I. S. Sh. R., 1st Conference = Shamans & Cultures. Part II : "Japan and South-east Asia".


II.3 (pp. 84-96) Manabu Waida : "The Land of the Dead in Japanese Shamanism".

pp. 84-5 functions of shamans & of shamanesses


shamans & shamanesses


"shamanistic phenomena in Japan has been ... mainly in two regions that are widely separated from each other. One is in the northern region of Japan called Tohoku, and the other is in the ... islands, collective called Nansei Shoto or Southwestern Islands. Shamanism in northern Japan is a phenomenon characterized above all by a group of religious specialists called itako, who serve as mediators between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Mostly female and blind by birth, they are mediums who are recognized as such by their techniques of summoning the spirits of the dead from the other world; ... to communicate the words of the deceased individuals to their surviving relatives."


"In Miyako there are religious specialists who are capable of communicating, in a state of trance, which the gods and spirits in heaven and/or in the subterranean world. They can be possessed by these gods and spirits, but are also capable of making the ecstatic journey ... enabling their soul to leave the body to contact the gods and spirits in heaven or in the underworld, or to travel in distant space. The religious specialists are often referred to as yuta, a designation widely used on the main island of Okinawa and its adjacent islands ... . More frequently, however, they are called kamkakarya, meaning those who are in direct contact with the gods and spirits ... . They are also called munusu or monosu by the Miyakoans, and especially by the inhabitants of Ikema and Irabu, two islets close to the island of Miyako ... . Meaning ‘those who know’, munusu ... ‘see’ the figures of the gods and spirits, ... ‘hear’ their voices; and ... ‘know’ their message to us."

pp. 85-6 induction into shamanhood




"They confess ... that it was not their own will to become kamkakarya, that they have been ‘forced’ to such a profession ... by the will of a certain god or an ancestral spirit. ... it was their destiny ..., predetermined by the gods or spirits.

One destined to become a kamkakarya exhibits exceptional traits from adolescence ... . She begins to have dreams and visions in which the gods and spirits approach her; she sings not only during the daytime but also in her sleep at night, entering into dialogue with the divine beings; and she likes to wander in solitude, withdrawing to the forests, always driven by the ... voices of the gods and spirits. ... As a consequence of these extraordinary experiences, she appears so absent-minded, dreamy, and eccentric that she is often mistaken as a crazy and insane person (furimun). ...


What is noteworthy is the fact ... that these strange symptoms are interpreted by the full-fledged kamkakarya as kamburi, kamzara, or kamdari, namely, ... ‘insanity’ caused by certain gods or ancestral spirits. Once these ... occur, the future kamkakarya can hope to cure herself from them only by accepting them as signs of calling from gods or ancestral spirits and deciding to become a kamkakarya. If, on the contrary, she refuses to accept the calling; then these gods and spirits continue to torture her ... until she is in danger of becoming genuinely insane. Then what she must do is identify what particular god or spirit has been sending his message to her, then to make him her guardian god (shugoshin) or guardian spirit (shugorei), and finally to become a kamkakarya by submitting herself to his spiritual guidance".

pp. 86-7 categories of kamkakarya




1st : "those women who, due to they innately given capacity for trance, serve the local cults of the village community to which they belong. Often called kakarya or kakaryamma, they are priestesses specializing in communicating, in a state of trance, with the gods and spirits of the heavenly world."


2nd : "those, both male and female, who deal with individuals in need of a solution to their problems. Often called tinza no kamkakarya, they have specific relations with the gods and spirits of the heavenly world, avoiding contact with things associated with death and the world of the dead; ... they refuse to attend funeral ceremonies even when they are observed for their close relatives. ... .


... trance specialists in local cults of the community are often found becoming kamkakarya of the second category after retirement."


3rd : "A specific characteristic ... is direct contact with death and the world of the dead. Precisely because of this characteristic, the kamkakarya of the third category ... are actually shunned by religious specialists of the other two categories. Accordingly, they are distinguished from others by such designations as gusozasu, sumuza no kamkakarya, or sungam kakarya. In other words, the kamkakarya of the third category are capable of dealing with the gods and spirits of the underworld as well as those of the heavenly world. ... not only do they escort the spirits of the deceased individuals to the abode of the dead, but they also summon the spirits of the dead from the world beyond the grave".

