Summoning the Spirits: Possession and Invocation in by Andrew Dawson
By Andrew Dawson
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Additional info for Summoning the Spirits: Possession and Invocation in Contemporary Religion
Vietnamese communities in California have had access to such videos since the late 1980s and watching them is a popular pastime. Vietnam is often represented in such videos as a rural country full of rice paddy and water buffalo where many of the people are ethnic Viet females wearing traditional dresses (ao dai) and conical hats. Ethnic minorities are portrayed as residents of the high lands who wear indigenous clothing, carry tools or baskets with which they collect flowering plants or fruit, while caves, waterfalls, birds, fish, and other wild animals surround them.
The temple that Billy and Elise attend is atypical in that many of the mediums are young and bicultural. Mostly raised in Silicon Valley, they share values of other Silicon Valley youth. Diversity is more than cool. It is a fact of life that people can traverse heritage identities. Other mediums are not as comfortable with this, perhaps because they are less exposed to ethnic border crossings. Such exchanges are relatively new in Vietnam and some US mediums may have never heard of this phenomenon in the USA or in Vietnam.
Local Spirits/Multicultural Rituals 31 Although the spirits are omnipresent, their US appearance is dependent on a few factors. Spirits must have an altar or a temple where they can be presented with appropriate offerings, and they have to be channelled by a medium. In both cases, specific knowledge of place and ethnicity are important. How, for example, can a medium build an appropriate altar for spirits if she does not know what the particular realm looks like? What kinds of flora and fauna are in the forest realm?