Shamans and Traditions

pp. 5, 7 books describing particular characteristics of shamanism

p. 5

"Another approach regards the role of dreams as the most important condition for understanding shamanism (ELSENSOHN 2000)."

p. 7

"the theoretical foundations of Siberian shamanism (HAMAYON 1990). In this work ..., she elucidates the concept, among others, that shamans enter into sexual relationships with the helping spirits and this is how they ensure the continuing procreation of animals". {Rather instead, sexual relationships [in dreams] with a divine owner-of-forest-animals are usually intended to induce that deity to consent to betraying the forest-animals to be killed by hunters; just as sexual relationships [in dreams] with other deities (such as, with the deity controlling the pathway for the dead) are intended to induce consent for assisting humans in the specialty of proficiency of those deities (such as, providing permission for souls of the dead to undertake their wonted journey).}

ELSENSOHN 2000 = Susanne Elsensohn : Schamanismus und Traum. Kreuzlingen-Mu:nchen, 2000.

HAMAYON 1990 = Roberte Hamayon : La Chasse a` l’a^me : esquisse d’une the`orie de chamanisme sibirien. Nanterre, 1990.

pp. 14-15 Daur Mongol categories of spiritual practitioners




their practices




"sang and danced with a drum to evoke the spirits"




"(a male elder) who were responsible to call the clan’s spirits"




"woman curer working with a goddess-like spirit to assist women’s fertility"




"midwives involved in childbirth"








"representing {viz., restraining} malevolent animal spirits"

p. 15 other categories spiritual practitioners in Siberia

"The Mansi diviner who can ‘read’ dreams called alom-verte-khu, or

among Altaic Turks those who can make rain called oksa yadachi".

p. 19-21, 26 spirit-owners

p. 19

"According to the beliefs of Southern Altaic peoples, every mountain, every lake or river has its own spirit owner, which owns the place, and is in command of the animals and bird living there. ... Spirit owner were believed to be able to understand human speech, ... and one could obtain their goodwill with prayers".


"The Shors believe in ... mountain spirits (tag-a:zi) and water spirits (shug-a:zi). Every clan had its own clan mountain and its mountain spirit, who protected the members of the clan. ... To express their respect, every Shor threw an libation to the spirit owner of the mountain or river, when he or she was near the mountain or river. ...

The spirit owner of the

p. 20

waters was imagined as a long-armed naked woman by the Kurmandines. ...

The Tuvans ... believe in the spirit owners of the waters."

p. 21

"When the Yakut hunter is getting ready to hunt, he turns to the forest spirit : above all he tries to win its favor, therefore he pours some oil on the fire. ... Before the start they sometimes hung a sacrifice (salama) : tghey stretched a rope between two trees at arm’s height, ... on this they hung a hare’s pelt, and horsehair taken from the mane of a white horse, and they tied woodpecker feathers on it. This sacrifice was intended for Bayanay."

p. 26

"According to the belief of the Todzha Tuvans even big rivers and lakes have their spirit owners, which appear to people in the form of women only. They performed sacrifices to these before fishing : they tied a c^alama on the tree near the river or lake".

p. 21 Yurak forest-goddess

"The forest spirit, the parnee, ... is ... an invisible, malicious being ... . It was believed to be a female being, who lives underground in a decayed tree-trunk, and ... has a human exterior, and possesses wings".

pp. 31, 35 shamanic dismemberment [in dream]

p. 31

[autobiographic account by a contemporary Hungarian under influence of LSD :] "I am dead ... . The man cut off my head, tore my body into small pieces, and put it in a cauldron ..; and, sure enough, I saw a river in the room, with my bones floating in it ... the[n], taking his pliers, he started fishing tem out of the river. When he had hauled all the bones onto the bank, the blacksmith put them together and covered them with flesh, so that my body regained its former appearance."

p. 35

[Yakut] "Before turning into a shaman, he can see that from above and from below the dead shamans’ souls ... gather together to cut his body up."