{A similar distinction is to be found in Taoism : red-turbaned priests are serving in rituals for the living; while black-wigged priests are serving in rituals for the dead.}

p. 87-8 the nature of the world of souls of the dead


world of the dead


"The location of the land of the dead is ... indicated by .. niija (or niirja), a term denoting the residence of the deceased located at the bottom of the earth ... . ...


However, the most common term referring to the land of the dead is guso, which literally means ‘life after death’. This is the world where one is destined to go and reside after death. ... "... What people usually call guso corresponds to the earthly world ..., where the roads to heaven above and hell below also lie" ... .


The ... kamkakarya describes as follows what ... she has seen while visiting the world of the dead :

life in the world of the dead is exactly the same as in the world of the living. ... People also carry on the same occupations as they did in their lifetime ... . However, there is one notable difference {in} that these people utter no word from their mouth. {is this why ghosts tend to be silent or at least speechless?} ... The house in the world of the dead, including the ceiling, is made of polished mirrors".


"When it is day on earth,

it is night in the beyond.


... the sun (tida) rises in the morning through an imaginary ‘cave’ (gama) in the east, giving light ... onto the world of the living (myaku-yu).

But in the evening ..., the sun sets in the west through another ‘cave’ in order to traverse the world of the dead (guso-yu),


completing an ever {sic! : read "a never-"} ending circuit ... . The sun illuminating the world of the dead (guso or niija) is ... Gusotida or the Sun Goddess of the Underworld ... .


Just as the world of the living is protected by Ninupa Ummatida or the Mother Goddess residing in the north,

as well as by her twelve divine children in charge of the twelve different directions in the universe,


so is the subterranean world of the dead guided by the Mother Goddess Niija Ummatida {residing in the south?}

and her twelve children."

{According to Slovenian folklore, in the "the south, beyond seven mountains and seven seas" (ChD&PM, p. 246), in "underground caves" reside the Kuno-kephaloi, hound-headed – cf. jackal-headed I,NPW the Kemian death-god.} {"Beyond seven mountains and beyond seven seas there is a forest guarded by a sarmak." (ShJC, p. 76) This sarmak enabled finding the subterranean realm (entered by being lowered on a rope – ShJC, p. 77)}

ChD&PM = Gábor Klaniczay & Éva Pócs (edd.) : Christian Demonology and Popular Mythology. Central European U Pr, Budapest, 2006. http://books.google.com/books?id=HkXBW4eKchQC&pg=PA246&lpg=PA246&dq=myth+%22beyond+seven+mountains%22&source=bl&ots=W13yRm_TH7&sig=Q4P7ECnnoQcvKN4zwGFvykrjQzA&hl=en&ei=LYMQTfn3GYqr8AbQ9KGzDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBMQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

ShJC = Michael Berman : Shamanic Journeys through the Caucasus. http://books.google.com/books?id=XQWjm5R78HgC&pg=PA75&lpg=PA75&dq=%22beyond+seven+mountains%22&source=bl&ots=qVzpuPeP1r&sig=tomyNMV4A6qL1YLSwYlOtf3ccGE&hl=en&ei=QJsQTaS1GMT48Aack_WfDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CEkQ6AEwBzgU#v=onepage&q=%22beyond%20seven%20mountains%22&f=false

pp. 89-91 the way to, and geography of, the abode of souls of the dead


the way to Guso


"It [Guso] can be reached only after traversing ‘seven mountains and seven valleys’ (nana yama nana suku, also known as nana mine nana suku)." For the spirit of the deceased, "a ceremony is often performed by a sungam kakarya ... summoning the ancestral spirits of the deceased person and ask[ing] them to ‘make the path’ for him. ... . ... death transforms the physical body of the dead person into something like the cast-off skin of a snake, and his spirit is at a loss in the air, unable to return to the body. The state of suspension lasts for three days. Then an invocation for making his path to the world beyond, mitsudatsu nigai, is requested by those {scil., ancestral spirits} who wait for him.

