Shamanhood : an Endangered Language, 16-17


16. (pp. 225-35) Kanaqluk : "Way of the Analkuq" [Yupiaq Eskimo]

[nouns’ grammatical terminations : -/aq/ (singular), -/ut/ (plural) {cf. <ibri^ -/o^t/ (feminine plural)} ; -/um/ (possessive) {cf. Skt. -/am/ (possessive plural)}]

p. 225 some phrases

Yu-yaraq (‘human way’)

Nun-aput (‘our land’)

Taner-yar-aput (‘our way of seeing’)

Kinakuci-yar-aput (‘our way of knowing whom we are’)

Analkug-yaraq (‘shamans’ way’)

pp. 227, 230 terminology



its meaning



‘men’s community house’



" ‘masked dances’ performed with songs to help make animals available for the hunters"



‘the world’



"Many human-like beings" ["animals that took the form of human beings ... when the earth’s skin was thin" (p. 233)]

pp. 227 activities of shamans

"The kegginaquq (‘mask’) was used by an angalkut and it was ... carved ... from the vision he received either in a dream or in trance. ... With a mask and

a seal gut rain parka, the angalkut is symbolically transformed ... in the ceremony.

{cf. the robe worn by Makedonian hero Perdikkas.

The ceremony was held in the qasgiq with whatever light would come through the seal gut window in the central ceiling.

cf. "the sunlight, flowing down from an overhead aperture and being scooped into Perdiccas’ robe" (P, p. 114).

It is through this window that the yua (‘its person’ = ‘spirit’) of the angalkut would enter the realm of the unseen".

cf. "Perseus’ father Zeus flowing down from the open skylight of Danae’s prison" (P, p. 114).}

"The drum was always used by the angalkut or sometimes his assistant. ... the drum was the instrument that helped the angalkut to transport between the physical and spiritual worlds."

P = Daniel Ogden : Perseus. Routledge, Oxford, 2008.

pp. 227-8 caerimonial community-dancing

p. 227

"In ritual dancing, the dancers held in their hands the taruyamaarak, two circular dance fans, one for each hand. The dance fans used the black and white wing feathers from the anipak (‘snowy owl’, the messengers of

p. 228

spirits). In the dance, the men were on their knees facing the people and the women stood behind them symmetrically moving in synchrony".


17. (pp. 237-51) Tatiana Bulgakova : "Dancing Sewens" [Nanay tribe]

pp. 238-9 sewen-s (spirit-helpers) subordinate to shamans

p. 238

In "se’ances the shaman ... has complete domination over his obedient spirit helpers. ... "Sewens stay around and look at their shaman. If the shaman did not appeal to them, they would never do anything. They don’t do anything on their own initiative. ... If you tell them to do something, they will do it. If you don’t tell them, they won’t." ... .


... beating the drum is regarded as a means to bend sewens to the shaman’s will. ... "While you are beating [the drum], sewens will stay here and work. But as soon as you stop, they fall down and do nothing." But sometimes sewens are indifferent and do not pay attention to their shaman despite all his ... drumming. In this case the shaman uses foul language and "shouts at them ... . And they hasten to do it." ...


Sentences in the imperative mode, giving orders to sewens, prevail in the texts of shamanic se’ances".


[characterization by a shaman of the obedient nature of his sewen :] "My sewen is like a dog. It sleeps under my window [outside]. When I am in need, I can call it and we’ll go together to fetch someone’s panyan [soul] or to do something else. My [sewen] can guard some person if I order it to do so, [for

p. 239

instance] a panyan in a dzokaso [depository for souls]. I can send it to accompany someone who is leaving to the city. It can guard [people] for a year."

{With /SEWeN/ cf. Skt. /SEVaNa/ ‘service’ (sewen-s are servants performing service, much like soldiers performing military service).} p. 238 "They are like soldiers waiting for commands!"

p. 239 sewen-s punish shamans at the behest of endur-s (deities)

"shamans have not much desire to perform healing se’ances, but they do so just because, as they say, their spirits force them to. [A shamaness] says : "Endurs [the deities] punish those people [shamans], who don’t perform shamanic se’ances and don’t pray to them. They send sewens [the spirits subordinated to endurs] to go and capture the souls of those people! They [sewens] go and arrest such people like policemen! ... They put you there, and you will be sick and suffer for years!"

"Answering the question if [whether or not] a shaman is able to refuse people who want to be healed, [a shaman] said : "If he refuses, his sewens will begin to pull him about, and he will fall sick! ... They (sewens) will force him! The sewens want to work. They don’t want to sit without a job!"

{with /ENDUR/ cf. Cathar /ENDURa/?}

pp. 240-1 shamans’ dreams about sewwn-s

p. 240

[declaration by shaman :] "That time I was learning in my dreams [how to shamanize] and I always shamanized while sleeping."

p. 241

"Shamaness ... dreamt of another sewen, and then she decided to make its sculpture. Her husband ... was carving it of wood".

p. 242 music for sewen

"The shaman brings one sewen after another. Each sewen is believed to come with its own melody and behave in its own way, and the shaman correspondingly changes his singing and plays the role of the newcomer".

"Dancing, drumming and clanging with metal pendants on his belt, the shaman meets one of his sewens that came to the feast at the door and "leads" it to a small table in the corner laid especially for the sewens."

p. 243 miracles by sewen

"sometimes when a shaman opened his mouth to get some sacrificial food for his sewen, fire came out of shaman’s mouth and went back again. "It is a sewen, who catches its food in the air. ..."