[Yakut of the Vilyuy river valley] "The would-be shaman ... can see that a large number of spirits approach him, cut his head off, put it on a shelf, or stick it on a long pole. ... The spirits who cut his head off will hack his body into very small pieces (according to some accounts 99 pieces {cf. 99-armed Uran.a, mentioned in the Veda}) and put it in three separate piles. Then they take the pieces into their mouths and spit them out to the spirits,

from the first pile to the spirits of the upper world,

from the second to the spirits of the Earth, and

from the third to the spirits of the Lower World,

while calling each spirit by its respective name.

If during the cutting up the spirits (ic^c^ia:) of herbs and trees manage to steal some pieces from the body, the shaman ... can become evil. {"Yet there was a betrayal and an uprising! Sin aborted, it tangled in the soul. ... It fashioned trees on dry land" (Kephalaion 38 – GN, p. 604).}

Then somehow the spirits put all the little pieces back into their piles, they stick them together with their saliva, and when the body regains its former shape, they replace the head and the person wakes up again."


[autobiographic account by a Yakut shaman of the Vilyuy :] "In springtime I was considered mad by those around me, the people in my house had to keep me affixed to a pole for a period of seven days. At the end of the sixth day of my madness I began to see visions ... . ... I began to hear that voice : ‘We are going to take you to the Northern One!’ -- ... then they cut my head off ..., and they proceeded to cut my body into little pieces, and together with the head, they put them in an iron cradle. In that cradle the little pieces of by body joined back together and I regained my usual shape. They bound me fast with colored ropes and began to rock the cradle. After a certain time the untied the rope, and, piercing with a sharp object they counted all of my bones".

GN = Willis Barnstone & Marvin Meyer : The Gnostic Bible. Shambhala Publ, Boston, 2003.

pp. 41, 45-46 vestments of shamans in Siberia

p. 41

"A Yukaghir shaman’s cloak displays, on its left side, two anthropomorphic figures – figures symbolizing the shades of the dead ancestors of the shaman --; while, on the right side, ... two bird figures, the shaman’s soul-escorts or spirit helpers."

p. 45

"Among the Nenets of the tundra, the young shaman used his belt instead of a drum; the belt featured pieces of metal depicting the spirits of birds ... . These objects were all designed to protect the shaman during his hazardous journeys of trance to the other world. According to ... Nenets ..., the shaman’s belt helps one reach other worlds."

p. 46

"The long irons attached to the boots of the Nganasan and the Enets shaman symbolize the leg-bones of the mythical stag helper."

pp. 53-54 Ulc^a cosmogony

p. 53

"The dwelling of the heavenly lord ... is made of silver and gold and precious stones. It was at his command that a duck brought the Earth up from the depth of the waters. ... The mighty god had only created one sun and one moon but the duck created two of each ... . ... Three moons made the night so light that nobody on earth could sleep. And when the three suns came up, they caused such brightness, that most of the living things went blind, the plants withered and burned, the water began to boil, the fish were cooked alive and human beings caught fire. Then the oldest man built a hut out of ice, hid there and shot down, one by one, two of the three suns and two of the moons."

{[according to the Miao of Yun-nan :] 8 of 9 suns and 7 of 8 moons had been shot down (SC, p. 85).} {[according to the Blan of Yun-nan :] of 9 suns who were sistren and the 10 moons who were brethren, all but one sun and one moon were shot down by an archer (SC, p. 89).}

p. 54

[According to a shaman’s variant of the myth :]

circumstance of the primordial people : "When they grew old, they went to sleep and woke up rejuvenated for a new life."

When the water "started to boil ... the scales fell off all the fish."

The archer’s hut was composed [not of ice but] "out of pumice stone, with a little hole at the top."