"When I awoke as if from a long sleep," so speaks the spirit of the deceased person through the mouth of the sungam kakarya, "I found myself in a place unknown to me, near a river. I could breath out, but strangely I had no power to draw a breath." {is this inability to inhale related to the pinching of the nostrils of the Red Tezcatlipoca in Codex Borgianus Mexicanus, p. 11 (depicted in CVB, p. 174, Fig. 380)?} In the meantime, the deceased person finds someone approaching him from afar and ... comes to realize gradually that the approaching man is one of his ancestors who passed away three or four generations back in his family line. Coming close by, the ancestor announces, "You are my child. I have been sent to meet you here on the river and to serve as your guide to the land of the dead. ..." Looking back, the deceased person ... finds himself unable to take even a step backwards. He has no choice other than to walk after the guide in his afterlife journey. The ancestor-guide miraculously makes a bridge and helps him to safety across the river. ... The land of the dead is still far away, however; it is a remote place lying beyond seven mountains and seven valleys. Climbing a mountain and going down to the bottom of a valley and again ascending the peak of another mountain – thus crossing seven mountains and seven valleys;


they eventually arrive at the borderland between this world and the other world. A wide, flat plain extends in front of them, a plain where the gods and spirits of the dead gather together. They also notice the so-called seven public offices of the land of the dead (guso nana yakuba). It is a complex of the houses where the new arrival registers his entry to the world of the dead. ... Inside the gate, the gods are standing and beckoning the deceased person, saying with their sweet voices, "Come on in, don’t be afraid!" The first to utter this word of invitation is Tintoganasu ... . Comforted and encouraged ..., the deceased person ... makes up his mind to enter through the gate. Among the gods is found the lord of life (Nutsu nu nusu) telling him, "You were supposed to live such and such years ... because of such and such reasons." The god of fate (Misadami no kami), ... is present, who says, "The whole of your lifetime is recorded in a register as clearly as if it were reflected in a polished mirror ... illuminated by the sun."

The god of water is also there; ... he says. "But drink from the water of the world of the gods and spirits. You must also bathe in it and drown your smell as a human being." {"Beyond seven mountains, there is a spring that contains the water of life." (FP, p. 53)} ... The deceased person makes up his mind to accept the water-pail ..., drinking of the water of death and bathing in it. Then he says, "I have drunk of it and been dowsed with it. ... I can now see the whole world whenever I wish to, and I will protect by all means my family and descendants wherever I may be." ...


Subsequently, there comes forward the god Tintoku daicho nu nusu, who is in charge of the books recording his deeds in his lifetime. The books are thoroughly reviewed, and a decision is made on his destiny".


"according to the shamanic figures (yuta) on the main island of Amami, to the north of Okinawa, the spirit of the deceased goes to the world of the dead (gusho) across ‘seven mountains and seven hills’ (nana yama nana saka). {cf. the two sets (SH, p. 54) "seven mountains of fire" (1st H.no^k 24:2) and "seven fragrant mountains" (1st H.no^k 32:5-6)} The dead also walks on a rope to cross a river {cf. the rope suspension-bridges built over river-gorges by the Quechua in Peru`} before traversing seven mountains and seven hills ... .

According to the tradition handed down among the islanders of Kikaijima, the deceased person goes to the world beyond after walking on foot seven days and seven nights".

CVB = Eduard Seler : Codex Vaticanus No. 3773 (Codex Vaticanus B). Berlin & London, 1902-03. http://books.google.com/books?id=5W16AAAAMAAJ&pg=PA174&lpg=PA174&dq=%22Red+Tezcatlipoca%22&source=bl&ots=5qm3IxCrlW&sig=mx7HY0sIRd53ToB4eos08dk6aAo&hl=en&ei=oycRTfyRCoK88galip2ADg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=11&ved=0CFwQ6AEwCg#v=onepage&q=%22Red%20Tezcatlipoca%22&f=false

FP = Bonnie C. Marshall (transl.); Virginia A. Tashjian (ed.) : The Flower of Paradise and Other Armenian Tales. Libraries Unlimited, 2007. http://books.google.com/books?id=jT5ic_D-XAcC&pg=PA53&lpg=PA53&dq=%22beyond+seven+mountains%22&source=bl&ots=2gbobDXXgW&sig=d_DIVK7-9-7-u0z2ZKDH77pxmAI&hl=en&ei=4JEQTaqhHMSp8Aae07StDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&sqi=2&ved=0CE0Q6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=%22beyond%20seven%20mountains%22&f=false

SH = Robert M. Royalty : The Streets of Heaven. Mercer U Pr, 1998. http://books.google.com/books?id=jDdJkp_AQAAC&pg=PA54&lpg=PA54&dq=%22beyond+seven+mountains%22&source=bl&ots=XW2rJoeB1x&sig=Obyy7E5fnwU1ZawJYUZgo7b1L8U&hl=en&ei=4JEQTaqhHMSp8Aae07StDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&sqi=2&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22beyond%20seven%20mountains%22&f=false

pp. 91-2 Chinese aequivalents to Korean netherworldly deity-officials maintaining records concerning the dead


netherworld deity-officials


"The first thing the deceased person ought to do upon reaching the world beyond is to register his entry in the so-called seven public offices of the land of the dead (guso nana yakuba).


