restricted access “Something Came Over Him”: Narratives on Being “Carried by Witches” and Their Possible Connection to Altered States of Consciousness


The article discusses the experience of being “carried by witches” narrated to me repeatedly during my field research in rural eastern Slovenia in 2000–2001. The experience, which was ascribed to the agency of witches who “enchanted” their victims and led them astray, typically occurred in the forest at night and implied disorientation, sometimes (but not necessarily) the vision of light(s) that people followed or were drawn to, and a shift of consciousness. The article argues that particular neurological conditions (out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences) may have provided a basis for the experience of at least some of the subjects in the memorates, and that various cultural concepts explaining the experience, and cultural patterns of structuring narratives about it, may have been adopted by people in order to cope with and make sense of what they experienced in a society that does not grant cultural value to altered states of consciousness.