Vernacular Knowledge - Contesting Authority, Expressing Beliefs - Ülo Valk

Vernacular Knowledge - Contesting Authority, Expressing Beliefs - Ülo Valk

8. Making Sense: The Body as a Medium to Supernatural Reality

Vernacular Knowledge - Contesting Authority, Expressing Beliefs - Ülo Valk

Kristel Kivari [+-]
University of Tartu
Kristel Kivari is a Research Fellow at the department of Estonian and comparative folklore, University of Tartu, Estonia. Her work discusses experiences of the supernatural, place-lore, vernacular practices of healing, and contemporary vernacular theories of nature, energies, and the human body. She has carried out fieldwork in Estonia, documenting the practices of dowsing and other energy-related concepts.


Pauses constitute the text, the poses are the essential part of performance, the elusive impulse gives birth to various expressions. In this article my attempt is to bring the non-verbal part of contemporary vernacular thinking into focus joining it to the web of stories and practices. The focus on the bodily aspect comes easily out form the discussed material itself: feeling and sensing the places are essential part of dowsing practice. Interpretations of bodily impulses exceed the limit of interest in the particular tradition, rather forming an important language that connects different ideas and practices of contemporary spirituality. Lying the authority on the senses sees the human body as the instrument for clairvoyance: the possibility to apprehend the supernatural reality intuitively as instant as non-mediated cognition, which is the foundation for further actions and generalisations. Practice itself: finding the unseen (the underground water streams, tubes, wires, also the lines and spots of supernatural energy) with the forked twig, metal rods or pendulum is a subject of different use as well as vernacular (among them scientific-sceptical) debates. The method usually serves the complementary to other forms of knowledge, although, the role of the authority, an experienced (professional) dowser or psychic is significant. In the range of this tradition the importance and use of the maps is discussed. The map that takes into account sensual (supernatural) parameters mixes different domains of authority: the purpose (research into paranormal, planning of the buildings or residential area), the position of the medium (the one who draws the map or holds the map), the practice and use of the maps (maps as the guides for different actions and inquiry). The material of study comes from Estonia, Tallinn, dominantly from the activity of Estonian Geopathic Association.

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Kivari, Kristel. 8. Making Sense: The Body as a Medium to Supernatural Reality. Vernacular Knowledge - Contesting Authority, Expressing Beliefs. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 189-213 Oct 2022. ISBN 9781781792377. Date accessed: 21 May 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.29219. Oct 2022

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