Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Joint Ph.D. Program in Study of Religion

First Advisor

Arthur C. Jones, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Norman Watt

Third Advisor

Edward P. Antonio


Ancestral tradition, Ancestral world, Archetypes of spirits, Funerals, Individuation, Jung's collective unconscious


This study examines central aspects of the ancestral tradition of the Gamei of Ghana which have not previously been investigated systematically from a psychological perspective. It is argued that Carl Gustav Jung and his intellectual descendants are the only Western psychological thinkers who have come close to formulating a conceptual framework that is helpful in this context, because Africa featured prominently in Jung's formulations of his influential psychological theories during his archetypal journey to Africa. Accordingly, core features of Jungian theory are examined in order to determine the extent to which a psychological investigation of Gamei cosmological perspectives, particularly perspectives on death and spirits, can enrich our understanding of traditional Ghanaian cultural practices. By the same token, the limits of Jungian theory are also explored, along with an identification of the ways in which Jungian theory can, conversely, be enriched by the application of traditional Ghanaian cosmological frameworks.

Gamei concepts of death and funeral rituals, widowhood rites and the ancestral world are examined in considerable depth, and it is argued that the Jungian concept of the collective unconscious is considerably similar, conceptually, to the ancestral world of the Gamei as experienced in traditional Ghanaian culture. However, it is also pointed out that in Jungian theory, individuation is the goal of life, while ancestorship is the ultimate goal of life for the Gamei and other African peoples. A formulation is offered that expands Jung's theory to include a final developmental stage, the attainment of ancestorship. It is argued that including an elucidation of the widespread experiences of ancestorship and community among indigenous peoples has the potential to enrich the current scope of psychological theory. In this re-formulation, drawing from observations in Ghanaian and other indigenous African cultures, a meaningful psychology reflects universal spiritual phenomena that encompass the individuation process, ancestorship and community as an integral whole.

In the final chapter, the core arguments of the various chapters are re-captured, concluding with a summary of the salient contributions of the dissertation.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Ebenezer Narh Yebuah


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

236 p.


Religion, Psychology