Communitas pp 219-223 | Cite as


  • Edith Turner
Part of the Contemporary Anthropology of Religion book series (CAR)


The richness, the naturally occurring communitas described by Turner implies an open readiness without preconceived ideas. There is a democracy and humility about communitas: no one can claim it as their own. In 1996 in Africa, the anthropologist Roy Willis saw this with his own eyes and experienced the permeability of the human soul. It took place in a ritual where the Lungu people of Zambia had gathered to cure a sick woman. The woman sat among them quivering to the rhythm of the drummer, while the seekers tried to divine her spiritual helper:

“Mbita!” someone cried, triumphantly repeating the newly uttered name of the patient’s ngulu spirit, along with four other names. A moment later the spirit-filled body of the patient ceased its convulsive quivering, the wordless cries of pain or ecstasy ceased, and, amazingly, the figure rose to its feet, suddenly whole, reborn from suffering and chaos. And now, in its new, changed state and moving with the continuing rhythm of the drums, the spirit danced before us all, visible, revealed.


Preconceive Idea Human Soul Open Readiness Group Dance Ordinary Perception 
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© Edith Turner 2012

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  • Edith Turner

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