The gatekeepers are there, and ... the archives of good and bad conducts, ... in accord with karmic book keeping."


"the lord of life (Nutsu nu nusu) and the god of fate (Misadami no kami)

are functionally homogeneous to the Chinese god called Director of Destiny (Ssu-ming)."


"the god in charge of the books recording all of man’s conducts in his lifetime

certainly reminds us of the Keeper of Records (Ssu-lu) well-known in the Chinese folk religious tradition".

pp. 92-5 visitations by shamans and shamanesses to souls of the dead in the land of the dead




"the sungam kakarya often serves the deceased as psychopomp; she/he escorts the dead to the grave, which is believed to be the entrance to the land of the dead. ... As a sungam kakarya escorts the dead to the grave, in her/his trancelike consciousness she/he reaches the entrance to the world of the dead; more particularly, contacts the gatekeepers.

This is also the case when the sungam kakarya communicates with a spirit of the dead residing in the world beyond the grave. The first thing she/he ought to do is contact the gatekeepers to gain access to the seven public offices of the land of the dead. ...


Passing through the gate, the shaman goes on to see the god bureaucrat Nana yakuba nu nusu, the lord overseeing the seven public offices of the land of the dead and tell him, "I have come here to meet such and such a person for so and so purposes. Please grant me your permission so that I can talk with him." Only when the lord consents, the sungam kakarya can talk with the dead concerned; the lord orders some other gods to open the coffin in which the dead is placed, to raise him, and to allow him to converse with the sungam kakarya." {cf. the Kemian belief that souls of the dead remain in their corpses within their coffins during each night, sleeping.}


According to a sungam kakarya, "inside the grave is found a house ... . The house is furnished on both side of the wall with long shelves on which are placed coffins and urns containing the bones of deceased ancestors : As we move while looking at these coffins and urns, we can go on into the depth, as in a limestone grotto." "According to my knowledge gained through dreams and visions," so continues the kamkakarya, "toward the end of the grotto there is an opening, on the ground, with seven stairs leading downwards. As he steps down these stairs one by one, the deceased person eventually finds himself in a cave, facing a gigantic round mirror {cf. "round mirror" of god who helped to fashion "caverns" ("RSM")} on the wall shining brightly at its centre. ... The dead is ... in front of the mirror; which reflects all his conducts. There he sees ... all his actions, great and small, ... that he [under]took in his lifetime, from his childhood to the time of his death. ... On lower platforms are found seated ... gods collectively called Chobo nu nusu, who are in charge of the logbooks recording all the conducts of the dead in his lifetime. Other gods are also present ..., such as the one holding an abacus, the one with a notebook, the one with a pen in his hand, and so forth. Moreover, ... the lord of life (Nutsu nu nusu) ... is found sitting behind the


judge, behind the veil of a waterfall, watching in silence". {Loki "hid in his cave behind a waterfall" ("RL")} {taghairn is a Scottish practice, to prophesy behind a waterfall ("T")}


Autobiographical statement by the sungam kakarya describing personal experience of touring the netherworld : "Dark and invisible, I took steps downward to ... where I noticed people, men and women, working in blue robes ... . ... I was told of ... being thrown into the boiling water ... . {"had ordered his servants to heat the bath so hot that his guests would be burned alive." (FP, p. 53)} ... When I reached the peak of a mountain, I ... looked back to see human skeletons in lines".


