Not Quite Shamans, 5.4-5.6



From Praying to Playing


p. 197 worship in a temple

"I participated in the daily ... ritual (hural) at the ... temple (su:m) in Mo:ro:n. ... The only sound was ... the occasional blowing of a conch shell (lavai), the clashing of cymbals, and ... When someone started reading, he or she would circumambulate the temple ..., kowtowing (mo:rgo:h), praying (zalbirah), and making offerings to the burhan statues ... lined up along the ... walls."

p. 197 directional allocation of ranks of officiants for religious services in temple

direction of seating

category of officiant


"highest ranking"


"youngest apprentices"



p. 198 relationships for personal teasing

"The first -- ... an "asymmetrical joking relationship" -- is the more or less customary teasing directed downward from senior to junior members of the household ... .

{This is quite a different outlook from that of a European mediaeval royal court, where the jester was always the person of lowest social status among all persons praesent.}

The ... more "symmetrical" joking relationship is the seemingly obligatory banter that takes place between equals, particularly friends (naiz) and acquaintances (tanil), but also of similar (chatsuu) age and status".

{This may be the case even in modern Anatolian Tu:rkiyeh.}

{Obligatory banter of even a very stylized and formal nature, consisting of memorized set chants and/or songs, is employed as standard religious ritual in some cultures (such as, among the Miao of southern China).}

pp. 199-200 seating-arrangement for shamanic performances

p. 199

"During all the se'ances I attended, the audience was seated ...

p. 200

according to a ... principle that turned ... social forms inside out. Thus, ... the performing shamans -- and, to some degree, their interpreters -- occupied the most honored section, to the north (hoimor)."

{The seating-arrangement was not intended to have " turned ... social forms inside out", but rather simply to indicate that the medium-occupying possessing-deities outranked everyone else praesent.}

p. 200 playfulness of Asiatic shamanic deities generally

[quoted from Hayamon 1993, p. 21] "playing is widely used to qualify the shaman's or possessed individual's action toward the spirits, and the latter's action toward the former, or both

{In shamanry, any expression of interaction of mortals with divinities is likely, however, intended to be taken humorously, endearing, or the like; and retaineth in such contexts the same connotation as doth such a phrase as /fervent prayer/ in ordinary conventional religions.}

(Yakut oyun, Buryat naadaxa, Korean nolda, Hindi k(h)elna, etc. {and /lila/ in Samskr.ta}).

All religious or ritual playing has been condemned by world religions ... ."

{In conventional worldling-religions, the term "play", however, is used only in contexts describing impiety and sacrilege; whereas in the shamanic contexts just alluded to, that word is employed only in contexts of piety and pronounced devoutness.}

Hayamon 1993 = Roberte Hayamon : "Are 'Trance,' 'Ecstasy' ... in ... Shamanism?" SHAMAN 1.2:3-25.

pp. 200-1 playfulness of Buryat entertainment-deities; laughter-provoking Darhad deities

p. 200

"Buryat shamans ... have a whole pantheon of "play spirits" (naadamy ongon), which, in the words of M. N. Hangalov, were invoked in shamanic rituals mainly for "entertainment purposes." One liked to "collect" people's

p. 201

noses, another their hats, and a third variety took a special interest in women's breasts. Yet another spirit, known as Dobogoo Ovogoo (Strict Old Man), was looking for his wife, who[,] he feared[,] was sleeping around. He was rightly concerned, for his wife, Samsakhai, questioned every man in the audience about the size of his "stick" {meaning, his 'penis'} (Hangalov 1958, 476-82). ...

Similarly "in Darhad shamanic rituals. Not only do some spirits occasionally make fun of clients and the audience, but also

people may sometimes laugh at the spirits. ...

{As is commonplace during AmerIndian humorous recounting of their myths.}

[Explication by the shamaness :] "It is the spirits themselves ... that make people laugh"".

{The spirits speaking through a spirit-medium behave amusingly with the deliberate intent of causing the audience to laugh, and would be disappointed if the greater part of the audience were to fail to laugh at their comical performance.}

Hangalov 1958 = M. N. Hangalov : Sobranie sochinenij. Vol. 1. Ulaan-Ude : BION.





pp. 201-3 instance of spirit-possession of female spirit-medium by a rumor-divinity

p. 201

Among possessing-deities is "Ders Shig Yum, the restless ongon from Tuva ... .

p. 202

... Rather than holding her drum in the common upright position and dancing in slow, repetitive semicircles, [the female spirit-medium], when seized by, awkwardly pushed the drum away from her body horizontally and began rotating around and around while drumming ever more violently. This, to judge from people's response, was extremely funny. ... .

