have precious few things that I identify as ‘required reading,’ this might be one of them. I say that with some qualifications, because while Fisher does give the appropriate nods to cross-cultural warnings about working with these spirits, he doesn’t see those traditions which seem to have found effective ways of working with them. His survey of spiritualists are notably absent the most sophisticated spiritualisms that developed in tandem with practices like Palo, Ocha, Candomble, and Quimbanda.

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