{So-called "fish-scales" armor was used in the state of Wu.} {Houses entered through the roof are typical of Siberia. Both ice and pumice can float in water.}

SC = Lucien Miller (ed.); Guo Xu & Xu Kun (transl.s): South of the Clouds. U. of WA Pr, Seattle, 1994.

p. 63 autobiographical account by a KaraGas (Tofa) shaman of becoming a shaman by talking during sleep

"While I slept, my tongue was chanting. It chanted like the shamans do. Bit I did not know anything about it. When I awoke, my mother and father and my sister told me : ‘You were chanting shaman songs.’ ... It went on like this, alternating every three to four months, for three years. ... The great spirit chants best. ... The little one, the little spirit used to come to me. He had flown into my mouth and then I used to recite shaman songs. ... finally I agreed to become a shaman."

pp. 79-80 Sibe ladder of knives; Hungarian Turul-bird; Hungarian nightmare

p. 79

"the Sibe candidate must climb the ladder that reaches to the sky and is built of sharp knives (chakur) so as to meet the main deity of shamans (Isanju Mama)."


[Manchurian] "a clay statuette which represents a breast-feeding woman with an eagle’s head ... is the mother of the first shaman who was inseminated by an eagle (her name is Isen-mama). ...

This is the myth of Emese’s dream, in other words the myth of the Turul bird".

p. 80

[Hungarian] "in folk stories, the ta`ltos horse ... appears as a winged, flying horse. This correspondence is ..., ... in Yakut shamanism the shaman appears in the form of a stallion while the helping spirits invoked are of female sex".


"the spirit helper-lover which appears in the Hungarian cycle of belief surrounding the figure of the lide`rc (‘nightmare’ ...) ... would reveal a further shamanistic element in Hungarian popular belief."

pp. 86-89 Hungarian magical practices

p. 86

cure of a girl of epilepsy : "Without saying a word I have to take the slip she wore for nine days to a place, where many people pass (e.g. a crossroad). ... I hang it on a briar and leave it there."

p. 87

"the ‘leather sieve’ similar to a drum and having the same function. ... He lifted the sieve to his chest, closed his eyes and started to beat it. ... ‘A big tree grew and three roads met underneath ...’, he began."


divination by means of beans on drumhead : "He put white and black beans on the sieve, about 41 pieces. Then he started to beat one side of this drum with his knife. The beans jumped about on the sieve and at the

p. 88

he told the fortune from their position. He know about him that he was able to cure with his sieve." [p. 88 Hungarian rhyme "to be sung in the spring when storks came back again" :

"Sieve, sieve on Friday

Love on Thursday

Drum on Wednesday."]

p. 89

In "Vajka was a sieve-maker ... held the sieve high and looked through the holes – that is how he cured. There had been learned women before in O:tteve`ny and Ikre`ny who told fortune with the help of a sieve, throwing grains of maize {barley in prae-Columbian times?} on it.

They also put embers on the wishbone of a goose, blowing it until the bone cracked. then they old fortune from these cracks.

‘It was said about a ta`ltos shepherd ..., from Cikolasziget, that he ...was also invited to former death-watches. He fumigated the evil spirit from the dead ... . ... he put a birch tree’s shoot on the embers which sizzled like fat ...’. He heated around the dead with it". {is this the significance of ‘birch’ which is the alphabet’s 1st letter (Irish OGam /Bet/, Old English Rune /Birce/)?}


"the cattle used to graze at the Bogda`ny Danub bend ... . The shepherd said that at midnight a rolling sieve crossed the river, with 41 pieces of embers on it and this made the cattle run in all directions. ... He took off his magic cracker from his hat, put its snapping end on the whiplash and banged three times on the sieve. ... the sieve rolled back to the opposite bank."

pp. 90-91 Hungarian shamans’ trance




[account written in 1648, concerning Hungarians dwelling in Moldavia :] "Whenever a sorcerer wishes to learn about the future, he will mark out a certain place where he stands for a while muttering, with his head twisted, his eyes rolling, his mouth awry, his forehead and cheeks puckered up, his countenance distorted, his arms and legs flailing around and his entire body shaking. Then he ... remains there seemingly lifeless for three or four hours. When he finally regains consciousness ... : first, he slowly revives with trembling limbs, then ... he stretches out all


his limbs, fingers and toes ... . Eventually, as though emerging from a dream, he relates this as the future."

p. 91 shamanic traits in Hungarian epic

"A single headed drum in his hand, being his vehicle at the same time, an owl-feathered or antlered headdress, a grooved or ladder-like ‘ta`ltos-tree’ with ... the Sun and the Moon – these are the paraphernalia of the Hungarian ... ta`ltos. His time-honoured activities, on the other hand, are trances ..., or his conjuring of spirits by means of incantations."

p. 98 shaman rod-staff [quoted from DIO`SZEGI 1968:238-9]

[Tuva (Soyot)] "The staff was the tool of the new shaman. It had always been made of birchwood and was usually painted red ... . ...

