Embodiment, Religion and Spirituality

Greenwood's "magical consciousness", which she describes an "informal way of knowing" (Greenwood, 2005: 15), is reminiscent of the participatory perception which Abram's describes (Abram, 1996: 20) in that it is a "participatory and expanded aspect of consciousness" (Greenwood, 2005: viii). Greenwood gives various descriptions of magical consciousness as "a heightened awareness of an expanded connected wholeness" (Greenwood, 2005: 47), an altered or "shamanic" state of consciousness, or a perception of "non-ordinary reality". Magical consciousness is usually induced though a technique like dancing or drumming (Greenwood, 2005: 89), but simple "participation with nature may bring an expanded awareness of the deep connections between elements of nature" (Greenwood, 2005: 46). Greenwood draws mainly on Bateson's notion of an ecology of mind to theorise how magical consciousness operates, and her work remains essentially an anthropology of "magic and consciousness" (Greenwood, 2005: vii) that ignores wider dimensions.

Ritual Studies
Bell claims that ritual is a “bodily strategy that produces an incarnate means of knowing” (Bell, 1992: 163), while Grimes (Grimes, 1995) makes the provocative suggestion that ritual is a bodily way of knowing designed to move consciousness from the head to the body. Though Grimes doesn’t elucidate, Asad applies Mauss's notion of the habitus to problematize the distinction between religious ritual and more general bodily practices. Asad concludes that the role of ritual is not to express a symbolic meaning but to influence habitus, thereby helping to create district subjectivities (Asad, 1993: 131). Crossley makes a similar argument that rituals “are a form of embodied practical reason” (Crossley, 2004: 31). Drawing primarily on the work Mauss, Merleau-Ponty and Bourdieu, he concludes that rituals are “body techniques”, that is to say “forms of practical and pre-reflective knowledge and understanding” (Crossley, 2004: 37). As such they can “effect social transformations” through transforming our “subjective and intersubjective states” (Crossley, 2004: 40).