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Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.


The paper addresses representations of danger in the spiritual sphere in
contemporary society in Slovakia by exploring the specific case of neoshamanic
groups. This argument is based on Mary Douglas’s theory and
the representations of spiritual practices are interpreted in relation to the
particular social context. I present the results of ethnographic research
conducted in Bratislava. I argue that in the neo-shamans’ interpretations
of spiritual healing the notion of contagion serves as a signal of danger
and indicates “wrong” beliefs and behaviour. Their reasoning is centred
around altered states of consciousness (ASC) linked to the concept of energy.
Neo-shamans represent shamanic healing as a moral act. However,
rivalry between experts results in mutual blaming: “wrong” practice results
in harm caused by the influence of negative energy. My interpretation is
complemented by the results of a preliminary survey of articles in selected
Christian media addressing the theme of alternative spirituality. They define
Christianity as the only true spiritual path and condemn practitioners of all
non-Christian spiritual techniques involving ASC, the reason being that any
spiritual healing, including neo-shamanism, opens the way for contagious
evil forces. The harmful effect is therefore associated with contagion and
is ascribed to the practices of “others” both in the context of alternative
spirituality and in the context of Christian media.


Danger, neo-shamanism, Christianity, alternative spirituality, contagion, energy

Article Text


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