... Nanay had windows of fish skin instead of glass. [There was] a sewen, which "flew to the sacrifice like a bullet, tearing up the skin on the window.""

pp. 237, 244-6, 250 feasting & dancing by sewen-s

p. 237

"Only in sacrifice is the initiative thought to pass to sewens."

p. 244

"the sewens around the shaman sometimes become visible against the shaman’s will. Several people reported that they saw the "snakes" which came out of shamaness ...’s mouth when she performed the sacrifice. [accounts by eyewitnesses :] "Creatures like the big snakes came out of [a certain shamaness]’s mouth when she was dancing at the sacrifice. ... From the two angles of her mouth two snakes crept out. Their heads were lifted up, but their bodies were lowered down to her waist. ... They were real snakes with red mouths ... . ... People put near ... [a bowl with] some Labrador tea ... . Only then did they [the snakes] begin to fall down. After they had fallen [into the bowl], the people took [the bowl] ... . {cf. the "bowl (OF 66 III) with. Orphic verses and Gnostic imagery depicting a snake surrounded by naked peo- ple" (O&ChLA)} I saw it myself. Some of them were yellowish {cf. the yellow snake on Codex Borgianus Mexicanus, p. 25, upper right}. First they came out of her mouth and then went back in. ... Her kolia [snakes] actually ate it".

p. 250, n. 9

"when shamaness ... drank alcohol {"god of pulque" ("I&C", p. xxib) is depicted on Codex Borgianus Mexicanus, p. 25 , with the yellow snake emerging from his mouth}, the snakes came out of her mouth. They appeared ... . They appeared again". {Praeternatural snakes are likewise sometimes seen by victims of alcoholism-induced delirium tremens.}

p. 245

"The Nanay ... consider that sewens keep on sacrificial dancing and eating for several hours after the people have finished the sacrificial ceremony. ... Some of the sewens are thought to remain unfed and unsatisfied when the ceremony is finished. That’s why at night, when the participants of the ritual fall asleep, the spirits, who have not eaten yet, are thought to come and to continue the ritual on their own. They imitate peoples’ drumming and dancing. That’s why after the sacrifice is finished people don’t put away the shamanic belt; they instead ... leave it ... for the entire night. The drum is also left in the room to be available for the sewens. The people put the drum into its cover, leaving the mouth of the cover half opened to help sewens to get the drum out easily."


[statement by shaman :] "The drum, the drumming stick, and the shamanic belt continue to work all night through. That’s why the cover of the drum should be left half opened. ...

p. 246

They [sewens] keep on working. The drum is rumbling [by itself]; the pendants are clanging: they [sewens] are dancing till broad [day]light."

O&ChLA = Miguel Herrero de Jáuregui : Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity. Berlin : De Gruyter, 2010.

"I&C" = Bruce E. Byland : "Introduction and Commentary". In :- Gisele Di`az & Alan Rodgers : The Codex Borgia. Dover Publ, 1993.

pp. 246-8 human shamans, in their dreams, witness dancing the dancing by sewen-s; learning from sewen-s in dreams

p. 246

"The sewens ... also treat themselves from the deserted table. They continue ... despite ... all the dishes taken off the table. The shamans consider that sewens eat from the reflection of the past feast ... recently ... on that table. This reflection is called in Nanay armol. ... Trying to explain the ... armol, [the shaman] pointed ... :

This is another example. I usually lie on this sofa all day long. This night I’m going to go ..., but my armol will stay here on this sofa. I’m here, despite the fact that I’m actually ... outside!" {Is the shaman armol produced by his dreaming while lying on the sofa; and is the food’s armol produced by its being blessed by the shaman with power from the dream-world?}


"Thus, the sewens ... come to feast after it has been finished ... . At the same time the shaman and some other people watch in their dreams what is going on in the deserted room, where the drum in the untied cover and the shamanic belt ... have been left. In the morning they discuss their dreams and discuss what another sewens came to the feast at night."


"sewens, are initiators of sacrifice; ... it is ... sewens themselves who teach people how to act performing rituals. ... people do merely what spirits want them to do. That’s why shamans try to learn beforehand from their dreams what the ritual acts should be like, what kind of food should be prepared, and what kind of wooden sculpture the sewens would agree to be

p. 247

incarnated. If a shaman takes no heed of such kind of edifications, his sewens will punish him with diseases and other troubles."

p. 248

"Sewens are also believed to pass the ability to dance from shamans’ ancestors to their descendants. Each neophyte learns his own manner of drumming and dancing from his dreams. In [one shamaness]’s story the sewens took a shaman beginner in his dreams to the Land Yaoka Mountain, where his ancestors lived, and taught him how to drum and dance.

I dreamt that an old man came to me. There was a drum in his hands. As soon as he came, he began to sing in the shamanic way. ... Then he got up and began to dance."


"[A certain woman] was called to be a shamaness and met in her dreams the dance teachers, her sewens :

In my dream I had climbed the hill. There was an old Nanay house on the top. ... There was a stove, a {one of} copper. The people were stoking it. The steam was rising. ... My [sewen] ‘mother’ ... told me : "Dance!" ... I looked : my "mother" was dancing with drum and shamanic belt. She had the shavings on her head. ... They gave me a drum; put everything [shamanic belt] on me."


INSTITUTTET FOR SAMMENLIGNENDE KULTURFORSKNING (INSTITUTE FOR COMPARATIVE RESEARCH IN HUMAN CULTURE), Serie B : "Skrifter", CXVII = Juha Pentika:inen & Pe`ter Simoncsics (ed.s) : Shamanhood : an endangered language. Novus Forlag, Oslo, 2005.