Not Quite Shamans, 4



The Shaman's Two Bodies


pp. 150-1 [an event in the autobiography of the Darhad shamaness] a haunting by poltergeists in order to effectuate an enlivening of talismans

p. 150

[quoted from the Darhad shamaness] "The [b]lama threw his dice and exclaimed :

{Divination from throwing dice is primarily a Bon practice.}

"... It is necessary to awake a {praeternatural} guardian ["sahius bosgah"] from the white skies. ..." ... He then demanded that the treatment ["zasal"] [for her while she was in the throes of shamanic illness] continue at a difficult place ["saddatai gazar"] ... . Astounded, my family [her parents] said to one another, "We are going to a haunted place ["gu:ideltei

p. 151

gazar, lit. 'a place with paths'"]. What a strange ... thing to do ... ." As the group got closer, noises ... of a really horrible bird ["ih muuhai shuvuu shig"] were heard, ... a crow." ... The livestock became restless (as they always do at haunted places), and there was the eerie noise of children crying at the back of the yurt. ... [The bLama] now enlivened ["am'luulj tahisan"] two or three talismans ... . What came out of them was the Three Hyaryn Things ..., and some very strange things appeared. At the same time, the sound of the children's crying ceased."

{"Enlivening of a talisman" would imply that the living deity for whom is is intended, is acknowledging its validity and is pledging to work on behalf of its human owner.} {If the "Ivd monastery" (p. 150 : whence the dice-throwing abbot came forth) be truly Bon, then it must have been transplanted from Buryatia, whither it may have come from mNa>-ris.}

p. 151 instance of a female's becoming a shamaness

As a child, "she was again afflicted by bo:o:gin o:vchin, the "shaman sickness"..., and

from there on there was no turning back .

{cf. a bodhisattva for whom "there is no falling back" (longer Chinese Sukhavati-vyuha Vaipulya-sutra 115:18 -- LB, p. 191)}

That the udha [""the shamanic disease," or udha" (supra p. 4)] had indeed taken hold of her was verified ... by a male shaman ..., who passed on the responsibility for nurturing the neophyte shaman[ess] to a teacher ["whose mentor had ... also been a ... shaman" (supra p. 150)] ... . Then, when [she] had turned fourteen, members of her clan prepared a shamanic costume, and she shamanized for the first time (anh bo:o: bo:o:lso:n)."

LB = Luis O. Gómez (transl.) : Land of Bliss: the Paradise of the Buddha of Measureless Light. Univ of Hawai>i Pr, Honolulu, 1996.

{One's "reaching a state from which there is no falling back" is first mentioned (HBTh, p. 201) in the Maha-vastu. It is not attained by ordinary Buddhists (not even by their clergy), but by even trainee shamans (for whom it is a prae-requisite).}

HBTh = Edward J. Thomas : The History of Buddhist Thought.

p. 152 support, from the clans, of shamanry in Mongolia

"shamans were considered to be of key importance for the well-being of clans, and the cost of the initiation -- including the shamanic costume -- was incurred collectively by their members (... Pegg 2002, 130-37 ...). Some of the Darhan clans ... organize big tailgan rituals."

[fn. 5 : "shamans ... associated with ... clan communities, as ... indeed among shamans in Ulaanbaatar; see, for example, Merli (2006)."]

Pegg 2002 = Caroline Pegg : Mongolian Music, Dance, and Oral Narrative. Seattle : Univ of WA Pr.

Merli 2006 = Latetia Merli : "Shamanism in Transition : From the Shadow to the Light". In :- Ole Brunn & Li Narangoa (edd.) : Mongols from Country to City. Copenhagen : NIAS Pr. pp. 254-71. (migration of shamanry-practitioners , from obscurity in the countryside, to limelight in the cities)

pp. 152-3 shamanesses generally

p. 152

"most of the Darhad shamans I met or heard of during the late 1990s were women. It was certainly ... the situation before the revolution -- when women with occult abilities ... were widely

p. 153

considered ... shamans. ... Indeed, female shamans ... were held in high esteem by locals and outsiders alike, and their ceremonies attracted huge crowds."

