Orbs in the skyscape: An exploration of spiritual experiences with anomalous light phenomena

Steenhuisen-Siemonsma, Maria Johanna (2022) Orbs in the skyscape: An exploration of spiritual experiences with anomalous light phenomena. Doctoral thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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Abstract

This thesis examines orbs, conventionally regarded as luminous orbital digital imaging artefacts, in their capacity to generate narratives evolving from active participatory engagement with them during the photographic process. Given the current dichotomy between the optical and paranormal explanations for orbs, with proponents of both emphasising the conventional optical explanation, academic interest is limited. In popular culture, orbs have acquired the status of indicators of ghostly presence which is commercially exploited at the cost of those individuals who report interactive experiences. For that reason, this thesis identifies these individuals as orb experiencers (OErs) and their claims to commune with orbs in their manifestations in digital imaging as conscious beings that can be interacted with. Hence, the study notes the hiatus in the academic understanding of the lived experiences of OErs, drawing comparisons with and contrasting their involvement as a living spiritual practice of building and maintaining a relationship to what they consider stemming from the divine, the sacred and Source. In that regard, the thesis explores conventional, paranormal and spiritual/esoteric viewpoints and considers them against the backdrop of religious or miraculous photographic practices involving rituals, symbolism and correspondences, in particular those found at Marian apparition sites. Departing from a phenomenological stance, it draws together the paramount importance of the visual aspect, the photographic image in this respect, and its interpretation, which implies an appropriated research methodology in answering the research questions. It results in not only bringing the photograph more prominently into the discourse, but it also warrants consideration of the positioning of the topic, which has been under-researched and neglected in academe due to its deviation from mainstream research. The study therefore seeks, through ethnographical research as praxis, to devise and apply a methodology that accommodates the topic, the orb experiencers and the researcher concerned. For that aim I shall introduce the mandorlic approach as an attitude and a working method which builds on the strong participatory and engaging research of other ethnographers of consciousness and the supernatural and those scholars in folklore and the folklore of religion and spirituality who include the possibility that humans are able to converse with otherworldly beings. Drawing from my ethnographic research, I point to the consequences of spiritual experiences with orbs and argue for a new framework that accounts for an open and scientifically rigorous approach to the study of anomalous encounters as spiritual experiences in general and offers a workable methodology that can be applied outside the field of anthropology.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: spiritual, mystical, religious, orbs, luminous, phenomenology, photography, methodology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GR Folklore
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Mara Steenhuisen-Siemonsma
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2022 15:14
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2022 15:18
URI: https://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/2160

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