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Fabio Armand, Marie-Agnès Cathiard, Christian Abry


One of the avatars of the Return of the Dead occurs in Europe as their Procession. It is attributed to the so-called Birth of the Purgatory in the 12th–13th centuries, which reinvested older cohorts of “Phantom-Bodies”, say the Wild Hunt. Related to this “theoria”, motif D1825.7.1. Person sees phantom funeral procession some time before the actual procession takes place, is endowed with D1825.6.: Magic power to “see” who will die during coming year. In spite of their disbelief in the Purgatory, Protestant countries, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Germany, England, etc., currently meet this Procession of the Dead (compare Totenprozession, in Enzyklopädie des Märchens, 13, 820, which forgot more Southern Romance Processions). As precursors of the Reformation (since the 12th-13th century), Waldensians were more efficient in wiping out revenants from their Refuge in the Piedmont Alps. As for India, except an indexing by Thompson and Balys (1958) for a pair of narratives, there was nothing else available. Present fieldwork in Hindu and shamanisic Nepal elicited new data, including ones with death divination. And the least surprising was not that Tibeto-Burman Newar tradition made of the five Hindu male Pandavas a cultural melting “theoria” of five malevolent female spirits, the Panchabhāya, which meets Tibetan Dākinīs. All these Phantom-Bodies’ Processions were not considered as deliration, but as non-delusional reports, as neurally real as phantom limbs. The BRAINCUBUS model framework offers an interface between Folkloristics and Neuroscience, a theory allowing the grounding of such over-intuitive experience-centered narratives, giving fair prevalence, worldwide, to the “4th brain state” diagnosed as sleep paralysis.


Procession of the Dead; divination; phantom bodies Theory; Alps; Himalaya; Nepal; Tibet

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