p. 153, fn. 7

"the Shishged was home to many female shamans in the first half of the twentieth century (... Dio`szegi 1961, 197). Indeed, ... even further back in history a significant proportion of the shamans in the Shishged were female."

p. 153 clients for shamanic services

"clients came to ... shamans ... because of diseases striking their herds of cattle, because of illness among their children, or because ... faced with ... jealousy, gossip, and slander".

p. 154 awakenment [from the sleep of death?] by means of a 9-fold talisman

"the biannual "awakening" (bosgoh) of the Father of Harmai, a prominent shamanic spirit associated with the White Huular clan ... at the "wilderness talisman" (heerin ongon)"... on the banks of the Harmai River." [fn. 8 : "The talisman was made up of nine trees ..., each of a different age."]

{Cf. the "Nine Rivers (Chiu-chiang) ... name given to the southern stretch the Yangtze River" (CM&S, p. 242). With the "awakening" by means of a Darhad nonad, cf. (loc. cit.) in the Yang-tze-situated state of C^>u, the "'Nine Summons' (Chiu Chao) ... calling back the soul of of a dying king."}

CM&S = Anne Birrell (translatrix) : The Classic of Mountains and Seas. Penguin Bks, London, 1999.

pp. 156, 159-60 shamanic gown

p. 156

"possession of a shamanic gown (bo:o: huvtsas, also known as huyag, which literally means "armor") was the most important single thing that set "genuine" shamans apart ..., but also ... it was proof of the community's affirmation of her shaman[ess] status. ...

The room was dominated by the altar in the respectful north section of the home (hoimor), where her shamanic attire was kept. In most shamans' homes ..., these ... were kept out of sight ..., only to be produced from locked cupboards in the final hours before possession ceremonies commenced."

p. 159

"the shamanic costume itself, which consists of boots (bo:o: gutal), gown (bo:o: deel), headgear (bo:o: malgai), drum (hengereg/hets), and drumstick (tsohiur/orov), is usually locked away in drawers beneath the altar, only to be taken out in the final hours before a ceremony. ...

The costume thus enables the shaman to travel to the spirits or, conversely, the spirits to travel to the shaman

{Commonly witnessed by spectators (as, e.g., in a Cree "shaking lodge") as the advent in this material world of otherworldly divinities, a waking-world shamanic performance may be witnessed somewhat differently by the entranced shaman, to whom the material world may seem dimly remote, while a divine world may simultaneously appear closely praesent.}

(to the regret {??!} of scholars like Eliade, the direction of this occult movement always seems to be unresolved),

{How-be-it, Mircea Eliade was relying largely on (instead of accounts of waking-world performances) reports of dreams by shamans, in which cases there is, indeed, generally quite a definite resolution as to the direction of any travel.}

a journey that is often depicted in prayer and invocations {addressed to deities residing in dream-worlds} as riding (unah) an animal, which, depending on the spirit, may be a horse, a camel, a goat, or some other ... .

{Although most often a Siberian shaman will simply dream of running, swimming, or flying while being an appropriate animal; yet nevetheless in some dreams a shaman (including an AmerIndian one) may, while being animal, indeed ride upon another dream-animal (which may be a bird).}

The different parts of the costume play distinct roles in this respect : the drum ... as the mount, the drumstick as the whip, and so on (for further details, see also Dio`szegi 1961; Dulam and Even 1994 ...)."

{These identifications may be indicated in dreamings experienced by the shaman, such as the identities having been expounded by a deity, or otherwise witnessed, in the dream.}

p. 160

"instantiated by means of knots tied onto cotton tassels (manjig) ... Each knot indicates a particulasr curing event. Clients (or their relatives) tie new ... streamers (mog [oi], or "snakes") onto the manjig during the zasal (Pu:rev 1993 ...)."

Dulam & Even 1994 = Sedenjav Dulam & Marie-Dominique Even : "Animalite' et humanite' dans le chamanisme des Darkhates de Mongolie". E'TUDES MONGOLES ... ET SIBE'RIENNES 25:131-44.

