Based on intensive ethnographic fieldwork, this book describes and interprets trance behaviour among the Malagasy speakers of Mayotte, a small island in the Comoro Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa. Professor Lambek describes how the people of Mayotte (most often women) enter into trances, during which they believe their bodies are inhabited by spirits. He then analyses the conventions for behaviour in trance and the process by which the individuals come to terms with the spirits in their midst. The book presents thorough case studies of spirit possession over time, providing one of the most detailed accounts of possession phenomena available for a single society. The author argues that trance can best be understood as a social activity within a defined system of cultural meaning rather than as a psychological problem, a simple deception or a means of manipulating others. This book should be of particular interest to those concerned with the study of ritual, symbols and non-Western religious systems.