From Ecstasy to Power: The Transformation of Fantasy into Religious Belief

Michael Allen

Abstract


IN   THIS CHAPTER I want to explore some of the many ways in which what to begin   with are highly imaginative and emotional experiences for one or a small   number of visionaries, often children or adolescents, can at times become   transformed into shared religious beliefs that have empowering consequences.   I pay particular attention to two processes that seem of diacritical   importance-the initial intensification of emotion 1 frequently experienced by   both visionary and devotee, and the role of narrative elaboration.2 These two   processes are closely inter-related insofar as they constitute discernible   stages in the transformation of feelings into images, images into ideas,   ideas into beliefs and, at least in some cases, beliefs into empowerment. I   contend that by focussing on such processes we may begin to gain some   understanding of the creation, maintenance and transformation of culture. I   will attempt to contextualize these processes by examining some of the   relevant events that occurred at Inchigeela, one of the principal visionary   sites located in west Cork some 10 miles south of Macroom. 

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