Pu:rev 1993 = Otgony Pu:rev : "The Problem of Knots of Mongolian Shamans' Garment". In :- J. Zhang (ed.) : INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM OF MONGOLIAN CULTURE. Taipei. pp. 85-108.

pp. 156, 158-9 talisman

p. 156

"[Her] spirit talisman (ongon), ... outside ritual contexts, could be glimpsed only behind its layers of protective cloth in its designated place on the wall of the northwest corner (baruun hoimor) of her house."

p. 158

"Most of the spirit talismans I saw ... consisted of ... fur, teeth, bones, claws, and beaks from wild animals pieced together to form a ... bundle.

Many ... Darhad individuals and households were in possession of lineage talismans (yazguur ongod) or household talismans (geriin ongod), which served as both containers of and vessels for attracting different kinds of shamanic spirits. ... Indeed, "vessel" is an apt translation of the Mongolian term widely used to designate these objects -- namely, ongon (pl. ongod). Ongon is etymologically related to ongots, which means ... "boat" (Even 1988-89, 387 ...). ...

Unlike the household vessels, which must ... be passed down across the generations through paternal or maternal lines ..., and which ideally must be consecrated by shamans, the so-called hunting vessels (anchny ongon) are constructed by the hunters themselves, who, if appropriately {praeternaturally} gifted, "should automatically know how to make them ...," at least ... : ... .

[quoted] ... to make a hunting vessel ... is ... possible ... after returning, if one has been in contact with a {divine} master of the game. ...

The [hunting-]vessel, then, at one and the same time attracts {animals through} spirits and protects hunters from their {dead game-animals'} wrath. ...

p. 159

For example, a hunter's wife will make an effort to remember which offering was most recently added to ensure her husband's hunt, for otherwise she will be unable to call back the hunter's soul in case of trouble with the spirits of the game."

Even 1988-9 = Marie-Dominique Even : "Chants de chamanes de mongols". E'TUDES MONGOLES ... ET SIBER'IENNES, Voll. 19-20.

pp. 160-3 conduct of a shamanic se'ance for clients

p. 160

"People bring a variety of prestations (tahil {cf. the name of god /Tohil/ in the Popol Vuh?}) to the shaman[ess] and her spirits : ... bricks of tea, candy, cakes and biscuits ... . The foodstuffs (idee) are displayed on the altar, where they remain until the end of the night's possession ceremony ... . ... The afternoon and evening pass with ... preparations for the ritual, such as preheating the shaman drum ... . ...

Although actual spirit possessions never occur before midnight, the shaman's home is packed with visitors several hours in advance. The majority of these guests may be ... onlookers. ... The seating arrangement ... :

p. 161

the onlookers ... seated toward the west (the "guest side") of the room and clients toward the east (the "family side"), where the shaman's assistants also sit, alongside other close relatives ... . Eventually, as the ritual is set to begin, only two areas remain unoccupied : the central hoimor, which is where the shamanizing will take place, and the area around the entrance, which is the direction in which {whither} the "poison" (horlol) that has entered the clients will be expelled by the shaman. ...

But the shamanic audiences I encountered ... came to solicit solutions to their problems from the spirits and to see shamans possessed. ... During the introductory phase,

spirits of all sorts are invited to participate in the gathering, to enjoy the "precious bits" ["candy, cakes"] (deej) offered on the altar,

{such "spirits" supposedly "to enjoy", by tasting, the foods}

and so on. The shaman sings a variety of praises (magtaal), prayers (daatgal, zalbiral), and invocations (duudlaga, tamlaga). Some of these are performed only on certain occasions; others -- such as calling the "Nine Guardians of the Otog" (Otgiin Yo:so:n Sahius) -- are an indispensable element of all ceremonies. ...

The shaman begins by purifying the shamanic boots over the smoke of burning juniper (arts), and then addresses some silent prayer to the sacred footwear, after which the assistant puts them on the shaman's

p. 162

feet. After a while, the shamanic gown is subjected to a similar purification, but this time it is the assistant who repeats the prayers ... . Finally the headgear is put on, and the shaman is ready to become possessed. The shaman at this point makes three violent jumps, picks up the drum and the drumstick ..., and the actual shamanizing can begin.