... the obligatory drumstick divination (zaya too:ro:g u:zeh) was initiated. The shaman[ess] is supposed to throw her drumstick three times onto the seam of the kneeling client's deel, using the side (tal) facing up as a tool for determining the client's destiny. Each time, the client must hand the drumstick back to the shaman[ess] while saying the words "too:ro:g, too:ro:g ['drumstick, drumstick']." ... Everyone was laughing ... . ... Finally, the zasal proper could begin. ...

Everyone else was overwhelmed by laughter. And ... Ders Shig Yum now started insulting people in the audience ... . One of its songs, for example, insinuated that two people [a man and a woman] had been "taking walks in the hills" together (had been having an {erotic} affair). As one might expect, this sparked another explosion of laughter in the audience".

p. 203

"Apparently Ders Shig Yum always behaves in this way. ... Or, as ... described ..., Ders Shig Yum ... stores people's conversations and then replays them elsewhere. This, indeed, is what all gossip spirits do".

Hangin et al. 1986 = Gombojav Hangin et al. : A Modern Mongolian-English Dictionary. Bloomington : Research Institute for Eastern Asian Studies.

p. 203 the nature of rumor-divinities

p. 203

"Although gossip spirits ... are considered "light[weight]" (ho:ngo:n) in comparison {contrast} with more "heavy" (hu:nd) ancestral spirits, and although people may therefore laugh in their presence, they can be invoked for serious ... purposes. For example, a family may ask a shaman to send a gossip spirit to the home of their affines (nagats) to see how their newlywed daughter is faring."

"Finally, gossip spirits may also interfere directly in relationships ... by manipulating people's attraction to one another. Indeed ..., they sometimes cause married couples to separate and then form new pairs, "just for the fun of it.""

p. 203, fn. 11

"Incidentally, the term for "gossip" {rumor} -- hov -- is related to hovs, which means "magic" or "witchcraft" (Hangin et al. 1986)."

{cf. also our word /HOBgoblin/, from Middle Dutch /hobbelen/ 'to roll' [perhaps to compare the momentum gained by a boulder rolling downhill, with the momentum gained by a spreading rumor]}

p. 204 rumor-divinities as divine overhearers of mortals, and as divine self-rotaters

"there is always the possibility that a gossip spirit is listening to what you are saying!"

{implying that rumor divinites come visiting invisibly often}

"Let us think ... of Soli Yum, ... the name of this ongon ... referring to the polysemic term solio, which means ... "insanity," as well as, indeed, "rotation" ... . Also think ... of Ders Shig Yum's dance ... spun around and around". {With SOLi, cf. Old Norse Irmin SUL, the Maypole wound around (with ribbons).}

{cf. the self-rotation (according to Makrobios : Saturnalia -- a book named, incidentally for the most playful of Roman festivals) by god INVUs, whose name is cognate with Skt /INVAga/, the name of one of the Kr.ttika-s (Pleiades, the star-clustre assigned in some AmerIndian star-myths the function of a rotating fire-drill)}

{The ribbons of the Maypole resemble not only the strips wound around the Spartan cryptographic code-pole, but also the leathern strips of the Lupercalia, the festival of (according to Livius) Invus, god of (according to I:O 8.11.103 -- W"I", n. 18) stuprum ('sexual violation', "implying the infliction of"it -- L&Sh:LD, p. 1779a) : cf. the stuprum perpetrated, when heroine Apemosune slipped upon a freshly-flayed ox-hide (/kr.ttika/ meaning 'a hide, pelt'), by Hermes (A:B 3:2:1 -- RHGM, p. 354; GM 93.b; ZSAR 2.2, p. 923). The head of (depicted on Casuccini mirror) Urphe (Orpheus, aequivalent to Vaidik is meant to suggest "giving head" to the Thraikian women who beheaded him; UMaele may be Norse Y`Mir; ALIUNea may be Norse god A`LI along with Norse "wall" (ChO, p. 221) U`Ni ; ER[-]AZ is ERatoi (Mousa of ERotic poe:sy, and Druad-mother of AZan -- DCM, p. 148b-149a).

I:O = Isidorus : Origenes.

W"I" = Wissowa's Encyclopaedia, article "Innus".

L&Sh:LD = Lewis & Short : A Latin Dictionary. 1879.

A:B = Apollodoros : Bibliotheka.

RHGM = Robin Hard : The Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology. London, 2004.

ZSAR 2:2 = Arthur Bernard Cook : Zeus : a Study in Ancient Religion, Vol. 2, Pt. 2. Cambridge Univ Pr, 1940. &

ChO = Padraic Colum : The Children of Odin. Macmillan Publ Co, 1920.



