The Wizard King's Granddaughters : Burmese Buddhist Female Mediums, Healers, and Dreamers

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Thomas Nathan Patton

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-465
Journal / PublicationJournal of the American Academy of Religion
Issue number2
Online published8 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


This article on visions, possessions, and healing examines the Burmese cultural atmosphere in which stories, devotional literature, and religious magazines all recognize, endorse, and publicize the ways Buddhist weizzā (wizard-saints) interact with their female devotees to heal specific illnesses. Devotees possessed by a weizzā and carrying out his bidding can be seen as a creative yet culturally sanctioned response to restrictive gender roles, a means for expressing otherwise illicit thoughts or feelings, and an economic strategy for women who have few options beyond traditional wifely or daughter roles. They are able to renegotiate the often silent and passive roles assigned to them by the religious and medical cultures by setting the experience of sickness into a new narrative framework in which the weizzā are the source of all healing. Through the power of their wishes and within the flexible parameters of devotional practice, these women enact significant and positive changes in their lives and those around them.

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