The Soteriological Context of a Tibetan Oracle


  • Katarina Turpeinen



Tibetan Buddhism, oracle, possession, trance, healing


This paper contributes to the study of Tibetan oracles by analyzing a distinctive case of a contemporary Tibetan oracle living in exile in India. The oracular practice and personal history of Lhamo, or ‘Goddess,’ present several unusual features compared to other ethnographic accounts of Tibetan oracles. The ritual of possession is performed behind closed doors hidden from clients, and the medium typically engages in oracular ingestion multiple times during every trance. Her trance sessions also appear orderly and lack an intermediary figure who decodes the oracle’s enigmatic statements. What do these features of her oracular activities illustrate? How do they feature in her life story and relationships to other religious specialists in the area and the surrounding community? This paper outlines my ethnography of Lhamo’s practice and situates it in the context of Tibetan oracles, arguing that Lhamo’s oracular possession, which is a practice of a village oracle often regarded as involving mainly mundane and pragmatic ends, is conspicuously integrated with the soteriological, supramundane orientation of Buddhism.




How to Cite

Turpeinen, K. (2019). The Soteriological Context of a Tibetan Oracle. HIMALAYA - The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, 39(1), 42–52.



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