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Book: Religion and Touch

Chapter: 8. Touch and Other Senses: Feeling the Truth in Basket Divination

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.42176


In an effort to access spiritual knowledge, the human senses work in collaboration. In the case of basket divination, a renowned technique found in the southern fringes of Central Africa, the distant senses of sight and hearing work together with the near and affective senses of touch, kinesthesia, and pain. Basket divination shows the value of synergy, cosensing, intersensoriality, and synesthesia in religious practice. It also shows that spiritual truths are not only seen in the form of material symbols and heard as words, but also felt with the hands, the moving body, and the aching heart. Basket divination challenges any definition of religiosity that denies the senses, the body, and material religion a key role in its performance.

Chapter Contributors

  • Sonia Silva ( - ssilva) 'Skidmore College'