"Eventually, after ... seven generations ..., the dead is destined to tread the path ... toward a beatific life in the heavens". {"Due north, beyond seven mountains vast,

One comes to Golden Cliff at last" (J 514, vol. 5, p. 24).}

"RSM" = http://www.smokinmirrors.net/gallery/tezcatli/tezcatli.html

"RL" = http://shadowlight.gydja.com/loki.html

"T" = http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-tag1.htm

J = The Jataka.Transl. by H. T. Francis. http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/j5/j5007.htm


II.4 (pp. 97-104) Josiane Cauquelin : "... Puyuma (Taiwan) Shamanism".

pp. 98, 104 male & female religious practitioners

p. 98 practitioners

p. 104 (derivations of terms)

"The meqlaw are bamboo diviners,


the benabulu are men priests officiating for the whole society ... .

n. 2

bulu ‘to throw way’

... the temararamaw are women shamans who only deal with individuals."

n. 3

/tara/ ‘to hold out one’s hand’;

/maw/ ‘supernatural’

p. 98-9 how women become shamanesses


induction of temararamaw


"The elected woman goes through extraordinary experiences : visions, strange dreams, ... and so forth. In the case of [a particular candidate for shamaness], she experienced a very peculiar feeling of suffocation, like hard pressure on her shoulders."


"The inthronization ceremony introduces novice into the temararamaw’s community. The ceremony goes on for five days."






"the soul leaves the novice’s body".



"the bamboo diviner indicates the site inside the courtyard where the temararamaw’s small room, lawinan, will be built;



if the novice has an auspicious dream during the next night, the room is built by the family".



"in the early morning, another temararamaw puts, inside the room, a betel nut symbolizing the ‘protector-spirit’ of the place;

in the evening of the same day, all temararamaw make cult objects of the novice (especially her bag ...). ... her teacher puts a bag on the shoulder of the newly elected girl and her soul, which had been wandering about for the last five days, is called back and replaced on the top of the girl’s head."



"all the temararamaw share a meal, eating from the same bowl.

The very last evening, the new temararamaw moves with her husband, but not children, inside the newly built room."

p. 99 ritual paraphernalia

"her bag ... ‘makes’ the temararamaw : inside, she puts her ritual tools (knife, hand-bell, string and so on). Her first gesture before practising is to put her bag on her lest shoulder, for the left is the ritual side. ... It is in her bag that [resideth] her guardian spirit. The shaman[ess] must practice every day; if not, she has to open her bag and make her guardian spirit smell her, so that it won’t think that it has been abandoned."

p. 100 rites performed by a shamaness for individual clients

"Ordinary rites" may be "to explain a nightmare, to diagnose illness, ... or to purify an object. Generally, the temararamaw ... puts her bag on her left shoulder, cut betel nuts and calls all the spirits. The offended one ‘comes’. Her voice becomes unclear, she cries and for a short moment is out of reach."

"Extraordinary rites are performed for calling back the soul of a very sick person ... . Then, she needs to get out of her bag a hand-bell which normally remains tightly enclosed and hidden inside. This hand-bell, singsingan, belongs to her guardian spirit. After being elected, she went to the heirs of the dead temararamaw and bought, at a very high price, the hand-bell ...; it is her only musical instrument. The quest for the sick soul happens during day-time, when the temararamaw goes to the invisible world, talks with the spirits, argues with them and finally brings the soul back inside her hand-bell. The soul is then replaced on top of the head of the diseased person."

p. 100 yaulas [p. 104, n. 5 : /i-/ ‘in’ + /aulas/ ‘spirits’ world’] rite

"On the last day of the annual festival pualasakan, which goes on for one week, each temararamaw takes a long bath and retires to her small room with a dim light. She sits on the earth facing her spirit altar, undoes her long hair and lets it fall in front of her face, building a screen between the visible and invisible. ... the temararamaw lets her hand-bell move to left or right searching for auxiliary spirits. ... The auxiliary spirits are ancestors, either dead temararamaw or dead friends. ...

Most are helped only by their husbands who wait to catch the shaman[ess] when she falls down ... . The senior temararamaw is helped by [her interpretrix] who translates the spirits’ answers to patients {clients} who have come to question them, ... an answer to some unresolved problem. The temararamaw use a sacred language taught by the spirits in her sleep. Some temararamaw sing, some talk, but all end their trance with a fixed song."

p. 101 retrieval; exorcism

"It is mainly during such rites that she reveals magical power that she will never admit to".

"She reveals conflicts within a family or between neighbours. She wrings bad spells out of people or houses".

pp. 101-2 shamanesses : how they obtain clients; their own organization

p. 101

"most of these patient are brought in by the bamboo diviner, whose bamboo points out the temararamaw’s name and the date of a rite."

p. 102

"On the third day of the third lunar month, the temararamaw organize their annual festival; all of them must participate."

pp. 102-3 legend of the 1st temararamaw (shamaness)

p. 102

"the final and fixed song of the annual trance" caerimony : "at the very end of the song there appear a name, Udekaw. This might be a woman’s name. {cognate with Buryat /UDGAn/ ‘shamaness/?} ...

p. 103

In that final song, Udekaw describes her trip. She talks along the paths, she crosses a bridge, the walks on wet beaches, she goes back to Takilis ["a place along the coast" (p. 104, n. 6)]."