After two or three years the new shaman could request his drum. ... The shamans also kept their staff after having obtained the drum. ... .

... the shamanesses were only entitled to the staff. ... The shaman with ... no other instrument [than the rod-staff] ... has no headgear, garment or boots either. Such shamans are called the staffed shamans. ...

With the shaman staff thus prepared, certain initiation ceremonies had to be carried out before using it. Here is ... the ceremony of ... the Kaday shamaness :" the meat of a white reindeer was cooked and eaten in a feast.

DIO`SZEGI 1968 = Vilmos Dio`szegi : Tracing Shamans in Siberia. Oosterhout : Anthropological Publications.

p. 100 trance of Tuva shamaness [quoted from DIO`SZEGI 1968:310-1]

"Her face became contorted, her eyes were turning deleriously, like ... those of a lunatic. ... She lay in a deep trance. ... then she became completely rigid. She ... now ... was lying rigidly like a corpse."

p. 106 Tuva shamanic throat-singing [quoted from KENIN-LOPSAN 1995a:14]

"While preparing for a shamanic ritual, the shaman has to throat-sing a sygyt piece (sygyt means :whistling"). The ... essence of sygyt lies in the possibility for a shaman, with the sole help of sygyt, to urgently call his spirit-helpers.

When the spirit-helpers do not come immediately, the shaman imitates the sounds of domestic and wild animals and did so with great skill.

If they still do not appear, a shaman imitates an oriole’s singing."

KENIN-LOPSAN 1995a = Mongus B. Kenin-Lopsan : "Shamanic Sygyt as the Beginning of Throat-Singing." In :- Abstracts for the 2nd International Symposium in KHOOMEI (Throat-Singing)."

pp. 108-109 Tuva divine with 41 pebbles

p. 108

"Divination is made with khuvaanak – 41 stones."

p. 109

"The shaman was in the process of making a prediction ..., using the 41 pebbles".

p. 115 Buryat invoke the lake-spirit

"Then they parted their arms together ..., raised their palms toward the sky facing the lake and called the spirit host of the lake."

pp. 124-125 invocation of spirits; shamanic clothing-ornaments

p. 124

[Daur-and-Evenki] "the two shamanesses ..., ... standing in front of the altar, began to drum, then they turned round a quarter and so on, calling the spirits by drumming in all four directions. ...

p. 125

[Daur] "the large mirror on the chest of Daur shamans was there to protect the heart and the two smaller ones to protect the lungs.

... there are 9 kilos of brass mirror on a shaman’s costume. These toli drove evil spirits away with their glitter and the little spinners strengthened the shaman when the spirits came."

pp. 135-137 Buryat deities’ horses; Buryat nights of the new moon; Buryat shamans’ bones interred within tree; Buryat terms for shamanic capabilities

p. 135

"Our gods go about on horseback, on blue horses, heavenly blue horses. ...


There are 77 blacksmiths."


on the __ night of new moon

the moon is seen by __ / is prayed to by the __



"river fish nalim"






darhat (‘blacksmiths’)




p. 136

"There was a very thick tree, with a door in its trunk. If you open the trunk, you will still find bones inside a cavity. But the tree is alive, ... and in its foliage, on the branches, there are lots of bank notes, old money".

p. 137

"The shamanic capability is called utha, and tu:ndo:khte is the name of the power that enables you ... and feel and see into the future".

BIBLIOTHECA SHAMANISTICA, Vol. 13 = Miha`ly Hoppa`l : Shamans and Traditions. Akade`miai Kiado`, Budapest, 2007.