"Shamanism in Tuva and Buryatia in post-Soviet Russia"

pp. 142-151 shamaness at Kyzyl in Tuva




"Shaman Society of Tuva Dungur Society (dungur means drum)."


"eeren ... are physical representations ... of spirits that are the shaman’s helpers in the spirit world. When the shaman does kamlat, meaning that he goes to the other world with the help of a drum, mirror, jaw harp (a mouth instrument commonly used by shamans of Inner Asia), or staff, he also needs his special shaman’s song, anthem, or incantation."


"obo (cone-shaped stone structure dedicated to the spirits of the place) sat on the brow of the hill".


[shamaness :] "she felt a spirit come to her. ... As she drummed she heard the spirit of the creek speaking to her.


"Although she inherited her gift of shamanistic healing, she only began to employ these methods after being ill herself. ... every shaman or shaman-healer ... all inherited their gift of healing from a direct ancestor and, moreover, went through an inexplicable illness – only to be cured by beginning themselves the practice of healing in a shamanistic manner."


[how a woman became a shamaness :] "She felt some kind of invisible power dragging her soul out while the shaman sang a healing ceremony. ... he sent a black ball to her that got stuck in her throat, so that she could not breathe, and she tried to throw up the black ball. Something yellow, like a ball, went out of her mouth and broke ... . Such incidents occurred repeatedly until ... she saw the spirit of the mountain at Arzan Shivilig, a sacred natural spring west of Teeli, a town in western Tuva. ... She was walking down the street when an invisible power threw her into a big pail of snow. A group of faces told her, "... communicate with us ... ." ... People came to her for help and healing ... . The spirits that helped her disappeared and other spirits showed up, among them ... a powerful buffalo with red eyes.


When she went to the United States ... {in a dream?}, she saw a Native American shaman in a sweat lodge turn rocks red hot, and she received nine brown bears from him as a gift. ... When she goes to the outlying village of Kyzyl-Dag she heals in the Khure (Buddhist temple) there. ... She often treats the problem of a lost soul. [She] can tell if a person has lost his or her soul ... . [She] finds the person’s soul and brings it back. She also performs the seven-day and forty-nine-day ritual after the death of a person, a ritual {of Confucianist derivation} that is traditional and obligatory in Tuva.This ritual conects the soul of the deceased person with its living relatives. She, the shaman[ess], is the mediator[-trix] between them. She speaks to the spirits of the deceased; she tells them that the family is sad, weeping. The spirits tells her to tell them not to weep ... .


It is necessary for the soul to feel free to fly, move, without boundaries of walls or buildings. For forty-nine days after a person’s death, the soul flies around and observes problems in the family and in the world and reports on them to the shaman[ess], who tells the family. When a person dies, the soul goes into an animal or bird or insect ... . In order for the soul to be reborn as another human being, she has to do the ritual of seven and forty-nine days and then the soul will settle into a human being. ... it is traditional and hence expected that a shaman will make a fire to facilitate communication with the soul {a practice praesumably of Zaratustrian derivation}, ... she does this ... .

... the first time that she saw the soul of a dead man was some years ago when she visited an apartment where nine days previously the husband of the woman had died. ... When she sat at the table, the man (spirit) came up to her and told her different things and gave advice; he told her how he died and what he did not like at home. She told the family what he said and the relatives asked questions, which she then asked the spirit. She was the channeling person for him. After this she began doing the seven-day and forty-nine-day rituals for families. ...

She heals by nontouch massage, energy-giving, and talking to a person. ...


When she joins a group of people, she understands their thoughts and sometimes sees different spirits around a person. ... She has seen a person on the street with a bear or a dog (not real) and a person walking with one leg going in one direction and the other leg in another. Sometimes she sees a person with only one part of a body; as she explains it, she sees only the part that has energy. {or, contrariwise, would the part that is invisible have a praeternatural energy which is able to conceal it?} These people have energy that is twisted. ...


[She] is adept at ... the ability to find lost objects. ... She can also foretell using knucklebones."

pp. 153-154 shaman at Shagonar in Tuva




[implements] "a shaman’s whip to chase bad spirits, ...

a fan that was made of fabric and showed the sun, a horse, and the moon. He used this for chasing black spirits away".


[how a man became a shaman :] "The rainbow went through him, and he started to faint. ... After this experience, he became a shaman. When he did not work as a shaman, he felt sick. When working, he felt well and could heal others.

... he chases away bad spirits and invites happiness, ... and he looks into the future. ... With the help of a mirror he sees what will happen to a person, and he also cleanses houses, sanctifies fire, and sanctifies animals. ... He does seven- and forty-nine-day after-death rituals. ... He and his wife played and sang one of his own songs, using the Bizanchi, a stringed instrument."

pp. 155-161 shamanesses at Ulan-Ude in Buryatia




"Khese Khengereg Association of Shamans ... from the Irkutsk, Buryatia, and Aginsk regions (areas that were all included in the original Buryat republic in the early 1930’s)."


[shamaness :] "She could read thoughts, particularly bad thoughts, and could foretell bad events in the future. She became a shaman[ess] ... after suffering from a number of "shaman sicknesses." ... After consulting with her spirits, she has the ability to heal and cure, to help the sick, return what has been stolen, and to correct mistakes."


[another shamaness :] "She can look at a person and determine their disease by "shamn’s sight." The difference between a healthy and a sick aura reveals the location of a person’s problem. ... She uses bioenergy and shamanistic healing ... . ... she healed ... epilepsy ... caused ... by the spirits of water. ...  


[Her paraphernalia include :] "a small drum with bells that she uses to call the spirits ..., an iron bracelet (which protect female shamans from evil spirits), and a small black cap. She also wore a shaman’s mirror when working, which she would not let me photograph her wearing (nor could I photograph her while she was talking to her spirits, for fear of offending them and making them angry). ... [She] began to pray, moving liquid with a spoon from a smaller bowl to a larger one. She opened a window and threw a cup of liquid to the local spirits outside in order to bring them into her room. She shook her drum and prayed to the spirits while wearing her mirror and cap. ...


[She], having diagnosed the problem, healed using bioenergetic means, ... nontouch healing encircling various parts of the patient’s body."

pp. 161-163 shamans in Buryatia




[shaman :] "when he does healing he can see every organ in the body and diagnose what organ needs to be treated. ... The lines in the hands


that show the positions of the organs can be moved, spread, and deformed. ... In his dreams, [he] flies to heaven, where he speaks to spirits and goddesses. ... He speaks with Buryat gods and goddesses ... . ... he ... associates shamanism with responsibility toward nature and locale. The body is a microcosm of the larger field of nature, so healing of the body and soul is just one aspect of caring for the well-being of the whole environment."


[another shaman :] "he prays to spirits living on the land, calls them by name, speaks with them, and asks them for the health and well-being of the people who come to him. He knows secret places not far from Ust-Orda that he can use for prayers, depending on the problem. He uses divination to connect to the spirits of the locale and entreat them to intervene in his patients’ problems. Accordig to [him], before people come to him they must go they must go to a galdaka, a fortune teller or diagnostician ... . On the western side of Lake Baikal the shaman functions are separated ... and they are performed by two completely separate people, the galdaka and the shaman. ... He does healing in his house only for relatives. For other patients, he visits their homes after they have consulted a galdaka for the correct diagnosis and the correct spirits to address."

Michael Winkelman & Philip M. Peek (eds.) : Divination and Healing. U of AZ Pr, Tucson, 2004. pp. 139-165 – 6. Eva Jane Neumann Fridman : "Ways of Knowing and Healing".