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Title: Experiencing the lifeworld of Druids : a cultural phenomenology of perception
Author: Gieser, Thorsten
ISNI:       0000 0004 2671 5477
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis explores the sensory experiences and practices of contemporary Druids in Britain and thereby aims to develop a cultural phenomenology of perception.  As an anthropology, it is written in response to a theoretical challenge that has arisen within the anthropological literature, which separates the senses as discursively understood from perception as an embodied practice.  The thesis provides a conceptual framework which mediates between these two approaches by integrating discourse and practice into the phenomenology of lived experience. Describing Druidic conceptions of the self, the sacred, and the environment, the thesis situates sensory experiences and practices within the context of complex human-environment relationships.  It demonstrates that this spiritual ecology is both a response to contemporary cultural and environmental challenges and an improvisation on historical developments within Druidry during the last century.  By examining the life stories of three individuals it is further shown that Druids often share significant past experiences with the sacred encountered in the natural environment, which have become a dominant motivating drive for a perceptually mediated re-enchantment of their lives.  This sensory engagement with the sacred is explored in more detail through an analysis of Druidic rituals.  The focus here is on ritual practice as a set of intentional actions which affirm the Druids’ being-in-the-world and leads to a virtual mode of existence and perception.  Finally, the thesis examines the Druidic training programme and seasonal camps to explore the practices employed to educate the novices’ perception. This anthropology relies on a cultural phenomenology approach in order to account for the Druids’ preference for practice-oriented learning methods which demand the novices to discover Druidic knowledge by themselves.  For this reason, the conceptual framework developed in this thesis identifies various dimensions of the perceptual process as heuristic devices to be ethnographically elaborated.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Druids and druidism