In the middle phase the shaman[ess] makes personal invocations to and is possessed by her own ongod. Each such spirit has its own songs, characterized by intricate symbolism and poetic style ... . The moment of possession is marked by the shaman['s] ... making ... animal-like sounds (grunts, snorts, or squeaks), and occasionally laughing in a most eerie manner. Then follows the "words uttered" (heldeg u:g) or "what is sung (by the spirit)" (duudag n'). This, together with ... "spirit autobiographies," exclamations, and verdicts, is what constitutes the divine message from the spirits to the audience. ...

For this reason it is ... regarding who is to be ... by which spirit (each ongon will call on only one client).

[fn. 10 : "The client's identity is revealed at the beginning of the "words uttered," when the shaman sings a song in which the ... household ... of this person are mentioned."]

When each individual [i.e., for a particular client] session ends, the spirit leaves (garah) the shaman[ess]'s body, something that is marked by her making a single, and very loud, drumbeat. In this way, several hours pass. One by one, new ongod are invoked ... .

Sometimes the spirits ... come in very quick succession, one after another.

{VietNamese spirit-possession caerimony is typified by rapid succession of possessions of a shamaness by various spirits.}

During the ritual, the shaman may also take a rest from the spirits ... .

The end phase is marked by the shaman['s] throwing the drumstick violently into the corner of the room. The assistant must now rush to begin undressing her (headgear first, followed by gown, and finally the boots), because it is extremely dangerous to wear the shamanic attire while not drumming. ...

p. 163

Eventually she grabs a portion of idee from the altar and offers it to the fire. ...

{instead of having already (while as yet possessed) eaten it herself, in order that it might be tasted by the spirit possessing her, as is customary in spirit-possessions in most regions of the world -- do the Mongols have reason to believe that possessing-spirits reside in fire (much as mal>aki^m in flames of a mno^rah) and thereby feed on food being burned?}

Relatives distribute the remaining idee to everyone present".

{In modern Hindu rites (though not in antiquity), consecrated food is eaten by worshippers after its having been offered (as "prasada") to the deities on their altar.}

pp. 166-7 their respective burial-sites as Earthly locations of souls of dead shamans

p. 166

"most Darhad ongod have a "definite and unchanging abode" (Dio`szegi 1963, 72), which corresponds to the burial site of a dead shaman. Upon the death of a shaman[ess] (or, to be more precise, three years after it), her soul (su:ns) turns into a shamanic spirit soul (ongon su:ns), which, over a period of [those] about three years, is then slowly absorbed into (shingeh) -- and eventually becomes master {mistress} (ezen) of -- the locality in question. ...

p. 167

Indeed, the abodes of ongod seem to be clustered around the mouths of rivers ... (for a map, see Pu:rev 1999, 342-44)."

Pu:rev 1999 = Otgony Pu:rev : Mongol bo:o:giin shashin. Ulaan Baatar : Mongolian Academy of Science.

p. 167 all Mongolian shamanic deities either eastern or western??

"Each ongon is thus known to belong to one of two partitions, the partition of the fifty-five "western skies" (baruun tenger) or "white skies" (tsagaan tenger), and the partition of the forty-four "eastern skies" (zu:u:n tenger) or "black skies" (har tenger)."

{False! Firstly, there are additionally 77 northern heavens and 99 southern heavens; and, secondly, the assignment of black to the eastern heavens is wrong (they are blue) : black is the color, instead, of the northern heavens -- see ChS, p. 208.}

ChS = Sarangerel : Chosen by the Spirits. Destiny Books, Rochester (VT), 2001.

{Furthermore, these 4 sets of deities are only 4 of some 9 sets : there are some 5 others, such as the set of 1000 benevolent burhan ruled by Golto Sagaan (ChS, p. 218).}

{The color-assignments, and well as the numbers assigned the cardinal directions, are all blatantly plagiarized directly out of Taoist sources -- though Mongolian "shamanic" religion itself could well be regarded simply as a subsect of Taoism (or rather, as a blend of Taoism with Magianism/Zaratustrianism), much as the Bon religion (of Z`an-z`un) is commonly regarded (within China) as a variant of Taoism.}

p. 172 arrival, from their Heavens, of deities for their embodiment in shaman/ess

"Badamhatan writes,"With regard to ... the spirits ... the shaman incorporates ..., the Darhad do not mention ... animal forms ... :

the majority of them report that spirits arrive as a ray of light" (1986, 185)."