II.6 (pp. 111-9) Jacques Lemoine : "... a ‘Shamanic Aequation’ among the Hmon of Laos".

p. 111 shamanizing

"A Hmong shaman carries ... veil, gong, finger ring-bell, rattle-sword, and divinatory blocks. At the sick person’s house he finds a makeshift altar prepared where he can summon his spirit-troops and a flexible bench which will become his flying horse during trance. ... But he uses ... only the sound of the gong hit by his assistant and ... the ring-bell and rattle-sword he hold respectively in his left and right hands. ... his singing continues from beginning to end, as the main support of the trance and the action. Wearing a long black veil, the Hmong shaman ... is told the action taking place by a ‘clear-sighted’ spirit helper who, together with the spirit ‘of the trance’, always stays close. ... His own mouth voices with high pitches and at a faster tempo his own injunctions and orders to his spirit helpers and the reports he hears from his ‘clear-sighted’ spirit."

pp. 113, 115 spirit-helpers & the specific categories of soul which they rescue



their action in rescuing souls


flying hawks

"to catch the ‘jutting-out shadow, soul as it moves off the body"


wild ducks

"plunge into marshes and ponds in order to rescue souls who have fallen into mud"


wolves & hounds

"are set in pursuit of ‘running bull’ souls to bring them back"



"will hunt tiger-witches"



"to hold up a failing ‘shadow’ soul"



"will remove worms from the bamboo soul"



"will dive to the bottom of the sea (Hatzu) and find the souls" which have "fallen into water"

p. 115 "For the reindeer soul ... the shaman has to explore paths in the Beyond."

p. 114 The shaman "can mount his ‘dragon-horse, vessel of wind and cloud’ and lead this troops on their path in the Beyond."

pp. 114-5 the 12 souls of each person [numbering is according to p. 113, Fig. 1, whereat these 12 are enumerated on reverse sequence from that on p. 114]


__ soul

its function



lon tzu lon lao ‘life-demanding’

"incorporating ... wealth ... in ... fortune. ... When exhausted, the shaman burns spirit money in order to rebuild this fortune."



nju sion nju don ‘bamboo’

"in the marrow of the backbone. It holds the body upright. When worms have entered it, it may lean over".



nao nu njau li ‘sun and moon’

"never leaves the body even after death. It stays in the forehead when a man is in good health but moves to the back of the head when his is weak or ill."



krau na khau sion ‘of the years of rice to eat’

"embodiment of appetite {cf. [<ibri^] /nepes^/ the ‘appetite’-soul} and lifespan. If ... it ... is exhausted, the shaman must buy new provisions".



man til man tou ‘source of cucumbers and of pumpkins’

"It stays in the veins as the source of ... fertility." {are these "veins" the acupuncture-meridians?}



nju pan fua siue ‘breath’

"The Hmong call it ‘the satin thread’. {cf. the thread of the Moirai} When it is torn a man dies. The first symptom is difficult breathing. The shaman has to send his spirit helpers to enable the patient to breathe again."



nju kr’a nju non ‘chicken’

"even when she goes away for two or three days, ... returns by itself to the body."



niu tian niu kau ‘reindeer’

"sometimes the Door Guardian deity or the Fourth Official, protector of the house, sells this soul for money to wild spirits passing by. {cf. sale of Yo^sep by his brethren to merchants who were passing by.} The shaman’s spirit helpers organize a search-party. When it is found the shaman has to redeem it from its abductor."



nbau kan kr’or ndzue ‘cicada’

"should stick to the body as cicadas usually do their trees ... {Taoist immortals are often regarded as cicadas} and sing {cf. Gandharva-s as divine singers} ... . ... It also happens that a cicada soul belonging to living person may go and settle in another person, especially in a young foetus. The first person loses his appetite and weakens rapidly. The shaman must interrupt the reincarnation process and bring it back to its first place. ... If he succeeds, a miscarriage of the foetus where it had settled happens."



niu tian niu plu ‘running bull’

