Possession is defined by many religions as the act by an outside force, either demonic or spiritual in nature, which takes physical control of an individual's body or an object. According to many religions and beliefs, humans, animals, places and objects alike are all susceptible to these supernatural forces. Possession can be ended in two different ways: through an exorcism as seen by the Catholic Church, or using an anti-possession symbol seen in voodoo, witchcraft, hoodoo, and shamanism. Possession is also seen, mainly in Christian beliefs as being unwanted, however there are other religions that allow and attract spirits for possession to take place such as spiritual healing mediums in Brazil (Greenfield). Anthropologists have discussed and theorized possession using a range of religious beliefs, and have decided that possession itself is either positive or negative. Along with this, they raised questions about how possession affects the culture in a society and the person who was possessed. By doing this, anthropologists try to go outside the concept of spirit possession as being solely negative, but rather an everyday phenomenon that is accepted in a society.
In the television series Supernatural many episodes revolve around the idea of possession as being a negative and unwanted occurrence, common to Christian beliefs. The series tries to answer anthropological questions about how beliefs and religion come across to people and how they affect those people in their everyday experiences and those occurring with the supernatural. They do this by showing the expected outcome that it is a fact possession and supernatural phenomena are part of many religions, but also the 'what-ifs' that are taken from folk lore such as the Wendigo from Native American lore. In doing so, not only does the show analyze these pieces of religious folk lore, but they answer many questions that revolve around the common theme of possession such as the apocalypse, witchcraft, shamanism and voodoo, and how these religious beliefs play a major role in the foundation of a society.
Janice Boddy is an anthropologist who did research regarding the beliefs of a small village of people in the Northern Sudan. She found that their central belief revolved around a supernatural spirit called a "Djinn", which is better known as a "Zar Spirit" in this village. This predominantly affects women who have fertility or marriage problems. This spirit is invisible with no physical form or barrier, and possesses the woman by hovering over her head or being somewhat close to her. In this legend there is a specific type of “Djin
n” that one would usually refer to as harmful or playful. According to lore, this Zar Spirit is playful and there is no way to remove the possession by exorcism, but rather to accommodate the spirit by allowing it to play and indulge. This form of possession is what many anthropologists call a "positive possession" that results in healing an illness or...