A Play-World


pp. 204-6 "theoretically funny" cosmic joke

p. 204

"children ... laugh when they see something for the first time".

p. 205

"Mirth happens only when the world is apportioned into the right kind of relations; it requires a certain "safe" distance between the subject and object of the laughter (Pedersen and Willerslev 2010). ... I now suggest that this applies to spirit manifestations ..., for they all offer a comical view into the inherent paradoxes of the shamanic cosmos; they are in that sense a sort of objectified joke. Shamanic spirits are comical ... . ... Instead of try to hide the fact that any depiction of the spirits would necessarily amount to an incomplete version of their ephemeral {manifestation in the material universe; despite, in their own worlds, their sempiternal subtle} nature, shamanic art, like comedy, aims to make this incongruity ... as apparent as possible. Thus ... was {is} ... the fundamentally nonrepresentational nature of the ongod. It is in this sense that one can speak of all Darhad shamanic spirits as "theoretically funny".

Because of the inherently motile form of these invisible presences, any effort to make them visible will "automatically encrust something mechanical on the living", in Bergson's apt formulation ([1911], 39), and, like a sort of punch in a cosmic joke, reveal the paradoxical nature of ongod. Thus the laughter ... experienced ... was ... a genuine conjuring act through which a funny reality was elicited from the world, namely, the

p. 206

labile {meaning 'slippery'} state of play in which ongod exist." (... see Pedersen and Willerslev 2010.)"

{Slippery is the nature of any true divinity, who (unlike the nailable-down, false-and-feigned "god" of those blasphemers the Nazaren-s (Christians)), cannot be pinned-down by mendacious, deceitful blasphemers (namely, by "Christian" capitalist-stooge atheist-materialists), but instead (as witnessed in the Qur>an) must always slip free.}

Pedersen & Willerslev 2010 = Morten Axel Pedersen & Rane Willerslev : "Proportional Holism : Joking the Cosmos into the Right Shape in Northern Asia". In :- Nils Bubandt & Ton Otto (edd.) : Experiments in Holism. London : Blackwell. pp. 262-78.

p. 206 shamanic deities move "against the current" [in Kaula fashion of tantrik erotic Kun.d.alini yoga] in order to achieve desirable mating

"Play is what shamanic spirits essentially are :

{The deity-name />al-Lah/ (DMWA, p. 30a) is derived from /lahw/ 'amusement, entertainment, fun, play' (DMWA, p. 1034a).}

inherently multiple

{The name />lohi^m/ (plural -- Strong's 430) is used in the To^rah instead of />lo^hha/ or />lohha/ (singular -- Strong's 433).}

and labile {'slippery' -- as if an eel (e.g., Tuna-roa)}

{"Eel brings an awakening of the Kundalini energy" (LD"E").} {"Eating ... eel ... while doing this ["Twin Hearts" {cf. Catholic "Union of the Two Hearts"}] meditation regularly may result in kundalini syndrome." (MSR, p. 58)} {""An electric eel?" "That was our ... kundalini." (5PJS, "Monday")}

agents of change,

{"Behold, I make all things new" (Apokalupsis of Ioannes 21:5).}

which exist in a state of perpetual transformation.

... Badamhatan makes a comparable point ... . "The Darhads," he observes ..., "use the term 'play of the fish,' zagasny naadam, for the migration of the White Fish,

which goes upstream {i.e., against the river's current} in groups

{"the practice of yoga, ... it is said ... is like moving against the current" ("KY").} {Aequivalent to Od.ivis`a's god Jagat-natha is Nahuatl "Tláloc, God of the Fight Against the Current, with whose aid the hero battles against the torrent toward his own origin and beginning" ("MMCW").}

to mate in September ..." (1986, 92). ...

{Cf. the metaphor "mother-son incest" for the blending of the clear light (>od gsal) of the Mother (experienced at death) with that of the Son (experienced during trance-disciplined dreamless sleep) to result (as if by begetting) in a fish-like leaping beyond death into transcendence.}

Like fish ..., the shamanic spirits move around by "playing" (naadah)".

{thus the fish-archetype in European alchemy-symbolism}

LD"E" = "Animal Totem : Eel".

MSR = Choa Kok Sui : Meditations for Soul Realization. Institute for Inner Studies, Makati City (Philippines), 2000. (p. 33 "kundalini syndrome ... may manifest as ... overheating of the body".) (p. 54 "When the crown chakra is sufficiently activated, its 12 petals turn upward like a ... golden flower".) (p. 55 "When the crown chakra is highly activated, a halo is produced around the head.")

5PJS = J. Heather Cross : Five Pines : a Journey of the Soul. Balboa Pr (division of Hay House), Bloomington (IN), 2015. ("Preface" : "based on ... my experiences as a psychic ..., the stories are all true. The characters' experiences are things that I have experienced.")

Apokalupsis of Ioannes 21:5

"KY" = Krishnananda : "Kundalini Yoga".

"MMCW" = Alex Putney :"Mandalas of the Maya : Celestial Waters and the Auroral Plumes of Tláloc".


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