"like a buffalo, is easily frightened, when it will run away on the path to death, taking along the ‘shadow’ soul." {it is ridden by the shadow-soul, as in the Zen ‘ox-herding’ picture?}



nju tlua nju hlau ‘jutting-out shadow’

"moving around the body and disappearing at any moment".



nju pli si ‘returning’

"is the soul that reincarnates. ... According to funeral rituals it will come back on the thirteenth day to visit the family and will be called again after a few months or years before ... becoming free to reincarnate."


pp. 115-7 near-death places of the soul




"the shaman and his spirits rush to the pat[h] of death and reincarnation. There, they meet divinities and places where souls are taken into custody or may be hiding. The places are organized in a fixed progressive order, corresponding to increasingly serious and possibly terminal illnesses. The order starts with the (mental) grave where


a vital soul, dominated by a death wish, has taken refuge.


Next to it, one encounters the Jade Emperor’s office, in a cavern, which controls the book of all destinies and sends death warrants to those who have exhausted their lifespan.


Further ahead, is the house of Yang Seng Ts>eng and Siong Seng Ts>eng (the ‘Pure who feeds life’ and the ‘Pure who sends life’), the couple who control birth and reincarnation.


Then, continuing one reaches the Sour Blossom Field of Nzi Nyong, the Hmong god of death and epidemic. He has a corral where he keeps ‘reindeer’ and ‘running bull’ souls before he kills and eats them. Sometimes, such souls bypass Nzi Nyong’s corral but are still grazing young tender grass on the ‘scorched slope’.


Further on, the shaman’s party meets the Court of the Master of the Inferior Heaven where reindeer and bull souls may be abducted. If they find such a soul belonging to their patient, they have to redeem it from the god or recapture it if the god does not agree to set it free. Finally, if it has already been eaten, the shaman can still send his dragon and eagle spirits to search for the bones thrown all around the place. If they can put them all back in the right order, they spray on them the magic drug, kua mua tshua and mend them together. [p. 115 : "When a soul is already dead, the shaman can sometimes operate resuscitation by having spirit helpers blow the drug of immortality on it."] The bones regain flesh.


The ‘reindeer’ and ‘running bull’ souls do not go any further. If the spirit helpers do not find them, it means ... the vital soul continuing its journey to reincarnation. The search-party then crosses the mountains until they meet the huge Slicer in a narrow pass standing in the way. If a soul can show papers proving that its lifespan is exhausted it is allowed to cross. If it cannot, it stays until the shaman and his spirit helpers come to fetch it. If it has managed to cross the Slicer, the shaman and his spirits have to find a way either to wedge the blade with iron staffs or to climb over it with ladders.


On the other side they can rush down to the Kong Tong Bridge which links this World to the land of the dead. No spirit helper can cross this bridge. Only a few shamans dare undertake such a bold action after having exchanged their spirit horse for a ‘horse of the dead’. {is this "horse of the dead" the horse Sleipnir which was ridden by Hermo`d into the world of the dead while seeking his dead brother Baldr?} On the other side of the bridge they find the missing vital soul by a sweet water pond, the abode of Ngau A, the mother of mankind. If she has washed the soul {cf. the Ryukyu account of the washing of the soul of the dead, supra p. 90}, death is irrevocable, and the patient is already ... dead when the shaman returns. If it has not been washed, then the shaman negotiates the soul’s safe return to this World and to life."

p. 117 a detour along the route of near-death places of the soul; the habitat-abode of shamans’ helper-spirits

"there exists between Nzi Nyong’s corral and the Kong Tong bridge to the land of the dead a short way (on the right) by the highest mountains which leads straight to the bridge. On this path, the search-party meets the ‘Jar of tears and cries’, those which the family will shed when death is pronounced. If somebody is about to die, the shaman finds out that this jar is full to the brim. His intervention is to try to empty the jar or to shut it with a big stone, thus preventing its overflowing.

A similar action is undertaken when further on the search-party meets the ‘Vale of Hemp’. Hemp is used to make the bandage in which the dead is tightly tied to prevent a swollen body from exploding {cf. Kemian mummy-wrapping} ... . Again, they try ... rushing to the Kong Tong bridge in the hope of catching the vital-soul in time. ...

The Journey ... naturally includes, on the right-hand edge, a series of high cliffs – the natural habitat of all spirit helpers. The helpers live in grottoes, around the cavern of Shi Yi the first shaman. When a shaman dies his spirits return to that central shamanic agency, and part of his self follows becoming the head spirit of this troop."


