Possession Religions are Increasing in Numbers

The great increase in the reporting of the phenomena in question is likely to be due to both a growth of interest and awareness by researchers, but also to an actual increase in incidence. This in turn seems to be partly due to displacement/diffusion of populations, and spread to others, partly due to health crises (including both traditional healing and searches for alternatives) and partly due to crises in identity. Examples include the presence of Caribbean religions in the United States and in the United Kingdom. These were syncretic religions developed in the areas from which the migrants have come. In Trinidad, for example, we find both South Indian Kali religion and Afro-Protestant groups, both of which are at this time represented in Britain. In a different vein, the development of and interest in Channeling in the United States speaks to a concern with identity and self help (M. Brown, 1997). This pattern of mediumistic behavior is distinct from earlier Spiritualism of the 19th and early 20th century, where the spirits called up through mediums were those of the recently dead. The spirits called on by channelers address more distant, impersonal spirit guides. There is also a belief in reincarnation and previous lives. Most channelers are women; most spirits male.

Although Spiritualism was first developed in the United States, it rapidly spread to Europe. A French variety, as developed by Alain Kardec (pseudonym of H. L. D. Rivail), has been most influential in Latin America. Spiritistic religions and Protestant Evangelical religions which encourage ecstatic experiences are the most rapidly spreading forms of religion worldwide.

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