Mana – The Spiritual Power of Melanesia

The Cargo Cults’ charismatic leaders in Melanesia apparently possessed mana – Wikipedia

Mana is a Melanesian term for a spiritual power said to pervade the universe. It can also be embodied in a person or object.

Believers often try to manipulate this power for their own helpful or harmful purposes. These spiritual power brokers usually have some kind of prophetic dream or vision before they are revered, worshipped and feared within their community.

Popular writers like Jospeph Campbell build on the work of earlier thinkers by likening mana to the idea of numinosity.

Others like Rudolf Otto and Carl Jung say numinosity displays various textures and intensities. And Otto’s concept of the numinous includes the inferior and demonic along with higher experiences (“The Holy”).

So Otto’s view of the numinous probably embraces a wider range of personal experiences than the idea of mana—at least, as defined by anthropologists, depth psychologists, and theologians.

We can never really know what another person is experiencing.

Related » Numen, Numinous, Power

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