{Thus, "the "Ray of Creation" travels from the One ("Kether" or the "Crown") to Ten ("Malkuth" or the "Kingdom)" ("OMD", p. 22). [Keter is that divine world wherein such possessing-deities reside; whereas Malkut is is the material world wherein the deities incorporate themselves within material bodies of living beings.]}

Badamhatan 1986 = S. Badamhatan : "Les chamanistes du Bouddha vivant". E'TUDES MONGOLES ... ET SIBE'RIENNES 17:1-208.

"OMD" = Isaac Aurelian : "On the Manifestation of the Divine". J OF THELEMIC STUDIES 2.2 (2009):18-30.

p. 174 spirit-guardians & spirit-helpers

"A spirit guardian -- or, as they are sometimes referred to in the literature of Mongolian shamanism, spirit protector -- is a named shamanic spirit ...

{In most literature of traditional shamanry, this deity, encountred in shamanic dreams, is designated a "Guide", which is also the conventional designation in modern occult religions (such as Umbanda).}

that is mastered by one or more shamans.

{No so! It is the mortal shaman who is mastered by (induced to submit humbly to) the divine Guide -- never conversely.}

"Spirit helpers, conversely, are all the different bodies {but what about the spirit-guide's own dream-body, which is distinct from theirs??} ... in which a given spirit protector may manifest itself.

{How? Among dozens of AmerIndian and Siberian tribes for whom spirit-helpers have been described (by anthropologists), nowhere else are spirit-helpers alleged to be "bodies ... in which a given spirit protector may manifest itself" : instead they are regarded as subordinates (abiding in the dream-world) recruited by the spirit-guide to assist the shaman in locating lost souls within the confines of the dream-worlds.}

They are known by a range of designations, such as "metamorphosis" (huvilgaan), "escort" (daguul) {same word as <arabi /Dajal/?}), "light body" {because innately luminous?} (ho:ngo:n biye), and "path" (jim). Often, spirit helpers take the zoomorphic form of a wild animal, whose species-specific capacities are then appropriated by shamans according to their particular purposes, such as

when they undertake journeys to places ... on behalf of clients".

{A shaman's journey is usually to recover the health of an ailing patient from a Netherworld-deity who hath abducted that health -- the journey is undertaken in a dream, for Netherworlds are accessed via dream-worlds.}

p. 177 mortals who see through the eyen of divinities

"Kristensen was told by a Duha shaman, "when he dresses in his shamanic costume, his own mind disappear and

he starts to see 'through the eyes of the ongons' ..." (2007, 287).

{This is likewise feasible for a loa-possessed houngan in Haiti.}

Another Duha shaman ... "has two bodies" -- one being his ordinary body, and the other his "shamanic body" (bo:o: biye)."

p. 182 "comical stories" about deities as illustrations of the extreme idiosyncrasies of deities' praedilections

"explain the consistently negative ... responses I received when asking people in the Shishged to spell out the precise nature of the shamanic spirits?

{Some deities may not have any particularly specific "nature", particularly if those deities continuously shift (as humans tend to) their praeference for the moment in art, music, food, etc.}

Even specialists ... tried to dodge my questions, often telling entertaining if not downright comical stories about ongod instead."

{However, "comical stories" may well instantiate deities' characters, by vividly shewing their liking to keep mortals grandly entertained by such amusing behaviour.}

{Some deities do have extremely fixed and definite praeferences in the way of colors, designs, musical rhythms, foods, etc. (West African possessing-deities being of that constant a nature); but other deities may like to continually have shifted whatsoever they may be exposed to in the way of such things, and thus not having any well-definable "nature". Deities who like to joke in a comical fashion, or to behave in a hilarious manner, are likely even less than definable, not even being well surmisable.}


Morten Axel Pedersen : Not Quite Shamans : Spirit Worlds ... in Northern Mongolia. Cornell Univ Pr, Ithaca (NY), 2011.