II.7 (pp. 120-7) Ga`bor Vargyas : "Structure of Bru Shamanic Caerimonies". [along the 17th degree north latitude, on both sides of the Annam-Laos border]

pp. 120-1 shamans & their helping-spirits

p. 120

"mo^ yao (mo^ [cf. "the Mnong mho:>" (p. 126)] = master, specialist; yao = shamanic singing), invariably a man,"

p. 121

have "helping spirits, prah, who are deceased patrilineal ancestors and who ‘come to live in their body’ ... following a serious illness. These ancestors ‘teach’ their descendants ... . They live in the house of a shaman in nicely decorated bamboo altars".

pp. 121-5 structure of yao (shamanic caerimony)



step in caerinony



"starts with a prayer (saraiq) ... . ... Its aim is to inform divinities about what will happen and why."



"Some time in the afternoon (... every ritual is held after sunset) the shaman arrives. He is offered food".



"He is ceremonially asked to participate. This is called se^q rit mo^ (lit. ‘to ask the customs of the shaman’)."



"The assistant to the shaman, liam puts together the klie. Liam ... has to ... blow the reed pipe, pi, used to accompany singing. Klie is a China-bowl that contains ... husked rice, egg, and tigers’ (eventually bears’) teeth ... . These are ... used for divination."



"inform the shaman’s helping spirit(s) about the ceremony and ask him to follow and give help. While paying, the shaman dips both ends of his fan ... and sprinkles ... the klie and his head."



"The shaman and his assistant ‘chew betel’ (cha panang labaq)."



"nto>ong savat, telling magic spells over what will become ‘holy water’. The shaman li[gh]ts a candle and describes circles with it beneath a bronze pot containing water and an Acacia plant. ... He then puts the burning candle in his mouth three times and after each time ‘spits’ the magic spells into the water."



"participants to ‘chew betel’ ... offered ... by the shaman."



"The shaman puts on his headdress. Objects hung on it symbolize the ‘army’ at his disposal, his assistants and protectors who will help him."



"rice divination. If the answer is positive, the shaman rolls up a breadfruit leaf to form a funnel-like object {cone}, puts the rice in it and sticks it into his head-dress. ... These objects, ntroei, become the abode of the helping-spirit."



"The shaman then throws rice upwards from his fan and ... invites his prah ... to come into his body : "... Come down ... so that your breath will be on my head ... Set yourself ... vibrating in the air, oh! helping spirit ... Come down and possess my body ..."".



"At this moment the shaman ... stretches his arms rigidly out in front and starts trembling. The prah has arrived! ... the shaman bends deeply forward and places his hands on his thighs".



"the helping spirit is asked or ordered to do the required job. From now onwards, the shaman will enact the role of his prah. His usual first


question is : "Why do you call me, what shall I do for you?" The answer, given by the liam ..., is : "You have to so this and that ..."."



"there is an introduction, ‘information for all the divinities to gather’ (kuap ma ka yiang) same thing in music as kuap and saraiq are in prayer."



"altered state of consciousness is induced ... by beating the ground continuously with his hands. This is done ... inviting the spirits".



"The conversation between the helping spirit and assistant is repeated."



"First the shaman thrusts his sword into a chicken destined to his prah. He balances it vertically with the chicken on top. ...

The, he offers ‘payment’ to the helping spirit. He inserts the tip of his sword into the handle of a metal pot and balances the whole thing upright."



"One after another, ... divinities are invited to come down and accept offerings. ... old type courting songs {lengthy courting-songs as yet in vogue amongst the Miao of southern China} are sung in the divinity’s honour .. . ... This whole part may last two-four hours and makes up the main bulk of the ceremony."



"At the end of yao Bru, yao Liao re-starts. ...

"Oh Lord, you have eaten, ...



go back to the West where the birds sleep ... . ...

Let the Lord Elephant (the prah) go free,

let the Lord Buffalo (the prah) be put aside,

let the Lord Fan (the prah) be put aside."

... finally, sacrificial food is consumed by all present."


INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR TRANSOCEANIC RESEARCH Books, Vol. 5 = Miha`ly Hoppa`l & Keith Howard : Shamans and Cultures. Akade`miai Kiado`, Budapest, 1993. [1st CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR SHAMANISTIC RESEARCH, held in 1991 at Seoul.]