1 Section for Anthropology and Ethnography, Faculty of Humanities, Aarhus University, Aarhus University2 School of Culture and Society - Department of Anthropology, School of Culture and Society, Arts, Aarhus University3 School of Culture and Society - Department of Anthropology, School of Culture and Society, Arts, Aarhus University
As a consequence of the Cartesian dualism body and soul have for a long time been conceived of as separate entities of a different nature. These notions of body and soul are changing. This is especially evident in New Age inspired concepts of body and soul, illness and healing as it is also reflected in my study of spiritual healing and patients with medically unexplained symptoms on which this paper is based. The paper will address the following questions: How do patients and healers conceptualize body and soul? What does it mean in relation to a healing process? Two concepts that aim to encompass body and soul are Csordas’ concept: ‘imaginal performance’ (1994) and McGuire’s concept: ‘embodied spiritual practices’ (2008). Drawing on these two concepts and with a point of departure in on the one hand patients' and healers' notions of body and self, illness and healing and on the other hand patients' experiences of 'the sacred in the body' I want to argue that when bodily sensed spiritual experiences take on a personal meaning it opens a possibility for 'religious sceptics' to believe in the existence of a spiritual world playing an important role in relation to the healing process.